Here’s the thing about Raven tools reviews on the internet.
Most of them can’t be trusted.
Most are written by people who don’t know the software or haven’t properly tested it.
It’s because Raven Tools pay 50% commission on referrals through their affiliate program.
That’s good for affiliates but not good for anyone thinking about using Raven Tools and looking for an honest review from a real customer.
Here’s a few reasons you’re in the right place if you’re looking for a real, honest Raven Tools review:
- The first version of my review was published in 2010.
- I’ve been a customer of Raven Tools since they launched in 2007 (ish) when I was working for another agency.
- I’ve personally been a customer (and paying the bills myself) since 2011.
- As well as personally spending over $8,000 with Raven Tools, when I was consulting for other agencies I introduced Raven Tools into their internet marketing teams as well, including one of the world’s largest media agencies
So I reckon I know a thing or two about the software and am in a pretty good position to recommend it (or not).
Overview of Raven, What Are Its Key Features
Raven Tools is a pretty mature piece of marketing software, it has a lot of features and I don’t think if you’re reading my review you want to see a list of features, after all you can see those on the Raven Tools website or just signup for a free trial with Raven and play around with the features for yourself.
That said I’ll briefly highlight what I think are some of the most important and useful parts of the toolkit:
- Create great looking client reports that pull data from over 20 sources like AdWords, Search Console, Facebook and Analytics
- Run regular website audits that identify potential issues and impress clients
- Manage link building campaigns with their Link manager and database
- Access Moz & Majestic link data with their research tools without needing a separate subscription
- Schedule Tweets and Facebook posts from one tool without needing a separate tool subscription
How I use Raven Tools
In our agency we mostly use Raven Tools as a reporting tool. We have scheduled reports setup to run every week or month depending on the clients requirements. These typically pull in data from AdWords, Analytics, Bing and occasionally other sources depending on the campaign.
This saves us hours every month because when it comes to sending that report to the client all the data is already there and formatted, on a link ready to send to the client, so we can spend more time analysing the results and making recommendations – the stuff that adds value. And less time spent messing around pulling data from multiple sources and making the report look pretty!
For $99/ month there’s no question this tool pays for itself for me, even without dabbling with the other features.
Who Raven Tools good for?
In a word… agencies
Because client reporting is so integral to the Raven toolkit and the Raven report builder is so good now, I think agencies are their main customers.
That said I still think it has applications that would be useful to non-client focused marketers and in-house teams;
- The link manager is a really powerful tool for managing link building campaigns, particularly if you’ve got multiple team members working on a project
- The WordPress content manager is a nice feature for anyone who manages multiple wordpress blogs, particularly as you can order content from TextBroker inside Raven and publish it automatically to a connected WordPress blog.
- If you’re managing social media accounts you may find the tools for managing Twitter and Facebook posts useful. There’s better tools for doing this like Hootsuite and Edgar, but there may be a cost saving to using Raven for these tasks rather than needing a subscription to a separate tool.
- There’s also a built in CRM and task manager within Raven which they don’t make much of a feature of but for simple management of small teams completing regular tasks for SEO or PPC campaigns, or just for setting reminders for yourself its a handy addition and again something you don’t need to pay out for another tool for.
Why I wouldn’t recommend Raven Tools
Having used Raven for so long there’s plenty of holes I can pick in it;
- My biggest bugbear with it is its lack of keyword rank tracking. Going back many years the tool used to track rankings as one of its biggest features. They removed this feature which annoyed me at the time and i don’t honestly think its ever offered as much value since. They have re-introduced some rank tracking options- letting you import rankings from Google Search Console (which aren’t accurate) or importing from AuthorityLabs into your Raven reports, which is helpful, but requires an additional subscription.
- For keyword research the tool has really lagged behind the likes of Ahrefs and Moz which have developed much better tools in recent years. Keyword research in Raven is really just a front end of Google Keyword Planner.
- Other parts of the toolset also don’t seem to have had much love in years. The whole PPC section is pretty pointless, just pulling in top line stats from AdWords or Bing Ads.
- On the whole Raven Tools seems to be pivoting from being a “doing tool”, one that you use to actively manage campaigns, to being a pure “reporting tool” – that makes a lot of sense given that the market is so saturated with other specialist tools for things like link building, social media and PPC that an all-in-one tool could never keep up. It still provides immense value for my business but may not still be the best tool for anybody and everybody running an SEO or digital marketing campaign.
Comparing Raven Tools to the alternatives
There’s plenty of tools now that do what parts of Raven Tools do, but not really anything that does all the things it does. So for example;
- Buzzstream is an alternative to Raven’s link manager but link management is all it does.
- Swydo does great looking marketing reports but again reporting is really all it does, that tool starts from $60/ month
- Hootsuite does social media management better than Raven but thats another subscription
- Ahrefs or Link Research Tools have similar (and much better) tools for link research than Raven’s built in tool, but again, another expensive subscription is needed for each of these.
- Brightpod is a much more sophisticated project management tool for digital marketing projects but if Raven’s basic task manager can do what you need then you can save on another subscription.
- Moz Pro has many of the main features of Raven’s SEO suite. Letting you do link research, keyword research and run onsite audits. And it also monitors your keyword rankings, something Raven doesn’t do. But its report builder is more limited and it doesn’t have any management type tools like the task manager, link manager or social media publishing stuff you get in Raven.
So there are definitely Raven Tools alternatives that are better for each thing that Raven does. But not really any alternatives that I’m aware of that do everything under one tool, as well as Raven.
Is Raven Tools worth the money?
Following on from the point above, one of the main reasons I still recommend Raven so highly is that if you’re on a limited budget and don’t want to shell out for 4 or 5 different internet marketing tools every month, one Raven Tools subscription can easily replace your need for multiple tools.
If you’re particularly focused on one area or another, like Social Media or Link Building you probably won’t get value out of Raven if you just use this part of the tool, you’ll be better off with a specialist tool.
But if you’re using more than one of Raven’s tools on a regular basis I think it will work out good value for you.
And if you’re using Raven primarily for reporting (as we do) then there’s easily a direct cost saving to be made from automating client report creation and not spending hours putting together reports every week or month. For me that easily justifies the $99 we spend on Raven Tools.