The need for content continues to grow, with many companies now making it an integral part of their digital marketing strategy. In 2018, 53% of businesses invested in content marketing, a significant increase on 2016, where only 36% of businesses were investing in the same.
In order to maximize your efforts in this rising deluge, content teams require a blend of skill sets. Most companies include roles such as a content manager, a designer, and an SEO specialist, however, rising technologies like artificial intelligence and voice search are slowly changing the digital marketing landscape. As such, content teams need to be prepared with the necessary skills to navigate these changes, in order to achieve optimal success.
To help you get a better understanding, here are three skills that content teams should look for to prepare for the future.
1. Ability to develop a solid content strategy
Amid rising competition for audience attention, the need for companies to have a strong content marketing strategy is more significant than ever. Without one, there’s a lack of structure and goals, which will make it difficult to get your desired results.
Finding strategic talent for content can be challenging - in fact, 61% of content professionals have reported that not having enough staff skilled in content strategy was one of the top content management challenges in 2018. Furthermore, the same survey indicated that only 12% felt successful with their current efforts to manage content strategically. There’s a clear skills gap in teams being able to approach this element.
Aside from putting together an editorial calendar, someone on the team should have the business acumen to set goals for the content marketing strategy. These goals should align with overall company aims, and ensure that any content produced helps reach these goals - whether that’s generating more traffic or leads, or converting visitors through the website or email campaigns. It’s also essential to measure these goals, and the effectiveness of your content, by tracking key performance indicators, such as website traffic, subscriptions, downloads, and form submissions.
Content teams also need to have someone on board with solid interpersonal skills, such as flexibility, tact, and consensus building, since putting together a content strategy often involves multiple teams. Additional strengths to look for include multitasking and project management.
Teams with a dedicated content strategist will be able to meet their goals more effectively, and stay on target, aligned with the broader business plan.
2. Understanding of artificial intelligence (AI)
Artificial intelligence is becoming more prevalent in content marketing. IDC has forecast that spending on cognitive and artificial intelligence systems will grow from $19.1 billion in 2018 to $52.2 billion in 2021. This investment further emphasizes the impact AI will have on marketers as well as consumers.
As AI-based marketing solutions continue to evolve every day, content teams will need someone who's able to harness their vast capabilities. Examples of these solutions include data analytics tools to track consumer touchpoints throughout the buyer’s journey, eCommerce bots, and voice recognition technology capable of identifying individual voices.
By analyzing and interpreting customer data, AI makes it easier for marketers to segment their customer base, and create and deliver more personalized content. Some 76% of consumers now expect companies to understand their needs and expectations, which underlines the importance of incorporating AI into content marketing efforts.
But its not only marketing-focused AI solutions that will change how content teams think and work differently. For example, consumer AI tools, like bots, will handle more online shopping for customers, such as finding and booking hotels. In this sense, marketers will also need to have an understanding of how to market to AI algorithms, rather than humans.
Similar to SEO, there’s the possibility that AI content optimization will someday become a critical, specific area of expertise.
3. Knowledge of voice search and its impact on SEO
Gartner predicts that by 2020, 30% of all Internet searches will be initiated through voice, without the use of a keypad or touchscreen. The increasing popularity of voice search will impact SEO tactics, and the skills required to implement them.
Search engines and virtual assistants - such as Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Siri - will respond to voice queries by referencing the website containing the answer. This requires high-quality content - as always, content lacking quality will be penalized, while valuable content will be rewarded.
Teams will need to have someone who understands the move to voice search, and can optimize content accordingly. Content creators will need to answer questions without overusing keywords and backlinks, as these SEO tactics lose value.
In August 2018, Google released a core algorithm update which further emphasizes quality content. It stresses that content should be "trustworthy and answer questions through an expert, authoritative lens", which aligns with the trend of optimizing content for voice search. It’s essential that content teams have someone well versed in how these updates affect content and related strategies.
Digital marketing is always evolving, and so are the skills required to work effectively as a content team. Companies should keep these skills in mind when hiring or developing their content skills to generate greater results, both now, and into the future.