If you got a dollar for every person who visited your website, how rich would you be today?
The bad news is you’re not going to get a dollar for every website visitor.
The good news? If you play your cards right, and if you’re equipped with the right inbound marketing tools, potential customers will reach out to you
What is inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing is the modern way of attracting and qualifying leads for your business. It’s the entire process of attracting your ideal clients by creating a clear-cut customer journey and guiding them from general awareness to purchase.
It doesn’t involve pushing out your products and services and selling them right away. No cold calls, no pitching, no ads to cold audiences.
Inbound marketing is about attracting, engaging, nurturing, and continuously providing value to your audience until they convert. This includes investing in both revenue marketing and demand generation strategies.
Here’s a walk-through of what inbound marketing entails:
1. Generating traffic with demand marketing strategies
- Social media
- Podcasts or videos
2. Capturing leads
- Lead magnets
- Free trials
- Case studies
- PDF guides
3. Nurturing leads
- Providing content tailored to their needs
- Lead scoring
- List segmentation and personalization
- Smooth transaction process
- Fast checkout
- Onboarding process
- Post-purchase support
5. Retention and loyalty
- Loyalty programs
- Reward systems
- Referral programs
Inbound marketing moves online users down your funnel by creating tailored marketing strategies.
To execute an effective inbound strategy, you must use effective tools for each of the five pillars we shared above. In this post, we’ll share with you some of the best apps for inbound marketing and what we think they are best for.
Our 20 favorite inbound marketing tools
There are a lot of tools in the digital marketing world, it can be overwhelming. Sometimes, it may seem like there’s a tool for everything. Well, that’s pretty much true but it’s easy to get confused over which ones to use and how to combine them in your marketing stack.
We’ve listed down our personal favorites and what they’re best used for. Hopefully, this will help you get a better idea of the optimal combination of tools you can use for your inbound marketing.
|Tool Name||Best For||Price|
|Generating content ideas|
|SEMRush||Keyword research and content strategy||Ranges from $119.95/month to $449/month (with add ons depending on number of users and additional tools)|
|SurferSEO||Optimizing content for search engines||Starts at $49/month up to $199/month|
|Quora||Industry and market research||Free|
|Buffer||Scheduling content at scale||Free (up to three channels) or up to $100/month (for up to 10 channels)|
|Canva||Efficient and collaborative production of creatives||Free; Pro version is $12.99/month or $9.99/month (if billed annually)|
|Google Analytics||Providing insights about your website’s overall performance||Free; 360 version is available for $150,000/year|
|Hotjar||Analyzing users’ behavior on your website||Free or up to $70/month; custom plans available|
|Jarvis||Fast-tracking the content writing process||Begins at $29/month up to $59/month; Enterprise plan available|
|WordTune||Rephrasing and copyediting||Free or up to $9.99/month; Premium plan available|
|Grammarly||Checking grammar and spelling||Starts at $15/user/month|
|Engaging and converting leads|
|Intercom||Conversational customer support and engagement||Pricing depends on the number of seats your team needs and the number of unique people you’ve reached out to in the past 30 days|
|Drift||Sales-focused conversations and analysis||Free for one seat only and limited features; other plans range from $500/month to custom price range for enterprise|
|Hellobar||Boosting conversions||Free; Paid plans start from $29/month up to $99/month|
|Zoom||Sales calls, webinars, and audio conferencing||Free; Paid plans start from $149.90/year/license to $240/year/license|
|Calendly||Streamlining scheduling and appointment setting process||Free; Paid plans begin at $8/seat/month up to $16/seat/month|
|Encharge||Nurturing leads via email marketing and automation||Based on the number of subscribers; Starts at $49.|
|HubSpot||Alignment between sales and marketing teams||Starter begins at $45/month for 1,000 contacts; Enterprise is $3,200/month for 10,000 contacts|
|Optimizing the process|
|Google Analytics||Identifying and optimizing conversion opportunities and patterns||Free; 360 version is available for $150,000/year|
|Redtrack||Ad tracking and conversion attribution||For affiliates: Starts at $83/month up to $624/month|
For advertisers: Starts at $124/month up to $624/month; Custom plan available
For agencies: Starts at $99/month
|Zapier||Fast and no-code integrations between different apps||Free for 100 tasks/month; Plans range from $19.99 up to $599|
|Integromat||Creating complex and custom automation||Free up to $29/month; Enterprise plan available|
|Encharge||Automating the customer journey||Based on the number of subscribers; Starts at $49/month|
Let’s go over each one for a more in-depth look.
To make it easier to visualize how each tool can contribute to your business, we’ve grouped them according to how they are used in each stage of the funnel.
Inbound marketing tools for generating content ideas
Every digital marketer knows that content marketing plays a pivotal role in inbound marketing. While the content does a great job attracting users, it also contributes to moving users along the consideration, purchase, and even retention stage.
Crafting a content marketing strategy involves three major processes:
- Researching the right keywords you want to rank for.
- Optimization your existing and new content for search engines.
- Continuously conducting industry and market research.
For each step in the process, here are our go-to inbound marketing tools:
SEMRush (best used for keyword research and content strategy)
Content strategy is heavily dependent on data, and SEMRush offers a lot of tools for businesses that want to make the most of organic search traffic.
- Analyze the keywords that your competitors are ranking for, so you can effectively plan your SEO strategy.
- Create a content calendar based on actual topics that your audience is looking for at the moment and questions that they needed the answers to yesterday.
- Implement a solid backlink execution plan—complete with competitor analysis, backlink auditing, and even a link-building tool you can automate.
- BONUS: If you plan to also have a PPC strategy running alongside your content efforts, you can actually use SEMRush to help you with your PPC keywords and ad copies.
You can create a free account if you just want to see what’s inside. But trust us—once you’re in, you’ll feel the urge to try out all their tools.
SurferSEO (best used for optimizing content for search engines)
SEO is a long-term strategy that involves continuous production and optimization of valuable content.
Let’s say that your keyword strategy and content planning are already top-notch, the next thing to focus on is to make sure that your content ranks.
SurferSEO’s features and tools revolve around one thing: getting your website to Google’s first page. Here’s how:
- Get a comprehensive audit of a page or a specific piece of content and how it performs against your competitors for a specific keyword. Check out this example audit. You’ll be able to compare your content’s structure and length against other organic competitors—leading you to identify quick fixes you can do.
- Real-time feedback on your writing, thanks to Surfer’s Content Editor. Just plug in the keyword, and SurferSEO will provide you with guidelines that you can adjust as you go along.
Quora (for in-depth industry and market research)
While SEMRush and SurferSEO have keyword research tools, Quora acts as a solid support system. Since it’s a Q&A website, you can find many genuine questions and concerns from online users. Some brands also use the platform to build their credibility as a thought-leader in that space.
There are three things to do in Quora if you’re unsure where to start:
- Leverage your keyword research. Verify the recent questions and topics that people are discussing on Quora.
- Competitor research. Check for any mentions of your competitors and other industry players to be more aware of your target audience’s concerns.
- Be visible. See if your competitor is utilizing Quora to engage with your target customers. If not, cement Quora as your turf.
Inbound marketing tools for producing content
After content strategy comes the legwork of producing content for all of your channels. This next batch of tools helps make content production more efficient, provides insights about content performance, and makes sure that content is of top quality.
Buffer (for efficient social media management)
Social media’s contribution to marketing is highly regarded. To fully maximize this, it’s important to have a constant presence on social media.
Buffer is a social media management tool that helps you schedule your content in advance. By doing so, you get to have more headspace to strategize the next batch of social media content.
Additionally, Buffer provides analytics and reports that help you hone into engagement metrics like clicks, shares, and comments. This will lead you to discover what works best across different platforms so you can adjust accordingly.
Canva (for production of creative assets)
To say that Canva revolutionized the design process is an understatement. With a huge list of available features, even in the free version, Canva has become a content production powerhouse.
Most online users are already familiar with Canva, so here’s a quick list of some of the lesser-known and underrated things you can do with Canva:
- Collaborate with your teammates on a design in real-time.
- Quick and basic video editing and GIF creation to spice up your marketing content.
- Prepare and present sales and pitch decks without leaving the spp.
Alternative: Honestly, it looks like there’s none.
Google Analytics and Hotjar (for insights on how users behave on your website)
Google Analytics shows you what pages are most visited by users and where they came from. Other information includes bounce rate and demographics. It gives you the bigger picture of your website.
Hotjar uses heatmaps to show you how users tend to behave on a specific page or a specific piece of content. Where do they spend the most time on? Where do most users click? In what order do they consume content? These are just some of the questions that Hotjar can answer.
So which one should you go with? The answer: both. Even Hotjar recommends using both tools so you can have a deep understanding of your audience.
Here are some examples of how to use both GA and Hotjar in your inbound marketing:
|Improve conversion rate||Learn which pages get the most and least number of visitsDiscover which traffic sources convert moreIdentify the page visits that lead to conversions||Understand at what point users leave your website Replay session recordings of problematic pages|
|Website design overhaul||Pinpoint pages that need to be redoneMonitor performance after the overhaul||Understand how visitors behave on pages that need to be redoneCompare behavior on new pages compared to the old ones|
|Improving overall customer experience||Get an understanding of the paths that users take on your site||Review how they interact with certain pages and elements|
Jarvis (for speedy content writing) – now Jasper.ai
Jarvis, now Jasper, is an Artificial Intelligence tool that will make you feel like you have another writer on board.
The tool can write original content for social media platforms, blogs, and even ad copies at scale. You just need to select (from its many options) what you need to write and then produce a very detailed brief. Only this time, you’re briefing an AI.
Select the tone and voice you want to use, indicate specific keywords to focus on, and voila! You can then literally watch the AI write. You’ll have the first draft out soon faster than a human will ever write one.
A word of caution: It does take time to learn the perfect way to brief Jarvis. There is a very helpful Facebook group of Jarvis users who share tips and learnings on dealing with AI.
Once Jarvis produces your first draft, and you inject a human touch by editing or rephrasing it, the next step is content editing and proofreading.
Again, there’s no better tool between WordTune and Grammarly. It really depends on your need and work style. Grammarly does a really precise job at checking spelling, grammar, and potential pl,agiarism issues. WordTune, on the other hand, is a copyediting tool that actually helps you rephrase your draft.
|Use if you want to rewrite your tone to be more casual, formal, or neutral||Use if you want to check spelling errors and grammar issues|
Inbound marketing tools for engaging leads
Let’s say your content strategy is working, and your site is getting some well-deserved traffic. How do you move these people to the next stage of the customer journey? These tools can help.
Both are extremely popular options for live chat solutions. If your business doesn’t have live chat as a messaging channel, you may want to start yesterday. Almost half (46%) of online users will select a live chat feature over any other channel?
Both Intercom and Drift have competitive features that focus on creating conversations with potential and existing customers.
Intercom is a great tool for customer support and handling continuous engagement with online users.
Meanwhile, Drift uses live chat boxes and bots to also qualify leads before handing them over to the sales team.
|Automation of marketing campaigns||✓||✓|
Intercom offers an affordable startup plan and integrates natively with Encharge, so you can automatically add chat users and leads to your Encharge automation flows
Hellobar (for effective lead capture)
Hellobar helps businesses create top bars and pop-ups for websites that will help engage visitors and capture their details.
These are the pop-ups you can create with Hellobar:
- Headers and footers
- Floating alerts
- Rotating sliders
- Full-screen takeovers
While the design and copy of these Hello bars are important, the clincher here is your offer. Ask yourself this question: What is valuable for your target audience that they will be willing to volunteer their information?
Hellobar also gives you insights on the performance of your pop-ups so you can keep doing tests and optimizing according to your learnings.
This is perhaps a match made in sales heaven. Gone are the days when a salesperson would have to manually email a lead back and forth asking about available times. Calendly allows online users to schedule according to their preference — and this schedule then automatically appears on their digital calendar.
Zoom, meanwhile, has changed the game for sales teams. Its video conferencing features make it possible to conduct (virtual) face-to-face demo calls and pitch calls even though people are in different countries.
The best part is that Calendly integrates natively with Encharge.
Encharge (for lead nurture via email marketing automation)
Once you capture a lead, the customer journey doesn’t end. In fact, this is when you have to strike — while the interest is piping hot.
Email marketing automation allows you to set up trigger-based emails to your contacts, so they fire off at the right time with the right message. Some examples:
- Welcome emails for new subscribers or contacts.
- Acknowledgment emails for new leads.
- Follow-up emails to schedule a call.
- Post-purchase emails, cross-sells, or upsells for eCommerce brands.
- Reminders to register for upcoming webinars or invitations to download new case studies or ebooks.
This is different from the old “spray and pray” strategy, which involves sending everything to everyone on your list.
Modern email marketing is sophisticated — thanks to the ability to segment according to demographics, behavior, and even preferences.
Encharge is a marketing automation tool that allows you to segment your contacts and create tailored email workflows. So you can create a hyper-personalized customer journey with email marketing automation.
HubSpot (for lead closing and alignment between sales and marketing teams)
HubSpot is a comprehensive tool that gives both sales and marketing teams an overview of how leads are moving along the pipeline. It also provides tools to help marketing teams create campaigns to generate leads for the sales team to qualify.
Our favorite features include:
- Ability to create landing pages for lead magnets or webinars.
- Post-event email marketing nurture flows.
- Automated emails and action.
- Calendar feature for leads to schedule calls with.
- Dashboards to view the sales pipeline.
- And, of course, native integration with Encharge.
Inbound marketing tools for optimizing the process
Inbound marketing is not a stop-and-go thing. It’s a continuous learning process as we tweak strategies along the way. The more you learn, the better your strategy will be.
Here are the best tools to help businesses ensure that their marketing game has nowhere to go but up.
Google Analytics (for identifying and optimizing conversion patterns)
Use the data from Google Analytics to continuously optimize your inbound marketing strategy. Since audience behavior and trends change continually, it’s important to keep an eye on your Google Analytics dashboard regularly.
- Be on the lookout for high-performing blog posts. Optimize them with CTAs if they’re bringing in a good amount of traffic because these may be opportunities for sales.
- Study the behavior flow. Identify where visitors tend to drop off, and see how you can improve that specific page or content.
- Analyze trends. During BFCM season, for example, there is a high possibility that your BFCM-related content will be the most popular. Check which ones convert and focus on promoting them more.
- Identify the best sources of traffic. If you’re putting in a lot of time on PPC, but organic traffic is converting more, this may mean that you should focus more on what works.
Redtrack (for tracking ads and proper attribution)
Redtrack ensures that impressions, clicks, and even conversions are properly attributed to the channel responsible. This way, you’ll be able to compare and contrast how each of your channels works—leading you to data-driven recommendations and action steps.
You will be able to get rid of hours and hours of manual work to focus on analyzing insights rather than manually pulling out numbers.
Both tools help in creating seamless integrations between the different apps and tools that sales and marketing teams use. Aside from integrations, Zapier and Make can also create automation within your workflow like:
- Form submissions
- Client invoicing
- Triggering actions in the production process
- Streamlining file uploading and management
What’s the difference, and which one should you go with?
Zapier is a point-and-click automation tool. Connect popular apps like Gmail, Slack, and more to automate repetitive tasks. You don’t need a developer to set up data exchanges and interactions between your tools. Plus, it already has more than 3,000 supported app integrations.
Example: If you use Typeform to gather information, program Zapier to transfer these details to a Google Sheet automatically.
Make (previously called Integromat) also has similar functionalities to Zapier, with its 650 pre-made integrations. However, there’s room for customization because you can connect any business app and fine-tune specific scenarios via API.
You may need a little bit of coding to make this happen — but this is also what makes Integromat more versatile than Zapier.
The verdict: Zapier is an excellent tool for newbies and individual tasks. It’s very intuitive and doesn’t require any coding at all. Use Make if you have more advanced workflows with multiple steps and scenarios. You will need some coding experience, but the effort is worth it.
Encharge (for automating the customer journey)
The overall goal for inbound marketing is to deliver a seamless and personalized customer journey across all touchpoints. However, most businesses have trouble because their data sets are distributed across different tools and apps — and sales and marketing have silos.
Encharge allows your departments to connect their entire marketing stack of tools and bring them all together. As a result, you get to have robust automated marketing flows, streamlined processes, and the ability to build your own custom campaigns.
Uplevel your inbound game using the right tools
The truth is that there is no shortage of inbound marketing tools. All of these tools above have proven their prowess, and all have respective success stories.
However, inbound marketing doesn’t end with simply choosing which tools to invest in. Remember that a tool is only as powerful as the strategy behind it.
Keep in mind that these tools can only be maximized to their full potential if you tie in all of the inbound marketing tactics and principles together. To kickstart your inbound marketing strategy, give Encharge a try and experience the difference that a robust marketing automation tool can make.