Maybe you are looking to automate some of your online marketing related tasks.

Or maybe you just want to do more stuff but don’t have the time.

Maybe you just want to experiment and get a feel for this mystical activity.

Whatever the case may be, there are great free online marketing tools out there in the wild that can help you at almost any stage of your efforts.

Why not take them for a spin?

1. SimilarWeb – spy on your competition

Before you even do anything you are probably wondering what works for your competitors, what are they doing?

SimilarWeb

Or maybe you want to see what marketing channels they don’t use and try to use those instead.

Either way, SimilarWeb is going to help you gain some insight into pretty much any website that has some traction online.

There are situations where there is either too little data for a website or the thing is too new and it will not show you anything about it.

The tool shows you quite a lot of information about the traffic sources broken down by geographical location, type of traffic source and those broken down further.

How to use

Simply type the URL of the website you “spy” on and see what comes up.

2. Open Site Explorer – spy on backlinks

If you know anything about SEO, you know that backlinks play a major role in how search engines decide if they are going to show you at the top or not.

So, to hope that you will reach the top of the search results with a page you not only have to have a great page in terms of content you also need to have a good amount of quality backlinks.

But, how many?

OSE

One easy way to get an idea is to find your number one competitor. Grab the page that is on the top of the search results and add it into Open Site Explorer.

It will show a couple of things, including the number of links the page has, how many the whole website has and also where are those links coming from.

It’s by no means an accurate way of saying you need x amount of links and you’ll reach the number one spot, but it gives you an idea.

And it also helps you figure out who is willing to link to a page/website similar to yours.

How to use

Just grab the link you want to know stuff about, add it into OSE and hit search.

3. Answer the public – find blog ideas

You know you need content. You probably think about a blog.

But what to write about?

This is a great tool to find ideas for blog posts.

Find blog post ideas

You give it a keyword and it returns a bunch of question and related phrases. Once you find something that might be a good article subject note it down for later or just jump on it.

How to use

Type in a keyword related to your business, select the country you are interested in, hit the big yellow button and enjoy.

4. Fat Joe – come up with titles that pop

You know those fancy titles that you see on social media every day, right?

Come up with catchy titles

Why not use some of those attention grabbing techniques for your own blog?

How to use

Just add your main keyword / product / service and hit ‘generate ideas’ until you find something that sounds good to you.

5. Canva – create fancy looking images

If you are going to be online you will need images.

Fancy blog image

If you are just looking for images with nothing fancy, say for your blog posts or whatever you can find some that are free to use on sites like pexels.com

But if you want to have nice looking images with text and other stuff on them, then Canva is a great tool.

Also, it has templates for all the social media websites you might need, at the right sizes for each, plus presentations, resumes and all sorts of other things.

How to use

For this one I’m going to recommend that you take a look at their tutorials, they are very quick to go through so check them out.

6. feedly – fill up the gaps

You probably won’t blog or have things to post on social media every day. But not being there is also not a great thing.

The middle ground is, of course, sharing other people’s content. But how do you find it?

Find content to share

One way to do it, and do it for free, is to follow websites that publish the kind of content you would want to share.

Adding them to feedly just makes things easy and fast once everything is set up.

How to use

Sign-up, follow publications and fill the blanks in your own content sharing with content from those publications.

7. buffer – schedule your social media posts for the week

Don’t want to spend your time every day posting on social media? No problem.

Schedule social media posts

Buffer allows you to schedule 10 posts per social account on the free plan. And you can add 5 social accounts so that would be 50 scheduled posts.

It’s also very easy to use, so take it for a spin.

How to use

Follow the getting started guide but keep in mind that the guide covers a business plan so you won’t have all the features you see there, on the free plan.

8. MailChimp – capture some of those readers

You go through all the work to create content then spread it across the web.

Grow an email list

You might also want people to be able to subscribe to your email list so that you can keep in touch from time to time like when you have new content to share.

MailChimp gives you the tools to build and manage that list.

The one thing I don’t like about MailChimp and kills the deal for me is that it forces a double opt-in process on their forms.

What this means is that for somebody to become a subscriber it has to sign up, then receive an email, open the email, then click on a link in said email.

With each extra step after the initial sign-up, you loose people.

It’s hard enough to convince people to give you their email, now that everybody wants it and on top of it now you force them to do other things as well.

You can get around the issue if you are using the API or another service on top of MailChimp that uses the API but that complicates things.

Like it or not, it’s an awesome playground for a beginner.

Once you understand how an email list fits in with your marketing and all that jazz, if you choose to, you can switch platforms and also get your emails with you.

Rant over…

How to use it

Follow the getting started guide, put up a sign-up for on your website, promote the thing, be patient.

9. Hustle – add subscription forms and pop-ups

You have an email service provider, now it’s time to get those subscribers. But before you can do that you need some forms on your website.

Create forms and pop-ups

Hustle is a really nice plugin for WordPress with a lot of features for a free plugin.

You can use it to create multiple forms and pop-ups and you have quite a lot of options in terms of where to position the form or how to trigger the popups, slide-ins and all that.

You also have a few options for the layout of the form which can then be further customized.

It also shows you some basic numbers like views, conversions and conversion rates.

And on top of it all, it doesn’t even show any company branding on it, which you would expect with free versions in general.

But, what I like the most is that you can make exit intent pop-ups, a feature for which most pop-up plugins require you to buy the premium versions.

How to use

Try their guide here, scroll down a little and look for a button “Usage”.

10. Hotjar – see what users do on your website

You do the work and bring people to your website. But you don’t get the number of subscribers or sales that you were hoping for.

One way to uncover potential problems that might prevent people from subscribing or buying is to see what they do once they are on your website.

Even though the free plan is quite limited, it can still be a huge step into understanding how users use your website.

How to use

Again, I’m going to point you to their manual.

Bonus: Chatra – live support

If you want to be able to answer customer questions on the spot while they are on your website Chatra is a nice option.

Add live support to your website

The free option cuts down a lot of features but it’s very usable, especially for a small operation.

How to use

First of all, sign-up and then you can follow the instruction from their installation page for the platform that you are using.

In conclusion

Understanding some of these tools and how they are used is not something reserved for dedicated marketers.

Even if you don’t want to become a marketer yourself, having a better understanding of how things are done might help you when talking to or hiring a marketer or an agency.

I hope you found something of value here and even if you didn’t don’t forget to share it with someone that you think might find it useful.