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8 Content Marketing Skills You Should Learn That Will ALWAYS Be in Style

Content marketing is on target to be a $400 billion industry within the next year or two, with 70 percent of businesses actively engaged in it.

Want to learn how to do it? Now’s a great time.

But you’ll need the skills and technical expertise if you want to thrive in this burgeoning industry.

If you’re looking around online, you’ll notice that there exist many different takes on what content marketing is and what skills you need to learn to do it successfully. That’s why, when people ask me about skills, I like to point this little fact out:

Content strategy and marketing are less skills themselves and more sets of skills used together to achieve a specific goal. These topics, which sit at an interesting intersection of digital marketing, content creation, and business, leverage abilities found in all three of those areas.

In other words, if you’re out to learn content marketing, you’re going to find yourself developing a well-rounded knowledge of all three of those categories pretty quickly.

Here are eight fundamental content marketing skills to learn that will serve you well no matter what area of the business in which you participate.

What’s Here: 8 Content Marketing Skills to Learn That Will Always Serve You Well

1. Become a Digital Bloodhound

2. Rock the Foundations

3. Speak SEO Fluently

4. Master the Art of Storytelling in Content

5. Transcend to Status: Organizational Overachiever

6. Get Cozy With Customer (and User!) Experience

7. Sharpen Your Social Media Prowess

8. Master Your Metrics

learn content marketing skills

8 Content Marketing Skills to Learn That Will Always Serve You Well

If you’re dipping your toes into content marketing (or transitioning into content strategy and marketing as a career), you’re probably noticing that you’ve got a whole universe of skills to master. Here’s a rundown of eight content marketing skills to learn that will serve you far beyond simply content marketing and help you build a brand that thrives.

Without further ado, every savvy content marketer must…

1. Become a Digital Bloodhound

Knowledge is power, and all successful endeavors begin with research. Before you embark on any road trip, you must know the way if you’re going to get there.

Research is a foundational skill for pretty much anything you do in business, and for content marketing, it’s vital. That’s because you’re crafting content and campaigns that are specific, targeted, and serve a purpose.

What will you need to be able to research? A lot. Here’s a small selection:

  • Your target audience. Who’s your ideal reader? Where do they hang out online? What sorts of messages work for them and what doesn’t? There’s a lot to unpack here.
  • Your competition. What’s your competition doing right (or wrong)? What opportunities can you identify to move your brand into a competitive position?
  • Your customer’s pain points. From the customer journey to accessing the knowledge they need to use your product effectively; will you be able to identify pain points that you can address?
  • Trending topics in your industry. Do you know how to find them? Are you prepared to be the first to deliver breaking news or to seize an up-and-coming movement?
  • Undervalued keywords. What keywords are your customers using that your competition is missing?
  • Market trends and research. Where is your market headed and how can you take advantage of that?

Most of these you’ll already be doing if you’re the founder of your startup or you’re a solopreneur. We’ll look at a few of these topics below. For now, make a note: Good research skills underpin everything else you do.

keyword sweet spot

Solid research skills let you find that sweet spot. In this case, valuable, low-competition keywords. In other cases, that white space in the market where your competition fails to go.

2. Rock the Foundations

In Practical Content Strategy & Marketing, I talk a lot about knowing your foundations, the technical expertise that you rely upon to make informed decisions. You need a solid floor beneath you if you wish to build.

In content strategy and marketing, your core foundations are everything you need to create a practical, ROI-focused content strategy that’s designed to deliver results (like revenue) for your business. Even if you’re not doing “content marketing” per se, knowing your foundations sets your brand up for organic growth.

Here’s what goes into your foundations, the floorplan upon which your entire castle rests:

  • Your expertise. You’re an expert at what you do. That’s why you’re in business – now, what topics will you cover to develop an authoritative brand presence?
  • Your content differentiation factor (CDF). Similar to your unique selling proposition (USP), your CDF is the unique angle you present in your content – your perspective on the world that sets you apart from the rest. What have you got to say that’s different from everyone else?
  • Your high-ROI content. Every piece of content should serve a purpose, and it should be practical to maximize its ROI. How do you plan to accomplish that? (Hint: I use the Three Bucket analogy a lot.)
3 bucket topic strategy

In the Practical Content Strategy & Marketing Course, I teach the Three Bucket approach. Each piece of content should meet one of these three goals or else it doesn’t need to be created.

3. Speak SEO Fluently

Every so often some article surfaces somewhere that boldly declares SEO is dead, a relic of the last decade doomed to the dustbins of digital history.

Please. 🙄

SEO will be dead when search engines are dead, and at least 150,000 searches will have been conducted by the time you finish reading this sentence.

However, SEO is changing. It will continue to evolve as Google’s algorithms get more sophisticated, better able to understand the idiosyncratic ways people like to search. That means you’ll soon need to know far more than simply the keywords to use in your articles. You’ll need knowledge of:

  • Long-tail keywords. Those are your search strings that are three to five words long, ultra-specific and low competition.
  • Backlinks and link-building.  Google still places a premium on content which links to authoritative sources, and to which authoritative sources link.
  • On-page SEO. Did you know that the way you lay out your webpage has a direct impact on its SERP?
  • The new ways people search. Are you optimizing for voice search? What about location-based searching?
  • The role source code plays in SEO. Want to analyze your competitor’s meta information? That’s where you need to go.
  • Analytic tools. Optimizing for the search engines is increasingly data-driven. While you could get everything that you need from playing around in Google itself, many powerful tools exist to simplify and accelerate the process.
  • Different content types. Different types of content have different SEO requirements and impact your ranks differently. For example, the overwhelming majority of site visitors want video content. But did you know you’ll need a transcript on the page if you want Google to pick up the keywords and rank you?

4. Master the Art of Storytelling

To excel in content marketing, you need content creator skills.

Over the past few years, Google has increasingly signaled that its algorithms are giving more weight to well-crafted, authoritative content from trustworthy sources. It’s no longer enough to create “good” content – Google wants to feature only that which possesses exceptional quality in its writing, information, and sources.

However, content marketing takes writing skills and content creation a step further by leveraging one of the most powerful tools we have: our brains. Via storytelling.

Research shows our brains are basically hard-wired for storytelling. When we receive information in the form of stories, we remember it better and are better able to apply the knowledge. That’s why it’s super common in marketing. Brands craft memorable stories that elicit all sorts of fuzzy feelings while helping us remember the brand.

Imagine this: you’re preparing a series of videos and blogs about the latest line of running shoes your company sells. Which do you think your customers will resonate with more:

  • A beautiful website with an infographic that highlights all of the shoe’s amazing new features, or:
  • A video about how someone with foot problems is finally able to live an active lifestyle again thanks to the way the shoe’s amazing new features benefit them?

You’d probably be a lot more enthralled by the second option. So will your customers.

Master the art of storytelling and weave a yarn that invites your customers to participate. That’s how you build a superior customer experience, and that’s a big part of what content marketing accomplishes.  

learn content marketing skills

5. Transcend to Status: Organizational Overachiever

Are you organized? If not, now’s the time to step up that game. The best content marketers are organizational overachievers who have a plan, plot, and process for everything. And I’m not talking about to-do lists and editorial calendars … though most of them have those, too.

What sorts of things do you need to have on hand at all times for effective content marketing? Here are a few…

  • Tone and voice guidelines. Keeping your brand voice consistent across all of your content helps ensure you’ll present a uniform brand and makes it easier to outsource your content creation.
  • Passwords. From social media to email and WordPress accounts, you’ll probably have a bunch of them. (Password managers are great.)
  • Topic clusters. Your blog isn’t a free-for-all when it comes to topics. A list of topic clusters on hand makes sure submissions stay relevant.
  • Current business goals. Content strategy and marketing align content with business goals.
  • Content publishing schedule. That thing that tells you what you’re publishing this week? Yeah, that. You need to be super-consistent to build momentum.
  • Other marketers. Content marketers frequently find themselves on teams with other marketers. HubSpot notes that most teams involve fewer than 10 people, but you’ll still need to keep in contact with them.
  • Your content strategy. Content strategy and content marketing are not the same.
  • Your tools. From your CMS to your keyword research to the productivity apps that you use in your workflow and the tools that track your expenses, you’re going to have a lot of them.
number of full-time marketers employed by companies

HubSpot found that most companies have fewer than 10 full-time marketers … but that still is a lot of people to coordinate and collaborate with! Source: HubSpot

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6. Get Cozy With Customer (and User!) Experience

It’s no secret that people will pay more for a product from a company where they have an enjoyable experience. One survey even showed that as many as 86 percent of people will pay more for a product if it means they’ll have a great customer experience.

Did you know that LinkedIn identified familiarity with user experience (UX) and customer experience (CX) as one of the most in-demand skills of 2020?

That’s great news if you’re doing content marketing. In addition to creating amazing content, content strategy and marketing also impact your CX and UX. It does this through:

  • Making sure the right content gets to your readers at the right stage in their buyer’s journey.
  • Presenting information in a clear, easy-to-read way.
  • Prioritizing helpful information first rather than pushy hard sells.
  • Enhancing the “fun factor” of transactional emails or other functional communications.
  • Improving transparency by making your site, social media, or brand, easy to navigate and converse with.

Many brands choose to map their content strategy onto their customer journey specifically to enhance the customer experience. That’s a great strategy, but it requires an understanding of the customer experience to achieve.

A typical buyer journey

The buyer’s journey is a smart way to create your content strategy. Each step involves content and you can use that content to enhance the customer (and user!) experience.

7. Sharpen Your Social Media Prowess

Is your teenager better at Instagram than you? That’s a problem. You’ll need to get up to speed… rápido.

Social media continues to play a huge role in digital marketing broadly, and content marketing specifically. According to this year’s B2C Content Marketing report by the CMI, 93 percent of content marketers were using social media to distribute and promote their content.

Knowing social media is one of those skills that will impact you in all areas of business. In 2020, if brands aren’t using social media, they pretty much don’t exist and are going to have a very hard time getting found.

That’s because, according to Hootsuite, 52 percent of brand discovery happens on social media. In addition, 43 percent of internet users who are researching prior to making a purchase will check social media. 

Those numbers may sound like the majority isn’t really on board with perusing Pinterest or ogling Instagram before they buy something – until you realize that 3.8 billion people (47.5 percent of the world’s population) use social media.

most-used content distribution channels

Social media remains the most popular distribution channel by far. Source: Content Marketing Institute

8. Master Your Metrics

Content strategy and marketing has a bit of a reputation for applying metrics to everything, all day. We cherish our KPIs because they’re proof that what we do works.

Plus, they do so much for your business once you know how to use them.

At the end of the day, metrics and KPIs are a form of business intelligence. Although marketers of all stripes may prefer to apply them solely to their campaigns, they can shed insights into the overall health of your brand.

According to the CMI report above, 78 percent of B2C marketers use metrics to track their content’s performance. The most common metrics include things that you might recognize if you’re coming to content marketing from a business perspective:

  • Conversions and revenue
  • Overall website traffic
  • Website and social media engagement
  • Subscribers and followers
  • Search engine page ranks
  • Cost of customer acquisition
  • PR mentions and media coverage
  • Customer satisfaction metrics
metrics content marketers are tracking

Although marketers are mostly interested in metrics that track performance leading to sales, you can use these metrics as a form of business intelligence to better understand how your company is doing. Source: HubSpot

Ready to Learn Content Marketing? Get the Skills You Need NOW

Make it all the way down here? Phew. Hopefully, I’ve shed some light on the many skills that content marketers end up learning in their career. From content strategy and content-oriented skills to those that resemble straight-up business skills, you’re going to have a well-rounded arsenal by the time you become a seasoned content marketer.

That’s because content marketing encourages a strategic approach to content creation and management that draws much inspiration from business strategy. By blending these two, you create a powerful, ROI-focused digital presence that grows your brand and turns curious onlookers into raving fans.

Ready to take it a step further? Master content strategy and learn content marketing skills in 45 days or less with The Practical Content Strategy and Marketing Course.

Enroll in the Content Strategy and Marketing Course
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