10 free internet marketing tools that each “hands-on” marketer should use

David Linder

David Linder

MSc in Marketing from the University of Salford. Facebook Certified Planning Professional Facebook Certified Buying Professional
7 min read

The best tools for understanding your web customers, competitors and campaign effectiveness?

I discover that when running classes, the tools I would recommend to greatly help marketers are always popular, especially the free tools… On courses, I’m oftenasked for a summary of “essential tools” for digital marketing, so here they are…

2018 update: I originally created this list in 2012, but keep it updated as new tools are released plus some tools become paid…

We try to review and compare tools for managing different digital activities on Smart Insights, so we’ve several tools covered in other posts, so I’ll connect to these where relevant.

There’s a diverse mixture of free tools available, among the enjoyable areas of employed in digital marketing today. I’ll focus on the most trusted. Please tell us concerning the “essential free tools” you utilize in the comments. For most more tools suggestions – check  out our free guide to digital marketing tools. We’ve structured it around our RACE planning framework covering 30 types of digital marketing tools that each business that’s seriously interested in improving digital marketing needs. In addition to the insights tools we cover here, it offers a lot more tools necessary for essential digital marketing pursuits like conversion rate optimiization, personalization and marketing automation.

RACE - Reach Essential Digital Marketing Tools Quarter

In this short article, I’ll cover 10 roughly tools across 8 key digital marketing analysis activities that ‘hands-on’ digital marketers have to follow.

1. Reviewing brand mentions and the most recent developments in your industry

Google Alerts

Many marketers still swear by Google Alerts for reviewing mentions of these brand, campaign hashtags or competitor names by entering keywords, so it’s still trusted. However, it’s mostly predicated on analysis of sites and misses from social media mentions.


To help here I would recommend the free Talkwalker Alerts service from the social listening service Talkwalker. Talkwalker’s Free social search also monitors mentions of you brand, hashtags and competitors on social media.


Although RSS isn’t “in vogue” since it was 5+ years back, I still find there’s no replacement for by using this as a listening post for developments in your industry. When I wrote the prior post I used Google Reader to categorise sites to help keep up-to-date with the most recent developments in digital. When Google withdrew this since there is no revenue inside it (Boo!) I used Reeder being an offline client on my Macbook Air and iOS for some time. But now I would recommend Feedly since it is the hottest so that you can see by the ‘voice of the crowd’ which posts are hottest.  Like the feature in PostRank that Google also killed off. Although feed readers aren’t popular they are probably the most efficient solution to scan the most recent news in various categories. If you avoid them try Feedly out – our analytics shows it’s probably the most common referrers to Smart Insights – do bookmark us!


Zest.is is another download that’s particularly ideal for digital marketing, it is a Google Chrome extension that collects suggested content from users

  • 2. Managing social media updates

Hootsuite and Buffer

I’ve used Hootsuite for posting updates to social networks and reviewing what others say for pretty much five years now after using Tweetdeck back your day – Twitter killed that certain off for general use. Hootsuite and Buffer are comfortably the most famous free tools for posting and reviewing social media updates, you almost certainly utilize them.

But Hootsuite is excellent as a means of monitoring competitors and influencers too. If you are using Twitter lists you could have a stream for every of these that is more practical than following everyone.

  • 3. Finding influencers

There is not any single free tool that is effective because of this. Often using Google or LinkedIn manually will be the easiest way.

A long while ago you could utilize reputation tools like Klout, Kred or Peerindex, but these have faded. I discover that the usage of Twitter autofollow implies that this often skews the outcomes.

Influencer tools

LinkedIn sector skills was previously the very best source for finding business influencers due to grouping by narrower topics – but LinkedIn killed this – monetisation again. LinkedIn advanced search is just about the best replacement.

LinkedIn Skills


Followerwonk is frequently mentioned as a free of charge service which may be used to get influencers via their Twitter bio, but this limits it as this examples show. Most marketers I understand wouldn’t know of the very best 3 ‘influencers’ here, instead they’re being rewarded for the usage of autofollow bots.

Right Relevance

For me, Right Relevance is really a far better tool that identifies both publishers and influencers as this example shows. It really is still over-dependent on the written text in the bio though, so it is beneficial to try different alternatives.

Still, I’m interested to learn alternatives readers use here – please share via @SmartInsights.

4. Understanding customer search behaviour

With search still the best acquisition channel driving nearly all visits, leads and sales for some businesses online, I really believe that even marketers who outsource their SEO have to understand various kinds of customer behaviour when searching to greatly help develop approaches for getting visibility AND creating content and messages to greatly help meet consumer needs.

When I first wrote this post I recommended the Google Keyword Tool, however now it has been renamed to the Google Keyword Planner, but continues to be THE indispensable tool alongside the Google Webmaster Tools integration given that The Growth of Not Provided keywords means we can not use analytics reliably to get referring keywords.  Here’s the initial. The most recent version shows mobile estimates too.

Google keyword tool tutorial

Google Insights for search has been folded into Google Trends needed for understanding seasonal search behaviour trends in various countries.


Ubersuggest can be ideal for summarising the Suggest/Autocomplete behaviour in various countries to check on your within the main behaviours. It’s now owned by Neil Paatel.



As an alternative solution, analysis – have a look at KeywordTool.io. It’s like UberSuggest, but with better formatting – I often utilize this showing how local consumer behaviour differs, for instance, I was giving an exercise workshop to a Shredders manufacturer – a significant different term en France par example:

KeyWord Tool example

  • 5. Competitor site benchmarking

It was previously that Google AdPlanner was unbeatable for comparing audience size and dimension. Which has been folded into AdWords because the Campaign Planner and now limited by media sites, but nonetheless ideal for finding size and quality of audience for partner and media sites also keep in mind concerning the related Google Placement Targeting Tool ideal for remarketing and research.

Today, my ‘go to’ tool for benchmarking is Similar Web, a freemium tool launched in 2013 and offering free stats on all sites including referrers. Here’s how Smart Insights looks:

Similar Web Benchmarking

Chris Soames includes a another post here on the primary sites for competitor benchmarking. You will likely need to fall back on Alexa or Compete today which don’t have a tendency to give realistic estimates outside the US. I’ve likewise have an in-depth post recommending a great many other online competitor benchmarking tools.

  • 6. Off-page backlink analysis for SEO

Lots of tools in this category, see our comparison of 6 best backlink analysis tools.

Of these, Majestic and Moz Open Site Explorer need to be the “must use” tools. I believe for non-SEOs, the Backlink History is ideal for basic benchmarking of competitor success in gaining backlinks although link quality isn’t shown.
Majestic SEO

  • 7. On-page markup analysis for SEO

Hubspot’s Site, now Marketing Grader for reviewing on-page for SEO is frequently mentioned as a good tool by people on courses.

For reviewing on-page markup like headings and in addition mobile screen resizing I find Chris Pederick’s Web Developer Toolbar for Chrome and Firefox essential. The Moz Toolbar is way better from an SEO POV. Here’s a good example of the overlay showing our ‘semantic markup’:

  • 8. Understanding overall internet marketing effectiveness

I think that Google Analytics or an equivalent is vital for several who work in marketing to understand at some level.

To help here, we’ve many articles of advice it is possible to access from our Google Analytics hub. The most famous is on using Google Analytics for social media marketing.

Google Analytics

If you understand each one of these tools, try the Google Agency Toolkit where they group almost all their tools together.

I hope this compilation pays to, what can you find most readily useful of the digital marketing tools we’ve covered here along with other tools we don’t? Please share via @SmartInsights.

David Linder

David Linder

MSc in Marketing from the University of Salford. Facebook Certified Planning Professional Facebook Certified Buying Professional

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