33 of the best FREE marketing tools for the small business owner
Whether you’re a sole trader or part of a small business without a dedicated marketing team, completing even the most straightforward tasks can be utterly time-consuming.
You might think that in order to get the job done you have to hire additional staff members or take a course in design, perhaps to be able to competently manage the volume of tasks that now fall under the ‘marketing’ umbrella. Whilst you might have a resource problem and hiring help is next on your list, here’s a few — well, 33 — tools you can use to help your company become more efficient in the marketing department.
If you’re a sole trader or freelancer, these tools are some of the easiest to use but get some of the best results.
So, either way, if you’re looking to build your business’s presence online these tools will definitely help you out.
ead more about each tool by scrolling past the initial list.
- Answer the public
- Google trends
- Hello Bar
- Open Site Explorer
- Bid Sketch
- Domain Hunter+
- Google Analytics
- Moz bar
- Yoast SEO
- Tag Crowd
- Keywords everywhere
- Campaign monitor
- Survey Monkey
- Built With
- Hot Jar
Pixabay — www.pixabay.com
If you’re just starting out and your marketing budget is paper-thin then buying images from Shutterstock or Thinkstock, or any other kind of stock image database, can seem really expensive and unnecessary. Instead of foregoing images, check out Pixabay! Pixabay, although it obviously doesn’t have the same selection as the other paid for sites, it has a brilliant selection considering it’s free of charge.
If you’ve created images yourself, they encourage you to share your own on their platform, too. Sharing is caring as the saying goes — but this isn’t obligatory.
Answer The Public — http://answerthepublic.com/
This is a great data visualisation tool, it can help you figure out what on earth your audience could be searching for around your keywords! After you’ve selected your desired country and searched for your keywords, the data from Google search queries is brought back and presented to you in different sections. Sections include queries and questions around different prepositions such as ‘how’, ‘what’ and ‘where’.
This tool is particularly handy for helping you generate keyword-related blog post ideas.
Google trends — trends.google.co.uk/trends
A great tool and you guessed it, it highlights all the topics trending in real-time. Aside from general interest — why would you want to know about this tool?
If you see a topic relevant to your business in these trending stories, you can engage in some reactive marketing. Perhaps, if you have time, you could write a blog post surrounding the trend and push the piece out through social media, finding then utilising the trend’s hashtag. This kind of reactive marketing can help your business jump on top of timely and fresh content that your audience will enjoy.
Hello Bar –https://www.hellobar.com
Hello Bar is a great tool to help you easily build call-to-actions for your business website. Simply go through the steps presented in front of you, and voila, within a few moments your new call-to-action pops up on your site.
This tool will help you engage your audience with well put together and relevant calls-to-actions on your site helping you increase your conversion rate.
Bloomberry — app.bloomberry.com
This app is a product of the Buzzsumo family — another content generator tool. This generator tool, however, sub-sections queries by topic which can save you time trawling through an entire list of results. For example, when I typed in ‘content marketing’, the results returned were segmented into queries relating to ‘SEO’, ‘blog’ ‘social media’ and ‘promote.’
This app is great for helping you generate a variety of blog topics or content offer topics when your brainstorming has gone a little flat!
Buzzsumo — www.buzzsumo.com
This tool helps you find relevant influencers in your field and the content they have recently shared. Their paid for version gives you access to more results, however, the free version shows you the top 10 or so results without even having to sign up.
If you’re looking for influential content to share out across your social media channels, or, you’re looking for some of the most popular content to spark your creativity for your own content, this is a great tool for you. The tool also shows you how many times a piece has been shared across Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+ — this can help you identify which content would also suit your individual social channels the best.
Majestic — https://majestic.com
This is a link intelligence tool to help you track any URLs backlink data. Without signing in you can check the summary for a handful or URLS, or you can signup for their free plan.
Majestic can help you by analysing your own business website’s data summary including how many links are linking to you, the quality of the links you have linking to you and the anchor text used in these links.
Open Site Explorer — moz.com/researchtools/ose
This is a link analysis tool from Moz, similar to Majestic you can analyse your anchor text and backlinks easily, just by pasting the URL of the website you want to check out.
These tools make finding new outreach marketing opportunities easier after you’ve pasted your competitor’s URL in and found where they’ve acquired links from, this is where you can start making a list of all those sites that link to your competitor and contact them yourself. If they’ve published a piece of content from your competitor, there’s a good chance they might publish a piece of your content, too!
Grammarly — app.grammarly.com
As the name might suggest, Grammarly is a grammar checker. This isn’t, however, to replace your initial proofread of your content, but it’s a great extra layer to highlight any small punctuation issues such as missing commas or hyphens.
I’d suggest adding their extension tool to your preferred browser, too. This makes checking your work so much easier when you don’t have a second pair of eyes handy to read through your work.
BidSketch — bidsketch.com
If you’re bored of wasting your time writing proposals or you’re just starting your own business, the free proposal templates from BidSketch can help you save time, whilst helping you win more business with professional proposal templates. It’s a win-win with this tool!
Survey.io — survey.io
If you’re after customer feedback on a particular product or service you offer, Survey.io could become your best friend. Simply type in the name of your product or service, pick a product type from their list of nine options, provide a link to the product or service and click ‘create my survey’. It’s literally that easy.
You can preview the survey and then choose to embed the survey by generating a code or you can obtain a shareable link that you can send your customers to.
A really straightforward way to gather customer feedback!
HubSpot — hubspot.com
An inbound marketing software, HubSpot not only has a free sales suite to help you close deals and a free CRM to help you manage your pipeline — but they also offer a basic marketing package for free, too!
You can create pop-ups on your site called lead flows, these help you nudge your website visitors to take action, whether that’s contacting you for a quote or signing up to your newsletter. These lead flows can really help boost your conversion rate.
Hootsuite — hootsuite.com
The free account at Hootsuite allows you to manage and schedule three different social media accounts. Being able to schedule your social media posts ahead of time and be able to easily analyse the progress across the channels is a big time-saver for marketers and business owners, alike.
Domain Hunter+ (search for this on Google)
This is a free add-on for your browser and helps you identify all the broken links on any site within seconds. Why is this handy? It’s not just handy to use on your own site so you can fix your broken links — you can use this as a great first point of contact with relevant sites in your industry sector. Helping them fix their broken site links by replacing it with your business’s link can help you gain links faster and it helps out the site with the broken link!
Portent — www.portent.com/tools/title-maker
This is a fantastic tool to help you generate some great titles that your audience will definitely want to click on. Simply typing your subject in and pressing the arrow brings back bizarre titles that can definitely help ignite that creative spark within you.
The titles will need tweaking to ensure they make sense but if you’re hitting that brick wall, I’d definitely check this one out!
Typeform — typeform.com
If you’re sick of the same boring forms on your site and you fancy something a little more interactive and creative, Typeform is worth a visit. These kinds of forms can help engage your audience a little by asking them to fill their information out in a slightly less conventional way to your standard form.
You can build your forms using their pre-built templates, or you can build them from scratch. Just have a play around and see what suits your company best!
Google Analytics — analytics.google.com/analytics/
Google Analytics is something used by most businesses if you haven’t already got it yet, head to the link above. Setup is fairly straightforward; it’s learning how to get the most out of it that can be slightly tricky and time-consuming.
Once you wrap your head around it, it can help you delve deep into your audience behaviour, where they’re located, which pages they bounce straight off and which they stay on for a longer period, which pages are converting and which aren’t and much, MUCH more.
Moz bar — moz.com/products/pro/seo-toolbar
This is a browser extension tool and is similar to the Open Site Explorer tool I mentioned above. The difference, however, is that the Moz bar gives you an immediate overview of a website without having to leave it. The Moz bar can tell you the site’s domain authority, whether the links on the page are no follow or followed, the page title, meta description and more. A very small but very useful extension!
Yoast SEO — yoast.com/wordpress/plugins/seo/
Yoast SEO is a WordPress plugin — so if you don’t have WordPress — this tool isn’t for you! For the free version of this plugin, you can optimise your content with one keyword per page and it allows you to do readability checks for your pages, amongst other features. It’s a plugin well worth having for your WordPress site, particularly if you don’t class yourself as a search engine optimisation expert!
Tag crowd — tagcrowd.com/
This is a great tool for helping you check that the keywords you want to optimise each of your pages for is actually getting mentioned enough in your page. Simply pasting your URL into the ‘web page URL’ tab and making sure to select yes to ‘show frequencies’, can help you visualise what each of your pages is about.
If for example, your page was about a counselling service you offer, but it turns out the main words used aren’t actually relevant to these counselling services, you can re-visit the content on your page to help your chances of ranking better in Google.
Keywords Everywhere — keywordseverywhere.com
This is another handy browser extension tool. When you search in Google’s search bar for a keyword you’re hoping to rank for, it shows you directly underneath the search bar the volume of searches per month for this particular keyword phrase, how much it would cost per click to bid on and it enables you to favourite your keyword phrases.
Then, when you come to build a PPC campaign or an SEO strategy you can view all your past favourite keywords and export them as a CSV or PDF file — helping you build your campaign that little bit faster!
Keywordtool.io — keywordtool.io/
An alternative to the Google Keyword Planner (which is also a great tool) Keyword Tool enables you to get 750+ Google Keyword Suggestions for free.
Campaign Monitor — campaignmonitor.com/
With its easy drag-and-drop, email builder Campaign Monitor is one of my favourite email marketing tools. You can get started free of charge and build the package once you start to grow and require more features including automation workflows to keep nurturing your contacts until they’re ready to buy your product or service.
If you’re an e-commerce business, I recommend using MailChimp, purely for their pre-built e-commerce automation workflows such as abandoned cart workflows.
Both MailChimp and Campaign Monitor seamlessly integrate with WordPress, too. I personally find Campaign Monitor more user-friendly — but hey, that’s just my opinion!
I think Canva is one of the best free tools I’ve ever come across. If you don’t have access to a designer or you don’t have any design experience, this tool is perfect for you. There is a paid for package with Canva, but as a small business owner, you most certainly won’t need it.
Canva offers many templates for all kinds of designs from eBooks, to social media images, to business card designs and even infographics!
Pixlr — pixlr.com/editor/
This is fantastic if you don’t have access to Photoshop — or just don’t want to pay the Adobe prices. It’s an online image editor with similar features to Photoshop. If you need to remove the background from a picture, put some text overlay across your image or re-size your image, Pixlr can help you with all of that! No signup required.
Beacon — beacon.by/
This tool is on a similar wavelength to Canva, however, Beacon is best if you’re really pressed for time. You can convert your blog posts at the drop of a hat into a downloadable piece of content. You pick a nice front cover and simply choose a blog post to convert.
This software integrates with HubSpot and WordPress to make it easier for users to sync their content.
Hashtagify — hashtagify.me/
Sometimes you feel like shaking up your hashtags on your social accounts to see whether it improves the visibility of your posts. Hashtagify helps you find, analyse and amplify your social content. Typing in a hashtag in the top search bar can bring back some new hashtag ideas you can try out in your social content.
Evernote — evernote.com/
Evernote’s tagline is ‘capture what’s on your mind’ and that’s exactly what their platform enables you to do. IF you think of a good idea whilst you’re out and about, or it’s great if you simply don’t want to have to transfer your notes from paper to your computer. You can download the desktop app and the mobile app so your thoughts become synced with your computer.
Imagine being able to collect all your great ideas in one place across numerous devices — and being able to access them whenever your want or wherever you are — Evernote can help keep all your business ideas and thoughts in one place.
Trello — trello.com/
Trello is a free project management tool and can help you keep your workday organised easily. With its drag and drop functionality, you can easily create tasks in sub-folders and drag them across customised columns as you complete, or start a new task and then drag again into your finished folder. Not only does this keep you organised on a daily basis, it can also help you remember what work you did and when you did it, just by going through past tasks.
Medium — www.medium.com
Medium is an online publishing platform. If you’ve got something interesting you’d like to share with a wider audience, or you want to read a great piece of third party content, you should check this platform out. It can help you spread the word about your great content, and it gives you the opportunity to discover interesting content at the click of a button.
Survey Monkey — surveymonkey.com/
The free Survey Monkey account allows you to create a variety of quiz types with ease. With survey templates available across a large selection of sectors from healthcare and human resources to demographic-specific surveys and market research surveys — there’s bound to be one suitable for your business sector, or if you have some time to spare why not create one from scratch?
Built With — builtwith.com/
A great platform that helps you identify what software your competitors are using. From where their site is hosted, to whether they have Google Analytics or whether they’re using the same widgets you’re using. This tool can come in handy when you’re snooping on your competition. Maybe they’re using something you need to start using in order to compete? Built With can help you find out!
Hot Jar — www.hotjar.com/
Wondering whether your web page structures are effective? Are you users even noticing your client testimonials at the bottom of your homepage — or do they just not scroll that far? Perhaps they think a particular part of your web page is clickable and it’s not — but wouldn’t it be handy to know this information? With Hot Jar’s free account you can record up to 100 user sessions, to understand where your user’s mouse is heading, what they’re clicking on and just how far down the page they’re venturing.
Equipped with this information, you can start to make the necessary changes to your site to increase your user’s time on your site and also make their user journey that bit better so they have a higher chance of converting on your site.
I apologise for the MEGA list, however, you’ll probably never use ALL of them, but I think they’re worth knowing about. So now hopefully you’ve discovered some new tools that will help save you time when running and marketing your business!