You want to hire an experienced content marketer, but it’s hard to sort through all the marketers who say they can write well. You’re not alone.
Many marketers are also writers, but there is a big difference between a great copywriter and a great content marketer that isn’t talked about as much as it should be.
Copywriting is how people get a lot of followers on LinkedIn and Twitter, and it’s also what most marketing educational series focuses on. For example, the popular newsletter Harry’s Marketing Examples has several rewritten website headlines that claim to help increase conversion. And I think that’s what they do. But that’s not marketing with content. That’s called writing copy.
So, what is content marketing, and what skills should you look for in the people you hire? Let’s be sure about that.
- 1 The difference between content marketing and copywriting
- 2 Top skills for expert content marketers
The difference between content marketing and copywriting
Many content marketers are also great copywriters, and the same is true the other way around. A lot of good content marketers are also skilled copywriters. But just because there is a crossover between the two doesn’t mean that they are the same thing.
Content marketers come up with a content strategy for a brand, put together a plan for that strategy, and then make sure that plan is carried out. The plan has content research, content briefs, content writing, content editing, SEO optimization, graphic design, and finally, content distribution.
Copywriters can often help with both the writing and content-distribution parts of the plan. In the past, copywriters wrote shorter pieces of content than what is usually needed for search-optimized blog posts these days. Copywriters, after all, know how to tell a story and get people interested. And right now, there’s no better place for a business audience to do that than on social media sites like LinkedIn and Twitter.
Top skills for expert content marketers
If you want a real content marketing expert, you should look for someone who can also write well. But he or she can do more than that. Here are the eight most important skills that great content marketers have and how they can help your business grow.
1. Content strategy
Expert content marketers must be able to come up with and present a content strategy that is clear and makes sense. Many content marketers can carry out a strategy, but not all of them can do the research needed to create a long-term strategy, explain how that strategy will be carried out (creating a plan), and present that plan to the company’s founders or executives to get their approval.
Senior content marketers get better at this over time, so if you’re looking for an expert, you should ask questions in the interview to find out if they’ve done this before.
2. Project management
The second most important skill for a professional content marketer is the ability to manage projects. Many businesses put their content first, but they don’t always know it. That is, successful businesses often use blog posts, case studies, and other content in their ads, email marketing, sales enablement materials, and so on.
This means that content can be judged on more than just how well it does in SEO, which is great because SEO can take up to six months to start working.
Content-first organizations need a strong content strategy that takes the whole funnel into account. They also need a strong project manager who can clearly report when content will be ready and help the team create expert content for every single stage of the funnel.
3. SEO basics
Even if you have a clear plan for your content and are good at managing projects, you still need to know the basics of SEO. Over time, a good content marketing strategy will increase organic search traffic, which will lower CAC and help build brand awareness and trust.
Now, your expert content marketer doesn’t need to know the technical parts of SEO (or how to implement them), but he or she should have a good enough understanding of Google’s algorithm to build a content strategy that gets you ranked for relevant terms and lets him or her optimize content before it goes live.
Ask him or her what SEO-specific content marketing tools he or she uses. “None” shouldn’t be the right answer.
4. Creative production management
Graphic design is needed for every piece of content you make, whether it’s for your blog or for your sales team. After all, you want your content to be the best it can be, and good design helps your brand’s assets all look the same.
Expert content marketers have experience managing a creative production pipeline to make sure blog hero images are delivered on time and PDFs are made as needed for further down the funnel. This is similar to the project management experience mentioned above.
We’re back to copywriting, which is a very important skill for content marketing. The following will happen because of good copywriting:
- Increase the number of people who click on your site from the organic search results.
- Grow the number of people who know your brand on social media sites.
- Make your presentations much more interesting and likely to be accepted.
This is a skill that great content marketers have honed over time, but don’t think that all of them have a huge social following. That just isn’t true.
For example, to increase conversions, many content marketers have spent more time on A/B testing headlines on pages that get a lot of traffic. Or, they have been focusing on the later stages of the sales funnel to help email marketers who write good copy increase customer retention. The top of the funnel is social media, but that’s not always the best place to focus on if you want to make more money.
Professional content marketers are also excellent editors. This does not necessarily imply that they adhere to a certain style guide. Instead, it means they can edit a story for clarity, readability, and consistency with the brand’s style.
Don’t worry, there are plenty of content-marketing tools available to assist with spelling and punctuation. While this is a nice-to-have for professional content marketers, bots are gradually taking over this talent.
7. Blog writing
Great content marketers are likely to have risen to their position through excellent writing and editing on their own blogs. True, becoming an effective content marketer requires considerably more than a blog and a dream, but all content marketers should be able to produce excellent blog content, even if they manage a team of people who do it for them these days.
Take a look at their videos. Check to see if they can write, source, and credit correctly. You’re putting your brand’s reputation at stake if you don’t.
8. Analytics and tracking
Finally, professional content marketers don’t merely publish and hope for the best. They are in charge of distribution and measurement. And they’re not just looking at website traffic. Understanding website behavior, performing content-specific CRO experiments, and monitoring the impact of organic search traffic all the way down the funnel to conversion are all skills that expert content marketers have.
Experts will not simply hand you a blog post to write. They’ll create a comprehensive strategy, implementation plan, and analytics dashboard to keep you informed about what’s working, where, and why.