More businesses than ever are turning to content marketing to drive traffic to their websites and support conversions. According to Statista, 97% of marketers incorporated content marketing into their work in 2021, up 20 percentage points from two years earlier. Businesses are also investing more resources into this valuable marketing strategy, with 72% of companies planning to boost their content budgets in 2022.
The important task of building and executing content strategies falls to a corporation's Director of Content Marketing. This marketing leader takes charge of a company's content supply, pulling in customers with targeted information at each stage of the customer journey. This role is especially critical for startups that need to quickly capture audiences and translate prospects into sales. Technology companies also rely on impactful content to distinguish products from competitors, retain customers, and grow customer value over time.
While you can shortlist candidates for a Director of Content Marketing position based on experience and background, implement these interview questions to get a sense of how they'll apply their skills on a day-to-day basis.
Interview questions to ask a Director of Content Marketing candidate
Here are five essential questions to ask when meeting your potential Director of Content Marketing, and some of the elements to look for in their responses to help you find the right hire.
1. How do you integrate SEO data and analytics into your content strategy?
Why ask: A successful Director of Content Marketing knows how to craft content that audiences want to consume and that ranks well in search engines. This question lets you assess a candidate's knowledge of SEO, keyword research, cluster topics and how they plan to optimize content to target the right audiences and boost online visibility.
Elements of a good answer: Look for answers that reflect an understanding of search engine optimization practices and how SEO tools can be used to create purposeful content. For example, a top candidate may mention:
- Leveraging SEO tools to research keywords used by target audiences. Popular tools include Semrush, Ahrefs and Moz.
- Prioritizing keywords based on factors such as competition or search volume
- Understanding search intent to determine the type of content needed
- Measuring site traffic with analytics tools to identify and improve poorly ranking pages
- Adding meta titles and descriptions to improve click-throughs
- Auditing content for keyword clusters
Ideally, candidates should provide examples of past success through quantifiable results they've achieved in previous jobs, such as increased traffic and engagement.
2. Who would you include on your team to drive content creation?
Why ask: An effective content strategy requires a continuous rollout of content to attract, engage, and convert customers. A Director of Content Marketing is responsible for building and managing the team of professionals that's responsible for creating and distributing content through social media, search engine marketing, and SEO.
Elements of a good answer: Candidates should have a clear idea of the skills needed to execute a content marketing strategy and the roles needed to accomplish their content goals, helping your company or startup to grow its brand and customer base. A well-considered response will likely include the following key content marketing roles:
- Content Writer for producing well-researched, SEO-friendly content that captures the brand voice. The writer should be versatile and able to create a range of content.
- Designer for producing visual assets such as images, infographics, charts and illustrations for blog posts and social media
- Content Manager or Coordinator for keeping the content strategy on track. This job involves scheduling content, assigning tasks and making sure deliverables are met.
- Social Media Content Creator for creating and distributing content through social platforms
- SEO Specialist for conducting keyword research, performing on-page and off-page optimization, building backlinks, and other strategies for boosting online visibility
- Analytics Specialist for monitoring content performance and recommending areas of improvement
3. How do you determine the style, tone, length, and content for a blog post vs a social post?
Why ask: Companies have a wide range of content types to choose from for reaching audiences, such as articles, social media posts, case studies, videos, and infographics. It's the job of the Content Marketing Director to determine the best format to achieve each goal, while shaping content to suit specific audiences and platforms. Use this question to assess the candidate's ability to effectively package content to market your business.
Elements of a good answer: Candidates should demonstrate an understanding of how to leverage different types of content and marketing channels. For example, a thoughtful answer might discuss the following points:
- Blog posts are designed for a targeted audience. Start by analyzing the intent behind keywords to determine how long a post should be - whether it’s a 500 word article or a skyscraper piece - and the content it contains. If keyword research shows that a customer is seeking a quick answer, the article may need to be high-level and concise, containing clear headers and bulleted items. If a user is instead looking for in-depth knowledge to make a purchasing decision, the piece should include more details in a paragraph format with key points bulleted for quick access to the most important information.
- Social media posts can reach a wider and more diverse audience. In this case, it’s best used for initial engagement and brand awareness. Social media posts should pique a reader's curiosity. Depending on the platform, you may want to repurpose a detailed blog into an infographic or visual, or create a short and catchy headline that encourages users to click through.
All content should maintain the company's brand voice. It should also take into account the audience and channel and reflect an appropriate tone. LinkedIn posts, for example, are professional in tone, while Instagram can be more casual.
4. Walk us through your process and timeline for formatting and designing a content strategy.
Why ask: Companies that take a tactical approach to content tend to be rewarded: Nearly eight out of 10 companies that saw success with content marketing in 2021 had a documented strategy to achieve their goals. This question helps you assess a candidate's ability to build a content strategy customized to your business.
Elements of a good answer: Candidates should begin by looking at the big picture, determining the goals of a campaign and the audience the content is designed for. Then, they should plan tactics and execution. A good answer should mention steps such as:
- Determining overall goals in the first 5-10 days. This includes analyzing website data to identify areas of improvement, performing market research into the customer, and establishing goals aligned with the company's vision.
- Building the strategy within the first 10-20 days. At this stage, they should perform keyword research, select marketing channels, determine content needs by matching content to the buyer journey, and audit existing content to identify gaps or pieces that can be repurposed.
- Planning the execution in the first 10-25 days. The final stage is to review available resources, allocate a budget, create a content plan and calendar, and assign roles to the team.
Once a plan is set in place, they should have a timeline drawn up for the leadership team to review as well as a detailed timeline for their team.
5. Once content is published, what are the steps you take to track its performance and boost it if needed?
Why ask: Effective content marketing strategies consider how users engage with content and whether it's driving the desired actions. This question lets you evaluate how candidates use data to inform how they will continue to interact with potential and returning customers.
Elements of a good answer: Your Content Marketing Director should continually measure performance to refine strategies and tactics. Look for candidates that discuss the importance of integrating data into their decisions. They should demonstrate a solid knowledge of analytics platforms and an ability to interpret data to adjust strategies as needed. For example, they should discuss:
- Selecting metrics to track success, such as organic traffic, search ranking, conversion rates and social engagement. The metrics should be tied to the company goals and OKRs.
- Choosing tools for establishing benchmarks and tracking data, such as Google Analytics or through the company’s CRM.
- Interpreting data to see where content falls short of expectations to refine content marketing strategies such as implementing superior keywords or refreshing content with new information, graphics, or a complete overhaul.
Candidates should discuss previous campaigns they've run and provide concrete examples of how they leveraged data to improve performance.
What to Consider During Your Hiring Journey
Modern marketing is fast-paced and competitive, with businesses vying for the attention of customers through multiple digital channels. Content is a powerful tool for helping companies stand out, making the Director of Content Marketing a critical role in any business looking to capture customers and drive growth.
A dynamic Director of Content Marketing should possess a combination of leadership skills, technical savvy, creativity, and a passion for data. Use the interview process to assess how these skills come together in each of your candidates.
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