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12 Free Marketing Tools Every Small Business Owner Should Know About

By Scott Gerber, Last Modified
Dec 06, 2016
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> Marketing

Small businesses may not have a big budget for marketing, but the need for building email lists, tracking online visibility and sharing engaging content across social media channels is hugely important for increasing brand awareness and growing the company.

Luckily, there are countless tools and apps that make marketing easy, and they don't have to cost a penny. Social media sites like Snapchat and YouTube are well known by consumers and provide a free platform for sharing your company culture. Tools like SEMrush and Google Analytics track brand visibility and website traffic so you can evaluate your online presence. And there are a lot more tools out there to employ.

We asked 12 entrepreneurs from YEC to share the marketing tools they love, both for their effective reach and their no-cost price tags.

1. MailChimp

Every small business should be building an email list, yet many assume it's just an added monthly expense that they don't want to incur. MailChimp's "Forever Free" plan allows you to build a list of up to 2,000 subscribers and send 12,000 emails monthly. This satisfies the needs of most small businesses, and provides a great free starting point for larger businesses. - Jonathan Long, Market Domination Media

2. Referrals

When people like your product or service, they will refer you to their friends. These are very valuable sources of business, yet not enough business owners ask customers for referrals or make it easy for them to make referrals. Asking for Yelp reviews or other online reviews is another way to generate referrals. Happy customers are happy to help if you ask. - Alan Carniol, Interview Success Formula

3. SEMrush

SEMrush is an amazing tool that allows businesses to track how visible their websites are on Google. You can also use it to do competitor research and get information on what the competition is doing better than you. With this information, business owners can decide where to allocate budget to improve their businesses online, and to generate more leads. - Guillermo Ortiz, Geek Powered Studios

4. Social Media

Social media is still drastically underutilized. Hiring a professional social media strategist and consultant can cost an arm and a leg in this day and age, but the reality is you can be doing so much more on your own to grow and retain your audience, generate leads, boost interest in products and services, and create buzz around your brand. The fact is, if you're not gaining new social media followers every day, you're not doing enough. - Blair Thomas, First American Merchant

5. Hootsuite

Businesses that are on various social media platforms may find it daunting to post on so many different places on a regular basis. Hootsuite solves this by allowing you to connect multiple social media accounts to one dashboard and use the tool to publish, schedule, monitor and fetch reports. - Humberto Farias, Concepta

6. Snapchat

Social media platforms like Instagram are well known by businesses, but Snapchat is often neglected. It's easy to overlook the features, but using Snapchat's "My Story" is the best way to give your audience an inside look at your company culture, or get feedback from your audience by asking them to screenshot parts of your "story" as a form of voting. - Leila Lewis, Be Inspired PR

7. YouTube

YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world. More people would rather watch a short video than read about a company. What more businesses should do is create 10 to 15 videos answering FAQs about their business. They can then syndicate and transpose the videos to make them well known on the Internet. This will position businesses as an expert in their field and give them tons of credibility. - Tommy Mello, A1 Garage Door Service

8. Canva

Most small businesses don't have a dedicated graphic designer, and constantly outsourcing design jobs can get costly. Meet Canva, a free web-based tool that helps you design sophisticated banners, social media posts, stationary and much more. No need to take a crash course in Photoshop to give your company the look you want. - Elliot Bohm, Cardcash.com

9. SoundCloud

SoundCloud is a social media site where you can upload and share audio clips. A large part of the community is made up of musicians, but the presence of business podcasts is also growing on the platform. If you’re already using audio content to attract your target audience, you might want to consider distributing your podcasts on SoundCloud in addition to the usual suspects. - Ismael Wrixen, FE International

10. SpyFu

Have you ever wondered what your competitor's digital marketing strategy was? SpyFu can provide you with insight into how they're performing organically, what keywords they're bidding on, how their campaigns look and how much they spend on Google. This insight can allow marketers to cherry pick top performers for their own campaigns, and initial research on the platform is free. - Robert Lee, Circa Interactive Inc

11. Missinglettr

Missinglettr allows you to connect your RSS feed from your blog to your social channels. It then creates a drip marketing campaign based on the content and images found in each blog post. A single post can generate as many as a dozen different social posts, all extracted, created and posted by the tool. It's an amazing automated way to maximize and amplify content. - Marcela De Vivo, Gryffin

12. Google Analytics

Google Analytics provides valuable information in terms of tracking the traffic to your website. It's all free, you just have to learn how to use it. You can easily see traffic from different networks, referrals and locations. You can identify who is engaged with your website and where. You should know how to set conversion goals and then start optimizing your interactions on the site. - Shilpi Sharma, Kvantum Inc.

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program.

Scott Gerber
Scott Gerber
See Scott Gerber's Profile
Scott Gerber is the founder of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. Gerber is also a serial entrepreneur, regular TV commentator and author of the book Never Get a “Real” Job.
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