A short-list of (65+) content marketing tools for 2016
Whether you’re creating it, consuming it or curating it, content is hot business. With an estimated 27,000,000 (source) pieces of content shared every day it is pretty likely you’re struggling to keep up with either, the flow of links channeled through your social feeds, or the channels available to get your content to your audience.
Although we’ll never be able to read everything that passes our way we can become more efficient at filtering and creating. Through adopting new social practices and using the wealth of tools out there we can start to find and make content that adds real value.
There are thousands of content marketing tools available but you just want the tools that really work, that are really going to make a difference to your days. For this reason I approached people who have made content a big part of their lives, people who are masters of filtering, creating and sharing to find out what is making a difference to them.
With their help I’ve compiled a condensed list of tools for content marketers. This is the content marketers short list if you like. I hope that this helps you choose tools that make life a little bit easier and your content marketing that much more effective.
I’m hugely grateful to the following people for their insights into their content marketing stack.
Content Stack: Quick Sprout; Google Analytics; Buzzsumo
Neil is a Co-founder, entrepreneur and consultant who has helped companies like Amazon, HP and Viacom increase revenues. If you are looking for advice on growing your business he shares his knowledge at neilpatel.com and Quick Sprout.
Content Stack: Pen; Paper; Evernote; Editorial Calendar
Heidi Cohen is President of Riverside Marketing Strategies and has spent her lifetime mastering content. She shares her knowledge and expertise at top conferences and on her website, Heidi Cohen’s actionable marketing guide.
Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré
Content Stack: WordPress; Buffer; Canva; GrowthHackers.com; Product Hunt; SaaS.Community; Nuzzel; SumoMe; Google Analytics; IFTTT; Pocket; Visage
Nichole is a SaaS consultant and moderator at Product Hunt and Growth Hackers. If you follow her on Twitter you’ll know she is a content ninja and at the top of her game. You can also follow her blog at http://nicholeelizabethdemere.com/
Content Stack: Evernote; ContentMarketer.io; Quuu.co
Daniel is a photographer and co-founder of Quuu, a hand-picked content suggestions platform for social media. His passion for content and curation is evident in the quality of the product they’ve produced. You can follow Daniel on Twitter.
Content Stack: Blogo; Hemingway; Grammarly; Buffer; Google Analytics; Quuu; Mailchimp; Edgar (trial); Pocket; Evernote
Matt is a storyteller focused on helping brands, small businesses and startups tell their stories through valuable, actionable content and social media. He has written for Buffer and Quuu and many other clients. You can find Matt at http://www.mattmadecontent.com/
Content Stack: Sprinklr; Buffer; Hashtagify.me; Adobe Analytics; Google Analytics; Tailwind; Iconosquare; Hemingway; Yoast SEO; Radian6; BuzzSumo; Tracker; RivalIQ
Ben is a digital marketer with a strong focus on social media. He’s worked with small startups and Fortune 500s, helping them to master content and social engagement. Ben is a prolific blogger and regularly writes at http://benbrausen.com/
Content Stack: Ghost; Open Site Explorer (MOZ); Google Spreadsheets
Jimmy is a writer, marketer and curator of the Swipe File Newsletter, a newsletter for writers, marketers and creatives. His content has been featured on top blogs and websites and he writes regularly on his own blog at http://www.jimmydaly.com/
James Qualtrough (Article Author)
Content Stack: Feedly; Pocket; Goodbits.io; Mailchimp; Buffer; Quuu; Start a fire; Google Analytics
James is co-founder of Slidecraft, online presentation software that adds context and conversation to presentations. His side projects include Little Walden, a weekly curated newsletter for creatives.
Content Marketing Analytics
Analytics is a critical part of content marketing. The name of the game is iteration and without good information you’re screwed. A 2014 report estimated that $135m would be spent in that year on new digital marketing collateral and this has only increased through 2015 (source). Heidi Cohen has also suggested that on average, companies spend 25% of total marketing budgets on content marketing (source). Here’s some tools that will help you get the most from your content investment.
Crazy Egg — Crazy Egg is heatmap analytics software that gives you the ability to see exactly where on your content your users are engaging with you. This is perfect for optimising content and learning about your audience’s behaviour.
Quick Sprout — Quick Sprout is a tool for improving your content. Learn from your analytics and compare to competitors to find opportunities.
Moz — I’ve been a user and a fan of Moz for years. It provides complete analytics for your online marketing with great tools for analyzing content. Optimise and analyse content for social and SEO mastery.
KISSmetrics — This is an advanced analytics tool starting at $200 per month. KissMetrics helps with understanding user journeys and optimising conversion funnels.
Sprout Social — Sprout social is a social analytics and reporting tool. The site has beautiful graphics and provides a great snapshot of your social profiles and performances including trends.
Mixpanel — An advanced mobile and web analytics platform with a free option for lower traffic sites.
Buzzsumo — Analyse and compare your content with competitors and find out what content is working for any topics. A great tool for identifying people active and influencing in your industry.
Google Analytics / Search Console — Google’s free analytics tool is a great starting point and provides basic information out of the box. It can also be configured for more detailed information. This is often used by other tools for more detailed or specific metric reporting. Search Console is the old Webmaster Tools and provides useful information on site performance, search performance and errors.
RivalIQ — An analytics tools that helps you increase your performance by monitoring and benchmarking competitor activity and performance.
Iconosquare — An analytics tool for Instagram — you can monitor, comment and get detailed reports amongst other features.
Audio for Content Marketing
Podcasting is a great way to build an audience if you’ve got radio charisma. It’s a good way to meet interesting people for interviews and I’d imagine a very fulfilling content platform. The following tools have been recommended by podcasters and are great places to get started.
Audacity — Audacity is a free downloadable audio recorder and editor popular with podcasters.
Soundcloud — A place for uploading, recording and sharing audio content and great for podcasters or musicians.
Auphonic — A post production service used to give your audio a professional finish.
Garageband — The audio recorder and editor that ships with Macs. Great as a starting point and used by many established podcasters too.
Content Discovery & Curation
When it comes to content discovery there‘s a never ending number of sites that curate or share amazing posts, images and videos. Instead I’ve highlighted some tools that help make the job easier along with some of my favourite resources. It’s not just content creation. A big part of any content marketing role is curation — finding great content to share. To give you an idea of how content marketers split their focus, on average, content marketers are dividing their content into three areas: (61%) created, (27%) curated, (12%) syndicated (source).
Feedly — Have all your feeds in one place to quickly and efficiently follow numerous blogs and websites. A great way to stay on top of other people’s content and find great content to share.
Pocket — Pocket is a great way to save articles to read later. It’s a great way to avoid the distraction that content can so often provide. Just save it for reading later.
Alltop — Find the top posts and news from around the word on any topic. A great resource for content discovery and finding industry influencers.
Reddit — User generated links and conversations around any topic imaginable. This community site can be a great source of content and if you get into the community a great place to share your content as well.
Hacker News — User generated news mainly from the tech world. Another hugely popular place to find and share content.
Growth Hacker — Growth Hacker is a growing community of growth hackers from around the world sharing and commenting on marketing and growth content from around the web.
Product Hunt — If you’re looking for the latest products and tech then Product Hunt is a good site to follow. Everyday new sites are listed and voted on by the community. It’s a great place to look for new and exciting tools and software.
SaaS.Community — A community for SaaS enthusiasts containing the latest marketing and growth news.
Nuzzle — Nuzzle is a social tool that helps you see the top news shared by your friends and network. Explore other people’s feeds to find content from your industry.
Curata — Curata is a content marketing platform providing an end-to-end solution from curation to sharing and analytics. This is great when you need to scale your content marketing to the next level.
Flipboard — Flipboard is a social magazine that you can create by following the feeds and content that matter to you most. You can also create publications for sharing content.
Hashtagify — An advanced hashtag search engine to find who is talking about the content that matters to you most. Find influencers and trending topics.
Issuu — Issuu is a digital publishing platform with a huge catalogue of content covering everything you can imagine. It’s a great source of inspiration and again a place for sharing your content in a different format.
Stumbleupon — Find and recommend content with this advanced bookmarking tool.
NewsCred — This is not for small business or individuals unless you have deep pockets. This is used by organisations serious about their investment in content marketing and starts from $3.5k per month. If you’re considering this you’re doing pretty well.
Content Marketing Conversion & Leads
If you’re producing content for a business or for your own brand then it is pretty likely you’ll have an end goal. This may be sign ups, it may be sales or it may be followers. Whatever your goals you’re going to need to understand where your successful conversions are coming from and how well your funnel is performing.
SumoMe — SumoMe is a suite of tools to help content marketers convert their website traffic more effectively. There is a free version to get started with as well.
Unbounce — Quickly build and test effective landing pages with Unbounce. Great for when you are trying to drive specific actions from your content marketing or sell content off the back of content.
ContentMarketer.io — ContentMarketer.io is an influencer outreach platform that helps you share content with key individuals through email and Twitter.
Optimizely — Similar to Unbounce, Optimizely helps you launch and test web and mobile experiences to get the best performance.
Image Creation and Editing for Content Marketing
Images can bring simple posts to life and make a huge difference to your engagement levels. For example, it is estimated that simply adding an image to a tweet can increase retweets by 35% (source). Here’s some tools to help you do this quickly and effectively.
Adobe Photoshop — Adobe Photoshop is the industry standard image editing software. It’s an advanced tool available as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud.
Pablo — Pablo is a free tool by Buffer that makes creating quick, engaging images a breeze.
Canva — Canva is an image and graphic design tool that can be used for creating all manner of digital content.
Visage — Visage is a design tool that makes on-brand content creation simple.
Curation is extremely popular and a great way to save your audience time and make the most of the great content you spend time finding and reading. This is something I do as a side project with my Little Walden Newsletter. There are some great services out there that take much of the hassle away leaving you to focus on finding great content.
Goodbits — Goodbits allows you to quickly curate the content you find into a newsletter. This can be a great way to build and engage your audience. It can be standalone or integrate with your chosen mail platform like Mailchimp.
Revue — Revue is an alternative to Goodbits and provides a simple way to set up and manage a curated newsletter.
Email & Newsletters for Content Sharing
Even if you’re not curating content emails can pay a huge part in your content strategy. Building a solid database of opted in subscribers provides a great distribution channel for good quality content.
Mailchimp — Mailchimp is a perfect for pay-as-you-go newsletters. You can also set up RSS driven campaigns, automated campaigns and receive detailed analytics from your mailings.
Campaign Monitor —Another email marketing platform that helps you create effective newsletters to promote your content marketing.
Content Planning and Idea Generation
To give your strategy the best chance of success and to ensure the effort you are putting into producing and sharing content planning is an absolute must. From editorial calendars to individual content plans it will make all the difference and take the pressure off trying to come up with content ideas on the fly.
Notepad and Paper — Nothing beats pen and paper when it comes to sketching out ideas and planning your content. Picking the notepad and pen that works best for you is as important as choosing your pants and socks in the morning. You know when it feels right.
Post-it Notes — For more complex content you’ll need to take your planning to a new level and Post-it notes are a great way to scope out content, re-order and build a clear outline for the work at hand.
There are only so many hours in the day and whilst engaging with people directly is important, some tasks can and should be automated. Which tasks those are will be different depending on your strategy or business but the following tools will help you find solutions to speed up your workflow and save you hours everyday.
Buffer — Buffer takes the hassle out of scheduling your social posts. Set the most effective times to post and add content to your queue. Buffer does the rest.
Quuu — Quuu is a relatively new service that curates content to your Buffer queue. Links are all manually curated by the Quuu team and their army of Quuurators. You can also submit your content to the team. If it’s quuurated you’ll potentially see you content shared by hundreds of users.
Edgar — Recycle your social posts and get more mileage from your social posts. Automate your scheduling and choose what content gets shown at what times.
Content Marketing Paid Promotion
Just producing great content isn’t enough. Once you’ve shared it with you networks, where next? Well, paid channels is one option. It’s worth testing different channels and seeing what works for different content or for different industries. Below are just a few to get you started.
Outbrain — Outbrain is a way of getting your content in front of a much bigger audience through their content delivery network which includes sites like CNN, Sky News, The Daily Telegraph, Le Monde.
Facebook — Facebooks ads and targeting is a great way to extend the reach of your content. Drill down to devise your target audience and promote your content with the Facebook pay-per-click model.
Twitter — Twitter Ads allow you to reach out with interesting targeting options. You can target followers of particular users allowing you to build very targeted audience lists.
Stumbleupon — Reach a new audience through Stumbleupon — a platform for social content discovery.
Social Management & Sharing
Social management is all about making the most of your own time and resources. There are great tools out there that will make the life of a content marketer much easier. These are bread and butter tools.
Hootsuite — Hootsuite is a great way to manage all your social profiles from one place. Stay on top of your content sharing, retweets and mentions from all your accounts without having to log in and out.
Buffer — Buffer is a great tool for sharing your content across multiple platforms. You can schedule posts on a number of your profiles and see analytics all from one log in.
Bitly — a great tool for shortening links. Particularly useful when you are limited by characters. Although many systems have their own shortening service using Bitly means you can manage all your links from one platform.
Tailwind — A social management platform for Pinterest and Instagram. This is a great tool for anyone with images at the heart of their content strategy.
Radian6 — This is a complete social monitoring platform that allows you to monitor, track and respond across a wide range of platforms. Linked to Salesforce this is another enterprise level product.
Productivity and time management for Content Marketing
Staying on top of workflow and being disciplined is very important. Content creation, curation and consumption can quickly take over and hours can disappear. Don’t be a hero — get help from a tool that works for you. Try different ones and pick the one that slots into your way of working and keeps you on track. Sometimes it’s the simple things that work best.
Workflowy — Workflowy is a simple task list tool. It is a super clean interface that lets you make lists, take notes and stay organised.
Evernote — Evernote made a number of our content experts’ lists. Evernote has grown to become a massive product with a large number of features but describes itself as a place to collect ideas and write meaningful words.
Trello — A great way to keep track of everything and collaborate with others. Make lists, plan content and keep track of workflows.
Video is big business. Facebook and Twitter have both invested heavily in this area in 2015 with video ads, autoplay in feeds and a rising number of live video or streaming apps coming to market. It was also estimated that video accounts for 50% of all mobile traffic (source) so it is clearly an important area for content marketing.
Wistia — Wistia is video hosting for businesses. I see Wistia used more and more as an alternative to YouTube and Vimeo. It’s great if you want to get your website to rank rather than Youtube and provides detailed video analytics.
YouTube — Free to share videos and millions of page-views everyday. YouTube is a great place to share your content if you can build a community or audience for your channels.
Vimeo — High quality video sharing with paid and free plans for users. Has the benefit of no ads running in content if you’re looking for a clean user experience.
Camtasia — Screen recording software for recording and editing your webinars, screen-shares and more.
Webinars, Broadcasting and Live streaming for Content Marketing
Google Hangouts — Hangouts are a great way to broadcast yourself and your content to an audience. You can also record Hangouts making even more great content for you to share.
Periscope — One of the hot apps of 2015 was Periscope. Live streaming and broadcasting makes real-time content creation and sharing more accessible than ever and Periscope certainly grabbed a big share of this market. For a great example of somebody sharing content (Their knowledge and experience) check out Dan Martell.
Presentations are sometimes forgotten about in content marketing outside the business world but they can be a hugely engaging and effective channel. Forget the old PowerPoints you remember from school, presentations can be much more engaging and interactive when effectively created and shared online.
Slideshare — Slideshare is now owned by LinkedIn and provides a great place to upload your PowerPoint presentations. Slideshare has a massive number of monthly visitors (60m+ per month) and a huge archive of presentations.
Prezi — Prezi grabbed attention when it came out for it’s novel canvas approach to presentations rather than the traditional slides. When done well, Prezi can look extremely good and be a nice way to share content.
Slidecraft — Slidecraft is only at beta but provides a simple way to create presentations online with a big content twist. Add video, images and PDFs to your presentations by just dragging and dropping and add detailed context to every slide for your online audience. Sign up for beta access here.
(Disclaimer: I am co-founder of Slidecraft so I have an understandable bias :-) )
Haiku Deck — Haiku Deck started as an iPad app but has grown rapidly and is now a widely used tool for presentation creation and sharing.
As one of our oldest arts, writing is often neglected or forgotten and put in the shadow of ‘sexier’ mediums like video and images. But it’s hugely important and perhaps more so now than ever before. This is a saturated marketplace, there are lots of high quality content being produced and it will be content that can inform, educate and entertain. It will be the content that can move people that will stand out above the crowd.
Medium — Your probably reading this on Medium — it’s great. Nice clean way to write and share content. Also a great place to look for inspiration.
Hemingway — Hemingway is new to me but was recommended by a number of people in researching this article. It helps you write better articles by offering suggestions and improvements as you type. I’ll certainly be trying this in future.
Grammarly — Similar to Hemingway, Grammarly finds and corrects up to 10x more errors than a standard word processor.
Tumblr — Not just a favourite resource for cat gifs but a great place for writers and content marketers to share writing, images, video and more.
Wordpress — The webs most popular blog and CMS. This is a great way to get started with blogging and content marketing if you haven’t already. There are two options — hosted or self-hosted. Depending on your technical experience or requirements you can choose.
Ghost — Ghost is a blogging platform designed to focus on great content. No complicated CMS just clean beautiful online publications.
Blogo — Manage multiple blogs from a single platform. Currently integrates with Wordpress but Tumblr and Ghost integrations are in development.
Surveys can be a great source of unique, original and timely content. Used correctly and with the right questions asked, they can provide content for numerous posts, whitepapers, images, videos and more.
Surveygizmo — Surveygizmo offers a comprehensive platform for online research projects and surveys. This would fit the requirements of anyone serious about running surveys online.
Survey Monkey — With a free plan, survey Monkey offers a quick and accessible tool for quick surveys online with advanced features if you need them.
Typeform — Typeform is a very versatile product that can be used for landing pages, surveys and more. It is easy to use, there is a free version and it looks great.
There are thousands of great tools out there so please share any great tips in the comments below. I will have missed off tools that will be a part of your content stack so please share them along with why they make your life easier as a content marketer.
About the author — James Qualtrough is co founder of Slidecraft, online presentation software that adds context and conversation to presentations. His side projects include Little Walden, a weekly newsletter for creatives and Timecheck.in, beacon-based timing solutions for events.
Images on this post come from the awesome Unsplash.