Recently, I spoke at Inc's GrowCo conference on social media strategies for any business or budget. With so many small business owners wanting to maximize their marketing dollars, I wasn't surprised when several attendees came up to me after my keynote to ask about other aspects of digital marketing on a budget.

One of the most popular questions was, what kind of digital marketing tools should small businesses - especially those with tiny marketing budgets - be using?

Thankfully, there are lots of excellent, effective - and yes, totally free - marketing tools that can add immense value to any small business's marketing efforts. Here are a few of my favorites.

HubSpot Marketing Free

One of my current favorites is HubSpot Marketing Free. As the name says, it's completely free, so small businesses can start using it with no risk.

It's a simple-to-use program that links in with your website, yet it still collects a wealth of information that allows you to see where your web visitors are coming from, what pages on your site are converting, and much more. With this level of detail, you can customize everything from the articles you write to the offers you make -- resulting in better engagement and ROI.

Every person who signs up for your email list is captured in HubSpot's free tool and it will even show you their social media profiles so you can learn more about who they are, where they work, and what they're interested in. As I've shared in my most recent book, Momentum, agility through analytics is a competitive edge. In fact, marketers who check their analytics three or more times a week are 20% more likely to have a positive ROI.

Analytics can also be incredibly helpful for re-targeting. For our client, EyeCare 20/20, a LASIK provider, we used data about who shared their email address on the site to specifically reach out, via a targeted email, to males/females 55 years and older who'd had LASIK to promote a new procedure that eliminated the need for reading glasses. A more targeted approach increased the odds of their message being relevant and resulted in more business.

In addition, Hubspot's free tool integrates with a wide range of other online tools, like Wordpress, Shopify, and others. This might not sound that important, but it actually is. It means that if you've already set up email capture forms using other systems, the activity associated with those users will still show up on your HubSpot dashboard.

Buffer

When it comes to managing multiple social media accounts, we can all use tools that make the process more streamlined.

I've found Buffer to be one of the very best free platforms for managing social.

It has all the important features you expect with a social media management platform - post scheduling, solid analytics, and the ability to customize posts for each social network, for example - as well as some more advanced offerings.

For instance, with Buffer's browser extension, you can quickly and easily share what you're reading online. No more logging into to three different social networks, copying and pasting the link, and deciding what to say about it on each.

Instead, you can simply click on the Buffer button in your search bar and then decide which networks to share to, and when - all without leaving the page you're on.

SurveyMonkey

Data-driven marketing is the name of the game in today's digital landscape. But if you're a small business, you likely don't have the resources available to get data on your customers the traditional way: by hiring a market research firm.

Instead, you can use SurveyMonkey. This platform is a survey and questionnaire tool that offers a robust free option - with it, you can design and send effective surveys to your email list and use Survey Monkey's analytics tool to analyze their answers.

What makes SurveyMonkey really useful is that you can use expert-reviewed templates and questions to make sure the data that you're getting will be accurate and helpful - not skewed because of the way you worded your question or answers.

Building a business on a tiny marketing budget doesn't have to feel overwhelming. These free tools can help you boost your efficiency, streamline your workflow, and gain real, actionable data so you can take your company to the next level - whatever that may mean to you.

Published on: Jul 27, 2017