Content marketers have to wear many “hats.” They have to come up with great topics for posts; they have to create catchy and compelling headlines; they have to actually write the posts; they have to find engaging graphics and media; they have to distribute to the right channels, and then they have to review the analytics so as to know what is working and what is not. This is a huge job, and it is no wonder that many businesses are abandoning their content marketing programs in favor of just plain old web-based advertising, if they can sustain it on their budgets.
If you are considering such an abandonment, hold on. It may be that you just don’t have the tools that can make the job of content marketing so much easier. Have a look at the following and, before you make a final decision, pull some of these and use them for a month or so. You may find that you even enjoy content marketing. These tools are divided into categories to fit all of the tasks you have. You will easily fine at least one in each category to try.
Identifying Your Audience
Often, content is not generating a lot of buzz and traffic, because content creators have not clearly and very carefully identified their audiences. If you have not yet developed a very detailed persona of your typical customer (sometimes, you have to generate more than one), then you really are not ready to generate and publish any content. So here are a couple of places to go to get the help you need to generate that persona.
Here, you can get a free worksheet to use that will generate your persona for you. You will also find out where that persona is online so that you can target your content in the right places.
2. Convince and Content: This link will take you straight to a great post on how to create your buyer persona.
Of all the complaints from content marketers, this one is always at the top of the list. Finding great topics that will entertain, enlighten, education, and inspire is tough, and you don’t want to publish stuff that is old and/or boring. No one will want to come back to visit if they are not engaged and looking forward to what you have to say. Here are some great tools to use:
- Buzzsumo: This site lets you type in a keyword term related to your niche and then generates the most popular post topics that have been recently written in that general area. It even gives you suggestions for other related keywords to use. The results of your search will give you great ideas for topics. There is both a free and paid upgrade.
- Wordstream: Click this link for a list and description of the most current 8 great topic generator tools
- Check Out Your Competitors: Quick Sprout has a tool that allows you to type in the URL of your competitor and get a rundown on his/her most popular posts – use these for your topic ideas. Also, check out the social media pages and accounts of your competitors and access their blogs – see what conversations are going on – use those to come up with topic ideas.
- Hubspot: Here is another free topic generator tool
You can type in up to three nouns related to your business and they will generate ideas free.
You can set up an account with Alltop and get news feeds related to your niche. What better way to stay “current” and be able to write about the latest interests of your customers.
Title and Headlines
Consumers will not click through to a piece of content unless there is an amazing title that has really piqued their interests. While of course your content is important, the key is to get people to it. That is how you ultimately get the conversions you want. These take time, thought and creativity, and some bloggers even say that they spend as much time on headlines as they do on content. Fortunately, if yu have difficulty with titles, there are some great tools for that too!
This is a free tool – you can type in a keyword for you content topic and get as many as 600 title possibilities. Some of them will be inappropriate for your audience or the platform you are using, but out of 600 you will find a bunch that you like, and many that you can re-work just a bit. There will be a wide variety for tone and style too. So if you are writing a humorous blog post or are posting something inspiring on Facebook, then you will find these types of titles, along with those suitable for a professional audience.
This site is famous for its title generating tool, which marketers have been using for years. But these folks offer far more than that. This is one site that would bear some research – it really addresses everything content related.
- Co-Schedule Headline Analyzer: Once you have your headline, run it by this free analysis tool. It will give you an overall score, but will also analyze the types of words you have used – common, uncommon, power, emotional. You want a variety of word types in your headlines, and at least one uncommon one that will generate some interest and/or curiosity. Try this one just once – you’ll love it.
Ah – here is the crux of content marketing – the content you produce. You may have a great topic and a crafty headline, but that content must be written well and specifically for your audience. Remember this. Content is not for you – it is for your target customer. This will determine tone, style, vocabulary, sentence structure etc.
The most important rule is this: Keep it simple, unless your audience is comprised of highly technical and/or expert professionals. You will know your audience type, obviously, because you have your persona.
The next most important rule is that your grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. be great – you never know who may be reading it offhand, and you don’t want bad comments about how poor the writing quality it.
There are a number of tools that will help you with the different aspects of writing content. Here are just a few that will cover most aspects of creating content.
This tool is a WordPress plugin that will provide an analysis of your content relative to the audience for whom you have created it. Suppose you have written a post. Now you activate Atomic Writer. You will select the level of expertise of your persona – anything from “General” (people with maybe basic knowledge of the topic), through a range that ends with “Genius” (those who have great knowledge of the topic). The tool then analyzes your content and provides feedback on everything from your title to the difficulty level of you sentence structure and vocabulary.
Here is a sample of what you will get when you cut and paste your copy into this tool:
This tool is really made for bloggers. It will parse out unnecessary adverbs, tell you to change passive verbs to active, let you know when sentences are too long/hard. The on important thing about content is that it must be simple. This tool is so aptly named. If you have read Old Man and the Sear recently, go back and read it now. You will have an appreciation for the simplicity of the writing.
If you are concerned for all aspects of grammar and punctuation, then this tool is definitely for you. You simply copy and paste your content and get a complete analysis with corrections. There is a one-time subscription fee, but it is probably worth it.
This is a tool that determines reading level of the content you produce. It’s free, and you can check out not just your marketing content but your website as a whole. For general audiences, you want to hit about the 7th grade reading level – that’s about 12-13 years of age.
Enough cannot be said about the need to put media and graphics in your content. Actually, if you plan to distribute on Instagram, you will have no choice. But all content, not matter where it is published, must have photos, images, infographics, videos, and interactive stuff like quizzes, polls, surveys. Visuals will make content more attractive, compelling and more shareable. This is what the research shows. Below is a long list of tools that you can use to create your own visuals for your content. They are easy to use, even for a novice.
Canva is an all-in-one tool that you use to create almost any type of visual – slides, posters, videos, photo editing, and more. It is designed for beginners, but you can grow with this tool as you become more expert.
- Other Tools: Access These and Pick the Ones that You Like
- Thinglink: Add interactive content to an image or infographic. The viewer can click on parts of the graphic and immediately get more information.
- Polldaddy: Readers love to be involved and give an opinion. Give them what they want with quizzes, questionnaires, polls and surveys.
- Quickmeme: You’ve seen these all over Facebook. Create your own when you want to put some humor or inspiration in your content. These are great for Facebook and Instagram.
- Haiku Deck: This is the ultimate tool for creating slides. You can choose from a variety of backgrounds colors and typography. You can save your slides as a PDF file or as a PowerPoint. This is great when you want to deliver serious content, either on your blog, your website, or LinkedIn. And you can drive traffic to your slide show with great teasers on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. And don’t forget SlideShare – it is becoming hugely popular for people looking for all sorts of content. You can add a link to your site or blog.
- Snapapp: You can add viewer interaction to photos, videos, infographics and more, and this tool is so easy to use.
- Free Photos: Stock photos are overused. Try these sites for some variety. They don’t require a license; some will require that you do cite the source.
Based upon your audience persona, you will need to do some research to find out where they are online and when they are there. There is a lot of research out there to tell you this, and you need to take advantage of what others have already discovered. The other aspect of distribution is that it must be regular
Once you have decided on the platforms other than your blog, specifically social media, then you will need to have a schedule for distribution. There are two tools that will take care of this for you automatically, so that you can create content ahead of time and stack it up.
- Buffer: This is another all-in-one tool. You determine the platforms, get your content created, decide on your publication schedule, and Buffer does the rest. And it will do this for all channels. And you can schedule the same content to be published several times a day (e.g. Twitter) and even use different titles for each instance.
- MailChimp: Email is a key distribution medium. With MailChimp, you can divide your lists up and deliver different content to each one; you can email your posts and have sharing buttons right in the email; you can get reports on open rates. Mail Chimp is free email lists up to 2000.
This is a lot to take in all at once. But keep this list handy, try some of these great tools as you create your content. You will find that they make your work easier and more enjoyable.
What content marketing tools do you like that are not on this list? Put in you “pitch” for them in the comments below.