The 12 Must-Have Marketing Tools for Every Growing B2C in 2021

What are the essential marketing tools that every growing B2C brand should adopt in 2021 for more growth?

With thousands of technology tools available on the market, answering that question and creating a marketing stack that helps you engage, convert, and retain customers can be daunting and frustrating.

You might be familiar with Scott Brinker’s famous marketing technology (martech) landscape infographic. As of April 2020, according to Martech 5000, there were 8,000 marketing software companies fighting for your attention.  

Marketing Technology Landscape 2020
Marketing Technology Landscape 2020

That’s a huge jump from:

  • 7,040 solutions in 2019
  • 6,829 solutions in 2018
  • 5,381 solutions in 2017
  • 3,874 solutions in 2016
  • 1,876 solutions in 2015
  • 947 solutions in 2014

One thing is for sure, there will be more marketing solutions available in 2021 than ever before.  

  • What should your marketing stack/toolset look like in 2021?
  • Which tools will help you best engage your customers in 2021?
  • What are the best tools in 2021 for analyzing & optimizing your data?

The good news is, we’re here to help.

Below, you'll discover 12 powerful marketing tools that could help B2C businesses grow their business in 2021.

The 3 stages of a healthy marketing stack

As you evaluate your marketing stack for 2021, you'll want to think about the tools you'll need at three key stages:

  • 01 Attract
  • 02 Engage
  • 03 Analyze & Optimize

We don't cover the tools for attracting in this post, but these would include:

  • Google Ads / Google remarketing
  • Facebook/Instagram & other social media ads
  • Content sponsorship
  • YouTube videos
  • Content marketing

01. Segment

  • Category: Customer-Data
Segment.com
Segment.com | Customer Data Warehouse

Used by more than 20,000 businesses, including FOX and Google, Segment allows you to collect, clean, and control customer data from your web and mobile apps, which you can then utilize for marketing, product development, or engineering purposes.

The tool also helps you develop customer personas, as well as protocols that ensure the data your team uses across channels and platforms is accurate and consistent.

How we use Segment

We have a number of StoryBrand clients who use Segment to gather together all the data about their customers from a variety of sources like their website, app, and customer service applications. When we want to test a new marketing tool, we can confidently launch and test out the new tool without needing to integrate all of their data points with the new tool.

02. Intercom

  • Category: Conversational engagement
Intercom

Intercom helps you develop positive conversational experiences in every step of the customer journey, providing you with solutions for conversational marketing, customer engagement, and support.

In other words, you’ll be able to use the power of online conversations to boost your conversions, onboard, activate, and re-engage customers, and provide personalized support at any scale.

Intercom starts at $39 per month but a good plan will cost you a few hundreds of dollars a month - which we believe is worth every penny.

How we use Intercom

Intercom is our go-to-product for our clients who are serious about engaging their customers with timely messages.

We have found great success on behalf of clients by utilizing Intercom's Product Tour feature and their in app and website messaging.

Many of our clients are StoryBrand businesses who know the importance of engaging their customers in realtime with relevant messages, and Intercom is fantastic for that.

  • Sending targeted messages to users on your website
  • Build automated chatbots to connect and engage leads 24/7
  • Powerful CRM tool. Track and monitor your customer behavior
  • Bonus: Intercom has a huge integration library; so it plays well with other apps

03. Unbounce

  • Category: Conversational engagement
Unbounce

With over 15,000 clients, Unbounce is the #1 landing page platform and you can use it to design visually striking landing pages that will help you get huge lift in conversions.

The platform includes more than 100 templates and it has an intuitive drag-and-drop builder, ideal if you have little to no designing experience. For those with some technical know-how, the tool allows you to fully customize these templates using JavaScript and CSS. For continuous improvement, you can use the platform’s A/B testing and built-in AI conversion functions.

Unbounce starts at $72 per month and it offers a 14-day free trial.

How we use Unbounce

  • High converting landing pages for Google Ads and Facebook Ads
  • Unbounces new feature called Smart Traffic™ -  an AI-Powered Optimization tool to boost your conversations

04. Wistia

  • Category: Video marketing
Wistia video

Wistia is a video marketing software that helps brands create meaningful connections with their audiences.

With this tool, you can create engaging video experiences, host them on a platform where you’re fully in control, and expand your fanbase. It offers branding functions, letting you upload your logo, modify the controls, and change the player color on your videos. Additionally, the tool allows you to add an interactive component to your creations through CTAs, email gates, and more.

Recently, the platform also added podcasting features to its product.

05. SEMrush

  • Category: Content Marketing
SEMRush

With SEMrush, you can work on four essential components of any digital marketing strategy: SEO, content, social media, and paid ads.

You'll note, we didn't label SEMrush as SEO. At Creativeo we believe content marketing is SEO.

SEMRush allows you to conduct a huge variety of digital tasks, including competition analysis, keyword management, technical SEO audits, content research, editorial planning, marketing insight analysis, and more.

How we use SEMrush

  • Social media reporting & monitor (client's brand and their competitors)
  • Competitive analysis for our clients
  • Content marketing ideas and research
  • Obviously, track client visibility across Google against their competitors

06. Smile.io

  • Category: Loyalty
Smile.io

Smile.io helps you create loyalty programs that will “turn transactional sales into passionate brand advocates”.

There are three types of programs you can build with the tool:

  1. Points, to help you encourage certain actions at each stage of the customer journey
  2. VIP, to recognize and reward your best customers, keeping them engaged
  3. Referrals, to transform your engaged community members into brand advocates.

Smile.io starts at $0 per month.

How we use Smile.io

We haven't used Smile.io directly but have designed and built custom loyalty programs for clients.

For most businesses, building a custom loyalty program is a huge investment and this is where Smile.io comes handy.

07. Survicate

  • Category: Surveys & Net Promoter Score®
Survicate

Survicate is a tool that helps you collect real customer feedback, either by sending surveys through email, link, or chat, or by running targeted surveys on websites or apps.

The software has more than 125 survey templates, through which you can get access to marketing insights and product feedback, and then use it to provide your customer base with a better experience, boosting satisfaction, lifetime value, and retention.

How we use Survicate

  • Capture customer feedback on product launches
  • Run & measure Net Promoter Score® through Intercom & email campaigns
  • Understand where customers are in their buyer's journey
  • Better understand the internal frustrations customers are feeling

08. Customer.io

  • Category: Marketing automation + multi-channel messaging
Customer.io

With Customer.io, you can use the power of automation to develop stronger relationships with your customers and boost your subscriptions.

Used by more than 1,700 companies, including Reddit and Segment (yes, the one we talked about earlier), the platform provides you with all the features you need in order to automate your messages at scale, including flexible data integrations, comprehensive segmentation, workflow automation, drag-and-drop message editors, ad audiences, metrics and optimization, and more.

How we use Customer.io

Currently, one of our marketing-as-a-service clients is on Customer.io and here's why we moved them from a previous email marketing platform to Customer.io:

  • 01. Deliverability. Deliverability. Deliverability*
  • 02. Powerful automation flow builder
  • 03. Multi-channel communication: email + sms + postcards

Postcards. Yes, postcards! Contextual and on-demand postcards to individual customers through direct integration with Lob (more on Lob below).

*Email Deliverability

There are no shortage on email automation tools.

Customer.io does all the things a reliable and powerful email automation should do, but they also provide you a dedicated deliverability team that very few other ESPs provide.

It doesn't matter how clear your messaging is, how effective your StoryBrand lead generator is, if your emails are not getting into customers inbox, it won't impact your sales.

09. Lob

  • Category: Direct mail automation & address verification APIs
Lob on demand postcards

With clients like Twitter and Booking.com, Lob includes two products in one:

  • 01. Print
  • 02. Mail and Address Verification

The first one helps you automate direct mail at scale, using programmatic triggers to send event-driven postcards, letters, and checks, guaranteeing lightning-fast delivery, and using custom templates.

The second, helps you ensure your addresses are deliverable and everything you send where it is supposed to when it is supposed to.

How we use Lob.com

We use Lob for sending highly targeted and personalized postcards to individual users and customers. Here are some of the campaigns we found success with:

  • Celebrate customer on special moments like Birthdays and Anniversaries
  • To re-engage users who haven't logged in or opened an email
  • Celebrate new VIP status

10. SimpleTexting

  • Category: SMS marketing
SimpleTexting

SimpleTexting is an all-in-one text messaging platform that allows you to easily and quickly create SMS marketing campaigns, engaging in one-on-one, personalized conversations with your customers.

These SMS campaigns can be used for marketing and promotions, sales and support, HR and recruiting, text-for-info, or reminders. SimpleTexting offers several features that help you supercharge your campaigns, including 2-way messaging, mass texting, autoresponders, MMS marketing, link tracking, and more.

11. Optimove

  • Category: AI Predictive Marketing
Optimove

Optimove helps you scale your customer relationship management efforts through a process of four stages: Discovery, to access your unified customer data and discover engagement opportunities; Optimization, to improve your campaigns over time; Orchestration, to harmonize your multichannel campaigns: and Attribution, to measure valuable CRM statistics.

The tool offers three main products: analytics, a real-time decisioning engine, and an AI bot.

We haven't worked directly with Optimove yet but are in talks on adding them to a client's marketing stack in 2021.

Optimove is quite expensive and is not for every level of business.

However, growing B2Cs with large volume of users can achieve a quick ROI by retaining more valuable customers.

Also check out Retention Science as a good alternative.

12. Loom

  • Category: Video messaging
Loom - video

With Loom, you can record video messages of your camera, screen, or both, share them wherever you want, and communicate in an easy, informal, and quick way.

Founded in 215 and currently used by more than 90,000 companies, including HubSpot, Intercom, and Lacoste, Loom is the right tool to use whether you need to create quick videos and screenshots or get access to advanced recording functions, analytics, admin, and security.

How we use Loom

  • To personalize help tickets with a video a message
  • Send thank you videos to special users via email and in app
  • Integrate with Intercom's Product Tour onboarding feature
  • Welcome new users to app

BONUS. Business Made Simple University

  • Category: On-demand courses for business leaders and their teams
Business Made Simple

Business Made Simple University includes several on-demand courses that will help you grow your business, increase revenue, and become a more knowledgeable and valuable professional.

The courses cover seven essential topics for business owners: communication, leadership, marketing, messaging, emotional IQ, proposals, and now Hero on a Mission; with more courses being added regularly.

For $275 per year, you get one year of unlimited 24/7 access to all courses, workbooks, assessments, and team scoreboards.

How we use BMSU

I'm a certified Business Made Simple Coach.

This means, I've been trained by Donald Miller and his team to coach businesses through the various courses available on BMSU.

  • Every coaching or StoryBrand client of mine gets a one year pass of BMSU*
  • My clients are encouraged to dedicate time to watch the videos and put the key principles into action

*This is offered with the full package of our StoryBrand Marketing Services.

Each of the resources we listed will play a different, yet equally important role in your business’s marketing stack.

Give these marketing tools a try and you’ll be able to optimize your workflow, reach more prospects, and, ultimately, increase both your customer base and your profits.

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