I’m always on the hunt for new and amazing content marketing tools. Here are the tools we use at Buffer, as well as the most highly recommended tools from others in the industry.
The eight content marketing tools we use at Buffer:
1. Trello for organization
Trello is our main idea board and content calendar. It’s where we organize and store potential blog posts, notes, links, comments and more.
One feature we’ve yet to fully explore is voting on Trello cards. A neat way to use this might be to ask for the team’s input on which blog post ideas seem to resonate. The ideas with the most votes move on to the writing stage.
2. WordPress for blogging
I sometimes forget to think of WordPress as a tool. It feels like so much more.
Still, it’s the tool I use daily to compose and publish all the articles that appear on Buffer’s blog. The Buffer blog runs on WordPress, and we’re grateful for such a robust platform that affords us the flexibility to easily edit the design and experiment with different plug-ins.
3. Buffer for distribution
A social media management tool at its core, Buffer is useful in several ways. We use it to:
- A/B test headlines by tweeting two variations, comparing the statistics and going with the winner.
- Test content ideas. We share a blog post multiple times in multiple ways. If a particular element of a blog post performs well on social media, we might expand upon the topic in a more detailed article.
To keep track of new comments on our articles, we put together an automation workflow with Zapier that directs all new comments into our content chat room in Hipchat.
5. Canva for image creation
Most of the images we create for blog posts are from screen captures or Canva. In Canva, we build images based on its simple-to-use templates or templates we’ve created before. It’s easy to copy over an existing image and tweak small things for a new post.
6. MailChimp for emailing
We built our RSS email list with MailChimp, which makes it easy to create automated RSS campaigns and weekly digests. The next step for us is to segment the list so the emails we send are of optimum relevance to the recipients.
7. Google Analytics for traffic stats
The most widely used website analytics tool, Google Analytics gives us all the information we need to determine what blog content works well. A few of our favorite reports include:
- Time on page
- Social media sources
- Search queries
- New vs. returning visitors
8. Feedly for content ideas
Our idea curation process involves reading as many great blogs as possible. Feedly helps us do this. We subscribe to feeds for a huge number of blogs, and we get ideas and inspiration from the types of headlines and topics we see.
Content marketing tools that other pros use
The list of tools above is far from complete. Other bloggers and content creators have found a number of other great tools. Below are some that pro bloggers often mention.
Perhaps the biggest draw of services such as Chartbeat, GoSquared and MixPanel is their simplicity when compared against tools such as Google Analytics. These alternative analytics tools focus on real-time information, social media shares and simple dashboards.
Josh Pigford, a blogger and Baremetrics’ founder, explains the benefits of GoSquared:
“Real-time traffic data. A lot easier to find out where traffic is coming from than Google Analytics. I use this quite a lot when we publish a new blog post or send out a newsletter to get a feel for where traffic is coming from and how a given item is being shared throughout the day.”
Sometimes it’s great to find a tool that collects a large number of content marketing resources in one place. These three tools offer a multitude of services including analytics, list building, content creation and more.
Blogger Chris Brogan recently switched his site to the Rainmaker platform. Here’s why:
“Within Rainmaker, I can create all different types of content, like private membership forums, podcasts, and more. It’s just push-button simple to get most things started, and I’ve enjoyed exploring how each of these can work towards improving business with conversion stats, and the like. That’s the other part I like. I like really simple analytics. Truth is, I’m not clever enough to do much with more complex ones.”
Share as Image lets you turn any text into a beautiful image or quote. We love Skitch for annotated screenshots. CloudApp lets you create awesome GIFs of your computer screen.
To come up with ideas to write about (and to craft better headlines), it can be helpful to look at the most popular content on a given topic (BuzzSumo), from a given website (QuickSprout) or for a particular audience (Quora).
Blogger Gregory Ciotti, who works on growth at Help Scout, shared his appreciation for Quora as an idea tool: “I’ve found Quora to be great for idea validation. If a topic is hot on Quora, it’ll make for a great article.”
Creating an editorial calendar or collecting notes and ideas in one place can be helpful for content marketing teams. Tools such as the three above can help writers work together.
For search engine optimization and on-page adjustments, a great number of tools can help with keywords, titles, layout and readability.
Neil Patel, a blogger and entrepreneur, uses CrazyEgg to optimize his blog posts’ readability. He says:
“Have you wondered how many people actually read your blog posts? With my blog at Quick Sprout, it used to be 40%—until I started using Crazy Egg.
“With a few simple Crazy Egg tests, I was able to see how many visitors scrolled down and actually read each blog post. With a bit of testing, I was able to increase the number of people who read each post by 62.5%.”
List building and lead generation
Getting people to take action on a website is often a key goal for content marketers. Often, the desired actions are for website visitors to join an email list, enter information or follow on social media. The tools listed here offer some great solutions for adding opt-in forms and calls to action to your blog.
Pat Flynn, blogger at Smart Passive Income, predicted SumoMe would be one of his most-used apps in 2015:
“There’s also an image sharer function, list building tools, a heat map tool, contact forms, a “smart bar” tool, analytics, and a highlighter tool which allows people to highlight portions of your blog posts, and easily share that. Obviously a great price (free!), but also super easy to install, and useful too!”
What are your favorite content marketing tools?
A version of this article originally appeared on the Buffer blog.