A Day in the Life of a Content Strategist
As of today, 40,427 people have the title of content strategist on LinkedIn. Another 1,389 open roles await the right candidate. And according to recent research from The Creative Group, content strategists currently hold one of the top-paying jobs in the tech and creative fields. Strategists typically earn between $81,000 and $115,000, a jump of more than 5 percent from last year. (Check out our open content strategy roles here.)
Clearly, the strategy field is thriving, and plenty of people who used to promote themselves as marketers, writers, editors, etc. now want to be become strategists. But since the title can encompass a lot of responsibilities, people often ask a basic question: What, exactly, do content strategists do?
At Contently, our strategy team helps prospects and clients build the blueprint for connecting content to their business goals. Since our strategic expertise is a crucial part of how we close deals, we asked Kristen Poli, Contently’s manager of strategy services, to break down her day of meetings, pitch decks, and data analysis.
After waking up, getting ready, and drinking a requisite iced coffee, I arrive at the office a little before nine to prep for the marketing team’s weekly standup. Content strategists can collaborate with every part of the business, but our strategy team falls under the umbrella of the marketing department.
During the standup, I hear what everyone is working on for the week, which makes it easy to identify areas we can help each other out. Editors are working on upcoming webinars and copy for sales enablement assets. Sales development reps mention brands on their radar. This week, I’m focused on two key tasks: completing a set of strategy proposals and preparing to launch a new content strategy workshop. The workshop will give companies a chance to learn how to analyze the tone of their current content and determine if they should shift their brand voice to reach their target audience.
Today gets off to a quick start. I take some time after our standup to answer high-priority emails, but I also have to review a competitive analysis deck I created for a B2B technology client. Competitive analysis is one of my favorite parts of my job because clients really grasp the importance of content strategy when they can pinpoint exactly where they have an advantage over their rivals. An added bonus: I end up learning a lot about different niche industries like 3D printing, digital health, genomic tech, and data mining.
After my presentation, I work on a formal strategy proposal with a salesperson. The client in question already uses our technology, but it needs help creating a solid content strategy that can guide the company’s marketing team long term. I’ve already had multiple phone consultations with our point of contact about the direction of the strategy and feel confident that we can provide exactly what they need.
For this proposal, we’re offering a large package of competitive research, a fully formed strategic plan, and UX/UI recommendations for the company’s site. In addition to talking about the nuances of our offerings, I spend a lot of time describing our data-driven methodology. Getting this right is important because our method helps us stand out from the big creative agencies competing against us for business.
Lunchtime. A few co-workers and I head to By Chloe, a delicious vegan place with shockingly short lines (a rare find in SoHo). We head back to the office to eat, talk about what we did on the weekend, and fulfill millennial stereotypes as we try to convince each other to watch our favorite docuseries.
To kick off the afternoon, I set aside an hour to begin the research I need to create a content assessment. We use data at every stage of the strategic development process, so we have a very particular way of collecting information before making recommendations.
While it’s difficult to measure content success or understand a competitive landscape without access to proprietary analytics, publicly available search and social data can give us clues as to what’s working and what’s not in a particular niche. That means no day goes by without time spent manipulating massive Excel spreadsheets. As a result, my deskmates always know who to ask when they need help with pivot tables and macros. I usually start with SEO by investigating what keywords a client currently ranks for organically. Then I suggest alternative keywords they should prioritize in future content.
I step out of the office for a walk with Alli Manning, the director of our talent network, and her lovable dog Grace, to talk about ways we could train freelancers on basic strategy principles. I consider it an important part of my job to educate the rest of the organization on content strategy best practices, but this is an especially ambitious goal since Contently works with thousands of freelancers.
One important topic I want to cover is the relationship between business goals, content objectives, and key performance indicators. For example, if a client wants to prioritize revenue generation, I’d advise the marketing team to focus on lead generation. They should hold themselves accountable to specific metrics like search traffic and return visitor rate. Clients know what their business goals are for creating content, but they don’t always know to carry them out in a documented plan.
Next up is the strategy team’s weekly meeting. We use this time to decide who will work on upcoming content strategies, workshops, proposals, and related projects for clients and prospects. I discuss my goals for the new workshop launch and let the team know how they can help.
We also share any helpful updates—tools we want to demo, best practices we like, and any valuable research we find that may be useful for our clients or our research process. This week, we’re talking a lot about Newswhip, a social media monitoring tool that provides great data on content performance and distribution.
Near the end of the meeting, we dedicate some time to discussing external feedback about our work with clients and prospects. Our presentations include a lot of data visualizations, and I’ve started hearing requests for the raw data behind our charts. To give clients more information upfront, we decide to add additional reference data in the appendices of our presentations.
I trade my sandals for heels and head uptown with a salesperson for a pitch meeting with a prospect. The goal is to answer introductory questions about our strategy services and provide some initial competitive analysis that intrigues the people in the room. (This approach get them thinking about the efficacy of their current strategy… if they have one in place.)
This prospect happens to be a large global enterprise struggling because of duplicated content across regions. Our salesperson explains how Contently’s technology can help streamline their content creation process and increase transparency within the organization. Though I’m confident I already identified the company’s challenges during my prep, I still ask a ton of questions about its target audience, distribution strategy, search strategy, and optimization process. This way, my team can make more prescriptive recommendations the next time we meet.
Once the pitch meeting ends, I’m on my way back to my apartment. At home, I’ll answer some emails that I missed during the day, sign off, then get ready to do it all again tomorrow.
We’re building our content strategy team and looking for data-driven strategists with experience building breakthrough content strategies inside enterprise organizations. Check out our open roles here.Image by Rawpixel / iStockphoto