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4 Key Criteria for Choosing a Content Marketing Platform

4 Key Criteria for Choosing a Content Marketing Platform

Content is like sand at the beach. It just gets everywhere.

You leave the beach and you've washed the sand off your feet, shaken it loose from your clothes and dusted off your towel. You get home, and somehow, there's sand in your kitchen. And in your hair. 

Content is the same.

It can very easily get out of hand and, before you know it, it's everywhere; you have drafts of articles in your inbox, images in Dropbox, videos on a hard drive and your editorial plan stuck to the back wall of meeting room F. It dawns on you that you need some kind of tech platform to keep everything organised, right?

The next challenge is actually choosing one of these platforms and how do you even know which one is right for you?

Well, I've been there (a few times, actually) and I understand how confusing it can be when you're trying to decide between a 'content marketing platform', a 'content management system' and a 'content aggregation application' or whatever new name someone comes up with tomorrow.

So, what should you be looking for?

There are three criteria I've found useful when deciding which content marketing platform to go with:

1. Organise 

Consider how effectively the platform:

  • provides useful tools to help you plan your content ideas and production
  • allows you to easily and quickly scale your content production and publishing
  • sorts, stores, tags and surfaces content at an item-by-item level

2. Realise 

Consider how effectively the platform:

  • makes it easy to produce (write, upload, edit) content
  • manages reviews and approvals of content between different users
  • publishes to one or more destinations (your site, social media channels, apps etc)

3. Analyse 

Consider how effectively the platform:

  • integrates with some or all your other channels' analytics offerings
  • surfaces insights in granular, but not overwhelming, formats
  • allows you to implement changes to your content based on the insights

What about price?

Ah, yes, price. The elephant in the room for most sales meetings.

Price is the sort-of fourth criteria and it definitely plays a big role in this discussion. However, the price of these kinds of platforms can vary enormously depending on things like how many people are going to be using it, how much storage space you might need, if you're customising the platform to suit your situation and many other factors.

It's very possible that the tech options you're looking at might cost as little as a few hundred dollars a month all the way to $15,000 per month, depending on how far up the scale you go on these factors.

There are also implementation costs to consider when you first buy your shiny new platform that will generally go to consultants, partners or agencies to setup and get the platform running.

These can be next to nothing if the platform you've chosen is completely SaaS and hosted by the vendor or it could be somewhere in the range of $150,000. You'll also need to consider ongoing technical maintenance of that platform, for which you might want to allocate about 10 to 15 percent of the implementation budget over the course of a year.

Finally, there's training so you can get your users up to awesome-content-tech-ninja level as quickly as possible and get the most out of your investment.

This training could be mostly free (read: YouTube video tutorials) but that would only be in the most basic of cases; the more customised, detailed or expansive your chosen technology is, the higher your training costs.

I've run a training program for 15 people and it cost upwards of $50,000 for the development of materials, workshops and some ongoing support. But I've also managed a program for 20 people in multiple countries (three simple video tutorials, a couple of seminars and a small wiki) for only $5,500. In both cases, the outcome was great and trainees got to grips with the platform just as well.

Personally, I would consider price as the deal maker (or breaker) only once I've narrowed down my potential suitors to, say, three or four.

To say price is unimportant would be stupid because, of course, everyone has a budget they have to stick to, however, I would encourage you to keep price in the back of your mind as you do your initial review of products and features.

Think mostly about how your organisation is going to use the platform and how well each tech fulfils the organise, realise, analyse criteria.

Applying this thinking

Now that you have a working knowledge of the sorts of questions to ask when thinking about which content marketing technology to buy into, I'm going to walk you through a handful of the most common (some great, some not so great) options available to you in part two of this "Choosing the Best Techseries.

We'll rate each platform against the organise, realise, analyse criteria as well as talk about the elephant in the room - ahem, price - in each of these cases.

You might find that one of these platforms is right for you or, at the very least, you'll understand how to properly scrutinise and assess this technology so you can choose another platform to help manage all that sand from the beach.

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