Are you an entrepreneur or a small business that is finding online marketing a bit of an ordeal? Or a new inbound marketer that is looking for good, trustworthy sources on inbound marketing? As you may have noticed, the web is chock-full of articles, blogs, ebooks and whatnot that each make the promise to teach you the secrets to SEO, content marketing, social media and web analytics. How do you know which ones to rely on?
Well, guess what. We have done the work for you!
This article brings you the best of inbound marketing resources on the web. From ebooks to paid books, from web analytics tools to marketing celebs you should follow on Twitter – this is the definitive guide for those wishing to get into (or simply understand better) the world of inbound marketing.
Ready for a dizzying, informative journey? Well, dive in!
Best FREE eBooks
The Beginner’s Guide to SEO / SEOMoz
This bright, colorful and easy-to-navigate guide from SEO giant SEOMoz covers all the basics related to SEO, including: defining precisely what SEO is, discussing the importance of keyword research, implementing user-friendly web design and measuring website traffic.
The Ultimate How-to Marketing Guide / Hubspot
This ebook, which is recommended by numerous inbound marketing websites, includes enlightening how-to lessons on a variety of topics, from optimizing your press release and designing your buyer persona to… writing an awesome ebook!
100 Content Marketing Examples / Content Marketing Institute
Why not learn from the success of others? This ebook provides case studies from companies who have run successful content marketing campaigns and covers content examples from blogs, podcasts, social media, mobile apps and more.
In this book, 29 industry professionals share their secrets for content marketing success. The information is easy to process and presented in a light-hearted, fun way.
Small Business Website Development Guide / Bright Orange Thread
This ebook gives small businesses all the basics for standing out, utilizing the Web effectively and bringing in more business. It does by clearly outlining the essential practices for websites, such as defining the target audience, writing effective copy, effective social media marketing, etc.
7 Steps to a Complete Small Business Sales & Marketing Plan / Infusionsoft
The goal of this ebook is to teach you strategies to support your sales and marketing online, from attracting leads and converting them into customers to establishing a solid fan base for your brand.
Conversion Psychology / Sparring Mind
This ebook is more about theory than practice, but theory that could help you greatly in understanding what Internet branding and marketing is all about. Aside from highly important research studies on the subject, the ebook also provides real-life examples of companies that have managed to increase sales by very simple means.
Fish Where the Fish Are / Chris Brogan
This succinct, to-the-point ebook provides six practical approaches on how to use social media in order to bring in more business and focuses on bringing the reader all the appropriate tools that can help in doing so.
This ebook compiles a whole lot of data regarding the contribution of strategic use of social media to the business growth of companies, and takes a deep look into the difference between strategic use and informal use of social media. All in all, it lists all the advantages of engaging customers via the Internet and gives some very useful advice.
10,000 Subscribers / ViperChill
This ebook, which has won some excellent reviews, gives tips on how to produce a successful blog that will reach 10,000 subscribers in no time. Among other things, the ebook includes tips on what makes a blog popular, as well as useful sources that will help you measure your blog’s traffic.
What is Inbound Marketing / Servula
Well, Servula also has some experts on board; therefore, we decided we should share our insights and knowledge about inbound marketing with you. In this ebook, you’ll learn how inbound marketing can improve your rankings on Google, how to use inbound marketing methods (SEO, content writing and social media) most effectively, how to get started on your inbound marketing campaign, and more.
Best books to buy
SEO Made Simple / Michael H. Fleischner
In case you’re clueless about SEO, this book will do the trick. Its third edition has been updated for 2013, so it includes explanations about all the latest Google algorithm updates. Besides explaining concepts like SEO and Google ranking, the book provides tried and proved strategies and tips that will help your website reach Google domination.
Outsmarting Google: SEO Secrets to Winning New Business / Evan Bailyn & Bradley Bailyn
This book continues in the same theme as the one above. However, its uniqueness lies in the fact that it shatters some well-accepted SEO myths, but in return gives tactics that work. It also talks about optimizing for other search engines like Bing and Yahoo!, as well as the all-important practice of optimizing for social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business / Ann Handley & C.C. Chapman
Well, the title says it all. This book is all about social media and how to use it for your advantage. The most difficult thing today is to get noticed among all the billions of status updates, videos, tweets, etc. that bombard the Web daily. Mainly, the book talks about how to write in an effective, authentic, and most of all, engaging, manner that will boost your online presence and make you stand out from the crowd.
Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media and Blogs / Brian Halligan, Dharmesh Shah & David Mehrman Scott
This book is the definitive guide on inbound marketing, written by some of the hottest names in the industry. It talks about how the old “outbound” marketing methods (like cold-calling, direct mail and e-mail spamming) are much less effective ever since people have begun to filter them out, and explains where marketing should really be directed in today’s world: social media, blogs and Google. In addition it discusses inbound marketing techniques as well as ways that measure their effectiveness.
This may be one of the most influential books in the social media era. In this book, Seth Godin, “the ultimate entrepreneur for the Information Age” according to Newsweek, explains why “interruption marketing” (the kind that disrupts attention, for example, TV commercials and telemarketing) no longer works; and how efforts should directed towards “permission marketing”, which is about developing long-standing relationships with customers, building brand awareness and creating trust. The book also provides case studies that show how “permission marketing” works.
Likeable Social Media: How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand and Be Generally Amazing on Facebook (And Other Social Networks) / Dave Kerpen
It’s a well-known fact that Facebook pervades every aspect of our lives; and that includes marketing, of course. This book talks about how a Facebook recommendation of a business (for example, like or a share) can reach far and wide; and gives tips and how-to instructions on how to make sure your business becomes likeable on Facebook, with the help of key elements like value and excitement.
The Impact Equation: Are You Making Things Happen or Just Making Noise? / Chris Brogan and Julien Smith
With this book you’ll learn how to create impact with your message online, whether you are doing it on a blog, a video, a tweet or a status. The key to creating an impact, according to the authors, is by making people care about what you have to say, building trust and creating a group of followers who will go on spreading your message. The book provides many ideas, insights and techniques on how to do just those things.
Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking / Andy Sernovitz, Guy Kawasaki & Set Godin
Word of mouth, or a personal recommendation by someone you know, has always been very powerful in influencing our decisions about which products to buy, which services to use, etc. Today, with the advent of social media (and all its likes, shares, retweets, etc.), it has become more meaningful than ever. This book lists five essential steps which will teach you how to create word of mouth recommendations about your business.
500 Social Media Marketing Tips: Essential Advice, Hints and Strategy for Business / Andrew Macarthy
If your Facebook business page isn’t getting enough likes, or you feel like your number of followers on Twitter is too low, this is the book you should turn to. In this book you’ll find 500 easy-to-understand tips on how to enhance your presence on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, and others.
Web Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability and Science of Customer Certainty / Avinash Kaushik
All the books above provide theory, strategies and tips on how to get yourself found on search engines and social networks. But this book is looking at the end results, or in other words, the ways you can quantify your online marketing efforts: how to get the data about visitors to your website and analyze it in a way that will make you understand the areas in which you’re doing well and those in which you should improve.
Influential & informative blogs
HubSpot blog / Inbound Marketing
HubSpot is one of the best-known and longest-standing Internet marketing companies. The HubSpot blog, which is probably the most widely read blog by those in the inbound marketing industry, is literally overflowing with useful, informative posts which often feature enlightening graphs and charts as well as pretty infographics.
SEOmoz blog / SEO
This blog by another SEO giant includes post by leading professionals of the SEO industry. Posts are highly researched, well-written, include clear graphics and screenshots when necessary, and cover just about any SEO topic you can think of.
CopyBlogger / Content Marketing
The copyblogger blog is a great authority on everything related to content marketing. Posts explore a wide variety of topics, including writing successful ebooks and articles, effective marketing on social networks and avoiding grammatical errors and bad writing habits
ProBlogger / Blogging
ProBlogger, too, is all about content marketing; however it places special emphasis on effective blogging that can generate money and gives you all the tips on how to do so.
Occam’s razor / Web Analytics
Occam’s razor by Avinash Kaushik offers informative and highly-detailed posts about web analytics. His posts go in-depth on every topic in the web analytics world, from sessions and hits to data analysis strategies; and occasionally discuss other related topics such as digital marketing and social networks.
Search Engine Journal / Search Marketing
SEJ is more than just a mere blog. It is a whole website, which compils research, resources and thoughts about topics like SEO, various tools (for web analytics, SEO, blogging and more), social media, PPC and link building. Originally founded by Loren Baker, today SEJ hosts a multitude of bloggers and serves as an important source for both SEO novices, and experts who want to be up-to-date on everything SEO.
State of Search / Search Marketing
State of Search is a unique blog about search marketing and social media, with posts on topics ranging from link building to infographics. In addition, it hosts weekly podcasts in which the website’s founder, Bas Van Den Beld, a speaker, writer and trainer of search marketing, discusses the latest developments in the industry with people around the world. Another special feature of this blog is live reports from industry conferences.
ReelSEO / Video Marketing
ReelSEO is the ultimate blog for video marketers. In this blog you will find tips, trends, news, etc from the world’s top experts on online video marketing. On it you will find courses like “Online Video 101″ and YouTube Annotations Course”, such resources as well as a comprehensive A-to-Z glossary featuring terms from the online video world. The blog is conveniently sectioned into channels like “Viral Video Marketing”, “Video Technology”, “Video Production Tips” and more. This is probably the best place to educate yourself about making effective videos and spreading them online.
QuickSprout / Online Marketing
QuickSprout a blog by SEO giant Neil Patel (co-founder of KISSmetrics and Crazy Egg). The blog offers clever, in-depth posts with a personal touch, as well as enlightening case studies, motivational articles, SEO guides for all levels and useful tips. Topics are varied and include content marketing, social media, link building, Google search algorithms and their updates. Posts tend to clear, readable, informative and accompanied by useful images and links.
SEO Gadget / SEO
SEO Gadget is an elegant, boutique website which offers advanced SEO marketing services based on research about searching behavior and exploration of the ultimate site architecture for driving in traffic. The SEO Gadget blog seeks to bring these topics to the public in a clear, concise manner. Topics include analytics, CRO, content marketing, keyword research, SEO tools and even gamification and the posts are rich with images and videos as well as links to studies and other related articles or websites.
Social Media Examiner / Social Media
With its playful safari theme, is not only eye candy but a highly acclaimed blog. In fact, it has been ranked as one of the world’s top ten business blogs by Technocrati and AdAge. The blog’s main purpose is to help business enhance their use of social media in order to better connect with customers, generate brand awareness and increase traffic and sales.Social Media Examiner is an all-in-one package: it features networking clubs for business owners and marketers, a popular podcast show and numerous how-to articles, industry reports, recommendations about SEO tools and more.
The best conferences to attend
- SES New York/ San Francisco – this is one of the leading events in the search and social marketing industry and takes place in many locations worldwide, including Berlin, Hong Kong and Toronto, among others. However, SES New York (March 25-28, 2013) and SES San Francisco (September 10-14, 2013) seem to be the most recommended events. The SES events focus on education and knowledge-sharing activities, and the main topics are SEO, paid search, analytics, business management, social media, display and e-mail.
- SMX East/West – SMX, or Search Marketing Expo, is a global search engine marketing series which takes places at locations like Munich, Jerusalem, Paris, Stockholm and more, but its main events are SMX East (New York, October 1-3, 2013) and SMX West (San Jose, March 11-13, 2013). The events’ programs are produced by Search Engine Land, a leading website on search engine marketing and the search engine industry. The events offer workshops on topics like Google AdWords and Facebook marketing as well as discussion forums about spamming search engines and Google’s search policies
- SXSW Interactive – SXSW (South by Southwest) is a mega-event that takes place in Austin, Texas every March. SXSW Interactive is just one part of this event, which also includes SXSW Music and SXSW Film, which are music and film festivals, respectively. The Interactive event focuses on emerging technology and includes a trade show, networking events, meet ups, mini-presentations, book readings and more. This year’s SXSW Interactive will take place on March 8-12, 2013
- Pubcon – Pubcon is one of the top optimization and social media events, hosting some of biggest names in the social media, online marketing and digital technology industries. It brings together search and social media innovators and offers talks and workshops on a variety of topics including search engines, online advertising, social media and Internet marketing. The event takes place in New Orleans, on April 22-25, 2013 and Las Vegas on October 21-25, 2013.
- Content Marketing World – the “largest content marketing event on the planet”, as is written on its website, Content Marketing World (Cleveland, September 9-12, 2013) is meant for those wishing to learn about and develop content marketing initiatives for the purpose of attracting and maintaining customers for their business. The event offers workshops on topics like content marketing strategy, buyer personas and building content agencies as well as content marketing summits directed at specific industries like health services, the financial services industry and the technology sector.
- Inbound Marketing Summit – This event, which takes place in three locations (New York, April 3-4; San Francisco, June 18-19; and Boston, October 2013) is directed at business leaders, enterprise CMOs, agency executives and their teams, and its purpose is to teach and enhance social media, digital and mobile marketing abilities. It offers talks, workshops, demos and showcases by leaders in the inbound marketing industry.
- Ad:Tech Digital Marketing Conference – This event is a conference-exhibition mixture for interactive advertising and technology and it features talks, panels and workshops led by digital marketing experts about topics ranging from mobile, to brand, to social and tablets. The locations for this event are Sydney (March 12-13, 2013), San Francisco (April 9-10, 2013), Singapore (June 13-14, 2013), Melbourne (July 17-18, 2013), London (September 11-12, 2013), Bangalore (September 27, 2013) and Tokyo (September 18-19, 2013).
- MozCon – MozCon, hosted in Seattle (July 8-10, 2013) by renowned SEO company SEOMoz, is an online marketing conference which offers sessions from leading presenters about topics like SEO, analytics, social media, data science and content strategy, as well as meet ups and networking opportunities.
- Inbound 2013 – By now, you will not be surprised to hear that inbound marketing monster (a good monster!) HubSpot also has its own conference which is simply called “Inbound 2013” (Boston, August 19-22, 2013) and boasts of being the world’s largest gathering of inbound marketers. This is a major industry event, which features more than 100 talks, product demo and workshops given by industry experts.
- DMA 2013 – The “Global Event for Data-Driven Marketers” (Chicago, October 12-17) focuses on data-driven marketing, that is, delivering measurable, relevant, on-demand messaging to various channels of the marketing environment, including search, social, mobile, email, phone, direct mail, etc. The event features sessions, labs, roundtables and case studies on topics like: B2B marketing, marketing strategy, lead generation, customer relationship marketing and more.
Top tools for SEO, social media and web analytics
Google Analytics is at the very top of almost every “top 10/20/50 web analytics tools” and for a reason. This completely free, simple-to-use software is an excellent tracking tool of visitors to your website. Among its features are keyword analytics (which keywords bring the most visitors), the ability to segment your audience into different categories for better focused stats, ecommerce data including product sales and revenues, and more.
- Cost: Free.
- Category: Web analytics.
One of the leading basic tools for SEO optimizers, Google Webmasters Tools includes many useful tools that can do the following: submit a sitemap, check and set the crawl rate, get broken links for the site, view statisticcs about the way Google indexes the site, set a preferred domain, change URL display in SERPs, and more. Ultimately, all of these tools help in understanding search traffic for the site, optimizing it for Google and checking it for problematic issues that could hinder its performance on Google.
- Cost: Free.
- Category: SEO.
You can try out the service for free for 30 days. KISSmetrics can track the movements of individual visitors to your website, as well as identify patterns and behaviors associated with these visitors. Plus, you can match tracking activities to your specific needs – KISSmetrics allows you to define custom events to track on your website.
- Cost: Starting from $99 a month.
- Category: Web analytics.
This service comes with a twist: it uses Heatmap technology to show you visually where visitors click and where they are moving their mouse – both of which indicate which areas of your website grab the most attention. Plus, you can also view how far visitors scroll down the page before they move on. Crazy Egg offers a free 30-day trial.
- Cost: Starting from $9 a month.
- Category: Web analytics.
The software Hubspot offers is an all-around inbound marketing machine, which simplifies every aspect of marketing: from blogging, to SEO, to marketing automation. Its tools help website owners to increase traffic to the website, convert that into leads and convert leads into sales.
- Cost: Starting from $200 a month.
- Category: Inbound marketing.
The SEO software by SEOmoz is abundant with practical features: a web app that crawls the website and monitors relevant the ranking of relevant keywords; on page recommendations which show what needs fixing and how to fix it; an analysis of your competitors’ rankings; and more.
- Cost: Starting from $99 a month.
- Category: SEO.
WordPress is one the top blogging tools on the web. If you’re interested in creating a blog for inbound marketing purposes, a WordPress blog is the easy, elegant and convenient way to do it. Its customizability allows you to integrate a wide range of SEO tools and social media tools into your blog, making it extremely effective for inbound marketing.
- Cost: free.
- Category: Blogging.
- Cost: Free for the basic plan, other plans starting from $9 .99 a month.
- Category: Social media.
Screaming Frog is a small, user-friendly desktop program that specializes in SEO. What it does is to grab SEO elements from the website and present a detailed SEO report in which all elements are organized neatly, allowing you to search for SEO issues, analyze the data or filter it in any way you wish.
- Cost: Free for the Lite plan, other plans starting from $99 a year.
- Category: SEO.
MailChimp allows users to create e-mail campaigns that are simple and effective. It is one of the top email marketing services available online today. MailChimp allows users to build extensive email lists, helps them with creating stylish newsletters and also provides social media integration (enabling subscribers to post comments about your email on Facebook, for example).
- Cost: Free for the basic plan, other plans starting from $10 a month.
- Category: Email marketing.
Followermonk is an analytics tool for Twitter that is especially useful for bloggers, or for businesses that have blogs: it makes it easier to find influential bloggers and opportunities for guest blogging, as well as analyze one’s Twitter followers and check the competition follower-wise. Its special features include searching Twitter bios, comparing twitter accounts, analyzing Twitter followers by categories like bio and location, as well as optimizing on Twitter.
- Cost: Free for SEOmoz users, paid for others (price not listed).
- Category: Social media.
This is a service for those who like to get their message through with pretty, clear, and effective visuals. The service brings together companies, brands and agencies who want to create infographics with those who can help them do it: graphic designers, Visual.ly helps anyone create and customize their own infographics and data visualizations, as well as discover other people’s infographics and share them.
- Cost: Free.
- Category: Content.
If you want to discover what your online influence is, that is, how influential you are on social networks like Facebook, Google_ and Twitter, Klout is your tool. Klout gathers together all of the social network data of an individual person, a brand or a company, analyzes it and generates a “Klout score” from 0-100. The higher the Klout score is, the stronger and broader the online influence.
- Cost: Free.
- Category: Social media.
Majestic SEO is an incredibly useful tool for backlink research. It checks how websites link to each other on the Internet with the help of huge index that includes billions of crawled pages and is updated several times a day. Majestic SEO lets its users explore domains and URLs, discover the number of backlinks per domain, as well as create reports for different domains.
- Cost: Free for researching one’s own website, or paid for more advanced options, starting from 29.99 £ monthly.
- Category: SEO.
Must-know Online Marketing Influencers
CEO and Founder of Hubspot, as well as a senior lecturer in MIT. Halligan is credited with coining the term “inbound marketing” and has co-authored two books on marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media and Blogs (with Dharmesh Shah) and Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead: What Every Business Can Learn from the Mot Iconic Band in History (with David Meerman Scott).
The Founding Editor of Search Engine Land (a well-known blog about search engines and search marketing), and Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media (which produces the SMX conference and publishes Search Engine Land). A long-time expert on search engines, Sullivan is viewed by many as a “search engine guru” and is often quoted on the subject in such places as Newsweek, The New Yorker, Forbes and The Los Angeles Times.
An SEOmoz Associate, an SEO at SEER Interactive and a lecturer in SEO courses in several schools, Solis has been in the SEO business for years. She has served in the roles of SEO Manager and Head of SEO in several different companies. In addition, Solis often speaks in SEO conferences and events.
The co-Founder of Market Motive (a website that provides internet marketing lessons and certification) and Google’s Digital Marketing Evangelist, Kaushik is also prolific writer about web analytics, both in his renowned blog Occam’s Razor and the books he has published: Web Analytics: An Hour a Day and Web Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability and Science of Customer Centricity. His central role in the industry was recognized when he won the Most Influential Industry Contributor award by the Web Analytics Association in 2011.
President of Human Business Works (a business design company which promotes a concept called “the Human Business Way” for businesses), founder of Kitchen Table Companies (a company that gives advice and guidance to small businesses), and a member of Hubspot’s board of advisors. Brogan is the co-author of Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation and Earn Trust (with Julien Smith) and the author of Social Media 101: Tactics and Tips to Develop Your Business Online.
Cofounder of KISSmetrics and Crazy Egg, entrepreneur Neil Patel is an analytics expert and an angel investor who despite his young age (Patel is hardly 28 years old) has already been named one of the top influencers on the web by the Wall Street Journal.
CEO and Founder of SEOmoz, as well as co-author of The Art of SEO: Mastering Search Engine Optimization (with Eric Enge, Jessie C. Stricchiola and Stephen Spencer). In 2009 Fishkin was included in BusinessWeek’s “Best Young Tech Entrepreneurs Under 30”.
Entrepreneur, public speaker and author, Godin is often titled “marketing guru”. In the late 1990s, Godin founded Yoyodine, one of the first online marketing companies and later on launched Squidoo, a community website where users can create pages for subjects of interest. He is also the author of 11 books about business and marketing, among them Permission Marketing, in which he was one of the first to advocate inbound marketing methods.
David Meerman Scott
A marketing strategist and a professional speaker who focuses on marketing, leadership and social media. Scott also serves as an advisor to budding businesses, and has written eight books some of which have become bestsellers, among them, Cashing in with Content and the New Rules of Marketing & PR.
Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs (a company that gives practical marketing advice to entrepreneurs and small businesses) and co-author of Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business.
Founder of Content Marketing Institute (a company that gives how-to advice on every channel of content marketing: online, mobile in-person and in print) and President at Z Squared Media, which operates Content Marketing Institute and the Content Marketing World conference. Pulizzi is a public speaker on content marketing and social media and also the co-author of two books: Get Content, Get Customers and Managing Content Marketing.
Do you have anything to add to our list?
So… this is it. For now, of course. In the ever-changing world of inbound marketing, next year this list could look very different. In any case, we sincerely hope you found it useful and that it will serve you well in your journey with inbound marketing.
Now it’s time for feedback. Do you agree with our list? Did you really find it useful? Please tell us! We can’t wait to read your comments : )
Image credit: Paul Lowr