How to Build a Just-right Content Marketing Software Stack

No matter how fast we move, marketers can’t seem to keep up or catch a breath. New platforms, social media channels, technologies and trends arise each year. With these changes, new marketing software options likewise continue to pop up, each promising to solve our marketing woes in a single click.

In our recent Content Planning Challenges, Trends & Opportunities report conducted among marketers, the largest group of respondents (a full 23%) did not have a budget for marketing technology. Across other groups of respondents, budgets varied drastically. No matter your budget, there are dozens of marketing software categories to throw your money at. You could blow your budget in any single category.

Unfortunately, content marketing software isn’t usually first on the list. 

But today’s marketers are quickly realizing how integral a solid content marketing software stack is to their entire marketing footprint. Why?

Well, what fuels an effective pay-per-click ad? The right content. What about interactive landing pages? Again, content. How do you ensure social media success? The right content, to the right audience. Blogging. Whitepapers. Video. Email. All of it boils down to content. If you can’t effectively manage and plan for content, you’re sunk before you’ve begun. Plain and simple, content is the fuel that drives today’s marketing engine.

Which is why building a just-right content marketing software stack will be key to surviving the future waves of consumer behavior shifts, platform changes, and media preferences.

In the coming weeks, we will be publishing posts on how to build your content marketing software stack across four key categories:

  1. Strategy & Planning Tools
  2. Content Creation & Optimization Tools
  3. Marketing Automation & Lead Management
  4. Data, Analytics & Dashboards

So whether your budget is zilch, or you’ve got thousands to spend each month, we can help you frame up key questions, considerations, and common pitfalls you’ll face when building out your content marketing software toolkit.

Surveying the Software Landscape

Marketers know they need tools. But sometimes, the sheer volume of endless options can leave them in complete shock. Each year releases the following graphic, which serves as a nice visual for how overwhelming this process can be.

Captain Obvious moment here… the landscape is convoluted, cluttered, and claustrophobic. For every tool you buy, there are a dozen more that claim to perform the same task, but better.

So how do you sift through all the options without losing your mind? In our new series, we’re going to take a bit different approach and help you do just that.

Part 1: Strategy and Planning Tools

Unfortunately, content marketing strategy and the tools that make it possible have both been woefully misunderstood by many. All too often, strategy and planning get mixed up entirely. In a huff, marketers fire up a content calendar software or spreadsheet, fill it with content and move on to the next box they need to check. Without understanding a core audience, their behaviors, and the strategic objectives of your marketing, this approach is bound to fail.

No foul content plan survives contact with customers unscathed. In a matter of weeks, these same marketers are often scratching their heads wondering why the results are sub-par. What they often don’t realize is content marketing strategy is an absolute necessary prerequisite to tactical planning.

In our first deep dive, we’ll explore four key components of content marketing strategy. We’ll also uncover how software can help you streamline, and bring each these four areas to life, including:

  • Content Planning
  • Execution
  • Distribution
  • Measurement

“Getting past our organizational priorities to truly examine and know what our audience needs is the only way we can ensure our planning efforts will be more impactful with content.”
– Robert Rose, Chief Strategy Advisor, Content Marketing Institute

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Part 2: Content Creation & Optimization Tools

As content channels proliferate and real-time customer expectations skyrocket, marketers often find themselves stretched beyond their limits. While organizations want to build a presence across new content channels, they likewise can’t afford to slow their pace on existing channels. In addition, many up-and-coming tactics such as video, interactive web design and even 3D content require more from teams than ever before.

Finding the right software for content creation and optimization is tricky. Everything from the size of your team and style/format of content you’re producing, to the level of production you expect from your key players will impact which tools you rely on at this phase.

Which is why in our second installment, we’ll discuss how to spot the right software for content creation and optimization. In addition, we’ll uncover methods for using these softwares to unlock greater efficiency. We’ll cover how to use software to manage:

  • Team workflow
  • Publishing cadence
  • Search engine optimization
  • Social media

“Going forward, real-time marketing is going to be the holy grail of marketing.”
Jonathan Mildenhall – CEO, Airbnb

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Part 3: Marketing Automation & Lead Management

Maybe you’re thinking, “Marketing automation and lead management … what’s that got to do with content marketing?!” Trust us, this is where the rubber meets the road in B2B content marketing.

Few realize the amazing potential of aligning their B2B content marketing strategy with their marketing automation, lead management, and sales process. When marketers can demonstrate ROI on content, they get buy-in from leadership faster, scale programs faster, and prove out the value of content for years to come.

Which is why in our third installment of this series we’ll be discussing how to select marketing automation and lead management software that aligns with your content marketing strategy. In this post, you’ll learn the importance of:

  • Building content around an audience
  • Leveraging each phase of the funnel
  • Using multi-channel nurturing
  • Enabling sales through content

“The best content plans embrace the creative tension of diverse perspectives. Combine the C-suite’s business directives with the content creators’ storytelling vision to create compelling stories that challenge conventional thinking.”
Maggie Schneider Huston, Senior Content Manager, UPS

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Part 4: Data, Analytics & Dashboards

So at this point you’ve likely cozied up to a target audience,  developed an airtight content marketing strategy and maybe even produced rich pieces of targeted content. But how will you measure success? And how will you know which campaigns, content and topics to prioritize if there’s no ruler, compass, or analytical true north?

Even if you’re just measuring a few key numbers, this phase is essential. It’s when you decide which data, analytics, and dashboard tools will help you keep tabs on performance. In our final installment of this series, we’ll weigh in on how to focus on the numbers that matter most, and leverage tools that can simplify analytics. We’ll discuss how to:

  • Choose the right metrics
  • Evaluate analytics & dashboard packages
  • Avoid analysis paralysis

“I see niche analytics tools within the technologies that make up the stack. These tend to be in the service of tactical decisions made by agile implementation teams—for instance, platforms that help marketers run tests and acquire data quickly, the most common example being multivariate testing platforms for web.”
Roland Smart, VP of Social & Community Marketing, Oracle

For more advice on content marketing strategy, content planning, and how to future-proof your content program, download The Future-proof Guide to Content Marketing Strategy.