I’ve created this extensive guide to serve as a go-to reference for choosing your first content marketing manager to join your team. You’ll get an in-depth look at what this role truly accounts for and why it’s so vital for any marketing strategy if you want to increase the online visibility of your brand.
Whether you’re still considering adding a content marketing manager to your team or have taken the first steps towards the new addition, the next guide will take you through every single aspect you need to consider. While the “content marketing manager” role name alone sounds a bit too general, the actual responsibilities differ from one company to another.
There are very few cases where two content marketing managers from two different companies will have the same exact purpose. Some focus strictly on strategies while others take over the actual writing and promotion work.
This being said, you need to first consider what the exact needs of your marketing strategy are. To do this, I’ve talked to 10 content marketing managers to get an idea of what they actually do at work and how they handle their very own content-related challenges.
What does being a content marketing manager actually mean?
Is a content marketing manager a jack of all trades?
Truth is the digital marketing field heavily relies on content. From your written blog posts to every single tiny snippet you post on social media, links you get back from other websites, and even ad copy.
Content marketing is a complex branch on its own.
“Usually measured by # of visits, leads, trialists, and sometimes even sales, there are different facets to being a content marketing manager:
If the business is more revenue and growth-oriented, they may want to spend more time with the sales team and enabling them to close bigger deals.
If the business gets a lot of traction through organic channels, they’ll need to learn about SEO and conversion rate optimization.
If the business thrives on referrals, they’ll need to dust off their partnership hat to create meaningful connections in the industry.
Above all, they’re the person responsible for developing a unique, consistent, and authentic brand identity across multiple channels for the company they work for.
Creating relationships across different teams including support, customer success, sales, and development can enable them to create the best content marketing campaigns as they all have a unique view of the product, ideal marketing persona, and real customer feedback!” – Veronika Vebere, Inbound & Content Marketing Manager @Sendible
This means your marketing strategy will often bump into unexpected challenges only a web content marketing manager can solve. The latter is literally responsible for the content that’s associated with your brand throughout its entire lifecycle.
“Content has a bit that’s attributable (analytics, etc.) and another one that isn’t. The brand bit probably carries a bigger effect for your company, but everyone tends to focus on the measurable part. So, it’s often very hard to explain why it’s worth putting in more resources or why to write on a specific topic if it doesn’t carry the potential for immediate conversions.
I suggest that new content marketing managers focus on low-hanging fruit—SEO optimizations, backlinks, partnerships. Everything that can bring a quick win and demonstrate the value of investing in content.
Also, don’t be too modest with the content marketing manager role. Have them use every opportunity to demonstrate how content generates benefit for the company, even if it’s just a mention in a respectable newsletter or if an influencer is mentioning you.” – Ilia Markov, Content Marketing Manager @ChartMogul
So how are top-performing content managers handling this?
Most agree the job implies a variety of things:
“My content marketing manager job is extremely varied, to say the least. On a day to day basis I’m brainstorming new ideas for content, working on campaigns, and reporting on our overall content performance.
Another key part of my role is catching up with the wider marketing team such as our events manager, growth marketing manager, and head of design to align our efforts. The same goes for communicating upcoming content to the rest of the business like the sales and account management teams.” – Sally Wills, Global Content Marketing Manager @Yieldify
“A lot of my work revolves around finding unique ways to connect what our targeted audiences show interest in consuming with our business goals. For example, we could write a blog article that targets a keyphrase like “Scrum meetings.” But will that article do anything to improve email subscribers or free trials? Should it even be an article? Or would a template (or roundup of templates) be best? My goal is to give audiences something of value that’s unique and represents our brand in the best possible light.” – RC Victorino. Head of Content @Slab
“One thing that could surprise many is the amount of time it takes to assemble the best kind of blog post. You could write a 1000 word article and hit publish in two hours. But, the best blog posts that get the most traffic and convert your readers to customers can take days, weeks, or even months to complete.” – Dominic Kent, Director of Content Marketing @Mio
“It’s easy to underestimate the number of steps involved in the production of quality content. It’s just as challenging for a content manager to articulate the time and steps taken to produce quality content (and how this benefits the business) to stakeholders. A successful content manager who can communicate this effectively across a business will be in good stead for success.” – Christina Pashialis, Content Marketing Manager @Soldo
Pinja Virtanen, Content Marketing Manager @Supermetrics, brings to light the diversity this career path brings with every single day posing a unique challenge or opportunity:
“On any given day, you can find me planning, writing, or editing blog posts, working with our freelance writers, co-writing outbound email sequences with our sales team, dreaming up sales decks, helping our product marketers with product launches, interviewing customers, writing newsletters, speaking at events, or working on video scripts. No two days are the same, and that’s the best part of the job.”
To further support this idea, calls attention to how a content marketing manager’s duties are part of every single funnel stage:
“Content marketing plays a role across all stages of the marketing funnels, so a content manager will often need to have an in-depth understanding across all facets of your marketing mix as well as being immersed in data and insights. I believe, just like a CMO, your content team needs to have their fingers in many pies, while staying focused on the task at hand.” – Rebecca Johnston, Executive Manager, Content Marketing and Communities @Business Australia
The various roles also mean different ways of looking at success:
“Our definition of success depends on the type of content we publish. Some blog articles are designed to bring in traffic. Others to increase the number of email subscribers and free trial conversions. Our template library has its own barometer for success.
The best advice I can offer is to avoid using blanket metrics for every piece of content. You create content for different audiences who are at separate stages of the purchase cycle. Your success metrics should represent that.” – RC Victorino
“There are two ways to monitor the success of a content marketing team. First, you look at the numbers, everything related to organic traffic, comments on the blog, backlinks, social shares, everything. These are the numbers you must understand as a content marketing leader, and these are the numbers that tell you if you are doing a great job or not.
The second one is to look at your content marketing team from a human point of view. It’s not only the HR responsibility to see if they are doing well or are happy with their work or workplace. It’s also your responsibility to understand their needs and help them get to these points in their life that will give them the satisfaction of waking up every morning with a smile on their faces, eager to start working right away.” – Robert Katai, Content and Communication Manager @Bannersnack
“Success for me would be the percent of blog traffic that contributes to our entire website, number of links and collaborations we’re able to gain through content, and customers we get from blog posts. Always stay on the lookout for collaborations where you get to hear from experts and contribute to the community. This way, you’re up to date with the market and know what’s working for the rest of the world.” – Archita Sharma, Content Marketing Manager @Automate.io
Hiba Amin, Marketing Manager @Soapbox, also shared her unique perspective of moving from a content marketing management role to a marketing manager position within the same company:
“The biggest challenge I faced when becoming a team of one was managing the chaos. Should I still focus on the content strategy? What about the email newsletter? Is community building still a priority?
The most productive thing I could possibly do was to take a step back, look at what channels drive the most paid customers, and focus on those. As a team of one, you can’t stretch yourself too thin. If you do, you’ll burn yourself out within a week (trust me, I’ve learned that lesson the hard way).
With only so much in your control, you want to drive meaningful business results with minimal efforts. I spent the necessary upfront time analyzing what channels made the most sense and built a strategy and set goals to help keep myself—and the entire team—aligned on what mattered most in the world of marketing. And mind you, things change. As a team of one though, you have the luxury of being able to switch gears fast without derailing the rest of your team.”
What skills does a content marketing manager have
Simply being a good writer or knowing what it takes to create a successful content campaign is never enough to ensure a person will be able to lead an entire content team.
With writers, editors, SEO experts, illustrators, and even developers taking care of content-related tasks, it takes a true people-oriented manager to successfully bring all departments together.
Having strong communication skills and listening to your team while meeting their own needs are just two of the vital skills any content marketing manager needs in order to succeed.
The person responsible for a brand’s content comes across various daily activities that challenge their decisiveness, accountability, and, when faced with a tight deadline, stress resistance.
Content marketing managers also need to be quick but well-informed thinkers. This will allow them to make changes to existing content strategies without affecting your website’s performance or brand image.
They should also always be prepared to take on adjacent tasks related to their own role. These include writing, doing SEO research, taking care of a company’s social media accounts, and monitoring content performance in addition to their editing and strategic duties. This is exactly why you’ll need an all-rounder if you’re thinking of keeping your content team small at the beginning.
Here’s a comprehensive list with the skills of the most successful content marketing managers you can use to analyze the market if you’re on the lookout for a new team member to fill this role:
- Expert knowledge and understanding of the content marketing field
- Writing and editing skills
- Basic know-how of web design and design thinking best practices
- Critical and research-oriented thinking
- Solid understanding of additional fields such as analytics, SEO, and social media
- Solid time-management skills
- Editorial mindset
- Self-motivation and an ability to make decisions alone
- Problem-solving abilities
- Ability to fully understand and engage audiences
- Adaptability and strong work ethic
- Project and time management skills and optional multitasking capabilities
- Strong interpersonal and communication skills, especially in a written form
- Ability to motivate and manage others
- Attention to detail
- A lot of creativity!
What does a content marketing manager do on a day-to-day basis?
Every single task a content marketing manager is in charge of depends entirely on the company they work for. Specifically, working within a smaller team implies they’ll have to juggle multiple content marketing manager responsibilities. A similar role at a larger company means they’ll have more time to focus on similar tasks while not necessarily cutting down on the workload.
To see exactly what other companies expect from their content marketing managers, I had an in-depth look at 200+ Glassdoor job postings from all over the world to bring you the most responsibilities they have:
- Publish content on the company’s blog, social media channels, as well as other websites that are open to guest posts
- Own the brand’s narrative
- Create and maintain an editorial calendar and regular content campaigns
- Update content on a regular basis to ensure data and links are up-to-date
- Be responsible for competitor research
- Manage the messaging on the company’s website as well as other copy that might be necessary and ensure its consistency
- Distribute content-related tasks within the main content team and across various departments
- Manage the content distribution process
- Set up and manage asset planning, prioritizing their distribution throughout multiple projects
- Get in touch with customers for case studies and use their insights for future posts
- Establish effective communication with clients and all partners
- Ensure all team members get access to the information they need in a timely manner
- Bring multiple departments together to work on content
- Conduct appropriate training for new writers, editors, and other collaborators
- Evaluare content performance
- Reach out to potential guest posters, partners, freelancers, or other websites for collaboration
- Ensure content adheres to the brand’s style guidelines
- Test and measure new content strategies and opportunities
- Share findings and performance with the rest of the marketing team
- Manage the budget that’s distributed for content purposes
- Stay aware of the latest content trends and best practices
There are also several roles a content marketing manager gets to experiment with even though these aspects aren’t mentioned in any job description:
“One thing that often falls through the cracks of a content marketing manager job description is their ‘communicator in chief’ role within your company. They should participate in conversations that concern how a brand communicates and positions itself, what kind of language and tone they use, etc.
Then, they have to ensure there’s continuity between all aspects of the brand. The worst situation is when a brand sounds one way on its blog, a different way on its marketing website, and a completely different way in how customer success talks to customers.” – Ilia Markov
What tools do content marketing managers need
Having the right person in charge of content marketing along with a solid team to back up their efforts is often more than enough. And, yes, content marketers can be successful without using fancy tools. The right content toolstack will however speed up work and make the workflow more efficient, leaving them with considerably more time.
For starters, there’s the basic, must-have list of tools, many of which are free to use but can offer amazing insights throughout their content marketing manager career:
- Google Analytics and the Search Console
- The Google Suite [Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets]
- Google Drive or alternatives like Dropbox, Box, and Apple’s iCloud Drive
- A go-to tool for communicating with the rest of the team – Slack, Fleep, Chanty, and many others are good options but make sure you can also invite external collaborators into the platform. A project or task management tool can also help with this by allowing all of your team members to communicate under specific tasks and keep information in context. Time tracking feature can come in handy if you pay your workers or freelancers on an hourly basis.
- Zoom, Skype, and all the similar for video collaboration + opt for Loom if you prefer asynchronous communication
Besides these mandatory tools, you’ll need to consider other apps based on more specific duties:
- Evernote, Google Keep, or Pocket to save articles and reports that are worth sharing or using for future content
- Photoshop, Canva, Crello, and other similar tools content managers can use to create visual content
- Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Mangools for SEO and keyword research + the Yoast plug-in for WordPress to ensure on-page SEO is up to par
- An email marketing software like Mailchimp, MailPoet, or SendGrid
- Any other solution that can help with other tasks including the MozBar, Grammarly, BuzzSumo, Hunter.io, Buffer or Hootsuite, HubSpot, CoSchedule, etc.
How to choose a content marketing manager for your business
The first thing you really need to consider is if you have the necessary resources to afford a content marketing manager given your current business phase. Not all business models rely on content just like some companies have grown to a certain extent with minimal marketing.
Content is a long-term endeavour.
You won’t see results overnight and you might not get any sales out of your content efforts within the first months of your new strategy.
So you’re now faced with deciding exactly HOW content can help you take your business to the next level.
Here’s a quick list of goals you might want to achieve and problems you could be faced with right now that content helps you fix:
- Boost website traffic to bring your brand in front of more people
- Increase the number of new leads
- Educate audiences in an attempt to jump up your thought leadership and expertise on the market
- Raising awareness about your brand
- Engaging customers and maintaining their loyalty
- Bringing in new talent to join your team
By taking into account your main goal and secondary objectives you’ll be able to get a brief idea of where your efforts should go.
For instance, if you want to increase your website traffic and start ranking higher in Google’s search results, evergreen content is the way to go. Looking to gain leads you can retarget with email champions? You’re better off with gated content such as PDF guides or handy freebies. If you’ve already put in the hard work and have an email list that’s worth nurturing, look for a content marketer that’s a pro at email.
Your target clients might not even be open to reading content. 🤯
Certain audiences spend more time on social media and YouTube. In this case, you should look for a content marketer who’s passionate and experienced in greeting visual content above long-form articles. Content comes in different forms and every single one of them has a different purpose that can bring in incredible results when applied correctly.
A content marketing manager’s role is to decide exactly how every one of your goals can be reached through content, where articles need to be published, who should write them, and what kinds of promotion tactics you should employ.
You NEED someone who can lead the content marketing efforts sensibly, maintaining a steady flow of deliverables and results.
For this reason, you’ll also want to balance out your resources, deadlines, and goals. This will help you decide whether you want and can work with someone who already has substantial knowledge of the industry or can afford to train someone from a junior position.
“I’d say filling this content marketing manager position is difficult to a degree as it’s a fairly new role and different from a pure-play marketing manager role. Writing experience is the real key element, along with the ability to strategically tie multiple pieces of content together to form a campaign that is guaranteed to get the results that the business needs.” – Sally Wills
As an idea, most content marketing managers start from either a writing role or a general digital marketing role for a smaller company before moving on to managing content for medium and large businesses. This gives them enough time to learn and grow within a real-life context.
Simply put, here’s where the real value of working with an accomplishment content manager lies: They bring in a large pool of insights that allow them to thrive within your company from day one.
If you’ve got further questions on making content marketing management work for you too, don’t hesitate to contact us and we’ll be happy to guide you as you’re launching your first content strategy. You can also bookmark this guide and use it as a checklist when hiring your next content marketing management expert. 💪