What tools do you use to get your online marketing work done?

Can you do all the same work of a digital marketer, and do it for free?

The list of tools you use—often referred to as a marketing stack—probably covers a variety of different uses and needs, everything from social media marketing to content to email and lots more.

Is it possible to have all these great tools without paying a cent?

It was a fun challenge to come up with a way to build a $0 marketing stack, to find free alternatives to popular paid tools and services. I’m grateful for all the amazing companies out there that offer such value for so little. Here’s the list I came up with for free alternatives to paid tools. I’d love to know what you think!

free marketing stack

What’s in the stack?

The $0 Marketing Stack: Free Alternatives to Paid Tools

For a quick overview, here are the tools I found that seemed to be great, free options for some popular paid services.

  1. Buffer
  2. Canva
  3. Google Analytics
  4. Hotjar
  5. Simply Measured
  6. Open Site Explorer
  7. Charlie
  8. Sidekick
  9. WordPress
  10. Crowdfire
  11. Medium
  12. Wistia
  13. SumoMe
  14. Segment
  15. Peek
  16. Google Scholar
  17. Google Trends
  18. Blog Topic Generator
  19. Content Idea Generator
  20. Readability
  21. Hemingway
  22. Onpage Optimization Tool
  23. After the Deadline
  24. Readability Test Tool
  25. Save Publishing
  26. Followerwonk
  27. Latest.is
  28. Tweriod
  29. Must Be Present
  30. Conversation Score
  31. Wolfram Alpha Facebook report
  32. LikeAlyzer
  33. Fanpage Karma
  34. Facebook Page Barometer
  35. Quicksprout
  36. Marketing Grader
  37. SharedCount
  38. Newsle
  39. Rapportive
  40. MentionMapp
  41. Down For Everyone Or Just Me?

1. Social Media Scheduling: Buffer

buffer

Great, paid options if you can swing it: Sprout Social, MeetEdgar

Perhaps our best time-saving tip for social media marketing is scheduling posts ahead of time for your social profiles. You can batch the social media marketing process: Do all your curating and composing all in one go, then spread those updates out across the next day or week.

How we use Buffer: The forever free plan at Buffer lets you connect a profile from each network (one from Facebook, one from Twitter, etc.) and to schedule ahead 10 posts for each network. If you share three posts per day, that means you can stay three days ahead all the time.

We’ve found a lot of value in the hand-picked content suggestions (thanks to Courtney who finds all that great content!), which are easy to read then add.

Also free:

  • Hootsuite (free for your first 3 social profiles)

2. Design: Canva

Canva

Great, paid options if you can swing it: Photoshop, InDesign

Over 2 million people trust Canva to help with creating images for social media, blog posts, and practically any other use you can imagine.

How we use Canva: The optimized sizes and built-in templates make it fast and easy to create tall pictures for Pinterest, rectangular ones for Twitter, square for Facebook or Instagram, and any size in between. We find Pablo (another free alternative) to be great for Twitter-sized images of 1,024 pixels by 512 pixels, and Canva to work really well for all else.

Also free:

3. Real-time Analytics: Google Analytics

Google Analytics real time stats

Great, paid option if you can swing it: Chartbeat

Google Analytics does pretty much everything in terms of tracking the traffic to your website. It’s a huge, monstrous amount of info, generously given away for free.

How we use Google Analytics: As a social media marketing team, we appreciate the ease with which we can see traffic from the different networks (Acquisition > Social > Network Referrals). We can check the engaged reading time by looking at Time on Page. And for the real-time stats of who’s on our site right now, we can simply click on Real-Time > Overview.

Also free:

  • Go Squared (free for the first 100 visitors and 1,000 data points)
  • MixPanel (free for 25,000 events per month)

4. Website optimization: Hotjar

Hotjar analytics

Great, paid options if you can swing it: KISSmetrics, Crazy Egg

Let’s say you’re curious how your visitors are actually using your website—where they click, how far they scroll, etc. Tools like Hotjar can show you exactly what your visitors are doing, via heatmaps, clickmaps, scrollmaps, and visitor recordings. Hotjar also has options to analyze your funnel and to insert messages and surveys to your visitors.

How we use Hotjar: User research can be incredibly powerful stuff. I find great value in seeing how someone interacts with blog posts. How much of the post do they read? Where do they pause? What do they click? Seeing all this information helps me design my posts in a clearer way.

Also free:

5. Reports: Simply Measured

twitter followers report

Great, paid option if you can swing it: SumAll Reports

Simply Measured offers enterprise-level analytics and management for big brands and their social efforts. It has a wide array of free tools for the rest of us, too.

Among Simply Measured’s reports are these:

  1. Twitter Follower Report
  2. Twitter Customer Service Analysis
  3. Facebook Fan Page Report
  4. Facebook Content Analysis
  5. Facebook Competitive Analysis
  6. Facebook Insights Report
  7. Instagram User Report
  8. Social Traffic Report
  9. Traffic Source Report
  10. Google+ Page Report
  11. Vine Analysis

Phew! That’s a lot of reports!

How to use Simply Measured: Each of these reports costs no money, although Simply Measured will ask for a Twitter follow or a Facebook mention in exchange for the free report. You can save loads of time in pulling reports from this one location as you seek to gain insight on where your social media efforts have been going lately. They’ve got all six major social networks covered: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Also free:

6. SEO: Open Site Explorer

Open Site Explorer

Great, paid option if you can swing it: Moz Pro

is a great free tool for checking your domain and page authority and also for checking how many links you are getting and from which source. You can also check your competition. But the free version only gives you 3 reports per day. Signing up offers unlimited reporting on all your links, keywords and competitors.

How to use Open Site Explorer: Plug your blog’s URL into Open Site Explorer to see the high-level stats like page authority and incoming links. You can also click over to the Just-Discovered tab to see recent links and Top Pages to see which pages on your site get the most links.

Also free:

7. CRM: Charlie

Charlie app

Great, paid option if you can swing it: SalesForce

A lot of the best CRM tools (Customer Relationship Management) help you stay abreast of your current and future customers. Think of a futuristic address book. The best ones are loaded with features and information. Charlie is a bit of a quick-and-easy hack to get to know a person really well.

How to use Charlie: Intended as a tool to help you prep for meeting new people, Charlie gives you a full run-down of a person—social media profiles, biography, interests, big news, etc.—by looking at your upcoming calendar or running an email address. If you’re wanting info on a single person ad-hoc, simply enter their email address into Charlie, and they’ll tell you everything.

Also free:

8. Email inbox insights: Sidekick

Sidekick

Great, paid option if you can swing it: Cirrus Insight

Sidekick can track your outgoing email to tell you when the recipient has read your email. It’s a very, very advanced read-receipt. Plus a lot more.

How to use Sidekick: You can gain a lot from the Sidekick notifications about your email, and there’s also a lot of value that Sidekick adds to your inbox itself, with a sidebar of information on everyone who sends you a message. The sidebar includes links to all the person’s social profiles, plus a stream of recent tweets.

Also free:

9. Landing Pages: WordPress

WordPress pages

Great, paid options if you can swing it: Unbounce, LeadPages

For those who are running their website or blog via WordPress, perhaps the fastest and easiest way to set up a landing page is simply to create a new page. If you blog with WordPress, the blog content you create falls into Posts. The static content for landing pages—“Download our ebook,” “Sign up for our webinar,” etc.—can be made quite easily via Pages.

How to use WordPress: Build a new landing page in WordPress, and use this as the focal point of your social media ad campaign or your social media updates. Certain plugins like WooDojo even let you hide the content in your sidebar for particular pages, which could be a great option for minimizing the look of your page.

Also free:

  • Unbounce free plan (includes Unbounce branding)

10. Twitter management: Crowdfire

Crowdfire

Great, paid option if you can swing it: Crowdfire premium

Twitter has been so generous to open up its app to developers to make some really great tools. Sure, you can manage your Twitter profile directly via Twitter (an always free option), or you can try out tools like Just Unfollow, which allows for bulk sorting and filtering of your followers, along with insights into the demographics of the people in your audience.

How to use Just Unfollow: One way that many experts recommend to keep your Twitter following count in line with your Twitter follower count is to routinely check to see which accounts are following you back and to remove the ones that aren’t. With Just Unfollow, you can do this quickly and easily all from one page—and even whitelist the unfollowers whom you’d like to keep following.

Also free:

11. Blogging: Medium

Medium

Great, paid options if you can swing it: Ghost

It feels a bit funny to list Medium as a tool (it’s really more of a network or social media site), but when it comes to starting a new blog as cheaply and quickly as possible, Medium can’t be beat.

How to use Medium: Many young startups kick off their blog at Medium, where they enjoy a built-in audience from the start and have networking tools to help their content spread. Plus, one of Medium’s newest features is an email newsletter where you can automatically get in touch with people who follow you by sharing your latest articles.

Also free:

12. Video: Wistia

wistia

Great, paid option if you can swing it: Wistia Pro, Vimeo Pro

Once you’ve created an amazing video to share on social media or your website, where will you put it? The default seems to be YouTube, which is quick and easy but comes with less control and potentially some unrelated ads or suggestions. Wistia is made for marketers’ videos because the player keeps people on your page—or sends them precisely where you want them to go next.

How to use Wistia: After you’ve uploaded your video, you can hop into the settings and add things like call-to-action buttons or email capture formsat the end of the video. Wistia also makes it easy to view heatmaps and viewing trends of your videos, like how far most people get through your video, when they pause or click, etc.

Also free:

13. Share buttons: SumoMe Share

SumoMe

Great, paid options if you can swing it: Easy Social Share Buttons

The ubiquitous share buttons you see along the side of blog posts, many of them come from SumoMe. The any-website buttons (you don’t have to run a WordPress blog to use them) are part of the SumoMe suite of website products. If you’re okay with some SumoMe branding, you can add the buttons for free to any page and customize the networks that appear by default.

How to use SumoMe Share: SumoMe gives you a lot of control over the appearance of the share buttons, both in which buttons are displayed and where on the page they’ll sit. One of the great features also is that they look good on mobile devices, so you maintain a great way to encourage sharing no matter where your audience is reading.

Also free:

14. Analytics: Segment

segment

Great, paid options if you can swing it: Usability Tools

I’ve heard Segment described as the one and only interface you’ll ever need for all your third-party apps. And I sure do see it recommended a lot. From what I can gather, Segment makes it easy for anyone—engineer or not—to connect new software to your website; once the Segment snippet is added, you can connect other apps like MailChimp, Google Analytics, etc. just by clicking around in your Segment dashboard. Segment handles all the visitor data for you.

How to use Segment: Rob Sobers put together a really handy guide to how he’s set up Segment for his SaaS business.

15. Testing: Peek

Peek by usertesting

Great, paid options if you can swing it: Optimizely, User Testing

When it comes to understanding how people are using your website—A/B testing, user testing, that sort of thing—there are some really fantastic paid options that can give you lots of insights. There’s also Peek, a free tool from User Testing that lets you see and hear a five-minute video of a real person using your website.

How to use Peek: For first-time insights, you may wish to have a person go  through your website or blog from the home page. Later on, you might ask for someone to test out a certain flow through your website by starting someone on a landing page. The tests take about 2-3 days to complete, and you can run three Peek tests every month.

Also free:

Even More Free Marketing Tools!

We went hunting for even more top free marketing tools in a variety of marketing categories. These tools – all quick hits you can get started with easily – focus on everything from research and writing to benchmarking and analyzing. Here’s hoping you find the perfect shortcut for your work!

Free Marketing Research Tools

We’ll start at the beginning: researching topics, sites and ideas.

16. Google Scholar

I don’t know why more people don’t talk about Google Scholar, but I love this tool for researching science-heavy articles and digging into emerging studies. It limits your search to articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites. Pair it with a Google Alert to get amazing research on your topics of interest delivered right to your inbox.

Google Scholar

17. Google Trends

See what the world is searching for and how interest in concepts has changed over time with Google Trends. For example, I feel like I’m suddenly hearing about “growth hacker” and “growth hacking.” Are you, too? I input those terms into Google Trends and it looks like there is a sudden new interest in the concept.

Google Trends

18. Blog Topic Generator

Stumped for ideas? Give Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator a few nouns that describe your content areas and it’ll spit out a week’s worth of post ideas.
Blog Topic Generator

19. Content Idea Generator

Enter a keyword for a fun, irreverent suggestion from Portent’s Content Idea Generator.

Title Generator

Free Reading and Writing Tools

These tools offer help with readability, keyword density and spelling and grammar.

20. Readability

Drag the Readability bookmarklet to your toolbar to convert any content on the web into a simple, easy-to-read format with an estimate of how long it’ll take you. Also check out the other bookmarklet options here, including one that sends longer content to your Kindle to read later.

Readability format

21. Hemingway

Simple, clear writing – we all strive for it. Get a little help with Hemingway. Paste a passage into the app and you’ll get an analysis that  highlights overly dense passages, unnecessary adverbs and more.

Hemingway app

22. Onpage Optimization Tool

This free onpage optimization tool from Internet Marketing Ninjas is a one-stop look at what’s going on a specific page of your site. Toss in a URL and see stats on keyword density, internal and external links and more.

Onpage Optimization

23. After the Deadline

A Chrome extension, After the Deadline checks spelling, style, and grammar wherever you go on the web.

After the Deadline

24. Readability Test Tool

Enter a web address or a block of text into the Readability Test Tool for an easy-to-understand analysis of your content. This tools measures a ton of different readability scores, and does a good job of explaining each one.
Readability Test Tool

Free Twitter Marketing Tools

These tools help you maximize your Twitter presence, from timing to sharing to analysis.

25. Save Publishing

Instantly find passages under 140 characters with Save Publishing, a handy bookmarklet that highlights tweetable passages on your screen. Post to Twitter with one click (or Buffer simply by highlighting a passage and clicking the Buffer extension)

Save Publishing

26. Followerwonk

We hope you’ve already heard of Followerwonk, one of Buffer’s many partners in amazing social media data. In addition to offering lots of super useful data about timing on Twitter, Followerwonk also has some other neat Twitter features, like the ability to compare followers of different accounts like so.

Followerwonk

27. Latest.is

It’s not breaking news. It’s not nonsense hashtags. Latest.is is an automatically generated list of interesting links on Twitter, surfaced through an algorithm that focuses on “the people that always tweet the best links – first” (no, it doesn’t tell you who they are).

Latest.is

28. Tweriod

Tweriod analyzes your account to show you the best times to tweet for more exposure and replies. Bonus: Once you get your peak times, you can sync your Buffer account with them!

Tweriod

29. Must Be Present

A free tool from Sprout Social, Must Be Present calculates how often and how quickly you respond to comments and questions on Twitter (in exchange for your email address and a bit of other info).

Must Be Present

Free Facebook Marketing Tools

These tools analyze one or more Facebook pages to deliver an analysis or report on your activities – particularly important as Facebook is always changing.

30. Conversation Score

Discover any Facebook Page’s influence, engagement and performance with Conversation Score.

cscore

31. Wolfram Alpha Facebook report

To analyze your own Facebook account and get lots of interesting data about your connection, the language you use, the times of day you post and more, try Wolfram Alpha’s Facebook report.

Wolfram Alpha

32. LikeAlyzer

LikeAlyzer provides you with recommendations and feedback on your company’s presence on Facebook based on metrics including presence, dialogue, action and information.

likealyzer

33. Fanpage Karma

Fanpage Karma is all about competition. Compare two fan pages by entering their names or IDs and see which ones comes out on top.

fanpage karma

34. Facebook Page Barometer

Agora Pulse’s Facebook Page Barometer keeps track of how your Facebook performance stacks up against the average performance of 6,000+ pages.
agorapulse

Free Website Analysis Tools

These tools give you an overall look at many different facets of your site or marketing strategy.

35. Quicksprout

by QuickSprout is a really comprehensive website audit, social media analysis and competitor report, all in one.

Quicksprout

36. Marketing Grader

Hubspot’s Marketing Grader works similarly, offering you an overall look at the health of your marketing efforts in multiple categories.
Marketing Grader

37. SharedCount

Want to see how your content (or anyone else’s, for that matter) has spread across the web? For sites that don’t display social media share button numbers, just paste the web address into SharedCount. Or use the multi-URL dashboard to enter lots of different web addressed and export a quick report.
SharedCount

Free Relationship Tools

These tools focus on connecting with new people and strengthening relationships with existing connections.

38. Newsle

Got some thought leaders or industry influencers you want to keep up with? Sign into Newsle through Facebook or LinkedIn and it’ll track your Facebook friends, LinkedIn connections & email contacts and let you know when they’re in the news.

Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 8.37.38 AM

39. Rapportive

Make your email work harder for you by installing Rapportive, a Chrome extension that helps you get to know your contacts better by showing their photo, job, company, LinkedIn profile and recent tweets.

Rapportive

40. MentionMapp

See how any Twitter user is connected to others with MentionMapp, which makes all your connections visual and simple to understand and explore.

mentionmapp

Free Miscellaneous Tools

41. Down For Everyone Or Just Me?

Is it your Internet connection, or is your site (or someone else’s that you’re desperately trying to reach) really down? Find out with this simple website. Just enter your site:

Down For Everyone

And it’ll let you know if it’s just you or if the site is, well, down for everyone.

Down For Everyone 2

Over to you

Which of your favorite tools would you add to this list?

Did you notice any new ones that might be worth trying?

I’d love to hear from you about the free tools you’ve found most helpful and how you’ve put them to good use. Feel free to add any thoughts at all in the comments below. I’m looking forward to chatting!

Image sources: Pablo, IconFinderDeath to the Stock Photo

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Written by Kevan Lee

Content crafter at Buffer. You can find me online, tweeting about my writing process, or at home, second-guessing football coaches. Live simply, give generously, beat cancer.

  • http://www.paulparsons.me/ Paul Parsons

    Thanks for sharing Kevan, some of these I din’t know about. I put a huge list of 100+ tools for Digital Marketing together, most of them have a free model and I will be sure to add some of the ones above.
    Here is the link in case you want to add any: http://www.paulparsons.me/2014/10/13/100-social-media-tools-and-digital-marketing-tools/

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Thanks so much, Paul! Awesome list you’ve made there, congrats!

      • http://www.paulparsons.me/ Paul Parsons

        Thanks.

      • JULIAN NICCO

        keep your balance increase with bufferapp … kEEP READING

    • Pospos Pospos

      How to increas our Acount balance with blog … kEEP READING

  • http://www.SocialAna.com/ Ana Lucia Novak

    This is an amazing list of tools – thank you. As a consultant my job is to offer resources and shorten their learning curve. Your post helps me tremendously. I typically sign up all clients with Bufferapp and your updates so they can start learning more and more about effective ways to manage their business. Keep up the good work! 😄

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Thanks so much, Ana! It’s a privilege to be able to help out a little bit for you and your clients. 🙂

  • Sophie Lacroix

    Great list. Brands that invest in Pinterest should also try the free level of Tailwind or the free trial version of their Plus plan (which is not free but inexpensive). It is quite powerful and now has a hoot suite app too.

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Great tip, Sophie! Yes, some good (free) Pinterest tools would be great to add to the toolbox here. 🙂

    • Hannah Wallen

      Enjoy holly days bufferapp… kEEP READING

  • http://www.Drip-Marketing-Expert.com/ Melissa Blair

    I use Charlie every day and love it. I have also used Peek and found it to be an incredible free service! I am going to check out a few more from you list. Thanks!

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Hi Melissa! Wonderful to meet a Charlie user. Great to hear it’s been useful for you (I’m a big fan of the interface and idea) 🙂

  • Krystal Souza

    Thanks for the share Kevan! Have you considered Jing by techsmith? A great little screenshot and video recording tool.

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Hi Krystal! Thanks for the tip on Jing. 🙂 Sounds great! I’ve used Skitch and GetCloud for screengrabs before. Would love to give Jing a look!

  • http://bobbyhuang.com Bobby Huang

    Sweet set of tools Kevan.

    Canva is definitely one of the most amazing tools for designing anything. I can’t believe it’s really free for how well it works.

    And Buffer definitely deserves that #1 spot! Best social media tool.

    Another tool that would go for #14 would be Google Tag Manager. For #14 I would re-label either tag manager or analytics integration manager – reason is because that’s what segment is + it’s a way to send data to all your other integrations and tools.

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Hi there Bobby! Thanks so much for the comment. Great stuff about Segment, that makes a lot of sense. Thanks for the clarification!

  • Lois Creamer

    Great post filled with terrific info. Thanks Kevan! I’m a huge fan of Bufferapp. I have the paid version and use it to handle almost all of my social media.

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Great to hear, Lois! Thanks so much for the support. 🙂

  • Christine taxin

    This is great.

  • http://awakenbusinessconsulting.com Indigo Ocean

    I use many of these and glad to discover some news ones too. I’m preferring Post Planner over Buffer. I find it easier to use, finding new content and scheduling it easily, with the app mixing the types of content for me in post order (by my rules) even if I don’t add them that way. I’m a big fan of Wistia, Salesforce, Canva, Unbounce, Mixpanel… so many good recs here. I’m going to check out Medium.

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Hi there Indigo! Thanks for the comment! Sounds like you’ve got a great set of tools on hand there. 🙂

  • Jeff Domansky PR

    Another epic post Kevan. Great resources and a pleasure to share them on my network as well. Thanks so much.

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Thanks so much, Jeff! Cheers!

  • http://www.k2bindia.com/ K2B Solutions

    Hi kevan,

    Great list collection tools ,5 tools are daily used.woorank and seositecheckup is seo,social media and server information to improve the details.

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Woorank looks really cool! Thanks for the tip there. 🙂

  • http://www.markevans.ca/ Mark Evans

    I’m a big fan of Charlie, Buffer and Canva. You should check SellHack to find email addresses and Grammarly for grammar/spellchecking.

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Hi Mark! Thanks so much for the tips on SellHack and Grammarly. Those sound like some cool options! 🙂

  • http://hedstrominternetconsulting.com/ Steve Hedstrom

    Great post and amazing list Kevan! There are a number of tools here that I am looking forward to trying out. A few that I am using now are Insightly for my CRM, and PicMonkey for graphics. Sometimes I like using PicMonkey and Canva together. Sharing this with my network and have a terrific Tuesday my friend! 🙂

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Happy Tuesday, Steve! 🙂 Thanks for the tip on Insightly, and love your workflow with PicMonkey and Canva. I find myself using PicMonkey also for their transparent-background pngs. Super useful! 🙂

    • http://www.DesignatedEditor.com Suzanne McDonald

      Hi Steve, Curious if you looked at other CRMs before you picked Insightly? Would love to hear thoughts on Insightly vs Nimble vs Nutshell??

      • http://hedstrominternetconsulting.com/ Steve Hedstrom

        Hi Suzanne. I have not tried Nimble or Nutshell. No insights on them vs Insightly now. I chose it from its organic placement, reviews, and ease. Do you have any insights on the benefits of these over Insightly?

  • http://www.ourkidscanthrive.com Chava

    What a great list, thanks so much for this!

  • abelniak

    Great post and list, @kevanlee:disqus ! Curious to get your thoughts (either here in a comment or as a separate post) about listening tools, too. I guess your prior post on listening dashboards (https://blog.bufferapp.com/social-listening) covers that? Or might there be more?

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Hi there! Thanks for the comment. Definitely, we’ve did a bufferchat a few months back on social media monitoring (which I think may be quite close to listening), and there’re several tools listed in the recap: https://blog.bufferapp.com/social-media-monitoring-bufferchat

      Hope that might be up your alley! 🙂

  • http://www.businessinsanity.com Shane Petty

    Fantastic article… put that one on my “Pocket” list. Thanks @kevanlee:disqus!

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Awesome! Thanks so much, Shane.

  • http://www.westcpw.com/ Christopher West

    Lots of great tools here. Some i have use before. Suggestion for link checking is majesticseo . You can verify your site and get report .

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Thanks for the suggestion there, Christopher! Sounds like a really useful one. 🙂

  • Beantown Review

    On #7 CRM, I think you can get the HubSpot CRM for free as well. They offered it me, but I might be a special case. 🙂

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Oh yep, great one! I think I saw they might do a 30-day free trial, though it’s possible there’s a freemium version that could be out there, too!

  • Matt Aunger

    Wow! Thanks Kevan, that’s an incredible list of resources. Already started using Sidekick and finding it incredibly useful.

    I’m going to have to check out Wistia for our videos. It looks like a great alternative to Youtube or Vimeo and a much easier way of driving people to landing pages after viewing.

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Love Wistia! They’ve got a great blog, too, if you’re ever in need of video tips. 🙂

      http://wistia.com/blog

    • http://getsidekick.com David Khim

      Glad you’re enjoying Sidekick! (:

  • https://twitter.com/abdulnusrat Abdul Nusrat

    HUGE +1 for Hotjar. Their tool is awesome but not just that they are a great bunch of people. Awesome communication and support too. Been using them since they were in beta and been really happy

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Great stuff, Abdul! Really great to hear you’ve enjoyed Hotjar. Curious, do you have a favorite feature?

      • https://twitter.com/abdulnusrat Abdul Nusrat

        Sure thing Kevan 🙂

        Video recordings. To see how people actually interact with the website, It can help identify stumbling blocks, or even to spot errors. We found a number of interesting errors that way. And since it’s a video recording, and hotjar provides you with the operating system, browser the user is using, it’s super easy for tech team to replicate it, and fix it.

        Visitor Feedback is my favourite though. We asked one simple question: “What is the one thing you would change about this website”. The question was set to pop out after a delay of 1 min, so only users who had spent a bit of time looking around saw it.

        The responses were really useful, gave us a lot of insight into features people wanted to see, or changes we need to make.

        You can export the raw feedback into excel, group responses by category and then calculate % of comments regarding a certain category vs the whole to guide you with what features, changes are most important to your users.

        When we ran it for our e-commerce site for example, we found a large number of comments were focussed around the photos of products.

        2nd was about providing more sizing information.

        3rd was around providing more product filtering options.

        That really helped us prioritise what to focus on. As a startup it’s easy to get lost and try and build too many features, or often you don’t know which ones you should be focussing on. Or you don’t have enough tech resources to do everything you want to do. So it’s super important to prioritise.

        Hotjar feedback + a little excel work really helped out 🙂

        • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

          Awesome stuff! What a cool use case you’ve done here, sounds like it was really valuable! I’ve enjoyed the video recordings quite a bit also. It’s really fascinating to see the flow of pages and where people pause, linger, or click. 🙂

  • http://www.hassaankhan.com/blog Hassaan Khan

    Kevan,

    Great list. Tools are a great resource for bloggers and content marketers. You shared some of the best. Thanks for that!

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Thanks so much, Hassaan!

  • http://mattlambert.ca cardeo

    Nice post

  • http://www.brentnau.com BrentNau

    For business owners using WordPress we have a free plugin called SkyStats (https://skystats.com). We consider it an all-in-one business dashboard for WordPress. SkyStats integrates Twitter Analytics, Google Analytics, and Facebook Insights into the WordPress admin. Great for any marketer that wants to see this type of business data in a single view.

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Looks like a great tool, Brent! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  • David Martinez

    This list is amazing, I just shared it with the guys at my team. I already use WordPress, Wistia, Google Analytics and Canvas, but I’m sure to give some of the other tools a try eventually. Of course I’ll start using Buffer soon!

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Hi David! Thanks for the comment, and for sharing this one with your team. Yes, we’ve gained a lot of great value from the tools here – hope you will, too! 🙂

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  • openskydeals

    As always, great and useful article!

    I Love you lists!

    I found that google analytics doesn’t report all hits but it’s a great free tool. Followerwonk is great as well, I used it to integrate with buffer and find optimal posting times for twitter. Simply measured sounds promising and I will be sure to check it out!

    Thanks again for this 🙂

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Sounds great! Thanks for the comment. 🙂

  • Naomi Jones

    I would have add http://www.ignitwit.com which is very useful when starting on twitter !

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Looks really interesting, Naomi! Thanks!

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  • http://www.conseilsmarketing.com/ ConseilsMarketing.fr

    Hi ! Very nice list, I didn’t know Charlie, Hotjar, simplimesured… For the list I would had SEM Rush (free for some results) to see what are the best keywords of your competitors, Mailchimp (free for 2000 contactd) for emailing, Pixlr for the pictures (free !) or The Gimp (100% free), Animoto for Video (free 30 sec) or Sharealike (free 100 pictures)… I made also a list of 150 best marketing tools (most are Free). There is the PDF on slideshare there : http://fr.slideshare.net/conseilsmarketing/les-150-meilleurs-outils-marketing-pour-les-pme-et-freelances

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Hi there! Thanks so much for these great additions. And wow, a list of 150 tools! That seems like a really powerful resource. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  • Armando Negrete

    This information, is pure GOLD!. Thank you for share, Kevan I love all your post.

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Happy to help, Armando! Thanks!

  • Jennifer Kesler

    Great list, except I would add that with Sumome, there is no way to avoid linking out to them without paying… I think it’s over $100/month? Having links on every page to a plugin or theme can hurt your SEO with Google, so I wasn’t willing to do that.

    AddThis is a great alternative with very similar features. Their pricing for the premium version is as out-to-lunch as SumoMe’s, but fortunately the free features have been great for my sites and increased social sharing noticeably (they also give you an analytics panel). They also have a Related Posts module which was better than any plugin I’ve tried, so that let me replace two plugins with one.

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Hi there Jennifer! Thanks so much for the comment and for the great thoughts here about SumoMe and AddThis. Sounds like you’ve found a lot of great value from AddThis, I really appreciate your adding it to the conversation here. Seems like a great option!

    • noah kagan

      Howdy Jennifer

      I help run http://SumoMe.com.

      It’s 100% free to use, only for some advanced features do you have to pay anything. There is some minor branding you can hide for $5 / month if you don’t like it.

      We do not impact or touch anything with Google or your SEO rankings.

      • Jennifer Kesler

        I’m not talking about branding, I’m talking about a naked link to your site which the Google algorithm will see, and which only a Google rep can say for sure won’t cause an issue.

        And I paid $10 to hide the branding, only to find out it didn’t get rid of that link. Have you lowered the price?

        • Sandro Mancini

          I would like to see a reply from the guys at SumoMe… Jennifer just raised an issue that shows that, while nothing is for free, secretly harnessing “Google status points” on paying customers isn’t really ethical. I understand getting something back from free customers, but not from paying customers that specifically pay to have the service not “sucking blood” on their Google “status”.

  • http://www.marketgoo.com Larissa- MarketGoo

    Great List Kevan, I’ll give Wistia a try. I’m a huge fan of Canva and Hotjar. Notegraphy is also an app I use consistently, especially when I need a quick visual. For the SEO tools, don’t forget MarketGoo 😀 we have paid options as well as a free website report which can help users analyse the SEO and web marketing state of their website and take quick actions to improve their results.

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Hi there Larissa, great to hear you get value out of Canva and Hotjar. Got any favorite Hotjar tips? 🙂 And thanks for mentioning MarketGoo also, sounds like a great one!

      • http://www.marketgoo.com Larissa- MarketGoo

        Form Analysis on Hotjar is great!

  • Paul Skelton

    Great list – I use SERPLAB to check Google rankings for loads of keywords and phrases and its free with usage limits.

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Oh, looks like a really cool tool, Paul! Thanks so much for sharing!

  • dbhurley

    I can’t believe I missed this post. I practically live on the Buffer blogs! 🙂 Unfortunately somehow I didn’t see it faster. I think we have another tool that qualifies for this list and would be hugely beneficial to the readers here.

    I’m excited to be able to be part of an open source community with a product called Mautic (https://www.mautic.org). This is a marketing automation platform which handles email marketing, social media marketing, landing pages, and all the other bells and whistles offered by companies like Eloqua, Pardot, Marketo, HubSpot, or Infusionsoft.

    But Mautic is different, as I said we’re open source, but we’re also self-hosted, meaning if you wanted to you could run it on your own server/website instead of having to give your data to someone else and then access on their servers. You can get a free hosted version too at https://mautic.com

    Oh, and one other big difference… rather than thousands of $$ a month, Mautic is completely and totally free! $0. Forever free.

    I think it’s awesome, and so does just about everyone that discovers it. But just like LeVar Burton and Reading Rainbow used to say, “You don’t have to take my word for it!”

    Hope it might make the list next time! 🙂

    -David

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Thanks so much for surfacing this one, David! Really appreciate the explanation here, and Mautic sounds really amazing. Taking a look now! 🙂

    • vexersa

      Digging Mautic. Currently running on my own self-hosted setup for around $6 per month on Amazon infrastructure for a 20k+ email list. That’s a massive saving!

      • David Hurley

        I absolutely love to hear that. This right here is why we do what we do. Open source for the win! 🙂

  • Natasha

    Kevan, thank you so much for sharing this amazing list of tools! I’ve been experimenting with Canva lately and it is super user-friendly. In addition to their free images, I have found https://unsplash.com/ and http://deathtothestockphoto.com/ to be helpful resources for beautiful photos.

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Great picks, Natasha! Yes, those sites indeed have some really lovely images. Glad to hear Canva’s been a useful tool for you! 🙂

  • Dawid Tkocz

    I think the Brand24 – http://www.brand24.net deserves to be here as well.
    One of the biggest / fastest growing social media tracking platforms.

    David

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Oh, awesome stuff, Dawid! Thanks so much for adding that one to the conversation here. 🙂

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  • AndersSchmidtHansen

    Thanks for a great collection Kevan! Hotjar, Simply Measured and Open Site Explorer were some definite takeaways for me. Peek is an essential tool for my startup, definite recommendation.

    I don’t know if it exactly fits in here, but we made a free tool for preparing your marketing message/elevator pitch/presentation in a structured way. Most of users (startups, mainly) use it for preparing a Startup Weekend pitch, their sales pitch before calling new clients or oral presentations at uni.

    We built it because we knew a lot of our developer buddies (ourselves included) struggled at presenting at Startup Weekend because they didn’t know how to prepare for it. We’re still quite new, but it’s awesome to get tweets and emails about how it helped people feel more confident and prepared. 🙂

    You can find it here: https://pitcherific.com/.

    Also, we use https://heapanalytics.com/ too along with Google Analytics, the way they’ve made tracking user events is awesome.

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Hi there Anders! Thanks so much for the comment. Really appreciate your sharing these resources. They both look really useful!

      • AndersSchmidtHansen

        Thank you very much Kevan! We’re also very fond of Buffer too, we used it at a big fair for entrepreneurs in Denmark and Buffer made the whole process so much easier.

  • Debbie Discovers

    Wow how to add to such a list… esp Paul Parson’s 100+ tools! Hmmmmm… I don’t think anyone’s mentioned Annie Cushing’s amazing google sheet of free SEO tools https://goo.gl/Nbn90 or the guys that built the insanely cool BuiltVisible Content Strategy Tool http://goo.gl/DMK1gt. Not to mention using Jame Todd Rubin’s http://www.jamierubin.net/going-paperless/ method of content curation with Evernote and IFTTT to steal Kevan Lee’s public Feedly list! 😀 😀 😀

    • http://www.annielytics.com/ Annie Cushing

      Thanks for the props, Debbie!

      • Debbie Discovers

        No thank YOU for sharing your tools! You’re my source of inspiration!

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Hi Debbie! Those are such great additions! Love Annie’s list, and I’m new to the other two. Excited to check them out. And hope you enjoy those Feedly feeds! 🙂

  • Renata

    Great list you have here, Kevan! Thanks for sharing. I’d like to add ConverTiger (http://www.convertiger.com) to the website optimization tools. It’s totally free to use. The
    features that
    will steal
    your heart:

    Session
    Records: The session
    recording
    software
    allows you to
    see each mouse
    movement,
    click and
    activity of
    your visitors
    even on
    dynamic
    websites.

    Funnels:
    Have you ever
    set up
    conversion
    funnels? Then,
    you might know
    that, with
    other tools,
    you can only
    apply funnels
    to newly
    collected
    data. What if
    you wanted to
    use the data
    you already
    collected and
    apply the
    funnels
    retrospectively?
    With ConverTiger you know that one
    “reckless”
    moment won’t cost you time
    or even money.

    Let me know what you think. 🙂

  • http://www.homepageusa.com/ homepageusa

    Nice list. These tools helps lot.
    Thans for sharing these tools

  • http://kaizentech.io VaIbHaV JaIn

    I want to know is their any good marketing & CRM platform for
    bootstrapped startup. I know about Hubspot’s marketing platform it is
    good and can also easily integrates with their CRM but it is costly.

    I
    am curious to know about a platform which can handle CRM + Marketing Or
    at least a good Marketing platform which can be integrated with
    Hubspot’s CRM.

  • Jerry Bruckner

    Great list! I have used Buffer. I look forward to trying out some new ones.

  • Amber Rose

    All of the suggestions so far are fantastic BUT I personally would recommend Julbul for business video hosting – Rest is the noise 🙂

  • darek

    Another level of shortener is http://www.getspread.it You can share content and drive traffic back to your website through ad on any other webservice. Make me better conversion 🙂

  • http://fb.me/xnutsive Nate

    If you’re choosing between Buffer, Hootsuite or SproutSocial, give Amplifr a try too: https://amplifr.com — it embeds crucial analtics insights right in the calendar view!

    No free plans for now tho.

    Kevan, how do you like us?

  • Richard Fallah

    Thank you Kevan for this extensive list! May i add our powerful marketing automation platform: http://www.Vbout.com – We have a free package that’s a great fit for marketers starting out.
    Thank you

  • http://www.dubizoom.com/ aziz

    Thanks ang great post and guide, getting inspired by a number of marketers and i have come up with my resource page which includes some great tool which honeslty some of theme are paid but great , for for sure i will include some of the Tools you have mentioned here , thanks and regards

    here is my humble list as beginner
    http://emarketingdigest.com/best-marketing-resources/

  • https://adcat.io AdCat

    Epic list! Thank you for putting this together!

  • Peter Soutez

    I use Smartlook https://www.getsmartlook.com/ instead of Hotjar. They provide similar solution but absolutely for free. I love the sense of humor on their site! 🙂

  • Paul Fewstones

    Hi, did you hear of Zenintranet maybe ? It’s a free intranet that enables you to better manage your teams. Zenintranet allow you to access to different collaborative tools with a single login such as leave management, expense management, CRM, File Sharing… And FOR FREE!

  • Preston Daniel

    Terrific article! Thank you! I found all these tools extremely helpful and will definitely use them. For tool I highly recommend is 100% free to use whilst in beta. It’s called UserTest: https://usertest.io

    You plug a website in, set an amount of activities for users to complete and you receive recordings of exactly what they were thinking and doing during the activity set. Did I mention it’s free?!

    Anyway, thank you for this top article. Looking forward to more posts like this!

  • Roney

    Free CRM & E-mail Marketing Tools

    iJanta understands that you spend thousands of dollars on CRM and E-mail marketing tools
    and than manage multiple accounts draft e-mail templates and scheduling
    and monitoring campaigns is a big challenge.

    So here is the deal we provide you with Free CRM and E-mail marking
    tool and we manage it for you for free . You can create dashboards
    reports know positive response, e-mail delivery status , hard bounce,
    open rate, unsubscribe, etc and let your team work and engage with all
    the positive leads and close sales/projects for you.

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  • http://onlinemanagementsolutions.com Online Management Solutions

    Sincerely, I applause your work Kevan! Obviously, it is a thorough toolkit.
    If i may add one more marketing tool, here is my contribution!
    We have attempted to create a catalogue with places to submit your startup! You may find it useful:
    http://mystartuptool.com
    This is NOT an auto-submitter tool! Instead it is meant to be a place-to-go for listing all possible “submit your
    startup” websites. Let us know what you think!

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  • Elena

    What an amazing list! Thanks for posting. How about email marketing? GetResponse is quite a good solution.

  • http://www.3d-architectural-rendering.com/3D-Exterior-Rendering.html Lineisy Kosenkova

    What a very comprehensive ‘megalist’ of tools to use. Thanks for sharing this, I appreciate the amount of work that would have gone into compiling this. I was looking for something to do an nfographic with and will have to give Pictochart a go.

  • Sophia Owen

    Awesome list, all great tools, especially Canva and Buffer

    Recently i’ve read this article about what ecommerce tools the norwegian company “Vita” are using. I think they are good additions to those you’ve already posted: https://sleeknote.com/inside-ecommerce-vita/

  • Domnick

    Great sources, Thanks for sharing valuable information. I little bit know about some tools in your list. But recently I tried Apptivo for customer management, my business necessity fulfill with this application and it suitable for small business.
    Check this out: http://www.apptivo.com/

  • Adji_Swabbl

    Nice article, and thanks for sharing this useful list !

    I recommend you to also use https://www.swabbl.com/ the coolest way to share business needs and opportunities

    Swabbl is a business centric app for privates teams, you don’t chat on Swabbl you just get and share qualified business opportunities with a structured way. You can automatically post your need or opportunity in all your business teams or in the business teams you choose to quickly get a qualified contacts.

    If you have any questions I would be happy to answer them for you.
    Have fun and enjoy the day

  • Nick Richardson

    Nice!!! Bookmarked!
    I use SendPulse email marketing service to send automated email campaigns and push notifications for free. The free plan let’s you send 15000 emails each month and gives you access to some advanced automation functionality. Check it out, it could be a good fit for your list!

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  • sharedcount

    Hi there, I noticed that you are linking to Sharedcount.com on your article https://blog.bufferapp.com/free-marketing-tools . As that service is being discontinued, perhaps it could be useful to replace the link for Sharescount.com, a new working alternative. Keep up the great work!