Free Digital Marketing Toolbox

Over 300 Marketing Solutions To Boost Conversion Rates.

Updated 11th February 2017

  • Original posts explaining how to improve the performance of your digital marketing activity.
  • Regularly updated and designed for the professional marketeer, usability expert, website designer, developer or conversion specialist.

Please bookmark this page to ensure you can find it when you next need it.

1. A/B testing tools:

View my post here on choosing an A/B and MVT testing tool, including user ratings and over 20 suppliers to select from. This now includes Artificial Intelligence (AI) testing and optimisation solutions.

In addition to help you decide what to test: How should you prioritise your A/B test ideas?

2. Abandonment recovery emails and onsite re-marketing:

 

image of laptop and shopping cart
Source: Freeimages.com

Read my post here on how to engage visitors who abandon your website and  details of 8 suppliers to consider.

 

3. Address verification and auto-complete tools:

 

Read my post: 10 Free & Paid For Address Lookup Solutions To Boost Conversions.

4. Books:

 

There are some great books to help you optimize your website. Here is my post on 12 Awesome Books To Help You Optimize Your Website.

You can also read a review of The Growth Strategy That’s Being Ignored from Paul Rouke at PRWD.

 

5. Browsers and resolutions:

Images of browser logos

View my post – 12 Cross-Browser Testing Tools To Improve Your User Experience And Conversion.

 

6. Card Sorting (Remote):

 

My post explains how to use online card sorting to improve your website navigation – 6 Online Usability Card Sorting Tools To Improve Website Navigation.

 

7. Competitor Analysis:

 Evaluate competitors’ sites that have more traffic or a higher proportion of returning  visitors than your website.

 

Read: 10 free and paid website audience comparison tools for competitor benchmarking.

 8. Cultural Dimensions By Country:

 

For a full summary of key cultural factors in website design see my post: What you need to know about cross-cultural website optimization. 

9. Design Feedback (Also see Usability Tools) :

 

Get expert of customer feedback on your designs – 9 tools for getting design feedback for websites and apps.

10. Email Marketing:

 Images of promotional emails

Read my posts: 13 email verification solutions to boost conversions and 4 strategies to improve the effectiveness of your email marketing.

11. Fold height:

See Above the fold in my conversion glossary for details of how the fold influences visitor behaviour.

 

1. Google Chrome Screen Resolution Tester:  Resizes the browser window to view websites in different resolutions.

2. Scree Resolution Simulator: Test website usability with different screen resolutions.

3. Screenfly: Responsive screen testing on monitors, tablets, smart phones and more.  http://quirktools.com/screenfly/

 

12. Headings & imagery:

 

Ensure your landing page headings and imagery align with customer expectations by using word association to identify what people automatically think about when they explore your sector or product.

1. Human Brain Cloud: A simple multi-player word association game which will display results for words that you enter at the end of the URL (after #view/)

2. Word Associations Network: Project Word Associations Network allows you to lookup associations with a given word.

3. wordassociation.org:  Started off as a project and now claims to be the world’s largest database of word associations.

 

13. Image optimisation:

image of faces of two women from jpegmini.com

Reduce load speed and improve conversion by choosing from 14 image optimization tools.

 

14. Internal site search:

 

Evaluate your built-in search functionality by analysing key words  used by visitors or use a third-party search tool provider.

1. Google site search:  Uses the same technology that powers Google search to allow your visitors to find content on your website.

2. Freefind: Established in 1998, Freefind is a Free site search engine used by over 200,000 websites.

3. Fusion Bot: A site search engine which offers search, site map and reporting. Being fully hosted it does not require software to be installed. Also offers e-Commerce search engine with search and navigation of your site.

4. Adobe Target: Search driven merchandising includes options such as  auto-complete, a did you mean function, dynamic image options, multi-media use and decision-making refinements (filters).  Allows for automated merchandising rules and enables customised result display (e.g. sorting options).

 

15. Live chat:

 

Image of Carphonewarehouse.com live chat
Source: Carphonewarehouse.com

Improve engagement and reduce bounce rates by offering live interaction with customers whilst they are on your website.

Read my post – 6 top live chat solutions to increase sales.

16. Load speed for web pages:

 

 

Free resources are outlined in my post – How to improve site load speed to increase conversions.

17. Navigation Guidance &  App Tours:

 

Image of tool tips on Virginatlantic.com

Read my post: 9 Website onboarding solutions to improve conversions.

 

18. Personas:

Here is my post  7 free buyer persona online tools to build your personas.

To understand how to create buyer personas and benefit your bottom line please read my post: How to use personas to improve conversion. 

 

 

19: Product Ratings & reviews:

View my post about the value of product ratings and reviews, including the top suppliers here.

 

20. SEO Keywords:

Image of the letters SEO and a computer mouse
Source: Freeimages.com

 

Here is my post on How to do keyword research and 17 awesome tools to use.

You may also find this post useful; How to use Google’s Search Console to Boost Conversions.

21. SEO Link Building & Site Audit Tools:

 

View my post – 20 Powerful Link Building Tools To Drive Traffic To Your Website.

 

22. Social media tools:

 

View my post – Over 50 awesome tools to optimize your social media activity.

 

 

23. Stock Images (Free):

 

The use of stock images is often criticised by conversion experts because the same images are sometimes used by competing websites. They are also sometimes used inappropriately (e.g. to show a member of your customer services team when they are clearly a model).

However, when you have a limited budget, and provided you take care with selection, stock photos can be a great resource to convey relevant imagery on your website. Pictures are engaging and can instantly communicate emotions.

Here are 6 resources that provide free stock images and illustrations.

1. Flickr: The world’s largest online photo imaging and sharing application. A great website used by some of the world’s top photographers. Not all images can be used commercially so check first before you use a photo.

2. Morguefile: Contains freely contributed photographs for creative projects. Morguefile do ask you to reference the photographer where possible.

3. StocksPhotos.io: This is a community for high resolution images (over 27,000 to choose from).

4. rgbstock: Is a free resource of high quality photographs and  graphics for illustrations, wallpaper and backgrounds.

5. Openphoto: An extensive library of stock photos which was established in 1998 and now has a huge selection of free images to choose from. Categories organised in thumb nails and also has a keyword search facility.

6. Freeimages: Most of the 6,000 images on file were either taken exclusively for the site or were sourced from contributing photographers and illustrators.

 

24. Surveys and user polls:

Typeform.com mobile survey
Source: Typeform.com

Click here for How to use online Voice of Customer tools to boost conversions – and 22 tools to reviewed.

 

25. Text Analysis – Word clouds:

 

A word cloud is an image composed of words used in a particular text or subject, in which the size of each word indicates its frequency or importance.

You can use word clouds as a way to visualise verbatim responses of users to surveys. complaints, problems or other feedback from visitors.

1. ABCya!: A word cloud for kids that may be relevant if your website is out interest to children. Type or paste text into the box below and press the arrow button to view the word cloud generated.

2. Jason Davies: A great tool if you want to generate a word cloud from a blog or website.

3. Tagcrowd: Allows you to set  specific criteria  for your cloud such as language, maximum number of words and minimum frequency.  Allows you to create a word cloud from a URL or upload text from a document.

4. Tagxedo: Create word clouds from a URL, Twitter ID, Del.icio.us ID, news, search,  RSS feed, uploading text or enter it yourself.

5. Tagul: A word cloud generator with advanced features including words inside words, rich font choices, roll-over effects, custom shapes, colours and fonts and export in vector formats.

6. WorditOut: Advanced filters allows you to filter the text to display or remove words and change their importance. Select your own layout by choosing your own colours, fonts, and sizes or let WorditOut find a random look for you.  http://worditout.com/

7. Wordle:  A simple word cloud generator which allows you to set the weights of words.

26. Tree Testing:

 

Tree testing or reverse card sorting is a usability technique used to evaluate how easy it is to find topics on  a website using the navigation structure. Checkout my post: How to improve website navigation using tree testing. 

27. Trust Assessment:

 

 

1. TrustRadius: Business software reviews from users, software comparisons and insights.

2. Web Of Trust:  The WOT user community has rated over 36,000,000 websites. Check out how they rate your website. I have seen mixed reviews about how accurate the ratings are on this site, so proceed with caution.

 

28. Usability:

 

Read my post – How to do usability testing to improve conversions – including 12 top solutions to use. 

 

29. Video – Explainer Videos:

Here is my post  –  How to create an awesome explainer video which includes a list of 111 studios and video production companies to choose from. 

 

30. Video – Explainer Videos (DIY):

 

1. GoAnimate: Software to produce professional animated videos. Free trial available.

2. PowToon: Free software version available to produce your own animated videos.

3. VideoScribe: Make your own whiteboard videos fast. 7 day Free trial available.

 

31.Video Players (Including Hosting):

 

 

1.SPROUTVIDEO: A video hosting that allows you customise, publish and track videos online. Includes security, marketing and analytical tools. Sprout allows you to monitor the number of plays and impressions, including geographic location and the domains they are played on.

2. Vimeo Pro: A fully customisable and embeddable HTML5
player with advanced statistics, private review pages and 20GB of HD storage
each week, with no additional bandwidth limitations.

3. Vzaar:  A customisable video players with multi-language sub-titles. Features include HTML5 support, JavaScript API, dual encoding, privacy and domain control, RTMPe and HTTPS embed code for a secure login portal. A 30 day Free trial is available.

4. Wistia: Offers a Free version with Wistia branding that allows you to produce up to 25 videos a month and basic analytics. The paid for versions include HTML5 support, real-time analytics, playlists, custom skins, email embeds, popovers, video SEO, and more. Wistia’s video heatmaps show when users stop, start, skip, and re-watch your video.

32. Video Spokesperson:

 

Read my post: How did Virgin Holidays achieve a 30% uplift in seat upgrades?

33. Visual analytics (heatmaps & session recordings):

Read my post: 15 Free & Paid For Visual Analytics Solutions to Boost Revenues.

 34. Visual  Eye Tracking  Heatmaps :

 

Eye tracking and facial coding solutions to optimise your digital content.

35. Web Analytics:

 

Google Analytics homepage
Source: Google Analytics

Read my post on the importance of the importance of web analytics and  a review of 18 top free and paid for solutions.

 

36. Other Conversion Toolboxes:

 

1. Conversion Ninja Toolbox: Tim Ash, Sitetuners, – author of Landing Page Optimization.

2. Conversion Optimization Toolbox: From Marketizator.

3. My Free Conversion Rate Optimization Toolbox: Rich Page – author of Website Optimization – An hour a day.

Wow, congratulations on getting to the end of this post. Please share using the social media icons below to prove you got this far.

Please contact me with any feedback or details of other tools that assist in improving conversion that you think should be included in the toolbox.

You can access all my posts on conversion, digital marketing and more here on my archive page.

  • About the author:  Neal provides digital optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as Deezer.comFoxybingo.com, Very.co.uk and partypoker.com.  He identifies areas for improvement using a combination of approaches including web analytics, heuristic analysis, customer journey mapping, usability testing, and Voice of Customer feedback.
  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on Usabilla.com  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to neal.cole@outlook.com. You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch and view his LinkedIn profile.

Why Are Voice of Customer surveys fundamentally flawed?

Voice of Customer Process Flow image

Voice of Customer (VoC) surveys are a popular method for organisations to monitor customer preferences and levels of satisfaction. However, how robust is the standard process of interviewing a few customers and then developing and administering a highly structured survey?

The VoC survey framework appears to be based upon an outdated and false view of people as rational, independent agents with relatively fixed preferences. Because of the way the human brain works people have limited access to the emotional, social and psychological motivations that drive much of our behaviour.

 

SixSigma Voice of Customer

source: iSixSigma.com

Surveys also ignore the power of contextual influences which means that VoC programmes are highly likely to generate unreliable and misleading results which contribute to an illusion of understanding customers.

A flawed measure:

  • Asking direct questions is unreliable because many of our daily decisions are made without much conscious thought and we post-rationalize decisions to ensure consistency with our internal model of the world. When people answer direct questions they attempt to rationalise their decisions and behaviour. They naturally construct a narrative that explains their  actions in a rational and consistent way.
  • However, this fails to capture many of the underlying motivations of human behaviour. Further, as our brains use mental short-cuts to save energy and speed up decision making, we are prone to making sub-optimal and often irrational decisions. This is contrary to how we like to perceive ourselves and naturally we don’t articulate this when answering survey questions.
  • Asking people about importance is especially misleading. Psychologists have found that relative importance of an item is heavily influenced by the ease with which we can retrieve it from our memory. This often correlates heavily with the amount of coverage an issue gets in the media. I noticed this when I managed a survey of financial advisers. The importance of financial strength always shot up after media coverage of any kind of financial crisis.
  • Our ability to recall an event is also limited as a memory is constructed from a series of brief fleeting moments from an experience. We construct a memory from visual snapshots, thoughts, feelings, smells and sounds. The perception of an experience is also influenced by a range of factors including our mood, social context, our vocabulary, the physical environment and our knowledge.

mri-head-scan

Source: Freeimages.com

  • However, the reconstruction process itself is also the product of these same factors. This means that each time we recall an event we have to piece these elements back together and inevitably our memory changes each time we recall an experience. Indeed, we frequently have false memories of events that we will passionately defend as our brain attempts to retain our internal consistency with our values and beliefs.
  • Our memory is also biased towards  remembering what happened during the most intense moment of an experience, and what occurred at the end of the episode. The length of the experience appears to have little impact on our overall satisfaction with an event.
  • Our herd instinct means we are heavily influenced by what other people in our network and beyond are doing. We are constantly copying people, especially when we find ourselves in a new or uncertain situation. Social norms and trends are also powerful forces, but again we may not  be consciously aware of these influences and so we cannot expect people to articulate this via direct questioning.

Sheep on the road image

Source: Freeimages.com

Analysis and Action:

VoC surveys also fail to deliver when it comes to analysis of results as little or no allowance is often made for the fundamental flaw in using direct questions to obtain the data.

  • Due to the survey design operational and customer facing areas often find VoC feedback to be too generic and therefore not actionable. They want to drill down to specific locations or touch points but sample size are usually not sufficient to allow for such analysis.
  • Unfortunately research executives can sometimes be pressurised into providing analysis based upon tiny sample sizes. This gets quickly circulated around the organization to support changes in service or product delivery. The fact that responses are unlikely to be an accurate reflection of real customer motivations and preferences is usually ignored until results contradict what a senior stakeholder wants the data to say.
  • Sponsors like to set targets to improve VoC scores but ratings tend to fluctuate for no obvious reason. When expensive changes to the product or service are implemented is it surprising that we may not see any change in customer satisfaction?
  • Some organisations now base changes on an understanding of our selected memory bias by focussing on the peak and end moments of an interaction. This may lead to improved VoC scores but does this really mean that we are delivering an improved customer experience?  Are we not just kidding ourselves by using human psychology to temporarily boost a flawed score?

Experiments and Observation:

Top retailers have known for decades that if you want to find out if something new works running a controlled test in a number of stores is more reliable than asking people direct questions. This was the original A/B test and is the reason why online retailers are now some of the biggest users of this experimental research design.

“Just following consumer wishes leads to replaceable products, copycat advertising, and stagnating markets.”
Stephen Brown, Professor at the Kellogg School of Management

Direct questioning of customers is limited for the reasons given above. However, VoC surveys are particularly problematic because the standard framework developed as part of the Six Sigma methodology gives it an aura of validity that the technique does not merit. This is an illusion which Six Sigma followers espouse due a lack of understanding of basic human decision-making and psychology.

 

SixSigma VoC Customer Focus

Source: iSixSigma.com

More emphasis on conducting experiments, together with observing or listening to real customer interactions would be more effective methods of research. Co-creation can also be a powerful approach to allow brands to open up a two way conversation with their customers. Direct questioning for VoC programs needs to be used sparingly and the results treated with extreme caution.

You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

To browse links to all my posts on one page please click here.

Related post: 5 ways to get more valuable insights from your Voice Of the Customer programme.

Recommended reading:

image

Consumerology: The Truth about Consumers and the Psychology of Shopping (new revised edition, including a new preface from the author)

  • About the author:  Neal provides digital optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as Deezer.comFoxybingo.com, Very.co.uk and partypoker.com.  He identifies areas for improvement using a combination of approaches including web analytics, heuristic analysis, customer journey mapping, usability testing, and Voice of Customer feedback.  By  aligning each stage of the customer journey  with the organisation’s business goals this helps to improve conversion rates and revenues significantly as almost all websites benefit from a review of customer touch points and user journeys.
  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on Usabilla.com  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to neal.cole@outlook.com. You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch and view his LinkedIn profile.

Is Digital Marketing A Zero-Sum Game?

 

I recently read an inspiring book, Predatory Thinking, by Dave Trott.  It’s a highly readable and engaging book full of brilliant anecdotes and short stories. It made me reflect on life and work. For me it has some great insights that are very salient to both digital marketing and website optimization.

Marketing is a zero-sum game, you can’t win new customers unless you take them away from someone else. This means your content and proposition needs to be compelling, and persuasive, as otherwise your visitors may well sign up or purchase from another website. It may seem obvious but you only need to look at a selection of websites and many don’t communicate clearly what makes them unique from their competitors. Many copy the standard template of carousel and product images without much thought to include persuasive content. Design is a framework to build and structure content, but it is content that engages and persuades.

“Because marketing, like war, is a zero-sum game. If you want something you have to take it from someone else.”
Dave Trott, Predatory Thinking

But that doesn’t mean continually adding new elements to your website or proposition. You can’t have everything at once. When you add something you also need to consider taking something away as otherwise you are in danger of ending up diluting your value proposition and confusing visitors. Testing different messages on separate landing pages can assist this process as it helps maintain a single-minded proposition.

Digital marketers spend a lot of time trying to formulate the right messages for their landing pages. However, as Dave Trott reminds us ordinary people:

  • Don’t notice stuff
  • Are only interested in one thing at a time
  • Are conditioned to filter out distractions (e.g. banners)
  • And will probably do the opposite of what you want them to do.

The insight here is that first and foremost we need to think about “how do we even get noticed”. We need to workout how to get the visitor’s attention and not bombard them with multiple messages or distracting graphics that don’t nudge them towards our goal. Look at your bounce rates and time spent on pages to see if you are being noticed.

“£18.3 billion is spent yearly in the UK on all forms of advertising. 4% remembered positively, 7% remembered negatively, 89% not noticed or remembered”.
Dave Trott, Predatory Thinking

“What’s in it for them?” Marketing is about getting peopleto do something that we want them to do. This means that content needs to be persuasive and not just communicate what we want to tell visitors. Further, people are not rational agents and so are far more likely to respond to a message that engages their imagination than focusses on rational reasons.

Don’t assume our visitors know what we know. As experienced
digital marketers we understand the websites and brands we work on much more than the average user. It’s important to take a step back and accept we won’t see our website like a customer. We know how to navigate to the account page to change privacy settings, but a first visitor may not know it exists. Maybe they don’t even care.

“We can’t believe the world isn’t exactly the same way for
everyone else, as it is for us.” Dave Trott, Predatory Thinking

You need to get closer to your visitor’s view of the world by observing how they behave and listening to what they say about your website and brand. Find out why they came to your site and what tasks they were looking to complete. But also what may have prevented them from completing their task and what frustrations they have about their experience. There are so many tools on the market to obtain customer feedback there is no excuse for not capturing visitor opinions.

The role of advertising:

Advertising has the potential to give you an edge over your
competitors, but it can’t turn a core non-user into a core user. A person has to be in the market for your product in the first place to have the potential to convert. Similarly if your landing page or advert can grab their attention you have the potential to influence visitors.

However, the best you can hope for is to create a propensity to convert. Most of our visitors won’t convert because we don’t tick all their requirements at this point in time. Some may return to our site if they remember us or if something grabs their attention that
makes them believe we can help them achieve a current goal.

The key implication from the book for website optimization
is that you need a compelling, single-minded value proposition that is communicated using simple and imaginative messages. A useful framework for evaluating your website is the Wider Funnel’s Lift
Model. This demonstrates visually how you can’t rely on reducing distractions, anxiety and creating urgency etc, if you don’t have a strong value proposition. Your brand simply won’t get off the ground.

image of Widerfunnel Lift Model of website optimization
Source: Widerfunnel.com

 Recommended Reading:

By Dave Trott – Predatory Thinking: A Masterclass in Out-Thinking the Competition

Related posts: 

Website optimisation toolbox – Over 30 categories of tools for increasing your conversion rate.

How should you prioritise your A/B testing ideas? – A framework for evaluating your A/B testing ideas.

Which A/B testing tool should you choose? – Considers the criteria for selecting an A/B testing tool and looks at a survey of user rating for 9 of the most popular tools.

You can access links to all my posts on my index page.

The Lift model framework from Wider Funnel

Thank you for reading my post and if you have time please browse my other articles.

  • About the author:  Neal provides digital optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as Deezer.comFoxybingo.com, Very.co.uk and partypoker.com.  He identifies areas for improvement using a combination of approaches including web analytics, heuristic analysis, customer journey mapping, usability testing, and Voice of Customer feedback.  By  aligning each stage of the customer journey  with the organisation’s business goals this helps to improve conversion rates and revenues significantly as almost all websites benefit from a review of customer touch points and user journeys.
  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on Usabilla.com  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to neal.cole@outlook.com. You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch and view his LinkedIn profile.

Can You Get Visitor Heatmaps, Form Analytics, Online Surveys, User Testing & more for €29 A Month?

image of Hotjar.com homepage

I recently attended a conversion conference and was discussing the use of visual behaviour tools for gaining visitor insights. These tools can be expensive and so I was shocked to hear that a start-up is offering such a product from just €29 a month.

When I next logged onto my laptop I Googled Hotjar.com and sure enough they are currently in beta with a product that offers unlimited sites and users. However, as well offering your standard heatmaps and sessions replays, they also allow users to serve feedback and exit polls, online surveys, and live chat. What other tool offers all these options?

  • Heatmaps
  • Feedback polls
  • Surveys
  • Conversion funnels
  • Form analytics
  • Visitor recordings
  • Recruit user testers

This seemed too good to be true but I managed to find an interesting review by Stacey from a digital marketing agency. Although only a sample of one, it’s useful to know that Stacey hasn’t uncovered any bugs or problems with the product. She is excited about the prospect of having a single tool that does so much more than heat maps and session replays. Other reviews I have read are also positive so far.

Apart from its low cost, the ability to provide survey and user testing as well as visual behaviour analytics is a potential big advantage for Hotjar. I’ve not had the opportunity to test the product so I can’t comment on how well the product performs all these different needs. However, there is certainly the danger that it could be perceived as trying to pursue too many markets at once and being masters of none. The feedback I’ve seen so far does not support this and so maybe this won’t be a major obstacle.

The level of support and responsiveness will also be key. These tools are great when they are working correctly and you know what you are doing. But if heatmaps are not displaying a page correctly or you can’t figure something out this is when you need to be able to get hold of someone to help. With potentially a much larger customer base than some of its competitors will Hotjar be able to deliver the level of support needed? I suspect this will be a key issue for customers considering switching from existing suppliers and an important area for Hotjar to prove itself in.

It will be fascinating to see how Hotjar gets on in an increasingly competitive market for online customer insight tools. Thanks for reading my post and let me know if you have any experience of Hojar or other visitor insight tools that you would like to share.

You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

To browse links to all my posts on one page please click here.

Recommended reading:

If you would like a step-by-step approach to website optimisation I suggest reading:

 

image

Website Optimization: An Hour a Day

  • About the author:  Neal provides digital optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as Deezer.comFoxybingo.com, Very.co.uk and partypoker.com.  He identifies areas for improvement using a combination of approaches including web analytics, heuristic analysis, customer journey mapping, usability testing, and Voice of Customer feedback.  By  aligning each stage of the customer journey  with the organisation’s business goals this helps to improve conversion rates and revenues significantly as almost all websites benefit from a review of customer touch points and user journeys.
  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on Usabilla.com  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to neal.cole@outlook.com. You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch and view his LinkedIn profile.