Last night I gave a talk on why use free tools – this wasn’t a don’t use paid for, but a look at what is available without spending a penny, despite having less than a day to create it (thanks Peter!) I was surprised by the number of good quality freemium tools, in fact I think most of the tools were to some extent in this category.
Smaller businesses and agencies use these for clients until they reach that point they would benefit from upgrading, typically they get to see how much value there is and are often quite happy to follow that route.
My list was
- Trello One of the best simple project management boards, recently bought by Atlassian
- HotJar A simple but powerful suite aimed at CRO and insight, used in conjunction with Google Analytics for a incredibly comprehensive analysis
- Google Analytics I don’t really need to introduce this do I? At the free level it suits probably most of the internet, it is exceptionally powerful and competes easily with the likes of Adobe and WebTrends (sorry Mike, who was defending the need for paid alternatives).
- Google Data Studio The new Tableau beating dashboard and data analysis tool, (it isn’t beating Tableau but its certainly an awesome free product)
DataStudio currently doesn’t seem to have a freemium model, so much as a free model and with the just released GSC connector, I am spending far too much time playing with it, as a free tool it is far easier to use than most commercial alternatives however it has got quite specific limitations.
Asking the TIO Guys
Tom Bourlet loves TweetDeck & SEO tools for Excel (the latter being freemium as well)
Andy is a fan boy of Trello and Slack. He recommends using WP Scan against any WordPress website to check it’s security.
That hidden cost
The biggest problem with free and cheaper tools is that staff or agency costs seem to be of a multiplication of the cost of the tool – a Adobe or WebTrends consultant cost seems to cost more than an equivalent Google Analytics consultant, a good consultant can get more out of a bad tool than a bad consultant with a good tool!
My advice, don’t over pay for your tools, make sure you use the best one at the best price that suits your needs, listen to expert consultants rather than tool salesmen but make sure you invest in the resource to get you the insight, whether consultant, agency or in house.