As marketers, we have a plethora of tools in our toolboxes because we wear many hats: design tools, marketing automation tools, social media management tools, writing tools, CRM, digital marketing tools, and the list goes on…and on.
Let’s take a look at some free tools plus some tools that are worth the upgrade to a paid version.
Canva: Overwhelmingly, the response from AAM marketers for their number one tool to upgrade was Canva. Canva is, well, if you don’t know about Canva by now, where have you been hiding?! Canva is a free design tool with functions similar to Photoshop. You can create gobs of designs including social media posts, invitations, flyers, presentations, icon, infographics…you name it! There are templates for just about anything you can imagine and you can even have your creations printed right from their website (and they even arrive in some pretty fantastic packaging!). The biggest benefit of the paid subscription is access to 75+ million stock photos. Paid features also include a brand kit, additional templates with new designs daily, 100GB of cloud storage, and social media scheduling for up to 7 platforms. And for $12.95/month for up to 5 users (limited time offer), that’s a big bargain.
Buffer and Buffer Analyze: There are an abundance of social media management tools out there, but Buffer and its sister tool Analyze was recommended on the AAM Forum. Buffer works like any social media tool with functions like scheduling, tailored posts, and a calendar. Its sister tool, Analyze, is where it really shines. Analyze is just what it sounds like—analytics for your social channels. In addition to your typical insights, Analyze includes metrics like the best time to post, the best type of post, and the best posting frequency. Premium tools for Buffer include unlimited posts, custom shortened domain integration, and multiple users per account. Combined pricing for the two starts at $50/month for eight social channels.
Subscribers: A new tool I learned about from the AAM Forum is Subscribers (thanks, Michael Weingartner!). Subscribers is a tool backed by SEO/Digital Marketing Expert Neil Patel that allows you to send desktop push notifications to a subscriber base. You obtain your subscribers by dropping some basic code on the back-end of your website via a plugin, and when a visitor visits your site, they are asked if they would like to subscribe to notifications. The free version allows you to send push notifications to up to 200 subscribers, but you will likely surpass that mark rather quickly. Upgrading allows you to reach a larger audience. Pricing for up to 10,000 subscribers per month is $29.
Grammarly: One of my favorite new tools I started using in 2020 is Grammarly (thanks, Jen Cantero!). Grammarly is an automated grammar checker, not unlike what you are used to in Word, that follows you around to all your favorite writing spots like your blog, social media posts, and anywhere you go on the web. My favorite part? Scoring a happy-face emoji when my tone is good. Grammarly premium includes full-sentence rewrites, formatting recommendations, vocabulary enhancements and even tone enhancements. The monthly cost for Grammarly premium is $29.95 a month, but there is a lower rate per user if you sign up for the team plan.
Bitly: Many of you are familiar with Bitly, the URL shortener. The biggest benefit of the paid version of Bitly is that you are able to use branded links, swapping out bit.ly for your brand. The basic paid version will run you $29/month.
Hubspot CRM: If you do not already have a CRM, Hubspot’s free CRM is worth checking out. You can track all of your contacts, create and manage deals, and run some really robust reporting all within their free tool. Mike Jones from Resound had this to say about Hubspot: “If you want to really up your game with automated email sequences to run outbound campaigns as well as some really nifty email tracking and other features, their premium version pays for itself quite quickly.” Coincidentally, I signed a contract with Hubspot yesterday to implement their marketing suite. It is not cheap, but I am banking on Mike to be right. So if you are a Hubspot user, I would love to connect with you.
There were several other suggestions on the AAM Forum including Unsplash (my personal favorite for free stock photos), Hemingway Editor (grammar checker), title-generator.com (for headline generation), CoSchedule (social media optimizer), Hashtagify.me (for popular hashtags), and Twitter lists (curated groups of Twitter accounts).
Thanks to everyone on the AAM Forum who shared their favorite tools. Do you have a favorite tool? Weigh in on the AAM Forum and tell us. If you are like me, I always like to learn about new tools that will make my job easier.
About Rachael McGrew
Rachael McGrew is the Business Development Director for Landmark CPAs, one of Arkansas’ largest accounting firms. In her role, she wears many hats, including overseeing the firm’s marketing and business development strategy, managing internal and external communications, maintaining the firm’s social media and web presence, planning and executing firm events and community outreach programs, coordinating recruiting campaigns, and serving on industry association committees.
Rachael is a graduate of the Leadership Fort Smith program, an Arkansas Business and Northwest Arkansas Business Journal 40 Under 40 honoree, a Fort Smith Chamber Ambassador, a member of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Arkansas’ Western Council, Co-chair of Immaculate Conception’s Spring Festival Silent Auction, and a Home Room Mom.