Digital marketing tools can be expensive. Should you include free marketing tools in your lineup?
Today’s digital landscape demands access to a range of tools. From free website analytics to social media posting apps and listening tools, brands can tap into a variety of services for free. But deciding who to entrust with your digital brand—and your professional information—is a major decision. This quick guide will help you decide if free tools are right for you and help you navigate the questions and considerations when evaluating tools.
What’s the real cost? This can seem like a trick question. After all, we’re talking about free tools. But businesses can’t really create tools for free. Are they getting your information in exchange for usage? Will they be marketing to you on a regular basis? Or are they pulling you into a funnel that they’ll use to try to force you to upgrade after a period of time? Understand what you’re really trading in exchange for using the free tool, and make sure it’s a good deal. Sometimes, marketers will find that paying for a subscription makes more sense in the long term.
What free features are actually included? Take the time to understand what’s being offered. For example, some products offer certain features for free but require that you pay for others. In other cases, the full product feature set is available but only for a limited number of uses. It absolutely makes sense that companies would frame offers like this, but marketers can get the most from free products by carefully assessing if they’re the right fit.
How are they protecting your data and security? Often, if you’re using free tools, they’re likely to be accessing your data. Find out what security precautions they take. Today’s digital landscape is fraught with cybersecurity risks. Any company that can have access to your data can put that information at risk. Make sure your most important details are protected. Over time, you’ll likely start accumulating data in the software, as well. If the software experiences a lapse, will they be able to recover your data? Many paid software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies don’t offer data recovery—and free ones can be even more relaxed about their approach to data recovery.
Are they offering a free trial, or is it perma-free? Is the tool you’re considering simply offering a free trial, or is it available over the long term for free? Determine the timeline that you’ll have access to paid vs. free tools, and make sure you’re entering into it with the right perspective on learning curves and other considerations.
Free digital marketing tools can take your marketing performance to a whole new level. Make smart choices when selecting these tools to get the most return for your time and effort. Free can be a great value, but it’s important to make sure you’re not trading control of your business for it.