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5 Invaluable (And Free!) Tools Every Online Marketer Should Get to Know

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We live in a world with no shortage of tools. In fact, for every task an online marketer may face on a day-to-day basis, there’s an average of 3.4 bazillion different tools at her disposal, and just about that many ways to actually use each tool.

Shiny new widgets, much-hyped upgrades, and emergent channels seem to roll out daily by the truckload in the online marketing industry, which is itself typified by constant evolution.

While there’s certainly nothing wrong with watching a tutorial on Cool New Site X or getting a free trial of Wow Super New Program Y, it’s important to show those tried and true tools that have served you well in the past a little TLC (until it really is time to upgrade… cough).

We’ve assembled a list of some of our in-shop favorites tools, ranging from streamlined image editors to dynamic databases, from unassuming to in-your-face, as well as various practical uses for each.

1. LetterCount.com

If you can get over the sketchy UI and the mustard / ketchup color scheme, you’ll fall in love with the no-muss no-fuss convenience of LetterCount.com. It’s always pined in my Chrome window, eliminating the need to boot up Word or Excel, and is absolutely perfect for instantaneous character counts.

Hey, Facebook Community Managers: Want to turn that Facebook Page Post into a Page Post Ad? Better keep the title to 80 characters and the editorial to 90 characters, or face the dreaded ellipses truncation. LetterCount.com is your on-the-fly character count BFF.

Awesome for:

  • Warp-speed Facebook community management
  • Search and contextual ad writing (when not working in ads UI)

2. IrfanView

For quick and dirty image modifications, IrfanView is a favorite among PC users in the aimClear shop. This incredibly streamlined open-source program loads in an estimated 0.024 seconds, and most handy image editing commands are mere keystrokes away. Did we mention it’s free?

Killer images are essential to effective Facebook ads, so go ahead and crank up that saturation (Shift+G), turn it on its head (literally click the “R” key to turn right, “L” key to turn left), and make sure you size properly (CTRL+R)!

irfanview

Awesome for:

  • Wicked fast image optimizations, great for everything from Facebook Ads to blog posts

Bonus: For Mac users, we’re partial to Pixlemator, a wallet-friendly (around $30) and lightweight version of Photoshop.

3. WeFollow

This user-powered directory is incredibly helpful for identifying interest-driven Twitterfolk, from authority to average Joe. Type in some keywords relevant to your target audience (they’re preset categories, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel), click on a user of interest, and check out the additional tags he/she self-identifies with to broaden your WeFollow hunt.

wefollow-pup

wefollow-zoe-chase

wefollow-in-pet-supplements

Awesome for:

  • Serious social demographic research
  • Identifying promising folks to follow on Twitter

4. The Archivist

Deep analytics and complex pivot tables can go a long way, but sometimes, people just want pretty graphs. Whether you’re an agency reporting to a client or an in-house employee reporting to your CEO, don’t underestimate the power of gorgeous data visualizations. We dig those created by The Archivist, a nifty tool for tracking and, well, archiving, tweets.

archivist-hot-dogs

archivist-hot-dogs-top-20-words

archivist-hot-dogs-top-users

Awesome for:

  • Quick data visualizations of keywords from the Twittersphere
  • At-a-glance understanding of keyword / conversation frequency
  • Impressive charts for your boss or client

5. Factual

Whoa, mama, we hit the mother lode! Factual is an amazing go-to source for international data on thousands of topics, updated constantly. Key verticals range from Global Places to Healthcare Providers, Restaurants to Consumer Products. Make a giant pot of coffee (or open a fine bottle of wine) and cozy up with the abundance of info, figures, and statistics Factual has to offer.

Take what you learn and create dazzling infographics for your online community, or other forms of quality content worthy of inbound links. The possibilities are as endless as the data.

factual-us-restaurants

Bonus! Facebook Paid Ad Units

Cutting-edge marketers agree, Facebook Paid Ad Units are the new black… or, the other white meat of the FB advertising realm. Whatever analogy you prefer. Less of a tool and more of a tactic, FB Paid Ad Units are an enticing mix of clever community management and calculating paid marketing, beneficial for any brand with a Facebook page.

Testing the effectiveness of the content you broadcast and the editorial you incorporate has never been more fun. Take what you learn from the data and implement organically. If you’re not already tinkering with Facebook Page Post Ads, start.

facebook-ad-units-choose-your-audience

Awesome for:

  • Measuring success of various types of content and editorial posted to Facebook community

SimilarWeb Search and traffic sourcing are both crucial to luring shoppers to your website. In this article, "2 Successful Holiday Strategies for Online Retail", you'll learn how to use a two-pronged approach for your holiday search campaigns that combine top keywords with the best referral sites. Data in this article comes from SimilarWeb.

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