Inbound marketing is seen to be one of the best ways to generate lead and revenue online. With the right tools, it could be your claim to marketing fame.

Getting discovered online in the past entailed link building through spam links from low quality websites, hundreds of links from directories and unnatural keyword placements in short blogs. Now the drastic changes brought about by search engine overhauls are changing the way we market content.

So, let’s get into the wide range of tools for inbound marketing and how you can use them to benefit your strategies, increase revenue and gain leads.

HubSpot

HubSpot is probably at the top of everybody’s marketing tools list. Although HubSpot seems to have a few critics (which is pretty natural if you’ve grown to be the world’s number one inbound marketing firm), it delivers when it comes to business.

There are several factors why HubSpot leads all tools when it comes to inbound marketing. First is the single access point. This helps simplify user experience. HubSpot is comprised of tools and business-serving tactics that supports funneled strategies.

HubSpot was founded in 2006 and had $2.2 million revenue back in 2008. In 2013, the revenue rose to a whopping $77.6 million. Now HubSpot Inbound conferences are attended by thousands of marketers from all over the world. HubSpot believes in “content is king”; content will produce quality leads compared to outbound techniques.

Another marketing feature HubSpot strongly advocates is the CTAs at the end of each blog post linking the customer to quality, useful content like eBooks or webinars.

One of HubSpot’s popular tool is Website Grader. It’s a free tool that helps critique your site in terms of security, performance, mobile optimisation and SEO. Here’s how it works:

Website Grader

Website Grader from HubSpot – Example based on xen.com.au

HubSpot offers various training courses and certifications as part of their other offerings to assist online marketers. HubSpot Academy is one. Other inbound marketing help includes:

  • Hubspot certification
  • Consulting
  • Professional and Enterprise onboarding
  • Custom and Partner Inbound Training
  • Hubspot Knowledge
  • Hotline support
  • Marketing Library
  • Forum
  • User groups

Moreover, experts pointed out that HubSpot is easy to use for updating and editing. It is labelled as user-friendly on its panels and multiple channels can be accessed from one log-in. It saves marketers lots of time. Also, putting ones marketing venture on HubSpot gives users the access to web site analytics which includes keywords, page rankings daily site traffic. These analytics helps in generating reports and in finding meaning beneath all the gathered data. Other tools from HubSpot help to track and convert leads into sales.

Most users on the other hand rave over the HubSpot CMS. Content editing is easy due to this and it is viewed as more cost-effective as compared to hiring a website developer. The CMS also puts control and creativity in the hands of the owner.

Some other HubSpot tools include blog articles, social media integration, downloadable content in forms of videos and tip sheets.

HubSpot is viewed by marketers as valuable because:

  1. It is a centralised tool set.
  2. It is personalisation and inbound marketing made easy.
  3. It is automated inbound marketing.
  4. It is user friendly.
  5. It compiles customer intelligence.
  6. It offers valuable insight into the inbound marketing process through free downloadable eBooks, webinars and helpful articles.

Basic HubSpot access starts from approximately 300AUD and Pro pricing starts at 1160AUD. Larger enterprises may be looking at 3500AUD per month.

Check out HubShots, a podcast focused on HubSpot and inbound marketing strategies, hosted by Ian Jacob and Craig Bailey

Marketo

Image credit: Sencha

Image Credit: Sencha

Marketo is known for its focus on B2B. Marketo and most of its tool are programmed to be integrated with the buyer’s sale cycle. Marketo is often considered and placed side by side with HubSpot although the two have several differences.

With a reputation for brilliant functionality, it is usually recommended for middle level SMEs with a focus on in-depth reporting and BI. It is making waves with advanced reporting technology and pretty good software.

Like HubSpot, Marketo also offers the usual features which include analytics, CRM, email marketing, lead management and social marketing. It is easy to use, easy on the eyes and clean which makes it very user-friendly.

Marketo is said to be an industry favourite, being featured on several big websites like Forbes, WSJ and Appexchange’s list of companies to watch for. Its superior reporting of data lifted from analytics is a plus.

Marketo reporting is standard in data collection and customisable. It does not require additional charges for much deeper insights. Thus it offers effective results. The platform also offers flexibility and can be integrated with other CRMs.

There is usually the standard report from Marketo which summarises the email and landing page performance together with web activity and lead performance. Campaign performance results with metrics that are customisable, reports on influence and impact of the marketing campaigns and the revenue modelling capability which review the company sales and the whole process at a high level. If a client requires specific performance data not included in the standard reports, the platform provides customisable reporting options.

Marketo pricing depends on business needs and pricing brackets. The brackets are Spark, Standard and Select. Spark is at 1195AUD per month, Standard at 1795 per month and Select starting at 3195AUD per month.

The platform has done a good job in simplifying the process of Marketing Automation through its books and training offers. Its visual drag and drop interface for email is user-friendly in that it does not require any html skills.

For landing pages, Marketo also employs the drag and drop interface with its pre-designed templates. The automated processes make everything easy while dynamic content capabilities personalise the CTAs based on the previous activity of a user on the site. And the platform also has a great sign in alternative – it harnesses the power of social media wherein users can fill out forms through connection to their social profile.

 

Despite its good functionality, Marketo has experienced some backlash after its growth took a toll on various aspect of service. For example, customer service support was subjected to inconsistent reviews. Although, this is common for many large marketing organisations. Another thing that is not so ideal with Marketo is it has separate applications for marketing and customer relationship management. This may irritate a few clients who are hoping for a smooth sailing experience.

BuzzStream

Image Credit: Marketing Mojo

Image Credit: Marketing Mojo

BuzzStream has been an integral part of outreach processes of many companies. In the past, BuzzStream tools only offered link building CRM. Presently, the company now also offers social media CRM. It starts its process in prospecting then tracking, reporting and relationship management.

In the industry, BuzzStream is famous for its link building capacity. It is easy to use as well.

BuzzStream’s full integration of email and your contact database helps you access conversion streams in one place. Experts always put BuzzStream link building workflow at par against other tools since it identifies tasks of link prospects that still need your attention.

BuzzStream is an excellent tool for large-scale link acquisition campaigns and link management.

Some of the advantages include:

  • built-in link prospecting
  • CRM functionality
  • scalability
  • user-friendliness
  • permission and access control for your team
  • link tracking and reporting

Eloqua

Eloqua, founded in 1999, was bought by industry giant Oracle in 2012 and is now referred to as Oracle Eloqua.

Benefits include the following:

  • Marketing automation tool for targeted email messaging
  • rich tools and features
  • pre-designed templates for landing pages
  • personalised visitor greetings
  • migrate social content to landing pages
  • measure social media response behaviour
  • can be integrated with other Oracle inbound marketing solutions
  • Powerful and sophisticated marketing automation

Its focus on email marketing makes it a not so useful tool for multichannel marketers. It also is not available for small to medium companies but caters to those big companies with huge budgets for marketing.

On the other hand, Eloqua’s campaign builder is a tool to behold. It is intuitive and as mentioned, user-friendly. It needs to be optimised for Chrome though.

Image Credit: Capterra

Image Credit: Capterra

Compared to its other contemporaries, especially Marketo, Eloqua seems to have more features in its basic package compared to Marketo’s Spark while both boast of easy integration among CRMs social media.

Pardot

salesforce-pardot

Image Credit: Cirrus Insight

Pardot, like Eloqua, has been acquired by a bigger company. Back in 2012, Pardot was acquired by Exact Target and by 2013; Exact target was acquired by Salesforce at $2.5 billion. This makes it integrate nicely with Salesforce.

Like other tools, Pardot has pre-defined templates which allow drag and drop landing page building. It also boasts of progressive profiling and dynamic content personalisation. And since it is equipped with a feature that blocks the use of invalid email addresses, spam is a thing of the past. This leads to high quality leads.

When it comes to CRM, Pardot can be integrated with Microsoft Dynamics, NetSuite, Salesforce and Sugar CRM. And since it also offers developers API, it has the capacity to integrate other third-party CRM platforms.

While Eloqua uses Co-Dynamic Lead Scoring and Marketo uses unlimited factor to score leads, Pardot divides the lead management process into two, the Lead Grade and the Lead Score. The former focuses on the company size, title and industry while the latter focuses on prospect abilities.

Now, for social marketing, Pardot allows clients to post on social media, connects all social accounts and track each of them. After the consolidation of data gathered from these different factors, analytics and reporting may come in.

Pardot users have the option to create their customer reporting with the help of GoodData visual interface. Through this, users can schedule the frequency of their report and the distribution of analytics based on the metrics. The platform too allows integration with the Google Analytics. Another thing that is quite good for Pardot is its ROI calculator. It shows cost per lead, per sale and per data.

Designed for small to medium businesses and B2B companies, Pardot caters to companies with 10 to 500 employees.

Pardot often helps provide companies with key insights into the success of their efforts by pinpointing areas to improve and bringing to spotlight campaigns that are successful.

Overall Pardot boasts of the following benefits:

  • Lead Deck. Gives real-time activity updates of a certain prospect. You’ll receive an update on this then you can send them an email.
  • Customisable.
  • Easily integrated with Salesforce.
  • Good customer support.

The last pro, good customer support seems to seal the deal for some. It is often hard to come by for companies with a number of employees. And many clients often stay or break away from companies depending on the customer support given.

Hootsuite

Image Credit: Adweek

Image Credit: Adweek

Now with 10 million customers, Hootsuite is one of the most popular social media management tools around. It does not only publish ads, schedule posts, source engaging content and respond to followers but it monitors your progress with analytics.

Hootsuite also allows team collaboration within its dashboard. Its monitoring and management functionality is good. Its main strength is said to be in its vast variety of features that allows users to customise their choices based on their needs, in the field of social media, at least. It supports networks from Facebook to Twitter to LinkedIn. Youtube, Google+, Instagram, Foursquare, WordPress and Japanese social media site Mixi are also supported.

Auto scheduling, scheduling on a specific date and drafting are three options you can use. A calendar toggle will also help you view your scheduled posts on one timeline.

Aside from that, Hootsuite also has its own training through Hootsuite University. It consists of lectures on best practices and tips from industry experts.

Customer support is also commendable. But then it can’t be all too perfect. Even the likes of HubSpot and Eloqua have their own shortcomings. Here are some minor complaints:

  • Complex dashboard which takes some time for users to warm up to.
  • Analytics and reporting is only available for a fee. It’s not available on a low-cost plan.

For summary, here is the low-down on Hootsuite benefits:

  • Helps you manage accounts in one place
  • Link multiple Twitter accounts in one place
  • Easy scheduling of posts
  • It has an iPhone app
  • It is web-based.
  • You can use it for brand monitoring
  • It is free or comes at a very affordable price

All in all, Hootsuite is best for content distribution and relationship building through social media channels.

Infusionsoft

Image Credit: Trenchworthy

Image Credit: Trenchworthy

Infusionsoft was founded in 2004 and has 12, 000 clients. It received a $54 million investment from Goldman Sachs to step up development in various aspects of its features.

Infusionsoft delivers a fully integrated CRM, as opposed to HubSpot which offers fully integrated CMS. The full integration of CRM sets it apart among the many marketing solutions out there. This capacity simplifies the sales management venture of any company using the tool since it is a robust platform that can manage sales funnel.

Infusionsoft uses a high level of marketing and client automation to a large database. This way, users can manage their clients and prospects qualified for sales through their funnel in a much easier way.

This platform is also deemed to be affordable since it brings users a powerful CRM that contains basic marketing automation activities. Through the platform, email and landing pages are easy to do. With it’s opened API, it made it easy for users to integrate with other major CRMs.

Its visual campaign builder is also a feature to behold. There is something so inspiring at seeing ones workflow projected visually. It creates better understanding among users and helps ease the setting of tasks, sequenced across database. Along with its e-commerce system, Infusionsoft makes it easy for companies to track prospects until the point of sale.

Image Credit: Spark Reaction

Image Credit: Spark Reaction

A few cons though can be seen from the use of the tool. These includes:

  • Abscence of blogging tool
  • Can’t create CTAs
  • absence of social media integration

The inclusion of these three things could have had made it an all-in-one tool. Also, Infusionsoft hosts landing pages on its website and not on your own which pulls visitors away from the client site. This creates a certain gap in analytics.

Offered via three versions, Standard, Plus and Premier, Infusionsoft packages range from $1999 to $2999.  It also offers packaged campaigns for as low as $200.

Infusionsoft offers training for its client which includes the Inbound University for strategy and best practices for the use of software, the Virtual Academy that is for the newer user for familiarisation with the set-up and capabilities of the software and the Infusioncon which is a three-day annual event that provides information on the latest updates and best practices for the five specific learning tracks.

Salesforce

Image Credit: Salesforce

Image Credit: Salesforce

Salesforce, an established name in the market developed strategies that have been able to generate leads by effectively raising traffic. As of now, it has 150, 000 business clients.

“The new B2B purchase journey is search-initiated, social-powered, and buyer-controlled.” Kieran Flanagan, Inbound Marketing Manager for Salesforce.com.

Salesforce believes content made by a company should be dictated by customers (90%) and the product/service being sold (10%).

The Salesforce strategy includes promotion on multiple channels through its created, curated, collaborative and legacy content. There are many advantages pointed out for the use of Salesforce in the strategy. Here are some:

  • Ease of Use. It is user-friendly, catering to clients who are novices.
  • Functionality. It has excellent system integration and functionality.
  • Flexible. Salesforce is easy to customise. It has broad applicability.
  • User resources. The platform has an outstanding array of resources. From blogs to articles to webinars and vlogs, Salesforce allow users to fully understand their system.
  • Appexchange. A cloud computing marketplace, it allows clients to access, download and install software apps. These helps end-users search for related apps that will help them accomplish a certain task.

Salesforce is usually integrated with all other tools we already mentioned above. The platform provides easy access to more powerful and flexible reporting even for large data-driven businesses. Since it is flexible and easy to use, it does not require users to modify code or be an expert to be able to understand the tool.

Buffer

logo-dark

Image Credit: buffer

Buffer can be said to be always pitted against Hootsuite although it is sometimes compared with HubSpot as well. But let’s discover Buffer as a standalone app.

Buffer is labelled as the Tinder for content. It’s clean and easy interface for scheduling is very popular with customers. It allows you to pick a specific time for your post schedule throughout the day. Meaning the next schedule will be a specific time you chose (quite different from Hootsuite’s random time program).  It creates consistency and followers will know the specific time when they will be anticipating your posts.

It collates content from your own website and elsewhere to interest readers. Plus Buffer now keeps innovating to keep up with user needs. Pablo, for example, is its social media tool which makes it easy to layer text over pictures. Perfect for that catchy phrase for Twitter and Facebook. And that is a positive point since it is known that images increase engagement. And a huge amount of traffic can come from social media too.

Sidekick

sidekick-brand-with-hubspot

Image Credit: Getsidekick

Sidekick contains many tools that can be used by sales organisations. It is a Google Chrome browser extension and can be used in conjunction with any CRM. It is always on and collects data and info throughout the day. It also has another useful feature called Insight.

Sidekick’s Insight provides a full company profile on the right side of your browser of any company you are browsing. This data may range from company data, to internal contacts and related companies.

Sidekick makes it easy for users to integrate web-based email platforms. This offers various help to the client since it has an option of delaying sending. This feature helps in coinciding email to users different timezones.

Sidekick is purported to give the following benefits:

  • Saves you time in qualifying contacts. It helps clients work smarter and not harder.
  • Reduces data entry. Sidekick automatically do that eliminating errors, spending of long time in the process and avoid losing momentum of ones work.
  • Engages contacts. Sidekick helps determine that best way and time to communicate with possible leads through various channels.
  • Tracking email clicks. Allows you to check who read your mails and who don’t.

Using sidekick is easy and free. It starts with account creation through Google ID and installing of the Chrome extension.

 

With these tools, you can surely come up with the best marketing strategy for your business.

What other inbound marketing tools can you recommend? Let us know in the comments!

About Author

Roelen researches, creates, tailors content for outreach and content promotion campaigns as well as social presence management. She likes poetry, blues, The Walking Dead and crime books.