Why do marketers even need free marketing tools to promote their products? In a small business environment (and surprisingly in some enterprises), marketing budgets can be very limited. Due to constant competition, it’s very important that a specific will help to boost traffic and brand awareness, or it’s a waste of time and money. The best way to ensure this is to test the tool’s free version before purchasing a license.
During the past three years, we’ve seen a boom in the free tools industry. Small solutions have started specializing on specific tasks – social media marketing, CPC, organic research, etc., while the larger services are still trying to incorporate as many features as possible to satisfy the increasing demand. We asked our participants about how a small enterprise should determine and choose the proper tools set according to their needs.
— Dawn Anderson (@dawnieando) January 13, 2016
As we already discussed in the last SEMrush Chat recap, goals mean everything to marketers (assuming they’re good ones). By defining goals and objectives for their overall marketing strategies, marketers can easily choose the proper tools to help them achieve those goals. Sometimes these tools are free; sometimes they’re not, but it’s important to do research before choosing one of the many tools available on the Web.
Word of mouth recommendations can also be a decent source of information. You can begin your research by collecting opinions from your colleagues or team members. Check out our recap below for more ideas.
Social media and email are the main sources of traffic for small enterprises, because they’re cheap, engaging and they allow you to connect with an audience that intends to purchase. Next, we reviewed the best free tools for social media and email success.
Growing your audience is sometimes a challenging task, especially in expert niches like software development. You need to understand when marketing to these niches that your customers often know more than you do, are intelligent, and have different interests (that may or may not be IT related). Without tools, you will definitely fire into the wrong flock. Let’s see what we can do to help ourselves.
Also, don’t forget about Google Search Console, which can show the queries people frequently use to locate your website using the organic search. These insights can help you to incorporate industry lingo and address your audience's common problems using social media and email.
— Sameera Khan (@Sameerakkhan) January 13, 2016
To help you avoid the headache of choosing the right set of tools, we’ve listed the tools that we use on a daily basis. They are: @buffer, @hootsuite, @canva, @Buzzsumo, @Klout, @IFTTT, @Feedly, @SumoMe and @TweetDeck.
Content marketing is a cornerstone for a modern approach to search engine optimization plus it also drives engagement. Creating “content unicorns” – articles that attract a huge amount of new convertible traffic – is daunting when performed manually. The next question concerns listing tools that can offer marketers a helping hand.
Visuals are often a challenging compared to other kinds of content. Ian shared a few really efficient tools that will help you to make your images awesome.
He also added that there is no “one tool to rule them all.” You'll need to choose more than one and learn to use them all well!
Content creation should begin with proper competition research. It is crucial for SMEs to know what their competitors are writing about.
If only I knew what my customers are thinking about… Sound familiar? Well, what if we told you that there’s a tool that knows? Dawn Anderson mentioned a perfect tool for content marketers in her tweet.
Ian Lurie @portentint suggested a brilliant insight: looking at onsite search queries. If you aren’t tracking them, start doing so in Google Analytics (it’s free).
Another feature of perfectly crafted content is wise usage of keywords. Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends are the most popular free tools to use. And, as we did in the previous question, here’s a list of SEMrush’s top seven tools.
Marketing is all about productivity, performance and measuring. Do you always have time to complete your tasks? In the next question, we asked our participants to share the best tools for increasing efficiency and productivity.
The list of good productivity/GTD tools is so long that it was hard for our participants to choose the best ones! Let’s hear a word from Ian first.
Ian adds that he is a big fan of @evernote for keeping track of all his information. It works with @ifttt too! Automation and integration are always important, because they save both time and frustration when dealing with your daily routine.
Thiago Pojda @tedois mentioned Google Spreadsheets Apps Scripts and ImportXML, SlackHQ, Google Trends, Google Alerts and Sidekick.
Peter Nikolow @PeterNikolow tweeted his favorite: “One of best and free is The Pomodoro Technique (there are many apps) for splitting things into 20-25 min timeframe.”
Yes, Google Docs is the best choice for content marketers, because it allows them to easily share their pieces with other members of their team and brainstorm new ideas all together.
Kelsey Jones @wonderwall7 shared that she likes using topic generators to get ideas. Portent, HubSpot, and RYP Marketing offer good ones.
What a great list we compiled! See the recap below for a full list of productivity apps and tools.
It’s crucial for marketers to identify the market direction. It’s also crucial to access your team’s efforts. We asked our participants what tools they use to successfully perform both tasks.
Market research helps marketers to determine whether a product will be successful with a certain audience.
Julia McCoy @JuliaEMcCoy tweeted that she is in love with SEMrush, Wordtracker, AuthorityLabs, and BuzzSumo. We are currently using some of these tools here at SEMrush too.
Chris Bell @riskycontent added that it’s always a good thing to head back to GA and the Search Console, and to educate yourself on marketing. Education is the best tool – hard to argue with that.
Martin Kůra @HermanTinkura uses Mention, which is great for finding where your product and your brand are mentioned, so you can do market research.
Thank you all for mentioning SEMrush among other tools. We are very pleased to hear that! Some other popular tools for market research and measuring success are OpenSite Explorer, Majestic (free versions), Buzzsumo and Google Analytics.
Let’s imagine that you could take ownership of one tool available on the web – free or paid. Which one would it be?
Although this seems like an easy question, it’s still difficult to choose from the huge variety of paid and free tools out there.
Other participants were almost unanimous in choosing Google as the most useful of them all.
Peter Nikolow @PeterNikolow chose SEOSpyder and other unreleased tools.
Thanks, Ryan for mentioning us as your preferred choice! Ian also added that he loves IFTTT, because it has amazing automation capabilities, but wish he wishes it had some additional features, like multiple channels per account.
To summarize your answers, Google took first place among other tools! We hope that one day your dreams will become reality.
Are tools a silver bullet for digital marketing? There are probably some tasks that can’t be resolved with any tool. In the last question, we asked our participants to share their experiences.
Tools are automated scripts that work with numbers, but your customers are real people with concerns and doubts. This means no tool ever will be able to communicate with an audience as well as a marketing talented manager.
Dawn Anderson @dawnieando doesn’t think there’s a tool which replaces a good strategic vision.
Andrew Dennis @AndrewDennis33 emphasized the role of human-oriented marketing: “Human-to-human interaction! Can’t be automated, and is one of (if not the) most powerful marketing activities there is.”
Here are the most common marketing activities that neither paid nor free tools will help with: human-to-human interaction, integration of channels, networking events and strategic planning.
It’s time to wrap up! Thanks to Ian Anderson Gray and our other SEMrush Chat participants for their expertise and for mentioning SEMrush among other free tools for market research.
Be sure not to miss the SEMrush Chat next Wednesday!