A few months ago I created the Periodic Table of Content Marketing, to provide a handy – and hopefully helpful - cut-out-and-keep guide for content professionals.

The table was both practical and tactical, which resulted in more than tens of thousands of shares, and hundreds of thousands of views. I remain humbled by its popularity, and the feedback I’ve had since I published it. 

Since then I’ve been asked many questions, of which two stand out: 

  1. Why does ‘content strategy’ only have one element dedicated to it?
  2. What kind of skills does a content team need?

To answer the first question, it’s simply that content strategy is such a big subject that it merits a table of its own, or something similar. There is much to be said about audiences, legacy content, global vs local approaches to management, team workflow, brand guidelines, and countless other important things. Watch this space.

The second question is one close to my heart. 

Since 2006 I’ve had the pleasure of assembling a marvellous team here at Econsultancy. We box well above our weight – there are only six of us on ‘Team Content’ yet we’re averaging more than a million stories read a month. Not bad, for a niche blog.

But what would a content team look like if I were to assemble one from scratch today? What skills are required in 2014, in the post-social, content marketing, mobile age? What is the perfect recipe for success?

Here’s what I think (the royal) we need: 

  • More visual design chops. Data visualisation FTW.
  • To doff our hats in the direction of Nate Silver / Freakonomics and get better at creating compelling stories out of facts and figures. Data journalism wins too!
  • To fully understand what makes the audience tick.
  • To gather feedback and react to it. Promptly.
  • To dive headfirst into our analytics tools to make sense of what works, and what doesn’t. 
  • To constantly tweak our tactics.
  • Strong distribution processes.
  • Teams that support one another, and to work with other people across the business.
  • We also need technology platforms that support content teams, for content can only go so far. 

I have tried to distil much of the above into a matrix, made up of 16 fast and loose ‘roles’. As a brief aside, I’m a big believer in Reid Hoffman’s quote: “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you've launched too late.”

With that in mind, here it is. I cobbled it together yesterday afternoon. As a first pass I think it works, but it probably needs to be finessed. Click on the image for a bigger, clearer version. 

The Content Marketing Team Matrix

Some explanatory notes: 

  1. Start reading from the top left ('Direction'), and then proceed clockwise. Broadly speaking, the cycle is along the lines of: Leadership > Insight > Execution > Feedback. Test, refine, repeat!
  2. I have been very liberal with regards to the naming of the roles. These are broad descriptions, rather than prescriptive job titles. For example, you would probably want to replace ‘Listener’ with ‘Chief Listening Officer’, or something similar. You could swap ‘Chief Content Officer’ for ‘Content Director’. ‘Writer’ might be ‘Blogger’, or ‘Journalist’, or ‘Reporter’, or something else. 
  3. Skills matter more than the roles, per se. Multiskilled teams will cover off many of these 16 roles. That’s exactly the way it should be, and it's how our small team operates. Writers with strong maths and design skills won't be short of work in the years to come.
  4. There is a lot of flexibility and overlap in the various sections. Take the top right section: the analyst / researcher role might be a content producer, or an internally-focused analyst. It depends on your needs as a business, and the approach you take.
  5. Some roles such as ‘copywriter’ are possibly AWOL. I think ‘Writer’ covers that one, but there may be others that didn’t make the cut, or that I missed. Do shout up if you think others should be added (or roles replaced).
  6. I have purposefully avoided certain roles, notably tech and HR, which I think are largely support roles that exist within other parts of the organisation. I don’t think these merit dedicated content roles for most businesses. If you hire a bunch of 'Content Technologists' to sit on your content team then I suspect your tech is too complicated, or the skills on your team aren't developed enough.

Does it make sense? Is this kind of structure an accurate reflection of what’s needed? What would you change?

Do let me know what you think in the comments area below, or via Twitter.

PS - remember to book your place for the 2014 Festival of Marketing, which takes place in November. It is a two day celebration of the modern marketing industry featuring speakers from brands including LEGO, Tesco, Barclays, FT.com and more. 5,000 of your peers will be there.

Chris Lake

Published 27 August, 2014 by Chris Lake

Chris Lake is CEO at EmpiricalProof, and former Director of Content at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter, Google+ or connect via Linkedin.

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Comments (16)

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Juan Pablo Vergara, Director of Digital Channel Operations at Suramericana

You didn't avoided tech nor HR. You simply gave them another name such as "the engineer" who make things happen (this sounds like tech to me) and "the boss" who hire the team (this sounds like HR to me).

almost 4 years ago

Doug Kessler

Doug Kessler, Director at VelocitySmall Business Multi-user

Wow! Love this matrix. It's not only insanely geeky, it works!

almost 4 years ago


Sneha Kadaba, Digital Marketing Executive at Opus Energy

I don't think that the "engineer" and "boss" roles necessarily represent tech and HR in this case. It seems that engineers need more than tech skills, and more of project management and delivery. I worked at a company that had someone in a similar role, and although he had an understanding of IT, his core skills were delivering tech projects in the best way possible.

And as for the Boss role - I don't think it's something that HR could do. Recruiting the team for content marketing and creation roles can, in my opinion, only be done by somebody who understands the process. Someone in HR wouldn't really be able to make judgement calls on the skills and expertise required to do these roles, so it would be the Chief Content Officer (or equivalent) who hires the team.

Not trying to start an argument or anything, just adding in my two cents! :)

almost 4 years ago


Mark Higginson

Looks expensive - half-a-million a year? More?

Quite a return required to justify the expenditure.

almost 4 years ago


John Bottom

A really good summary of what is needed - and this will be useful in convincing clients of the effort required to do content marketing properly. Clearly a smaller operation would have a single person covering multiple roles, but this is a great guide. Thanks for publishing - and for practising what you preach. Content from content marketers is traditionally strong, but you guys do it very well. Thanks, John

almost 4 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

@Juan Pablo - If a department gets beyond a certain size then it merits a dedicated HR resource, e.g. 'talent acquisition for tech', but most content teams won't contain enough people to merit it.

@Doug - Thanks as ever! I cannot suppress my inner geek...

@Sneha - I agree... these roles require core content skills, as opposed to hiring / engineering skills, but will be required at times to bring people in, or to help build things. It's about direction, really. Let's not have the tail wagging the dog.

@Mark - If you wanted to recruit all of these 16 positions then yes, it would add up, but the reality for most of us is that we'll have fewer people covering off various of the skills needed. Our team of six covers most of the above. I'd like more visual design chops though, as it would save me doing these charts in Excel! That being said, it's all about business goals, and the ROI that follows on from that.

@John - Thanks for the good words, glad it makes some sense!

almost 4 years ago



Nice and simple, thanks Chris. Shows exactly why content is so difficult to execute well. I'd say most "Content Marketing Managers" are lone wolfs, wearing as many of these hats as possible. A tall order given the breadth of skills needed!

Good stuff anyway.

almost 4 years ago


Pieter Vereertbrugghen

Perfect matrix.
Tx so much.

One question
These are functions to me;
Can some of the functions reside in one person?
Otherwise, who is going to pay for this if you have a 'smaller' content marketing project (if that exist).

almost 4 years ago



Great one Chris. We can finally start to visualise the Publishing House that modern marketing teams need to turn into.

A key responsibility missing would be someone liaisoning with sales to pass on leads for leads nurturing, if it's done by marketing.

almost 4 years ago



How will you see this in the context of a e-commerce team that already have a lot of this skills and people. Is it a sub department, co-dep. or? What about the visual, should be a role within central e-com og content...? #notaimingfortrolling...

almost 4 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

@Aidan - The lone wolf thing is indeed accurate, and some content marketing folk may be stronger at content than at marketing, or vice versa. These are often relatively new positions, and wearing lots of hats (often at the same time) is part and parcel.

@Pieter - Absolutely, I should probably have been a bit clearer about that. People who are multiskilled across the functions mentioned are in high demand. In terms of who will pay, that just comes down to the business case. Every organisation is different. Value could be delivered via a cost saving, or a revenue increase. For example, for us, there is considerable SEO value from producing lots of high ranking content - it saves *at least* £1m a year in PPC costs.

@Anirban - Good point. I actually have an article half written about how content and sales team can work together.

@Rob - Content marketing has been going on for years, even if the label is fairly new, but it seems to have reached a kind of tipping point, and lots of businesses should have a dedicated team to manage it. It might make sense to position it within the ecommerce department. Depends a lot on the business goals, and org structure. As far as I know there is no degree in content marketing as yet, so we need people with the right kind of skills to reposition themselves as content marketers. We've been making it up on the go!

almost 4 years ago



This is brilliant! It really sorts out the roles and responsibilities very nicely. In our case we would need to change it a little bit, as we use a lot of video content. This refers to the "Writer" and "Visualiser" parts. Also for some types of video - think tutorials or music vids - a more complex planning in terms of dramaturgy is involved. I am not sure, whether this would fit into the writer/creator part or the strategist role. For written text this "planning" is usually done by the writer and most writers intuitively know how to do that. As for videos... well, millions of youtube videos prove that it is not always enough to point your mobile at the action to get good content.

almost 4 years ago



One thing thats not explicitly stated (but possibly implied by the Editor role) is the need for a Gatekeeper - it can easily be a major bottle neck. they need to be very quick to approve content (and preferably train others to do the role when theyre not around).

For many businesses they walk a tightrope of publishing timely, responsive content but at the same time making sure nothing damaging is released into the wild.

almost 4 years ago



Good stuff! Can I reduce this to a 4 people team? *thinking loud*

Report/Direction - Can easily see a person accumulating all this functions.

Creativity/Execution - Insight/Inspiration - Not so easy to find. I think I would pair these 4 differently. Perhaps:

Creativity/Inspiration - A designer that is well spoken, funny. (this can also be outsourced, and the written part can be assigned to someone else in the team)

Insight/Execution - A data freak that knows his way around all platforms. Gives insight during content creation, publishes it and performs campaigns

Audience/Feedback - A community manager

almost 4 years ago


Ian Gertler, Chief Marketing Officer at Queue Software

There's certainly a bunch to digest here, Chris ... overall, I think it touches on many important areas for optimizing our focus on both content marketing and hardcore journalism/editorial. Information is key, but we need to use it in both "snackable chunks" and expanded ways that resonate with today's consumption trends with the audience(s) -- visually stimulating, reliable data, actionable insights based on the details provided and discussed, third-party validations that offer true expertise in areas that might stimulate additional conversations, explorations and innovations, etc.

Thanks for the catalyst to stir the pot a bit more ... and get better.

over 3 years ago

Gurumantra Khalsa

Gurumantra Khalsa, Publisher at Nutrition News

Thanks Chris. Now I know why it seems I'm overwhelmed so much of the time. I aspire to a team of six but for now, it's lonely at the top.

about 3 years ago

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