digital marketing tools

10 Go-To Digital Marketing Tools

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”– Michael Jordan

With so many apps and tools at our fingertips, one would think digital marketing has never been easier. Not so. As the freelancing or “gig” economy takes off, remote teams are becoming commonplace; and digital marketing with its many moving parts can pose real logistical challenges. Upwork estimates one-third of American workers are now freelancing, and project work, digital or otherwise, demands that everyone stays talking, collaborating and informed.

It can be frustrating to roll out a collaborative tool only to find it doesn’t have the functionality to facilitate a team or do what is needed. Over the past several years, my team has found that some of the tools we use for our digital marketing projects consistently make the “A” list. So, I thought I would share! Whether you’re a small business mostly managing your own marketing efforts or a large cross-border team, there is something on this list for everyone.

Here is the Resourceful Business list of ten go-to digital marketing tools:


1. Create great visuals in Canva

Graphics are a necessity for online marketing and often need to be created. While Adobe Photoshop is best for more complex projects, Canva is a simple drag-and-drop design platform for creating social posts, documents, banners and other visuals. It is an important tool for our social media team. The canvas size you choose can be customized by social network (e.g., Facebook post, Instagram post, Pinterest graphic), and pictures and watermarks can be maintained in an Uploads library. There is a wide selection of fonts and templates; and in the premium version, designers can create brand folders, save brand colors, and resize images for different social platforms.

Favorite Canva feature: Team stream, which allows different team members to share their work and comment on team submissions

2. Find high resolution, free stock photos on Stock Up

It’s impossible to be in digital marketing and not utilize imagery. According to Hubspot, “Content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without relevant images.” It’s only one of 37 must-read visual marketing stats in a recent Hubspot article. Stock Up is a unique website that aggregates photos from 27 free stock photo sites. There are close to 14,000 pictures, and the number continues to grow. Users can put keywords in a search bar to search for images, and the photo selections are expansive and varied.

Favorite Stock Up feature: If you hover over the photo, the license terms appear.


3. Schedule Instagram posts with ScheduGram

For any business that has the luxury of beautiful product visuals, Instagram is an essential social platform. As a digital marketing agency creating social media for clients, we prefer not to do things on the fly. ScheduGram is a scheduling platform for Instagram posts, and it is available on desktop. In our view, this feature is mission critical. Posts can be scheduled in advance, and first comments–the preferred location for hashtags–can be as well. ScheduGram allows us to review, edit and see our posts on a desktop prior to posting. Tagging photos, or identifying other people or businesses in the post, through the Schedugram platform is currently in test, and we hope the ability to add location will follow in short order.

Favorite Schedugram feature: First Comments field so that hashtags can be scheduled in the first comment at the same time you schedule the post itself

4. Manage social media posts with Hootsuite

Social media work for clients should be a collaborative, tag team effort. Content can be written by one part of the team and then edited and hashtagged by another. Creatives can design graphics, and if the client uses paid social campaigns, other team members can manage the ads too. For us, scheduling social media posts is a must because it drives consistency, quality and collaboration. We use Hootsuite for social media; it allows us to schedule posts and use different team members in the creation process. Recently, Hootsuite added an integration with YouTube, so now you can schedule videos too.

Favorite Hootsuite feature: AutoSchedule, which will send scheduled posts at optimal times

Twitter hashtag

5. Develop a list of relevant hashtags with Hashtagify

When a “#” is put in front of a word, it creates a hashtag, or clickable link, that directs you to content which also contains that hashtag. Hashtags are an important tool in marketing, because they can drive a person to your content–and ultimately your business–via the hashtag. If a person doesn’t know about your company, (s)he may never find your brand through traditional search. However, hashtags can attract an audience with an interest in your subject matter. The Hashtagify portal allows a user to type in a hashtag and see other related, popular hashtags. Visuals like the size of a circle that surrounds a hashtag and the thickness of connecting lines that extend from the hashtag being analyzed cue the user to a hashtag’s popularity. You can even see Top Influencers and compare performance between hashtags.

Favorite Hashtagify feature: The Hashtag Wall which gives a tiled, visual representation of recent posts for a hashtag



6. Correct spelling and grammar with Grammarly

Grammarly is a writing app which has a handy Chrome add-on. It highlights grammar, syntax and spelling errors. The interface is incredibly user-friendly. Errors are underlined in red and then upon hover, fixes are suggested in green. It is easy to see errors visually, and Grammarly offers an explanation for the problem. You can take the suggestion or decline it. Although not currently integrated with Google Drive, a quick workaround is to download your Google Doc as a Microsoft Word document and just pick the errors up from there. Another alternative is to copy and paste the copy into Grammarly directly. A Google Drive integration is apparently in the works.

Favorite Grammarly feature: explanation cards for errors which describe the mistake, suggest the correction and offer an “Add to Dictionary” option


7. Collect client input with Google Forms

Whether it is a website information questionnaire or input for a logo design, every business needs client input. The collector must be user-friendly, gathered in an organized way and viewable by the team. Google has a cloud-based solution for survey creation, Google Forms. There are several ways to receive and view the responses. Our favorite is to have the responses automatically populate a Google Sheet, which is accessible by the entire team.

Favorite Google Forms feature: basic customization tools for branding such as a header image for logos and a color palette

8. Collaborate with Google Drive

Great content begins with a talented writer or creative. Better content is a collaboration of many inputs and viewpoints. Google Drive, a cloud-based file creation and storage service offered by Google, is our go-to tool for team collaboration. Notwithstanding the importance of all of the work being in the cloud for accessibility by the team, the Google Drive interface allows for direct editing, review and comments. A user can see past revisions and which team member has recently worked on the document. In fact, our team will drag and drop almost everything a client sends us into organized Google Drive folders, and the search toolbar functionality is robust. One handy feature is the ability to see Recent items that have been worked on or viewed, which makes finding current work a breeze.

Favorite Google Drive feature: Suggesting mode so team edits are seen as suggestions and only incorporated if accepted

to-do list

9. Assign work out to the team with Wrike

As any business grows, so too does its client base, project list and task complexity. Our agency needed an application that would allow the management team to assign out the various moving parts of each project, keep track of progress and deadlines, and allow other members of the team to provide input. We landed on Wrike. As projects come in, they are scheduled on Wrike and assigned out to team members. Tasks can be made recurring, moved around on a calendar, and organized by folder. The team can add comments, upload attachments and mark assignments as complete.

Favorite Wrike feature: Daily To Do emails that show tasks and overdue tasks, each with a link back to the original Wrike task

10. Tackle big projects with Basecamp

There are projects and then there are projects. Large, complicated client engagements, websites for example, have many inputs and require the involvement of multiple parties, possibly even outside freelancers and creatives. Basecamp is one of the most versatile project applications around, and it has a great dashboard–my personal favorite of any of the applications I use. In the various sections on the dashboard, project team members can see documents, the project schedule, team chats in the campfire section, and the running to-do list. It shows team profiles across the top of the dashboard so you always know who is involved, and importantly, it will email or “ping” people to keep them posted on updates and communications.

Favorite Basecamp feature: Link a Google doc, where you can add a document by just linking the URL of a Google Doc

What makes a digital marketing tool best in class?

No doubt you will have noticed some consistencies in our list of go-to digital marketing tools. They offer user-friendly dashboards and portals, utilize the cloud for accessibility and storage, and facilitate the many inputs and stages of complex project work. Tools that are emerging as best in class facilitate teams collaborating from all corners of the world.

Think of the possibilities!


Please note that on occasion, RB may use an affiliate link in its blog and receive some form of compensation should you purchase a specific product. RB will only use an affiliate link for a tool we actively use ourselves and recommend as a resource.

Resolve to Master the Art of Collaboration

Everyone should watch the TED Talk by David Grady, “How to save the world (or at least yourself) from bad meetings.” You’ll laugh because it is so humorous, but it also makes you realize how much time is actually wasted in meetings which are either perfunctory in nature or just poorly run. We have all been there. In watching this TED Talk, it occurred to me that in addition to the fact that meetings “steal” time from someone’s otherwise productive day, there is also another cost. Everyone present at the meeting gets to tick the mental box that they were there, and in so doing, the opportunity to encourage real change in the organization is lost. Why? Because true collaboration and ideation take both time and engaged participants

As each year closes, there is no better time than the new year to breathe renewed energy into a business. Harness the brainpower of your employees and co-workers and resolve to master the art of collaboration.

Discuss Matters of Consequence

According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, collaboration means “to work with another person or group in order to achieve or do something.” It sounds so simple. But, what struck me after listening to David Grady’s TED Talk, is that to work with someone, you must be willing and truly want to listen to what (s)he has to say, and what is being said must be a matter of some consequence. People think of meetings as ideal forums for brainstorming and dialogue. However, so often a meeting boils down to a presentation of a project already in progress, status updates by participants on actions that have already been taken or approvals or wordsmithing of documents. Here is an example of what I mean:

You are asked to attend a budget meeting to review, discuss and approve the proposed budget for the next calendar year. As the meeting kicks off, you are handed a weighty package with the current budget proposal versus previous year(s) actuals and some supporting details. You listen to a presentation of the changes relative to the previous year’s budget proposal, are informed of some revised expectations, and apprised of scenarios that may take the budget off track. In due course, you are reminded of the tight timeframe and lengthy agenda for the meeting, and oh yes, comments anyone?

In fact, we attend meetings hoping to participate in an exchange of ideas, but the reality is that often one group presents to another, and the matters under discussion are scrubbed and edited so as to be of little consequence. People hear the presentation, but don’t really listen to it because they know that neither genuine change nor collaborative dialogue will ensue. The reality is that colleagues will not collaborate with their peers unless discussions are on matters of consequence, meaningful change is still possible and people in the meeting actually want input from others in attendance.

value the input of your peers in small business

Value the Input of your Peers

Every organization has a hierarchy. It certainly is important when it comes to the day-to-day operations of the business. There are chiefs and there are Indians. But, the irony is that often the Indians have some of the best ideas, and moreover while some could be chiefs, they choose not to be. These non-managerial employees are pivotal to the daily running of the company and often the face of the business to your customers. Sometimes their jobs have components that are repetitious, so there is no one better to suggest how to streamline those jobs. They interact with customers and know what works and what will sell. But often, these valuable members of the team are also acutely aware that they are not managers.

If you are seeking to draw out the ideas of your peers and collaborate with them, they will want to know their input is truly valued by both the management and other co-workers. The art of collaborating encompasses the ability to sometimes treat others as your peers even when they are not, take the time to talk and listen to them and value their input. The end result is genuine buy-in.

Follow-up on Great Ideas

With some great ideas and an action plan in place, follow-up is critical to the art of collaboration. Organizational change comes in steps, and each part of the process should have actionable items for people to do. There is nothing more demoralizing than attending a meeting where someone floats a great idea, there is much fanfare, and then it is never pursued. If your organization has a management team that never produces actionable plans based on great ideas, than the value of the collaborative process is lost.

If there are unanswered questions when an idea is presented, the appropriate person should report back on the issue to his or her colleagues. In fact, taking a suggestion and following it through speaks to valuing the input of your peers, and as employees start to see the results of their collaborative efforts, they will become even more energized, motivated and engaged.

Stale organizations focus on process. Growing ones encourage collaboration and evolve.

Collaboration forces an organization to mature and grow, although perhaps not in the manner originally anticipated. If you are struggling to identify a strategic direction for your organization and could use some assistance, contact us or call (973) 218-6558.


Note: This blog has been edited since its first publication in December 2014.