Just a few years ago, digital marketing meant coding websites and landing pages by hand. It meant hard coding features that you wanted. It meant spreadsheets and manual tracking. It meant browsing the web looking at competitors, trying to figure out what they’re doing.

But now, in 2017…there’s a tool for that.

Here are 7 digital marketing tools that you shouldn’t have to live without in 2017:

1. For Sales Funnels: ClickFunnels


Click Funnels: Tool for creating online sales funnels

From e-commerce shops to dentists. whether your business serves people online or offline, if you’re doing any marketing on the internet, you should be creating a sales funnel.

This is especially true if you’re putting money towards advertising.

A sales funnel creates a journey that turns visitors into leads and eventually into sales. If set up properly, it can also be used to increase your average order value.

You can create a sales funnel from scratch, but it’s 2017, we have tools designed to minimize the effort. One such tool is ClickFunnels.

The beauty of ClickFunnels is that it gives you a drag-and-drop platform to create effective sales funnels in minutes. On top of that, there are countless templates for you to use so that you can don’t have to start from scratch. Even better, is that these templates are designed based on what has actually worked in the real world for other business owners.

In business, speed of implementation is often a key to success. And ClickFunnels certainly allows for that speed.

Now, their marketing might be slightly over the top. You’ll notice that the headline on their homepage says you should abandon your website. I definitely don’t recommend doing this (especially as someone who specializes in search engine optimization).

But I do recognize that a business can do quite well creating sales funnels with ClickFunnels without actually having a website. This is especially true for a business that is heavily reliant on advertising.

If you’re already on the market for a good sales funnel solution to improve your online marketing and advertising, you could do much worse than ClickFunnels. If you’re not sure what a sales funnel is or how you can benefit from one, check out their webinar.

2. For Search Marketing And Research: SEMRush (Free Trial)


SEMRush: Tool for all things search marketing

SEMRush is a tool I use on a daily basis. It provides you with incredible insights on all things related to search marketing.

Want to see what keywords your competitors are bidding on or even what their search ads look like? SEMRush can provide you with that information.

Want to see what keywords your competitors are ranking for organically? Or want to see what keywords you are ranking for organically? Just put a URL into SEMRush and it’ll show you a ton of keywords that are already ranking in search that you probably would have never thought of.

They were really pioneers on the marketplace in terms of this functionality but fell behind Ahrefs for a little while (another great tool). However, they updated their database not that long ago and I would say they are back up to speed with their competitors.

This is insanely valuable. You can discover keywords that are hidden gems. Maybe you’re already ranking on page 2 or 3 for a specific keyword that you never even thought of. You can do a little re-optimization and get that pushed up to the first page.

I also use SEMRush for keyword tracking. I check 900+ keyword on a weekly basis to see the general health of the site on organic search, to see any big drops or any big gains, and to check the search visibility against competitors.

The amount you can do with this tool is really quite astonishing.

It also has other functionality. You can check competitor backlinks, for example. However, in all honesty I don’t find SEMRush to be the best tool for this. That being said, everything else it can do makes it absolutely invaluable.

Give it a test run for free and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.

3. For Email Marketing…And Much More: GetResponse


GetResponse: Tool for email marketing, marketing automation, and CRM (soon)

By now, you likely know the importance of email marketing. It has one of the highest ROIs of any other marketing channel. And, on some level, it gives you the power to generate revenue at will (depending on your business, of course).

Email is also incredibly important when it comes to customer retention. It’s far cheaper to keep a current customer than to gain a new one. Not enough businesses put enough focus on this. Email is an absolutely integral part of life cycle management and retention.

Now, when it comes to email marketing, you have a whole array of services at a wide range of pricing. There are providers such as MailChimp and Aweber (and GetResponse) that are ideal for solo entrepreneurs and smaller companies. That’s not to say that larger companies can’t use these providers (they certainly can), I’m just saying that the smaller players can actually afford these solutions.

On the other side of the spectrum you have providers such as Marketo and Eloqua. These are enterprise level solutions that typically provide a much wider ranger of functionality that essentially serve as an entire marketing automation platform rather than simply an email service provider.

Less than a year ago, I would have pigeonholed GetResponse as a an email marketing and autoresponder tool. Albeit, it was a good one and one I am using.

The advances they have been making over the last year, however, have put them well ahead of their competition…in my  mind, at least.

First, GetResponse rolled out marketing automation functionality that allows you to trigger events and emails based on specific criteria (such as time frame or actions taken by the recipient).

This was absolutely huge. This is the type of functionality you would normally expect form an enterprise-level solution…but this is at a fraction of the cost.

I did receive an update from MailChimp that also mentioned marketing automation. It seems that these companies are now competing to provide the most value to their users. Gotta love free markets!

Based on their most recent announcement, it seems that GetResponse is taking things even further. They will also be providing CRM (customer relationship management) capability.

Basically, it seems to me that GetResponse is out to become a one-stop-shop for all things marketing.

I can’t speak to the quality of their CRM, as it has not been released yet. But I can certainly respect the effort to provider marketers with such a robust system. It seems like they are really going after the big guys by offering not only email, but also automation and CRM functionality.

…and for that reason, I highly recommend GetResponse.

4. For Design & Social Media: Canva


Canva: Free tool for designing great images

I think it’s pretty clear that images are pretty important in today’s online environment. After all, there’s a reason that Instagram has grown so large.

When running banner ad campaigns, social media campaigns, or looking to spruce up your latest blog post, you need to ensure that your imagery is up to par.

Ok, so we’ve established that images are important…but PhotoShop can be quite a pain. You need technical knowledge. And a big wallet.

There are some free alternatives like GIMP to get around the whole wallet issue, but you still need to be fairly technically savvy to create something that looks passable.

Luckily, in 2017, you don’t need to be a PhotoShop pro to get create great ads or social media images. Enter Canva.

This tool is really quite incredible It’s comes with pre-built template and layouts. You can pick different layouts and sizes based on the platform you are creating an image for (i.e. a social media banner, a social media image, etc.). It’s also completely drag-and-drop.

And quite and frankly, its’ absolutely astonishing that a tool like this can be free.

If you haven’t checked out Canva, do yourself a favor and do it now. At the very least, you’ll instantly see an improvement in your social media presence.

5. For Analytics and Insights: Google Analytics


Google Analytics: The ultimate free website analytics tool

No surprise here. When it comes to online analytics, Google is the go-to source.

Google Analytics has been a mainstay for years. It provides an incredible amount of information and functionality. Most people will use it just to see how much traffic their website gets. But more savvy users can use it for so much more.

You can use it to view (and ultimately optimize) your conversion paths. You can use it to identify under-performing and over-achieving pages. You can use it run split tests. You can use it to see track the success of different campaigns and different channels.

Yes, there have been some changes over the years that haven’t been so favorable. The one that stands out is the “not provided” updated that essentially took away a ton of insight into what keywords people were searching to get to your website.

That being said, the amount of information and value you can get out of this tool is absolutely immense. And you can’t beat the price.

6. To Super-Power Your Website: Sumo


Sumo: digital marketing tool that superpowers your website with a ton of different functionality

I’m a huge fan of tools that provide a whole lot of functionality and kill a ton of birds with one stone. I’m also a huge fan of tools that let you do that for free. Who isn’t, right?

Sumo is one of those tools.

Sumo is really more of a collection of tools. And all the tools are incredibly valuable. You can use Sumo to create popups, slide-ins, welcome screens, and opt-in bars. Moreover, you can design and split test all these elements.

Basically, it’s a list-building power tool.

On top of that, it provides heat maps. You can see how visitors interact with your pages and where you may need some improvement.

On top of that, there is social integrations to make your website and content more easy to share.

When I say Sumo is a tool that super-powers your website, I’m not kidding.


7. For Your Brain: Amazon


Amazon: Because the best digital marketing tool of 2017 is your brain

Look, at the end of the day, a marketer’s most powerful tool is his brain. That’s as true in 2017 as it was in 1917, as it was in 1817.

…But you have to feed it.

While the web has a wealth of information in the form of blog posts, nothing really beats reading in-depth books written by the people who actually pioneered the world of marketing.

Amazon is obviously a great place to find books. It’s my go-to. And yes, I actually buy the physical thing as opposed to the digital version sometimes (weird, I know).

If you aren’t going to invest in any marketing tools, at the very least you should invest in yourself.

Here a couple good places to start:

Influence: In this timeless book, Robert Cialdini talks about the six psychological triggers used to influence people. Whether you use this in your sales copy, your sales calls, or your just your day-to-day conversation, you can instantly become more influential by knowing what the brain reacts to (or safeguard yourself from other talented influencers).

Trust Me, I’m Lying: Written by Ryan Holiday, the former head of marketing at American Apparel and the guy responsible for multiple bestselling books by authors like Tucker Max, this is the go to book for media manipulation. In a world where there are millions of online outlets, each looking for their next story, Trust Me, I’m Lying details how you can take advantage of the environment for your own benefit.

My Life in Advertising: Claude C. Hopkins is an advertising legend. He is one of the pillars that modern advertising is built upon. His book, Scientific Advertising, is easily one of the most recommended books for any marketing professional. Seriously, try to go find a marketing Facebook group discussion about must-reads without seeing this title on it.

However, I’m a bigger fan of My Life in Advertising. It’s a more personal account of Claude’s life and how he approached things. It’s chuck full of memorable golden nuggets that are sure to change the way you look at marketing and advertising.

One of my favorite takeaways: if you talk about it you own it. When doing work for Schlitz beer Claude decided to go into detail about the purification process. The owners of the company objected at first…after all, all the beer companies were doing it. The difference? Claude was the only one to talk about the painstaking process they went through. The process instantly became theirs in the eyes of the consumer.

Ogilvy on Advertising: David Ogilvy is another legend of advertising. He is also the founder of what is still one of the largest advertising agencies int he world: Ogilvy & Mather. If your’e going to learn about advertising, don’t you want to learn about it form someone who was once called “The Father of Advertising”? You’re sure to learn something from this book.

The Ultimate Sales Letter: This is essentially a manual for writing sales letters that convince people to buy. Written by copywriting and marketing legend Dan Kennedy, this is a quick guide of what you should be including in your sales letters and why. If you’re going to write a sales letter, you might as well keep this book by your side to use as a checklist to make sure you aren’t missing anything.

If you feel like I cheated with this last one, you’ll be happy to know that you actually can use Amazon as a digital marketing tool in 2017. You can use it as an advertising platform if you are selling physical products. You can also use it as a platform for giveaways to run social media campaigns…for any type of business.

Over to You…

Once again, here are my 7 go-to digital marketing tools for 2017:

  1. ClickFunnels
  2. SEMRush
  3. GetResponse
  4. Canva
  5. Google Analytics
  6. Sumo
  7. Amazon

More precisely, it’s really more like 6 tools and one marketplace for you to enhance your knowledge.

Are there any tools you absolutely can’t live without for your digital marketing efforts?