Marketo vs. Eloqua vs. HubSpot. Kapost vs. Newscred vs. Percolate. Sprinklr vs. Buffer vs. Hootsuite. And so on, and so on. The list of marketing technology vendors keeps growing. Which makes sorting through and implementing those martech tools a job in itself.
But how does the explosion in martech help your marketing team get sh*t done today?
It doesn't. So, while waiting for you to evaluate, decide, deploy, integrate, and optimize the spaghetti of solutions, try feeding your team a few lightweight apps that cost next to nothing and are dead simple to use.
Here's a dedicated spot for Web inspiration
When updating your site, try Crayon.co. Whether for a full reboot, or just freshening up some website pages (pricing, product, team, etc.), the usual process is to check all your competitors' sites (again) and then struggle to remember sites that take an inspired approach.
Founded by ex-HubSpot-ers, Crayon.co (free, or $299 a month to track five competitors), catalogs nearly half a million marketing sites, benchmarking and providing inspiration on everything from homepages, pricing, and About Us pages—all sortable by industry, CMS, and more. The outcome is a fast and robust jumping-off point for your own design planning.
Bottle thought leadership with transcription
In meeting after meeting, your company's experts drop knowledge that is marketing content gold. But when the time comes to getting it on the page and authoring that long-promised blog post, pinning them down is like getting a third grader to eat their veggies.
Interview execs, and domain experts, on specific topics you want to create content about. Capture your execs' brilliance by using the recording feature in join.me (free), GoToMeeting ($19/mo for Starter), or other Web conferencing apps—or just use the record app on your smartphone.
No time to transcribe? Send the audio files to Rev.com and receive a magically transcribed version, often within hours, for only a dollar a minute. Rev offers 24-hour turnaround, but it is frequently much faster; and it accepts audio in a broad variety of formats, from mp3 to wmv and everything in between.
Send your file off, and the very next day you'll have a complete first draft to spruce up and prepare for publishing. Bonus: Rev has released a recording app that plugs right into the transcription service.
Everybody writes, but not well
Every CMO pines for a marketing team steeped in the lessons of Zinsser and Handley. Sadly, such teams are rare. Grammarly (free browser extension) and the Hemingway Editor ($19.99) are a couple of simple tools that help correct the passive-voice, obfuscating, corporate jargon that creeps into marketing departments. Writers can enter copy, and then edit and score it to make it easy enough for a tenth grader to read.
Images look (too) familiar
You have agonized over just the right stock photo for your website, suffered through endless rounds of "stakeholder input." Then, when you've pushed something live, you find out (via the CEO) that your hero image is also used on the sites of an ED drug, a somewhat competitive reseller, and/or an enigmatic telecom company in the Midwest.
Avoid that scenario with one of the most obvious, but potentially underused, snacks: Google reverse image search. Upload the photo or image you intend to use and find other instances or similar images.
Confirming you're not using the same image as every other company in your space is just smart. Steer clear of the overused images, or use this tool to suggest an image that might be similar, but just different enough.
Photos (and icons and video) want to be free
Pexels and Unsplash are incredibly high-quality sources of royalty-free and generally free images. There are also other great sites and tools available for dressing up your images, such as Pablo and Snappa. Iconmonstr adds fast free icons to any content. And Dissolve.com delivers low-cost hi-res full-motion stock video that would have recently cost thousands.
The speed and ease of those tools often trumps the clunky download process (and fees) of most "rights-managed" stock image businesses that were built for a different era.
Fancy-pants designers bring their concepts to platforms like InVision and UXpin for comment and mark up, but for most marketing teams those might be overkill. Volleying images back and forth with markups and comments is easy with tools like Snagit ($49.95) and Skitch (Free, iOS only, integrated/owned by Evernote). Simply grab and edit, and then drop into email, hangouts, or group messaging apps like Hipchat or Slack.
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A few of these lightweight, low-cost apps may be all you need to help tide your content team over right now. They may be small, but they really are mighty; and they can help marketers continue to move forward, doing what they do best—quickly, independently, and effectively.