It’s finally here! We’ve started a new year and you’re ready to get rolling on your digital marketing. Where to start?
Websites, social media, internet presence, content strategy, email marketing all present their own priorities. There’s so much to do and not enough time to do it in this new year, isn’t there? And everything is so expensive.
We’ve found a few tools that can help you maximize your digital marketing this year at no cost. Some of these are well-kept secrets. Others you probably should have heard of by now. Either way, take a look at this list or free digital marketing tools and see if there’s anything that might prove valuable for your business. We believe there will be.
Thanks to the nature of the business, we deal with a lot of websites here. We also love data. Just part of the joy of working at a digital marketing agency dedicated to results. Google Analytics is a great way to better understand your website traffic (and if you’re not using it yet, stop reading right now and set up an account), but what if you want to know more? Like, what if you could see what your customer does every time they visit your website?
That’s why our number one favorite tool that you should use in 2018 is Inspectlet. It provides this insightful data and accumulates it to create heatmaps for your website based on eye tracking, click tracking and scroll data, along with actual videos of people using your website. This information is invaluable when you’re testing landing pages and websites and want to optimize for conversions. Something as simple as button positioning can be the difference between a campaign that works and one that fails. You’d never know through Google Analytics, though.
The free version will record up to 5 website sessions each day. Subscriptions can record far more. When looking at the data in aggregate over time, it’s a very powerful tool to help you understand what actual customers do on your website when they get there. Creep factor aside, we highly recommend it for any website.
Digital advertising is central to the services we offer. AdWords campaigns happen to be a lot of what we do for that reason. It’s a cheap and relatively quick way to get in front of people who want to buy from you. This costs money, though, so it’s not one of the free digital marketing tools we want to recommend.
Buried within Google AdWords is an excellent SEO tool, though, that’s free to use once you hook up a credit card to your account. (Your account doesn’t get charged, so this is still technically a free marketing tool.) Google Keyword Planner shows you the search volume for popular keywords in your area, as well as the likely competition for your bids. Even if you’re not planning to use AdWords for anything, this is still important to copywriting and content strategy.
Use Keyword Planner to identify low-competition longtail keywords for which you can rank quickly that have significant search traffic. If you are planning to use paid search, it can also help inform your bid strategy and forecast your return on investment. It’s not a perfect tool (When will you offer broad match modified estimates, Google?), though it still has a lot of value for SEO planning.
Speaking of keyword optimization strategies, let’s make sure you know about the most powerful free SEO tool out there, which comes from the search engine itself. You know about Google Analytics (because you stopped reading and signed up for it, right?). You know about Google AdWords, because we just finished going over it. Did you know about Google Search Console? We forgive you if you’ve never heard of it.
Formerly Webmaster Tools, this provides a layer of data you won’t readily find in Analytics. Want to know what people search for to find your website? Right here. How about how many times you’re showing up in Google search results? Yeah, that’s there. Google search page position. Got that too. Really an important tool to manage your Google SEO. It will event show you how to index your website for search and alert you if there are any issues like broken links or down pages.
Just use your existing Google account to claim your website and start accessing this data. There’s a verification process and a few other little things you need to do before it starts recording, though it’s a fairly straightforward setup process. If you’re already using Analytics or AdWords, you can even sync all three accounts to talk to each other (recommended). Just more data, which we already told you how much we love.
Up next is a very efficient graphic editing tool. We don’t offer graphic design as a service. That said, we have a need to create web graphics from time to time for social media or email marketing. Instead of spending hundreds on graphics software, or even using the complicated free version, we use Canva.
With this free graphics editor, you’re able to splice your own photos with clipart, text, symbols and more to create all sorts of creative pieces. Drag and drop to create your marketing masterpiece. We’ve used it to design fliers, Facebook cover images, banner ads, Instagram posts and more. The results are clean and crisp, even allowing you to export as a high-quality PDF for print (with crop marks!).
Canva is free to use, with the ability to upgrade for premium features. Some of their own graphics cost a dollar or two to use as well. When you compare it to the hundreds you’d spend on Adobe Creative Suite, not to mention the steep learning curve, that’s great savings. It doesn’t do everything you’d want to do in Photoshop, but it works for what we need it to do.
You need photos if you want to edit photos, though, right? Stock art is expensive, though, and custom photography even moreso. IF you don’t already have a database of pictures, you might not know where to get ones that you can use for your business. (Google doesn’t count, because it’s illegal to use photos you find online for your own business.) That’s where Pixabay comes in.
This is a gallery of high-quality stock images that you can use royalty free. We use it constantly to source images for web design, graphics and other interesting photos. In fact, there’s a Pixabay picture at the top of this post.
There are some other resources you can use for free stock images. Pixabay continuously provides really great quality and interesting photos you won’t find elsewhere. The only thing they ask is a donation once in a while to the photographers that make their work available. It’s a small price we’re more than happy to pay to support them as they give us free images to work with.
Email marketing might be the digital activity that generates the highest return on investment for businesses. You already have a database of email addresses. Might as well monetize them somehow.
There’s a constant debate over which email marketing platform is best. We’re in the MailChimp camp. Why? Because it’s free to use for up to 2,000 names, enough for most small businesses, and easily upgradeable for a nominal fee if you have more than that on your list. Features are also very powerful, including Facebook integration and remarketing tools. Automated campaigns are relatively easy to set up, too. Plus, you can design your own template, which is harder to do on other platforms.
Because of the versatility and strength of MailChimp, we recommend all clients use it at Digital Pudding. We are platform agnostic, though, so we know the benefits and shortcomings of most email marketing systems. If you haven’t given serious thought to an email marketing campaign in the past, start here.
It’s Time To Get Your Digital Marketing In Order
Free digital marketing tools are one thing. One very important thing. Having the time to use them is another. You’re busy. Like you need one more task to manage every day, right?
You always have the option to call on a digital marketing agency like us to help maximize your online presence. These are just a few of the secrets we hold, in addition to the knowledge and experience to know what the data says and act accordingly. We can be the partner to help you elevate your internet marketing. Just takes a call to get started.