The B2B Content Marketing Report

The B2B Content Marketing Report

We analyzed 502 B2B companies to better understand how they approach content marketing. And to help identify content marketing approaches that work best in the B2B space.

Specifically, we looked at:

  • How many B2B companies have a blog
  • The types of content are they publishing
  • How much organic traffic B2B blogs receive each month
  • The characteristics of top performing B2B content
  • And more

Now it’s time to share what we discovered.

Our summary findings are as follows:

1. 72% of B2B companies have a blog. Put another way, 28% of B2B companies don’t have a blog.

2. Only 8% of B2B companies solely use their blogs for sharing company-focused, PR-style content.

3. B2B blogs that create education content receive 52% more organic traffic than those that mainly publish content about their company.

4. Only 29% of B2B companies allow comments on their blog posts.

5. 65% of B2B companies use stock images in their blog posts.

6. The most popular call-to-action in B2B content is to highlight “related posts” or “related content”.

7. 35% of companies used “subscribe to our newsletter” as a prominent call-to-action on their blogs.

8. Only 24% of companies use pop-ups on their blogs.

9. On average, B2B blogs receive 282 visits from organic search each month.

10. Top-performing B2B blog posts receive an average of 99 shares on social media and 49 visits per month from organic search.

72% of B2B Companies Have a Blog

Our research found that nearly 3 out of 4 B2B companies have a blog.

72 Percent Of B2B Companies Have A Blog

Or put another way, 142 of our 502 (28.3%) of B2B companies don’t have a blog.

For most companies, their blog is the main hub of their content marketing efforts. And a key source of organic traffic.

Without a blog, it strongly suggests that 28% of B2B companies are making little investment in their content marketing.

According to FocusVision, B2B decision makers typically consume 13 pieces of content during the buying cycle. Interestingly, the majority of that content is read directly from the vendor’s website.

Which is probably why 46% of B2B marketers plan on investing more in content marketing in the future.

According to our research, the majority of B2B businesses are invested in content marketing and SEO.

However, a fair number of B2B companies are either not using content as part of their marketing approach. Or their content marketing is happening off-site (for example, on social media networks like LinkedIn).

The rest of this report mainly focuses on the majority of B2B companies that do use blogging as part of their content marketing strategy.

Key Takeaway: 28% of B2B companies don’t use blogging as part of their content marketing strategy.

61% of B2B Companies Use WordPress as Their CMS

Across the 360 SaaS companies with existing blogs, we identified 25 different content management systems in use. The most popular choice was WordPress, used by 220 (61%) companies.

61 Percent Of B2B Companies Use WordPress As Their CMS

Note: We weren’t able to discover the CMS used by 53 of the companies on our list (10.5%). These may have been custom-built solutions or CMSs that are not commonly used.

According to BuiltWith, WordPress is the world’s most popular CMS.

So the fact that WordPress came out on top shouldn’t come as a surprise.

However, powering 61% of all B2B blogs, it’s interesting just how dominant WordPress is in the B2B world. To put this figure into perspective, the second most-popular CMS was HubSpot. Which was used by just 9% (34) of the companies we looked at.

Key takeaway: WordPress is the most popular choice of content management system for B2B companies – by far. HubSpot was the second most popular CMS among the B2B blogs that we analyzed.

38% of B2B Company Blogs Publish Content to Educate Their Audience

Across the companies we looked at, there were four distinct use cases for company blogs:

  1. Company news: these blogs only focus on the company and its products.
  2. Educational content: these blogs share helpful content that is designed to solve problems and provide value to the reader.
  3. Mixed: the company shares its press and educational content in one place.
  4. Industry news: Blogs that focused on sharing news relating to the industry they’re in.
Most B2B Blogs Are Mixed

The “mixed” approach was most popular, used by 51% of companies. This all-in-one strategy is likely popular because it has the best of both worlds.

Most content is focused on providing valuable content that educates an audience on a problem they’re looking to solve. The blog is also where a company publishes company-focused content that position’s their company as an industry leader.

An example of this “mixed” approach is from Segment. All their blog posts sit within one directory (segment.com/blog/). But each post is clearly separated into different categories depending on the subject matter or post type:

Segment Blog

As you can see in this screenshot, their blog posts are very clearly categorized into themes: company-related posts (such as the announcement of Segment’s acquisition by Twilio) in one category, and educational posts relating to growth and marketing in another category.

38% of the blogs that we analyzed publish 100% educational content on their blog.

Interestingly, only 8% of companies solely used their blogs for PR-style, company news-focused content.

This suggests that if a B2B company is investing in their blog, they understand they’re likely to see better results by providing useful content for their audience vs. company updates and news.

Key takeaway: 51% of B2B blogs use their blog as a home for all their content – both educational and company-focused.

Educational Blogs Receive 52% More Organic Traffic Than Company-Focused Blogs

We found that educational blogs receive 52% more organic traffic than those which focused on company news and PR-style content:

Educational Blogs Receive 52 Percent More Organic Traffic Than Company Focused Blogs

This finding isn’t entirely surprising: educational content is more likely to rank for a wider variety of keywords. On the other hand, a business that’s only publishing news is limited to ranking for their company name and a handful of other related terms.

Key takeaway: Blogs that focus on educating their audience (rather than promoting their own company) receive 52% more organic traffic than company-focused blogs.

Are B2B brands publishing content to create a community with their audience? Or is it a one-way street?

Our research found that only 106 (29%) of the B2B blogs we looked at allow readers to leave comments.

29 Percent Of B2B Blogs Allow Readers To Leave Comments

Allowing comments isn’t necessarily a “best practice” for blogs anymore. There’s certainly a case to be made that comments can lead to more site engagement. However, the data is unclear on whether comments actually generate more traffic and links.

Comments also come at a cost: moderation and fighting spam. And according to our data, most B2B companies prefer to run their blogs without a commenting feature.

Key takeaway: 70% of B2B blogs don’t allow readers to leave comments on their posts.

65% of B2B Blogs Use Stock Images

65% of the blogs we looked at used stock images as their featured image. 14% used no images at all. And only 21% of blogs used custom images for their posts.

65 Percent Of B2B Blogs Use Stock Images

Using stock images is an easy way for busy content managers to bring visuals into their posts.

However, during this study, we saw the same stock images crop up multiple times on different blogs.

In 2019, Reboot conducted a long-term experiment to investigate whether stock images (which are often used across hundreds of other sites) are treated by search engines as duplicate content, and as a result cause a ranking issue. They concluded: “Using unique images on your website does have a positive impact on organic web rankings… compared with equivalent sites using duplicated images across the web.”

While it’s impossible to draw wide-sweeping guidelines based on a single SEO experiment, it’s fair to say that custom images can help your blog content stand out. Which may make creating unique images worth the investment regardless of any potential SEO benefit.

Key takeaway: Almost two-thirds of B2B blogs use stock images for their content’s featured image.

23% of B2B Blogs Don’t Have a Call-To-Action

Content can be an excellent source of traffic for B2B blogs. But with typical bounce rates hovering at around 50%, a clear call-to-action can help convert that traffic into a lead or trial.

We found eight different types of call-to-action used across the B2B blogs in our data set:

  • Subscribe to our blog/newsletter
  • Related/recommended articles
  • Download gated content
  • Book a demo
  • Start product trial
  • Sign up
  • Contact us
  • View pricing
23 Percent Of Blogs Dont Have A Call To Action

Note: several companies used more than one type of call-to-action on their blogs.

The most popular type of call-to-action was to show-case related articles, used by 39% of companies. The second most-popular call-to-action was to subscribe to their newsletter, used on 35% of blogs.

This data suggests that many B2B companies understand the importance of using their content to build ongoing relationships with their audience and to encourage multiple pageviews.

Interestingly, almost one-quarter of the blogs that we looked at didn’t use any type of call-to-action.

Key takeaway: 39% of B2B companies use “related articles” as a call-to-action on their blog. This is an even more popular CTA than “subscribe to the newsletter”, which was only used by 35% of companies. 23% of B2B blogs don’t have any CTA at all.

24% of B2B Companies Use Pop Ups On Their Blogs

Our research found that only 24% of B2B companies were using pop-ups on their blogs.

24 Percent Of B2B Companies Use Pop Ups On Their Blogs

Note that we didn’t consider cookie notifications a popup. As that’s a legal requirement in certain instances.

Of the 88 companies that did use pop-ups, we saw nine different types:

  • Subscribe to newsletter
  • Promote specific content
  • Book product demo
  • Sign up to product
  • Allow browser notifications
  • Contact us
  • Complete a survey
  • Start free trial
  • Company announcement
Types Of Pop Ups Used On B2B Blogs

An example of this is from Grammarly. They use a pop-up on their blog to encourage visitors to sign-up for a free trial.

Grammarly Popup

Or this example from Pindrop, who use a pop-up to promote recommended content (in this case an upcoming webinar).

Pindrop Popup

The most popular types of pop-up asked visitors to subscribe to a newsletter (41%) and to promote specific content (28%). Again, this shows that the majority of B2B companies are focused on building a relationship with their audience vs pushing product demos or sign-ups right away.

Key takeaway: Only 24% of B2B companies are using pop-ups on their blogs. But those that do, the most popular type of pop-up is encouraging visitors to subscribe to their newsletter (accounting for 41% of the blogs with pop-ups).

Next, we decided to look at the SEO performance of the blogs in our dataset in terms of organic traffic and keyword rankings.

(Note that the data here is an analysis of the entire blog. Not individual blog posts)

We found that the average B2B blog receives 282 visits from organic traffic each month.

The Average B2B Blog Gets 282 Organic Visitors Per Month

However, this finding doesn’t show the full picture.

 
B2B websites Visits from organic traffic (median)
All websites in our analysis 280
Top 10% 22,000
Bottom 10% 0

As we can see in the table above, there’s a significant amount of variance in organic traffic levels among the sites in our dataset. While the top 10% of blogs receive a median of 22,000 visits from organic search each month, the bottom 10% get essentially zero.

In fact, 32 of the sites we looked at didn’t get any traffic from organic search – and 70 of them were getting less than 10 visitors from SEO per month.

We also looked at the number of keywords that a typical B2B blog ranks for in Google organic search.

We found that on average B2B blogs rank for 784 keywords. But as with organic traffic, there’s a huge variance across the sites we looked at:

 
B2B websites Number of organic keywords (median)
All websites in our analysis 784
Top 10% 34,550
Bottom 10% 2

On average the sites we looked at ranked for 784 organic keywords. But the top 10% ranked for 34,550 keywords. But the bottom 10%? Only 2.

Key Takeaway: The average B2B blog gets 280 visitors per month. However, this figure is slightly skewed by the significant number of B2B blogs that get little to no traffic from SEO. And the top 10% of B2B blogs that rank for thousands of popular keywords.

Backlinks and referring domains are an important factor in influencing search engine results. We found that, on average, B2B blogs receive 1,145 backlinks from 120 referring domains.

 
B2B websites Backlinks (median) Referring domains (median)
All websites in our analysis 1,145 120
Top 10% 147,000 2,560
Bottom 10% 4 2

We’ve previously outlined that we discovered huge levels of variance in terms of organic traffic and keyword rankings. And that pattern continues here.

In this case, the top 10% of B2B companies in our analysis have an average of 147,000 backlinks from 2,560 referring domains. However, the bottom 10% have only 4 backlinks from 2 referring domains.

Key Takeaway: The typical B2B business has links from 120 referring domains. We also found that top-performing B2B blogs received 2,560 referring domains on average.

Total Backlinks, Referring Domains and Keyword Rankings Correlate With Organic Traffic for B2B Blogs

Next, we looked at the relationship between backlinks, keyword rankings and organic traffic for blogs in the B2B space.

Our research found that there was a fairly weak correlation between both the number of backlinks and the number of visits from organic search.

Backlinks VS Organic Traffic

There was a stronger correlation between referring domains and organic search.

B2B Blogs With Lots Of Referring Domain Backlinks Get More Organic Traffic

This suggests that it may be better to generate links from a number of different sites, rather than focus on getting a large number of links from the same set of sites.

These findings are in-line with other search engine correlation studies, like this and this.

Not surprisingly, there was a specially strong correlation between the number of keywords a blog ranks for, and how much traffic it gets from organic search:

The Number Of Keywords A Site Ranks For Correlates Strongly With Organic Traffic Levels

Key Takeaway: Consistent with other correlational research, referring domains correlates with higher levels of the organic search traffic for B2B websites.

Top-Performing B2B Blog Posts Receive 49 Monthly Visits From Organic Search

So far we’ve focused on the analysis of B2B blogs as a whole. Now we’re going to switch gears and take a deep dive into the benchmarks that top-performing b2B blog posts tend to have.

Specifically, we identified each company’s best performing blog post, as measured by the organic search traffic it received each month.

Then, we analyzed each top performer in terms of organic traffic levels and keyword rankings.

 
Top performing B2B blog posts Visits from organic traffic (median) Ranking keywords (median)
All websites in our analysis 49 29
Top 10% 2,001 678
Bottom 10% 1 3

Our research found that the average best-in-class post ranked for 29 keywords and generated 49 visitors from organic search each month. 49 visitors may not sound like a lot of traffic. However, it’s important to keep in mind that B2B terms tend to be more commercially focused and have higher buyer intent when compared with B2C keywords. Also, organic traffic can often be reliable and consistent, especially when compared to traffic from the referral, direct traffic, social media or paid traffic.

As before, the top 10% of companies far out-perform the rest of the group. Their best posts rank for 678 keywords and generate 2,001 monthly visitors from organic search.

We also looked at the length of these top-performing posts. We cover that in more detail below.

Key Takeaway: Top-performing B2B blog posts tend to bring in 49 visitors from organic search per month.

Top-Performing B2B Blog Posts Generate 99 Social Media Shares

Social media is one of the most commonly-used channels for content promotion and distribution. But how successful is it?

We identified each company’s best-performing blog post, in terms of the number of social media shares it received:

 
Top performing B2B blog posts Social media shares (median)
All websites in our analysis 99
Top 10% 3,000
Bottom 10% 2

Our research found that the average best-in-class B2B blog post gets shared 99 times on social media.

Again, the top 10% of companies far out-perform the rest of the group, with their best posts shared 3,000 times. At the other end of the scale, the bottom 10% were only shared twice.

Key Takeaway: While social shares vary greatly between blog posts, top-performing posts have an average of 99 social media shares.

We identified each company’s best-performing blog post, in terms of the number of referring domains it received:

 
Top performing B2B blog posts Referring domains (median)
All websites in our analysis 12
Top 10% 245
Bottom 10% 1

Our research found that on average, the top B2B blog post generates backlinks from 12 referring domains. While the top 10% received backlinks from 245 referring domains.

A previous study we did using data from BuzzSumo found that 94% of all blog posts have zero external links.

So while a median of 12 referring backlinks doesn’t sound like a lot, it’s infinitely more than what the vast majority of blog posts receive.

Key Takeaway: Top-performing B2B blog posts have 12 referring domain backlinks.

Long Form Content Performs Best In The B2B Space

Do longer blog posts perform better in B2B?

We looked at the word count for the top-performing blog posts across four different categories:

  • Posts that generate the most organic traffic
  • Posts that receive the most shares on social media
  • Posts that generate the most dofollow backlinks
  • And posts that get backlinks from the most referring domains.

On average, the best-performing posts (in terms of organic traffic) was 855 words long, compared with 1454 words for the top 10%, and 509 words for the bottom 10%.

For the top 10% best-performing posts in terms of social media shares, the average length is 1,116 words. Compared to 679 words for the bottom 10%.

For posts that generate the most dofollow backlinks, the average post is 780 words. Compared to 495 words for the bottom 10%.

And for posts that get backlinks from the most referring domains, the top 10% of posts contained 1552 words. The bottom 10% were only 554 words in length.

For all the metrics we analyzed, the trend is the same: the top 10% of posts are significantly longer than average, and the bottom 10% are significantly shorter.

Long Form B2B Content Generate More Traffic Shares And Backlinks VS Short Form Content

Of course, a long post won’t automatically perform better just because it’s long. It needs to deliver value to earn those shares and links.

But our research does suggest that all things being equal, longer blog posts outperform shorter ones in the B2B space.

Key Takeaway: Long-form B2B content generates more social shares, backlinks, referring domains and organic traffic. For blog posts that rank well in organic search, the top 10% of posts are almost 3x the length of the bottom 10% of posts.

Conclusion

I hope you found this analysis of the B2B content marketing space interesting and useful.

I’d like to thank Emily Byford for helping me put this industry study together. For those that want to learn more about how we conducted this research, here’s a link to our methods and the raw data used for this analysis.

And now I’d like to hear from you:

What’s your #1 takeaway or lesson from this study? Or maybe you have a question.

Feel free to leave a comment below.

11 Social Media Calendars, Tools, & Templates to Plan Your Content

11 Social Media Calendars, Tools, & Templates to Plan Your Content

What do cross-country road trips, wedding speeches, and social media marketing have in common? Planning.

You could improvise all three, but it’s better to have a plan for what direction you’re heading — especially when developing your social media content strategy.

By now, most marketers recognize that social media plays an integral role in an effective inbound marketing strategy. And with so many social networks to manage and publish on, it’s important to stay organized and have a plan for when and what you’re going to share on these platforms.→ Free Download: Social Media Calendar Template [Access Now]

The Benefits of Using a Social Media Content Calendar

We’re all busy. And when we’re busy without a plan in place for the tasks we have to get done, things inevitably slip through the cracks. Social media content is no exception.

Just like with blogging, a successful social media strategy requires regular publishing and engaging with followers to see positive results — whether that be in terms of SEO, brand recognition, lead generation, or all three.

So, if you’re not already using a social media content calendar, hear me out:

  1. Calendars help you get organized to avoid the dreaded scramble when things come up. With a social media calendar, marketers can plan out posts for entire weeks or months in advance, which frees up working hours to strategize for the future — and to dash off any posts about breaking news in your industry. Otherwise, you’ll spend valuable time each day searching the internet for that day’s content to share, which is a known productivity killer.
  2. A calendar helps you plan for each social network to customize posts instead of spamming all platforms with the same message. Social media marketers should take the time to craft custom messages for each network, and doing this in advance will save time throughout the week and ensure you’re being thoughtful and intentional when you do post.
  3. Calendars can help you track performance and plan for future posts. Without a calendar, social media marketers are publishing content into the void and are unable to track big-picture and past performance. With a calendar, marketers can look back and analyze which content performed best so they can adjust their strategy accordingly.
  4. With the help of a calendar, marketers can plan for holidays and observance days, such as National Cat Day, when they can tailor their content and engage with a wider audience.

Now that you understand the merits of having a social media content calendar in place, check out our list of top tools to stay organized and on top of your game.

Social Media Content Calendar Tools to Plan Your Messaging

1. HubSpot’s Downloadable Template for Excel

Content Calendar

Social media calendar ideas organized on an Excel spreadsheet

Marketers might already use Excel for different types of reports and data analysis in their roles, but it’s a highly useful tool for social media content calendar organization, too. Excel can be customized according to whatever priorities or metrics a team is focused on, so it’s a great tool for planning ahead.

The good news? We’ve already done the heavy lifting for you by creating a free, downloadable social media content calendar template using Microsoft Excel. Marketers can use this template to easily plan out individual social media posts — monthly or annually — while keeping an eye on bigger picture events, holidays, publications, and partnerships.

  • Use the Monthly Planning Calendar Tab above to get a bird’s-eye view of what’s coming down their content pipeline in a given month.
  • In the Content Repository tab, users can record the content they’re publishing on this tab to keep track of which pieces have been promoted and to easily recall older content that can be re-promoted on social media.
  • On the Social Network Update tabs, users can draft and plan out social media posts in advance. These tabs are for organizational purposes, and the content of the posts themselves must be uploaded into a social media publisher.

For more on how to use the templates, check out this in-depth guide from my colleague Lindsay Kolowich.

This free resource can be used to draft social media posts, or it can be bulk-uploaded into a publishing app to maximize efficiency. (HubSpot customers: You can use this spreadsheet to organize content and upload it directly into Social Inbox. For instructions on how to do so, check out the template’s cover sheet here.)

2. Google Drive

Content Calendar and Asset Organization

Google Drive has several helpful features that make it easy for social media marketers to build out an effective content calendar.

Here’s an example of how a team might use Google Calendar to track both their editorial and social media calendars to make sure they’re aligning posts with new blog content. These calendars can be easily shared with multiple teams to avoid scheduling conflicts and ensure that campaigns are aligned.

Social media calendar organized on Google Calendar

Marketers can also use shared Google Sheets to schedule posts on social media, track the status of different pieces of content, and assign tasks to team members — all on the same platform as their calendar.

Social media calendar ideas listed on Google Sheets

With the help of Google Docs, users can keep comments all in one place and can collaborate on different projects without emailing back-and-forth or having to schedule a meeting. This is a particularly useful feature when editing content for social media, which may need to be drafted and approved quickly.

Google Docs document with projects listed and comments on those projects

(HubSpot customers: You can link your Google Drive account to your HubSpot portal to easily upload files from Drive into your HubSpot software.)

3. Loomly

Content Planning, Creation, Publishing, and Calendar

loomly social media calendar feature

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If you want more mileage out of a content calendar than publishing dates, you can turn to an all-in-one content planning and publishing platform such as Loomly.

Loomly offers tools beyond the management of content, going even so far as to provide post inspiration and ideas to help you create content. It also allows you to manage your content assets, schedule posts, manage them in both a list view and a calendar view, and analyze what’s working.

Their most robust feature set, though, includes a collaboration and approval environment so that teams can submit mockups, provide comments, see version logs, and flag for approval. This can help you streamline for efficiency when it may otherwise seem as though there are “too many cooks in the kitchen” on a particular project.

4. Trello

Task Management and Content Calendar

Social media calendar ideas organized on a Trello calendar

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Trello is another organizational tool that’s highly effective for team collaboration. Trello also offers a full calendar view (shown above) which makes it easy to visualize what content is going out, and when. More specifically, social media managers can use Trello’s flexible assignment “cards” and customizable “boards” and “lists” to map out to-do lists, manage a content calendar, plan a campaign, and house ideas from a brainstorm.

But you’re not limited to just one structure: Users can customize boards according to their needs. For example, a team could create a board to organize social media posts for a given week, on a specific platform, or post ideas around a topic, such as a campaign or awareness day.

Trello cards allow for a ton of customization as well. You can track progress toward completing a checklist, which could be useful for social media marketers looking to track campaign progress.

Additionally, Trello cards can be assigned to different team members, marked with due dates, and commented on. Users can even customize labels with different publication statuses so the entire team can see the progress of their social media posts and when they’re due on the calendar. The labels could also indicate different social networks that content is being published on.

5. SproutSocial

Social Publishing and Content Calendar

social publishing and content calendar using sprout social

Sprout Social’s social media calendar and publishing tool makes it easy for teams or individuals to plan and schedule all of their social posts. You can schedule content to automatically post to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and more.

You can also tag each social post and add notes to better track and report on your posting strategy and campaigns. Additionally, their publishing suite includes a tool called Optimal Send Times which analyzes your social media data and automatically publishes at a time your audience is most engaged.

6. Evernote

Content Calendar, Task Management, and Asset Organization

Social media content calendar on Evernote

Evernote is a note-taking app that marketers can use to keep track of all the moving parts that comprise a social media campaign.

The tool also features yearly, monthly, weekly, and hourly logs, which make it easy to keep track of when you’re publishing content on social media, when you’re producing blog content, and other team-wide priorities. (Evernote offers customizable templates for each of these that can be downloaded into the app.)

Another useful feature? Evernote’s Web Clipper extension for Chrome. Marketers can use this tool to easily save links to their Evernote Notebook for sharing later on.

The Evernote mobile app also boasts some interesting features to help marketers keep their social content ideas straight. For example, you can easily snap a photo and save it to your Evernote files for review later.

This feature is of particular valuable for social content creators looking to maintain a backlog of photos to publish on Instagram.

7. Hootsuite

Social Publishing and Content Calendar

hootsuite social publishing calendar features

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Hootsuite offers a built-in Planner tool to help you create campaigns, identify publishing gaps, and collaborate with your content creation team. Its primary features are in social publishing so that you can release content to your networks in advance, but it also has rich features for collaboration and post approvals. You can even curate content from other sources without logging into your account. Once your content is created, you can preview it with the Composer tool, which displays according to each social network’s unique format.

8. Agorapulse

Social Publishing and Content Calendar

agorapulse social publishing calendar feature

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Similar to Hootsuite, Agorapulse offers social publishing tools and a content calendar so that you can manage your social media accounts with ease. This includes scheduling (or rescheduling), queuing, and bulk uploading posts, which is incredibly helpful for those who do quarterly or monthly content plans. What makes Agorapulse different, though, is its social inbox that allows you to manage all the interactions from various platforms in a single place. After all, content isn’t just a one-and-done activity; it’s about building awareness and engagement with your readers as well.

9. StoryChief

Content Planning and Distribution

storychief smart calendar feature

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If you want more from your content calendar than simply knowing when posts go live, StoryChief is a good option. With StoryChief’s smart calendar, you can better strategize and plan your content strategy across channels. It not only displays your timetable; it also allows you to assign collaborators to tasks and filter by campaign. StoryChief self-describes their tool as a “content distribution platform” that unifies analytics and publishing across multiple channels for a more simplified approach to content creation. Best of all, it syncs with your favorite calendar apps as well as HubSpot.

10. ClearVoice

Content Creation and Management

clearvoice editorial calendar

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So what about content planning and creation? ClearVoice offers content creation tools to fit into your workflow. While their big claim to fame is their Talent Network Search which allows you to find and connect to content creators to work on your projects, ClearVoice also has features for task management for internal and external collaborators. You can create, edit, and approve projects in an interface that makes editorial management easy. They also have a dashboard and dynamic editorial calendar with plenty of interactive functionality, and there’s integrations with other popular software.

11. Zerys

Content Creation and Management

zerys content calendar feature

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Zerys is another platform that matches you with your ideal content creation freelancers. However, it markets itself as a platform dedicated to content success, offering features for content planning, production, publishing, promotion, conversion, and analytics. You can manage unlimited content projects, plan keywords and titles for blog content, hire writers, and view all deadlines on an integrated calendar. Your in-house writers can use the platform, too, with the project management features that Zerys offers. It also integrates with HubSpot so that publishing is a breeze.

Social Media Templates

HubSpot’s Social Media Calendar Template

If you’re new to setting up social media calendars, HubSpot offers a pre-made, free, and downloadable template that you can use to schedule out full weeks of posts. 

HubSpot's Free Social Media Calendar Template

HubSpot’s Social Media Content Calendar Template for Startups

This template is very similar to the one seen above but also has tabs that work as a repository for content ideas. The template also includes helpful tips for posting on specific social media networks. 

Social media idea repository tab on Social Media Calendar template from HubSpot

If you’re aiming to get all of your ideas down in order to develop a big-picture plan for your social assets, we recommend starting with this template. 

Getting Started on Your Social Media Schedule

Now that we’ve reviewed a few helpful tools to kick your social media strategy into high gear, experiment with them. Every social media team is different, and it could be a combination of these tools that helps you execute your strategy efficiently to drive ROI. 

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2017 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

social media content calendar

10 Free Google Tools All Content Marketers Should Use

10 Free Google Tools All Content Marketers Should Use

If you consider yourself a content marketing professional, there’s a good chance you already use Google tools the make your life easier.

But regardless of how much experience you have and the results you’ve achieved in the past, you know there are always new ways to boost your performance.

Social media, just the right keyword tool, Google’s Keyword Planner, honing your search term — these things can all have a big impact on your volume and your success as a content marketing pro.

Many people look at Google and see nothing more than a search engine. While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to see your website at the top of the search engine giant’s results, you can’t ignore the process for reaching this goal.

When it comes to content marketing, the tools you use, and the strategies you employ will greatly impact the end result.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a content marketing beginner or have many years of experience under your belt, this post could change your approach.

Below, I’ll discuss 10 free Google tools that all content marketers should use.

You may not use all of these tools, and some might not suit your marketing strategy. Even so, I’m confident that you’ll find one or two that can alter your approach for the better.

Are you seeking a tool that helps you find and target the best keywords for your business?

While there are many to choose from, the Google Keyword Planner remains one of the best ways to conduct keyword research.

There’s a lot to like about this free tool, including the fact that it’s extremely simple to use.

As a content marketer, you should always be searching for keywords that can give your website or a particular blog post a boost.

My top suggestion for using this keyword tool is simple: experiment, experiment, and then experiment some more.

The more searches you run, the more you’ll understand how the tool works. Also, multiple searches give you a better idea of which keywords best suit your site.

For example, “content marketing” may be your primary keyword. In a perfect world, you’d rank at the top of Google for this term.

However, you know that this will be difficult. You also know that there are long-tail terms that can increase your search results.

This tool helps you uncover these terms. Check out this screenshot:

With this in mind, you now have a better idea of what to do next. Maybe you find that “b2b content marketing” is a keyword that makes sense for a future blog post.

At that point, you can plug the term, in as your primary keyword, to dig up even more long-tail ideas.

Even though Google Keyword Planner appears to be nothing more than a basic tool, it does everything right for content marketers who want to uncover keywords that can improve the bottom line: the search result it delivers.

Pro tip: If you want more information, try a dedicated keyword planner like my tool Ubersuggest.

What goals have you set for your content marketing strategy?

If you don’t know the answer to this question, now’s the time to take a step back and reassess your situation.

If you’ve already set a few goals, there’s a good chance that many of them are based on search engine results and related statistics. If so, you need to become familiar with the inner workings of Google Analytics.

No two people use Google Analytics in the same manner. But, there are several things to keep in mind if you’re a content marketing professional.

To start, you can use this tool to get an instant snapshot of your performance over a particular period of time.

This alone will give you a clear idea of whether or not you’re on track to achieving your goals.

From here, you have the ability to dig deeper for more data.

As you click-through to each section, you’ll find yourself digging deeper and deeper. For example, I always enjoy checking out my top pages for a particular time period.

This gives me a clear idea of what’s working and what isn’t, in regards to topic selection, the type of content that I’m providing, and whether readers are sticking around to see what I have to say.

The more you use Google Analytics, the easier it is to focus your time on the data that has the biggest impact on your site.

Similar in many ways to Google Analytics, the time you spend with this free tool is never a waste.

There’s so much to learn from the Google Search Console. You could soon find yourself spending hours combing through data.

In addition to reviewing your site’s overall health, there are several other things you can do with this tool.

My favorites are all listed under the Search Traffic drop-down:

For example, Search Analytics allows you to quickly analyze your performance on Google Search.

If you’ve ever wondered how your keywords are performing, you can click the Position box to learn more. This will show you the average position for all of the keywords that appear in Google Search.

Content marketers should become familiar with everything the Google Search Console can do for them. Even if you only use it to track a few key metrics, it’s well worth it in the long run.

Do you find it difficult to continually generate fresh ideas for your blog and other content marketing opportunities?

There’s no denying the fact that the search engine giant’s Keyword Planner provides hundreds of keywords related to your business and industry. Even so, this isn’t always good enough, when it comes to creating compelling content. In other words? You need another way to perform keyword research.

This is why I make it a habit of checking Google Trends, when I’m brainstorming new blog ideas.

With this tool, you can explore any topic to see what’s trending. You can also view “stories trending now,” to see if there’s anything that matches your industry and the approach that you want to take.

For example, the upcoming World Cup is sure to be a hot topic.

Is there a way to tie this into your blog or other content marketing efforts?

If you write about sports, you know there’ll be plenty of information to keep you busy. But, even if you don’t, you can use Google Trends to help you get creative.

Sticking with the example above, maybe you could write a blog post entitled: “How the World Cup is Using Marketing to Drive Views.”

With this title, you’re providing your audience with targeted information, while harnessing the power of a trending topic. It’s the best of both worlds.

You don’t need any experience or much time to use this tool. Simply type in your topic and review what Google spits out. From there, let your creative juices point you in the right direction.

Content marketers need a system for recording and tracking data. Furthermore, there may be times when you want to share this information with other team members.

I’ve found Google Sheets to be one of the simplest and most efficient ways to record data, track changes, and collaborate with others.

Here’s an example. I’m often asked about the best way to track email outreach campaigns. While there are many software tools for this, some of which provide a high level of features, some people don’t want to part with the money.

While Google Sheets may not offer the exact same functionality as these tools, it’s still one of the best ways to remain organized. It still has plenty of advanced features, such as the ability to create pivot tables and sort data.

As long as you’re on-board with the idea of regularly updating your spreadsheet, it’s powerful enough to have a positive impact on your content marketing efforts.

Pro tip: you can also use Google Sheets to create a to-do list, which is something most content marketers heavily rely on. Even with a basic list, you’ll always have a clear idea of what you need to accomplish.

Google Alerts is a Google tool that makes it easy to monitor the web for brand mentions, interesting new content, and news. Then, Google sends you an email once a day or once a week — your preference — with a notification if keywords you are interested in are mentioned.

In short, Google Alerts makes it easier to stay on top of news and new content without spending hours a day on social media.

For example, I could set a Google Alert for my name:

As a content marketer, I suggest setting alerts for:

  • Your brand name
  • Your personal name
  • Key industry terms
  • Major competitors

These alerts will help you see new trends fast and might even give you some great content to share on your social media channels.

A big part of content marketing is getting in touch and staying in touch with a variety of contacts.

There will be times when you spend hours sharing a new blog post with influencers in your space. Since email is one of the best ways of doing so, you better be comfortable with the application you’re using.

Gmail has long been my favorite email client, thanks in large part to the built-in functionality. That being said, there’s more to it than meets the eye.

I use a variety of plugins to ensure that my Gmail account does exactly what I need. For example, WiseStamp helps me to create a custom signature. Along with this, I use FollowUp.cc, so that I never forget to follow-up on an important email related to my content marketing efforts.

You don’t have to use Gmail as your email provider, but I strongly suggest giving it a second look, if you’re open to making a change.

With so many plugins to choose from, you should be able to customize your inbox to meet your every need as a content marketer. This alone can save you quite a bit of time and money.

Pro tip: Even if you prefer another email provider for daily communication with coworkers and clients, you can still use a Gmail account to carry out many aspects of your content marketing strategy.

For some companies, GMB isn’t a big deal. For others, such as local businesses, this is not something you don’t want to overlook.

With Google My Business, you can easily get a free business listing on Google. Better yet, this gives you the opportunity to provide a variety of information, including, but not limited to, your phone number, address, and business category.

The benefits of using Google My Business include:

  • The opportunity to get your business in front of customers interested in what you have to offer.
  • People can learn more about your company, based on the information that you provide.
  • Use images to show how your company is unique.
  • Show off customer reviews.

Remember, there is more to content marketing than producing high quality blog posts.

Think about the word “content” for a second. Anything you write about your company and/or anything you can share with others can be a big part of your content marketing plan.

Since Google My Business listings are front and center in the search results, you probably want to use this as part of your content marketing strategy.

If you stay current with my blog, you know I do my best to publish new posts as often as possible.

There’s a lot that goes into creating high-quality blog posts, so I’m always seeking new ways to improve my efficiency.

While I’ve used many tools over the years, to improve efficiency, Google Docs remains one of my favorites. Not only is it free, but it’s extremely simple to use. On top of this, there are tons of features and plugins to experiment with.

Here are some of the things that Google Docs as I work through the creation of a blog post:

  • Checks for spelling errors.
  • Provides an accurate word count.
  • Allows me to easily insert screenshots.
  • Makes it simple to share the document with the rest of my team, such as my editor.

As you know, a big part of content marketing is content creation. If you’re doing a lot of writing, make sure you’re 100% comfortable with the tool that you’re using.

There are other options out there, such a Microsoft Word, but Google Docs has been my top choice for many years.

How do you organize your day, as it relates to content marketing? What steps do you take to ensure that you’re maximizing the use of your time?

Google Calendar is one of the top organization tools among marketing professionals. It doesn’t have all of the features included in some of the paid tools, but it provides more than enough to keep you on track at all times.

Here are some of the ways that I like to use this free tool:

  • Create events for important marketing tasks.
  • Share my availability with team members.
  • Better understand “open spots” in my schedule, as this allows me to make the most of each day.

I don’t use Google Calendar as often as some of the other tools on this list, but it has definitely improved the way I organize my day.

As somebody who understands the demands placed on a marketing professional, I suggest looking into what Google Calendar offers. It may improve the way that you operate.

Conclusion

With only 42 percent of B2B marketers claiming they have a sophisticated content marketing strategy, it goes without saying that there’s always room for improvement, from keyword research that can boost your search volume to using long-tail keywords in your blog posts.

Personally, I enjoy every tool developed by Google. Some are more effective and powerful than others, but each one deserves a second look.

Have you used any of these free Google tools to improve your content marketing efforts? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.