Content marketing toolboxWhenever you go searching for “essential content marketing tools” you’ll find streams of suggestions, with articles typically recommending around 50 pieces of software. “Surely they can’t all be ‘essential’?” you’d be forgiven for thinking.

Well, there are lots of handy tools out there – nearly all of which you could find a use for – but we think it’s more worthwhile stopping at ten recommendations.

However, you may still be at a stage whereby you’re wondering if using content marketing tools will be of any benefit to you. Perhaps you’re a more modest operation, or have only just got going on the content marketing trail? Be in no doubt, though, there’s a tool out there for everyone.

While that sentence might sound like the least romantic dating website tagline you’ve ever heard, it’s true in the sphere of content marketing.

So, how can content marketing tools benefit you?

• Allow you to capture data on your customers’ preferences, which should make for more relevant content

• Help you to standardise your content, ensuring you brand voice and style remain consistent

• Data can be collected and brought together from multiple sources, allowing you to get a clearer view of your customer

• Increase engagement and shares as content will be more useful and targeted

• Decrease marketing campaign costs as your content will be hitting the mark more often than not, eliminating wasted posts

If you’ve been suitably convinced that, yes, content marketing tools are clearly essential, you’ll probably be keen to know where to start.

Here are ten tools that we use on a regular basis:

1. Buffer – Whether you’re signed up to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter – or all three – Buffer is your go-to tool for scheduling your posts to ensure that you never forget to get them out into the world at optimum times. In addition, it also works out what content is performing best by RTs, favourites and reach, allowing you to see what posts are proving most effective – which you can then take into the next month.

2. BuzzSumo – There will always be a place in marketing for endorsement, as social media has proved. Today, it’s less about getting your products endorsed (although that’s quite handy, too) but having your useful and interesting content given the thumbs up by influencers in your industry. BuzzSumo allows you to monitor popular content by topic and finds the influencers sharing it. Let the flattery commence…

3. Canva – If you’re a small business on a strict budget, perhaps you haven’t got the scope to hire a designer. If so, Canva will likely become your immediate best friend. That’s because it’s so accessible, meaning even non-designers will easily be able to create shareable graphics that can be tailored to all platforms.

4. Crowdfire – While we’d never suggest buying followers, there’s definitely some value in gaining more followers through the strategy of following and unfollowing. It might sound a bit tit for tat, but it really will ensure you’re connecting with engaged customers. Crowdfire also compiles a list of your competitors’ most active followers on Twitter, which is handy for growing a targeted following.

5. Screaming Frog SEO Spider – As soon as you delve into the world of SEO, things start to get a little technical. However, Screaming Frog lets you see the wood for the trees, although it’s fair to say that you’ll need to be able to correctly interpret what it is trying to tell you. That’s because the Spider tool crawls the websites you specify, examining the URLs for common SEO issues, which you will then need to put right.

6. Moz – Moz is regarded as one of the best SEO tools on the market and we’re not prepared to argue against those that say as much. It has picked up such a reputation because it effectively brings together the best SEO tools under one roof. With the data available via Moz, you’ll have no excuse not to have a fully optimised website ready to be found by your target audience.

7. Ahrefs – If you have plans to make your way up the search engine rankings, you’d better make sure your website is armed with a hefty number of backlinks. After all, search engines often use the number of backlinks that a website can boast as one of the most important factors for determining which page to place you on. Ahrefs will show you how many links you have, from how many IPs, linking to which pages with which anchor text.

8. SEMrush – While keywords perhaps don’t have the clout they once did, they still play a crucial role in driving traffic to your site. SEMrush will help you find the powerful keywords of the moment, allowing you write content with these in mind.

9. Pulse – Content marketing is – or should be – an everyday thing. As such, ideas can be hard to come by even for the most creative of thinkers (everyone has an off day, after all). Thankfully, Pulse can act as the ladder when your writers hit a wall by exposing them to articles written by industry experts.

10. Google Calendar – This might be the most rudimentary recommendation on our list, but it shouldn’t be understated. Every marketing team should have a content strategy and Google Calendar is a way you can start to schedule what posts are going to be written and when, making for a clear path to your goals.

What have we missed? We really are spoilt for choice when it comes to content marketing tools, aren’t we…

Ben Hollom

August 12, 2015