content toolsEver since Content Marketing Institute (CMI) began conducting content marketing research three years ago, North American B2B marketers have told us that their two biggest challenges are “producing enough content” and “producing the kind of content that engages.”

However, when we dive a bit more deeply and examine those content creation challenges within the context of what’s really going on in these enterprises, they turn out to be the symptom, not the disease itself.

CMI Consultants have worked with more than 50 Fortune 1000 companies on the process of content marketing, and what we’ve found is that many enterprises do actually feel like they are producing great content — and have the capabilities to continue to do so, even in narrow pockets. But where they actually lack confidence is in their ability to align with and scale to the level of content velocity they need to be at, from a process standpoint.

The result is that many organizations that succeed are “finding” their optimal content creation structure (or are sometimes even stumbling onto it) rather than taking a proactive approach to constructing it. Building an approach from the ground up is a more disruptive, enterprise-wide change, so of course it has its pros and cons. But the process is leading to the emergence of a whole new class of content marketing technology solutions.

Enter content collaboration tools

Marketing teams that are, indeed, “finding” their content marketing groove also are discovering that enterprise content management systems (CMS) and other workflow tools are simply too large and unwieldy for their particular needs. Large gaps exist between their content marketing process needs and the technology tools at their disposal.

Specifically, they are looking for tools to assist them with the following:

  • Easy, collaborative workflows — enabling shared online spaces to easily manage the process of multiple content types across content marketing editorial calendars and multiple digital content channels. Traditional web content management systems (WCMS) have this workflow capability, of course, but it’s usually more governance-based (e.g., approval/rejection) than collaboratively focused.
  • Internal team and task management — enabling the ability to assign core teams of content creators to specific channels and provide a shared place for ideation, assignment, and management of tasks. This includes pulling in teams that are normally not part of the content management process — but rather just content “producers” who will periodically contribute to a much hungrier content-focused marketing department.
  • External team acquisition, management, and payment — enabling the ability to engage and manage ad hoc, crowdsourced, freelance writing teams and provide for a consolidated source of payment, legal, and tax information. This is ostensibly embedding the outsourced nature of companies such as Elance and ODesk into the content management process, and enabling enterprise marketers to contract with one source as opposed to hundreds.
  • Team measurement and analytics — providing for measurement of not only the content, but of the teams actually creating the content. As enterprises deploy larger teams, scoring both freelance and internal writers on content quality (e.g., SEO, traffic, social sharing, etc.) as well as quantity is becoming very important.

New solutions have emerged over the last couple of years to fill these gaps. In this report, we cover 13 of the most visible players in the market. They are:

  • Compendium
  • Contently
  • DivvyHQ
  • Ebyline
  • GatherContent
  • InboundWriter
  • Kapost
  • Scripted
  • Servio
  • Skyword
  • Textbroker
  • WriterAccess
  • Zerys

We are well aware that other solutions are out there, and we may add or remove companies from this report in subsequent versions. But these, from our perspective, are the solutions that, currently, are most well-known in the marketplace — and the ones that we, at CMI, have gotten the most questions about.

We have categorized these solutions into two groups: Writer Network Collaboration Solutions and Content Editorial and Workflow Solutions.

  • Writer Network Collaboration Solutions are focused on helping organizations source and produce content using outsourced freelance networks. These companies offer varying degrees of software-based services, but are really meant to facilitate the production of content in a managed, outsourced fashion.
  • Content Editorial and Workflow Solutions are focused on helping teams manage the new, more editorial-like processes of a marketing department. Faced with a much higher velocity of content — delivered across multiple channels, and via many sources — marketers can use these tools to help organize their content operations and create more collaborative work environments.

Note: Among the vendors mentioned above, there is quite a bit of overlap in terms of how their capabilities and features could be categorized. As a result, we didn’t break them out by category as part of our report. As with any other purchase decision, a solid understanding of both your current and future needs and your strategic goals will be key to selecting the right solutions provider for your own unique situation.

To learn more about this space — and the vendors in it — download Content Collaboration Tools: An Analysis of 13 technology Solutions in a Disruptive Marketplace.

Cover image credit: Andrew Moir