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Finding Your Content Marketing Rhythm

POSTED 10/08/2015
By Lee Bob Black


Prioritizing Content Marketing

How important are content marketing skills? Also, what is the demand for these skills? SkilledUp surveyed 200 professionals engaged in their companies’ marketing activities to explore these two big questions and much more. 

According to the survey:

  • 94% of respondents view content marketing as being critical component of a company’s marketing program
  • 50% of respondents expect their content marketing budgets to increase in 2015
  • 34% of respondents experience difficulty hiring job candidates with content marketing skills
  • 84% of respondents plan to learn more about content marketing

You can download a PDF of the SkilledUp report or view it on Slideshare.

A Refresher

Before getting into the nuts and bolts of SkilledUp’s findings and what they mean for employers, what exactly is content marketing? At a high level, it involves the creation and management of content that attracts people and converts them into customers. At a more granular level, it attracts potential customers to your website and educates them about your products and services. In the process, it builds brand awareness and customer loyalty.

Examples of the types of content used in content marketing include articles, blogs, e-books, podcasts, videos, keynote speeches, presentations, photos, white papers, case studies, infographics, and customer testimonials.

Content Marketing: What’s the skinny?

What business objectives does content marketing help drive?

The majority of the marketing professions surveyed responded that content marketing helps drive sales and customer growth.

Content Marketing Slide

Survey results for how helpful content marketing is for supporting sales, referrals, and conversion.

What marketing initiatives does content marketing help drive?

Most respondents agreed content marketing aligned with their marketing initiatives.

Content Marketing Slide 13

Survey results for how helpful content marketing is for supporting brand recognition, loyalty, engagement, retention, and B2B relations.

What mix of employees, contractors, and agencies are companies using for content marketing?

While the majority of respondents have internal content marketing teams, some have a mixture of internal and external teams, and some exclusive use agencies.

Content Marketing Slide 19

Survey results for who currently handles a respondent’s content marketing initiatives.

Why are some companies hiring contractors and agencies to perform content marketing?

There are two main reasons cited for using content marketers outside of the respondent’s company:

  • Lack of internal content marketing resources
  • External content marketing resources have more expertise

What resources are content marketers using to improve their skills?

Many content marketers learn on the job. As the following image shows, they also learn from articles, online courses, webinars, podcasts, and other resources.

Content Marketing Slide 31

Survey results for education resources used by respondents in the past year.

 

What resources are content marketers using to do their jobs?

While posting on social media and writing articles are the most common forms of content, we found these just scratch the surface of resources content marketers use.

Content Marketing Slide 33

Survey results for types of content respondents use.

 

What about those companies that don’t currently use content marketing?

Only 18 percent of marketing professionals involved in the survey work for companies that don’t currently have content marketing initiatives. Yet 31 percent of those companies are considering incorporating it into future programs.

Is there a content marketing skills gap?

Yes. A vast majority of U.S. companies see the value of content marketing, but face a shortage of skilled professionals to fill the growing number of content marketing jobs. 42% of companies surveyed stated they don’t have employees with the skills needed to implement content marketing.

What challenges are content marketing professionals facing?

A lack of skills isn’t the only hurdle that content marketers need to jump.

Content Marketing Slide 26

Survey results for the main challenges respondents face when implementing content marketing.

Finding Skilled Content Marketing Professionals

Content marketing is a relatively young discipline and it’s evolving rapidly. And yet while there are thousands of individuals and hundreds of agencies that provide content marketing services, searching for the right person or business partner is hardly a cinch. Indeed, it might feel like you’re searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack. For instance, when assessing an individual or an agency, it’s sometimes difficult to determine if they’ve indeed got the skills and expertise to get the job done right, or if they’re just good at marketing themselves.

What to Look For

When evaluating candidates, or a staff member at an agency, look for someone who:

  • Understands how your audience uses your product or service
  • Has a track record of both making and sharing content
  • Knows what types of content work best
  • Knows which social media channels are most appropriate for your content
  • Understands the pros and cons of sharing content during the peak activity times for various social media channels
  • Has several ideas for low-cost and low-effort ways of creating content
  • Appreciates that some of the results from a content strategy are intangible and not easily measured, yet is still enthusiastic about measuring and reporting on content strategy

Lastly, keep in mind that an effective content marketer isn’t just a marketing guru. They need to be part project manager, brand ambassador, writer, and marketing technologist.

Where to Look

If your needs are short-term or project-based, consider perusing contractor sites such as Freelancer and Upwork, which is the new platform that combines two titans of the freelancer marketplace, oDesk and Elance. If you’re looking for someone with a certificate, scroll through this list of content marketers who have earned Copyblogger’s “Certified Content Marketer” designation.

If you’re interested in hiring an agency, peruse the Content Marketing Institute’s directory of over 300 content marketing service and solution providers (i.e. agencies).

What to Ask

When interviewing a job candidate or evaluating an agency, consider asking some of the following questions.

  • What increases the chance of content being shared?
  • What makes content successful?
  • What’s the most successful content marketing project you’ve worked on?
  • What content marketing tools do you use?
  • What content marketing strategies or tactics interest you the most?
  • What content marketing websites do you read?
  • What content marketing courses have you taken?
  • What content marketing forums do you participate in?
  • What content marketing conferences have you attended?  
  • What analytics software have you used to measure your content marketing efforts?
  • What ROI can you expect from your content marketing efforts?
  • How does Google’s PageRank work?
  • How would you get people to link to our content?
  • What do you think is the “voice” of our brand?
  • What are some differences between general marketing and content marketing?
  • What companies have innovative approaches to content marketing that inspire you?

Job Titles

Not all people who spend most of their working hours doing content marketing self-identify as content marketers, content marketing associates, or content marketing managers. If you’re looking to hire someone with these skills, be aware you might receive applications from candidates with some of the following job titles:  

  • Communications manager
  • Marketing communications manager
  • Business-to-business (B2B) inbound marketer
  • B2B marketing strategist
  • Integrated marketer
  • Lead generation specialist
  • Content strategist
  • Chief content officer
  • Chief storyteller
  • Brand journalist

The various job titles relate to the myriad of activities that content marketers are involved in, including everything from search engine optimization (SEO) to email marketing.

Content Marketing Slide 37

Survey results for activities content marketers participate in.

Developing Content Marketing Skills

Instead of finding the perfect content marketer, you can build your own.

Here’s a selection of some of the industry’s best content marketing courses:

Here are some excellent content marketing podcasts:

Keep Reading

If you enjoyed this article, consider reading some more articles by Sparksheet and SkilledUp about how some of the best names in the business tackle content marketing:

Still want to learn more about content marketing? Consider reading some articles that explore the following content marketing phrases and buzzwords:

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