How to Build a Content Marketing Team

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I am not know for my deft use of sports references. But when it comes to the ethos of team building, Vince Lombardi nails it: “Individual commitment to a group effort — that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”

The truth is, you don’t need a huge headcount to get results from your content marketing team. In some cases, advocating for additional headcount over investments in efficiency and distribution can hinder a marketing leader’s ability to drive business outcomes.

What you do need is simple: the right people, the right process, and the right system of measurement.

How to build a content marketing team

Henry Ford revolutionized production with a simple principle: division of labor. The same concept applies to today’s most efficient marketing teams. I recommend building your content team around three core functions:

  1. Strategy
  2. Creation
  3. Distribution

Here are the key roles in each area, including the job description and skill sets for each.

1. Key content strategy roles:

Content Marketing Director

Directors of content marketing are responsible for working with teams to develop content strategy and drive demand. They formulate and execute new content marketing strategies, and report on marketing campaigns. They manage and inspire content staff to ensure that content marketing goals are reached.

Baseline skills: Content management, people management, copywriting, editing, and social media marketing.

Skills correlated with above-average salariesStrategy development (22% higher salary), marketing communications (9% higher salary), people management (4% higher salary).


Content Strategists

Content strategists typically develop a plan for content and oversee how that plan is carried out. Content strategists often work closely with social media strategists, marketing professionals, and designers to create a cohesive message; these job roles may overlap, emphasizing the importance of strong communication skills in this position.

Baseline skills: Content management, copywriting, web content management, editing, project management.

Skills correlated with above-average salariesMarketing communications (5% higher salary), technical writing (5% higher salary), and project management (2% higher salary).


2. Key content creation roles:

Compelling content is a complement of copywriting and design. While you might not keep your content creators and designers on staff, here are the key roles and skills to look for.

Copywriter

A copywriter is a common role in the advertising world. Copywriters spend most of their time writing ads and promotional materials for companies’ marketing campaigns. This generally involves meeting with the client to discuss their target audience and concepts they want to portray.

In-house copywriters work with internal stakeholders to craft marketing materials for social media campaigns, blog content, email marketing efforts, and more.

Baseline skills: Copywriting, editing, marketing communications, and advertising,

Skills correlated with above-average salariesAdvertising (7% higher salary), and marketing communications (2% higher salary).


Content Manager

Content managers work with creative staff to develop and maintain materials used by websites, marketing campaigns, media aggregators, and other content channels. Their responsibilities include editing written material for appropriateness of tone, style, and subject matter; reviewing videos and podcasts; and contributing to the layout and graphic presentation of websites.

A content manager may manage a creative team providing content in written, video, or audio form, as well as employing freelancers. In smaller organizations, the content manager may be responsible for creating most or all of the content. They help to establish and maintain content standards.

Baseline skills: Content management, web content management, project management, editing, and marketing communications.

Skills correlated with above-average salaries: Media/public relations (19% higher salary), people management (6% higher salary), and technical writing (1% higher salary).


Creative Director

A creative director leads a team responsible for developing and implementing creative work, including projects in graphic design, advertising, music, media, or similar fields. Creative directors typically fall into two categories: an in-house creative director or an agency creative director.

An in-house creative director is typically responsible for marketing campaigns and creative tasks for large companies, while a creative director in an agency handles creative projects for a large number of clients.

Baseline skills: Adobe Photoshop, graphic design, branding, Adobe Illustrator, and Design.

Skills correlated with above-average salariesUser interface design (15% higher salary), team leadership (9% higher salary), strategic marketing (8% higher salary).


Graphic Designer

Graphic designers use color, illustrations, fonts, and layout to facilitate visual communication around a brand message or product. They design logos, product packaging, print materials, and websites, among many other things.

Graphic designers serve companies in different capacities and in a range of industries. Many are self-employed as freelancers.

Baseline skills: Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, and graphic design.

Skills correlated with above-average salaries:
Adobe AfterEffects (4% higher salary)
Web design (2% higher salary)
Project management (2% higher salary)

3. Key content distribution roles:

To paraphrase a line from Andy Crestodina‘s Content Marketing World keynote, The New York Times doesn’t publish a list of the best books; it published a list of the best distributed books.

Point being, no matter how good your content is, it won’t do anything for you if no one knows it exists. If you’re investing in quality content, you’re doing your team a disservice by not investing at least equally in content distribution.

Having a team or individual in place to get the word out about your content is an essential division of labor for the content marketing teams that can afford it.

Why? Because creating a piece of high-quality content is an exhausting, time-consuming process. Rushing straight from content creation to distribution invites laziness and distribution fatigue.

Splitting the content creation and distribution functions, however, allows the individuals in each role to get really, really good at their realm, and minimizes switching costs.

Here are a few key content distribution roles to consider:

Community Manager

Community managers focus on interacting with customers and clients through various online channels, including social media platforms and user forums. They must also be skilled at marketing and mediation as they will often relay information related to new products, specials, or information from the marketing team to their online community.

Often this role is synonymous or overlapping with the role of the social media manager.

The role of a social media manager is more explicitly responsible for managing a brand’s social media pages, profiles, and websites. He or she implements marketing campaigns to increase brand recognition and customer loyalty, serve as voices and liaisons for their organizations, supervise and approve creative content, and research new marketing techniques.

Community and social media managers must stay on top of emerging technologies and trends, such as emerging social networks, and the introduction of new features on existing social networks, such as Instagram Stories.

Baseline skills: Social media marketing, marketing communications, social media optimization, web content management, and customer service.

Skills correlated with above-average salariesCopywriting (10% higher salary), project management (9% higher salary), and media/public relations (9% higher salary).


Public relations manager

A public relations manager is responsible for maintaining and improving the organization’s public image. They develop and execute campaigns to boost brand and business awareness. The public relations manager is responsible for representing the company to the media, and in smaller organizations may also manage social media for the company.

Baseline skills: Media relations, marketing communications, social media marketing, and corporate communications.

Skills correlated with above-average salaries: Corporate communications (12% higher salary), technical writing (10% higher salary), and media/public relations (2% higher salary).

Establishing a process for marketing team collaboration

The act of creating content is essential to value-driven marketing. But unfortunately, the standard thinking in marketing is built around binary divides: outbound versus inbound; content marketing versus demand generation; paid versus organic.

While clear divisions of labor increase individual efficiency, the creation of too many silos within your marketing team will dramatically lower your team’s impact on business outcomes.

Content assets, for example, are essential to many effective demand generation strategies. For this reason, it is essential for the content team to collaborate with the demand generation and advertising or PPC manager to distribute content assets through email nurture campaigns, ad retargeting, and more.

Having an editorial calendar that is both documented and publicly shared internally will reduce cross-team silos. Your demand gen, PPC, PR, and social media leads should know exactly when each major asset will launch, so they can plan their distribution strategies accordingly.

If you don’t have an editorial calendar on-hand, check out our free content calendar template. This is what we use to plan our content marketing efforts. We updated ours in Google Drive, where it is publicly accessible to our entire company.

Establishing a framework to measure your impact

Every marketer wants credit for their work. But you can’t validate your impact without the right benchmarks.

Or as Contently’s CEO Joe Coleman put it, “You just need to establish milestones that you know you can hit that are on the road to generating business. This will keep people from freaking out.” 

The top marketing tools used by our team here at TrackMaven include:

  • Google Analytics, to measure website traffic and conversion rates.
  • Marketo, to measure engagement with campaigns and email programs.
  • Salesforce, to measure campaign influence on sales-accepted leads, opportunities, and closed deals.
  • TrackMaven, to measure web traffic, blog engagement, social media engagement, audience growth, and content marketing efficiency (input versus output) against leaders in our industry.

But don’t just take our word for it. We asked a panel of marketing leaders to share their advice for measuring the impact and ROI of content.

Here’s what they had to say:

We measure impact through a combination of a marketing automation platform, CRM, Google Analytics, and our own data. The first three are really all you need to quantify your digital marketing efforts and turn marketing from a cost center into a revenue driver. We look at inquires, new names, marketing qualified leads, sales accepted leads, pipeline, and of course closed revenue, cross selling, upselling; basically how our content impacts and influences the entire customer journey.

— Jason Miller, Group Manager, Content Marketing, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions
@jasonmillerca

Ultimately, what matters is pipeline. I want to know how content has performed by either:
  1. Acquiring net new names into our marketable database, and/or
  2. Influencing an existing pipeline account already in flight.

As we’ve become more sophisticated with our reporting, engagement is good, but dollars validate the investment in that content effort.

— Anthony Kennada, VP of Marketing, Gainsight
@akennada

There are a few ways we measure content success. Of course the lead conversion points: downloads of an ebook, CTAs in a blog posts, or tracking links. More so, we like to use snippets of the content and test it to segmented audiences on social media. We get real-time responses to see what people care about and enjoy engaging with at that moment.

— Hillary Byers Settle, Director of Marketing at Insightpool
@hmbyers

Pair this piece with How to Lead a Data-Driven Marketing Team to learn the four essentials for data-driven marketing.