The Best Technology Tools for Content Marketing
These are the tools that I use to address three critical content marketing areas -- strategy, creation and distribution.
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The rate of content creation is growing exponentially year over year and content marketers now face more competition than ever before. Media publishers, other organizations and even industry professionals are competing for your audience's time and attention, even though they may not be direct sales competition.
With all this clutter, content marketers must heavily concentrate on crafting an efficient strategy and set of tools to create the right content, distribute it effectively, promote it successfully and drive more results for their business goals.
Learn more about the tools that I use to address three critical content marketing areas -- strategy, creation and distribution.
Strategic content solutions
Managing successful content campaigns typically starts with detailed research to better understand your audience personas, their optimal purchasing journey and how you can align content to match their needs at the right time.
The following tools can help you research, plan and create strategic content solutions for your targeted audience segments, or buyer personas.
Buyer persona creation tools
A buyer persona helps you understand what your ideal prospective customers think and do as they make buying considerations. It's more than just a description, too. According to the Buyer Persona Institute, "actionable buyer personas reveal insights about your buyers' decisions -- the specific attitudes, concerns and criteria that drive prospective customers to choose you, your competitor or the status quo."
Hubspot created a nifty online tool that walks users through the process of building buying personas called MakeMyPersona.com. MakeMyPersona.com is a step-by-step wizard that guides you through the process of creating your own personalized buyer persona. MakeMyPersona runs through 19 high-level questions to help you create a basic buyer persona and get you thinking about your customers in the right way. Consider this a starter option.
To dive deeper into your persona research, Akoonu helps marketers create more distinct personas and map their buyer journeys to the right types of content. Akoonu helps you identify the information you need to build personas, including the typical buying process for each persona, the types of content preferred by each, content tone per decision maker or influencer, how influencers and decision maker personas may interact in the buying process and more. Depending on what tier plan you select, you can even plan content within Akoonu and import data from your marketing automation and CRM solutions to develop a data-driven, persona-based content plan.
Ideation and content planning
Once you understand more about the people you are targeting with your content, the next step is to plan the type of content you'll need to create to attract their interest.
One common way that marketers discover popular content is by using Google Alerts, Google Trends or some combination of social listening tools. To use these tools, create a list of five to 15 content terms or keywords that you are interested in tracking. Search each term on within your preferred platform -- Google Alerts, ClearVoice Content Studio, etc. Next, identify the content that is performing well for each term and assess it thoroughly. This should begin to spark your creativity.
Remember -- the idea isn't to copy the best content that you find, but rather to create content that is better, more insightful, with more detail, stronger experience, etc.
Content creation and management
When it's time to start the content creation process, you can either create internally or manage a team of content creators. There are several content management platforms that can help you better align your content efforts; however, most are enterprise solutions and not feasible for small to mid-size organizations or marketing departments.
Since managing your content can quickly become complex, it's best to identify one or two tools or processes that work best for you. For example, I use a combination of Google Docs, for general team collaboration and editing, and ClearVoice to recruit freelance copywriters, manage my editorial calendar and publish to Wordpress or Hubspot depending on my client's preferences. This helps me stay concentrated on only a handful of systems without getting bogged down in other technology.
Content Distribution Technology
To break through the content noise, you need to identify the best processes that help you distribute your content to your audience in a polished, timely and relevant fashion. Start by researching the following solutions.
Email doesn't immediately come to mind for some marketers when considering their content distribution options; however, it's still one of the most used channels of communications.
For small-to-medium-sized businesses, I recommend MailChimp. It's an easy-to-use, inexpensive tool. MailChimp's clean interface and competitive features, even on the free plan, make it the smart choice for small businesses or organizations building their first mailing lists. MailChimp offers three affordable plans for new and growing businesses.
For larger and enterprise companies, Marketo is one of the platforms of choice. Marketo's features allow you to get granular and targeted with your email marketing, which sophisticated marketers will appreciate. Marketo Smart List feature lets you build dynamic lists based on a variety of targeting criteria.
While social is finally becoming a need-to-have, best practices are often misunderstood. Social is not a bulletin board to post your content. Rather, it's a collective of like-minded individuals to engage with. I'd argue that social distribution is much more effective with a one-to-one, personalized and manual distribution process, but it can get tedious in the distribution stage. Try these social media management tools to find a process that works best for you.
Sprout Social is a robust social media management solution for both solo marketers and teams. Schedule content, cross-post, manage approval workflows and engage with your audience better with this social media management solution. Sprout Social lets marketers manage teams, schedule messages and cross-post content
Post Planner is another social media posting solution that starts at just $9 per month. This solution helps marketers develop a posting schedule and make the process of maintaining a posting schedule much easier.
With content syndication, you don't always have to invest in additional technology. Take advantage of the options that are already available to you when possible. One very powerful means of syndicating your content is through LinkedIn Pulse or Medium. To get started with a LinkedIn Pulse article, click the "Write an article" tab that you see after logging into LinkedIn. Syndicating your content on LinkedIn or Medium can give you the opportunity to reach more of your audience, particularly for those who haven't yet found your website or products. Remember, if you syndicate content on another site, be sure to provide a link to your original post to avoid a Google duplicate content penalty.
The 2016 Edelman's Trust Barometer shows that people rank peers and employees as more credible than leaders. With this in mind, it makes sense to encourage your employees to actively share your content.
Bambu helps you put your most important messages and content in front of your employees for them to read and share. This platform centralizes messages to make it easy and efficient for your advocates. Furthermore, they can share curated content to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn without leaving Bambu.
What technology solutions do you use to manage your content marketing? How have you addressed the three stages of content marketing: creation, distribution and promotion? Do you have an example of an exceptional solution that has worked for your team?