If you set out to do a project, you need the tools to finish it. You’ll need different tools based on the size of the project. If you’ve decided to start content marketing, being creative and writing a lot is not enough. You’ll need some key content marketing tools to help you on your build.
If you’re going to build a house for yourself, you’ll need a nail gun. If you’re going to build one for the dog, it would be a cool tool to have, but you don’t need it. This article will outline five tools you’ll need to make your content effective. Otherwise it will be random blog posts that only add to the noise on the web.
Content marketing tools for generating story ideas
The difference between a nice story and a piece of content marketing is the intent. If you can tell a nice story, that’s a wonderful thing, and I encourage you to tell it. But that story is wasted in the context of content marketing if it doesn’t align with a marketing goal.
Once you’ve sorted out your strategy, you’ll need content to achieve your goals. Keyword tools will help by bridging the gap between your strategy and your content idea. SEM Rush, the Wordstream tool, the keyword tools in Google AdWords and others do this.
With any of these tools, you type in a keyword and it shows you data about the phrase. You are looking for keywords that have a high search volume and a low level of difficulty. They won’t be the only ones you target, but they should be the first ones you target.
Another way of generating ideas is to steal them. Using a tool like BuzzSumo can help you find the most shared content around a particular keyword. You type a keyword phrase into the search box on the page, and it will give you the most shared content around that term. It will also show you who is the most influential amongst the people sharing it. Then steal the idea for that content. Rewrite it more comprehensively. Then email a link to your story to every influencer who shared the first idea.
Finally, don’t forget Google Trends and the search giant’s auto-suggestions. They’re both free. They’re easy to use, and a great way of helping you schedule story ideas based on relative search volumes.
Tools for curating content
Writing new stuff yourself all the time is hard. Writing requires sustained concentration and time. People rarely have both on tap. That’s why it makes sense to curate content produced by others. This doesn’t mean stealing other people’s stories. It means finding an article that you think is appropriate to your audience. Then you write a 300 word summary of it and add a link to the original article.
The easiest free tool to help with curation is Google’s news alerts. Setting up a Google news alert is easy, and offers a daily stream of content you can check, read and recommend.
The downside of news alerts is they come from publishers. So you are unlikely to find an undiscovered gem amongst them. The stories you’ll see in a Google News Alert will be things that your audience may have already seen.
There are other, more sophisticated tools for curation. But they don’t seem to have achieved widespread acclaim yet. When they do we’ll report back on how well they work.
Tools for optimising for people and search
Pretty much everyone knows about the Yoast SEO plugin by now. Plenty of other software tools have similar traffic light systems to Yoast. It ‘reads’ your content to let you know if you’re using enough keywords or too many. and what other elements you can add to your on page efforts to make sure your content gets found by search engines.
There is less discussion about optimising for people, but there are good reasons to do it. Google has long said it wants you to think of optimising for people first. Some of the quality indicators Google looks at include grammar, spelling and expression. Free plugins like Grammarly will check your grammar and spelling on the page. We’ve all sneered at spellchecker algorithms in the past. But they work well and are worth paying attention to.
For a more sophisticated check of grammar and usage, try the Hemingway App. You can use a free online version or buy the $20 desktop version. Both check your writing for passive verbs, complex words, unnecessary words and more.
If you’re an experienced and confident writer, the Hemingway App can make your writing bland. If you’re like the rest of it, it will improve everything you write.
Tools for distributing and amplifying content
There are two ways you can get your content in front of people. One is have them find it while they’re searching for information. The other is to tell them it’s there on your site. The easiest and cheapest way to amplify your content is through social media.
But have you tried to wade through posting to Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, etc, every day? It’s dispiriting. And if you want more impact for your content, you need to publish several times daily on each platform. Remembering what you’ve done before becomes a real pain. This is where social media schedulers become invaluable.
We’ve used both Hootsuite and Coschedule. We tend to stick with Coschedule because of the easy-to-see calendar interface. Hootsuite has parallel columns which can be a bit clunky when you’re planning a lot of posts.
There are more sophisticated tools. Meet Edgar will schedule posts for you based on audience data. That can save a lot of time and hassle. It gives you a more scientific way of approaching content amplification. But it’s worth asking how scientific you need your social media to be? If you only have a small number of followers, then paying a bit more attention to building that up may be a better idea.
Tools for lead nurturing
The hardest part of content marketing is trying to help nurture leads. This can be pretty complex sometimes, especially with many B2B sales. Enter marketing automation software. You use it to set up various scenarios which run once a customer does something on your website. You can also use these tools to gather detailed information about that customer. This, in theory, helps you sell more to them.
Different providers target different levels of the market. Eloqua, Marketo and the Adobe marketing cloud tend to pitch themselves at enterprises. Providers like Infusionsoft and HubSpot target smaller to medium enterprises.
Marketing automation is a competitive and ever-evolving field. Most of these tools will also include social media scheduling, SEO and grammar checks and keyword tools.
But they’re all useless without content. And you need the right sort of content for each stage of the sales process to get the most out of them.
Tools for creating content
There are none.
I could be facetious and say something like ‘paper’ or ‘Microsoft Word’. But even then, they don’t make content. If content is the meal, they’re the dinner plate. The only way you will create content is by doing it or hiring someone to do it for you.
So before you invest in any of these other tools, that’s where you’ve got to focus.