Share This

By Alexa Grunder | November 5, 2019

Starting a career in marketing or just trying to learn about SEO for small businesses or a quick refresh? There are so many digital marketing tools out there that it can be overwhelming to even know where to start. Here are the top free and low-cost marketing tools and platforms that you need to know!

Visual Design: Canva

The days are long gone when a super technical graphic designer was needed for every in-house request. Canva makes it easy for non-designers like myself to create professional-grade graphics that can be used across marketing initiatives such as company newsletters, new business proposals, presentations, industry reports, infographics, and engaging social posts. Their templates offer plenty of inspiration when setting out on a design quest and make it easy to upload and save company colors and fonts. There are free stock photos and icons, as well as ones available for purchase if you are looking for something specific. Canva has been a huge help to our internal marketing efforts – I can’t recommend this one enough!

Price: Canva is free, but also offers a pro version for $12.95 per team member/month.

Social Media: Hootsuite

In my role, it’s my job to monitor all our social channels and I couldn’t do it without Hootsuite. The social media management platform supports all the popular social networks including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest and more. Hootsuite’s capabilities include automated scheduling of posts, content curation, content promotion, social media analytics and reporting, monitoring and more. Hootsuite is an integral part of MSR’s social media strategy and is our go-to to streamline social efforts among team members, create high performing content and measure our overall social success. 

Price: free for up to 3 social platforms – anything over starts at $29.

SEO: SEMrush and Headline Analyzer by CoSchedule


SEMrush is a bit pricey but is worth it. It’s the ultimate SEO tool for keyword research and competitor analysis. We initially became subscribers because we needed a consistent tool to measure website impressions, but quickly realized there are so many powerful tools within the platform that can help us reach our marketing goals and better assist our clients. As a subscriber, you will have access to numerous toolkits that allow you to take a deeper dive into your SEO strategy, advertising, social media, content marketing and competitive research. Training is required to fully understand the platform and all its capabilities, but again, it’s worth it. 

Price: Plans starting at $99.95 per month.

Headline Analyzer by CoSchedule

Due to the nature of PR, I’m constantly exposed to content created by the team and something I’ve picked up along the way is that it’s all about the headlines. You want something snappy that will attract readers to click on your content, but how do you know where to start? Enter Headline Analyzer by CoSchedule. This free tool allows you to analyze the effectiveness of your headlines. Once you input your headline, it will give you a ‘word balance’ score which examines the structure, grammar, and readability of your word choice. The tool ranks how well you used common, uncommon, emotional and power words with a percentage. It also takes a look at the length and overall sentiment of the headline. Tip: shorter and positive headlines tend to perform better! Although I wish this tool gave specific suggestions on how to improve your headline, it’s still a helpful tool when trying to come up with a high performing headline.

Price: free.

Email Marketing: MailChimp

Managing your customer relationships is more vital than ever with increasing competition and high expectations from consumers. MailChimp provides the perfect platform to learn from your customer data and create integrated campaigns for email, social media, landing pages, ads and more. This tool has immensely streamlined our process for building email lists, designing beautiful email newsletters and tracking results. Mailchimp continues to be one of my favorite tools as it can do wonders for companies by raising brand awareness and growing the audience.

Price: free plan for the basics, essentials plan starts at $9.99 per month. Plan prices go up from there. 

Project Management/Communication: Google Drive and Slack 

Google Drive

In our world, we’re constantly collaborating whether we’re working on a new presentation, creating strategic briefs or simply editing content. Google Drive gives us the flexibility to access files remotely and simultaneously edit documents without losing version control (an absolute nightmare when you’re working against tight deadlines). Because all edits are done in real-time, documents are automatically synchronized across devices making it nearly impossible for someone to edit an old version. 

Price: Google accounts start with 15GB of free storage, an upgrade to Google One starts at $1.99 per month for 100GB of storage. 


By now you’ve probably heard of Slack, which allows team members to instantly message burning questions or urgent requests to one another. We like using it because you can create channels for each client and create general interest topics for team members to join. For example, in addition to having a channel for each client, you can also have a channel for company outings where team members can engage with one another. We love the fact that it keeps instant messages much more organized than other messaging platforms. 

Price: varies from $6.67 per person per month for small to medium-sized organizations to $12.50 per person per month for larger businesses. 

Hopefully, this list provided a solid breakdown of the types of marketing tools that are out there and which ones may be beneficial for your digital marketing efforts. Are there any tools you have had major success with? Share them with us on Twitter @MSR_PR!