Yes… You Can Set up Your Marketing Tech Stack for Free!
Choosing the best route to go with any aspect of your digital marketing efforts is always difficult, but choosing the right tools has become one of the single most important factors in determining how effectively you hit your ad targets, while staying within your budget. There are some things that you simply can’t skimp on if you’re trying to build an online presence—relevant organic content, outreach on social media, optimizing your web content, creating aesthetically pleasing ads and graphics—but one thing you can skimp on is the price tag for basic tools (most of which have free alternatives). Here are my top 10 favorite free marketing tools:
1. Google Alerts
When trying to staying up to date about changes in your industry you need to be aware of relevant news that may be popping up on the internet. We all know that if you’re a small business owner, you’re most likely too busy to sit around and skim through news articles to find something that will actually provide you with insights or competitive advantage. That’s why setting up Google Alerts can come in extremely handy so that every time a new article or posting related to whichever search terms you choose pops up on Google, you’ll get an alert. It’s very easy to use and straightforward on how to use it. Another alternative to Google Alerts is Feedly, which allows you to dial in on specific publications rather than keywords. It essentially is a giant RSS feed with industry specifics news, kept up to date in real-time… Go check it out!
Buffer is a bad ass tool for scheduling out all of your social media posts and tracking the performance of them based on the time of day you post, which days your users are online the most etc. This allows you to be able to pinpoint when your ideal audience is viewing your posts, therefore allowing you to post at these peak times to keep people engaged. Once you have this information about post engagement it allows you to create a framework for scheduling paid Facebook ads (if you go the paid ad route on FB) so that you optimize the views that really count from your most engaged viewers, who are most likely to be customers.
The one downside to Buffer is that you are only able to link 1 social media account per platform (1 Twitter, 1 Facebook, and 1 Instagram) for free. If you’re a small business with one of each of these accounts it is perfect, but if you are managing multiple accounts you’ll have to upgrade to the paid versions.
3. Google Analytics
Google Analytics is an obvious tool to have on this list and has become an industry standard for marketers in small and large businesses alike! Much like most of Google’s products it’s very user friendly and is highly effective for understanding your business on a level that only analytics can provide. Knowing where your web traffic comes from and who the viewers are is extremely important in understanding who to target with your future marketing efforts.
In the age of data-overload there has to be some way to collect the right data, because there is a major distinction between data and information. Data is raw and messy and the insights we gain from the data is our information, but if we make the wrong mess we can’t clean it up to gain anything of value. For instance, if you’re looking at your click-through-rate on your social media links that funnel traffic to your website, you may be missing other areas such as time spent on site and more. This seems like a glaringly obvious thing to point out but until we frame it this way it’s often hard to understand why our data isn’t helping our business change and succeed.
Canva is one of the coolest tools on the internet in my opinion. It is an extremely user friendly graphic design software with a drag-and-drop interface and a myriad of free templates. It allows you to upload your own photos into pre-made templates and it automatically will transfer your image to the background, allow you to apply filters and edit things like blur (so that your text can POP out of the image). Check out this video below to see how easy and fun it is to use.
5. Google Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner is an amazing free tool that’s widely used by marketers and business owners to assess which keywords are worth their cash, and which are too highly saturated by the competition. One of our clients own’s a Career and Life Coaching business so I decided to use their industry for my example below. If you have a website, it’s very easy to 1.) enter URL 2.) go from there building a plan that works with your price range 3.) BOOM you have a framework for your keyword strategy!
6. Redirect Path
One reason why your customers aren’t converting, that may not be as obvious as an ugly website or bad content, is bad redirects to other pages on your site. This is the ultimate mood killer for a potential buyer. That’s why your redirects are a critical piece of optimizing your website. So, here’s the solution to make sure your website navigation is seamless: Redirect Path. It’s technically just a Google Chrome extension so it isn’t an independent “tool” so to speak, but as long as you use chrome then you’re in the clear!
7. On-Page Optimization Tool
The On-Page Optimization Tool is extremely useful for identifying key phrases and how often they show up on your website. If used in conjunction with Google’s Keyword Planner and a little bit of thinking from a customer’s point of view (i.e. when you Google something, which adjectives do you use to surround the keyword you are looking for?) you can create an effective keyword strategy and optimize your content for organic search rankings all for FREE!
Medium doesn’t fall into the technical category of a “tool” but is more of an online content sharing platform. However, it is a free and easy way to get your voice heard online and start creating blog content for your company. There are other free blogging alternatives such as wordpress, but Medium is by far the most social and sharing driven platform. They send out the Medium daily digest which is sent to people’s emails who have medium profiles and they featurenew articles everyday, giving you the opportunity to potnetially have a featred article and who wouldn;t love to have their product or ideas shown to thousands of engaged readers without having to do anything besides go onto Medium and express your thoughts? Who wouldn;t want this.
9. Email Marketing Scorecard
Email marketing scorecard is a free assessment tool provided by Campaign Monitorwhich allows you to take a quick quiz to evaluate the state of your current email marketing efforts. Campaign Monitor is a competitor of MailChimp, Active Campaign, and the like.
Hotjar is a tool that allows you to see how a customer interacts with your website or blog and can be helpful to see how far people read, scroll, or how long they interact with your page. This can be extremely useful in optimizing the web navigation experience of a customer when trying to funnel them towards a potential purchase. One of the coolest features of Hotjar is their Heatmaps. These show where a user’s mouse stayed the longest, and how often people are clicking in certain spots on your page, buttons, drop-downs etc.
If you use Hotjar in conjunction with Google Analytics you’ll be able to clearly see where your choke-points are and will be able to more readily solve them before losing too many sales due to a poorly optimized website.