More than likely, you’ve landed here because you’re thinking about taking an online content marketing course. Or you’re at least interested in the job description and skills involved with being an online content strategist/marketer.
First of all, congrats!
This is a big step towards leveling up your skills and expertise.
It’s also a giant leap closer to becoming more profitable in the industry.
Content strategy is an effective, proven way to power your content marketing. According to a LinkedIn report, companies with a documented strategy are more likely to be effective at content marketing.
If you can implement, manage, and maintain a brand content strategy, you’ll be in demand.
That said, your next question is probably along these lines:
“Will the content marketing course I’m considering cover all the topics I need to advance as a content strategist or marketer? What skills are MAJOR for me to learn?”
Answer 1: That depends.
Answer 2: Do you have a minute? Sit down and I’ll tell you.
Any good course should cover a minimum of topics you need to understand to succeed and advance in the industry. In this post, we’ll break down each category and let you know exactly what kind of knowledge any course worth your time should be offering. Then, you can:
- Evaluate the curriculum from each course you’re considering.
- Invest in the one that will give you the best bang for your buck.
Ready? After studying the industry, we’ve outlined all 10 big ideas, tools, and concepts that a solid content strategy and marketing course should teach you.
10 Knowledge Categories Every Solid Content Marketing Course Should Cover
A content marketing strategy is the baby of content marketing and content strategy.
Where the two overlap is exactly where you need to position yourself, as this chart from Moz shows:
As you can see, you need skills and knowledge that fall under all three overlapping categories.
Top publications like Forbes, CMI, and Search Engine Journal concur with this assessment of what you need to know to effectively create and maintain your content marketing strategy. All of them mention strategy and planning, goal setting, data measurement, promotion and distribution, creative content creation, and thorough research.
Now that we’ve established an industry consensus about the skills and concepts you need to master, let’s break them down.
1. Planning, Strategizing, and Goal Setting
Every successful content marketing strategy begins with planning and goal setting. It’s during this stage that you map out some key fundamentals:
- Setting goals for what you want to achieve with content marketing
- Defining what makes your brand/business/client different from every other industry competitor
- Outlining your area of expertise, where you can confidently create thought-leadership-level content
- Laying out how you will measure and track your ROI
If your chosen course doesn’t include these concepts, just move on.
2. Audience Discovery and Persona Building
The next category of knowledge any good content marketing course should teach you revolves entirely around your audience.
Who are they? How can you reach them? What information need can you fulfill for them? What questions are they asking about your industry?
A solid course will teach you how to answer all of these questions, plus provide guidance on how to build buyer personas that are accurate representations of your various audience niches.
As CMI demonstrates, the definition of content marketing is wrapped up with your audience. You cannot separate the two.
Content marketing is relevant to your audience, provides them with tangible value, and meets their expectations for reliability, value, quality, and consistency.
Great content marketing begins and ends with your audience, so this is a key knowledge category you MUST learn and understand to succeed.
3. Search Engine Optimization
SEO is how you get noticed online organically. It’s how you drive targeted traffic to your website and content. Without a working knowledge of SEO techniques, standards, and best practices, you won’t be able to use it to your advantage as a content marketer or strategist. You won’t draw more warm leads into your fold.
Thus, SEO should be a crucial piece of any content marketing training you encounter.
4. SEO Keyword and Topic Research
You can understand how to optimize content for search. You can know how to use keywords and how to put together a user-friendly website that Google can easily crawl, but none of that gives you a starting point for SEO content creation.
For that, you need to know how to do SEO keyword and topic research. Both involve:
- Knowing what tools are out there that will make your life easier (both paid and free) AND how to use them
- Understanding how keyword research informs topic research, and vice versa
- Knowing how to leverage your audience insights to find profitable keyword opportunities mapped to the sales cycle
Without SEO research know-how, you won’t be able to produce content that hits your target audience’s sweet spot – a must for any successful content marketer.
5. Content Creation and Production
This next knowledge category is a biggie.
A content marketing course worth its salt should help you answer the following questions about content creation and production:
- What does amazing content look like?
- What are the various content formats, and which will you focus on publishing?
- How do you create content that wins? What’s the process, from first draft stage to publishable piece?
- Where should you publish content?
As this graphic from HubSpot shows, there are a dizzying array of content formats you could potentially create. Your chosen content marketing training should cover at least the top formats and what they entail.
Without this knowledge, you won’t be able to create content that gets traction with your readers. And that’s a big deal.
6. Guest Blogging Basics
In content marketing, one of the major ways to build online authority in any industry is to seek out guest blogging opportunities. According to expert marketer Neil Patel, guest blogging helps you:
- Position yourself (or a brand) as an industry expert
- Build backlinks, which are authority signals to Google
- Get your name or a brand’s name more exposure
If the content marketing course you’re looking at doesn’t cover it, look elsewhere for training. This is a major industry activity that most brands swear by.
7. Budgeting for Content Marketing
Pricing and budgeting are two huge factors for any brand thinking about diving into content marketing. They want to know:
- What will content marketing cost?
- What will the ROI look like?
- What should we budget for our content marketing endeavors?
If you don’t understand how to budget your resources for yourself or outside clients, forget about getting buy-in for your efforts, let alone getting paid at the end of the day.
8. Social Media Best Practices
Online marketing requires meeting people where they hang out – search, email, social media, and more. Thus, your content marketing education also needs to cover best practices for maintaining and posting to various channels other than your website.
According to CMI’s B2C Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report for 2018, 96% of marketers used social media posts for content marketing purposes.
Each social media platform is its own world that you must know how to navigate successfully. Plus, the most popular platforms change over time. (Remember Myspace?) If you’re not up-to-date on this piece of the content marketing puzzle, you’ll be at a disadvantage.
9. Content Promotion Techniques
Content promotion is equally if not more important than content creation.
However, according to Moz, this is the part of content marketing where most businesses fail.
You cannot, I repeat, cannot just publish content and do nothing.
The most effective content marketers instead understand the best ways to get more eyes on their content. They promote, promote, promote, and promote some more. It’s a never-ending process, but it’s vital.
They understand that content shock is real and most audiences are distracted.
Infographic via Domo
Will the content marketing course you’re considering cover promotion and distribution techniques? If not, move on.
10. Content Auditing, Maintenance, and Measurement
How is your content performing? Why should you/your client keep budgeting for content marketing? Is it viable?
If you understand how to do content audits and measure your content performance, you’ll be able to answer all of these questions confidently. This knowledge category is mega-important for mapping your content marketing to ROI – and most clients need this information to keep funding their content.
A good content strategy course should, therefore, teach you:
- How to measure content performance (traffic, clicks, engagements, shares, conversions, etc.)
- Which tools to use for content performance measurement
- How to leverage and update old content to improve performance
- How to plan for future content endeavors
These are the final elements you need to have a working knowledge, as well as be competitive as a content strategist or content marketer.
Learn Comprehensive, Up-to-Date Industry Knowledge and Skills with The Content Strategy & Marketing Course
So, you’re looking for comprehensive, complete, actionable content marketing training…
Good news. You’ve just found it.
The Content Marketing & Strategy Course covers every single knowledge category we’ve listed above and more. Take a look:
This is a well-rounded course that will position you as an expert marketer or strategist once you finish the final lesson.
To see for yourself, check out the curriculum, then make a true investment in your content marketing and strategy education and enroll!