When the PMG team gathers around the table, we have a lot to give thanks for. We’ve known for a while that we work for some pretty awesome ladies, but our two fearless leaders (Susan LaPlante-Dube and Maureen Condon) were recently recognized at the 2015 International Stevie Awards for their accomplishments this past year, as well as the inspirational company culture they’ve successfully cultivated within a virtual workplace – taking home the Gold Stevie Award for Women-Run Workplace of the Year (10 or Less Employees) in our industry category. Our team couldn’t be prouder!
In addition to that big news, we’re also thankful for a number of free marketing tools we use on a regular basis when working with our clients. We’ve pulled together a little cornucopia of handy information about some of our favorites so you can apply them to your B2B marketing strategy, too! Here are 5 of the top free marketing tools out there that you should know about if you don’t already…
1. Pablo: Didn’t your mother teach you not to judge a book by its cover? Then why do you continue to do so? You (and the rest of the world) only click on blogs or social posts with enticing images – because science says that visuals are key to increasing readership. But what if the topic doesn’t lend itself to a photo, or you can’t afford to continue buying stock photos? Pablo is a great free way to add interest to your blog with words superimposed over images.
Our favorite part of this tool is that it doesn’t matter if you are short on time or graphic design talent. The user interface is intuitive and simple enough to create masterpieces in less than 30 seconds. Simply upload an image (or choose from pre-existing images), select a font, font size and alignment. But why stop there? You’ll have a hard time resisting the fun effects like contrast and blurring. VOILA! A true Van Gogh. The new and improved 2.0 will even size your image according to specs for the different social media accounts. Stop wasting time sourcing stock photos – create your own that conveys the message you want to deliver.
2. Google AdWords Keyword Planner Tool: Free if you sign up with your Google account, the Keyword Planner Tool allows you to input an industry keyword that’s commonly used by searchers and find long tail versions that are potentially much easier to rank for. Simply type some terms and phrases into the keyword toolbox and click on “Get Ideas”, and Google will provide you with a whole slew of popular keywords, as well as the corresponding number of monthly searches and competition rating for those keywords (taking into account the number of people already attempting to rank for them).
Particularly for smaller B2B companies in niche industries, optimizing a website for non-branded keywords provides a valuable opportunity to rank well in the SERPs. While bigger firms can often rely on branding alone, ranking for non-branded keywords is important for SMBs because it organically drives new visitors who are not already familiar with the company to their websites. For more tips on optimization and successfully implementing your keyword strategy, click here!
3. Open Site Explorer: This tool allows users to see what sites are linking back to their own and providing that valuable link building juice for SEO. What’s more, if you’re researching the competition, you can easily check out how a competitor’s site is generally performing. The free version provides you with a list that contains domain authority, page authority, social metrics and the still-very-important inbound links relating to your website. The only downside is the free version does limit the amount of reports you can pull per day. But that’s okay because you can still glean enough intel on your competitors to make decisions. How are your competitors getting a boost in terms of their domain authority? Inbound links, of course! It’s a great tool for determining sites to target with your content for more link love.
4. Google Analytics: You’ve spent a lot of time making sure your website is pretty and has loads of content. We know it was a labor of love, and you couldn’t be any prouder of your scrolling, responsive site if it were your own child. But, do others feel the same way? Remember that Seinfeld episode with the famous refrain, “You’ve got to see the baaaaaaaaaaaaby!”? Do people really want to see your baby? How do you know? And, more importantly – when they finally visit, do they find it as impressive as you?
Instead of speculating, you should be taking advantage of the analytics that are readily available to you. For example, what behavior are visitors exhibiting when they come to your site? Exactly where are people spending their time? What pages do people visit most frequently? Once they find you, do they bounce right away? Or do they continue moving through the site in a manner that makes sense? Maybe it’s unclear where people should go in order to track down the answers they seek. Many of our clients think they know the pathway of the ideal visitor. But the insight Google Analytics provides helps us leverage what is working – and fix what isn’t. You may think you know who your ideal visitor is and what they want, but Google Analytics (particularly when combined with HubSpot Analytics) is a real game changer.
5. Leadin: If you’re an entrepreneur or you’re running a small business and you’ve been thinking about dipping your toe into the world of inbound marketing, this is the ideal solution for you. Created by the team that came up with HubSpot, this tool integrates easily with any content management system and gives you insight into possible prospects who visit your website and subsequently fill out a form.
We admit, we’re suckers for anything free, but the best features of this tool aren’t limited to cost. We love that you don’t need a degree in rocket science to decipher the simple analytics or learn how to code to integrate. All the hard work is done FOR you. LeadIn pushes your contacts to an email list of your choice – no need to replace forms. And, it scours the web for any information related to the lead, like their company, social networks, and geographic location, so you will have much more context when following up!
Any other marketing tools you’d like to see discussed? Let us know in the comments or hit up our Ask the Experts page. We’d be happy to dig into other topics and get them up on the blog for our readers. Happy Thanksgiving, marketers!