The 5 Best Free Tools to Simplify and Automate Your Online Marketing

Get these basic helpers set up early to save time and money

Photo by Carlos Muza on Unsplash

Setting up a business has never been so easy. But growing and maintaining it is really hard. That’s where online marketing is extremely relevant. Doing it right will allow your brand to go from small project to big business — or from big business to main player.

Technology has made it very easy to automate and monitor all aspects of multiple projects. All you have to do is plug in the tools and adjust them to your needs. Almost anything can be automated — and definitely everything can be simplified.

This article is not an extensive tutorial on different tools. Rather, it’s an introduction to some of them, the most powerful (and free) out there. You will get a preview of what each tool looks like with screenshots and a short introduction, and you’ll find a list of pros and cons at the end of each chapter.

Let’s get started.

1. Zapier

Zapier is a tool that enables you to connect over 2,000 apps together seamlessly and super easily. If this sounds too good to be true, it’s not. It’s really, really easy to get work done with Zapier.

The beauty of it is even if there are no existing integrations available for the two (or more) solutions you’re trying to link together, Zapier will still work most of the time. And even if there are existing integrations, it’s usually easier to use Zapier than to try to figure out how the integrations work on their own.

Here’s an example of a Zapier automation flow called a “zap”

New blog subscriber from download → Tag subscriber based on downloaded file → Send admin an email notification → Update monthly subscriber target in Google spreadsheet → If subscriber target is reached, move Trello card from Doing to Done.

You could set that up in less than 15 mins in Zapier. Imagine how much time this would take you by trying to figure out how to connect all the different systems together.

Here are more examples of what Zapier can do

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Zapier pros

  • Over 2,000 apps available
  • Super, super easy to use
  • You get notified right away if your automation crashes

Zapier cons

  • The free version is limited to only two-step automations
  • Conditional logic is limited to three possibilities, even in the paid plan
  • There is a 15-minute delay on some automations in the free plan (but not for crash notifications)

2. Attract

If you need to create downloadable resources, are terrible at design, and don’t have the money to spend on a designer, Attract is an awesome solution.

All you have to do is create an account, choose your content template, and get started. Attract offers four templates.

Resource guide

A list of recommended, tools, products, or links to your favourite stuff in your niche.

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Source: attract.io

Checklist

The classic checklist format. Tips, tricks, processes … checklists are everywhere.

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Source: attract.io

Case study

Showcase a success story through one of your experiments — this could be a friend, an interview, or a story.

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Source: attract.io

How-to guide

Answering the classic question — how do you solve this common problem? — with a step-by-step approach.

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Source: attract.io

The great thing about Attract is the very constrained format of the templates. You don’t have the option to tweak them so much by changing the font size, the colors, or the layout in general. You can’t change the format of the title page, so you have to nail that title because if it’s too long and it doesn’t fit, you can’t publish it.

Attract.io pros

  • Super easy to use
  • Completely free — there’s no limitations or paid options
  • Share your lead magnet instantly

Attract.io cons

  • Would be even better with more templates
  • The way to add pages to a template is sometimes a bit confusing

3. TOPOL.io

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TOPOL.io is a drag-and-drop HTML editor and builder for responsive email templates.

Sending nice-looking emails is a pain. If you want something nice and fully customisable, you either have to:

  • Use complex email-automation solutions that aren’t built around the idea of design but around the idea of driving sales and engagement. You’ll need a pro account to even access the custom email function.
  • Or you need to know how to design, code, and implement yourself, all while taking into consideration a lot of people will open your email on mobile and it’ll look completely different than what you built on your computer

TOPOL.io isn’t perfect, but it makes things so much easier

  • You create your beautiful email in a drag-and-drop editor (you can work off a template)
  • You download the code of what you just built
  • You paste the code in your email-management software
  • You send a beautiful, pro-looking email.

Some emails will still look funny on mobile, but if you have bit of code knowledge, you can fix it.

Topol.io pros

  • Super easy to get started
  • Tons of templates available, ready to work with
  • Completely free PRO tryout for 14 days
  • The mobile preview is actually accurate to what a mobile phone will display (so it does show bugs)

Toplo.io cons

  • Can’t save your design when not a PRO (but you can download it)
  • Responsiveness options are a bit hard to get around
  • Small bugs here and there, but they make email designing so much easier you can’t really blame them

4. Contact Form 7

The tagline for Contact Form 7 is this: “Just another contact form plugin for WordPress.” But it’s so much more than just a contact form plugin.

From this little block of code the possibilities are endless:

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If you use WordPress for your website, you’ll need Contact Form 7 to make your life easier. It’s not just for basic contact forms but for any sort of interaction with your visitors.

  • Newsletter subscription
  • Payments
  • File downloads/uploads
  • Automatic quote estimations (for freelance services)
  • Captcha validation
  • Multistep forms for anything
  • There’s even a Salesforce integration if you do corporate marketing

Of course, you can also connect Contact Form 7 with Zapier, and from there, the possibilities, again, become endless. Want to automatically send an ebook to a new subscriber, get a notification about it, and send a thank you email after everything? No problem.

Contact Form 7 pros

  • Completely free (not for some separate add-ons, though)
  • A lot of great add-ons
  • Zapier integration is super simple, and it opens so many doors

Contact Form 7 cons

  • Not super intuitive at times
  • Some add-ons are great but still overpriced

5. Mailchimp

Mailchimp is a marketing-automation platform and an email-marketing service. It’s great to easily start building a subscriber base from scratch. To collect emails and prompt visitors with a form, you’ll need to create a sign-up form, which usually comes in three varieties:

Embedded form
Also called inline form, it’s a form on a page of your website, anywhere you want. Copy and paste the code Mailchimp gives you exactly where you want your form to appear on your webpage.

Pop-up form
A form that pops up in the middle of the screen after a certain time spent on your site or after a visitor clicked a specific element on your website (like a button)

Landing page
A bit similar to the embedded form because the form will simply display on a page. The main difference, though, is the whole page is dedicated to subscribing to your newsletter. An embedded form could be right in the middle of a blog post.

The user info, such as name and email, gets added to the subscribers database when they submit the form. From there, this person will get every email/campaign you send via Mailchimp.

You can also split your audience into segments. Choose to only send a particular message to the most active people or to the ones who downloaded specific content.

Overall, Mailchimp is a great tool to get started with marketing automation and simplification.

Mailchimp pros

  • 2,000-contact limit in the free plan is plenty to get you started
  • Really easy to design/cool emails
  • Intuitive design

Mailchimp cons

  • Automation not available in the free plan
  • Only one audience (segment) available in the free plan

6. Bonus: Blog-Titling Tools

This one is only about simplifying your marketing, not automating it. Whether you’re a freelancer or you work for a company, blogging has become a big part of online marketing.

The first thing people will see on your blog (and decide whether to click or not) is the article title. So it’s important to get that on point.

SEOPressor

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Source: seopressor.com

Most blog-title generators out there are great to get ideas to write an article. You enter your keyword, and they throw random ideas at you, with your word in the title. But they don’t take into consideration your article as a whole when helping you find a catchy title for this one piece you wrote.

The SEOPressor Blog Title Generator gets a little closer to doing that. It’s far from perfect, but you can specify what the main subject consists of:

  • A generic term
  • A brand/product
  • An event
  • An industry
  • A location
  • A person’s name
  • A skill

The results will be a little less vague than random titles that have nothing to do with one another. They’ll somehow connect to the subject more.

HubSpot Blog Ideas Generator

This one is a purely a random-title generator. But the quantity and quality of ideas it gives away for free is notable.

Saijo George’s Title Case Converter

This tool allows you to convert your title to title case. It’ll also uncapitalize words if they’re wrongly capitalized. So you can always get your titles to not only sound right but also look right. All the title case rules are taken care of for you.

So instead of:

The 5 best free tools to simplify and automate your online marketing

You get:

The 5 Best Free Tools to Simplify and Automate Your Online Marketing

Conclusion

There you have it. All of these tools are free to start with. Although some are limited to only a few features until you pay, none of them are time limited. You’ll always be able to use them until you reach a certain usage-related metric, not because you’ve been using them for too long.

This means you can start your marketing machine completely for free, and think of where you’ll go once the engine starts roaring.

Thanks a lot for reading, and happy marketing!

Written by

Living with a purpose and improving myself is changing my life — Get my Top 50 Productivity Experts Interviews for free at josephmavericks.com/50people

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