So everyone’s telling you you’ve got to adopt more digital. But all their suggestions seem to cost money – money which you don’t have right now.
Well they’re not entirely wrong, to get the most out of digital marketing you usually do have to put some money behind it. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some excellent free tools you could be using.
Here’s our list of the top free digital tools you can use to enhance your marketing, without spending a penny.
(Note: while these tools are free to use, some might involve web developer resources to set up, like installing tracking tags. We’ve included some guides to help, but speak to your website manager first).
The mother of all free tracking tools
It’s an oldie, but a classic. And for good reason. You’re probably using Google Analytics in some form already, but few organisations are making the most of it (especially the smaller ones). Put simply, you will never be given a free tool with so much potential to inform your business decisions. Below we go into some of the absolute musts for your GA account.
“Any website worth building is a website worth tracking”
It may seem obvious, but the number of organisations we come across that either flat out aren’t using tracking or aren’t using it correctly is mind-blowing. Any website worth building is a website worth tracking. You can track any action taken on site (page views, newsletter sign ups etc.), but for organisations selling products or generating donations online these are necessities.
Action: install the tracking code and run a couple of test conversions. I won’t go through how to set it up now, but here’s a link to a decent guide. Once set up you can start tracking which channels are generating the most conversions and start making some informed decisions.
Conversion path analysis:
Now you’ve got that installed there are a few cool things you can do, including:
- Time lag: see how long it takes people to convert after their first interaction.
- Path length: the number of interactions it took people to convert.
- Top conversion paths: what touch-points users had on specific journeys, all the way from what channels to what keyword they clicked on.
Now, this data needs to be treated with a healthy pinch of salt as no tracking tool is 100% accurate when it comes to cross-channel / cross-device user journeys. But these free analytics tools are certainly a good place to start.
Want to know what users are doing once they reach your site? With GA’s behaviour flow view you can make a start. See what pages people are landing on, which pages they go to, and how many drop off. For an extra layer of info, use segments to see how users from different channels behave.
Action: note down the areas of highest drop-off and see if you can improve the experience.
Under Acquisition–>All traffic–>Referrals you’ll find a wealth of information about what sites are sending traffic your way.
Action: make a list of the top 20 referral sites and consider reaching out to thank them and see how you could strengthen your relationship.
Visualise user journeys
If you want to take your understanding how users interact with your website to the next level, then Hotjar is for you. Their simple plugin visualises your users’ journeys with easy to understand heatmaps. From clicks to mouse movements, to scrolling patterns, you’ll quickly find areas of your website that could be improved. You’ll even be able to see real recordings of individual user journeys, so you can experience your website like they do. What’s more, their basic plan is free forever, which makes the time investment to get it installed well worth it.
Action: if users aren’t clicking on the things you want, try adding more prominent CTAs / buttons and reviewing the heatmaps again.
Google Ads – Keyword Planner
Easy keyword research on a budget
I know what you’re thinking, Google Ads isn’t free. Well no, it isn’t. But if you’re using it, or Google Ad Grants, then Keyword Planner is. Here is an excellent guide on hacking Keyword Planner for maximum effect. Some tips & tricks below:
- Get actual search volume rather than estimates: set your max. CPC to the highest bid allowed and add exact match keywords to your plan. Now in the plan view you’ll be able to see a pretty good estimate of actual monthly impressions rather than vague buckets.
- Get an idea of competitor keywords: input a competitor’s URL into Keyword Planner to get a list of related keywords based on their site. Filter out their brand name for best effect.
- Research what questions people are asking: once you’ve inputted your starting keywords, filter for question words (i.e. “how do I…”) in Google’s suggestions. Could any of these questions be the title of your next blog piece?
Google Search Console
Improve your organic performance
Another free, easy to use Google product that any website owner has access to. Click into performance to see what organic queries you’re ranking for and what position you’re in. Quick tip: filter out brand terms to get a better picture of your wider presence. You can also see rankings for specific pages. Are these top queries the ones you expected? Are you ranking poorly on a core keyword?
Action: make a list of your best ranking keywords and start thinking about new content along those lines. Also make a list of under-performing keywords that you’d like to appear higher for and try adding them to your site meta data (not as hard as it sounds I promise!).
LinkedIn Campaign Manager
Website demographics with a B2B edge
LinkedIn Campaign Manager is where B2B advertisers typically go to run ads. However, just like Google Ads, there are a few useful features that don’t require you to spend a thing. Once you’ve created your account and installed the LinkedIn Insight Tag on your website, the platform will begin collecting a whole host of cool information about your visitors (guide to setting up).
By clicking into the Website Demographics section of Campaign Manager, you’ll now be able to see which job functions & titles your visitors have, what industries they work in, even which companies they work for. Bear in mind this information is collected from LinkedIn profiles so if a user doesn’t have a profile they won’t be included, which could skew the data. And, of course, all data is aggregated. But still, a great tool for better understanding the professional profile of your audience.
Action: compare the LinkedIn data against your intuitive assumptions, try switching up your organic social messaging to speak to these new demographics.
Facebook Ad Library
Creative inspiration & competitor research
Looking for creative inspiration? Want to know what similar organisations are up to? Facebook Ad Library is for you. Simply type in an organisation’s name and get a complete list of all the ads they’re currently running, or have run. The spend and impression numbers can be a bit iffy, but it’s a great place to get ideas for campaigns, creatives, and copy. You can also filter by platform to see how people are optimising their ads for Instagram vs Facebook.
Action: make a list of all the types of ads your competitors are running (promotions, giveaways, competitions etc.) and see what you might be missing out on.
Well there you have it, some of the best free tools you can use to take your digital maturity up a notch.
Did we include your favourite? Let us know what free tools you think cash-strapped businesses or charities could benefit from using.
Until next time!