Just about one year ago we published our Insurance Agency Marketing Tools & Resources page. Since then it has gotten more requests and questions than any other single piece of content on the site. Many of the inquiries were companies wanting to get listed but there have also been some really good reader suggestions.
I have always loved a quality curated resource list so I have been logging the suggestions and have added a few contributor suggestions as well. Earlier this week I noticed a few listings and links needed to be updated so I figured it was time to add a few more links. Below are 22 more tools and resources that have been added to our resource page.
Inbound Marketing Tools & Suites
This is a new category that is admittedly wide open. Inbound marketing covers a lot of ground which is needed because there are so many more marketing channels and promotion options to consider today than just a few years ago. Hubspot and Genius are marketing suites that tackle the functionality typically found in multiple tools and services. Their prices may seem steep, and they are probably best suited for larger agencies, but when you stack up all the functionality they are actually very reasonable solutions.
Hubspot is one of the most popular inbound marketing suites with products for social, email, lead capture, SEO, analytics and overall marketing automation. Pricing starts in the $300 range which is very reasonable compared to market competitors.
Like Hubspot, Sales Genius offers a set of tools to capture and nurture leads in a somewhat automated fashion. They offer a free trial with pricing starting in the $400/mo range.
KISSmetrics is an analytics and business intelligence platform that makes connections with in-house data on a “people” level to help businesses make forward looking business and marketing decisions.
Hootsuite is a popular social media management and monitoring tool that offers a single interface for all the major social networks.
Zopim is a live chat interface add-on for websites that allows a business to engage with visitors and answer questions instantly.
Olark is another live chat interface with a robust option set and flexibility to integrate with a variety of CRM solutions such as Salesforce and SugarCRM.
This is one of my personal additions. I recently switched my home service to Ooma and was shocked by the call quality. Ooma has business VOIP solutions that have earned rave reviews in my circles.
The list business has experienced a model change that benefits volume buyers. The companies below offer high volume access on a subscription model at dirt cheap prices compared to traditional per record pricing.
ListShack is a new service started by Josh Stacy who is the founder of Affordable Marketing Lists. He is taking the value subscription model even further with a full featured, low overhead setup.
InfoFree was an early entry into the data subscription model and offers a wide variety of buying options.
The hosting industry is in a constant state of change. My favorite webhost and the host of ILG (for now), Hostgator, was recently purchased by EIG, a company with a bad reputation for running their acquisitions into the ground. In the past 6 months HostGator has experienced several major outages. I am keeping them on the list but they are hanging by a thread. Below are two cloud hosting options. Media Temple has pricing comparable to shared hosts and Amazon’s AWS is one of the most popular services on the web for major websites.
MediaTemple was an early entrant to the cloud (grid) hosting market and they have kept things going with affordable plans to rival traditional shared hosting companies.
Amazon AWS is the leader in cloud hosting. If you have traffic, want a website that is always up and need room to scale AWS is a great option. The interface and technical requirements have a steep learning curve so it is probably not a DIY option for most agents.
SEO, Keyword & Market Research Tools
SEMRush is an excellent intelligence and analysis tool that just keeps getting better. It allows users to keep tabs on competitors, analyze SEO metrics, gain advertising insights and keep track of organic search rankings. It may be the best overall value among SEO and Inbound Marketing research tools.
Website CMS Platforms
Drupal is another example of me dropping the ball on the first pass. I actually like Drupal more than Joomla so I am not sure what happened. This free CMS offers lots of flexibility with a large and established base of community plugins and extensions.
Web Themes, Design & Logos
Webflow might be a little early to recommend but I am adding it in as a “Watch List” option for those of you looking for a drag and drop website design tool. Novice DIY design is not something I would recommend for a business in general, but Webflow has potential to change that. The platform offers a no code drag and drop interface that can create a stunning, device responsive website. There are options to export the code but it would be better if they created an option to convert the designs into popular CMS themes.
Webinar & Conferencing Services
Conferencing services have been added to the initial Webinar Services list. A few sources that have matured and one that several of you let me know I missed the first time around (Skype).
Google+ Hangouts has become a popular option for both webinars and conferencing among savvy business owners. The service is free with a solid set of features and YouTube integration.
Join.me is a screen sharing conferencing and presentation tool that has a lot of traditional webinar software features included. It is an excellent tool for demos and visual presentations when you have a prospect or client on the phone.
Yes, I missed Skype the first time around. It is one of the first and best options for video conferencing. It could be included in the VOIP category just as easily.
AnyMeeting is another popular webinar software/service with a competitive price point and feature set. I have not used the service myself but it was suggested by enough people that I figured it should be included.
This category could easily be 100+ links deep so most are tools that come highly recommended from our readers or are services that we use on a daily basis.
Trello is another of my personal additions. This flexible (and free) service knocked it out of park with a simple drag and drop list format that is a fit for a simple To Do list or for a large team project that requires real-time collaboration, chat and task assignments. I love this one!
IFTTT stands for IF This Then That. The service started as a geeky way to automate notifications and other actions based on event logic. The service has grown and iOS and Android apps have been added making it possible to automate and streamline just about anything you can think of.
I’m switching this category to Advertising Platforms from PPC Advertising as we are seeing a lot of new ad mediums enter the market. Twitter is a good example with multiple cost actions. Expect to see more entries in this category as the mobile advertising space gains traction with SMBs.
I was not overly impressed with the initial rollout of the Twitter Ad platform. They have kept things moving though with a variety of new promotion options. Twitter marketing can generate “right now” business but do not expect the initial ROI to compare to search PPC. Twitter offers more value from a branding and social following perspective.
If you would like to make your own suggestion feel free to send us an email or use the comment form below. You can check out the full resource list here.