Five Free Inbound Marketing Tools (That We Still Use!)
Posted on April 29, 2019 at 9:05 AM.
On our previous posts we talked about turning your website into a lead generation machine and how compelling content guided by buyer personas drives in traffic and increases demand. We’ve also come up with the wonderful advice (no sarcasm) of “not overthinking inbound marketing”. When you keep a mindset of being genuinely helpful to your audience, the rest comes naturally.
Side note: We’re huge fans of the no-overthinking mantra. It is the goal that drives our design and content decisions, and even extends as far as our product and services lineup.
While this mindset sits at the core of our processes, we also realize the potential that lies in optimization.
This post will talk all about the five lead generation tools marketers can use to:
- Maximize traffic.
- Gain insights from their audience.
- Automate marketing.
- Publish better content.
Google Analytics is amazing.
It’s deceptively simple. It’s the kind of tool you can set and forget. When you come back to its dashboard after a day or two, you will be greeted with heaps of useful insights like:
- Your most visited pages and posts
- Your visitors’ behavior flow (where they land, what pages they visit, and where and when they leave)
- What devices they use, their geographic location, and more!
These insights can help you understand your audience and how you can better address their needs. Perhaps mobile users are dropping because of a non-responsive, desktop only website design? Do the visitors prefer to sift through your website in their mother tongue? Is the site loading fast across all the geographic regions you’re targeting? Is my website easy to navigate in the first place?
These and many more questions can be answered with a simple installation of the Google Analytics tracking code. Take note, though, that if you want to be GDPR-compliant you will have to notify your viewers in plain language that you will be collecting non-personal cookie information. How exactly you’re going to do that will vary depending on your CMS, so give your webmaster a ring and ask him/her to assist with the installation. (By the way, here’s a good compliance tester and cookie consent tool)
There’s a lot to love for power users as well. Taking advantage of tags, marketers can track what does and doesn’t deliver as they work on campaigns. Tags are omni-channel too! As long as you incorporate the right URL parameters into your materials – even offline ones like direct mail, posters, print, etc. Google Analytics can track these for you.
Get started with Google Analytics now, and learn how to make the best use of it as you go along the way:
Google AdWords’ is primarily an online platform for Search Engine Marketers to structure their ad campaigns, plan their keywords, bid for the keywords and positions they desire, and optimize their results. It’s basically a one-stop shop for anyone looking to start a search engine marketing campaign on the Google search engine.
Just like Google Analytics, Google AdWords can also be deceptively simple. Simply list down the keywords you’d like to display your ads for, write your ad copy, specify a maximum daily spend, and link them to your landing and conversion pages. It’s that straightforward, and you’d have a running ad campaign in no time.
But we’re not here to display ads though – at least not just yet. What we’re interested in is its Keyword Planner feature.
As its name suggests, the keyword planner is a tool for advertisers to look up similar and recommended keywords to use that are relevant to their product, service, industry, and target markets. Of primary importance are the details concerning how much bidding for the individual keywords cost, its competition for your target market, and monthly average search volumes.
Let’s keep things simple for now and keep an eye out only on those three metrics. The goal is to find the right keywords with enough search interest to justify content marketing efforts. Take note of those keywords. See if you can target those with your blog posts.
As always, try not to overthink this. If you do and are torn between writing a bland, keyword-injected title versus one that best suits yours audience, draw inspiration from your answers to the following questions:
- Who are you?
- What are your most outstanding services and capabilities?
- What do you do for companies that help them add value to their processes?
- What do you know well (and better than the competition) in terms of specific category, audience, or industry?
- What do you do better than most companies?
- What are your unique philosophies, methods, or approach?
- What results have you been able to deliver to your clients?
And oh, one word of advice: don’t feel disheartened if the topic you want to write about already ranks on Google. Do not let this stop you. Write for your audience, not search engines.
Get started with AdWords: Google AdWords (The keyword planner tool is tucked under the “gear” icon or under “tools”, depending on which layout Google decides to present to you).
HubSpot Free Forms and CRM Tool
OK, it may look like we’re getting a little biased here, but hear us out!
Here at ThinkLogic, we’re huge fans of HubSpot’s lead generation and sales tools. Why wouldn’t we be? We’re one of their partners here in Asia Pacific! We started with free, outgrown them for our requirements, and now we’ve decided to be HubSpot certified as an agency partner.
HubSpot’s tools does what it needs to do without getting in your way. Forms, which we have been slapping on to our websites and landing pages does everything a form needs to do without requiring you to do any magic. If you want some of its special sauces, you can simply log in to HubSpot’s Sales and Marketing Hub and you will be presented with additional functionality for use with their CRM – which are free as well.
Not to be sales-ey, but here are a few of HubSpot’s free Marketing Tools that we use on a day-to-day basis:
- Forms and submission email notification
- Instant integration with HubSpot’s CRM
- Traffic conversion analytics
- Lead intelligence for context regarding contacts from form submissions
- Contact and lead management
These are the core features marketers need to be able to turn a website into a lead generator. If you don’t need marketing automation just yet, HubSpot’s tightly integrated set of free tools will work spectacularly for your processes. (We do have an alternative for automation towards the end of this list, though).
Elementor Page Builder for WordPress
Landing pages (in unison with forms) are pages responsible for turning visitors into contacts, contacts into leads, and eventually leads into opportunities and sales. It goes without saying that landing pages must have only one purpose. With each landing page’s specific offer aligned to the current stage of your customer’s buying journey.
You can already see where this is headed: You are going to have to create lots of landing pages. And you only have so much time and resources in your hands to make that happen. Since, of course, you also have to create your content!
Consider the following situation:
That’s a whopping 36 landing pages to make for all the stages of the buyer’s journey! Sure, you could write multiple templates yourself, but you would be spending valuable time learning web development when you could be out there creating or promoting your brand.
Note: We’re assuming you’re using WordPress as your site’s content management system. If you’re not, a comparable landing page builder may exist for your CMS. Reach out to your webmaster and see if he can get your hands on a page builder for your CMS.
And oh, another note: Since becoming a HubSpot partner, we have moved all of our landing pages into the HubSpot’s Content Optimization System for our own statistics, as well as for our clients. We needed that extra integration bit ?
Using a page builder saves you time and allows you to focus your efforts on following landing page creation best practices and writing compelling copy. Elementor works with any theme you currently have on your WordPress site, so you wouldn’t have to worry about redoing any of your site’s structure or design.
Page Builder Link: Elementor Plugin
IFTTT – Content Promotion (and Customer Experience Management, Automation, and more!)
If This Then That isn’t really a marketing tool, per say, but a sort of general purpose task automation tool. It can serve in a plethora of different use cases for different needs based on the applets users can make or customize.
That’s not to say that it’s a difficult tool to use, though: in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Although there are a million ways one could use them, they all revolve around the concept of getting applications across the world wide web and devices to talk together (“integrate”). “If this happens, then do this one specific thing” is all that users need to think about to take advantage of the platform.
It just so happens that content promotion is one of the great things you can do with it. It’s the perfect use case for busy marketers!
A small side note on promotion: There’s this common 80-20 rule in content marketing that states that marketers must spend 80% of the time promoting content, and only 20% creating them. As arbitrarily-chosen as those numbers may be, it’s a good rule of thumb. It’ encourages marketers to prioritize promotion since content will only be useful when they can actually get in the hands of your intended readers.
IFTTT works on the concept of services, triggers, and actions, that when coupled together become known as applets. Services can be any of the internet’s most popular websites or apps. Triggers can be a date and time, the weather today, an event change in some relevant service, and so on. Actions are the activities you want to happen when the if part of your IFTTT statement is true. Say you want to update your social media profiles, add tasks to your project management tools, or add rows to Google Sheets.
Here are but a few examples of what you can use it for:
- Schedule sharing of social media posts.
- Share posts on social media automatically after publishing them on your CMS.
- Listen for mentions of your brand on social media.
- Do some basic email marketing automation.
- Automate many of redundant and manual tasks in your workflow.
A note on tools
Just as a swordsman treats his sword as an extension of his arms, marketers must also treat their tools as an extension of the heart within their content. Tools will only be as effective as the ones who wield them.
Use them to simplify redundant, repetitive, or time-consuming tasks, so you can focus on those that matter.
By no means let the tools dictate what you need to do and how you’re supposed to do it.
As always, keep things simple. Don’t over-complicate or overthink your inbound marketing. Just do it, guided by your buyer personas and how the content you’re crafting will benefit and help your audience.