The best content marketing tools for the research phase (1/6)

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best content marketing tools edition 1 research phase

Content marketing has a lot going for it. It’s 63% less expensive than traditional advertising. It’s an opportunity to build an audience in an authentic way. But it does require quite a bit of work and management if you want to see results.

That’s not an impossible challenge, but it is a challenge. Getting content marketing to work takes some finesse. So why make things hard? Why work harder than you have to, or take longer than you have to? That’s what most of us are doing, nevertheless.

The Contently blog published some very interesting data about content marketing last week. They asked over 400 content marketers if they use a tool or platform to manage their content marketing. More than half of them don’t.


The next question they asked is even more interesting. Only about one in three content marketers has a tool that shows them content effectiveness. Q19.png

This is rather surprising. It’s not like there’s a shortage of content marketing software available. It’s not like content marketers don’t need any help. But about half of us are using our own, in-house systems. Maybe it’s a patched-together Excel sheet, or maybe a Google calendar that serves as editorial calendar, idea management, and a process chart.

Some carefully chosen content marketing software definitely help. To give you the specifics on how it could help and which pieces of software might help, we’ve put together this series of walk-throughs of all the basic functions and tasks required for content marketing, plus which pieces of software to use for each function.

This doesn’t include every piece of software you could use. But it does include the heavy hitters and the most popular tools.

I hope it gives you some ideas for how to better use software in your content marketing. Excel and whiteboards and notepads are all great tools, but we probably shouldn’t be running an entire content marketing department with them.

These are the 6 phases of content marketing:


Caption: Image is from 6S Marketing

Want to understand more about each phase of content marketing, why it’s important and the details about how to do it? Get a copy of ROI or RIP – The Lean Content Marketing Handbook for SMBs. It’s over 80 pages of best practices for developing and executing a content marketing strategy.

This week, we’ll go over the best content marketing tools to help you in your research phase.

The best content marketing tools for the research phase.

1. For competitive analysis:

This is a keyword, pay per click and SEO tool that has both a free and paid version. SpyFu will show you which keywords your competitors are ranking for, the demographics of their traffic, and much more. It’s almost an unfair advantage.


2. For keyword research: The Google AdWords Keyword Planner.

There are other keyword tools available, but this is still the gold standard. You will need a Google AdWords account to use this tool, but that are be set up just by registering. Two other keyword research tools that are widely used for both SEO, content marketing and competitive research are SEMRush and Moz.

3. To find out which content gets the most shares: BuzzSumo.

BuzzSumo will tell you the most shared content for a keyword or a URL. It will let you sort that content by format (video, article, infographics) and by date. It also shows you who shares that content the most.

4. To aggregate all the content being published on a topic:

The free account lets you track one topic. will let you start gathering, sharing and organizing the content in your niche. It’s an ideal way to keep tabs on what’s being published.


And if you’re a marketer and need an integrated content marketing solution, you should check out the new software Content Director, specifically designed for small marketing teams.

5. Get a 360-degree view of your competitors:

Want to see complete social media profiles and activity, compare a list of competitors, track their content and a dozen other metrics? Here’s the tool to do it.

6. Track hashtag usage, demographics and way more: Keyhole.

Keyhole tracks hashtags on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

To round out your research, also create a few buyer personas. Those are the types of people you’ll be creating content for.


Hope this list helps you gather information on the best possible software! Please let us know in the comments.

Next week we’ll go over the most efficient tools to help you with the content creation phase.

If you want to get 30 effective techniques to master content marketing along with valuable insights from 10+ influencers like Mark Schaefer, Rebecca Lieb, Lee Odden, Jason Miller or Ian Cleary, download our free eBook now!


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About the Author

Pam Neely
Pam Neely has been marketing online for 17 years. She's a serial entrepreneur and an avid email and content marketing enthusiast with a background in publishing and journalism, including a New York Press Award. Her book "50 Ways to Build Your Email Marketing List" is available on Pam holds a Master's Degree in Direct and Interactive Marketing from New York University. Follow her on Twitter @pamellaneely.
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Betty Stephens
Betty Stephens
8 years ago

It’s an amazing post! I always read your articles! Pam, you’re wonderful.
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Alison D. Gilbert
8 years ago

Fascinating article and a great concept. I can hardly wait for parts 4,5,6 of the Content Marketing series. I am archiving the series on

8 years ago

Thanks! I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to exclude it from my analytics, only to think that creating content would be a much better use of my time.

I’d like to share in exchange a list of 100 content marketing tools.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x