When it comes to budgeting, marketing is one of the most overlooked departments. Fifty-eight per cent of small businesses spend less than five hours per week on marketing. Twenty-eight per cent say they can’t afford it.
We get it. Marketing is a luxury for some and most senior staff only want to see bottom lines. If your budgets are tight, we’ve picked out the best free content marketing tools.
Content creation and inspiration
From conquering writer’s block to generating new ideas, these tools will get you started.
If you’re short on ideas, BuzzSumo has the answer. It offers a free seven-day trial with great research features. Enter a keyword into the content analyser to find out how many people are talking about a topic and where.
Use the question analyser to see what kind of questions your blog posts could answer. It’s also great for topical reaction pieces, giving you insights into what’s trending now. After seven days, you can still use the trending news, “most shared” and influencer research tools.
We all know that design software doesn’t come cheap. Canva offers free social media templates, backgrounds, graphics and much more. It’s incredibly simple to use and allows you to upload your own images. Its free version is more than enough for infographics and social media posts.
If you have a message for fewer than 2,000 subscribers, try Mailchimp. It has an extensive list of templates which will allow you to embed your own images, file uploads and links. There are custom fonts, or if you know code, you can add your own web fonts.
The free version allows you to upload mailing lists and segment them. You can also integrate campaigns with Google Analytics and create landing pages.
High-quality, professional images are yours, royalty-free. Ideal for stock images with technology or travel in mind, Unsplash offers high-res photos – ideal for brochures or static webpages.
The Hemingway App analyses your text for complicated sentences, giving you a numeric score. It will advise you on overuse of passive voice or adverbs, plus it will suggest simpler alternatives. Hint – the lower your score, the better.
If you’re looking for sources for an article, try these.
Created for journalists, ResponseSource allows users to send out requests for information, quotes or products. Journalists plug in their publication details, enquiry, deadline and theme. This request will go out to all PRs, who should respond and point you to a relevant source.
Use the right hashtags and the responses will start pouring in. Whenever you use the term #journorequest, for example, the @PressPlugs account will retweet it for you with your contact details and a deadline.
Social media scheduling is great for anticipating events or announcing product launches. Buffer allows up to three accounts for free, including LinkedIn pages, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. It recommends the best time of day to post and allows you to customise posts when scheduling across many accounts.
Answer PR enquiries quickly and secure more brand coverage.
Like ResponseSource, journalists use SourceBottle to send out requests for information. You can subscribe to these updates absolutely free and respond where your expertise is required. SourceBottle also holds regular webinars and provides free resources like content calendars. (ResponseSource also has a paid version for PRs signing up for enquiries.)
HARO (Help A Reporter Out)
Much like SourceBottle, HARO sends out large text emails with huge numbers of requests. These are categorised by theme and have a link to a longer enquiry. The beauty of HARO is its consistency – it sends out three posts daily with upwards of 70 requests.
Enter a keyword into Google Alerts and you’ll receive an email every time it’s mentioned in the news. This is ideal for reactive social media posts or short blog posts.
Whether you’re trying to engage with customers or flatter a journalist, Google Crystal will help. This free Chrome extension analyses people’s personalities based on their profiles, giving you guidance on when best to email or what content they like best.
Report on ROI with these fantastic analytics tools.
It’s short-lived, but SEMRush will allow you to make 10 enquiries on your IP before asking you to upgrade. SEMRush is an incredible suite of analytics tools, giving you insights into backlink data for competitors, Google Ads data, keyword volumes, content ideas and more.
Again, this is a free trial only, but will give you insights into how you’re perceived online. BrandYourself gives you a reputation score and advises on how to ‘clean up’ social media posts – great for new campaigns.
All of these come free with any profiles or pages you set up on social media. They can provide insights on post views, shares and new likes or followers – ideal for monthly reporting.
Add one tiny piece of tracking code and you could view visitors in real-time, count page views, locate users, identify acquisition sources and even assign a monetary value to users. Google Analytics should not be missing from any self-respecting marketer’s arsenal.
Before you start a campaign, do your research. Are you using these tools for free insights or are you prepared to pay for them in the long term?
There are a million and one tools to help your content marketing go further. It’s really a case of getting out what you put in – and that’s not just money. Define your goals before you start and you’ll maximise each one to its full potential.
This guide to tools for content marketers was written for a London-based agency. It looks at how to create great content on a budget.