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Since content is a marketer’s lifeblood, most martech stacks are likely mainly comprised of solutions that help you create, optimize, and distribute your content. But there are many, many content development tools out there. How do you know which solutions match up best with your organization’s content strategy?

That question becomes even more tricky when you’re part of a small marketing operation, or if you’re in a situation where the solutions that got you to Point A aren’t enough to get you to Point B. Choosing the right content development tools can help marketing teams with limited resources punch above their weight and compete with larger organizations. Sometimes that means forgoing “freemium” tools and investing in solutions that allow you to impose more order over your content operations.

We’ve been through the process of optimizing our martech stack, and know how challenging it can be. So we wanted to share our approach to how we developed a content strategy that has worked well for us, including the tools that you’ll find in our own martech stack.

In your stack, you have a few priorities.

1) discovery, 2) process management, 3) writing, 4) publishing

You need to figure out what and where content is resonating with customers, how you’ll manage your team workflow, which platforms to use for adding content, and how to upload your content.

Planning the stack

Before we dove into creating our content stack, we asked ourselves a few questions:

  • What steps do we want to include in our content development process?
  • What needs to happen to get content from ideation to publication?
  • Which technologies would work best to optimize this process?

We wanted to keep things simple. Content development can be a highly complex process, with many different people involved, from copywriters to designers to web managers. We didn’t want to further complicate things by adding an excessive amount of solutions or overlapping tools that did the same things.

We decided on a clean and concise process that would cover all of the necessary bases required to take our content from idea to publish. For us, that meant employing four key steps.

Step 1: Discovery

We wanted to know what our customers were reading and responding to, so we could tailor our content to them, so we made discovery the first step in the process. This phase involves discovering what content is resonating with users, which channels they’re using to access the content, and how they’re responding to it.

We use BuzzSumo. BuzzSumo helps you analyze content performance, search for topics via keyword, and see the content readers are respond to the most. Then, you can develop your content accordingly, knowing that there’s an audience that’s ready and willing to consume it.

Step 2: Process management

There are a wealth of solutions that allow you to manage your workflows, including tools that help improve collaboration and knowledge-sharing. We knew what we wanted in a process management solution: the ability to easily track projects from idea, to production, to publish.

We researched several and decided upon Trello. Trello is an easy to use workflow management tool that connects various team members and lets everyone know exactly where things stand in the content development process. You can collaborate, share ideas, upload content for review and approval, and keep track of everything along the way. And, with a few simple hacks, you can turn Trello from a simple Kanban board into something much more powerful–a fully functional project management system perfect for content management.

Step 3: Writing

There are a number of blogging and writing platforms on the market, all offering different feature sets. The trick is to find one that’s easy to set up and use. Other things to look out for include the ability to easily modify your content or website as needed, and with the flexibility to adjust to your content needs over time. Built in search engine optimization features, including ways to measure keyword density, are a plus.

We chose WordPress, the world’s most popular content development and blogging platform. It has the flexibility and features we need, but still manages to be highly intuitive and simple to use.

Step 4: Publishing

The last step in the process is arguably the most important one. All of the work you’ve done will be for naught if you don’t have the right platform to expedite the publishing of your content, ensuring that it gets out to the right people and channels.

Again, we use WordPress for publishing, but we’re evaluating and getting ready to add more tools that go beyond simple blogging. HighSpot, for example, is a good option for sales enablement. Others, like Kapost, can also be good for publishing, as well as process and operations management, as well as sales enablement.

You may come to the conclusion that the tools you need are different from the ones we use. Or you may discover that you or some of your teammates are already using some of these solutions.

Whatever the case, these are the steps that we feel every marketer should take as they optimize their content stacks. They worked for us. They can work for you.