The 35 Best Content Marketing Tools in 2020

Alright, here we go, another list of marketing technology products!

(Silence from the audience)

Well, this one will be different.

(Drumroll)

Why This List of Content Marketing Tools Won’t Suck

For starters, I’ll only include tools on this list I’ve actually used. That’s a big deal. I can tell you with complete confidence that almost every product listicle you’ve ever read is filled with 80%+ tools the author has never actually logged into.

The reason’s obvious: those lists are designed to bring traffic, conversions (they convert well), and quite possibly affiliate revenue.

In the case of affiliate revenue, there are obviously completely different incentives, like the top of the list being populated by the highest paying tools.

(Note also that I’m definitely going to throw affiliate links on whatever tools here that have programs – why not try to make a kickback?)

In any case, you now know that I a) won’t list tools I haven’t used and b) I won’t alter my list based on affiliate payout. But why am I an expert?

I’ve worked on content at three companies (including CXL and HubSpot, two companies essentially built on content/SEO) and I run a premium content marketing agency that works with clients in the 9 figure revenue range. I also run my own blog.

I.e. lots of experience using different tools at different price points, from super low touch and freemium up to the most expensive enterprise options.

What Content Marketing Tools Will Be Included?

The field of content marketing tools is pretty vast. Hell, the term “content marketing” is pretty broad nowadays, sometimes including social media, video, infographics, and other channels.

I’m going to primarily consider content marketing to be the creation of assets on an owned property designed to pull leads or prospects *to* you as opposed to reaching out *to* them.

In most cases, this is a blog or informational pages on a website.

However, there are tons of complementary and supplementary tools that help you do content marketing, so I won’t just put WordPress on here and call it a day. I’ll basically list the arsenal of tools I would choose if given the choice (and have to some extent chosen in the course of working on a kava blog).

The 35 Best Content Marketing Tools I’ve Used in 2020

  1. Google Docs
  2. Evernote
  3. Airstory
  4. WordPress
  5. ButterCMS
  6. Webflow
  7. Ahrefs
  8. Clearscope
  9. SEMRush
  10. Serpapi.com
  11. Screaming Frog
  12. Yoast
  13. Grammarly
  14. Mailshake
  15. Buzzsumo
  16. Sprout Social
  17. Mailchimp
  18. Vidyard
  19. Loom
  20. Zoom
  21. Trello
  22. Notion
  23. Airtable
  24. Google Drive
  25. Wordable
  26. Google Analytics
  27. Google Tag Manager
  28. HotJar
  29. HubSpot
  30. Unbounce
  31. Convert
  32. Conductrics
  33. Unsplash
  34. Canva
  35. Adobe Photoshop

I’ll also break them into categories so you can better navigate this monster of a listicle:

  1. Writing
  2. Content Management Systems / Publishing
  3. Editing & SEO
  4. Content Promotion
  5. Video
  6. Workflow and Process Management
  7. Content Analytics
  8. Conversion / Lead Generation
  9. Visuals and Media

Writing Software & Tools

1. Google Docs

I literally do everything in Google Docs. As you can see, I’m writing this draft in Google Docs:

Screen Shot 2020 03 18 at 7.28.19 PM

Most ideas either start out here or on a notepad and pen (or a whiteboard, same thing).

Whatever the case, if you want a collaborative writing tool, or just a writing tool in general, Google Docs can’t be beat. It’s free. In my opinion, it’s superior to Microsoft Word, which always seems to confuse me when I work in it (don’t send guest posts in Word, please).

It’s also got a ton of great Add Ons and tools that work with it, like the SEMRush SEO Writing tool (a free tool which we’ll talk about later) and Wordable (also later on this list).

Love Google Docs.

2. Evernote

I totally still use Evernote. It was a media darling several years ago when it grew its user base super quickly and made the SaaS world more generally aware of the power of a freemium go to market strategy.

It’s faded in popularity a lot since then, especially since it botched its freemium monetization pathway and got beat out feature-wise by other tools.

However, I still use it for one thing: collecting quotes and notes from other sources. It’s basically an outsourced digital brain for me. For some weird reason, I hate using G Docs for notes, scribbles, quotes, etc. So if I’m at a conference and actually taking notes (rarely), I’ll use Evernote. Similarly, every book I read I highlight quotes and put them in Evernote (aka my Commonplace Book).

I use it when I want to pull quotes for an article:

Screen Shot 2020 03 18 at 7.38.13 PM

3. Airstory

Airstory is a writer’s dream. It’s like Scrivener, but 10X better and with a more intuitive interface.

How to think of this one? Basically, an all-in-one writing platform that combines notes, outlining, and a document editor. They’ve also got a Chrome extension clipper to help you research and save clippings from the web.

If you’re a serious writer, and especially if you run a team of serious writers, this is an awesome tool.

Content Management Systems / Publishing

4. WordPress

WordPress is my go-to CMS for any website I build. It’s the perfect platform for bloggers. It’s also what the vast majority of my agency’s clients use (including very large websites). I use it for alexbirkett.com and I use it for cupofkava.com.

It’s the workhorse of content publishing in general.

While it’s not the easiest tool to get started on, I recommend you at least try to build one site using it if you’re a content marketer, just because it’s so prevalent. It’s a useful skill to learn.

WordPress, in my opinion, is one of the most flexible platforms out there. Additionally, because the market is so big for WP, there are tons of resources, guides, and developers to help you out. There’s also a huge WordPress plugin library you can pull from for additional functionality.

5. ButterCMS

ButterCMS is a new tool I’ve tried out with a smaller client, but I really enjoy. It’s got everything I love about WordPress from a usability standpoint, but is headless, so it’s a back-end only tool where you access content delivery via API (and developers will love this flexibility.

I’m newer to this platform, but I’m enjoying it.

In case you were wondering, my least favorite blog CMS I’ve used is Shopify. It’s not horrible, but man does it seem neglected.

6. Webflow

Webflow is a no-code drag and drop website builder, so it’s not just a blog CMS. It can be used for your whole website.

No-code is going through a moment right now, so you’ve probably heard of this tool. Great for marketers. Great for moving fast. No downsides I can think of.

Editing & SEO

7. Ahrefs

Ahrefs is easily my most-used SEO tool. I love it, and I’ve talked about how much I love it in many blog posts.

Basically, this is my tool for primary keyword research, site audits, and rank tracking. I use this tool to come up with content ideas. It’s how I construct the bulk of my content strategy work.

I’ve got tons of interesting ways to use the tool in addition to the basic reports, which you can read in some of my other posts on content marketing strategy and content optimization.

Suffice to say Ahrefs is recommended by yours truly.

8. Clearscope

My other absolute go-to tool is Clearscope, though mostly in the form of content creation and content optimization.

While Ahrefs is an all-in-one tool, Clearscope basically scrapes search results for a keyword and reverse engineers the content quality, keywords, tonality, and other content writing factors necessary to compete and rank for that keyword.

It’s a game-changer.

We use it with all of our clients, and I’m currently going through an audit of my own site with the tool right now. Absolutely love Clearscope.

I’m also using it to optimize this article as we speak:

Screen Shot 2020 03 22 at 8.34.02 AM

9. SEMRush

SEMRush and Ahrefs are tied, in my opinion, for the best all-in-one SEO tool. They’ve got many of the same features (backlinks monitoring, keyword research data, etc.)

Each one has its strengths of course. SEMRush has far more paid acquisition data. Ahrefs has much cooler reports and, in my opinion, a much nicer interface to work in.

But SEMRush definitely has a better API from my experience.

Having now built several internal search products at HubSpot as well as tooling for our agency, I can say that doing so without SEMRush would suck.

They also have a great Google Docs Add On that helps you write and optimize content as you’re writing it (it’s like Clearscope but in a Google Doc).

10. Serpapi.com

I exclusively use SERP API to pull search engine results page data for keywords to build internal tools. If you’re doing any custom SEO tooling (you should be if you’re serious about it), this is a great and reliable (and affordable) solution for SERP data.

It’s got all the options (city, region, choose number of search results, etc.).

Side benefit: the customer service is phenomenal!

11. Screaming Frog

There’s no ‘technical SEO’ expert in the world that hasn’t used Screaming Frog to scrape and crawl websites. It’s basically the gold standard for a technical audit, and we use it at the agency for every single client to come up with low hanging fruit for SEO fixes.

We also use it to map out their internal linking structure and suggest strategic changes to benefit from topic clustering, especially to sculpt up the value of important pages like product pages.

Screaming Frog has a million use cases, but suffice to say, if you’re doing any sort of SEO, you’ll likely end up using this.

12. Yoast

Yoast is a super popular SEO WordPress plugin.

If I had to pick only one tool to use for writing content (outside of a CMS), I’d pick Yoast. It’s free (the basic version, anyway), and it’s got a ton of useful features, including redirects, URL slugs, content optimization and analysis, and meta description optimization.

WordPress + Yoast is just a classic combination. I say this with skin in the game, as every WordPress site I’ve ever set up from scratch has had Yoast installed right away. I’m not just blindly giving this advice. Yoast is great.

13. Grammarly

I’ll be honest, I actually don’t really use Grammarly anymore. I don’t make a ton of grammar mistakes, and candidly, when I do, I don’t care all that much.

However, if you’re writing for a more formal industry or clients, or you have a serious struggle grasping basic grammatical concepts, Grammarly is really cool.

It’s just a Chrome extension that helps you with spelling and grammar suggestions (beyond the basic autocorrect and spell check features of any given app). The cool thing is it works everywhere on your browser, not just on a specific app (like Google Docs).

Content Promotion

14. Mailshake

Mailshake is a company run by my friend Sujan Patel. It’s an email / sales automation tool that basically takes all of the grunt work out of cold email. Why’s this important? Content promotion and link building often include lots of cold emailing. This tool, and others like it, drastically reduce the boring work involved with sending tons of cold emails.

Of course, the tool is mainly for sales folks, but anyone doing a lot of outbound emailing, which includes many roles in digital marketing/online marketing, will get a ton of value from it.

15. Buzzsumo

I used to use Buzzsumo a lot more, particularly in the days when I was starting to interact more on Twitter. I still use it, but a little less often.

What’s Buzzsumo? Basically, it’s a content research tool, though it’s got a ton of use cases for influencer marketing in addition to blogging. It’s got a couple different features. For instance, you can find the top influencers in a topic area:

Screen Shot 2020 03 20 at 4.46.39 PM

You can also discover well-performing content in a given topic area.

Screen Shot 2020 03 20 at 4.46.25 PM

Honestly, now that I’m diving back into the tool to write this article, I’m realizing how useful and feature rich it really is. BuzzSumo is awesome.

Screen Shot 2020 03 20 at 4.41.57 PM

16. Sprout Social

If you’re going to get the most out of your articles, you’re going to need to maximize your reach via social media accounts (via social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc). You typically do this via 3rd party social media management tooling and a lot of creative strategy. My favorite social media tool is Sprout Social.

I also like Buffer a lot, but I really prefer Sprout Social, for many reasons (strong monitoring capabilities, better for marketing teams/multiple accounts, content curation features, better analytics, more feature-rich in general).

In any case, I actually think you’re probably operating on the margins when deciding between Buffer, Sprout Social, or Hootsuite (my least favorite of the tools). Just pick a tool and share social media posts, curate interesting content, tweet out your articles and thoughts of the day, etc.

17. Mailchimp

You’re also going to need an email marketing tool, and the best one for the best price point is Mailchimp.

Let me be clear, Mailchimp is not the most powerful solution. I would actually not use Mailchimp if you’re planning on doing any sort of customer communications or marketing automation (seriously, use Intercom, HubSpot, Marketo, something else for that).

But for a simple email newsletter tool? Mailchimp is awesome.

I use it for my own email list (sign up now, you sad fool. You’re missing out). I’ve never run into any strong limitations for what my use case is. It’s simple, gets the job done, and has strong deliverability. Me gusta!

Video

18. Vidyard

Vidyard is a video hosting platform. Video content is increasingly important and cool (gives a drop of personality to your stale words – see above, way above, in the article).

If you’re adding video to email campaigns, social media, blog posts – whatever – Vidyard is a great platform for this.

They also offer email gating, so you can play, say, the first 10 seconds of a video, and then require an email address to watch the rest. Great lead capture tactic.

19. Loom

Loom is one of my most used SaaS tools in general. It’s a Chrome extension that allows you to record videos. You can record just your screen, just your camera, or both.

As such, it’s awesome for internal communication for remote teams (like mine). It’s also insanely useful for recording screen shares and tutorials. Check this out:

20. Zoom

Zoom is video conferencing software (best in class), but I put it on this list because of two reasons.

One, if you’re a real content marketer, you’re definitely getting on calls, interviewing people, and gathering qualitative data. This isn’t a novel and you’re not sitting by the lake a la Love Actually with a typewriter.

Two, I love it for video conversations, like podcast style content, that can be used to complement your written word, or just as a standalone. You can record conversations and put them up on your page.

Workflow and Process Management

21. Trello

Trello has been a consistent staple of my work life since I tried it the first time several years ago.

Despite the fact that more feature-rich tools have been launched and tools with slicker interfaces, I still love the simplicity of Trello. So for my own personal blog idea backlog, I use Trello (I also use it for my technical project/product workflow).

I used to use this with many clients, though now a lot more clients are using tools like Notion or Airtable (which I like) or Asana or Basecamp (which I don’t like).

Site note: Trello is the best actual content calendar tool out there. Not even the dedicated solutions compare.

22. Notion

Notion is quickly rising the ranks as one of my most used SaaS tools in general. This is mainly because I use it both at my agency (we use it for all clients and also for all of our own internal processes and knowledge sharing) and at HubSpot for my product & growth projects backlog and workflow.

Here’s the thing about Notion: it can be used for pretty much anything.

I use it primarily as a knowledge base, but for some clients we also use it as their editorial calendar.

I’ve discovered through the past few months that whenever I get frustrated using Notion, it’s not because of the tool itself or its limitations; rather, it’s because I need to learn the tool better. My business partner David is a master at Notion.

23. Airtable

Airtable is another project management tool, but this one is modeled more after a database (or a spreadsheet), where you can join different tables. It’s kind of like a Google Sheet mixed with Trello, in the simplest terms.

I love it. It’s probably my favorite ‘robust’ project management tool to use (I still slightly personally prefer it to Notion for some reason).

Airtable can perhaps make a great editorial calendar, but it may be overkill if that’s your only purpose. It’s really cool for storing and accessing multiple data tables. In content marketing, for instance, that could mean a table where you have content promotion targets, one for writers, one for blog topics, etc.

24. Google Drive

Google Drive is a staple of any modern digital worker’s toolbelt. It stores files. I still use it for basically everything. Still haven’t migrated to Dropbox or anything else. Google Drive is great.

25. Wordable

Content Analytics

26. Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free website analytics tool (they also have a very expensive paid tier for enterprise customers, much more powerful). It’s the gold standard in web analytics. I’m too lazy to look up the exact number of websites using the tool, but it’s ballparked at, well, pretty much all of them.

Of course, it’s good for more than just content marketing, and content marketing is one very small component of your overall website analytics strategy. However, analytics is one of the most neglected components of a content program that I consistently see (every client’s analytics setup had at least one thing that was critically broken).

My advice: learn a lot about analytics, and the best platform to do that on is Google Analytics.

I’ve written a ton on GA on Klientboost’s blog if you’re looking for some starter guides.

28. Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager is sort of the center console to your whole tracking and website tag system. It’s a way to organize all the code snippets you deploy on your site, including your Google Analytics snippet. It’s pretty convenient, for two reasons:

  • It’s much easier to use than hard coding everything
  • It’s much ‘cleaner’ to use when your site gets larger and more complex.

Once you get good at tag manager, it can open up cool avenues, like setting up scroll depth tracking on your blog posts, triggering specific experiences based on data layer variables, or even just setting up event tracking on your form fields.

It’s okay if you specifically don’t know tag manager that well, but most sites should use a tag manager and you should have someone at hand that is skilled at using it.

29. HotJar

Whereas Google Analytics is great at tracking aggregated and anonymized behavioral data points, HotJar more or less let’s you drill down on single users or experiences. They do this through a variety of ‘customer experience’ tools, such as:

Anyone doing CRO or user experience work has almost certainly used HotJar, and anyone

Conversion / Lead Generation

30. HubSpot

I work at HubSpot, but I still love the products. Especially the free ones.

Luckily, HubSpot has a bunch of free lead capture products, from your prototypical web forms (which I use on my website), to popup tools (I also use those), free email marketing, and a free CRM/contacts database. It’s pretty much everything you’d want for a basic inbound marketing lead capture setup. Couple this with Mailchimp (or just use HubSpot’s email tool, probably even a bit better than MC’s) and you’re set.

HubSpot, of course, is a larger all-in-one marketing platform, with sales tools, service tools, and a CRM. But the free lead capture tools are the ones I use mostly.

31. Unbounce

If given unlimited budget, I may use a different landing page builder (I actually really like HubSpot’s tool). But historical behavioral data suggests that Unbounce, by pure usage, is my favorite real-world solution.

It’s affordable, easy enough to use, has a decent amount of flexibility, and there are lots of users/good support/good community. Can recommend.

32. Convert

Again, with unlimited budget, I may choose a different overall favorite A/B testing tool. But the one that I would choose for the vast majority of clients is Convert.com.

It’s affordable with almost as much power as industry leader Optimizely. It’s got everything the vast majority of companies need to start running experiments, and the company has a phenomenal team and great support.

They’re also the most focused on data privacy, which is important to me and will be of increasing importance in the future.

33. Conductrics

Conductrics is my all around favorite experimentation platform. They’re super feature rich, including bandit testing, predictive targeting, and more. It’s definitely got the most interesting personalization capabilities of any tool I know.

Basically, it’s the serious experimenter’s dream set up, allowing you to experiment however you’d like (one sided or two sided t tests, client side or server side rendering, real-time predictive pooling, etc.).

Visuals and Media

34. Unsplash

Unsplash is the best website to find stock photos. The photos are super high-quality. The-stocks.im is great, too, as it offers multiple different websites. But I basically only use Unsplash or my own original photos nowadays.

35. Canva

Although there are many alternatives, Canva is the O.G. ‘This Guy Sucks at Design But Our Tool Can Make Him Do Alright” design tool.

To reiterate, I’m a terrible designer but even with Canva I can make things that look decent.

You can also use this tool to make visual content like infographics. I haven’t made an infographic since 2015, but if that’s a thing you want to do, you can do it with Canva.

36. Adobe Photoshop

I learned Photoshop way back in the day so I could Photoshop my friends on embarrassing, dirty, or weird photos, and also so I could make flyers for my punk rock band. I also used to use Adobe InDesign for a few internships back then if I wanted to make a pamphlet or a pdf.

Now I don’t really use it as often, but sometimes if I need to do a quick social media banner or some sort of a graphic, I’ll still use it. It doesn’t hurt to have in your content marketing tool belt, and it’s clearly more powerful than Canva if you actually know how to use it.

Conclusion

Okay, you either read the whole list or you skipped ahead to the finish line. Either way, here’s the message: there are a lot of content marketing tools out there. This list is a tiny fraction of the ones I use (have used), let alone all of them on the market.

So two points:

  • First, no tool will beat a winning strategy and scrappy marketer. The most important work I do is with my brain and a spreadsheet, fueled by a strong cup of coffee and long walks.
  • Second, it’s also a matter of personal preference and company context. Certain organizations will obviously have different needs, particularly with complex purchases like a CMS. So clearly you also need to do some due diligence.

Luckily to that second point, tons of content tools offer freemium versions or at least trials. So dip your toes in!

Don’t email me if I missed a tool unless you can bribe me with a gift card to Clark’s Oysters or a truly funny personal story.

Alex Birkett
Alex Birkett is a Growth Marketer and Content Strategist based in Austin, Texas. He's a proud UW-Madison graduate and enjoys craft beer, lifting weights, and sailing.

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