We recently wrote about the characteristics of the modern marketer. If you haven’t had a chance to download the infographic, it’s a great addition to any office. Developing the skills needed as a modern marketer can be a mixture of natural ability and hard work, but having the right tools is always a help.

There are well over 7000 tools a marketer can choose from. So, while this isn’t an absolute list, they are the ones we think will build the modern marketing skill set of anyone, no matter the experience level.

Collaboration

Collaboration across departments and often across locations has become priority one in most growing companies. As a collaboration of various resources located in numerous offices, my team has had to adopt collaboration tools to work faster and smarter. Some of my favorites right now are free to start with, and give you the flexibility to decide if you want to upgrade to paid levels.

Thanks to Gini Dietrich and her Spin Sucks Community, I was introduced to Slack as a way to ask for help and find ideas. Now I use it in place of texts and emails with team members and clients. I can set up channels that tied to clients, projects or topics. I even learned how to insert a gif or two. It’s easy to get started with and the free version is very usable.

Google Docs are an easy accessible suite of products that is used to create and edit many different types of documents. If you are currency using GMail and not utilizing Docs, you’re missing a huge opportunity especially if you depend on remotely located contributors when developing documents.

It only took my first blue screen of death and inadvertently buying a replacement laptop with less capacity than I needed to make me realize how convenient Office Online and One Drive are. Now I can review and even edit documents whenever I need them. All I need is an internet connection. In addition, I have the flexibility to invite others to edit those documents online.

Coaching

Training and building bench strength is key to successful growth of any company. Luckily there is a plethora of platforms that provide free training tools, but let’s face it, with the digital space constantly reinventing and improving, knowing how to navigate digital marketing today AND tomorrow makes a huge difference.

Since 2012 Hubspot has been on a mission to transform the way marketing professionals are approaching their efforts to generate revenue. Hubspot Academy offers a variety of certification, documentation and training courses. Did I mention that they are free? The various courses are broken down into easily consumed modules that can be tackled at any time.

Google Analytics can give you more data than you know what to do with! Google knows it’s a great deal to understand. So, they offer an Analytics Academy to guide you from beginner to advanced, and of course, they are web-based short modules that can be reviewed according to your schedule.

If you’re new to SEO, need to polish up your knowledge? Moz has a great Beginners Guide to SEO that covers topic as basic as how search engines operate to recommended KPIs. The guide is divided into easily to consume sections that can also be referred to if you’re trying to prove why you need to allocate resources to SEO.

Understanding Data

One of the best ways to share data and make it understandable is to draw a picture. In addition, data visualization can often uncover patterns that could be hiding in the numbers.

Tableau is one of the strongest players in this space and you can even use it for free. You can easily drag and drop data into the system and watch the visuals come to life.

Coursera is a wonderful resource for training from respected institutions. Each course is presented in a textbook-like environment and features videos, projects and quizzes. The course work runs the gamut of arts & humanities, social sciences and yes, data science.

Cognitive Class offers a course in Data Science Fundamentals. The course introduces participants to the world of data science and covers topics such as data compilation, preparation and modeling from basic concepts to advance algorithms.

Voice of the Customer

I can’t stress enough the need to listen to customers. It’s why “Know Your Customer” is the first – and often most-used – Jules Rule. If you’re not ready to go the route of a focus group led by a trained professional, you can still do a little work on your own. It’s not what I think perfect but it gives you a great sense of what your customers are thinking and doing. I have some favorite free tools. Although there are drawbacks to the free options, they do let you develop your research muscle before you start paying for more options.

Survey Monkey lets you design and send out professional looking online surveys. Plus, you can reach customers where they are via email and social. The surveys are easy to create and easy to complete. The free option has some limits (10 questions and 100 responses per survey), but if you’re just starting out, that limit shouldn’t be problematic. If you want other elements, such as skip logic and randomization, you will need to upgrade to the paid plans.

If you’re looking to make your questions stand out a little more, Typeform is a good option for you. Typeform allows you to create your questions so that if feels like you’re having a conversation with your customers rather than just giving them questions to answers. Like Survey Monkey, you have some limitations (10 questions/100 responses) with the free option. Paid options open up the possibility of skip logic and branch questions.

If your questions are basic and you only want to use multiple choice, multi-select or open answer formats, Google Forms is a good option. You can also randomize the answer options, making your results more reliable.

Creating Content

The digital world is changing so quickly, it’ll probably be completely different by the time you get to this point. One thing is for sure. The need to develop good, strong, and relevant content will not change. It will only become more important. Consumers are inundated with information. So, creating the content that fills their need and shows up when they search for answers cannot be over-emphasized.

I’ve been a MarketingProfs member for a few years now. It’s a great resource for honing your content creation skills in addition to other marketing skills. From 10-minute quick takes on specific topics to a host of interactive toolkits and special reports, you’ll find the information needed to be a thoughtful modern marketer. The basic membership is free, but limited. Give the Pro membership level a spin with a 7-day trial, but do yourself a favor and sign up for it when you can take advantage of everything in those seven days.

Lynda.com is a collection of expert-lead video tutorials. The content marketing courses cover topics like developing strategy and setting goals, crafting stories and implementing best practices I highly recommend you give the free trial a spin.

In addition to the Hubspot Academy, Hubspot has great tools you can download for the price of your email. Try the content creation template package or let the Blog Topic Generator do your brainstorming for you. I’m dying to do a blog post on the Five Craziest Marketing Ideas That Were Successful!