It doesn’t matter how smart or driven of a marketer you are, without the right tools, it’s impossible to effectively market your business and get the word out about your products and services to your ideal customers.
Luckily for you, you don’t have to blow your entire budget on building your marketing tool belt. In fact, some of the best marketing tools in the business are completely free!
Here’s our list of the top nine free marketing tools that can help you take your business to the next level:
Not to toot our own horn, but when it comes to creating and sharing marketing images, you won’t find a better free tool out there than Canva.
Canva is an easy-to-use design platform that allows you to create a variety of graphics for your business. Canva has templates for everything from social media images to marketing brochures, flyers to business cards, presentations to web banners, and just about everything in between. Whatever marketing image you might need, Canva has a template for it.
So, how do you use Canva? Let’s say you wanted to create an image for your brand’s Instagram account. You can start with an Instagram Post template, which is already accurately sized for the platform. Once you find a template with the look, feel, and format you want for your Instagram image, you can customize the template—like swapping photos, changing the layout and background, adjusting the fonts, or adding in additional elements like icons, illustrations, or frames. And all with a few drag and drops.
If templates aren’t your thing, you can also build your design from scratch. Just go to the Canva homepage, click “Create a Design,” and choose the kind of image you want to create (like an Instagram post). From there, you can use those same sidebar tools to build your marketing image from the ground up.
If you want to squeeze even more marketing benefit from Canva, Canva Pro allows you to link your social media accounts and post your marketing images directly from the platform.
(Side note: Canva Pro does have a monthly fee, but you can try it for 30 days risk-free by signing up for a free trial.)
As mentioned, Canva has templates for all of your marketing needs, from marketing brochures (like the Orange Modern Trifold Brochure) to presentations (like the Minimal Business Marketing Presentation) to social graphics (like the Oldlace Floral Sale Facebook Post or the Orange and Pink Fashion Instagram Post.)
Part of effective marketing is connecting with your audience and getting your brand messaging out there across multiple platforms. But posting on a variety of social media platforms—especially in real-time—can be insanely time-consuming.
That’s where Buffer comes in.
Buffer is a social media marketing tool that allows you to manage multiple social media accounts and schedule social media posts—all from one easy-to-use platform.
Using Buffer is simple; once your social media accounts are linked, all you have to do is add your content, choose which platforms you want to publish the content on, and schedule it. Then, you add it to your Queue and Buffer will automatically publish your posts at the date and time—and on the platform—you specified.
Having the ability to schedule your social media content ahead of time allows you to develop a more structured social media strategy—and because you can schedule posts in bulk, you can not only save time on your marketing efforts, but you can make sure no important posts slip through the cracks.
Buffer also has an analytics tool that gives you key marketing insights for each post—that way, you can monitor how your posts are performing and adjust your social media strategy accordingly to pack the biggest marketing punch.
With Buffer’s free account, you can link up to three social media accounts for a single user. If you want to add more accounts—or grant account access to more people on your team—Buffer also has paid plans starting at $15USD /month.
Want to create custom social media images to schedule on Buffer? Try one of Canva’s social graphics templates, like the Beige and Blue Ocean Great Outdoors Instagram Post or the Floral Pattern Pinterest Graphic.
If you want to make the most of your marketing, all the different components of your marketing strategy—from content to social media to email marketing—need to work together.
IFTTT (which stands for “if this, then that”) makes it simple to build a cohesive marketing strategy by automating different functions within your business.
IFTTT integrates with a variety of apps and software (which they call “Services”) and allows you to create custom “Applets,” which allow you to link different Services together. You can set up your Applets to set off a specific set of responses when faced with a trigger (or, in other words “if this happens, then that happens”).
So, for example, you might set up an Applet of “If I post a blog post to my website, then post a link on my Twitter page.” Or “If I get a new email subscriber, then add all information to a Google Spreadsheet for tracking.”
IFTTT allows you to automate actions between different apps or software that you would otherwise have to do manually. This will save you a ton of time and energy—time and energy you can then pour back into your marketing campaigns).
Currently, IFTTT integrates with over 600 services, including essential marketing tools like Buffer, MailChimp, and Salesforce and key business tools like Google Drive, Dropbox, and Slack. IFTTT also integrates with mobile technology (like Google Assistant and iPhone Reminders) to make managing your marketing campaigns on the go a breeze.
One of the ways you can leverage IFTTT is to automate your social media posts. For example, you can use a template, like the Abstract Art Exhibition Facebook Post, to create a Facebook post—then use IFTTT to automatically share that post on Twitter (you can use a template, like the Orange Mountain Photo Valentine’s Twitter Post, to create a custom graphic for Twitter as well!).
The most effective marketers go straight to the source (their audience) to find out what they want and how to market to them. Surveys allow you to gather key information from your ideal customer demographic (for example, feedback on a new product or thoughts on what service they’d like to see from your brand next) and then use that information to better market your brand.
SurveyMonkey is “the world’s most popular free online survey tool” and for good reason. SurveyMonkey allows you to create highly detailed surveys and push them out to your target audience across a number of platforms, including email, mobile, web, and social media.
If you have specific questions you know you want to ask your audience, you can build a survey from scratch; all you have to do is type in the name of your survey, choose a survey category, and input your survey questions into the platform (currently, the free account offers unlimited surveys—but each survey is limited to 10 questions). Or, you can browse SurveyMonkey’s template database to see if any pre-existing surveys or questions fit the bill (currently, SurveyMonkey has over 100 templates and 2500 expert-written questions to choose from).
Once you’ve put together your survey, SurveyMonkey also allows you to customize the look and feel of your survey by adding your logo and choosing a design theme that matches your branding.
Once your survey is designed, you can choose how you’d like to send out your survey and collect responses. Then, all that’s left to do is push it out to your audience and wait for the responses to come rolling in.
SurveyMonkey allows to get information straight from your customer’s mouth, and you can then use that information to supercharge your marketing efforts and drive real results.
SurveyMonkey allows you to brand your surveys with your logo. Don’t have a logo design yet? No worries! Use one of Canva’s logo design templates—like the Black and Yellow Typographic Art & Design Logo, the Orange Flower Icon Floral Logo, or the Teal Leaves Icon Fitness Logo—to get started.
Email marketing is a non-negotiable in any effective marketing strategy. And here's why: According to Salesforce, the return on investment for email marketing averages at 3,800%, or an average of $38 return for every invested dollar. But a lot of platforms out there can be confusing and hard to learn— and not to mention, expensive.
Enter MailChimp. Arguably the simplest email tool on the market. MailChimp allows you can drag and drop different style elements (like image cards, text blocks, and social following icons) to create the layout of your choice. Then you can customize each element before you send the email out to your subscribers.
Once your email is designed and customized, you can upload your email list to the platform and send your email out to your followers. Once your email has been sent, you can access full analytics reports that will give you key marketing insights on performance and open rates so you can continually optimize your campaigns.
Mailchimp’s free account lets you send up to 12,000 emails per month to a max of 2,000 subscribers, which is perfect if you’re just getting your email marketing efforts off the ground (if you want to grow your list—or send out a higher volume of emails—you’ll need to upgrade to one of their paid plans).
Email marketing offers a great opportunity to connect with your audience. But if you want to succeed, you need to make the content engaging. Infographics are a great way to deliver key messaging and tell your brand story in an unexpected way; use Canva’s templates (like The Art of City Structure or the Turquoise Icons Process Infographic) to design custom infographics to include in your email marketing campaigns.
If you want your marketing strategy to be successful, you need to be on top of what’s happening on the back-end—what projects you have in the pipeline, who on your team is responsible for each project-related task, when you can expect key deliverables, and how each project is progressing.
Trello is a project management tool that allows you to easily track the progress of different marketing initiatives within your company.
With Trello, there are four key components you need to understand to get started:
- Boards. You’ll create a board for each individual marketing project, which will act as the hub to organize all the project’s tasks and activities.
- Cards. You’ll create a card for each individual task or idea for your project (so, for example, you might create individual cards for each campaign idea that comes out of your team brainstorm or for each task necessary to write, publish, and market your email campaigns). Within each card, you can include important information (like instructions or any background documents your team will need to get the job done), set deadlines, and assign each card to a member on your team.
- Lists. Lists are the way to keep cards organized and track the progress of your project. So, for example, let’s say you created a Trello board for your content marketing project and each card was a blog post you assigned to a different member of your team. You might have lists like “Blog post ideas,” where team members can create cards for ideas they want to pitch. Team members can move cards between lists as they progress through the project.
- Menu. The menu (which is on the right side of your Trello board) allows you to filter cards, manage your team members, change your settings, and monitor your board’s activity feed.
Trello is a great tool for visual learners; you can actually see the progress of each project as cards move across boards. And the best part? Trello offers an unlimited number of boards, lists, and cards—so no matter how many marketing projects you have going on simultaneously, you can manage the entire process within the Trello platform.
Trello allows you to keep all of your marketing projects organized in a single platform—and that includes any imagery. Use Canva’s templates (like the Yellow and Black Swiss Design Corporate Flyer or the Fuschia Dark Grey Photo Circle Marketing Proposal) to create your marketing images—and then attach the images directly to their relevant cards.
Google Keyword Planner
SEO and digital advertising both hinge on choosing the right keywords. And the best way to find out exactly what those keywords are? Google Keyword Planner.
Google Keyword Planner (which is a tool within the Google Ads platform) allows you to see estimated search traffic and bid range for specific keywords related to your business—which you can then work into your marketing strategy to make sure your website and Google ads get in front of the right people.
Google Keyword Planner also has a great “suggest” tool. When you type in a keyword for your business, the Keyword Planner will generate a list of suggested keywords you may also want to target—along with the estimated search volume and bid range for each keyword.
You can also use the Keyword Planner to gather additional information about your chosen keywords that may help your marketing campaigns, including CPC forecasts and past performance data.
And the best part? All you need to get started is a Google account.
Knowing what keywords to target will help you build an advertising strategy. Then, Canva’s web ad templates (like the Blue Tropics Apparel Facebook Ad or the Yellow Neat Icons Facebook Ad) will help you create the ads you need to bring that strategy to life.
If you’ve ever struggled to come up with an idea for a new blog post, ebook, or content marketing initiative (and, let’s be real—who hasn’t?), you’re definitely going to want to check out AnswerThePublic.
AnswerThePublic allows you to enter a keyword related to your business—then leverages data from the auto-suggest results on Google and Bing to create a visual map of potential content ideas based on that keyword. So, for example, if you type in the keyword “digital marketing,” AnswerThePublic aggregates the data from Google and Bing and then creates a visual map of questions people are asking based on digital marketing (like “is digital marketing the future?” or “how has digital marketing evolved?”). These questions are things people are typing directly into the search engines—so it’s an incredible resource to gather content ideas; you already know what questions people are asking, so you can create content that directly answers those questions.
In addition to questions, AnswerThePublic also creates visual content maps based on related prepositions and comparisons. It also compiles a list of all the suggested content ideas in alphabetical order.
AnswerThePublic is free, but the number of searches is limited per month. If you want access to unlimited searches and advanced tools (like filtering results by location or language), you’ll need to sign up for a pro account (which is $99/month).
AnswerThePublic will help you find the best topic ideas to write about—and Canva will help you create the images to go with that content. Use Canva’s social graphics templates (like the Pink and Cream Bordered Coffee Facebook Post or the Photo Bake Sale Facebook Post) to create custom images to promote your content.
Depending on your industry, partnering with social media influencers can be an extremely effective way to get your products in front of the right people. But in order to find success with influencer marketing, you need to be able to actually find the right influencers. This is where klear comes in handy.
klear is an “influencer marketing platform that helps brands build, scale and measure influencer campaigns.” The platform offers a host of free tools that allow you to identify key influencers in your industry on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook; analyze their potential reach, and monitor and measure the success of your influencer campaigns. It also has helpful search functions (like filtering influencers by location for localized campaigns).
You can use Canva’s social graphics templates (like the White Minimalist Plain Collage Instagram Post or the Pink Photo Quote Women’s Day Instagram Post) to make it easier for influencers to get your message out by providing them with pre-designed graphics to share with their followers.
You don’t have to blow your budget to build successful marketing campaigns
A lot of brands think they have to spend an arm and a leg to launch and manage successful marketing campaigns. But with these free tools, you can get your brand in front of the right people, deliver key messaging, and drive engagement, brand recognition, and revenue for your business—all without spending a dime.