The 9 Traits of Highly Effective Content Marketing Teams

March 12, 2015 Will Lam

effective content marketing teams

“Too little time and so much left to do” is probably a thought that goes through your head more often than you’d like to admit.  

As content marketers, we’re tasked with creating valuable, relevant and consistent content that resonates with our target audiences. Maybe your team already creates great content that’s being shared, attracting backlinks and driving lots of top-of-the-funnel traffic.

But how can your team refine its processes to create a consistent stream of great content? What exactly are the traits of a highly effective content marketing team?

1. They’re Process-Driven (the way it is vs. how it could be)

Delivering valuable, relevant and consistent content to your audience is already hard enough when you don’t have clear and repeatable processes baked into your team’s workflow.

Not having any content creation processes is like living in a veritable “wild west” of content marketing: Do what you want, but the results may vary.  Compare that to a “cavalry approach” - working as a team to divide and conquer (content), you’re able to fill in gaps, complement each other and work productively together.

If your team is unstructured, there are a lot of inefficiencies that might not be so apparent if you’re not openly communicating and working in unison with your content team.  You should be using all of your assets, whether it’s your team’s full skillset or old content you can repurpose, leveraging them in a way to make the most of your available resources.

2. They use an Editorial Calendar to stay organized

The editorial calendar is the center of the universe when it comes to organizing content teams to be more productive. It should be the center of discussion in terms of coordinating with  your team, informing upcoming deadlines and how you should structure your workday to optimize for productivity.

Have a centralized calendar so everyone is in the know. This could be a simple Google Docs spreadsheet that all members of the content team have access to, so there’s no confusion.  You can use many other tools like Trello or Asana, but something simple is best.

Having a physical schedule, like a whiteboard or calendar on the wall, is also helpful in reinforcing deadlines by keeping a constant reminder right in front of them. Of course, if dates have been bumped or a piece of content has been assigned to someone else, you’ll have to remember to make changes here as well.

However, you need to have buy-in from all stakeholders on your content team. If no one cares about an editorial calendar, then what’s the point of having one?

At Uberflip, we have monthly meetings where we go through a backlog of content ideas and pitch new ones too.  Whether it’s an infographic, blog post (long form or short form), video, webinar, GIF post and everything in between, we give every one of our team members a chance to contribute.

Because we operate more like a meritocracy, some team members who demonstrate more enthusiasm or can tackle a piece of content better can step in for the person who’s pitching a content idea.

Of course, things aren’t set in stone, so we also have weekly meetings to touch base on what we’re working on, if we’re encountering any obstacles or roadblocks, and how we can help each other if we can’t make our deadlines.

3. They have meetings with a purpose (and understand the value of time)

We’ve already talked about meetings a fair bit. Either you can harness meetings as a multiplier of productivity or they can end up crippling it. There’s even classic video featuring John Cleese titled “Meetings, Bloody Meetings" that perfectly illustrates the problem with meetings.  

But having a clear and concise agenda respects everyone’s time and allows your team to get back to focusing on creating great content. You should always prepare something in advance and bring something of value to the table.

Whether it’s for an ideation/whiteboarding session to discuss ideas or a quick meeting to touch base, there should be a time cap as well.  While we’re guilty of not having a dedicated timekeeper, having one is a good idea to keep things on track, to be concise with our words and respect everyone’s time.

4. They schedule tasks & take advantage of Content Automation

I doubt you’ll find a team that works 7 days a week, since a work/life balance is important. However, you can still give off the impression that you’re there for your customers or audience and stay top of mind by scheduling automated tasks.

Keep in mind, it doesn’t have to be yours as it can be curated from other great content partners, peers or really good content that you know your audience will appreciate. There are a few tools that allow for this which we’ll get to in the tools section.

5. They accept guest posts

While I won’t go into explaining the benefits of guest posting on other authoritative sites to increase your exposure (whether it’s for growing your list, SEO, building your brand or increasing your reach), guest posting should be included in your content team's processes for its other merits. 

If you’ve established your presence in an industry, you can take the opportunity to accept great contributed content from guests that fit the mandate of your content strategy. Obviously, you get great content for your own blog, but what you give back is a platform to allow your guest poster to establish or affirm their expertise and authority in their given domain.

6. They repurpose old content

Did you host a webinar recently? If you’re posting the video, what about the people who can’t afford to pay enough attention to watch the video, but would benefit from an audio version as well?  There are so many ways to get more out of each piece of content.  

Here are a few examples that you can use to hit the ground running:

  • Converting videos to audio so your audience/customers can listen in instead of watching.
  • Content roundups that match a theme - it can be curated blog posts/guides from your own archives or links to other great resources that your audience might benefit from.
  • Publishing presentation slides from conferences on SlideShare helps to maximize views.
  • Repackaging blog posts that fit a certain theme into an eBook. Check out how Intercom.io did it after 2 years of writing a series of fantastic posts on their approach to product management.
  • Resurfacing evergreen content and promoting it on your social channels - everyone might not have read that great guide you wrote a few months ago.
  • Updating a piece of content (such as a survey that has proven to be useful and relevant) and updating it every year. Moz is a great example of this - their  The Online Marketing Industry Survey has been updated annually since 2008.

7. They prototype ideas early on

Present your content ideas in the early stages (i.e., while still in development) before moving forward. It could mean presenting rough outlines and the main points you want to convey, or providing rough mockups in Balsamiq, Canva, or Photoshop if you need something visual.  

The idea is to produce less waste when it comes to our time and not fully investing in something until we know it’s something that our audience and customers will want and benefit from.

8. They embrace team diversity

What do you get when you’re working alone or with team members that fit the same mold as you? Probably more of the same.  Having a team comprised of different backgrounds and diverse skill sets helps you look at content a bit differently.  

If you’re a T-Shaped marketer, your strengths may be quite different than another person on your team.  However, when you’re leveraging everyone’s strengths and skills, it makes for a more well-rounded team and you can tackle bigger and better content that can sustainably drive top-of-the-funnel traffic all the way down to qualified leads.

At Uberflip, our content team is comprised of ex-startup founders, product managers, data scientists, writers, and designers that round out our team. If we need technical help, we can leverage our development team. Having such a diverse crew gives us many different points of view and allows us to be deadly efficient in creating valuable content for our audience and customers, all because we complement each others' strengths.

Even our work pods are arranged so that we’re all mixed in together -  if we need someone who might offer a different perspective, it’s just a tap on the shoulder next to you or a 5 second walk to chat.

9. They’re tech savvy and leverage several tools

Our content marketing team loves tools - after all, Uberflip itself is a marketing tool. 

Here’s a few that have certainly increased our team’s productivity, helping us craft and share content on a day-to-day basis.

Buffer - Perfect for sharing social media posts throughout the day at scheduled intervals and even on weekends. You just need to “top off” your Buffer account with posts that you can easily share on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus with their handy Chrome extension.

Pablo by Buffer - This fancy new product from Buffer allows you to create fantastic looking images for your social media posts without the help of a designer. With more compelling graphics, you're more likely to acheive more engagement and a higher click-through rate.

Canva - While its use cases are similar to that of Pablo by Buffer, Canva has a wider selection of images that are free to use. If there’s a particular point you want to convey, you can choose from their wide variety of stock images that you can purchase for only $1. The great thing is you only pay when you actually want to use the image, which makes for a painless, even fun experience creating images for your content.

Uberflip - Of course, we also use our own platform at Uberflip. We allow content teams to manage, optimize and automate their content workflow that’s specifically made for content teams. It also helps ensure our  Sales, Content, and Demand Generation teams work in tandem to leverage our content.

Kapost - A tool that aligns your marketing teams so that everyone is in-the-know. Kapost allows easy visibility in the marketing process and gains insights into the performance of your content, while integrating with most of the tools that you already use.

Giphy - We're experiencing an onslaught of GIFs in memes and social media and it doesn’t look like these forms of micro-content are going away anytime soon - even in the B2B space. Giphy is a GIF library that can help you find the perfect animated image for every content occasion. 

Skitch - A standalone tool by Evernote. If you’re performing a walk-through or in-depth guide on how to use a tool, Skitch is a great way to hone in on a particular screenshot and annotate it with arrows and text to emphasize or highlight certain parts of the screenshot.

Workflowy - A personal favorite, Workflowy allows me to quickly capture my rough ideas and flesh out my thoughts into something that resembles the skeleton of a blog post or longer form of content. Their tagline is “organize your brain” - and the way the tool works is so simple, it’s a bit deceiving how powerful it actually is.

LICEcap - A free tool brought to our attention by the folks at Intercom.io who use it to create GIFs to capture a screenshot or capture all the elements of an interaction without having to write about it.

Your turn!

These are only some of the things we believe are incredibly valuable for highly effective marketing teams that know how to execute with efficiency.

Now that we've shared some of our processes and the tools that we use to keep our content team firing on all cylinders, what are some of your processes or tricks for being as productive as possible?

Learn how to 10x your content team's productivity in our eBook!

About the Author

Will Lam

Will is a Product Marketing Manager at Uberflip. Outside of Uberflip, he likes lifting heavy things and putting them down, is horrible at Ruby on Rails and iOS development, and prides himself on being a coffee snob.

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