The right content marketing software can make the difference between you being the New York Mets of content marketing—and you being the New York Yankees of content marketing. But there are currently over 5,500 marketing technology solutions for marketers. Imagine if you had 5,500 of any other thing to choose from. 5,500 ice cream flavors? How about 4,000 flavors, 500 toppings, 500 candy coats, limited budget, and you need to choose at least one of each?
This example isn’t nearly as high stakes as spending thousands of your company’s dollars on software. But it’s easy to see how walking out of that ice cream shop without anything might be the easiest option.
Counting marketing technologies is like counting stars in the sky—there’s always a higher resolution at which you could see more. – Chief Martech
The sheer volume of technology solutions, the variety of possible combinations, and confusion about how the different options play together makes choosing content marketing software a difficult process. This guide shows you what to look for and which steps to take when choosing content marketing software.
What exactly is content marketing software? Unlike other software categories, you can’t easily compare content software to other content software in a simple “which one is cheaper, better, more effective” kind of way. This is because the software options within this category are so disparate.
When you examine all the myriad of products offered under that umbrella—production, workflow, curation, distribution, resource markets, analytics, etc.—you quickly realize they aren’t apples-to-apples: there are oranges, bananas, pears, and a whole exotic fruit basket in there. – Chief MarTech
Categorizing marketing software can feel like trying to define the latest craft beer style when your usual drink of choice is Bud. There’s a constant evolution of marketing categories, along with a lack of definition around content marketing software.
This guide defines which aspects of a content marketing software tool to look at when you’re selecting. It also covers how you can use these aspects to develop your ideal tech stack, the questions to ask a sales rep, why they’re important, and an overview of several types of content marketing software. There’s also the key players in a given category, and their biggest strengths and weaknesses.
Understand: What Is Content Marketing Software?
To determine what falls under the umbrella of content marketing software, let’s first look at the definition of content marketing:
The function of Content marketing is the process of developing, executing and delivering the content and related assets needed to create, nurture, and grow a company’s customer base.
Content marketing software, then, is software that helps with these functions. It should assist with the creation, distribution, consumption, or analytics for your content.
Some examples of content marketing software functions include:
- Content sourcing
- Editorial calendars
- Content sharing and distribution
- Curating content
- Content optimization (think SEO)
The ways these software solutions can help are varied and broad. But the general benefits to having content marketing software in your arsenal include:
- Speed up creation
- Better creation
- More creation
- Assistance with ideation
- Simplified collaboration
- Easier scheduling and planning
- Distribution to multiple channels
- Data analyzed for you
The tools that will win going forward are those that aren’t in silos.
– Amanda Kahn, 6Sense
Evaluate Your Needs
If you’re a content marketer, you need some form of software to support your content marketing. There’s a 124 percent higher response-to-win rate when using content marketing software, and a 44 percent higher conversion rate. This makes it hard to ignore the merits of using software to support your content marketing strategy.
Investments in content, process and technology are replacing media as the place marketers are spending to save money to innovate. – Matt Heinz, Heinz Marketing
Here are some points to consider when determining which software will most benefit your organization.
Content Marketing Goals
Don’t start shopping for software before you determine your broader marketing goals, content goals, and content strategy. Once your strategy is complete, look at the biggest goals for your team and compare that against your biggest gaps to determine need. Some of these goals might include:
To increase site traffic
- Produce more content
- Increase lead volume
- Improve lead quality
The focus shouldn’t be to always stay ahead of technology. The speed and succession in which the platforms change is mind-boggling. The focus should be aimed at making sure that you are investing in the technology that makes the most sense for your specific business and customers. —Michael Williams, former CMO of Grand Prix of America, Formula 1
Content Marketing Gaps
The first way to evaluate software is based on your marketing team’s gaps. Start with one of the four main processes of content marketing: creation, distribution, consumption, and insight. While many content marketing tools do more than one (or even all four) of these things, knowing where your weakest area is can help you determine what to look for.
Luckily, it’s becoming less and less difficult to determine which solutions are the best fit for your organization.
Technology must become an extension of how marketers work on a daily basis. – Dale Zwizinski, KiteDesk
Point or Platform Solution
Today, there are many content marketing platforms available. While these are very helpful for organizations that already have a strategy in place, some fledgling content marketing teams might benefit from a point solution first (or in conjunction with a platform) to get their content marketing off the ground.
“You could also mix in content recommendation engines like BrightInfo and personalization software like Optimizely that enhance or improve those experiences, or data enrichment software like DemandBase or ReachForce to fill in the information gaps on your leads. There are numerous platforms and point solutions that touch or “own” a portion of content experience management, much like there are ones that touch or own other buckets within the other pillars.” Convince and Convert
Only 21 percent of sales people consider their CRM software’s integration capabilities with marketing software or other tools to be high quality. Integrations are important if simplifying processes and reducing time spent on housekeeping tasks is a priority. Poor integrations will cause your team to become bogged down by sharing and comparing data in more than one platform.
Company Reputation and Establishment
There’s pros and cons to this one. Knowing how long a company has existed, its credibility, and its reputation is important in determining if a software solution is right for your company. An established, widely adopted technology provides a level of stability and assuredness in selecting it. However, a new solution can help position you as an early adopter, and enable you to be a ground breaker in a new method or technology for achieving your goals.
Determine how much budget you have to spend before you start shopping. It’s easy to get sucked into all the bells and whistles of an enterprise level solution, but chances are if you don’t have the budget to buy it, you probably don’t have the bandwidth to fully use it.
Even an all-star marketing and content marketing team can sometimes hinder the success of your marketing technology implementation. Consider your team’s experience implementing and managing technology before determining which software solution you want to implement. While technology should simplify, a lack of understanding of technology or experience managing a robust platform can sometimes hinder your team’s success.
Most brands and marketers only utilize 15 percent of technologies and capabilities they are already paying for, so the focus should not be in the number of technologies that need to adopted, but in “applying” them to solve business needs and changing consumer behaviors. —Mayur Gupta, SVP, Head of Digital Capabilities & OmniChannel Business, Healthgrades
Evaluate Types of Content Marketing Software and Options
For the purpose of this post, we’ll focus on software that ties specifically to the four main parts of content marketing. For a more complete look at content marketing tools, check out The Ultimate List of Content Marketing Tools.
Content Creation Software
Key Functions: Assisting with the creation or scheduling of content.
Percussion simplifies the content creation and publication process. It enables content contributors without technical skills to take content from zero to live quickly, and provides tools for measuring effectiveness and improving SEO.
WordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS) in the world. It is a powerful publishing platform that allows marketers to create and maintain websites and blogs.
Content Distribution Software
Key Functions: Whether helping you push out via email, social channels, or some other medium, it helps you distribute your content. While the examples listed below focus on the act of distribution, platforms such as SlideShare could also be included in this category.
An email marketing platform that assists with distributing and automating emails to promote and share content.
A video media platform dedicated to improving engagement and supporting video online.
Content Experience Software
Key Function: Impacts the way your audience experiences the content you’re creating. This could mean assisting in creating an interactive experience, personalizing your content, or something else.
Here are some examples.
Evergage’s real-time personalization platform enables digital marketers to improve visitor engagement, customer experience, and conversion rate optimization.
Creates interactive customizable landing pages for your content.
Content Marketing Analytics Software
Key Functions: Offer content marketers greater insight into how they can improve their marketing based on data, analysis, and insights.
Here are some software examples.
Acrolinx helps improve your content by analyzing your content for style, readability, and SEO. It helps ensure your content is on brand and on target.
In-depth content analytics that offers insight into your content’s performance whether it’s your website, social media, or SEO.
Content Marketing Platform
Key Functions: A software solution that helps marketers drive awareness, leads, and revenue from content. This platform enables a data-driven, scalable, and multi-channel approach across four process areas: strategy, production, distribution (publication and promotion), and analytics.
Here are some examples.
Curata Content Marketing Platform integrates with your marketing automation software and CRM. Features include an editorial calendar, the ability to track content (both gated and ungated) directly to revenue, and track performance by author, topic, content type, and more.
Offers advanced calendaring, and designed to support planning, executing, distributing, and analyzing full-funnel content.
Helps outsource writers, calendar, and analyze content process. Task management, brand governance, security.
Looking for a content marketing platform to supplement your content marketing strategy? Learn How to Select a Content Marketing Platform Vendor.
Talk to Sales
So, you’ve narrowed it down to two or three software options. Now it’s time to talk to sales. Here are some questions to ask, and some some tips for getting a better understanding of the software.
1. Ask Questions
When doing research, ask yourself the following questions:
- Will my team actually use this?
- Is this useful for other departments?
- How flexible is the vendor in price, implementation, etc.?
- Is the software flexible? Are there varied use cases?
- Will this software scale with my company?
- Can it generate custom reports?
- Does it allow for easy external/internal communication?
2. Check Out The Vendor’s Content
The vendor’s website and content are a good indicator of how you could use the software and the type of content you can create with it.
3. Look at Reviews
Consider these options for online software reviews:
4. Read Customer Testimonials and Case Studies
Most software companies include testimonial and case studies on their website. If you’re looking for something specific, reach out to sales.
5. Speak to an Existing Customer
You can do this before or after your demo call. Speaking to an existing customer can give you a more thorough idea of how the software has performed for other organizations beyond the information shared on the vendor’s website.
Don’t just ask for customer references. Go on blogs and review sites to get an unbiased variety of customer experiences.
After researching vendor options, pick your top two or three content marketing software choices and schedule a demo. This will show you what the interface looks like and how your team could benefit from the software.
Questions to Ask During a Demo
When examining a new product and learning what you’re getting yourself into, be thorough. Ask the following questions during your software demo:
- Does your software integrate with XYZ software?
- What training/onboarding is involved, and is it included?
- What kind of support will I get after onboarding?
- Is there a limit on the amount of content/leads collected/customers/ etc. before having to pay more?
- Are you able to customize your software to my specifications (if there’s an added feature or change that would make the platform more attractive to your organization)?
- How often do you update this platform? What updates are in the pipeline?
- Why should we choose you over your competitors?
It’s also beneficial to make a list of key features/processes you want the vendor to cover in the presentation and create scorecards based on the priorities you outlined above.
Pick Your Software
Modern marketers like you will want to choose vendors and solutions that are best-in-class for their respective function, rather than buying into false hopes of all-in-one suites. —Convince and Convert
Choosing content marketing software requires significant due diligence. You need a clear understanding of what content marketing software is, how it aligns to your organization’s goals, and the key features you need.
One of the most important things content marketing software should offer is granular analytics capabilities that allow you to measure exactly how your content is performing. Learn how to use data and technology to optimize your content marketing ROI with The Comprehensive Guide to Content Analytics and Metrics eBook below.