Digital Insights

5 Essential Online Marketing Tools for Small Businesses

Published: March 27, 2015

An effective digital marketing strategy is absolutely essential if your business is going to remain a competitive force in today’s marketplace. Consumers are increasingly embracing digital technology, and businesses need to either follow their customer’s lead or get left behind. The latest generation of consumers grew up with the Internet, social media, and mobile phones, and there is simply no way that they will ever go back to the “prehistoric” days of network television, paper telephone directories, and the daily newspaper.

  • Digital marketing is generally less expensive and more effective than traditional marketing channels, delivering prospective customers at an average cost of $1 per lead, compared with $2.50 per lead using traditional marketing methods.
  • What’s more, the U.S. Small Business Administration has found that a small business with a website averages 39 percent greater revenue than businesses without an online presence.

Because digital marketing has so many moving parts, it’s easy for the small business owner without a marketing or technical background to feel overwhelmed. Fortunately, there are a number of marketing tools, many of them free, to help even a newcomer create and manage effective multi-channel digital marketing campaigns.

A Mobile-friendly Website is the Foundation of Your Digital Marketing Strategy
First things first. You need to make sure that your business website is mobile-friendly. Mobile is the wave of the future, and your business is going to be at a serious competitive disadvantage without a website optimized to provide a good user experience across all mobile devices.

You can access Google’s free Mobile-Friendly Test to test an individual web page at or sign in to your Google Webmaster Tools account to access the Mobile Usability Report to check for site-wide mobility issues.

Beginning in April of 2015, Google’s updated ranking algorithm will begin penalizing non-mobile-friendly websites with lower rankings in the search results. In short, if your business depends on organic search engine traffic, you need to get mobile-friendly and you need to do it now.

Google Analytics
Truly one of the best bargains around, Google Analytics is a free tool that provides detailed information about where your website traffic coming from, which of your web pages are drawing the most visitors, and what keywords are attracting them. With the insight gained from Google Analytics, you’ll be able to measure the effectiveness of your SEO efforts and fine-tune your campaigns for optimal results.

Google Webmaster Tools
Google Webmaster Tools is another great tool provided free of charge by Google, and actually allows you to see your website as Google sees it. Webmaster Tools gives you actionable information about which keywords your site is ranking for, how many visitors are viewing your site for each keyword, and the number of people who are clicking through to your website from the search results page.

Hootsuite is a free social media management platform that allows you to track and manage all of your social media accounts from one convenient dashboard. You can monitor and respond to social conversations about your brand, schedule new posts, and receive regular reports to help measure the effectiveness of your social media efforts.

No matter how minimal your artistic skills, Canva can help you create professional marketing graphics with ease. Canva features an easy to use drag-and-drop interface, pre-made layout templates, and a stock photo library with more than 1 million images. With Canva, you can create everything from website header art, social media graphics, and Powerpoint presentation slides for free.

Insightly is a robust customer relationship management (CRM) tool built specifically for small businesses that helps you organize and manage your customer contacts, partners, and vendors as well as track ongoing projects. You can get started with Insightly’s free plan that allows for up to 2,500 contacts and three users, and upgrade as your business grows.