Here at Luminous, we have over 100 years combined marketing and PR experience. We’re not saying we know it all – we’re always open to learning new things – but we know a thing or two about helping tech brands communicate.
While a large part of communications relies on expertise and honed skill sets, even the most experienced marketers would be lost without their tools.
Last year we shared some of our favourite free comms tools for small businesses, but we’re always expanding our arsenal of resources. Here’s just a handful of the free tools we’ve been using in 2017 to create and manage sparkling communications campaigns!
Check them out when…
You’re looking for answers
If we’re ever in a pickle, or pondering a big marketing query, one of the first places we turn to is the HubSpot Marketing blog.
HubSpot provides inbound marketing and sales software. Regardless of whether or not you’re a HubSpot customer, though, their blog is a goldmine for marketing and comms advice.
The blog proclaims itself to be “where marketers go to grow” – and we’re inclined to agree. The blog features regular articles, new data, tips, and best practices on a range of marketing topics. Categories include A/B testing, blogging, journalism, event marketing, podcasts, social media, and SEO to name just a few.
If that wasn’t amazing enough, HubSpot also has an extensive library of downloadable whitepapers and eBooks on every marketing topic under the sun. They even include free templates for presentations, eBooks, and content schedules.
If in doubt – check with HubSpot!
You need design work on a budget
Design work is harder than it looks. For big jobs, it’s always worth consulting a professional to be sure of a job well done.
However, for small jobs, or when budget is tight, it can be tempting to try your hand at a bit of graphic design. Luckily, we’ve found just the tool to make it possible.
Canva is a free, online graphic design tool. It comes with loads of pre-sized templates for creating things like presentations, business cards, social media posts, and more. All you need to do is pick the one you want, and start designing. You can even use custom dimensions if you’re creating something more unique, like a sign.
If you’re really hopeless at design, there are loads of layouts and themes that are fully customisable. You can add your company logo and set brand colours and fonts – whatever you need. The more adventurous can create their own designs from scratch. If you need to add crop and bleed marks for print materials, Canva can do it automatically. We swear by it!
You need stock imagery
If you’re creating graphics for a blog post or social media, you often need stock imagery to include in your designs.
We have a number of go-to resources for free-to-use, royalty free stock images. We like:
Be careful when using images from Flickr: not all images hosted there have a creative commons license, and some require you to credit the photographer. Get it wrong, and you could face a warning letter from an unhappy photographer – or worse, their solicitor!
You want insight into trending topics
When you’re writing a blog post or article on a trending topic, it can be helpful to know how popular that term has been in recent weeks, months, or years.
Google trends allow you to see the relative popularity of a search term. You can go back as far as 2004, and look at any period you like.
This isn’t a perfect tool. Google won’t share any data about the number of people searching for each term, so it only allows you to see when a term was at its most popular, and how quickly it rose in the public interest. It’s helpful if you want to see if a term has already ‘peaked’ or not. As you can see, we’re well and truly over Pokémon GO…
However, the tool becomes much more insightful when you start comparing multiple search terms. For example, Stranger Things may have been the ‘must watch’ series of 2016, but only briefly did it overtake cult classic, Twin Peaks.
If nothing else, this thing is hours of fun!
You want to know more about your site traffic
When it comes to analysing your site traffic, there are loads of plugins and software programs available that can provide a wealth of insight. Unfortunately, many come with a hefty price tag attached.
A free option we often recommend is Jetpack. It plugs into WordPress and provides you with a more detailed look at your site traffic. It can also tell you which of your blog posts or site pages are most popular, as well as revealing how site visitors arrive at your site.
Jetpack is super-easy to use, so it’s perfect for beginners. It also has the functionality to help with loads of other web stuff, such as security and backup services, site themes, advertising, SEO, and more. However, some of these features do come under the paid-for service.
Bonus tip: we recommend Yoast for any SEO beginners looking for a free tool.
Tools of the trade
It doesn’t matter if you’re a marketing pro, or a startup founder having a go – having a selection of choice tools and resources up your sleeve can make the world of difference.
New apps, resources, and plugins are being created all the time, so keep your eyes peeled for more goodies that can make your life easier.
Do you have a favourite comms tool we’ve missed? Let us know over on Twitter!