The Framework of Tools for Content Marketing By Robert Rose
When I was in college, my roommate used to hold up one giant screwdriver and say, “This is the only tool I’ll ever need.” And, he’d hammer nails with it, open boxes with it, open beer bottles with it (yes, college was like that). It was everything he needed. Sadly, the same can’t be said for all the different tools you need to manage a successful content marketing process.
The tools you really need are there to help facilitate the process you’ve come up with.
I put that sentence in bold, and by itself, because it’s important. Process and strategy come first – and then the tools. You might be like my room-mate and be able to work magic with one tool. Or, you may need a complete suite of technology in order to meet the objectives you’ve created for yourself.
That sentence is also why this post will not be a “round up” of tools for content marketing. The truth is that just about anything can be a “content marketing tool.” Right now, I’m writing this post in Microsoft Word. It will contain images created in Adobe Photoshop. It will subsequently be placed into a content collaboration tool, published through a content management system, and measured by an analytics system. Anything that helps you create, manage, optimise and measure content could be called a content marketing tool.
Therefore, it is important discuss a framework for which you might choose tools that are appropriate for the content marketing process.
The landscape of content marketing tools
In the book Managing Content Marketing, Joe Pulizzi and I discuss the internal content marketing process. While it’s certainly no revolutionary map, it’s as good a model as any in describing the major components of a successful content marketing approach.
We speak to four steps:
- Create, Edit and Manage: Where we understand that in order to create content for content marketing, a company needs to assemble a team, develop a workflow that makes sense, establish the rules everyone will play by and agree to follow a pre-determined game plan.
- Aggregate, Curate and Optimise: Where we understand how to align all the content across a larger narrative, pull content in from disparate locations and teams, curate it to provide a consolidated, distinct point of view and optimise the content for all of the various channels we manage.
- Promote, Converse and Listen: Where we stay focused, and manage inbound conversation as well as publish content outbound. We understand that we have to promote content through traditional marketing methods, and we have to socialize it in our communities.
- Measure, Analyse and Learn: Where we measure to understand how the content is changing or enhancing conversion rates, engagement, loyalty or other KPI’s and, ultimately, how our content is (by our definition of content marketing) changing or enhancing consumer behavior.
As you might expect, many of the extraordinarily well covered technology solutions were core in this mix. For example, in the Create, Edit and Manage stage you would include all of the modern Web Content Management and blogging solutions, as well as file sharing technologies. In the Optimise, Aggregate and Curate you might include classic content optimisation, curation, and intelligence tools. The Promote, Converse and Listen stage would, of course, include the social channels themselves, as well as the more enterprise listening tools. And, finally, the Measure, Analyse and Learn stage would have many of the Web analytics tools.
A new look at the technology landscape
With a more nuanced view of the “in-between”, we feel like we can provide some additional insight. So, we identified these spaces, and started to map these newer technology solutions into them.
Since there are four main stages in the process, we created four “overlap” stages to map these technologies into areas of the process that they help facilitate.
These ended up being:
- Content Collaboration Tools: Where ‘Create, Edit, and Manage’ overlaps with ‘Optimise, Aggregate, and Curate’. These tools facilitate content editorial workflow, empower the enterprise to manage teams (either external or internal) and enable collaboration on content.
- Curation & Conversation Tools: Where Optimise, Curate & Aggregate overlaps with Promote, Converse And Listen. These tools help to promote, publish and aggregate content in meaningful ways, while in many cases also help manage the content optimisation process by using social signals to provide intelligence.
- Social Content Analytics Tools: Where Promote, Converse & Listen meets Measure, Analyse & Learn. These tools help to maintain relevance in conversation, while also providing insight into what we should be talking about. From specific niche social channel analytics, to semantic processing of social media conversations.
- Engagement Automation Tools: This is where Measure, Analyse and Learn comes back around to overlap with Create, Edit & Manage. More than the classic Marketing Automation, many of these tools have the ability to not only manage some form of content, but they do so from the point of view of helping the marketer “optimise” the content for engagement and conversion purposes.
Is this the right way to map these tools? Well, the answer is a most definite “maybe”. But, given the fast moving, and disruptive nature of the market right now, and how many of these new solutions are actually overlapping one another, it’s the one we’re going with right now This is a way to look at these solutions through the right lens today. Ultimately, a software tool is meant to make it easier to facilitate some part of a process that is difficult to do by other means. In our experience, if you can map your process, to the stages we have here – it becomes easier to identify these gaps and perhaps a solution that can help fill it.
If you have any questions about which tools may be right for you – contact us.