The Best Online Marketing Tools of 2018

While strategy, vision and skills are definitely the #1 factor of success online, the tools we use can heavily influence it as well.

Start with the wrong technical base for your website and you will struggle to get it to work properly, let alone maximize it’s potential.

Start with the right setup and you can go beyond tech and focus on the core of your business while being flexible and adaptable.

Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that if you buy one of them we will receive a commission for the sale. Nonetheless, we have and do use all the tools linked below and recommend them because we find them great, regardless of whether or how much they pay us. 

Also make sure that you need these tools to achieve your goals, don’t spend your resources on things you don’t need.

The essential tools

These tools are our must have’s. They constitute the base of our authority sites and our businesses would be radically different without them. With these, you will be able to put together a fast and high converting site with great marketing automation.

Siteground – Siteground is the best of the “cheap” hosting tools available. Their servers are optimised for WordPress, hosted on full SSD hardware, support HTTP2, PHP 7 and have built in server level cache. 

They also offer free SSL certificate, built in Cloudflare integration and excellent tech support. All of that for just $3.95/month which is cheaper than Bluehost. Siteground gets the crown for starter hosting.

Ahrefs – Ahrefs is the Swiss army knife of SEO and content marketing. The collection of tools they offer are best in class, wether it is keyword research, content brainstorming, backlink data, site health, rank tracking or competitor data you are looking for, you will most likely find it in Ahrefs and get more data than the competing tools may be offering.

Elementor PRO – Elementor is the framework we use to build our websites. After trying multiple site building framework, we found Elementor to be extremely reliable and flexible in terms of design to the point where building high quality websites does not requires any designer or coder help.

Additionally, Elementor allows you to customise any WordPress theme including headers and footers meaning you can control the way every single part of your website looks.

Active Campaign – Your email list is one of the most important assets of your authority site. But many email systems are a huge headache to manage and lack the flexibility to create awesome automated sequences.

Alternatives can do automation but are incredibly expensive or complicated. Active Campaign is neither. It’s very easy to use, and very affordable, yet it is an extremely powerful email marketing system that anyone can use.

Hosting & Registrars

If you want to start a website you will need to register a domain name and rent a server to host your website. This is the base of your online business but don’t worry, it’s also very cheap. Our recommended services are not necessarily the cheapest but they are the best value for money.

NameCheap$10.69/.com domain/year with free private whois

We register all our domains on namecheap.com, the registrar is easy to use, domains as the name says are cheap. the site is easy to use, safe and all around everything you would want from a registrar. You can also register your ssl certificates and host your emails with them.

Siteground –  from $3.95/month
Siteground is the best of the “cheap” hosting tools available. Their servers are optimised for WordPress, hosted on full SSD hardware, support HTTP2, PHP 7 and have built in server level cache. 

They also offer free SSL certificate, built in Cloudflare integration and excellent tech support. All of that for just $3.95/month which is cheaper than Bluehost. Siteground gets the crown for starter hosting.

Kinsta –  from $30/month
Kinsta is the best “high end” managed WordPress service available in our experience. It is hosting this site and all our major sites are hosted on it. Kinsta uses the best Google cloud servers available to ensure high speed and up time for your sites.

Additionaly, they include premium CDN, DNS and excellent WordPress support in their pricing.

KeyCDNpay per usage

KeyCDN is our go-to CDN service. After trying expensive and complex solutions, we stumbled upon this performance driven CDN company that offers a large number of servers, all the technical bells and whistles and excellent value for money.

Using them, for just a few dollars per month, you could be making your site safer and faster. They are highly recommended.

WordPress themes

Once you have your WordPress site up, you need a theme and framework that will allow you to do things like collect emails, format your content and overall make your site do what you want and look pro. Here are the top tools we use:

GeneratepressFreemium

Generatepress is a top tier free theme that does what you need it to do in a world where page builders are slowly taking over site design duties.

It’s simple to use, it’s lightweight, it’s code is clean, and offers a lot of customization possibilities. This is the theme we use on Healthambition.com and we have not looked back since.

WPAstraFreemium

Very much like Generatepress, WPAstra is a clean theme that works very well with page builders and does a great job.

The performance is equally excellent and they have a good selection of demo sites to import if you want a starting point for your new site. This is the theme we use on Authority Hacker.

WordPress Plugins

WordPress plugins allow you to add a great range of functionalities to your site, they’re easy to install in just a few clicks and can save you a lot of money in development costs. Here are the main ones we use:

Elementor PRO – Freemium

Elementor is the framework we use to build our websites. After trying multiple site building framework, we found Elementor to be extremely reliable and flexible in terms of design to the point where building high quality websites does not requires any designer or coder help.

Additionally, Elementor allows you to customise any WordPress theme including headers and footers meaning you can control the way every single part of your website looks.

SEOPress – Freemium

For us, SEOPress picked up the work where Yoast SEO dropped it. It offers more free features, a more intuitive interface and pretty much everything you would expect from a modern SEO plugin. Additionally, the premium version is very reasonably priced if you want all the bells and whistles.

AAWP – From 39€

If like us a lot of your revenue comes from the Amazon Associates Program, AAWP is a really great toolkit that allows you to showcase products in a professional manner with easy to use in content shortcodes.

Comparison tables, product highlight, self updating product images, this plugin does it all for you and because it’s using the official Amazon API, all data is self updated so you always have the most current product information on your site.

Thirsty Affiliates – Freemium

If you have done affiliate marketing before, you probably know that managing all the tracking links for the offers you promote can be a bit of a headache.

Thankfully, plugins like Thirsty Affiliates make it easier to save and manage these directly inside your WordPress dashboard.

Email marketing

Staying in touch with your fans is the life and blood of your online business and email is a fantastic way to do that. Email has more users than Facebook and a higher reach than any other medium. Plus, it’s owned by you, not by a social network or anyone that can decide to shut you down or change the rules. Here are the tools we use for email marketing:

Active Campaign From $15/month

Your email list is one of the most important assets of your authority site. But many email systems are a huge headache to manage and lack the flexibility to create awesome automated sequences.

Alternatives can do automation but are incredibly expensive or complicated. Active Campaign is neither. It’s a very easy to use, very affordable yet very powerful email marketing system you can use from day 1 with your site.

Getresponse From $15/month

Getresponse is an affordable and powerful email marketing solution that is affiliate marketing friendly unlike Active Campaign. It’s ranked a notch lower because they don’t have that amazing visual automation builder Active Campaign has but it’s just as powerful and the best option for affiliates.

Landing Page Creation

If you want to do business online, blog posts and WordPress pages are just not enough. Sometimes you need to build “landing pages” for your email campaign, for your PPC etc. Sadly, WordPress is not very good at these by default but with these tools you should have it covered. Here’s what we use:

Elementor PRO – Freemium

We use the power of Elementor to build all the landing pages we use on our websites. It is directly built into WordPress and the design options are amongst the best in the market.

Additionally the form widget plugs into most email marketing tools making it easy to create opt in page, sales pages, upsale pages etc.

Lead Generation

The 2 main goals of your website are to generate leads and to generate sales. Anything that helps it do better in either of these is worth investing in. Here are the tools we use for our sites to generate leads:

Opt-in Monster – From $12/month

Opt-in Monster is a complete solution for lead collection and on site advertising / CTA. Opt-in Monster has direct API integrations with the most popular email marketing tools of the market and advanced targeting capabilities allowing you to put the right offer in front of the right user.

Additionally, they also allow you to run A/B testing on your offers, show different offers to returning visitors and more.

Gleam.io – From $10/month

Gleam.io is an excellent giveaway tool that lets you run competition and giveaways for your followers. The software allows you to ask people to follow you on social, opt in with their email addresses and more in exchange for entering the competition.

SEO Tools

SEO can be a tedious process and tools can greatly reduce the grunt work. Here are the tools we use to run our SEO.

AhrefsFrom $99/month

Ahrefs is the Swiss army knife of SEO and content marketing. The collection of tools they offer are best in class, wether it is keyword research, content brainstorming, backlink data, site health, rank tracking or competitor data you are looking for, you will most likely find it in Ahrefs and get more data than the competing tools may be offering.

Hunter.io – Freemium

Finding email addresses for link building can be a tedious process. Not anymore with Hunter.io. This little app has a huge database of emails that you can search for via Chrome extension, their website or Google spreadsheets.

Mailshake – From $29/month

Mailshake is a powerful outreach tool that allows you to automate the sending of outreach emails, scale personalisation, test what works and what doesn’t all from the comfort of your gmail address. A must have for serious link builders!

Membership Areas

If you want to create premium member areas, you will need to use a membership solution to gate your content to members only. There are a lot of great solutions these days but here is our recommendation.

Thinkific – Freemium

Thinkific is a platform that allows you to create a high quality member area for any paid content you are selling through your website. It includes everything you need to sell courses: LMS system, checkout, affiliate program and more.

If you want to create a clean paid info product, they are highly recommended.

Shopping Carts

If you plan on selling your own products, you will need a shopping cart software to process your customer’s purchases. If you set it up wrong, it can quickly become a technical nightmare. Here are the tools we use:

Paykickstart – From $99/month

If you need to upgrade your checkout experience, paykickstart is the tool of the situation. It integrates with Stripe and Paypal, offers true 1 click upsales even with Paypal, Charges VAT when applicable and more.

Webinar Software

Webinars are a fantastic tool when it comes to teaching, selling and connecting with your audience. They are one of the highest converting sales tactic out there. If you are selling your own products, you should clearly consider running some. Here is what we use to run webinars:

Webinar Jam – From $479/year

Webinar jam allows you to host up to 5,000 people at the same time for a very affordable yearly rate. It is based on Google hangouts, has very good analytics, notification systems and call to action systems. A real gem if you plan in selling high tickets products. Plus it plugs into Click Funnels.

CRO & Analytics

Tracking visitors when you’re selling online is very important. It can give you the intel that will help you tweak your website and dramatically increase your revenue. Here are the tools we use to track our visitors:

Hotjar – From 29€/month

Heatmap, customer surveys, funnel analytics, customer page usage recording, Hotjar is an affordable one stop shop to understand how your visitors use your site and gather feedback from them to improve your conversion rates and products.

Google Analytics 360 Suite – Free

The free analytics tools from Google is still one of the best out there, get all the stats from your users from their origin to their country to where your sales come from. The live stats module is also particularly useful when doing content promotion.

The tag manager is also excellent to put any marketing tag you need on your website and Google Optimize is a free A/B testing sool that rivals with expensive Premium A/B testing tools.

Productivity

Running authority sites involves managing a lot of moving parts. If you don’t have efficient systems and delegation in place, you are going to drown under the tasks. Here is what we use to keep ourselves on check:

Gsuite – From $5/month/user

Google apps is by far the best way to host your emails and company documents. A Google apps account gives you 30GB of storage, gmail, google docs, calendars and all the Google productivity suite. Well worth using and a number of hosting companies give you a few months for free.

Asana – Freemium

Asana is the one place where our team collects, executes, brainstorms and store all their work. It’s an incredibly powerful tool with many integrations. If you are looking to get your work organised, give it a try!

Slack – Freemium

If you have a team or Freelancers working for you, communication is the key to high quality work. Slack is the one chatroom where you can plug all the apps you use for optimal efficiency.

Camtasia – Freemium

Over the shoulder videos or presentations are a great way to create video content for your audience. Screenflow and Camtasia are the best screen recording software out there to create that kind of content. Perfect if you’re considering creating digital teaching products.

Scroll to Top