10 Essential Low-Cost Content Marketing Tools

10 Essential Low-Cost Content Marketing Tools

As content marketers, much of our job is keeping content engaging, relevant, and unique. On top of that, we spend our days editing articles and evergreen content until they are free of any and all grammar and spelling mistakes.

Fortunately, as content marketing gains traction as a pillar of digital marketing, more and more tools are emerging to help create awesome content. Here at Volume Nine, we have a few tried-and-true tools that make our lives easier on a daily basis. Even better, they’re either cheap or free – we like to save some of our money for happy hour!

Here’s our list of the best low-cost content marketing tools available today. Do you work on the social or SEO side of things? Stay tuned – our lists of the best social media marketing and SEO tools are coming soon!

Grammarly

This online spelling and grammar checker may be your new best friend. If you’re imagining a rehashed version of the built-in spell checker in Microsoft Office, think again.

This powerful tool not only points out spelling and grammar errors, but also highlights overused words, unusual word pairs, advanced grammar errors, and more. It has stopped me from publishing a paragraph where I used “great” four times because I was feeling a little too enthusiastic after my third cup of coffee.

The app is a Chrome extension that edits your writing directly on most sites (no more grammar mistakes in email!). It currently doesn’t work with Google Docs/Sheets, but you can copy and paste your text from Google Docs or Microsoft Word to be edited directly on the Grammarly site. It’s free to use, but there is a monthly fee ranging from $11 to $29 if you want to get the full suite of advanced grammar and spelling checks.

Buzzsumo

Not to make bold claims, but Buzzsumo is probably one of the best content marketing tools available now. It’s Pro platform provides a host of information that you can use to better your content marketing.

Search for a keyword, and you can see the most-shared containing that keyword over different time periods. Browse trending articles in a category to get ideas for your next blog post. Check the most-shared articles or backlinks for a certain URL. Find and understand the best influencers to amplify your content – the list goes on.

While Buzzsumo does offer a free version, its capabilities are limited. They offer a range of monthly plans, depending on the size of your agency and the information you require. While it’s the most expensive tool on this list, it’s worth checking out to see if their features would be beneficial for your work.

Piktochart

I’m sure you’ve seen the articles lauding the benefits of including infographics in your content marketing strategy. Unfortunately, this likely also means that you’ve discovered that getting infographics professionally designed is very, very expensive.

Insert Piktochart. This easy, drag-and-drop infographic builder will help you create professional, high-quality infographics. The online tool includes an extensive gallery of icons, as well as pre-made templates if you’re feeling a bit uninspired and need some guidance.

Like the other tools on this list, they offer multiple levels of membership – the free version offers a surprisingly robust amount of tools, but your designs will include a Piktochart watermark. Their Pro plan gives you access to the full array of features and is priced comparatively cheap at $30 per month.

Canva

Canva is a similar tool, and has a similar design experience, to Piktochart. However, this online tool is more focused on image creation for social media. They also have infographic templates but lack the focus and functionality of Piktochart.

As an image editor, Canva is a simple, easy-to-use option for creating engaging social graphics. They offer an extensive library of graphics and images (which, for $1 each, you can use legally within copywriting laws). While not near the level of Photoshop or Illustrator, Canva is a good option for non-designers looking to create professional graphics.

Canva’s free version is more than sufficient in providing you the tools you need to design graphics with no watermark. However, they do offer a paid version for $12.95 per user per month that offers more features for agencies or teams.

MyBestSegments

Those of us who work in agencies know that persona development is an important part of planning out a client’s content marketing strategy. Claritas has put together a MyBestSegment, fun tool to help with crafting the perfect persona or segment.

Insert a zip code, and MyBestSegment will tell you the different segments of people that live in the area, along with demographic information and lifestyle and media details that you can use to give some real-world, accurate characteristics to your personas. You can also browse all segments, sorting by a variety of different demographic information.

The bulk of the information in the tool is available for free, although some more detailed demographic details are only available to Claritas customers who license their segmentation products.

SEMRush

SEMRush might be Volume Nine’s favorite tool. Our SEO team relies on it to dive into the nitty gritty of our client’s sites, and we on the content team use it daily for planning out long-tail keywords for client blogs.

As keyword research goes, SEMRush is an encompassing, all-in-one tool for keyword discovery and research. Their analytics software shows you everything from the top-ranking keywords of your domain to backlinks. For content marketing, their keyword analytics tool can help you find phrase match keywords, and their Keyword Magic Tool will help when you’re struggling to find the perfect long-tail keyword.

SEMRush is a paid software, offering different levels of subscription based on your business requirements. Their cheapest option is $99 per month, but the cost can easily be justified by the suite of tools available in the software.

Writer Access

As those of us in content marketing know, it’s a tough task to produce the blogs, evergreen pages, and other content your clients need on your own. Instead, you likely partner with writers to create compelling content that suits your clients’ needs. Writers Access is one of the places we turn to when we need quality content, fast.

Writers Access is unique in that you can just order one piece of content from them, as opposed to committing to a monthly minimum content level that other services require. If you find yourself close to a deadline with no content, the writers at Writers Access can get your content done in 24 hours or less.

Writers Access gives you good control over your cost – you pay more for the quality of content you want to be produced. Writers with great testimonials, reviews, and performance will have a higher cost per word than those new to the service or with poorer reviews.

Outbrain

When reading articles on most sites, you’ll likely see a feed of recommended content at the bottom of the page or in the sidebar. These articles are placed there by a tool like Outbrain, a useful and inexpensive tool for content amplification.

Outbrain’s easy-to-use interface allows you to quickly get your articles on sites like CNN, People, and ESPN. Their framework is built for mobile, making it easy for your content to reach consumers where they’re engaging most.

Unlike other content amplification tools, which may set a minimum spend at $200 or more, Outbrain doesn’t have a minimum spend. You are charged based on cost per click, up to the daily budget cap you set.

PlayBuzz

If you’re looking to create more engagement on your blog posts, website or social sites, Playbuzz is a fun option – that’s completely free!

The service can help you build polls, lists, quizzes, and more that are all easily embeddable on your site or in your posts. You can also share the content on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or in a newsletter. The site tracks engagement with your poll, sharing views and completion rate of your poll or quiz.

As we mentioned before, Playbuzz is completely free to use. They don’t offer an optional paid service, meaning your inbox will be blissfully free of marketing encouraging you to upgrade.

Answer the Public

As all content marketers know, finding the best long-tail keyword for your blog post can be frustrating. While tools like SEMRush help, sometimes it’s useful to visualize the keywords options in a different way.

Enter Answer the Public, a keyword planner that provides you with a visual look at exactly what people are Googling that relates to your main keyword. The tool sorts long-tail keywords by questions, prepositions, as well as alphabetically, to help you find the perfect long-tail keyword.

Like Playbuzz above, the tool is completely free, with no option to upgrade to a paid subscription.

No matter your content marketing need, there is a tool out there that won’t break the bank. If you want to take your content marketing to the next level but don’t have the time (or patience) to learn all these new programs, give us a shout – our content marketing team would love to help you out!

 

  • Arthur

    Hey Megan,

    Thanks for your article and glad to be the first to make a comment here!

    Canvas is definitely helpful, I’ve been using a lot for my Facebook page. Have you heard of Shakr? It’s as helpful as Canvas is but for videos. Used it a lot for my Facebook ads.

    Anyways, thanks for this, always looking for new tools is a great thing to do I guess!

    • Barb Dittert

      Hi Arthur,

      We haven’t used Shakr before – we’re starting to make more videos for clients, so we’ll definitely be testing it out. Thanks for the tip!

  • Mark

    Hi, Megan. Thank you so much for this list. Definitely gonna try it .
    My suggestions: for checking mistakes – Ginger, Hemingway; for SEO – SERPstat. Really low-cost

    • Barb Dittert

      Hi Mark,

      Glad you enjoyed the article! Thanks for the tips about other tools – we’re always on the lookout for more useful content tools. We’ve been testing out Hemingway, and love it so far.

  • If you’re going for low cost, I really like KWFinder for keyword research. Also, Ghost Browser (disc.: I’m a co-founder) for managing client sm / google accounts and logging into multiple accounts at the same time.

    • Barb Dittert

      Thanks Larry! I believe I recently saw the Ghost Browser tool on Twitter – I will make sure to check that out!

  • Abigail

    I’m using Grammarly, Hemingway app, keyword finder and GetResponse for marketing automation.