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9 essential digital marketing tools you should start using yesterday

9 essential digital marketing tools you should start using yesterday

Technology is transforming our world. We live, work, learn, shop, chat and play online, as well as in the physical world. And as time goes on, our lives are blending more and more seamlessly with digital and virtual spaces. Though the pace of change can be scary, this creates previously unimaginable new opportunities to connect with people. More prosaically, it also creates the tools and means to make our lives a little easier. 

For marketers, this is especially true.

All marketers should embrace technology. Not least because your marketing strategies should be driven by data, but also because in recent years we have seen an explosion in marketing tools, including a lot of free software, which can make marketing easier, better informed, and more effective.

Marketing tools can help you at every stage of a digital marketing campaign from informing and planning, to executing. Different tools can do a wide array of different things, from SEO to content marketing, social media marketing, or analytics.

Digital tools can automate and track your marketing efforts, streamline workflows, measure the success of marketing strategies and collect and analyse marketing data to inform future strategies.

Below we have gathered the digital marketing tools that we love, and explain why we think they are essential to any modern digital marketing plan.  

What are the must-have digital marketing tools I need in my toolbox?

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a powerful free tool that analyses the performance of your business online including everything from website traffic to social media impressions. It offers many powerful insights, including seeing where your website visitors are coming from. 

At Code Milk, we love Google Analytics because of the huge wealth of the real-time and historical data it gives you. You can link your Google Analytics account to multiple websites and platforms and track your campaigns from start to finish. These insights can help you see what’s working, and what might not be, highlighting any potential issues as well as showing you the value of your efforts.  

Google Analytics is free. There is a premium version available for those who want more advanced features.   

Google Search Console

Google Search Console is another web service by Google that you can use to monitor your website’s performance in Google search results. 

We love Google Search Console because it is a quick, easy tool to measure organic search traffic. 

Pages that appear as the top results in Google search can win huge amounts of business as people organically navigate to their website pages. Google Search Console lets you check your indexing status, and supports your SEO efforts by highlighting any issues with your website, including security issues and crawling errors. Knowledge is power, and this information helps you optimise your website’s visibility. Google Search Console is free to use.

Google Ads

Google Ads is Google’s advertising platform. There are at least 8.5 billion Google searches per day, and Google Ads is the platform that allows you to advertise on the world’s biggest forum of information. What is amazing about advertising on Google is how carefully you can target your audience, in order to reach people with specific interests.

Google Ads is the tool you need if you want to use paid search, otherwise known as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, where you bid to appear in sponsored search results. You can also use Google Ads to advertise on Google with display ads on websites, local search, shopping, on apps, or video. 

We love Google Ads because it is such an incredible source of data. Even if you don’t spend a penny, it can help you identify trends in your target audience, and identify and forecast search volumes.  

Though large firms might spend considerable sums on Google advertising, the entry threshold to advertise on Google is low. You set your own budget, pay when you get results, and can track, pause, cancel or adjust the budget for your campaign whenever you wish. Alternatively, you could simply use Google Ads as a research tool to forecast results, and help inform your digital marketing strategy.     


Semrush is an all-in-one SEO tool used by marketers the world over for keyword research. 

We love its easy-to-use features that let you audit your search performance historically and in real time. 

You can look for backlinking opportunities, and gain technical insights that help you perform better in search. It’s particularly useful for its keyword features which let you see metrics such as search volume and cost per click. You can use the keyword planner, and even track your competition’s keyword strategy.  

Any business with a website can benefit from SEO insights.

You can use Semrush for free with limited functionality or choose one of several paid plans.


Yoast SEO is the most popular SEO plug-in for WordPress websites. It is free, integrates directly into your Wordpress website and gives immediate feedback on meta titles and social media. It is also available on other website platforms and content management systems. 

We love it because of how user-friendly it is, easily integrating with your website to give you straightforward, immediate insights. It can even implement and update data on multiple sites.

This tool takes barely any time to get going, and gives you an indication of how healthy the SEO is on each page. It even offers advice on how to improve.

You can use the Yoast plugin on your Wordpress website for free, and it supports most other popular platforms too. There is also a Premium paid version available with extra features.


Canva is an online graphic design tool you can use to create visual assets for digital marketing purposes. 

We love it because it is incredibly easy to use, as it contains lots of quality templates and requires absolutely no design experience to use.

Canva can be very useful to create attractive and consistent social media posts, ads, website banners, email headers, and any other visual designs you might need. Canva links directly into PowerPoint and onto social media platforms.  

It is also much more affordable than traditional design tools. Canva is free for individuals and teams, but you can upgrade to a paid premium account to unlock more visual assets and premium features. 

With the affordable paid plan, you can have access to shared team assets and designs, and can upload your own logos and colours in line with your own brand guidelines.  


HubSpot is a cloud-based CRM software and a leader in the digital marketing industry.  

In plain English, that means it is an all-in-one software platform which can help multiple teams, linking up sales, marketing and other business teams in an organisation. 

We love it because it has great automation features and you can host all your digital marketing efforts, from your website to social media posting and email marketing. The idea is that all this is combined on a single platform that you can access from anywhere. Large businesses, or those with large sales teams and lots of data can particularly benefit from CRM systems, which offer them an overview of information, and clear tracking of leads from marketing into sales. HubSpot is a huge platform with many applications. But used well, it can help nurture leads, align sales and marketing teams and improve marketing ROI. 

HubSpot can be used as a CRM for free, but there are a very wide variety of extra tools including marketing features and a number of different packages to suit business needs. 


MailChimp is automated mailing software that marketers use to run their email marketing campaigns.

Any business with a mailing list, who wishes to send newsletters can benefit from this tool.

It’s an all-in-one tool where you can manage mailing lists, build emails from templates, and analyse a campaign's success. It clearly shows the open rates of your emails so you can see if people are reading them and engaging. 

We love it because it allows you to manage campaigns with one simple tool. Without having an automation service like MailChimp to send your emails for you, the work of manually sending emails is extremely time-consuming. It will also be very laborious work managing mailing lists while remaining GDPR compliant. In contrast, MailChimp is easy to manage and integrates well with other tools.

MailChimp has a free plan for up to 500 contacts and 2,500 sends per month. This tends to be more than enough for most small businesses, so many teams can run marketing campaigns on mailchimp completely for free. If you are in a large organisation and your email marketing campaigns are any larger than this, you will want to opt for a paid subscription. 


Hotjar is a really insightful tool that gives you visual insights into how people are interacting with your webpages. 

Hotjar’s ‘heatmaps’ provide behaviour analytics, they show you how visitors navigate your pages, while recordings show their mouse movements, how far they scroll, what buttons they click, and what content gets ignored.

We love it because you can collect feedback that explains your users behaviour, getting that crucial context about why people behave the way they do.

Hotjar can be useful for any business with a website that wants to better understand how customers are engaging with them. As a visual tool it is not just useful as visual insights for marketing teams, but really useful when reporting to management and other teams in your organisation.   

There is a free version of Hotjar essentials available, but the paid version is recommended for businesses, which removes Hotjar branding. 

Don’t be afraid to dip your toes in.

There are a lot of digital marketing tools out there. It is understandable if you feel overwhelmed at first.  But the list above is tried and tested. These are the tools we use all the time, and love for good reason!  

But by taking advantage of modern marketing tools, you can let smart software do the heavy lifting, growing your business without becoming a huge drain on your time and resources. Particularly if your team feels like its resources are stretched, these free tools can make your life so much easier, and at the same time—bring your marketing efforts to new heights.

If you need any further guidance or would like to chat with one of our digital marketing experts, contact us.