8 Free & Easy Marketing Tools for Small Businesses

With the growth of digital marketing, it’s important to know what opportunities you can take advantage of to promote your business. The great news is that you can now do more with your marketing dollars than ever before – often for free!

Small businesses in particular don’t always have the same resources that larger organizations have at their disposal, so you have to get creative with how and where you spend.

The internet has provided a platform, not only for showcasing your business at the click of a button, but also for leveraging many free and easy tools, from apps to web software, to help you pull off a complete marketing plan without a hitch.

It’s all right at your fingertips.

In this blog post, we’ve compiled a list of tools that are already being used by thousands of businesses around the world.

Why?

Because they are simple and effective—and did we mention free?

1. Make It Easy to Find Your Business: Google My Business

When you search on Google for a local business, or search from the map interface for directions you’ll be shown results of businesses based on products and services in your local area.

If you haven’t already claimed your Google My Business profile there is no time like the present.  Now you have the opportunity to influence what people see when they search for your business using this great free tool from Google. By claiming your profile and keeping it freshly topped up with new content, you are maximizing the opportunities to tell your story and stand out from your competition.

The Google My Business platform has new features being added all the time giving you more branding and promotional tools that help create your business personality and marketing materials. For example, you can add your logo and pictures of your business to your profile. It also allows you to choose the picture that you want customers to see when they find you using Google search. The ability to showcase your latest offers, place an order or take a reservation can help set you apart from your competition. The platform also provides insight on how your customers are finding your business.

First impressions are usually lasting, so why not claim your business profile and be in control when it comes to creating your customers first impression and feed the search engines some content that they’ll love which ultimately means your customers can find you easier. To learn how to claim your business profile and get started check out the Google My Business page.

Here’s a sample of a listing for one of our stores:

A lot of people don’t realize that even if you’ve never registered with Google My Business, your company’s info may still be showing up because Google has gathered that information from customers and other sources online.

Laptop on a restaurant table, showing Google My Business and a Google Map of North America

 

2. Create Beautiful Designs for Free with Canva App

We can’t all be graphic designers—or maybe we can, thanks to Canva!

If you haven’t heard, Canva lets you create your own visual content without the need for a graphic Designer. From social posts, posters and presentations to email headers and website graphics, you can create them all with a few clicks. You can start from scratch or choose one of 50,000 provided templates.

Wireless keyboard and wireless mouse, and a tablet showing the Canva design options

Search the vast assortment of templates and add your own branding and message to create content that your audience will love. The built-in library of photos for your review means you can easily find an asset that works for what you need in seconds.

Drag and drop the image onto your chosen template, edit the photo, add shapes, insert text, change the colours—this is your chance to get creative and create something engaging!

The Canva team claims their tool only takes 23 seconds to learn, so give it a try for yourself!

3. Discover & Use Free Stock Photos with Unsplash

Wireless keyboard, mobile phone and tablet on a table with Unsplash stock photos on the screen

If Canva doesn’t have the photo you need for your creative, a great website for free photos is Unsplash. Thousands of photos are added every single day by the 50,000 photographers who make up the Unsplash community. They donate the photos for anyone’s use!

You can download a photo from Unsplash and upload it to Canva to complete your graphic, or use the photo for other projects, like your website header or an ad.

Check out the various themed collections, explore by category, or just type what you’re looking for into the search bar. Within seconds, Unsplash will send you back a handful of different visual options that you can use on your website or in your marketing materials for free.

4. Email Marketing Made Easy with MailChimp

With the continued rise in smartphone use, email continues to be one of the top digital ways to communicate with your customers. Whether your customers are looking for information on the latest products and deals or you want to guide prospects through your sales process to close a deal, email should be part of your marketing toolkit.

Email usage continues to rise each year and is expected to grow by 4.4% per year from now to 2021, bringing the annual message total to 319.6 billion emails.

That’s a lot of emails.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a tool that helped you send emails that cut through the noise?

That’s where MailChimp comes in.

MailChimp is one of the most popular email marketing services around and is free for up to 2,000 email subscribers. MailChimp also offers email automation so you don’t have to send the same email over and over again, allowing you to spend your time focusing on other things. Many brands use MailChimp to build and send campaigns that promote products, highlight offers, showcase news or their latest events.

Creating a campaign in MailChimp is really simple. When you sign up for MailChimp, you will immediately be prompted with a dashboard that allows you to decide what you want to create.

Screenshot of MailChimp’s website asking what do you want to create

If you’re looking to craft an email campaign but aren’t design savvy, MailChimp offers a wide range of templates that you can build from:

Screenshot of MailChimp’s website showing range of email templates

After selecting a template, you have the ability to use their drag and drop interface to customize the templates to be your very own.

Screenshot of MailChimp’s website showing email customization options after a template was selected

After writing your story and uploading some images, your email masterpiece is ready to go.

MailChimp also offers email marketing reporting, which means you have access to all the most important metrics. As we like to say at Eastlink, “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” This is why MailChimp is a great tool for small businesses to take advantage of. With the power of email and reporting, your business can become more effective at communicating.

5. Learn More About Your Customers with Google Analytics

Data, data, data. You can’t escape it—and really, you don’t want to. You can really get to know your customers using your business website’s data. Google Analytics makes it really easy.

After all, there’s no use running an ad or adding a new product on your website if you don’t have a way to measure the results. You should always be analyzing the effectiveness of your website content and adjusting to the demands and behaviours of your audience.

Google Analytics lets you do just that by tracking your visitors’ activities, from where they click to how long they remain on a particular page.

This tool really simplifies data mining, so it’s not hard to figure out, but there are also a number of resources available to help get you started, including free training courses in the Analytics Academy.

6. Create Video Content with Ease Using the Legend App

Consider the saying that pictures speak a thousand words. Now amplify this by applying it to video content too and be part of the conversation with your Facebook and Instagram audiences who love to spend around six hours per week watching video content on social media.

Did you know that research also shows that 46% of consumers say they’ve made a purchase as a result of watching a brand video on social media?

Why not bring your photos and videos to life through animated text to help tell your story? The Legend app makes it easy to do this on your mobile device in just three easy steps. First, type the text you want to be shared with your audience along with a photo or video. The second step is selecting a pre-developed animation that gives you a handful of creative messages.

Two phones showing two-step Legend App process – showcasing animated text on purple background

The final step is to change the colours before choosing where you want to save or share your final product. Our team at Eastlink are big fans of this app so why not have some fun and see what results you can find for your business.

7. Understand What’s Trending with Answer The Public

If you are able to answer the questions being asked by your customers, you have a better chance of being found online when customers are searching for answers to those questions. The creation of this content comes from using these insights around what customers are asking online and using them to help tell your story in an engaging way.

Answer The Public takes any search word you provide and shows you all the questions people are asking related to it. Plus, the results are in a compelling visual format, making it easy to understand and use.

Let’s say you’re running a coffee shop. If you search for the term “coffee” in Answer The Public, you’ll get something like this:

Screenshot from the Answer the Public website, showing list of common searches about coffee

As you can see, people are searching for topics like “where coffee is grown”, “which coffee is good for health”, and “can coffee cause bloating.” That’s a lot to work with! And it’s a great place to start when brainstorming ideas for your next promotion or social post.

8. Dig Deeper with Facebook Audience Insights

Facebook Audience Insights brings you closer to the people who interact with your Facebook page, as well as the larger Facebook community, by compiling insights about the demographics, activities, behaviours and interests of these users.

Continuing with our coffee shop example – let’s say you want to learn more about millennials in Sudbury, Ontario to see what might entice them to check out your shop. From the Audience Insights homepage, select your audience (here, we select “Everyone on Facebook”):

Mobile phone and laptop on an outdoor table, Facebook Insights on the screen

From there, you will be able to use Facebook Audience insights to gain more information about the people in your region. You can select the Province, Town, City or Country and within seconds be met with details like age, gender, household income and more.

Laptop on a wooden table with Facebook insights onscreen

There are more than 60 different filters you can choose from! Take one of the free Facebook Audience Insights’ e-learning courses for more help in getting started so you can better understand the people you’re trying to reach on Facebook.

So there you have it:

Eight free and easy marketing tools right at your disposal.

Try implementing one of these at your small business today, then let us know how it goes on Facebook or Twitter

With Eastlink’s entrepreneurial roots, we appreciate the importance of spending time on the right things. We know it’s not easy, so we want to help your kind of business find success. We hope you’ve enjoyed discovering some new tools to help grow your business.

Did you know that Eastlink offers a wide variety of business solutions? If you’re interested in learning more about how our services like Managed WiFi and Business Security & Automation are helping businesses save time and money, get in touch today: email us or call 1-844-407-2828