Thinking about buying content software to uplevel your content marketing efforts this year? Congrats! Graduating from scattered spreadsheets and emails in favor of a powerful, integrated platform is an essential part of driving revenue with content.

The fastest way to narrow down the seemingly endless options available? Find the vendors that support your strategy, not just your production. Allow me to explain:

Once upon a time, most content marketing platforms (CMPs) were focused almost exclusively on content creation. They were designed to help marketers churn out content, without giving much thought to helping said marketers figure out whether that content was in line with strategic priorities. Read: creation for creation’s sake.

Not great.

It didn’t take long for folks to realize that keeping content production isolated from strategic planning wasn’t solving the biggest problems marketers—particularly those in the B2B realm—faced. People began to ask: If I can’t see how this content fits within my larger strategic initiatives, who cares how efficient my workflows are? The way in which vendors responded to these questions effectively divided content marketing tech into two categories:

  • Point solutions, which zoom in and attempt to solve specific problems, like workflows
  • More comprehensive content marketing platforms, which aim to address the full content lifecycle, from planning and production through to distribution and analysis

If you want to strategize and produce in the same place, you’ll need a full CMP. But which one should you choose?

Here are the two questions to ask the vendors on your shortlist:

1. How does this software manage idea submissions?

Why it matters: Gathering input from customer-facing teams is essential for any marketing team. Customer success and sales teams are on the front-lines with your customers and prospects, and those give them unique insight into the values, concerns, and aspirations of your target market.

But making use of these insights is often a messy process, defined by ad hoc requests, one-off emails, and hallway conversations. The best remedy? A well-designed idea submission feature that streamlines the process and provides visibility on both sides.

A centralized list of ideas allows strategists to efficiently review each suggestion with a clear view of how each relates to in-progress initiatives.

Having a clearly defined process also helps those outside the content team (or even within it) who may not otherwise know where to take their ideas. A clear view into an idea’s status gives them visibility into your process. It also provides them a platform through which to collaborate with the appropriate stakeholders if the idea is accepted.

The best idea-driven content software allows strategists to easily assess and route approved suggestions to the proper stakeholders as well as to integrate them into the appropriate existing initiatives so that they always align with larger marketing strategies.

2. How does this software help us visualize planning?

Why it matters: Plans can’t exist in a vacuum. Even the most impressive vision for the future is useless if it sits in a personal drive or gets distributed on January 5th via a one-off all-team email.

The best way to ensure your plans come to fruition is to share them widely and in the context of the tactical-level marketing activity at which your team is hammering away.

Of course, as any marketer knows, plans are never static. Content platforms with the strongest planning capabilities allow strategists to customize and adjust the way they present data and to create Gantt-like charts. This allows them to build unique views for different audiences and contexts. (For example, your CMO will want to see your annual planning through a different lens than a Demand Gen. manager will.) The best CMPs also allow stakeholders to see campaigns across teams and to drill down into calendars and content-specific views, giving them a clear understanding of how their work fits into the efforts of the marketing organization as a whole.

Key Takeaways

As you consider the way different content marketing platforms will support your strategic planning, be sure to consider not only how each will allow you to review ideas and build plans, but also how you’ll be able to socialize those plans and keep them top-of-mind for everyone involved in your content operation.

Want guidance on all the questions you should ask CMP vendors? Grab a free copy of our new guide, How to Buy a Content Platform.

Zoë Randolph

About Zoë Randolph

Zoë serves as Content Architect at Kapost, where she oversees messaging, hosts webinars, and authors long- and short-form content. When she's not contemplating the future of B2B marketing, you'll find her immersed in a book, talking politics, or agonizing over the mediocrity of Cal Bears athletics.