Glasgow SME or start-up? Make your life easier with these free marketing tools

December 17, 2015

They say a good workman never blames his tools. Then again, the people who say that never handed Michelangelo a rubber duck and told him to touch up the vault in the Sistine Chapel. Will Craig, Founder and Creative Director at Glasgow agency, Digital Impact looks at the top free tools that can help any creative business on a budget…

Startup tools

The tools we use – in fact, the tools anyone uses – are there to make our lives easier and improve the quality of our work. I mean, yes, I can design a logo in Paint but I can also do it far faster and better in Illustrator.

We decided to share our favourites from around the Digital Impact office, the tools and services that keep our digital engine running smoothly. If you’ve got any suggestions or strongly disagree with our choices (and let’s face it: there will be some of you who passionately and vociferously disagree), let us know in the comments.

Peek

Key Features: Real world tester, multiple free tests

If your business is online, user testing should be a core part of your strategy. It’s a way of testing whether what you are doing actually works. Does your new banner catch the eye? Is your menu structure intuitive? Is your colour scheme distracting? And so on and so forth.

These questions, however, are immensely difficult to answer without a huge budget and a fleet of user testers. Thankfully, UserTesting.com offers users a free cut down version of their service called Peek, which lets you run three five-minute website evaluations for free every month. (Try saying that ten times fast!)

EpicBeat

Key Features: Track content trends, discover influencers

Most people working in digital have heard of BuzzSumo. It’s a really cool tool that lets you find the most popular content and influencers related to a particular niche, keyword or site. However, at $99 per month, it’s not the cheapest, nor is it multifunctional.

So when we found a free tool that did virtually the same job we were over the moon. EpicBeat is a brilliant service created by content intelligence platform Epictions that tracks the success of millions of pieces of content across the web. Simply pop in a search term or site and EpicBeat will show you what related content is most popular.

Buffer

Key Features: Social scheduling, good integration with Twitter, intuitive UI

Social media is essential for modern businesses. I don’t care if you own a design studio, a used car showroom or an augmented reality tech firm, social media is a must.

Now, social media can eat up a lot of your time but that that doesn’t mean it has to. There’s a few good services which let you write a load of updates at once and schedule them to post in the future. That way you look like you’re always active when in reality you’re off somewhere else.

I’d recommend Buffer over other social scheduling services because it’s a really intuitive tool and its free version integrates with Twitter much better than Hootsuite.

IFTTT

Key Features: Automate tasks, cross service support, premade recipes

IFTTT (If This Then That) is a cool service which allows you to automate boring grunt work across a huge number of services.

Say you run a popular Instagram account and want to share your shots on Twitter. The automatic republication feature between Instagram and Twitter is rubbish – Twitter doesn’t preview the link so all you get is a text link.

With IFTTT you can set up a rule to share the photo properly. For example, if I post to Instagram, then download the photo and re-upload it to Twitter as a native photo.

There’s hundreds of other recipes covering everything from productivity to fitness so go have a look and see if any tickle your fancy.

HubSpot CRM

Key Features: Easy-to-use platform, completely free, integration with Sidekick

HubSpot is all about the freebies and their customer relationship management tool is one of the best. Like any CRM, this is a simple way of pulling all of your contacts into one place, allowing you to see at a glance who needs attention and who can wait.

The HubSpot CRM also works seamlessly with another handy freebie, Sidekick, a slightly sneaky plugin which tracks email opens without using read receipts.

Will Craig is Founder and Creative Director at Glasgow agency, Digital Impact. Follow them on Twitter @DigitalImpactUK or LinkedIn Digital Impact. To find out more, visit the website www.digitalimpact.co.uk or call the Glasgow office 0141 280 4442.