How to structure your content marketing team
A 2017 Content Marketing Institute survey revealed that up to 50% of all brands view content as a business asset. Business owners recognize the value of an effective content marketing strategy, but how does an ambitious entrepreneur create one?
It starts with a team.
One person can create a blog and a slew of social media accounts on his or her own. One person can even populate those platforms with content without any outside input. However, an efficient and collaborative team increases the power of a business’s content creation and tracking efforts.
Put Someone in Charge of Content Strategy
An executive chef plans the menu, sources the ingredients, and directs talent in the kitchen. He or she suggests pairings between appetizers, entrees, desserts, and beverages, then solicits feedback from critics and customers to determine which recipes earn the highest praise.
A content strategist performs a similar role. From blog posts and articles to social media campaigns and email blasts, the content strategist connects all of the disparate elements of a content marketing strategy and decides how they will work together to create a cohesive brand message.
Talent agency Aquent stresses that businesses need roadmaps for content execution. Just as an executive chef must prepare for variables like seasonal produce and dairy shortages, content strategists anticipate potential obstacles and prepare a strategy months in advance.
Furthermore, content strategists direct all of the other moving parts in a content campaign. Writers, editors, designers, analysts, and other professionals look to the strategist for direction and feedback.
Content Strategist Job Responsibilities:
- Develop editorial calendars several months in advance
- Researches SEO variables (e.g. keywords and inbound links)
- Conducts competitor analysis to find content gaps
- Develops voice and style guidelines for writers and other professionals
- Optimizes content for the web
- Analyzes available content metrics
Bring Aboard a Top-Notch Writer
The content writer serves as the sous chef in the kitchen. He or she is on the front lines of the content marketing strategy, shaping and generating content.
Marketing strategist Kyle Lacy recommends hiring a seasoned writer, not necessarily an industry professional. It’s easier to teach a writer the tools of one’s trade than to teach someone else how to write.
For every article a company publishes, dozens of others compete for the market’s attention. An article that’s riddled with grammatical errors, typos, awkward structure, and abrupt transitions will never find traction. Readers today are more discerning than ever and won’t waste time on poorly-written content.
One company might need only one or two content writers while others require the services of 10 or more. It depends on how much content the business wants to generate.
The best writer for the job should have some familiarity with the industry and should be able to adopt the brand’s unique voice, according to Forbes writer Kate Kiefer Lee. A writer’s technical skills matter, but so do his or her stylistic abilities.
Content Writer Job Responsibilities
- Creates content for a variety of media
- Matches the brand’s voice and style
- Researches in-depth topics and attribute sources
- Makes suggestions for future content
- Delivers content in a timely manner
- Accepts and applies constructive criticism
Solicit an Editor to Polish Written Material
An experienced and dedicated editor acts as the kitchen manager in the content marketing restaurant. He or she is responsible for the nuts and bolts of each content piece.
The American Society of Business Publication Editors contends that businesses will always need the services of both writers and editors. A writer researches, outlines, and creates content from whole cloth, but editors polish the material until it shines.
Novelists whose work appears in book form are, by any definition, professional writers. However, their work does not pass directly from their computer hard drives to readers’ hands. Novels receive several rounds of editing before they hit the printing press.
Consequently, using an editor does not reflect poorly on the writer. Studies show that a writer reading his or her own work often mentally corrects mistakes that appear in print. The writer knows what he or she meant and, therefore, becomes blind to the errors.
Many writers also work as editors. A truly efficient content marketing team might hire writers and editors who both create content and edit each other’s work. The collaboration process because a well-oiled machine that fosters mutual respect between professionals and maximizes the use of human resources.
Content Editor Job Responsibilities:
- Proofreads content for typos, formatting errors, and other low-level mistakes
- Edits content for substantive issues, such as flow, syntax, structure, and authority
- Suggests changes to writers, such as adding more sources or rewriting passages for clarity
- Adjusts content to reflect the style and voice of the publication
- Adds SEO-optimized tags
Invite Team Members to Ideate Content
Every kitchen needs a menu planner—someone to suggest new recipes and gauge customer response. In content marketing, that professional is in charge of ideation.
It’s a relatively new word in the content creation industry, but that doesn’t make it any less essential to a business’s content strategy. On a content marketing team, people who create and hone ideas for future content become indispensable to strategists, writers, and editors.
Ideation—the process of developing topics for content—requires a special skill set. The professional who assumes this role must understand how writers and editors work, but must also recognize the demands of the industry and the needs of the target audience.
For instance, an ideation specialist might research high-traffic keywords in the industry, poll customers, research the metrics for past content performance, and brainstorm with writers and editors.
Often, existing team members make excellent choices for ideation. A company’s sales associates, customer service representatives, and IT department leads can provide excellent insight into the market. Tapping those resources makes the business’s employees part of the content team.
Ideator Job Responsibilities
- Analyzes key performance indicators (KPIs) to identify content gaps
- Brainstorms content creation ideas
- Invites writers and editors to suggest content
- Researches ideas and provides writers with potential sources
- Uses his or her industry experience to determine what the target audience needs
Add Professional Designers to the Team
In a professional kitchen, visual designers plate delicious food so it appeals to customers visually. In content marketing, designers make content more palatable for readers.
Great content must resonate with audiences to succeed on the Internet. A fantastic first line and a series of well-reasoned arguments won’t always perform well by themselves.
According to Unbounce, 90 percent of the information the human brain absorbs is visual, and 65 percent of people learn best visually. This is why visual elements work so well when paired with written content. Content teams that include designers, photographers, and other visual specialists can add numerous assets to their content, including:
- Animated .gifs
This strategy also helps businesses with their social media platforms. Fast Company reports that posts with photographs receive nearly 40 percent more interaction on Facebook. In other words, a post with a link to a blog article might not get much attention, but if the business adds an image to the update, readers are more likely to click over.
A designer who specializes in content marketing and strategy can prove invaluable to the content team as a whole. He or she understands the direction and vision of each campaign and can work directly with the writers to ensure illustrative and written content remains consistent.
Content Designer Job Responsibilities
- Establishes a creative vision for each project
- Illustrates key ideas or concepts from a written work
- Translates content into imagery
- Builds a portfolio of images to use on-demand for publication
Recruit PR and Analytical Professionals
No restaurant succeeds without someone to advertise the venue and gauge the public’s response. Similarly, a content marketing team won’t work without similar assistance.
Most of the content marketing team members focus on content creation—behind-the-scenes tasks that get content ready for its debut. However, the back end of the process also requires attention.
PR (public relations) professionals promote content and interact with the public. They respond to comments on social media, attract inbound links, and find sponsors for content.
Analytical professionals pay attention to the numbers. They review content performance metrics and determine the ROI (return-on-investment). Analysts also conduct substantive evaluations of content. They look for holistic content issues, such as inconsistent brand messages and engagement gaps.
PR and Analytical Job Responsibilities:
- Influence each piece of content’s performance
- Create plans for improving future performance
- Gauge the public’s reaction to the content
- Make suggestions to strategists and writers for increasing metrics (e.g. conversion, ROI)
Assembling the Content Marketing Team
Just as an understaffed kitchen cannot produce world-class dishes, a business without key elements of the content marketing team cannot achieve greatness.
Start-ups often lack the resources to hire dozens of content marketing employees. They can’t pay full-time writers, editors, designers, and other individuals to work exclusively on their campaigns. Outsourcing offers a less expensive solution.
How a business assembles such a team matters less than the quality of each professional’s output. Outsourcing work to a qualified writer with extensive industry experience, for example, can prove just as valuable as bringing on a full-time staff writer.
Content Marketing Team Responsibilities:
- Works together to create a cohesive brand voice and message
- Relies on one another to pick up slack when necessary
- Refines content messages to better engage audiences
A content marketing team functions as a single unit, but when one element is missing, the whole campaign falls apart. This is why businesses that develop concrete, written strategies perform better in this space than the ones who forget strategy in favor of saving money.
In search for writers and editors to help you create content?
A writer from WritingBunny co-wrote this article.
Author: Laura Varon
Content creator, marketer, translator. I studied advertising because I wanted to know a little about everything and I am a translator because I want to know a lot about a lot. I co-write with WritingBunny.