What is a content marketing strategist? What is a content manager? Learn more about these essential team members' roles and responsibilities.
Content marketing is an essential part of any successful online marketing strategy. It helps businesses build trust with their audience, increase brand awareness, and generate leads. At the heart of creating effective content are the roles of a content marketing manager and a content marketing strategist.
However, there's a big difference between the two roles.
A content marketing manager takes care of the day-to-day operations of the content marketing production team while a content marketing strategist focuses on the planning, goal setting, and of course, strategy, for high-quality content.
In this article, we'll compare the functions and responsibilities of both roles. This can help you decide who you may want to hire depending on your business's marketing needs—or help you plan your own career path.
What is Content Marketing?
First things first, let’s clarify what content marketing actually means.
Content marketing is a form of online advertising that focuses on creating valuable and engaging content to attract and engage with a clearly defined and understood target audience—without using any in-your-face sales tactics, such as “sale!” or “buy now” urgency gimmicks.
The goal of content marketing is to deliver value, move website traffic, and boost the know/like/trust factor with ideal clients. The best way to do this is by producing high-quality content regularly. This can be in the form of blog posts, videos, infographics, or any other type of media.
Content Marketing Strategist
A content marketing strategist is responsible for determining the details and directives within the greater content marketing program.
They build out the various steps of the content strategy for the company according to their audience’s location on various online platforms. They assess customer needs to identify how they can improve their products or services by creating an editorial calendar full of relevant, valuable topics for their target audience.
What is a Content Strategy?
A content strategy is a plan for how you create, distribute, and measure content for your business, with overall goals such as increasing engagement or driving website traffic to your website. It includes several key components:
- Your buyer's journey
- Content themes across all platforms
- An editorial calendar
- Research to help you create content that meets the needs of your customers at all stages of their buyer’s journey.
All of these components work together in a logical sequence to achieve the set outcome. For example, your buyer's journey consists of several stages that customers go through before purchasing your product or service. Your corresponding editorial calendar should also follow this logical sequence; it will contain all significant content themes that you plan on publishing throughout the year, with the schedule for when the content should go live.
A Day in the Life of a Content Strategist
A content strategist's job responsibilities include planning out content creation strategies, coming up with ideas for content, developing plans for social media campaigns, and monitoring performance metrics. The content strategist may also help develop editorial calendars, oversee keyword research, and write copy for various types of content.
In addition, they might coordinate with graphic designers, editors, marketers, developers, and salespeople when needed. They work closely with the content production team and clients to ensure that the content being produced is relevant to the audience and that the messaging is consistent across channels. Therefore, content marketing strategists should be very organized and efficient workers who are not afraid to think outside the box.
Since content strategists are responsible for overseeing the higher-level aspects of a content marketing program, their list of daily tasks looks quite different from that of the content managers.
Here are some of the duties a content strategist is likely to address in a day.
- Using SEO tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs to research, analyze, and plan keyword strategies
- Identify opportunities for boosting keyword rankings
- Meeting with clients and/or stakeholders to discuss expectations and the performance of content marketing campaigns
In summary, content strategists are responsible for ensuring that the details of all content assets are aligned with the overarching marketing goals of the organization.
Content Marketing Manager
A content marketing manager takes care of the day-to-day operations of the content marketing team.
This includes handling and allocating budgets, hiring new team members, scheduling meetings, reporting on progress, and so much more. They oversee and work with the development team to produce high-quality content that will engage potential leads—without overwhelming them. Just like content strategists, they take into account analytics reports to determine what type of content their audience responds to the most.
Marketing managers understand how their audience thinks about a brand or business, what information they are looking for. They are able to do this by understanding the needs of their target audiences, as well as being creative enough to come up with new ways to reach those people.
A Day in the Life of a Content Manager
Content managers need to have strong communication skills as well as technical knowledge in areas such as SEO, social media management, email marketing, web design, graphic design, video editing, copywriting, etc. They must know how to use these tools effectively to reach out to potential clients and convert those visitors into paying customers.
Content managers are the tactical experts of the content marketing world. This means they are in the trenches creating and managing content production in a team environment and have strong communication skills to work effectively with others.
Here are some of the tasks a content manager is likely to address in a day on the job.
- Meeting with and discussing assignments with writers
- Designing and creating well-researched content briefs
- Sourcing images for blogs and social media posts
- Fact-checking and editing completed pieces of content
- Publishing content to a website and to social media
- Creating an occasional piece of content
All-in-all it is the content manager's job to oversee the content production process from start to finish while also facilitating workflow.
Content Strategist vs. Content Manager
Comparing content strategists vs. content managers is not a question of "who is better?” They perform different, yet interrelated, content marketing tasks. The main differences between them lie in the kind of skillsets they use and the tasks they perform.
While both roles involve managing content, a content strategist requires additional skill sets like extensive SEO knowledge, marketing expertise, and analytical thinking. On the other hand, a content manager has less specialized requirements but must thoroughly understand digital analytics tools, search engine optimization, web design, video editing software, social media, and so forth. Content strategists need to possess strong research skills, whereas content managers usually excel at project management.
Both positions require excellent organizational abilities, attention to detail, and an ability to multitask effectively. However, if you're looking for someone to manage day-to-day operations, then hiring a content manager would make more sense than bringing in a new hire from another department.
How Do You Know if It Is Time to Hire an Expert?
If you've been doing some basic online searches regarding content marketing, chances are you'll find plenty of articles talking about its benefits. But do you really understand what exactly it entails? Are you confident enough to implement it yourself without any professional guidance? Or maybe you just don't want to spend money on something you feel could be done by anyone?
In any case, there comes a point where you realize that you need expert assistance with your content marketing plans. Once you reach that stage, here are four questions you should ask yourself to determine whether now is the right time to bring in an external resource:
- What is my current level of experience?
- How much does it cost me per month to maintain my own team?
- Am I willing to invest in training?
- Will I benefit from having access to experts within my company?
You may find that working with a content agency is a better fit for your needs. Content agencies provide their clients with all kinds of high-level services such as content strategy creation, research, writing, and editing. This means you can get multiple people involved in one project instead of relying solely on one person or small group. Plus, these companies often offer ongoing support to help you implement the best content marketing for your business.
Final Thoughts on Content Marketing Roles
So how do you decide which role suits you best? Figure out what you actually want to achieve through content marketing. Then, take into account your budget and see if you can afford to pay for a full-time employee. Finally, consider the amount of work required to complete each task. For example, creating high-quality blog posts takes longer than simply posting links to relevant pages on Facebook.
So before making a final decision, weigh out the pros and cons of each option carefully.
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