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6 Valuable Free Tools for Struggling Startups

11 August 2014
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Startups are well known as being the best customers of freemium services and products. As a startup, the simple fact is: you’re working with highly limited spends, so every dollar counts. As the founder of a startup, I’ve experienced this stage in a business’ lifecycle and I remember how frustrating it was. In order to promote your business – and start the money flowing in – you need the right services and tools to help you, but these can be VERY expensive.

That’s why I was so excited every time I found cool tools that were both free and could help me to promote my business.

Alternatively, if I couldn’t find anything that matched my need, I created it with my available resources.SimilarSites is one such example, which later led to SimilarWeb. Both started out as browser addons and one later grew into both a free platform (SimilarWeb) and a premium platform (SimilarWeb PRO). Today, I’ll share with you the free version of SimilarWeb, together with several other great free tools I came across, which I consider valuable tools for startups in their early states.

1. SimilarWeb – Learning from your competitors with web analytics

I learned, at a fairly early stage, that one innovative idea is plenty. When you start building your online presence, whether it’s websites, applications, landing pages or marketing campaigns, there’s no point trying to re-create everything from scratch.StartupsFreeTools_Blog63014_image1.png

It’s much cheaper and faster to learn from others’ successes and mistakes, then replicate it in a way that is best for your own business. The need for such a tool made me create SimilarSites – a similarity search engine which was the first product of our startup. It still exists today and is very popular and completely free to use.

The next product we’ve developed is the one I’ll be showing you here – SimilarWeb. This tool gives you analytic data for any website, including number of visits, engagement metrics such as time on site, page views and bounce rate, traffic sources, including referring keywords and referring domains, and even mobile apps data. It’s completely free to use and gives you valuable insights that will help you with things like: creating your paid and organic search campaigns, getting leads, figuring out competitors’ marketing strategies, finding potential affiliates and even finding ad networks. This is Airbnb.com’s website analysis. Have a look to start understanding how this tool can help you enhance your strategies of getting more relevant traffic to your site.

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This tool is also available as an add-on, which will give you instant analytics stats from within any website you’re visiting.

2. Swayy & TagBoard – your agents for online networking

Swayy is amazing for the fast access of relevant content and the sharing of it. With a few predefined keywords you get all the suitable content in your personal feed and you can choose to share it across your different social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. Why is this helpful you ask? Think of social networks activity as online networking – you start creating yourself a reputation of someone that knows what he’s talking about, shring valuable content with others and helping them gain access to interesting reads, and you’ll be able to share with them information about your own startup without seeming like a spammer. It’s not only the decent way to do organic social marketing, it’s also more productive.

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TagBoard is another great tool for finding your way around the big social networks that use hashtags. This way you can find active discussions and join in with your relevant comments. You can search for conversations which are related to your own products or services and add your important input to it. You can also use it to view your competitors’ social activity and learn from them.

3. SimilarTech – for competitive intelligence and leads delivery

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SimilarTech is a tool for discovering any website’s used technologies. You can find out if they have AdSense, which analytics tools they are using, which widgets they have and so on. You can search by website or by technology. This tool is great for both competitive analysis and for lead generation.

Here, for example, you can see the top retargeting technologies, ordered by the number of websites that are using them:

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And here you can see exactly which technologies ebay.com is using.

4. Google keyword planner and Google Trends

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Google keyword planner is a very well-known tool, however there are still some that are not familiar with it, especially startup owners that are fairly new to the online arena. The Google keyword planner (formally known as Google keyword tool) is a powerful keyword research tool that can help you: create organic and paid campaigns, create trendy content and also understand what the main focus is of a specific website. You can run a search by keyword or web page and get keyword suggestions, together with their monthly search volume and their AdWords suggested bid, which indicates their level of competition – the higher the bid, the fiercer the competition for it is. This usually reflects on organic results, as well as paid search campaigns.

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Google Trends, another free tool by Google, is great for understanding industry trends and tracking your own brand’s progress. For instance, here’s how Asos.com, an online retailer, has progressed over the past few years, since it was launched.

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5. PageBreeze and Notepad++ – html editors

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It’s always handy to have a free basic html editor that will provide you with a simple way to edit your newsletters or landing pages. PageBreeze gives you both html and visual editors while Notepad++ provides only the html editor. Both are simple to use and are great for quick and simple web development tasks.

6. Olark.com – support platform

Support platform are not cheap. Most startups usually tend to hold off the implementation of them because of the high costs associated with them. Olark.com is the perfect solution. It’s not entirely free, but its rates are so low it may as well be free.StartupsFreeTools_Blog63014_image11.png

This list is just a drop in the ocean of free tools which are available. Some have premium versions, which can help you even more, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t start with the free versions and continue to the paid ones, once you’ve started getting some funds streaming into your startup.

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