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What is a Content Marketing Manager?

If you’re looking to promote your business online, you need to focus on generating content. And for hundreds of businesses looking to scale their efforts, content marketing managers are the perfect people for the job.

Content marketing managers do what their title implies — they manage content produced by your business. But not only are they responsible for writing, editing, or producing content, but they’re also charged with managing other employees to keep the flywheel turning.

Content marketing manager roles are steadily on the rise, despite the appearance of generative AI and countless algorithm updates. Zippia projects a 10% yearly growth rate between 2018 and 2028, as well as 33,700 new jobs for a variety of experience levels. The average salary has also increased to $84,566, which means now is the best time to hire a professional or become one yourself.

Are you looking to hire a content marketing manager? Or curious about forging a new career path? This guide explains everything you should know about content marketing managers, including what they are, what they do, and when to hire one for your business. 

We also provide a few unique details depending on what you’re looking for. If you’re a startup or growing enterprise, we highlight several hiring triggers so you can make informed decisions about when to start interviewing. If you’re interested in exploring the profession or switching careers, we explain how to make the leap (and how to get experience if you don’t have any).

Let’s get started.

What is a content marketing manager?

A content marketing manager is responsible for creating and managing content to attract, engage, and convert potential customers. This includes tasks such as developing content strategies, creating blog posts, writing social media posts, and managing content calendars. 

Content marketing managers have a different area of interest than traditional marketing managers. They’re primarily interested in the development of content, whereas traditional marketing managers may look at multiple pieces of the puzzle.

You can think of content marketing managers as ‘V’ or ‘W’ shaped professionals — they have deep experience in one or two specific tasks. Traditional marketing managers are usually ‘T’ shaped by default, since they tend to know a little bit about everything (like PPC, PR, OOH, and the other marketing acronyms).

Since content marketing managers aren’t strictly writing professionals, they also can help your business generate a variety of digital assets. You could task your content manager to head up many different initiatives, like:

  • Technical guides
  • Blog articles
  • Video tutorials
  • Social media collateral
  • Podcast creation
  • Infographic design
  • Ebooks and white papers
  • Case studies
  • Webinars and courses
  • Newsletters
  • And more

Content marketing managers may have experience with one or two of these, but they’re unlikely to be a jack-of-all-trades (unless you hire a unicorn). They do, however, know how to delegate tasks well, and can coordinate content production activities between freelancers, agencies, and in-house professionals.

Keep in mind a content marketing manager is not the same thing as a head of content (or a head of growth for that matter).

A content marketing manager focuses on the daily operations of content, including content production and the people who make it happen. In contrast, a head of content focuses on the brainstorming, administration, and measurement of content. They’re unlikely to get involved with day-to-day processes.

A head of growth may be somewhat interested in content production, but they tend to have a wider lens on the overall customer journey. They may work side-by-side with your content marketing manager to refine an approach or support a new campaign. However, don’t expect your head of growth to fill the shoes of a content marketing manager (or vice versa).

Characteristics of a content marketing manager

Content marketing managers hail from a variety of backgrounds. One could be a longtime freelance writer with a degree in journalism. Another could be a CTO with a knack for writing content. In either case, it matters more about the individual’s skills and expertise than their degrees, certificates, or alma mater.

Whether you’re looking to hire or become a content marketing manager, be sure to look for the following traits:

  • A strong understanding of content marketing principles. Apart from demonstrating excellent content creation skills, these professionals must know what it takes to publish and promote their work. Any candidate with a background in management is a major plus, since you can count on them to upskill your team and iterate on existing processes.
  • Familiarity with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). You can’t expect your content marketing manager to have the experience of a dedicated SEO professional. However, they should be familiar with the basic principles, especially when it comes to UX and user intent.
  • Excellent writing and editing skills. Even if your content marketing manager doesn’t write every day, they still need to be good communicators. They should be able to catch errors and mistakes and inform other stakeholders so it doesn’t happen again.
  • Ability to use content marketing tools or CMS programs such as HubSpot and WordPress. Familiarity with Ahrefs and SEMrush (as well as other SEO platforms) is another big plus. Be sure to ask your interviewed candidates about the platforms they’re familiar with.
  • Ability to think strategically and creatively. The journey of content creation rarely looks like a straight line. Balancing multiple professionals and multiple deadlines means there’s bound to be a snag along the way. A great content marketing manager can roll with the punches and find loopholes and opportunities to prevent the problem from happening again.

Keep in mind the average content marketing manager has more than 15 years of experience. If you’re looking to break into the industry as a newcomer, don’t try to beat them; join them. 

Finding a mentor or a group of content marketers can help you get a feel for what to expect. It’s also a great way to gauge your interest in the career path, especially if you’ve never written professionally before (or managed people who do). 

Does putting out fires sound tedious to you? Don’t like the idea of juggling multiple content projects? You may want to consider a different career — like freelance writing — instead.

When do you need a content marketing manager?

The best time to hire a content marketing manager depends on your business goals. 

You may want to hire a content marketing manager if:

  • You are launching a new product or service. You need to get the word out about your business.
  • You are trying to increase brand awareness. This is especially true for startups and small businesses.
  • You are looking to generate leads. You need to put more potential customers in your sales funnel.
  • You want to improve your website’s search engine ranking. You may be tinkering with your SEO after the Helpful Content Update or looking for ways to rank above your competitors.

You may not want to hire a content marketing manager if:

  • You don’t have the budget to support a full-time professional. Remember: the average salary of a content marketing manager is $84,566. If you don’t want to pay this plus employee benefits, it may be wise to look for a freelancer or marketing agency.
  • You already have an in-house staff member interested in the role. You may be able to hire internally, saving the time and effort of a lengthy interview process.
  • You can’t handle more customers or leads. Scaling too quickly without the right infrastructure could put significant strain on your business operations.

Keep in mind some organizations never hire content marketing managers. Some rely on in-house pros, while others lean into freelancers or agencies.

Could a content marketing agency be a good fit for your team? On one hand, you could generate professional-looking, high-quality content for a much more affordable price tag. On the other hand, you won’t have a full-time, in-house professional focused 100% on your company’s content strategy.

Be sure to weigh the pros and cons before landing on a decision.

Ready to become (or hire) a content marketing manager?

Content marketing managers are the intrepid explorers of a brave new world of content creation. Despite curveballs like SGE, HCU, and generative AI, these seasoned professionals feed your flywheel of content and ensure online users can find your business.

If you’re looking to become a content marketing manager, now is a great time to consider your options. AI has only heightened the demand for quality content, and if you have the itch to create, you may want to consider getting your foot in the door.

Not ready to hire? Tentative about a career leap? Draft.dev can help. We specialize in technical content so startups can get the work of a content marketing manager without having to pay for a full-time professional.

We also work with hundreds of experts all over the world to create quality content for the businesses we serve. We’ve helped dozens of professionals launch their content marketing management careers with the bylines and writing experiences they need to succeed.

Regardless of where you sit on this spectrum, Draft.dev is ready to help. Just book a Discovery Call today to speak with a member of the team.

Meagan Shelley

By Meagan Shelley

Meagan is a professional writer in VA that specializes in content marketing, research, and SEO. If she's not helping people craft their own stories, she's working on some of her own. When she takes time to step away from the laptop, she enjoys hiking, farmer's markets, and occasional thru-hikes.