With nearly 2 billion websites and in excess of 600 million blogs, there’s a lot of content online. The sad news is that much of this online content falls in the content pollution category because it isn’t any good.
That’s where content marketing strategists can and do make a significant impact.
A content strategist helps shape a company’s content direction and impact to bring them leads, educate readers, build brand awareness, increase conversion rates, and more.
As such, a content strategist is crucial for a business’ digital marketing strategy.
In this career guide, you’ll learn all about what a content marketing strategist is. You’ll also learn what critical skills they need, what they do, and how much they are paid.
What you will learn
- What is a content marketing strategist, the essential skills it takes to be one, and what they do
- How to become a content marketing strategist
- What their daily to annual tasks are
- How much these strategists earn on average
- The key differences between a content marketing strategist and a content marketing manager
What is a content marketing strategist?
A content marketing strategist is responsible for planning, producing and executing a business’ content strategy to help achieve their content marketing goals.
These inbound marketing specialists need to analyze the client’s needs and identify a brand’s tone and voice to ensure the content produced fits the company’s image. They also select appropriate communication channels to distribute high-quality, relevant, and actionable content.
Content strategists also report on the effectiveness of the content strategy to identify opportunities and areas for improvement.
They are essential to a company’s digital marketing team because the right content strategy can help:
- Identify business goals, do brand discovery, and create a brand personality
- Effectively create and manage a content plan
- Boost SEO and search engine rankings
- Reach your target audience and attract inbound traffic
- Generate leads
- Convert leads into prospects and (repeat) customers
- Build and increase brand awareness
- Build brand authority
- Build brand loyalty and trust
- Enhance customer satisfaction after a sale and optimize customer retention
- Increase your return on investment (ROI)
Essential skills for a content marketing strategist
Here are the key skills a content marketing strategist should have:
Understand SEO and content optimization
To be a content strategist, you need to understand search engine optimization and content optimization. These optimization techniques help increase content and brand visibility, as well as reach on the search engines.
After all, it’s only when content ranks well that it can reach the target audience.
And that requires a thorough understanding of SEO.
Content marketing strategists will also use keyword research in the content planning phase to cater to user search intent.
Understanding how content ties together with hub or pillar pages and topic clusters ensures a content strategy will succeed since it also improves a user’s experience on a website.
Together with optimizing their SEO skills, these SEO professionals must stay on top of the latest developments as SEO trends and algorithms constantly change.
For example, if a content strategist doesn’t know that Google currently values E-E-A-T (expertise, experience, authority, and trustworthiness), they wouldn’t know that they need to strategize to create high-quality, valuable, authoritative, and relevant content.
By mastering SEO, content marketing strategists can ensure their content drives traffic and generates leads, ultimately contributing to business growth.
Strong writing and editing skills
Content marketing strategists do not always write or edit content, but strong writing and editing skills are essential to produce and refine high-quality content.
They need to use these skills to ensure the content tells a story, influencing and engaging the brand’s audience.
The marketing content or copy also needs to clearly and effectively communicate the brand message.
Ability to analyze and interpret data
A significant aspect of a content marketing strategist’s job is measuring the performance of the content and identifying trends.
To do so, the professional needs to have data analysis skills, which will help them make informed decisions about content strategy, optimization, and future content.
A content strategist will need to analyze data from various sources, such as:
- Web analytics
- Website traffic sources
- Keyword analysis
- Sentiment analysis
- A/B testing
This helps them identify patterns, evaluate performance, and refine content for improved outcomes. Tools like Google Analytics, Surfer’s Audit, and BuzzSumo aid in data-driven decision-making, ensuring the success of content marketing strategies.
Experience with tools
Content specialists need to be tech savvy. They need to be familiar with the organization’s content management system, various SEO tools like Surfer’s Content Editor and Keyword Research, and social media platforms.
Knowing what tools are available and being able to effectively use them help a content strategist with efficient digital content creation and distribution.
These professionals may not need to use these tools on a daily basis as they may have a team to delegate tasks to.
However, a content marketing strategist needs to know how to navigate and utilize these tools when necessary.
What does a content marketing strategist do?
Curious about what a content strategist does?
Here are the main tasks a content strategist is responsible for.
Developing an SEO-driven content marketing strategy
A content marketing strategist is responsible for developing a robust, SEO-driven content marketing strategy to help the client meet their online goals.
To accomplish this, a content strategist must understand the target audience, analyze the competitors’ strategies, and plan content that resonate and align with the business objectives and audience needs.
An effective SEO strategy is a must-have to enhance content visibility on the search engines. And a strategy is only effective when it keeps up with the latest SEO trends.
A content strategist is the content lead when it comes to content creation. They are responsible for:
- Designing, generating, and distributing content through various channels, such as websites, blogs, social media, and more
- Setting guidelines for the tone, style, and voice for all the brand’s content
- Crafting high-quality content for multiple target audiences
- Generating various content forms
- Creating a content or editorial calendar
- Coordinating with the various content creators
- Ensuring brand and style consistency across all the content produced
A content strategist uses a multitude of tools, such as copywriting, content governance, and content management systems, to help them with these tasks.
Often, they also create content guidelines and briefs for the content manager, writers, and editors.
Using SEO tools can help them streamline the content strategy, creation, and management processes.
Performance analysis and reporting
Monitoring and analyzing key performance indicators (KPIs) are crucial for optimizing content marketing efforts and achieving desired outcomes.
As such, content strategists need to regularly analyze their content marketing campaigns to see how these are faring.
By regularly evaluating content performance and identifying underperforming pages, these professionals can make necessary enhancements and apply successful practices to future content.
This helps them make data-driven decisions to determine the direction of the company’s content efforts.
Part of a content strategist job description is reporting the content performance metrics to stakeholders.
Implementing and manage new content channels
The quality of the content is just as important as the content distribution (or where it is published). A strategist explores and implements new content channels and online platforms to ensure a wider reach and better audience engagement.
Another part of a content strategist’s job is managing content launch and marketing campaign dates and project deadlines.
They typically use a content calendar or project management tools to help them stay on task.
How to become a content marketing strategist?
If you are interested in landing a job in this role, here are 8 steps to follow to help you become a content marketing strategist.
Master search engine optimization
In the content marketing world, mastering search engine optimization is a must. It helps increase the online visibility of brands, products, and services.
A content strategist needs to have an SEO background since their content strategy is often founded on SEO insights.
Luckily, there are many online resources and courses available to help you learn all about search engine optimization, the principles behind it, and best practices that web content must adhere to.
Surfer's Academy is a great starting point.
Know digital marketing channels
Having a deeper understanding of the various digital marketing channels can help a content strategist in their day-to-day work.
They need to know which channels suit the brand best to raise brand awareness and reach new and existing customers.
Consider signing up for online courses or certification in digital marketing to further your knowledge.
Develop strong writing and editing skills
Implementing content marketing strategies also require excellent editing and writing skills.
So practice your writing and editing skills, and learn how to do quality control when it comes to content.
You also need to familiarize yourself with different writing styles, following brand guidelines, meeting strict editorial standards, and aligning content with search intent.
Surfer offers an SEO Writing Masterclass to give you the edge you need.
Get hands-on experience
You need digital marketing experience if you want to move up into a content strategist role. Look for opportunities where you can be involved in content creation, strategy, and analysis.
A great starting point may be freelance projects, internships, part-time jobs, or volunteer work.
Write or edit blog posts for companies, manage a friend’s social media accounts, or help a small business or start up with their SEO.
Any practical experience you can gain in the digital marketing industry will help you demonstrate your capabilities to potential employers and get your foot in the door.
Learn to use relevant tools
Knowing how to use the tools of the trade in content marketing is a must.
Learn about as many content management systems, SEO tools and platforms and analytics tools.
Sign up for trials and experiment with the tools, and read how-to guides to learn as much as you can.
Build a portfolio
You need to showcase your writing and strategic thinking skills, especially when you apply for a content strategist job.
Creating a portfolio with content strategies, blog posts, social media content, content plans, and reports on content performance gives a potential employer an idea of your capabilities, especially if you’ve helped a business (or two) achieve measurable results.
The portfolio helps establish you as a thought leader.
It can also set you apart in job interviews and help you get better side gigs or projects.
Networking is a must to help you apply for a content strategist position.
This is where you connect with professionals and like-minded individuals and learn about job prospects.
Networking events also help you stay updated with the latest trends in the industry.
Join industry events, online communities, and a professional organization to meet others in the digital marketing field. You can also follow the social media accounts of industry leaders and reach out to them.
Personalize your job applications
When you start applying for content strategy roles, you need to tailor your résumé and cover letter. These need to be specific for each job and company that you apply to.
Highlight your relevant skills, qualifications, and experiences by using keywords and phrases from the job description.
Content marketing strategist tasks checklist
There are various tasks that a content strategist must perform to ensure the overall success of the strategy and its execution.
While the exact work of content marketing strategists depends on the industry and company, here’s a general breakdown or checklist of what this professional does.
- Check on the performance of recently published content.
- Write a blog post.
- Edit of proofread blog posts before publishing.
- Meet with the social media team to discuss upcoming content.
- Meet with other departments to check status updates, determine existing and prospective client needs, and discuss challenges.
- Research new ideas or SEO trends.
- Review and adjust the content calendar as needed.
- Review tasks.
- Coordinate with content creators to ensure they are on track.
- Content creation, such as writing blog posts or crafting social media updates.
- Research industry trends and competitor activities.
- Review content deliverables.
- Finalize content schedules for the week.
- Plan and finalize the content roadmap for the upcoming plan.
- Develop an editorial calendar for the upcoming month.
- Review the performance of the previous month's content.
- Analyze metrics like traffic, engagement, and conversions.
- Coordinate with the design teams for illustrations for the articles and social media posts.
- Review the performance of the content strategy against the set KPIs.
- Analyze what's working and what's not.
- Make necessary adjustments to the strategy.
- Plan for the upcoming quarter, setting content themes and priorities.
- Do keyword research.
- Plan topic clusters with pillar pages and individual topic pages.
- Plan content updates.
- Do high-level goal planning with a SWOT (the business’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) and competitive marketing analysis.
- Set key performance indicators.
- Determine the objectives and key results (OKRs).
- Put together an annual content budget.
- Set the overall content strategy.
- Define content marketing goals.
- Identify target audiences.
- Plan major content initiatives or campaigns.
How much can you earn as a content marketing strategist?
The average annual salary for a content marketing strategist is $79,601, based on data from Salary.com, Glassdoor, ZipRecruiter, and Payscale. A U.S.-based content strategist can expect to earn an average of $41.45 per hour.
What a content strategist ends up earning depends on various factors, such as:
- Their education and certification
- What additional skills they bring to the table
- The years of experience in this or a related profession
- The industry they are working in
- The company that hires them
- Where they work
Content marketing strategist vs content marketing manager
The main difference between a content marketing strategist and a content marketing manager is that a content strategist develops content strategy, while a content manager is responsible for the overall execution of the content program and campaigns.
A content strategist will ensure that the content strategies align with the company’s business goals and resonate with their target audience, and the content manager will ensure that the content is high-quality and effectively distributed.
Content strategists focus on the “hows and whys,” and content managers focus on the “whats and wheres” of content. Content managers will often have additional responsibilities that include managing editorial calendars or even email marketing campaigns.
A content marketing strategist will:
- Focus more on the strategic planning of content since it’s a strategic asset of the entire company
- Work closely with the content marketing manager in the digital marketing team and with other departments
- Be responsible for the overall content vision and direction
- Establish which metrics will be used to evaluate success
- Need strong strategic, analytical, and research skills to ensure the right content reaches the right audience via the right channels
A content marketing manager will:
- Oversee the execution of the content strategy
- Manage a team of content creators, like writers, editors, and designers
- Be responsible for the day-to-day content operations
- Need strong organizational skills to meet deadlines and ensure the implementation of a content calendar
- A content marketing strategist is responsible for the overall content strategy of a company, including content planning, production, optimization, distribution, and analysis.
- If a content strategist role is the next stop on your future career path, you must understand SEO, have excellent writing and editing skills, be able to analyze and interpret data, and know how to use various project management, content management systems, and SEO tools.
- A content strategist's job depends on the company and industry they work in, but in general, they develop a brand's content strategy, create content, analyze the contents' performance, and manage content distribution channels.
- Yearly and quarterly tasks are much more focused on strategy, planning, and coordination, while monthly, weekly, and daily tasks are about actively managing content creation and executing the content strategy plan.
- Become a content strategist by mastering SEO and the various marketing channels, getting experience in the field, working on your writing and editing skills, learning to use the relevant tools, building a portfolio, networking, and tailoring your job applications.
- The average annual salary for a content strategist is nearly $80,000, but the actual earnings depend on education and certification, work experience, additional skills, the industry, company, and job location.
Content strategists are in high demand, so it's no wonder that many companies are looking to hire content strategists. These professionals devise a content strategy plan that's suited to engaging consumers and meeting the client's online goals.
Share with us how you plan to become a content marketing strategist or why you'd be a great fit in this role.