5 Must-Have Content Marketing Tools

May 31, 2014

Before you get caught up in the countless marketing resources out there, make sure you’ve mastered these five content marketing tools.

Have you noticed how many new companies have popped up in recent years with the aim of helping content marketers be more successful?

The resources available are endless: There are some companies that offer writing services and others that can help you with content management and content delivery. Still others provide services to measure your content’s impact or help you increase the levels of engagement that your content drives.

And while some of these companies are indeed quite good (you can contact me if you want my opinions on specific companies), it’s important you don’t get distracted by all of the bells and whistles. Before trying out more specialized resources, content marketers should first focus on developing the five simple tools below.

1) A Content Matrix

content matrix is a simple grid that allows you to track important information that will help you inform your content strategy. For example, a typical content matrix will include information on your buyer and the journey he or she is one, the  points along that journey where the buyer is likely to get hung up or stuck, and the conversion goals you are trying to achieve at each stage of the journey. It’s also a place to track what types of content you are going to create, what key messages that content will communicate, and the method you will use to deliver that content.

2) An Editorial Calendar

Editorial Calendar
By providing a framework for developing and releasing content, an editorial calendar can help you visualize how you are going to execute your content strategy. It will also help you stay focused so that you can both create new content and update existing content on a regular basis for each of your buyers at every point of the buying process.
Importantly, your editorial calendar is also your primary tool for communicating your content agenda with the rest of your organization. It provides transparency into what you are doing in a way that everyone will be able to understand.

3) A Content Creation Calendar

Content Creation Calendar
In addition to an editorial calendar, it’s helpful to maintain a document that tracks the creation of individual pieces of content. Whereas an editorial calendar gives you a high-level overview of what’s being published when, a content creation document will allow you to track the work being done on individual pieces of content so that you stay better organized.
For example, in this document you will note when drafts of content are due from your freelancers, whether or not an eBook has been proofread, or who still needs to review your next white paper before it can be published.

4) A Content Marketing Style Guide

A company’s content — including its website, blogs, collateral, thought leadership, and social media — can help create and nurture a strong brand if it is clean, crisp, and consistent. Conversely, if your content lacks these characteristics, it can quickly undermine your brand. That’s why every company needs a content marketing style guide.
Good style guides document and standardize everything, from the unique terminology a company uses to describe itself to its spelling and punctuation preferences. The style guide becomes a basic road map that everyone can follow to help create consistent, high-quality content. It’s important to focus on making your style guide a useable, actionable document. For a great example, see MailChimp’s amazing interactive style guide Voice & Tone.

5) Process Documents

Every time that you establish a process for your content factory, whether it’s how to create a case study or how to promote a big piece of content through social media, it is important to document that process. This not only institutionalizes the process, creating a standard that can easily be replicated over and over, but it also ensures the effective transfer of knowledge so that new employees, freelancers, and interns can all quickly get up to speed on how things are done.
If you want to be successful at content marketing, I strongly suggest starting out by creating the five content marketing tools listed above. Until you have them in place, you’re wasting your time pursuing all of the other services and tools out there.

Looking for a One-Stop Guide to Utilizing Content Marketing Effectively?

By building out a targeted content marketing function, even small marketing teams can create and distribute the content they need to support their company’s go-to-market strategy by generating leads, nurturing them at key points throughout the buying process, and, ultimately, driving sales.
Download our content marketing ebook guide. It covers everything you need to know to transform your marketing with content that converts.

Photo by: OZinOH

Content Marketing Director

<strong>Kevin Cain</strong> is the Content Marketing Director for <a href="">BlueChip Communication</a>, Australia's leading financial services communication firm. Before joining BlueChip, Kevin was the Director of Content Strategy for OpenView.