7 Content Marketing Skills Your Team Needs to Have

Content marketing is white hot in the world of digital marketing, and so content marketers and content strategists are one of the hottest job titles in marketing.

And with the shift away from paid promotion, through attempts at earned social media and into “owned” media approaches that require content marketing strategists, the demand for content marketing skills is far exceeding the supply.

Once people move beyond the need for content strategy, one of the questions asked a lot includes “what skills should I look for when hiring a content marketing director or content strategist?”

Bynder.com says:

“84% of companies have a content marketing strategy. Moreover, the Content Marketing Institute also reports that 30% of marketers plan to increase their content budgets.”

Here’s a quick brush-up on content marketing from Ahrefs to get accustomed to the general concepts of content marketing;:

Quick Takeaways:

  • Companies spend A LOT (sometimes too much) on advertising
  • Content marketing is the easiest way to reduce spending and increase traffic on your site
  • Providing content people seek out to read is the most crucial part of the puzzle

So if whether you are looking to build a new content marketing team or work on your current one, here are 7 content marketing skills your team needs to have.

Digital Strategy: Experience and ideally management of the resources responsible for the publication of a brand’s content through social channels. More than just a community manager, you need someone who understands the channels your audience is using, knows the nuances and context for each, and knows how to maximize your company resources to drive impact across digital channels.

The first step in content marketing is planning out your content (content planning) based on your SEO research.The more you get into a rhythm with content creation the quicker you’ll get a read on how often to post. Typically you want to be pumping out this new content daily. The effectiveness of your blogging increases exponentially when you go from publishing 1x per week to 4x.

Project management: Editors are project managers with a deep understanding of what your brand should be saying and how it should be saying it. I think you can teach editorial skills and you can train someone on your brand voice. But they need to have the ability to manage a plan and define a continuous publishing schedule (vs. campaign-based mentality).

Analytics: Content marketing requires a deep knowledge of common analytic tools (Google Analytics, Omniture, etc.) and optimization approaches (A/B testing, multivariate tools). Often websites will show you on the backend how many customers you have are repeat customers. Diving deep into the extra layer to see how many came from your digital media efforts is a good step in hitting your KPIs.

Source: SEMrush

Business Acumen: You need your content marketing leader to have the ability to translate what you are doing, why you are doing it and to be able to present the business value of content marketing to business people. This means showing both the volume of content marketing KPIs (pageviews, social shares, etc) and also the business value of your efforts.

Examples of KPIs include:

  • Content marketing campaign’s impact on your sales team’s productivity
  • Percentage of business earned from content marketing vs marketing-generated customers
  • Amount of money put into ad spending vs time spent working on content marketing

Content Strategy: Your content marketing strategist has to understand how to make magic with limited resources! This means having a point of view on how to combine original content creation with curated, licensed and syndicated content to maximize the reach and potential of your own media properties.

Think about what your target audience is asking themselves on a daily basis. Put yourself in your client’s shoes. What article would catch your attention? What kinds of information are you researching before a purchase? Get on their level, and the answers will become clearer.

Inbound marketing mindset: Maybe we should have made this number 1. Inbound marketing and content marketing are a mindset. You need someone with demonstrated proficiency in earning audience attention through classic inbound techniques (search, social). This includes a solid understanding of SEO and the way to create content that attracts attention.

Mindtapmarketing.com says:

One of the reasons inbound marketing works is that the internet has evolved to become a conversation superhighway. People desire interactive communication when online, and a more personalized relationship with the companies they partner with.

They’re spot on! Being marketed to in a way specific to each of your prospects greatly improves your chances of converting them to a lead, and then the final goal – customer. It’s not just about distracting ads, it’s about establishing connections to get them to your site and keep coming back.

Social Proof: Many companies require everyone on their team to contribute to their content marketing efforts. You don’t need to be a great writer or have a huge social following, but look for people interested in learning how to create consistent content and grow their personal brands through content and social.

Look to see if they understand how to use content on social personally themselves (Twitter following, publishes regularly on a blog, active on Facebook or Instagram, etc). Or, if they are not active, gain an understanding of what brands or people they want to emulate if they were active.

(Bonus) A Sense of Humor: Life is short and we all work hard. One of the best ways to reach your audience is though funny, entertaining and lighter content that breaks up the day. Hire folks who can bring a sense of humor or some creativity to your brand’s content strategy.

Wrap Up

It’s not rocket science! Regardless of if you’re bringing on new people to your team or restructuring your content strategy, good, smart people are the difference maker to your bottom line. So either go get hiring or set up a meeting to discuss the future of your content marketing strategy!

Do you want to use some of the marketing strategies seen here on MIG’s site but need some help or advice? Marketing Insider Group has a team of 35+ experienced writers ready to produce content for YOUR business. Check out our weekly blog content service or schedule a free consultation.

Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner  is a Top CMO, Content Marketing and Digital Marketing Influencer, an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula" and he is the CEO and Founder of Marketing Insider Group, a leading Content Marketing Agency . He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael helps build successful content marketing programs for leading brands and startups alike. Subscribe here for regular updates.

22 thoughts on “7 Content Marketing Skills Your Team Needs to Have

  1. All great stuff, Michael! Quick question: at 25 I am just getting into the Content Marketing world. What’s the best way to go about learning all of the skills above? Should I start reading everything I can get my hands on or are there a few different websites that you prefer best? Any advice would be great! Thanks, Brian

    1. Hey Brian, wow. I am so thrilled that you reached out.

      The first thing I would suggest is to try and work on the most innovative marketing programs you can. Seek them out. Volunteer your time. But of course I realize (whatever your role) we often feel “stuck” in a role.

      So here’s my advice: get your own blog. Start acting like your own publisher. Try to figure out what topics you are interested in. Do the keyword research. Create content. Share across social channels. Study the analytics. Experimanet with different topics and content types. The only difference is the brand is you and the business is your experience and thoughts and ideas.

      I’d be happy to help. Send me a linkedin request and let’s stay in touch?

  2. How high would you rate the ability to create eye catching content? After all, you can’t get anything started without content.

    While a content marketing strategist may not (will not, actually) do everything related to content creation I think having a good background in at least one area (writing, video production etc) can be their secret weapon.

    1. Hi Bhaskar, this is part of Ann Handley’s definition of great content: helpful, innovative (or creative) and inspired. I think when it comes down to publishing effective content, you certainly need all three. And creating eye-catching content is really important. But I think that is a result of having the right combination and amounts of the skills I mentioned.

      And I agree that being some kind of storyteller whether it is writing, producing, designing, is an excellent secret weapon! It’s how you create the magic.

  3. Michael,

    Thank you so much for the advice! I am working on creating a blog as we speak. It would be great if we could keep in touch… I’d appreciate your guidance along the way.
    Here’s a link to my LinkedIn:
    http://www.linkedin.com/pub/brian-peters/32/486/486/

    It looks like I would need your email in order to send you a request, so maybe you could send me one? I would like to ask you a question or two about your response above. Again, thank you so much.

  4. Content marketers and content strategists need to have a wide variety of skills – some of those skills don’t go together too often.

    Editors, for example are words, people and often feel uncomfortable with numbers and stats. So while I think it is important to engage an all rounder, it is also important not to get a jack of all trades but someone who has deep skills in the field you need most plus a good understanding of the others. Consider whether you really need an analyst or do you need someone creative to develop engaging content but who can also understand the numbers?

    And if I may add one skill to your list? I think strategist should have writing skills.

    1. Thanks Janette, I agree with you that these skills don’t often come together if ever really at all. The content lead, the managing editor if you will, has to be able to understand both the content side and the business side. That means having both editors and creatives on the content side and analysis-minded people on the business side. An interesting thing to consider with social channels is that it requires both an understanding of the content that works and how to position it in the right context for the channel. So a little bit of both there.

      And finally, I agree with you about writing. I always look for people with an interest, if not the experience to contribute in some form.

  5. Thanks for another great post, Michael. I wholeheartedly agree with all the skills you’ve raised, but I’m curious why writing experience isn’t one of the skills you find valuable in a content marketer. I would think that someone that has rolled up their sleeves at some point in their career to come up with story ideas, interview stakeholders, and sweat out the details of putting pen to paper would be invaluable at briefing creative resources and others writers, and providing constructive feedback. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hi Gordana, thank you so much for the thoughtful response and the additional point. I don’t disagree with you. And as I said in the post, I look for people who have a passion for contributing to the conversation. For example, my first content hire managed the social media accounts for her university and also advised different college groups on how to use social media.

      While this is not writing skills as you defined it, it showed me an aptitude that I knew could be developed into writing experience. That was why I required everyone on my team to write on a consistent basis to develop their writing skills.

      My final point, is that I have found in my experience that editors, journalists and formally trained copywriters have often struggled with the business aspect of things and often find the everyday struggle of corporate life to be a drain on their creativity. So in general I have found these people should be safeguarded either in a contractor role or in a individual contributor role on the content team. So I think it can be dangerous to put too much weight into formally trained writers unless they have shown to be able to traverse corporate life and handle additional responsibilities.

  6. Clarification: when I say “writing experience”, I mean working as a professional copywriter, marketing writer, journalist, etc. where writing is the person’s core responsibility.

  7. Michael, great set of skills. I would add one more. They need to be an inspirational leader.

    The great content marketing strategist will help any potential contributor understand the value of doing this well … and that will go a long way to getting a big team of people contributing great content.

  8. Thanks for the great advice I definitely agree with number 8 as a bonus. A sense of humor and creativity can take you a long way in making good content.

  9. Boy, did I need to read this article. Great post too. Number 8 is definitely the most important to me. People without humor seem to make my day longer. I can’t work with them. lol.

  10. Great article! “…inbound marketing and content marketing are a mindset.” Oftentimes, “Content Marketing” is viewed as a product or a set of articles, keywords, etc. that can be purchased as if it were “Marketing in a box”. However, content marketing is much different in that you must provide value to each individual while marketing to the masses. Find your position, interact with your customers, and most importantly have fun and you will profit!

  11. I love this sentiment from #5 on the list Michael . . .

    “Your content marketing strategist has to understand how to make magic with limited resources!”

    This reminds me of one of my favorite sayings relevant to lean start ups and small businesses which goes, “If you can’t make money without money, you won’t make money with money.”

    Resourcefulness is a vital asset that works in the favor of the underdogs who break through, defy the odds, and elevate to the big stage.

    A lot of people think that more money is what is necessary to solve their business problems, and of course more money makes problems go away, but not in the hands of the person who isn’t resourceful and throws money at problems that don’t need money thrown at them.

    The person who maximizes resources is the person to be cherished in a business. The person who makes the most of what they have somehow ends up being the “Lucky” person who catches all the big breaks. This kind of person is an asset that you will love having on your team.

  12. Great list! I would add that content marketers need the curiosity of a journalist. There are so many stories to be told but, in order to tell them well, the storyteller has to keep asking who, what, when, where, why. I guess perserverance factors in there, as well. Thanks.

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