It’s 2018 and content marketing is already picking pace and moving ahead. According to MarketingMag, content marketing is all set to become a $300 billion industry by 2019. As this field gains more prominence across organizations’ marketing strategies, building a highly skilled team is going to be a mandate for all content marketers. What skills make a good content marketer and how do you know that an applicant is right for your team and organisation?
Here are five things to remember before you start hiring for content marketing roles for your company:
1. You’re not looking for a writer anymore: A few years ago, content marketing meant producing regular blogs and using them to connect with your audience – not anymore. Today’s content strategy spans across a wide spectrum of content themes and formats from blogs to videos and podcasts, infographics, eBooks and more. You might be producing tailored content to achieve specific marketing outcomes on different devices and channels like email, social, YouTube, display ads and more. What this means is that your content team needs more than blog writers – you’ll need to build a team of professionals who are skilled in various departments of content production like video scripts, emails, website, blogs, eBooks, social media, display ads, brochures and more. Look at specialists in these different areas or build a team of multi-skilled professionals who have demonstrated their expertise in a combination of these areas.
Tip: One way to do this is go back to your content strategy for 2018 and list down the various formats and channels that you’d like to focus on during 2018 and then map out your job roles to fill specific skill gaps in your team.
Here’s a list of must-have content marketing skills on your team.
2. Research skills and grammar a top priority: According to Statista, 28.3 million internet users in the U.S. updated a blog at least once per month in 2015 and this number is set to reach 31.7 million by 2020. If you look at YouTube, 300 hours of video are uploaded to this channel every minute. To cut through the clutter and capture your audiences’ attention, it is very important to produce high-quality and reliable content. This means that impeccable grammar and the ability to perform in-depth research are must-have skills on your team.
Tip: Lay greater impetus on the candidate’s research ability. Ask questions to understand their approach while producing content in the past. Do they have a customer-centric approach while writing? How did they research their target audience? How did they go about collecting information and finally which sources would they lean on to produce engaging content? While answering these questions, your ideal candidate will talk about interviewing in-house SMEs and salespeople, along with research on the internet and competitor study. Include sufficient writing assessments to evaluate their story-telling and grammar skills. If you’re hiring blog writers who’ll also work on a few promotional emails then a combination of a blog article and an email assignment will tell you how the candidate will deliver.
3. Evaluate skills using real-life projects: Most times, one article or a single script writing assignment might not be sufficient for you to judge the right-fit. You’ll want to explore the writer’s ability to adopt your company’s style and tone. If your industry is very technical or niche, they might not be able to bring in the required depth in their first assignment.
Tip: To overcome these challenges, you can look at a contract or freelance engagement with content specialists. Begin with a few well-briefed outlines and see how the candidate performs in terms of delivery quality and timelines. Start with a wider pool of content producers and over a period of 2-3 months and multiple projects, you’ll be able to determine who’s a good fit for your team. This will also help you build a buffer pool of content producers who can be easily absorbed into your company anytime you decide to scale up the team. These projects provide a preview into the nature of work, the internal processes and the deliverability expectations, giving the candidates a better understanding of the nature and volume of work on your team.
4. Look beyond domain expertise: While it is important that the writers on your team are experts in your industry, this is not true for all the roles on your team. For example, your campaign managers must be experts in running targeted campaigns and optimization techniques. Nuances of your industry is something that can be coached over time. Similarly, a video editor can pick up industry jargons while working on your team, but the ability to tell stories, creativity and the passion for creating great content are things you cannot teach.
Tip: Every role on your team should have a domain knowledge score and a creativity score. These scores will act as guides while you decide on your new hires. Understand the candidate’s ability to learn quickly. Have they demonstrated these qualities in their previous roles or at some point in their personal lives? The key is to look for expert writers who have worked on multiple formats and content types, possess strong research skills and are great storytellers. While hiring for content writer roles, I always ask the candidate to describe their favorite book, sport or movie. If they’ve got my attention for more than a couple of minutes, I know have a great writer in front of me.
5. Bonus points for measurement and analytics skills: If you want to drive great ROI from your content marketing efforts, it’s important to produce content that will resonate with your audience. Everyone on your team must be focused on the audience’s needs and deliver engaging content. Content marketers today should also be able to use Google Analytics and other social media analytics tools to measure the performance of every content piece against pre-defined KPIs. While most writers prefer to stay away from the math, good writers will seek feedback and understand how their work is performing. They’ll want to understand which themes and topics have worked and what formats have managed to bring in more audiences to your website.
Tip: Find out how the candidate has been monitoring and measuring the performance of the content that they have produced. What metrics have they focused on and what tools have they been using in the past. These are indicators and will give you a peek into the potential hire’s approach and analytical skills.
Finding a well-rounded candidate can be challenging, but the good news is that there is a lot of talent out there. Define the key skills for each role on your team, lay down high quality standards for grammar and research skills and finally scout for story-tellers who’ll give life to your content marketing strategy.