By Dean DeCarlo

May 5, 2019

2019’s Top Digital Tools For Rapid Growth

In our fast-paced world, marketers are always looking for the extra edge to improve the effectiveness of our customer experiences and drive revenue growth. Third-party tools are one of the best ways to make an immediate impact on our objectives. Many have been designed for ease of use, taking the technical side out of the equation. While there are literally thousands of tools out there, I highlight the ones that I feel will have a game-changing impact on the way you market. This section organizes these tools into Measurement, Experience & Growth.


Measurement tools are the absolute lifeblood of your job as a marketer, and I’m not just saying that to be dramatic. If you aren’t working with a multi-million dollar budget, and even if you are, implementing the correct tools will help you prove your ideas to company stakeholders, which is the key to asking for more marketing budget. Not only will the correct measurement tools help attribute return on investment, but it will help you scale your campaigns, allowing for rapid iteration without the guesswork, and alleviates the need to run manual reports on the results you’ve achieved. At base, I’m going to assume you already have Goog[le Analytics installed on your website. What I won’t assume is that you have setup advance implementation or enhanced e-commerce tracking of analytics. This is important information that includes measuring events, such as likes, clicks, downloads, purchases and data layer variables i.e. User IDs, for tracking lifetime behavior. If this doesn’t sound familiar, this is the next step of fully integrated measurement. I recommend downloading Google Tag Manager, which will aid you in deploying and managing analytic tags that can be used for tracking. Personally, I find that having a developer to help you with this is smart, as you need a solid understanding of JavaScript for correct implementation. Now, while I love Google Analytics, it is not the end all be all. I wrote about three of my top analytics program here. Google Analytics is a great central hub for measurement but lacks in some specialty areas. The tools Included in the list are programs marketers use to accomplish more niche measurements.


  • Hotjar: Provides marketers with a fast and visual way to understand users and to help measure the effectiveness of your design. Hotjar boasts a suite of analytic tools within its subscription including page heatmaps, screen recording, funnel/form analysis, plus, four feedback tools. If you’re about to embark on new web design, it’s so important that you first collect data from your old site. This will ensure you make data-driven design decisions based on YOUR user data.


Pro-Tip: If you are considering a web development firm and they do not mention this technology, run for the hills!


  • Google Tag Manager: Otherwise known as a Digital Marketers best friend, Tag Manager allows you to embed analytic tags & integrations with ease. This tool organizes your marketing tech stack deployments (like analytic pixels) and allows collaboration across your team. If you don’t want to rely on a developer to constantly manage tags, then this is the tool for you!


  • SuperMetrics: If your reporting is complex and tedious, this tool may peak your interest.  Supermetrics makes it super easy to upload advertising data into one place, specifically by importing it into Google Sheets (Excel) or Google Data Studio. I’ve used the integration to pull-in metrics from Twitter, Bing, Facebook and  Amazon Ads in one place, making analysis much easier for my team and me, while allowing us to focus on our optimization efforts.


Experience Tools:


I can’t say this enough, your website is your first line of offense in today’s world. I don’t care if you run a brick and mortar store or a fully digital service. Your entire company and the value you provide, will be judged by the digital experience you present . If this initial impression leaves a bad taste in their mouth, say goodbye to that customer. For this reason, it’s not enough to have a static website or even a website filled with new blog content. Instead, you need to constantly iterate new EXPERIENCES that push the boundaries of engagement, optimal functionality and ease-of-use for your site. While there are thousands of tools out there to help you build a stellar experience, as the coach of your marketing team, you need to take a step-back and evaluate the needs of your users and business. This reflection will help you set experience goals that tackle the issues most pertinent to the company. As you think of new features, don’t think that you have to reinvent the wheel by building them from scratch. Start with a simple Google search to find out if it’s built already. If it is created, use that integration by licensing it and get to market faster, which in turn will allow you to focus your efforts on measuring how that experience impacts results. Below I’ve created a list of a few tools I’m using to test and optimize user experiences.


  • Google Optimize: In my opinion, Optimize is one of the most powerful tools available for marketers looking to test & improve website experiences. Optimize allows the deployment of  A/B testing with NO coding experience. That means you can test copy, color changes, and new layouts while measuring a defined Google Analytic metric of your choosing (or custom one). You’d be amazed at the effect that small tweaks can have on a conversion rate For example, for a client project, we decided to run a few tests on their sign-up page. We added a testimonial video and changed the heading from “Try Our Platform For 21 Days For Free” to “Try Our Platform For Free” and saw a 115% lift in conversion, talk about a BIG change from one small tweak! Optimize allows you to run a few tests including A/B, multi-variant and page redirect tests. After you prove a test is effective it’s easy to make those changes permanent by launching a website personalization! I could go on and on about Google Optimize, but just understand that the ability to test, measure and reiterate is a sure-fire way to hit your user experience goals. If you’re interested in using Google Optimize check out the how-to video I created.


  • Intercom: This chat app on steroids allows companies to provide superior customer service to their users while also helping to automate tedious tasks, e.g. answering FAQ for users, vetting-out lead prospects for sales teams and sending them to the appropriate rep. On the user experience side, the bot feature of this app is incredibly powerful and I personally use it for clients to market to site users and visitors. The chatbot is able to increase engagement by sending out messages to users based on their website behavior, sending the right message at the right time to users who are interested in what you have to say. For sales, it’s another tool that can help you qualify prospects based on behavior because it’s perfect for finding out what products visitors are interested in before your team even reaches-out. Chatbot is also a fantastic tool for upselling & cross-selling. Intercom’s integration set makes it easy to schedule meetings and import all of the information into CMS systems. Most recently, Intercom released a tour guide feature that helps with user adaptation of new features on your website, by giving interactive instructions on how to use a feature on the page. All In all, it’s a great tool to increase on-site conversion and one of the few chat apps that can help drive revenue and increase digital adaptation of website features.


  • WalkMe: WalkMe helps with a digital adaptation of products. In plain English, they provide a service that allows companies to make interactive tutorials, step-by-step guides and automation process that makes it easier for users to learn how to use their digital platforms. It’s an intuitive product that increases engagement through education and ultimately, increases retention on sites. For those who have built  SAAS websites, apps or software, some guidance may be needed so users understand how to use your product. For this, I recommend WalkMe.


Growth Tools


While the first two segments of tools focus on the measurement and optimization of your digital marketing efforts, this section will focus on tools that will make immediate impacts on your conversion rate. All too often, people assume if something is built, people will use it. But in the digital world, that sentiment is far from true. Even if they are interested in what you have to offer, they need validation that they are choosing the right product or getting the right deal. As marketers, it’s our job to understand user needs and ensure we respond with messages of relevancy, within a timeframe of seconds, rather than hours or days.The growth tools I recommend for marketers are designed to do exactly that, with infinite degrees of reminders, messaging and trust-building features built into them. Remember, it’s important to evaluate your growth goals and align them with the right tool(s) that can help you achieve them.


  • OptinMonster:   For marketers looking to grow their email list or drive conversions quickly , OptinMonster is a great tool for highly-targeted pop-ups to deliver messages that entice users to convert. OptinMonster quickly impressed me because of how easy it was to implement, with plenty of templates available. The true power lies in its targeting system, which allows marketers to tap into defined behaviors to deliver the pop-ups in a nonintrusive manner. One other unique targeting method that our team leverages often is the “Exit Intent” technology which can actually detect when a user moves to close the browser and deliver a full-screen pop up that grabs their attention as a last ditch effort to convert. This particular format has led to a 13% conversion rate for one of our clients. Before using this tool, zero percent of their website traffic was converting, , so this was a big step-up for them!


Pro Tip: my other favorite format is the countdown timer, which creates a sense of urgency for users to claim an offer. When deploying this on a clients website, we saw a 136% lift in conversion compared to other pop-up formats.


  • Marketing Automation Platform: For high traffic sites that sell services or products, marketing automation provides a way to intelligently send messages to users at the right time. Let me paint the picture for you. Let’s say I’ve signed up for a newsletter. Instead of getting a generic welcome message, the marketing automation program can see that I’ve looked at two sets of product categories, and now, inserted in that “welcome” email is content that has been dynamically placed into the email based on what I looked on in the website. As a user, I now have more material that speaks directly to my needs and will better help me make a purchasing decision. As the company, your email click-through rates begin to soar and your email is considered less spammy to users. Behavioral-based marketing automation is used by e-commerce giants like Amazon and Wayfair, but is the perfect tool for closing the sale and maximizing the lifetime value of a customer. Personally, I use Sharpspring, because I find that they are cost-effective when compared to HubSpot, while completing the same goals.


  • TrustPulse: Understand that psychology plays a huge role in marketing and that one of the fastest ways to grow any brand (service or product base) is a peer-to-peer endorsement. Whether we realize it or not, the opinions of others greatly persuade our purchasing decisions. That’s why TrustPulse has made its way onto my list. This website integration notifies users when products they viewed were purchased on the site, and/or the number of users viewing a page. This, in turn, gives visitors a boost of confidence that socially-validates the product.


Third-party tools allow us as marketers to remain agile, making quick iterations that can affect our organization’s bottom line. I challenge you to bucket your current integration into the three categories you read about. Think about the impact each has, and if you’re falling short in one area, you now know which tools to implement for your company first!