Like the Queen Elizabeth II of marketing, content isn’t letting go of its place on the throne any time soon.
It’s an all-important aspect of marketing campaigns, yet it’s not always a walk in the park to create compelling, engaging and results-driven content. That’s why there are hundreds of content creation tools available to help marketers master their content game.
What exactly are those tools? It would take us days to list out all of them, but we can tell you which ones we choose to use as well as sprinkle in some other popular options to give you a solid idea of what’s out there.
Without further ado, here’s our list of content creation tools, complete with a nod to the superstar picks that we use at Brafton to create content for our clients.
When you’re just starting to develop your content strategy or work on a new piece of content, take advantage of research tools to get the ball rolling in a promising direction.
Powered by Quartz, this tool has endless graphs, charts and data visualizations at the end of a simple search. It’s great for gathering background information for potential content ideas, as well as finding compelling data for content you’re currently working on.
BuzzSumo (Brafton pick)
This content performance analysis tool makes it easy to identify the content that’s getting the most shares. Those high-performing pieces are not only the ones to beat, but they can also be great resources for planning and creating content.
Google Drive Research Tool (Brafton pick)
Google now has a tool that allows you to conduct Google searches without ever leaving the Drive window, making it super convenient to find the information you’re looking for and keep on creating with little time lost.
Google Trends (Brafton pick)
Everyone’s favorite search giant is a great source for researching trending topics and queries. You can use the data to brainstorm new content ideas, find popular keywords or see if your content is piggybacking on upward trending search phrases.
Sparktoro (Brafton pick)
Self-identified as “a search engine for audience intelligence,” Sparktoro is the latest tool from Moz creator, Rand Fishkin. You can use this tool to discover the content – from websites and podcasts to social accounts and publications – that are successful in reaching your audience.
If you’re willing to pay for your trend reports, this tool is a great way to identify popular topics, hashtags and phrases to nail down some relevant content ideas. You can also track emerging trends, pinpoint key influencers and study your target audience.
When your research dips into the SEO specifics, these tools will help you find the winning keywords.
This content performance tool measures the content on your site and identifies where there’s room for SEO improvement.
MarketMuse (Brafton pick)
Powered by artificial intelligence, MarketMuse analyzes your content and highlights where keyword gaps exist. The reports identify which prominent keywords you’re missing so you know how to optimize your content for better rankings. We love this tool at Brafton, using it to see how we stack up to competitors and apply the results to update and improve our content.
SEMrush (Brafton pick)
This awesome keyword research tool helps marketers track keyword rankings across both paid and organic search campaigns. We use it religiously at Brafton to identify the keywords we plan to use in each piece of content. I’ll be honest with you: SEMrush’s Keyword Magic Tool is probably the most useful bookmark on my computer.
For content planning and management:
You have to keep track of what you create for your marketing campaigns, and these project management platforms will help you stay organized from start to finish.
Airtable (Brafton pick)
It works like a spreadsheet, but it also has the power of a database to help you organize all of your projects in one place. Plus, it’s easy on the eyes with grid, calendar, kanban and gallery viewing options, complete with beautiful (and extremely helpful) color-coded tasks.
This collaborative app for organization helps marketing teams refine, plan, organize and prioritize every aspect of the content creation process.
G Suite (Brafton pick)
With Gmail, docs, sheets and calendars designed for seamless collaboration, we can’t help but rely on Google to get our work done every day. The biggest benefits of planning and creating content in Google Drive is that everything saves automatically for peace of mind, and anyone can access it anywhere, making it easy for our Boston, Chicago and San Francisco offices to operate as one united team.
HubSpot (Brafton pick)
As a leader in the content marketing industry, HubSpot provides a comprehensive array of marketing services that help teams develop strategies, create content, manage distribution and analyze performance. These helpful tools help marketing teams organize and optimize their efforts. As a HubSpot partner, we take advantage of some of these services to boost our content creation and better help clients meet their goals.
As a web-based project management application, Trello is another popular option for keeping track of content creation workflows. It provides a visual overview of tasks via various boards, cards and lists. It can be a little hectic before you know what you’re doing, but many teams do find a good productivity flow with the app.
When it’s time to see how your content is performing, you can utilize many of the same platforms you used to research topics and keywords in the beginning.
Google Analytics (Brafton pick)
Is there anything Google can’t do for us? It’s a little unsettling, but the search giant is incredibly useful for content marketers. You can use Google Analytics to track and report social media and website traffic, offering your brand or clients insights on how their content is driving those visitors. The data also helps us measure conversion rates and make relevant changes to continually improve our content creation services.
Founded by Neil Patel, Kissmetrics is a customer intelligence platform that offers real-time data to help marketers better understand consumer behavior and drive higher levels of user engagement. Using behavioral analytics, Kissmetrics can help marketers track engaged users, landing page performance, conversion rates and more.
This predictive analytics tool can track author and topic performance, measure audience attention and identify web trends. It helps marketers act on the topics and types of content that are driving the most audience engagement.
SEMrush (Brafton pick)
SEMrush to the rescue again, with features like domain comparison, competitive analysis, brand monitoring, content analyzer, position tracking and more. We use these insights to get an idea of what’s working and where we need to make improvements.
When you’re in charge of managing social media accounts for a company, your life becomes a whole lot easier when you enlist help from digital tools to plan calendars, schedule posts and create visuals.
This free online banner creator makes it easy for social media teams to create professional-looking banner ads without needing to lean on a graphic designer. You can make them entirely custom or work with the platform’s pre-made templates to guide your creation. The tool also allows you to save time by making multiple banners of various sizes at once.
Biteable will turn your brand into a video star in a flash. It allows you to create social videos ready for sharing in just minutes. With thousands of styles and templates to choose from, it’s easy to bring your vision to life and maintain your brand personality at the same time.
The fast-paced nature of social media makes it difficult to use graphic designers for every post. That’s why our social team takes advantage of Canva, which is a web-based, more simplified version of the programs that professional designers use. You can create plenty of social graphics appropriately sized for each platform. However, the features, templates and libraries you’ll have access to will depend on if you use the paid or free version.
With a similar feel to Canva, this simple tool helps marketers quickly create designs for social posts, banners and ads. The platform will also automatically resize images to meet the requirements of various social media platforms.
HootSuite (Brafton pick)
HootSuite is one of the industry’s best social media management platforms. You can use it to manage Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube profiles through scheduling posts, monitoring social conversations and tracking ROI.
Pablo is another tool used to create visuals for social posts, especially for images with copy overlays. You can install the Pablo app on your browser, which allows you to highlight copy on your screen, send the phrase to Pablo and then pair it with an image. No more forgetting those perfect phrases or quotes! They’ll be ready to post in an engaging, visual way in just seconds. The app has its own Creative Commons library with plenty of images to choose from, and users can also upload their own photos.
Sprout Social (Brafton pick)
On par with HootSuite, Sprout Social is another industry favorite.The social media management software features solutions like content planning and publishing, campaign and conversion management, post measurement and optimization, social listening and more.
While all writers add their own nuances to the process, there are some helping hands for topic generation and editing, as well as platform options for where the words will live as they begin to flow.
Google Docs (Brafton pick)
If you’re still writing in Microsoft Word, it’s time to consider an upgrade that makes tracking document history and collaborating on edits a far more seamless process. Most of us on the editorial team write content in Google Docs before uploading the copy to our internal editing, delivery and tracking system. Doing so makes it easy to share the content with others on the team, and ensures we can access the copy whether we’re working in the office or remotely. We even deliver copy to some clients via Google Docs, which makes it easy for them to suggest changes to drafts and share them with the Brafton team.
What would you give to get Ernest Hemingway’s opinion on your writing? As the namesake of this free online editing program, Hemingway App may be the closest you’re gonna get. The app reviews your writing to identify readability level, catch mistakes and suggest areas for improvement. It can pinpoint poor grammar, passive voice, hard-to-read sentences and more. Simply paste your copy into the app and it’ll go to town. While we use peer editing at Brafton, some writers may choose to use this tool on their own accord before sending the copy to the assigned editor.
HubSpot Blog Ideas Generator (Brafton pick)
This blog topic generator helps writers when they hit a wall and struggle to come up with new content ideas. Simply enter a few keywords you want to focus on, and the HubSpot Blog Ideas Generator will produce several titles and topics to spark inspiration. While you may not choose the exact title generated, it can be a helpful way to get the gears going again.
Authenticity is the name of the game, so make sure you haven’t borrowed a few too many of someone else’s words. This online plagiarism checker ensures your content is entirely original by scanning copy for unwanted similarities.
Visuals are key for engaging your target audience, but blurry, cheesy or clearly staged photos just won’t do. Use these tools to source and edit the top-quality imagery that will enhance your content.
This image editor for macOS 10.11 and later is an optimal choice if you don’t want to use Photoshop to edit photography.
Adobe Photoshop (Brafton pick)
This is the premiere tool for creating and editing images, making it the obvious choice for our in-house design and video teams.
GIPHY (Brafton pick)
Remember all those GIFs we hilariously sprinkle into our blog posts? 99 percent of the time they come from GIPHY. It’s a free online library of every GIF imaginable. You simply search the website for the GIF you’re looking for, and when you find the winning one you can simply drag and drop.
(On a somewhat related note: No one really knows the truth so I say pronounce GIF however makes you happy.)
Pixabay is a community-based online library that offers over 1.6 million royalty-free stock photos and videos that are uploaded by the platform users. It’s a great option for those who don’t have the budget to pay for photography.
This desktop photo app is the closest you can get to Photoshop in your browser. Pixlr Editor allows you to edit photos with a suspiciously similar editing interface to Photoshop, and includes filters, layers and masks for advanced editing purposes.
Shutterstock (Brafton pick)
This library of over 200 million images is a top choice for stock photography. With such a varied and extensive selection, you have a good chance of finding exactly what you need for every piece of content.
Twenty20 (Brafton pick)
When you want images that have a more authentic feel than classic stock imagery, Twenty20 is the place to go. The images have a more real-world aura with artsy touches that make them totally Instagram worthy. With millions of images to choose from, you’ll definitely get your money’s worth.
Unsplash is another resource for high-resolution stock photos with an eclectic array of collections to explore. Many of the images are even free to download and use in your content.
Infographics, eBooks, white papers, case studies and plenty of other content require professional formatting to truly drive results. Along with the aforementioned options for images, these tools help designers work their magic.
Adobe Creative Cloud (Brafton pick)
Adobe is the leader in design software, and Creative Cloud is the package of creative apps that every graphic designer masters. CC is essentially a collection of the world’s best apps and services for video, design, photography and web content creation. With Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Premiere, After Effects and other design programs, you can create the stellar, professionally designed content your audience is more likely to engage with.
This online design program can do much more than social posts, making it a great resource for marketers who need visuals pronto. Plus, it’s more fitting for a beginner skill level when compared to Adobe CC.
This simple infographic maker has plenty of pre-made templates to create infographics in a short amount of time. The free version offers access to only a limited selection of images and templates, so it may be worth registering for a pro account if you plan to make several infographics.
If you need a faster turnaround or don’t have graphic designers on your team, you can use this visual content tool to create infographics, charts and data visualizations in minutes. There are plenty of templates and customization options so you can create an original piece of content that still follows brand guidelines. As a free and intuitive platform, Infogram is especially ideal if Adobe’s monthly subscription cost is too high for your budget or if you’re working at a beginner skill level.
Powered by Evernote, Skitch is a tool loved by many designers and visual learners. It allows you to easily take screenshots of your whole screen or designated portions of it, which is a super helpful feature for those working on PC computers. You can then annotate screenshots and images with highlights, sketches, arrows and text when you need to brainstorm ideas or easily share your thoughts with other team members.
Designers use this extensive library of icons to save time creating the illustrations themselves. The free account requires users to give credit to the icon creator or purchase the royalty-free version.
This free infographic maker helps you create professional graphics in little time. You can choose from over 100 templates, add charts and visuals and then customize your design with your brand fonts and colors.
Videos are more powerful than static images, so you’ll want make sure you have the tools to create such impactful content.
Adobe Creative Cloud (Brafton pick)
Much like our in-house designers, our video team relies on several Abode programs to produce such high-quality content. Photoshop is the go-to for image editing, while Premiere is the top choice for video editing. Illustrator, Photoshop and After Effects are great tools for creating motion graphics and Cinema works best for 3D animation.
If you need a professional-quality video pronto, Magisto can help you create branded videos in no time. The video editor allows you to work with captions, themes, special effects, commercially licensed music and other features to create an original piece of video content.
Ideal for beginners, this online program allows users to create video content in just one or two hours. RawShorts utilizes AI to turn your text into an animated video that’s easy to share via social profiles or landing pages. There are a variety of pre-made templates, plus a drag-and-drop feature to easily insert text, images and other elements.
This online video creation platform enables users to create, edit and share professional animated videos – even if they have zero experience in creating such content. There are pre-made templates to use for explainer videos, presentations, product promos and demos, brand stories and more.
When your content strategy involves email marketing, you’ll need to write stellar copy and create the right templates to deliver engaging content to inboxes on the reg.
BEE is a simple and quick way to design great-looking emails. The intuitive platform has drag-and-drop features, plus the end result looks great on mobile as well as web browsers.
Mailchimp (Brafton pick)
This veteran email marketing service helps marketers create and distribute automated campaigns. You can choose the template that best suits your needs, and then customize the content with your own copy and images. Mailchimp also provides helpful data and success reports to help you track your email campaign.
Salesforce Pardot (Brafton pick)
Pardot is a B2B marketing automation service that helps marketers create more leads and generate conversions. Among Pardot’s offerings is an intuitive email builder with automated engagement studios, optimized sending and personalized messaging to help marketers utilize email marketing to its fullest potential.
With a jam-packed toolbox, you’ll be ready to create content like the marketing hero you were born to be.