Marketers love marketing tools. There are thousands of tools available in our industry, with new ones coming out daily (I should know, I get emails, contact forms, and InMails from LinkedIn about them EVERY SINGLE DAY). There is always some bright and shiny tool, platform, resource, or automation system that makes marketing easy. (Spoiler alert: no.)
So what makes a great tool? What makes it compelling? What makes it better than the free tools out there? Frequently, the answer is nothing. Yes, there are some great paid tools out there. And we’ll explore those in other blog posts. But first, I want to focus on some great free tools that we use in our office every day. Having worked with companies of all sizes, huge companies with huge budgets, as well as small operations with maybe $100 in a budget, I can say that many times, the free tools can provide just as much information as the big-budget tool with shiny graphs. Though, I will admit I’m a sucker for a great chart. But by saving money on marketing tools, we’re able to pass those savings along to our clients, which we know they appreciate.
So let’s dig into some free tools you can use to inform your marketing, content, social media, and SEO.
Let’s start with an essential tool – Google Analytics. You can glean so much information from Google Analytics that we have to start here. What are people doing on your site? How are they getting there? How long are they spending on each page? Are specific topics or pages more likely to lead to exits? What pages are the most popular organically? What pages are the most popular from social media? You can find the answers to all of these questions (and so many more) in your Google Analytics account. These answers also ensure that your topics stay on the right track to continually improve your presence. The key here is to use and leverage the data you get from Analytics. Most clients we work with have Analytics; few check it frequently. But, that’s why they hired us in the first place, so I can’t complain too much.
Google Search Console
If you’re looking for information on search queries that brought people to your website, landing pages, and how your site appeared in the search results, Google Search Console is going to be your friend. Ever since Google removed the functionality from Google Analytics (which happened years ago and is showing my age), this is the only way to see what search queries brought people to your site. Use it to discover gaps, find top-performing keywords, and then branch out from there to build your strategy.
Answer the Public
While I don’t use it all the time, I’ve always been able to get some great little nuggets of wisdom from this online tool. For example, if you have the start of an idea for a piece of content, it can be a great way to find an angle on that idea and then shift it to be beneficial based on what people are searching for.
Yes, the old, old, old-fashioned way of research is to just… search. Look around the internet. Where do you rank in the search results? Are you showing up on the terms you need? Are your competitors? Does Google recommend other searches related to your initial query? Take these ideas and start mapping them out.
Google Sheets/Google Docs
Who needs expensive content mapping software or content calendars when you can just build one in a spreadsheet? As I mentioned before, I love a graph, and you can use your docs and sheets to make your tables. Marketers often fall into the trap of feeling like reporting needs to be big, flashy, and expensive. But our clients don’t necessarily need all that. They want to know if they’re making money. They want to know if what you’re doing is working. They want to see that you have new ideas. Those concepts are easy to convey in a simple reporting system using docs and spreadsheets. Also, pro tip: never forget the executive summary.
So, those are five tools I use every day (or most days) to help with our client strategies. If you need help leveraging these tools to maximize your marketing, reach out to our team at https://smartersearches.com/contact-us/. We’d love to help and maybe even build you a lovely graph.