Most startups and small businesses have a limited (if not non-existent) budget. This means purchasing the newest A/B testing tool or email marketing service isn’t a top priority. Luckily, many of the top marketing tools have free plans geared towards startups and small businesses.
I’m going to take you through some of the top free marketing tools for startups. Need to manage email marketing? Check. Want to measure the performance of your marketing campaigns and website? No problem. Looking to test and optimize your key website pages? I’ve got you covered.
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Free Marketing Tools for Startups
MailChimp is an email marketing platform that allows you to set up many different types of emails. They have email templates that you can choose and modify to your liking. The drag-and-drop interface makes it easy to design for anybody, not just technical marketers.
MailChimp has an “Entrepreneur” plan that allows for sending up to 12,000 emails monthly to up to 2,000 recipients. It doesn’t require a contract or a credit card. And it’s free forever.
Sound too good to be true? It isn’t. I use it for this website to send out emails to my subscribers for new posts.
MailChimp integrates with a good amount of other platforms, like HubSpot, WordPress and Magento, so you can capture information on your website and push it into your MailChimp Lists to send future emails.
The only thing I will say is that if you are wanting to send automated emails, like an instant email based on subscribing to your blog or purchasing a product, you will need to jump up to a paid MailChimp account. Automated emails aren’t supported in the Entrepreneur plan.
Learn more here: mailchimp.com
2. Google Analytics
Google Analytics is by far the most popular free marketing tool for startups. Not only is it the most popular web analytics tool in the world, but it’s also free. That’s a win-win.
I might be a little biased, working at a Google Analytics Certified Partner (InfoTrust) and all, but check out any startup’s website and you’ll see GA is installed. Seriously.
You hear terms like “growth hacking” and “inbound marketing” all the time, but without a quality analytics tool like Google Analytics, you won’t be able to measure the success of these activities.
Google Analytics is free forever – as long as you stay under 10 millions hits per month. Anything above that – on a regular basis – and Google will contact you to upgrade to Google Analytics Premium. However, 10 million hits per month is around 1 million pageviews per month. So, for most startups, this is more than enough.
Learn more here: google.com/analytics
Also: For anybody working at a startup interested in Google Analytics, feel free to reach out to me. I’d be happy to walk you through the tool and help you get the most out of it. Free – no strings attached 🙂
Optimizely is an awesome testing and optimization tool geared towards companies of all sizes. You can create A/B and multivariate tests to improve the conversion rate on your website.
If you’re new to A/B and multivariate testing, I would recommend visiting the “Resources” section of their site to learn more.
My recommendation for startups new to testing and optimization would be to find the landing pages with the most traffic and set up small A/B tests. Change the color of the button. Add different text to the button. Change the headline of your landing page. This will allow you to get used to the Optimizely interface while also learning more about optimization.
I will warn you. It gets extremely addicting!
The Starter plan will get you up and running with optimization for free, no credit card required:
Learn more here: optimizely.com
SumoMe is a suite of freemium apps from AppSumo geared towards improving your website. Their main focus is on email list generation, with apps designed to collect email addresses based on user activity like scrolling.
If you find yourself reading blog posts on topics like “email list growth hacking,” more than likely SumoMe will be mentioned. I’ve seen a tremendous amount of marketing blogs using SumoMe apps to collect email addresses.
I personally use their free apps to collect email addresses to subscribe to my blog. SumoMe integrates with a good amount of email marketing tools, like MailChimp. When someone submits their email address through the SumoMe app, they’re automatically added to my blog’s subscription list in MailChimp to be sent my latest blogs.
SumoMe lists some large sites like The Chive and Airbnb among those using their apps.
For more info: sumome.com
BuzzSumo is a valuable tool that allows you to analyze the content that’s performing the best. You can view it by topic, keyword, domain, and even competitor.
It’s extremely valuable for bloggers and content generators, because it shows you the top content by amount of social shares. For instance, I might want to research what specific pieces of content about “growth hacking” are performing the best so I can improve upon that content.
This post from Brian Dean of backlinko.com on how to use BuzzSumo for viral marketing.
BuzzSumo allows you to create a free account, which will show you the top 10 results for keyword. If you want more than that, they have paid options that add a bunch of other functionality like alerts and API access.
For more info: buzzsumo.com
Sniply is a social-sharing tool that allows you to share links to other websites, but it includes a call-to-action which can link back to your website. It’s a very smart idea for startups that share a lot of other websites’ content.
For example, my social media pal Gina Yeagley shares a lot around content marketing and inbound marketing. She recently shared a link to this post on understanding millennials:
At the bottom left hand corner, Sniply allows Gina to add a call-to-action pointing back to her company’s website (cleriti.com) to download a guide on inbound marketing.
This is extremely useful for sharing viral content from others – but still being able to direct people back to your properties once they’ve seen the content. Very cool.
Sniply uses a freemium model, like many of these SaaS products:
For more info: sniply.com
7. Moz Open Site Explorer
For those SEO-minded startups (shouldn’t that be all startups?), Moz’s Open Site Explorer tool is invaluable.
It allows you to scan your site or competitors’ websites for detailed link information, like inbound links, page and domain metrics, social metrics by page, and more. I use it routinely for my site and my company’s websites to see who is linking to us and how our sites’ domain authority is growing.
And best of all, it’s free for everybody!
For more info: moz.com/researchtools/ose
8. Intercom Observe
I admit, this is the only tool I have not personally used. And it’s not for lack of trying. At my company, I’ve been trying to get Intercom’s Observe plan installed on our products for about two months now. Why are developers always so busy?
The Observe plan is a free customer intelligence product to understand who is using your product, what features they’re using (and not using), how often they use the product, and more. If you’re looking for more insights on your customers, this is the way to do it.
Note: This tool requires developers to implement. They need to be able to collect and send information to Intercom, which requires updates to your product’s code. And remember, always be nice to your developers. You will need them.
Learn more here: intercom.io/customer-intelligence
Including a Customer Service/Help Desk tool in this list might have you scratching your head. But stay with me.
For many startups, especially bootstrapped ones, money is usually tight. Very tight. Many times, this leads to employees wearing many hats. Someone working in marketing might also handle custom service issues or reaching out to current customers for feedback on the product. An easy way to manage customer service if it’s not your sole responsibility is to use GrooveHQ, a very simple and free help desk tool.
It mimics your email system so that you can manage your customer service tickets in one tool. Your customers think you’re replying right from your email tool, which adds a personal touch to your customer service.
If I had a product, I would be using GrooveHQ.
Learn more here: groovehq.com
Buffer is an awesome social media tool I use personally every single day. It’s extremely powerful for scheduling future social media posts. I usually schedule three posts a day on Twitter, five days a week. Within Buffer, it’s a few clicks to add content to my queue.
Also, Buffer has a bunch of integrations, like a Chrome extension, iOS Safari extension and Pocket extension that let me add content to my queue from practically anywhere. Awesome!
They have a free plan which will let you connect a few social media accounts and schedule posts, but I would recommend stepping up to the Awesome plan. It let’s you schedule up to 200 posts in your queue, 20 social media accounts, and two team members to manage everything. It’s only $10/month, which is more than affordable.
For more info: buffer.com
I really enjoy checking out SaaS products in my spare time. I’m always on the lookout for new marketing and productivity products so I can brag I used it before any of my co-workers.
If you think I missed a great marketing tool for startups, leave me a comment and let me know.
Hopefully, you’ve found this list valuable. If so, please pay it forward and share it with your networks.