5 Aspects of the role of a content marketing strategist

Why Your Business Needs a Content Marketing Strategist

B2B Content Marketing is unique, given that the best results come from long, sustained campaigns that are purpose-built for a specific audience and NOT when the content purpose is mistakenly assumed to be just increasing keyword traffic. The question though is around how to create, plan, and then monitor campaigns that align B2B offerings to target audience interests in a consistent, effective, and efficient manner. In short, this would make up the JD of a content marketing strategist-a much-misused term that supposedly includes anything and everything from the role of a senior content writer, a domain specialist, a social media planner through to an operations manager responsible for efficient content production.  In this post, we offer our perspective of 5 functional roles and responsibilities of a content marketing strategist within the specific context of B2B marketing.

1-Content marketing campaign prioritization

Content marketing resources are arguably limited in most marketing departments. With multiple products/service offerings, target audience, and promotion channels, the first question that the strategist needs to address is how to prioritize content efforts. Which offerings should be put ahead in the queue given a larger business plan, what should be the purpose of these campaigns (lead gen, branding etc.), how much time and resource should be allocated, and finally, what should be the metrics on which campaign performance would be assessed. All these are high-level questions that form the bedrock of any planning process and the strategist needs to have the experience, communication skills, relationship-building skills, and just boatload of common sense and business acumen to be able to do justice to this important planning step.

Consider, for example, a hypothetical data management consultancy with a portfolio of multiple offerings, including data integration services, dashboards, and metrics consulting. The company could run a branding campaign that produces content to outline use cases for advanced data integration in the world of big data; it could low level lead generation campaigns that walk through how dashboards can be created using various BI tools (Tableau, Pentaho etc.), it could create metrics templates and scorecards for various verticals to showcase its domain expertise? This is just a small set of possible campaigns that the company could run and the role of the content marketing strategist would be to identify and prioritize campaigns given an overarching business plan that aims to promote certain specific offerings for the current planning year.

2-Governance around content ideation

With creativity overloaded, it is easy for junior writers to start churning out ideas that may by themselves make up great content pieces but which do not necessarily align to the overall campaign goals. After all, getting content marketing strategy and what it means practically can be a big ordeal for untrained resources regardless of their writing, promotion or project management prowess. In such scenarios, how do you set down governance processes that do not throttle creativity but where ideas are organized and built upon in line with campaign priorities? The strategist is typically responsible for approving/postponing content ideas coming from a wide variety of resources, both internal and external.

Content ideation needs a dedicated role when producing content at scale. The role of content ideator cannot be undermined as the ideator needs to see if the content ideas are in line with the mainline campaigns or not besides generating persona-driven content ideas and researching focused keywords.

3-Streamlined content production

As the volume, velocity and variety of content increases, so does the complexity of managing the whole production process. Numerous considerations come into play including but not limited to

  1. Defining various content formats to be used
  2. Defining content themes to be activated
  3. Articulating what makes up each theme, including providing examples
  4. Defining content workflows for each content format
  5. Setting down processes for controlling workflow execution including ensuring that content activities are properly recorded in the tool, that writers adhere to approval workflows, outlining reporting requirements for gaining visibility into production bottlenecks and so on
  6. Ensuring efficient content production by giving priority to re-purposed content over new seed content where applicable. After all, the cost of creating re-purposed content can be significantly lower than that of seed content and the strategist must ensure that the content approval process has adequate measures to handle this prioritization

4-Content promotion tactics

One of the biggest challenges with B2B marketing is to identify the right channels for promotion. This is further complicated by the nature of a company’s portfolio of services and offerings. With specific reference to content, what channels should be prioritized for which campaign? What should be the balance between promotion or curated vs organic content? What should be the split between paid and organic promotions for content? What specific promotional tactics should be used, keeping in line corporate communication guidelines? All these are factors that the strategist takes into account when outlining a content promotion plan which is then implemented by operational staff.

5-Analytics and optimization

The difference between content marketing done as an ad-hoc afterthought to chase keyword rankings vis-a-vis doing it as a strategic, long-term approach to engaging and efficiently converting prospects largely boils down to how aggressively companies make use of analytics to improve the entire content marketing lifecycle. From identifying the specific reports to be activated, the KPIs/metrics/goals to be set, and the feedback incorporation mechanisms to be built in through to laying down processes to actually incorporating the insights into future cycles, the strategist plays a vital role in ensuring that content marketing works and delivers within constraints of campaign goals and resource limitations. Here is just a small set of tasks that the strategist would typically handle and supervise within the content analytics phase.

  1. Work with Content Operations staff to define reporting requirements for tracking writer productivity, workflow process compliance, and costs.
  2. Work with marketing leads to setup content-specific metrics to track business outcomes (leads, soft conversions, engagement index, other soft metrics) and then interface with data management/analytics teams to get the relevant tracking implemented.
  3. Work with data teams to identify content taxonomies and tagging and enforce that these be used by writers when creating content. For example, to track specific metrics, it might be required to tag every content piece by brand/product or department name and the approval process needs to ensure that this is checked before content sign-off

Summary of content marketing strategist role

Of all the roles within content marketing, the strategist is perhaps the single most important role that ensures that content investments produce the desired business outcomes. This is specifically true of B2B marketing which requires a significantly more sustained effort and where content plays a key role in both acquisition and retention. Simply pumping in more content-notwithstanding the fact that this content may be of very high quality-is simply not a scalable approach and if anything, maybe a sure-shot strategy to failure. Brands must instead, take a long term view of content-led marketing efforts and lay down explicit roles and responsibilities of the strategist role and then empower this role to deliver within complex inter-departmental dynamics and constraints.

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