Today’s content marketers have a plethora of tools and tactics at their disposal for researching, creating and distributing content effectively. Most are familiar with keyword research, trending topic identification, social monitoring and other online tactics of behavioral research.

Those that are more “old school” understand the value of focus groups, customer interviews and regular feedback from sales representatives. When it comes time for promotion, social channels, email, PR and paid distribution tools like Outbrain and Taboola are the typical tools in the content marketer’s toolbox.

Yet one of the most commonly overlooked assets is one that content marketers can use to capitalize on every aspect of a content campaign—from research and ideation to creation and promotion. Subject matter experts, or SMEs, are the individuals outside your organization (but still in your space) that are capable of taking your content marketing game to the next level when leveraged effectively.

Here are a few tips for doing just that.

Research, Ideation & Creation

Use media outlets, social media, organic search, PR tools and personal connections to identify the experts in your space who have deep knowledge on the topics areas for which you create content. After creating a list, outreach is simple—this guide is a great resource for pointers on how to get response rates above 20 percent from the SMEs you identify.

When the right questions are asked, interviews with SMEs have the potential to provide perspective above and beyond your previous comprehension of a topic area. SMEs can provide the context and syntax you need to truly speak the language of your audience. You’ll be able to talk more directly to the pain points of your prospects and, more importantly, answer their questions with greater expertise. The end result is simply better content that is more likely to resonate with its consumers.


The goal of working with SMEs is, of course, more than just getting interviews for unique angles on topics; it’s building relationships. Relationships can make the difference between outstanding content that falls flat and outstanding content that excels. After all, creation is only half the battle.

By involving subject matter experts in the earlier phases of the content marketing process, they’ll have a vested interest in seeing that content perform well. For this reason, it’s a strategic move for both parties to leverage the expert’s network to broadcast and distribute the content.

It’s important to note that not all experts are industry influencers. However, many will be. This should be a consideration during your initial outreach phase as you consider the long game and the end results you’re striving for. Most SMEs that can be found online have broad social followings or are members of important industry communities to which they can broadcast content.

Tap Into SMEs for Content Marketing Success

Establishing partnerships with subject matter experts will allow you to be a better content marketer all around. You’ll do more thorough research, you’ll write more engaging content and you’ll open up a variety of doors for promotion opportunities.

This is not to say that other tools and tactics for creation and promotion should be tossed aside. Rather, this is a call for content marketers to consider an incredibly valuable asset that is often overlooked: the subject matter expert.

Relevance’s new guide, Tapping Into Subject Matter Experts for Content Marketing Success, goes into great depth on this topic. From the tools for identifying industry experts to interview preparation tips—it’s the all-in-one resource for incorporating SMEs into your content marketing strategy.