Inbound Marketing Software For WordPress- Spokal- The Review, Suggestions & Tips

About two weeks ago I spent the weekend looking for new tools for my business. I do this often because I love finding new solutions to help my readers, and this time I found a grand slam winner.

I had heard of Spokal before and had tried their Twitter audience building software- but I didn’t embrace the rest of their program until two weeks ago when I realized how much help it might be to have everything for my blog in one place.

WordPress has several fantastic plugins but ultimately I wanted the stats that great programs like Hubspot provide- without the confusing interface of Google Analytics.

Let’s jump right into my experience with Spokal

First off, it can not be used on WordPress multisite installations, but it is strictly for WordPress (on your own hosting) usage.

Getting Started With Spokal-

14 day free trial, no credit card information necessary, introductory account at $49 per month. – Not bad when compared to other inbound marketing softwares.

Installation-

Install a WordPress plugin and connect it to Spokal- all set to go- very quick

Integration With Other Tools-

Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Feedly, Mailchimp, BufferApp and Linkedin –

Dashboard-

Quick overview of your stats, how your Twitter builder is working (a feature they push to help you build a twitter following), your Moz rank, domain authority and links to your site.  To be honest, the only thing here I was concerned with was my number of keywords in the top 10 on Google- 11 at the time of this screenshot.

 

Getting Started Tutorial Function-

This is a nice feature that leads you through the software to help you get acquainted with the options. Because I had tried the software before for the Twitter builder, until I upgrade my account I cannot use this feature again, so I haven’t gotten to 100% for set up.

Next Section of Spokal

Keyword Research-

One of the many reasons you blog is to get rankings in Google- showing up for search means more traffic, more leads, conversions, etc. But analyzing all of this in an environment separate from where your blog is housed can be difficult- which keyword do I have a post for, how am I ranked for it, how difficult is it to get ranked, etc- right?

Keyword Wizard-

This is where you decide on the keyword campaigns you are going to use. In the free/intro package you get 2 campaigns, of 100 keywords each.

Type in your most basic keyword and a list will generate of keywords related, it will look similar to this:

I only typed in blogging, you would want something a little more descriptive as I used on the right side. To add a keyword just click add, or create a campaign for the keywords with the + sign (greyed out here because I have two campaigns now).

I liked the search function but also used Keyword Planner to take a look at volume before loading up my campaigns

*Improvement Suggestion- I would recommend Spokal give us a bit more information about the searches before we add them to our campaigns, while you can go back and forth to delete them, etc, you only get 20 (or so) keyword searches a month. It would just be nice to see search volume before I add them to my list. 
^Alternate suggestion- do keyword research in Keyword Planner by Google, then import the keywords to Spokal.

Suggested Keywords-

This area I really like- it shows you searches you are already ranking for that you can add to your campaign (for tracking purposes) and it suggests, on a daily basis, what keywords you might want to add to your campaigns- with search volume, competition and a score.

Keyword Score-

Where should you start focusing your attention on your keywords-

  • Green- best place to start- lower searches but lower competition
  • Yellow- more difficult with more searches and competition
  • Red- most difficult
Inbound marketing tip- It’s always a good idea to go for low hanging fruit that is specific to your topic, this helps generate traffic faster and build up a foundational site to use in the future for ranking more difficult keywords. 

Import Keywords-

Self explanatory, paste in your keywords and they’ll be added to the campaign you choose.

Blog Section of Spokal

This and the research sections are the ones I use the most.

Blog Keywords-

This is where all of your campaign keywords come together. You can see where you have posts, which keywords/posts are ranking, competition, search volume and degree of difficulty. This to me, is very helpful in keeping me on track with my keywords.

 

When I have an idea of what to write, I come here and search for similar keywords, or import a keyword after I research it. This is a step I was missing before in my strategy even though I knew I wanted to write with keywords in mind as well as quality content.

This Keeps Me On Track!!

*Spokal Improvement Suggestion- since many people will be working with existing WordPress blogs, I’d love to be able to assign a keyword to a post and have it check off the “Has Post” section. With over 140+ posts prior to Spokal that seems like a big feature must to get all of my information in one place. 
#Exciting News- When I first started two weeks ago I had 3 of my keywords listed in top 100 of Google. I’m already up to 20 because I have been working more closely with getting posts out there that are pointed to a keyword. 
^Inbound Tip- Do not sacrifice keywords for quality. For every post I do want to focus on a keyword, but it if I can’t I let it go. It is more important to get good information out there. 

My Blog Posts-

This is similar to your WordPress Posts section- it is nicer to use for seeing all published posts or drafts because you don’t have to constantly click and wait for pages to reload the info, the columns just adjust according to ascending or descending order. It wouldn’t hurt to see the keyword associated with each post here, if I had to ask for an improvement.

New Blog Post-

You’ll go here to start a new blog post.

What I like is that whatever you do here can be found in your WordPress admin area- awesome! Though it will have a Spokal warning and you won’t be able to edit it, visually- take a look:

What I like about editing in Spokal & what I don’t like:

I love that in Spokal you have the sidebar on the right (like Hubspot but better) that tells you about SEO. There are other options here as well, check it out:

First SEO:

Nice little tutorial on how your post measures up- I love the word count TY SPOKAL– I can’t live without this!!

And at the top of your post, and SEO status

Last but not least- Tags!!!

The meta tags and information you need for social media and search engines can be edited inside Spokal, just click that twitter/facebook button and you’ll see this:

You can click in the different sections to edit- and I like to think it has more options here than the average WP install.

Editing Sidebar

There is a section to add your featured image to the post for WordPress- You have to have your images in the post already, and I couldn’t get it to click to choose a different picture, but I find the feature encouraging and assume it will fix soon. The category and tags sections do work 🙂

 

IMAGES!!!!!

The next section works with Flickr and pulls in Creative Common images you can use, and Spokal adds the sourcing info to your post.

I know you can do something similar in WordPress with a plugin but then to be able to take that image and edit it with Text is so much easier than using another photo software. See further in the review for more info on image editing.

 

Twitter

Find tweets about your content and pull them in- talking about social proof here, this is powerful stuff- check one out:

 

You literally drag and drop the tweets into your post on Spokal- quick and so easy!

Video & HTML

I generally do not use a lot of videos so it took me awhile to figure out that the video section is also where you add HTML. I do NOT like this feature, other than being used to it being in the editing section itself in WordPress, I didnt like how you can’t edit what you put in HTML in the visual editor.

Pasting In Spokal

* Spokal Suggestion- The other issue I had with Spokal is pasting in blocks of text and then having to edit them in HTML (where you have to paste them and they are treated as their own section of text- not editable in visual). But there are ways to work around this, so it’s not a big deal. 

Plus More Options

In the last bit of editing sidebar there is a plus sign. It gives you the a couple of features:

  • Add read more link
  • Add email capture box

I have the feeling this section will expand with the growth of the software.

Adding Images To Your Post –

The option to add images to your post from your computer is beautiful, seemless and works amazingly well with the robust editing features. I just couldn’t not show you this.

 

I promise this is the best imaging option I have seen for WordPress posts, no glitching, no messing up your intentions, just beautiful editing. 

Scheduling-

As with all WordPress posts, you can schedule, publish, save and preview your posts- The scheduling tool works.

Saving– I found save draft to take awhile, and while autosave does work, it doesn’t always work, I lost some text by hitting backspace and it sucked. But I learned my lesson, always save draft.

Linking– I was upset to see that my pages and posts were not easily listed for me to internally link to them through Spokal, that is a big deal in my SEO strategy – my fix- open a sitemap of my pages/posts, search for the one I need and grab the link- this works for now.

Small Issue With the Editor in Spokal

Since it doesn’t work with all of the plugins on your WordPress install, it doesn’t pull in your SEO information, doesn’t link keywords to blog posts written outside of Spokal, and it won’t help with shortcodes. I love shortcodes but understand that it just won’t work. The visual editor option in WP would be nice to finish out my posts before they go live.

Go Try Spokal Now- You’ll Love It!

 

Next Section The Social Media Calendar-

 

The last section of Spokal I really want to cover for you is the Calendar option. It looks great in the video introducing Spokal but after I played with it, I didn’t love it. That is purely a preference thing, and it could be that I haven’t played with it enough. Here is my experience:

The calendar is just for social media- there is no editorial calendar for your blog post ideas, topics and keywords, etc. In inbound marketing I found this to be a bit of let down, I was really hoping to keep it all in one place (or at least as much as possible).

There are automation options for new posts- You’ll love this for sharing new Twitter posts over the course of a week or month. I still use a plugin on WP for this, but you could easily use both.

 

What I didn’t like or know was that once I set up my integration tools it automatically sends out a social message when you publish a new post- This was a problem because when I added BufferApp it took a random profile and I couldn’t get Spokal to disconnect and let me try again. It is now disconnected even though Spokal shows it is.

^Inbound Marketing Tip- make sure your Spokal times and Buffer times differ so you aren’t annoying fans. Also, the free/intro version of Spokal will only allow for 8 time slots per day.

That is minor though. Past that, I actually saw further reach when Spokal shared my new posts than when another program did on Facebook- sweet!

The list of posts on the side of the calendar are only your own posts- you drag them over by the icon of the platform you want to share on, and then click on the post to edit it.

 

You have to add time sections to your auto-publish settings before you can begin scheduling and sharing.

Popular posts on the right of the calendar is nice to share old, and highly read blog posts.

 

Feedly

The Feedly function is probably the best function I’ve found in the calendar (thus far). In Feedly itself, you simply tag the blog posts you want to share and they are brought in to your calendar in Spokal, you can then schedule them to be shared, or automatically set it up so that they are shared on your schedule (previously set up in Auto Publish Settings).

 

I found this to be a lot easier than constantly clicking each one to send it to BufferApp, as that tends to load slowly and becomes time consuming. Now if Feedly allowed me to tag several posts at once, we would definitely be in business 🙂

Get your Free Trial Of Spokal Here

What Is Spokal Missing?

In my routine of using Spokal the first thing I do is choose a keyword for each post (for this post inbound marketing software for wordpress) and get to work on it. Once I’m all done, I do actually publish through Spokal, and then run immediately over to the admin area of WordPress.

Here I choose my call to action box, fill in the keyword for the post (I’m anal about keeping my Yoost SEO plugin updated), choose the featured image (which if added to Spokal is already in my media library) and update.

Through Spokal my post is already shared to my favorite social sites, and brought into Triberr for sharing from others.

What I Would Love to See on Spokal:

  • A editorial calendar- please!!! For now I use Trello
  • More posting features for social media- suggested content would be awesome, like what BuzzSpice does- though I suppose you can drag a post and then reword it with a different link in the Calendar- it will work, but I just thought of this option.
  • Calls to Action- imperative to inbound marketing
  • Landing pages- also very important

What I Haven’t Talked About-

There are other features in Spokal this post could not accommodate, or I haven’t fully played with, including:

Twitter Builder-

From my past experience you added keywords and got impressions on your Twitter profile, I’m still not sure where the impressions come from.

C&C –

Social media monitoring on Twitter- it looks pretty neat and helps you find opportunities to tweet and get more exposure, though there is no listening option where you add keywords yet.

Analytics-

Here are a few pretty pictures of them so far though:

As you can see it is much more user friendly than GA and has very useful information.

 

 

 

 

Contacts-

Spokal does integrate with Mailchimp but the optins Spokal provides are UGLY- which sucks because I really want to use them and see how the analytics come through. I did try to use the form in my magic action box plugin on WP but it didn’t seem to work right. Maybe in the future, I’ll figure it out, as it does come with a css class option. So far, no luck 🙁

Tell Me About It:

Have you already tried Spokal? What did you like about it, or dislike? How do you think it compares to other inbound marketing software?

*Disclaimer- I love Spokal enough to become an affiliate, so all of the links to Spokal are affiliate links. I do not and would not push a product I didn’t think would be very useful for your business.

© 2014, Social Media Consultant. All rights reserved.

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7 Comments

  1. Mary, that’s a great review! Thanks, really appreciate the level of detail you went into, and we’ll be working on a couple of those shortcomings this summer 🙂

    In terms of lead capture – we also integrate with ContactForm7, Gravity Forms, Jetpack and Hybrid Connect – so if you don’t like our forms – you can use any of the above in any way and styling you like and have the leads come through Spokal. Though you should also be able to style our forms to look any way you like with CSS.

    • Thank you Chris,
      It took me a long time to get my magic action box all set up. I was hoping I could get code for the Spokal form and use it there, but that didn’t seem to work. I’ll probably get on with support this coming week, so I can get started. The first reason it wasn’t working was because I was using Leadin another plugin. I’ll figure it out soon enough.

      Mary

  2. Hi Mary,

    One area which I don’t think you covered, although this is more marketing automation vs. inbound, is the Active Campaign integration. It allows for all sorts of triggered messaging. I’m still evaluating, but it seems more functional than other MA solutions aimed at small business.

    Thanks for the review!

    Tom

  3. Christopher OhlsenJanuary 15, 2015 at 3:35 pm · Reply

    I gave Spokal a try last night. I really like it a lot but I am running a multi-site installation… Seemed to be working well until I began the integration process with my CMS. That is when the lack of support for MU became apparent. I know that you mention here in your article and I have also read elsewhere that MU does not work but I wanted to try it for myself to see if I could get it to work. I use subdomains with mapping and each site behaves like a single install for the most part. I understand that it does not have specific support for multi-site but it would be nice to be able to run separate instances on each site. For me that is the only major drawback of this software; otherwise I like it a lot. I like it so much that I may set up a separate single install just to be able to use it… Very nice write up by the way!

  4. I’m interested in building a curation website. How do you think Spokal does on curation versus other curation software out there like curation traffic? Be interested in your opinion on that!

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