According to a study by chainstoreage, consumers are spending an average of 79 days conducting online research before buying. This approach has pushed organizations to take the route of content marketing over traditional marketing.
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable and relevant content to attract and retain your target audience.
Unlike traditional marketing, instead of pitching products or services, in the content marketing approach we provide relevant and useful content to our prospects to help them solve their issues.
But with the increasing popularity of content marketing, so many content marketing tools are cropping up everyday. All the tools claim to have unique features and be different from each other. Some are free while others are paid.
So ultimately what was created for ease of automation, is causing confusion for most content marketers. In this post we are going to divide content marketing process into 3 major parts and classify tools accordingly.
The major steps of any content marketing strategy are:
- Content creation
- Content distribution/promotion
- Content analysis
We have compiled a list of free and effective tools that will help any marketer carry out these three processes. So let's dive in:
Content curation tools
The first step of content marketing is finding the right topics and keywords that will help you create amazing content that everyone loves. These tools will help you find the content that everyone is talking about:
BuzzSumo gives you analytics-driven insights about which topics or influencers are getting the most traction in your industry.
BuzzSumo will fetch you the highest ranking, most social and most influential content that matches your search terms.
This helps in finding what kind of posts one should write about and also gives you relevant data on where to put your money for advertising purposes.
You can put any topic in and will automatically get a list of content that has performed well in the social space, can organize it by time and even by type of content. Some of the worth mentioning features are (Available in pro version only):
- Create content alert
- Content analysis report
- Domain comparison
Google Suggested search results ( that come in instant search and bottom of page - long tail topics)
This is one of the most overlooked but valuable data resource. Google suggested search terms are the suggestions before you’ve even finished typing and at the bottom of the search result page.
These are generally popular search terms and have gold mines of long tail keywords.
Here is how you can use this tool to find the trending topics of your niche:
Type in any keyword that you want to target for an article or product page and you think people must be searching for
Scroll to the bottom of the page and take a look at the “Searches related to…” for that keyword
Usually you’ll get a mix of close variations of your main keyword. Take one of the keywords from the “Searches related to…” area, put it into Google again, and check out the “Searches related to…” results for that keyword.
Keep repeating this process until you find some great searches that can be turned into possible topics for blog posts.
Google will also sometimes show you a gem: a related keyword that isn’t just a simple variation of the keyword you entered but a potential topic to write about. Here is an example:
The “growth hacking software” or “Free growth hacking tools” can be great topics for blog post.
Content promotion tools
So by now we have learnt where to find the right topic and have created an amazing piece of content around it. Now we need to promote it across various social channels and forums etc.
Doing it manually can take forever and will not be productive. This is when you need content promotion tools. Here is the list of some of the best ones:
Buffer is an automation tool that automates the timing of your social media posts so you don’t always have to post content manually. It supports almost all social networks, notably Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
To use Buffer, you can sign in using a Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn account, or you can create a dedicated Buffer account if you choose. Once you're signed in, you can add the social networks you didn't use to sign in.
There you can compose tweets and status updates which can be posted across multiple networks at once or you can decide when to post them. You can post them immediately, or choose the "Add to Queue" option.
Another great feature of Buffer is that it offers a browser extension for Firefox, Chrome, and Safari that lets you share content from any Web page.
So let's say you are reading an amazing piece of content and you want to tweet about it.
You don’t need to go to your Twitter account and then tweet it. It adds a small icon to your browser that allows you to share a link via Buffer, directly from the page itself.
It even suggests text to go along with the link and gives you the option of posting it now or adding it to your Buffer.
You ask for more? Buffer has analytics too. You can analyse which tweet or post performed the best or worst just by analyzing it in Buffer.
SlideShare is the world’s largest community for sharing presentations. It gets over 60 million unique visitors per month. Not only presentations but SlideShare also supports documents, PDFs, videos and webinars.
Slideshare not only gets you quality traffic but also helps you rank better in Google search results. What more it’s free and easy to use. All you have to do is sign up and share the content that you already have.
Pro tip: SlideShare doesn’t allow live links in the description of the presentation. You can bypass this problem by inserting a live link inside your presentation.
4. Click to tweet
The easiest way to promote, share & track your content on Twitter is using “Click to Tweet” Click to Tweet is pretty easy to use tool.
Just go on the website, write the message that you want others to share in the box. Click the "Generate New Link" button to get a custom link.
Once done you then copy the link and place that in your blog post. Make sure you make the quote short enough to allow people to retweet it within Twitter itself.
Share the link and track the activity of each link over time. When a user clicks on the link, they will have the message automatically added to their Twitter status box and they can easily share your content.
Content analytics and measuring
After creating great content and promoting it everywhere, comes the next step ie analyzing how well the content performed.
This is the ultimate step in the content marketing process as it decides if all the work is going to get us any fruitful results.
So the tools for content analytics have to be easy to use as well as accurate. Here are the best free analytics tools:
Google Analytics is one of the most widely used platform for content analysis because it’s free and comes with a lot of features.
You need to put the Google Analytics code into your website’s HTML to kick start recording.
It will then start measuring goals for you such as different pages a visitor clicks on, the time they spend on your website and the actions they take.
One of Google Analytics’ best features is the Goal Funnel, with which you can set up a string of URLs that a consumer clicks through when interacting with your website. This information allows marketers to adjust their strategies accordingly.
Google will also report the keywords people search that bring them to your site. This information is useful in creating future content that will attract more visitors.
Piwik’s free analytics software that you can use if you find Google Analytics’ interface a bit overwhelming. You’re required to download the program and host it on your server.
Piwik offers similar features to other analytics tools, including event tracking, visitor demographics and keyword search. Two worth mentioning features that sets Piwik apart from GA are: it offers a mobile app and has unlimited data storage.
Another great feature of Piwik is row evolution, which allows you to hover your mouse over any link or event, click on the graph icon and view that data in detail.
You can even sort rows and compare them to see how each performed on different platforms. Where GA is a more generic tool for analyzing all kinds of data, Piwik is more inclined towards content analysis.
These were some of my favorite tools for content marketing. Now there are many paid tools available too and depending on your budget you can try those as well. If you know of any other free tool that is worth mentioning do let me know!
About the Author: Thomas Kriebernegg can look back on over 10 years of experience in Online Marketing and 5 years in App Marketing. He is an app enthusiast and the CEO at App Radar, an online App Store Optimization Tool that helps app developers understand and optimize their app store appearance.