Here’s five free digital marketing tools that every business should have in their toolbox. The best part is they’re all free here. Not to mention actually useful.
You’re probably using some or even all of these tools already. Here, I’ll share some other ways you can get more out of them when it comes to your companies marketing. Along with some of my favorite ways I use each.
I’ve been helping businesses improve their digital marketing for 12 years now. And helped start a few successful companies along the way. When it comes to all the digital marketing tools available there’s a plethora of options to choose from.
In my experience, these are five mandatory core marketing tools you’ll want to have in your company toolbox. If you consider yourself an online based business, or even partly based online, these should be must have tools in your business. Not to mention they’re also free here.
Throughout each section this post I’ll share an overview of what each tool does, the main use case for each and some quick examples of how each tool can be used.
Here’s the 5 Digital Marketing Tools For Free…
Google Search Console - Understand Your Search Traffic
Google Search Console is like a crystal ball that shows you what search terms people are searching to get to your site. It also gives you an understanding of how Google views your site and specific pages.
It’s like a crystal ball because without it, you don’t have much insight to where your traffic from Google is coming from.
If you want to know what keywords are sending people to find you online. Or how your website ranks for search terms like “Shoe Store in Jiggly Springs, Louisiana”. Or whatever else you’re aiming for.
This is what Google Search Console helps answer for you.
Google Search Console Search Performance Report
The most useful section is their Performance report. This shows you how many organic clicks your site gets in total, and what specific terms you rank for.
Here’s what it looks like…
If you click on any specific term, you can drill down, how many times your site showed up when that term is searched (impressions), how many people clicked, the overall percentage of people clicking through to your site and the average position your page ranks for that term.
If you click over to the “Pages” tab, it shows you what specific URL’s rank for specific searches that you can compare.
Submitting Your Site Map, Improving Your Site Speed and Other Uses
Without going too far into the weeds, other use cases are…
Submitting your site map to Google. This lets Google understand how your website is structured and what pages they should index. This is really important for any website. If you have a WordPress site that uses Yoast SEO, it should automatically generate a sitemap for you that you can submit. It should be under: yourdomain.com/sitemap_index.xml
You can also use the reports under the “Experience” section to understand how to speed up your site’s load time. It will give you specific instructions on what can be improved. Implementing the free version of W3 Total Cache can be a good step forward if you don’t have any caching set up on your site yet. Siteground’s free caching tools are super fast if they’re your host.
If you’re just getting started, it can be tough at first to get your site ranking for the terms you want. Or it can be difficult to get them indexed, meaning showing up in Google’s search results at all. Don’t get discouraged!
It can take a long time to start ranking. Google Search Console allows you to measure and track your progress.
Core Use Cases of Google Search Console For Your Business
- See what your search engine ranking is for specific search terms.
- Understand your search traffic that’s coming from Google
- Be alerted on issues that need to be fixed with your site
- Submit your sitemap to Google so they understand everything there.
- Get suggestions on how to improve your site speed & more.
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) - Measure Your Funnel Conversion Rates and Understand Your Traffic
There’s more than enough articles out there that exist on GA4 and how to use it. I’ll keep this short. Here I’m going to share my one favorite report in Google Analyitcs 4. It’s GA4’s Funnel / Conversion Tracking ability.
You probably have heard of a “marketing funnel” before right?
GA4’s “Funnel exploration” reports allow you to track the conversion rate of any funnel or series of pages on your site. And track any series of pages retroactively without needing to have anything setup before.
This ability in GA4 helps answer questions like…
What percentage of visitors buy your product? How many visitors requested a free consultation? How many people opted in for your lead magnet? Did the changes you made to specific pages help drive more sales or leads?
This feature used to only be available for GA360 subscribers before. Where you’d have to pay at least $150k per year to use it. Now it’s available for all GA4 users for free and most people don’t know about it.
Here’s how GA4’s Funnel / Conversion Tracking Works…
In GA4 if you go under ‘Explore > Funnel exploration’ you can create a sample report to start with. You can track any funnel or series of pages to be able to track how many users convert and drop off at each stage that’s set.
Just specify the URL of each page you want to track as a step. You can also use events or dimensions to track more specific steps taken.
Then you can add as many steps as you want. Here’s what it looks like…
The best part is you can retroactively go back and get a conversion rate for any specific funnel from the past.
As long as GA4 was installed at the time, you can get conversion rate for that funnel or series of pages during that period. Without anything needed to be setup before.
Want to understand what traffic sources are creating conversions for your business?
You can add a “First User Medium” filter breakdown that allows you to find out which traffic medium your conversions came from. This helps partly answer where your leads or customers are coming from.
If you use UTM’s already in your links, you can specify a campaign or other UTM variable you want to track with a custom “Dimensions” filter. This gives you a similar ability that expensive sales attribution tools give you. All for free 🙂
Selecting “Show Elapsed Time” allows you to see the average time it takes users to complete a specific step. And “Make Open Funnel” allows you to track users entering in subsequent stages without having to complete the first step set.
In Google Analytics 4 this is available under “Explore > Funnel exploration”. Delete the prefilled steps they add and then add the Page URL’s that you want to track as a funnel.
After you should be able to see the conversion rate for the pages you want to track instantly.
That’s barely scratching the surface of what Google Analytics 4 can do for you. Out of all the free digital marketing tools listed here, this should be a must have in your toolbox. Not to mention the normal version of Google Analytics (UA) is retiring in 2023.
If you want more of a detailed post on what else is possible with GA4, I recommend checking out Moz’s full guide on GA4 or Corey Koberg’s Linkedin learning course, “Google Analytics 4 (GA4) Essential Training“.
Core Use Cases of GA4 for Online Businesses
- Understand what pages people are visiting on your site and their activity on your site.
- Know where your traffic is coming from and what channels they’re coming from.
- Measure your website so you can improve.
- Setup conversion events and goals to measure.
Google Postmaster Tools - Understand Your Email Deliverability and What Google Thinks About Your Domain's Email Reputation
Email marketing has changed a lot over the past few years. It’s no longer about the size of your email list or volume of emails that you send.
The most important metric to go by is the quality and engagement of your email list as a whole. Meaning, are the people on your list clicking or opening the emails you’re sending consistently?
If you keep emailing people who aren’t engaging with your emails, over an extended period of time (meaning they don’t click or open anything after 3+ months), that’s a signal to email providers (gmail, office365, outlook, etc) that people don’t want your emails. Which makes email providers more likely to send your emails to people’s spam or junk folders.
Info from Gmail and other email providers is like a black box. You don’t get much info from them on how they perceive your domain. This is why you need Google Postmaster Tools.
Once it’s setup, you rarely need to check inside. If you’re having issues with low open or click through rates with your company emails, you’ll want this info available for you. Even if you don’t have a need for it now, I’d recommend setting it up.
How Email Providers / CRM’s and Your Engagement History Can Affect Your Email Deliverability
Meaning if you have really high open / click through rates, you get grouped in with a shared server with customers who have similar average open / click through rates on the group of IP address’ that your emails get sent out from.
In simple terms, if you’re rates suck, you get grouped in with the other people who have sucky open / click rates. In certain cases, your CRM will even penalize you or shut your ability off to send emails if you don’t manage your email engagement for extended periods of time.
Examples of Reports In Google Postmaster Tools
Using Google Postmaster Tools IP reputation report allows you to see how they view your reputation. Here’s one client’s history from being on a shared plan before, switching to managing their own email authentication. This is where their SPF and DKIM are managed by their own domain instead of their email provider. If you’re sending out emails that people (and Gmail) considers spam, you’ll be able to find out how your domain stands with Postmaster tools.
Here we can see their domain reputation increasing over time. Here’s a look at their IP reputation improving that Google Postmaster tools shows you.
Once these are setup you can monitor that your SPF and DKIM are setup correctly. If you’ve switched marketing tools quite a bit, chances are you’ve also had multiple SPF records over the years. Google postmaster tools can tell you whether this is setup correctly. If you notice any significant changes with your email engagement, checking your reputation reports and others in Postmaster tools can help give you an idea if anything changed.
Once Postmaster tools is setup, you rarely need to check it. It’s also one of those tools you want to have if there is ever an email related issue.
Core Use Cases of Google Postmaster Tools
- Know your Domain and IP Reputation In Google’s Eyes
- Understand Email Issues or Red Flags That Need to Be Addressed
- Make Sure Your Email Authentication is Setup Properly
Trello - Manage Projects, Store Ideas and Collaborate With Your Team
Over the past 12 years I’ve been around the block with the main project management platforms. After using many of the popular ones. Then none at all also for extended periods. It’s best to have at least one to help keep everything organized, even if it’s just for yourself. The best free option that allows you to do this is Trello.
Trello allows you to create boards which organize your company tasks, ideas, and allows workers to collaborate in real-time on what needs to get done. Most people don’t realize the way you can use Trello to help marketing within your company.
Here’s a list of my favorite ways…
Manage Your Content Creation Pipeline With Trello
You no doubt have a million projects going on in your business. How can you keep track of everything you need to publish or finish? The answer is a simple pipeline to keep track of what’s being worked on, and what stage it’s at. A team member wrote a blog post, has it been edited? Published? Promoted? What about all your other pieces of content? This is where you can use Trello as a pipeline to keep track of everything and have a archive of past posts. You can assign other team members to complete certain tasks as needed seamlessly.
You can do the same with any projects currently going on within your company. Trello has a ton of pre-built content creation pipeline board templates that you can use to implement this.
Create an Idea Vault / Backlog of Future Ideas to Implement
Good ideas can come to you all the time. When you don’t have time to implement them at all and are busy with 100 other priorities. This is where having a Trello board to store your ideas for the future comes in handy. This could be an idea for a future blog post, promotion, email, new product feature or anything else worth saving. Over time you can accumulate a backlog of things to get done when you have time.
You can have team members share their ideas this way too. Then review them at a later time as a group to decide on the best ideas you should all implement. You can even use Trello this way to decide or vote on what projects you’ll work on next quarter or push back depending on your priorities.
Collaborate as a Team By Delegating Tasks Clearly
There’s nothing worse than having a long meeting on a project and still not be clear on who needs to do what exactly after. This is where Trello allows you to delegate who needs to what, and keep everyone on the same page on who’s doing what in a project. You could even argue it could replace a lot of unnecessary meetings.
With most marketing projects there’s tons of different deliverables involved. Using Trello as a project management pipeline allows you to keep track of who’s doing what, assign tasks as needed and share feedback together on specific parts of a project.
Trello has a ton of pre-built board templates that make it easy for you to get started using it like these examples shared.
Google Drive - Store Company Marketing Assets, Copy and Marketing Stats / Metrics
Despite being an obvious one to use, many small companies don’t have many of these things in place when it comes to their Drive. Almost every company uses Google Drive somehow, you could also sub in Dropbox here. Google Drive is better IMO. It helps to have a main company shared folder that’s accessible by everyone in your organization.
Here’s a list of the basic ways you can use it as a marketing team that makes things easier for everyone…
Store Company Logos, Graphics and Image Assets in Drive
Having these all stored in one place so anyone can use them is often overlooked. Your main graphic designed will thank you for doing this instead of them having to email everyone a specific file anytime they need it. When everyone on your team has access to all these files in one place and they know they can find them there, it makes working on projects much quicker.
Create a Company Archive of Past Copy, Promotions and Collaborate on Writing New Copy
When you bring on a new team member to marketing, or hire a new writing contractor it helps to have an archive they can access to get a sense of your companies writing style and voice. Along with knowing what you’ve published in the past. Many times, little tid bits of copy from the past can be re-used or recycled in current promos, articles and emails.
Do you consistently run the same promotions each year? This is where having past saved promotions to reference every time you want to run that campaign each year can save you lots of time.
You can also use Drive to store and share writing frameworks or templates for new writers to access when their creating new content. You can (and should) also use Drive to store all of your company training resources.
Track Your Marketing Performance Metrics and Tracking Your Companies Core Numbers
What gets measured, gets improved. If you’re not measuring things specifically within your company it’s hard to tell which direction you’re heading. Every company needs a master spreadsheet tracking their traffic, revenue and most important metrics over time.
This allows your whole team to know where you stand as a company and how your performing overall compared to the past. You can also track other relevant marketing stats this way with spreadsheets to be shared. The core conversion rates of all your core sales pages, landing page conversion rates, test results, etc.
5 Free Digital Marketing Tools Conclusion
That’s it for these five free digital marketing tools you can use. Which marketing tool are you going to start using now that you read this?
Or change how you’re currently using?
If you’ve made it this far I want to encourage you to take action on either of those steps.
Need help better organizing your companies marketing and getting better results?
I can help you in a few different ways depending on your business. Want to find out how? Schedule a free 15 minute discovery call for us to talk and see how.