written by
Dayana Mayfield

Developing a Content Marketing Team Structure That Works

Knowledge 13 min read

This is our second blog post written specifically for building high-performing content teams! Catch the first post in this series: Top Digital Marketing Tools and Techniques for Content Teams.

Content marketing isn't easy. Make it too salesy, and readers are turned off. Focus on entertaining your potential customer, and you might waste marketing resources. To add fuel to the already-challenging-fire, there's the issue of developing a content marketing team structure.

The wrong team structure can weigh down your content efforts and your ability to generate qualified sales and leads. The right structure can ensure that content actually produces ROI, and that no one on the team is stretched too thin or doing tasks they totally suck at.

To improve your setup, let's define content team roles, how they're combined, and troubleshoot common issues. Having served as a content manager and as a writer on multiple teams, I've gotten an inside look at many different structures and have learned firsthand what works — and what doesn't.

Table of contents:

The essential content marketing roles

As you build out your content dream team, you need to understand the work that needs to get done and who should do it. There are certain personality traits and the skills required for each role. Also, each person needs support to get their work done effectively.

Content Marketing Manager

Up first is the content marketing manager. This person manages content end-to-end.

content marketing team structure
Photographer: Campaign Creators | Source: Unsplash

In-house or outsourced?

The nature of the content marketing manager's role depends on the size and organization of the company. Here are the common ways this role is typically structured:

  • The content marketing manager is a full time dedicated role
  • The VP of marketing or CMO also fulfills the role of content marketing manager
  • The content marketing manager is an outsourced, fractional role given to a freelance copywriter or agency

What are their responsibilities?

A content manager is typically in charge of every phase of content, from inception through to promotion. Depending on the makeup of the marketing department, they may also be in charge of the full content strategy and measuring and reporting results.

Here's a full list of what they might do:

  • Develop a content strategy with senior leaders
  • Assign content to writers, graphic designers, photographers etc.
  • Write or create content, especially company-centric announcements and updates
  • Edit content or assign the editing
  • Publish and distribute content
  • Promote the content or work alongside a social media marketer
  • Track impressions and conversions: website visits, search rankings, content engagement, sales and leads, attribution etc.
  • Make changes to strategy based on direction from senior leaders and on current results

Who do they report to?

Depending on the size of the company, the person in charge of content marketing will report to the head marketer or to the CEO. The best content marketing team structure is always related to team size.

content marketer in a meeting
Photographer: Mimi Thian | Source: Unsplash

How do you choose the right person?

While video and audio content are absolutely on the rise, in terms of volume, most businesses still produce greater amounts of written content. However, that doesn't mean that anyone who's a good writer can be a content marketing manager.

A content marketing manager needs to be highly organized and accountable. They need to pay attention to detail and strategically implement the CEO and senior marketer's vision.

They also need to be ego-free. They'll be collaborating with people inside and outside of the company on a regular basis, so soft skills are essential.

What helps them succeed in their role?

Support! The content marketing manager cannot succeed without support in two key areas, whether those are handled by part time freelancers or full time staff.

  • Tech support
  • Social media / promotion

And they also definitely need plenty of resources in our next category...

Writers & Content Creators

Now onto the content creators!

In-house or outsourced?

To be blunt: you need the right people for the right types of content. (Duh.) This can be writers, videographers, photographers, interviewers, graphic designers, etc.

This shot was taken while I was writing some articles for my blog MakeItYour.LIFE, I thought the environment was just so pretty, and the space provided the opportunity to mount the camera overhead. Feel free to use this image for free and let me know so I can share your work as well!This is a self-portrait and I am happy for you to use it. Please message me, if you do, so that I can share your work.
Photographer: Chris Spiegl | Source: Unsplash

Depending on their size, businesses will have in-house and outsourced content creators. In today's digital world, many businesses work with both.

What are their responsibilities?

Content creators don't just create content. They typically do these super important things too:

  • Help implement the strategic vision of senior marketers
  • Pitch new content topics that align with strategy that senior marketers may not have thought of
  • Share resources they may have (such as professional contacts who can be interviewed)

Who do they report to?

Typically, content creators report to the content marketing manager, or the VP of marketing / CMO, if they're the ones managing content. In small businesses, they will report directly to the CEO.

How do you choose the right person?

While personality and soft skills are very impactful with content marketing managers, these factors don't matter quite as much with the content creators. Aside from the obvious (being on-time, kind, and professional), their talent is the main priority. Vet their portfolios, peruse their social media accounts, read their testimonials.

Make sure that they're great at what they do and that they have a history of sharing their interests and passions online. Content creators who are hiding under rocks are probably not very good.

What helps them succeed in their role?

Direction! Don't make your content creators guess anything. Share resources on your content marketing strategy, your brand definition and brand guide, your target customers and target market, etc. Be available to answer their questions.

Editors & Designers

Next up are the technically skilled folks who add the finishing touches and bring the content to life.

Upgraded my desk setup and decided to share my workspace with the rest of Unsplash community, hope it will inspire some of you guys :)
Photographer: Med Badr Chemmaoui | Source: Unsplash

In-house or outsourced?

Similar to content creators, editors & designers can be in-house or outsourced depending on the needs of the business. Because there may be less work (in terms of volume), outsourcing is likely.

When lots of different marketing channels and content types are at play, there can be several very different skill sets needed. This role will be filled by multiple people: video editors, audio editors, copy editors, also web designers and web masters who enter or code the content.

What are their responsibilities?

This is a broad category meant to capture the technical and "finishing touches" aspect of content, so their responsibilities will vary. They will usually receive content from the content marketing manager and get it ready for publication.

Who do they report to?

The content marketing manager. Sometimes they may work directly with the content creators, but they don't report to them.

How do you choose the right person?

Vet them for previous experience, their skill set and their professionalism. You need to be able to rely on them to execute correctly and in a timely manner. You'll want to check their portfolio, CV, etc.

What helps them succeed in their role?

Editors and designers need clarity above all else. Make sure it's very clear what needs to be done to each piece of content to get it ready for publication.

Use a task management tool and also create clearly documented processes. It's also important to give them everything they need for a task all at once, instead of in a succession of emails, attachments or Slack messages.

Social Media Marketer

Don't underestimate the importance of content promotion. Having someone dedicated to promotion will maximize your content efforts.

In-house or outsourced?

At smaller companies, the content marketing manager will often be in charge of social media and content promotion or will manage a freelancer or agency to help with this. But at larger companies, there will be a full time employee or an entire team of social media marketers. With social media, the content marketing team structure is also dependent on how much that business relies on social media for sales and leads.

What are their responsibilities?

Social media marketers wear many hats:

  • Grow followings across all relevant social media channels
  • Engage with followers and build community, respond to questions or complaints
  • Build relationships with influencers and other companies in the same industry
  • Drive traffic to new pieces of content
  • Drive traffic to evergreen content
  • Use paid advertising to boost important pieces of content
social media marketer posting on instagram
Photographer: Jakob Owens | Source: Unsplash

Who do they report to?

Whether the social media marketer reports directly to the content marketing manager, or the two work more equally as colleagues doesn't matter. What does matter is that they have a good rapport and can bounce ideas off of each other and collaborate smoothly.

The content marketing manager will require the social media marketer to promote existing pieces of content. Sometimes the social media marketer will come up with their own content ideas and requests that the content manager will then provide.

How do you choose the right person?

The best social media marketers are community builders. They know that promotion doesn't mean you should shout ME ME ME into a megaphone. They reply to comments. They engage with followers. They build relationships with other social media managers from other (non-competing) companies and help each other out by swapping mentions and shares.

What helps them succeed in their role?

Social media marketers do best when they have plenty of content to promote. They love diving into what already exists and getting fresh traffic. They also need to know the brand voice intimately, so that they can write with personality while staying on brand.

PR & Partnerships Manager

With many content marketing teams, this role often goes overlooked.

In-house or outsourced?

Not usually outsourced to a freelancer, press and partnerships are usually handled in-house or by an agency.

What are their responsibilities?

Unlike the content marketing manager, who is busy creating content for the business's own domain, the person managing press and partnerships is looking for opportunities on other sites, channels and publications. In the digital space, PR & marketing are closer than ever.

  • Getting guest blog spots on industry websites (but not competing companies)
  • Getting the CEO or senior leaders interviewed on podcasts and other media
  • Getting the CEO or senior leaders articles or columnist positions at large external publications (Forbes, Inc., etc.)
  • Syndicating company blog posts to industry publications
  • Managing any needs for ghostwriting
  • Helping the CEO and senior leaders maintain their personal brand and monetize it

Who do they report to?

Sometimes, this person will report to the content marketing manager, or will work alongside the content marketing manager (and both will report to the CMO). Oftentimes, there isn't the budget for this to be a dedicated role, and the content marketing manager will need to manage these opportunities.

How do you choose the right person?

People who manage press and content partnerships need to be excellent storytellers. They're skilled at finding mutual marketing opportunities with companies that are an excellent fit, both in terms of audience and branding. Look for people with backgrounds not only in digital marketing, but also PR and/or journalism.

What helps them succeed in their role?

Press and partnership folks get hit with a million ideas a day, from other marketers and the CEO. To succeed at building brand awareness that gets results, they need clear priorities. They need to know what audiences are the best fit to target and why, and they need clear goals to achieve.

Growth Expert

Like the press & partnerships pro, the growth expert is another highly important role whose involvement with content is also often overlooked.

In-house or outsourced?

While aspects of growth marketing can be outsourced, most companies desire to have a very skilled growth marketer in house.

What are their responsibilities?

The responsibilities outside of content marketing are plenty. They likely manage all marketing automation, paid advertising, and conversion rate optimization.

Within content marketing, they're needed for assistance setting up tracking and attribution, and analyzing results of content. They also bring paid advertising insights which can really impact content marketing decisions.

Who do they report to?

The VP of marketing or CMO.

How do you choose the right person?

Hiring a growth marketer is no easy task. They need to be skilled at PPC, SEO, conversion rate optimization and more. They need to be curious and data driven.

Because their skills are more analytical and technical in nature, they will become a resource for many marketing employees (in our case the content marketing manager especially!), so it's important that they are a team player and that they are good at teaching and sharing. They should help other in-house marketers become more data driven and tool-savvy as well.

What helps them succeed in their role?

As mentioned, they have a huge role, which isn't the topic of this post. But in terms of assisting the content marketing manager with analytics tracking, attribution and SEO opportunities, they'll need to have clear OKRs for content so they can know how to prioritize content tasks alongside other channels, such as paid ads.

Can people wear multiple hats?

Absolutely!

At many companies, the content marketing manager also needs to fulfill the role of social media marketer, as well as press & partnerships. The content marketing team structure can get really weighed down when the content manager is too busy.

When it comes to wearing multiple hats, the content marketing manager or the growth marketer often take on several responsibilities.

However, there's only so much that one person can do. There are only 40 hours in a standard work week. Equally cautionary, the roles described above require different skills, passions and personalities. If you think someone on your team is taking on a responsibility that doesn't fit who they truly are, you're likely right and it might be time to fix the issue.

How to troubleshoot your content marketing team structure

Are people on your content team stretched too thin? Learn what you can do about it.

Identifying and solving these common issues will help you create your own perfect content marketing team structure.

  • Lack of technical support: If your content marketing manager has to wait days (or weeks) to get help from a webmaster, to have something designed, or to get help with a complicated Google Analytics issue, it may be time to add another person to your team, whether part time or full time.
  • Lack of content promotion: This is a big issue with many content teams. There's a lot of content being produced, but very little happening on the promotion side. Balance out your resources. Produce less content if need be, so you can focus on retroactively optimizing content for search and driving traffic to evergreen content.
  • Lack of partnerships and press: If all of your content efforts are for your own site and social channels, you're missing out on opportunities for backlinks from external sites and brand awareness with wider audiences. Bring on a new team member to focus on press and partnerships, or devote existing resources to creating and executing on new opportunities.

Using the wrong tools

Your content marketing team structure might be a little wobbly right now. There might be messy collaboration, wasted resources, confusion and forgotten tasks. Hopefully, this post cleared the path ahead towards developing a team structure that works — that's easy to manage, streamlined and delivers results.

But even with the right structure, the wrong tools will absolutely weigh your team down. If you're struggling with entering content from Google docs to your site, or giving writers access to your site, or keeping track of where you're publishing content and how you're promoting it, you might be using the wrong suite of tools.

For the ultimate workflow that saves hours a day for content managers, and makes collaboration easy and secure for writers, try StoryChief.

When you look for a new tool, check that it can:

  • Allow unlimited number of users
  • Allow different roles with special permissions (writers, admins, etc.)
  • Instantly publish or schedule to publish
  • Integrate with your website's blog and every major distribution channel
  • Help you promote via social, press, ambassadors, etc.
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Use the power of your ambassadors

The StoryChief platform does it all. StoryChief streamlines writing and publishing while supercharging your content promotion! Who said sloths were lazy?

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