Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! While stuffing our faces with cranberries and mashed potatoes, we're going to ruminate on a lot of things we're thankful for -- friends, family, our jobs -- and some of the things that make our jobs way easier . And the easier we make our jobs, the more time we can spend with friends and family. See how that works? ;-)
So I asked a bunch of marketers what tools, tricks, and tips make them salivate more than a juicy turkey, and they came up with some awesome stuff(ing). (Getting tired of the Thanksgiving puns yet?) Here are some of the things that we're thankful to have as marketers -- because they make us do our jobs better, quicker, stronger, faster. I hope you can take away a few gems to implement once your holiday is over -- and that you share some of your little tricks with us in the comments!
Social Media Tools
1) Social Media Publishing Tools - It's wonderful to be able to actually enjoy your time off as a social media manager -- and social publishing tools let you do that. We use HubSpot's social media publishing tool , and it's supremely awesome because it allows you to schedule not just text updates, but image updates, too. That means we don't have to sacrifice engagement on Facebook over the holidays or weekends because we're just scheduling text updates, or spend our holidays at the computer creating memes to keep engagement up.
2) Facebook Global Pages - These are a pretty new development , but this is so helpful for global marketers. Before, Facebook marketers had two choices: Have one Facebook page for an entire global audience, meaning it was pretty untargeted; or have multiple Facebook pages to accommodate a global audience, and then struggle to maintain alllll of those pages. Facebook's global pages mean marketers get the best of both worlds -- a central maintenance location with better targeting options.
3) Audience Targeting in Facebook Advertisements - There's more to love about Facebook. Their audience targeting in their ad platform lets marketers, well, create ads targeted at a specific audience. Pretty self-explanatory. But also pretty -- or insanely -- helpful. It prevents a lot of money from being wasted because ads are way more relevant. You can even target custom audiences from email addresses you already have in your database!
4) Twitter Hashtags - Twitter hashtags are insanely helpful for marketing a specific event on Twitter -- and eliminate the desire to create a separate handle for something. So when we host an event like INBOUND , we don't need to manage yet another Twitter handle, we can simply create an event-specific hashtag and monitor the discussion there. That is so much easier!
Content Creation Tools
5) The Thesaurus - Ridiculous? Maybe. But holy cow do bloggers use this a lot. If you aren't leveraging it, get on it! We use this all the time in our "Title Brainstorms" so our vocabulary doesn't get stale (let's not call everything , "great," am I right?) and readers want to keep clicking on our headlines. Bookmark this baby on your toolbar for easier brainstorming, and more variety in your vocabulary!
6) Evernote - Whether you use Evernote or another note-taking app, this is so helpful for writing or brainstorming content when you're on the go. For example, many of our content creators have their best ideas when they're not at their computer. On the train, making their bed, in the shower, what have you. Instead of powering up your computer when you have content inspiration, an app like Evernote helps you keep your ideas straight, and easily find them later when you're at your work computer.
7) Factbrowser - You know when you're creating content and you need a compelling stat or data point to make your point? Enter Factbrowser . It's like Google for data. Broken down by topic, source, format, region, and/or demographic. You're welcome.
8) CreativeCommons - You have three options for getting images for your marketing content: Spend money on a stock photography site, create them yourself, or steal them from someone else on the internet. Oh wait, you have a fourth option! It's CreativeCommons! They let you search for photos that are free and allowed to be used commercially, provided you give credit to the artist. We use it all the time -- including in this very blog post!
9) Final Cut Pro X - The new version of this video editing tool not only lets even the least experienced video editors create something amazing and professional-looking, but it lets you easily share videos to YouTube and Vimeo directly -- without having to save them to your computer and then re-upload them.
10) PowerPoint as a Design Tool - It's not just for presentations, people! Marketers can use PowerPoint as a design tool -- to create professional looking calls-to-action , ebooks, even infographics ... all without needing to call up a designer or invest in expensive design software.
11) Snipping Tool - The snipping tool is a Windows tool that lets you easily take screen captures -- this is amazing for creating tutorials on how to do something, or even to interface with your IT or Support team to demonstrate bugs that arise. Here's a great synopsis of how to set it up on your computer if you haven't already.
12) Google Webmaster Tools - Google has fantastic free tools that help marketers with their SEO. You can check things like the number of indexed pages on your website, submit your site to Google so you're getting crawled and indexed, and even disavow bad inbound links .
13) Free Site Crawl Tools - The more your site grows, the harder it is to get a full picture of all the pages out there -- and the problems they might have that are affecting your SEO. That's why free tools like Xenu and Screaming Frog are fantastic; they crawl your entire site, and spit out a spreadsheet of all the pages, URLs, and broken links on your site. It's a content or SEO auditor's dream.
14) Excel, Excel, Excel - Any report that can be exported into Excel makes a marketer's life so much easier, whether from a tool like Xenu, or when we use HubSpot. It's great to be able to have a spreadsheet of raw data that you can manipulate and analyze from different angles.
15) VLOOKUP - Marketers can analyze data very quickly using a VLOOKUP in Excel, searching for and identifying all types of a particular set of data. It saves our event marketers, in particular, a ton of time.
16) YouTube Analytics - With YouTube Analytics -- which they revamped about a year ago -- marketers can measure the effectiveness of their videos just like any other content they create. Looking at metrics like drop-off time and engagement help you ascertain which videos resonate most with viewers, the ideal length for your videos, and what content within the videos is most engaging.
17) HubSpot Sources - I think our marketing team looks at our Sources dashboard every single day. Whether you're using Sources or some other analytics software, we love being able to see where our site traffic is coming from, how it compares to past months, and whether any specific channels are totally rocking -- or totally tanking. And a great little feature within Sources is the ability to set daily, weekly, and monthly goals so you can always see how you're trending towards reaching that goal.
18) Statistical Significance Calculator - Most marketers can't do this kind of math in their head -- if you can, call us, we're interested. For the rest of us, when you're running any kinds of tests in your marketing, statistical significance calculators help you know when your test's results are actually meaningful. That way, you don't end your A/B test before the results are relevant.
Collaboration & Planning Tools
19) Google Drive - You might remember them as Google Docs, but I digress. Google Drive is a fantastic collaboration tool -- something all marketers are familiar with -- that helps everyone see and update information in real time. In fact, this very blog post used Google Drive to collect the tools and tricks our marketers loved! Plus, it's fun to see other people typing, and then try to finish their sentences with silly words. Again, I digress.
20) Filtering and Archiving in Gmail - If there's one thing I'm sure we all suffer from, it's inbox overload. Gmail provides life-saving filtering and archiving features so you can block out the messages that don't matter, and clear your inbox of message you do care about, but don't need to see right this moment.
21) Dropbox - Besides being a company with totally lovable marketing , Dropbox helps marketers that are frequently sharing big files from person to person. This is pretty common when you're doing any kind of design work, whether with a third party or in-house. Plus, you can access, edit, and save that content from anywhere.
22) HipChat - HipChat is an instant messaging client that lets a large team communicate with each other easily. This is especially important when working on campaigns across different departments, or across different sub-departments within your marketing department. For example, you could create different chat rooms for your email team, your content team, and your sales team -- and then only bring people into your room when you need their input, and leave them out when they don't need to be bothered.
23) Stand-up - No, not the comedy. Stand-up meetings are daily meetings that are intended to be short, and keep you agile. We often do a 5-10 minute stand-up meeting in the morning on each of the sub-teams in marketing to catch up coworkers on what's happening, prioritize projects, and get any minutiae out of the way so we can all be productive during the workday. So the two members of the blogging team will chat with each other quickly to sort out their day, but they won't do a stand-up with, say, the marketing ops team, because they're working on different initiatives. It's a must for agile marketers, in my opinion.
Sales & Nurturing Tools
24) Landing Page Creation Tool - Any marketer who has had to work with designers or IT to get landing pages created ... and found that it took days or even weeks to get it done, will be thankful for an easy landing page creation tool. We use HubSpot, and it makes our lives easier because we can create a landing page in less than 5 minutes. It makes launching offers so much easier, which means lead generation is made easier.
25) Smart List Segmentation - You're probably not batching and blasting anymore, but if you haven't dappled in smart list segmentation, ohmygosh, you will be so excited when you do! We use our smart list segmentation tool -- which means the software knows when a contact on your list does something that triggers them to receive a certain type of email content, be removed from a list, or be added to another list. That's a whole lot of manual labor that you don't have to do anymore. Helloooo, friends, family, and hobbies outside of work!
26) CRM - This isn't exactly small potatoes ... but if we weren't using a CRM -- we use Salesforce -- we would be a fumbling mess of a sales and marketing organization. It helps us close the loop on our marketing analytics, it helps us organize our lead intelligence, and it enables our sales team. If you're not using a CRM yet, it might be worth it to look into giving yourself (and your entire company) a nice little present this holiday season.
27) Agile and Aligned Sales Team - I think everyone is thankful for this, but our sales team calls warm leads as soon as possible. They've found a lot more success with calling leads right away, instead of waiting a few days or weeks to call. It makes us thankful as marketers, because we know the leads we're working to generate aren't going to waste.
28) Social Media - Social media is an amazing way to stay up to date on trends and news, so you can be the first to report on it in your industry. We try to follow people that are always tweeting out the latest and greatest marketing updates so we're in the know -- and can connect with primary sources, too.
29) Ebooks - Ebooks are a great resource for getting a deep dive tutorial on a specific topic, but without having to invest the time (and money, if it's a free ebook) into an entire book. Plus, you can read them on your own time ... like maybe during a long flight home from Thanksgiving!
30) Webinars - Webinars are another amazing informational resource, but they let you actually hear the experts. This is awesome for topics that you need a little more hands-on teaching to grasp. Plus, you don't have to spend a bunch of money and time traveling to conferences to get it.
What makes your life as a marketer easier? Share the tools, hacks, and shortcuts you're thankful for. And as a final little gift to you, here's something else we totally love ... a free template to help you easily create infographics , even (especially) if you're not a designer. Enjoy!