In this series of blog posts, I’ve enjoyed shedding some light onto how we approach marketing at The Next Web through Web analytics, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), social media and more. This piece focuses on what tools we use in the marketing team, why we use them and what kind of feedback they give us.
Almost daily I get pitches from companies that would like me to show me a tool they’re working on or a hot startup that has seen a break through in a relevant area of marketing. GREAT! Keep it coming, we embrace the need to innovate. We’re constantly trying to make our process more efficient and new tools can help us to do that.
But on the other side we’re also not scared at all to built a lot of tools ourselves when needed. One of the other things we believe in is open source and so we’re committed to providing access to the things we’ve built.
What are we looking for in a tool
For The Next Web, there are a few requirements we have when making a decision about the tools we might be able to use and the ones that we don’t want. What are they?
- API: We love data at The Next Web and so we make sure we can access it from other places to combine it with our own data sets. If your application is generating data that might be useful for traffic analysis or to our users, make sure there is an API that we can use to pull the data into our platform. It’s 2016 and data wants to be free!
- Team collaboration: If your tool is providing us with new ways to work together, make sure we can add unlimited accounts and that we get to see the data. Most applications are unable to handle the number of accounts we need. We also like to make sure that certain users only have access to certain projects so we don’t bother them with seeing information meant for a colleague.
- Cheap ;-): no further explanation needed, I guess?
What tools do we use?
A couple of months ago I started putting together an overview of the tools that we’re using and the subscriptions that we have in order to get some insight into the amount we spend on these kinds of tools. This revealed that we use a rather impressive 30-plus different services, which can be broken down into a number of categories, including:
- Google Analytics (Premium): This is one of the most used tools in the marketing team for a reason. We’re very data-driven and like to make sure we’re tracking everything our users do (in a non-creepy way!). Google Analytics Premium provides us with all the reporting and data we need to make good decisions.
- Parsely: This covers real-time analytics, the only thing that Google Analytics isn’t very good at.
- SocialFlow: Every article that we publish is automatically sent to SocialFlow, making it easier for the team to work out when to schedule their posts to ensure they get the most reach on social media.
- Coschedule: For the occasional tweet we need to schedule.
- Buffer: We use this to control our key social accounts to optimize the sharing of specific posts.
- Google Tag Manager: Not sure if it belongs to this category but Google Tag Manager enables us to push all of our data into one place through our DataLayer and then use it with multiple tools at the same time.
- Segment v.s. Keen.io: For Index.co, TNW’s big company data platform, we push a whole load of data from our back-end looking at what kind of actions our users perform. How do we save it? We push it through Segment to Keen.io.
- Screaming Frog: Obviously. We wrote a blog post about why we love it so much.
- SEMRush: You want more data on why certain keywords have so much volume and how you can work with this? SEMRush provides you with this data.
- Majestic: How fast are we growing, where do we get more links from and what are the opportunities for certain projects or articles? This tool can tell you.
- ContentKing: Receive optimization recommendations and monitor your website for SEO changes? ContentKing has got your back.
- Buzzstream: You want to keep track of your outreach + contacts. Best tool out there!
So what tools might we start using in the future?
We’re always looking for better tools and better integrations with the tools we’re already using. Chances are we’ll actually start using fewer tools and focus more on the ones that can provide additional benefits.
Give us your recommendations on the new tools we might have missed that are taking the marketing world by storm.
If you missed the previous posts in this series, don’t forget to check them out: #1: Heat maps , #2: Deep dive on A/B testing and #3: Learnings from our A/B tests, #4: From Marketing Manager to Recruiter, #5 Running ScreamingFrog in the Cloud.