Is your business cobbled together using old tech?
We believe that marketing agencies should be like Santa Clause, but instead of presents, we put software recommendations under your tree.
We know that your staff works hard to support your customers, and your tech stack should work just as hard to support your staff.
Just a little disclaimer before we dive in:
Some of these links are affiliate links. That means that if you follow the link and make a purchase, we may get a small commission. However, all of the recommendations we make below are for businesses that we partner with regularly for ourselves and our clients, we believe in, and we truly think they can help you grow your business. We would never recommend software that we do not fully believe in.
Our Favorite Software for small businesses
CRM & MARKETING AUTOMATION SOFTWARE
When we started this company in early 2018, we knew that we were going to be a HubSpot Partner Agency. These folks literally wrote the book on Inbound Marketing, and their software is incredible.
HubSpot’s software is an all-on-one solution that includes a free CRM, a whole suite of tools for marketers, salespeople, and customer service reps, and they’ve recently re-launched a new and very awesome website builder. In addition, they integrate with hundreds of other applications, meaning you can get a full 360 degree view of each of your prospects and customers – marketing activities, sales calls, and support tickets – along behavioral data – which pages they’re viewing, which emails they’re reading, and more.
HubSpot is a huge system, and we recommend working with a Certified HubSpot Solutions Provider (that’s us!) to implement it for your business.
If you’re starting out with Marketing Automation or are on a budget, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more cost-efficient email marketing automation tool than ActiveCampaign. Many of my clients have started out on ActiveCampaign and then moved over to a more heavy-duty tool like HubSpot as they outgrew it.
Main Pros: Pricing! They have a plan that starts at $15/month and they have a really robust automation platform. If all you’re wanting to do is segment your list based on what pages they’ve viewed or links that they’ve clicked, ActiveCampaign is a great choice. Once segmented, you can send targeted emails to nurture your audience toward a buying decision.
Main Cons: Their feels sluggish, their CRM & Deal Pipeline is relatively new and feels a bit unfinished, and they don’t integrate with nearly as many other applications as a tool like HubSpot.
OTHER MARKETING SOFTWARE
Interact is a great tool if you’re looking to add a little fun to your marketing stack. The idea here is that you can create interactive quizzes that your audience can take. For instance, if you’re selling jewelry, you could create a quiz saying “Which stone are you?”
In addition to receiving answers that could excite your audience about your service or product, Interact also integrates with many CRM and Marketing Automation platforms (including HubSpot and ActiveCampaign, of course) so you can market to them after they fill out your quiz.
With pricing starting at $29/month, Interact is a great way to engage your audience and build your contact list.
When you start running ads, it’s really important that the page you send people to matches the ad that you just showed them. In other words, STOP SENDING PEOPLE TO YOUR HOME PAGE. If your ad is about buying a new kitchen faucet, your landing page better be about buying a new kitchen faucet too, or else your traffic won’t convert and you’ll waste your money.
Unbounce is an easy to use landing page builder that has a ton of features, is easily customizable (aka no coding!) and can get you great conversion rates.
If you’re just looking for a landing page builder and don’t need all the bells and whistles of a tool like HubSpot, give Unbounce a look. Their base plan starts at $80/month.
Leaddyno is one of my favorites! It’s an affiliate management software, meaning people can sign up to promote your product in exchange for a commission on any purchases that they send your way. You can load up Faceebook posts, email copy, and even HTML banners to make it easy for your affiliates to promote your products! They even have a bunch of recruitment tools that will help you grow your affiliate network. They support Multilevel affiliates, and all kinds of different commission structures.
Starting at $49/month, Leaddyno is easy to set up, fully customizable, and worth every penny. In fact, I’ve got two clients right now that are just killing it with Leaddyno.
If you’re trying to get your website to rank higher with search engines and don’t use SEMRush, you’re doing it all wrong.
SEMRush is probably my favorite software for researching keywords, topic ideas, finding guidance on how to write articles for search engines (as well people), and much much more. You can set up weekly site audits, where they scan your site for any technical issues that might negatively affect your rankings, and their software will walk you through organizing your content in a way that gives you the best shot of ranking.
They have a limited free plan that you can try out, and their basic subscription starts at $99/month.
While this is not technically a marketing software, I do believe that Digital Marketer is one of the most important companies in the digital marketing space. Long story short, they provide training for all kinds of huge companies, like Uber and Infusionsoft, cranking their marketing efforts up to 11 and turning them into lead generation machines.
If you’re a DIY marketer and are NOT looking to hire an agency (like us!), check out Digital Marketer and prepare your mind to be blown. I’m a Certified Partner of Digital Marketer, and I’ve taken several of their certifications and have been shocked at the quality of their training. I’ve been able to turn around and layer a lot of this training on top of the marketing plans that I’ve been implementing for my clients and the results have been really incredible. I’d encourage anyone trying to level up their marketing skills to invest in Digital Marketer’s Lab plan. It’s about $100/month, but you get access to 36 in-depth playbooks that walk you through just about every kind of marketing task that you have on your plate.
BUSINESS PROCESS TOOLS
Aircall calls itself “The phone system for modern business” and we completely agree. The days of having phone lines are over.
Aircall is a browser based cloud phone system, meaning you make and receive calls on your browser or your smartphone. It’s very customizable, allowing you to create groups of users (think a call center or support team), IVR menus (“for sales, press 2”), custom ringtones, 800-numbers, user voicemail management, and much much more.
We use Aircall and are Aircall Partners, meaning we can help you get up and running with the software.
Oh, and pricing starts at $30/month per user. Most of the clients that we’ve migrated to Aircall have saved money on their monthly phone bill by ditching their carrier and moving to the cloud, and they have the flexibility of remote working because it’s a cloud system.
It truly is the best.
Creating documents is one of the worst uses of a person’s time. Whether they’re contracts, agrements, quotes, marketing materials or anything else, any time that your team spends updating names and dates and logos is time that they are not spending with your prospects or customers.
PandaDoc allows you to create beautiful templates, it sucks information out of your CRM and cuts down on manual data entry, and it allows your prospects and customers to view and sign the document right from their computer or phone.
Stop copying and pasting, stop worrying about errors, and start wowing your prospects with Pandadoc’s document creation engine.
They have a free esign plan, and their template creator starts at just $19/month/user.
I struggled for a long time finding a project management system that worked for our business. We have half a dozen-ish people on our team, we want to keep all of our communication tied to the relevant tasks, and we need flexibility to see our work in the way that makes the most sense in the moment – lists, kanban boards, calendars, timelines, documents, even mindmaps!
ClickUp checks all these boxes and more, their dev team releases new features every week, and they have kept us on task with all of our clients.
They have public sharing options so we can keep our clients up to date, and they have released lots of resource management tools over the last little bit to manage time and estimates.
Very very very cool software, and I could not say enough great things about it.
The ecommerce version of “more money, more problems” is “more marketplaces, more problems”. The best way to get your product out there is to be on all of the websites where people are buying – that’s your website, Amazon, Walmart, Etsy, eBay, and more.
When you start thinking about the logistics of managing all these platforms, you start running into issues pretty quickly. What happens if you run out of inventory in your warehouse but orders keep coming in from Walmart? What happens if you want to change pricing suddenly, but your products are on a dozen sites? What happens if you’re using 2 or 3 shipping providers, and need to make decisions based on where your inventory is?
Ecomdash handles all of this and more, making it easier for you to sell on multiple channels, simplify all your processes around selling on those channels, and save hours and hours of administrative time.
They start at $60/month, and are worth every penny.
We stumbled across Deliverr while looking for an alternative to Amazon’s FBA program. While Amazon is happy to store and ship your product, they can be somewhat difficult to work with and – worse – they don’t let you customize your packaging.
Deliverr provides the benefit of Amazon’s FBA program – fast, 2 day delivery – without all the downsides. You can add brochures to your packages, use custom packaging, and really deliver a great experience to your customers. Their pricing is comparable to FBA, although their storage prices can get a little pricey if you have a ton of skus – especially if they’re small products.
In the early days, when our agency was a humble side project, I used Bonsai and loved it. I was looking for a service that would let me manage contracts (which they’re great at), but what I got with Bonsai was a great, inexpensive business management tool.
Bonsai has great templates for proposals and contracts for a lot of different types of freelance work (the contracts are written by lawyers, too). The also have a time tracker, and invoice management system.
For years I used them exclusively to sell my services, track time against projects, and bill my clients.
At the time, they were not great if you had employees or subcontractors, although I see they’ve made progress here. If you’re a freelancer or running a smaller operation, I highly recommend looking at Bonsai.
Plus, they start at $19/month so they’re super affordable.
Quickbooks probably doesn’t need any introduction. It’s an accounting software that’s been around forever.
As we work to save our clients time and money by integrating systems, we’ve found that Quickbooks Online is a great solution for medium and large businesses. We’re very familiar with developing on Quickbooks and can make sure that Quickbooks is talking with all of your other software.
It comes with all the features you’d expect – invoicing, expense reporting, forecasting, tax stuff, and much much more.
Most people think of HubSpot as a marketing automation system, and they’re not wrong. That’s what they’ve been excelling at for years.
This year, they launched their newest product, CMSHub, which is a very intuitive website builder/hosting service.
CMSHub allows marketers with no dev experience to jump in and change pages, and HubSpot handles security and hosting. It starts at $300/momth, which might feel pricey but you can do a ton with it because it plays so well with the rest of the HubSPot ecosystem.
For instance, you can have smart content on each page, so the content changes based on the industry someone is in, or whether they’ve bought from you in the past or not.
Finally! WordPress hosting without the headache. The folks at Flywheel have built a dashboard to manage your site that is easy to use, beautiful to look at, and their service is top notch.
We’re a proud Flywheel partner, so we partner with them to host all of our sites. While we’re happy to host your site for you (at the low monthly cost of $39/month), Flywheel has their Tiny plan, which comes in at $15/month. If you go this route – and it’s a great route to go – just keep in mind that you’ll be responsible for updating your plugins and renewing any premium plugin subscriptions.