Content marketing has all the necessary ingredients to be called an investment. It’s a long-term strategy, it takes time to realize the return, and the goal is positive ROI.
While there are a lot of strategies for making content effective, one of the less talked about topics is onboarding content marketers and content writers to ensure they succeed, content succeeds, and the investment succeeds.
We recently hired three exceptional content marketers. We’d like to share our onboarding process, and get the conversation started on strategies for getting content wizards ramped up and making an impact quickly.
1. Ensure new content hires make a big impact early
To get content writers onboarded effectively, we make sure their impact becomes visible immediately. It’s all about developing confidence as a marketer and writer. What creates confidence better than accomplishments?
During their first two weeks, we made sure we set up our content marketers for success by outlining and doing group brainstorming sessions. It’s all about providing a clear structure around what the content should look like and what the message should be. This way, content writers spend more time doing what they do best, and less time wandering in the dark.
Sprint towards having a piece of content published with their name on it within the first week. We spend time as a group to brainstorm, produce and promote the content to make sure there’s success early on. As new hires ramp up, they’ll become more confident, and go from new hire to content ninja.
2. Expose Content Marketers to a variety of content types
Copywriters are good at writing headlines and descriptions, but that’s not the position you hired for. Content marketers are writers and strategists, so it’s important they get early exposure to both. Clue them in on the thinking behind each type of content, whether it’s case studies, infographics, presentations, or blog posts.
Where does each piece of content fit in the buying cycle? Is the purpose to generate a lead, expand brand awareness, or get prospects to engage with sales?
These factors influence voice and topic focus, content marketers should have a full understanding of the “why” for every type of content in your library. Most importantly, exposing content marketers to the variety of content types will quickly build expertise in solving problems from building awareness all the way to supporting sales with one-pagers.
Onboarding content marketers for success rests on making sure they produce content they enjoy producing. We feel pretty strongly about this, so during their onboarding we get marketers involved in a variety of content (e.g. case studies, blogs, and presentations). After two weeks we let marketers choose the areas they’d like to focus and specialize in. Each content type is difficult to do well, and specialization helps marketers become highly skilled at creating content that does its job: convert!
3. Allow enough time to gain domain knowledge
We believe every content marketer should spend 10-15% of their time reading. It’s the answer to the question, "How do you become smarter?".
We also encourage new hires to get involved with events and Meetups related to their industry in order to understand what their audience wants and how they think.
This takes time and is something that can’t be rushed.
We use Slack for our team communications and have created a Reading List channel. When anyone see’s a relevant article that inspires content ideas or is relevant to our industry verticals, we share it there. We also plan to install a marketing library in our new office space.
4. Show Content Marketers why your customers love you
Marketers create the best work when they are inspired by the organization they work for. During the first few weeks they should meet with a variety of teams, from Customer Success to Sales.
Getting marketers closer to customers via meetings with Customer Success and Sales helps them understand who they’re creating content for, builds confidence, and a sense of pride in the organization’s cause.
And new hires should see reviews, testimonies and case studies that explain — in your customers’ words — how your product or service solves a human problem.
Lastly, this is a great opportunity to share and update your user and buyer persona, or refresh your case studies. Great content is all about knowing the audience, so make sure you facilitate this process for early on! Uberflip has some great exercises on persona development. Letting new hires engage with customers for case studies and persona development means they’ll quickly become experts in understanding your product and your customers' motivations.
5. Track their impact and make it known
Whether it’s getting a certain level of traffic or getting promoted by an industry influencer, tell the rest of the team. We announce every accomplishment, from PR wins to new blog posts, on our company messaging platform, Slack.
Slack is great for adding emotion and personality to our group messages.
But what about how much revenue content marketers generate? We track that, too, using an attribution model that gives revenue credit to the most important touchpoints:
- First touch (brand discovery and anonymous web visit).
- Lead conversion touch (submitting a form).
- Last touch (content engagement before becoming a Sales Qualified Lead).
We can see how much revenue our content marketers generate and this is great for showing the impact they have in our organization. In B2B marketing, it’s essential to track revenue generated from content, both for improving content marketing and showing the impact of our content marketing team.
So to recap, and add some additional points, here’s the ingredients for successful content marketing onboarding:
- Ensure new content marketers make an impact early
- Expose content marketers to a variety of content types
- Allow time for gaining domain knowledge
- Show why your customers love your product, service, and your team
- Track their impact and make it known
- [Bonus] Set up RSS readers and social media management tools so new hires become familiar with the influencers, bloggers and journalists in your industry.
This is how we think about successful onboarding at Bizible. It all comes down to having a culture that supports creativity and collaboration. By showing that you live the culture, you allow new hires to live it too.