I interviewed 121 entrepreneurs to find out what the most loved marketing tools are for startups. And while I wasn’t surprised to see Slack, MailChimp, Instagram, or Ahrefs on the list, some of the tools mentioned or not-mentioned did surprise me. As a startup, selecting which marketing tools to purchase can be overwhelming. So I took the data from 121 entrepreneurs and listed each tool by the number of recommendations from other business owners who have been through the process themselves.
Here’s the Breakdown of the Results:
MailChimp – (11 Recommendations)
The top recommended tool was MailChimp, coming in with 11 recommendations! As one of my favorite products, I was happy to see so many people mention MailChimp as a great resource for Startups. It’s cheap, easy to use, and provides an excellent way to automate your marketing efforts. Gayle Bu is one of the many raving fans of MailChimp. And here’s why:
“My top marketing tool for entrepreneurs is Mailchimp. Because it’s one thing to have thousands of followers on social media, but there’s power in owning an email list of contacts and being able to market directly into their inboxes.
My top 3 reasons for selecting this tool:
- With the free base plan on MailChimp, you’ll be equipped to not only send good looking emails to your list, but you can also easily hook up an opt-in form to your website, create beautiful landing pages (yes – that’s included in the free plan!), put together automated email sequences so you can continue to nurture those already on your list and you can tag/segment contacts in order to ensure that your marketing is relevant to your audience.
- Because it’s so mainstream, it integrates for free with many of the other big industry marketing tools.
- With its drag and drop functionality, it’s so easy to use.”
Ahrefs – (10 Recommendations)
The second highest ranking tool was Ahrefs. Our experts consider Ahrefs as a tool that you can’t do without! Here are a few reasons why:
“At CrazyCall we constantly use it to improve our Domain Authority as well as online presence. It also comes in handy while making a keyword research or while looking for new topics that we can cover.” – Jakub Kliszczak
“My favorite marketing tool, by far is ahrefs (https://ahrefs.com). It allows you to both monitor your own online performance and more importantly ‘spy’ on your competitors. It has tools to do keyword research, find articles that have been widely shared on social media and audit your website to find any hidden issues. I know I sounds like a total fanboy, but I could not run my business without it. “ – Ian Wright
CanIRank – (9 Recommendations)
CanIRank is an SEO tool that gives you actionable ideas to increase your search rankings. Using machine learning, CanIRank’s software provides step-by-step instruction on tackling SEO that is useful for anyone from the DIY Marketer, new business startup, to established businesses. The best part? They have a free version of their software, AND if you are too busy to tackle SEO yourself, their full-service marketing agency will do it for you. CanIRank is the most intuitive keyword difficulty tool I have used in a long time and is an excellent SEO tool for startups.
“Getting step by step outlines of practical SEO tactics with approximate ROI value of each action has saved me so much time, money, and headache! I LOVE CanIRank!” – Stephane Hill
- Google Suite Products – (9 Recommendations)
While it isn’t surprising to see Google products being one of the top startup marketing tools, I was surprised at how many people listed them as the one product they could not live without.
“These products are critical to all marketers being able to track, analyze, and optimize what they are doing regardless of specific marketing tactic(s).
Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager work hand-in-hand to collect and analyze data for a startup. They are the foundation of understanding how each marketing campaign is performing and understanding the overall picture of your site’s success. It answers questions like how many users are purchasing, from what channel, and what marketing campaign. Using this information can help get more conversions and save a lot of time and money by knowing where to optimize your efforts. The opportunities to learn and grow are really endless.
Google AdWords Keyword Planner and Google Search Console also work hand-in-hand. Keyword Planner allows marketers to research what keywords to target for SEO strategies and also marketing tactics such as PPC (pay-per-click) search marketing on Google AdWords platform. Google Search Console allows marketers to see what keywords are driving traffic and enhance the website’s visibility for organic search results on Google.” from Michael at Purcado.
Buffer – (6 Recommendations)
Most marketers have a go-to social media tool, but our experts ranked Buffer the highest! Buffer is a great tool to help you automate your social activities.
“Buffer for Instagram is a godsend for my small business. It allows scheduling posts and planning for your Instagram posts in advance. It works with business accounts and will post automatically. There is a free account that allows up to posting on three social media accounts and 10 posts, the paid plans are reasonable starting at $15 per month. I switch from Hootsuite which I was constantly having issues with. Buffer is built better, faster, and the app works better. The only limitation seems to be posted with multiple photos you have to get a notification on your phone to post semi-manually. “ – Eric from SeaDogStraps.
Canva – (6 Recommendations)
Canva is a tool that allows you to create beautifully designed content without being a designer. With hundreds of templates to get you started, creating beautiful content has never been easier. As a huge lover of Canva myself, I was excited to see this tool mentioned multiple times.
Danielle at TackleWhatsNext told us “One of my favorite marketing tools is Canva. It’s an online graphics site that allows you to easily create custom graphics for social media, websites, and even print materials. There is a free version and a paid account as well. As long as you have wifi, you can create really high-quality graphics without too much trouble”
Zapier – (4 Recommendations)
Zapier is a tool that allows you to integrate between apps.
As eloquently stated by Peter: “Zapier is an automation tool. However, the magic of it is that you can integrate hundreds of apps with each other. You can automate marketing tools, website data, financials, and a hell of a lot more. The range of integrations and possibilities is ridiculous and impossible to sum up in a single paragraph! If you plan to automate any process within the company (which you definitely should be doing), then definitely take a look at it.”
LinkedIn – (3 Recommendations)
A platform loved by SaaS for its ability to connect users and buyers to interested content, I wasn’t surprised to see LinkedIn mentioned multiple times.
“LinkedIn marketing, for us, consists of both reaching out to influencers who are in the HR/Benefits/D&I space to make posts about us that engage their followers, as well as sponsored posts of press coverage on us. We have had great results with both. LinkedIn is great for driving leads because you can easily view their profile to see if they fit our target customer profile and should be a qualified lead. “ – Greg, the CEO of Goodly.
HubSpot – (3 Recommendations)
As a huge fan of HubSpot myself, it wasn’t shocking to see HubSpot as a fan favorite. It’s easy to use, and can help you do everything from marketing automation to social and more!
“The essential marketing tool for startups has to be Hubspot. It provides a beautiful, simple yet effective and easy to follow interface. Even the basic free model provides so many useful features for inbound marketing and sales.
What’s even more awesome is that it integrates so easily into the tools most of us use, and doesn’t interfere with our existing processes. It’s the ultimate tool for starters – you can really get up and running faster and more efficiently with Hubspot.” – Stephanie Ernst of Igina.
ProductHunt – (3 Recommendations)
ProductHunt is a cool site to submit your apps, get users and feedback early. ProductHunt is also a great spot for eCommerce companies to look for ideas on new products. Dave Hannam, the CEO of SharesInside, explained why he loves product hunt with us.
“As an entrepreneur, I find this one quite good. Gave me a great deal of traffic in the first week and consistent traffic since from a basic profile and it’s free…”
Activecampaign – (3 Recommendations)
A great tool for email delivery and automation, Activecampaign is easy to use and can assist you with a variety of marketing strategies.
Facebook – (3 Recommendations)
The Facebook giant wasn’t mentioned nearly as often as I thought it would be. However, it’s no secret that Facebook can be an excellent way to spread awareness, run very targeted ads at a relatively low cost, and so much more!
Hotjar – (3 Recommendations)
Hotjar provides an array of analytic & feedback products that allow us to understand user behavior on a site and make optimizations that can positively impact conversion rate and overall site experience.
Here’s how the CEO of MapleHolistics explained it “Hotjar is a unique innovative analytics tool that helps you perfect the user experience. Hotjar takes the concept of recording for quality to a whole new level. It records the user’s mouse as a version of forensic analysis to create a map rich in user data. With the Hotjar interface, you can see all of the “hotspots” on your site and get a better picture of what the users want. This creative version of analytics can help you figure out what your users find valuable and what they find confusing or frustrating. User experience is such a fundamental part of the game, and with Hotjar it’s practically taken care of.”
SEMRush – (3 Recommendations)
An SEO tool that has a variety of features and allows you to easily strategize your SEO initiatives.
“This tool really has everything you would ever need such as looking at what your competitors are working on to social media management all in one. The subscription plans can even be catered to your own needs, as we have numerous websites we needed a little more than the average user for scans of changes that have occurred with very little additional pricing. SEMrush also has a very close community on Facebook that has always been willing to help me with any problem I’ve encountered as well.” – Michael Russell
OptinMonster – (3 Recommendations)
OptinMonster is a tool that allows you to interact with your customers through your website via pop-ups, screen takeovers, and a wide variety of other methods.
“As far as my favorite tools that I’m using for e-commerce my first pick is OptinMonster. Optinmonster allows our team to quickly create pop-up forms that offer a unique promotional giveaway to our users. Unlike traditional pop-up programs, OptinMonster allows us to target pop-up based on users site behavior. This type of targeted leads to higher CTR and increased sales (not to mention more email subscribers!)” – Dean Decarlo, President of Mission Drift.
Buzzsumo – (2 Recommendations)
BuzzSumo is a tool to help you come up with the best content topics in your industry. Cristian Rennella explained to us why BuzzSumo is her favorite tool in her toolbox, and she isn’t wrong, we love BuzzSumo too!
“BuzzSumo is our favorite tool for revealing the topics we should write about for our audience. With this tool, we optimize the topics on which we will generate content on our site in order to ensure that we are providing relevant information according to the needs of the client. Then this quality content that we create is indexed by Google and we generate new visits to our website that we later transform into customers/sales. This tool helped us to grow our website traffic by 24.7% (yes, AMAZING!).”
Drift – (2 Recommendations)
Drift is a chatbot tool that allows you to deliver personalized messages on your website via automation. Alexandra Brown at Careerminds picked Drift as her #1 go to marketing tool. She explains:
“Drift is a chat tool that you put on your website that allows visitors to chat in with people at your organization. At our company, and at a lot of other startups, delivering high-touch, personalized experiences is a differentiator. So by providing a chatbot on the website, we have been able to deliver that type of experience to future clients.”
PicMonkey – (2 Recommendations)
PicMonkey is a tool to help you create beautiful imagery even if you aren’t a designer. Stephanie Dunkin of MPW Communications raved about PicMonkey being the sole product that helped her transform her business.
“When I started my one-woman marketing and PR firm 10 years ago, I could not afford to use a graphic designer to make web banners and daily social media branded images for clients or my own brand. Enter PicMonkey, a Photoshop-type service that lets novices improve image quality and quickly curate polished social media images, banners–you name it–using their pre-made templates. It’s also a lifesaver for fitting images to look perfect on the various social platforms.Best of all, membership is less than $10/month.”
Slack – (2 Recommendations)
Slack is a great communication tool that’s easy to use and integrates with a plethora of marketing apps. Most of all, it’s fun!
Aweber – (2 Recommendations)
An email marketing automation software that makes it easy to grow your lists and manage your email marketing.
“As someone who builds websites for a living, one of the first things I always think about is building an audience and the original and best way to do that is via my email list. As such, AWeber
is my “go to” tool. Yes, there are plenty of alternatives, but AWeber is tried and tested and easy to use and does everything I need to help me generate a growing list of people I can communicate with directly.” Ben Taylor, a serial solopreneur since 2004 and founder of www.homeworkingclub.com.
Unbounce – (2 Recommendations)
An easy to use landing page builder that is intuitive and full of templates to get you started designing beautifully designed landing pages, with lots of integrations possible as well!
Hootsuite (2 recommedations)
A great social media marketing automation platform, that is simple, easy to use and affordable. HootSuite helps you to take the stress out of social media!
“I love Hootsuite, as I manage several different social media accounts. Being able to schedule out messages for multiple accounts on one platform and see a detailed calendar of posts is really helpful for me when working with my clients.” – Danielle
While these tools were only mentioned once by our expert panel, many of these tools I personally love and use regularly and for every one of these tools, there are a plethora of marketers who could easily argue why each one of these is their ultimate digital marketing tool.
- YouTube – (In case you didn’t already know) YouTube is a video platform/cloud and a way to run video ads. This can be a great tool for eCommerce companies to gain awareness of their products.
- Buzzstream – BuzzStream is an outreach tool. It’s great for collecting details on websites that you need to reach out to. It’s pretty handy as a CRM tool as well. Essentially, if you’re looking to do email marketing and content promotion then BuzzStream is a must have tool. It’s extremely affordable as well, which is a huge plus.
- Woopra: The CEO of HubStaff Dave Nevogt, named Woopra as one of his top three must-have tools.
And here’s why: “Every department in our company uses Woopra to see customer flow, trends, journeys, and engagement. I don’t know what we would do without Woopra. It helps our marketing strategy to see where people are coming from and once they get to our page what is their path? Woopra is awesome for in-depth analytics to really understand your customers and audience.”
- Oracle Marketing Cloud: While likely too expensive for a small startup, Oracle marketing cloud was highlighted as the ultimate must-have tool from Sophie, the CEO of ElMajorTrato as a high-end solution for scaling your marketing efforts.
- HARO – HARO is an easy to use service that helps you find press opportunities and source content writers. And with it being free to use, it’s easy to see how HARO made the list.
Here’s what one of our entrepreneurs had to say:
“It may seem obvious but often overlooked. I love Help A Reporter Out. It’s helped me create media relationships with key contributors in major news and opened opportunities to showcase our lifesaving travel safety training in the Washington Post, USA Today and other major news.” – Sheryl Hill, Executive Director of DepartSmart.
- All in One SEO Pack Plugin – An SEO plugin for WordPress that makes optimizing for SEO a breeze.
- Unicorn Platform – As Tamas explains, “Every business needs a landing page and it’s awesome if you can create one with just a few clicks.”
- Bit.ly – Bit.ly is a free software to help you shorten links for all the times your links end up being too long!
- WordPress – A tool to build websites easily and beautifully, and the number one used website-building tool.
- Pinterest – Another giant that I was surprised to only see mentioned once, Pinterest is a great tool to grow your audiences, engage visually, and build your brand.
- Baremetrics: Extremely helpful to see trends and forecasting. Baremetrics can be excellent for calculating revenue, engagement, and forecasting which is great for business operations. A clean user interface and helpful customer support makes Baremetrics easy to use as well.
- Neverbounce – A tool to clean up email lists and scrub users.
- Sprout Social – Another great social media marketing automation platform.
- Zoho – A CRM and cloud software suite to keep all of your contacts easily managed and make project management simplified.
“We use Zoho to ripple the articles across social media and shout out gratitude to the publications and the writers. #LOVE” – Cheryl Hill
- GetShout.io – An influencer marketing tool to help you step up your influencer marketing game.
- Adomni – An event marketing platform.
The President of the Ultimate Fighting Championship told us the following:
“Whether we’re promoting our pay-per-views a week in advance or making a last-minute push to sell tickets the day of a fight, Adomni gives us the flexibility to make it happen on digital screens around the world. And on their online platform, it works perfectly for us. As of this year, 100 percent of our out-of-state advertising starts on Adomni.com.” – Dana White
- Sumo – Analytics software that allows you insights into your data and allows you to trigger pop-ups and other actions based on the data.
- Shopify – An e-commerce platform that makes setting up your website easy, and full of analytical information as well!
- InfusionSoft – Another great email marketing tool that can help you automate your marketing efforts at a lower cost than some of the other tools. Infusionsoft is a great option for startups to automate their email marketing.
- Plannable – A tool to help you to plan and schedule all social media posts so that you can spend your time elsewhere.
- Outgrow.co – A tool to help you create interactive lead magnets and calculators.
- JetBuzz – A tool that allows you to do LinkedIn outreach at scale.
- Marketo – An advanced marketing automation system that allows you to automate your marketing efforts, build landing pages, and more!
- Adroll – Adroll allows you to easily create retargeting campaigns for your website.
- AdEspresso – “AdEspresso is great for quickly split testing ad creative and headlines (we also use this to split test website copy)” – Marcel, CEO of Parakeeto.
- Salesforce – The CRM giant that allows you to streamline your sales processes.
- Serpfox – A great tool for SEO tracking.
- Instagram – While Instagram wasn’t mentioned nearly as many times as I thought it would be, the social media giant is not to be ignored especially for eCommerce businesses. Now owned by Facebook, Instagram is a great tool to have in your arsenal.
Choosing the right tools to utilize for marketing isn’t always easy, and so we hope this helps you find a few of the most loved tools!
Did your favorite tool make the list? Let us know!