it sometimes seems like there are more tools out there than jobs that actually need doing.
Standing tall in the crowd of available options are the juggernaut tools that seem to make every round-up post: Content.ly for finding writers, Skyword for managing the writing process, Visual.ly for creating infographics, Basecamp or Trello for project management—and so on.
It’s not that those tools aren’t worthwhile, but I dug a little deeper to unearth some lesser-known tools and extensions that can help you up your brand publishing game, whether it’s in content ideation, promotion or analytics. It’s a hodgepodge list with a whole lot of different uses, but hopefully you will find at least one new tool you can actually put to use!
1. Riveted by @robflaherty
What it’s for: Accurately measuring active time-on-site for better content insights.
“Time on Site” is one of Google Analytics’ worst metrics, calculated only when someone flips between pages of your site. It’s wildly inaccurate and dangerous to draw conclusions from. Riveted changes all that by measuring the amount of time your visitors are actively engaged, giving you a metric you can make decisions with.
The script tracks clicking, scrolling, keyboard use and more while actively checking if the tab is actually open. It then reports that data back to Google Analytics (or any tool that supports “events”) in far more frequent intervals to show you a clearer picture of how long people are really spending on your pages.
It might take a bit of technical finagling to get up and running, but these kinds of insights are invaluable to brand publishers and SEOs alike.
2. Scroll Depth by @robflaherty
What it’s for: Sending insights into how far down your content users are actually reading.
That Rob Flaherty sure knows how to build useful things! This companion plugin to Riveted is an absolute MUST-HAVE if you want to accurately measure the way people are interacting with your content. The concept is simple: Scroll Depth allows you to accurately measure how far down the page your users are scrolling, reporting back on different benchmarks along the way (e.g,, 25%, 50%, 75%, 100%) using Google Analytics events. You can even track when specific page elements are scrolled into view (like the end of a blog post).
The kind of insights you can get from this are invaluable, especially when combined with other Analytics data (device, new or returning visitors, etc.)
What it’s for: Lightning-fast user testing for messaging and design.
First impressions are everything, especially when it comes to your content. Not sure which headline is more click-worthy? Wondering if certain visuals are helpful or distracting? Fivesecondtest.com gives you a chance to conduct a fast poll of the audience to find the best alternatives for your content, and gives you feedback you can use to make your landing pages more compelling.
What it’s for: Making it easy for employees and coworkers to share and curate content.
Brand publishing is really a team effort, and what better place to start than with your coworkers? Addvocate was designed to help turn your in-house team into a content promotion machine. You can recommend content for sharing, create prompts to help keep sharing consistent (voice/tone) and track who has been helpful in spreading the word. The platform appears to be in the early stages, but I love the potential for this and can see it being used by in-house teams to make the most of earned media.
5. Auto Boomerang Add-On by siege media
What it’s for: Drastically speeding up and improving your content outreach efforts by improving on an already awesome tool.
You might have heard of Boomerang, a hugely useful Gmail-based tool for scheduling emails and sending follow-up notifications. When you’re conducting outreach, it helps to know who has replied and be prompted to follow up with those who haven’t, lest you miss out on an opportunity. But while Boomerang is indeed awesome, it’s got some major drawbacks. The default follow-up time is two days (a little heavy handed) and the tool is clunky when trying to do massive outreach.
Siege Media responded by creating the Auto Boomerang Add-On, streamlining Boomerang’s functions, reducing hiccups and making it much faster and easier to use for content marketers and brand publishers.
What it’s for: Content ideation & brainstorming – whether together, or remote.
It’s about time someone brought the digital revolution to the whiteboard. During content ideation, it’s not uncommon to use an old-school whiteboard to jot down ideas and spark conversation. With remote teams, collaboration is tougher, and once the session is over, the whiteboard usually gets cleared for someone else’s mundane meeting or cartoon drawings of cats.
Realtime Board allows you to collaborate in real time, sharing ideas, outlining strategies and brainstorming together. You can add files, make changes and work together simultaneously. And when you’re done, you can save the whiteboard for easy recall down the line. I love this tool because it’s perfect for those lightning-fast creative ideation sessions and can be used by any team of any size, no matter where they are. Another hat-tip to Stacey MacNaught for sharing this one with me.
What it’s for: Creating visuals for your content cheaply and on the fly with little design or technical know-how.
Smart visuals can be the difference between a piece of content that’s skipped over and one that’s read to the final sentence. Whether it’s a sleek looking banner or a graphical headline, a few visual touches on your content can boost sharing and hold the reader’s interest.
Canva makes creating graphics for your posts fast and easy. It’s a basic image editor with a few cool features, and while it’s not as robust as, say, Photoshop, there’s more than enough here to help you whip together a good-looking graphic or two. It won’t replace a talented designer, but it’s a great tool for beginners who want to add a bit of punch without breaking the bank or fussing with Microsoft Paint (c’mon, you’ve been there too).
What it’s for: Measuring the influence and reach of your content (or that of others), giving you insights that help you build authority or find authoritative writers in your niche.
I could hardly write this without giving a nod to iAcquire’s own up-and-comer of a tool, ClearVoice. The tool takes a sophisticated approach to calculating authority and revealing the influence of your content and that of others, helping brands measure the success of their work and plan for the future while also giving them a tool for finding influential writers they can call on to create content for them.
Down the line, the platform will boast functionality that improves your workflow and helps improve your amplification to get your content in front of more eyeballs. I’d absolutely recommend taking it for a spin. Just finding out your score is addictive in and of itself!
What it’s for: Analyze successful content from your competitors, or see which of your own content pieces performed best socially, and what networks were most active.
If there’s any tool on this list you’ve already heard of, it’s probably this one. Buzzsumo is incredibly useful for discovering successful content on any particular topic that has performed exceptionally well in social media.
It’s hugely useful for analyzing the success of your competition and getting insights into what kinds of content do best for the niches you target. That said, it also makes for an awesome self-analysis tool. You can punch in your URL and get a list of your most successful pieces so that you can replicate whatever it was that made them take off.
What it’s for: When you need to call in a journalist to create or cover your content, Presspass.me gives you a live directory broken out by beat, media outlet and region.
Presspass.me makes it super easy to find journalists who cover the kind of story you want to share and can double as a tool for finding a subject matter expert you can call upon to create content for you. The tool is still in beta and has some kinks to work out, but it’s a pretty awesome resource for brands. One last hat-tip to Stacey for this one (If you haven’t caught on by now, you should really go check out her presentation!).
Give ’em a try!
As promised, you’ve now got 10 tools to go away and play with that can help you with most every aspect of content marketing from ideation to promotion. Got a favorite little-known tool I missed? I’d love to be in the loop so let me know in the comments!