Business online moves pretty fast. And with that in mind, it’s always good to keep up with your competition, whatever market you’re in. One way to do this is to keep an eye on developments in digital marketing, especially with regards to the tools available to marketers.
Some of these digital marketing tools on our list have been around for a while, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less useful. In fact, it probably means you should take a closer look at them if you haven’t already.
As there are a lot of tools for digital marketing, it’s probably worth answering one simple question before we get stuck in…
What are digital marketing tools?
Tools for digital marketing are any online software service that enables your business to better target your desired demographic, with the end result of maximising your online exposure or online product sales.
Marketing online runs a broad spectrum, as such, there are a huge variety of products and services that can fall under the blanket title of digital marketing tools. When it comes to online marketing, you’ll encounter many of the following:
- Search term (keyword) research and analysis
- Website analytics
- Sales and customer service – aka CRM (customer relationship management) software
- Social media scheduling and analysis
- Email marketing
- Video creation and hosting
- Affiliate marketing tools
Bearing the above in mind, you might think that one single product or service exists to help you do this.
In fact, the market is quite fragmented with many different companies providing an optimised service in one specific niche. There are a couple of products that do cover quite a broad spectrum of the digital marketing sector, but in general you’ll need multiple tools to do the job properly.
Finding the best free digital marketing tools can be tricky, which is why many of them offer a free trial or free subscription level to get to grips. The expectation being that as your business grows, you’ll move up from the free package to one of the more fully featured online marketing subscription services.
It’s also worth noting that most digital marketing tools come in the form of a SaaS, that is, software as a service. This means that you usually sign up for a cloud based service online rather than downloading anything or buying a physical product. Some of them offer pay as you go subscriptions, others want you to commit to a specific length of time, normally a year.
OK, enough preamble. Just tell us what the best online digital marketing tools are already!
The best online marketing tools
Having mentioned that most marketing tools are quite fragmented, Hubspot is actually one of the most fully featured of the available software packages. In fact, Hubspot offers an incredible array of functionality, including:
- Fully featured CRM to track your customers
- Marketing tools including social media scheduling and analysis
- Email marketing and lead magnet downloads
- Customer service tools including chatbots and contact/feedback forms
- Website analytics and visitor behaviour analysis
It’s quite a beast in its own right, and in fact this is just scratching the surface of the functionality of Hubspot.
But is it too good to be true? Is this really the digital marketing tool that your business needs?
Well, there are a few reasons why you might avoid Hubspot.
Being so hugely featured, there is quite a learning curve to get to grips with all of the features. If you’re a small business then you might find that putting all your efforts into managing Hubspot is too time consuming. For those with marketing departments who specialise in this kind of thing, no problem.
Hubspot does also give you some incredible control over your content creation and management. If you’re not the kind of business who is creating marketing content, such as ebooks or videos, you might not get the most out of a Hubspot subscription.
Having said all of that, Hubspot do offer a free subscription tier, making it probably one of the best free digital marketing tools you can get. However, the paid subscription levels vary hugely depending on your business. You can end up paying up to $3,600 per month – although of course you’d need to be a huge company before you’re paying that.
Price: Free to $3,600 per month
Search engine optimisation is one of the most important marketing techniques for online business, and Yoast gives some great options. First of all, they give some useful analysis tools to look at your content, analysing keyword frequency and quality.
If you use WordPress you might already use Yoast, as there is a free plugin available for the popular platform. If you don’t use it already, it is definitely worth a look for the free analysis of your content, especially if you’re blogging regularly.
WordPress users will find Yoast a great guide and introduction to the world of search engine optimization. However, it is definitely not a substitute for a bit of swotting up on SEO…
Some of the features in the free package include:
- Optimisation analysis for one keyword
- Readability analysis and suggested improvements
- Duplicate content check
- Google SERP preview
Which is all pretty useful.
The additional premium package also gets you some added functionality, including:
- Optimisation for up to 5 keywords
- Redirect manager for deleted or expired web pages
- Internal link suggestions
- Page previews for Facebook and Twitter
In short, if you’re looking to optimise a blog post or web page in WordPress, its probably the best option.
Price: Free to $89/€79
When it comes to social media management, there is a lot of choice, with several free and paid options. Hootsuite is probably the best all rounder when it comes to social media management tools. Here’s what you get:
- Manage up to 3 social profiles with the free plan, or up to ten with pro
- Schedule posts on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Pinterest and over 30 more
- Analyse performance of posts or entire campaigns
- Download reports in different formats
Considering how important social media is to modern digital marketers, Hootsuite is a powerful and well stocked option.
Like most of the tools on this list, using Hootsuite does need you to put some time and effort into getting the most out of it. The free version is useful, with the ability to schedule up to 30 messages in advance, although you’ll likely want to level up to the pro version for the extra features. There is a 30 day free trial of the pro version too.
Price: Free to $29 per month for pro, or $599 per month for a business account
Running a PPC campaign on the world’s biggest search engine is still a pretty good way to market your business. Google Adwords, now known as Google Ads, gives you the power to create a text, video or interactive banner ad, and display these on partner websites if you wish.
Done correctly, Google Ads is one of the most effective online marketing tools, with the potential for one of the best return on ad spend (ROAS) of any online advertising. Here at ClickCease we’ve written quite a bit on the subject of advertising with Google, and of course the potential for click fraud or ad fraud. But, it’s definitely one of the most indispensable tools for advertising.
- Create custom advertisements using text, image or video
- Bid on keywords and search terms
- Set a target daily ad spend
- View analytics related to your ads
Google offer additional tools to analyse your online marketing and monetise your website, including:
- Google Analytics
- Google Trends (previously Insights)
- Google AdSense
- Keyword Planner
And a huge suite of other useful digital tools for marketers.
Remember, when it comes to running a Google Ads campaign, do your research first. Understand your target demographic, do keyword research, start small before you spend big and pay attention to what is happening with your Ads campaigns.
Price: Variable, based on your pay per click campaign and budget
This is without a doubt one of the best tools for email marketing, designed to automate your newsletters and email marketing. If you’re running a drip campaign, sending out information or access to ebooks/downloads, then you’ll probably find MailChimp very useful.
You’ll also be able to analyse the performance of your marketing, including finding out how audiences interact, getting feedback on your campaigns and other useful insights.
Although there is mail marketing functionality with tools like Hubspot, MailChimp focuses on being the best at what it does. That is, helping you create effective email marketing.
The free version offers templates and some basic CRM tools, but once you level up to the paid plans you’ll get options for A/B testing, adding your custom branding and targeting a bigger audience.
Prices: $11 per month for the essential plan, up to $299 per month for the premium plan. Free package available.
The realm of influencer marketing might not be something that you’ve considered, but if it is you’ll know it’s not that straightforward. BuzzSumo takes some of the strain when you’re looking to take your content marketing to the next level. Find out what topics are trending on social media, get an insight into what content works in your niche and even find out what the influencers in your sector are and how they can help.
You can also view backlinks to any site from social media, or other websites. As well as all this, you can also get content alerts on the subjects you’re monitoring, and do analysis of your competitors. It’s a pretty cool tool for any serious digital marketer, and one that is good to harness if you’re trying to really max your presence.
Buzz Sumo offers a free package which allows you 10 searches a month. They also offer a generous 30 day free trial to try it on for size.
Prices: After 30 day free trial, $79 per month for pro or $139 for plus. Up to $300 + per month for enterprise plans.
This pretty comprehensive tool is like a digital marketing dream for many. It offers some of the best insight for keyword and SEO research, digs deep into your backlinks and content and can help optimise your PPC campaigns too.
Oh… Also it does feature social media scheduling for the five most popular platforms, suggests topics for new content and offers analytics and insight for your campaigns. I told you it was comprehensive.
Basically, if you’re doing in depth research on your marketing in general, this is a tool you should be looking at.
- Find out your SERP position for specific keywords
- Get suggestions for boosting your organic SERP position
- Look at your competitors PPC campaigns
- Get insight into competitors social media strategies and content
The whole site is very user friendly, with bold colourful icons and easy to view graphs. There is also a free option which allows you some basic functionality, including viewing basic data related to your site. This alone is very useful and would probably tempt you to go for the full package.
The cheapest package for SEM Rush starts at nearly $100 a month. Take a look with their free trial and find out if it is for you.
Prices: From $99.95 per month for pro account. $399.95 per month for a business account.
There are so many digital marketing tools, but we think these are the ones that will make a difference to most online businesses. Even with the free packages, it can use up a lot of time getting to understand how to get the most out of specific SaaS packages, with a lot of extra features.
Knowing what you are trying to get out of your marketing tools is going to be very important. Especially if you’re looking to get the best return on investment. Are you looking to grow your social media presence? Improve the quality and appeal of your content? Or are you trying to make sure you’re using the right keywords and search terms before starting your PPC campaign? Once you have identified your strategy you can pick and choose the tools accordingly…
If you’re running a PPC campaign make sure to block click fraud and ad fraud, especially if you’re targeting high value keywords or using the Google Ads display network.
Click fraud and ad fraud are a growing problem, estimated to cost marketers $40 billion each year.
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