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Best online marketing services of 2021

Best online marketing services
(Image credit: Pixabay)
PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

The best online marketing services offer the latest software and apps to help you grow and develop your marketing campaigns more successfully.

The best online marketing services

Click the links below to go to the provider's website:

 

1. Google Ads

2. Hubspot Marketing Hub

3. Ahrefs

4. Facebook

5. Mailchimp

However, online marketing encompasses so many different areas, from simple website design accessibility and content marketing, to SEO tools, to pay-per-click (PPC) marketing, to email marketing and social media management. And that's before we get to targeted local advertising and national trade shows and events

There is no single tool that does all of this, but there are outstanding tools that should be considered as part of building an online marketing platform. Surprisingly, some of these are free, or have free trials to test them out, though most require a subscription or other fees that can be flat-rate - or variable, as in the case with PPC - so you need to be able to balance your budget accordingly.

Many of these tools provide information, statistics, providing actionable insights for you to work with, and make your marketing more efficient and more cost-effective. Here then are what we think are the best online marketing tools.


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(Image credit: Google)

1. Google Ads

The best PPC marketing tool

Reasons to buy
+Huge online reach +Comprehensive tool+Integrated analytics
Reasons to avoid
-Takes time to balance cost

Formerly Google Adwords, Google Ads is the world's largest internet advertising network, with ads displayed across Google search results, Android apps, and third-party websites. 

Setting up a Google Ads campaign is easy with a Google login, and ads are configured to work with specific keywords and phrases. Once a daily budget is set, the ads will display when triggered. 

Traditionally this was primarily done through keyword searches on the Google search engine, or keywords used in content of third-party webpages. These days the ads work more smartly using a combination of user data and user history to try and make the ads more personally relevant to the user.

The result is that ads are displayed online in reasonably intelligent ways, with the key aim of encouraging viewers to click through the ad to view your product/service promotion.

One of the biggest strengths of this platform is that when paired with Google Analytics you can directly track all performance and set your pricing accordingly. However, that's easier said than done and there can be something of learning curve in finding the optimal settings to get the right balance of cost vs sales.

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(Image credit: Hubspot)

2. Hubspot Marketing Hub

The best content marketing platform

Reasons to buy
+Free tier+Split testing+Custom reports
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

The Hubspot Marketing Hub provides a selection of tools intended to help increase traffic, improve conversions rates, and manage scaleable direct marketing campaigns.

Campaigns are centered on the Hubspot content management system (CMS), which allows you to work through a responsive design using only drag and drop tools to set up the feature you want. It also includes suggestions for on-page SEO, as well as optimal times for posting content to social media. The CMS allows for the creation of targeted landing pages, which can be easily modified for A/B split testing. 

There are also email template and automation options, along with analytics to show which content, pages, and email campaigns are providing the best click through rates (CTR). However, it doesn't just stop at marketing, as there are integration options available, not least with Salesforce, to allow any marketing campaigns to seamlessly move into customer relations management (CRM).

There are four main plan levels available, which includes a free tier that is limited in features and is best approached as a way to test out the CMS and. The Starter tier only slightly extends this by allowing Hubspot branding removal, while adding mobile lists, email, and optimization for mobile devices.

It's only when you really get into the more expensive Professional tier that most of the Hubspot marketing features really become available, not least an array of reporting and campaign management options. An Enterprise edition opens up additional tools such as custom event triggers and reporting, lead scoring and SSO.

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(Image credit: Ahrefs)

3. Ahrefs

The search marketing center

Reasons to buy
+Comprehensive SEO toolkit+Extensive index+Advanced filtering tools

Since its initial release in 2011, Ahrefs has quickly become one of the most popular SEO tools on the market, and it is used by web developers and content creators around the world to grow their online presence.

Ahrefs boasts the largest backlink index of top SEO tools, with over 295 billion indexed pages and more than 16 trillion backlinks. Throw in an upgraded keywords explorer, tools for monitoring the competition, plus a serious amount of user documentation, and Ahrefs may be the tool you need to rank better and increase traffic. 

Ahrefs includes a number of powerful features that help set it apart, including a proprietary web crawler second only to Google in size and speed. While price points are broadly aligned with those of similar products, best-in-class link analysis, powerful research tools, and knowledgeable user support help make Ahrefs one of the best options for understanding and improving your domain’s online presence.

Ahrefs offers four plans, aimed variously at individuals, different sized businesses, and agencies.

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(Image credit: Facebook)

4. Facebook

The biggest social media platform

Reasons to buy
+Huge user base+Free business pages+Advertising opportunities+Data collection
Reasons to avoid
-Limited transactional value

Facebook is the world's largest social media network, which makes it an invaluable place to have a business presence. Luckily, Facebook make this process simple and easy by allowing businesses to set up a profile page for free. This then allows that business to more directly engage and communicate with customers and potential customers through free and paid advertising.

To help with this, you can use the Facebook Audience Insights feature which aims to give paid advertisers more data so as to be able to run better targeted Facebook adverts. This provides information on such things as demographics, Likes, location and language, Facebook activity, purchasing activity, across the Facebook platform.

In terms of marketing verticals, Facebook offers potentially rich opportunities in terms of enhancing communications to ensure good customer experiences to help better manage your brand and reputation. The advertising element along with audience insights allows your paid advertising to reach people more likely to engage with your advertising.

The one caveat is social users aren't necessarily in the transactional state of mind for making a immediate purchase, but they might be especially tempted by time-limited offers, not least discounts and coupons.

Additionally, we've seen reports of traders not getting message notifications, which can cause frustration for both customers and companies. 

However, Facebook is one of the biggest advertising networks out there, so it's increasingly important to ensure a strong business presence on the platform.

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(Image credit: MailChimp)

5. Mailchimp

The best email marketing solution

Reasons to buy
+Manage email campaigns+Data and analytics+Optimization options

Mailchimp is a dedicated email marketing platform that allows you to send notifications, updates, offers and other direct marketing to opted in subscribers. However, rather than just sending emails it also comes with built-in analytics so you can gauge the performance of email campaigns.

It isn't just a standalone tool, either, and allows integrations with a number of other software platforms. That way you can connect with your favorite tools while running campaigns and measure the response to them. Even better, email tasks can be automated, and once you've got data in for a campaign you can use analytics to try and optimize additional campaigns for improved performance.

Mailchimp is available at three different tiers. There is a Free plan which allows you to send to up 12,000 emails per month to up to 2,000 subscribers on your list. You can set up landing pages, segmentation and tagging, and run split A/B tests to aim for maximum effectiveness. 

For the paid tiers, the Essentials plan allows unlimited emails and subscribers, and opens up additional tools, with these features extended further in the Standard plan. For a complete suite of email marketing tools, consider the Premium plan which opens up multivariate testing, advanced segmentation, and targeted demographics.

Brian Turner

Brian has over 30 years publishing experience as a writer and editor across a range of computing and technology titles, and has been interviewed multiple times for BBC News and BBC Radio. His specialty on Techradar is Software as a Service (SaaS) applications, covering everything from office suites to IT service tools.