What Roles Does a Healthy Content Marketing Operation Involve?
Content marketing is a bloated term. Different people have different ideas of what this is, how it should work and who they should hire.
At Kaiiax, we understand content marketing as a set of people, processes, and technologies for planning, producing, distributing, and analyzing content.
The whole point of content marketing is to create content and distribute it to the target audience. This requires a well-tuned operation and talented people.
You need roles, not job titles
When a company wants to do content marketing, they typically look for writers, social media managers, SEO specialists, marketing managers, link building specialists, and other people to fill in content marketing positions. Once all jobs are covered it seems like the machine is fully ready for operation.
But is it?
Content marketing is complicated. There are so many things involved. And if some piece isn’t working or missing completely, then the whole operation will suffer. A full team packaged with standard job titles doesn’t necessarily cover all the roles involved.
At Kaiiax, we realized that a smarter approach to building content marketing teams isn’t by job titles, but by roles that cover each stage of the content marketing cycle: strategy, content creation, distribution, and analytics.
This way of thinking allows you to focus on the entire machine as a whole, rather than on the job duties of the team members. By analyzing how each role contributes to the content marketing operations, you will be able to see where you can improve.
Also when people feel less constricted by their particular job titles, they turn out to be more creative and collaborate better with others.
What roles does a content marketing team involve?
When I started out in content marketing, I was pretty much a team of one. I was responsible for writing content, editing it, sharing it with social media, publishing case studies and landing pages, and even writing emails.
We had no strategy, no processes, no KPIs at that point. I was just performing my duties as a jack-of-all-trades that involve content. Even though we managed to get some results I-don’t-even-know-how, it’s very unlikely that this approach will generate repeatable success.
Content marketing is a large workload that requires strategic thinking, wise approaches, and a rhythmic system that empowers everyone to be focused, aligned, and accountable.
So what is a killer content marketing lineup? Let’s define the roles organized according to each stage of the content marketing cycle.
The strategy is the first and core part of your content marketing operation. This is where you make decisions informed by data and aligned with your company goals.
We like to think of a strategy as a triangle where every corner is linked to the other two. These corners are Offer, Target, and Content.
Offer is what you sell; Target is who you sell this to; Content is how you spread your offer to the target audience. You need to define all these three pillars before producing content.
Here is who you need on your team to do the strategy well:
This can be CEO, CMO or anybody else who drives the whole thing and defines high-level marketing goals.
A very important, but often non-existent role in content marketing departments. Data analyst is needed to help people in charge to make decisions based on data. This role is not just about pulling numbers; it’s about extracting important data-driven insights from those numbers.
This role is responsible for developing a content plan that focuses on acquiring targeted inbound traffic and guiding visitors through the buyer’s journey. It’s the content strategist who defines what to write, where, and how.
When you’re building a strategy, you need SEO to inform your content decisions. SEO analyst does keyword research, analyses competitor’s websites, and helps to find the smartest way to execute the strategy.
The most labor-intensive part of the process. Content creation is where companies fail. It takes a long, rhythmic, regular and focused work to create truly effective content. Here’s who you need to do that:
Some online resources call them Content Marketing Managers, though we prefer a short but noble title— writer. When you’re trying to find a writer, don’t look for someone who can type words. Look for someone who can produce a compelling copy that is interesting to read and enticing to share.
Subject matter expert
If the content isn’t credible, it’s not effective. Your expertise is the most valuable asset that you can share with your visitors. Where can a writer take this expertise? They can ask a subject matter expert. These people can work in your company, or you can find them online through specific groups and communities.
Like content creation, SEO is an ongoing activity. You need to engage an SEO role at the stage of strategy definition, and all the way during content creation, distribution, and analysis. They help writers optimize their content for search engines, direct off-site SEO activities and report on organic traffic growth.
This role facilitates ongoing content planning, manages day-to-day content creation, editing and promotion, and reports on the results of each content marketing initiative. They also save you from embarrassing mistakes and make your content sound like it’s coming from one source.
Publishing content on your website doesn’t guarantee that your audience will see it. Getting your content in front of the right people is what the content distribution roles are going to be responsible for.
Content promotion specialist
The responsibility of this role is to research places where already created content can be promoted. These can be external blogs, media sites, email newsletters, forums, social media platforms. Content promotion specialists also write guest posts and conduct outreach campaigns.
Backlink acquisition specialist
This role’s job is to build links across the web to ensure organic traffic growth in accordance with your SEO goals and improve your keyword rankings in Google.
Email marketing manager
If your website already has some traffic, you should launch an email marketing campaign that will focus on nurturing and growing a relationship with your website visitors to increase conversions. An email marketing manager is the one who plans and executes this campaign.
At the stage of content distribution, the SEO specialist’s role is to direct off-site SEO and manage the backlink acquisition process.
Paid promotion specialist
If you’re using paid marketing channels, you need a role that will plan and execute pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and retargeting campaigns.
At this stage, you need everybody above to report on the results of their work. People who took part in building the strategy are accountable for the results.
Who operates the content machine?
Like any project, content marketing needs a manager or somebody who will run the operation and make sure it runs effectively.
Content marketing operations manager
This role is responsible for operating the internal machine and managing external specialists. They make sure everyone on the team knows what to do and how to do it. They monitor, measure, and analyze the effectiveness of content marketing initiatives, and do whatever is needed to keep the operation running.
Other roles you might need
Depending on your team size and focus, you might also need somebody to take care of visual content such as infographics, e-books, white papers, social media content, website, and landing pages. A graphic designer will help you develop a brand that stands out. Also, a dedicated web developer might also be needed at some content marketing stages such as a website redesign or landing page development.
How many people do you need to cover all content marketing roles?
At least the following 6 people:
Content marketing operations manager — your content marketing machine won’t start without a mechanic managing every part from production to distribution.
Data analyst — building a marketing strategy without data is like shooting in the dark. You need someone to gather and analyze data to support your decision making at every level. At Kaiiax, we value insightful data over gut instinct and are convinced that a data analyst is an absolute must for a marketing department’s success.
Content strategist—to make content work, you need a person who understands how to address the needs, wants, and problems of your buyer personas, and how to use your blog and other channels to generate qualified traffic and leads for your business. This person can also perform the role of a managing editor at the content creation stage.
SEO analyst — do you want to improve your content’s search rank so your website pages appear first when your audience types in the search terms you’re targeting? Of course, you do! Make sure you hire a talented SEO specialist to manage both on-page SEO and off-page SEO for your company.
Writer — the core of your content marketing operations. It’s best if you have at least two writers to publish content frequently and regularly.
Content promotion specialist—a person performing this role can combine content promotion and backlink acquisition roles to increase your reach and improve your website’s organic ranking.
Do I hire them all or what?
Not immediately. First, you need to assess your current operation, see what is lacking, and think about how you can adjust your team to have all the roles covered. At Kaiiax, we help companies set up, develop, and improve their marketing operations as a whole, with content marketing being a big part of the process.
If you want to talk about your marketing operations, we’re always there at firstname.lastname@example.org.