As marketing professionals, we all have our eyes glued to deadlines and fingers to our keyboards. Wouldn’t it be awesome if someone took the pains of picking out the best tools that you can use to keep that marketing engine chugging along at top speed without you even lifting a finger? Well, consider it done. Here’s a compilation of my favorite tools and resources to tackle that beast called content marketing.
1. Content Discovery & Curation
Even before you begin to create your own content, it’s important to know what is trending, what your readers are interested in, what you might want to associate your brand with. All of this requires a bare minimum level of reading and research across various mediums – online, print, television, movies, whatever floats your boat. However, leaving content discovery to chance is not the best possible idea. My first go-to for a disciplined approach to discovering content about very specific topics like, say “Local search marketing” or “Google algorithm changes” is to set up a Google Alert for the topic. That way I get in-depth data about very narrow interest areas. For broader content ideas, there’s always Flipboard or Stumbleupon to fall back on. However just amassing a huge trove of content is not enough. You need to be able to pick out relevant content that will work with your users. Scoop.it is a good choice to curate the right kind of content from the piles of content all over the web and publish it across your social media platforms.
2. Content Creation
It’s good to curate and post content created by others. However, developing your own content gives the content the sort of brand flavor that borrowed content created by some other brand or individual simply cannot replicate. Content creation can be in as many forms as there are users. Want to post some stunning images on social media combined with a quote? I especially love the royalty free images, templates and icons from IM Free. They have high-quality images, easily searchable and nicely laid out in categories. Best of all, you’re free to modify and use them for commercial purposes under CC license. On a similar note, if free stock images without the hassle of registration is what you’re looking for, then Pixabay is a good choice. Creating an infographic on your mind? Head to Visual.ly and get creative. While its original claim to fame was infographics, you can also make some great videos and presentations on Visual.ly. Creating an e-book, online magazine or a downloadable document in your own signature style, try using Issuu. I love the ease with which one can use technology to create tailor-made experiences on social media. Want to ensure your fans read your post? Include a scan-able QR code with your post that gives users a small discount on their next purchase or a top up on their existing one. Free QR code generators make the entire process even easier than it sounds. Having trouble creating your own content? There’s always the option of outsourcing it to professionals who will do it for a small fee. Head to 99designs if you’re looking for a new design option for your brand or want to create a one-off advertisement or flier. If writers are what your content team lacks I would recommend the freelance writing talent at WriterAccess to suit any type of writing need.
3. Task Scheduling & Collaboration
The process of content curation, creation, distribution and measurement can turn into a hot mess if not managed smartly. I personally prefer using a project management tool like Basecamp that gets all the various parties involved in the content management process on the same page. Allocating tasks, following up on them and retrieving data become a real breeze with tools like these. A tool I have heard a lot of good things about but not used myself is Percolate. Apparently, it’s a lot like Buffer, Basecamp, Curata and Google Analytics rolled into one. Helps you collaborate with team members, plan, create, curate and publish content all in one place. Plan to check it out soon. If elaborate project management tools are not your style and you like to keep it simple and clean, your best choice is GrexIt. GrexIt is an email plugin that works straight from inside your inbox. You can create labels for your projects and share them with your team over email. Team mates can add notations and comments on a labelled project, discuss completion deadlines, receive automated updates all from within their email inbox. Love this one!
While we all know about the Buffers and HootSuites of the world that help in scheduling content on social media, here I refer to publishing content beyond the familiar confines of social media. An interesting tool for reaching out to influencers and top bloggers to get your content out there is BuzzStream. It not just helps you zero in on who would be the best people to approach to promote / publish a particular piece of content, it also offers you their contact details, pitching ideas and helps in building relationships with the right influencers. If getting links via leading influencers in not enough, you can supplement your outreach and organic publishing program with paid distribution networks like Outbrain or Taboola. These networks normally charge you a PPC rate for publishing your content across leading media and industry websites.
With all that content that you have let loose on the world, you obviously need to know what’s happening to it. Who’s reading it, when, how often, how are they sharing it with all remain mysteries till you bring in the final and most vital aspect of content marketing – analytics. While there are tons of newfangled tools to measure your content performance, the easiest tool of them all is still Google Analytics. It will not just offer you the source of readers, it will also give you detailed information on how they interacted with each piece of data, and whether they took the action that the content piece requested them to do. An interesting tool to track your own standing in terms of content marketing muscle is TrackMaven. Track Maven will not just tell you about the SEO strength, backlinks, traffic data, impact of published content that you create, it also tracks all of that for your top competitors. Very nifty indeed!
I promised you a lowdown of the best tools in the content marketing business and this is it folks. Please keep in mind, this is by no means a “scientifically researched list, where we polled 500 top marketers in the country.” These are tools that I use or have checked out at a personal level and hence can advocate unequivocally. Have any personal favorites you’d like to share? Go on, we’re all ears!
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