The most successful marketers use tools and templates to fast-track their work and access essential audience insights to guide their planning. It makes sense—who has time to reinvent the wheel each time and build campaigns based on gut instincts (which is also a guaranteed way to waste your marketing resources).
To help you accelerate and improve your work across a range of content marketing tasks, check out these must-use tools, templates, and frameworks that come highly recommended by the #ContentChat community of marketers and content creators.
What are your favorite content marketing tools? Do you have a favorite template to share? Let us know in the comments and we will keep this post updated with all your relevant submissions.
Content Curation Tools
Curating content from industry experts, media outlets, and reputable third parties is an essential way to provide value to your brand audiences. It also shows that you do not use your social media and other communication channels solely as a microphone to promote your owned content. To kickstart your content curation program, use these tools:
- Building Your Content Curation Road Map (Framework): Our consultancy founder Erika Heald shared this five-step road map for developing a content curation program in a past Content Marketing Institute session. It teaches you an effective content curation process and provides more details on a few of the tools we recommend below.
- Feedly: Feedly allows you to quickly create content streams from websites, RSS links, Twitter, and other content sources. You can even use Feedly to receive all your email newsletters.
- FeedOtter: Do you need to accelerate your email marketing? FeedOtter is a tool that can help you automate blog subscription emails to automatically alert blog subscribers when you publish new content. You can also build newsletters with its easy drag-and-drop tool.
- Flipboard: Quickly save, share, and comment on relevant articles through Flipboard. The site has a web browser extension that allows you to bookmark articles wherever you find them and organize them into various magazines. It’s like Pinterest, but primarily for news and non-visual content.
- Readwise: It’s one thing to simply save articles. But to effectively curate content, you need to know why an article is important to your audience (or why you saved the article in the first place). Readwise enables you to highlight portions of your articles and later revisit and organize those highlights.
Content Marketing Planning and Content Creation Tools and Templates
Savvy marketers know that the best content, regardless of its format, is created with audience insights and competitive intelligence in hand. Our community uses a variety of tools to create better content faster, and these are our must-use tools and templates for content creation and content marketing planning:
- 3×3 Writing Process (Framework): The 3×3 writing process is a framework to optimize your content creation and can help you beat writer’s block. It has roots in academic writing but can be applied to most content. Our friend Chris Craft at NeoLuxe Marketing discussed the 3×3 Writing Process during a past #ContentChat so you can learn more.
- AnswerThePublic: Are you having trouble coming up with your next content idea? Or do you want to validate your brand messaging? AnswerThePublic provides a monthly look at the search engine queries around a topic, brand, or product to spark your next content idea.
- Blog Content Audit (Template): Can you guarantee that every post on your company blog meets your current audience persona needs? We recommend you audit your blog content at least once a year to understand what content needs refreshed, what needs removed, and what could serve as the launching pad for your next campaign. We explain how to audit your blog content here to guide you through our template.
- Blog Content Planner (Template): Blog content planning is a vital exercise for marketers, and we encourage you to explore a few content planning templates to pick the one that works best for you. Past #ContentChat guest Eb Gargano is an expert in how to become a more productive blogger and she shared her free content planning worksheet as one option for you to try.
- BuzzSumo: BuzzSumo helps you find the most-shared content on social media and the influencers sharing that content. This can help you know what topics to expand on in future content and build your list of influencers to monitor and engage with.
- Content Planning Form (Template): Optimize your content creation workflow by using this content planning form from our consultancy. The document guides you through the key considerations for any piece of content to ensure you address all the essential planning and structural elementes.
- CoSchedule Headline Analyzer: Make your headlines more powerful by using the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer. It is an invaluable (and surprisingly fun!) tool that will coach you on how to improve the effectiveness of your headlines. Your headlines are given a score between 1 and 100, and you should aim for a 70 or higher.
- Editorial Calendar (Template): Coordinate and organize your blog and social media content using our consultancy’s template editorial calendar. You can use the sheet to document your upcoming blog posts and social media marketing activities so you can quickly review everything that’s in your content pipeline.
- Google Analytics: Google Analytics is a treasure trove of data (if you have your account and goals set up, that is). You can learn what topics people are searching for on your site, use UTM parameters to see what campaigns and channels are driving traffic to your website, and more.
- Marketing SWOT Analysis (Template): Before you start your annual marketing planning, it’s important to conduct a holistic audit of your marketing program and assess how your brand position has changed since your last audit. We provide a thorough walkthrough of how to complete a marketing SWOT analysis in this post. Download our template to get started with your team’s audit.
- SparkToro: Elevate your audience research by using SparkToro. The tool crawls tens of millions of social and web profiles (including podcasts and YouTube videos) to help you find the top content sources and influencers for your audience. You can get started for free to see for yourself.
- Quarterly Content Calendar Bundle (Template): A content calendar is essential for documenting your content strategy and visualizing your upcoming posts across social media, your blog, and other channels. Jessica Thiefels shared her quarterly content calendar in a past #ContentChat to give you the framework to start your first content calendar, with Google Sheets templates you can copy.
Executive Thought Leadership And Support Templates
Marketers often coordinate thought leadership activities for their clients and executives. This is especially the case for activities involving the chief marketing officer. To help differentiate your executive thought leadership profiles and for guidance on how to onboard a new CMO, check out these resources from our community:
- CMO Onboarding Plan (Template): Company leadership changes are common, and a lapse in leadership could be detrimental to your marketing strategy. If your team or client is hiring a new CMO or recently changed its marketing leadership, use our 90-day CMO onboarding grid to ensure your new marketing leader gets started on the right foot. We provide further background in this post on how to succeed in your first 90 days as a new content marketing leader.
- Thought Leadership Plan (Template): We use this thought leadership plan-on-a-page template at Erika Heald Marketing Consulting to identify the objectives, goals, strategies, and metrics associated with our client thought leadership programs. Create a separate sheet for each of your executives or priority campaign so you can quickly view all of your thought leadership plans.
- Thought Leadership Platform (Template): Our thought leadership platform template serves as an extension to the above thought leadership plan grid. Use each thought leadership platform document to provide key details and resources about your thought leader so your team can more effectively pitch them for relevant awards, conference speaking engagements, contributed content, or other marketing opportunities.
Graphic Design Tools for Marketers
Visual content is increasingly taking priority for marketing teams, especially because visuals are proven to capture the attention of your community and social followers. Don’t worry if you’re not a design expert—these tools can help you create impactful visuals with little effort:
- Beautiful.ai: Are you tired of using the same Google Slide or PowerPoint templates? Beautiful.ai is a presentation maker that simplifies the design process and helps you create engaging presentations effortlessly. This tool can also be used to visualize data campaigns or create graphics to accompany your content.
- Canva: Many marketing teams rely on Canva to easily create on-brand, unique visuals. The tool has a few plan options based on the functions you need, and you can access a variety of templates, icons, and stock photos to fast-track your design work.
- Google Slides: Need a free presentation tool that you can easily access from any device? Use Google Slides. It can also be used as a design tool, just export your slide(s) as a .jpg or .png.
- Prezi: Prezi is a lesser-known presentation tool that some teams have trusted for more than a decade. It provides dynamic capabilities that have an inherent visual advantage over previous-generation presentation options like PowerPoint or Slides. It also provides new video recording and streaming features through Prezi Video to allow you to overlay text and images on your presentation screen, with integrations with many collaboration tools.
Productivity and Workflow Management Tools and Templates
What is the best project management tool for content marketing? Although we cannot definitively say there is a best option, there are several great project management tools that our community loves to use.
Below are a handful of our favorite tools for project and workflow management, as well as a few productivity tools that we recommend you try. Ask your colleagues to see if they have experience with any of these tools, and set up free trials to test your top options based on the use case for your team:
- Airtable: Airtable is the first project and workflow management tool to appear in this list, but we also recommend a few others below. Per Derek in our community, Airtable is a great tool if your organization runs on spreadsheets and you’re looking to supercharge those capabilities. It can be used to manage project workflows, document customer journeys, and more.
- Asana: Asana is another project management tool option for marketers. At a glance, Asana enables you to organize project deadlines and resources, with more than 50 project templates to get you started. Other features include built-in messaging and the ability to create forms for your team to submit work requests.
- Basecamp: Basecamp has been trusted by 100% remote teams for years, and the tool is highly recommended for team collaboration and project management.
- Evernote: Evernote started as a simple way to take and organize notes, but it has evolved to become more of a productivity suite for work. You can easily share notes with your teammates, and its Work Chat feature allows you to collaborate on projects without leaving the app.
- LastPass: This is not a workflow management tool, but it is a vital resource for securely storing passwords and helping you access your variety of marketing tools. LastPass stores all your passwords in a vault so you can sign in to your accounts with just a few clicks. You can also privately share passwords with your team so they can access all the necessary accounts.
- Redbooth: We use Redbooth, a former client, at our consultancy to organize and manage our project deadlines. The tool allows you to track tasks across a variety of workspaces and projects with most of the essential functionality you need to store resources and manage workflows.
- Subtask: Subtask is a project management software that helps you organize tasks the way you want, prioritize them visually, and manage your projects more effectively. The tool was created by Frameable Inc., a current client, which offers a range of remote-first collaboration and productivity tools for teams.
- Time Tracking Worksheet (Template): Do you feel like there consistently isn’t enough time in the week to complete all your tasks? Use this time tracking worksheet to audit how you spend your time and identify your time wasters. This was created by past #ContentChat guest Deb Allison Lee, a digital productivity consultant.
- Trello: Trello enables teams to collaborate, manage projects, and oversee timelines through a series of customizable boards. But that just scratches the surface of what the platform enables. Melanie Graham in our community uses Trello to assist with content curation by organizing and color-coding her content. Check it out to see if it’s the best option for your team.
Search Engine Optimization Tools and Templates
The rules of search engine optimization are constantly changing. Instead of devoting your life to studying the current (and soon to be outdated) best practices of SEO, use these tools that will keep SEO concerns top-of-mind when creating and editing your content:
- Keyword Research Calculator (Template): Many marketers and content creators are misguided in their approach to keyword research—either spending far too much time developing massive keyword lists or failing to factor in keywords entirely. In this post, former #ContentChat guest Eb Gargano explains how to do keyword research and she shares her keyword research calculator.
- Moz: Moz provides free and paid SEO tools for link exploration, keyword research, domain analysis, and more. The tool offers a browser extension so you can quickly assess a site’s domain authority and extend Moz’s functions directly to the websites you visit.
- Search Engine Results Page Study (Checklist): Do you want your content to rank at the top of Google’s search results? There are core elements that determine where a webpage will rank on a search engine results page (SERP), and you can address these elements throughout the content creation process. Masooma Memon created this SERP Study Checklist to help you (and she regularly shares other must-have resources through her email newsletter).
- SearchAtlas/LinkGraph: Past #ContentChat guest Manick Bhan created LinkGraph, which is an enterprise SEO and link building agency that provides SEO software tools. You can learn more about their free and paid tools here.
- Semrush: If your team can only afford one paid tool to assist with SEO, we recommend Semrush. It’s an all-in-one solution to identify SEO issues across your site. Guru-level subscribers can create SEO content templates that identify the top SEO considerations based on your keywords to help your content perform well through search.
- Screaming Frog: Screaming Frog provides a free SEO Spider tool that helps you improve your onsite SEO. The tool can find broken links, audit redirects, discover duplicate content, and more!
Social Media Marketing and Management Tools
Social media has consistently proven to be a valuable medium to connect with brand communities, develop and nurture those relationships, and build a brand’s credibility. But to succeed with social media marketing, you need to do more than blast a few company-centric messages to your followers weekly and call it a day.
We recommend these tools to streamline your social media marketing and increase your content marketing success on social media:
- Agorapulse: Agorapulse is our consultancy’s favorite tool for managing our social media channels. We feel that its interface is intuitive and it enables us to easily share content across our channels and conduct valuable social listening.
- Followerwonk: This is a nice-to-have tool that helps you see social authority rankings for your Twitter followers and know when they are active. Paid versions provide more granular details on your followers, making it a worthwhile tool if Twitter is a priority for your team.
- Hootsuite: Hootsuite has been a leader in social media management for more than a decade, and it is a great tool to explore for your team. Much like the productivity and workflow management tools we shared above, your choice of social media marketing tool will come down to your team’s specific use case, budget, and preferences on the user experience.
- MeetEdgar: MeetEdgar could also fit in our content curation tool category. Edgar is used to create a library of social media content that is randomly pulled from to post to your channels. This is great for scheduling evergreen social content, with a bulk upload option that can save you countless hours of scheduling.
- Social Media Channel Audit (Template): Improve the quality of your social media marketing by conducting a social media channel audit. Our template will help you understand how your company and your competitors perform on social media, how your company thought leaders are helping your efforts, and the topics you should explore on your channels.
- Sprout Social: The third social media scheduler that is commonly used by our community is Sprout Social. Sprout also provides features for social listening, engagement, publishing, and analytics, making it a great option for teams of all sizes.
Spelling, Grammar, and Content Accessibility Tools for Marketers
There are countless tools available to check the spelling, grammar, and accessibility of your content, including built-in features in most word processing applications. However, many of the default options only provide bare-minimum functions. The best tools actively coach you on how to improve your writing and guide you through the best practices. These are some of our favorite tools for spelling, grammar, and content accessibility that fit that bill:
- Grammarly: Every content professional needs to use a spelling and grammar tool that can work across sites and apps. Grammarly is a go-to pick for many marketers because it is incredibly easy to use and works on most platforms, like Google Docs.
- Hemingway: Hemingway is another popular spelling and grammar tool for content marketing, with an added focus on the readability of your content.
- Readable: Unlike Grammarly and Hemingway, Readable is primarily positioned as a tool to test and adjust the readability of your content. It’s the preferred choice for several of our community members that work in the education and medical fields where content accessibility is a top-of-mind concern.
- Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool (WAVE): Many marketers can improve the accessibility of their content. To help, WAVE will analyze any web page and provide an at-a-glance look at errors like contrast, potentially confusing link text, missing structural elements, and more.
- Web Accessibility in Mind (WebAIM): Ensure that the contrast of your site meets accessibility standards using WebAIM. It can help you test the foreground color and background color of various page elements and help you provide the ideal contrast for readers.
Video and Audio Content Tools
Video content is expected to be the top content marketing-related area of investment for teams in 2022, according to research from MarketingProfs and Content Marketing Institute. With the right planning, your video content can be repurposed to extend its value across channels, too! To get started, learn about the five types of video content for a more effective content marketing strategy here, and see below for a few of our favorite tools for creating video and audio content.
- Adobe Premier: If your team has a trained video editor or graphic designer, we recommend you see if they would like to work out of the Adobe creative suite (including Premier). Adobe’s products provide the professional-grade features and capabilities that most professional designers prefer. However, it can be pricey and there is a steep learning curve (which is why our following video tool recommendations may be a better fit for your team).
- Apple Final Cut: Final Cut provides many of the same features as Adobe in its video editing suite. We recommend you explore both options if you are looking for a deluxe video editing tool.
- Audacity: This free, open-source, and cross-platform tool lets you edit or record audio. Several of our community members use Audacity to edit podcasts and audio interviews.
- Ecammlive: If you exclusively work on Mac, Ecamm is an all-in-one livestream production platform with support for multiple cameras, HDMI capture devices, and Apple product screen sharing.
- GIPHY: Some messages are best sent as a .gif. Find and create GIFs using GIPHY.
- Hindenburg: As your team matures with its audio content strategy, you’ll need a tool to effectively combine and edit audio from multiple sources. Ideally, your tool will automate some of the most repetitive and technical tasks. Hindenburg is a great option for professional podcasting, radio production, and audio editing.
- Kapwing: Kapwing is designed to streamline your video creation, from recording and editing to publishing. You can upload and convert videos, adjust timing and position clips, add subtitles, and more.
- OpenShot Video Editor: This simple video editing software is 100% free and open-source. It’s a cross-platform video editor to trim and slice footage, add audio, coordinate transitions, and add subtitles.
- Otter.ai: Any video you create should be repurposed for other formats, like social media copy or a blog post. Otter.ai is a tool to transcribe voice conversations through an AI-powered assistant.
- Rev: Rev is another option to convert audio and video content to text. You can also use it to generate on-screen captions for your video content.
- StreamYard: This browser-based live streaming studio helps you effortlessly manage professional live streams across Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and other platforms.
Join #ContentChat For More Marketing Resources
Did we miss your favorite marketing tools in our lists above? Or are you looking for recommendations on a category we did not include? Let us know in the comments so we can keep this post updated.
To get weekly tips to improve your marketing programs and to be the first to access the best templates and tool recommendations from our community, subscribe to the Content Chat Bulletin and join #ContentChat on Twitter weekly on Mondays at noon Pacific/3 p.m. Eastern and catch up on every chat recap here.
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