Inbound marketing vs. content marketing: is there really a difference? According to Hubspot, yes there is a distinct difference. Although subtle, Hubspot argues that content is a subset of inbound marketing and therefore the two are not synonyms as many marketers believe. However, regardless of whether you refer to is as content marketing or inbound marketing one thing is clear: it has been top of mind for marketers over the last couple of years, and having a team in place with specific skills is increasingly important.
Some of the biggest brands out there are getting very creative with their content or inbound marketing efforts, and succeeding to extremes. But for those just starting out and trying to make headway in the world of content, it can seem a daunting prospect to know where to start. What resources do you need? Is it all just about creating good content? But how do you know what good content is? Who decides what content to produce? And how exactly do you make something ‘go viral’?
Without a strong backbone and a strategy in place, producing content for the sake of saying that you’re producing it, or simply trying to rank for certain keywords is going to get you nowhere fast.
For it to be a long term strategy, you need a content team in place with a very specific set of skills which, when used in combination, will produce outstanding results. As with most things marketing, there is no magic formula, and every brand will approach it from a different perspective, but regardless of where you start, there are certain key people you need in your team, who will possess very specific skills to get your brand where it needs to be.
- Inbound Marketing Manager
This person will be in charge of overseeing marketing and content activity on a day to day basis, liaising with the content strategist and other members of the team to deliver marketing messages and content. Their primary focus is to ensure that every piece of communication about the company is in line with the company’s brand guidelines and objectives, and that all messaging is consistent, seamless and integrated with the rest of the marketing plan. This person will pay meticulous attention to detail, possess strong management skills, as well as a very good understanding of digital marketing and branding. They also need to be aware of all online and offline marketing and sales activity going on at the company, and have a very good knowledge of the products or services provided by the company.
- Content Strategist
This person will be responsible for planning out future content strategy, in line with overall marketing activity and direction of the brand. They will work closely with the Inbound Marketing Manager to ensure that content is moving in the right direction, that learnings are being applied, and that content is fresh. They will oversee all content creation, from both internal and external parties and oversee the strategy and planning. They will also keep an eye on reporting and ensure that learnings are being applied. This person needs to be very organised, and possess excellent writing and creative thinking skills. They also need to be able to multi-task and keep up to date with industry trends so as to be able to cover a variety of topics and areas.
- Multimedia Content Producer
This person is skilled at producing multimedia content such as video, images, GIFs, cinemagraphs, animations, and Vines. They will have a good understanding of content marketing, and understand how it fits in with all other marketing and branding activity. Their role is to create all the visual content, and make sure it is engaging, creating, eye catching and stands out amongst the clutter and noise. Their expertise will feed into the strategy planning. Without a doubt, this person needs to be creative and able to use different software necessary to produce a variety of multimedia content.
- Content Writer
This person will be responsible for creating written content, following the plan laid out by the Content Strategist. They will have excellent writing skills, a creative mind, and an understanding of SEO and social media marketing. Ideally, their knowledge of SEO will enable them to understand how to optimise every piece of content. They will keep up to date with industry trends and suggest new content ideas, to be discussed and approved by the Inbound Marketing Manager. This person needs to be organised, creative and to be able to churn out quality content in a timely manner. Having a passion for writing, and specifically for the topics they are writing about, is key.
- Social & Community Manager
This person is responsible for building the community of fans online, and communicating with them. They’re the ones sharing information, talking to others, and rooting out industry issues that the content producers can help with or cover in future content. They will be responsible for managing the social media channels, as well as communicating with other writers who would be interested in this content either for their own blogs or publications, to share via social media, or to guest blog. Basically, their role is to ensure content is spread across the internet and shared widely. It’s a full time job and this person needs to be extremely skilled at communicating and being approachable. If they have a background in PR, this is a bonus. They need to understand how to communicate with followers, publishers, bloggers, press etc. in order to get the results they need. People skills here are essential and this person cannot be afraid to take risks.
- Data Scientist
The number cruncher! Someone who knows how to conduct effective studies, and will keep the brand at the forefront of data and trend analysis. They need to be proficient in the use of analytics tools and understand how to interpret data. They’ll be responsible for ensuring that the right learnings are taken from the data, and that future strategy considers these findings.
From a branding point of view, the company with the primary data is seen as THE industry leader, and therefore if you’re going to take content seriously, you need to look at how you conduct primary research in your industry and share this with your audience, either via infographics, videos, webinars, white papers etc. So, the data scientist’s role will also include finding original primary data about issues and theories surrounding the industry the company operates in. This person would carry out research, sift through the data, and then present it in digestible formats. It is then the job of the Social & Community Manager to spread the word about this research, gain interest, mentions, shares etc.
How do you get started building your team?
Inbound methodology covers the three stages above. If an existing marketing team is already operating within the company, step 1 is to understand how these existing team members fit into the stages of inbound methodology.
When figuring out where to grow the team, the largest amount of resource should be placed in the ‘attract’ stage i.e. the top of the funnel content generation. This enables the brand to build brand awareness and create content that generates a lot of leads over time. Traditionally, more resource would have been placed at the bottom of the funnel, where sales can be ‘closed’, however inbound methodology tells us that attracting prospective customers through relevant and educational content will generate a much smoother journey through the purchasing funnel and will result in a more efficient use of resource.
The roles listed above are by no means set in stone, but if you’re looking to get started building your content team, it’s a good place to start. The key takeaway here is to always build out the ‘attract’ segment of the marketing team first because the long term benefits of content – both blog content and longer-form content ‘offers’- are enormous. Content is an investment, so by creating it early (and often) it will continue to pay off for years to come.