The content marketing discipline requires a diverse range of skills. So it should be no surprise that we count on a mix of content marketing tools to keep up.
Practitioners must be highly organized, strategic thinkers. This allows us to plan, research and write concise, compelling content.
We must also possess strong SEO, social media and interpersonal skills, which are useful for promotion. And, finally, we need to be comfortable with metrics so we can track, analyze and report our results.
This resource contains links to my favorite tools, divided into the tasks they support.
Content Marketing Tools (Navigation):
Content Research Tools
Content requires a significant investment of time and resources, so it’s important to put thought into why you are creating it and what you expect it to do for you. This means you need content research tools that can help you explore topics and figure out how to present them in a way that will appeal to your target audience.
Below are some great tools that can help.
All keyword research tools are not created the same. Google’s Keyword Planner is free, but unless you pay for advertising the search volume data is limited. Other tools allow you to run a few searches for free, but the best ones require a subscription and come with other features. Here are a few to start with. Experiment to figure out what works best for you.
- Google’s Keyword Planner
- Moz’s Keyword Explorer
- Keyword Tool
- Answer The Public
Topic Research, Inspiration & Curation:
- BuzzSumo – This is an amazing tool that allows you to see which articles have performed the best for a specific topic.
- Google Autofill – This is more of a trick than it is a tool. Simply start typing your topic into Google and pay attention to the autofill terms provided in the search box and the related searches listed at the bottom of the results page. It’s a great way to get ideas for topics related to the one you have in mind.
- Google Trends – Use this tool to see how your topic has performed over time and to make the most of seasonal trends.
- Feedly – Do you learn from your peers? I do. This tool lets you capture articles from your favorite blogs in one place.
- Pocket – Once you find articles you like, save and categorize them in Pocket.
Topic Idea Generators:
Stumped for blog post ideas? Pop a keyword into one of these idea generators and let the algorithm do its work!
Content Planning Tools
When it comes to planning content, it’s important to keep everyone on the same page. Content planning tools, such as an editorial calendar, allow you to plot out every piece of content. This makes it easier to track progress and address concerns.
While you can do this with a spreadsheet, as content efforts mature most companies find that they need a tool that allows for easier collaboration. Naturally, you will need to choose one that fits your style. Below are a few I have used that are great for this purpose.
Content Writing Tools
Designing compelling content day in and day out is no small feat. Even the best writers can fall prey to grammatical errors, writer’s block or lack of inspiration. Sometimes content writing tools are exactly what you need to shake off the cobwebs and get going again. Here are few that can help.
- Hemingway – This is a great app that can help keep your writing clear, concise and free of passive language. Simply copy and paste a piece of text into the online app and let it highlight your trouble spots.
- Grammarly – Office applications can check your grammar when you are using them, but what about when you’re online? Grammarly can help keep your writing error-free no matter what application you are using.
- Cliche Finder – If you’re getting bored with your own writing, this tool might help.
Your headline is your first (and sometimes only) opportunity to capture a reader’s attention, so it’s worth a little extra effort. These analyzers will help you craft a strong headline and the download from Copyblogger provides ideas for headline formulas that work.
- CoSchedule Headline Analyzer
- Advanced Marketing Institute Headline Analyzer
- Headline Capitalization Tool
- How to Write Magnetic Headlines – download from Copyblogger
Super-Charged Writing Applications:
Most of us can get by with basic writing applications, but for those who want to take it to the next level check out these tools that were designed for serious writers.
Content Imagery Tools
Content performs better when it includes images, so marketers often rely on content imagery tools.
Images break up large blocks of text (making content easier to consume) and they help us share complex ideas. Images are also important for those who wish to encourage social sharing because social posts with visual appeal are more engaging.
There are many websites where you can find and create images. Here are a few of my favorite resources.
Find the perfect image can be a challenge, especially if you’re on a budget. All of the images on these sites are completely free.
For those of us who are artistically challenged (or simply lack fancy software) these sites allow you to create beautiful images and infographics at a very reasonable price.
Content Promotion Tools
Content promotion is a challenge for today’s marketers and it’s easy to get lost in the sea of advice. But there are essentially three things you can do to promote your content:
- Make it easier for people to find it naturally (aka “organically”).
- Nurture, grow and leverage your audience once they engage with you.
- Pay someone for advertising.
There are many different techniques and options within each of these categories and it’s common to use some sort of combination. But since each business is unique there really isn’t just one approach that fits everyone. Consider your options and select those that suit your goals, budget and target audience. Then start small and experiment until you find something that works for you.
Here are a few content promotion tools that can help.
Crafting and publishing engaging content is an important first step, but you also need to make it easy to find and share. Here are a few tools you can employ right on your site.
- Yoast – Simplifies the application of basic search engine optimization (SEO) techniques.
- Click to Tweet – Created by CoSchedule, this plugin lets you highlight tweetable quotes in your blog posts for easy sharing.
- Sumo – One of the best ways to promote your content is to build a list of email subscribers. Sumo offers a suite of tools that helps build your list and drive website traffic.
Social Media Management Tools:
You can breathe life into new content by sharing it with your social network, but sharing it manually and in real time is inefficient. There are hundreds of social media tools that will let you schedule your posts. These are some of my favorites.
Influencer Outreach Tools:
Building and nurturing relationships with people and companies who compliment yours can provide a powerful boost for your business. Relationships can create opportunities for guest posts, mentions, co-produced content and inbound links. This takes time, of course, but it can be well worth the effort. Here are some tools that can help you find people to connect with.
- BuzzSumo – Researching a topic using this tool can help you find a list of relevant articles. The authors alone could be of interest and if you click on the “View Sharers” button you can see who shared each article on Twitter.
- Hunter – Once you create a short list of people you wish to connect with, this tool can help you find their email addresses.
- Quora – Enter your topic on this tool to find related questions and the experts who answer them.
- Twitter Chats (aka “tweet chats”) – These scheduled, topical conversations occur on Twitter and they are open to anyone. They’re fast paced, fun and a great way to meet like-minded people.
All top social media platforms and search engines offer paid advertising that can boost the reach of your content. Other advertising options are available on content discovery platforms like Reddit or Stumble Upon. You can also invest in syndication services such as Outbrain and Taboola, which allow you to promote your content on relevant websites.
Content Analytics Tools
Content analytics tools vary widely in sophistication. They range from simple tools that measure just a few metrics to entire suites that track most anything you can imagine.
The tools you use will depend on the metrics that are important to your business. But keep in mind that different tools measure metrics in different ways. Choose those that utilize methods you’re comfortable with and track your progress over time.
Below are a few of the more common and affordable options.
- Google Analytics
This free tool provides a wealth of information about the characteristics of your website traffic and how that traffic arrived at your site.
- Google Search Console
Formerly referred to as “Google Webmaster Tools,” this tool allows you to monitor your site’s performance in search results.
- Moz Pro
Content and SEO go hand-in-hand because fresh, relevant content is one of the top ranking factors cited by Google. As such, many tools used by SEO experts are also useful for content marketers – especially those that allow you to dig deep into keywords. Moz Pro is one such tool and there are others listed under the “content research” section of this resource.
BuzzSumo allows you to view the success of your content on all the major social media networks. Copy and paste the specific URL directly into the tool to look at your shares one piece of content at a time. Or, input the main URL to see all content from the past year. For additional information on BuzzSumo, please read my post titled “How One Killer Tool Can Transform Your Content Marketing.”
Sumo’s suite of apps can help you improve the performance of your website. It’s “heat map” tool allows you to see how your visitors interact with each page.
This is a bonus tool. It is more expensive than the others I mentioned, but I am including it for those who are ready to go to the next level. Curata captures every piece of content you create and presents it to you on a grid next to your traffic, leads and sales pipeline data. It makes it super easy to track your content and compare results. It also includes attribution functionality that lets you see which content your leads consumed during their buyer’s journey.
I hope this list of content marketing tools was useful for you. As always, I welcome your feedback. If you would like to discuss any of these tools or request an addition, please submit your information below.