Amine is a tech entrepreneur and writer. He is currently the CMO at Regal Assets and CEO at IronMonk Solutions.
In today’s increasingly competitive small business market, it’s more important than ever that you understand your customers and competitors as well as the latest market trends. But for cash-strapped startups and small businesses, it can be too costly to invest in big-ticket tools and marketing courses during your early growth stages. Fortunately, there are free digital marketing services and tools at your disposal that can help you launch your business to new heights.
As the chief marketing officer of one of the largest online alternative investment companies, I’ve utilized countless free resources to ratchet up brand awareness and reach larger audiences. In this guide, I’ll touch on some of the resources I view as the best to tap into to take your marketing game to the next level.
Expand Your Digital Marketing Education
A first step to consider is to enroll in free digital marketing boot camps and courses to afford yourself an excellent base knowledge of the digital marketing industry. Below, I’ve listed a handful of free resources that I see as a wellspring of practical, hands-on knowledge that you can use throughout your digital marketing career.
• Google Analytics Academy: This is perhaps one of the best entry-level courses for learning how to intelligently collect market data and analyze it to derive insights that affect business decisions.
• HubSpot Academy: The online courses, which generally take several hours to complete, teach all aspects of modern digital marketing principles, including inbound sales, content strategy design, email marketing and social media marketing.
• Hootsuite Academy: A slate of free and paid certification courses are available on social advertising, content marketing and social media strategy-building. Unfortunately, only Hootsuite Academy’s paid courses offer certifications.
• Moz Academy: This is a fantastic crash course on search engine optimization (SEO) basics.
• Ahref’s Blogging for Business: This is an amazing resource for mastering business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) copywriting skills as well as SEO keyword research.
Continuing education is essential in a fast-moving industry such as digital marketing. It’s not enough to merely pass the courses listed above and leave it at that. Instead, take your education a step further by immersing yourself in the most popular blogs in the industry and connect on social media with thought leaders within your niche.
A great way to keep up on industry news is to follow trusted marketing blogs and news websites. Over the years, I’ve found that my favorites include Search Engine Land, Moz Blog, Content Marketing Institute and Search Engine Journal, but it’s best to shop around to see which platform provides the most insights for your specific niche.
Then, enter industry keywords and phrases into the search box on LinkedIn and Twitter to find influencers and thinkers within your industry who have high engagement. Follow them and take part in the conversation. A few key figures in the industry right now include Neil Patel, Rand Fishkin, Jeff Bullas, Ann Handley and Gary Vaynerchuk.
Explore Free Tools Before Making An Investment
Unless you have the right tools, all the digital marketing knowledge in the world won’t amount to much. Below, I’ve listed a few of what I believe to be the best free digital marketing services and tools to help you put your knowledge and insights into practice.
• Hootsuite: This platform allows you to easily program social posts and maintain a posting schedule weeks or months in advance. Make sure to take a look at your competitors to see how well their social posts are performing relative to yours.
• Followerwonk: Use this tool to find relevant influencers within your niche by analyzing Twitter bios, follower counts and engagement rates.
• Ubersuggest: Review summaries of Google’s “suggest” or autocomplete results in various countries to see what people are searching for within your industry or niche.
• Trello: Use this tool to track milestones, facilitate project collaboration, remind yourself of deadlines and such in order to stay on top of your digital marketing campaigns and objectives.
If you’re a digital marketing novice, don’t feel like you have to come up with a winning formula right off that bat. Driving engagement, building web traffic and hitting your target key performance indicators (KPIs) is a matter of trial and error and discovering which tools work best for you. Your best bet is to A/B test every campaign — one campaign with a particular new tool or method, and another without. If the former performs better, then you might’ve found a tool or process that works for you.
When you decide to upgrade to paid marketing tools, make sure you seek out solutions that offer a free trial period. The most reputable software in the industry, such as Ahrefs, Raven Tools and SEMrush, all allow users to use the full application for at least seven days without paying. Avoid any paid tools that don’t let you try it out first.
The Bottom Line
Your budget isn’t an excuse when getting started with digital marketing. Leveraging the digital marketing courses and tools listed above and exploring additional resources related to your niche, can give your company a competitive advantage from the get-go.