Top 12 free digital marketing resources
By Dids Reeve
At Launch we are an inquisitive and knowledge-thirsty bunch. We like to know what’s going on in the marketing industry, but more than that, continual learning and experimentation are pretty central to what makes us good at what we do.
Sure, some of that knowledge is paid for, like attending industry conferences to learn about the latest developments. But there is also a lot of free information and inspiration out there, for which all you need is time and bandwidth. Here are our top 12 free* resources for digital marketers, in no particular order.
Some of these resources are people, with a wealth of freely available posts and video content by, or featuring them.
1. Occam’s Razor – Avinash Kaushik
Back in the day, one of the ways that today’s ‘more seasoned’ digital marketers first learnt about web analytics attribution – probably the most important concept for any self-respecting digital marketer to grasp – is from Avinash Kaushik. He bears the title ‘Google’s Digital Marketing Evangelist’ like it is a crown; and so he should. He is a prolific writer with two books about analytics. Occam’s Razor is Avinash’s blog site, and if you are inclined to think that analytics is a dry topic, then Occam’s Razor will change that.
2. Search Engine Land
A one-stop-geek-shop for search engine marketing (SEM) news. Search Engine Land is the go-to resource, whether it’s a Google algorithm update, or Facebook testing a new advertising feature, Search Engine Land will cover it. The site is often the first to receive and publish news from Google, making it essential reading for all of the Launch team, and any digital marketers who care about leading the pack and reacting fast in competitive industries.
Founded by Danny Sullivan, who is also an advisor to Google’s search division, other notable contributors to the publication include search engine optimisation (SEO) guru Barry Schwartz, Ginny Marvin (paid media) and George Nguyen (all things Google).
3. Purna Virji
A woman with one foot in the future. You thought that Google was the only innovator in search tech? Think again. Purna Virji spent five years evangelising Microsoft’s advertising technology as Senior Manager of Global Engagement. She speaks about marketing all over the world, and covers topics from artificial intelligence to the psychology of marketing. When you want to know what’s coming next, seek out Purna.
4. Frederick Vallaeys
Fred’s role at Google was to be their first AdWords Evangelist; he was one of the first 500 Google employees. He spent 10 years there, literally building AdWords, and he now runs his own pay per click (PPC) software company Optmyzr, as well as being an influential author and speaker. A true technologist, Fred’s in-depth knowledge of Google’s advertising products makes him something of a guru and industry leader, and he is generous in sharing that knowledge.
5. PPC Town Hall
When the pandemic started to seriously skew our clients’ advertising last year (and not all in a bad way!), Fred Vallaeys started a regular webcast with a guest panel of marketing experts. The broadcasts became an invaluable window onto how other agencies and advertisers were faring and reacting to the unprecedented and unpredictable world of pandemic marketing. We love PPC Town Hall for its frank discussions, humour and panelists willing to give their time and advice for free. Panelists include Susan Wenograd, Matt Van Wagner, Kirk Williams and Anu Adegbola. You can find the episodes on YouTube, naturally.
6. How I Built This With Guy Raz
A brilliant choice for the marketer’s commute ( remember when you used to have to get a train or car to work?), How I Built This is a series of podcasts hosted by NPR in which Guy Raz talks to a different American entrepreneur or innovator about how their remarkable achievements came to be, and the often stormy journey to success.
Guests have included the founders of Wayfair Niraj Shah & Steve Conine, director M Night Shyamalan, Fitbit’s founder James Park, Airbnb’s Brian Chesky and Shopify’s Tobias Lütke – the list is very long. In fact, the series has broader appeal than just to marketers; anyone with an interest in business should try it out.
For a British-grown version, Launch’s founder Jaye recommends Conversations of Inspiration hosted by Not On The High Street founder Holly Tucker.
7. Search Engine Roundtable
Just when you thought it couldn’t get more geeky… Search Engine Roundtable turns the nerdometer up to eleven in its dedication to SEM discussion. It distills the most important news and SEM forum threads, and is widely respected for its depth of information, particularly on technical SEO. The site was founded by the aforementioned Barry Schwartz who is probably the best known and most prolific authority on SEO.
8. Kirk Williams
Based in Montana, Kirk runs a micro-agency dedicated to PPC. He has been named one of the Top 25 Most Influential PPCers in the world by PPC Hero three times in a row, and having seen him speak at numerous conferences and webcasts, we can vouch for his contribution. Kirk is particularly knowledgeable about Google Shopping and vocal in the discussion about data transparency and Google’s increasing control over elements of paid search at the cost of knowledge for the advertiser. When Google releases a new feature, the community looks to Kirk for his opinion.
9. The BBC
Well, actually it could be any legitimate news organisation – let's not start a debate about the BBC and bias!
If marketers don’t keep up with the news, then they won’t be well-placed to react quickly for clients affected by things that are out of their and our control. There’s nothing like a global pandemic for changing the search behaviour of internet users and consumers, and advertisers the world over have had to adapt quickly, or suffer the consequences of inaction. We actually won a major award for our work with Aria Resorts.
One of our clients was recently interviewed on national television, so we made sure that any Google searches on his name would ensure that his business’ ads would be in prime position.
10. Les Binet
He is Head of Effectiveness at adam&eveDDB, and he has some seriously interesting and inspiring views on short-termism and the dangers of neglecting to nurture a brand through advertising. If you want to know why you should probably be spending more on brand awareness than you are currently, then watch or read Les Binet.
Founded by Rand Fishkin in 2004, MOZ was originally a blog and discussion forum where the world’s top SEOs shared ideas and research. These days, MOZ monetises its gargantuan website with a set of SEO products, however it also hosts excellent free resources which should be your first port of call if you are interested in SEO at any level. The Beginners Guide to SEO is a thorough and reliable source for newbies, while the Learning Centre, SEO Q&A and Blog constitute an enormous free resource for even the most sophisticated SEOs. There is nowhere which comes close to rivalling MOZ for its wealth of technical SEO information and discussion brought together in one place.
12. Google Partners
Not surprised we’re endorsing Google?
As an agency and as individuals, at Launch we are driven by our clients’ needs, and those will always take priority. However, as a Premier Partner agency, we are supported by an account manager and two strategists at Google, and we (and our clients) benefit from this relationship in a number of ways.
We get access to betas which other agencies don’t. The betas for new features in Google Ads are, more often than not, rolled out to other advertisers months after agencies like us get to try them. That means that any benefits from the features – be that increased clicks, or improved conversion rates – allow our clients to get a competitive advantage in the ad space. The depth of our account manager’s knowledge of Google products is impressive, and we highly value their advice, not just on features, but also marketing strategy.
Okay.. we said that all of these resources were free, which isn’t completely accurate. Google Partners support is not available to all marketers, and has to be earned; the currency is quality of management of our clients’ Google Ads accounts.
There are many more resources which the Launch team use, and too many to mention in detail, but here are a few more the team really love:
Tim Ferris interviewing Seth Godin
Search Engine Journal
Marketing Forum (who recently interviewed Launch’s owner Jaye)
Clix Marketing blog
Simo Ahavan’s blog
Let us know if you’ve got any other great resources you believe digital marketers should be across!