You’ve heard it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it can seem like it takes an even bigger village to achieve content marketing success. That’s because content marketing has advanced far beyond knowing how to manage and publish content.
It’s transformed into an ongoing process involving a steady stream of high-quality content that:
- Pleases search engines
- Delights your audience
- Solves problems, answers questions and meets needs
- Is delivered to the right people through the right channels at the right time
- Boasts an efficient, scalable workflow
- Conveys your brand personality
- Tells your story; achieves your goals
- Contributes to the overall user experience
Never mind a village. It sounds like it could take an army.
But here is the thing: As long as you have all the bases covered, your army doesn’t have to consist of dozens of soldiers. In fact, you may be surprised at what a content marketing dream team looks like.
You’ll find out in this article, based on the Content Marketing Is a Team Sport webinar. Robert Rose, chief strategist at Content Marketing Institute, joins host Byron White to map out and discuss the players, coaches and roles you need for content marketing success.
What Makes Content Marketing Work?
Before we explore the different players on the ideal content marketing team, it’s imperative to understand what makes content marketing work in the first place. Rose boils it down to one key factor: making it somebody’s job.
He likens the flurry of excitement around content marketing to getting a new gym membership as a New Year’s resolution. Everyone’s gung-ho at first, banging out content like crazy.
But the excitement wears off in a few months as other tasks take priority. The next thing you know, the gym membership goes unused — and there’s not a single blog post or social media entry to be found.
The most effective way to ensure the content marketing machine keeps running is to hold someone accountable for it.
“Content marketing succeeds when it’s recognized as someone’s responsibility.”
—Robert Rose, Chief Strategist at Content Marketing Institute
Content Marketing Team Roles
- The Planner
- The Writer
- The Designer
- The Optimizer
- The Editor
- The Performer
- The Thought Leader
The Content Planner
Content planning has grown into much more than putting a few blog titles on a spreadsheet. It’s a skill that’s becoming its own career path, and with good reason. Tons of thought and research goes into content planning, all with the goal of answering several key questions:
- How much content do we need?
- How good does it need to be?
- How frequently do we publish?
- What channels do we target?
- What kind of ROI will we get?
One way to start surfacing with the answers is to look at your competitor’s content. Find out where they’re rocking it so you can create a plan that does the same. See what’s missing in the overall scheme of things so you can fill the gaps.
When comparing your brand and site to your competitor, you can look at things like:
- PPC spend
- Content portfolio
- Content authority
- Publishing frequency
- Social reach
- Social conversations
- Internal links
- Inbound links
- SEO strength
- SEO performance
It’s not unheard of to spend hundreds of hours creating a content plan for a large enterprise, as was the case with Magic Mountain. This company’s plan took 400 hours to develop, and it answered the most difficult questions on content quality, frequency and cost required to achieve goals.
But don’t get overwhelmed and run for the hills. Just because a large enterprise can dive that deeply into its content planning doesn’t mean every SMB will — or even can — go the same route. Start reasonable. Start small. Just start getting content out there.
“Content planning is a muscle you will build over time,” Rose said. “You don’t have to be an expert when you start, but you want to become one as quickly as you can.”
As content marketing has shifted to focus on quality over quantity, the role of the writer has become increasingly important. That’s right. Writers are finally starting to get the respect they deserve.
Companies have learned it’s crucial to produce good content that stands out — not just spew out loads of content that’s thrown against the wall to see what sticks. Hint: With the massive overload of content out there, nothing will stick unless it’s truly valuable to your readers.
Choosing a writer who can deliver that quality depends on the type of content you need.
- Specialist in specific niche or industry: Needed for high-end white papers and other in-depth content produced a few times a year.
- Great writer who can flex style and report on a number of topics: Needed for blog posts, social posts, and other daily content projects.
- Great copywriter who can tap into emotions and storytelling: Needed for web content, landing pages, and other marketing materials.
Regardless of the type of content they produce, great writers will have a number of common characteristics.
The best writers will be:
They will know how to:
- Create meaning
- Keep it simple
- Deliver fresh insight
- Craft a passionate voice
- Drive results
They will double as:
- Knowledge seekers
- Deep diggers
- Big-picture thinkers
Like writers, designers are becoming increasingly important members of the ideal content marketing team. The rise of infographics, video, mobile-optimized design and other design-oriented elements have given skilled designers plenty of opportunities.
Freelance designers are especially in demand, as many companies don’t try to fill this position with an in-house team member. Designers have a big responsibility, creating assets that:
- Communicate the brand language
- Stand out from the pack
- Look great and test well
- Offer surprise and delight
- Find meaning and purpose
- Tell the story visually
- Get passed around and shared
- Engage readers who come back for more
- Gain peer recognition and awards
As Rose noted, “Making things more engaging and more visually appealing has become such an incredibly important piece of the engagement story.”
Despite the chatter that’s been going on for years, search engine optimization is not dead. It’s just different. A lot different. It’s no longer sufficient to simply search out keywords that help your content rank.
You need to think about keywords as well as user intent, page loading speed, internal and external links, backlinks, images, metatags and a host of other factors that play into the search engine’s algorithms.
Optimization doesn’t just mean making search engines happy, either. You need to make the readers happy, giving them what they need to convert or take your desired action.
WriterAccess founder Byron White shared a conversion formula that consists of six different components.
Conversion = (Content + Usability + Motivation + Incentive) – (Friction + Anxiety)
- Content: Are you earning trust with information customers want and need?
- Usability: Are your content and imagery optimized for conversion?
- Motivation: Do you have clear reasons to buy and not try the competition?
- Incentive: Are you offering any incentives, trials or rewards?
- Friction: Have you identified potential resistance and reduced the pain points?
- Anxiety: Have you pinpointed the concerns and resolved the issues?
The optimizer’s goal is to bolster your content, usability, motivation and incentive while reducing your customer’s friction and anxiety. The formula applies across the board to all customer touchpoints.
Whether they work with smaller companies or colossal enterprises, editors have a big job. They’re responsible for ensuring the copy is free from spelling errors and other mistakes, sure. But they’re also responsible for the consistency of the story you’re telling — a consistency in brand voice.
A lot of writing these days gets done to fit the space on the page, Rose noted, such as throwing in a few extra words without much thought if the layout has extra bullet points to fill.
“They don’t necessarily look at what the words mean,” he said. “They look to see if they fit the space.”
While such additions may seem small, they can have a huge impact on the overall consistency and personality of the brand. Giving editors an elevated role in the hierarchy can help reduce or avoid this type of activity.
The job of the performer is tracking and reporting analytics. These can include:
- Conversion rates
- Listing positions
- Warm leads
- User acquisition cost
- Other relevant metrics
The key here is the word “relevant.” Because there are so many tools that can report on anything and everything under the sun, some performers make the mistake of thinking that they ought to.
Reports may span pages and pages, filling entire binders every month. This not only wastes paper and binders, but it also loses sight of the goal. While it may certainly be helpful to pay attention to low-level metrics to ensure you’re on the right track, they don’t necessarily need to be included in regular reports.
Performers should instead work with the planner to outline the goal and then report on metrics relevant to that goal — and nothing else.
The Thought Leader
Whether you think of this role as a thought leader, storyteller, chief content guide or chief marketing officer (CMO), it’s where ideas are born. The exact duties of the role may vary, based on what you need the person to achieve. Responsibilities can range from generating ideas to orchestrating the marketing team, from managing the brand to running the business.
One of the most important duties that typically goes to this role is ensuring a consistent brand voice across all content and all channels. And we mean all channels — from the social media posts to the salespeople.
The brand tone, voice, language and style must be transmitted through content as well as through interactions with all team members and associates. This includes the people who:
- Answer the phones
- Respond to the emails
- Staff the help desk
- Greet customers in the office or shop
“Failure to teach employees to tell your story can ruin an entire marketing plan,” Rose said. He then gave the example of a brand having the savviest online content but “dumb-as-rocks” employees in the store. The brand’s perceived credibility, trust and expertise just went down the drain.
Ideal Content Marketing Team: Another Version
While the content marketing dream team is dreamy in the creative sense, it can also be dreamy in the sense that many companies don’t have the budget, the manpower or the means to turn it into reality. But that doesn’t mean you can’t succeed at content marketing.
Now that you have a solid grasp of the types of duties the dream team members would fulfill, you can mete out the duties accordingly. As mentioned from the start, your first step is to designate a single person to be in charge of the content marketing.
That person can hire a range of freelance content creators to fill the roles of writer, editor and designer as desired. They can even tap into the powers of freelance content strategists, planners and translators if needed.
For best results, the person you choose to manage your content marketing would be:
- Highly adept at social media, following industry trends and conversations.
- Experienced with getting the right assets in front of the right people at the right time to enhance their buying experience.
- Efficient at running a brainstorming session to gather ideas, develop stories and publish relevant content that engages customers and keeps them coming back for more.
- Tuned in to the power of testing, and using it to lower customer acquisition cost.
- Trained in editing to spot-check the work of freelance writers and editors.
- Familiar with the technology and methodology needed to achieve goals.
- Skilled at curating ideas, stories and images for online content.
If this sounds like someone you already have at your company, or if someone could be trained to cover all these bases, you’re in excellent shape. And if you need help with the training, tools or talent to make content marketing happen for your brand, you’ll find all three right here at WriterAccess. Start your free trial today.