27 August 2015
Content is the fuel which drives the digital marketing beast.
Content needs to be high-quality, whether you're running social media marketing, email marketing or lead nurturing campaigns. And that's why somebody with the skill set of a content marketer is becoming necessary to both agencies and client-side businesses.
But what do content marketers actually do? People can give a fairly good guess on what social media managers or copywriters do day-to-day, but tend to get stuck on how content strategy gets involved in the whole mix.
As somebody involved in content marketing with some of the world's leading brands, I'd like to give you an outline of some of the stuff I might be doing in the course of a typical day, and why businesses doing digital marketing well are finding it necessary to have one.
Researching and thinking
Whether you're focused on content strategy, creation or both, you need to understand your own business and the wider industry you're in. And you need to keep up-to-date with the latest happenings in the content marketing world, whether it's new updates in SEO, social media or mobile technology.
Unlike somebody solely specialising in writing, a content marketer needs to understand the most effective ways in getting content out to an audience. It’s no good having the best quality content if nobody is going to read it. And this takes a lot of reading and listening – it helps if you have a real, genuine interest in digital!
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Much of a content marketer's time may well be spent trying to understand the audience they're trying to reach. There are various ways they might want to go about this. For instance, it might involve the audit of a business' existing assets – the company website and social media channels for instance.
If you're further down the line this could take the form of keyword and influencer research – finding the important topics you want to create content around, and the individuals/groups who might be willing to share and engage with it.
Some of the most valuable time a content marketer might spend during a day is when they brainstorm content ideas through editorial meetings with other members of the business. These can be online but in my experience are preferably done face-to-face.
The type and level of managing a content marketer has to do depends on the company they are working for/with and responsibilities they've been charged with. At a basic level, the creation and continued maintenance of a content calendar is usually necessary.
Sometimes you need to handle freelancers or in-house content creators, determining when and where content is provided, submitted and shared. This needs time spent in project management, potentially working with budgets. This can consume an awful lot of a content marketer's time.
If you want to work with digital assets like infographics or get video content, you'll need to handle people like developers and designers, often from outside agencies if you don't have the skills in-house.
Often social media duties might be involved, whether it's community management or the running of paid social campaigns. And webinars are becoming an increasingly popular form of content marketing – these need a lot of coordinating to get right.
Writing and Editing
The ability to write well is a pre-requisite for many jobs, but particularly so for a content marketer. More often than not a content marketer will be writing, whether blog content, social media posts or other types of copy through documents such as white papers or reports. This doesn’t count the time you might need to spend interviewing. Adaptability is a very good skill to have!
High-quality content created by a skilled writer can make a huge difference to how your company is perceived by your target audience. As mentioned, companies handle content in different ways, but it's likely as a content marketer that you'll be doing a lot of editing, whether you're getting content from freelancers or in-house experts.
Content marketers who are editing need to shape the copy they receive to create stuff suitable for publishing internally or externally. They'll need to understand the best ways content might be packaged up – often re-purposed content can be used and promoted long after the time it was originally created.
In the end, companies demand business value from the money they spend on content, and this is why a good content marketer will spend a lot of time looking at and trying to understand data. A framework should already be in place on how they can measure return on investment based on research and business objectives.
There are a multitude of tools a content marketer could be looking at, but at a basic level Google Analytics or tool like Omniture can provide a lot of the insight that they'll need. Sometimes content marketers may look at more complex (and expensive) tools to understand social conversations – although that's usually the work of a social media analyst with specific skills needed.
Armed with data which could show that they are doing their job properly in growing quality traffic and conversions, content marketers will also need the presentation and business skills to demonstrate value to senior management. And of course – that might mean lots of meetings (and tea)!