“Most businesses actually get zero distribution channels to work. Poor distribution — not product — is the number one cause of failure.” This Peter Thiel quote should be heeded by every startup founder reading this. Honestly, I’ve made this mistake myself, in my previous failed entrepreneurial experience.
And how many times you’ve seen friends, co-workers or teams pitching their ideas, where there’s a fantastic team, a brilliant product but zero effort on understanding how to distribute the whole package.
Without an excellent distribution model, your business will fail. If you build it, they won’t come. Marketing is at the heart of any good distribution framework, and as a fledgling startup, it’s critical that your company finds cost-effective tools to help amplify your network as quickly as possible.
That’s where this list comes in. Each tool is free to use at least for a “freemium” plan, and will make a genuinely positive impact on your company.
1. SEMrush: From doing competitive analysis, to SEO keyword research, SEMrush is an incredibly powerful tool that will empower you and your colleagues to appraise your company’s online performance in minutes. Their free to-use starter plan provides insightful data that other company’s would make you pay to see. It’s a must use platform, without a doubt.
2. BuzzSumo: If you’re interested in harnessing the power of content marketing, but don’t know where to begin, BuzzSumo is the tool to use. Simply enter a URL or keyword, and this social media monitoring tool will show you the 10 most-shared articles for free. While you have to pay to see other highly shared articles, a top 10 list associated with a specific keyword or website will help you jump-start your content marketing strategy.
3. Canva: Gone are the days where you needed to rely on an Adobe Illustrator expert to create a great looking logo, blog post header, or social media background. Canva is an incredibly intuitive design tool that empowers business owners to quickly create professional graphics.
4. Google Analytics: Probably no introductions needed here. Stop wondering how many people are visiting your website, from where, via what method. Google Analytics provides users a set of rich information, perfect for a new startup interested in analyzing user behavior. Use the “behavior flow” tool to see what pages most of your visitors view first, and to see how visitors explore your website from there. That’ll help you to better optimize their site for UX.
5. GetSocial: Virality is a startup founder’s best friend. You can’t create it without highly clickable social share buttons. That’s where GetSocial comes in, with its social media app store that helps websites improve their traffic, shares, followers and conversions. Also, they’ve optimized the whole mobile social sharing experience.
6. Buffer: Becoming an influencer on social media has never been so easy. Buffer allows you to schedule 10 Tweets, LinkedIn posts or, Facebook posts and tracks all key metrics. Plus, the platform will suggest relevant content for you to share, so that you can grow your audience by providing valuable and relevant content. Buffer is one of the best social media monitoring platforms around and is a must use for founders.
7. Trello: This task management platform is free to use, and will help you stay organized as a business and as a marketer. You can create segmented columns with Trello, which will help you stay on-top of various marketing initiatives like blog posting, social media, and email marketing. Plus you can share Trello boards with your team, that way everyone will be aligned on what needs to get done. On a side note, I use Trello for everything: from shopping list, to finding an apartment to rent, to our day-to-day product management. I also love the use case from the guys at Uservoice.
8. Hubspot Marketing Grader: Hubspot is an all-in-one marketing automation system. While it costs quite a bit to actually use Hubspot, the company offers the Hubspot Marketing Grader that will analyze the overall performance of your marketing strategy online. Use insights from Hubspot to understand what is working and what needs to be fixed if your business is to scale.
9. MozBar: Learn why various website are ranking on Google with the MozBar. This Chrome and FireFox extension shows users ranking factors like page authority, and social media performance as they browse the web. It’s an ideal free tool for founders interested in better understand their competitors and SEO in general.
10 Headline Analyzer: Whether you’re writing a blog post, titling a new page on your website, or editing your pitch deck, headlines have a huge impact on the overall performance of a written marketing initiative. That’s where Co.Schedule’s Headline Analyzer Tool comes in. Simply paste your headline into the tool and it will grade your headline on an F to A scale for virality.
While creating a product that customers can’t resist is a critical component to building any successful startup, building a marketing machine is another key component to creating a business that scales quickly. These 10 free to use marketing tools are sure to make it easier for any founder to grow his or her business quickly.