As marketers, we’re constantly trying to get the most bang for our buck, i.e. the highest ROI. That’s as true for our time as it is for our budget. But there’s just so much that needs to get done: emails to answer, campaigns to review, content to publish…the list seems to go on forever!
Fortunately, none of us are alone in this struggle. Talented teams have put together dozens of tools that can help you unlock the ability to concentrate and get stuff done.
If you’re focused on advertising, social media or content & SEO, this article is for you. I’ve put together a list of my favorite marketing productivity tools that we use at my digital marketing agency to ensure that our clients see big results.
Team collaboration and coordination is a critical part of successful marketing. Everyone needs to be on the same page. It also helps to have your communication unified so that your team can focus on checking one place instead of six different apps. Here are some tools to help your team work together seamlessly and stay on track.
Productivity Tool #1 – Trello
Trello is a simple productivity platform that adapts to your team’s workflow. It’s set up ideally for a Kanban productivity system (“kanban” means signboard or billboard in Japanese) which allows you to move through a series of phases with explicit actions at each step:
But part of what makes Trello great is its flexibility. You can set it up however you want by using boards, lists and cards, to which you can add comments and attachments, and color coordinate the stages of the workflow. Flexibility and simplicity are what makes this tool so great.
Productivity Tool #2 – Asana
I like to think of Asana as a more mature version of Trello. Its standard setup is very similar, with lists and cards, but it gets a bit more sophisticated (and complicated). For example, you can assign people to individual subtasks within one card:
You can add task dependencies so that you can identify blockers and get updates when the task is ready to be worked on:
A new feature is the timeline, which allows you “[s]ee how the pieces fit together so you can spot gaps and overlaps before you start.”
If your team likes the concept of Trello but is looking for something a bit more robust, Asana is definitely worth checking out.
Productivity Tool #3 – Slack
Slack probably doesn’t need much explanation. It’s a team chat and shared workspace software that has pretty much taken over the market. You can collaborate in a multitude of ways: “to kick off a project, hire a new employee, deploy some code, review a sales contract, finalize next year’s budget, measure an A/B test, plan your next office opening, and more.”
If you provide B2B services like we do, one of the best features is the ability to create shared channels for specific departments or projects inside your organization. That means your team and your clients can stay inside their own groups and still collaborate with one another in a special room.
It also has its own built-in commands and shortcuts, like these:
Productivity Tool #4 – LastPass
According to LastPass research, the average business employee must keep track of 191 passwords!
You don’t realize how helpful LastPass is until you’re using it. It takes away the stress of remembering all your passwords (not to mention the lack of cybersecurity) and makes sharing password-protected sites with employees and contractors easy and secure.
Whenever a client wants you to access some of their systems, they can share the password with you via LastPass. You’ll have access to the tool, but not the actual login information. If they update their password, it will change in LastPass and you’ll keep access (unless they revoke it).
You can do the same thing with your team by adding them to a shared folder with all your marketing tools. Each time you add a new tool or update the passwords, everyone you shared that folder with will continue to have access from their computer. This is a huge time saver and is much more secure than emailing passwords around.
Content & SEO Productivity Tools
If you work on inbound marketing, you know how much time it can take to research and execute a content plan. What’s worse, you know that if you don’t do each step accurately, the results won’t follow and you’ll be left with a negative ROI. These tools will help you get the job done effectively and efficiently.
Productivity Tool #5 – Ahrefs
Ahrefs is a massive tool for backlinks and SEO analysis that’s packed with features. Some of the most powerful are for keyword research and rank tracking. Combined with other tools like Google Analytics, it can help you identify what content is working and what has the most potential.
It’s not cheap, but the subscription comes with plenty of valuable features like competitive research, backlink outreach, and the ability to explore trending content (like with BuzzSumo) that make it worth it.
Productivity Tool #6 – Grammarly
Grammarly is an evolved version of spellcheck. It will point out grammatical and even stylistic errors in your writing. It can save you and your editors tons of time by catching all the small mistakes before they review it for more important issues like style, quality and proper sources.
It’s still an algorithm and language is challenging to parse, so sometimes you might not be sure about a change that it suggests. That’s why they give you expanded examples to help you make a decision to adopt or ignore their suggestions:
The free version catches all critical errors and provides suggestions for fixing them. If you want even more insights like highlighting passive voice or ambiguous pronouns, you can upgrade for $29.95/mo.
Productivity Tool #7 – Piktochart
One of the most effective forms of content marketing is infographics. They’re super shareable, attract tons of backlinks and are fun to look at. But they require design skills to put together. If your content team doesn’t have a graphic designer, you might shy away from this powerful medium.
That’s where Piktochart comes in. They have hundreds of templates for infographics, slide decks, newsletters and more. You can take the same great information in your blog post and format it visually in very little time.
Productivity Tool #8 – Canva
Canva is another helpful design tool for marketers. Unlike Piktochart, it focuses more on creating simple, eye-catching graphics that you can use on your social media or within your blog content to add more depth to it.
Canva is great for large marketing teams because it can be used by so many different campaigns. Bloggers can use it to create blog images or enhance their content, but it also works great for social media campaigns.
Social Media Marketing
In the world of social media, everything is constantly moving. It’s all about high-volume, quality content, scheduled at the right time, targeted to the right audience. It can be a lot of fun. But if you’re not organized, it can also be a lot of stress.
That’s where productivity tools come in. Here are some of my favorites for managing your social media channels.
Productivity Tool #9 – HootSuite
HootSuite is a central dashboard for all your social media. It lets you post content across multiple channels at once, which makes it a lot easier to organize and track what’s been shared already.
It’s also great for teams because you can give multiple users access to collaborate on the platform just as you would use Trello or Asana for content marketing.
And in the spirit of keeping it all together, it also pulls all your analytics and reporting into one place—making it easy to get both a high-level and detailed view of how your campaigns are performing across all of your owned social media.
Productivity Tool #10 – Sprout Social
Sprout Social is another content management system (CMS) for your social media. It’s fairly simple, which makes it easy to learn and use, but it does miss out on some of the reporting functionality that comes with Hootsuite.
For a more in-depth comparison of the two tools, so that you can pick the right one for your particular business needs, check out this review.
Productivity Tool #11 – Mention
One of the most effective ways to leverage social media is engaging with real customers to build relationships. Whether you’re addressing complaints or promoting posts, these organic interactions add a lot of social capital to your marketing.
But the problem is that customers don’t always let you know they’re talking about you. That’s where Mention comes in. It monitors the web for any mentions of your brand or company and alerts you so that you can respond quickly. Besides monitoring your brand, you can manage a crisis, create reports, study the competition and find influencers.
Productivity Tool #12 – AdRoll
You’ve probably heard about the power of retargeting. But setting up ad campaigns can be tricky and time consuming.
AdRoll takes care of that for you. They make it easy for you to “effectively advertise online, even without infinite resources and budget, [and make it] easy to challenge established brands and grow your business online.”
You can upload (or request) web dynamic ad designs and automate programmatic placement across the web. They also give you analytics and feedback to help you refine your campaigns.
Productivity Tool #13 – Driftrock
Driftrock is an advertising management platform for Facebook, LinkedIn and Google that allows you to grow your leads and sales. What makes them stand out is that they let you run ads based on offline triggers, like weather or TV schedules.
This can save you a lot of time trying to sync your campaigns according to these offline events since it is built right into the platform.
There’s one tool that isn’t reserved for one type of marketing, but really belongs in each of these categories.
Productivity Tool #14 – Zapier
Zapier is an awesome productivity tool that really only does one thing: connects all your other tools, apps and platforms (currently they have 1,000 integrated apps).
One of the most time-consuming projects in any industry is moving stuff from one place to another, like an email that needs to be discussed in Slack, and then broken into tasks in Asana before publishing content on WordPress that gets shared in Hootsuite.
Zapier’s job is to automate all that moving around for you.
You can even create Zaps within a single platform to keep your team organized. For example, when your content team publishes a new post and marks in complete in Asana, you can have Zapier automatically create a new task assignment for your promotion team to start going through their checklist.
One thing that separates the top marketers from the rest is their ability to focus on what’s truly important and to leverage tools that allow them to work efficiently. These are some of my favorite tools for helping keep my team ahead of the competition.
The trick is to look at your existing processes, see where things are getting hung up and then test one or two tools that address that bottleneck. By systematically addressing each issue, your team will be more productive and more effective.