Content marketing is a team sport.
Yeah, you can run a basic content program with one or two people, but if you really want to scale a content marketing program, you're going to need a team.
So, one of the common questions we'll see is "what roles belong on my content team?" and "who should I hire first?".
Those are good questions, and we'll cover them a bit in this post. But our main goal here is to take an inventory of all of the different roles that play a part in content marketing. From the ~100+ agency projects I've worked on, this list includes every single role/team that I have encountered within client organizations and how they can be involved in content efforts.
You should use this list as a brainstorming tool. It's a list of who in your company may be able to contribute to your content marketing program. You can also use it to make sure you've considered all of the functions that may need to happen in a full-fledged content operation.
Caveats about content marketing roles
So before we dive in, there are a few things we should mention:
Content marketing roles extend beyond the content team
Aside from the obvious roles that are dedicated full-time to content marketing efforts, in this post we’ll also discuss other stakeholder and partner roles that will interact with content marketing teams periodically.
Many of these roles will overlap on smaller teams
It’s unrealistic for most teams to build out an entire dedicated content marketing department. Only the largest organizations will have everyone on this list.
Nevertheless, if you're hiring a single content marketer or two, you'll need to be realistic and make sure that those team members can perform multiple functions found below.
Few content marketers can do everything on this list well
If you’re trying to hire a one-person-army content marketer, keep in mind that you’ll need a very special candidate if you want them to be able to do strategy, content creation, content promotion, and more.
It's often better to hire a candidate who can do 1-2 things well and interact with team members to cover the rest of the roles, like content creation. For example, a strategist who can promote content well is a great person to pair with freelance content writers.
🎨 Content Producers
When it comes to content marketing teams, the role of a content producer is an obvious one. But the title ‘content producer’ is often thrown around with multiple overlapping responsibilities. The type of content producer you need on your team really depends on your content marketing strategy — if you’re focusing on SEO content, then a writer is a natural fit. A videographer may be a natural addition for those who want to branch out into a video program.
While it’s definitely possible to pull in freelance support for content production, this type of arrangement can only be successful if you have very strong project management, editing, and strategy coverage (we’ll cover those next).
The content writer is usually one of the most critical roles in a content marketing team. These individual contributors must combine a flair for storytelling with a deep understanding of the product, the target audience, and conversion tactics to drive user behavior.
A writer is usually the first hire on a content marketing team, simply because the allure of SEO as a marketing and acquisition channel is too big to ignore. Writers support so many aspects of the entire marketing team — from product marketing, demand generation, even brand & community — that their value is hard to beat.
While some content writers will have basic SEO knowledge and can play around with SEO SaaS tools, they should be hired on the basis of their writing chops alone. They could potentially plug in some SEO gaps in the very early stages of a content marketing program, but you will need to hire a more specialist fit as you scale.
The core skills and capabilities of a content writer should include:
- Superior research and analytical skills, the ability to get to the heart of a story, and separate fact from fiction
- Expertise in the niche, either through formal training or prior experience
- A demonstrated knack for writing, with a portfolio of published content
- Cross-format skills, e.g. ability to convert a blog post into Twitter threads, video scripts, emails, infographics
Design roles aren’t just about pretty featured images or illustrations.
A designer focused on content marketing should be equipped to build instructional graphics, charts, tables, and a variety of other visual assets that will help the post go beyond simple text formatting.
Designers can also help you craft engaging decks for sales enablement material, e-books, gated downloads, and custom images to use for paid social and email campaigns. What’s more, they ensure adherence to things like brand style guides, responsive visual assets, and image compression for quicker site loads.
The responsibilities of a content designer include:
- Using a creative brief from the editor or content manager to create new visual assets
- Working with content writers to repurpose blog posts into infographics
- Annotating screenshots and other product-led visual assets for informational content
- Collaborating with product managers for conversion-driven landing pages
- Understanding and applying best practices for design assets across paid acquisition channels
- Developing or maintaining brand guidelines, and ensuring consistency across owned channels (website, social media pages, directory listings, video platforms)
Video editors are helpful if you’re looking to leverage platforms like YouTube for your content marketing strategy or use video as a key facet of your marketing flywheel. You could, of course, invest in both written / visual content as well as video if budgets allow.
The key responsibilities of a video editor include:
- Working with editorial teams for video storyboarding and scripts
- Editing raw footage content and cutting video sequences
- Organizing and managing all audio and video assets
- Ensuring consistency with brand guidelines
- Expertise in editing software such as Premiere Pro, After Effect, Photoshop, etc.
If your content marketing efforts will include interactive tools or content, those will go beyond what normal graphic design roles are capable of, and will require developers or data visualization skill sets and team members.
While a dedicated web developer is not a common hire on a content marketing team, we’ve seen their utility in mature content programs and larger organizations.
For example, you may already have a dedicated front-end developer who focuses on building the rest of your site, but also assists the content marketing team with things like improving page load speeds, custom visual elements, and overall content governance.
Likewise, interactive content will often require custom programming or other site integration which web developers will handle.
🗺 Project Managers & Editors
Once a content program scales up, you'll need somebody to keep track of all of the moving parts. Even before then, you'll often need an editor in place to help guide content structure, proofread, and more.
Content Editor / Manager
The content editor is a tactical role that is responsible for planning and executing the editorial calendar, ensuring a regular publishing schedule, managing a team of in-house or freelance writers, editing submissions, and acting as the first quality control check for brand voice, tone, and design.
We’ve seen larger content programs have multiple editors, each of whom is focused on a separate aspect of the content marketing strategy. For example, one content manager is responsible for increasing blog traffic and ancillary metrics such as brand mentions, awareness, and backlinks.
Another may be tasked with building out conversion-focused landing pages, gated content, and sales enablement material. A third may focus on helpdesk content and technical support writing.
Regardless of how the team is structured, a content manager must have the following skills and attributes:
- Communication and people management skills to work with individual contributors
- Project management to ensure timely delivery of all content assets
- Numbers driven, comfortable with spreadsheets or other data visualization platforms
- Strong content management and governance skills
- Ability to conduct basic keyword research and idea validation
- Top-notch writing and editing skills
- Comfort with martech tools and attribution software
- Understanding of buyer journeys and the role content plays at each stage of the funnel
- Demonstrated ability to produce compelling content briefs and outlines
Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)
Subject matter experts (often referred to as SMEs) can have multiple responsibilities, but they are often the person tasked with promoting thought leadership as well as ensuring that content in a deeply technical industry is consistent, accurate, and relevant.
The SME is involved in customer success and marketing efforts like attending trade shows, running webinars, and informing actual product decisions. They can also play an important role in brand building, especially when a company is trying to position itself as the preeminent thought leader in their industry.
For example, the Digital Security Lab team at ExpressVPN is comprised of subject matter experts in the internet security and privacy industry. They’re not traditional content marketers — in fact they're researchers and privacy enthusiasts — but they play an important role in producing best-in-class content that’s of wider benefit to the community as well as shaping future product development.
🧠 Strategists & Analysts
Strategist and analyst roles typically aren't working on content creation, but are helping with strategy and measurement projects. Examples include identifying content opportunities through processes like keyword research, and helping measure content performance through analytics or other business insights approaches.
Content Marketing Strategist
This role is typically responsible for some or all editorial or content-driven SEO strategy. Oftentimes this role is also handling the managing editor and project manager roles listed above, and perhaps content promotion tasks as well.
Someone in a Content Marketing Strategist role should be capable of handling all elements of content marketing, but ideally, they should be supported by a team of writers or other roles alongside them.
Content Strategist (as opposed to Content Marketing Strategist) is often used interchangeably, however that job title can also refer to non-editorial content roles. Typically those Content Strategy roles are working with UX, product, and other teams to accomplish non-marketing goals.
Depending on the nature of your content goals, it’s worth investing in a dedicated SEO expert. Consider this: in 2021, 85% of all blog traffic stemmed from organic search. The corresponding figure for 2020 was slightly under 60%.
Search is a consistent, predictable, and time-tested referral tactic. It’s not prone to the same wild algorithmic fluctuations as social channels or the time needed to build up an owned list, like email.
We’re not recommending that a dedicated SEO analyst be present in content marketing teams consisting of just a couple of people. But if you’re running a wildly successful content program that’s churning out multiple pieces of content per week, has multiple thousand live blogs, and invest in a number of content formats, then your efforts will be significantly boosted with an SEO analyst on the team.
Some of the responsibilities of the content SEO analyst could include:
- Identifying new keywords to target across all stages of the buyer journey
- Creating content briefs or optimizing content
- Keep a careful eye on competitors and their content efforts
- Ensuring adherence to URL structure and other technical SEO best practices
- Act as the gatekeeper for all on-page SEO before a page goes live
- Make sure all attribution and UTM tags are set up and tracked correctly
- Identify opportunities to grow traffic by optimizing legacy blogs and pages
- Grow domain authority through link building, guest posts, and digital PR
Business Insights / Non-Marketing Analysts
These roles aren’t usually involved in content marketing day-to-day but they may be a common contact for assisting with performance measurement, analytics setup, data gathering, and other reporting & measurement tasks.
If your company can only pull useful analytics through a business insights tool or SQL queries - you're probably going to work alongside a business insights role to help with your initial reporting setup or ongoing data access.
📣 Promotion Specialists
You'll need somebody to promote your content. You might have one marketing manager occupying all promotion roles, or there may be other marketing teams that contribute time or resources towards ongoing content promotion or campaigns.
Email Marketing Specialist
In the average small to mid-sized content marketing team, content-focused emails will simply be a newsletter that is sent by someone on the team that manages the email software.
In larger teams, you’ll often see dedicated email marketing roles. In B2C situations like eCommerce it's typically a performance marketing team sending merchandise offers or product emails. In B2B companies it tends to be a demand gen or marketing automation role. Either way, email marketing specialist roles are often focused on lower-funnel offers, and you may need to launch a separate email program or work closely with these teams to figure out how to introduce editorial content into the email marketing funnel.
Social Media & Community Management
The most common role here is simply sharing content marketing assets through social channels. There are ways to make it more complex, like writing long-form content threads that tie back to longer-form content on your site, but at the end of the day social media roles will have a shared goal of building an audience, and hopefully getting them back to your site.
On larger teams, this will be a coordinated effort with the social media team or whoever owns social channels. On smaller teams, this might be the same marketing manager who is handling content marketing efforts like project management, so it's less about coordination and more about prioritizing content promotion efforts.
If your brand has a community management role, you may also have similar partnerships to get content shared on those internal community channels as well.
PR & Outreach Specialist
This role mostly pertains to distributing content so that it reaches your audience wherever they're spending time online.
That may overlap several organic or shared media channels, such as paid advertising, digital PR, influencer outreach, social media, email marketing, and guest posts.
Most teams won't perform outreach for every single content marketing project they work on, but will put together a larger PR effort on projects that are noteworthy in some way. Common examples include custom brand research and data analysis which is newsworthy in the industry or tieing content marketing into more classic PR efforts like brand-driven stories.
The responsibilities of a PR & outreach specialist include:
- Building brand awareness by engaging with discussions on platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Quora, & Reddit
- Growing backlink profile via digital PR and broken backlink efforts
- Building relationships with key publishers and influencers to increase brand reach
- Collaborating with the editorial team to improve distribution potential for upcoming posts and campaigns
Paid Media / PPC Specialist
If your brand does a lot of paid media, it's probably heavily weighted towards brand building or performance marketing. But, there's still room for paid promotion of content marketing efforts, either ongoing or for specific campaigns.
Smaller teams may simply load up a campaign into Facebook or Twitter ads, set a maximum campaign spend, and let it rip. Larger teams will likely establish custom campaigns and carve off a percentage of larger paid media budget, or specifically use some of content marketing team's budget for promotion with oversight from a separate paid media team.
There's many decent approaches to how team and role are structured - the important thing is to have clear goals outlined for the paid content marketing promotion. If the goal is to build an audience instead of driving immediate conversions, then content and paid teams should be clear about that goal upfront.
Your stakeholders may not be involved in content creation, but they're the folks who will hold the content team accountable to goals, act as the content evangelist, and justify your content marketing investment to C-suite execs.
Director of Content Marketing / VP Content Marketing
We’ve seen some variations on the title here, but the role of the Director of Content Marketing is to act as the leader of the content team and the bonafide content evangelist inside the firm.
This incumbent usually has a strong background in writing and editing, and may have spent several years in a Content Marketing Strategist type of role before leading a larger team. This background gives them the skills to understand all aspects of content marketing, even if they're not doing each one daily.
Beyond basic project management, a Director/VP level indicates more of a leadership role. That means they’re able to have a strong grip on the entire content lifecycle, and can plan strategically for how content goals will ultimately meet business objectives.
The Director of Content will usually report to the VP of Marketing or CMO and can be responsible for a range of metrics, including:
- Month over month growth of website blog traffic
- Increase in conversion rates of key product and sales pages
- Higher SERP rankings for valuable keywords and search terms
- Growth in newsletter subscriptions, open rates, and engagement
- Number of content assets for demand-gen, product, and sales teams
- Supporting go-to-market efforts by planning and executing content needs
- Boosting PR efforts with timely and proprietary content based on trending topics
- Growing brand awareness and domain authority with content that drives backlinks
- Reduction in customer support requests with self-serve helpdesks and troubleshooting
Depending on the size of the business, this director/head of content could also be the solitary full-time content function, supported by contractors or freelancers specializing in other tactical areas. In this case, they're typically acting as a more experienced version of the Content Marketing Strategist role.
VP Marketing / CMO
Your VP of Marketing or CMO is typically the level of stakeholder that wants to understand content marketing at a quarterly level, but may not care to have access to the editorial calendar.
Their #1 objective should be agreement on what the content marketing program is trying to achieve for the brand, high-level sign-off on budget and how it's used, and holding the content marketing team accountable for their high-level objectives.
Chief Content Officer
This role is a unicorn: it’s talked about but rarely exists, and if it does, it’s usually in a company with an alternative corporate structure.
That’s not to say it isn’t a viable role in the right company. It can make sense in a large company like Coca Cola or Lego, where content truly is a large revenue stream or major part of marketing and brand initiatives.
In smaller companies, it can exist as well, but it’s typically a variation of a VP Marketing role, or a version of VP Content that has been elevated because of the importance of content in that organization’s goals.
This doesn't diminish the role, but should guide expectations for how the role interacts with the rest of the organization. Content must be super important, either because it is the product the company sells (eg publishers and media companies) or because the company is all-in on content marketing as their primary form of marketing.
CEO / Founder
In regards to content marketing, most CEOs should be treated similarly to VP Marketing / CMO roles. They're usually a stakeholder who needs to understand how content marketing supports their stated brand objectives, but they don't necessarily need to be involved beyond that.
Many CEOs will be more focused on brand goals and sales than on traditional marketing metrics, but this varies greatly based upon company size and their personal background.
If your CEO or Founder wants to be involved in content marketing, it's usually because they enjoy the process and are personally invested in being an industry thought leader.
In that case, if you are a content marketer on a team that has both buy-in and time committed by CEO or Founder, then your focus should be on taking tedious tasks off their plate. A senior executive should primarily be focused on hard-to-replace activities like content generation or public speaking. You don't want your CEO wasting time formatting blog posts or editing day-to-day content drafts.
🤝 Internal Partners
Internal Partners are typically other non-marketing teams who will request content, help guide editorial direction, provide input on brand and audience priorities, and more.
Sales team interactions are often limited to requesting content assets to support sales efforts.
However, there's a strong opportunity to have a deeper partnership. Ideally, Sales should be assisting with content ideation beyond random sales assets, especially at the bottom of the funnel.
- What would help SDRs connect with new prospects?
- What would help enterprise account managers make their customers more successful?
- Can you share the most common sales objections from each of our target personas for each of our products? How do these vary by pipeline stage?
When you can get answers to those types of questions it should help your content marketing team produce more extensive customer resources so they can tackle objections through blog posts and other assets.
Sales may also be the team in the company with the greatest access to subject matter experts. Sometimes those SMEs will be the sales team themselves, or it could also be actual customers who are the SMEs, and the content team can get introduced to them through their account managers on the Sales team.
Much like sales, our content marketing team is ideally partnering with Customer Success to resolve common customer problems before they ever happen.
Customer Success is likely writing content in the form of help docs - can we repurpose and extend these as blog posts targeted at users who are still in the purchase process?
How else can we prepare prospects earlier in the funnel to help them be successful?
Similar to Sales team, your Customer Success team is a great place in the company to find Subject Matter Experts who understand the customers, the product, and how the product can solve customer problems.
Development / Product Team
Varies greatly by company, could be highly integrated with customer success or could simply be the team that manages the website and CMS needs of the content team.
In a software startup, the Product team will likely have control over website and customer experiences and will need content marketing support on things like product marketing and feature launches.
In other companies, Development could be more like IT or just managing the website, and the relationship will be closer to the Web Developer role described earlier.
I think Brand teams are quite important. Letting anyone in the company deviate from brand guidelines however they want isn't good for business.
Unfortunately, in my experience, brand teams often want to restrict the editorial content experience and treat it like advertising. Because of that, there's often a lot of back and forth with content teams about new visual styles, how the brand extends regular brand voice into an editorial tone & voice, and similar concerns.
So, if you find yourself working alongside a brand team that "gets" content marketing and editorial style requirements, buy them lunch. Try to understand how the content team can potentially support various brand initiatives that are happening.
If you don't have a brand team that understands content marketing right away, you'll need to spend time educating them on how you need the content marketing program to speak and look in order to provide value to your audience. You'll also need to work with them to expand brand guidelines to accommodate editorial tone, voice, topic, and style requirements.
Legal / Compliance
Legal teams and specialist compliance teams are very common in highly regulated industries – healthcare, finance, alcohol/tobacco, cannabis, etc. Compliance teams typically cover specific subject areas, like a medical review team that ensures content doesn't violate U.S. Health & Human Services compliance laws, or perhaps reviewing content against certain non-governmental industry rules.
Usually, legal & compliance teams don't care what content marketing publishes... so long as it doesn't touch certain topics that are off-limits.
As a content marketing team you have a few goals here:
- The first is to get your legal team to provide a list of things you can/can't say, and topics that require a review from them.
- The second is to simplify those rules for your content team to make sure that your content either avoids those topics, or only covers them in a way that is pre-approved by legal team.
Usually, legal & compliance teams are super busy, and content marketing is one of their lowest priorities.
If you put forth the effort upfront to get them to "pre-approve" certain guidelines so that you can skip the content review process, it can often unlock your content from weeks of sitting in a review queue.
🤝 External Partners
Your brand doesn't exist in a vacuum. There are lots of outside partners who may be willing to create and distribute content with you.
Brand Partners & Ad Sponsors
These relationships can vary wildly.
- If you’re Red Bull Racing it might mean Oracle (or likewise, if you’re Oracle you definitely want to get all the value you can from your sponsorship of Red Bull Racing).
- If you're an HR software platform, it might mean industry publications and conferences that you sponsor.
Either way, content marketing can be injected into these traditional partners and sponsorships through co-branded content creation, or shared promotion efforts.
These efforts don't necessarily have to be a line item in a sponsorship. The fact that your brands are partnered together may be enough to approach the partner and ask if they'd like to partner on specific content projects that may benefit them as well.
Influencers & Brand Advocates
This can range from the small end of social media influencers and bloggers to the high end of large celebrity endorsement deals.
Either way, if content is a valuable piece of the company, those spokespeople are a potential promotion channel for that content.
Content creation can be part of the partnership as well. This can range from the obvious stuff, like an influencer creating a few product videos for social media and allowing the company to use the videos in paid advertising, or it can be extended into bigger content creation partnerships.
In a longer timeline, these partnerships typically become 'brand ambassador' types of relationships instead of one-off projects. Look at how companies like Traeger Ambassadors and Lululemon Global Ambassadors operate to see how brands can work together with outside influencers to build content and even new product lines.
We've seen brands turn to their ambassadors as a go-to subject matter experts team, helping review content and contribute quotes to make content marketing assets more authentic or impactful.
If you’re Salesforce, every software company you integrate with is a potential partner as it relates to that integration and feature set.
If you're a SaaS company, you'll probably interact with Zapier's integrations team eventually.
Regardless of how you integrate, these partners are typically willing to help with a few project types:
- Creating content for SEO and landing pages.
- Creating customer support content.
- Cross-promoting how each company's userbase can be successful with the integration through webinars, announcements, etc.
Retail / Channel Partners
Retail and channel partners can be internal or external, but they're typically involved in selling your product to end users.
- If you’re Microsoft, Best Buy could be an example of a retail partner for your consumer and SMB products.
- Likewise, if you're REI, your retail associates would be a good example of an internal retail partner.
- For a B2B/enterprise example, Value-Added Resellers like consulting firms often resell software from companies like Microsoft, along with additional implementation and consulting services.
Either way, if these partners are selling your product, then there's a good chance your content marketing assets will be useful to them.
These partners might come seeking content from you ("we need more case studies and sell sheets"), or your content team and your reseller/retail/channel team might work together to produce content that can be distributed to these teams for use across their customer interactions ("here are some whitepapers you can use to help customers understand this new product we launched".
We warned you upfront... content marketing is a team sport, and this was going to be a pretty long list.
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