I use these content marketing, research and optimization tools to run my business. I've also tried and tested some of these content marketing tools while working as a content marketing strategist.
Remember, when considering if your business needs a new content marketing tool, first identify the specific problem you want to solve. Then, evaluate your budget and how you or your team collaborates and creates content. Finally, pick one and get to work.
This article contains some affiliate links meaning we earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
1. Grammarly Business
I use Grammarly to find and fix grammar errors in articles, blog posts, and book chapters. This AI-powered writing assistant helps me fix more mistakes than the traditional grammar checker in Google Docs on Word.
A few months ago, I upgraded to Grammarly Business. It enables collaboration with other freelance writers for my various content websites.
After they send an article, I run it through Grammarly to check for grammar mistakes and other issues. When vetting a new freelance writer, I also use this tool to check for plagiarism. This checker helps me find missing citations in my work, too.
Using the Grammarly Business style guide, I can ensure a consistent tone of voice, with correct acronyms across each site. Writers can also use the Chrome extension to log into this account.
Pricing: From $12.50 per month, per user
Use for: Grammar checking, plagiarism reports and maintaining a house style guide
Also try: ProWritingAid, Antidote
ProWritingAid is a comparable alternative to Grammarly. It offers a desktop app and additional reports for improving content quality. If you'd rather use a grammar checker without relying on internet access, check out Antidote.
2. Hemingway App
This is a good writing tool for content marketers who work with the written word.
If you're building a business on a tight budget, Hemingway helps you edit work by freelancers. Basically, it highlights lengthy and complex sentences and indicates grammatical errors. This free tool shows how to clarify and condense sentences so readers find them more engaging.
The result should keep people reading and engaging with content for longer, which could potentially increase conversions. It's one of my preferred writing and editing tools.
Use for: Editing
Also try: Grammarly
Over the years, I've tried and tested various writing apps for my content websites.
These days, I use Ulysses the most. It enables me to write content fast and use Markdown. Ulysses also doesn't lock my content into a proprietary database or into a system that's hard to extract content from.
It sits on top of a library of plain text files, meaning I can easily switch from one writing app to the next.
With Ulysses, I can write and edit content on my Mac, iPad on older devices. Previously, I used IA Writer and Byword tools, both of which are minimalist writing apps that get the job done.
I also use Scrivener for long-form, writing projects.
However, if you're creating content for the web, Ulysses is a great choice because it enables you to write in Markdown, and share and publish your content directly on Medium, Ghost or WordPress.
Pricing: From $5.99 per month
Use for: Writing blog posts and web content
Also try: Byword, IA Writer
4. CoSchedule Headline Analyzer
A good content marketer understands the importance of a headline. The headline is what convinces people to click, read and even convert.
You need a good headline for your articles, ebooks, sales pages and key parts of your website. Writing a good headline is part art and part science. This tool will help you balance both. CoSchedule also offers publishing tools for blogging and social media publication schedules.
Pricing: Free on registration
Use for: Writing headlines
This is a good content marketing tool for identifying what types of content are trending within your niche or industry.
It helps you research viral headlines and determines the ideal word count for a piece of content. You can use Buzzsumo to identify influencers and connect with them for podcasts or for outreach campaigns. It generates metrics and insights about your most popular content.
Buzzsumo also helps figure out what competitors are creating, and their preferred channels, before reverse engineering it.
Pricing From $99 per month
Use for Content ideas and research, content curation
Also try: Ahrefs (it now has reports comparable to Buzzsumo)
Ahrefs is my keyword management tool of choice because it helps me identify keywords that I can create content for, based on competitiveness and search volume. It also helps identify issues on my own site, such as broken links, pages without internal links, slow pages, and other technical issues.
I also use Ahrefs to track the rankings of key posts, monitor backlinks and explore content by competitors.
It's a good content marketing tool for researching SEO-optimized articles. I use it in tandem with Clearscope to figure out a content strategy for each niche site these days.
Pricing: From $82 per month
Use for: SEO keyword research, site audits
Also try: SEMRush
If you want insights on a competitor quickly and easily consider SimilarWeb. You can plug the URL of a competitor into SimilarWeb, and it will present information about their total visits, visit duration bounce rates, target audience and so on.
It shows where they attract their web traffic, and if they're running display advertising. The free version features are limited, but it's a good starting point for competitor insights before upgrading to either the paid version, or a comparable research tool. The pro version is expensive for small businesses.
Pricing: Free/$249 per month
Use for: Competitor research
Also try: Ahrefs, Buzzsumo
Every month, I commission between 1 to 200 SEO optimized articles across my various niche websites. Using the Clearscope keywords tool and its reports, I can figure out search intent for relevant topics across Google and other search engines.
This functionality helps me map out a content strategy for each niche site. I can also create a content brief or template quickly and easily, and send it to writers.
I've tested various other content optimization tools over the past year or two. Clearscope balances ease of use with providing high-quality insights about what to include in publishable content.
It also offers a handy Google Chrome plugin. Freelance writers I work with can continue using Google Docs as part of their workflow, all while optimizing content for Google and other SERPs.
Pricing: From $170 per month
Use for: Content research and optimization
Also try: SurferSeo, Frase, Topic
I spent several months earlier this year overhauling content on my main site. This optimization project involved editing, rewriting, deleting and redirecting over 200 different articles.
I worked on it with the help of a freelance writer, and also a copy editor. Using MarketMuse, I identified what content to update, merge and or delete.
This in turn helped me figure out what types of content creation activities to focus on. Although I like MarketMuse, it’s a steeper learning curve than Clearscope.
Pricing: $179 per month
Use for: Content optimization and strategy
Effective content marketers create and manage an editorial calendar. It helps them identify what they're going to publish, where and when. I've tried various forms of editorial calendars while working as a copywriter and content strategist.
I use Airtable to manage my editorial calendar. It's basically a spreadsheet on steroids. Airtable enables me to group content across all of my different sites by writer, author, and publication status.
Airtable enables collaboration with other writers too. It offers several powerful reports and integrations that can help me see how much content is in production and identify bottlenecks.
However, Airtable has a learning curve. I spent several weeks and contacted support a few times while building my Airtable content marketing database. If in doubt, Google Sheets and other spreadsheets are versatile, useful and free alternatives.
Pricing: From $10 per month, per user
Use for: A content database or editorial calendar
Also try: Google Sheets, Loomly
Trello is my personal and project management tool of choice. It's easy to use, cheap and effective. Trello helps me adhere to the rules of Kanban, that is:
- Visualize all your work in one place
- Limit your work in progress
This methodology helps me utilize the content marketing resources in my business more effectively.
It’s also a good choice for collaboration. I create one Trello board per niche site and add assistants to each board. I also break down each board into to do, doing and done. Airtable offers similar Kanban functionality to Trello.
Pricing: Free/ $10 per month
Use for: Project Management
Also try: Clickup, Google Sheets, Slack
Visual assets are an important part of any effective content marketing strategy. I'm not a designer, but I still want to ensure that each of my content websites has a consistent look and feel. So, I use Canva to create images and collaborate with other graphic designers on infographics, blog posts, and social media images.
Canva Business is a good digital marketing tool because it enables you to set a style guide. You can set a font and color scheme for each site and share it with team members tasked with creating or repurposing visual assets for a blog or social media.
Pricing: $9.99 per month, per user
Use for: Graphic design
Also try: Adobe Creative Cloud
Email marketing delivers the most returns for content marketers. ConvertKit is my email marketing service tool of choice for the various content and niche websites I run. It balances usability with affordability.
It offers powerful marketing automation tools for content creators, such as tagging, automations, segmentation functionality and the ability to resend unopened emails.
You can also set up time-saving workflows. ConvertKit has many competitors including MailChimp and Active Campaign, both of which offer similar features for content creators.
Pricing: From $29 per month
Use for: Email Marketing
Also try: Active Campaign, MailChimp, Hubspot
14. Smarter Queue or Tailwind
I use SmarterQueue and TailWind to manage content sharing across, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. I use both of these tools with the help of an assistant who creates and manages content for these social media channels.
Despite the functionality of these social media automation tools, you’ll get more value from social media by spending time building relationships directly with followers, fans and subscribers, particularly on Twitter.
Pricing: From $19.99 per month
Use for: Social media management
Also try: Buffer or HootSuite
Buffer is a great tool if you want to curate content and share across social networks like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest.
I built this site using this content management tool. It’s an ideal tool for content creators who want to monetize their business. It also helps you set up both a free and paid subscription newsletter too.
In other words, you can use Ghost to combine or replace comparable services like ConvertKit, Patreon and WordPress. Previously I used Substack which is free. However, I migrated from Substack to Ghost for several reasons.
Firstly, Substack charges a 10% commission on paying subscribers. That adds up. Secondly, Ghost has additional tools for publishing Google search engine optimized articles that Substack lacks. Thirdly, Substack is more geared towards independent writers and journalists rather than those building content websites.
Ghost has fewer technical headaches than WordPress. Although, it makes more sense to use WordPress if you're building a content website and monetising via advertising or affiliate marketing.
Pricing: From $9 per month
Use for: Creating a subscription business
Also try: Revue, Tiny Letter, Substack
I manage almost all of my content sites using WordPress. It's the industry-standard content management system for small and large businesses.
WordPress isn't perfect. Large WordPress websites tend to encounter more technical headaches and slow down. I also have a love/hate relationship with the Gutenberg page editor.
However, if you’ve a business need, chances are a WordPress plugin can address it. It's still a great choice if you want to build and monetize content websites, through publishing, affiliate marketing and digital marketing.
Use for: As a content management or publication system
Also try: Ghost, Substack
17. Google Analytics
Any good content marketer knows what content drives the most traffic, subscribers and purchasers to their business. Google Analytics is the industry standard analytics for reviewing the performance of content and marketing campaigns. I've used Google Analytics for years, and I'm mostly concerned with:
- Completed goals or conversion rates for landing pages
- Unique pageviews for articles
I review these stats each week to gauge what to do more or less of. It's fascinating to see Pareto’s Principle in evidence while using Google Analytics. That is 20% of activities drive 80% of the results. In my case, 20% of my articles drive 80% of the traffic.
I've noticed this trend across a series of content websites. As analytics tools go for content websites, Google Analytics is a workhorse. However, if you'd like to get to grips with its more powerful digital marketing features, CXL offers an excellent training course.
Use for: Analytics and tracking
Also try: Simple Analytics
As a content creator, you undoubtedly spend a chunk of your working day collaborating with other people. For example, if you're a podcaster, you may collaborate with an editor who prepares shows for publication.
Or perhaps you work with freelance writers who help you create content for a site. It's time-consuming to write up feedback and send it to team members over email, particularly when you're trying to explain a concept.
Loom is a useful tool for recording short screencasts and videos to share with team members. It’s ideal for creating tutorials and providing feedback too.
Pricing Free/$8 per month
Use for Recording screencasts
Also try: SnagIt
It's helpful to understand what visitors are doing when they land on your website and interact with content. Hotjar is an easy to use and affordable analytics tool. It enables you to create heat maps and publish short surveys that your readers or customers can take.
I've tried a couple of different heat map tools. Hotjar offers the best balance between ease of use, price and functionality for a small business. It also offers practical insights or metrics you can use to improve content quality.
Pricing: Free/$99 per month
Use for: Heatmaps, surveys
Also try: VWO
VWO is a high-end alternative to Hotjar. I tried VWO for several months. It enabled me to increase conversions on some affiliate content on one of my niche sites. However, it's also quite expensive and has a steeper learning curve.
As a content marketer, you depend on a high-converting landing page.
They help small business owners connect with a target audience, and generate leads. They are also the place for presenting a relevant offer.
When I need to create a high-converting landing page fast, I use LeadPages. It takes about 10 or 15 minutes using a series of high-converting templates to build one.
You can also access additional content marketing tools such as pop-up bars alert bars, and so on. And you can also sell digital products directly using a Leadpage or a landing page.
Pricing: From $27 per month
Use for: Building landing pages
Also try: Visual Web Optimizer (VWO)
21. Google Workspace
Google Workplace is a good choice for most content marketers. It contains a full suite of Google Docs tools for collaborating with marketing team members.
For example, use Google Sheets to collaborate on budgets or reports, Google Docs to collaborate with other writers and editors, and Google Slides for presentations. You can also give team members email accounts under your domain name.
Pricing: From $10 per month, per user
Use for: Business email and collaboration
Also try: MS Office 365
Best Content Marketing Tools: The Final Word
The best content marketing tools help bloggers, content creators and small business owners create, publish and share content their audience engages with.
They enable savvy content creators to accomplish more, with fewer resources, all while growing business revenue. Don't start with the tools. Instead, pick a content problem you want to solve and then select a tool within budget.
How do I choose content marketing tools?
Don't start with tools. Instead, review your content strategy. Decide what you want to achieve and how you will deal with your available resources, whether that be freelancers, money or time. Then, pick a content marketing tool that helps you achieve your objective, faster and more efficiently.
For example, a tool for an editorial calendar should help you plan and publish search engine optimized content efficiently and consistently. A freelancer should use a free spreadsheet. A small business owner could upgrade to a database like Airtable.
What is the difference between marketing tools and content marketing?
Whatever the size of your digital workplace, marketing tools enable business owners to generate leads and convert them into customers. Content marketing tools, however, focus on the production and sharing of content with your ideal audience. They support both the creative process and your business objectives.