33 of the Best [Free] Online Marketing Tools
When you’re just getting started on your brand-new business or want to get your existing company thriving in the online marketplace, our website design and digital marketing experts at IdeaZone can help. To give you some ideas, we’ve put together a list of some of the best marketing tools out there. And the best part is that they’re all FREE, making them ideal for the budget-conscious business owner.
Read on to discover how you can elevate your business using today’s top marketing tools, apps, extensions and software, absolutely free!
Google’s Suite of Awesome Free Marketing Tools
If you own a website, the first thing you need to do before using any other digital marketing tools is to make sure that you have both Google Analytics and Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) installed on your site. To do so simply requires a piece of code to be placed on your website.
Google’s Free Website Tools
At the end of 2020, Google released a new version of their popular website analytics tool, Google Analytics, called Google Analytics 4 or GA4 for short. Google Analytics 4 is a powerhouse when it comes to tracking, measuring and converting. If there’s something you want to know about your website visitors, you’ll find it in Google Analytics 4. From which pages are most visited to your #1 landing page to how many people fill out your contact form, all of this information and more is available in GA 4.
Explore reports that are designed to show you exactly where your website is succeeding and where it’s falling short.
For the non-techie user, you can enter a specific search term to find out exactly what you want to know rather than having to know how to access the feature from the navigation. For instance, search for “Popular Pages Today” in the search field at the top of the page and you’ll receive any information available on which pages were most visited today, as well as any available reports. The new Google Analytics 4 has a giant list of reports available, ranging from real time traffic sources to user demographics and behaviour, including age, location, interests and more.
Until mid-2015, this suite of tools was called Google Webmaster Tools. Now called Google Search Console, or GSC for short, this is the second free Google tool you’ll want to have in your arsenal. This free service helps webmasters maintain, monitor and troubleshoot their site’s presence in Google’s search results pages.
In GSC, you can see user’s search terms as well as the pages users are visiting most. Arguably more important, however, is the ability to measure the health of your website. It’s inside GSC that Google will leave messages for webmasters if their sites violate any of Google’s “rules”. This includes whether you have any manual actions against your site or if there are any security issues. You can also get information about internal and external links, indexing issues, see whether Google can crawl your site or not, receive alerts and so much more.
Google’s Free Brand Mention Tool
A free service that’s been around for ages, Google Alerts sends daily, weekly or monthly alerts to your inbox. The alerts let you know when your company, site name or keyword are being mentioned on the Net. Essentially, it alerts you on any given keyword, letting you know what people are saying about you and your products online or what your competition is up to.
Designed around using specific terms and phrases, Google Alerts lets you keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening. It’s simple to use, just type in your keywords or phrase using quotation marks and choose your delivery preferences. You can choose between timed delivery or a digest of all alerts sent at once, either once a day or once a week.
Using Google for Keyword Research
Google’s Predictive Search basically finishes your sentences as you type them into Google. Using an algorithm, Google can “predict” what you’re about to type in the search box. Once the search query has started, you’ll see a dropdown menu of all the predictive search results Google thinks you’re looking for, based on what you’ve typed. Think of it like the predictive text on your phone, which automatically fills the blanks based on what you’re typing.
Google’s Predictive Search function is a good place to start if you’re trying to find a bunch of keywords around a given topic.
Don’t want to use this feature? You can turn it off in the Search Settings after you run a search. Just click the gear icon on the upper right-hand corner.
Pro Tip: You can use the predictive search at the beginning or the end of the word. To get words in front of the keyword you’ve entered, just place your curser at the front of the word after you’ve entered it and press the space bar.
- Google’s People Also Ask Section
Using Google’s People Also Ask lets you get at the heart of what your customers are searching for. A
basic query branches out into additional question queries about the subject at hand. For example, let’s say you’re looking to write a blog post about digital marketing and so you start by searching that phrase in Google.
Some of the questions that come back inside the People Also Ask section include:
- What is meant by digital marketing?
- What are the types of digital marketing?
- How can I do digital marketing?
- What are the 5 Ds of digital marketing?
And once you click on any of the questions, they expand to show you an answer from one of the websites ranking for the term “digital marketing”. Not only that, but your click will then populate even more question keywords. The questions will tend to stay in the same topical sphere as the original keyword you searched, as long as you only click on relevant keyword questions as they pop up. So, if you search for “digital marketing” and you click a couple of questions (which then causes more question keyword phrases to pop up) and then see a question about content marketing, if you click on that, it will start populating more questions around the term “content marketing” instead. Take a look at this article from SEMrush on how to maximize opportunities with PAA.
- Google’s Related Searches
Google’s Related Searches are the results shown in blue font at the bottom of the page after you perform a search. These keyword phrases and queries provide you with an entire list of keyword ideas and topics that you can use to your advantage when planning and updating your content.
And if you click on any of the keyword phrases, it will open up a Google search result page for that particular term.
Use these keywords along with the above two methods to build out a complete set of keywo
rds to target for any particular topic. You can further narrow this list down by copying and pasting them into the Google Keyword Planner (more on that below) so that you can see exactly how many people are searching for those particular keywords each month (because you don’t want to create content around topics that no one is searching for!).
Use Google Keyword Planner in conjunction with the tools listed about to develop a keyword database that contains terms that you may never have thought of. Google Keyword Planner is a powerhouse of a (free) keyword research tool that lets you discover brand new keywords and phrases and see current and future data (forecasts) for how they perform.
Here’s a complete guide on how to access and use Google’s Keyword Planner from Ahrefs.com.
Note that Google limits the functionality of the tool (mostly by way of only showing ranges of keyword search volume rather than specifics) if you don’t have an active Google Ads account with a credit card on file.
Other Free Keyword Research Tools
Like an online mind-map, Answer the Public is a creative and highly visual way to discover new content and keyword ideas. Just enter in one or two keywords to the search bar on the landing page and get exploring. Data is arranged in questions, prepositions, comparisons, alphabeticals and related terms. Super simple, super-fast. You can narrow the results, choose to view a list of data or a visual representation and even click on keywords to search them in Google. You can even download a CSV file of the search results.
AlsoAsked.com is a relatively new keyword research tool that is based on Google’s People Also Ask results. Using Alsoasked.com, you can enter search terms for the language and region of your choice. The answers are then organized into a chart that shows visual links between search topics and queries. This chart can be downloaded and saved as a CSV or PNG image. Because it’s a visual presentation of topics and topic groups rather than a spreadsheet, it helps spark creativity in clients and content creators.
Free Social Media Tools
A social media scheduler for Instagram and Pinterest, Later is marketed to be “Free Forever”, which is great news for budget-conscious marketers. With unlimited content uploads and ready-to-use content, Later is also really intuitive. It “knows” when your users are most likely to be online, helping you to create posts for that magic time of day when customers are most engaged. Using Link In Bio, you can even tag your images to lead users directly to product pages, articles, videos and more.
Buffer is a social media scheduler tool that offers a free Basic plan, which you can choose after your initial 14-day free trial. This free plan is ideal for any SMB (Small to Medium-sized Business) since it includes 1 user, 3 accounts, and 10 scheduled posts. Buffer covers a wide variety of options since it lets users plan content for multiple social media platforms on one dashboard.
Whether you prefer Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or LinkedIn, Buffer is a simple way to manage the creation, timing and publication of your posts. It also has an excellent resource page full of great tips, stories and news to inspire you.
Facebook is constantly growing and changing, which keeps it on the short-list for social media marketing. See our post about Facebook updates for 2020. If you’ve got a Facebook Page, you can use Facebook Page Insights for free to view everything that’s happening with your users.
Whether you want to know how long the average user is watching your videos for, post reach, number of followers and everything in between, Facebook Page Insights is a one stop shop for getting down to the finer details of activity on your page for today, all the way up to the past 28 days. Helpful for spotting trends, getting a clear idea of your user demographics and increasing your overall reach, Facebook Page Insights lets you easily monitor the performance of your Facebook page.
- Facebook Pixel
If you’re running Facebook Ads, you’ll want to take advantage of the Facebook Pixel. It’s a piece of code that goes on your website. The FB pixel essentially collects all the important data you’ll need for tracking, optimizing, targeting and remarketing using cookies to track those who visit your website and Facebook page. For a full walkthrough of the Facebook Pixel, check out this article on Hootsuite.
Note: to start utilizing the power of the FB Pixel, you’ll first need to add some code to your site (or just your pixel ID depending on how you’re adding the code). If you’re using WordPress, try adding the code using the WordPress plugin called Pixel Your Site
Free Website Analysis Tools
Think of Ahrefs as a free health check for your website. It crawls your site every week, analyzing the effectiveness of your SEO. It also scores your website based on its performance as a whole. It will alert you to issues with loading speed or anything preventing your site from appearing in SERPs (search engine results pages). You’ll also be able to discover which pages are getting the most hits and who your top competitors are. After each weekly audit, you’ll receive an email with comprehensive information on what was found and how to fix any issues that cropped up.
Ahrefs is free for website owners, meaning that if you have access to a site in your Google Search Console, you’ll be able to add it to Ahrefs for free website tracking.
Another option for checking your site’s performance is with GTmetrix. A free site speed tool, GTmetrix digs deeper into the technical aspects of site speed and user-friendliness with regularly scheduled reports that monitors your site’s performance over time. Unsure how your Canada-based page is doing with your test market in South America? You can keep eyes on how your page performs around the globe using 6 free test locations. You can also test on different simulated devices to see how it functions with popular models of IOS and Android phones and tablets. You can also decide when and how you want to be alerted when your site slows. When it’s underperforming, you’ll receive a link to a complete report detailing when and why the page slowed. Visit GTmetrix and enter your URL to get started.
Uptime Robot currently monitors more than 1,100,000 companies and individual site owners including huge names like IBM and NASA, so you know they’ve got to be good at what they do. As you may have guessed, Uptime Robot is a piece of software that scans your site to determine whether it’s live or not. Many website owners don’t realize that their sites may go offline and when it does, they are none the wiser. With Uptime Robot however, it’s not an issue as you can set up alerts letting you know if / when your site goes down. They also offer up more advanced features like SSL monitoring, so your certificate never expires. Receive your notifications through 15 integrations including email, Slack, Google Chat or even an old-fashioned phone call. Make sure your site is always “up” with Uptime Robot and get 50 monitors and 5-minute checks for free.
Free Online Marketing Tools
Hubspot offers a huge range of CRM and Marketing tools including contact management, email tracking and notifications, ad management, messenger integration and more. There are also plenty of free sales and service tools, like live chat, bots, ticketing and email scheduling.
Think of these free Hubspot tools as a “must-have” for anyone doing any type of lead generation as it allows you to schedule out emails, see who opened them, set reminders and even has free email templates.
All these features with free access in one place and up to 1 million contacts all make Hubspot an absolute must-try for growing your site. When you have questions, the Hub Spot community is there to help, with real users just like you from all around the world.
UTM actually stands for Urchin Tracking Module as Urchin was a company that Google bought out and so they just kept the acronym. Many people today think it stands for “Universal Tracking Management”, which is actually much more representative about what the tool does.
A UTM Builder allows you to better track the performance of blog posts, link clicks, ad campaigns or anything that involves a link. It essentially allows you to add some additional information (parameters) to the end of whatever URL you’re monitoring traffic from – and have that information available to dissect inside Google Analytics.
When the user clicks on your campaign, the campaign parameters you chose are sent to Google Analytics. You only need the first 3 but you can choose up to 5 parameters including campaign source, campaign medium, campaign name, campaign term and campaign content.
Free Email Marketing Tools
MailChimp is one of the original free email marketing platforms. Free for up to 2,000 contacts, Mailchimp allows any small business owner to incorporate email marketing into their marketing mix. MailChimp’s tutorials will help you get started and learn the ins and outs of email marketing so that you can use it for sending confirmations, broadcasts, abandoned cart alerts or simply just touching base with your customers.
Free for up to 2500 contacts, Sender is another great email marketing platform that earns high points among reviewers since it offers premium features no matter what your plan. Here’s a detailed comparison of MailChimp and Sender on Trust Radius. Sender has templates that can be customized easily using drag and drop editing, and you can choose between video, text and images. Another great feature is the ability to personalize your messages and newsletters for each customer or prospect.
Free Graphic Design Tools
If you draw a blank when it comes to designing images for your marketing campaigns, Canva is a great resource. Using the free version, you get 5 GB of cloud storage, over 250,000(!) templates and thousands of free photos and graphics to use plus the ability to work with others in real time. Canva makes it easy to create cool, customized imagery for your social media campaigns, blog posts or email marketing campaigns.
Looking for free images online? When you want stunning photos, illustrations, vectors, videos and even music tailored to your company’s message and clientele, Pixabay is an excellent resource. With well over a million images shared within this extremely talented community (you can share your photos and artwork too) it’s easy to find just what you’re looking for. Just enter your search terms then click the drop down to choose the type of media you’d like to see. You can also explore the blog, forum and artist bios, even the types of cameras used to take each shot if you’re interested in learning more about digital photography. Media is completely free, but you can always credit the artist or donate to the contributor via PayPal if you like.
Bookmark this tool for when you inevitably need to resize an image. Simpler than Photoshop, Aspect Ratio Calculator is a 100% free tool that will make sure your photos and videos are the right size for your site by keeping the aspect ratio at the right values.Just enter the original width and height and then enter one of the values in the next column. This is used, for example, when you want to reduce an image down to a specific size and want to keep the ratio intact. Say you’ve got an image that’s 4200 pixels by 1237pixels and you need to reduce it down to a width of 1200px. Enter the original width and height in the left hand column and then enter 1200 in the width in the second column and the proper ratio height will be displayed.
Free Project Management Tools
Asana is used by over a million people worldwide as one of the most user-friendly online project management platforms. Ideal for working in teams, Asana makes it simple to delegate, organize, and scale up as your business grows. The basic plan is free and offers a whole host of features ideal for even larger teams, with 15-person collaboration, unlimited file storage, IOS and Android apps, and over 100 integrations with your preferred apps like Adobe Creative Cloud.
A top competitor for Asana, Trello is free and simple, offering options for automation, 10 team boards, space for 10 MB files (no more rejected files) and unlimited personal boards and lists. Use lists, cards and boards to create visual organization. Trello is also compatible with Slack (the workplace chat app designed to replace overwrought inboxes) to bring both platforms together for complete workplace collaboration. Read more about Trello + Slack here. Also available for IOS and Android, Trello is ideal for companies of all sizes, from solopreneurs to corporations. Try Trello here.
8 Must Have Free Chrome Extensions for Marketers
The “auto-pilot for all your passwords.” Guessing at your password, getting locked out, then going through the dance of having codes sent to your device, so you can go in and do a reset is a HUGE time waster and it’s frustrating. There are so many usernames, passwords, codes, PINS, membership numbers and more to remember these days, that we can’t possibly hope to keep them all in our own memory bank. That’s where Last Pass comes in. You create a master password for all your accounts, then Last pass stores your digital records, payment information, lets you send important information securely, and it even alerts you of any data breaches. Once your information is saved, it’s ready to go, all the time.
Part of the long list of Google offerings, Tag Assistant monitors your tags like Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager and Google Ads, so you know they’re working as they should. Tag Assistant will analyze any tags on the page and create a complete report detailing any errors or areas for improvement. Just install on Chrome and get started tracking tags right away.
Facebook Pixel Helper is a troubleshooting tool that gives you a hand with your FB Pixel account. It will alert you to any failures or errors in real time, so you know exactly what’s working and what isn’t. For best results with this extension, ensure you’re running the latest version of Chrome.
SEO Minion is a great extension that runs in the background while doing some heavy lifting. SEO Minion is like a hidden SEO assistant. It highlights all the internal and external links on a webpage, checks for and reports on any broken links, lets you preview your site on Google search results and of course, analyzes your on-page SEO, so you can fix any issues right away.
Keyword Surfer lets you enter your target phrase in Google and instantly see keyword suggestions, search volume, visibility metrics, on page data, related searches, CPC for your main keyword, even word count for top ranking pages.
Text Blaze helps you work smarter, not harder, by speeding up your typing on Chrome. All you need to do is save a snippet of text, give it a shortcut and then use that shortcut where you want the snippet to go. For instance, a thank you note at the bottom of an email could be given the shortcut /ty for thank you. You can also share the snippets with your colleagues to keep your company messages consistent. Text Blaze also works anywhere on Chrome, including Gmail, Salesforce and more.
Now used by 30 million+ people, Grammarly is an AI-powered writing assistant. The free version of Grammarly is basically a grammar / spelling checker that works much better than the one that comes with Microsoft Word. With their paid plans, it will review your writing and make suggestions, even providing templates for clearer writing with a tone that suits whoever you’re writing to, whether it’s on social media or via email. For instance, if you’re writing out a list, Grammarly might suggest a template with bullet points to make it easier to read. Click the suggestion box and your list will be automatically updated to the bulleted format. Their free plan gives you access to their most useful features: spelling, grammar and punctuation tools.
Chock-full of “colorful goodies”, ColorZilla is designed to let users analyze the colour palette of a website. Ever wondering exactly what colours make up the Google logo? You could simply bring up the google logo on your computer screen and then choose the eyedropper tool to pick the colour you want and the tool will give you the HEX # of the colour. You could also choose to analyze an entire website’s colours with the click of a button. With over 5 million downloads, ColorZilla can provide next level expertise in colour creation and selection.
Questions about how to start or grow your digital marketing efforts? At IdeaZone, our team of pros have been building sites, developing marketing plans and creating eye-catching graphics for companies around the globe for over 20 years. Contact our Victoria, BC office today to discuss the right digital marketing solution for your business.