If you’re a content marketer, take heart that there is no shortage of digital marketing tools to help you get the job done.
From new and improved CMS platforms to SEO Chrome extensions that help you optimize your copy, pretty much every part of the content marketing process can be improved by some tooling. Most of the solutions out today are quite affordable, too.
I’ve used most content marketing tools at one point or another through my agency, and I enjoy using some more than others. This list will cover my favorite 13 content marketing tools.
These tools will cover several different categories – publishing, promotion, measurement, optimization, and productivity – so if you use the tools on this list you should be able to build a full content marketing tech stack.
The 13 Best Content Marketing Tools in 2020
Table of Contents
1. HubSpot Marketing Free
I may be biased (I work on user acquisition at HubSpot), but HubSpot’s suite of free marketing tools is pretty neat.
While you may think of HubSpot as a marketing automation or CRM company, there are several free tools you can get started on right away. These tools range in use. Some of the free tools available are:
The ease of use and flexible limits on the free tools make this the perfect option for beginning blog teams (and you can always upgrade or swap platforms if you hit limits). I personally use HubSpot’s lead capture tools on my own site:
Another benefit of HubSpot’s marketing tools is there’s a handy WordPress plugin so you can easily connect to your WordPress site. Which leads me to my next item…
Pretty much every site I’ve built from scratch has been on WordPress (though I’ve done a few on HubSpot’s CMS and other platforms like ButterCMS recently). WordPress is the gold standard nowadays, running something like a third of the internet.
It’s free and open-source, which is great. It’s also easy to use, at least at a basic level. More importantly, WordPress offers a very flexible and potentially powerful platform that you can customize in basically any way you’d like it.
It’s a blogger’s best friend.
While there are other CMS platforms you could use feasibly, I recommend all content marketers get used to WordPress and get to know the platform. At one point or another, you’ll likely be using this.
3. Google Analytics
You need to measure what you’re doing to know if it’s working and how to optimize your content. Google Analytics is the gold standard.
Like WordPress, it’s free (though it’s definitely not open-source). It’s also nearly ubiquitous among digital marketers and analysts today.
Similarly, out of the box, it’s actually quite simple to use and understand. You can see users, sessions, or pageviews and slice them by channel (such as organic search, social, direct, and more). You can also easily find audience data such as what device people are using to read your content and which countries they’re visiting from.
Those are just the basics. Once you learn how to customize your setup with goals, events, custom dimensions, and all the other awesome stuff Simo Ahava teaches you how to do with Google Tag Manager, Google Analytics becomes quite powerful for advanced analysts.
Like WordPress, I recommend learning Google Analytics, if only because you’ll probably end up using it someday if you’re not already.
While it may not be specifically and solely a content marketing tool, Notion is an outstanding and flexible project management solution that I use for my content marketing agency.
You could theoretically use it to replace Google Docs and do all of your writing there (I don’t – I still love Google Docs and do all of my writing there or with paper and pen).
More importantly, you can use it to store content topic ideas and to manage your editorial calendar. You can actually create a calendar view and assign writers, create checklists, and add custom dimensions like price, property, word length, and more.
Here’s an example from Everything But The Plant (a cannabis industry supplier):
That said, Notion can be overkill for small teams or individual content marketers. Personally, I still love using a good old Google Sheet to plan out my content. This is an example from a site I launched about the kava plant:
Most content marketing programs are centered on some level of SEO-driven keyword research. Doing keyword research is probably the best way to model out the expected value of your content program – in other words, you can estimate the level of certainty that you’ll rank for the keyword (its difficulty), the relative intent of the keyword (the CPC), and the estimated volume (the monthly search volume).
Keyword and SEO research can also give you a great lens by which you can view competitors’ efforts.
Though if you’re trying to save on cash, GrowthBar is the other tool I use that is much cheaper.
Once you’ve done all of that keyword research, written your articles, planned it out in your project management tool, and published it, you’ll need some sort of tooling to help you better capture leads.
A popup tool can be wonderful, and you’ll definitely need a web form solution. However, if you really want to level up, you need a dedicated landing page builder. This will help not only with content marketing (as you’ll likely develop ‘lead magnets’ like ebooks and webinars), but if you plan on doing any paid acquisition, landing pages are a must.
Clearscope is my favorite underrated content marketing tool. In reality, it’s the secret weapon of the majority of smart content marketing agencies as well as in-house teams who operate at a high production scale.
Basically, it’s a content optimization tool. It takes a keyword you want to rank for, say “content marketing tools,” and it reverse-engineers the top results on Google for the term to figure out what words and phrases should be included to rank.
It’s easy to use, you can easily train your writers to use it in a few hours, and it really works.
Having already mentioned a few lead capture tools here (HubSpot and Instapage), I wanted to mention my favorite digital persuasion tool: Wunderkind.
This is one that is probably above the price point of mainstream content marketers, but if you’re at a larger company or know the value of building a big email list, you’ll want to look into Wunderkind (formerly BounceX).
They’re not only the best popup tool in the industry; they also have a suite of integrated products that help you automate and personalize all of your lead nurturing activities, from triggered emails to user ID resolution and SMS messaging solutions.
It’s a world class product, and serious content teams should look into this one.
The best content includes helpful visual materials as well as engaging written content. I’m not sure about you, but I’m no graphic design guru. I can barely use Photoshop.
Canva is a tool for those of us who haven’t spent years training as a graphic designer. Anyway, even a novice like myself, can create stunning graphics for social media, charts and tables for articles, and even longer infographics.
Canva and its several alternatives are great options for resources and time strapped content teams that want to visually stand out.
I use a lot of imagery in my content. Typically I try to source original images, especially those that I’ve taken myself (hence the dog photos on my blog):
However, I’m not a full time photographer, so I’ve got to outsource my photographic needs from time to time. Like everyone on earth, I find most stock photos quite cheesy and ineffective, which is why I turn to Unsplash.
It’s a community of photographers who offer their images free to use and without attribution. You can find pretty much any type of photo here. It’s an invaluable resource that I’ve used for years at this point.
For an even greater selection of stock photos available for use, check out The Stocks.
Content promotion is important, and the lowest hanging fruit to distribute your content might just be allowing your audience to easily share your content.
Social media management tools are prevalent, but in my opinion, most are overpowered for our basic use cases and the user experience can be quite frustrating. Perhaps a larger team needs something like Hootsuite, but I’ve always enjoyed the simple and effective tools Buffer produces.
You’ll have access to widgets you can place on your blog posts that allow for easy sharing, and you’ll also be able to schedule and plan out Tweets and other social media posts. Great all around social media product.
I’m an A/B testing fanatic. I love experimentation and still think it’s underutilized (and very misunderstood) by marketing teams.
Many marketing tools now have embedded A/B testing functionality, but as a heuristic, I don’t typically trust them. They usually only include their own black box statistics, and normally these statistics engines are one-size-fits-all. You’re better off having a dedicated testing tool and analyzing the data on your own (i.e. sending it to a database or Google Analytics).
There are many A/B testing tools out there, but my favorite all around solution is Convert. It’s got all the features most companies would want from something like Optimizely, but it’s much more affordable.
Additionally, they’ve got great customer service and have placed privacy as a core focus in their upcoming roadmap and company vision.
Wordable is a simple tool with a high ROI. What it does is straightforward: with a click of a button, you can upload your Google Docs drafts, fully formatted and with images, to WordPress.
Since I typically write long form essays with lots of images, I’d wager that this tool saves me at least a few hours per post (hundreds of hours over the course of a year).
I’m a big fan of automating the boring stuff and saving your energy and creativity for what matters (in our case, creating memorable and effective content). Wordable automates one of the most tedious components of content marketing: uploading and reformatting your already-written drafts.
I love finding and trying out new content marketing tools, but I find myself returning the same cast of familiar and highly useful tools I’ve mentioned on this list.
There are others I’ll use from time to time – for example, I love setting up reporting in Data Studio and piping in ranking data from Google Search Console. But I believe that the 13 content marketing tools on this list will give you more than enough to build, expand, and scale a content marketing channel.
If you’ve found any other unique and interesting tools I may have missed, especially new categories of tools, I’d love to hear about them. Please comment below to let us know!
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