When you’re a small or medium-sized business, software and SaaS (software as a service) costs can often spiral beyond affordability. The beauty of the current market, however, is that there are plenty of free tools out there that can make quite an impact on your marketing efforts without you having to touch your credit card. We’ve chosen the top 10 free marketing services out there, covering pretty much everything you need in your marketing toolkit while keeping your costs at a grand total of zero.
Social media is critical in today’s business landscape, even if you’re a small local organisation. It helps you engage with both existing and potential customers, gives positive signals to Google (helping you rank), and it gives you a free platform on which you can answer customer queries.
Buffer makes it incredibly easy to post on all of your social media channels through a single easy-to-use interface. But that’s just the start. Buffer also lets you schedule updates in advance, making it much easier to keep on top of your social activity. The performance tracker and analytics tools allow you to gain insights into your campaigns, giving you the chance to tweak accordingly.
Content marketing has become one of the ‘buzz words’ of 2015. Unfortunately, many would-be marketers have taken this to mean churning out as much fluff as possible and hoping something sticks. It won’t work – you need to publish content that people are actually interested in.
BuzzSumo helps you achieve this by giving you an insight into what is popular across the various social networks. Enter your keyword or topic and BuzzSumo will return hundreds of relevant results. This will allow you to publish content and media that your audience will devour and share, rather than ignore and forget.
It’s essential that you track how your website is performing on Google. Manually entering every keyword into a search engine, however, is not only a massive waste of time but it also gives you inaccurate results. That’s why you need a keyword rank tracker.
There are many services out there but the top free one is SerpLab. It allows you to enter hundreds of keywords and it’s also very accurate. The service updates at least once per day, which is more than what you need. If you want more than the free service, SerpLab also offers very affordable plans compared to other companies.
Spying on your competitors has never been easier. Simply enter a URL or keyword and SEMRush will give you insights that would otherwise cost you days to find manually. This tool gives you details such as what your competitors are spending their ad budgets on, where they’re ranking for keywords, and how many backlinks they have.
SEMRush is a great way to research a keyword set, giving you insight into how competitive your industry is and how you can best optimise your ad spend. The tool is an essential addition to anyone marketing their website online and considering you can get quite far with a free account, it’s a no-brainer.
For those of you looking to build quality backlinks to your website, Ahrefs is a tool you can’t do without. It allows you to mine your competitors for their backlinks, giving you a platform from which you can build your own profile and thus climb up the ranking on Google. This gives you the advantage of knowing exactly what you need to do to achieve the same thing.
The free account limits the amount of searches you can do on a daily basis, but the information you get is more than worth it. Ahrefs has also recently added a Content Explorer and Keyword Explorer, giving you an even wider reach when doing your overall market research.
If you plan on sending emails to your audience/clients, MailChimp should be your go-to tool. It’s one of the best email marketing solutions you’ll find. Not only that, as a signed up user you get a pretty powerful plan that’s completely free.
So why use a third-party solution instead of your own email client or server? The reasons are several, but the one that’s most important is that these services have a much higher success rate when it comes to delivery. In other words, there’s a good chance your audience will actually see your email rather than it being blocked at server level or ending up in a spam folder.
Hello Bar (hellobar.com)
Creating engagement on your website helps increase conversions, give good vibes to Google, and gain more subscribers. Hello Bar helps you do all of that (and more!).
Specifically, we really like what Hello Bar lets you do when it comes to building your email list. By using a simple embed code on your website you can let visitors sign up quickly and easily, without being too ‘in your face’. Hello Bar works with big providers such as Aweber and MailChimp, making management a breeze. You can also use Hello Bar to help increase your shares and retweets, while also giving you the opportunity to test the effectiveness of your campaigns.
Staying organised is difficult, particularly for a small business owner that wears multiple hats throughout the working day. Enter Trello. This free cloud-based organisational tool will help even the scatterbrains amongst you.
We’ve tried everything from simple to-do lists such as Any.Do to fully featured project management tools such as Basecamp and Trello trumps them all. It’s flexible, compatible with all of your devices, allows for both basic and complex workflows, and supports multiple users. It’s excellent for collaborating with big teams but you can also use it to keep on top of your personal to-do items.
Gmail Canned Responses
This is one of our top ‘hidden’ tools that most people aren’t using. Managing and sending emails often takes up most of the day, meaning that anything that can save time is a useful addition to the arsenal.
If you find yourself typing out similar emails, you need Canned Responses. You can even set up your emails so that they’re personalised so that each person gets a unique response. This is fantastic for outreach, for example, where you’ll end up sending hundreds of emails that differ in just a single sentence or two.
Every SMB should have a coherent content strategy for their websites. And no, we don’t mean churning out ‘walls of text’. These days, site visitors expect content to be well formatted, rich in media, and with an element of design.
Canva scares graphic designers everywhere, allowing webmasters to create impressive headers, logos, and Facebook images without ever having to open up Photoshop. It’s a cloud-based solution that’s free to use, however some photos will incur a one-off charge if you want to use them as part of your design.
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