19 Best Digital Marketing Tools: The Absolutely Objective List

I’ve tried out most of the big digital marketing software platforms.

This list is going to cover my favorite ones, but it will also focus on the ones that are underrated. Clearly, you know HubSpot and Mailchimp are popular digital marketing tools.

I’m going to avoid super obvious ones like that where possible.

Also note: It’s super biased.

I’m not going to tell you their G2 rating or give you a comparison chart, because deep down in your heart of hearts, you know those don’t matter.

Instead, I’m going to tell you the tools I personally use on a daily or weekly basis that help me run my businesses.

Here’s what makes me reliable (and puts my recommendations into context):

I specialize in data-driven growth marketing, primarily CRO / experimentation and content marketing. I own a content marketing agency, monetize my blog with affiliate revenue and a course, and have worked in growth roles at the pre-seed founding team stage all the way up through 5k person companies.

And if I were forced to pick the top 19 digital marketing software products out there, this is what they would be.

Editorial note: some of the links that follow may be affiliate links, meaning I’ll get a kickback if you purchase the product. However, that doesn’t change my editorial policy, which is to speak the truth. If a product sucks, I’ll say it. These reviews are as honest as possible.

The 19 Best Digital Marketing Software and Tools in 2021

  1. ConvertKit
  2. Jarvis
  3. Simplecast
  4. GrowthBar
  5. Ahrefs
  6. Clearscope
  7. HubSpot CRM
  8. Google Analytics
  9. Google Tag Manager
  10. Google Data Studio
  11. Convert.com
  12. Buffer
  13. Teachable
  14. Unbounce
  15. Demio
  16. Survey Anyplace
  17. Canva
  18. Notion
  19. Zapier

1. ConvertKit

ConvertKit is sick.

I just switched from Mailchimp (it’s a top Mailchimp alternative, especially for creators/bloggers like me).

What it is? Mainly an email marketing platform, but it has all the stuff you need to grow your list as well as engage with subscribers and monetize your audience.

Why is it cool? Well, it starts out free. It’s also purely built for creators. So maybe it doesn’t have every little feature in the feasible marketing universe like HubSpot or Drift might have. But it lets you built landing pages, create popups, collect emails, segment and personalize your list, and sell directly to your audience on your website.

It’s awesome.

Price: starts freemium, then cheap. Best bang for your buck.

2. Jarvis

Maybe you’ve heard about GPT-3. Helps you write copy!

Jarvis is an AI copywriting software. It is trained by conversion and copywriting experts, which helped it acquire incredible writing skills and write copies that convert.

They even claim that every line of their website copy was written by their own copywriting tool.

It can help you write pretty much any type of copy. Common use cases are Facebook Ads and Google Ads, sales pages, product blurbs, and blog posts. Yes, even blog posts. This is the only AI copywriting software I’ve seen that can actually help you write blog posts.

I’ll tell you, I mainly use it for getting past writer’s block. No AI can cop my writing style (yet), but it can help me get out of my own head and get words on paper. Yes, I’m using it to help me write this very article.

Price: $29/mo

3. Simplecast

Simplecast is a podcast hosting platform.

Clearly, not everyone reading this will need a podcast hosting platform. Because not everyone has a podcast.

But perhaps in the future, everyone will. If you’re a marketer, in fact, it’s very likely you’ll work on or around a podcast. Software companies are turning into media companies left and right.

So anyway, I’ve been podcasting this year and I’ve recorded roughly 4 dozen episodes. Simplecast has made the process of getting them uploaded and distributed to all major platforms incredibly easy.

All plans come replete with features to build out your burgeoning media empire:

  • Unlimited storage & uploads
  • Distribution to everywhere your audience listens
  • Basic analytics
  • Customizable show website with custom domain
  • Manage multiple shows with one account
  • Embeddable episode web player
  • Recast for you (and your listeners)
  • A secure (HTTPS) site and RSS feed

Price: $15/month

4. GrowthBar

GrowthBar is quickly becoming my favorite SEO software.

First off, the team is great. Cares about the industry, and in fact, they *are* SEO industry experts (having built up a high powered SEO-driven content website).

So the tool is great. Simple, but great.

Like Jarvis, it uses artificial intelligence (again, GPT-3 by Open AI) to help you create one-click blog post outlines. This generates content outlines for your blog or website with proper titles, introductions, keywords, word counts, headers, images, links and more. They’re really the first end-to-end SEO tool to use OpenAI GPT-3, the largest language model ever created.

Awesome stuff.

You can also use it for keyword research as well as rank tracking. And of course, keep a tab on what your competitors are doing in search.

Great new tool, with new features coming constantly. Invest early in becoming a user of this one.

Price: $29/month

5. Ahrefs

Despite all that, I still use Ahrefs more than any other SEO tool.

It’s just the GOAT at this point.

With a full suite of tools to power keyword research, content gap analysis, rank tracking, site explorer, backlink analysis (including backlink velocity and filtering for nofollow and dofollow links), and technical site audits, it is undefeated in its power and flexibility.

Bit of a steep entry level price tag, and sure, it doesn’t have the AI writing capabilities. But it’s still probably the tool I spend the most time in (except for Google Analytics and Google Docs).

Look, I created a whole content marketing strategy course, and we basically used Ahrefs to showcase the bulk of our lessons. It’s that much of a favorite.

If you’re an SEO, you’ve undoubtedly used Ahrefs. If you’re not an SEO or if you’d like to become one, get to know this platform. It’s industry standard at this point. I like SEMRush, but my favorite is Ahrefs.

Price: $99/mo

6. Clearscope

Clearscope is another indispensable SEO tool in my arsenal.

It’s the only way, in fact, that I’ve been able to safely scale up content with freelancers, guest posters, and myself.

Why? Well, it automates a large portion of my quality assurance process and content planning.

How? Clearscope reverse engineers on-page ranking signals for a given keyword. It does so by looking at the top few search engine result pages of content that is already ranking, and it shows you which keywords are most important to add throughout your content (which also helps you build an outline and decide which topics and questions to answer within the content).

Coolest part is it gives you an interactive ‘grade’ — so I always aim for an A+ on Clearscope.

Here, check this out. This is the Clearscope report for this blog post, targeting ‘digital marketing software’

Looks like I’ll have to mention social media 6-8 more times.

Price: $170/month

7. HubSpot CRM

I know I said I wouldn’t put the major, popular digital marketing tools on this list. But the HubSpot CRM, as well as the next few items on this list, are exceptions.

They’re exceptions because I use them all the time. They’re core tools in my daily working life.

Most businesses need a CRM. Maybe not even if you’re a solopreneur. But if you’re doing any sort of sales or building any sort of customer database, then you need a CRM. Gotta manage your customer relationship data somewhere, and an easy customer relationship management system like this one makes it fun and easy.

HubSpot is great for small businesses and startups. It’s excellent, especially for B2B and service businesses. That’s why we use it at my agency.

It’s super easy to use, connects with pretty much every other digital marketing tool, and it starts out free. Of course, we use some other HubSpot features as well, namely marketing automation and workflows.

We also use many of the native integrations with HubSpot, such as setting up Slack notifications when leads come in via our web forms. The email product comes with easy to use templates, too, which saves us time.

When we plan out marketing campaigns, we also do all of this within HubSpot.

I tend not to love “all-in-one” tools because functionality tends to lack, but HubSpot is pretty great. The veritable inventors of inbound marketing!

If I had to trade up on a CRM, it would be Pipedrive. And frankly, you still can’t beat Salesforce or Marketo if you’re an enterprise. For ecommerce, Sendinblue acts as a great CRM.

(FYI, I would not use HubSpot as a content management tool. I’d use WordPress or Contentful.).

Price: free

8. Google Analytics

Google Analytics is as close to ubiquitous as a digital marketing tool gets.

I don’t think I know a single marketer who hasn’t used Google Analytics. Although, most marketers don’t really know how to use it well, so if you can become a power user, you’ll be leagues ahead in terms of your value as a marketer.

Google Analytics is a website analytics tool. It allows you to collect data on website visitors and users, ranging from their acquisition source (e.g. social media, organic search engine, email marketing, referral, PPC), device type (mobile, desktop, tablet), new versus returning visitor and more.

You can set up events on your website to track user engagement, and you can set up goals on your website to map out your conversion rates (and also look at conversion rates of various segments). Also, you can see real-time user data.

Today you really can’t get away without being a data-driven company to some extent. Google Analytics is far and away the most popular tool in this space. There are several plugins to help you set up Google Analytics on WordPress or HubSpot in like 2 clicks. It’s super easy.

If you’re enterprise, maybe you use Adobe Analytics. If you’re super technical, maybe you use Snowplow. If you’re a product manager, maybe you’re used to Mixpanel or Amplitude.

But everyone should know Google Analytics. If you want to learn more about GA, I wrote basically a book’s worth of content for KlientBoost on the tool.

Price: free

9. Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager is underrated but absolutely necessary.

Actually, many marketers couldn’t tell you what a tag management platform does.

Simply put, you likely have a large amount of “tags” on your website. These range from analytics tracking codes to third party javascript snippets for tools like Buffer or HotJar that you want to install on your site. Google Tag Manager helps you organize all of your tags and fire them at the right place and at the right time

Once you get good at Tag Manager, you can do a ton of cool stuff, too (for instance, type this on your keyboard right now: up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A).

To get the most out of the tool, you’ll likely need a data product manager and an engineer. But it doesn’t hurt to know your way around the tool as a marketer

Price: free

10. Google Data Studio

Image Source

Alright, last Google product here: Google Data Studio.

I hate reporting. Rather, I hate manually created trend reports that I can just automate. Enter: Data Studio.

It helps me create user friendly reports that any stakeholder can view and even alter and interact with. It’s amazing for agency client work. It’s also just great when you want to democratize certain data (can’t expect everyone to learn the ins and outs of an analytics platform).

Google Data Studio has drastically improved in performance and its feature set over the years, too. It started out pretty basic, but now it’s approaching Tableau level capabilities. Plus, you can integrate literally any data source with it.

Price: free

11. Convert.com

A/B testing is my favorite thing to do in marketing. It blends art, science, and creativity.

I’ve used most of the A/B testing platforms out there, and it’s honestly very difficult to pick a favorite one. I personally love Conductrics, but it’s more advanced than many companies need. I also love the simplicity and price of Google Optimize, but you’ll reach its limits soon if you’re running A/B tests at scale.

So I’ll showcase Convert here.

Convert has all the features of Optimizely and is much more affordable. The team is awesome, the support fast and effective, and the advanced features like personalization are pretty darn good.

Convert is just a great all around A/B testing and personalization app.

The price tag is still a bit steep, so if you’re looking for a beginner platform, try Google Optimize. It’s free.

If you care more about personalization, try Conductrics, Intellimize, or Mutiny. Great products.

Price: $699/month

12. Buffer

I’m not a huge social media marketing guy, but I can tell you with full honesty that my efforts on Twitter and LinkedIn have tangibly brought in agency clients.

Thing is, I absolutely hate spending time on social. Drains the life out of me. But running a service business requires that we founders become some sort of micro influencers. Ugh.

So I use good old fashioned marketing automation. I use Buffer to plan and schedule all my Tweets ahead of time.

This helps me fill a good backlog and pipeline of content so I maintain consistency in my social marketing campaigns. It also helps me avoid the cesspool that is the Twitter app itself.

Native integrations include Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Price: starts free

13. Teachable

Teachable isn’t going to apply to everyone. But if you have a course or educational products, this is one of the best course platforms out there.

It’s easy to upload videos, quizzes, and text to create your curriculum. Also, you can easily build out landing pages and other materials to sell your course. And of course, it has commerce functionality built-in, so you can sell your course with ease. It also allows you to make programmatic and custom discount codes.

I’ve had virtually zero complaints about Teachable. Maybe the only one is that you have to upgrade your account to allow affiliates to get commissions from promoting your course.

Otherwise, I’m in love with this platform.

Price: Starts free

14. Unbounce

When it comes to landing page builders, Unbounce is the GOAT. I like Instapage. Ceros is great.

But Unbounce is my favorite.

Partly because I’ve used it for like a decade. Partly because they are so focused on creating the best landing page builder and don’t get distracted often by building an ‘all-in-one’ marketing solution like others in the space.

They’ve also got a heavy investment in artificial intelligence to help you write and optimize your landing pages.

Price: $90/month

15. Demio

Most digital marketers, at one point or another, will promote or host a webinar. It’s just the nature of the business.

Lots of platforms out there. Zoom is honestly pretty great for webinars nowadays.

But for a dedicated webinar platform, I like Demio.

I will say I’ve had some trouble with bugs, but they’re early and they’re ironing out product issues as they grow.

Price: $34/month

16. Survey Anyplace

I’m a big fan of qualitative research. It’s a crucial part of content marketing strategy, experimentation…whatever you’re doing.

It’d be overkill for me to add all my favorite website optimization tools here (stuff like HotJar, Fullstory, etc.).

But I’ll give you one that I love that you may not have heard of: Survey Anyplace.

Survey Anyplace is a versatile form, survey, and quiz marker. It’s super cool for lead generation quizzes and lead qualification. It’s equally cool for market research and brand awareness surveys.

One of my favorite use cases is to plug Survey Anyplace into your marketing automation software, allowing marketing teams to personalize follow-up emails and other marketing efforts using self-reported customer data. Easy way to streamline personalization and get to know your target audience better.

Of course, you’re likely to have heard of Typeform. Great product! But if you’re looking for another qualitative research tool, Survey Anyplace is one of the most user friendly and powerful ones on the market.

Price: $39 / month

17. Canva

I’m a terrible designer, so I use Canva for all of my social media posts and really any design I do for online marketing.

You can hire a designer to create templates on Canva, and then you can basically just plug and play using their drag-and-drop editor.

It’s like Photoshop, but for people without design chops.

Indispensable and, frankly, fun tool to use.

Price: starts free

18. Notion

Notion is sort of an all-in-one information management tool.

I use them as a personal Wiki and we use them as a company Wiki at our agency. We also use it for client workflow management. In fact, I’ve replaced Trello and other project management tools for Notion. I use it for all my note taking as well.

I will say there are some bugs and cons to using this. Sucks as a free writing tool. Google Docs is still much better, especially for collaboration. But the sheer abundance of use cases makes me love it (the fewer the tools I use, the better).

They just bought automate.io, so they’re now an automation platform as well.

Notion is taking over the world. Give it a try.

Price: starts free

19. Zapier

Zapier, an automation platform, is the glue that holds together the rest of your operations.

Turns out there are a million SaaS tools now. Unless you want to hire an API developer to connect them all, you should look into a business automation platform, and Zapier is easily the most affordable and easiest to use for most people.

Say you want to sync leads / potential customers from HubSpot Marketing Hub (their email marketing tool) to your database so you can follow-up with SMS or social media posts (or whatever marketing channels you want to use). Something like Zapier can help you do all of this.

I love automation.

Price: starts free

Conclusion

This is a list of my favorite (and somewhat underrated) digital marketing tools.

It’s not comprehensive. I use many more digital marketing tools than this.

But a list of 100 tools wouldn’t be helpful to you. Again, I’m not trying to replace G2 (or use their clearly gamified and untrustworthy review scores). I’m trying to tell you my personal favorites.

Whether for CRO, content, SEO, email, or just project management, I hope some of these tools provide you some value. Give me a shout if there’s one I should add to the list.

 

Alex Birkett
Alex Birkett is a product growth and experimentation expert as well as co-founder of Omniscient Digital, a premium content marketing agency. He enjoys skiing, making and experiencing music, reading and writing, and language learning. He lives in Austin, Texas with his dog, Biscuit.

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