Although the job title includes the word “Specialist” – which usually implies specializing in one thing – a Content Marketing Specialist may, in reality, be asked to specialize in many things, including the creation, distribution and promotion of all the company’s marketing content.
Content specialists typically work with art directors, designers, web content editors, and digital content managers to write, edit, and develop solid content for digital campaigns. And with so many content formats like blogs, videos and social media graphics, the content specialist must become a modern-day jack of all trades.
In this article we’ll take a look at why companies use content marketing in the first place, what the day-to-day looks like for a Content Marketing Specialist, what it takes to actually become one, and how to get better at what you do!
Why Companies use Content Marketing
As of April 2020, 59% of the global population (nearly 4.57 billion people) were identified as active internet users. Content continues to be a vital tactic for bringing in web traffic and encouraging conversions – getting readers and viewers to become paying customers.
Content Marketing is popular because it’s customizable, cost-effective, and relatively easy to implement. It’s also one of the best ways to generate inbound leads. In a study by Kapost comparing Paid Search and Content Marketing, it was found that Content Marketing has both lower up-front costs and deeper long-term benefits.
No wonder so many companies use it. SEMrush, a leader in digital marketing tools, recently surveyed 1200 marketers in 39 countries and found that 91% of respondents are using Content Marketing. HubSpot backs this up, indicating in their 2020 stats that 70% of marketers are actively investing in Content Marketing.
This is great news for anyone with an interest in becoming a Content Marketing Specialist. There’s plenty of content to create and there are jobs out there waiting for you!
Let’s talk about what a Content Marketing Specialist actually does and then we’ll get into how to pursue a career in this field.
What Does a Content Marketing Specialist do?
Being a Content Specialist is so much more than just creating content for the web. You first have to understand your target audience and then create relevant content marketing strategies that will meet their needs at different stages of their customer journey.
Content Marketing Specialists have a knack for research and are skilled at crafting newsletters, articles, video scripts, ad copy, infographics, and social media posts that will engage users. The idea is to use this content to gain new clients or to retain existing clients.
As you strategize, you’ll create a list of topics aligned with your content marketing goals and then you’ll perform keyword research to find out the actual search terms people type in when using search engines and/or social media platforms. Sometimes an SEO expert will provide the keyword information for you, but if your company doesn’t have one, be prepared to do it on your own.
Once you identify your keywords, you then employ your super SEO copywriting skills to create a piece of content that’s going to be helpful to users. Are you trying to create awareness or build interest in your product or service? Maybe it’s an article to help people understand a new feature or something personal that connects them with your brand.
Having an eye on SEO means you put keywords in specific places, link to other reputable articles (including your own company’s) and add relevant ALT text to your images. This is called SEO optimized content, also known as SEO friendly content, and it helps search engines understand what your content is all about while driving more people to your site.
In many ways, you are the gateway between the customer and your service or product. What you write and put out there may be the very thing that spells out success for your company!
How to Become a Content Marketing Specialist
To begin, let’s talk about required skills and experience. It’s helpful to have a degree in English, Marketing, Journalism, Communication or Public Relations, but not necessary. Skill sets are important in this job. According to Alexis Grant, executive editor of The Penny Hoarder, “Writing and blogging skills, and experience growing your own personal brand are all valuable.”
You might already be a successful writer or offer tutorials on YouTube. That’s great, but you must be prepared to write content for different audiences and content platforms. For that you’ll need creativity, passion, researching, storytelling and editing skills, and a knowledge of HTML, keywords, analytics, and SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
In a recent analysis of 17,000 Content Marketing-related job postings, SEMRush analyzed and noted the following mentions of particular skills in the total number of Content Marketing job offers:
- Marketing (81%)
- Social Media (50%)
- Strategy (42%)
- SEO (38%)
- Research (37%)
- Analytics (29%)
- Editing (25%)
- Metrics (17%)
- Adobe (12%)
- Email Marketing (11%)
If you’re lacking in some of these skills or feeling less than knowledgeable in these areas, there are plenty of online courses out there, both free and paid, to help you become a certified Content Marketing Specialist. Here is a list of 10 online Content Marketing courses to get you started.
Once you’ve got the skill set, you should be more comfortable using tools such as Google Analytics, G Suite (Docs, Sheets, etc.), Grammarly, and platforms like WordPress, HubSpot, SEMrush, and MailChimp or MailerLite, which will all be useful on the job.
According to SEMrush, 78% of companies have a team of one-to-three content specialists. In this role, your boss would typically be a Content Marketing Manager or the Director of Content Marketing, but depending on the size of the company, you might work directly with the CEO.
The average salary for a Content Marketing Specialist in the US is $45,588 per year. You can expect to make between $35-$61K dependent upon your experience and your responsibilities. Keep in mind that this can rise to up to $100,000 annually if you one day become a Content Marketing Manager.
Tips for Refining Your Skills as a Content Marketing Specialist
Once you’re in the field and utilizing your skills, you can only get better. But it takes some effort on your part. If you want to up your game, you’ll need to do the following:
Embrace analytics – You need to wait for your boss to tell you what’s working and what’s not. It’s all in the numbers. If you don’t have time to delve into Google Analytics, a tool like BuzzSumo can help. You’ll get a breakdown of your best performing social media channels, your top-performing blog topics, and you’ll learn how many social shares on average your posts receive.
Create custom content – 82% of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading custom content. Personalized content promotes higher engagement rates, so strive to create well-defined customer personas (you can do this for free with HubSpot) and keep these personas in mind every time you brainstorm content ideas. Once you determine your customers’ most desired formats of content (blog posts, videos, articles, ebooks, infographics, images?), you should focus on producing those to keep everyone connected, informed, and happy.
Build relationships with industry influencers – Not getting many shares? Perhaps your content is solid, but you need to extend your reach. To get the word out, it takes a village. Start by identifying and connecting with industry influencers and give them the right pitch. Hint: Keep it short and sweet. Finding experts in your niche who will enhance your content (with quotes, for example) and share the finished product with their networks will make a huge difference.
Creating Value Through Content
When it comes down to it, Content Marketing Specialists are not just good writers or project managers. They specialize in knowing what people want to read or learn about in relation to a business and creating the content to meet those needs. Their work is important. It not only generates leads, increases sales, and nurtures brand loyalty, it creates a valued community of customers willing to engage more personally with you and your company.