What’s in your online marketing toolbox? What websites, apps and social media platforms are you using to get the word out about your business? If you don’t know the answer to these questions, it’s time to build a toolbox of your own. Here are 26 free tools that will give you a marketing edge and increase your company’s online exposure:
1. Aptimize: Slow sites are penalized by search engines and often rank lower in search results. Aptimize lets you test your site’s speed. Take the Aptimize Speed Test at www.aptimize.com/website-speed-test
2. BroadTexter: This free text message marketing service allows you to create clubs, (with your clients, for example) and send them text message alerts for free. The service works across multiple cellphone carriers. Check it out at www.broadtexter.com
3. CamStudio Open Source Screencasts: CamStudio is a free tool that creates videos using your computerYou can use it to create video tutorials that teach potential customers how your products work, for example. Check it out at camstudio.org/
4. Digg: Digg is one of the most popular content websites with thousands of articles on topics that include everything from politics to sports and technology. Digg is a great free online marketing tool that allows you submit your own content and instantly search through articles to find out what you’re competitors are up to or what your customers are saying about your company. Check it out at digg.com
5. EventBrite: This free tool is used to create and market events for your company as long as you’re not charging a fee. Find out more at www.eventbrite.com.
6. Facebook Social Plugins: Facebook offers several free social plugins that you can add to your website and blog. The plugins allow you to promote your content across numerous social media platforms quickly. Pick one at http://developers.facebook.com/docs/plugins/
7. GetListed: Use this free tool to get your local business listed on Google, Yahoo and other search engines. Get your business listed at getlisted.org/
8. HyperAlerts: Want to get an email every time someone makes a comment or posts a status update on your company’s Facebook page? HyperAlerts is a free service that will email you in real-time or collect the data throughout the day and send you a daily report. Sign up at www.hyperalerts.no/
9. IceRocket: This free tool allows you type in a search term and within seconds you’ll find out what the blogosphere thinks about your product or service. Start searching at www.IceRocket.com
10. Joliprint: This free tool lets visitors to your website turn the content into printable PDF documents they can save or read later. Users can also share the PDF you create across multiple social media platforms instantly. Check it out at www.joliprint.com
11. Klout: This free tool measures your social media analytics across the Web. Find out more at www.Klout.com
12. LeadVine: This online social networking community of entrepreneurs and small business owners is a great place to find new sales leads. It’s free to sign up and post a lead. You can also interact with others and find new business opportunities. Some listings require LeadVine members to pay a referral fee if they secure the opportunity, though. Those fees start at around $100. Check out www.LeadVine.com for more information.
13. Mad Mimi: For just $8 a month, you can design and send customized e-mail campaigns and deliver them to 500 subscribers. Log on to www.madmimi.com to get started.
14. Ning: For just $2.95 a month, you can create your own social networking website with up to 10GB of bandwidth. Learn more at www.ning.com
15. OpenPR.com:This free tool lets you create and send press releases to hundreds of media outlets for free. Check it out at www.OpenPR.com
16. Ping-o-Matic: Want to let the search engines know that you’ve updated your blog with new content? It’s easy with this free tool. Try it at www.pingomatic.com
17. Quora: Using Quora will allow you to ask a question and get an answer quickly. Unlike Wikipedia which is visible to the public, Quora is private and only registered users can ask and answer questions or make edits to question that are asked. Post a question and answer about your company, product or service to increase your exposure within the community of over 500,000 users.
18. RankChecker: Have you ever checked your website’s page rank? It’s easy and free with RankChecker. Your page rank is a numeric value that indicates how important a website is on the Web. Find out where your company ranks at www.rankchecker.com
19. SlideShare: This free tool allows you to share PowerPoint presentations, e-books and other content across multiple social media platforms. Check it out at www.slideshare.net/
20. Text the Mob: This tool lets you create polls and ask questions during presentations and have the audience respond live via text messages It’s free to ask three questions and get up to 50 responses from your audience via text message. Check it out at www.textthemob.com
21. Username Check: Want to know if your brand’s trademarked name is available as a username on sites like Facebook, Picasa and LiveJournal? This free tool allows you to check availability on 20 popular sites. Check at www.usernamecheck.com.
22. vFlyer: This tool allows you to create ads and virtual flyers about your product or service that you can use in multiple online marketplaces. It’s free to create up to two v-flyers at a time. Check it out at www.vflyer.com.
23. WorkStreamer: This is a free social media tracking tool that collects, analyzes and sends you information culled from social media platforms and thousands of business-related websites. Find out more at www.workstreamer.com.
24. Xing: This free social network is designed specifically for business owners. With more than 10 million registered members it’s a good place to connect with other entrepreneurs, promote your company, share ideas and generate sales leads. Check it out at www.xing.com.
25. YackTrack: This is free social media monitoring tool that aggregates online conversations from over a dozen websites. Try it at www.YackTrack.com.
26. ZaBox: Whether it’s the best way to design your website or the most effective way to create a blog, you can get free advice and tutorials at www.zabox.net.