If you’re an independent business owner or employee who’s tasked with marketing without adequate time or budget, this post is for you.
It’s for you because tools and technology are the backbones of any holistic marketing effort in today’s robust, data and emotionally driven marketing space. And let’s face it, not having adequate time and budget to learn and pay for the right tools, doesn’t diminish the role marketing play in managing business initiatives.
So we’ve tried to save you a bit of time and budget by sharing some of the best tools around the web. Most of these tools are free, and none require a payment of more than $25 to $50 to get started.
Most of these tools can scale with your company once you’re ready to increase your marketing budget as well. Although, once your business plans to spend $100 a month or more on any tool, we recommend chatting with a marketing professional to make sure those tools are a good fit for your goals, team size, team skill-set and marketing budget.
Take a look, and feel free to ask us any questions about these tools. Have fun!
Google my business This is where Google says the business lives, so it’s a great idea to make sure it has you listed correctly. Think of this as knowing what the Yellow Pages have indexed for you. You may never run an ad with them, but you don’t want them listing the wrong number or having the business name misspelled.
Yext Find your business all over the web. You’d be surprised to know how many places you might not know you’re listed. If you are actively working on SEO, you’ll be working with a company like CodeSwitch to get listed in more places and more? relevant places.
Seositecheckup and SEOptimizer There are lots of tools out there for this purpose, and these two are straightforward and simple. While they both produce the same information, some slight differences may make it worthwhile to use both the first time and continue using just one in the future. File this under monthly to-do’s.
Answer The Public Part of marketing a business is idea generation, but when it comes to keywords ideas aren’t as good as research. Here’s one way to find lots of keyword phrases that will aid your content production and help whoever is heading up your search marketing initiatives, even if it’s CodeSwitch.
KWFinder If you know enough about keywords to know there’s a need for tools to look up keywords, then it might be time to start using KWFinder. Just type in a keyword (even guessing will get you good results) and look for what comes back. As a hint, the websites on the right will let you know who’s ranking well in the area you’ve chosen. The words and phrases on the left will be the start of your keyword list research.
Spyfu This is one of the best tools on the market by far and one we’ve used for years now. Once you’re getting started with digital ads (PPC via Google ads) research is a must, not an option. Taking a look at what others are doing in the same space can save lots of time and budget.
Siteliner Find out what your site looks like through the eyes of a bot. Humans aren’t responsible for your websites search placement or ranking, that’s left to bots, algorithms, and crawlers. So make sure you know what they’re seeing.
Pingdom site speed test The truth is that most people will leave your website after 5 seconds or more of waiting for it to load; this number decreases on small devices like phones. So get to know the amount of time it takes your site to load and do what’s needed to improve it (even if that means hiring someone).
Browserstack Screenshot Tool This tool walks up to the intermediate line but doesn’t quite cross over. We’re all familiar with the fact that websites should be functional on lots of different devices, but without expertise, it’s hard to know exactly what your site looks like on all the devices your audience might use. Unless you have this tool and well, now you do. Double down and try their Responsive Website Tool as well.
Yoast SEO Website tools While the internet is leery of calling any one tool an “industry standard,” Yoast products are close. Yoast has excellent tools and courses that can help your company get started stepping up its SEO game.
Portent Title Generator Need to generate some easy blog ideas? The Portent idea generator will give you a nudge. This tool won’t write anything for you, and you’ll need some refinement of its ideas to make them yours, but if you’re stuck and need a jump start, it’s a fantastic source.
BuzzSumo Content Research Tool It’s important to know who’s already producing great content that matches industry keywords relevant to your business. This tool is limited in the number of times it can be used without a subscription but is worth it.
Headline Analyzer by Share Through Once you’re done with your well-written post that is relevant to your audience, well researched, original, and even references a few keywords, the real work begins. Coming up with a great headline isn’t easy to do. Luckily, you’ll have this analyzer to help understand the nuances of creating a catchy, relevant, and powerful headline.
Sniply If you like to share posts on a regular basis, this tool will allow the inclusion of a link to your site or product while someone is reading the article. If you’re going to share, take the time to let people know they’re benefiting from your reading as much as you are.
Co-Schedule These guys have been at it for a really long time and built a robust tool that’s content centered from the ground up. Having been beta one of the first few 100 users on this service we’ve seen it make a huge difference in our campaigns, process management as well as reporting. There are quite a few plans but it’s worth it to take a look to see how they can help your marketing team.
Buffer This is one of the few tools that has been around a long time and still makes it into the list of small business tools because of its ease and low maintenance. If you’re just getting started with social media posting, do yourself a favor and use this tool as a step to more advanced tools; or as a
Follower Wonk Find social influencers online who talk about your industry and follow them or share their posts. Then use the Sniply tool (above) when you share. It’s worth noting that this tool is built by the fantastic team at Moz who are second to none when it comes to web tools and expertise.
Brand24 If your company has done a great job sharing social content, it may be time to find out if it’s been helping your brand name. When people refer to your company name online regularly, that means someone has been doing a great job, but is there an easy way to find out how many times you’ve been named? Glad you asked. Brand24 has just the tool to find out. Have at it.
Onlypult There’s a rumor out there that no social tools post to Instagram. Well, we’re here put that rumor to rest. Having changed their name from Instapult to Onlypult for apparent reasons, the value is clear. Scheduling, bulk uploads and post searches are among the many reasons this tool will be indispensable to your marketing.
RoundTeam Automating your social media can be a terrible thing if not executed correctly. That said, if you’re looking to make automation happen thoughtfully, without the need for lots of monitoring or team management, Round Table is the tool for you.
Ritetag An insiders tip when it comes to posting is to be sure you are using hashtags properly. To make that happen, you first need to know which hashtags are most relevant to your post. Yes, this can take lots of time all on its own. Unless you’re using Ritetag. One of the simplest and most effective tools for this purpose.
Visuals and Design
Recite This Get started sharing the values of the company by posting them on your social profiles. This tool will help make them just a bit more visual. It won’t help to build your visual identity strategically, but if the goal is to get started, here’s your chance.
Canva If there’s a visually savvy team member who hasn’t quite attained graphic designer status, consider having them use Canva. If this person needs to create visuals quickly for presentations, social or otherwise, Canva is a great way to jump right in without having to learn expensive, hard to master tools.
Pablo Creating images for your social posts has never been easier.
Gratisography If you’re writing blogs posts, sharing information on social channels or just updated your website you need imagery. This site will get you started with great photos to complement your words, we use imagery from this often.
Brand AI – If you’re not a design or graphics professional who knows how to tie together colors, fonts, and logo versions to create cohesive brand aesthetic it can seem like a daunting task. This tool should help organize your ideas and thoughts making the job easier.
Stylify Here’s another style guide tool similar to Brand AI but it’s free. It works with colors, fonts and gives a snapshot of the homepage of a site.
Unsplash If you’re in need of great pics with little to no budget, Unsplash is here to help. What makes Unsplash stand out is their support of the photographers who contribute to the site and the WordPress plugin that allows you to choose pictures directly from your site. Awesome!
Hubspot or Highrise – Your business needs a CRM regardless of its size and preferably one that will grow with the company over time to avoid a costly or time-consuming switch later on. Here are two tools that can help you, choose what you feel matches your needs best. We prefer Highrise for teams managing projects and current clients and HubSpot for teams managing accounts and sales.
And.Co – If you’re a freelancer or just haven’t been able to find the right bookkeeper to handle billing, invoices and online payments there’s an easy low cost solution that we recommend, And.co. Could you use Paypal, Chase Quick Pay or similar products? Sure. However, these products don’t help to manage your customer experience, extend your visual brand identity and most importantly, they don’t elevate your client / customers experience. What’s even better is their pricing, free up to $20/month
Google Alerts – Industry, competitors and your own business are generating information and data across the internet all the time. While many specialized tools can help you keep up with these mentions, this one is free and has been used for years to stay in the know about topics relevant to you.
Hemingway & Grammarly While these tools aren’t specifically for marketers; they are essential to the quality of the communications leaving your business. Writing is still the foundation of most if not all well-done marketing. This includes video and photography as well, so being sure of your words is important. At CodeSwitch we prefer Grammarly, but they’re both great tools.
Rescue Time Everyone is battling with productivity; at CodeSwitch we approach this problem the way we do all of our business and marketing problems – with strategy. To do so, we need data, and that’s where Rescue Time comes in. Knowing how much time you’re spending on social media, business sites, or client websites can give you some great ideas about what’s happening during the workday. We install this tool for many clients looking to have their staff manage pieces of their marketing, particularly social media. We do not advise this tool be used to track employee computer usage.
Diigo We prefer tools that hit the sweet spot between broad toolset with specific but dynamic purpose. Diigo fits this bill perfectly. It’s more than just bookmarks, they’ve anticipated that you sometimes bookmark websites for different reasons than bookmarking an article. They’ve also built in ways to share these things with your team and annotate them when you do. It’s a great general use tool.
Calendly or Doodle While admittedly we still prefer to ask most of our clients for a meeting time, we recommend both of these tools to quite a few of our clients. When you’re scheduling extremely busy people, large numbers of people or have very limited availability that should be filled quickly; these tools are indispensable. These tools are great for service professionals that provide appointment times on a regular basis.
Asana or Flow Having a team means managing a team and that requires something more than an Excel spreadsheet if the plan is to stay on top of all the campaigns and initiatives that a winning marketing approach will require. While there are many players with great offerings—we can vouch for Trello and Basecamp to name a few—Asana and Flow are the two we recommend if you’re getting your feet wet with project management and want to learn, and hopefully document, your team’s workflow before allocating a bit of budget for other tools or an agency like CodeSwitch. These tools will also scale with your company should you decide to stay with them.
Privnote Passing along passwords and sensitive information to team members and vendors like CodeSwitch happens all the time. One of the first on-boarding tasks for our team is gathering logins and passwords so we don’t get stuck not handling a task by not making the ask upfront. While high-end security isn’t always warranted or available (we suggest 1Password if your budget allows), Privnote can be your go-to tool when sending private notes and passwords with some small amount of security is needed.