9 Clouds Automotive Marketing Blog

Where automotive meets digital marketing.


Fall in Love with Inbound: The Best Free Digital Marketing Tools

Inbound marketing is just like dating.

I’m talking 2015 dating, with the mess of apps and avenues for finding your partner forever or at least for now. For every Tinder and Grindr and Blendr out there, there’s a digital marketing vendor making it just as confusing to find qualified leads as it is to find love.

Fortunately, I’m an expert at inbound marketing, I’m pretty good at dating, and I’m here to help. I put together the list of the best free marketing tools everyone should be using in their digital marketing plans, so you can see the value of inbound marketing and ultimately, fall in love.

Why Inbound Marketing?

Let’s take this dating analogy further than we should.

Couple A is on a great date. He met her through Facebook, they texted back and forth before grabbing sushi, so they got to know each other a little — educated one another on their quirks and habits, you might say — and are enjoying a night of mutual conversation. Inbound love.

Couple B is traditional in all the wrong ways. She’s talking — okay, shouting — about her chihuahua and her favorite movies without letting her date get a word in edgewise. This is your outbound marketing date. It’s one-sided and doesn’t allow for any engagement.

Which date would you rather go on?

People prefer inbound marketing (and dating) because it’s about relationship building. We even use some of the same tactics to build those relationships, things like Tweets, emails, texts. The difference is the content in those messages. Your business draws a customer’s attention to your brand, building trust and securing its place as a reliable establishment in the community.

This is where inbound marketing and dating divert because inbound marketing actually gets easier. You can use improved SEO, compelling blog content and snappy social media posts to turn strangers into customers. These are tried-and-true methods with guaranteed results and ROI — nothing like the unpredictability of romantic entanglements.

Which Free Tools?

You know you want your business to take leads on Date A, but it’s still confusing to navigate the inbound marketing playing field. We suggest trying out some free digital tools before you fully commit to a paid service. Try the milk before buying the proverbial cow, if you will.

Google Keyword Planner

Keywords are the DNA of your marketing plan, and you can get help selecting the best words to use on your blog and website with Google’s Keyword Planner. This will help you improve your website's SEO rank by finding the terms your customers are using to search for your products. A caveat is that the higher search volume will also mean higher competition, so take your time and find the right keywords for your business using this tool.


We recently wrote extensive guides about the importance of blogging for business and content distribution for business bloggers, so I won’t delve too much into why you should be blogging. Instead, I’ll help you find out what to blog about. That’s where BuzzSumo comes in. This site allows you to see how many social media shares different blog posts get, showing you if there’s a demand for the topic you’re thinking about sharing with your customers.


If your Web hosting service doesn’t offer a blog tool, WordPress is a great place to start your own. It’s a powerful platform that can even be adjusted to match your own website with a little help from your developer. You can also modify the function of your WordPress pages with many free plugins, which makes the platform more than just a blog hosting tool.


Businesses that aren’t taking advantage of social media are making a huge mistake. Nearly two-thirds of Americans are now smartphone owners. Don’t alienate this huge chunk of the population by neglecting to stake your claim on social media. Hootsuite is a free social media management tool that lets you consolidate accounts into one dashboard. This makes it easy to see replies and messages, schedule updates, and follow other social media accounts. There’s a lot of power behind those free social media platforms — don’t let it go to waste.


There’s a brand-new service we’re really excited about — especially for small- to medium-sized businesses. Leadin is a free WordPress CRM and lead-tracking plugin that lets you know who is on your site and what they’re doing. It gives you insight into the social networks a lead came from and automatically pulls public information about those people — like their location and work history — that you can use when you reach out to them. There’s also a popup form you can use to collect email addresses and promote conversion. Leadin can help you determine which content speaks to which leads — and which traffic sources convert the best.


Staying in touch is an important part of the inbound relationship and an email system like MailChimp can help your business do just that. You can even sync your Leadin plugin with MailChimp to automate messaging when a contact arrives at a certain page. And again, this is a free service if you have a relatively small number of contacts — perfect for any marketing manager testing the ropes of digital marketing.

Want to Learn More?

Digital marketing can be just as scary as a new relationship. For a lot of businesses, it is brand new, but now is the time to start building a trustworthy and innovative digital brand for your dealership. It’s essential to your business’ future success.

Try these free tools first, but don’t — I repeat, do not — run away to Vegas with the first solution you find.

When you’re ready to commit to some of the more advanced (but still free) digital marketing tools, check out our resources page.


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