Build Your Automated Inbound Marketing System Using Free Tools

The ability to automate is very powerful and has been on the forefront of business and industry growth since the dawn of the industrial age. Technology and software have given us the ability to automate repetitive tasks without having to hire employees. Because these things are so widely available, the playing field has been leveled allowing smaller businesses to effectively compete with the bigger players. This is where inbound marketing and marketing automation intersect.

The big benefit of marketing automation for small-medium businesses is that it enables you to set up scalable processes largely on autopilot designed to generate new business and to nurture relationships with your existing customers.

Why aren’t all small businesses automating their inbound marketing?

Not to put too fine a point on it but that sh!te can be expensive! If you can afford it then yes, Hubspot, Marketo and the like is exactly where you should start. They have great products. Evans Design has our Hubspot inbound marketing certification and we currently have several clients whose inbound and outbound marketing efforts we manage using the Hubspot platform.

In terms of closed-loop analytics, resources and usability, Hubspot is great BUT it can cost you well over $2,000 a month to get started and it only goes up from there. That’s a hefty price tag for most small businesses that are also staring at the learning curve.

Small business owners have a reputation for identifying problems and solving those problems themselves. The ‘ol bootstrap method of getting it done. Unless you have knowledge in web and marketing technology though, you probably aren’t aware that you can build your own marketing automation suite very inexpensively.

The number one problem facing any business owner is getting and keeping customers and in this inbound marketing book we’re going to show you a step-by-step way to build your own automated inbound marketing system using free and low cost tools.

Part 1: Building an Inbound Marketing Infrastructure in 4 Steps

Step 1: Build a Mobile First Website

Your first priority is building a mobile-first website. Why? Because everyone has and uses a smart phone and the ways in which they use those devices is only going to increase. In short, smart phone screens are your future.

Depending on what industry you are in or what kind of business you are running, you can think of your website as the virtual equivalent of a brick and mortar store or maybe as your greatest salesman or a customer factory.

PRO TIP: The domain name and the hosting account should be owned and controlled by the company.

No matter how you see it, your website and your domain name are business assets that you should own outright. If you are just getting started and need guidance, contact us and we’ll help you through that process for free and with no obligations from you.

Unless you have a great reason not to, you should absolutely build your website with WordPress which is a free and extremely user friendly content management system (CMS). Don’t fall for the myth that because it is free that it isn’t worth using.

“When you use WordPress you’ll be in the company of brands like Facebook, TechCrunch, Sony, MTV, Bloomberg, BBC America, and Beyonce to name a few.”

A CMS is the structure and framework of your website, or your salesman’s skeleton if we’re sticking to our metaphor. WordPress is a free, open-source CMS used by 59% of all websites using a CMS – which translates into 29% of all websites. If you can use Microsoft Word you can use WordPress.

WordPress’ popularity also means that there is a vast library of resources and a vast talent pool of developers and contributors. The talent and support in the WordPress community is the secret sauce. The fact that everyone – including web hosting companies – have deep integrations with WordPress. Installation, updates, backups, security, plug-ins and extensions are all either automated or only require pushing a button.

If you have the budget, then spend a little bit to have a WordPress developer set this up for you. The initial setup can be time consuming so this might be a good place to outsource. How you choose to spend the time you save can give you a high ROI.

If you have more time than money and want to handle this yourself, then do yourself a favor and buy a premium WordPress theme. Given the choice, we build all of our websites on the Avada theme: It is the top selling theme on Theme Forest ( and the only theme that Theme Fusion works on. For $60 you can have premium functionality, stability and continued support into the foreseeable future.

We believe in it so much we have put together an online course detailing exactly how to build a website like this one. This course includes video and an interactive PDF that will walk you through exactly how to build a site like this one. Sign Up to stay informed.

Step 1 Costs: $78 – $2,090

  • Domain Name: Expect to pay $30 per year (or less in some cases) for your domain name.
  • Hosting: Range from $48 – $500 per year. (Sign up for at least one year.)
  • WordPress CMS: $0
  • WordPress Theme: $60 Avada Premium WordPress Theme
  • WordPress Design & Customization: $0 – $1,500

Related: Learn more about what impacts website design cost.

Step 2: Set Up Performance Tracking

I worked for a guy once that said “If you can be accurate to within a thousandth of an inch, why wouldn’t you be?” That doesn’t exactly translate into digital marketing because it is as much art as it is science but it is built on software and software is precise. This precision and repeatability mean that you can measure and analyze every step of the customer journey. And when you can measure and analyze it, you can manage and improve it.

As in Step 1, if you have the budget, Hubspot’s closed-loop analytics is pretty great and you get enterprise level data. It is called ‘closed-loop’ analytics because it ties the data to a specific person, and if used correctly, that makes the data highly actionable. That’s Hubspot’s secret sauce and that sauce is pricey.

Thankfully you don’t need enterprise level to be successful. A common pitfall is to become paralyzed with data early on. This method will help you simplify the data so you can track key metrics that you can then build on and customize as you get better and grow.

Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools are free and very easy to install. If you did yourself that favor we mentioned earlier and purchased the Avada Premium WordPress theme, there is a place inside the theme options for you to paste the tracking code. That’s it for installing.

While Google Analytics is great and will give you more information than you need, you have to do a lot of looking and sorting to get to your actionable data. There are many free and premium plugins in the WordPress library that simplify, report on, and present the data as part of your dashboard inside your site’s WordPress admin area. JetPack and Monster Insights are two free plugins that we find very useful and reliable for general tracking.

Because we recommend a holistic approach to inbound marketing, social media should play a significant part in your digital plan. Facebook should be the entire social strategy conversation for a lot of companies but because of Facebook’s Pixel and the data you can get from using it, Facebook should be a serious part of every company’s social strategy.

PRO TIP: You should install Facebook’s Pixel as soon as possible regardless of your intent to advertise on Facebook. The longer it is installed on your site the more data Facebook can put together about your site’s visitors which means when (not if) you advertise on Face