Content marketing can be highly effective and offers an impressive ROI. For these reasons, it should make up a significant part of your overall marketing strategy.
However, randomly publishing content without a plan is not likely to deliver great results. An effective content marketing plan should identify the topics that are of interest to your audience, set out the goals you hope to achieve by creating content, and plot out the content you plan to produce in the near future and how you will promote it.
While it’s certainly possible to plan out your strategy in an “old school” way, there are several tools available that can help you to develop a more effective strategy. With the right tools, you can track your efforts and results as you go.
What is a Content Strategy Platform?
Content strategy and marketing platforms come in many different forms and offer varying features. Some of the tasks that a content strategy platform can help you with include:
Identifying and researching content topics
Keyword research for SEO
Spotting trending and newsworthy topics
Auditing existing content
Curating content from third-party sources
Assigning and managing tasks across different team members
Generating appealing headlines
Scheduling content publication
Aligning content production with other aspects of your marketing plan
Sharing content across social media platforms
Generating and managing email campaigns
Measuring engagement and conversions.
Not all businesses will need a tool that does all of these tasks. That's why it's important to consider the needs of your team and business when choosing a platform that will work for you.
If you’re new to content marketing and need some help just to get started, a tool that can help you generate ideas and manage the actual content creation process will be very helpful.
For organizations that have been putting out their own content for quite some time but are not seeing results, software that analyses existing content to help figure out a “recipe” for success can be invaluable.
Think about your overall aim for investing in a content platform and your content strategy overall. Do you want to be more productive? Increase your ROI? Form better relationships with your customers? Build your brand? Being clear on what exactly you want to achieve will help you to select the right tools to meet those goals.
In some cases, you may need to invest in a couple of different platforms to get the mix of functionality you need.
Questions to Consider
Obviously choosing a platform that offers the functionality you require is the most important consideration when you’re comparing different platforms.
Beyond this, there are a few other questions you should ask yourself and your team that can help to cut down the overwhelming number of content strategy platforms into a more manageable shortlist.
Infographic showing the almost 7,000 marketing software solutions available in 2018. Source: https://chiefmartec.com/2018/04/marketing-technology-landscape-supergraphic-2018/
What is your Budget?
Different platforms can range in price from less than $100 a month to tens or even hundreds of thousands a year.
You need to make sure that the platform you choose will generate enough value to make it worth your investment.
If you’re managing a small business, or content marketing is only a small part of your overall marketing strategy, your budget for tools and software is probably limited.
On the other hand, it’s not worth scrimping on tools that could help to generate your business thousands of dollars of revenue.
Keep in mind the size of your team, how many people will need to use the tool, and how licenses are priced. Some tools offer different licenses for individual users, small businesses, and enterprise level.
How much time do you have available to learn a new tool?
All new tools and platforms have a learning curve, but some are more complex than others. Ideally, you want to choose a platform that is intuitive to use and has built-in help or learning modules so team members can learn functionality without needing time-consuming training.
If you’re already publishing a lot of content, you also need to think about how moving to a new platform will affect your current processes and plan accordingly.
Is the software scalable?
Ideally, you want to choose a content platform that will grow with your company so you can scale up as needed.
Right now your content strategy might consist of one person publishing one blog post a week and posting on three social media platforms, but a year from now you might want to manage a complex editorial calendar across multiple team members and platforms.
Make sure that the platform you choose offers room for growth and understand the limitations on different service levels within the platform.
Does it integrate with your existing tools?
If you need your content platform to integrate with your existing CRM, marketing automation, web analytics, and other tools, make sure it’s compatible before you do any further research.
Comparing Content Platforms
Once you’ve narrowed your selection down to a few different vendors, you’ll need to dig a little deeper to make sure your final decision is the right one.
Doing a little research on the company behind the platform is always a good idea – how long have they been in business? What clients currently use their software? What reviews and testimonials can you find? Do they provide case studies and customer success stories?
You can also ask vendors if they can put you in touch with existing customers to help you to identify if their product is a good match for your business.
Remember, the functionality of the software is only one aspect to consider. You also need to weigh up the support and training on offer, how frequently the platform is updated, and data security for cloud-based platforms.
When you’ve selected the most promising two or three platforms, schedule a demo with the sales team so you can get a real idea of how the software works and ask any further questions. This should be enough to help you make your final decision. Remember to include other stakeholders in the decision making process too.
After implementing your chosen platform, set a date for reviewing your progress and results. Depending on your content production schedule, this might be anything from a few months to a year.
If your chosen content platform is helping you to work more efficiently and is generating good results, you’ll know you’ve chosen correctly. If not, you’ll probably have a better idea of why it’s not working and you’ll be able to seek out a more effective solution for the future.