Content Planning Tools: What These 4 Teams Use to Work More Efficiently
August 10, 2016 | Kaleigh Moore
Creating stellar content isn’t a matter of putting words, images, and interactive content together on a screen. It requires careful planning, research, and talent – with the help of some great tools along the way.
These tools assist all throughout the process – from planning, to assigning, to execution and delivery.
So we wanted to explore a few different types of teams and look at the tools they use to create incredible, value-driven content.
Let’s see what they’re using to meet their needs and work more seamlessly as a team.
Storyhackers: Large Global Brands & Fortune 500 Clients
The Storyhackers content team creates content for large global brands and Fortune 500 clients, typically in the B2B marketing or SaaS world. Their growing team of remote writers leverages a variety of tools and resources to produce polished, valuable content.
“We needed a system of tools that was flexible enough to meet the varying needs of each company we work with while also bringing more transparency between our end-customers and our writers,” said Ritika Puri, co-founder of Storyhackers.
Puri noted that given the nature of their work, they had experimented with almost every content marketing tool on the market (like Contently, Skyword, Kapost, and ScribbleLive.) And while they loved all of those tools, they couldn’t find just one that met their particular use case.
So instead, they studied the patterns of all of their different clients and assembled an all-star project management system using free or low-cost tools, including:
- Trello to manage production and to ensure communication between writers and clients
- Slack for internal collaboration with freelance partners
- Email and good, old-fashioned phone calls to come up with content ideas
Puri said that for the next layer, her team will be building custom integrations to ensure the connectivity of all of these different systems.
“So far, we have an early version running across dozens of clients,” she said. “We’ve had some hiccups but are learning ways we can customize alerts and build integrations to keep our ship of geo-dispersed writers and consultants afloat.”
Ecwid: eCommerce Widget and Platform
With an audience of more than one million sellers in over 175 countries, the content team at eCommerce widget Ecwid takes their content strategy seriously. Their focus is on using a system of integrated tools that provides metrics and KPIs that inform their efforts each step of the way.
“As a startup, we try not to waste time by doing things that don’t deliver worthwhile results,” Ecwid content manager Alina Vashurina said. “So, immediately after we publish, I become an analytics junkie and can’t stop looking at the metrics that tell us how the post is performing.”
Here’s what their collection of content planning tools looks like:
- The team collect ideas for posts. It usually brainstorms ideas (for everything from blog ideas to promotional strategies) and fill its Google Sheet.
- It uses CoSchedule as a content calendar.
- It uses KissMetrics to know how many paid customers it gets.
- It also uses Google Analytics to study general KPIs.
- It uses a dedicated designer to draw all covers for posts. (It purposefully refused stock photos because it wanted more meaningful pictures.)
- It uses Google Keyword Planner to find out how exactly people search to satisfy their search needs.
- It usually uses Google Docs for writing, but its developers (who also write sometimes) love Paper.
Using these tools together, the Ecwid team is able to keep close tabs on what’s working and what’s not with a metrics-driven approach. Moving forward, the company plans to increase its blogging efforts and will depend even more on these tools to make the process effective and results-oriented.
ThinkWarwick: Mid to Enterprise Level SaaS & eCommerce Brands
Working with clients like Hubspot, LinkedIn, and Marketo, ThinkWarwick knows that great tools make for a more reliable, stress-free content development process.
“We have a fairly streamlined process here as far as creating content goes,” ThinkWarwick Founder Jacob Warwick said. “Our teams use different tools that flow seamlessly to make the process run smoothly.”.
Here are the tools his team uses on a regular basis:
- Its copywriter and subject matter expert system communicates primarily through Google Docs and Slack.
- During the writing process, his team uses Grammarly to catch mistakes and to suggest editorial improvements.
- Then it optimizes for SEO and publish through WordPress.
- Within WordPress, there are lots of different built in tools that can help you optimize for SEO, like Yoast.
Communication is important all throughout this process.
“While you can communicate directly in Google documents, I prefer using Slack for more detailed conversations,” he said. “Plus, many of my clients already use Slack on their marketing teams, so it’s very easy to communicate with them. Occasionally I have clients that work with Trello or KanBanFlow, but I don’t consider those tools essential to my workflow.”
Misfit Wearables: Tech and Fitness
In the realm of tech fitness, Sarah White and her content team at Misfit Wearables use few tools to keep things ultra-simple.
“Like most consumer companies, we have a zillion digital channels – all of which need to be aligned when we have big announcement or message going out,” she explained. “Because of this, each team maintains a separate, content-rich calendar.”
When planning out content, her team uses:
- Google Sheets for its content calendar
- Trello for planning and assigning content
- Google Docs for writing and editing
- Dropbox for file sharing visual assets
“I use Trello specifically to build out blog ideas and creative concepts for multi-channel execution. It’s the best way to build an idea in a stepwise fashion – from brainstorming through production – because it’s so easy to create broad groupings and include rich media like photos, PDFs, links, and lists that can be easily visualized,” she said.
Content Planning Tool Preferences: Similarities, But Different for All
Each content development team takes a different approach when it comes to the tools they use to plan, execute and then promote the content they develop together.
And while there are some common favorites, it seems that teams use a lot of the same tools differently to serve their own unique purposes.
The main takeaway: Much like many marketers have wildly different marketing technology stacks, content teams pick and choose a variety of different tools to find the combination of resources that best fits their needs.
Will they all be the same? Not likely. And that’s okay.
But by effectively using content management tools with your team, you can create more opportunities for yourselves. You can streamline the ideation process, the creation process, and the promotion process to put out the best possible resources for your audience.
Who doesn’t want that?