wood desk with a cell phone, axe, hammer, flashlight, laptop, and some other work tools sitting on it

Digital Marketing

3 Essential Digital Marketing Tools for Beginners

Linda Bien | Data Science

WD-40, vise grips, and some duct tape – any man worth his salt can do half the household chores with just those three things.” -Walt Kowalski, Gran Torino

Today, digital marketers have access to literally thousands of tools for their daily tasks. While none of them may be as good as duct tape for household tasks, there are three tools that are equally as powerful and used nearly every day: Google Analytics, Google AdWords & Excel.

For most, these tools are old standbys. Many won’t even think twice about their use. For those just starting out, these tools enable you to get an incredible amount of information, analysis and are largely FREE. Let’s take a close look at what these tools do and how they can help give you valuable insights and achieve your marketing goals.


Google Analytics – Free

Google Analytics is the standard tool for getting useful data and statistics on your website’s traffic. It debuted in November 2005, when Google acquired the company Urchin, and has been a staple for marketers ever since.[1]

According to W3Techs, Google Analytics has 81.9% of the market share for website traffic analysis tools and is used by 50.3% of all websites[2] (and with good reason). Besides being part of the Google conglomerate, it offers a Swiss Army knife of powerful analysis features that digital marketers of all disciplines would find useful.


Key GA Features by Discipline:

  • Tag Management – Google Tag Manager
  • CRO – Content Experiments, In Page Analytics
  • SEO – Queries, Landing Pages, Geographical Summary
  • Reporting – Custom Reports & Dashboards
  • Attribution – Attribution Model Comparison Tool, Data Driven Attribution (Available on Google Premium)

And it’s all FREE.

Of course, Google also offers a premium option that comes with a premium price tag. Google Analytics Premium offers increased data collection, un-sampled reports, advanced attribution modeling tools, and 24/7 support in addition to the current features.

For an in-depth guide on how to set-up and get the most out of GA, check out Google’s in-depth guide


Microsoft Excel – $79.99 (or included in MS Office Suite)


Microsoft Excel, the oldest tool and most well-known of the three, offers uncountable ways to assist in the day-to-day tasks of a digital marketer business. The first version of Excel was introduced in 1985 for Macintosh and 1987 for Windows.[3]

From storing, formatting, analyzing and performing calculations on large amounts of data to creating charts, graphs, reports, and dashboards, Excel is a vital tool that’s the backbone of any analysis.

Google AdWords – Free*

The newest tool of the trio, Google AdWords was launched in 2000. The original idea came from Bill Gross of Idealab and GoTo.com, who had borrowed the idea from the model of the Yellow Pages.[4] A huge chunk of Google’s revenue comes from AdWords. It is far and away Google’s largest revenue source and is well supported for beginners and veterans alike.


The reason AdWords, a PPC tool, makes it into our aspirant toolbox, is that it’s the next step in growing the traffic to your website. After all, without traffic there’s nothing for Google Analytics or Excel to aggregate and analyze.

AdWords can help increase traffic to your site in a more efficient way. It can be used to target specific audience segments and broadcast time sensitive offers. Another benefit is you can set your own budget and you only pay for the traffic you actually get, although it may not be ideal for businesses in highly saturated markets where you may end up paying more per click.

And the fact that AdWords is a Google product that gives you access to the Google Search and Display Network is another thumbs up for AdWords.

Key AdWords Features by Discipline:

  • PPC – Campaign Management & Execution
  • CRO – Campaign Experiments
  • Display Media – Remarketing Campaigns
  • SEO – Keyword Planner for Keyword Research

*Google AdWords is free as a research tool, but running ad campaigns is not.

The Essential Toolbox

Google Analytics, Excel and AdWords. These three tools are everyday essentials in the world of marketing. If you aren’t familiar with all of these, there’s no time like the present to check them out! They are largely free, are widely used and are likely already at your fingertips.

Once you’ve become familiar with these tools, you can feel confident moving on to more advanced tools with more specialization. Check back soon for our follow up articles about intermediate and advanced tools for marketers!



  • [1] http://www.google.com/about/company/history/#2005
  • [2] http://w3techs.com/technologies/overview/traffic_analysis/all
  • [3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Excel#Versions
  • [4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AdWords#History