What Makes a Great Content Marketing Tool?
Do a Google search for “content marketing tool”. On the first result page, you will see several top lists of the best free and paid content marketing tools on the market.
The most exhaustive list is offered by Pawan Deshpande and called the Ultimate Content Marketing Tools List. It is accompanied by the intimidating infographic featured below, highlighting the challenges involved in doing content marketing for a company – both B2B and B2C (though, I would argue, that there really is only B2C, since we are ultimately not marketing to machines or systems, but to people in any event).
The graphic goes on to arrange the logos of the software companies who cater to the challenges involved in marketing through content. The question, then, given the abundance of offers on display, is: what makes a truly great content marketing tool? Or rather: Why does a Content Marketer eventually decide to use a tool? What is the thinking behind his ultimate commitment to your tool as part of his workflow?
Thus do not look for another exhaustive rundown of the best content marketing tools here (or, more broadly, online marketing tools, as many also cover the basics of offpage SEO, onpage SEO, online PR, inbound marketing and so on). Instead let’s use this space to discuss why we choose the tools we use to improve our content marketing measures – extrapolated from the experiences of the linkbird content marketing team – straight from the marketing trenches. But do feel free to throw in your own thoughts below in the comment section as to which particular qualities define a helpful, resourceful and ultimately enjoyable content marketing tool for you!
1. Key Content Marketing Workflow Steps
As a content marketer working at a company which develops and distributes a cloud-based software to execute some key content marketing workflows, I’ve always been caught in the double bind of doing content marketing about a) the need for content marketing to increase online visibility and b) the suggestion to do it best with linkbird.
What most people forget about in “content marketing” is the marketing part, as pointed out by Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of Vaynermedia, in his spin on an oft-cited line: “Content is king, but marketing is queen and runs the househould.” In any event, content marketing – with its varyingly intense connections to other marketing techniques like SEO management (building and managing links to your website content) and Online PR (monitoring and reacting to mentions of your brand/content on the internet) – is becoming ubiquitous as a solution for companies to achieve a sustainable online marketing ROI.
If you would ask me to define content marketing, I would offer two approaches to the discipline, depending on the emphasis we place on the two words which make up the term:
Step #1: CONTENT Marketing (Creation)
- Research: Keywords, Topics, Relevance: What’s out there, what’s my focus?
- Selection: Content Formats, Platforms: Which media should transport the topic?
- Creation: Crafting, Revising, Repurposing: How to present ideas in what space?
Step #2: Content MARKETING (Seeding)
- Research: Websites, Blogs, Forums: Where is my topic discusses?
- Selection: Social, E-Mail, Online PR: How can I inform my audience?
- Seeding: Spreading, Repackaging on Loop: How can I keep getting attention?
So content marketing does not only entail producing content, but also marketing that content to your audience the best way possible. But, as John Munsell, CEO of buzzuka.com, would remind me: “If content is king, conversion is queen.” Hence, the following, even bigger challenge a content marketer faces is analyzing and evaluating the results. And then, if possible, to repeat the success of a content campaign without also repeating the mistakes.
Step #3: Analyze the Content Marketing Results
- Social Signals: Tweets, Likes, Shares: Who likes my stuff, who has „klout“?
- Traffic: Unique Views, Ups and Downs: How many people see my content?
- Rankings: Top-Rankings, Ups and Downs: Do I rank well for my keywords?
- Conversions: Content Leads, Free Trials: How many leads did I generate?
Step #4: Go back to #1 and start again…
- Research: Industry blogs, magazines: What hot topic is relevant for us?
- and so on…
So it becomes a cycle. A process with no end point. You may execute content marketing in distinct campaigns, such as seasonal content or product-based content. But the content you produce for your online channels (company website, social media profiles etc.) remains online and keeps drawing in new leads. And to achieve this, the content needs to be updated and shared frequently. Hence the talk of content marketing as marathons, rather than sprints.
2. Pain Points in Doing Content Marketing
If those are the steps integral to any successful content marketing campaign, we can now identify the pain points in going about this process. To me, they would be, in no particular order:
- Prioritizing the right things
- Efficient use of time
- Efficient use of manpower
- Automatizing processes
- Executing bulk actions
- Scheduling automatic actions
- Finding and evaluating relevant data quickly
- Reducing distractions
- Using brainpower only for creation
- Tracking content success
There is at least one tool for each of these challenges on the market (just check the infographic above). But if you boil it down to the most elemental demand, it would be something like: a more efficient and successful use of time, resources and data to reach the right goals for the company (more exposure, more traffic, more leads).
3. Content Marketing Tools and their USPs for Marketers
But what are the unique selling points common to all successful tools content marketers end up using? In the end, especially in a fast-moving industry such as startups and in break-or-bust ventures such as online services/shops reliant on immediate and sustainable online visibility for revenue-boosting keywords, it is about finding tools which increase the efficiency in existing workflows, replace laborious workflows with quicker, easier ones and, finally, help the company to leverage its key resources of manpower and time.
Hence the reasons for any content marketer to choose a tool would be:
- Easy to use
- It works fast
- Works on its own
- Reminds me to act
- Fits into existing workflows
- Or Improves existing workflows
- Visually appealing
- It’s for free! (Or asks a reasonable price for its services)
And, let’s be honest, the last reason is as good as any for most marketers to at least give a tool a trial.
4. Key Takeaways on Great Content Marketing Tools
All Content Marketers are… cheap, lazy, need constant reminders, automated processes, easy usability, nice visuals, free options. – Would you agree?
Great Content Marketing Tools are… simple, highly automated, easy to use, accessible on all devices, look pretty, assist and gives you data-based suggestions to act ALL THE TIME. – Would you agree?