How do you discern which content marketing tools will positively impact your bottom line versus which ones are a waste of resources? There are something like 8,000 martech solutions available today to help marketers work smarter. However, psychology research tells us that we often make less rational decisions and are less satisfied with our choices when presented with too many options. So how can you choose wisely?
The answer to that question depends on the size of your marketing operation, your industry, and your team’s priorities. However, there are a few key tools that are critical to the success of any content marketing operation.
The Content Marketing Tool Trifecta
Whether you’re ready to level-up your tech stack or are just beginning to scale your content marketing effort, there are a few solutions every modern marketer needs in his or her toolbelt: an SEO tool, an editorial planning tool, and a social media tool.
Each of these three tools plays an essential part in helping you create and distribute content that resonates with your audience and show ROI for all your effort. Here’s how:
SEO tools: Creating content that garners traffic requires planning content topics that naturally incorporate the keywords your audience is already searching. SEO tools are essential for creating and optimizing content that drives qualified traffic.
Editorial planning tools: Successful content marketing programs require careful planning. Editorial planning tools help marketers think strategically. The right planning tool will help your team stay focused on the big picture. That way you can avoid getting bogged down in the day-to-day of content creation.
Social management tools: The best marketers treat social media like a focus group for their content. The engagement your content garners on social media can illuminate what resonates with your audience and drive your choices on what messages and formats to scale. Social management tools make distributing your content across social platforms seamless. And many also provide insights into what is working for your audience.
Even just paring down to these three types of solutions leaves hundreds of options for marketers to sort through. Explore the options below for popular tools for budgets of all sizes to get started.
SEO and Keyword Research Tools
SEO tools help marketers get the right eyes on their content. Keyword research, tracking, and planning tools should be a part of any modern marketer’s content creation effort.
Tools like SEMrush allow users to perform a variety of SEO management activities. Key functionality to look for in your SEO tool includes on-site SEO, keyword management, and content optimization.
SEMrush will run you $99 per month for the “pro version,” but different pricing options are available depending on which features you want to include. They’ll even let you test drive the product free for 7 days.
Other similar top-rated SEO tools include:
Do it on the cheap:
If you’re not ready to take the plunge for a full-fledged SEO tool, there are plenty of free tools to structure and plan your content in a way that will help your audience find it.
Keep in mind that you might not be able to monitor your site’s SEO or track your rank for keyword placement overtime to make strategic decisions. But several great free options exist to help you make small tweaks to your content to improve its visibility in search.
Moz and SEMrush both offer free tools in addition to the paid versions mentioned above. Moz’s Keyword Explorer and SEMrush’s Keyword Magic Tool allow users to make a limited number of queries monthly to identify the right keywords to pair with content ideas to get your content ranking higher in search engine results.
Here you can see the kind of information a quick search will yield on Moz’s Keyword Explorer. Savvy marketers can use the tool to learn more about the popularity of keywords associated with the content topic they want to write about.
Editorial Planning Tool
Whether your business is ready for a sophisticated content marketing workflow tool or is navigating how to build its first editorial calendar, editorial management of some kind is a must-have for your content marketing tools tech stack.
For enterprise-level content marketing teams, tools like Kapost and Skyword offer a one-stop shop to manage the planning, creation, and strategic distribution of all of your content. These kinds of content marketing tools also allow marketers to integrate and manage other aligned marketing programs like paid promotional campaigns.
Take a peek at Kapost’s user interface and functionality.
Unfortunately, these tools are likely outside of the price range of small or even some medium-sized marketing organizations.
Do it on the cheap:
There are many ways to manage your editorial process without enterprise-level software, including the ol’ reliable Excel or Google Sheets. Dozens of free editorial templates exist online to get your initial planning efforts organized.
One good option is Hubspot’s free excel sheet template.
Templates like this one force your team to think strategically about how your topic or idea fits into your broader marketing goals and objectives. The template includes sections to plan for keywords (remember to use the tools mentioned in the SEO section to do your research before selecting these!), target audiences, and CTAs for each post.
Social Media Management Tool
An active and transparent social media presence is critical for businesses today. In fact, 73% of marketers cite social as an effective strategy, particularly for content distribution. A social media management tool can take your distribution strategy to the next level. It’s never too late to start promoting new content to the right audiences.
Social media management tools don’t have to break the bank. Tools like Sprout Social and the paid version of Hootsuite start at around $99 per month. These tools allow users to easily schedule posts and monitor trends in engagement.
Like the example below from Sprout Social, your paid social tool should offer self-generated reporting so you can see what’s resonating with your audience in real time.
Other similar options include:
Do it on the cheap:
If a more sophisticated tool for social scheduling and management isn’t in the cards for your marketing team this year, Hootsuite offers free and inexpensive options for planning content distribution in advance.
While you’ll miss out on functionality in the reporting department, if you have a limited number of social networks and users, this can be a great way to start growing your social program.
Match Your Tools to Your Team
Whether you’re at the beginning stages of building out your content marketing operation or are looking for content marketing tools that will take your efforts to the next level, be sure that an SEO tool, editorial planning tool, and social media management tool are in your tech stack.
Remember, none of these tools will lead you to success without a strong, documented content marketing plan. Download our eBook, Build Your Content Marketing Plan: A 10-Step Guide.