I’ve been a marketer for around 8 years now, starting out as an intern working for free, and working my way up to my current position as the digital marketing manager at Ethnotek Bags. I feel like I still learn something new every single day. I have not always worked smart, and tasks that now take me minutes to do used to take me hours. This list of free marketing tools have helped me work smarter, increased my expertise, and ultimately my value. Whether you’re a freelancer or the digital marketing manager at your job, these tools will help you!
Here are 16 tools that I think are some of the best out there, and I’ve personally used or still use them all. Enjoy and leave me a comment if you have a tool to suggest!
PRODUCTIVITY & PLANNING
One of the most important pieces of being a successful marketer is planning. The second most important part is knowing how to be productive with your planning.
Asana (project/process management platform)
Asana is an incredibly robust project and process management platform that I have used for the last three years. It helps keep everything organized, eliminates the time you spend in email, and allows you to track progress on all your projects.
Pros: the free plan is GREAT and has everything you could ever need in a project management tool.
Cons: sometimes I get lost in how many features there are and don’t always see my notifications.
IFTTT (If This Then That).
IFTTT is an awesome tool that helps automate many social media tasks, as well as non-internet tasks. You can create recipes for just about anything. You can cross-post an image from Instagram to Twitter without having to do anything, you can automatically save all of your bit.ly links into a Google Sheet…the recipes are endless!
Pros: I love the UI/UX
Cons: None I can think of.
Later (Instagram + more scheduling tool).
Later is my favorite platform for scheduling my Instagram posts (for myself and for Ethnotek) because their UI/UX is powerful and visually appealing. I’ve turned on several of my friends to this platform and cannot say enough about it.
Pros: The visual planning tool is the BEST because you can see what your posts will look like in your Instagram gallery.
Cons: You can only schedule 30 posts a month on the free plan.
Buffer (social media scheduling tool)
I have bounced back and forth between Buffer and other social media scheduling platforms, but all-in-all I am very happy with using Buffer. It also integrates with some of my IFTTT recipes and is reasonably priced. Plus, their customer service and social media presence is great!
Pros: I love how many integrations Buffer has. It’s one of my favorite social media planning tools.
Cons: The free plan is limited, but it’s only $10 to unlock more features.
Slack (communicate without email!)
If you have not heard of Slack…then I would assume you may not work in the digital world or are still burying yourself in your email. Slack is one of THE most amazing ways to increase productivity because you don’t have to dig through email threads to find out what someone said last week – you can organize your Slack into channels, like #marketing #random #newsletter and keep the discussion relevant within each channel. Don’t forget to install Giphy.
Pros: It’s the best communication tool out there, in my opinion! So many people are using it.
Cons: Sometimes I read my messages before I go to bed and then can’t find them in the morning, because there isn’t an easy way to read messages by date (or am I just missing it?)
Toggl (time tracker)
Are you a freelancer with several projects and need to keep track of your time, easily? Toggl is better than trying to guess your hours and keeps historical data so you can learn where your time is going or how you can improve your efficiency. You’re also able to plug in what you are charging per proejct, and it helps with invoicing. Be sure to install the Chrome plugin too.
Pros: It is only $5/mo and easy to use.
Cons: Cannot think of any.
UTM Builder (easily build your links within the web browser)
As a marketer, I need to track as much as possible. I was using a Google Spreadsheet to build and track all of my links, but that required me to refer back to that spreadsheet and do a lot of copying and pasting. UTM Builder lets you build the links within your browser, shorten them to bit.ly, and the by subscribing, it will save them to a Google Spreadsheet for you!
Pros: cuts my time in half when building links.
Cons: $50 a year for the “save to spreadsheet,” feature.
If you’re looking to grow your brand presence online without spending a ton of time on your phone finding new people, these plugins are great.
Automation is a controversial topic in the world of Instagram. Recently Instagress was taken offline by the request (maybe forced request?) of Instagram. Now, if only Instagram would cut their own automated algorithm…
Personally, I think automating comments is terrible because you do not know who you’re talking to and it can hurt your brand, making it look like you don’t know your audience. Automating likes or follows is different. I think it’s a subtle way to be efficient without leaving, “great gallery! Check mine,” comments on pictures of someone’s newborn baby.
Whether you choose to automate or not is up to you, but using it wisely can help grow your online community.
And remember: nothing can replace authentic organic engagement, so make sure you log into your accounts and engage daily.
Pros: Easy to use.
Cons: The UI is a bit chunky.
ANALYTICS & RESEARCH
Some people may call it stalking, but I call it research.
Page Analytics (connect your Google Analytics account and see on-page stats)
Page Analytics is a great tool to use for landing page performance, testing CTA buttons, and being able to see where people are clicking on your site. This is a great tool to see if someone clicks on a banner vs. a button, or how often your ‘search’ field is being used.
Pros: All around an amazing and helpful plugin.
Cons: None I can think of.
Similar Web (stalk…I mean research other websites traffic and stats)
I love Similar Web, because it not only shows me the web traffic of sites I look at, but also the keyword searches people use to get there, which helps me when I write for my own blog. It also shows me the top social media referrers, which led me to focusing more on my own Pinterest account. It also helps me check ranking and traffic when bloggers or influencers reach out to Ethnotek for collaborations. Seriously, this is one of my favorite plugins right now.
Pros: It’s one of my favorite plugins and you learn so much about your own site and competitors/colleagues.
Cons: Free version is a bit limited, but still useful.
Open SEO Stats (peek at the SEO stats for any website)
Recently, I did an SEO audit for this blog (I use the Yoast plugin). I had a lot of issues to fix, but also learned a TON. SEO is one of the things I know the least about, but love learning about. With the Open SEO Stats plugin, I can see how my own site is doing and what needs fixed with regards to SEO. It also shows me my search engine ranking, Alexa rank, what widgets I use, and more.
Pros: Easy to use, very informative.
Cons: None really so far.
Social Blade (quickly view that stats and quality of engagement for Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube accounts)
Social Blade is a tool that gives you the “grade,” of a social media account. It’s fun to use, but I don’t agree with their grading system – it appears to grade you based on the number of followers you have. Followers are everything: engagement is. I do like how all profile stats are in one place though, so it’s a great tool to use when gauging influencers or checking out competitors.
Pros: A fun way to see profile stats.
Cons: The grading system is followers-based and that’s just not the most important thing in the social media world.
FollowerCheck (see if an Instagram profile is made up of real or fake followers)
Can you believe we live in a world where people buy fake followers? Yeah, neither can I. I have been fooled by collaborations with an influencer who have fake followings, and so I found this tool. It scans a sample of a profile’s social media following and looks for followers who have zero engagement, have zero photos, or who follow thousands of people but nobody is following them.
When I ran the tool on my account, it tells me that I have around 200 fake followers, but the other 10k are real. I’m wondering if it’s because I have not posted as much in the last few months and so less people are engaged, or if they are empty accounts. I’ve run it on accounts that have 250k followers but 200k of them are fake. So, this tool is GREAT if you’re planning on spending money on an influencer but want to check things out first!
Pros: Easy to use, great for auditing a social media profile you’re suspicious about.
Cons: It only takes a sample, and gives no reason as to how it came up with the “fake,” number, so not totally accurate but the statistical data is still useful. You also have to login to your own Instagram account to use the tool.
RiteTag (hashtag finder and comparison tool)
If you are not using #hashtags in your social media posts you are missing out on increasing your reach. RiteTag is a fantastic way to plan which hashtags you can use that will have to most impact.
Pros: Easy to use, UI is pleasing.
Cons: Mostly geared towards Twitter hashtags – Instagram would be great!
Open Site Explorer (view a website’s backlinks, inbound links, authority scores, and more)
Recently I saw a call for bloggers who had to have a Moz Authority score of at least 30. This led me to wondering what my own score was, and so I used Open Site Explorer and found out I’m a 31, which is not too bad. This tool also shows me the number of inbound links, backlinks, and lots of juicy info.
Pros: High quality data and easy to use.
Cons: Only goes back 90 days, and you can only check 5 websites a day with the free plan.
Hunter.io (find anyone’s email address)
If you’re a founder, head of marketing or pr at a startup, then gather leads is very important for scaling. Hunter.io helps you track down leads by simply installing the Chrome plugin and then visiting a website, LinkedIn search page, etc. and clicking the icon to display embedded or hidden emails within that page.
Pros: Easy to use and a great way to find leads or contact the right person without spending time digging.
Cons: limited number of emails per month on the free plan, can only acquire one LinkedIn email at a time now instead of bulk-scraping.
And there you have it. 16 free marketing tools to help you work smarter.
Which of these tools will you begin using? Do you have something to suggest that I didn’t list here? Leave a comment and let me know, and happy marketing!