Marketing technology is changing at a blistering pace, but only 28% feel their company is keeping up. With literally thousands of marketing technologies on the market, it’s almost impossible for a marketing manager to make sense of the landscape of tools, much less pick a lean, effective stack of technologies.
I’m here to help.
I work exclusively with B2B industrial sector clients. And through working with my clients, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly of marketing technology. The list I’ve compiled below contains only the best of the best — 16 tried-and-true tools that’ll help you measure, analyze, report, automate, nurture and convert.
This post is a long one (it gives you info and advice on 16 tools!), so let’s dive in. To help you follow along, we created a quick, visual rundown of our top marketing technology picks.
I’ll start with the basics. The tech tools in the section below are the ones you just need to have if you’re interested in taking your digital marketing to the next level.
HubSpot Marketing Hub (starting at $50 per month / beginner)
I have yet to find a customer relationship management (CRM) software or marketing automation software I like as much as HubSpot. It’s the best all-around tool out there, offering 90% of the functionality you’ll need. Getting HubSpot is a good starting point for those just beginning to add to their “martech” (marketing technology) stack. It’s a versatile, user-friendly software with a wide array of capabilities: Capturing data on leads, tracking sales activity, creating email campaigns and setting up marketing and sales automation.
As an added bonus, HubSpot’s robust help center and excellent customer service lower the learning curve for CRM and marketing automation novices. It starts at only $50 per month and scales up to $800+ per month, depending on your package, add-ons and the number of contacts you have. For more information, check out their pricing page.
Google Analytics (free / beginner)
Google Analytics is your go-to tool for measuring and analyzing website traffic. You can learn how many people are visiting your site, where they’re coming from (social, organic, direct, etc.) and, if you’re a little more advanced, how it’s contributing to your goals (requesting consultations, downloading guides, etc.). If you’re just getting started — or if you’d like to advance your skills — check out their library of free analytics courses.
Search Console (free / beginner)
Google Search Console lets you dive deeper into your site’s performance in organic search (i.e., search engines). Google Analytics might let you evaluate how many website visitors are coming from organic search and which landing pages they’re looking at — but Search Console takes that a step further. It tells you what keywords your visitors were searching when they found your site and how you’re ranking for these searches in different geographical regions.
Search Console is also an excellent tool to help you generate keyword ideas. You might, for instance, use it to look at the list of 100 or so keywords people are using to find your site. And as you’re evaluating the list, you notice a highly relevant keyword for which you’re listed on the fourth page of the SERP. If your site has the authority to rank on the first page, then it’s a great keyword to pursue with content and link building campaigns.
Google Data Studio (free / advanced)
You can use Google Data Studio to create custom reports using data from hundreds of sources, including website traffic (from Google Analytics) and advertising performance (from LinkedIn, Adwords, Facebook Ads, AdRoll, etc.). Basically, it lets you visualize the performance of all your digital marketing efforts all in one place. I’ll admit it isn’t the most beginner-friendly tool, but it is incredibly useful. And it’s free, which is nice for those watching their budget.
WordPress (free / advanced)
This is the content management system (CMS) I’d recommend nine times out of ten. About the only reason I might recommend another CMS is if you have an ecommerce website (and not many manufacturers do). And I’m not the only WordPress advocate out there — about 30% of all websites are on WordPress.
It’s easy to use, even for the most tech-averse on your team, so you don’t have to pay $200-an-hour for a developer every time you need to upload a blog. Plus, there are plenty of developers familiar with WordPress you can call when you have to make a bigger change, like building a custom landing page or redesigning your site.
This section will focus on tools that help get your website and brand in front of people. It’s split into two sections:
These tools help you attract paid and organic traffic to your site.
These tools help you identify, communicate with and advertise to ideal-fit prospects.
Inbound / search engine optimization
Yoast (free / beginner)
Yoast is a great starting point for optimizing your website pages for SEO with little time investment. I just use the plugin to double check on-page elements (keyword density, meta description, title tag, URL, etc.) before I hit ‘publish’ on a blog post or page.
MozBar (free / beginner)
Choosing keywords to target with organic and paid methods depends on three factors — relevancy, search volume and competitiveness — listed in the order you should evaluate them. MozBar comes in at the end of this process, helping you evaluate the competitiveness of keywords you’ve already vetted based on relevancy and search volume. Check out this blog for an in-depth look at how to use MozBar as part of your SEO strategy.
It’s important to note that Moz is most useful when you have a small list of keywords. If you have lists of 50 or more keywords — like if you’re doing a website rebuild — this method will drive you crazy because it’ll take forever. But it’s still a really useful tool for SEO novices and experts alike.
Ahrefs (starting at $99 per month / advanced)
Ahrefs is the Swiss Army knife for digital marketers. It’ll let you conduct competitor keyword research, identify SEO issues and analyze content gaps. And if you just need to run a one-time website audit, you can get their week-long trial for only $7.
One of my favorite parts about Ahrefs is that it lets you spy on your competition. Everyone has that one competitor that is killing the SEO game (I’ll bet one just popped into your head). Well, Ahrefs pulls back the curtain and lets you peek at what keywords they’re ranking for. This lets you ride on the coattails of their success because, chances are, you should be targeting those keywords too.
Whitespark Citation Audit & Cleanup – Essentials ($279 flat fee per location / advanced)
Whitespark builds structured citations with your name, address and phone number (NAP) on hundreds of directories. Citations are a key local search ranking factor because they send Google a clear signal of where, exactly, your company is located. And having them makes Google more likely to serve up your site for local-intent searches like “flooring contractor Atlanta” or “conveyor belting near me,” which are important if you have physical locations.
It’s a pain to build citations yourself, and Whitespark does it for just $279 per location. What I love about Whitespark is that they charge you a flat fee and hand you the keys when they’re done – so you can make changes as needed and retain the value of your investment long after you’re done working with them. Many other citation building services charge you monthly or annually and, when you cancel your subscription, all your data is lost.
Google Ads ($1-4 per click / advanced)
Google Ads lets you to pay for an immediate surge of targeted search traffic while you optimize for organic search. It’s a perfect short-term solution for generating leads, allowing you to bid on keywords you know your target audience is searching. Even as your site begins to rank on your own, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising allows you to supplement organic search.
But PPC is time-intensive to do right — you need to be prepared to spend a couple hours a week on your paid campaign. If you’d like to run PPC yourself, I recommend reading this beginner’s guide. If you don’t have time to dedicate to your paid campaign, it’s best to hire an experienced PPC manager to run it for you. Otherwise, you run the risk of paying for clicks on ads that never give you any results.
Outbound / direct targeting
LinkedIn Sales Navigator ($79.99 per month / beginner)
LinkedIn Sales Navigator lets you find prospects that fit your ideal customer profile. And you can get really granular with your search. Say you need to target a CMO at a Midwest company that has at least 500 employees in the food and beverage industry. Sales Navigator will generate a list of people who fit that exact criteria.
Prospect.io (starting at $99 per month / beginner)
Prospect.io and LinkedIn Sales Navigator go hand in hand. Sales Navigator gives you a list of profiles that match your ideal customer profile, and Prospect.io finds their email addresses and lets you send automated email outreach campaigns. Together, these two tools give you everything you need to run a light account-based marketing (ABM) email campaign.
LinkedIn Advertising ($6-9 per click / advanced)
While LinkedIn Advertising ($6-9 per click) is much more expensive than Google Ads ($1-4 per click) and AdRoll ($1-4 per thousand impressions), it has unparalleled B2B targeting capabilities. Still, I’d only recommend advertising on LinkedIn if your customer lifetime value is greater than $15,000 because of the expense.
Before embarking on your first paid LinkedIn campaign, take this course. It’ll help you make sure your campaign has a laser-focused message and offer, positioned perfectly for your target audience, so you get the greatest return on your ad spend.
AdRoll ($1-4 per thousand impressions / advanced)
AdRoll is my retargeting platform of choice because it’s more user-friendly than other options and integrates different platforms, meaning your ads will show not only on websites, but also on social media platforms.
As soon as you have a good grasp on where your best leads are coming from (e.g., LinkedIn, Google and the specific pages they visit), you can use AdRoll to retarget those visitors to convert more of them. For example, if you know that all your best leads look at your pricing page, you might want to retarget visitors after they view that page.
And you should always run AdRoll campaigns simultaneously with LinkedIn campaigns. You can identify all the visitors from LinkedIn who left before converting and use AdRoll to follow them around the internet until they become a lead — for a fraction the cost of another click on LinkedIn.
Almost 1 in 3 marketers surveyed for HubSpot’s State of Inbound report said reducing the cost of lead acquisition is one their most pressing goals over the coming year. What better way to accomplish that than converting more of the traffic your site already has? The tools in section will do just that, ensuring that more of the people visiting your site actually turn into leads.
HubSpot Marketing Hub (pop-up component)
HubSpot gets a reprise in the lead capture section because of its pop-up tool. It lets you deploy pop-up forms which can be triggered when a user is about to leave, has scrolled to a pre-specified point or spent a specified amount of time on the page — capturing leads that might’ve otherwise left the page without converting. Sumo Pro is another tool for pop-up forms, although it’s less customizable than HubSpot’s.
Hotjar (starting at $89 / advanced)
Once you have a decent amount of qualified traffic visiting your site, you should use tools like Hotjar for insight on how to tweak your website to boost conversion rates (and get more leads). It’ll tell you where people are clicking, how far they’re scrolling and where they’re falling off in your conversion funnel. And you can even record user sessions to see how people interact with key pages on your site.
You can use these insights to inform page redesigns, website rebuilds and navigation optimizations to create user experiences which encourage higher rates of conversion (e.g., from 2% conversion to 3%).
But it’s important to remember you’re playing with percentages, so you want to make sure there’s enough traffic to warrant your effort. If you only have 100 visitors, going from a 2% conversion rate to 3% will only get you one more lead. But if you have 10,000 visitors every month, that same rate increase will get you 100 more leads — and that’s worth your time.
Next to personal phone calls, email is the communication channel that salespeople rate most successful. And it can be automated, saving your team time while still inching prospects closer to purchase. The tools in this section will help you turn cold leads into warm, sales-ready ones.
HubSpot Marketing Hub (e-blast and automated workflow component)
Yes, I’m listing HubSpot again, this time for its robust email functionality. You can send e-blasts to segmented lists of your lead database, and set up autoresponders and workflows that trigger after downloading a guide or requesting a consultation. For beginners, HubSpot has a drag-and-drop editor that simplifies the email creation process. And it comes in the package with all the other tools we’ve already talked about.
MailChimp Grow (starting at $10 per month / beginner)
If you’re on a different CRM that doesn’t have email functionality, MailChimp Grow is a great tool to create e-blasts and automated drip campaigns. And at $10 a month, it won’t break your martech budget.
Want to share this with a colleague or reference it later? Click here to get your one-page infographic of the manufacturing martech landscape.