42 of the best free digital marketing tools for small businesses in Lancashire

They say a poor workman blames his tools, but when there are this many on offer, we think that’s a bit of a cop out.

Whether you’re a small business, new business, or big business, knowing the tools of the trade when it comes to marketing is essential. And if you’re just starting out or you don’t have the biggest marketing budget, there are plenty of free tools out there – and luckily for you, we’ve collated them into this humongous list, which you can bookmark and keep coming back to 💁 💁

Whether you need something to schedule your social media posts or something to streamline your productivity, you’ll find it all in our handy list. Just click on any of the categories below to skip to the right section for you. 

Disclaimer: Remember, these are just a small quantity of the tools that are available to you. We wanted to include ones that are actually ✨ free✨, as opposed to just a free trial. There are plenty of paid options out there, that are equally good, if not better.

Here are our top picks of the bunch:

 

Tool

Category

Key features

Tweetdeck

Social media

·       Schedule tweets

·       Notification alerts

·       Monitoring tools

Facebook Ads Manager

Social media advertising

·       Create & design ads

·       Specific targeting

·       Measure results & insights

Buzzsumo

Content ideas

·       Find influencers to work with

·       Monitor comments & trends

·       Discover high-performing content

Canva

Content creation

·       Design a range of different assets

·       Choose from a number of effects & icons

·       Add picture effects

Pixlr

Photo editing

·       Crop & resize images

·       Remove backgrounds

·       Apply filters & effects

Pexels

Stock photos

·       Choose from a range of high quality, free imagery

·       Helps artists & designers become empowered

·       Contribute your own images

Mailchimp

Email marketing

·       Free marketing CRM

·       Website builder

·       Mailchimp domain

Google Analytics

SEO

·       Easily access your website traffic data

·       Download reports

·       Track goals & sales

Google My Business

Review tools

·       Easily gain reviews from customers

·       Showcase your business on the map

·       Keep your business details up-to-date

Trello

Productivity

·       Organise and manage workflow

·       Keep track of deadlines

·       Easily add new tasks

Free digital marketing tools 2020:

  • Social media
  • Social media advertising
  • Content ideas
  • Content creation
  • Photo editing
  • Stock photos
  • Email marketing
  • SEO
  • Review tools
  • Productivity 

Social media

Whether you already have established channels or are hoping to break into new ones, managing your social media presence can be tricky. Scheduling software can be a lifesaver, as well as tools that help to track your mentions.  

-       Woobox

If you’re hoping to run a few social media competitions, then Woobox is the platform for you. Whether it’s an Instagram giveaway or hashtag contest, you can easily track and manage your competition’s data through the platform. With the free version of this software, you can have up to 100 entrants per month, utilise the winner picker tool, and run unlimited campaigns throughout the year.

Of course, as you venture into the paid elements of the software, you can build out landing pages, add team members, and have unlimited entrants to your competitions. The free version is ideal if you’re looking to get started with social media competitions and don’t want to overwhelm yourself with an inordinate amount of participants. 

-       Buffer

Buffer has been around for a while, but doesn’t really get the recognition it deserves. This free tool (which has paid options, providing you with further features) allows you to schedule up to ten social media posts, across three social channels. Ideal for smaller businesses who don’t want to inundate their followers with content. 

If you choose to expand your plan to a billed monthly one, you can have the option to schedule more posts, add further users, as well as take advantage of Buffer’s analytics platform.

-       Hootsuite

Similar to Buffer, Hootsuite is another social media scheduling platform, with a free version that allows you to post up to 30 scheduled messages and connect three social profiles. Hootsuite can become your virtual social media manager – well, up to a certain point!

The paid options are great for when you’re ready to expand your marketing team and require more users, or you need to manage more social media profiles. 

-       Later

Instagram used to be notorious for being unable to schedule posts, which meant many social media managers and small businesses having to manually publish content. Not ideal when you’re hoping to have a few glasses of wine on a Saturday night. Later was one of the first platforms to provide users with the option of scheduling for Instagram – and still continues to provide great scheduling software for free.

You can post up to 30 times via each social profile, including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, and have access to stock imagery. Later is a great option for those of you who run creative or image heavy social media accounts.

-       TweetDeck

If you’re an avid Twitter user, or it’s the main platform you use for your business, TweetDeck provides you with everything you need to see what’s going on and when. Track conversations in real-time and follow topics that matter to your business. The app is completely free – and extremely useful for managing your mentions.  

-       Followerwonk

We’ve been using Followerwonk for years – and not just because of the funny name. The platform is ideal if you’re looking to find influencers who you might like to work with, as well as analysing your own followers, to see where they’re located and what they’re interested in. 

It’s completely free to use, if you only want to link one Twitter account. To add further profiles, compare follower losses and gains, or export your Twitter data, you can choose from two of their monthly payment options.

Social media advertisin

Put your money where your mouth is. Social media advertising is an extremely effective tool for small businesses who are looking to target a specific location or demographic. Many of the platforms offer their own advertising format – all you have to do is pay for the clicks and the rest is free. 

-       Facebook Ads Manager

Facebook Ads Manager is completely free to use – apart from the fact you have to pay for the ads. The platform is straightforward enough to navigate, especially if you’re looking to promote a few posts here and there, or increase your followers. Once you start getting into the nitty gritty of building out an actual ad campaign, that’s where things can get complicated.

It’s a great platform to utilise, however, and can drive some real conversions. The Advertiser Help Centre can guide you through to a point – but there’s only so much you can do until you need to talk to an actual human being (something which Facebook is notoriously lacking). Luckily, we have the experts in-house to help create and manage a sterling social media ads campaign – plus we’re real people too.

-       Twitter Advertising

Maybe you want to sponsor a hashtag or promote a tweet? Twitter’s free ad platform allows you to do just that – but don’t forget you still need to pay for the promotion. Simply pick your objective (driving enquiries, building awareness etc.) and Twitter will help with the rest. There are plenty of ad options and formats to choose from, so it’s up to you to decipher how best to promote your business.  

Twitter also has a free insights tool, which is great for analysing how many followers you’ve gained or lost, as well as seeing which tweets did well. This is perfect for learning about your profile and what else you can do to improve it. 

-       AdRoll

AdRoll pitches itself as a ‘growth marketing platform’ and we think that’s a pretty good overview. With features such as brand awareness ads, retargeting ads, email marketing, audience insights, and so much more, for a free tool, AdRoll really does seem to have it all.

Of course, like many of these featured tools, if you want to do more, you can always pay, but even then, the platform is affordable and you do actually get some really great extras, such as higher email sends, performance benchmarks, and reporting partners’ integration. It’s more than just an advertising platform, but actually helps you with new ideas for your brand and business, keeping everything in one place.

Content ideas

When you’re a small business, coming up with fresh, exciting content ideas that will drive traffic can be hard work – but when you’ve got some of these free tools at your disposal, it should make the idea generation process a little smoother (and easier).

-       BuzzSumo

Our Content Manager, Al, has been using BuzzSumo since before she could walk (she was a late learner). As an idea generation tool, as well as checking out the most popular pieces of content on the market, it’s sublime. If you’re planning on doing some influencer marketing or blogger outreach in the future, BuzzSumo can help you find and source the right people to work with. You can also track and monitor your brand mentions through the platform.

From a pricing point of view, things can get a little expensive the bigger plan you choose, but if your business grows and you need to add more users and receive more alerts, it’s definitely worthwhile. The free version only lasts for 30 days, but you can continue to use it for free after this, with very limited features.

-       Google Suggest

Although you can access Google Suggest through the link above, if you need some quick ideas for free, simply go to Google and start typing in the search bar. You’ll be presented with numerous ‘suggestions’, based on your keyword or topic, that others have searched for before.

This information can help you formulate blog article ideas, as well as social media posts, ensuring that you’re providing relevant content to your customers. 

-       HubSpot Blog Ideas Generator

If you’re really at a loss of what your next blog article should be, take advantage of this great, free tool from HubSpot. Simply enter a topic or noun that relates to your industry or services, and HubSpot will generate a week’s worth of blog article ideas, with handy titles already created for you. It’s that easy. 

-       Google Trends 

Want to find out what’s been trending in search over the last 6 months? (Spoiler: it’s face masks and toilet roll). Or maybe you need to find data to support a blog post or press release. Google Trends is a free tool that offers that information on a plate.

Simply enter the topic you want to search and Google will provide you with a graph and breakdown of who’s been searching and where. It will also provide you with related topics and queries too, which can provide you with more blog content ideas.

-       Portent's Content Idea Generator

Another tool that’s been around for a while, is Portent’s Content Idea Generator. Simply enter your topic and the tool will generate a title to inspire you. Some of them are a little avant-garde, but all-in-all, it’s a great way to get those create juices following and provide you with some much needed inspiration. 

Content creation

Okay, so now you’ve generated all those awesome ideas using the tools above, but what about some beautiful assets to go alongside them? Fear not, for there’s a free tool for that too.

-       Canva

We use Canva for creating hilarious and witty birthday cards for our colleagues, but its uses stretch far beyond just that. You can create some amazing social media images, email marketing headers, business cards, infographics, and so much more. The platform allows you to use pre-made templates or create your own, as well as a whole host of images, photos, and icons available to use for free.  

It really is something – and even if you’d like access to more templates, one-click magic resize, 100GB of storage, and over 75 million images and graphics, it’s still only £10.99 per month. For small businesses, however, the free version is more than sufficient and will allow you to create stunning content to attract and engage your customers.

-       Visual.ly

We love a good infographic at every1; they’re informative, easy to digest, and pretty to look at (well, if designed well, that is). Once you’ve created your infographic, how do you get it out there for people to notice? If you don’t have a lot of time of your hands for outreach, submitting your infographic to Visually is a great way to get it out there and in front of other content creators.

It’s free to submit and easy to navigate. Just sign up and get going!

-       Grammarly

Listen, not everyone is born a writer. That’s why tools like Grammarly were invented. Simply add the extension to Chrome, or whichever internet browser you so choose (if it’s Internet Explorer then don’t hold your breath…), and Grammarly will flag up any mistakes you’ve made in your writing, or make suggestions on how to make it more succinct.  

If you want to start creating content, but are worried about spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, that may affect how your customers perceive you, Grammarly is an easy way to give you that extra reassurance.  

-       YouTube

Video is the most engaging form of content. You can connect with your customers on a much more personal level and provide them with useful information that they can digest easily. It’s also far much accessible than most other forms of content, allowing you to transcribe and create audio descriptions.

One of the most well-known and free platforms is, of course, YouTube. However Wistia and Vimeo are also very similar. YouTube allows you to host all your video content for free and also acts as a search engine too, giving you access to a whole other audience. Once you’ve created something on YouTube, you can repurpose it as a blog article or infographic or podcast, providing you with a range of different content to attract customers.

Once you start to get to grips with YouTube, you can gain subscribers, make money from ads, and edit beyond your wildest dreams. It’s a big platform to master, but once you have, it’s worth the time you put into it.

-       TikTok

Not sure you want to put yourself out there just yet on a huge video hosting platform like YouTube? We get that. Why not try TikTok? All the kids are doing it (and most of the grown-ups too). TikTok is another social media app, which has become a huge success, almost overnight. It’s unique in that it only focuses on short, snappy video clips, which appears to be an extremely accessible content format. There are 3.7m active users in the UK alone – and no, not all of them are Gen Z.

From cat videos to brand videos, there’s so much content that can be created and, as the platform is free is use and upload, it makes sense to get involved. Most TikToks are shared on all the other social media sites too, so even if you’re not on the app, you’ve probably stumbled across a video or too. This is the app’s USP; mastering the art of cross-platform sharing.

Photo editing

As a small business, you might not have the resources to learn the fine art of Adobe Photoshop; luckily, you don’t have to. These free photo editing tools below can help you create masterpieces. Well, social media masterpieces, that is.

-       TinyPNG 

If you’re uploading a blog article to your site, chances are you’ll have an image to accompany it. However, your site can only take so much and if you’re constantly uploading huge file after huge file, this can weigh down on it. Sites like TinyPNG allow you to safely compress your files or images and keep the quality. Sweet!

-       Photopea

Look, we get it. Photo editing can be daunting, but with free tools like Photopea, you can edit away until your heart’s content, without much instruction. The beauty of this resource is that there are Photoshop templates available, and it can accept lot of different files types. Perfect if you know your way around Photoshop, but haven’t got a license.

-       Pixlr

If you’re a bit of a photo editing novice, and can’t bear the thought of learning Photoshop for the few social media posts you put out each week, then Pixlr is an excellent free option. It’s easy to use and has a number of features, such as AI cutout (allowing you to remove backgrounds from photos instantly, without manually doing it) that will allow you to create Insta-worthy images.

You can also apply filters, change image sizes, and retouch photos. Although the free version only provides you with limited options, it really doesn’t feel like it. If you can stretch to paying for it, Pixlr premium provides you with even more editing tools and thousands of extras – all for only $4.90 a month. 

-       Instasize

If you’re looking to up your Instagram game and create images that would make any influencer jealous, then Instasize is ideal for you. The app allows you to use numerous filters, which aren’t already available on Instagram, as well as vintage overlays, colour editing tools, and video editing.

There is a paid option, which is only $4.99 per month, allowing you to access even more filters, backgrounds, and photo editing tools.

Stock photos 

As a small business, having the budget for proper photography can be a pipe dream, but there are plenty free stock imagery websites out there that can help you along.

-       Pexels 

If you’re looking for a certain aesthetic (like, who isn’t?!), Pexels is the stock photo site for you. Free and simple to search, there’s a multitude of beautiful images, just waiting to be downloaded. Creative, subtle, and minimalistic, all the images featured on Pexels are produced by some seriously talented artists.

And if you do start creating your own photography, you can upload and host your images on the site.

-       Unsplash

Similar to Pexels, Unsplash has a plethora of photographers and creators, all hammering for you to download their content. The only problem you’ll have is choosing from all the options. Unsplash also provides all the imagery for Squarespace template websites too.

-       Pixabay

Free to join and free to use, Pixabay joins Pexels and Unsplash in being a fantastic photography resource for all businesses – including every1. Simply search for what you’re looking for and choose from an amazing range of artists and creators, no matter what your niche.

Email marketing

Whether you’ve already got an email marketing list established or you’re looking to build one, there are plenty of free tools out there to help you create engaging templates, driving traffic through to your website. Although email marketing has been around for a while (with good reason), there’s no chance of it disappearing just yet – and as a small business, you can build a loyal and engaged email base to generate conversions.

-       MailChimp

It’s popular, it’s well-known, and it’s trustworthy; MailChimp really is one of the big players when it comes to email marketing. And their free version is superb. It includes a free marketing CRM, creative assistant, website builder, MailChimp domain, and forms & landing pages. You can also send your campaigns out to up to 2,000 contacts, which is ideal for smaller businesses. All of this for absolutely nothing a month.

Of course, if you’re after a bit more meat on the bones for your email marketing campaigns, you can always pay their monthly fees. Even then, it’s still doesn’t break the bank. Paying for an account allows you to send to more contacts, great if you’ve managed to grow your email list well.

-       Sender

If 2,000 contacts isn’t enough from MailChimp, Sender allows you to have up to 2,500 and send up to 15,000 emails per month. That’s a whole lot of communication. Once again, their paid for option provides you with more contacts, for a reasonable price per month. Simple and easy to use, this is a great alternative if you don’t like the look of MailChimp.

SEO 

Search engine optimization is a funny old business, especially for smaller companies out there. If you feel confident enough to approach this yourself, we salute you. If you do need a helping hand or two, our expert SEO team can be your guiding light.

-       Google Analytics 

Knowing your website inside and out is essential for knowing what kind of content you should be publishing, how to engage your customers, and whether or not you could be driving more conversions. But the only way to do this is with a robust website analytics tool.

Google (yep, they’re at it again with the free tools…) Analytics has been around for a while in the digital marketing world; it celebrated its 15th birthday last month actually. Over that period, it’s evolved to become something of a vital resource for marketers, in all sectors. The platform allows you to see where your website traffic is coming from, how long that traffic is staying on your site, the pages they’re visiting, and so much more.

Although the data provided may seem in-depth and complicated, the setup really isn’t. You simply need to implement some code on your site (which is relatively straightforward dependent on the website CMS you use), and you can let the tracking commence.

It’s free and always has been – let’s just hope it stays that way! 

-       Moz

As well as hosting a wealth of SEO and marketing knowledge, Moz also features some free tools, which are essential to any marketer’s arsenal. These include keyword research tools, link exploring, free domain analysis, and even the Moz Bar, which you can download and analyze sites as your search.

There is a paid for version, Moz Pro, which offers you a more in-depth keyword explorer, as well as the ability to track your rankings.

-       Screaming Frog

Arghhhh! No, not literally, just a quirky name. Screaming Frog is another long established SEO tool, allowing you to crawl and review your website, checking for missing meta data, broken links, 404 errors, and so much more. It really is an essential tool for small businesses looking to make an impact with their SEO.

With the knowledge you gain from Moz, you can use Screaming Frog to make those vital checks on your site, implement them, and reap the rewards. As with most of these tools, there is a paid for version, allowing you to crawl larger sites – beneficial if you’re thinking of creating an ecommerce business. With the free version, you are limited to 500 URLs / pages, so bear this in mind with the size of your website.

-       Yoast SEO

If you have a WordPress website, you can easily implement meta data and descriptions via the Yoast SEO plugin, which, you guessed it, you can download for free. The plugin allows you to see what you need to do to improve your SEO, such as including internal / external links, as well as improving the readability factor of your writing too.

Easy to install and easy to use, the Yoast SEO plugin is invaluable to small businesses who want to make a dent in their SEO efforts – without making a dent on their bank balance.

-       Google Search Console

Alongside Google Analytics, you should also consider implementing Google Search Console on your website too. This handy, free tool provides you with notifications when your site has urgent fixes that could be affecting your SEO, as well as providing you with insights and data that you can’t find anywhere else. 

If you’re apprehensive about using Search Console, Google has provided you with some handy videos on how to use it, as well as how to optimise your website. Free advice from the experts, bonus. 

-       Google Keyword Planner

Where do you even start when it comes to optimising your website? A great place is Google’s free keyword planner. Simply enter a few words that are related to your business or services you provide, and Google will generate more topics and phrases, as well as showing you how competitive these are.

If you’re hoping to try your hand at paid advertising as well, then this should also be your starting point. Google Keyword Planner can forecast the results of your ad campaign, providing you with a potential cost per conversion – all for free (well, bar the actual advertising budget!)

Review tools

The power of a review can help a business go from small to enterprise, which is why it’s great that you can generate these reviews for free. These are just a few options that are available, but remember, there are plenty more out there and you never know where your customers might be searching first… (well, we do know, because that’s our job).

-       Google My Business

Not only is Google My Business free, it’s also an extremely useful and valuable asset to many small businesses. It provides you with the chance to submit your company details and get listed on Google Maps; you can generate lots of customer reviews; and you can push users through to your site or social media channels.

It’s not just a business listing, but a whole profile, showcasing your services and contact details. The more reviews you achieve, the more trustworthy you appear to potential customers. You can respond to reviews too, which is a great way to highlight your appreciation and customer service.

-       Bing Places for Business

Although Bing does sometimes fall into the shadow of Google, Bing Places is a great asset to many small businesses. This untapped, free resource for many companies can drive a wealth of traffic to your site, especially if you encourage previous customers to leave reviews.

Simply claim your listing, as you would with Google My Business, get it verified, and start driving traffic. It’s free and simple to us – and can put you ahead of your competitors.

-       Yelp 

If you’re a restaurant of shop front, then Yelp can be a handy, free resource to get to grips with. Similarly, like Bing and Google, you can claim your free listing and manage it from there. This allows you to update any contact information, keep Yelp users up to date with new services or products, and generate reviews, so when you appear in searches on Yelp, users will have an incentive to click your listing.

Productivity 

Keeping your business in order and as streamlined as possible is essential for being as efficient and effective as you can be – whatever the circumstances (i.e. global pandemic). Below, we’ve listed some handy productivity tools that will keep you and your employees on track – without stretching the purse-strings.  

-       Trello

Another firm favourite at every1 is Trello. This is a great resource for managing workloads and creating a virtual to do list. And the free version allows you to do just that, without worrying that you might be missing out of the extras. Create cards with tasks and deadlines and place them into boards, such as ‘in progress’, ‘proofing’, or ‘live’.

However you choose to use or organise Trello, it’s an essential resource for any size business – and it’s FREE!

-       Google Suite (now Workspace)

Imagine having everything in one place; your calendar, your files, your video chat, your email account… dreamy, huh? Luckily for you, G-Suite can do just that. Granted, not all these options are available for free, but many of them are.

If you like what you see, you can even take advantage of having everything in one place for just £4.60 a month. That’s almost less than a really big coffee from Starbucks (don’t worry, you don’t have to give up those). 

-       Evernote

Ever stumbled across an article that you really want to read, but don’t want to add it to your bookmarks, in case you forget about it later? Evernote is an ideal solution to this, allowing you to manage content, including images, audio, files, and websites, into one place, which you can visit again and again – for free.

Ideal for busy business owners, who don’t have time to stop and peruse an article or file then and there, but understand the importance of reading something later on.

-       Basecamp

Let’s face it; it’s been tricky making the change to working from home for many of us. As a small business, you might find you’re still in the same boat as the big boys, finding it near impossible to keep track of projects and files. Basecamp is a great solution for that, allowing you to set up different to dos, checklists, and projects, keeping everything in one place.

As well as minimising stress and confusion, Basecamp is also a great client communication tool and ensures you’re not missing information back and forth over email. Basecamp Personal is available for free, but you are limited to three projects, 20 users, and just 1GB of storage space.

If you think you’ll need more, the paid for options provide you with a lot more resource; it just depends how big a company you are and where you’re hoping to grow to.

-       Slack

We can’t get enough of Slack at every1. From keeping up the office banter during lockdown to discussing projects and campaigns, Slack really is a great place to chat and bounce ideas off each other. It’s quicker and cleaner than email, but doesn’t get in the way of productivity either.

For small businesses, it’s ideal. The free version allows you to connect up to 10 different apps, have video calls, share files, and personalise notifications.