A content manager is the in-house owner of a company's content marketing initiatives for driving traffic, leads, and sales. Content managers who get the most results are well-liked, results-driven team players who are expert storytellers, superb communicators, exceptional writers, and polished interviewers.
If you were to look under the hood of companies producing the most growth and sales results from their inbound marketing, virtually every single one of those organizations (no matter their industry) have one thing in common:
They have a full-time content manager on staff as the accountability owner of their content creation efforts for their inbound marketing.
And here's why:
"So, we shouldn't outsource our content?"
I know, I know. Outsourcing your company’s content creation to a digital marketing agency can seem like a smart solution if you want to hit the ground running with inbound marketing but lack the resources.
But entrusting the creation of your content to another company almost undoubtedly will come at a steep cost.
First, your content is the soul of your business – a soul only you can authentically capture and portray in your content. It is virtually impossible for an agency to create content that authentically and accurately captures your brand, your core values, and the depth of your subject matter expertise when they aren’t embedded in your business.
Second, when you trust your content to another company, your potential with inbound will always be stunted. More specifically, it will be stunted by the restrictions of your agency relationship and your contract with them. For example, if you see that you need to ramp up content production to get better results, you won’t be able tojust do it. You’ll likely need to enter into lengthy conversations and drastically increase your budget.
That's why, when we're working with our coaching clients to drive more sales with inbound with They Ask, You Answer, one of the first things we say is, "If you want to drive traffic, leads, and sales with inbound, you need to hire a content manager."
Because as They Ask, You Answer author Marcus Sheridan points out in his book:
"Ultimately, the question of producing your own content versus having someone else doing it for you is much like the principle of the artist. Not until the artist is holding his or her own paintbrush can they truly produce a masterpiece. The same is true for any company in the digital age."
Yes, adding headcount to your team can feel more like an expense rather than an investment at first. But Bill and Taffy Ragan of IMPACT client Ragan Roofing took the leap and hired Matt as their content manager.
“Bringing in somebody that for the moment [was] not income-producing, it [was] scary. But you pretty much have to think long-term ... ‘OK, this is a long-term investment. This isn't the short game — we're playing the long game now.’ Keeping that in mind and knowing that it's going to pay huge dividends down the road helped get me through it.”
Then, it started clicking for Bill and Taffy when they quickly started seeing the growth in Matt's reports of how their new content strategy was working:
“When he started showing us the exponential growth ... the look on his face as he was explaining the numbers to us, it was like, ‘Holy cow, this is actually working. Everything that we've been doing is actually working.’ It was really, really, really exciting. Now, the days for him to go over all the analytics are probably one of the exciting meetings of the company.
“Matt has become a huge part of our culture. Our whole team looks up to him, and new hires look at him as if he's someone famous. I am thrilled, absolutely thrilled. I’ve been saying for months that he’s the best hire our company has ever made.”
And, in addition to a 2,500% increase in leads:
Bill Ragan Roofing Company has doubled its revenue as a direct result of hiring Matt as its full-time content manager.
If you're excited to get started along the path of hiring your own content manager, I strongly urge you to check out my free, on-demand IMPACT+ course on how to hire a content manager, which covers in detail:
Why you need a content manager on your team.
A walkthrough of this very job description.
How to screen initial content manager job applicants.
Interview questions to ask a content manager candidate.
How to test the skills of a content manager candidate.
And much more ...
Now, let's give you the content manager job description you need to get this content-creating all-star under your roof as quickly as possible.
Content manager job description:
Are you our future content manager?
We’re looking for an all-star content manager to join our growing team as the owner of our content marketing initiatives across all digital platforms and formats. Your goal is singular and will be the beating heart of our business – to help us drive qualified traffic, leads, and sales digitally by establishing our company as the No. 1 authority in [insert your industry here].
Our content manager must be a passionate brand storyteller with a journalist’s mindset, as well as an obsession for content performance, reporting, and analytics.
The right candidate will also possess the heart of a teacher with a love for learning, writing, and communication in all forms. Most of all, they will see the value in every person on our team and put them at ease, empowering them to tell their stories and share their expertise with our audience.
Typical weekly duties for a content manager:
Publication of three or more new pieces of content, be it text (blog articles), video, or audio (podcasts).
Interviewing internal subject matter experts for content.
Company email marketing efforts, including newsletters and automated workflows.
Ownership of all analytics and reporting for content marketing efforts.
Search engine optimization (SEO) efforts for website and content.
Social media for community engagement and long-term content promotion.
Premium content production, including ebooks, white papers, webinars, etc.
Creating landing pages and conversion opportunities for lead generation.
General website updates and enhancements, e.g., new pages and calls-to-action placement.
Professional development and continued education in relevant areas (e.g., HubSpot certifications).
How success will be measured:
The content manager will be measured on the continual improvement of customer nurturing and retention through storytelling, as well as the increase in new prospects through the consistent development and deployment of content.
Specific measurements of this criteria include:
Measurable growth across organically sourced traffic and leads.
Sales/revenue growth, with a clear connection between content and ROI.
Support and empower the sales team with sales-enablement content they need to close deals faster.
More qualified lead conversions as a result of the content being created.
Marked increases in keyword rankings for relevant topics in search.
Positive sentiment increases from prospects and customers alike.
Growth in social media community and engagement (if applicable).
The primary criteria for success are customer and employee affinity. Success is measured around lifetime customer value, customer satisfaction, and employee advocacy.
Bachelor's degree in English, journalism, public relations, or related communications field. Equivalent experience is also accepted.
The content manager role requires a combination of marketing and publishing mindsets, leading at all times with a customer-first mentality. In essence, the content manager is the company storyteller and must be empathetic toward the pain points of the customer.
Specific skills required include:
Impeccable writing and editorial skills, with an outstanding command of the English language.
An understanding of common editorial style guides, e.g., AP Style, Chicago Manual of Style, etc.
Training as a print or broadcast journalist is a bonus. Great at telling a story using words, images, or audio, and an understanding of how to create content that draws an audience.
The ability to think like an educator, intuitively understanding what the audience needs to know and how they want to consume it.
A passion for new technology tools and usage of those tools within your own blogs and social media outreach.
Clear articulation of the business goal behind the creation of a piece (or series) of content.
Project management skills to manage editorial schedules and deadlines within corporate and ongoing campaigns.
Familiarity with principles of marketing.
Incredible people skills.
Needs to be continually learning the latest platforms, technology tools, and marketing solutions through partnerships.
Able to screen out sales pitches and look for the relevant brand and customer story.
One note about this job description
At first glance, the content manager job description we've provided follows a familiar pattern. There's a summary at the top that sets the table about the role itself, which is then followed by required skills, metrics for success, and so forth.
However, given that the content manager role is still one being embraced as a standard or norm by digital marketing teams, we've added quite a bit of context for the role itself to make it easy for you to hire the right content manager for your company.
"The heart of a teacher ..."
For example, in addition to the expected quantifiable skill sets and educational requirements, one of my favorite parts of the job description is a passage in the initial role summary:
"The right candidate will also have the heart of a teacher, with a love of learning, writing, and communicating in all forms. They will see the value of every person on our team and put them at ease, empowering them to tell their stories to our audience."
You'd be surprised how many potential content manager candidates will seem to have the right qualifications on paper — they come from a communications or journalism background, they have an impeccable command of the English language, they thrive in fast-paced, deadline-driven work environments, etc.
Still, they will fail in the role because they do not embody its core spirit. Someone either has the heart of a teacher or they don't. And if they don't, it doesn't matter how qualified they might otherwise seem; they will never be a successful content manager.
In fact, they'll probably end up hating the job.
Typical weekly duties of a content manager
There's a good chance that if you're reading this article, you haven't hired a content manager before.
Moreover, it's pretty likely the candidates you're going to be evaluating to fill the position will be fresh out of college or transitioning from a different industry, if not completely changing their career path, because they want a new challenge.
So, to help shorten the learning curve for both you and your job candidates, we included a section in the content manager job description that outlines what a typical week looks like for a content manager based on our experience, as well as battle-tested best practices for success.
Of course, this section can (and should!) be tailored to the unique needs of your company, but we wanted to give you recruiters and business leaders a base understanding of how the role should function.
Lucky for you, I'm a former content manager who has also had to hire a few content managers throughout my career.
In my experience, I've seen a lot of ... well, let's say interesting content manager applications. So, here are my top tips for finding the best candidates to advance — and how to spot those applicants who aren't worth your time:
Ignore anyone who is applying as a digital marketing generalist who doesn't articulate a clear passion for the content manager role, specifically. I'm not saying generalists can't excel in this role. But, more often than not, they won't want to stay in the role long-term, because they're not a passionate content creator first. They're usually pretty easy to spot as their application could work for almost any general marketing manager position. The right candidate will express a clear desire for this job specifically, not a marketing role generally.
If someone submits an application, resume, and cover letter with errors, typos, and/or a liberal interpretation of editorial style, they are not the right fit. I don't want to speak in absolutes by saying there is no circumstance under which I will allow someone to move forward in the content manager hiring process if they submit an application with typos or other issues — but it would be exceedingly rare for me to do so.
Absolutely no experience with interviewing someone for a piece of content is a big red flag. I don't care if their only interviewing experience was in an academic setting in journalism school or part of a few small ad hoc projects at one of their last jobs. One of the most important parts of this role is making people feel comfortable, building rapport, and then extracting content marketing goodness out of subject matter experts in a short period of time.
They've never heard of AP Style, the Chicago Manual of Style, or other standard content style guides is another red flag. This likely won't be an issue if you're pulling candidates from journalism or communications backgrounds. But the person you hire needs to have at least some understanding of what a content style guide is because they will be the one who needs to create one for your brand and then enforce it.
Look for someone who clearly communicates that they get the scope and demand of the job. Similar to my first tip about digital marketing generalist applicants, I'm wary of those who seem to only have a cursory understanding of what a content manager does based on the amount of information we provide. If someone is looking to just be a copywriter, I don't care how great their portfolio is — they're a super-talented individual contributor, but they're not a content manager.
Before you take your content manager job description live for applications, I want to say something we've said before, across multiple articles. But it's so important, I feel the need to say it again:
Do not disqualify candidates who do not have industry experience. Just ask any of our clients who have seen remarkable results after hiring a content manager — industry experience may seem like something that's a must, but it's really not.
For example, remember Matt from the Bill Ragan Roofing content manager success story we talked about earlier? He did not come from the roofing industry... and he still got big results.
I also didn't have any marketing industry experience when I first started out as a content manager. My educational background is in political science and my professional background (before I was hired) was in B2C e-commerce, publishing, communications, and journalism.
Then there's IMPACT's one and only John Becker. John came from a higher-education background and is a textbook example of why hiring an industry outsider as a content manager is often the right move. Today, he's one of the most beloved members of our content team, known for creating sales enablement content that closes deals faster and being a masterful interviewer.
Hiring someone for a job you've never had on your team and then saying "Industry experience doesn't matter" sounds like an absurd leap of faith that runs counterintuitive to how all other hiring is often handled for internal digital sales and marketing teams.
But what makes this role so magical is that, if you hire someone with the right skills and the heart of a teacher, they'll become an industry expert in the blink of an eye, just by doing their job. It's much, much harder to train someone who has industry experience on the fundamentals of being a content manager — those are the types of skills folks spend years cultivating in school and on the job.