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What Does it Take to be a Great Content Marketer?

We hosted a meetup here at Wishpond last night. While networking, I was both surprised and enthused by the questions people asked me about my job.

I’m a content marketer.

I’ve been doing it for nearly three years. I used to be asked what and why I do what I do. Now I’m asked how to do it.

content marketingAt the meetup, I was asked a lot of in-depth questions like what exactly does a content marketer do? How can I make more content for my business? And above all - what should I look for in a good content marketer?

Content marketing is growing in popularity, and according to such experts as Marketing Profs, this trend isn’t ending soon.

Short story long, I was inspired to write a post (this post), giving my take on just that question

What does it take to be a great content marketer?


1. The Love of Writing and Editing

As a content marketer, you’re writing something every day. Whether your daily marketing objectives are to pump out a 1,500 word blog article, tweet 15 times, create one or two ravishingly engaging Facebook updates, send out multiple segmented emails or even engage in community outreach with public speaking, a great content marketer loves communicating through words.

That also means you need to be passionate about:

  • Grammar
  • Word counts
  • Witty headline creation
  • Creating intriguing, clickable 140 word links
  • Editing team content
  • Telling a great story
  • Writing in a variety of tones and for specific marketing personas

You need to be confident enough in your writing skills to communicate with personality and a flare that reflects your business.

Oh yeah, and you need the stamina and creativity to type cohesive, brand related marketing articles every day too.

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2. Marketing with a Twist of Public Relations

Sure, content marketing is focused heavily on writing. But you need more than that. The title is content marketing, and you do need to earn your cushy dream job of writing for a living.

Content marketing includes email marketing, creating lead-generating landing pages and working closely with your sales team. Some content marketers even take the lead in online advertising too.

Your job is to market your brand through enticing content. So, get to know the lingo of a basic marketing plan - and learn to understand what it actually means to:

  • Segment for demographic personas
  • Create a sales funnel
  • Implement a brand strategy reflective of a corporate identity

You need to respond to blog and social media comments with the branded, yet personable spin of an experienced PR pro. You need to spin an article back to your marketing objectives, yet still make it readable (and not overtly salesy) for consumers. Being able to write a great press release helps too.

3. Able to Keep Your Eye on the Prize

Always keep your end goal in mind. The ability to aptly strategize not only gives you a leg up on creating a content schedule, it makes it more manageable to deal with quick comment responses and turn on a dime when new tactics and projects arise (and they will arise).

Yes, at times it feels as if you’re juggling half filled water balloons and doing your darndest to keep the floor dry.

Content marketing is still in a rapid development phase and many businesses have changing expectations about your measured results. You need to balance these increased demands in conjunction with the ever-evolving tech platforms you used to market.

You’re creating branded content to support the marketing and sales goals of your company. That’s the prize. That’s your focus.

4. Basic SEO Know-How

Your website skills need to go beyond the entry level WYSIWYG wordpress editing. A valuable content marketer knows basic HTML, and how to use code to communicate with search algorithms (uh, like Google).

Do you know for example:

  • The difference between an <h1> and an <h4> header and why it’s important?
  • How to insert meta tags and write SEO-friendly meta descriptions?
  • What a URL path is, and why it’s important?
  • What a long-tail keyword is?
  • How to determine your business or campaign keywords?
  • What anchor text is, and how to best employ tactics for blogs (guest blogs and your own)?
  • Additional tactics on increasing your SERP ranking?

You’ll be using your SEO smarts for your own blog writing, as well as landing page development, homepage improvements and even PPC ads. SEO is one of the key values you bring to a company to get them found through search.

5. Visual Content Creation

Visual content dominates the world of online marketing. Images, gifs and videos are hands down the most shared content on the internet.

Now, that doesn’t mean you have to stop what you’re doing and get enrolled in graphic design school. It does mean you should have some ability to know what looks good and what doesn’t, and how it might resonate with your market. (If you’re lucky enough, you might just be working at a company that has a graphic design team).

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you know how to make a slideshare?
  • Can you make your own blog header and images (so you’re not sneaking into copyright infringement issues)?
  • Can you write a visually appealing blog article with short, easy to digest sentences and bullet points?
  • How about groovy, sharable Facebook or Pinterest images?
  • Do you know how to make a basic video?


6. The Love of Learning

Content marketers need to be passionate about continuous learning.

The social platforms you use are changing on an almost daily basis. You need to keep up with the trends and market your business appropriately. For example, with the decreased organic reach for Facebook Pages, should you now be using Facebook ads?

When a new social site develops traction in popularity, check it out and assess whether starting a brand profile on it fits with your marketing goals and consumer personas.

You’re also educating your company about what content marketing is  - and what it is not. For the majority of businesses, your job is a brand new position. You and your boss are in this new frontier together and there will be learning ‘bumps’ along the way.

I’ve been a content marketer for nearly three years - and I’m learning something new every day!

7. Analytical Assessments to Measure Results

Measuring your results (and, uh, proving your worth to the company) requires a bit of analytical thinking.

A great content marketer can:

  • Create a competitive analysis
  • Make a company SWOT analysis
  • Measure KPI metrics
  • Use analytics like Google
  • Set up tracking code
  • Assess the value of content for a campaign

It helps to get your marketing head on to track and measure the ROI of your inbound marketing, online advertising, lead generation landing pages and everything else that you do.

Then you need to test, create and implement tactics to continuously improve your proven results.

That’s what it takes to be a great content marketer.

Your Turn

What are your thoughts? Are you a content marketer? What else does it take to be a great content marketer?

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