Buying a content marketing platform: how to choose the best content marketing software

The market for content marketing software worldwide was $3.42 billion in 2017. More importantly, the prediction is that it will increase to $9.59 billion by 2023.

These numbers should not be surprising, considering the fact that content marketing consists of four complicated tasks, namely:

These tasks are difficult, even for experts. Also, content marketing is getting more sophisticated day by day. The support of software has become essential for every step of content marketing.

But there are more than 100 companies that provide a content marketing system. So picking the right platform that can simplify your content marketing plan is not easy. On the contrary, it might be just as challenging as implementing the plan.

Having said that, you don't have to worry.

This guide contains all the information you need before buying a content marketing platform. It also tells you the key questions to raise for choosing the right CMP for your business.

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    What is a content marketing platform?

    Content is essential for all kinds of marketing efforts. Be it web content monitored by marketing automation, email marketing, or PPC landing page copies.

    That means many essential elements of marketing are useless without content. For example, drip campaigns won’t be effective without content for leads. Moreover, lead scoring won't be possible when leads have no material to explore.

    So what is content marketing software? It’s a tool that makes it more simple and effective to provide content for creating and cultivating leads. And sales can finally turn these leads into customers that bring a profit.

    It gives a data-based, expandable and multi-channel method covering four major processes: content planning, creation, promotion, and performance measurement.

    Four major processes of content marketing

    Image Source: Convince & Convert

    Content marketing software vs marketing automation platform

    Marketing automation platforms provide automation for routine marketing tasks. These tasks include sending emails, posting on social media, and similar website activities.

    Although MAPs are essential for content marketing’s success, content is not their primary concern. In fact, their main focus is demand and lead creation.

    Some examples of marketing automation platforms are Marketo, Pardot, and Eloqua.

    Content marketing software vs content management system

    CMSs help create blogs and web pages without programming.

    These systems collaborate with CMPs, although both carry out different tasks.

    CMPs coordinate the production, distribution, and measurement of content. They can push directly to CMSs and various other digital media sites.

    Some examples of content management systems are WordPress and Drupal.

    WordPress as an example of content management system

    Image Source: iThemes

    Benefits of content marketing software

    Only 51% of marketers track metrics as well as understand the effectiveness of their content.

    Research data on tracking and understanding of content performance metrics

    Image Source: Parse.ly

    In general, marketing professionals keep their supply of content in various databases and spreadsheets. In other words, they waste too much time and effort on content management.

    In contrast, a CMP allows you to manage your content in one place. And it gives clear reporting to guide your future content production.

    A content marketing platform allows content marketers to have:

    • A single, comprehensive insight of your complete content supply network from generation of content ideas to creation and distribution
    • Top-down clarity on how your content is affecting lead and revenue creation, as well as marketing and sales funnel
    • A data-based and expandable method for controlling content operations and realizing its impact on revenue growth

    Also, some other positives of CMP are:

    Content marketing platform challenges

    Along with its advantages, prepare yourself to face the following challenges that come with a content marketing system.

    • Increased expense of marketing staff
    • Executing it and teaching the workforce will take up time
    • Certain CMPs might briefly reduce efficiency and make operations difficult

    Keep this in mind while choosing a content marketing system. If these challenges are too problematic, using a spreadsheet is more economical. But it is quite ineffective for analytics since analyzing manually takes up much time and has a higher margin of error.

    Buying a content marketing platform

    If you've decided that your company requires content marketing software, you can start determining your priorities for your CMP.

    The task of exploring and evaluating CMPs will be much easier if you begin with a clear understanding of:

    • Your budget
    • Present holes in your staff’s process
    • The most essential features for your staff’s performance

    Assess your needs

    Great content marketing software should assist at every level of the content marketing procedure. This implies that there must be some assistance for all activities, from content planning to data reporting.

    But different software address distinct requirements at various phases of the procedure.

    Conduct a gap analysis of your content marketing procedure. Using it, figure out the areas that your CMP should address.

    Look into these aspects while deciding whether there are gaps that you have to fix:

    Content planning:-

    Content creation:-

    Content promotion:-

    • Content posting
    • Content distribution

    Content performance measurement:-

    • Engagement
    • Sales impact

    Determine required features

    Using gap analysis, find out the functions of content marketing software most essential to you. The following are the most important features to consider in a CMP:

    Content calendar: Content calendars are not the same across CMPs. Make sure you know how you would like to classify, structure, label, transfer, and share content via your content calendar.

    Content calendar feature of StoryChief content marketing platform

    Image Source: StoryChief

    Content inspection: Certain content marketing tools can identify holes in your content as well as in your content plan. Removing the necessity to conduct a gap analysis manually can save much time and money.

    Team collaboration: This function allows teams to communicate with each other and work together on content.

    Content promotion: CMPs differ in their capabilities for promotion. Certain CMPs let you promote via social media, your blog page, webpage, email, sponsored content, PPC ads, etc., whereas others have limitations.

    Compatibility with other tools: Does it work well with systems like WordPress and Marketo? Integrations are quite different for every content marketing platform.

    Monitoring leads triggered by content: This function is fairly common in CMPs. Monitoring leads triggered by your content is essential for the victory and growth of almost all marketing plans.

    Monitoring sales generated by content: Certain content marketing tools provide data reports that monitor your content’s contribution to total sales. In case you want to demonstrate the return on investment your content staff delivers, this function should be your priority.

    Collaboration with creatives: This function enables you to find and employ credible content creatives straight from your content marketing platform.

    Content repository management: Content marketing software keeps all of your content assets in one location.

    Content idea generation: A section devoted to generating and exchanging ideas.

    Custom Templates: Editable templates simplify production for content staff.

    Customer interaction after download: After a potential customer downloads your content, you can monitor their engagement with your content using this function.

    Data reporting: Performance data and analysis of your marketing efforts in real-time.

    Customizable reports: In what number of ways can the platform generate reports? Do you want to divide your data in multiple ways by customer persona, phase, writer, and more?

    Consider your budget and time to implement

    CMPs can cost anywhere from $8000 to more than $100,000 annually. If your company is small or you don't create a lot of content, a CMP with a yearly cost of $60,000 won't be worth it.

    It ought to be clear that your platform and content are creating value, not decreasing it.

    Besides the CPM cost, another important thing to consider is the execution period. Managing the change while executing a new content marketing platform is an overlooked challenge.

    Shifting to a new marketing platform costs a lot of time per employee. It will temporarily reduce your staff’s efficiency.

    Certain content marketing tools are more difficult to execute than others. Consider how you would like to execute the switch to a new platform. Also, take into account the software seller’s credibility for their execution procedure.

    Before looking into different platform choices, reflect on the questions listed below:

    • Would you like a personal account manager to assist you at every stage?
    • Would you like user-friendly software that you can execute on your own?
    • Do you want your staff to learn in a classroom setting or through web-based training?

    Note that the way a vendor assists you in executing their platform usually suggests the kind of relations you will share with them over the platform’s life stages.

    Research content marketing software vendors

    As per Databox research, 25% of marketers consider ‘customer proof’ to be the most essential element for reviewing multiple software tools.

    Most important factors for evaluating software

    Image Source: Databox

    Once your preferences for the content marketing software are clear, begin evaluating software choices.

    While evaluating, consider the questions raised below:

    • Is my staff really going to use it?
    • Can other sections of the company utilize it?
    • Does the seller offer flexibility in cost, execution, etc.?
    • Does the platform offer flexibility? Are there different ways to use it?
    • Can the platform expand with your business?
    • Does it allow you to customize data reports?
    • Is it possible to communicate internally and externally with ease?

    Read customer feedback. You can check the following sites for customer feedback on online software tools:

    Another way is to refer to client stories and case reports. Many CMP vendors have client stories and case reports on their webpage. In case you are searching for anything particular, contact sales.

    Contact shortlisted vendors

    Once you’ve evaluated CMP suppliers, shortlist 2 to 3 best CMPs and book a demonstration. This will help you get a better sense of the platform’s user interface. Also, you will learn how your staff can profit from the CMP.

    Queries to raise during a demonstration: When inspecting new software, it is essential to have detailed knowledge of what you are buying. During the demonstration of your platform, raise the following queries.

    • Is your CMP compatible with other essential software?
    • What kind of onboarding training is provided, and will it be part of the package?
    • What type of assistance will you get after getting started?
    • Are there any limitations on the number of content, leads captured, users, and so on before additional charges apply?
    • Is it possible to modify the platform according to your requirements? Are there any additional functions or adjustments that will enhance the software’s appeal for your company?
    • How frequently do you upgrade the software? What upgrades are on the way?
    • Why should we give you preference over your business rivals?

    Moreover, it is a good idea to list down the major functions and procedures that you expect the supplier to address in the demo. And assign rankings according to the preferences you identified above.

    Make a choice and implement the solution

    After raising questions, ranking possible CMP suppliers, and examining demos with your main associates, you are ready to pick your CMP.

    Once you’ve done that, set objectives and KPIs for the platform. This will allow you to assess the platform’s efficiency. Also, it will help you to make a decision when the renewal time comes.

    Summing up

    As is evident, picking a content marketing platform that meets your demands requires careful consideration.

    You require a good grasp of what a content marketing platform is and how it can contribute to your company’s profit. Also, recognize the goals and operations you want it for, take the execution procedure into consideration, and identify the main functions you require.

    Did we miss anything? Did you try these tips? Do you have any questions or comments? Share your thoughts below in the comments section.

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    Hi, I'm Hitesh Sahni

    My team & I help brands with superior content marketing services, software reviews, and insights to boost traffic and lead generation. Sign up for our free email newsletter and get notified once a week about new blog posts with strategies to turn content into a growth channel for your business.

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