All the free apps you need to optimize your digital marketing


In the early days of the iPhone, we heard the catchphrase, “There’s an app for that,” every time we turned around. Today, the apps are even better, and armed with the collection I present here, you can accomplish virtually anything required to achieve digital marketing success.

I’ve tried to limit this to apps and services that have free versions, although the free versions may be very limited. The main exceptions to this are the website builders and e-commerce applications; with them, there is usually “no such thing as a free lunch.”

Websites, WordPress sites, and e-commerce plugins

Your website host should be able to install WordPress for you at no charge. Then it’s up to you to find a theme you like. There are many free as well as paid themes.

With about a quarter of all websites being powered by WordPress, there are a variety of plugins available to add shopping to your site. Among the most popular are:

Head over to the WordPress e-commerce plugin directory for user ratings and additional options.

Website and eCommerce packages

There are also many non-WordPress website design and e-commerce routes you can take. These vary from DIY website design platforms to software integrations you can use with your existing or future website.

  • Weebly. If you’re okay with your business being a subdomain of Weebly ( you can get going for free at Weebly. Paid plans range from $8 to $25 per month. E-commerce integration is available.
  • Wix. For Wix pricing, the most basic (read inexpensive) service costs $5 per month and connects to your domain name. You’ll get Wix ads at the $5 level. For e-commerce, the entry-level per month charge is $17.
  • Squarespace. When you pay for a year in advance, standard websites on Squarespace are either $12 or $18 per month and e-commerce sites are $24 or $40 per month.
  • Shopify. This is one of the more popular shopping cart/storefront services. Plans range from $14-$179 a month.
  • Bigcommerce. Thousands of sellers use this software package. Plans go from $35-$200 a month.
  • Volusion. Plans start at $15 a month and go up to $135 per month.

Content Marketing

There are at least two major stumbling blocks small business owners have with content marketing: Writing and ideation. The following apps and online services will help you in both areas.

Content creation

  • Grammarly (grammar checker) comes in free and paid editions. I’ve only used the free version. I like it because it spans all the places where you’re likely to write something your prospects will see. It even warns you about problems in your Facebook updates.
  • Hemmingway app. In honor of the KISS maxim – Keep it simple stupid! – and with a bow to Ernest Hemmingway’s clean, terse use of the English language, this word processing app is like a hair straightener: it will help you take out all the kinks and get you straight to the point.

Title and idea generators

These online services suggest eye-catching headlines. They can also be used to inspire ideas:

And if you want to see how good your original headlines are:

Another great ideas source:

  • Buzzsumo. This website will allow you to search for the most shared content on the Internet so you can come up with better topics for your own content. The free version limits the number of search results and the number of daily searches.


  • Canva. Canva can turn the non-artistic into designers. Whether you need to create slideshows, images, Facebook covers, or other graphics, Canva will help you churn them out via an easy step-by-step system.
  • is a service similar to Canva except for the fact that it focuses on visualizing data and creating infographics.
  • Pixabay. This is the single biggest source of cost-free and attribute-free photography. Don’t let your content or social media marketing go out there “naked.”

SEO tools

Once you have a website and start creating content, you need to be sure that it is search engine optimized (SEO). Otherwise, you’re spinning your wheels and wasting your money.

  • The Simple Long-Tail Keyword Generator is a free keyword research tool where you put in your main keywords, some descriptive keywords, and some modifiers. It generates a lengthy list of long-tail keywords.
  • Key Tools Limited’s Keyword Tool will generate 750-plus Google keyword suggestions for free.
  • WordStream has a negative keyword tool that you can use 30 times for free. This tool will eliminate some of the pain of paying for keyword ads that have absolutely no chance of producing results
  • Google AdWords keyword tool is a good place to start. But the keyword research tools I’ve mentioned above, will take you even further.
  • Yoast SEO. This WordPress plugin won’t give you specific recommendations to improve the readability of your small business writing, but Yoast SEO will help you stay on target with your keywords and search engine optimization.

Social media marketing

  • Buffer and Hootsuite. These are the two big players when it comes to social media post scheduling. They have different bells and whistles…as well as free and paid versions.
  • Juice. This offshoot of is an iPhone app that will look at your Twitter followers and suggest articles for you to share throughout your social media accounts.
  • Since we mentioned it above, we should explain further. Use this online service to create your own daily “newspaper” on a given topic. It helps build a Twitter following and paid versions can be used as your newsletter.
  • Social Jukebox. This service automates recurring posts to your social media accounts and is quite flexible. The free version is limited.

One final app

Evernote. Someone recently called this the online Swiss Army Knife. It’s a handy way to keep notes, links, documents, contacts, reminders, and more organized and accessible on all your devices.