The 14 Best Content Planning and Research Tools

Posted on May 26, 2016 · Posted in Uncategorized

May 26, 2016

by Tom Pick

With 93% of B2B marketers now using content marketing to build brand awareness and generate leads, success going forward will require producing higher-quality content—not just more of it.

Creating high-quality content starts with planning (deciding what to write about) and research (determining what to say about those topics).

Those decisions will start with your company’s content strategy and collaboration between marketing, PR and sales. There are also a number of tools that can be helpful with both content ideation and research. Here are 14 of the most useful tools for managing and executing the initial stages of content development.

4 Best Content Planning Tools

1) Trello
Google Review Count: 1,190,000

A project management tool that uses cards and lists to coordinate efforts between team members for content planning (or other types of projects). Users can add checklists, labels, and due dates, and project information is kept in sync across devices.

Sample review:  “Trello is a simple, yet effective project management tool following the agile development model. The app uses “lanes” to identify columns of where specific tasks or “cards” are in the process of your project, keeping your project organized.” — SmartBug Media

Pricing: free to $21 per month

Showcase reviews: Online Marketing Institute, Anders Orsander, Marketing Insider Group (Strategy), Blogging Wizard, SmartBug Media, StoreYa Blog, Social Media Examiner, Marketing Insider Group (Content), Express Writers, SnapApp

2) Podio
Google Review Count: 715,000

Project management tool from Citrix that includes online chat, meeting scheduling, social collaboration, and workflow automation for content planning and development or other purposes.

Sample review:  “Podio is a project management tool, and can help you keep your content projects in check much the same way as Trello – with the added bonus of nifty Apps you can add it and use for different functions (like collaboration and research).” — Online Marketing Institute

Pricing: $9 to $24 per month, plus custom pricing for enterprises

Showcase reviews: Online Marketing Institute

3) Bubbl.us

Google Review Count: 57,800

Online brainstorming tool enabling individuals or groups to create mindmaps,  organize thoughts and ideas, and plan goals.

Sample review:  “This is a very easy-to-use tool for brainstorming and creating mindmaps. I use it for mapping out different content and blog post types to include in my editorial calendars.” —Online Marketing Institute

Pricing: free to $6 per month/$59 per year, plus education discounts and custom pricing for enterprises

Showcase reviews: Online Marketing Institute, Siasat

4) CoSchedule
Google Review Count: 30,700

Online editorial calendar for content marketing and social media planning. Includes social media scheduling and workflow planning, and integrates with WordPress, Google Docs and Evernote.

Sample review:  “Super user friendly, works perfect and is very affordable! On top of providing easy-to-use editorial calendar management, CoSchedule also provides a feature to promote our content on our social channels (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and G+). I can even connect it to my Buffer account. It simply rocks!” — RazorSocial

Pricing: $60 to $300 per month

Showcase reviews: BuzzBlogger, RazorSocial, Blogging Wizard, SnapApp

10 Best Content Research Tools

1) Google Scholar
Google Review Count: 4,970,000

A specialized search engine which provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites.

Sample review:  “I don’t know why more people don’t talk about Google Scholar, but I love this tool for researching science-heavy articles and digging into emerging studies…Pair it with a Google Alert to get amazing research on your topics of interest delivered right to your inbox.” — Buffer Social

Pricing: free

Showcase reviews: Buffer Social

2) Google Trends
Google Review Count: 592,000

Discover the most popular topics people are searching for right now, or investigate historical search. For example, almost no one looked for information about “content marketing” prior to early 2011, but interest really soared a couple of years later, with search volume tripling between December 2012 and January 2014.

Sample review:  “There is no reason to overlook the obvious. Use this constantly to make sure that the keywords you are targeting are not losing steam. You’ll also be able to get suggestions for other valuable keywords.” —  StoreYa Blog

Pricing: free

Showcase reviews: Buffer Social, Perception System, Cent Muruganandam, StoreYa Blog, Express Writers

3) HARO
Google Review Count: 333,000

HARO (Help a Reporter Out) gives journalists and bloggers access to a database of sources for upcoming stories, and offers subject matter experts daily opportunities to secure valuable media coverage.

Sample review:  “Writing an article, but don’t have the perfect source? Submit a posting with Help A Reporter Out and responses will begin flowing into your email box.  Looking to become the front page of Time? Use the HARO emails to help other reporters out with their next big story.” —  Social Media Today

Pricing: free to $149 per month

Showcase reviews: Social Media Today

4) Wolfram|Alpha
Google Review Count: 234,000

Wolfram|Alpha is an engine for computing answers and providing knowledge. It works by using a large store of expert-level knowledge and algorithms to automatically answer questions, perform analysis, and generate reports.

Pricing: basic version free; Pro version $5.49 per month

Showcase reviews: Siasat, Johnny Lists

5) SimilarSites
Google Review Count: 230,000

Enter any URL and find other websites that are similar. A Firefox browser extension is also available.

Pricing: free

Showcase reviews: Siasat

6) Snopes.com
Google Review Count: 85,100

An independent fact-checking site, Snopes bills itself as “the definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation.” Check on  current news stories or submit rumors for investigation.

Pricing: free

Showcase reviews: Siasat

7) Think With Google
Google Review Count: 54,000

Digital marketing data, statistics, insights, and trends tracked and collected by Google across industries, platforms and audiences.

Pricing: free

Showcase reviews: iMedia Connection

8) Google History
Google Review Count: 39,200

Helpful for finding information you’ve previously searched for. Displays your Google search history across devices, including YouTube searches.

Pricing: free

Showcase reviews: Siasat

9) Consumer Barometer
Google Review Count: 12,100

Another Google marketing research tool, this one reveals how people across the world use the Internet. Create graphs, compare trended data over time, and explore curated research highlights.

Pricing: free

Showcase reviews: Online Marketing Institute

10) Google Drive Research Tool
Google Review Count: 12,100

Perform quick research while working on a document or presention in Google docs. Search for everything related to a specific topic, or narrow the search to images, Scholar, quotes, dictionary definitions, tables, or results from yuor personal files stored on Google Drive.

Pricing: free

Showcase reviews: HubSpot, SnapApp

Showcase Review Links

Anders Orsander
Blogging Wizard (Content)
Blogging Wizard (Writing)
Buffer Social
BuzzBlogger
Cent Muruganandam
Express Writers
HubSpot
iMedia Connection
Johnny Lists
Marketing Insider Group (Content)
Marketing Insider Group (Strategy)
Online Marketing Institute
Perception System
RazorSocial
Siasat
SmartBug Media
SnapApp
Social Media Examiner
Social Media Today
StoreYa Blog

This post originally appeared on the Webbiquity blog.

Photo source: Flickr user Phil

About Tom Pick
Tom-PickTom Pick is an independent digital marketing consultant, focused on helping b2b technology clients improve their online visibility and business results. In his more than 20 years of b2b marketing experience on both the corporate and agency sides, Tom has won numerous awards and helped clients ranging from single-person businesses to $1 billion+ corporations improve their online visibility, web traffic, visitor engagement, and lead generation. He writes about content and social media marketing topics on the Webbiquity blog.