Whether I’m at a family party, out to dinner with friends, or in a situation where I’m getting to know new people, I find myself often times answering the question: What does a content marketer do?
This question immediately makes me think of this image:
On a more serious note, the more I’m asked this question, the more I realize that many people simply don’t understand exactly a content marketer does in today’s digital world. Well, I’m here to help clear the air (in about 1,000 words).
When thinking about answering this question, my mind goes to a list of seven core responsibilities:
Let’s take a closer look at each one of these core components of content marketing:
Before anything else can be done, a solid content marketing plan must be put in place. This means developing a strategy that fits within the budget, aligns with your organization’s business model, and targets key performance indicators (KPIs).
Tactics like optimizing onsite content, creating corporate blog posts, contributing to third-party publications, managing social media, identifying advertising opportunities, creating email campaigns, and much more should all be considered. Figure out the tactics that have the best chance of achieving your goals and move on to the next step in the process.
After the plan is put into place, it’s time for you to do some investigative work. A sound content marketer should analyze the competition across the industry to get a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses.
Based on this analysis, you can then identify opportunities for success and determine the bandwidth (time and budget) that will be needed to overcome the competition’s efforts.
During this phase, you should also identify the intended audience of the content being created. It’s a good idea to collaborate with departments outside of marketing (like sales and customer service) to learn more about what it truly is that the buyers are looking to consume from a content perspective.
One way to ensure you’re always creating content for the target audience is by developing buyer personas. Each time a piece of content is created, align it with one of your buyer personas so you know none of your efforts are going to waste.
Despite what myself and other content marketers like to believe, we don’t always have all the answers. When it comes time to create a piece of content that might not fall directly under the marketing umbrella, it’s a good idea to interview subject matter experts.
For example, if you’re looking to create a piece of content with a sales angle, schedule some time to sit down with a member of the sales team and hear what they have to say for yourself. This can be done through email, but I would encourage anybody conducting content interviews to sit down face to face or over the phone. You would be amazed at the amount of content you can glean from a short 30-minute conversation with a subject matter expert.
When I say “creating,” I mean more than just simply creating content on a whim. A sound content marketing strategy will follow a strict editorial calendar. Use platforms like Google Sheets to log fields such as draft date, publish date, title, keyword focus, content type, author, and URL.
When building out an editorial calendar, be sure to keep seasonality and key themes in mind.
For example, if you’re working with a lawn equipment company, you might want to focus on snow removal topics in the winter and gardening in the spring. The editorial calendar will allow you and your team to visualize the entire strategy from a high level and prepare for what’s upcoming.
When it comes time to create the content, be sure to keep the audience in mind and determine what type of action you want the reader to take when they get to the end.
Is the content intended to drive traffic? Social shares? Goal completion (contact us, request a quote, etc.)? The type of action you want the reader to take will dictate the tone, style, and structure of the post.
My colleague, Derek, wrote in a recent post, “The “SEO value proposition” of social media is that you get your message out to communities and individuals entrenched in an innovative online environment. You become a part of the community that understands online relationships, and that community brings forth new connections, networks, and inbound link opportunities.”
While content marketers may have a separate individual or team of individuals responsible for the corporate social media strategy, they must work with them to ensure the content’s potential is being maximized. Further, individual team members across the organization should build up their social media profiles and share organizational content to grow their following and heighten brand awareness across their networks.
For most creative types, like myself, I thought entering a career with a writing focus would allow me to escape from numbers altogether. However, I’ve learned over the years that numbers can be a content marketer’s best friend.
It’s essential to track the performance of content (like views, clicks, time on site, shares, conversions, etc.) to identify what’s working and what isn’t. Some of my favorite tools to use for reporting on content efforts include Google Analytics, SEMrush, and BuzzSumo.
Reporting is critical to staying in line with the KPIs (mentioned earlier) and identifying new opportunities for success in the future.
The content marketing lifecycle never stops. Just because we hit “publish,” the strategy is not over or completed.
Leverage any and all feedback and data you can get your hands on to adjust the strategy, removing what hasn’t worked, and doing more of what has.
Next time you hear the question, “What does a content marketer do?” think about mentioning some of the above responsibilities. Content marketing is more than just writing. Spread the word.
Want to learn more about what a content marketer does, or have some defining qualities to add of your own? Get the conversation started by dropping a line in the comments section or connecting with me on Twitter!