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Ten free tools every digital marketing officer needs

18 November 2013

Making use of the right tools can save you both time and money. Here are 10 of the best to help stretch the budget that bit further.

1. Google Analytics

Despite the introduction of paid-for Analytics Premium, Google still offers an in-depth and almost infinitely customisable analytics package for free. It’s easy to set up and, even though the user interface changes regularly, it makes it easy to slice and dice your website traffic to tell you what you need to know.

2. Google Adwords

Google’s pay per click package is of course essential for those running AdWords campaigns, but even if you run no paid advertising AdWords can still come in handy.

The Keyword Planner tool in particular can provide essential data on relative search volumes of potential keyword phrases, vital for putting together an SEO strategy. It’s not necessary to spend any money on AdWords to use this tool, though you will need to set up an AdWords account.

3. Hootsuite

This is a fantastic time saver for social media management. Using a single login you can use the free version to manage as many as five social media profiles.

As well as posting directly to Twitter, Facebook etc and using the dashboard to monitor custom feeds (eg Twitter lists, Facebook searches or LinkedIn discussions) you can also schedule posts to go out automatically later, filling the silences that would otherwise occur when you’re not online.

4. Followerwonk

Followerwonk is a free way to search the bios of Twitter users, filtered by location, name or following/follower numbers. It allows you to find the most influential Twitter users in your field so you can follow them, add them to your lists and generally try to get on their radar. The free version also allows you to breakdown the followed/followers of any Twitter account by language, location, inferred gender and influence.

5. Google Drive

The usefulness of Google Drive (formerly Docs) should come as no surprise. Compatibility with Microsoft Word and Excel file formats and the facility for easy collaboration on shared documents make it indispensable for most digital marketing pros. One of the most overlooked Drive tools though is Drawing – an incredibly simple way to produce basic images and my favourite tool for producing wireframes for website design collaboration.

6. Rapportive

Rapportive is a plugin for Gmail that will turn you into the Phillip Marlowe of online outreach. When promoting content, sending out press releases or building relationships with other organisations, you need the email addresses of the most relevant contacts. Often those email addresses aren’t published on the company’s website forcing you to send your beautifully put together pitch to an info@ address.

Not with Rapportive. When you put a valid email address into the ‘To’ field of gmail, Rapportive pulls in all the data it can find which is associated with that address. This makes is possible to guess an important contact’s email based on their name and organisation alone.

No Rapportive data for Try, or, or…

7. MozBar

MOZ is a provider of mostly paid SEO tools but the SEOmoz toolbar for Firefox or Chrome provides plenty of value in its free version. It allows you to compare the relative authority of website domains (using metrics based on the number and power of links pointing to the domain), helping you choose the most valuable ones to include in your outreach campaigns.

8. Firebug

Another browser add-in which provides the same functionality as the ‘Inspect Element’ right-click-menu option in Firefox and Chrome but with added power. You can fiddle with the HTML and CSS on the fly making it easy to find out what you need to do to the source code so the page comes out right.

It’s also useful for demonstrating minor changes to your managers or development team. You can also mess around with external sites and screen grab the results.

9. ColorZilla

Need a brand colour quickly but don’t know the RGB values? No problem. Chrome/Firefox add-on ColorZilla lets you pick it straight from a web page and gives it to you in RGB, HSV, CMYK and Hex.

10. Pixlr Grabber

Another Chrome/Firefox extension. This one lets you grab any part of a webpage, edit it online and save it as a JPG, TIFF, PNG or BMP image. It’s super quick and great for alerting your technical team to problems or for grabbing images to put in presentations or in articles like this.

Jamie Griffiths

inbound marketing strategist, Manifesto

Jamie is the inbound marketing strategist at London based digital agency Manifesto and writes regularly on its blog. Manifesto helped Cancer Research UK to a JustGiving Award for Best Use of Technology in 2013 for Dryathlon.