The Troxy theatre is spectacular. A kitsch deco masterpiece, its history takes in everything from Vera Lynn, through an opera school – and it’s now a very cool conference venue.

The Growth Hacking conference was in its element here, just a short Uber ride from Shoreditch’s marketing heartbeat (black cabs are so last century). The room was packed out with mid-level marketing types, plus the odd founder and director. They were here to learn the latest techniques for growing businesses faster than Popeye’s biceps. Whatever firm you’re in, you need to be on top of your expansion opportunities. This conference was the Glastonbury of Growth.

The clientele were clearly on a corporate ticket – so the steep $1000 admission cost was borne out of someone else’s pocket. But what was the verdict on value? One delegate described it as ‘read out blog posts’. That’s harsh, but it’s true to say that much of the material would be familiar to professionals in the field. Nevertheless, it’s not what you’re reminded of that makes a conference, it’s the new stuff you learn. As someone who’s full-time in the world of rapidly-growing businesses, I’d say I’m a fairly good barometer of useful content.

Did I learn anything of value? Hell yeah! I came away with a boatload of new tools, ready to put into action. There’s no time to waste ploughing through the details of the talks and speakers – so let’s get to the meat. Here’s my personal list of must-have new tools. I’m already pushing these to firms I meet who need a marketing turbo-boost.

UserTesting.com – everyone knows talking to customers about their site is a great idea, but getting regular, fast feedback is a pain. With UserTesting.com, you can have reports within an hour, from people who are a close fit for your target demographic.

KissMetrics.com –comes into its own with online products, like Gmail.
When you want to work out how your customers are actually using your
product, you may struggle with ordinary analytics. Step up, KissMetrics.

KeywordTool.io – when it comes to online advertising, Google is only so much help. Keyword Tool tells you what people are really typing into search engines, so you can spend your ad money smarter.

SocialMention.com – you need to hear what people are saying about your firm, before a problem turns into a crisis. Social mention keeps tabs on social media, with a cross-platform search.

BuzzSumo.com – finding out which marketing tactics work for your competitors is vital. Buzz Sumo digs out this information from the web, so you can find top influencers and stay ahead.

SEMrush.com –SEMrush helps you check how well you’re ranking for a ton of different Google searches, so you can focus your efforts on the ones that matter.

GeckoBoard.com – this neat tool pulls together all the metrics that matter for your firm – and shares them with the staff who need to know.

ZenDesk.com – users want service when and how they like it. Whether customer contact comes from email, web or phone, ZenDesk pulls it all together for you.

…and here’s a couple of extras, which were a refresh for me:

Formisimo.com – Ever given up on an online form because it’s such a hassle? You’ve felt the pain Formisimo is trying to fix. They work out what is and isn’t working on your forms, so you can fix the headaches – and get more sales.

Intercom.io – many of the smartest web companies plug intercom into their sites. It deals with customer interaction, and helps analyse user groups. If you only implement one thing from this list, Intercom’s a good choice.