By Ann Gynn published August 19, 2016

30+ Marketing Tools for Research, Engagement, Measurement, Workflow, and Visuals


Open up your content marketing toolbox.

Is it empty? Or is it so crowded that you can’t find the tool you need?

Content Marketing World presenters are here to help. These daily practitioners of content marketing open their toolboxes to reveal what things they use to help them in:

  • Research
  • Engagement
  • Promotion
  • Measurement
  • Process and workflow
  • Visuals

By the way, even if your toolbox is well organized and easy to use, you might find a new tool or two that will complement your perfectly neat toolbox.



BuzzSumo is the one tool I use every single day for my own content marketing efforts and for my clients. With this one affordable tool, you can identify the topics your audience shares the most, the sites they use, and the influencers they follow.

Michael Brenner, CEO, Marketing insider Group

Note: At least three experts cited BuzzSumo as an indispensable tool.


This platform is a game-changer for anyone creating a steady stream of content. You can see emerging trending search terms before they’re trending. Just think about that for a second. You could get several hours’ heads up on exactly what the perfect blog title or the perfect Facebook post might sound like on a given day. You can also get a heads up on what to avoid in the event of a negative news event.

Leslie Carruthers, founder and president,

Survey Monkey

We have lifted the use of Survey Monkey over the last 12 months and have found it to be useful in building a better understanding of our audiences and how their needs and habits are changing.

David Pembroke, founder and CEO, contentgroup


SEMrush provides a great dashboard for content performance as it relates to search and social.

Brian Massey, conversion scientist



It’s been instrumental in building a depth of relationship with my listeners, as well as show (and get feedback on) all my projects during my creative process.

Jay Acunzo, vice president of platform, NextView Ventures



I’ve automated self-promotional tweets to my content using Edgar. Rather than write tweets that go out once, I write tweets that go out repeatedly. Unlike a Buffer queue, which quickly runs dry, these stay in rotation indefinitely. That’s important given organic reach in social media is near 1%. I also can go back and optimize, removing or improving the lower performing posts and adding more of the posts that work well.

Andy Crestodina, co-founder, strategic director, Orbit Media


I’m using SproutSocial to engage and curate across social channels but especially with Twitter. It’s helped increase my prospect engagement and lead capture from social media dramatically.

Matt Heinz, president, Heinz Marketing



Conversionfly is useful for tracking the progress of a lead through a sales funnel. By knowing the conversion rates at each stage of the sales funnel we can optimize and improve it. It provides a nice, easy-to-understand visual that has been extremely helpful.

Ian Cleary, founder, RazorSocial


We’ve started using Hotjar as a way to track user engagement on web pages, blog posts, and landing pages.

Dechay Watts, co-founder and chief strategy officer, SPROUT Content

Microsoft Power BI

Through Microsoft Power BI, our digital team uses custom dashboards to allow internal stakeholders to check the progress of their digital marketing efforts. We still generate monthly reports with executive summaries, but the brand managers really like the freedom to open a dashboard and see what’s happening without having to request a formal report. Our digital team has figured out how to connect multiple data sources into Power BI and render beautiful data-visualization dashboards.

Buddy Scalera, content strategist

Screaming Frog

Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a non-negotiable for me. There is absolutely no way I could keep my content audits current without it.

Andrea Fryrear, chief content officer, Fox Content

Process and Workflow


Our marketing team has been using Asana to manage larger projects and plan our content calendar. It has allowed our team to effortlessly manage and track projects and collaborate internally.

David MacLaren, CEO and founder, MediaValet


CoSchedule makes it so much easier for me to plan and schedule my own blogging and social-sharing activities. Now that it integrates with Evernote, it’s allowed me to be more efficient with how I work as I can turn the ideas in my Evernote notebook into blog posts and just watch the whole thing sync across through CoSchedule into WordPress. And I can plan and schedule all of the blog post shares to social media at the same time.

Jonathan Crossfield, storyteller


GatherContent is my new best friend. It lets us share pieces with our team, offer feedback, and offer insight to our stakeholders in one place.

Andrea Fryrear, chief content officer, Fox Content

Google Docs voice feature

The Google Docs voice-typing feature allows me to get more rough drafts of my blog posts up faster, and that is one of my bigger bottlenecks in content creation.

Brian Carter, founder, The Brian Carter Group


While it’s not content marketing exactly, SaneBox has been an incredible tool for cleaning up my inbox. Even with a rules set-up and a really organized offline folder system, I was still receiving 400 emails a day from people who meet me and add me to mailing lists, people who purchase email addresses, and people who send real emails.

SaneBox learns your habits and automatically moves all of that crap into offline folders. You can go through later and send them to the black hole or revise the rule so SaneBox knows you want the email. Now I get 30 to 40 emails in my inbox and it’s only the stuff I really need to deal with.

Gini Dietrich, CEO, Arment Dietrich Inc.


Microsoft Smart Art and TechSmith Snagit

Recent versions of Microsoft’s Office suite include a SmartArt feature that I use to create simple text graphics. By selecting a SmartArt template, you can easily create a graphic that displays word relationships. Options include process, cycle, relationship, hierarchy, Venn diagram, matrix, and pyramid. The graphic can include level-one and level-two text. Many of the templates provide space for inserting a photograph. While not as flexible as professional graphic software, SmartArt can create striking customized graphics that are far more appropriate than generic stock photographs.

After working with TechSmith Snagit’s screen-capture program for many years, I recently upgraded to Snagit. The latest version is far easier to use. It eliminates several steps to create blog post graphics and annotated diagrams.

Roger Parker, founder, Published & Profitable

Wrap up

As chief marketing technologist at, Travis Wright has seen a ton of marketing tech tools. In addition to a couple mentioned above, he offers this list:

Joe Lazauskas, Contently editor in chief, also offers a bag of tools, including AddThis for subscriptions, SpyFu for SEO, and TeuxDeux for organization.

Now, if you added these tools to your toolbox today, it would be too crowded to find out what is most helpful to you and your organization. Start small. Pick your biggest challenge area —– research, engagement, promotion, measurement, process, workflow, or visuals. Then pick the one tool you think can help you overcome that challenge.

Oh, and don’t forget to share this toolbox with others on your team. After all, they can start small too, and soon, your company will have the most well-organized, helpful toolbox for your content marketing program.

Measurement is one of the five core elements for running successful, scalable content marketing operations. Read our 2016 Content Marketing Framework: 5 Building Blocks for Profitable, Scalable Operations for an overview of the full strategic blueprint. 

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Please note: All tools included in our blog posts are suggested by authors, not the CMI editorial team. No one post can provide all relevant tools in the space. Feel free to include additional tools in the comments (from your company or ones that you have used).

Author: Ann Gynn

Ann Gynn edits the CMI blog. She also serves as the Tech Tools editor for Chief Content Officer magazine. Ann regularly combines words and strategy for B2B, B2C, and nonprofits, continuing to live up to her high school nickname, Editor Ann. Former college adjunct faculty, Ann also helps train professionals in content so they can do it themselves. Follow Ann on Twitter @anngynn or connect on LinkedIn.

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  • Roger C. Parker

    Thanks for sharing such a valuable bundle of resources–including many new discoveries! This serves a great purpose.

    All too often, marketers are familiar with the “core” content and social distribution tools, but aren’t aware of the significant value of the creation, management, and analytic tools you’ve assembled.

    And, thanks for including 2 of mine!

    • Ann Gynn

      You’re right Roger. In fact, less-obvious or -considered tools may even offer more value to a content marketing program than the core ones.

      Thanks also for your great contributions!

  • Gloria

    Wow, such a nice list!
    I would add one more tool, for internet monitoring and analyzes, BRAND24.
    It gives instant access to all public mentions relevant to your brand, product, name, competitor, etc and gives analyzes of reach, sentiment and influence. Really helpful and efficient tool.

    • Ann Gynn

      Thanks Gloria — always glad to learn of helpful tools. I’ll have to check out BRAND24.

      • Gloria

        I’m sure you will like it 🙂 maybe you would like to add it to your list 😉

  • Roger C. Parker

    Re: SmartArt visuals
    It’s important to note that you can use SmartArt for more than “final art.” It’s equally useful as a planning tool, allowing you to visually brainstorm ideas and their relationship to each other before you start to write.

    In addition, SmartArt saves time working with onsite professional or freelance designers. You can easily prepare visual “roughs” to show designers and production artists what you’re trying to communicate. It’s easier and faster to **show** a designer what you want the graphic to communicate, than try to verbally explain it or waste time writing a description of what you’re after.

  • Nica Tortosa

    Awesome post, really useful!

    Have you heard about Rawpixel?

    You’ve probably seen our images all over the place. We’re the leading stock photo contributor in the world. We’ve just launched our website where we give away the best free design resources out there.

    We’d be stoked if you could add us to this list. Check us out on

    Looking forward to you joining our community of creatives.



  • Veselina Gerova

    Absolutely loved this article Ann!
    I’m a big fan of CoSchedule and Asana, glad to see them on your list 🙂

    I would also suggest trying out Revue! It’s a content curation tool that lets you send out beautiful newsletters. Design-hassle free and simple to use. It definitely fits this well-assembled list.

    Looking forward to your next posts!

  • Aira Bongco

    Amazing list you got here Ann. I went ahead and clicked through Microsoft SmartArt and I can see how this can be useful for creating graphics for your marketing materials and even some infographics. There are also lots of names that I am quite unfamiliar with like DataMinr, Edgar and Hotjar. I would like to include this in my content marketing list if you don’t mind. Here’s my list so far if you want to check it out.

  • Marshall Reyher

    Thanks for this comprehensive list, it will definitely come in handy.

    I wanted to let you know about the collection of FREE Stock Photos that I recently added to my website at They are available as high-resolution downloads, and free to use in both personal and commercial projects without attribution.

    It would be great if you considered adding my resource to your list. Thank you for your consideration.