If content is king, content marketing tools are the crown jewels. Learn which you need to keep yours sparkling.

Here, you’ll find:

  • What content marketing tools are
  • The benefits of using content marketing tools
  • The best content marketing tools to use today
  • Expert insights for implementing content marketing tools

Content marketing isn’t a fad, trend, or “tactic” businesses employ to get overnight results. It’s a fundamental strategy that can steadily grow your business, but only if applied over the long term.

The companies that understand this are investing smartly into their content marketing efforts, including the tools they use. 

And this is true across both B2B and B2C sectors. Reports show 70% of B2C marketers and 73% of B2B marketers use content marketing in their digital marketing strategies. 

If you’re already using content marketing, then you’ll find software can speed up and simplify your workflow, so stay tuned to check out our top 10 list. Here’s a sneak peek:

Top 10 content marketing tools

  1. Ahrefs
  2. Semrush
  3. Asana
  4. WordPress
  5. Surfer SEO
  6. Grammarly
  7. Canva
  8. Portent Idea Generator
  9. HubSpot
  10. Google Trends

What are content marketing tools? 

Content marketing tools are software programs that help your business plan, organize, execute, and monitor your content marketing efforts. Some tools focus on one area of your content marketing strategy, like marketing analytics.

While others wear multiple hats, helping with research, planning, and writing. These tools are ideal for all business types, including B2B, B2C, service companies, and ecommerce. 

Top content marketing tools to use in 2023

So, which software should you add to your content marketing toolkit? Here are our top picks. 

  1.  Ahrefs: Finding keywords and topic inspiration

    Ahref homepage

    Every content marketing strategy should begin with research. And that’s what Ahrefs does exceptionally well. Ahrefs is a tool that helps you find keywords, understand their intent, and even create content around them.

    Here’s an overview of its features:

    • Site audit and optimization to identify technical SEO issues that may be hurting your rankings
    • Backlink analysis to see what content is driving the most traffic from third-party sites (and the quality of those sites)
    • Competitor analysis to see what keywords they’re targeting and how you can improve your content to outrank them
    • Keyword research and analysis to find the search terms your audience is searching for
    • Content analysis and optimization to create high-quality content that’ll rank in Google (and other search engines) and drive organic traffic 
    • Rank tracking to monitor which keywords you’re ranking for and on which page (great for finding low-hanging fruit on page two to optimize and take to page one)

    A report from Databox shows Ahrefs is the third most popular SEO tool (behind Google Analytics and Google Search Console). Roughly 60% of companies use it to guide their keyword research and SEO strategy.

    Here’s why some may love it:


    • Comprehensive backlink analysis
    • Provides detailed insights into competitors’ backlink profiles
    • Accurate keyword research data
    • Excellent customer support


    • Expensive pricing for smaller businesses
    • Limited social media tracking capabilities


    • Lite: $99 monthly
    • Standard: $199 monthly
    • Advanced: $399 monthly
    • Enterprise: $999 monthly

    The cost may be a bit high for smaller businesses, which drives some toward free tools. But it’s not a good idea if you’re trying to take your SEO strategy to the next level.

    “Many free topic ideation tools just show top search results for particular keywords,” explains Austin Lewis, SEO Manager at HawkSEM. “You don’t need a tool for that — just run a query in your target search engine to find the top results. Then use the free tools to dive beyond titles to identify subheading structure or other elements found in the top results. Search engines already show titles, so if that is all your topic ideation tool provides, it’s time to look for a new one.”

  2.  Semrush: Finding content topic ideas

    Semrush homepage Semrush is another popular content ideation and research tool for marketers. In fact, it’s the second-most used platform after Ahrefs, with roughly 55% of companies using it. This tool comes with excellent features like:

    • Keyword research and analysis to find the best keywords for your content
    • Site audit and optimization to find weaknesses hiring your site’s ranking potential
    • Competitor analysis to see what your competitors are doing and learn how to beat them
    • Backlink analysis to identify the quality of the backlinks pointing to your site
    • Social media management and tracking to determine the success of your social campaigns
    • Content marketing analysis to identify high-performing content and topics to create similar or better content


    • Comprehensive SEO and marketing toolkit
    • Easy-to-use interface
    • Provides actionable insights for improving website performance
    • Excellent customer support


    • Expensive pricing for smaller businesses and solopreneurs 
    • Some features can be overwhelming for beginners


    • Pro Plan: $119.95 monthly
    • Guru Plan: $229.95 monthly
    • Business Plan: $449.95 monthly

    While SEO tools are great — don’t allow yourself to succumb to what Lewis calls KWVTV (Keyword Volume Tunnel Vision). 

    Oftentimes, the first step of the content ideation process (keyword research and mapping) is too hyper-focused on keyword volume, instead of looking for paths of least resistance,” explains Lewis. “Paths of least resistance can be found by inspecting other keyword metrics, besides just search volume.”

    In Semrush, for example, there are alternative metrics like:

    • Keyword Difficulty: A measure from 0 to 100, with 100 representing the most difficult keywords to rank for organically in the search engine results page (SERP).
    • Competitive Density: Measures the competition for paid advertisements in SERP for a particular keyword. Competitive density is measured from 0 to 1, with 1 having the highest level of paid media competition.

    “When keywords come with a high CD, you can expect to have the SERP littered with ads, which could make this keyword more difficult to convert, even if you have the number one organic position,” says Lewis.

    So understanding KD and CD is critical to identifying the best keywords to target.

  3.  Asana: Keeping assignments organized

    Asana task management platform

    Asana is the project management tool you need to keep your marketing team organized and efficient. It has all the bells and whistles for managing projects, such as assigning and labeling tasks, creating task folders, leaving comments in tasks, and setting up email notifications.

    Here’s an overview of its features:

    • Task and project management for better team organization
    • Team communication and collaboration tools to eliminate the need for email and Slack 
    • Time tracking and reporting to keep tabs on project progress and bottlenecks
    • Calendar and deadline management to keep your team accountable for deadlines
    • File sharing and storage to keep all project files in one place


    • Easy-to-use interface
    • Offers comprehensive project management features
    • Integrates with a variety of other tools
    • Excellent for team collaboration


    • Learning curve for new users


    • Free plan (forever)
    • Premium Price: $10.99 per user, per month
    • Business Price: $24.99 per user, per month
  4.  WordPress: Simplifying content management

    wordpress Managing your content is easier when you have a content management system (CMS). WordPress.org just so happens to be the most popular CMS platform out there. 

    It’s the platform of choice for more than 43% of all websites on the internet. 

    Not just because it’s one of the first to hit the scene, but because of its ability to maintain relevance. It’s consistently updating its features to enhance the user experience and site optimization. 

    The WordPress community is also fierce, having countless forums and groups to join to talk programming and design with WP experts. Plus, you can find thousands of themes and templates to jumpstart building webpages without coding knowledge. 

    Here’s the rundown of its features:

    • Blog creation and management 
    • Website design and customization for the programming expert and the non-coder using themes and templates
    • Content creation and management to simplify editing, optimizing, and uploading your content
    • SEO optimization using Yoast
    • Tons of WordPress plugin integrations for added functionality


    • Easy-to-use interface
    • Highly customizable design options
    • Thousands of professional, pre-made, third-party templates and themes to purchase
    • Excellent for content creation and management
    • Large user community and support resources (can find local experts on its site)


    • Requires technical knowledge, although hosts have gotten around this by creating one-click installers
    • Limited design options without knowledge of CSS and HTML (some themes have drag-and-drop builders to help)
    • Vulnerable to security risks without proper maintenance (which you must do yourself or hire a pro to manage it for you)


    • Free
  5.  Surfer SEO: Evaluating keywords for content

    Surfer SEO

    Surfer SEO is another search engine optimization tool that offers a range of helpful features for content creators. Some of its more popular ones include keyword search and a content editor that grades how well you optimized your posts.

    The higher your score, the higher your odds of ranking high in Google.

    Here’s a look at its features:

    • On-page optimization analysis to check your content for keyword opportunities
    • Keyword research and analysis to find the best keywords to target in your content
    • Competitor analysis to see where you stand against your competitors
    • Content editor for optimization to grade your content for SEO
    • SERP tracker to monitor how well your optimized content is performing over time 


    • Comprehensive on-page optimization analysis
    • Excellent for content optimization
    • Accurate keyword research data
    • Provides detailed competitor analysis


    • Pricey for smaller businesses
    • Limited functionality for off-page optimization


    • Basic: $49 monthly
    • Pro: $9 monthly
    • Business class: $199 monthly
    • Enterprise: Custom price
  6.  Grammarly: Improving writing clarity

    Grammarly content marketing tool Nothing kills your credibility faster than a typo or grammatical error. Or worse, run-on sentences that throw your readers off track. Grammarly helps you avoid these errors and polishes your content so it’s publish-ready.

    And it goes beyond proofreading your content for typos and grammar mistakes.

    Grammarly uses AI technology to evaluate your writing for clarity, conciseness, and tone (e.g., professional, formal, casual). 

    Here’s a closer look at its features:

    • Spelling and grammar checking to avoid embarrassing mistakes
    • Writing analysis and suggestions to improve your writing styles
    • Plagiarism detection to ensure you’re not publishing duplicate content
    • Tone detection and suggestions to write in the appropriate tone for your audience
    • Vocabulary enhancement to make your content more readable and less repetitive
    • Chrome extension and desktop app to use its features in your emails, word processors, social media, and wherever else you write


    • Highly accurate spelling and grammar checking
    • Provides detailed writing suggestions
    • Offers a plagiarism detection tool
    • Integrates with a variety of other tools


    • Limited functionality for non-English content


    • Free version: Limited functionality
    • Premium: Starts at $12.00 monthly
    • Business Price: Starting at $15.00 monthly per user
  7.  Canva: Spicing up content with visuals

    Canva content marketing tool homepage

    Adding visual content to your posts can keep your audience engaged. But who has design skills that your audience will appreciate? With Canva, you don’t need them because it comes with hundreds of thousands of templates to build upon. 

    Then you can select your fonts, colors, images, and other elements to make it your own. Plus, it has new AI capabilities, allowing you to generate images using text prompts (e.g., “businessperson in an office sweating while sitting typing on a computer”). 

    Here’s an overview of its features:

    • Graphic design templates and tools to create posters, brochures, blog images, social media images, and other designs
    • Photo and image editing to enhance your visuals with text, graphics, and filters
    • Social media graphics creation to spruce up your social media posts with eye-catching images
    • Infographic design to develop visual data your audience can easily digest 
    • Branding and marketing design templates to create content that reinforces your brand identity


    • Offers a wide range of design templates and tools
    • Easy-to-use interface
    • Affordable pricing for advanced features
    • Integrates with a variety of other tools
    • AI tools to speed up your design workflows


    • Limited functionality for complex design needs
    • Limited customizability for some design templates


    • Free
    • Pro: $12.99/mo for one user
    • Canva for Teams: $14.99/mo for up to five users, then $14.50/mo per person for six to 25 users
    • If you have more than 25 people, you can view this pricing table
  8.  Portent Idea Generator: Creating attractive headlines

    Portent content marketing tool homepage

    Coming up with titles for your blog posts can be challenging. You need captivating headlines that aren’t misleading clickbait. Otherwise, you risk losing your audience’s trust and hurting your reputation. But you also don’t want a snooze fest of titles that lure folks away from your content.

    And we’ll have none of that — this is why we have Portent  Idea Generator next on the list. 

    Here’s an overview of what this tool does:

    • Generates catchy and creative headlines for blog posts or articles
    • Allows users to input a keyword and receive multiple title options
    • Offers suggestions for potential changes to improve titles


    • Provides a quick and easy solution for coming up with blog post titles
    • Can increase click-through rates and engagement by generating attention-grabbing titles
    • Free to use with no registration required


    • May not always provide titles that align with specific brand messaging or tone


    • Free to use
  9.  HubSpot Blog Ideas Generator: Planning editorial calendars

    HubSpot content marketing tool homepage

    If anyone knows how to create a great headline, it’s HubSpot. So it only makes sense that it created a topic ideation tool.

    What makes HubSpot’s Blog Idea Generator unique is that it doesn’t just give you one title. It provides a week’s worth of topic ideas. Then if you’re willing to give up your name, email, and other company details, you can get a month’s worth of topic ideas.

    So if you have a weekly or monthly theme, type it into the generator and you’ll have enough ideas to fill your calendar in minutes. 

    Here’s a look at its features:

    • Generates multiple title ideas based on themes, words, keywords you give it
    • Users can adjust the length and format of the titles to suit their needs


    • Saves you time and effort by providing numerous title ideas in seconds
    • Improves your content’s SEO potential by suggesting keyword-rich titles
    • Sparks creativity and provides inspiration if you’re feeling stuck
    • Easy to use and requires no technical knowledge


    • Titles generated by the tool may not always be relevant or suitable for the user’s specific piece of content or target audience.



  10.  Google Trends: Analyzing content marketing efforts

    Google Trends content marketing tool

    What should your blog posts cover next month? Rather than guessing what your audience wants to read, you can analyze what they’re currently looking up.

    Google Trends offers a peek into the conversations and thoughts your readers have about a given keyword or topic. It’s not real-time, but it’s close enough. 

    You can also go as far back as a few months or several years to see the overall trend of a topic. Just type in a search term and you’ll see whether it’s trending and other similar terms they may be looking up that you’d never conjure up. 

    Here’s a look at what Google Trends offers:

    • Allows users to track and compare search interest over time for specific keywords or topics.
    • Provides insight into trending topics and popular search queries.
    • Offers geographic and demographic data to better understand audience interests.


    • Helps identify popular topics and keywords to inform content marketing strategy
    • Provides data to support content ideas and decision-making
    • Offers a free and user-friendly interface with no subscription required


    • Limited to search data only, may not provide a complete picture of audience interests
    • Can be difficult to interpret data without a background in data analysis or marketing research


    • Free to use

Benefits of content marketing tools

Using content marketing software is ideal if you’re serious about maximizing your business’s performance and revenue. The top benefit is you’ll save time by cutting out repetitive, manual tasks that remove your team from more important (money-making) activities.

Some will even maximize your results by pinpointing which topics, formats, and audiences to pursue to reach business goals. 

Here’s an overview of the benefits of using content marketing platforms:

    • Better efficiency: Find trends in the data to build better strategies and even assign tasks to team members to execute the plan.
    • Increase content quality: Ensure all content is error-free and accurate before publishing to the web or social media platforms. 
    • Enhance SEO: Learn which keywords drive higher rankings and quality traffic — this is what our proprietary software, ConversionIQ, does for the campaigns we manage for clients. 
    • Deeper analytics: Understand who your audience is, what they want, and what makes them click/buy, so you can tailor your content. A/B testing can identify which headlines, pages, and CTAs work best.
    • Grow brand awareness: Keep a close ear on audience conversations to see how well your brand’s visibility is growing. 
    • Improve engagement: Identify high-performing posts on your blog or social media accounts to understand what your audience desires.
    • Save time and money: Reduce or eliminate time-consuming tasks and replace it with AI and marketing automation. 
    • Lead generation: The better your content and strategy, the higher the odds of attracting the right prospects to the right landing pages, or other relevant content. 

“Content marketing tools allow marketers to reverse engineer the content that’s already working for competitors,” says Lewis. “By understanding what content works for competitors, you can create a similar but improved version of any high-performing copy, potentially taking SERP positions from the comp.”

How we use content marketing tools at HawkSEM

At HawkSEM, our teams use many of the tools we have on this list. Here’s an example of how we them to work to build content briefs for our content writers:

  • Ahrefs (Keywords Explorer) & Semrush (Keyword Magic Tool): Identifying target keywords and construct keyword maps that can be provided to writers
  • Ahrefs (Content Explorer) & Semrush (Topic Research): Identifying potential topics that align with the business goals and our identified target keywords
  • Google Trends: Determining which of our identified topics are trending the most
  • Clearscope: Creating content outlines for our topics that are currently working in SERP, finding semantic keywords in top SERP results, and identifying citations (external links) in top SERP results in SERP

Some tools are good for multiple areas, which is why they made it to our top 10. 

The takeaway

Building content for your business blog is easier when you have a bird’s eye view of topics, audiences, and campaign performance. But you lack this without the right software in your toolbox. 

But don’t forget that great content doesn’t always have to come from reverse-engineering your competitors’ strategies via tools. 

“Oftentimes, original copy with a fresh set of ideas is the best way to go, especially if you have an authoritative author. In these cases, just focus on the target and semantic keyword placements, as well as on-page optimization practices,” advises Lewis.

And if you’d like more wisdom from our team of experts, let’s see how we can help take your content efforts to the next level.

Saphia Lanier

Saphia Lanier

Saphia Lanier is a content writer and strategist with 16+ years' experience working with B2B SaaS companies and marketing agencies. She uses an engaging journalistic style to craft thought leadership and educational content about digital marketing, technology, and entrepreneurship.