The Number One Tip for Every Direct Marketing Professional (not what you’d expect!)

Drumroll please.


My number one marketing tip…make sure you have the right tools in place! Modern day marketers are expected to be responsible for a wide range of strategies and tactics, and the only way to make sure you are being efficient and effective is to know what tools are out there to help with each area. This list is by no means meant to be inclusive, but it should give you an idea of just how many resources (both paid and free) are available out there.


1. General SEO

(Raven Tools, Moz Suite, Majestic SEO, Ahrefs)


2. Technical SEO

(Screaming Frog, Xenu, Google Webmaster Tools, Bing Webmaster, Schema Creator)


3. CRO

(Clicktale, Visual Website Optimizer, Inspectlet, CrazyEgg, Unbounce, UsabilityHub)


4. Social

(Buffer, Sprout Social, Hootsuite)


5. Keyword Tools

(Wordstream, Ubersuggest, Keyword Planner, Google Trends, Wordtracker)


6. Email

(Streamsend, Mailchimp, ExactTarget, Constant Contact, Sendgrid)


7. Customer Feedback

(Survey Monkey, Qualaroo, SurveyGizmo, Google Forms)


8. Automation

(Marketo, Hubspot, Net-Results, Pardot, Silverpop, Infusionsoft)


9. Mobile

(Localytics, Flurry, Appboy, Appfigures)


10. Personalization

(Monetate, Demandbase)


11. Data & Analytics

(Google Analytics, Mixpanel, Kissmetrics, Geckoboard)


12. PPC Advertising

(Adwords, Bing Ads, Facebook Ads, Linkedin Ads)


13. Retargeting

(Adroll, Retargeter, Perfect Audience)


14. Content Marketing

(MyBlogGuest, StumbleUpon Paid, Contently, Scribe, Feedly)


15. CRM

(SugarCRM, Salesforce, Sage CRM)


16. PR

(Buzzstream, Vocus, HARO, PRNewswire)


17. Organization

(Trello, Google Drive, Dropbox, Basecamp, AtTask)


18. Customer Support

(Uservoice, Freshdesk, Zendesk, Happyfox)


19. Competitive Research

(Compete, SEMrush, SpyFu, iSpionage, Mixrank, TrackMaven)


20. Local SEO

(Bright Local, GetListed, Yext, Whitespark)


21. Chrome Extensions

(Scraper for Chrome, Moz Bar, Link Clump, Awesome Screenshot, Similar Sites)


22. Brand and Social Monitoring

(Google Alerts, Topsy, Social Mention, Mention)


23. Miscellaneous

(SenderScore, Wayback Machine, Prezi, Uberflip, Copyscape, IFTTT, Boomerang)


24. Bonus Tip – To get insight into some of the tools other companies are using, you can use BuiltWith. This will identify (most) of the technologies your competitors, favorite websites, and Fortune 500 companies are using.


25. Bonus Tip 2 – Many of the paid services mentioned in the blog post will offer a free trial – some even without a credit card. Make sure to take advantage of these trial opportunities!


Knowing the tools, what role each plays, which are in your budget, as well as which one(s) are right for your business can take a lot of time. It’s something that we definitely recommend every marketer take the time to research – it makes a world of difference!


So you have any favorite tools you don’t see on this list? Share in the comments below.

As always…happy marketing!

9 Free Blogging Tools, Services, & Marketing Tactics Every Blog Owner Should Be Utilizing

There are many other free blogging tools and methods to help bloggers market, manage, and improve their site. Here is a list of my favorites.

1. Submitting to Relevant Blog Directories & Niche Sites
There are hundreds of blog directories to be found online. This is one of the first marketing tactics any new blog owner should engage in. You can use various search queries to find blog directories, but here is a list of some of the largest and most beneficial to be listed in.

There are multitudes of various niche sites just waiting to feature your brand and link back to you. These sites will not only pass you gallons of link juice, but they will also send traffic – which in turn is more opportunities for links.
Example: For uniquely designed or visually appealing blogs there are niche sites you can submit to. If your blog is all about pets, guess what, there are niche sites you can submit to. Simple!
Searching for niche sites is not always easy. Often times I like to find the most established site on the topic I am looking for and then use services like SitesLike & MoreofIt to find related sites – Google’s Blog Search also works well.

2. Guest Blogging
If you are looking to build authoritative backlinks and gain relevant traffic, guest blogging is definitely a good way to do it. First off you can search for guest blogging opportunities using queries like these:
[keyword] “write for us”
[keyword] “submit post”
[keyword] “become a contributor”

There are numerous other queries, but these are the most basic and usually yield the best results. There are also networks that look to connect those looking for guest blog opportunities and blogs needing new content. The largest of these networks is

There you are able to:
1) Upload your article for others to use (*for extra fee)
2) Contact bloggers looking for new contributors
3) Chat and connect with others in the guest blogging community which can open new doors

This is a free service…No excuse not to check it out! Lastly you can always search for relevant blogs within your niche and pitch your guest blog post. This is more difficult, but if your content fits with the blog’s theme and it’s well written you have a decent chance at getting your article posted. These links tend to be of the highest authority and can really help your link profile.

3. Monitor Brand Mentions & Social Sphere
There many different ways to do this with the first being Google Alerts. Setting up Google Alerts is a piece of cake. Simply list all of the keywords and phrases that you want to be alerted of. When new pages are crawled by Google containing those keywords, you will receive an email. For monitoring brand mentions and online reputation it’s incredibly useful. It’s also great for monitoring your most valuable referring keywords. The best part…it’s 100% free. Social Mention, Wildfire, & Addict-o-Matic are also great monitoring tools. You can also use these tools to connect with other bloggers in your niche as well as find trending topics and new ideas for blog posts. There are literally dozens of useful social monitoring and research tools out there.

4. PR Networks
There are numerous free subscription services online that consist of reporters, bloggers, and authors looking for answers to specific questions. Sites like HARO, Reporter Connection, Pitchrate, and the paid service Profnet are simple ways to earn links to your website.
They basically work like this:
Reporters asks question(s) about specific topic
You respond to question if it pertains to your area of knowledge
Reporter credits you as source, usually with a backlink
You can also try your luck on Flacklist – a social media PR site. I would liken it to the Facebook of public relations.
HARO send 3 daily emails consisting of anywhere from 30 to 70 queries each. With hundreds of queries a day, 5 days a week, you are sure to be able to contribute sooner rather than later. Personally I have earned dozens of backlinks and been featured on sites from FOX News to The Huffington Post.

Reporter Connection, Pitchrate usually send emails once a day. There is no reason not to sign up for these free services! They are the easiest form of PR you will ever come across!
And guess what? They work the other way around as well. If you are looking for products to review or giveaway or are looking for an expert to interview – you can post the PR questions on these services.

5. Email Marketing
For blogs with 2,000 subscribers or less – Mail Chimp is the perfect tool. You can send 12,000 emails a month for the whopping price of $0. Enough said.

6. Conversion Rate Optimization
Even though most blogs aren’t trying to sell anything, increasing your conversions is still one of the keys to growing your blog. Conversions can range from something as simple as commenting on a blog post to subscribing to your RSS feed. No matter what your own conversions and micro conversions are designated as – there are free tools that can help you improve the rate at which they are
Google Website Optimizer, Userfly, & Fivesecondtest are all great (free) options to help you increase your conversion rate. I’m going to add SurveyMonkey to this list as well because it can also be used to help increase conversion rates (among other things).

7. Analytics
Duh! Everyone knows about Google Analytics. But there are other free website traffic analyzing tools out there that can help your blog improve in various ways.
Quantcast and Alexa are great free tools that let’s you learn more about your visitor demographics. GoingUp! offers another great free analytics tool that includes features such as heat maps and inbound link monitoring.

8. SEO
There are tons of great free SEO tools out there. This topic alone could spawn another 10 posts. As a result I will only focus on the most important, beneficial SEO tools.
First off are Yahoo Site Explorer and SEOMoz’s Open Site Explorer (confusing right?). They let you analyze your own backlinks (and competition’s links for “inspiration”).
Google Webmaster Tools is great for checking broken links, crawl stats, important keywords, search queries, level of indexation, and more. Google’s Keyword Tool is a great way to research, well, keywords – which can help you optimize titles of your posts and give you new content ideas, among other things.
SEO Book’s rank checker is a great tool for, you guessed it, checking ranks. The list goes on…(Doesn’t the SEO industry have the best names for their toolsets?)

9. Create Better Content
Running a successful blog basically all comes down to one factor…creating amazing content. All the marketing and optimization in the world isn’t going to make you a successful blogger if you can’t create decent content. Besides previously mentioned tools PR & social tools that can contribute to more robust writing, there are a number of other useful services that can help improve the quality of your blog posts.
Stock.xchng is a service that helps you find free images to use in your blog posts. Zemanta is another great free tool that “looks over your shoulder while you blog and gives you tips and advice, suggests related content and pictures and makes sure your posts get promoted as they deserve to be”.

There are many other free blogging tools and methods to help bloggers market, manage, and improve their site. These are my favorites. Feel free to share your own favorite free tools & marketing tactics in the comments.

20 Tips from Professional Bloggers

We know that blogging can be an intimidating task. We’ve spoken to some  of the best bloggers across industries and compiled a list of their advice. Hopefully, with their help you can breathe new life into your blog or start a successful venture!

1. Just write

The quickest way to cure writer’s block is to write. Just let it flow and erase later. You’ll get somewhere good we promise.


2. Expect the unexpected

Chances are if inspiration strikes you, it probably won’t be in that two hour window you’ve carved out to write content. Most likely, it will be at 12:00 am on a Saturday night. Do yourself a favor and jot down notes immediately.


3. Get up

Writer’s block? Get up from your desk and walk around. Go outside. Do something active and think of something non job related.


4. Eat a peppermint

Peppermint has been known to harness brainpower and stimulate thought. See for yourself.


5. Get a buddy

Start planning blog writing sessions with a friend. Hash out your ideas and talk through them. This helps eliminate uninteresting topics.


6. Ask yourself if you would read this article

If the answer is no, then abandon that content, no one else wants to read it either.


7. Think about something else

See what inspiration you can gather by browsing the social media platforms or the internet.


8. Write from the heart

The most engaging and interesting content comes from passion. Pick a topic you are passionate about.


9. Spark an emotion

Write content that causes an emotion in your readers; it will usually lead to action.


10. Define a call to action

Outline what you want your reader to do after reading your content. Follow you on social media? Call you? Email you? Fail to do this and chances are they won’t retain anything they just read.


11. Drink water

When your body is dehydrated it can’t function on optimal levels, so make sure you stay hydrated.


12. Save ideas

Save any inspiration you may get when you are writing your content. What you started off as a single post could easily turn into a series.


13. Research

Try not to create duplicate content to what may already be out there.


14. Seek inspiration from customers

Have your customers asking the same question again and again? Address it in a blog post, because if they have questions, chances are everyone else does too.


15. Make it a habit

If you are going to have a blog, make a commitment. Be sure to have content that is relevant and posted regularly.


16. Write in advance

Create content that can be written in advanced and posted in the future. That way, if you are out of town or busy, you won’t not have anything to post.


17. Make connections

Connect with readers and other bloggers. Marketing is all about relationships right?


18. Look for guest bloggers

Guest bloggers can add a fresh perspective and voice on a range of topics. Why not feature them on your blog?


19. Write for your audience

As a marketing blog, you probably should not write about the top cookie recipes for Christmas time. Reversely, a cooking blog probably shouldn’t cover marketing topics. Reader’s visit a blog for a specific purpose. Honor that.


20. Have fun

Blogging should be a fun task to get away from all the mundane tasks our lives are filled with. Enjoy it and let your creativity flow!


Like these tips? Want more? Contact us at for a full list of our tips!