Highly Recommended Marketing Tools That Are Completely FREE!
The $0 Marketing Stack: 41 Free Options to Popular Paid Services and Tools
What tools do you use to get your online marketing work done?
Can you do all the same work of a digital marketer, and do it for free?
Is it possible to have all these great tools without paying a cent?
It was a fun challenge to come up with a way to build a $0 marketing stack, to find free alternatives to popular paid tools and services. I’m grateful for all the amazing companies out there that offer such value for so little. Here’s the list I came up with for free alternatives to paid tools. I’d love to know what you think!
What’s in the stack?
The $0 Marketing Stack: Free Alternatives to Paid Tools
For a quick overview, here are the tools I found that seemed to be great, free options for some popular paid services.
- Google Analytics
- Simply Measured
- Open Site Explorer
- HubSpot Marketing Free
- Google Scholar
- Google Trends
- Blog Topic Generator
- Content Idea Generator
- Onpage Optimization Tool
- After the Deadline
- Readability Test Tool
- Save Publishing
- Must Be Present
- Conversation Score
- Wolfram Alpha Facebook report
- Fanpage Karma
- Facebook Page Barometer
- Website Grader
- Down For Everyone Or Just Me?
1. Social Media Scheduling: Buffer
Great, paid options if you can swing it: Sprout Social, MeetEdgar
Perhaps our best time-saving tip for social media marketing is scheduling posts ahead of time for your social profiles. You can batch the social media marketing process: Do all your curating and composing all in one go, then spread those updates out across the next day or week.
How we use Buffer: The forever free plan at Buffer lets you connect a profile from each network (one from Facebook, one from Twitter, etc.) and to schedule ahead 10 posts for each network. If you share three posts per day, that means you can stay three days ahead all the time.
We’ve found a lot of value in the hand-picked content suggestions (thanks to Courtney who finds all that great content!), which are easy to read then add.
- Hootsuite (free for your first 3 social profiles)
2. Design: Canva
Over 2 million people trust Canva to help with creating images for social media, blog posts, and practically any other use you can imagine.
How we use Canva: The optimized sizes and built-in templates make it fast and easy to create tall pictures for Pinterest, rectangular ones for Twitter, square for Facebook or Instagram, and any size in between. We find Pablo (another free alternative) to be great for Twitter-sized images of 1,024 pixels by 512 pixels, and Canva to work really well for all else.
3. Real-time Analytics: Google Analytics
Great, paid option if you can swing it: Chartbeat
Google Analytics does pretty much everything in terms of tracking the traffic to your website. It’s a huge, monstrous amount of info, generously given away for free.
How we use Google Analytics: As a social media marketing team, we appreciate the ease with which we can see traffic from the different networks (Acquisition > Social > Network Referrals). We can check the engaged reading time by looking at Time on Page. And for the real-time stats of who’s on our site right now, we can simply click on Real-Time > Overview.
- Go Squared (free for the first 100 visitors and 1,000 data points)
- MixPanel (free for 25,000 events per month)
4. Website optimization: Hotjar
Great, paid options if you can swing it: KISSmetrics, Crazy Egg
Let’s say you’re curious how your visitors are actually using your website—where they click, how far they scroll, etc. Tools like Hotjar can show you exactly what your visitors are doing, via heatmaps, clickmaps, scrollmaps, and visitor recordings. Hotjar also has options to analyze your funnel and to insert messages and surveys to your visitors.
How we use Hotjar: User research can be incredibly powerful stuff. I find great value in seeing how someone interacts with blog posts. How much of the post do they read? Where do they pause? What do they click? Seeing all this information helps me design my posts in a clearer way.
5. Reports: Simply Measured
Great, paid option if you can swing it: SumAll Reports
Simply Measured offers enterprise-level analytics and management for big brands and their social efforts. It has a wide array of free tools for the rest of us, too.
Among Simply Measured’s reports are these:
- Twitter Follower Report
- Twitter Customer Service Analysis
- Facebook Fan Page Report
- Facebook Content Analysis
- Facebook Competitive Analysis
- Facebook Insights Report
- Instagram User Report
- Social Traffic Report
- Traffic Source Report
- Google+ Page Report
- Vine Analysis
Phew! That’s a lot of reports!
How to use Simply Measured: Each of these reports costs no money, although Simply Measured will ask for a Twitter follow or a Facebook mention in exchange for the free report. You can save loads of time in pulling reports from this one location as you seek to gain insight on where your social media efforts have been going lately. They’ve got all six major social networks covered: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest.
6. SEO: Open Site Explorer
Great, paid option if you can swing it: Moz Pro
is a great free tool for checking your domain and page authority and also for checking how many links you are getting and from which source. You can also check your competition. But the free version only gives you 3 reports per day. Signing up offers unlimited reporting on all your links, keywords and competitors.
How to use Open Site Explorer: Plug your blog’s URL into Open Site Explorer to see the high-level stats like page authority and incoming links. You can also click over to the Just-Discovered tab to see recent links and Top Pages to see which pages on your site get the most links.
7. CRM: Charlie
Great, paid option if you can swing it: SalesForce
A lot of the best CRM tools (Customer Relationship Management) help you stay abreast of your current and future customers. Think of a futuristic address book. The best ones are loaded with features and information. Charlie is a bit of a quick-and-easy hack to get to know a person really well.
How to use Charlie: Intended as a tool to help you prep for meeting new people, Charlie gives you a full run-down of a person—social media profiles, biography, interests, big news, etc.—by looking at your upcoming calendar or running an email address. If you’re wanting info on a single person ad-hoc, simply enter their email address into Charlie, and they’ll tell you everything.
8. Lead generation and pop up tool: HubSpot Marketing Free
HupSpot Marketing Free allows marketers to easily generate email leads from their website with a free pop up tool.
How to use HubSpot Marketing Free: You can gain a lot of great information about your leads from HubSpot Marketing Free. This pop up tool quickly gathers email addresses from your website and provides key data points like employer and which pages your leads have visited. And if you’re wondering which pages are converting at higher rates than others, it can help with that, too.
Great, paid option if you can swing it: Cirrus Insight
9. Landing Pages: WordPress
For those who are running their website or blog via WordPress, perhaps the fastest and easiest way to set up a landing page is simply to create a new page. If you blog with WordPress, the blog content you create falls into Posts. The static content for landing pages—“Download our ebook,” “Sign up for our webinar,” etc.—can be made quite easily via Pages.
How to use WordPress: Build a new landing page in WordPress, and use this as the focal point of your social media ad campaign or your social media updates. Certain plugins like WooDojo even let you hide the content in your sidebar for particular pages, which could be a great option for minimizing the look of your page.
- Unbounce free plan (includes Unbounce branding)
10. Twitter management: Crowdfire
Great, paid option if you can swing it: Crowdfire premium
Twitter has been so generous to open up its app to developers to make some really great tools. Sure, you can manage your Twitter profile directly via Twitter (an always free option), or you can try out tools like Just Unfollow, which allows for bulk sorting and filtering of your followers, along with insights into the demographics of the people in your audience.
How to use Just Unfollow: One way that many experts recommend to keep your Twitter following count in line with your Twitter follower count is to routinely check to see which accounts are following you back and to remove the ones that aren’t. With Just Unfollow, you can do this quickly and easily all from one page—and even whitelist the unfollowers whom you’d like to keep following.
11. Blogging: Medium
Great, paid options if you can swing it: Ghost
It feels a bit funny to list Medium as a tool (it’s really more of a network or social media site), but when it comes to starting a new blog as cheaply and quickly as possible, Medium can’t be beat.
How to use Medium: Many young startups kick off their blog at Medium, where they enjoy a built-in audience from the start and have networking tools to help their content spread. Plus, one of Medium’s newest features is an email newsletter where you can automatically get in touch with people who follow you by sharing your latest articles.
12. Video: Wistia
Great, paid option if you can swing it: Wistia Pro, Vimeo Pro
Once you’ve created an amazing video to share on social media or your website, where will you put it? The default seems to be YouTube, which is quick and easy but comes with less control and potentially some unrelated ads or suggestions. Wistia is made for marketers’ videos because the player keeps people on your page—or sends them precisely where you want them to go next.
How to use Wistia: After you’ve uploaded your video, you can hop into the settings and add things like call-to-action buttons or email capture formsat the end of the video. Wistia also makes it easy to view heatmaps and viewing trends of your videos, like how far most people get through your video, when they pause or click, etc.
13. Share buttons: SumoMe Share
Great, paid options if you can swing it: Easy Social Share Buttons
The ubiquitous share buttons you see along the side of blog posts, many of them come from SumoMe. The any-website buttons (you don’t have to run a WordPress blog to use them) are part of the SumoMe suite of website products. If you’re okay with some SumoMe branding, you can add the buttons for free to any page and customize the networks that appear by default.
How to use SumoMe Share: SumoMe gives you a lot of control over the appearance of the share buttons, both in which buttons are displayed and where on the page they’ll sit. One of the great features also is that they look good on mobile devices, so you maintain a great way to encourage sharing no matter where your audience is reading.
14. Analytics: Segment
Great, paid options if you can swing it: Usability Tools
I’ve heard Segment described as the one and only interface you’ll ever need for all your third-party apps. And I sure do see it recommended a lot. From what I can gather, Segment makes it easy for anyone—engineer or not—to connect new software to your website; once the Segment snippet is added, you can connect other apps like MailChimp, Google Analytics, etc. just by clicking around in your Segment dashboard. Segment handles all the visitor data for you.
How to use Segment: Rob Sobers put together a really handy guide to how he’s set up Segment for his SaaS business.
15. Testing: Peek
Great, paid options if you can swing it: Optimizely, User Testing
When it comes to understanding how people are using your website—A/B testing, user testing, that sort of thing—there are some really fantastic paid options that can give you lots of insights. There’s also Peek, a free tool from User Testing that lets you see and hear a five-minute video of a real person using your website.
How to use Peek: For first-time insights, you may wish to have a person go through your website or blog from the home page. Later on, you might ask for someone to test out a certain flow through your website by starting someone on a landing page. The tests take about 2-3 days to complete, and you can run three Peek tests every month.
Even More Free Marketing Tools!
We went hunting for even more top free marketing tools in a variety of marketing categories. These tools – all quick hits you can get started with easily – focus on everything from research and writing to benchmarking and analyzing. Here’s hoping you find the perfect shortcut for your work!
Free Marketing Research Tools
We’ll start at the beginning: researching topics, sites and ideas.
16. Google Scholar
I don’t know why more people don’t talk about Google Scholar, but I love this tool for researching science-heavy articles and digging into emerging studies. It limits your search to articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites. Pair it with a Google Alert to get amazing research on your topics of interest delivered right to your inbox.
17. Google Trends
See what the world is searching for and how interest in concepts has changed over time with Google Trends. For example, I feel like I’m suddenly hearing about “growth hacker” and “growth hacking.” Are you, too? I input those terms into Google Trends and it looks like there is a sudden new interest in the concept.
18. Blog Topic Generator
19. Content Idea Generator
Enter a keyword for a fun, irreverent suggestion from Portent’s Content Idea Generator.
Free Reading and Writing Tools
These tools offer help with readability, keyword density and spelling and grammar.
Drag the Readability bookmarklet to your toolbar to convert any content on the web into a simple, easy-to-read format with an estimate of how long it’ll take you. Also check out the other bookmarklet options here, including one that sends longer content to your Kindle to read later.
Simple, clear writing – we all strive for it. Get a little help with Hemingway. Paste a passage into the app and you’ll get an analysis that highlights overly dense passages, unnecessary adverbs and more.
22. Onpage Optimization Tool
This free onpage optimization tool from Internet Marketing Ninjas is a one-stop look at what’s going on a specific page of your site. Toss in a URL and see stats on keyword density, internal and external links and more.
23. After the Deadline
A Chrome extension, After the Deadline checks spelling, style, and grammar wherever you go on the web.
24. Readability Test Tool
Enter a web address or a block of text into the Readability Test Tool for an easy-to-understand analysis of your content. This tools measures a ton of different readability scores, and does a good job of explaining each one.
Free Twitter Marketing Tools
These tools help you maximize your Twitter presence, from timing to sharing to analysis.
25. Save Publishing
Instantly find passages under 140 characters with Save Publishing, a handy bookmarklet that highlights tweetable passages on your screen. Post to Twitter with one click (or Buffer simply by highlighting a passage and clicking the Buffer extension)
We hope you’ve already heard of Followerwonk, one of Buffer’s many partners in amazing social media data. In addition to offering lots of super useful data about timing on Twitter, Followerwonk also has some other neat Twitter features, like the ability to compare followers of different accounts like so.
It’s not breaking news. It’s not nonsense hashtags. Latest.is is an automatically generated list of interesting links on Twitter, surfaced through an algorithm that focuses on “the people that always tweet the best links – first” (no, it doesn’t tell you who they are).
29. Must Be Present
A free tool from Sprout Social, Must Be Present calculates how often and how quickly you respond to comments and questions on Twitter (in exchange for your email address and a bit of other info).
Free Facebook Marketing Tools
These tools analyze one or more Facebook pages to deliver an analysis or report on your activities – particularly important as Facebook is always changing.
30. Conversation Score
Discover any Facebook Page’s influence, engagement and performance with Conversation Score.
31. Wolfram Alpha Facebook report
To analyze your own Facebook account and get lots of interesting data about your connection, the language you use, the times of day you post and more, try Wolfram Alpha’s Facebook report.
LikeAlyzer provides you with recommendations and feedback on your company’s presence on Facebook based on metrics including presence, dialogue, action and information.
33. Fanpage Karma
Fanpage Karma is all about competition. Compare two fan pages by entering their names or IDs and see which ones comes out on top.
34. Facebook Page Barometer
Agora Pulse’s Facebook Page Barometer keeps track of how your Facebook performance stacks up against the average performance of 6,000+ pages.
Free Website Analysis Tools
These tools give you an overall look at many different facets of your site or marketing strategy.
by QuickSprout is a really comprehensive website audit, social media analysis and competitor report, all in one.
36. Website Grader
HubSpot’s Website Grader gives you the overall performance and “grade” of your website based on mobile factors, SEO, security, speed, and performance, plus tips on how to improve your website…
Want to see how your content (or anyone else’s, for that matter) has spread across the web? For sites that don’t display social media share button numbers, just paste the web address into SharedCount. Or use the multi-URL dashboard to enter lots of different web addressed and export a quick report.
Free Relationship Tools
These tools focus on connecting with new people and strengthening relationships with existing connections.
Got some thought leaders or industry influencers you want to keep up with? Sign into Newsle through Facebook or LinkedIn and it’ll track your Facebook friends, LinkedIn connections & email contacts and let you know when they’re in the news.
Make your email work harder for you by installing Rapportive, a Chrome extension that helps you get to know your contacts better by showing their photo, job, company, LinkedIn profile and recent tweets.
See how any Twitter user is connected to others with MentionMapp, which makes all your connections visual and simple to understand and explore.
Free Miscellaneous Tools
41. Down For Everyone Or Just Me?
Is it your Internet connection, or is your site (or someone else’s that you’re desperately trying to reach) really down? Find out with this simple website. Just enter your site:
And it’ll let you know if it’s just you or if the site is, well, down for everyone.
Over to you
Which of your favorite tools would you add to this list?
Did you notice any new ones that might be worth trying?
I’d love to hear from you about the free tools you’ve found most helpful and how you’ve put them to good use. Feel free to add any thoughts at all in the comments below. I’m looking forward to chatting!
ADOBE READER (free download)
Used to view and print PDF files.
AVG (free download)
Anti-virus and anti-spyware protection.
A multi-purpose color picker – great for web designers and programmers.
Quickly check for duplicate content & LSI keywords.
FILEZILLA (free download)
Open source FTP program for uploading files to your host.
GIMP (free download)
An open source program used to create & edit – free alternative to Photoshop.
GMAIL (free download)
KOMPOZER (free download)
An easy to use WYSIWYG HTML editor.
NICHEBOTCLASSIC (free online tool)
Online keyword research tool helps you target the correct keywords.
OSWD (free downloads)
Open Source Web Design offers free web design templates.
PDF TO WORD (free online tool)
Easily create editable Word Doc files from PDF content – for legit purposes only! 🙂
RESELL RIGHTS FORUM (free online tool)
Very helpful forum with lots of good info on internet marketing. Friendly members too.
ROBO FORM (free download)
Easily & safely manage your passwords.
WISDOM SOFTWARE (free download)
Software that allows you to “capture” any part of your desktop, a window or full screen.
SKYPE (free download)
Make free calls over the internet to other people on Skype.
TEXPAD (free download)
A powerful text editor. I personally like Textpad for editing HTML code.
TWEETDECK (free download)
Great for staying in touch with your contacts across Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and more.
GreenWaveHosting.com – The best web hosting that allows you to scale up when needed to fit your needs.
Easy Capture Page – Probably the easiest ways to create customizable squeeze pages on the web. I can quickly create new pages in under 5 minutes. It offers a point-and-click interface that makes creating squeeze pages super easy. Plus, they eve n offer a free version!
GoToWebinar– Webinars are essential for marketing, making sales and engaging with your subscribers to offer them value.
YouTube – I use this free service to store and publish almost all my videos.
Amazon S3 – This is an extremely reliable internet storage service. It’s perfect for hosting large files like videos and podcasts. When using Amazon S3 you will never run into bandwidth problems, which can be really useful when you are a large product launch.
Easy Video Suite – If you use Amazon S3 you will need to publish those files and create video players that will allow you to post them to your website. Easy Video Suite is perfect for doing that. It will take the technical side out of it for you, allowing you to easily and quickly upload your media files and create nice video players for your website. This is a must-have for anyone like me who really doesn’t like to mess with the tech kind of stuff.
Easy Video Suite also allows you to embed ‘buy now’ buttons, embedded opt-in forms, overlays, and full media integration.
UptimeRobot.com – A free service that will notify you if your sites ever go down.
WordPress – Most of my businesses are built on WordPress now. I use WordPress for my blogs, my squeeze pages, sales letters, launch pages, and my membership sites.
The WordPress tool has truly revolutionized how entrepreneurs run their online businesses. It basically takes a ton of the tech headaches out of creating your website.
Hybrid Connect – Create slick, engaging pop-ups for your blog and dramatically increase your opt-in subscriber rates.
Zamzar – This is a free tool that allows you to convert nearly unlimited types of media file formats, including documents, images, audio, videos, etc. Convert your files to different formats quickly and easily.
I have listed a few tools you can use for free
Jing is a powerful screen capture software that gives you the ability to snap a picture of anything that you can see on your computer screen. The possibilities for this tool are endless and it can increase your productivity immensely.
One example is using Jing in combination with PowerPoint to create custom images. Just arrange pictures, text, background, etc. how you want them in PP and then simply use Jing to snap a quick picture of your work. This is an easy way to create simple multi-layered images without the need for image editing knowledge or expensive software.
Jing is also able to record screen capture video for up to 5 minutes.
HootSuite is a social network streamlining tool that allows you to manage multiple social network accounts including FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn and more, all from a single integrated dashboard.
Send a single message out to all your social networks at once, schedule that message to post at a later date or set up an RSS feed to post automatically.
They also have a premium version if you need to add more accounts.
Kompozer allows you to create web pages with a WYSIWYG editor. This software actually isn’t actively updated anymore, so it can only write web pages in html4. These days, there are also tons of drag and drop page builders out there that make it really easy to create nice modern web pages.
But, if you’re looking for a free way to create some simple web pages that can be uploaded to any server, Kompozer still works and I still use it myself for that purpose.
SEOquake is a free browser add-on available for Firefox and Google Chrome that allows you to see the keyword density, source code, Alexa ranking and many other useful SEO parameters for any web page you desire, straight from your browser bar.
You can use this tool to measure the on page SEO for any page of your site, or even just to scope out the competition. All around this is a very useful free tool.
Photobucket is a free image hosting service that allows you to easily upload, edit, share and embed images over the internet.
Very useful service if you don’t have a hosting account of your own and the editing and resizing options are very helpful and easy to use as well.
7-Zip is a free tool that allows you to unzip file types that your operating system normally wouldn’t be able to work with. This is helpful if you’re working with things like gziped backups of your website.
Icon Finder is a website that has thousands of free high quality icons that you can download and use to make your webpages more interesting. Before you use an icon commercially though you should check its copyright.
Dropbox is a neat little service that allows you to upload up to 2gb of data for free, that you can then sync between computers, share with others, etc. It has a very slick interface and it’s about as user friendly as you can get.
Color Cop is a handy little tool that gives you an eyedropper that you can place on any pixel on your screen. It then gives you the exact HTML hex value as well as the RGB values. If you do any kind of design work, this tool can save you a ton of time matching colors across a project.
One tip though is to make sure you click the “direct download” link. If you use the default installer you will have to be careful not to download all the extra offers included.
Screencast-O-Matic is a free video screen capture software. In the free version you can record up to 15 minutes of video. If you’re going to be using it though, you might as well get the premium version for $15 per year. With the premium version, all restrictions are removed and you also get a full suite of editing tools.
The features of this software will not be quite as robust as something like Camtasia… but that’s to be expected at $15 per year. But it’s still a very powerful piece of software that will likely do everything you need it to do.
Wistia is a video hosting service that has a style all their own. YouTube is great… until your videos get flagged and your account gets terminated. And Vimeo flat out prohibits home business related content per their terms and conditions.
Wistia is a great alternative offering amazing customer support, entertaining tutorial videos, helpful statistics, and affordable pricing for those with moderate video hosting needs.
With a free account, you get 200gb per month of bandwidth. That’s more than most video hosting companies give you for a paid account.
VLC is a free media player that makes a great alternative to Windows Media Player.
It’s fast and includes loads of extra functionality like the ability to convert video and audio into different formats. It’s also not buggy like WMP can be, so that’s nice as well.
HandBrake is an extremely useful program that you need to use if you host any video online. HB will shrink the size of your videos, saving you tons of money in bandwidth charges.
I’ve saved as much as 80% on a video encoded by HB compared to the original file size. There are tons of options, but in most cases you can simply click “web optimized” and the defaults are fine.
Subtle Patterns is a website with a ton of really slick background designs that you can browse and download for free. These backgrounds can be used for anything and will add a lot of depth to your designs.
Compressor is a free online service that will compress your images, reducing the file size without any noticeable loss in quality. The smaller the images on your website are, the less time it takes to load them in your viewer’s browser, which will help to improve overall site performance.
TinyPNG is another service that will compress your images. They do a better job with some types of images than Compressor.io for some reason. They also allow you to upload multiple images at once. Of the 2, TinyPNG is probably the better service.
Unbounce has a great blog that is full of helpful tips on conversion, copywriting and other marketing topics. This is a great free resource and there’s a lot you can learn here.
BG.Siteorigin.com is a website that allows you to create your own custom background patterns. There are tons of different options and you can create some really cool stuff that fits exactly what your project needs in just a few minutes. For a demo, I created that sample background over there in about 10 seconds.
Ever seen a really cool Youtube video or heard a Soundcloud audio that you wish you could easily download to your computer and save forever? Savefrom.net lets you do just that. You can easily download media from many such sites. Just be careful if you intend on re-purposing that content as much of it will likely be copyrighted.
Awesome screenshot is a free Google Chrome extension that allows you to take a screen capture image of your browser. What makes this so useful is that you can take screenshots of an entire webpage, not just what is currently visible.
Team Viewer is a free screen sharing service that allows you to remotely connect to another person’s computer and even control their computer. This is extremely helpful for working with your team. This is the best screen share service I’ve used.
Join Me is another screen sharing service. I always used to use this until I discovered Team Viewer. In my experience, Join Me is a lot slower and the setup process is more complicated, but it’s another option if Team Viewer doesn’t work for you for whatever reason.