20+ Free Marketing Tools & Resources to Boost Your Marketing This Year
They say the best things in life are free.
With marketing, the best programs and systems out there may not always be free, but there are certainly many different free marketing tools and resources you can take advantage of to boost your marketing this year.
Here’s a quick list of different tools and resources that I and other members of the COACT team use regularly and have personally found to be particularly helpful in all aspects of marketing, from research and copywriting to videography, SEO, and design.
Imagery & Design
I absolutely love Canva. It’s a great free alternative to the Adobe Creative Cloud that is extremely user-friendly, designed for different kinds of users, and helps you to easily make many elements of design – blog images, postcards, brochures, infographics, newsletters, and more.
You can use their templates or completely design your own from scratch. It’s also pretty intuitive and only takes a few minutes to learn how to use. And the best part is, your finished products are usually quite beautiful!
Searching for beautiful photos of … well, anything? Look no further than Unsplash. By far, this is one of the most popular free resources our department uses. The free images on Unsplash are absolutely breathtaking.
Whether you are looking for photos of office spaces, houses, cats, or manufacturing facilities, you will most likely find what you’re searching for using Unsplash.
Pixabay is another great resource for free images (it contains over 1.3 million as of the time I am writing this article). What’s great about Pixabay is that it not only includes photos, but also illustration, vector graphics, and videos.
If I can’t find something on Unsplash, Pixabay is my second go-to resource for images.
Morguefile is another free image resource and offers over 340,000 free stock photos for commercial use “for creatives, by creatives.”
In addition, they send out a “Free Monthly Image Pack” which are handpicked and typically of excellent quality.
Death to Stock is described as “a lifestyle image resource for dreamers and doers smashing the mold.” They have a monthly subscription that gives you unfettered access to their image library, or a free email signup where they send you a pack of images each month.
You can also download selected free stock photos from their website as well. Like Unsplash, the quality of these images is fantastic.
Like it or not, BuzzFeed-style listicles are here to stay, and what would a BuzzFeed listicle be without high-quality GIFs of cute animals?
Giphy is the place to go if you’re looking to find or create a GIF to insert into blog posts or even emails. And let’s be honest – they’re fun.
Like GIFs, memes are another Millennial creation that have exploded into popularity in the past few years. Meme Generator is a free resource you can use to search memes and even make your own memes.
Chances are, if you’ve done any research about SEO, you’ve heard of Moz. Their tools, resources, workshops, and guides have become some of the most popular and lauded when it comes to understanding SEO and optimizing content for the ever-changing Google algorithms.
Moz Keyword Explorer is a free resource for anyone where you can access 10 free queries per month for intensive keyword research. Use this tool to look up keywords and see their monthly volume, difficulty, organic CTR, priority, SERP analysis, and keyword suggestions.
I’ve dabbled in several keyword search tools out there – both free and paid – and still have found Moz Keyword Explorer to be my favorite.
Using WordPress for your CMS? DOWNLOAD THE YOAST SEO PLUGIN NOW. It is a free, extremely easy to use, and probably the most beneficial plugin you will ever utilize.
With the free plugin for WordPress, you can optimize all of your pages for keywords, check your readability using the Flesch Reading Ease score, and set primary categories for your posts.
The Yoast plugin grades your content as red, orange, or green, analyzing facets like your keyword density, the length of your page title, whether or not your images contain alt attributes with your chosen focus keyword, and how many inbound and outbound links you have.
My rule of thumb is to do everything I can to make sure anything I post is green with the Yoast plugin.
Another excellent keyword search tool, Ubersuggest gives you tons of great information about keywords and domains including a domain overview, top SEO pages, keyword suggestions, content ideas, and backlink data.
Ahhh, Google. What would SEO be without Google? The creators of Google pioneered what SEO has become today, so it seems only fitting that Google would have great free tools that anyone can use to rank higher and higher in organic searches.
Here are four Google tools that I use the most for SEO:
- Google Analytics – This is a no-brainer. Google’s free web analytics service gives you both real-time and all-time insights into how your content is performing. I use Google Analytics regularly to track trends such as page views and bounce rate percentages.
- Google Search Console – Formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools, Google Search Console is the perfect addition to Google Analytics. Take advantage of this resource and perform crawls through your site; analyze how users are getting to your site and what keywords they use; and learn how you can optimize your pages.
- Google Trends – You can use Google Trends to explore topics and see how – and where – they are trending. I use Google Trends for research about blog topics and occasionally, different keywords.
- Google PageSpeed Insights – This tool is excellent for making sure that your web pages load quickly on all of your devices, both desktop and mobile. Simply enter in a URL, and you will receive analyses for how your website performs – as well as how you can optimize it for the better.
Answer the Public is my absolute favorite tool for coming up with content topics. This free visual keyword research tool provides you with hundreds of potential long-tail keywords and, inherently, content topics in visual and data formats.
What’s particularly helpful is that you can download all of these search results in a CSV file to easily organize and search.
Quora describes themselves as “a place where you can ask questions you care about and get answers that are amazing.”
That’s what is great about Quora – because it is based on questions, you can easily find topics that will resonate with your audience. Question-based or how-to blog topics are some of the most popular blog topics out there and can be derived from some of the common questions people pose in Quora. I
If you’re having writer’s block and need some inspiration, head over to any of these three sites, and you’ll come out with some great ideas!
Though my former English teachers and professors probably cringe, Wikipedia has become my de facto #1 research tool besides just Googling a particular topic. Let’s face it – it’s easy to use, exhaustive, and a great starting place for any subject.
Of course, you should always take everything on Wikipedia with a grain of salt. I’m always hesitant to cite Wikipedia, but where I use it the most (besides initial research) is by looking at Wikipedia’s sources.
I usually will look at the relevant sources they cite for each topic as starting points for further research and as more reputable sources to hyperlink to in, say, an ebook or blog post.
As a bonus, you can also find free Creative Commons images to share as well on Wikipedia.
SlideShare is another free resource I’ve been using a lot lately for research purposes on myriad topics. I can usually find excellent, image-heavy content with graphs and statistics that appeal to today’s skimming audience.
Need to understand how something works, why something is the way it is, or the history of a particular subject? Head over to HowStuffWorks.com.
This website is replete with articles, videos, and podcasts about an array of different topics and categories. What’s great is that they take really complicated subjects and break them down into laymen’s terms so that anyone can understand them.
You can also benefit from the fact that, unlike Wikipedia, HowStuffWorks is pretty scrupulous in the sources it cites (and its editing process).
I recently discovered ThoughCo and wish I’d discovered it much sooner. It is similar to HowStuffWorks and covers topics from categories in science, tech, math, humanities, arts, music, recreation, and more.
I often use ThoughtCo for research about different topics and am continually pleased by the way they approach different subjects.
I absolutely adore this dual dictionary/thesaurus website and use it all the time.
Thesaursus.com is my ultimate favorite, though; I use it to do keyword research, come up with blog titles, and refine value propositions, among many other things.
Have you ever been writing something and wondered: Is it “blow this pop stand” or “blow this Popsicle stand”? Or even just wondered if a particular idiom you heard your boss use that you liked meant what you thought it did?
That’s why I love this collection of more than 60,000 English idioms and phrases from across the world. You can doublecheck that you are writing or defining a particular idiom correctly, as well as look up different idioms to use.
After all, idioms, aphorisms, and slang are so entwined in our everyday language and can make our writing all the more rich, visual, and inviting.
Do me a favor and just download Grammarly right now. You will not regret it.
I held off on using Grammarly longer than I should have, thinking that Microsoft’s spellcheck was good enough. Newsflash: it’s not. Grammarly has a few different products, but its free tools are fabulous. You can check the grammar on anything you write in MS Office and more.
Now, if I ever write anything, I first run it through Grammarly. Then, I run Microsoft Word’s spellcheck. I can’t emphasize how helpful this tool can be.
Though most online source citations now are done via hyperlinking, there are times when you may want to (or need to) write and cite in a particular style.
For a good refresher on the grammar rules for APA Style, MLA Style, AMA Style, and the Chicago Manual of Style, check out the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL). I first started using this website in high school and have been using it ever since.
Yes, video is huge right now – and probably will only continue to play a larger and larger part in our marketing and sales. The best part is that you don’t always need fancy equipment or an expensive software suite to make great videos anymore.
There are three video tools you can download to make your own videos, simply and easily, that act as Google Chrome extensions:
Go ahead and try ’em out; you won’t be disappointed!