They say a good carpenter never blames his tools, but every builder, woodworker, welder, and other tradesperson I know takes great care of the tools they earn their living by.
If you're in doubt, ask a woodworker if you can borrow their chisel and note how aghast they look.
For marketers, it's no different. We're fiercely attached to the tools that help us do our job each day. Then, as new tools come out that fit smoothly into our work routines, we add them to our toolbox and spread the word to others.
Just a few months ago, I heard about Notion, a note-taking and organizational platform, from my colleague Liz Moorehead, who heard about it from Franco Valentino, founder of Narrative SEO. Now, I'm fully bought in, and Notion is a part of my daily work.
This is the way with tools. If they're great, they find a way into our lives. Soon, we can't imagine our lives without them.
Inspired by Notion, I set out to find out what tools my colleagues swear by.
So, I started asking around the (virtual) office.
What's one tool or tech you can't live without?
What makes you do your job better each day?
Below, I've included responses from seven colleagues whose work I admire (and thrown my own pick in as well).
Note: Some of these tools come from businesses we work with directly, but we work with them because their tools are awesome, not the other way around.
I'll go first:
1. Trello (by me, John Becker)
My day starts and ends with Trello. Along with my calendar and Slack, it's one browser tab that I never close.
I use Trello to keep everything I'm working on organized. A Trello "board" is organized into a number of columns of your own design. These represent steps or stages of completion. Then, you use "cards" to represent projects, and you move these between columns as projects progress.
Within each card you can house files, links, and other important data. You can also communicate with team members and complete checklists. Making new cards and new columns is easy, and the whole thing is utterly customizable.
At any time, I'm working on close to a dozen projects. That means Google docs, transcripts, images, sound files, and spreadsheets. Trello keeps me sane and makes sure I never let anything fall through the cracks. It's an essential tool for me to do my job well.
I’ve always felt Lucky Orange was a staple traffic tool for tracking how your visitors is interacting with your website, while also monitoring any changes.
Each morning, the tool sends me an email detailing a daily or weekly report of our traffic performance accompanied by a source report identifying areas where traffic increased.
My favorite piece of the tool has to be its dynamic heat maps and recordings. Rather than a static screenshot, the tool contains fully interactive heat maps of your website pages. This means you can look at interactive pieces of your website (like a dropdown you need to hover over) and see how people used it: the number of clicks each link received, movement, etc.
You can also get even more granular and view recordings of people who clicked elements on the page. I love to check these out when viewing user interaction with forms or navigations to see exactly what we’re doing right and what needs to be improved.
Honestly, I cannot imagine my life without HubSpot. Well, actually that’s not true. I can, and it’s quite bleak.
Not only is HubSpot a sleek CMS for digital marketers — every time I have to operate outside of the HubSpot ecosystem, I want to cry a little — the content ROI reporting that’s possible when you have both the marketing and sales hubs is completely unbeatable.
It’s one thing to be able to show traffic and lead growth to the rest of the company, but it’s quite another when you can actually show how specific pieces of content helped a deal close. That’s empowering; to be able to put actual revenue behind the content you’re creating.
I understand that a lot of other platforms offer similar options (either under one roof or as disparate pieces), but HubSpot just does it better than anyone else. It’s exactly what I want and need and much, much more. I don’t see the point of going elsewhere.
Regardless of your company size or industry, Canva is extremely valuable. I’ve dabbled in graphic design since I was fourteen and have seen first-hand that good design doesn’t come easily. So when I first learned of the tool, I was skeptical about the quality it could produce. But then I tried it, and I was hooked.
From traditional marketing materials like posters and business cards to digital musts like social media graphics, slide deck presentations, and infographics, there’s little that the tool can’t help you create.
It has hundreds of templates to make sure whatever you make is perfectly sized for the platform you’re using and that it has a stylish, professional looking design, while still enabling you to customize pretty much everything.
In a digital marketing space so heavily focused on visuals, Canva is a huge life saver for teams that don’t have a designer on staff or are even just under a time crunch and don’t want to start from scratch.
5. Basecamp (by Connor DeLaney, community and events manager)
Like many marketers, I am someone who wears multiple hats at my organization and I work across different teams and departments each day. This can make it difficult to stay on top of things and to hit the deadlines I need to in order to keep things running smoothly for the rest of my team. That’s why I love using Basecamp.
It allows me to publish messages to my team, schedule regular reminders, and produce regular to-do lists with due dates in order to keep myself accountable.
As a member of IMPACT’s events team, I have to be in regular communication with the rest of the organization so they are up to date on the expectations and promotional opportunities for each event we put together. Basecamp allows me to put together company-wide announcements that can always be referenced by my team as they discuss the events with clients or promote them to their personal networks.
This is the top of a message I wrote to all of IMPACT about HubSpot Training Day
Basecamp also helps me to make meetings more efficient. Basecamp can provide a prompt with questions to answer before every weekly huddle. This tool is quick to set up and only takes a few minutes to fill out, but the value is monumental. Think about all the side-conversations it can eliminate when everyone comes prepared with talking points and context already written out!
This small prompt lands in my Basecamp notifications and my inbox every Thursday at 9am!
Basecamp is a great universal tool for Marketers to have in their arsenal. Whether you are managing projects, communicating with your team, or simply need a place to keep yourself organized, I’d recommend Basecamp as that all-in-one solution.
7. Insycle (by Stephanie Baiocchi, director of community and events)
One tool I really love is Insycle. It’s a data management tool that helps you maintain clean and complete CRM data through automation.
While that may not sound interesting, I’m constantly finding new ways to use Insycle to make my marketing better. And while being able to spot check and manually fix things is nice, the best part is what I can automate.
I have Insycle running in the background to make sure all first and last names in our database are properly capitalized, phone numbers are formatted correctly, and more.
Insycle can even look at an email address and determine if it’s formatted firstname.lastname@example.org and pull the first and last name from the email address.
There are sophisticated deduplication tools, too, and it integrates with HubSpot so the data is updated and useable in HubSpot instantly.
We’ve been a remote organization for a while now. But no matter how long you have been remote things can still get lost in translation when you rely solely on text to communicate with anyone.
Text is great and the fastest way to communicate, but it isn’t always the most effective way to denote tone and emotion in a message. After all, it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.
That is why I cannot live without Vidyard. Being able to attach a personal video to a proposal, follow up after meetings, respond to a customer, or just the ability to show up with a smile dramatically improves my ability to create better relationships with my coworkers and customers. To top it off, after you send a video, you get a notification when someone viewed it and how much they’ve watched.
So there you have it, straight from the mouths (and keyboards) of marketers.
Of course there are many tools we use each day that didn't make the list — not because we don't love them, just because these eight were top of mind for me and my colleagues. Slack and Grammarly? Moz and Krisp? Hey and Wipster? Notion and Pexels? There's a seemingly endless list of tech that helps us do our job more efficiently. In fact, my colleague Liz Moorehead put together a great list a few months back of her 17 favorites that is definitely worth reading.
And there are more tools and techcoming every week.
Being a great marketer means learning what works for you and using tools to enhance your processes, not change them outright. Stay on the lookout, keep trying new things, but don't worry if something that works for a colleague doesn't work for you.
Find the tools that make you be the best you you can be. And when you do, share them with your friends, colleagues, and us!
That way, we can all get better, together.
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