It was hard to narrow it down, but here are my favorite online marketing tools. This list is based on the top tools that I use to keep my business running. It also includes quite a few that are de facto industry standards or best-of-breed tools.
Setting Up Self-Hosted WordPress
Step 1: Blue Host (hosting account)
My favorite host (that I use today). I like the ease of use, easy wordpress installs (using Simple Scripts), ability to have host multiple sites per account and great 24/7 phone support. You can buy your domain name through them or use a separate domain registrar (I use Godaddy for all my domains). Bluehost phone support can tell you how to “point” your domain to Bluehost and to set up a basic WordPress installation.
Step 2: StudioPress Themes (WordPress themes)
Great themes for small business. I have the developer’s kit and use the various themes for different projects.
Setting Up an Easy Website
If you don’t have the time, patience or technical skills to use self-hosted WordPress, Weebly is a great alternative. Relatively easy-to-use with free and paid options.
WordPress Security, Repair and other essentials
Are you backing up your site regularly to protect your valuable content? I use Backup Buddy to do regular back-ups (and it includes a virus scan program for extra peace of mind):
They have a comprehensive (and cost-effective) monitoring and removal program for multiple sites. I use their service to track several sites (and they have a nice plugin as well as part of the package).
Regina and team did an awesome job of removing hacking from a client account that had massive amounts of hacking when I took on their marketing work.
Got an annoying WordPress formatting issue or plugin problem? $39 per fix and they’ll credit you back if they can’t fix it (that’s a nice guarantee).
Advanced forms for your site that allow you to customize multiple forms easily, allow you to redirect people to another page after they fill out your form and includes advanced email functionality.
Create short and memorable links that are easy for you and others to remember. Also, do redirects from your site to affiliate offers or other pages.
The WordPress comment tool that many of the top bloggers use (and that is used on this site)!
One of the top mailing list, newsletter and email marketing tools (inexpensive trial available)
A great Twitter and social media management and scheduling tool
A tool that allows scheduling of Tweets in a unique way. Can be used in conjunction with Hootsuite (I use both)
The company that several people mentioned when I asked for a favorite Fan Page app in the #Toolchat group that I’m a member of. Shortstack has a free option available and plans start at $15/month.
The custom tab application that I’ve experimented with the most. It worked well for my earlier needs and has a free option available (with some limits to the functionality, like most free versions of apps have). Paid plans start at $5/month.
Social Media Marketing
Awesome system to distribute your content via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Digg and StumbleUpon. You are not obligated to share any content that you don’t approve of (so it’s all voluntary unlike other systems)
This is probably the most popular Twitter automation tool on the market. Tweet Adder is a very powerful Twitter tool that I’m sure underlies much of the massive follower growth for some of the biggest accounts in the Twittersphere.
One of the most powerful ways to connect with like-minded bloggers and to share their content (and have yours shared). Harder to understand (at first) than Social Buzz Club, but once you’ve found (or started) your tribe or tribes, you’re off to the races!
Keyword Research (for SEO & Content Planning)
This tool that includes the ability to generate keywords based on seed keywords, to see who is ranking for your target keywords and how strong they are. Allows you to target keywords with less entrenched competition. Also you can check Google rankings with this tool.
For making great-looking Book, CD and Video covers, this is the best (and easiest to use) tool of any that I’ve tried. See the SEO Boot Camp to see a cover that I created with the tool.
The most stable and reliable Webinar platform based on my experience with several different tools. The worst thing during a webinar is to have people not be able to access the content. It happens with all tools but I’ve had less complete breakdowns with GoToWebinar (request a free trial here).