Content managers have a lot to juggle from day to day. From content strategy planning to assigning content to writers, editing, content distribution, and more. Coupled with background tasks like preparing creative briefs, coordinating with other departments, and keeping the brand style guide up to date, content managers have to balance a variety of demands while ensuring that their teams stay on task and meet deadlines.
Another wrinkle in the mix for content managers is the need to organize and manage a variety of content and related digital assets, such as stock photography, infographics, videos, brand logos and collateral, and more. Successful content managers leverage tools like digital asset management solutions to keep thousands of digital assets both organized and readily accessible for their teams at a moment’s notice.
A robust DAM solution like MerlinOne goes beyond simple digital asset management, offering innovative features that help you manage stock photo rights, automate workflows and approvals, and even publish content in one click to your CMS and other channels to keep your team running like a well-oiled machine. Download our white paper, The Content Lifecycle, to learn more about how MerlinOne gives you more control over your content and digital assets throughout the entire content lifecycle.
The most successful content managers have a particular set of traits and skills that enable them to effectively juggle multiple demands and a growing number of content marketing channels. To find out what skills and traits are most important for successful content managers, we reached out to a panel of content marketers and content leaders and asked them to answer this question:
“What’s the most common (or single most important) trait of successful content manager?”
Read on to learn more about the most important traits and characteristics of successful content managers.
Charu Babbar, Entrepreneur
“I think one of the most important traits of a successful content manager is…”
The ability to refurbish existing content. Companies spend a lot of time and resources to create new content. A skilled content manager will be able to extend the lifetime of this content by using it creatively in different context thereby increasing the ROI. By refurbishment, I do not mean blind copy and paste of old content, but more creative reuse, like how we see a newer version of an old classic movie.
Chhavi Agarwal, Blogger at Mrs Daaku Studio
“The single most important trait of a content manager is to know what the audience wants…”
While I am not discounting the fact that marketing plays a huge role in the success of a strategy, having the right kind of content is vital.
Do you know that according to data by Dragon Search, 61% of customers purchase decisions are influenced by custom content? Good content managers know places where they can look what their audience wants (especially their pain points) and cater to their needs with custom content.
Filip Silobod, Founder of Honest Marketing
“A successful content manager possesses detailed research about the targeted audience…”
- Knows the audience really well (demographics, location, etc.)
- Conducts detailed keyword research
- Understands the writing style that the audience likes
- Knows what the audience wants and how to present that perfectly in the content
Tihana Drumev, Content Marketing Executive at Best Response Media
“A good content manager is empathetic…”
Yes, you have to be organized, and you have to juggle terms like meta description, search engine ranking position, and return on investment, but if you lack empathy – none of that matters.
To be empathetic means to understand your audience entirely. A good content manager knows their troubles and guides them to resolve them. Also, he or she has the same sense of humor and makes them smile. That usually gets them to share the content around.
Betsy McLeod, Digital Content Manager for Blue Corona
“The single most important quality of a content manager is…”
The ability to zoom out and see how each individual piece of content comes together to form a cohesive brand message — like how a symphony conductor directs all the individual instruments, so they come together and form an interconnected piece of music that tells a story. If a content manager lacks this quality, you’ll never get a spinning flywheel of content the ultimately drives forward your message and captures leads and sales.
Jacqueline Burns, CMO of Market Expertise
“I consider curiosity to be the soft skill content marketers simply must have…”
Curious people are open-minded. They have a strong desire to acquire knowledge and information, and a genuine appetite for learning. That’s immensely important given content marketing is all about creating and curating content which is relevant and valuable to a particularly audience. Curious people also tend to embrace change (or are, at least, less resistant to change) and so are well suited to working in dynamic industries and environments. Because curious people are motivated to understand, they’re often creative ‘out-of-the-box’ thinkers. And curious people are also most likely to learn from their mistakes. To be a successful content marketer, you must be curious.
Haley Anhut, Content Marketing Manager at Clean Origin
“For me, the single most important trait of a successful content manager is…”
The ability to take feedback from all other departments (tech, legal, etc.), and use that to create content that your audience still desires. This includes explaining complex ideas in layman’s terms, adjusting content to fit SEO needs, and testing content to see what works and what doesn’t.
Anastasia Iliou, Senior Content Manager for MedicarePlanFinder.com
“A successful content manager has to be adaptable…”
The content marketing landscape and SEO change every day. Google changes their algorithm, new competitors join the game, and new complications come to the surface. You have to be constantly looking at the latest trends and following Google for new SEO rule announcements. Sometimes Google releases news that requires you to change an entire part of your content marketing process. You have to be willing to adapt, make the change, and move on.
Donna Duncan, SEO, Content Marketing Consultant and Owner of B-SeenOnTop
“Content marketing is a long-term game, and…”
Without having that vision, content marketing managers will be unmotivated, and will not be able to explain why they haven’t had results in the short-term. Patience and careful planning is also part of the vision equation. Without being able to see that vision, patience and proper planning will not be possible.
Diane Callihan, President of Callihan Content Creation
“The most important trait for a content manager to have is to be productive – and consistently so…”
Content marketing is a slow process…very rarely does a single piece of content go viral and bring in a ton of leads.
Instead, content needs to be produced and published consistently and frequently to yield results. Lots of high quality content, published several times a week, will ultimately improve organic search results, raise brand awareness and loyalty, help position your business as an industry thought leader and bring in qualified leads.
It takes time and patience, but if your content manager is consistently producing great content, it will pay off.
Jessica Oram, Content Manager for Maxwell-Scott
“To be successful as a content manager, it is crucial that you are both inquisitive and proactive…”
You must be incredibly reactive and consistently remain up-to-date within your industry in order to discover new angles for content that is guaranteed to drive engagement. Social media and technology continues to advance; content managers must keep up in terms of time and culture to satisfy a modern-day audience’s thirst for fresh and unique content.
Logan Allec, CPA & Owner of Money Done Right
“Having gone through several content managers for my own websites, I’m convinced that…”
The single most important trait of a successful content manager is a depth of SEO knowledge. In 2019, it’s not enough to just write for your email list or for social media. Inboxes are getting more and more crowded every year, organic social reach is down, and paid social reach is getting more expensive. If you want new eyeballs on your website, you need to hire a content manager with a strong SEO background, or you may end up in a situation where no one is reading your content.
Vivek Kumar, CEO of Qlicket
“Blogs written by businesses are most effective when they answer questions in the minds of customers…”
Therefore, the most important trait of a content manager is a good sense of what potential customers want.
When a potential customer encounters your blog post answering their specific query, the beginning of a value-creation relationship has already begun. Additionally, when a company creates a blog post that solves dilemmas or answers questions for potential customers, the company’s legitimacy among its customer base is built. Use free tools such as AnswerThePublic to find your customers’ questions and answer them with simple, brief, and effective blog posts. Then, use Google Trends to select optimal keywords so that the blog post appears as a top result on search engines.
Matthew Post, Co-Founder of SEM Dynamics
“The most important trait of a successful content manager is…”
The ability to view their services and industry from the eyes of the company’s potential customer. When the person in charge of your website’s content has this vision, everything else can easily fall into place. The ability to research, how to use specific tools, reporting, and company protocol is easily teachable.
By having a clear vision from the perspective of your target market, a content manager will be capable of discerning, not just what content to publish, but how that content can be best presented. This ability will translate into strengthened engagement metrics and increase your company’s overall perception.
James Rice, Content Marketing Lead at WikiJob
“A successful content manager takes on quite a few different tasks…”
Or may lead a team of people to take on these tasks, such as writing, editing, SEO, CMS uploads, responding to feedback, and so on. However, the most vital task that a content manager has is to ensure that the content uploaded is in line with the business content strategy.
The content strategy of a business will ensure that all content is in line with the business goals. Content should be consistent, informative, and useful for customers.
Content that doesn’t work for a business is ultimately a waste of time and resources, so a great content manager also needs stellar marketing skills and to understand the sales funnel. Once a content manager understands the audience demographic and buying process, they can tailor content in a way that will drive sales or leads.
Part of this process is keeping on top of what content works and what fails, so regular content audits are key.
The key skill for a content manager isn’t just being a good project manager or writer; they must keep in mind that content must be tailored correctly and serve the business goals as a whole.
Quincy Smith, Head of Content and SEO for Ampjar
“As the content manager of Ampjar, the trait that has helped me the most is sticking to a schedule and batching my work…”
I oversee both content and SEO so I’m constantly coordinating between writers, designers, link builders, social media promoters, etc.
It’s taken me a while where I’ve finally got a schedule down that allows me to focus on groups of tasks instead of 1×1. For example:
- We assign all content to our writers at the beginning of the month.
- We do all content research and brief building in the last week of each month.
- I block out 2 hours every morning (except Monday) for editing.
- Content is passed to designers in batches to reduce friction.
Using a set schedule not only helps me with weekly planning, but it also helps me block out time to focus on work instead of getting pulled in 100 different directions. The trick is to stay disciplined and as soon as your entire team knows the schedule, it gets even easier.
Jonas Sickler, Writer at ReputationManagement.com
“Most businesses produce content to drive traffic and leads, so a background in SEO is absolutely critical…”
While we shouldn’t write copy exclusively for search engines, a great content manager will understand the fundamentals of SEO:
- Keyword research
- Search intent
- Internal linking
- On-page optimization
If your content manager doesn’t understand SEO then your pages won’t rank for any keywords nor generate traffic.
Thinking of implementing a DAM solution to streamline your content workflows? Download our white paper, Questions You Should Always Consider Before Choosing a DAM, to learn more about how to step back and audit your current content marketing process so you can select the best DAM for your company’s needs.
Brian Sheehan, Marketing Manager of Hollingsworth
“The most important trait of a content manager is the ability to create a…”
Strategy around content that ranks for keywords that will show up on SERP pages. In addition to quality content that is keyword optimized, SEO tasks such as backlinking and sharing on social media are equally important to expedite ranking in SERPs. We have a strong SEO and content team that has helped us rank for over 30 new keywords each week. The SEO team optimized onsite and offsite content, and the content team creates valuable and resource worthy content that resolves visitors’ problems. Including CTAs in our content also drives lead generation. It all starts with content in my opinion, and having a content manager that understands how to grow a business on Google SERPs is very important.
Sam Olmsted, Content Manager at Online Optimism
“Being able to work under tight deadlines while remaining consistent…”
Sometimes content marketing can be a high-pressure job. This involves writing, reading, and editing content very quickly. This, paired with potentially working for several different clients with several different voices, can result in some confusion and slippage in quality.
It’s important to be able to maintain your quality and prowess as a creative and a writer under these tight deadlines. This, above all else, is the most important trait a content manager can have because it’s a baseline measurement of their skill as a writer.
Brad Ormsby, Owner of Colorstone Marketing
“It’s hard to nail down just one single trait of a content manager but if I had to…”
I’d say they have to be familiar with on-page SEO best practices. Lots of companies write blogs – that never get read. Your content manager needs to know what topics people are searching for and how to create a comprehensive post that covers the subtopics of that head topic. They also need to know how to properly organize meta tags, write meta descriptions, interlink, link out, and do a bunch of other stuff that really counts. You can find people who write conversationally and produce great work, but those people are far more common than someone who can properly optimize your content and create a strategic plan for your blog.
Cynthia White, Business Writer & Editor
“The single most important trait of a successful content manager is, in my opinion, the ability to see the big picture…”
Yes, content managers have to be organized, detail-oriented, creative, and they have to have a good understanding of marketing, SEO, and speak, read, and write good English. However, seeing the big picture is most important.
In order to do this job well, you have to be able to see into the future. Several months away, there may be articles that are locked in on special dates, like for seasonal pieces, special sales, or conferences, for example. That means that you have to be ready to juggle the schedule around on short notice with some pieces on some dates that cannot be changed.
Maybe one of the writers is late with a scheduled piece. Maybe something important and newsworthy just happened. The content manager has to handle all that in stride and on the fly, all the while respecting the client’s brand and content strategies. And you can only do a good job with all that if you’re always thinking about the big picture, planning for and anticipating several months of content in advance.
Hassan Alnassir, Founder & Owner of Premium Joy
“I believe the most crucial trait of a successful content manager is…”
The willingness to explore and thoroughly comprehend the details of the business they’re going to work for, all before executing anything. The rule of one-size-does-not-fit-all does apply to content creation, just like many other things in life. Put differently, you need someone to create completely customized content plans based on your unique circumstance rather than suggest some general good practices commonly applied.
You can gauge the content manager’s interest to take their job seriously (i.e., customize a strategy) by their curiosity to understand your business more. This means they should be constantly asking you questions to grasp everything about the company like the unique selling point, products or services offered, target audience, available budget, and existing blog articles, plus many other things.
There are some situations where it’s probably the time to fire the content manager and look for someone else. For example, you receive a suggestion of writing one blog post per week and they provide the generic rationale of ‘recommended industry practice’ instead of concrete supporting data. Irrelevant blog topics or keywords suggested are also something to watch out for as they indicate the content manager hasn’t performed proper inquiry and research to fully understand your business.
Priscilla Tan, Feature Writer & Content Marketer
“The #1 most important trait of a content manager is being a strategic thinker…”
A successful content manager has a knack for developing a clear strategy that evolves at the speed of a growing business.
She breathes words and analytics. She’s always several steps ahead by asking a ton of smart questions and focusing on long-term growth.
She knows how to capture attention with the right words (because she understands her target audience inside out), turn data into insights, and plan the next big hit without fail.
Sumit Bansal, Founder of TrumpExcel.com
“Some of the traits I believe are really important for content managers are…”
1. Project Management: Creating and managing content cannot be done ad hoc. It needs careful planning and execution. And the entire process of getting the content developed and promoted needs a solid plan. Most successful content managers have their content calendars prepared for months in advance. Having this clarity allows them to kick things in motion and get the content developed.
2. Domain Knowledge: Without decent domain knowledge, it’s hard to come up with quality content. Since there is already so much content out there, you need to be different and unique to stand out. And without domain knowledge, the best you can match up to is the content that is already out there. You don’t need to be an expert, but a decent enough working knowledge of the domain is useful. It will ensure you understand your audience and can talk to them in a language they understand.
Jenni Lachner, Content Marketing Manager at Portent
“As a content manager, there are many skills that you rely on regularly to get your job done…”
Copyediting and writing? Sure, but you can hone those over time. Industry knowledge? Of course, but that’s learned as you dig deeper into your field. Project management and acute organization are definitely necessary, but there are tools and resources available to help. When it comes to content management, all of these things are important, but in my experience, I believe the single most important trait of a successful content manager is empathy.
Empathy for your audience allows you to understand what they need, how they think, and what motivates their actions. This allows you to create meaningful content in the best format to reach your users when and where they need it.
And don’t forget about empathy for your internal collaborators as well. Chances are you’re working with a talented group of content contributors. Being able to understand and harness their passion for what they do will guarantee your content strategy will demonstrate their expertise and position your subject-matter rock stars to make meaningful connections with your target audience.
Adam Connell, Content Strategist
“There are a number of traits that any successful content manager needs, but for me, the one that stands out is excellent communication skills…”
Not only do they need to effectively convey ideas through their content, they also need to be able to communicate well as part of a team – liaising with writers and other members of the marketing team.
I think of it like this: A content manager is the glue that holds the content strategy, and the content team together. Without good communication, everything falls apart.
Charlotte Ang, SEO Specialist for Durian Papi
“The most important trait of a successful content manager is being meticulous…”
Content managers are usually one of the last ones to sign off on the content approvals in the company. It is crucial for the manager to edit and proofread every single sentence structure, grammar error, and tone of the article without having to rewrite the entire content. Any content that is being published online should be mistake-free; otherwise, it may affect the company’s branding.
These fine details can only be handled by a meticulous content manager.
Tom Feltham, Marketing Operations Director at Software Path
“A successful content manager is able to…”
Balance creativity and analytical skills to achieve and demonstrate an ROI on content marketing activities. Finding this balance is more challenging than in other disciplines such as PPC or SEO, which lean more towards analytics.
In a practical sense, this manifests as a content manager who is equally comfortable creating content topics to target priority keywords as they are forecasting budget requirements and conversion benchmarks.
Yaniv Masjedi, CMO at Nextiva
“The most important trait of a successful content manager is…”
Tenacity. A content manager has to ride the ups and downs of pieces of content that don’t map to their expectations. However, even more than that, they need to be adaptable to changes in their industry, keeping a close ear to trends. If a content manager stays on top of their niche, they’ll catch the next wave, or catch a piece that would’ve bombed and send it back for an update when it’s missing this week’s viral Giphy trend.
But, in addition to being responsible for a high-level view, content managers also need to remain dedicated day in and day out, catching any of the proofreaders’ errors, not letting a writer miss a deadline, and identifying whenever content breaks from the brand identity.
Kimberly Back, Content Division Manager for Virtual Vocations
“To be successful as a content manager and maintain that success, a content manager cannot forget their roots as a writer and editor…”
Effectively managing content workflows and personnel not only involves keen project and time management skills, but also reverence for the craft itself.
Whether through personal writings or professional assignments, content managers should continue to write and self-edit. This strengthens their investment in their work and helps them be more attuned to the needs and perspectives of the content and content creators they manage.
Chane Steiner, CEO of Crediful
“Without a doubt, you are looking for attention to detail…”
A content manager must be responsible for tracking industry trends and evaluating whether content will be evergreen, or at least timely. However, their single most mission-critical task is to ensure that every piece of content that makes it through the production pipeline is ready to face prospects and customers.
While your team may employ a proofreader or editor, it is still the content manager’s responsibility to give a quick scan over each article: does the headline pass muster? Is there a glaring typo? And, most importantly: did the CTAs with properly keyworded anchor text make it through editing?
Content isn’t just meant to be well written – it must serve a purpose in the sales funnel. It is the content manager’s job to have a fine attention to detail, to both spot the little errors, and make sure that every piece of content serves as a stepping stone in the customer journey.
Smart content managers understand the value of technology tools that can streamline content creation and content marketing processes. A DAM solution like MerlinOne puts all the essential digital assets at your team’s fingertips. When they can find the digital assets they need in seconds, instead of hours, they have more time to spend on the tasks that matter – like creating engaging, value-added content. Schedule a demo today to learn more about how MerlinOne can transform your content and creative processes.