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Top 5 free online marketing tools (that are simple and effective, too!)

Everyone knows that marketing matters. What they don’t know is that given the right tools, marketing isn’t expensive, time consuming, or difficult. That’s great news for small business owners strapped on cash and time.

Here’s our list of 5 easy to use, well tested, and free online tools that help manage small business marketing. Give ‘em a whirl – we promise it’s worth it ;)

1. Google Analytics

Knowledge is money, especially in the nebulous world of marketing. Google Analytics, a free service from Google (duh), helps you track and analyze website traffic. Using Analytics, you’ll see exactly how many visitors your website gets, what they’re searching for, even which social networks they’re using. You can even setup goals (say, a contact form submission, or a download) to see which types of users are doing what. That’s invaluable knowledge that belongs in every marketer’s arsenal.

Here’s a good guide on setting Google Analytics up. Do it – it’ll take 10 minutes and the insights will be huge.

2. Mailchimp

So you’ve got a couple hundred email addresses – how do you profit from them? Mailchimp is a free online tool that makes email marketing easy. Using Mailchimp, you can send leads or customers beautiful, well branded emails, all for the price of… nothing. What’s more, you’ll see analytics on the emails you send, so you’ll know which types of emails are opened (and which aren’t). That’s huge.

When was the last time you offered old customers a promotion? Sign up for Mailchimp and do it the right way.

3. Hootsuite

Assuming you’re using Facebook pages, Twitter, and/or Linkedin (you are, aren’t you?), you’re probably also sick of managing content. Switching between social media services is a pain in the small business ass.

That’s why Hootsuite exists. Using Hootsuite, you’ll get a dashboard view of all your company’s social media streams, all in one place. No more jumping between pages, or accidentally cross-posting – instead, you’ll have a horizontal view of your company’s social presence. What’s more, you can invite team members to collaborate and post on your behalf. Pretty awesome.

4. Google Webmaster Tools

Yeah yeah, it’s lame to have two Google products on the same list, but it’s well deserved. Google Webmaster Tools is a separate product from Google Analytics, but it’s nearly as important.

Webmaster Tools lets you improve your site’s visibility in Google search results. It’ll suggest HTML improvements, warn you about broken links, and alert you if Google thinks you’ve been hacked. That’s a big deal, especially if you rely on your site for exposure and sales.

Like Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools is a breeze to setup. There’s no excuse not to, especially when it raises your Google position.

5. Crowdbooster

If Hootsuite lets you manage where you post, Crowdbooster lets you manage when and what you post. It’s analytics for your social networks (Facebook and Twitter).

If you’re on Twitter, Crowdbooster tracks your follower growth over time, determines your most influential tweets and followers, creates recommendations on engaging them, and suggests the best times to post (based on follower activity). If you’re on Facebook, Crowdbooster shows you impressions, fan growth, and top fans.

For small businesses stressed on time, this is a big time-saver: focus on the people and schedules that create impact, and go from there.

Conclusion

Marketing doesn’t have to be expensive or laborious. Free online marketing tools like the ones above are readily available and extremely powerful – it’s just up to you to use them!

VM Associates is a New York City cloud computing consulting firm. We help companies transition into newer, better, smarter software (we do social media setups too!). Contact us to talk about your business, the cloud, and how we might help.

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Chris Bliss works at VM Associates, an end-user consultancy for businesses looking to move to the cloud from pre-existing legacy systems.