Best Free Digital Marketing Tools
There are several tools available to help you promote your business, manage leads, and assist with digital marketing that are all completely FREE!
Some are a little trickier to use than others, but every tool has free training videos to walk you through everything!
Here are my tried-and-true favorites:
TOOL #1 – GOOGLE MY BUSINESS
If there is only 1 thing you do for your business, DO THIS! Google My Business is the business listing on Google and Google Maps. It’s totally free; there’s no “Pro” or “Platinum” plan, no upselling. When someone searches “bookstores near me”, or “hair salons in Medina Ohio”, this list of businesses and map appears 1st, at the very top of the page.
If you don’t have a brick & mortar location or work from home you can still have a listing! You will still appear in the list of businesses for local searches, you just won’t have a map dot. When setting up your listing, select that you are a “Service Area” business, that you deliver goods or services to “customers at their location”. You will put in your home address because they need to mail a postcard with a verification code, but don’t worry, they won’t show your home address to the public.
If you’re not sure if you have one, that means that you do NOT. It’s possible, but unlikely, that there is a listing for your business but it’s not yet “claimed”. You can check by Googling your business; if your business shows up on the map list and displays “Claim this business”, start by clicking there.
We all know that customer reviews are a prized possession. Consumers will believe other customers’ reviews over any piece of marketing or advertising that you put out. Having a Google My Business listing allows customers to leave you the praise that wins more business. And equally important, allows you to respond to these reviews too. Whether it’s showing your commitment to customer service by rectifying a situation in response to a bad review or demonstrating connectedness by writing back to a regular customer’s 5-star review.
TOOL #2 – HUBSPOT CRM
Hubspot is an “inbound marketing software platform” which sounds so fancy, but it’s just a CRM (customer relations management). A darn good one I think, especially given that it’s… yep! Free!
I used Salesforce heavily for many years for a bigger company that had about 10 regional sales managers. Having been their SF admin for a while too, I can honestly say that the free CRM from Hubspot is a great choice for most small businesses.
With the free version, you can keep track of all your clients’ and contacts’ info, create deals, tasks, leads and create lead flows. You can easily connect to your website, integrate with Gmail and Outlook, create a few email templates to follow-up with leads and past customers and even schedule them to go out later. It’s like Salesforce “lite” but with a better user interface.
This is also a great tool to help you with retention marketing. Customers who have already purchased from you are over 50% more likely to buy from you than a new prospect. Using a CRM was the #1 recommendation in my last article, The Importance of Retention Marketing. You can use Hubspot to set reminders to call or to schedule follow-up or thank-you emails to these golden gooses.
Hubspot is also a wealth of information on all-things sales & marketing, with no membership required. The Hubspot Blog has industry leaders writing articles that are on the frontier of digital marketing, sales, and customer relations.
TOOL #3 – GOOGLE ANALYTICS
Google Adwords is the best place to conduct free keyword research. If you want to know what people are searching for, Google Adwords is the tool to use.
A mechanic might not think twice about referring to themselves as the “Best Automotive Technician in Akron” on their website. But the reality is, that is not what people are searching for on Google. While we may know that an “automotive technician” is just the formal name for a mechanic, Google takes searches quite literally.
Getting your keywords right is like walking a tightrope with Google. Sometimes Google will consider a word synonymous, like “photography” and “photographer”, but other times it considers a plural version as 2 different searches. You just don’t know until you get in there.
I’m writing a tutorial on Free Tools to Improve SEO that will be out soon. If you’d like more info in the meantime, here’s an article from Hubspot on using the Google Adwords Keyword Planner tool.
TOOL #4 – BITLY
Bitly is a link-shortener. Long links are ugly and they can hog space when it’s limited. With Bitly, you enter your long URL and they provide you with a nice little short one which you can even customize. It also allows you to monitor the activity of click-throughs too.
TOOL #5 – TRELLO
Trello is a nice way to keep track of goals, projects, and small tasks. It has an app, so if you think of something while you’re out, you can add it to your board.
As business owners, we often have a long to-do list. It’s nice to have it all in one place, where you can also add due dates, attach pictures, and categorize in 1,000 ways.
It’s also a great boost to see your “done list” too! As I mentioned in my article on battling negative self-talk, having the “done list”, not just “to-do lists”, can help keep you positive and stay motivated.
TOOL #6 – GRAMMARLY
Grammarly is a free writing assistant. Connect it to your browser and it automatically checks everything you write as you go. Most web browsers have a spell-check built in, but it won’t keep you from writing “Let’s eat Grandpa” instead of “Let’s eat, Grandpa”! Grammarly however, will. :)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column]
TOOL #7 – GOOGLE VOICE
Google Voice offers free local phone numbers and even allows you to create customized voicemail messages. You can have it ring straight through to your cell phone during business hours and turn it to “do not disturb” after hours. When you’re not available to take calls, you can set up call notifications and even get transcripts of voicemails sent to your email
Google Voice is amazing for several reasons, especially for helping with local SEO. Google wants a business’s phone number to match the area codes and prefixes for the area you serve. If you have a Cleveland phone number but want to increase your visibility in local search results for Akron, hop on Google Voice and get an Akron phone number!
This is a great way to get a 2nd number (or 3rd or 4th) without having to pay for another line and deal with call forwarding.
TOOL #8 – GOOGLE DRIVE (DOCS, SHEETS, FORMS, AND SLIDES)
It’s crazy how many tools Google has created that are all available for free. From any Google-owned page, if you click the icon with the 9 squares and you’ll see an impressive menu of apps with “More” at the bottom, and then “Even more from Google” at the end of that list.
For now, I’m just going to talk about the Google Drive and the apps available within it. Especially since most computers don’t come with Microsoft Office on them anymore, this is an amazing cost-effective option.
The Google Drive allows you to store up to 15GB of files with this free cloud storage. Cloud storage means that your files are stored on Google’s servers, not on your computer, which keeps them safe in the event of a computer crash and allows you to access your files from any device, anywhere. , share and collaborate.
In the Google Drive, you will also see Sheets (comparable to Excel), Docs (comparable to Word), Slides (like PowerPoint), and even Forms, Google’s free form builder. The features and functions available in Sheets and Docs are quite limited compared to Microsoft Word and Excel, but they’re still useful. One of the greatest features is the ability to share and collaborate with others in real time. They instantly autosave so everyone is always seeing the same, up-to-date version.
Google Forms allows you to create customer satisfaction forms to gain valuable feedback on how you can improve your business. They can also be used to RSVP for events, to collect contact info, or for sign-up forms for giveaways to mailing lists.
There are endless ways to use the free apps offered by Google to help streamline your business, take your marketing to the next level, improve your digital marketing efforts, and bring your sales processes into the new era.
About the Author
I'm Abby (Armstrong-Lehman) Buzon, Lead Designer & Owner of The Helpful Marketer, based in Medina County, Ohio. I got my start in marketing and website administration in 2010, became a mom in 2015, and left my day job in 2017 to begin The Helpful Marketer. I'm happier than I've ever been and I truly love what I do, so I'm here to share my story and give some marketing tips along the way!