If there is one drawback to digital marketing for the modern practice manager, it’s being pulled in a million different marketing directions at once.
“You need to be sending emails.”
“Everyone’s on Instagram!”
“When did you last update your website?”
Trying to manage your practice’s digital marketing efforts without a solid stable of tools behind you is a recipe for being overwhelmed. Having a good tool set at your disposal not only helps you save your time, and your sanity, but also enables you to keep track of what is working.
We just created a new resource section with four amazing E-book guides about marketing your practice. Get them here.
Additionally, to help you on your way to developing a digital marketing toolbox that works for you, we’ve put together a list of 29 must have digital marketing tools. One important note: the list isn’t ranked—for every practice manager who can’t live without some tool, we could find another who will never use it.
Content Marketing Tools
In a broad sense, digital marketing is all about content—Facebook posts, images, email newsletters, videos, blog posts—and getting that content in front of the right people, and at the right time. The main distinction we need to make for this section is between tools that serve a single need (e.g., social media management or email marketing) and marketing automation platforms that serve many needs.
Content Creation Tools
Content creation is where a lot of digital marketing efforts diverge—splitting into simple tasks you can easily handle and complex tasks that will require an expert hand. While you may genuinely need a graphic designer to develop a new branding campaign, sometimes all that stands between you and publishing your latest blog post or scheduling a Facebook post is a picture. You don’t need complex software or a graphic designer to crop a photo.
While they do offer a paid plan, Canva’s free feature set makes it one of the leading online image editors. From preset sizes for everything from a Facebook cover photo to an email header, Canva makes editing images and creating layouts easy. It may not replace your graphic designer, but it will help you immensely.
You don’t always have the budget to devote to buying stock photography or even hiring a photographer. When you just need a decent image for a blog post or social media post, Pexels has a nice collection of images that are free for any use, no attribution required.
At the risk of sounding like your high school English teacher, plagiarism isn’t good, but Copyscape’s plagiarism detector is also a great way to check for duplicate content on the web.
If you’re worried about grammar and spelling in your blog posts, Grammarly is here to take your writing to the next level. The technology behind Grammarly goes beyond a simple spell check helping you weed out serious grammatical and style errors with the click of a button.
Via an easy to understand highlighting system, Hemingway will help you simplify lengthy, complex sentences and fix common grammar errors. The goal is to help make your content more readable, which the tool also helpfully rates your content’s readability by “grade level” with lower levels indicating better readability.
Social Media Tools
Even though it may be part of the job, you can’t get anything done if you’re spending all day on social media. Being able to schedule an entire month or more of posts ahead of time is a great way to save time and energy over manually posting each update.
HootSuite offers a solid set of social media management tools that allow you to schedule posts and push them out to multiple networks at once, generate reports, and track interactions with your content and more. While some features require upgrading to a paid plan, HootSuite offers a nicely capable free plan that should cover most basic needs.
While similar in features, Sprout Social has a little more polished platform that is popular with lots of small businesses and marketing agencies alike. As a single user or someone who just wants to schedule a few posts, you may not notice much of a difference, but if you have a team of people managing your social media, you’ll love Sprout Social’s team functions, and it’s advanced reporting.
Like Hootsuite, Buffer also offers a great free plan to automate your social media posting to multiple platforms, but Buffer has a bit of a different philosophy—instead of scheduling each post for a specific time, Buffer allows you to set a posting schedule for each platform once, for example, every Tuesday and Thursday at 9:30am, and Monday and Friday at 3pm and it simply posts the next available post in the queue. This is a great way to help get eyes on older, but still useful, content.
Email marketing isn’t only about monthly newsletters. Have you ever requested to download a checklist or signed up for a webinar and received an email filled with useful information right after you clicked submit on the form? Both are email marketing! Any decent email tool should handle your average, everyday newsletter, but the best options also provide automation functions to allow you to send certain emails automatically based on triggers you set.
MailChimp is one of the biggest names in the space, thanks in large part to their excellent pricing and features. Starting with a free plan that now includes automation functions is hard to beat for practices looking for a good starting point in the email.
Blending a great email marketing platform with exceptional customer service is where Emma shines. If you’re looking for a provider that will be there to help you succeed along the way, Emma is the way to go.
Deliberately built to be less flexible than platforms like MailChimp, Constant Contact is designed to get your email newsletter pouring into inboxes as quick as possible. You set up a few design options, add your content using the easy-to-use editor, and send your email. If all you want to do is send a simple newsletter or quick email to a lot of people, Constant Contact is a great option for you.
Marketing Automation Platforms
Why use five tools, when you can use one? Marketing automation platforms combine the features of several specialized tools, like social media management and email marketing, and bundle them into a single platform. The beauty of these tools is that some of them are actually cheaper than their specialized competitors while offering 5x as many features.
ReferralMD helps automate the feedback loop with 3rd party providers that refer to you. Instead of having to manually send out updates via phone or fax about your patients to 100’s of different facilities each month, ReferralMD sends out a branded patient progress update about each referral along with it’s diagnosis, your company logo and details about the status of each referral (Appointment status, no-shows, etc.). This form of feedback allows you to raise the bar for customer service you provide to your referral sources netting you more referrals in return. The automated thank you letter updates keep you top of mind with your entire provider network ensuring that you receive more referrals then your competition.
Similar to Hubspot, Marketo can help you manage more than just your email or social media. Their flexible suite helps manage your search marketing, landing pages, web forms, social media, analytics and behavior tracking and more.
From creating social contests and setting up landing pages or popups to tracking and segmenting leads based on actions they take on your site or content the interact with, Wishpond is a great platform for managing your practice’s marketing campaigns in one place.
As with the previous marketing automation platforms, GetResponse handles multiple digital marketing channels. Where GetResponse really shines is its graphical “if-then” interface that allows you to easily create a digital workflow based on conditions and filters to help create elegant campaigns that keep your patients engaged and informed automatically.
The biggest issues with video, which is one of the biggest digital trends of the last few years, is the size of the files and bandwidth required to stream the files. Sure you could upload the file to your webserver and use a video player built-in to your site, but why take on the high costs of hosting and streaming your videos when there are great options available that are purposefully designed and optimized for video hosting?
Wistia stands out from the rest in offering video analytics that are second to none. Where other platforms may only show you view counts or the number of comments, Wistia can show you, in an easy to understand the report, how people watch your video. Was the video easy to understand? Wistia can tell you if lots of people ran the video back at a certain point. Was it too long? Wistia can show you where people stopped watching.
The undisputed king of this space, YouTube is a free and popular way to host any kind of videos. While embedding videos directly on your site or blog may be your reason for getting on YouTube, you may be surprised to learn that YouTube search can bring in huge amounts of traffic—that’s a definite perk to hosting your videos on YouTube.
The biggest drawback to YouTube is the ads. If you’re worried about ads distracting from your content, Vimeo was designed with you in mind. While their free plan does have some limitations their paid accounts are reasonable and embedding Vimeo videos is widely supported, which makes it one of the best non-YouTube options available.
Website Testing and Analytics
Have you ever wondered what people are doing on your site? Which pages perform the best? Where do people get lost and drop off? Website testing and analytics can get a little technical, but no digital marketing plan is complete without reporting. A simple hit counter may have been the only option in 1999, but these days you can get so much more information.
19. Google Analytics
When it comes to free options, Google offers a 1-2 punch with Google Analytics and Search Console. With a small snippet of code added to your site, you’ll know not only how many people have visited your site, but also where they came from, how they moved through your site, and so much more.
While Google Analytics gets a lot of attention, due in large part to the sheer amount of data it provides, Search Console offers additional data that isn’t always available in Google Analytics—90 days worth of Google search data for your site. Additionally, Search Console includes a suite of troubleshooting tools for making sure your site and content are performing well on the world’s largest search engine.
Imagine if you wanted to know whether you should move a contact form or call to action (e.g., “Book Now” button) to the top of a page. How would you find the answer? Sure you could take a shot in the dark and test whether moving it increased interaction, but what if you had some analytics software that showed you exactly how people are interacting with your content? That’s where the stand out feature of HotJar comes in. HotJar generates heat maps that highlight how people interact with your pages, which allows you to prioritize the content people want to see and cut what they skip.
Search Engine Optimization
Search engines have come a long way since the early days of the internet, but they still miss sometimes. The overall goal behind any search engine is to provide the best answer to a given question, but sometimes search engines struggle with understanding content. Search engine optimization is the practice of tweaking your content to help put it in context for the search engines and, hopefully, appear higher in the search results.
While not always the best data available, you can do worse than Keyword Planner when you’re looking for a free keyword tool. While Google has previously provided more specific data in the past, the new tool is still a good starting point for SEO keyword research.
Do you ever start typing things in the search box and see the suggestions that start coming up as you’re typing? Sometimes you’ll see questions or keywords you never thought of including. That’s where UberSuggest comes in—you enter a keyword, and it provides results listing several iterations of those search suggestions.
24. Moz Local
As mobile devices and voice search grow in popularity, Local search has boomed. Unlike traditional searches, which can sometimes put you up against huge sites with millions to spend on marketing, local search is usually a better value proposition. Moz Local is a great platform for ensuring all your digital ducks are in a row and your local SEO is on point.
Google My Business got its start as a way to consolidate reports from multiple Google platforms into one place and post to your Google+ page, but it has slowly become much more. With the integration of Google Places into Google My Business, it became the place to manage how your business appears in Google local searches and maps results, manage your reviews, and many more of the essential aspects of local SEO.
Sometimes your content needs a boost. Whether you have a massive monthly advertising budget or a small line item for occasional expenses, online advertising can be an effective way to accelerate your results.
Facebook and Instagram are two of the most popular social media platforms, which means they have the potential to put your content in front of a lot of eyes. From setting up audiences to boosting Facebook posts, Facebook Power Editor allows you to quickly manage and create ads on both platforms.
Twitter may be playing second fiddle to Facebook, but it is still hugely popular in its own right. If you see a lot of interaction with your content on Twitter, give their native ads platform a spin!
Have you ever been shopping online and seen an ad for the item you were just looking at? Retargeting ads are a great way to bring back traffic that left your site previously, by reminding them of something they were interested in before. AdRoll is the #1 player in this space.
29. Google AdWords
If you’re not up to speed on the economics of Google, ads are what pays most of the bills. Google AdWords isn’t the easiest to use platform, but it is a robust and effective way to put your site at the top of the search results page on Google, all over the web on sites running AdSense, and in apps on Android phones. Whether you have a budget of $50 or $50,000, a properly managed AdWords campaign can work for you.
Did you see any tools in this list that could help you better manage some aspect of your digital marketing? Awesome! While some are free, like Google Analytics and YouTube, many of the tools offer a free trial, so you can try them out. Using a tool for a trial month is a great way to see if it helps you manage your digital marketing or not without tying yourself to it forever—if it doesn’t work for you, just cancel the trial and resume your search.
Is there a digital marketing tool you can’t live without? Or maybe something that doesn’t exist yet, but you wish it did? Drop a note in the comments.