Content marketing can be time consuming. There is ideation, content creation, optimisation, amplification, tracking and monitoring. It is a cyclical process that can, and should, be improved upon time after time. Without the proper tools in place to help you handle all the steps in the content marketing process, it can be an uphill battle from the word go. So, why not have all the right tools set up, and in place, so that your content marketing program can have the best chance of success in 2015? With the rise of content marketing set to reach new heights in 2015 (as I predicted in Content Marketing in 2015), now is the time to work out which of the tools below could make your life as a content marketer easier, much more productive, and infinitely more efficient.
I should mention: none of your regular social media networks (like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Reddit and LinkedIn) are covered below. When it comes to content marketing, there are plenty of tools, software platforms, and websites that you can use apart from all the usual social media suspects. It’s these tools that I’ve decided to focus on below.
Content Marketing Tools for Ideation
1. Feedly (www.feedly.com) Read more. Know more. Feedly is one of the best, and most popular, options when it comes to RSS. This particular platform claims to have more than 15 million readers, and over 40 million sources. All you need to do is sign up, and then add your favourite websites or blogs to your feed. Best of all, it takes just three minutes to set up your account. Quick. Easy. Content ideas on demand.
2. Trapit (www.trapit.com) According to their website, Trapit uses search, artificial intelligence, and human curation in a winning combination so that users can find meaningful content across more than 100,000 sources. You can publish content direct from Trapit to your social media networks or your blog, and it is even intuitive, learning from the type of content you post and revealing more relevant search results every time. It also offers analytics and reporting features so that you can determine what type of content is most effective for your audience.
3. Inbound (www.inbound.org) If you consider yourself a modern marketer, then you should be using Inbound. Established in 2012 by Rand Fishkin from Moz, and Dharmesh Shah from Hubspot, Inbound is an online community of inbound marketers. The website is effectively one big discussion board, where users share the best content and new marketing ideas. It is a veritable gold mine for informative, engaging, entertaining content.
4. BizSugar (www.bizsugar.com) This website is similar to Inbound, although it has a slightly broader focus. Small business owners and managers are encouraged to share and vote on (or give a little sugar to!) relevant content. There are often marketing articles posted on this site, and you can filter for marketing related topics. Another gold mine for top quality content.
5. Paper.li (http://paper.li) A nifty little site that enables users to automatically find, publish and promote articles, photos and videos from across the internet. Effectively, it is a content curation platform that publishes more than 200 million articles per day for its users.
6. Alltop (www.alltop.com) This is another content curation service, which refers to itself as an ‘online magazine rack’. Alltop collects the latest news headlines from the biggest and brightest websites and blogs. These headlines are then grouped into ‘collections’ on separate webpages that include the five most recent articles and their first paragraphs. The ‘collections’ cover all sorts of topics, from acting to zoology, and everything in between.
Content Marketing Tools for Images & Graphics
1. Canva (www.canva.com) The perfect graphic and image generator for all those content marketers that are not graphic designers (like me!). Canva is a simple-to-use online design platform, which enables you to create professional quality designs. Canva has hundreds of pre-set design templates (including a whole range of typographic, infographic and pictographic options), as well as a huge stock image library available for general use for the bargain price of $1 per design. Alternatively, you can upload your own images, which enables you to use the platform completely free of charge.
2. PicMonkey (www.picmonkey.com) Quite similar to Canva, PicMonkey is a free graphic generator and image editing online platform. Although, there is a paid, premium version available, aptly called Royale, which starts from US$33 per annum. The paid version provides access to an ad-free editing mode, and addition tools, effects and frames.
3. GIMP (www.gimp.org) While we’re on the topic of all things image-related, its well worth taking a look at GIMP (don’t let the name put you off!). GIMP is a versatile graphics manipulation software package. It enables you to enhance photos, correct distortion, enhance colours, and undertake digital retouching. It is almost like a free (albeit less powerful) version of photoshop.
4. Fotor (www.fotor.com) Yet another online photo editing tool, in much the same vain as three content marketing tools above. But, there is one subtle difference when it comes to Fotor. It proudly proclaims that it is the only online editing tool that gives you access to HDR photographic techniques. If you’re not too sure what HDR techniques entail, it’s where you upload three images: one with a normal exposure, one underexposed and one overexposed. The software then amalgamates all three into the best possible version.
Content Marketing Tools for Writing Copy
1. Google Keyword Planner (https://adwords.google.com.au/KeywordPlanner) While this tool was built specifically for use in creating Google Adwords, it can be invaluable when it comes to creating online content. Using Keyword Planner, you can search for keyword ideas, generate historical statistic reports, and form some idea of how particular keywords might perform in a Google search. Once you know which keywords are performing best within your niche, you can work them into your content, particularly blog posts and webpage content, using them in headings and body text (without keyword stuffing).
2. Desk (http://desk.pm) Awarded by Apple as one of the best apps of 2014, Desk is built specifically for Mac users. Desk focuses on what matters most: writing. It is the ultimate in distraction free writing, and has built in quick publish functionality, integrating seamlessly with WordPress, Blogger, Facebook, and more. It is on the pricey side though at $29.99.
3. Anti-Social (http://anti-social.cc) An amazing little app, Anti-Social makes it easier for writers to both target and block any distracting websites, ensuring distraction free writing and enhanced productivity. At a cost of just $15, Anti-Social can be installed on both Windows and Mac devices.
4. Grammarly (http://www.grammarly.com) Grammarly is an automated proofreader and your personal grammar coach. The free online platform corrects up to 10 times more mistakes than popular word processors. It is able to check for things like faulty parallelism, word order, punctuation, colloquial speech, improper formatting and wordiness. It even checks for plagiarism. Then, it gives you error explanations and correction tips, context-optimized synonym suggestions, and a list of citations to help avoid plagiarism. Nifty.
Content Marketing Tools for Distribution & Amplification
1. Buffer (https://bufferapp.com) Buffer helps you manage and schedule content marketing programs across multiple social media accounts simultaneously. It integrates with Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and is even intuitive enough to determine the best possible times to post content, based on the usage patterns of your specific audience. It even generates a rich array of statistics on how all your social media channels perform. It really does streamline social media management.
2. HootSuite (https://hootsuite.com) This platform shares many of the same features as Buffer, enabling you to manage all your social media channels from the one, easy-to-use dashboard. The output of both Buffer and Hootsuite are fairly similar; it really depends upon which user interface you prefer.
3. MailChimp (http://mailchimp.com) My personal favourite when it comes to email marketing platforms, MailChimp is super easy to master, with its incredibly user-friendly interface. You can design sleek, slick, professional email blasts, easily integrate sign-up through your website and generate a detailed report on every single campaign you create and send. It even offers a whole host of pre-set templates. It’s no wonder than more than 7 million people use Mail Chimp to send approximately 500 million emails each day.
4. PRWeb (www.prweb.com) With a background in PR myself, it should come as no surprise that I’m an advocate of PRWeb – one (if not the) biggest online PR platforms in the world. PRWeb sends your media release to all the major search engines, more than 30,000 journalists and bloggers, and over 25,000 subscribers. All media releases are hosted on their website as well, which receives more than three million visitors each month. PRWeb even provides in-depth reports on how many times your release was read, how many impressions, and what activity it receives. Be warned though: this service is not cheap. Prices start from $99 per release, and go up to $499 per release.
Given the growing length of this particular post, I think it might be time to draw to a close for the time being. Tune in next week, when I cover the best tools for content marketing monitoring and reporting.