9 Must-Have Tools for Growth Hackers and Marketing Managers
I try to keep up to date with new tools for growth hackers on sites like Product Hunt and Siftery but frankly, it's too much to handle. I find myself sorting through a number of great tools that do very specific things really well but I run into the same issues each time: 1) I don't have the budget/patience to try all these tools and 2) Surfing these addicting sites is a serious time-suck.
For each step in a marketing campaign there are hundreds of great tools to help. As I'm sure many of you would agree, the most efficient way I find new tools that really end up helping is from friendly referrals. Especially ones I can afford.
About a year ago I started asking friends who had worked as a marketing specialist or a marketing manager what tools they used to get the job done. I wanted to know what they were using to build a campaign strategy, create content, distribute content, and analyze results for future campaigns.
I got a lot of recommendations.
After trying a handful of them, I've settled on nine that are a must-have (or you should at least be aware of). If you use a tool you think I should add to the list, let me know in the comments and I'll keep building on this post.
Without further ado, here are 9 must-have tools for growth hackers and marketing managers (and how I use them):
I used to think Hubspot was the classic, "Jack of all trades and master of none." I'm happy to say I was wrong. While there are certainly shortcomings here or there, I can't stress enough how nice it is to have one central nervous system for your marketing and sales department. Hubspot helps you to strategize using keyword reports, generate content and host pages with them, distribute content with their social publishing tools, analyze results with their reports tool, and automatically send leads to your sales team using their CRM.
Pros: Everything in one place. Allows whole team to collaborate and their workflows automatically move people through your marketing and sales process. They have really helpful customer success managers. They also offer a huge discount program for startups.
Cons: All the tools are 95% what you want them to be. 95% is still worth it but there's always a tiny issue. Their support staff is not very quick, so don't expect issues to be resolved in less than 2-3 days. Their design manager is absolutely horrible, so designing landing pages or blogs is a bit difficult (more on that further down the post). The good new is if you do this once, you don't really need to do it again. Trudge through the first bits of setting up and you'll be a happy marketer.
Just as Hubspot manages your inbound funnel, Intercom manages communication with visitors as they reach the site, as they convert from a visitor to a user, and throughout the process of using your product or service. I like to think of Intercom as picking up where Hubspot leaves off. They have different offerings including: Acquire, Engage, Educate, and Resolve. Each is pretty self-explanatory and it's an easy tool to navigate. Intercom also does a tremendous job segmenting users based on behavior within your app, which helps further develop your messaging and strategy.
Pros: The team at Intercom is chock full of product enthusiasts, and it shows. The interface and design of this tool is amazing and simple. Our dev team also loves it, their API is friendly and easy to integrate (it's also fast). They have some serious competition with new incumbents like Drift but I personally still find Intercom to be the superior product.
Cons: The price begins to add up for a small company. The good news is that you can break out the different offerings to reduce your price. Personally, a more complicated pricing structure like this annoys me, but in this case I can't think there is a better alternative.
Eventually you will be driving some significant traffic to your site, now you need to fully understand where people are coming from and how they're interacting with your platform. Kissmetrics is an incredibly powerful tool for doing just this. Analytics tools like Google Analytics and Hubspot are helpful on a high level but are not easily used for understanding behavior. With Kissmetrics, you can track and analyze behavior to gain a better understanding of what converts visitors to customers.
Pros: Relatively simple to setup. Incredibly powerful. Great customer service (they will help you setup according to your specific needs.)
Cons: Expensive for a small company (plans start at $220/mo). Analytics tools of this level can be tough to justify when you're just setting out, but you have to remember that you can generate more revenue with less traffic if you fully understand how people move through your platform.
Think of this tool as the Google for content ideas. It's a search engine for content that performs. Pretty invaluable when you're trying to figure out what to write about on your blog, or how to design your next white paper, or how long to make your infographic. This tool pairs perfectly with any content distribution tool. You can also see what's working for your competitors, which I promise is a very interesting and helpful thing to do. It will show you the number of social engagements with a piece of a content, back links, and total shares. Incredibly powerful stuff when you think about how much content there is to compete with in this little thing called the internet.
Pros: You can immediately start using the tool, it takes about 10 seconds to start gaining valuable insight into what content is working for who.
Cons: Similar to any keyword research tools, it's not totally clear what you should tackle first after starting a search. I think they could do a better job at giving new users a few actionable insights once they have queried a few topics or competitors. If you subscribe with them, they will help you through this.
While the Hubspot Design Manager leaves much to be desired, Instapage is an absolutely stellar landing page design tool. After about an hour with their templates and drag and drop interface, I designed a pretty killer landing page for our data analysis and report tracking tool. It's also super easy to setup your own subdomain. They offer a lot of flexibility with custom html boxes for adding other widgets or tracking codes. Probably the best part is their A/B testing interface. It's ridiculously simple and incredibly powerful for the price. This is one of my favorite tools in our stack.
Pros: Great price point if you're just starting out, and the price allows you to make many landing pages. Friendly and fast support. Super simple interface.
Cons: While they have a number of great integrations, they don't have as many as I would like (or at least, they don't currently integrate with tools I use). I don't think this is much to fret about since I have a number of workarounds, but I have to pick at least one con to be fair.
If you haven't already heard of this tool I'm about to let you in on a little social media secret: you can take a few minutes out of one day and schedule your posts for the whole week. Buffer is the best tool for doing just that. It's simple and easy to get started. Not to mention, their free version is crazy powerful. I've used Hootsuite, a major competitor to Buffer, and personally like Buffer's simple interface much more. Their founders are also very committed to transparency, which is cool.
Pros: Easy to get started and simple interface. They integrate with a ton of other apps too which makes its use-cases virtually endless. See next tool for an example.
Cons: Could use more monitoring tools. While they help with scheduling, it's not a tool for engagement. Luckily, Hubspot has a pretty great monitoring tool if you use that.
I only recently found this tool but I am pretty in love with it so far. The basic premise of Quuu is to build a targeted social audience by automating interesting, relevant posts. The setup is pretty easy: you tell Quuu what topics you like to follow and they send you great content that you can post to your accounts for followers to enjoy. The other cool thing though is that it's actually a marketplace. You can submit your content to be suggested to other marketers, giving you a pretty broad distribution channel with only a few clicks. This one is still in testing for me, but so far so good.
Pros: Easy to get setup, free to get started.
Cons: Like any content automation tool, you get some noise. It's also too soon to tell if the accounts spreading your content are of much help or if all they do is spread content. There is a balance that I'm not sure Quuu is policing.
Socedo is another new tool for me but one that is tackling a significant problem I've found in social media marketing. If you're really trying to sell something, it's not good enough to shove content down your followers feeds. Sometimes you need a more personal approach, but that takes a lot of time. Socedo automates a lead generation process through Twitter by targeting real people who are talking about topics similar to what you're selling. Once it identifies these people, it sends them a personalized message to start a conversation. You pick up the conversation from there. This helps you to sell in a more traditional way using platforms like Twitter.
Pros: Helps to balance content distribution with a real, personal touch.
Cons: Like any lead gen tool, you're going to come off as a bit spammy in some situations. The tool is built well though, and you can minimize the spamming with some added effort.
This may be more of a sales tool but I included it in this list for anyone responsible for reaching out to people directly. Hunter.io essentially helps you get the email of anyone on the planet. Unfortunately it doesn't work for everyone, but it's pretty darn close. It's a hugely helpful tool if you're trying to hand off leads with full contact information to your sales team, or if you're the one reaching out to people for the sale. It's pretty magical.
Pros: The free plan allows for 150 leads per month, which isn't bad when you're starting out. It's also not a very expensive tool in general, starting at $39.
Cons: Finding emails is all this tool does. For many that's not necessarily a con, but when your budget is slim it's always nice to have a bit more.
Bonus: Kickoff Labs
What's a listicle without a little bonus? (or miscount, depending on your mood). I thought I would include this tool for anyone creating a launch campaign. Kickoff Labs is the best tool I've found for generating referral campaigns. Seems others agree, since Kickoff touts over 12 million leads generated via their tool. The setup is simple and their templates are based on brilliant strategies that worked for other companies like you.
Pros: Incredibly easy setup, really robust tool
Cons: Considering the most popular user is probably someone just starting out, I'm willing to bet the $149/mo starting price is a bit high, but another consideration is that it's not a tool you'll use indefinitely. Paying $500-$1000 for a viral campaign is well worth the money. Especially considering these should be high-quality leads based on referral.
Go get 'em killer
Are you pumped to get going? I am. These tools rock. Let me know in the comment section if I missed any or if you have any suggestions, I always love a new referral.