Inbound marketing costs 62 percent less than outbound marketing, and content marketing plays a significant role in that field. Despite that, inbound marketing generates three times more leads. With people becoming numb to intrusive (outbound) marketing strategies, leveraging permissive marketing techniques like content marketing is becoming more critical.
That’s why you need to invest in a great content marketer.
To help you do that, I’ll highlight some essential content marketers’ qualities you must look out for.
Defining a Content Marketer
Ask ten different people what a content marketer is, and you’ll probably get ten different answers. That’s because content marketing is defined differently depending on who you ask.
However, a content marketer can be seen as a person responsible for planning, creating, and distributing valuable content on behalf of a business. That content serves the purpose of:
- attracting leads
- driving brand awareness
- keeping readers engaged
- converting leads into customers
- turning customers into repeat buyers and brand ambassadors
To succeed at their job, a content marketer should have a great understanding of the product they’re promoting and their target audience. Doing so is essential to creating content that resonates with their audience and converts.
Why Does Your Company Need a Content Marketer?
Every brand needs a content marketer. The reason for that is simple—every interaction you have with your leads, prospects, and customers is done via content. With content marketing, you can:
- educate your audience
- connect with your audience
- build trust
- sell your products
The quality of content you produce has a significant impact on your business growth and success.
Types of Content Marketing Professionals
Content marketing is a broad topic. As such, there are various types of content marketing professionals who fill out the field of work. For example:
- Marketing strategist: A general title, a marketing strategist is often one who oversees the overall strategy for your business. They are often just one of many marketing professionals on your team, as they would need help to execute their plan in multiple areas (paid search, organic search, blog content, etc.).
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) specialist: A marketing professional who specializes in SEO would focus on both on-page and off-page content optimizations. They often work closely with the content writers and copywriters on your marketing team.
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM) specialist: This specialization combines SEO and paid advertising to drive both paid and organic traffic to your website.
- Content writer: While they likely have much of the same knowledge as a strategist, content writers specialize in writing long-form content for blogs and websites. For smaller enterprises, they may do much of the strategizing, implementation, and writing.
- Copywriter: Unlike a content writer, who works more on long-form content, a copywriter is a content marketing professional who often works more on short-form copy. This includes headlines, calls to action, and email campaigns.
While there are many “generalists” within the field, even a generalist will have a niche where they particularly shine. You can often see glimpses of this specialization within their previous job titles, skills listed on their resumes, or within their portfolios.
11 Qualities of Great Content Marketers
Now that you know what a content marketer is, what they do, and why they’re so crucial to your company, let’s dive into the qualities you should look for when hiring a content marketer.
1. Great Content Marketers Are Ambitious
There are two types of content marketers you’ll encounter as you search for your unicorn.
The first type takes content marketing as a chore that needs to be completed. All they care about is ticking the right boxes and calling it a day. You don’t want this type of content marketer.
The second type of content marketer is driven by ambition. They have a desire to create the best content on any given topic. Not only that, but they are also passionate about positioning their brand as the go-to thought leader in their space.
Ambitious content marketers don’t just settle for writing great content — they strive to create the best content. They work hard to ensure their content reaches the right audience by aggressively promoting it.
There are 4.4 million blog posts published a day.
That number doesn’t include other types of content like video, podcasts, infographics, etc. Nothing but the best content can cut through that kind of noise. That’s why ambition must be one of the top content marketer qualities you must look for.
2. Great Content Marketers Are Focused
Successful content marketers are laser-focused.
What does that mean?
It’s easy to fill a content calendar with general topics that readers may (or may not) love. The question, however, is whether general content moves the marketing needle. It doesn’t. It may receive a lot of views and engagement, but if it does not convert, it’s a waste of time and resources.
Great content marketers focus on creating content with a purpose. This is content that’s helpful to both your brand and its audience. While this may mean having a more challenging time filling your content calendar, it results in supreme content quality.
By focusing your content creation on topics that matter to your audience, you become a resource in your industry. The snowball effect of that is your content will generate leads on autopilot. It also leads to higher engagement rates, better ranking, and increased brand awareness.
3. Great Content Marketers Think About Value
Not all content is created equal, and your audience knows that. That’s why they never hang around for fluff.
When looking for a content marketer, look for one who is value-focused. These are the type of content marketers who pack value into each piece of content they produce. They know exactly what your audience needs and deliver on it.
To ensure value-packed content, content marketers must be empathetic. By putting themselves in their audience’s shoes, they’re better able to understand customer pain points and thus articulate them better.
Another way of adding value to your content is by creating it from your audience’s perspective, not yours. Writing from a brand perspective turns content into an advertorial. Creating it from your audience’s perspective makes it feel like they’re talking to a friend.
Content marketers who prioritize value over volume are an asset that will help drive your brand forward. Look for this quality when hunting for your next content marketer.
4. Great Content Marketers Are Creative and Imaginative
In a world where information overload is a threat, creating content that rises above the noise takes creativity. One way of doing that is by deviating from the cookie-cutter content everyone in your niche is churning out.
Creativity and an imaginative mind are vital qualities you should look for in a content marketer. They are qualities that will help your content marketer uncover different angles, content gaps, and storytelling ideas that will make your content stand out.
Particularly if you’re in a competitive or boring industry, presenting your content in a way that’s appealing to your audience can be challenging. However, with a bit of creativity, you can turn dull topics into engaging reads, resulting in increased conversion rates.
Another area in which creativity and imagination play an essential role is content distribution. To have a competitive edge, you’ll have to find unique ways of getting your content in front of the right audience.
5. Great Content Marketers Are Analytical
The top challenges for content marketers continue to pop up like recurring bad dreams. For B2B marketers, this includes the struggle to:
- create content that appeals to different stages of the buyer’s journey (61%)
- align content efforts across sales and marketing (50%)
- develop consistency with [performance] measurement (43%)
Sure, content marketers rely heavily on their creativity, but data must inform that creativity. Data allows you to know what kind of content your audience needs. It also helps you determine how effective your content marketing efforts are.
Remember, if you’re not tracking your content marketing efforts, you won’t know what’s working and what’s not. As a result, the next iterations of your campaigns will lack the precision necessary for success.
Taking a deep dive into analytics can be time-consuming, but it pays off at the end of the day. Make sure your content marketer of choice understands relevant content marketing metrics, knows how to interpret them, and can turn that data into actionable insights.
For example, a savvy content marketer would take a successful blog post that performs very well and repurpose it, thereby exponentially increasing its impact. Of course, you can’t do that without data backing you up.
6. Great Content Marketers Are Highly Organized
Content marketing is so effective that 50% of marketers plan on increasing their content marketing budget.
That means more content is being produced.
Effectively handling a growing content calendar without the quality of your content taking a dip requires an organized content marketer. That’s because as your content opportunities increase, so do the chances of making mistakes.
Content marketing involves more than just creating and publishing content. It also includes:
- Knowing who is producing content.
- Scheduling and publishing content consistently.
- Keeping track of each piece of content and how it performs.
- Actively listening for content opportunities.
- Ensuring each piece of content is actively promoted on the proper channels.
- Tracking engagement metrics to adjust your strategy and editorial calendar accordingly.
- Maintaining an up-to-date editorial calendar.
- Monitoring the content production process step-by-step to eliminate bottlenecks.
As you can see, there are many moving parts involved in executing an effective content strategy, and the complexity increases when you increase content output. Therefore, it takes an organized content marketer to manage the entire lifecycle of a content strategy efficiently.
7. Great Content Marketers Understand Storytelling
An essential element of successful content marketing is the ability to tell a story well.
When looking at the top content marketers’ qualities, storytelling should rank high.
You may have the best product on the market and the right data to market it well. A great story will still help boost your content marketing efforts. That’s because stories are a great way to:
- Connect emotionally with your audience.
- Convey a message in a relatable way.
- Increase engagement rates.
It’s not the features and benefits of your product/service that sell — it’s the stories you tell.
A great example of a brand that leveraged storytelling well is Airbnb.
Airbnb utilized consumer-generated content to weave stories of pandemic and post-pandemic travel. It spoke to millions of people who dreamt of the day they could return to sharing their homes – and vacation rentals – with loved ones once again.
No matter your product or service, you can incorporate storytelling in your marketing. However, you’ll need a content marketer with excellent storytelling ability to help you pull it off.
Statistics and data are great for building your case, but it takes great storytelling to make your content and brand stand out.
8. Great Content Marketers Are Persistent
Many marketers fall into a “campaign” mentality and focus only on the ROI of content marketing.
Picture the hawk-eyed content marketer, carefully watching metrics for indicators that something isn’t performing so they can pull the plug before too much effort is wasted.
That’s one of the biggest reasons most content marketing efforts flop—content marketing is discarded prematurely before the content matures.
A successful content marketer must be persistent in their approach to content marketing. They must be ready and willing to play the long game. The key to winning with content marketing is to stick with it for a long time. The more you publish new content, the more traffic you’ll drive to your website, as evidenced by the graph below:
Great content marketers know that content marketing success doesn’t happen overnight. They understand that persistence is the key to success.
9. Great Content Marketers Have Good Grammar and Writing Skills
To create engaging content, you need to write like you talk. Therein lies the danger of offending the grammar police.
That’s why you need a content marketer who knows how to walk the fine line between good grammar and the ability to write engaging content. New forms of communication like tweeting, texting, and other digital platforms have taken a toll on how well people write and spell.
This has fueled the demand for content marketing specialists who can spin a nifty sentence that effectively conveys the message and stays true to current lingo without butchering grammar rules.
If you want your business (and your marketing strategy) to be taken seriously, you’ve got to get the language basics right. Bad spelling and grammar hurt your brand’s reputation.
How much do proper spelling and grammar mean to consumers?
Those results are spread over 5,000 website visits, so a healthy sample size to be sure.
Just ask yourself, would you find a website with typos and grammatical errors to be trustworthy? The chances are likely not.
So, how can you be sure to filter out the poor grammarians in your search for a content marketer?
Quickly scan the candidate’s previously published work, their application/cover letter, and their resume.
If there are obvious mistakes (like incorrect usage of “they’re,” “there,” and “their”), then you shouldn’t take the evaluation forward. You can upload the writing in Grammarly or the Hemingway App for a quick grammar check.
You can cut some slack for grammar mistakes like split infinitives and ending sentences with a preposition. They might be purposefully used by the writer for setting a rhythm and maintaining flow, or to sound more conversational.
Now, is flawless grammar the final parameter of a content writing skills analysis?
I’m afraid not. If writing is devoid of emotion, stories, and personality, it won’t make an engaging read. Content marketing specialists can charge a lot of money because they’re creative and they know how to emotionally engage with readers.
The writer’s word choices, tone, and understanding of their target audience play a vital role in crafting persuasive copy.
Even a single word change can result in a 139% increase in conversions.
It’s a long-term skill, though, that comes as you keep writing more and more.
As someone who is tasked with hiring a content marketer, but who may not specialize in writing yourself, how can you be sure to pick the best candidate?
Here are the 3 essential features that you can use to separate the wheat from the chaff.
- Compelling headline, subheadings, and CTA: A proficient copywriter knows that 8 out of 10 readers won’t go beyond the title. So, he or she puts extra effort into crafting an attractive one. Also, a persuasive CTA is essential to get the audience to perform the desired action.
- Talk to the reader directly in their language: The words ‘you’ and ‘your’ are probably the most powerful in the English language. To gain the attention and trust of your readers, you’ve got to write conversationally (in first or second person) and use the exact words they use in describing their challenges.
- Picking the right subject to write about: While you can come up with a dozen different writing ideas for your content strategy, it’s important to find new and interesting angles. Otherwise, people aren’t going to spare their time to read them. A prolific content marketing specialist understands keyword research, uses research for content creation, and generates ideas that are proven to get traction.
10. Great Content Marketers Have Excellent, Proven Research Skills
Research is the cornerstone for producing exceptional content. That’s because you need to gather a lot of data and information before creating any single piece of content. For example, content marketers need to understand:
- Customers: You need to know your customers’ interests, pain points, and demographic and psychographic data. Researching customers is essential for crafting relevant and engaging copy.
- Competitors: Competitor research includes peeking into their brand positioning and finding gaps to fill.
- Company: Content marketers need to understand your company’s products, how they are unique, and be able to align content development with the company’s overall vision.
A great content marketer also needs to be adept at using keyword research tools like Ubersuggest to come up with the right keywords and phrases to help your content rank.
Are you not yet convinced that a great content marketer also needs to be adept at research?
BuzzFeed is associated with casual entertainment. But back in 2011, they hired Ben Smith from Politico as their chief editor. Ever since, BuzzFeed has expanded its investigative research team. The reason is that BuzzFeed wants to infuse journalistic credibility into its brand.
Even Business Insider has invested a substantial amount of resources into creating premium content. An example is this 22,000-word Marissa Mayer biography that received over 1.5 million views.
Isn’t it obvious that the ability of a content marketing specialist to research is highly underrated?
And yet, it’s a cornerstone of any kind of marketing.
- You need to research your customer’s interests, pain points, and their demographic for crafting relevant and engaging copy.
- You need to identify your competitors, their brand positioning, and the content gaps that they have left for you to fulfill.
- You need to learn about your company’s products, understand how they are unique, and align your content development with them.
A skilled content marketing specialist will remain in research mode until she finds the necessary answers, always working on her larger content market strategy through useful, authoritative content.
Remember that there is no single correct way of gathering all of your research. You might need to interview your customers, correctly use Google search operators, or scout niche forums.
Or, you might even perform the tedious job of reading the comments on your or your competitors’ websites.
Research isn’t limited to your content strategy. It’s indispensable to make your overall content marketing strategy effective.
A solid content marketing strategist knows this well.
11. Great Content Marketers Enjoy Numbers
While content marketers aren’t expected to be mathematicians, they should still enjoy playing with numbers. That’s because successful content marketing specialists understand that crunching data is as important as weaving stories with their words.
Moreover, incorporating data into content is essential as it inspires trust and garners more shares on social media.
Where can you find the numbers to weave into your content?
One way is to conduct in-house experiments. For example, I regularly analyze my writing efforts and craft blog posts about my results.
These data-driven posts are excellent for establishing you as a thought leader. They’re also backlink magnets.
I regularly analyze my writing efforts and craft blog posts about my results. A great content marketing specialist will likely do the same.
Along with that, they receive a good response on social media.
They also earn backlinks without me actively planning link building campaigns.
In the future, you can expect tools that will allow an average writer to scrape information and conduct an analysis. Even now, though, exceptional content marketers try to link their statements with authoritative data sources.
An analytical content professional crunches data and compares the published content’s performance against pre-defined key performance indicators (KPIs).
In most cases, such an analysis reveals that 20% of your posts will drive 80% of your traffic. Pulling a basic report from Google Analytics > Behavior > Site Content > All Pages will reveal these numbers.
Once you find the critical 20% of your posts, you can step back from content creation and invest more time in promoting your content. After all, consummate content marketing specialists know that marketing strategy is the second critical part of the content marketing game and are great at social media (and a variety of social media tools) to boot.
Again, all promotion tactics aren’t equal. You might need to analyze your content promotion activities in an Excel sheet to find the ones that give you the most bang for your time.
As you can understand, conducting a smart analysis will require an ROI-focused mindset and comfort with plugging/pulling numbers inside analytics software.
So, ensure that your content marketing consultant or contenting marketing manager knows their way around Ubersuggest, Google Analytics, Excel, A/B testing tools, and the like.
12. Great Content Marketers Can Effectively Manage Projects and Deadlines
Documenting your content marketing strategy and managing your content calendar is crucial to increasing your chances of success. However, it requires the ability to manage projects and deadlines effectively.
Professional content marketers understand that missing just one deadline can tremendously hurt their business. They plan large sets of blog posts in advance and follow a strict publishing schedule. This includes:
- keyword research
- topic generation
- search intent and audience research
- assigning the right writers
- distributing on the right platforms
Keeping every piece moving in sync with your content marketing machine requires strong project management skills. Thankfully, there are a lot of project marketing tools that can help streamline the process.
Take tools like Trello, for example:
These ensure that entire teams stay on track, and that there is transparency in the process from start to finish.
Such successful project management will also mean that you clearly define and reach your goals with their marketing team.
In addition to the above, content marketing specialists should pick parameters from the SMART framework to define their process, stay motivated, and choose their timely deliverables.
You can read how to apply SMART to your content marketing here. Test a content marketer by requesting that he or she design a SMART content plan for your company.
How a Good Marketer Supports SEO
A good content marketer will be well-versed in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). In that way, their strategies will often be optimized with an eye toward SEO, though that’s not their sole focus.
In fact, much of what a good marketer may do may not seem an obvious part of a larger SEO strategy. However, that’s the beauty of it: Good content strategies are often good for SEO.
Here are three specific ways a good marketer supports SEO as part of your team:
- They focus on user intent. Knowing why your users are reading your content is almost as important as the content itself. After all, how can you tailor your content to your audience without knowing their why? A good marketer will focus on the why so they can target your audience at different stages of the funnel.
- They prioritize quality over quantity. If you want to appear in SERPs, then focusing on quality content is the way to go. That’s because Google and other search engines recognize that content quality is a better indicator of positive user experience than quantity.
- They work to build E-E-A-T. A good marketer knows that Google – and users – are looking at four factors when considering the quality of your content: Expertise, Experience, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. As such, a marketer’s goal will be to improve the overall quality of your content – and your associations with offsite content, such as dofollows and backlinks – so as to check the boxes above.
The fact is, content marketing and SEO are inextricably linked. There is no way to define one without the other. As such, hiring a content marketer who also knows SEO is not only a nice-to-have, but a need-to-have.
Frequently Asked Questions About Content Marketers
Do you have more questions about content marketing and what a content marketer is? Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions on the topic.
A content marketer’s main tasks include planning, creating, and distributing valuable content on behalf of a business.
The average content marketer’s salary is $56,819, with the lowest percentile earning about $28,000 and the highest-paid earning around $89,500.
While you may not need a degree to be a content marketer, it can be an advantage. In most cases, a proven track record is the most essential element to a successful career as a content marketer.
Writing, editing experience, data analytics, and SEO are the main areas of expertise a content marketer should have. You should also work to build a portfolio – such as an SEO copywriting skills sample – as an effective way of showing potential employers that you know your stuff.
With many of your business goals relying on content marketing, a content marketer is essential for online business success.
Use the 12 content marketers’ qualities mentioned above to create a checklist to help you find the best one. Granted, one with all the qualities mentioned above is a unicorn, but you can still find some that tick many of the boxes. Furthermore, whatever one may lack can be complemented by other members of the team.
At the end of the day, a well-executed content strategy should help you drive enough revenue to cover the costs and then some.
Any other content marketers’ qualities you’d like to add?
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