Effective content marketing requires a great strategy, implemented by a strong team.
The structure and roles within that team will vary depending on the size and nature of the business.
In this post, I’ll talk about seven key roles that an effective content marketing team needs and whether they should be full-time or a contract resource.
For the full-time hires, I’ll offer some thoughts on when is the right time to pull the trigger.
Let’s begin at the beginning.
The content strategist is responsible for developing and maintaining an overarching content strategy that aligns with the company’s marketing goals and resources.
Their responsibilities include audience research, content planning, editorial calendar management, content production process management, and content performance analysis.
Since consistency in strategy is crucial for long-term content marketing success, you should make this an in-house role as early in the company’s life as possible.
At a smaller business, the responsibilities might be split between the CEO—who is responsible for championing the content marketing initiative and tying it to the company’s mission, vision, and top-level goals—and a marketing manager, responsible for operationalizing the strategy.
Considering engaging a fractional CMO, rather than a junior marketing manager, to access broader skills and deeper experience without bearing the full cost of senior marketer.
As the company grows and the CEO must inevitably reduce their involvement, the time comes for hiring a dedicated content strategist—either in the role of Chief Marketing Officer or reporting towhomever occupies that seat.
Armed with content ideas and direction from the content strategist, content writers are tasked with researching and creating compelling, relevant, helpful content.
This may include short- and long-form articles—such as social media posts, blog posts, white papers, and case studies—as well as scripts for videos and animation.
Small businesses should start with contract resources to maintain flexibility and hire full-time writers as the demand for content increases.
The same applies to larger organizations embarking on the content marketing journey for the first time.
Whenever you are working with contract writing resources, try to work with the same ones on an ongoing basis. This will help ensure consistency in voice and style, which has a big impact on the effectiveness of your content.
Words alone do not make great content.
You’ll need someone with a keen eye for design to help lay out the work and make it more appealing and easier to digest.
A graphic designer creates the visual elements that complement and enhance your writers’ material. This includes infographics, stock images, proprietary imagery, layout design for both digital and print media, and storyboards for video production.
As with writers, you should initially work with graphic designers on a contract basis to maintain flexibility but make a full-time hire when it is cost effective to do so as you will benefit from a more consistent brand aesthetic.
Small companies can start with low-cost freelancers. As the business grows, transition to more skilled—and therefore more expensive—contract resources.
Move to a full-time hire once the economics make sense and brand management becomes an everyday task.
So far, we’ve talked about people responsible for planning and creating the work. Before hitting the publish button, there are two more steps to cover.
A content editor ensures that all your content is on-brand, error-free, and in line with the company’s content strategy.
This involves fact checking, proofreading, line editing, and sometimes rewriting the content.
Even great, information-packed content can appear low quality if it contains errors and typos.
A solid content editor will reduce that risk almost to zero. Unfortunately, even the best will miss a typo once in a while (and spend the rest of the week beating themselves up for it!)
Working with the same content editor is crucial to delivering consistent quality and voice across everything your company publishes.
The marketing manager usually carries the pen at a smaller organization—although many Chief Operating Officers make great editors because of their innate attention to detail, and some CEOs can’t help but get involved, too. (Yup, I’m one of them!)
As soon as the company is publishing more material than the marketing manager (plus moonlighting executives) can comfortably edit, you should engage a freelance editor.
Try to stick with the same person until you’re ready to make a full-time hire.
The other pre-publication task that complements the content editor’s work is readying your material to perform well on the web, in social media, and in the opinion of search engines.
Search engine optimization—or, more broadly, digital media optimization—focuses on satisfying the algorithms.
This includes responsibilities such as keyword research, technical SEO (how the pages are coded), on-page SEO (which keywords are used and where) and staying current on search trends to help guide content creation.
Contract resources are usually preferred for SEO specialist positions because working with multiple clients helps them to stay at the cutting edge of their practice.
Larger companies generating a lot of content might justify a full-time SEO specialist but should think carefully about how to keep that team member sharp.
Social media managers are responsible for managing your company's presence on social media platforms.
This includes creating and scheduling posts, engaging with the audience (responding to comments and fostering discussions), and analyzing social media performance.
As a small business, you should only be publishing content on 3-4 channels, one of which will usually be your website, so a single contractor or staff resource will suffice for social media management.
As you grow and expand your publishing reach to new channels, you will need additional social media managers—sometimes sharing responsibility for the channel portfolio, sometimes each dedicated to a particular channel—and you should bring them all in house.
The last role I’m going to cover is one that gets overlooked—or postponed for too long—at many B2B businesses: the analytics specialist.
In the MessageUp content marketing framework, we use the letter E to stand for evaluation and evolution.
Understanding which aspects of your content marketing strategy are working well and which need some attention is crucial to maintaining and improving its performance over time.
With a tsunami of data being generated by each digital channel, and an ever-growing landscape of apps available to ingest and analyze it, you’ll need someone familiar with the tools and nomenclature to make sense of it all.
The analytics specialist will be responsible for tracking, analyzing, and reporting on content performance across the company, advising the team on what’s working best and how to think about future content strategies.
Smaller teams should employ a contract or part-time analyst until the volume of content being produced—and data to be analyzed—grows to justify a full-time position.
But do engage this resource as early in your content marketing efforts as possible.
It’s impossible to retrofit data that hasn’t been managed, and it’s perilously difficult to make sense of data that was generated before the analyst arrived on the scene.
The composition of a content marketing team will vary based on the specific needs and size of your company.
In the early stages of your business, you can rely on freelancers and contract resources, as well as combining multiple roles into single positions.
As your company grows, however, you’ll quicky need to transition many of the responsibilities we’ve discussed into specialized, full-time roles.
This will become increasingly important to maintain the quality, consistency, and performance of your content marketing efforts as they expand in quantity and to a broader range of channels.
Each person must play their part in ensuring your content marketing strategy is not only well planned but also effectively executed to the latest standards and best practices.
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Image credits: Adobe Stock