by Michelle Robertson – 99designs

A business without a comprehensive digital marketing campaign is like a ship without sails—it’s not going anywhere. If you want your company to get noticed in today’s fast-paced world, you’re gonna need to market yourself online, and you’ll need to be savvy about it.

computer illustrator design creation
Illustration by Jansen Yang

But where to start? Deep breaths, deep breaths. We’re here to help.

Here we compiled our picks for the best digital marketing tools. Your toolkit must be large and multidisciplinary, encapsulating every aspect of the brand experience. You already know the importance of a systematic email campaign, and the value in streamlining customer service support to retain happy followers. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Our digital marketing tools help you with everything from planning and video to SEO and landing pages. Most of these tools are free or affordable. And they’re all easy to use and learn. Most importantly, they’ll help you expand your brand engagement without wasting time. Think of them as the wind beneath your sails.

1. Slack: The best tool for planning

Slack is your team’s very own social networking application. The interface allows you to send messages to your entire company, your team or directly to individuals, and everything is organized by “channels,” which allow you to quickly reach your desired audience (plus, you can’t beat the emoji selection). Need to engage in a longer discussion? Start a thread on any message to keep your correspondence from clogging up the rest of the channel.

slack homepage messaging social network
Image via Slack

Besides quick messaging, Slack makes it easy to quickly share files, photos, documents and, let’s face it, cat videos. Because the application is cloud-based, you can access your account from any computer or mobile device. Plus, everything is stored in the cloud, meaning you can easily pull up years-old messages or files.

Pricing

Starts at $8 a month per active user

2. Animoto: The best app for DIY video creation

Never underestimate the power of video marketing. Videos are the future, so it’s time to start creating them. If you don’t know where to start, apps like Animoto can help you easily create gorgeous, professional slideshow videos with visual effects, text, music and more.

animoto homepage video slideshow
Image via Animoto

Just select a template, then drag and drop your desired media assets directly into the timeline. No fancy video editing skills necessary. Plus, Animoto includes access to Getty Images, the world’s premiere stock photo and video library with millions of assets, so you won’t have to slug through the dredges of the internet in search of classy, complementary visuals.Sign up for our free, 7-day email course and learn to build the perfect brand identity.We’ll also send you creative tips, trends, resources and the occasional promo (which you can opt-out of anytime).Sign me up! View our privacy policy

An added perk? You can instantly publish your masterpiece to all your social channels or websites with just a few clicks!

If you want to amp up your video game even more, consider working with a professional filmmaker to get a video.

Pricing

Starts at $33 a month for companies, which includes high quality video, templates, fonts and thousands of commercially licensed photos, video and music tracks.

3. Ubersuggest: The best way to beef up SEO

So you’ve made an incredible Animoto video. How will people find it? Answer: SEO, meaning “search engine optimization.” SEO helps your web content appear higher up on a potential customer’s Google search (because how else does anyone find stuff these days?).

Ubersuggest takes the guesswork out of SEO and does the keyword tagging for you. Got a campaign about bubbly water? The app will compile hundreds of head terms and long-tail phrases that people typically search when they’re craving a fizzy beverage (so you don’t have to spend 20 minutes brainstorming all the different ways one can say “seltzer”). And it does the work faster than you can say, “I’m addicted to pamplemousse.”

Pricing

Free!

4. Facebook Live: The best way to live-stream to followers

Live-streaming isn’t just for makeup tutorials and gender reveal parties. It’s quickly becoming a common practice for brands looking to engage with their followers on a more personal level. Company launch? Livestream it. Product explainer? Livestream it. Holiday party? You guessed it, livestream! Going Facebook Live makes your followers feel like they really know your company and all the hands behind it. It’s personal, human and fun.

facebook live live-stream video
Image via Facebook Live

Plus, it’s a great way to beat that tricky Facebook algorithm. When you go live on Facebook, every one of your followers receives a notification—no “pay to play” here.

I once accidentally live-streamed a video of my washing machine on my personal page. At least 12 people tuned in. Now that’s engagement.

Pricing

Free

5. Hootsuite: The best tool for streamlining social media

If you’re like me and can barely maintain a Twitter page, Hootsuitewill become your new best friend. Even Martha Stewart reportedly uses it.

Hootsuite is a browser-based dashboard that can service multiple social media accounts. You can see which posts on Twitter are trending (and react accordingly), and search topics by keyword, location and time to keep up with the hot social topics du jour. Thanks to Hootsuite, I know that MLB pitcher Madison Bumgarner is trending today. So is “Battletoads.”

hootsuite homepage social media twitter
Image via Hootsuite

The app also lets you schedule posts for specific times, so your social media presence doesn’t disappear when you’re out-of-office. And like all great social media tools, it provides statistics and analytics of your multiplatform social presence, letting you know which tweets were hits and which posts could use some work.

Pricing

Starts at $29 a month for a single user with up to 10 social profiles

6. Leadpages: The best resource for nailing the landing page

First impressions matter. A landing page serves as a customer’s initial introduction to your company and its offerings. If they don’t like what they see, it’s easy enough to click away and keep Googling. Leadpages was designed to ease this marketing pain point.

leadpages homepage website design
Image via Leadpages

Leadpages offers a tool to create conversion-optimized web pages that also present cleanly on mobile. You start with a template, then drag-and-drop your assets to create a professional-looking landing page designed to generate conversions. I used it to set up my personal website—and am eternally grateful it decided a photo of my kitten was a more stylish homepage image than the clipart I’d been using.

Leadpages makes your sleek website look even sleeker with its conversion toolkit that includes alert bars, pop-ups and opt-in messages to grab the attention of website visitors and keep them clicking.

If you want your page to be even more unique, work with a web designer to get a custom web design.

Pricing

Starts at $25 a month for small businesses, including the Site Builder tool, free hosting, templates, conversion tools and more

7. Mailchimp: The best way to build robust email campaigns

Gone are the days of cut-and-paste mass email. Mailchimpstreamlines every aspect of email newsletter creation: from design and subscriber management, to analytics tracking and social sharing. The email templates are easy-to-use and oh-so-snazzy, with built-in images and calls-to-action.

mailchimp homepage email service
Image via Mailchimp

First and foremost, you’ll need a service like Mailchimp if you ever want a mass mailer to reach your desired audiences’ mailboxes. Most internet service providers and email hosts limit the number of emails you can send at any one time to prevent spamming. Mailchimp helps you circumvent this issue by allowing you to send an email to thousands of recipients at one time. If an email does bounce, Mailchimp will tell you why.

Looking for more subscribers? Mailchimp even helps you integrate an email signup link directly on your website.

Pricing

Starts at $10 a month for basic tools and mailing lists of up to 50,000 subscribers

8. Zendesk: The best tool for customer service management

Never drop the ball on customer interactions with Zendesk, a customer support system that integrates across phone, chat, email, social media and more. With Zendesk, any correspondence with your company’s customer service email or call line will be immediately added to your dashboard and formulated into a ticket.

zendesk homepage customer service support
Image via Zendesk

Are you lacking customer service tools on your website? Zendesk can help with that. The company offers a host of applications that are easily embeddable into websites and mailers. You can also add a live chat system to your site to resolve customer issues and complaints instantly.

Because the service is powered by machine-learning and organizes all your customer information in a single location, you can quickly create tickets, and resolve them once the issue has been addressed. The service also works internally: Got a request from a salesperson or need IT help? All you have to do is create a ticket.

Pricing

Starts at $5 per agent per month, billed annually

9. Google Analytics: The best website for analytics and performance

Google Analytics is the big kahuna for data-driven performance tracking. This detailed app has a learning curve, but its offerings cover the gamut of analytics analysis for your website.

google analytics homepage data
Image via Google Analytics

You’ll learn everything from how many unique visits your website received over time to the profile of visitors (down to their age group, location and income bracket). You’ll also get help determining your best (and worst) performing pages, and tools to bring the weaklings up to par.

You’re spending all this time creating a digital marketing campaign, so you better check in with how it’s doing.

Pricing

Free for websites with fewer than 5 million visitors a month.

Do it right with digital marketing tools

These nine digital marketing tools are just the start for beefing up your outreach. There are hundreds of resources out there for businesses both small and large, but these are a great start for acing your digital marketing strategy from all angles. The ship’s steering wheel is in your hands now, so set sail!