What Does a Content Strategist Do?

Catherine Lovering
Published: Aug 03, 2023
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Digital marketing is an effective tool to drive brand awareness and increase sales. But not all content is created equal. Content marketing should be a carefully planned process that results in high-quality content attached to your brand name.

Your content strategist ensures your content is well-researched, well-planned, and correctly executed. They come up with the “why” for every content piece and help you measure the success of each digital campaign against your company’s marketing objectives.

Let’s learn more about the content strategist role and what it entails.

What Is a Content Strategist?

Your content strategist is the point person for developing and executing your digital marketing campaigns. They work with your sales and marketing teams to establish goals. They then adopt current trends in online content to develop an action-oriented plan for your online presence. A content strategist works at a high level, overseeing your goals and objectives. But they're also essential to the nitty-gritty details of digital content creation.

The Essential Skills and Qualifications Required for the Role

A content strategist juggles a lot of different priorities. As a result, they need to have an array of technical and organizational skills. Here’s just a sampling:

Strategic Thinking and Planning

Your content strategy is an essential part of your marketing. As with any promotional campaign, your online content has to follow the right goals and objectives.

The content strategist must, therefore, think strategically. They must work with other members of your marketing team to determine your content’s audience and how best to reach them. Beyond this ability to develop strategy, they should be adept at planning a content rollout that includes:

  • Content formats (blog posts, articles, videos, social media, etc.)
  • Content topics
  • Volume of content
  • Schedule of content distribution

Thus, your content strategist doesn’t just create a strategy; they are also heavily involved in its execution.

Content Creation and Writing Skills

As much as a strategist is responsible for a calendar and rollout timeline, they are also on the front lines of developing content. They know good content when they see it and can write it themselves or step in to edit or provide feedback to creatives doing the work.

Project Management and Organization

A content rollout is a massive undertaking. It’s like any other business project or advertising campaign. Your content strategist is the go-to manager for your content campaign. They have to manage people and technology and ensure the product comes out within the established timelines. If things go off track, it’s your content strategist who reels them back in.

Collaboration and Communication

Your content strategist finds the best experts to work on your digital marketing campaign. Your content team can include writers, filmmakers, editors, and developers. They may work part-time or full-time, be in-house or freelance, but it’s the strategist’s job to help these talents work together so the final content product reflects the ideals of your brand.

Technical Skills and Familiarity With Content Tools

Although you may rely on digital marketing experts to support your content rollout, your strategist must also be in the loop with the technology. They should know your content management system (CMS) inside and out and help others to fully integrate with internal content platforms and those run by your partners.

The Core Responsibilities and Scope of a Content Strategist

So what does a content strategist do?

As a key part of your marketing team, your content strategist is at the forefront of developing your digital marketing objectives. They also are an essential team leader, facilitating collaboration and helping to execute winning ideas. Here are a few responsibilities you can expect your content strategist to shoulder.

Crafting an Effective Content Strategy

It’s all in the name: “content strategist.” But what is content strategy? It comes down to vision — the vision your brand has that drives your content goals and production. Your content strategist will also work on the digital landscape. So let's break down the components of what this involves.

Conduct Audience Research and Analysis

The digital content strategist first identifies your target audience. Typically that’s your customer, whether you’re a B2B or B2C organization. Working with your marketing team, the strategist can help break down:

  • The buyer persona. Who’s buying your product? Examples include a small business owner with revenues less than $1,000,000; a retired single woman with an income of more than $52,000; or a millennial couple with a combined income of over $100,000. Some businesses attract customers in several persona categories, and your content strategy may want to do the same.
  • Stage in the buyer’s journey. Your content strategy speaks to your customers based on where they are in the buyer's journey. Identify whether you want to focus on brand awareness, consideration, or closing the deal.

When you know who your content should reach, your strategist can move on to set more specific goals for your online and web content strategy.

Set Content Goals and Objectives

Your strategist can work with you to decide what your content is designed to do. Although you may think developing online content is a no-brainer, to be effective, you have to know the “why.” What do you want to achieve with your content strategy?

Among the more common content goals are to:

  • Increase ranking on search engine result pages (SERPs)
  • Increase the number of backlinks from reputable sites
  • Increase engagement on social media
  • Inform and educate your audience

Your ultimate goal might be to drive sales — that’s expected, but taking a few preliminary steps with your content strategy can help you get there. For example, if you want to reach buyers still in the consideration stage, you might want to focus on informational content. If you want to raise awareness of your brand, content that increases social engagement may do the trick.

Content Planning and Editorial Calendar Management

After setting goals comes the planning to reach them. This is where your content marketing strategist delves more deeply into the content details such as:

  • Type of content (blog post, web page, video, podcast)
  • Length of content (number of words or minutes)
  • Volume of content (one blog post a week, one podcast a month)
  • Schedule of content (blog post every Monday, podcast every Friday)

This is the bare bones of your content calendar. It answers the “w” questions of your content: what, when, and where, meaning what you’ll publish, when, and where.

Those bare bones need to be fleshed out with specifics, including the who — the individuals that will create your content. The strategist can help coordinate these details with members of your in-house content creation team, freelancers, or a content-generation partner that helps you source high-quality writers and video producers.

Your content strategist has another vital role to play with each piece of content: providing the details about what your creators, including writers and content editors, should produce. For written content, this might include:

  • Title
  • Word length
  • Style
  • Outline
  • Keywords
  • Competitor list

These elements may start with keyword research, which includes identifying the topics and words that are best to include in your content given your niche and strategy. Your strategist takes this step to ensure you get high-quality content and a consistent brand voice — no matter who wrote your blog post behind the scenes.

Keeping a leg up on competitors is also vital at all stages of your content strategy. Your strategist can analyze what other players in your market are posting online. And they can use competitor keyword research to steal some of that traffic.

They can also identify some keyword gaps. These include areas of interest to search engine users that your competitors aren’t talking about. You can, thus,  step in and fill this void with high-quality content of your own.

Content Distribution and Promotion Strategies

Content means little if no one sees it. Developing promotion strategies for your content — in addition to coming up with nifty content calendars — is also the job of your content strategist. It’s never as simple as just posting on your website, although that may be a great place to start.

Some content promotion options are:

  • Your company email list
  • Your social media accounts
  • Content communities such as Reddit
  • Content publishing platforms such as Medium

You can also get your content noticed in other ways. Your strategist might suggest partnering with influencers who reach your target audience. There’s also the tried-and-true paid promotion method, where you pay a fee to get your content in front of the right customers.

Your content strategist should have ideas of how to help your content make an impact. Plus, making each content piece shareable is important. That is often as easy as including social media widgets at the top of every page.

Performance Monitoring and Optimization

Once your content is in the wild and beginning to gain traction, it’s the role of your content strategist to see if all that planning and execution has achieved your goals.

The content strategist reviews whatever metrics your team deems as vital for content performance. Here are some important content metrics to track:

  • Content traffic
  • Source of content traffic
  • New vs. returning visitors
  • Time visitors spent on your website
  • Number of pages visited
  • Interactions with your site (comments, purchases)
  • Value per visit or cost per conversion
  • Search engine results page (SERP) ranking

These are just a few things your strategist might want to track. Depending on your content goals, they may also want to measure:

  • Number of click-throughs from your call to action
  • Amount of engagement with your social media pages
  • Volume of qualified leads

Performance monitoring is the important cherry on top of your digital strategy. It tells you whether your content is ultimately having the impact you want.

At this stage, your content strategist might also perform a content audit — an inventory and assessment of each piece of content you currently have. Some companies do this at stage one to identify usable content before ushering in a new content marketing strategy.

If you have old content that’s driving the traffic you want, you may want to keep it even during a new stage of content management. But if it’s gathering virtual dust, you may want to remove it from your site.

Collaborating With Content Creators and Stakeholders

Although your content strategist takes the lead on your digital marketing strategy, they also have to work collaboratively. That means facilitating a productive dialogue with stakeholders about the company’s brand voice and mission.

It also means working closely with content producers in a team-driven atmosphere. No content strategist works in isolation. Whether the creatives are in-house or on contract, they have to share the strategist’s vision for content that promotes and elevates your brand.

Strategists, thus, ensure that everyone — from filmmakers to writers and editors — is on the same page. Ultimately, content is the face of your brand, so it should be consistent with your company’s marketing goals and identity.

Staying Updated With Industry Trends and Best Practices

Online marketing changes rapidly as technology evolves and user interests shift. To ensure a web content strategy makes an impact, a business has to ensure that they are not working out of an old playbook.

Part of the role of a content marketing strategist is to stay in-step with current trends. These involve knowing what’s selling in your industry and how people consume online content. If your audience has moved from reading blog posts on your website to skimming social media platforms, your content should follow suit.

Knowing what types of projects — videos, podcasts, e-books, articles — people want to consume can help your strategist decide how your content can stay top-of-mind for your audience.

The Impact of a Content Strategist on Business Success

Content marketing strategists have an invaluable role to play in modern business success. Traditional offline advertising no longer works as the only medium to get your message out and achieve business goals. Consumers are often online, which means you have to enter the digital arena to get their attention.

Content marketing is an essential, effective strategy. It builds trust between you and your audience, drives brand awareness, and improves the positive response consumers have toward your company.

A content manager — working within your company or as part of a content strategy agency — helps optimize your content marketing strategy. Plus, they make sure it’s done right. They help connect the dots between the threads in your current marketing content strategy to develop a seamless experience that improves conversions.

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