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What does it take to be a great content marketer?

At Outbrain, we have the privilege of working with some of the leading content marketers across the Asia Pacific region, distributing their content to over 100-million users on a monthly basis. We learn from their successes and their failures, and try to better understand how we can help them do their job better.

But while there are many factors contributing to successful content marketing, a critical part of equation is the content marketer herself and how she sets the direction, oversees the execution and interprets the results of the campaign. And as the space grows at a rapid pace, I am constantly asked the one question that is on the minds of every Chief Marketing Officer– what makes a great content marketer, or content marketing team?

In my perspective, a great content marketer…

1. Is clear about the value of branded content – both for its audience, as well as the brand
A great content marketer understands the audience and their needs. More importantly, she is clear about the role that branded content plays in the lives of the audience, and is able to work with clients to ensure its discovery and delivery in the most relevant manner.

However, it is not enough to create value for the audience. The content marketer must also be able to define the business value of the content, i.e. how does it help the brand?

The key question a great content marketer can answer every single time is – “does the content drive awareness of the brand?” That is, can the content influence a change in consideration or perception, and ultimately drive an action (e.g. email sign-up, download a white paper)?

Identifying, defining and agreeing to these goals upfront is the difficult, but most important part. But if managed well, it usually eliminates the dreaded “was this campaign successful or not?” question often asked at the end of a campaign.

2. Is an artist
Content can typically be can be classified into five broad categories based upon its purpose with the audience
• Education: gives a systematic instruction or provides an enlightening experience
• Entertainment: provides amusement or enjoyment
• Information: delivers facts about something or someone
• Inspiration: acts as a stimulus to do something or feel something
• Utility: is useful or beneficial through the provision of function
A great content marketer has a sixth sense for content that ‘ticks’. She is able to cater to the need of the hour; differentiate between good and not-so-effective content.

She is a great writer, as a way with her words and develops the most magical phrases you may have come across; has a gift for turning a phrase.

She is ‘switched-on’, and able to write timely and potentially controversial articles about ongoing issues and current events.

And Best of all, she knows that humour works and often using it as a hook for the audience.

Furthermore, she is able to balance the trade-off between branded and non-branded content, ensuring that all stakeholders in the content marketing mix are satisfied and aligned.

3. Is never satisfied
A great content marketer is a student of both great marketing and great content – always learning, always wanting to get better at her craft. She is never satisfied with positive results of past campaigns, and continually looking to ways to improve visibility, engagement and value for the brands she represents.

She looks at the performance data of her own content, but only to learn from the outcomes to create more valuable content that drives real business results.

As such, having deep knowledge of SEO, PPC, web analytics, conversion rate optimisation, marketing automation, email marketing and how marketing technologies work together to helps achieve marketing goals.

Insights from data can also make the best content if created with the customer in mind. The ability to see what content is working (and why?) is dependent on seeing trends in data and explaining why they are useful.

Bringing content into the mix now enables the marketer to decide how the complete marketing funnel works between content, search and social.

Is someone with all these characteristics a unicorn?

Maybe, but depending on your team’s size, one person does not necessarily need to have all of these traits. For a small team, yes, it is essential, as this person will have to wear many hats and jump from role to role. For larger teams, however, it is okay for this person to not possess all these skills, as long as each person on the team is very strong in at least one or two areas that complement the traits of other people on the team.

Gulshan Verma

Gulshan Verma is the General Manager for Outbrain in Southeast Asia & India.