There are numerous digital marketing tools out there, designed to make it easier for small businesses to make informed decisions about the ways they promote their businesses online.
If you’re after a strong return on your investment, then these tools will give you invaluable knowledge for very little time and effort, and are definitive essentials for every small business.
As a digital marketing agency, we use tools like these daily to give us access to the data that drives our strategies. Here are a few of our favourites for you to try for yourself:
Hootsuite is a free online tool that lets you keep up to date with numerous social media accounts all in one place.
Though best known as a social media management tool (and indeed, you can use it to manage your various accounts all in one place), we believe the most powerful application of Hootsuite is in organising Twitter more effectively.
Rather than managing the full Twitter home feed, Hootsuite makes it possible to split that feed into streams, with each stream containing a specific set of information. We recommend setting up streams for mentions of your brand, replies to your tweets and mentions of your products.
It is also a hugely valuable digital PR tool. You can set up a stream to search on Twitter for ‘#journorequest’ or ‘#prrequest’, which are hashtags used by journalists to put out requests for information and comments. By responding to these requests, you can earn your business some free coverage and also new links to your website – which benefits your overall SEO (search engine optimisation) strategy too.
This provides a similar service to Response Source, an online tool you can sign up to to receive emails from people seeking similar requests – though there is a cost of £500-700 per year for this, where Hootsuite is free (to a point).
Moz offers a wide range of tools for use by small business owners. Open Site Explorer is one of those, offering access to backlink data for your website and those of your competitors.
If you’re investing in digital marketing – and specifically SEO – you’ll know how important earning links to your website is in developing your search visibility. With Open Site Explorer, you can see what links your website currently has, and also who is linking to your competitors’ websites – giving you ammunition for new link building ideas.
You can get a 30 day free trial on their website, which gives you access to a range of pro tools such as their page optimisation checklist and on-page SEO checker. Being a data driven agency, we highly recommend this tool due to its sheer output of information.
SEMrush is a favourite among small business owners who use it to better understand their competitors’ digital marketing activities.
It offers a similar backlink analysis tool to OSE. Beyond that, it also enables you to monitor your own keyword rankings and to research new keywords you might want to target, and to analyse your competitors to see how many visitors they (roughly) get, whether or not they’re paying to advertise, and for what key search terms their websites rank.
You can also compare your business’s website directly against a competitors and SEMrush will give you all the metrics you need to see how you stack up against the other guys. Overall this is a powerful tool that allows you to gain a thorough keyword and competitor analysis – you can get a certain amount of data for free, but for more in depth analysis, you may require the pro version.
This website’s opening screen shows an inquisitive bald gentleman with a fabulous beard! His head is full of knowledge on content ideas for blogs and publications. Want to know what the public is searching about certain products and keywords? This gentleman will tell you exactly that.
Simply input your topic or area of interest and the tool will show you all the questions people ask about it, helping to inspire new keyword targeting ideas or blogging themes for your website.
Answers are split into ‘why’, ‘what’, ‘how’, ‘where’ and ‘are’. It is very useful and even if you don’t use one of the ideas on the page, it can spark further content thoughts for your next creation.
A similar tool is Bloomberry, which brings up questions from around the internet in forums like Reddit, giving you the opportunity to answer these questions and inspiring new keyword targets.
YouGov is a surveying site that allows companies to send questions to a select database to receive survey answers. YouGov Profiles uses their plethora of data to identify trends and it can surface these trends for you to help you better understand your audience.
Using the Profiles Lite tool, you can type in a TV show, or a public figure, or a product or industry, and you will be shown demographic trends of fans of that search term.
It will show metrics including age range, location, socio-demographic breakdown and lifestyle, such as other products/topics of interest to that audience group. This can help to target content to specific audiences and gain insight into your target market, and may reveal demographics you never would have thought of otherwise.
The big one. We couldn’t not mention this tool on a list like this. Every business we work with uses Google Analytics or an alternative to measure the impact of their work. The data it contains is invaluable in proving the value of the investments you’re making and the effects they’re having on your business.
Google Analytics is a tool that basically sits behind your website and gathers data about people who visit. It allows you to track traffic (i.e. how many people have visited your website), demographics such as location, device information (mobile vs desktop), on site behaviours such as how many pages people view per visits and which pages are most popular, how many purchases are being made on your website, and lots more.
Analytics can give you a huge insight into who is using your services and what may be going wrong on your website, empowering you to improve.
You will be gaining a massive amount of information about your business from all of these tools, and taking this data-driven approach helps you to focus your strategies to better appeal to your target audience.
Aaron Dicks is founder of Impression