Content marketing is hands-down the best way to engage your key audience, but how do you do it? Here we present some key content marketing tools to help you with everything from ideation to distribution and beyond. With new content marketing tools coming online every day, we don’t claim that this list is comprehensive but it’s a good starting point for your content marketing efforts. Some of these tools work in more than one category, but we’ve placed them where we think they fit best.
Your starting point for marketing with content is getting ideas, and where better to get ideas than with these brainstorming tools and ideas?
1. Mindmapping tools can help you let your creativity flow by putting down and linking related ideas. One of our favorite tools for doing this is Bubbl.us (it’s free, too!) but there are several other alternatives in this Lifehacker roundup.
2. If you’re a wordsmith, you might prefer something more text-based. In that case, try Wordstorm, where you input a word and see related words in a new window. Hover over the words for definitions.
3. Looking for ideas based on what’s in the news? Then news community site Topix delivers both an at-a-glance view of what’s hot plus links to news coverage on the stories of the day.
4. Type a word or phrase into the Soovle search box and it searches six major search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, Wikipedia, Answers and YouTube) for related terms. Then click on a link to find the search results on your chosen site. Soovle also features a list of top topics.
5. Ubersuggest is a keyword suggestion tool which can help with brainstorming. Type in a phrase and see related keyword phrases, then drill down into even more.
Finding Trending Topics
Finding what’s hot helps both with idea generation and finding content to share. The tools below are a good starting point.
6. Twitter – your Twitter profile page offers a list of trending topics, either tailored to your interests or arranged by geographical location. Use these to figure out what’s hot and tailor your content to suit. Facebook Graph Search and Google+ Ripples can also be useful.
7. Google Trends – want to know what’s hot in worldwide search? Then you can’t go wrong with Google Trends. Not only can you look at hot searches but you can check out related topics too.
8. Quora is another good place to check out trending topics – and you can also build your expertise by answering questions in your field. That’s a win-win in content marketing.
9. Social Mention is a great way to track what people are already saying either on trending topics or niche interests. Click on any topic to check out reach, strength, sentiment and passion and to see actual tweets and posts.
Finding Engaging Content to Share
The tools above can help you find engaging content, but there are other ways too. Assuming you are already tracking blogs in your niche, have set up alerts for important keywords and are following the competition, here are some more sites and tools to try,.
11. Swayy is a recent addition to the content marketing mix which allows you to select areas of interest, then provides engaging and relevant content on your dashboard. Link your social media accounts and you can share with a click. It even suggests relevant Twitter hashtags!
12. Images are hot and so is Pinterest. Not only can you create boards for your brand and interests, but you can use Pinterest to find out what’s already popular and share those images both on Pinterest itself and on other social networks.
13. You can’t leave out he world’s second biggest search engine, especially when video marketing is so popular. Check out the popular videos on YouTube to find shareable content. Alternatives to YouTube include Vimeo and DailyMotion (or your favorite video site).
14. For the same reason, we’re including Slideshare, which has a huge presence in the business content marketing space. If you’re targeting business, then check out the popular presentations as a starting point.
15. ContentGems is getting good reviews as a way of keeping tabs on your online interests. Even with a free account, you can track a couple of topics with multiple keywords, 20 RSS feeds and a Twitter account and easily share what you find on social media.
The first step in grabbing readers’ attention when you create or share content is having a good title. Here are a few resources to help.
16. Peter Sandeen offers 101 Headline Formulas which help you learn what headlines to write and why they work. You’ll have to opt in to grab the download.
17. You’ll also have to opt-in for Jon Morrow’s 52 Headline Hacks, another excellent resource offering a cheat sheet and templates for writing headlines.
18. ContentForest is trialing a title generation tool where you plug in your keyword and it suggests possible titles. These could be a good starting point for your own title ideas.
Outsourcing Content Creation
Want to get some excellent blog posts, white papers and other written content? You can ensure a steady stream of original content for your marketing efforts by using one of these site.
19. Contently helps brands connect with experienced journalists to create stories that enhance their reputation. It provides content feeds, editors and analytics to help you see what’s happening with your content.
20. Ebyline helps marketers find quality freelancers to work with to produce not only written content, but photos and videos too.
21. Skyword helps brands build a presence online with optimized and unique articles from a range of experienced writers.
Creating Videos and Images
We’ve already mentioned video sites as key places for sourcing content, but it’s also worth creating your own content to go there. There are way too many image and video creation tools to list here, but here are a few we like.
22. Animoto makes it easy for you to create your own video by using photos and their on-site animations. Even a novice can produce a decent animation in a short time.
23. Twitter’s Vine allows you to create and share short videos with your smartphone. This is a great idea for engaging with customers (and encouraging them to create and share Vines of them using your products or services).
24. Piktochart is a free online infographic creator with some attractive templates to get you started, though you can also create your own from scratch. Since infographics are hugely popular, this is worth considering
25. Quotes are popular currency on social media, appearing everywhere from Twitter to Facebook to Pinterest. A good way to combine the power of words and images is to use ShareasImage to highlight and share an image of a quote you find on the web.
26. If you are focusing on Pinterest, already have an image and want to add text, then Pinwords will help you create something shareable.
Content Curation and Sharing
According to Curata, content curation is now a central part of marketers’ strategy. Here are some popular tools to help marketers create and share excellent content.
27. Storify helps marketers to search online and social information and create their own stories and publications to share.
28. Scoop.it allows marketers to find content based on sources and keywords and collate these into an online digest, either sharing the whole digest or individual items with all the main social networks.
29. RebelMouse collates all of your social shares to create a social front page which you can share socially or embed on your site.
30. Paper.li describes itself as a tool for web monitoring, niche publishing and more, allowing marketers to create and share magazines around particular interests.
Ready to get your content out there? Then you will need some of these tools. Some are old-school, while others cater for the latest content marketing trends.
31. Email marketing software – there are so many apps and programs that it would be hard to pick one, but check out this review on Crazy Egg for a starting point.
32. RSS is one of the technologies underpinning your blog. It provides a content feed which you can use to send your content to social networks, feed readers and other sites.
33. Outbrain is one of several sites that takes headlines and post images from your site and shows them as related content on other sites to spread your reach wider.
34. People are still using press releases, so don’t discount their power to get the word out about your brand, especially if you can include social links and images. PRWeb is one of the best known sites for this.
35. We couldn’t leave Readz out, could we? With more consumers than ever using tablets and mobile devices, the best way to distribute content is to make sure it looks great on every platform. And if you only have to create it once, instead of doing different iterations for each device and platform, that saves you time. That’s what we do, and if we say so ourselves, we’re pretty good at it!
What’s the point of creating and sharing content if you don’t know who’s looking at it? That’s where analytics comes in handy. Many of the tools listed above have their own built in analytics (especially if you go for pro versions), but here are a few tools we couldn’t leave out.
36. Google Analytics – Google’s free analytics software will track anything you want, from social and mobile visits and shares to goals and conversions.
37. Buffer – you might think this should be under distribution as it’s actually a social sharing tool, but Buffer’s built-in analytics help you determine the response you get to posts on a range of social networks. Since they have recently added support for Google+ pages, you shouldn’t ignore this tool.
38. Other analytics tools – yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out but there are dozens of tools for measuring the success of your content. A few alternatives are listed here.
What are your favorite content marketing tools? If you’re looking for further inspiration, check out this recent report on more tools from the Content Marketing Institute.
Short update: the nice folks at Canva reminded me that they should be on this list. So true! If you don’t know Canva, it is a simple, drag-and-drop, design software that’s completely online and free to use.