You’ve gotta have the right tools for the job. That’s a truth humans have experienced since the introduction of the wheel.
The caveman who used a hammer and chisel surely got the job done faster and better than his neighbor with chipped teeth.
Another way to word this philosophy? Work smarter, not harder. If you’re a business owner, this is now your new mantra (if it wasn’t already). Take the old one and shred it.
The Right Tools Make Your Content Marketing More Effective (Read: Possible)
Running a business is a lot of hard work. It doesn’t matter if you’re managing a corporation of 100+ employees from a mahogany board room or running a scrappy insurgency of “me, myself, and I” from your breakfast nook. It requires work, and planning, and operation costs, and salaries, and IT, and marketing, and analytics, and R&D…and, and, and.
Yet, intelligent and creative business owners and managers find a way to make it work. People find new ways to streamline manufacturing, budget for overhead, and effectively market every day. They do it by creating or utilizing the right tools.
Related Article: Why Most Content Marketers Suck at SEO (and How to Improve)
The Importance of Online Presence: That’s an Understatement
Mintel’s 2015 Online Shopping report shows that 70 percent of American consumers shop online. That’s more than 200 million people, all contributing to the $1.5 trillion done in global E-commerce sales. If you’re not going digital with your business, you’re shortchanging your business. The catch is that people have to know you’re there before they can care or register, purchase, donate, sign-up, re-post, or even click through to your site. And you can’t just expect any old online presence to pay dividends.
The right online presence crafted with the right tools will make the difference. And that difference is huge. Chitika, an online advertising firm, studied millions of clicks and determined that people click on only first page results a whopping 94 percent of the time. So without further ado, let’s plunge into our top 10 picks for the best content marketing, SEO, and social media tools.
Content Marketing: Your Go-to List of Top 10 Tools
Content marketing can be summed up like this: It’s a way to build your brand for a specific audience so that they will do what you want them to do. That may sound simple, but the moving parts required to make that process work are incredibly complex. Optimization, tracking, metrics, split-testing, and other business best practices can be hard to keep track of. That’s where these 10 content marketing tools come in handy:
This all-in-one monitoring tool offers content research and insights, studies influencer activity, analyzes competitors, provides real-time alerts concerning keyword searches and shares, and so much more. BuzzSumo helps people understand influencers on the web by following influencer shares and differentiating between topics and domains.
I especially love the Content Research section; I use this all the time to look at my website domain to check what's been shared the most, interact on Twitter with the people who share my content, or to research favorite topic areas, ie "content marketing" and "copywriting," to read top-shared posts for inspiration.
Built by bloggers for bloggers, this email marketing is the program of choice for many top bloggers. I recently switched over from MailChimp and experienced an increase of people clicking through my links from .5 percent to 2.5 percent. A whopping 200 percent increase in my clicks is a big deal. Pat Flynn, Copyhackers (Joanna Wiebe), are just a few of ConvertKit's users.
They win because of their minimal approach to email. Less links, less HTML, and less "stuff" in your email gets you to the read folder a lot quicker. It works. Plus, you have a beautiful graph to look at when you login that shows you all your subscribers and exactly where they came from one of the most organized approaches I've seen:
You can even create landing pages, your forms, and everything here in ConvertKit. And, you can even set up automation and sequencing for later on down the road when you're really serious about email marketing ROI. For every 1K subscribers, you'll pay $29 (average-high pricing for email, but worth it for all the features).
Gain qualitative information on web content by moving beyond traffic analysis to understanding the intent of website visitors. With Qualaroo, customized, targeted questions are deployed at every stage of your website, from home page to “deep in your conversion funnel.” Content marketers can easily use Qualaroo’s insights to intelligently adjust their online content to better user experience and drive higher conversion.
This gorgeous and fun tool makes boring forms a work of art. A simple and intuitive drag-and-drop user interface allows people to build informative, thorough, and appealing websites across all media platforms. Tablets, smartphones, laptops Typeform is programmed to perfectly interact with a mobile world. Typeform’s Basic plan is full of features and absolutely free.
This is a powerful, sweeping testing platform helps content marketers deliver truly personalized digital experiences to their visitors and consumers. Optimizely makes it easy to test multiple variables across multiple pages, so marketers can truly understand how even the smallest of changes affects individual visitor behavior. A 30-day free trial is available with no hidden fees or purchase necessary.
This interactive analytics algorithm shows site owners exactly where visitors are clicking, how far they’re scrolling down the page, the number of clicks on any element of any given pages, and more. That means you can see what’s working and what’s not. Easy and fast setup allows users to immediately get up and running with CrazyEgg. Plus, all plans are free for the first 30 days.
7. Google Docs/Sheets
Everyone uses Google Docs. But very few people probably use these tools to their full potential. Content is not only readily available to teams and organizations through Google Docs, it’s also highly-customizable. Users can create brand-specific layouts and designs.
Sheets offers more than just Excel-style columns. It’s customizable as well, works across all platforms and devices, and always saves your work. A feature that many people forget to use with Sheets is the Explore panel, that helps users gain insight from summaries or selected columns. I've thoroughly enjoyed creating a "master" Google sheet for my content topics, than sharing with all of my staff for some serious brainstorming. It's a bit messy, but it's our "brain dump" area:
Offering three separate tools named Connector, Notifier, and Marketer, ContentMarketer.io is all about getting your content seen. Connector helps build loyalty with personalized outreach emails. Notifier instantly reaches out to influencers you’re mentioning in your content, building important networks and relationships. Marketer finds influencers interacting with your content.
Dynamic and easily shareable editorial calendars help users organize what’s next and search what content has worked in the past. ClearVoice then connects companies to veteran freelances that help create engaging content. Content is then published direct to site and influencers are notified. Finally, both content and freelancer performance can be measured and quantified. Three available plans are available at customized pricing options.
Related Article: 7 Data-Backed Content Marketing Tactics for Keeping Visitors Engaged
10. Express Writers
Whether it’s for a blog, home page, white paper, or just about anything else, Express Writers has an expert copy team that can write for you. Marketers and business owners need only to upload their project specs, and Express Writers takes care of the rest. All the logistics are managed by Express Writers, from planning and posting copy to handling all interaction with the perfect writer for the job. All content is combed through by professional editors and put to the test with Copyscape. Better content drives higher conversion rates and top rankings.
SEO: Your Go-To List of the Top 10 Tools
Search engine optimization has undergone many changes over the last several years. Google updates have made the quality of content the key, eliminating the possibility of gaming the system with practices like keyword stuffing. The following 10 tools will help any business optimize their content for greater exposure, better rankings, better click-through rates, better conversion, and more.
1. KW Finder
This is a long tail keyword search tool that helps located keywords with low competition and low SEO difficulty. That means it’s finding highly-searched terms that no one is taking advantage of. Cost-per-click and pay-per-click analysis is also readily available. Monthly and annual plans are available with KW Finder, or you can conduct five free searches every 24 hours. The keyword searching that's available is the cleanest (and most detailed) I've seen for long-tail research.
An in-depth tool that provides a comprehensive content audit for all your web pages. Metrics used include competitor comparison, keyword difficulty and ranking, as well as on-page health.
Check your daily rankings, what your competitors are up too, and more in this all-inclusive SEO tool.
Research, information, advice, how-tos, and more make Moz the go-to for SEO questions and issues. It only makes sense, then, that they would provide a complete SEO toolset that helps anyone collect and decipher their site’s optimization and how effective it really is. A 30-day free trial will allow users to see just how well MozPro works.
5. Dragon Metrics
This toolset allows users to track their site ranking in real-time, provides content analysis and competitor research, and analyzes keywords and backlinks to determine how they’re interacting with your content. With a particular focus on ranking an enterprise or global level, Dragon Metrics can be a huge time saver for larger companies or international small businesses.
6. Google Trends
View your keywords, headlines, and other content over the course of time to determine when and how they spike when they do. A thorough Google Trends user can use their charts to forecast what will be hot in the near future.
7. Screaming Frog
This UK-based company offers a full suite of content marketing tools that include conversion-rate optimization, PPC management, link building, and their renowned SEO Spider software. Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider Tool can be downloaded absolutely free. It’s perfect for in-depth SEO audits, as the software combs through massive amounts of information and every browser imaginable to find keywords and content used on your site or your competitors’.
8. Google Analytics
This tried-and-tested tool can track just about any kind of traffic. Best of all, Google Analytics can display keyword relevance and what exact search terms people utilize to find your site (and click-through).
This PPC software is designed to work closely with optimized content with a particular focus on driving CPC down and CTR and conversion through the roof. Wordstream’s 20 Minute Work Week is a sort of planning software that helps users create and manage PPC campaigns and social media advertising in very little time.
10. Microsoft SEO Toolkit
The computer giant offers more than laptops and Windows. Their free SEO Toolkit is actually a robust marketing program that optimizes content for Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Because it hails from a behemoth like Microsoft, support features for the Toolkit are second to none.
Social Media and Email: Your Go-to Top 10 Tool List
A Shopify report showed that they had received 37 million social media visits. The same report also points out that Instagram’s average Shopify order from Instagram users is valued at more than $60. Of course, Facebook dominates social media e-commerce with nearly 70 percent of total visits and purchases.
The thing is, it’s not just Facebook and Instagram anymore. Marketers need to be aware of Twitter, Reddit, Imgur, Snapchat, Pinterest, Ello, Hyper, Periscope, and the list continues to grow. These ten tools will help any content marketer stay on top of and efficiently utilize all of their social media content.
This tool allows users to link multiple accounts, schedule future Twitter campaigns, manage lists, and filter through categories (news, images, links, etc.). Our social media manager, Rachel, uses Tweetdeck to manage our high-volume Twitter chat, #ContentWritingChat, from @ExpWriters on Twitter. You can set up multiple feeds to show different hashtags or mentions on Twitter, which populate live, real-time:
Multiple social media accounts are breeze for PostCron. It’s a post scheduler designed to show what you want when you want to show it. Plus, it protects your brand by offering automatic watermarks on media assets. PostCron can also bulk upload posts across all major social media platforms.
One of the kinds of social media tools, Buffer makes posting content across all of your social media platforms and accounts simple and effective. An intuitive scheduling program, Buffer also provides performance reports for CTR on your social media posts. Plus, Buffer makes collecting and sharing content you like on other sites very easy without having to bookmark everything. We use Buffer at Express Writers to manage nearly a dozen social accounts of our own:
Both a scheduler and a marketing tool, SocialPilot offers bulk scheduling and team-shared calendars. The bonus to SocialPilot, though, is that they will provide users with content suggestions based upon content performance and web users’ interactions with your accounts.
This is a light tool accompanied by a great blog for social media marketing advice and tips. The tool itself schedules posts across all your social media accounts with one click and re-shares evergreen content when you want.
Kuku is a social media net that allows for greater content customization than other schedulers. Similar accounts can be gathered into individual channels. Posts can be automatically differentiated based upon their platform. It also measures follower rates, clicks, and user engagement.
So many platforms are built on providing a constant barrage of new content, which can totally overwhelm users. Edgar schedules posts much like Buffer, though users can distinguish posts by categories. Where Edgar really shines, though, is that it will intelligently go back to old content and re-shares it automatically when new content runs out. Since social shares can be fleeting, Edgar’s re-shares feel like new content anyway.
The Nuvi Dashboard looks like something out of a science fiction movie. It’s a beautifully-designed set of data visualizations and measurements that show real-time numbers of followers, engagement, demographics, and more. Mobile alerts and in-depth reports make it easy to track your social media efforts from anywhere at any time.
The gurus at Trendspottr say they “transform social media noise” into actionable strategies. When a company has numerous accounts across all the social media platforms, it can be hard to track content and reaction. Trendspottr does that for you. It follows trends and helps users know when to share what content for maximum effect plus how to get that information to influencers.
Cafyne is an all-inclusive app designed to do everything for your social media efforts. It provides protection from online threats, monitors profiles of customers and partners, provides analytics and reports, offers post scheduling, and intelligently archives past material. Free trials and enterprise demos are available.
Related Article: Get Smart: 7 Content Marketing Mistakes That Make You Look Silly
Build Your Perfect Toolbox
They key is to find out which apps and services work for you. Once you have a marketing plan in hand, be sure to take advantage of all the free trials and demos these companies offer. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the interfaces and dashboards. Research features to determine what programs you can truly utilize.
Then get going. Get posting. And grow your online presence. You’ll be surprised at just how much you can increase that presence by using a suite of powerful content tools.