One of the hardest things about running a startup is keeping control of costs. Unless you’ve been lucky enough to receive a serious cash injection from venture capitalists or have parents with deep pockets, chances are you’re doing some serious bootstrapping in order to get things off the ground.
While there are some areas where cost-cutting just isn’t an option, when it comes to marketing, you don’t need to shell out for an expensive set of tools. A number of free online marketing tools are now just one quick Google search away, with many providing you with similar, if not the same, capabilities as some of their paid-for peers.
Here is a run down of some of the best free marketing tools that startups should be taking advantage of.
Read next: How to market your startup
Google offers a myriad of free business tools that can be extremely valuable for anyone looking to improve the way they market their company online.
Google Analytics is probably the most well-known and arguably useful tool in the Google family. It’s a free website analytics tool that allows users to track everything from website visitors, average session times, bounce rates and traffic location; providing you with smarter insight into how people are finding and navigating your site.
For those who are looking to improve their company’s SEO strategy, Google Trends is a must-have tool. It allows you to evaluate the popularity of certain keywords and phrases and compare them against variations of the term. You can then analyse the popularity of your chosen keywords over certain time periods and in various languages and regions to boost visibility. Google Trends will also show you other keywords that are related to your original choices to help you make more strategic selections in the future.
Google Trends can also help you identify trending topics, news, and content, which you can then capitalise on.
You can find a list of Google’s other free marketing tools here.
It’s impossible to market your startup properly without an effective social media strategy. It doesn’t matter which platform you decide to use, each one has its pros and cons, it’s all about how you use it.
While having an account on as many platforms as possible is great for visibility, keeping tabs on every account can become incredibly time consuming – especially if you’re already running your startup on a skeleton staff.
That’s where Hootsuite comes in. This marketing tool is specifically designed to help users keep abreast of their social media accounts via one, easy to use dashboard. The platform supports the big three: Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as Instagram, YouTube, Reddit, Storify, Tumblr, and Marketo.
The dashboard allows you add as many or few streams as you would like in order to keep tabs on your direct mentions, your private messages, important hashtags or search terms and comments. Hootsuite’s free offering also provides users with the capability to schedule up to 30 social media posts on any platform of their choosing.
Although the free version of the tool does come with its limitations, it should be more and enough to get your social media strategy off to a good, and more importantly cheap, start.
Hubspot’s marketing suite provides tools for social media marketing, content management, web analytics, landing pages and search engine optimisation to help companies gain valuable insights into every part of the marketing process.
Although its paid-for version is a bit on the pricey side, its free version offers users all the tools they need to capture, track, and convert leads. This includes a central dashboard, a contacts database, kickback emails and integrations with MailChimp, WordPress, Weebly, Drupal, Shopify, Magento, and more.
The integrated analytics tools then allow users to learn more about what’s working and what’s not – like which traffic sources or pieces of content are driving the most conversions.
Hubspot also offer a free all-in-one Sales Hub and Customer Relationship Manager Hub.
Speaking of MailChimp, this is another tool you should have in your arsenal of free marketing tools.
MailChimp’s slogan is: ‘Send better email. Sell more stuff’ and that’s exactly what it helps you to do. The tool is easy to use and offers users free newsletter templates, customisable signup forms and allows you to track your performance with built-in reports.
There are a number of integrations offered by the tool, for example ecommerce companies can set up automated product follow up emails, in stock messaging and other mail communications. It also provides third party integrations with major tech platforms such as Magento, Shopify, WordPress and Salesforce.
MailChimp’s free plan also enables users to send up to 12,000 emails to 2,000 subscribers every month.
Developing a successful marketing campaign requires a large dose of creativity – it goes without saying that there’s a strong link between user engagement and the strength of your designs. However, we can’t all be blessed with a large, talented design team to help make all our presentations, posts and letterheads look beautiful.
Enter Canva, an online tool that claims to be ‘empowering the world to design’. It allows users of all abilities to design and create engaging content that ranges from social media posts, presentations, blog graphics, posters, letterheads, brochures, logos and flyers. Anything you design in Canva can be printed, downloaded, or shared on social media.
The free version provides users with 10 team members, 1GB of storage and access to over 8,000 templates.