Are Free Marketing Tools Truly Free?

 In Marketing

Marketing is a constantly evolving phenomenon, despite not being a new concept. We have reached a point where different bygone eras have lost relevance. So what is the single key distinction between present and past marketing entering the digital phase? Ubiquity. Nowadays, no matter what channel – online or offline – we are inundated with promotional ads competing for our conscious recognition. Just look at Times Square: you’ll get lost before you even reach the heart of the action. The prevalence of media attempting to stimulate our numbed minds is evident day and night, at home or abroad, in print and digital. Marketing takes place everyday, and indeed, everywhere, in many different shapes and forms. “All good and well,” you say, “but how do I get in on the action?” Most often, the answer involves so-called free marketing tools.

Popular Free Marketing Tools

There are many free tools out there to help with your cause. This is just a shortened list of the numerous tools accessible:

Great, so what’s the catch? Well there’s just one, tiny, thing to keep in mind (okay fine, more like critical). You’ll have to take the word ‘free’ with a grain of salt. Here are some reasons why free isn’t quite a catch-all, and is more of a catch-22.

Free and Premium equals Freemium, which is typical of most marketing tools

Freemium Is Not Quite “Free”

That’s right, most of these tools rely on a freemium model in some level or another. That means to take full advantage, you’d have to pay for certain features. As an analogy, let’s say you’re trying out free food samples. Are they going to do the trick? They might give you a taste of what they offer, but they hardly pack in the real deal, and they’re certainly no meal replacement.

This limitation on free features is only becoming more prevalent. For example, the Google Keyword Planner tool now limits data accuracy on AdWords accounts that do not have enough spend. With no clear idea on the spend threshold required to obtain accurate data on search trends, it is nonetheless clear that we are moving away from free and towards premium.

A digital analytics dashboard. Marketing tools require experience to be fully leveraged.

“Free” Tools Require Experience To Leverage

Sure, you can run keyword and site traffic reports night and day, but how do you make sense of them? Knowing metrics such as bounce rate and keyword efficiency index, understanding how to pull together multi-channel funnels, and implementing Campaign tracking parameters all have one commonality: they take time and experience. This time you spend is not free. Which leads us to the last point …

A Timex Watch. Free marketing tools take time to be fully leveraged.

“Free” Tools Take Time To Yield Results

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Your marketing strategy should follow this basic premise. This is especially true if you’re not willing to invest budget in the form of paid placement to rank above competitors without delay. You want to save time? Alright, cough up some money. The same holds true vice versa – if you want to save money, you’re bound to compensate in the form of added time. It takes time to build a reputation on search engines organically for SEO. Building a social media following, even with attracting influencer support, takes time. Networking to bolster your word of mouth, you guessed it, takes time.

Bottom Line on Free Marketing Tools

Marketing is time-consuming, expensive, and downright challenging. You could spend years trying to tackle it and still find it to be an immense undertaking. Content strategy, social media scheduling, competitive research, the list goes on but nothing happens overnight. These tools are merely time savers, for a process that ultimately remains on a long and winding path. To gain a competitive advantage, you need to use these shortcuts but also bear in mind their limitations.

The lesson we all learn from this is simple: there is no free lunch. But that doesn’t mean we can’t make use of these tools. They are all great starting points, and in my upcoming articles I hope to share with you some valuable tips on how to leverage them. In the meantime, if you’re curious about our marketing services, feel “free” to contact Nexx Gen IO today to learn more!

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