7 tools your agency needs to get started with content marketing
If your agency isn’t offering content marketing, it’s time to start before you’re left behind. That’s why we’ve put together this list of 7 tools your agency needs to start writing killer content—and see results.
Developing a blog and making your client a thought leader brings about 7.8x more traffic to their site and drives higher conversion rates. Content is incredibly valuable to your clients, but compared to services like Fiverr or Upwork where they can outsource it at a low cost, going to an agency for content marketing can be expensive. That’s why your agency needs top-notch tools to create top quality content for your clients. If content marketing is a new frontier for you, be warned—the internet is already saturated with it. You need to make sure yours cuts through the noise so customers will find your clients’ blogs and keep reading. You can’t just jot down some words and cross your fingers—if your clients don’t see numerical returns when they review their marketing budget, you’ll be on the chopping block. The stakes are high, but breaking into content marketing doesn’t have to be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve put together this list of 7 tools your agency needs to start writing killer content—and see results.
Research: Learn How to Maximize Your Efforts
When you’re planning your first blog posts, it’s easy to think that a great article will draw in readers, so many marketers spend hours researching trending topics to gauge exactly what they think people will want to read. But Walter Chen, an entrepreneur who earned his company’s first $10,000 relying almost exclusively on content marketing, posits a different strategy: Think distribution first. “The hardest part of starting a blog is acquiring your audience,” he explains—which is why you should start by considering the websites and platforms where you’re likely to attract the most readers. Craft all of your ideas and copy around that audience, and you’ll build a following much faster. Chen explains that there are two kinds of distribution channels: ones that help you acquire views over time and ones that act as a one-time, PR signal-boost. These tools will help you acquire both—and build a high-performing blog for your clients.
1. Moz for search engine optimization
Organic search is the most important distribution channel for your clients. About 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine, and 70-80% of users ignore the paid ads, focusing on the organic results. When your blog posts rank for search terms, they get consistent traffic again and again, bringing in customers who never would’ve heard of your clients. Moz can help you design your content with organic search keywords in mind. They assign each keyword a “score” by difficulty and by volume so you can target the ones that have the least competition and highest payoff. When you research topics your client’s audience is interested in, Moz helps you discover the keywords you’re searching for, so you never run out of ideas.
A sample screenshot of a keyword, its difficulty score, opportunity score, and potential score. [source]
The Best Feature: Moz provides weekly competitor reports that allow you to keep track of where your clients rank for each keyword you’re targeting—and how they stack up against competitors. Not only do these let you track your progress and adjust your strategy over time, but they also provide tangible metrics like number of backlinks and ranking position that you can use to let your clients know about the amazing work you’re doing for them. Pricing: Their most popular plan is $149/month, but they have larger plans for agency client management. Free Trial
2. Buzzsumo for content research
The challenge of creating excellent content for every client is twofold: trying to understand the audience they’re trying to reach and master the topics that will captivate them. It may feel like you’ll have to spend hours keeping your finger on the pulse of each new industry you encounter, but there’s a shortcut. BuzzSumo makes this easy to discover the highest-performing content for a particular topic. Their analysis gives you data on the most-shared articles and domains for any industry. Using this information, you can generate more on-target article ideas—and identify good candidates for backlinks and guest posts. You can also discover industry influencers and see who has the most social media clout, so you can ask them to share your posts.
The highest performing content for the topic “content marketing” on BuzzSumo’s platform. [source]
The Best Feature: BuzzSumo also offers competitor analysis reports, where you can see how your articles on a particular topic compare to competitors’. You can report to your clients when your articles get more shares than a competitor’s, so you can showcase the value of your work. Pricing: Their agency plan costs $239/month. Free Trial
Creation: Collaborate to Produce High-Quality Content
When you start with a focus on distribution, you’re guaranteed to get your content in front of people—but that doesn’t mean they’ll read it. Incredibly, 80% of people will read your headline, but only 20% will go on to read the first paragraphs of your article. And that 20% are probably only reading about 20% of the text on the page. But that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. It just means that you have to spend the time and effort to cut through the noise. Crafting attention-grabbing text means collaborating with your team, who can check and improve your work, and your clients, who are experts in their specific industry. Even if you’ve read and re-read that blog post ten times, a few fresh eyes might be able to see the element that takes it to the next level. Because you’ll be continually exploring industries you’re not familiar with, you need tools that facilitate collaboration. Here are the tools that promote collaboration and make it easy to work with both team members and clients.
3. Quip for document collaboration
You need a clean interface to write and edit your content where team members and clients can give their suggestions and make edits. If your clients can’t comment directly on your document, they’ll only be able to give you general feedback—and it will be harder to improve with each post. Quip’s cloud service platform acts as a collaborative hub for your content. Their platform lets you comment on certain sections of a document, message back and forth, and then track the changes that each collaborator makes. Google Docs is a free alternative, but Quip is inexpensive and has a few advantages. It’s got an easy-to-navigate interface and includes @-mentions so that you can tag team specific members when you want their help or when you need to reference past projects. You can also see the comment history in the sidebar for a better quick-look at what changes have been made.
A screenshot of changes from an agency that’s been using Quip. [source]
The Best Feature: You can add anyone from outside your team to collaborate on documents, too. Your clients can comment on drafts and request revisions without having to pay for their own Quip accounts or be added to yours. You can create a folder for each of your clients, and set specific permissions for each of those folders. Pricing: The cost is $10 per account (one for each member of your team) per month, which gives you unlimited documents, and sharing with clients is free. Free Trial
4. Gliffy for quick chart creation
Images are crucial to your content marketing stack. Readers remember only 10% of written content three days later, but information recall goes up to 65% if you supplement it with an image. When you need an image quickly and don’t have time to deploy your graphic design team for a simple chart, there’s a go-to diagram creation tool that creates clean, professional images without any design expertise. Gliffy helps you create quick, appealing charts and diagrams and lets your clients and team members collaborate on them, too. The drag and drop interface lets you build striking graphics that will pull the reader into your article and keep them reading.
A sample screenshot of a keyword, its difficulty score, opportunity score, and potential score. [source]
The Best Feature: Gliffy’s sharing platform means you can collaborate with anyone, including clients. Clients can leave comments or make changes. You can also see your revision history to easily make changes and go back and forth between iterations of a diagram. Pricing: $4.99/month, scaling to more for enterprise solutions. Free Trial
Distribution: Spread the Word to the Masses
Learning a new skill comes with a learning curve—which means you need to sink some non-billable hours in the short term to make more money in the long term. While the benefits of adding content marketing to your agency’s menu are clear, you might be nervous about the growing pains and learning curve of adding a new service. But one way to make a new service profitable right away is to package in bonus services that are low-effort and low-time commitment for your agency, but provide a high value to your clients. Selling distribution packages with content marketing services act as “force multipliers” that make the work you do more powerful without adding any extra effort. When you add content distribution to your services in addition to writing, you can charge more for your work without having to learn any new skills. Here’s the beginner toolset for helping distribute your clients’ content.
5. Campaign monitor for email automation
Creating a newsletter delivers your clients’ content directly into their subscribers’ inboxes. Instead of hoping their customers will go looking for a blog they probably don’t know exists, you can send articles that are tailored to their interests directly to them. When their customers become readers, they’re more likely to share your content—and get your articles in front of potential customers. Campaign Monitor’s email service tool lets you create newsletters in seconds using their templates and drag and drop features—no HTML required. Offering to create a newsletter in addition to a blog post—or send an email every time a post is published—is an easy way for your agency to bring an immense amount of value to clients while doing only a little bit more work. When you use their agency plan (which comes with a 10% discount), you can manage multiple clients’ accounts from your Campaign Monitor dashboard and discuss the details of their email campaigns with each of them separately.
[source]The Best Feature: Campaign Monitor allows you to “white label” their product and present it as your own, which means you can charge your clients simply to use your Campaign Monitor subscription. You charge for access to the email interface so they can design their own emails for your review, in addition to the newsletters you provide—an easy, no-effort way to boost your margins. Pricing: Starts at $29/month to send unlimited emails to 500 people, then climbs based on the number of subscribers. Agencies get a 10% discount. Free Trial
6. Hootsuite for social media sharing
Like creating a newsletter, jotting off a few tweets per day is a low-effort task and provides enormous value for your clients. Sharing on social media expands your client’s reach, and makes it easy for their readers to share with their friends—to increase their brand awareness. Hootsuite allows you to schedule social media posts in advance, so you don’t have to remind yourself to log on during peak sharing hours. They give you reports on the best times to share, too—so that the maximum number of people will see each post. Their platform cuts down on the time you’d spend switching between platforms by putting all social media accounts in one place. They allow you to pre-write and schedule posts, so you don’t have to log on throughout the day. They also help you track mentions (to see how your content is performing on social) and measure conversions by tracking a customer’s journey through social media and Google Analytics.
[source] The Best Feature: The Hootsuite Partner Program for Agencies allows you to manage multiple accounts for multiple clients inside one dashboard. Their dashboard allows you to collaborate with your team inside the app to craft the perfect social posts. They also assign you a dedicated support manager for any issues that might crop up along the way for their enterprise plan. Pricing: Contact Hootsuite for agency-specific pricing. Free Trial
Process Management: Create a Content Workflow
Once you add content to your agency’s menu, you won’t be able to keep track of it offhand. There will always be new ideas for posts you’re thinking up, drafts to write, revisions and copyedits, and promotion to do. For multiple clients, you need a place where you can keep track of deadlines and where articles are at every stage in the production pipeline. There are many project management options to choose from, but we built premium software that will help you keep track of every part of content production—and keep your clients in the loop, too.
7. Teamwork Projects for project management
Teamwork Projects combines task management, visual workflows, and time tracking to manage everything you have in your content pipeline and who’s responsible at each stage as you’re taking an article from an idea through to a viral blog post.
Using the Board View, you can track your content from idea to execution to make sure that nothing falls through the cracks. The Best Feature: Teamwork Projects specifically caters to agencies by letting you add a client to different projects without giving them access to your entire database. You can make sure that they have the information they need without letting them in on others clients’ work or internal company data. Pricing: The most popular plan is $149/month with unlimited users, up to 200 projects and 100GB space. Other plans are available depending on the amount of storage needed and the number of projects you’re managing. Free Trial
Create Content That Cuts Through the Noise
In today’s marketplace, content is king, and the internet is saturated with it. But a lot of that content is created by guesswork instead of clear strategies, kind of like a blindfolded person playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Many content marketers learn HTML, get a WordPress account, jot down some text, and hope for the best. While occasionally they strike gold, it won’t guarantee their clients a steady readership. You can take off that blindfold by using the right tools. Adding strategic content marketing to your agency’s menu of services opens up many opportunities to pull ahead of the pack through top-notch research, collaboration, distribution, and consistent process management. Has your agency had success offering content marketing services for your clients? Tell us what tools and techniques you use to create quality material in the comments below.