Ten Free Digital Marketing Tools to Lift the Fog of War

Aug 24, 2015Marketing Strategy

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Saturation of information is a huge issue in almost every industry and especially in marketing. As content on the web explodes, there’s just so much information out there – so many tools, so many experts and so many opinions.Inc.com reported on a study done between Fractal and Moz that attempts to measure the growth of the “inbound marketing economy” and more specifically, growth in digital marketing related job postings online. In a 4 year period, they measured a 350% increase in digital-related marketing positions, with the largest spikes coming just since January, 2015.As a digital marketer, it can be extremely frustrating to try to sift through all the information available to us. I’ve come up with a list of Ten FREE Digital Marketing Tools for us to use to help clear the “fog” of the digital marketing war. Let’s get started.

Other digital marketing experts.

First and foremost, the biggest (and best) free resource that I’ve found is other digital marketers. There are those that are experts in their fields already and there are plenty of us out there with opinions to be heard. I like to listen to both the experts and the opinions. My (short) list below include a few from both sides. I’d love to hear who you’d add to this list!
  • TimFelmingham.com – Tim is an ex-agency veteran that now flies solo and focuses on marketing tips for small business. I like Tim’s approach – simplification of topics, concepts and ideas. Tim’s blog is great to follow if you’re either new to digital marketing or if you’re a small business owner.
  • MatthewWoodward.co.uk – Matthew’s focus is SEO and affiliate marketing and he’s been around for quite a while. Like many of us in the industry, Matthew got started due to a natural interest in the web and hasn’t looked back since.
  • Skip Besthoff – Skip is CEO of InboundWriter.com. I follow Skip on Twitter for his relevant posts on inbound marketing and content creation.
  • Rand Fishkin – how could you have a list about anything without Rand? What I like most about him, though, is his unbiased balance and grounded personality. I learn a lot from him, but I bet we’d be friends in real life, too.
Marketing Technology Bloggers Header

Moz Open Site Explorer

Continuing with the Rand / Moz theme, my first suggested free tool for digital marketers is Moz’s Open Site Explorer. In general, I’d say Moz is not only known for its products but for its willingness to share information for free (have you seen their Google Algorithm Change History, for example?).The Moz Open Site Explorer tool provides insight into a site including elements such as Domain Authority, inbound links, and Spam Score (which is a recently-added feature). It won’t necessarily tell you everything you want to know about a website URL or domain, but it can tell you a lot – and for free!
Moz Open Site Explorer

Moz Open Site Explorer

SEO Quake

SEO Quake toolbar is a browser add-on I’ve been using for quite a while now. It boasts 2M downloads and definitely still provides value, although, some of the information it provides is not nearly as valuable as when I first started using it (i.e.: Google PageRank). However, I do still use the “Diagnosis” feature to help get a quick glance at on-site factors such as the use of headings on a page, the presence (or lack) of meta descriptions, keywords, (etc) and any gaps in image alt tags, especially. It’s important to note that some of the features don’t appear to work (I use it on Firefox), such as the Google Analytics website compliance check. If you have the latest asynchronous code installed on your site, SEO Quake doesn’t seem to be recognizing it.

Inbound.org

From an educational perspective, one of my favorite sites to consume digital marketing information is on Inbound.org. It’s sort of a Reddit-style format where content is submitted (or written on the platform itself) and is voted on (up or down). Content that is voted up bubbles to the top. It’s a great way to be exposed to a range of topics and authors and even occasionally will include an AMA (ask me anything) session with an expert as well.
Google Analytics Android App

Google Analytics Android App

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is still, by far, one of the best free tools to digital marketers to provide insights. I think GA knows that not all of their users are “power users” and has really done a much better job as of late making their interface easier to use but also refining their reporting and data visualization functionalities. I use the mobile app on my Android smart phone as well. It has limitations but it’s a pretty good way to keep an eye on traffic, engagement and conversions on the fly.

Buzzsumo

I’ve only recently started using Buzzsumo.com, but I’m already seeing the insight it can provide. Buzzsumo provides insight into content performance – for a topic or industry, competitor or domain. You can see top performers and even setup alerts. The results provided by the free tool can be somewhat limited but I still find it to be valuable insight.

Firebug

Firebug is another free, open-source browser plug-in I’ve been using for a few years now. Firebug is great for those that need to examine or fine-tune a website’s CSS, HTML, DOM, XHR and JavaScript. I use this tool all the time to “mock up” changes before I actually make them to a site and to also troubleshoot issues, such as load times or display issues.

Canva.com

Canva is a relatively new tool for me still and my thoughts here are based solely on their free version. They’ve recently released Canva for Business, which I have yet to try. The free platform has a few limitations (hence their “For Work” version) but overall it’s still a pretty good tool for creating visual assets if you’re a one-man (or woman) shop or an independent blogger. I think you can see the improvement in image quality as my experience with the tool has matured as well.

IFTT

IFTT or “if this, then that” is a great tool to help semi-automate a number of tasks you likely do every day. With any automation tool, this ability doesn’t come without consequence, though. So be careful what type of recipes you build or use. Personally, some of my favorites are the ones that sync social media profile photos, or build lists based on behavior. For example, there’s a recipe to build a list of all Twitter users whose Tweets you’ve favorited. That’s a great way to return back to those individuals and learn more about them later.
IFTT recipe examples

IFTT recipe examples

Screaming Frog SEO Spider

Last but not least on today’s list is Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider tool. This is a free download for Mac or Windows, and one of only a few non-web based tools I use today. The free version scans a URL or website that you input and provides additional SEO insight relating to on-site factors. It’s a pretty handy tool if you’re interested in examining more than just a few pages on a site.

What do you think?

What do you think of my free tools for digital marketers list? Do you use any of the same tools I use? Are there any on your list that I should know about, too? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. Please leave a comment below or feel free to contact me with your thoughts.

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