Article first published August 2017, updated April 2020
Brands are paying more attention to digital marketing than ever before. By 2021, digital marketing spend is predicted to hit $120 billion, according to research from Forrester.
As demand for digital marketing increases, it’s getting harder for teams to find the time to manage each channel. Marketers are now juggling websites, blogs, emails and multiple social sites. They’re writing articles, editing posts, finding images, writing captions, researching hashtags, scheduling content, monitoring metrics, the list goes on.
Thankfully, there are marketing tools that can help. We’ve compiled a list 14 free digital marketing tools that can ease your workload while keeping you on top of your digital marketing game.
Tools for email marketing
Do you ever wonder how your emails stack up against others? Wonder no more. With the Email Marketing Scorecard from Campaign Monitor, you take a simple quiz that explores how you use email to market your brand. This tool gives you a scorecard as well as actionable tips to improve your email marketing game.
When you’re tired of using the generic email templates that are supplied by your email service provider, switch it up and design one yourself. Don’t worry– you don’t need any coding skills. Just use Campaign Monitor’s Email Template Builder with its drop-and-drag feature to create original, mobile-friendly templates that you can use again and again.
Whether you’re writing headlines for a blog post or a subject line for an email campaign, the Headline Analyzer from CoSchedule can help. This tool scores your headline based on its type, choice of words, and length. You’ll get tips to improve your headline, and it even keeps track of all the headlines that you enter so you can see which one is the most effective.
On a regular basis, you should perform email list maintenance. In other words, you should remove invalid and inactive subscribers from your email lists. It’s not always easy to know whether or not you should remove inactive subscribers, but Kickbox can help. This tool can scrub your list of contacts that are only bogging down your delivery rates and increasing bounces.
Cost: Kickbox is a “freemium tool,” which means it offers some services for free but charges for more advanced tools.
5. Hello Bar
Your email list is one of your most valuable marketing tools, but you have to constantly add to it if you want to be successful. Research shows companies should average a 3.2% list growth per month to stay ahead of the game, according to MarketingSherpa.
Make sure you’re hitting this benchmark by giving potential customers a chance to sign up for your emails on your website via a Hello Bar. This tool helps you install a small bar across the top of your site to encourage visitors to sign up for your emails. All new contacts will automatically be added to your Campaign Monitor account.
Cost: Hello Bar has a free trial, but after that, it costs $15/month.
6. Inbox Tester
Before you send an email campaign, you should always send a test to ensure everything is on point.
Research shows 92% of marketers send tests, but many aren’t confident in their testing skills, according to OptinMonster.
The Inbox Tester from Litmus takes the guesswork out of testing. With this tool, you can send an email to your inbox and see how it looks on 50+ devices. Take the time to proofread the content, see if the images look right across different devices, and test the links. By taking an extra 10 minutes to review your email, you could spot credibility-dropping errors.
Tools to keep copy flawless
Even the best writer makes mistakes. Catch grammatical errors before you send an email or publish that next great blog post by running your copy through Grammarly. It will spot punctuation errors and misspellings that you might miss. You can type your content right in the platform or copy and paste it when you’re ready.
You can even install the Grammarly plug in to help evaluate every piece of copy you create, from blog posts to social media posts, to email copy.
Cost: Free for basic use. More advanced features are available in the premium membership for as little as $11.66 a month.
If you’re writing large blocks of content, try Editsaurus. You can paste text into this tool, and it highlights problem areas. It can spot areas that are tough to read, identify improper English, and catch grammatical errors. If you’re creating a blog post, website content, or a newsletter, it’s a good tool to use before you hit publish or send.
Tools to enhance social media efforts
Imagery is key in social media marketing, but every platform requires images that are sized for the platform. Rather than resizing an image half-a-dozen times to fit each platform, use Sprout’s Landscape tool. Just upload one image and get multiple versions of it, each with a unique dimension that fits the social media channels that you select.
It’s not easy to keep feeding the social media machine. To keep relevant content on multiple channels, use Feedly to curate content that’s interesting to your audience and share it quickly. By selecting different topics, blogs, or publications that you trust, you’ll always have access to a feed full of content that’s ready to share.
To stand out on social media, posting a sentence or two won’t do. You need videos. But who has time to create and share videos? With Ripl, making an animated video is simple. Create a video from still images, add text, and share it on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with one click.
Cost: Free, but a Ripl watermark will be in the bottom right corner. If you upgrade for $9.99 a month, you can customize your watermark.
Tools to keep you informed
12. Google Alerts
This tried-and-true tool tracks all mentions of your brand or product on websites and social media. Set up keyword alerts that include your company and product name and get an email report that shows where your company was mentioned and what was said. Simply add a keyword in the search bar to set up an alert.
If tracking metrics is a bit overwhelming to you, try Clicky. It’s an easy-to-understand analytics tool that gives you the information you want to know without all the metric-mumbo-jumbo. It lists every visitor and tells you when they visited, what they looked at, where they came from, how long they stayed on a particular page, and what actions they took.
Cost: Clicky is another “freemium tool” that has a free plan but starts charging for access to more metrics.
14. UTM Builder
For the advanced marketer with a love of Google Analytics, check out Google’s UTM Builder. This tool helps you dig into your referral traffic and see exactly where website visitors are coming from. Referral traffic typically just lists the platform that drove a visitor to the site like Facebook or Twitter but doesn’t say which post drove them to your site.
To get down to the granular level, use Google’s UTM Builder to add a little text to every URL that you use to make them trackable. By doing so, you can see which email campaign or Facebook post referred traffic to your site. See what it looks like below. If you are unfamiliar with UTM codes, read this post.
Tools to keep you connected
Teamwork is dreamwork. That means you need to maintain a stable connection between you and your entire digital marketing team. This can be hard, especially if your teams aren’t all located in a singular location or if they work remotely. That’s why you’ll want to consider these tools to help you stay connected to everyone on your team.
This is a video conferencing software that allows you to talk face to face with your team members, no matter where they are. While video conferencing software may not seem all that important, it’s a great tool for online meetings, especially in a time when working from home is becoming the new normal.
Zoom offers several membership options, including:
- Meeting rooms
Each membership has access to video conferencing, an online phone system, instant messaging, and more.
Cost: Free for one-on-one video meetings. Meetings with more than two individuals are limited to 45 minutes for free members. However, their paid memberships offer several additional features, plus unlimited call times depending on membership type. Paid memberships range in price from $149.00 to $1,999.00.
This is a work management platform that allows teams to not only stay connected with one another, but stay organized as well. With this tool, teams can work together to get projects done on time, keep each other updated with frequent status reports, and plan out campaigns down to the last detail. Moreover, everything is presented in a checklist or calendar format, which makes it easy to quickly digest for all those involved.
Asana has a basic free membership for those looking to get started with organizing their projects and campaigns. It also offers Premium, Business, and Enterprise options, starting at $10.99 per user, per month. For larger enterprises, you’ll want to contact the sales team to find the best option to suit your brand’s needs.
Having the right tools in your digital marketing arsenal will make all the difference when it comes to streamlining your day-to-day activities. Each of these 16 tools can help marketers save time and connect with more customers. While all the tools are useful, it’s best to start by adding one or two to your routine. Once you master a few tools, add another. By slowly implementing these tools into your marketing routine, you’ll be able to see their effectiveness for your brand and won’t get lost in a sea of shiny new tools.
Not sure where to get started? You’ll want to start by deciding which type of tool you need the most. Break it down into the categories covered above:
- Tools for email marketing
- Tools for flawless copy
- Tools to enhance social media efforts
- Tools to keep you informed
- Tools to keep you connected
Maybe having the right tools isn’t where your brand is struggling—maybe it’s your strategy. If so, be sure to check out these email marketing strategy challenges to see how best to overcome them.