Right now, things couldn’t be more exciting for the brave digital marketeer. WELCOME TO THE FUTURE.

The tools available to digital marketeers these days are far more extensive than they were less than a decade ago.

We have more data, more analytics and deeper insight readily available than ever before – so the digital marketeer’s job is infinitely easier… right?

I can’t see the (data) forest for the trees

On the other hand, a tool is only as good as its user. With all this data available, it’s easier to go blind to what really matters. Pages and pages of data mean things can get buried under all the other stats begging for your attention.

That means marketeers can misinterpret the data in front of them – not because it’s wrong, but because they’re looking at the wrong measurements. So, they make decisions without understanding the bigger picture… and that may not help a business grow at all.

I’m not saying we throw all our data away though! Without insight, how can any decision be validated and informed? We need to break down the data into manageable chunks and really understand what’s going on under the bonnet.

So, without further ado, here are my top 5 insight tools you should be using to make your digital decisions.

1. Google Analytics

I don’t think we can say it enough: Google Analytics is the bread and butter tool for understanding your presence online.

Many digital marketeers get obsessed about where the traffic is coming from and forget about how that traffic is interacting with the website. This free tool monitors traffic from different sources and helps you to understand how users are interacting with your website.

What are people clicking? Where are they dropping off and leaving? Analytics makes it easy to see with intuitive charts and graphs.

Setup is simple and it’ll run on any platform – if you’re developing an app, you can even use Google Analytics to track how users are interacting with your creation.

Advanced analytics

Analytics can go so much deeper. There are various customisations you can make and third-party integrations to CMS platforms which can elevate Google Analytics from a grass roots analytical tool to a far more robust insight program.

What if you ran an online shop? You can track events such as cart abandonments or how many people are using your search bar to find an item. These things are all in place to keep tabs on the flow of users through a site.

Seriously, if there’s one thing you do today, get Google Analytics on your website. You won’t regret it.

2. Keyword Hero

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to discover Keyword Hero.

A question for you digital marketing veterans: do you remember that time when Google decided to remove keyword data from Google Analytics? Now, when people visit your site, all Analytics says is (not set) when you look at search terms from organic search. UGH!

A marketeer’s nightmare.

Keywords galore

Worry no more. KeywordHero cleverly gets around that little problem. It synchronises with Analytics and creates a “custom view” of your data that puts keyword data back into your GA account. Bonza!

Now you can gather real insight into what users are actually searching online to find you. Then, you can see where they land on your website.

It goes beyond making existing webpages better. This knowledge literally can transform your PPC campaigns on which the terms to target, or – better yet – exclude from your paid campaigns.

3. Crazy Egg

We’ve talked about CrazyEgg before here as a UX tool, but there’s a reason why it remains in my top 5 insight tools list.

CrazyEgg is a website optimisation tool. I’d go as far to say the website optimisation tool. It allows you to understand how users are interacting with your website with visual reporting.

While Google Analytics gives you an objective view of where users flow, it doesn’t tell you anything about the on-page usability of your website. That’s where CrazyEgg steps in.

What does CrazyEgg do?

Based on what users are clicking on, hovering over and where they’re scrolling, CrazyEgg creates a heatmap so you can see exactly what’s being used – and what’s being missed.

It integrates with whatever platform you’re using – whether it’s Shopify or WordPress, you can get accurate, actionable insights right away. It works on mobile devices, too.

With this technology, you can A/B test pages and see which designs are motivating users to interact and engage with your website. Combined with Google Analytics, you can turn your website into a money-making conversion machine.

4. Optimizely

While CrazyEgg tests your usability and engagement, it doesn’t actually change anything on page. That’s where you need some web experimentation to try out what you’ve found. Enter Optimizely, stage-left!

Optimizely is a visual editor that allows you to test, test, test.

From the comfort of your website builder (like WordPress or Shopify), you can test variations of headlines, content, calls to action, imagery and more. You won’t have to write a single line of code.

You can start experiments on single pages (without having to make duplicate content – a bonus for SEO!) and to specific audiences.

Make the traditional process efficient

Optimizely isn’t doing anything you can’t already do – but it’s making it so much easier to test, learn and act.

Usually, when A/B tests conclude, it can be hard to put the ‘what happens next’ part into action. Optimizely solves that issue. It lets you share information amongst your teams, and invites everyone to collaborate – from the devs to the stakeholders, everyone can stay up-to-date and know what the next steps are.

5. SEMRush

Last – and by no means least – we have SEMRush. It calls itself the ‘all-in-one marketing toolkit’ and I have to say, I agree with them.

A lot of issues with SEO are things are invisible to the user, but they’re the most important parts to search engines. SEMRush runs next-level website crawls, letting you look for optimisations on your page and prioritising them for the best result.

It suggests keywords to go after and – more importantly – what keywords your competitors are targeting.

It’s not just SEO either. PPC advert analysis, social media posting and PR engagement analysis are all there waiting for you to uncover them.

In defence of free tools

There are plenty of free tools out there to help you find keywords, like the Keyword Planner Tool bundled with Google Ads. Of course, you can run your own website audit, and even schedule posts with Hootsuite… but this one tool does it all, makes it clear to understand, and does it well.

If you want to take your website’s SEO to the next level, right here is where you start.

In summary: good, but not perfect

These tools are wonderful ways to dissect and distil ‘what’ is happening on your digital channels and how users are interacting with your content.

But. A word of caution: even with all these insight tools, nothing comes close to gathering actual user feedback.

The tools above won’t necessarily tell you ‘why’ users are behaving in certain ways.

When you make a decision for your marketing, insight-gathering tools are the tip of the iceberg. These decisions should be backed up and validated by conducting qualitative user research. Usability testing could be the real tool you need.