30 Content Marketing Tools You Need to Reach Your Persona by Bob Ruffolo

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30 Content Marketing Tools You Need to Reach Your Persona by Bob Ruffolo

Do you ever wonder how the best content marketers get so much done in such little time?

Sure, they have a team of people helping out, but that’s not all.

They use tools that help them plan content, manage content, and improve the performance of their websites.

These tools save content marketers hours of time and provide valuable information that you just can’t find with a Google search.

The following are 30 of the best content marketing tools available, including the tools we use for our business and our clients.

Content Planning Tools

1. SEMRush

 

What it does: SEMRush tracks over 95,000,000 keywords and over 56,000,000 domains to provide a complete competitive analysis of websites in your industry. You can find out how they rank for keywords and get an estimate of their traffic.

What it costs: Starts at $69.95 per month.

2. Ahrefs Content Explorer

What it does: A simple tool that helps you find the most shared content for any topic.

What it costs: Free with limited searches; plans start at $79 per month.

3. Google Trends

(Source)

What it does: Helps you find trends based on topics, location, and other variables. You can see historical trends and trends happening in real-time.

What it costs: Free

4. Content Strategy Helper Tool

What it does: This tool consolidates trending news from across the internet to provide inspiration for content topics.

What it costs: Free

5. BuzzSumo

What it does: BuzzSumo lets you find what content performs best for any topic or competitor website.

What it costs: Free with limited data; plans start at $99 per month

6. Tweak Your Biz Title Generator

What it does: Type in your topic, hit enter, and then this tool spits out hundreds of share-worthy blog titles for you to choose from.

What it costs: Free

7. Inbound Now Blog Title Idea Generator

(Source)

What it does: This tool is slightly different than the previous one. It randomly shows you a blog title idea where you can fill in your topic. You keep clicking to see more ideas, until you find the one that grabs your attention.

What it costs: Free

Content Management Tools

9. HubSpot

What it does: HubSpot is the best end-to-end Inbound Marketing platform that allows you to manage your blog, social media, email marketing, list segmentation, lead generation and scoring, landing pages, and more.

What it costs: 30-day free trial; plans start at $200 per month

8. DivvyHQ

What it does: DivvyHQ is an entire platform that helps you plan, schedule, and publish content, as well as manage the entire workflow.

What it costs: 14-day free trial; plans start at $1,000 per month

10. Kapost

What it does: Kapost is a content management framework that allows you to create content, distribute it on social media, and view analytics.

What it costs: Plans start at $1,000 per month

11. Siege Media Content Marketing Checklist

What it does: This is a helpful checklist to make sure you’ve done everything you can to create the best piece of content.

What it costs: Free

12. WordPress Editorial Calendar

What it does: Allows you to easily manage your blog posts with a drag-and-drop interface and schedule publishing.

What it costs: Free

13. Trello

What it does: Trello is a visual-based organization tool that allows you to manage separate projects or “boards” at once.

What it costs: Free

15. Google Drive

What it does: Google drive is a cloud storage software that allows you to create and collaborate on word documents, spreadsheets, presentations, forms, and drawings.

What it costs: Free

14. Evernote

What it does: Evernote is like Trello and Google Drive combined.

What it costs: Free with limited features; plans start at $24.99 per year

Tools to Improve Your Content Marketing

16. Inkybee

(Source)

What it does: Provides insights about websites to help you identify influencers for outreach and PR.

What it costs: 14-day free trial; plans start at $79 per month

17. BuzzStream

What it does: Research influencers, manage your relationships, and conduct outreach that’s personalized and efficient.

What it costs: 14-day free trial; plans start at $29 per month

18. SocialOomph

(Source)

What it does: Allows you to schedule social media posts, track keywords, manage multiple accounts, and more.

What it costs: 7-day free trial; plans start at $6.97 every two weeks

19. Outbrain

What it does: A service that lists your blog posts under “relevant articles” or “promoted stories” on major websites such as CNN, TechCrunch, and ESPN.

What it costs: Minimum daily budget of $10

20. GetResponse

What it does: It’s a more advanced version of Aweber or MailChimp for email marketing.

What it costs: 30-day free trial; plans start at $12.75 per month

Measuring Progress and Tracking Metrics

21. Google Analytics

What it does: Measures your web traffic and provides insights into traffic sources, demographics, user behavior, and more.

What it costs: Free with premium options for big websites

22. Advanced Web Ranking

What it does: Provides SEO audits, tracks rankings, keyword research, content optimization, and more.

What it costs: Licenses start at $199

23. Moz

What it does: Moz is a comprehensive tool that provides analytics, competitor research, and tracking for a variety of metrics.

What it costs: 30-day free trial; plans start at $99 per month

24. Share Tally

What it does: You type in a URL and this tool shows you where it’s been shared and how many times.

What it costs: Free

25. ShareMetric Chrome Extension

What it does: A Chrome extension that compiles link data and organic search visibility from several popular marketing tools.

What it costs: Free on Google Chrome

Tools to Increase Conversions

26. OptimizePress

What it does: Allows you to easily build landing pages to drive sales of your product or service.

What it costs: Packages start at $97

27. Visual Website Optimizer

What it does: Run split tests, track user behavior, and optimize pages with minimal technical knowledge.

What it costs: 30-day free trial; plans start at $49 per month

28. Optimizely

What it does: A simple tool for running A/B tests and tracking user behavior without using code.

What it costs: Free with limited features; plans start at $17 per month

29. Crazy Egg

What it does: Creates heat maps of your website that let you visually analyze user behavior.

What it costs: 30-day free trial; plans start at $9 per month

30. Leadin

What it does: A free tool from HubSpot that lets you track user behaviors, convert visitors into email subscribers or leads, and provides detailed contact information.

What it costs: Free

Bob Ruffolo

Bob is the founder and CEO of IMPACT, an agency he formed in 2009 to help people and their organizations succeed by changing the way they market themselves online. Since its founding, IMPACT has achieved its status as one of HubSpot’s first Platinum Partners in less than 2 years, and secured its place as one of the top inbound marketing agencies in the country.

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Starting from Scratch: 6 Steps to Your First Content Marketing Plan

Content marketing is amazing for attracting your target audience and building a relationship with it.

There is just one problem, though…

How do you do it?

I share a lot of content marketing tips in my posts, but those posts usually assume you’re already doing content marketing, at least to some degree.

But if you haven’t started yet, or are very new to it, you won’t get as much out of those posts as those with some experience.

So, if you’ve felt that my past posts about content marketing have been too advanced for you, this one will help.

I’m going to give you a step-by-step process to follow to create a successful content marketing plan.

I’m talking about a plan that is simple to understand and execute but that can be used to drive thousands of qualified visitors to your website every month (in less than a year).

Why content marketing?

There are several dozen types of marketing.

They can all produce good results when applied in the right situation.

But I think we’re in a special time for content marketing.

Businesses and marketers are recognizing how effective it is in the modern consumer climate.

People have always liked to buy from businesses and people with whom they have relationships and whom they trust.

Until the Internet, it was hard for businesses to build those relationships.

But now, it’s easier than ever to deliver content to an audience.

This is important whether you’re selling straight to the consumer or to a business. A recent survey found that 67% of B2B buyers base their buying decisions on content.

And they don’t become just buyers—a large percentage of them also frequently share that content (most often in the form of a blog post – 40%).

Most marketers have just started recognizing all this.

Currently, 80% of B2B marketers have a content marketing strategy.

However, 48% (overall) do not have a written plan. In 99% of cases, this means that they really have no clue what they’re doing.

That’s good news for you. Why? Because just by putting in some effort to go through this post and writing a few things down, you’ll be ahead of over 50% of online marketers.

I’ll let you in on a secret:

Most businesses suck at content marketing.

Seriously, look at the blogs for most businesses—they’re a joke.

But still, 30% of marketers find content marketing“effective”, and another 44% get some results from it.

Don’t be in those bottom three groups…

There’s no reason why you can’t find content marketing very effective for generating traffic and, most importantly, qualified leads for your business.

Follow the six steps I cover in the rest of this post, and write down your notes as you go.

In the end, you’ll have a short, clear, and effective content marketing plan to base your future work on.

Step 1: Why are you doing this?

Before you can start producing content of any kind, it pays to do a bit of planning.

If you just produce content for a general audience, chances are you won’t get much in the way of results.

To really see great results, you need to:

Identify your target audienceCreate content that resonates with those specific readers

When you create general content, it will never resonate with anyone, which is why it isn’t effective.

But it’s not enough to just target a specific audience. You need to understand their beliefs, problems, and desires so that your content matches them.

Part #1 – Who are they? Create a section in a blank document for Step 1. At the top of this section, you need to define who your target audience is.

For example, if you sell running gear, your audience may be “runners.”

But do you see the problem with that?

While “runners” is technically an audience, it’s not a well defined one.

There are many different kinds of runners:

professional marathonersprofessional sprintersrecreational joggers (do it for fun)runners trying to lose weightrunners trying to strengthen their legs…

…and so on.

Do you think you could create content that would speak to both a professional marathoner and a random guy that’s just trying to lose his beer gut?

Not a chance.

Get as specific as you can. You want to identify an audience who would agree with your label.

A professional marathoner would say:

I’m not just a runner; I’m a professional marathoner who trains year round and races six times a year.

I’m not a running expert, so six times might be too many, but you get the point…

Once you have the name of your audience, write it down.

Now you can start to build a reader persona.

Give your average audience member a fictional name before moving on to part #2. This allows you to write to one person, which is an old copywriting trick for writing in a more conversational tone that is more likely to resonate with your readers.

Part #2 – What are they struggling with? Here’s where serious research comes into play.

You need to start profiling your reader.

In this part, you’ll identify as many problems your target audience faces as possible. If you can, classify them by severity.

Let’s continue with the running example.

How do you find out what problems marathoners have?

The best way to gather that information is to simply talk to them. I know it’s not the most comfortable thing in the world to do for some people, but if you can, chat with a few for 10-20 minutes.

Ask them about their biggest problems and obstacles.

If that fails, head to online forums and community sites specifically set up for your target audience. You want to find a place where they talk to each other about their problems.

If you have no clue where to start, start with Reddit.

You can find a subreddit (basically a categorized community) for just about any topic.

In this case, a simple search on Google reveals a couple of “marathon” subreddits:

Spend at least 20-30 minutes looking through the threads you find.

Record any problems you see people talk about as well as how often they come up and how serious they seem to be.

On the first few results, I already see two problems:

beginner marathoners who are not sure about etiquette during a race and
racerunners having joint pain during a taper (when they reduce their mileage leading up to a race).

Ideally, get a list of over 100 problems.

It sounds like a lot, but it’s doable, and you’ll be set for content ideas for a while.

Alternatively, do a search for forums on Google.

In this case, these results are probably better.

They are geared towards experienced marathoners, whereas that first subreddit was focused on beginners (although it will have some experienced runners too).

You do the exact same thing here—look for problems.

Again, I see a few problems right off the bat:

How do you set your pace for a marathon?What do you do if you start getting pain leading up to the marathon?

Write down your list of problems (in your document or in a separate spreadsheet) before moving on.

Part #3 – Where do they look for solutions? In order to provide your audience with solutions to their problems, you need to find a way to get those solutions in front of them.

Most of these places are online, so that’s what you should focus on.

You need to compile a list of websites they visit.

That starts with the forums and communities you just found in part 2.

Other than those, you’ll just have to search around.

I would recommend starting with:

top (niche) sites
top (niche) blogs

You should be able to compile at least 20-30 “popular” sites they visit.

If it looks like a site only has a few dozen readers, don’t bother recording it.

Record these sites as we’ll be coming back to them later.

Part #4 – How will you solve their problems better than anyone else? No matter what your topic is, there are already at least a few popular sites that cover it.

Readers need very good reasons to either add your site to the ones they already follow or replace one of them with yours.

And the way you convince them to do that is bygiving more value.

If your content is clearly better than that of your competitors’, you will draw readers away from them.

Start by going to the most popular sites in your niche.

Look through their content, and note any weaknesses in it.

For example, I picked the first popular marathon site I found, which was a blog on a major running site.

The content is written by a true expert, but it’s quite basic, and it’s very anecdotal.

I would note under weaknesses:

Not enough images, lists, etc.Could use more data supporting pointsVery short, doesn’t dive into the topic thoroughly

Then, I would move on to the next blog.

After 5-10, you’ll start to see the same things pop up every time. These are your opportunities.

Go back to your document. Your goal here is to create a concise description of how your content will be more valuable to your target audience.

For example:

Our content will include a lot of relevant visual content as well as data-driven answers. We will go deep into subjects to try to satisfy our target audience.

Having that description to guide you in the future will ensure that you focus on the right things.

Step 2: Here’s how you figure out the best type of content to produce

The “content” in content marketing can mean a lot of different things.

Pretty much anything that can possibly contain a message is considered content. That includes:

blog postsinfographicspictures (drawings, comics, photographs, paintings)podcastsvideose-booksslideshows

and much more.

If you produce certain types of content for your audience, you’ll get better results than you would with other types.

To figure out what the best type is, you have to consider two factors.

What are your audience’s preferences? Some audiences prefer certain types of content over others.

For example, home decorators are mainly looking for visual content. Pictures and videos are the primary form of content in the home decorating niche.

On the other hand, a niche like nutrition mainly will have your standard text content with pictures mixed in.

The tough part is figuring out what is best for your niche.

To do this, we’re going to look at a few different indicators.

Start by heading to Buzzsumo. Create a free account if you don’t have one yet, and then search for your niche (you can choose a broader niche here).

What you’ll likely see is that one of the main social networks is much more popular than the others.

If Pinterest or Facebook are the most popular, image-based content is going to be crucial. Pinterest is a purely image-based network, while images are by far the most shared type of content on Facebook.

But that’s not a perfect overview of the whole situation.

What about things like podcasts?

That’s where you need to search individually. The two other forms of content you need to check for are podcasts and videos.

With podcasts, you can use two methods.

First, you can look at Stitcher’s top 100 podcasts in a relevant category.

In our example, I picked “sports” since that’s what running would fall under.

I looked through the top 100 and couldn’t find a single podcast about running. That tells me there isn’t a lot of interest.

Ideally, you’d like to see at least a few different podcasts about your niche as an indicator of some interest.

If you see 3-4 in the top 10, that tells you that audio content is huge in your niche and you should definitely incorporate it into your content strategy if you can.

Anther way you can check for podcasts is to simply Google “top (niche) podcasts”.

I found a few, run by some popular websites. Then, I looked them up on Stitcher and found that they had barely any reviews. This means they aren’t very popular.

In this case, audio content is out.

Finally, what about video content?

Well, that’s pretty easy to check for. Go to YouTube, and search for your niche. You can also try a few suggestions from the search bar.

This actually surprised me. There were many marathon-running videos with several thousand views.

I didn’t expect this, which is exactly why you need to check.

Look at the number of views on each video. You’ll have to decide what you’d consider a significant number, but I’d be looking for at least 10 videos to have at least 20,000 views to indicate serious interest.

If there’s only one video with a ton of views, it’s likely a one-off viral fluke and should be discounted.

What are your strengths and/or budget? The second main factor depends on your skillset. If you’re not a good writer, you probably want to lean towards a different type of content.

Often, you’ll find that multiple forms of content are equally popular in your niche. That gives you a lot of flexibility. You can use any combination of them.

But what if only one type of content is popular?Well, then you have no choice.

If you aren’t comfortable creating that content, you have a decision to make:

learn how to create it or
hire someone to do it for you

If you have a healthy budget for content marketing, hiring is always a good option.

If not, you’ll need to develop those skills on your own.

Now, combine the two: Now you’re looking for the intersection of these two areas:

the type of content desired by your target audience and
the type of content you can actually produce.

The type(s) of content that falls into both areas is the one(s) you should produce for your target audience.

[Read the full article here:  http://www.quicksprout.com/2015/11/06/starting-from-scratch-6-steps-to-your-first-content-marketing-plan/]

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