In my humble opinion, one of the most significant barriers to entry in online marketing for small businesses is the collection of instruments that marketers must manage themselves. From Facebook Ads to Google AdWords, SnapChat to Instagram, YouTube to Twitter, and so much more, the list of platforms that businesses must master to be able to effectively engage with their audiences is staggering. That’s a lot of learning resources that businesses are expected to devote themselves to simply to be able to have a go at marketing online. Not to mention the various tools that they will need to build content for each of the platforms. It’s a lot to digest, and it can leave a small business overwhelmed. For that reason, I’ve compiled a list of the top free online marketing tools for small businesses that I think you should try out.
1. HubSpot Marketing Management Suite
No list of free online marketing tools for small businesses would be complete without mentioning HubSpot. The HubSpot Marketing Management Suite provides an all-in-one platform that allows users to build engaging content for major platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Google through a single interface. On top of that, the suite provides SEO features that help users to get their content discovered by internet search engines.
The basic version of the HubSpot is free, and it comes with all the features that you need to generate leads and grow your business. The platform also includes a CRM tool that helps marketing teams to track their email campaigns and follow-ups, and organize their sales activities. For a small business, the HubSpot is a no-brainer. It provides everything that they need to have a successful online marketing strategy, without the expense of a traditional marketing team. The only downside is that you need to have a decent internet connection to use the platform effectively.
Hootsuite is another essential part of a business’ digital strategy, and it’s one of the most used social media management tools out there. What makes Hootsuite so special is that it provides users with a single interface that allows them to engage with their audience across all their social platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. This makes it much simpler for businesses to maintain a presence on all the major social platforms, and to keep up with the latest trends and content in real time.
While other platforms require businesses to set up accounts on multiple platforms, or to use single accounts that they can’t expand, with Hootsuite, all your accounts can be managed from one place, which makes the whole process much simpler.
Hootsuite also provides a detailed analytics tool that allows marketers to examine the performance of their content, and determine what’s working and what needs to be changed. This is an invaluable service for small businesses that are just stepping into the online space, and are not yet sure what campaigns are performing the best. Having that level of insight at your fingertips, allows you to make rapid improvements to your content strategy and gain maximum returns from your online efforts.
Trello is an all-in-one project management tool that’s extremely popular among business owners and their teams. Trello is a visual platform that provides users with boards that they can organize into sections and categories to keep track of their projects. The tool utilizes an iconography that makes it very intuitive and simple to use, even for those that are not familiar with it.
What makes Trello so special is that it provides businesses with a free account that allows them to create boards, assign tasks and set due dates. In addition, the platform also provides the ability for teams to collaborate on projects, and review tasks and milestones that have been set, all in real time. This makes it possible to gain transparency into the status of a project, and to ensure that everything is being done on schedule.
Trello is a very simple yet extremely effective tool for project management, especially for those that are just stepping into the online space and don’t have much experience. For that reason, I think that Trello is the perfect tool for small businesses to get started on their journey to online marketing excellence.
4. Google Analytics
Last but not least, let’s not forget about the king of free online marketing tools, Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a free web analytics tool developed by Google that tracks and reports on website traffic, providing users with a variety of key metrics such as traffic, bounce rates, and time spent on site. Analytics also provides users with the ability to set up custom reports, and track the success of their marketing initiatives across different platforms (e.g. social media, search marketing etc.).
What makes Google Analytics so special is that it provides users with a clear picture of how their site is performing, and what improvements they can make to increase engagement and drive more organic traffic. Even better, because it’s free, there’s no strings attached, which means that any business, regardless of their size, can easily utilize this tool to analyze the performance of their site.
Analytics is a massive tool for measuring and analyzing website traffic, and it’s a must-have for any small business that wants to have a successful online strategy. With that in mind, if you want to use this tool, I’d recommend that you get the Professional Edition, as it provides you with a decent amount of features, and doesn’t cost a lot.
As you can see above, we’ve discussed four essential pieces of software that every small business should have in their arsenal as part of their digital marketing strategy. These four platforms represent the basic building blocks of a successful online marketing strategy, and they’re all free, which I think is a testament to the power of the internet and the amazing tools that were built with it in mind.
If you want to get more out of your online marketing efforts, don’t just rely on paid ads, try out the four platforms discussed above, and see how they can help you to grow your business.