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Content Marketing On A Budget - 9 Fantastic Tools

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 31/03/2016 Matthew Crawt
CONTENT MARKETING © designer491 via Getty Images CONTENT MARKETING

The fact that content marketing is an 'expensive process' is a complete misconception and it is actually more affordable now than ever before. Due to advancements in technology as well as a significant increase in competition, there are now a number of tools that are easy to use and available for a reasonable price.
Why Is Content Marketing Important?
I'm sure you are all aware of the thousands of 'adverts' you receive on your emails per year and most of the time they end up in the 'junk' folder and aren't even looked at. Content Marketing is the opposite end of this scale; it looks to add value to a particular product or service with the intention of exciting and being of interest to the reader. For example, an infographics full of fun facts is likely to draw a reader in and want to learn more.
The main question asked is this; does it work? One simple stat that surprises many is that a positive return on investment is 13 times more likely to occur with sites that have a regularly updated blog. Furthermore, three out of every four companies have set aside a bigger budget for content marketing in 2016 with the more successful companies setting aside over 40% of their overall budget. When it comes to platforms, it is thought that nearly 95% of all B2B marketers use LinkedIn as a part of their strategy with Twitter (87%) and Facebook (84%) rounding off the top three.
So with that in mind, what are some helpful tools to get you started in 2016; the year of content marketing?
BuzzSumo - This site is used by a number of big companies including Expedia and Yahoo! and is well-known for offering a complete content marketing service. The big draw for BuzzSumo is that it allows you to see easily what works and what doesn't for your particular industry meaning that you don't have to waste valuable time setting up a campaign that is likely to fail. With a two-week free trial and reasonable pricing thereafter, BuzzSumo and more recently, BuzzSumo Pro, will be able to help you promote your site effectively.
SEOmoz Toolbar - This toolbar offers two options; the free version as well as the subscription product with a few more features. It has grown somewhat in popularity in recent years and now boasts many users all attempting to find out the domain authority and page authority for any site. The toolbar is easy to install and will quickly allow you to see the domain authority which can be particularly useful if you are looking to guest blog in the coming weeks. SEOmoz toolbar has built a solid reputation and is widely regarded as a better option than the recently fallen PageRank.
CoSchedule - This fantastic site allows you to connect your blog, social media accounts and WordPress in an attempt to keep everything all in one easy-to-use place. CoSchedule provides a calendar in which to plan blog posts, social media posts as well as any content marketing you have in the pipeline. Everything you could possibly want can be easily seen on one calendar and even rescheduled at the click of a button. After offering a trial run for a fortnight, this product can be purchased at three levels ranging from $15 to $60 per month.
ConvertPlug - This is another conversion optimization & email list building plugin that has risen in popularity of late as it is extremely easy to use and much cheaper than its closest competitors. At a one-time price of $21, ConvertPlug offers a number of templates to choose from for the popups on your site whether you wanted an infobar, a modal popup, inline forms, contact forms or even a slide-in design. Apart from these templates and inbuilt opt-in forms, the plugin has proved to be a great tool by offering exclusive features like exit intent technology, 2-step optin, referral detection etc. Furthermore, a real time editor and A/B test area will allow you to make prompt changes to your popups or opt-in forms whilst seeing how they look in real time. Just when you think that is enough, an analysis section will allow you to see how each popup is performing meaning that you can make changes as and when they are needed in an attempt to increase your conversion rate.
Followerwonk - Followerwonk is from the same people as SEOmoz and so is available via the subscription but can also be used as a free member. It is a really useful tool as it allows you to find out more about your followers in detail; this, in turn, lets you know how your audience works and how best to target them efficiently. For example, the 'search bios' feature can be used to find people with the same passions as you which can be helpful if you are looking for someone to team up with and the 'compare users' feature allows comparison between frequently mentioned domains, users and tweets.
Animaker - As previously mentioned, Infographics and the like are extremely popular these days and Animaker is a great site to get you started with your very own designs. Facebook and Twitter especially are lending themselves to videos as a larger amount of videos are being watched on these sites than ever before; for this reason, it is a great way to advertise your business. Whether you are looking to make the one graphic for your company or create on a regular basis, Animaker offers a range of deals from $0 (limited resources) to $39 per month.
Piktochart - This site is similar to Animaker in that it allows you to create a wide range of designs to advertise your business. This too offers a lifetime free version and the lite ($15 per month) and the pro ($29 per month). Your options when editing a design aren't limited in the free version and you are helped along by over 4,000 different icons and images. There are monthly options available but if you want to keep things simple, the free version will more than suffice. Still if you wish to be able to use all the templates seen in there, upload lot more images and avoid the Piktochart watermark, you can sign up for a Pro plan that will cost you $29 per month.
Google Analytics - I'm sure you would have heard of Google's free tool somewhere along the line. As the name suggests, Google Analytics allows you to analyse absolutely everything on your site once the easy install is completed. Each and every page will be tracked so you can see how many visitors you receive, your bounce rate, what pages are popular and which are not, and much more. This is vital information as you can review it every so often and use it to make changes to benefit your site.
Buffer - One of the biggest problems when it comes to posting on social media is knowing when to post but this problem has been solved by 'Buffer'. It offers a free trial and can be used to share your content at the right times meaning that you are maximizing your audience with every post. With a standard plan of $10 per month, you can connect Buffer to about 10 social profiles and queue up to 100 posts at a time.
So there we have it, nine easy-to-use and extremely efficient tools to make the most of content marketing in 2016. The next time you read that content marketing is 'too expensive' or 'nearly impossible' for small companies, you can use this piece to prove otherwise. Growing your business can be tough in a crowded market but you can set yourself apart by using one of these fantastic tips.

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