The Top Twenty Content Marketing Influencers You MUST Know

The Top Twenty Content Marketing Influencers You MUST Know

As is the case with any industry, there are a few key personalities who you absolutely MUST know and follow. Rand Fishkin for SEO-savviness. Seth Godin for marketing smarts. Richard Branson for entrepreneurship. Guy Fieri for kooky, heavily battered foods.

Content marketing is no different and has its share of superstars. These 20 content marketing influencers make up an elite list of the most sophisticated and intelligent communicators in the content space today. Add them to your social media radar. Buy their books. Take their courses. Learn from them to help grow your efforts.

Here are the 20 content marketing influencers that you absolutely MUST know:

1. Ann Handley - Author. Marketer. Chief Content Officer.

Ann comes in at number one not just by coincidence! Her WSJ bestselling book Everybody Writes made it on our 2014 Startup Gift Guide and we haven’t stopped talking about her ever since. She’s a warrior and explains that she’s “waging a war on content mediocrity” and by doing so, she’s creating a legion of ultra-sharp writers and communicators taking apart the traditional old boring content game. Her blog is a goldmine of inspiration and well worth spending time with.

Twitter: @annhandley

2. Jay Baer - Author. Business Strategist. Speaker. President of Convince and Convert.

Jay is all about customers and his upcoming book Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers (Release Date: March 2016) promises to educate readers on how to flip complaints to your advantage. He is a prolific content creator and eats his own dogfood but cranking out top-notch podcasts, blog posts, SlideShares and more. He’s quoted as saying, “Content is fire. Social media is gasoline.” which further demonstrates that he gets it and walks the walk.

Twitter:  @jaybaer

3. Jeff Bullas - Author. Blogger. Strategist. Speaker.

Jeff is one of the most pro-blogging, anti-fluff people on the content marketing circuit today and is able to cut through the BS when educating newbies on the benefits of why content matters. He is social-media savvy and truly gets how to market online. Confession - He is one of the rare few who I consistently Tweet-Fave on a daily basis!

Twitter:  @jeffbullas

4. Brian Honigman - Content Marketing Consultant. Writer.

Brian’s catchphrase is “Smart. Social. Storytelling” - a true mantra for those who are looking to stand out from the competition. He demonstrates what a great strategy can do when coupled with a powerful story and educates readers on how to go beyond just the big idea. Brian shows that words coupled with action convert into customers through making copy on a page actionable. To do anything else is just a creative exercise.

Twitter:  @BrianHonigman

5. Kristina Halvorson - Author. CEO and Founder of Brain Traffic.

Co-author of the must-read book Content Strategy for the Web, Kristina is like a forensic scientist when it comes to performing content audits. She is the go-to-gal for all things audit-focused and her razor-sharp precision in detailing the content audit process makes her one of the more specialized names on this list. Whether you’re starting out with defining your website, or looking to streamline the mountains of content on your current site, it’s worth checking out her thoughts to gain a sense of direction for your efforts.

Twitter:  @halvorson

6. Danielle Antosz - Senior Editor, Search Engine Journal. Writer.

With her expertise in developing and editing content for the highly esteemed, Search Engine Journal, Danielle demonstrates the great success that can be had when one combines top quality and informative writing with some mega-strength SEO. Watch and learn folks. Watch and learn.

Twitter:  @dantosz

7. Sujan Patel - Growth Marketer. Author. Entrepreneur.

Sujan is a content machine. We seriously have no idea how he cranks out such a volume of top-notch, high quality content - not just for his own blog but the many articles he runs in just about every business publication under the sun (and on top of that - for his clients). A master of both quality and quantity, Sujan demonstrates that finding your voice and having a passion for writing is an entrepreneur’s biggest asset.

Twitter:  @sujanpatel

8. Erika Heald - Content Marketer. Social Media Coach.

Erika gets the connection between content and social media promotion and speaks a great deal to how these two elements must work together to ensure success. If you’re not yet a convert to why social media has to be a part of your organization, then just check out Erika’s feeds and you’ll leave a changed person!

Twitter:  @SFerika

9. Kelsey Libert - Partner at Fractl Agency. Columnist. Entrepreneur.

A true data-geek, Kelsey eats numbers for breakfast. What’s the sense in running any content marketing programs if you’re not tracking the results? Kelsey’s focus is on showing how vital data can be in evaluating what went right, what went wrong and what needs to change in one’s content efforts. It’s all about the bottom line. But don’t fear. She won’t leave you in the dust if you’re not too sharp with the number-crunching. Her human vocabulary will soothe any fears that she writes like a robot.

Twitter:  @KelseyLibert

10. Scott Abel - Content Strategist. Columnist. Presenter. Content Marketer.

Scott has a way with words, but not just evocative words on a screen or page - he’s all about strategy and explaining the reasons why content must rest on a solid plan or be doomed to fail. He is a major advocate for ‘intelligent content’ and taking the approach of not just churning out more materials for the sake of meeting a quota or just being on the scene. Our industry needs more people like Scott to hold our feet to the fire.

Twitter:  @scottabel

11. Carla Johnson - Speaker. Storyteller. Strategist.

When storytelling is at the core of your content marketing efforts, you know you’re positioned for win. Carla eats, drinks, breathes and sleeps storytelling and her ability to hone in on a brand’s key messaging makes her one of the greats. Her work with large mega-brands to develop evocative marketing experiences demonstrates that armed with a great story, companies can gain interest, engage, enchant - and purchase.

Twitter:  @CarlaJohnson

12. Joanna Wiebe - Conversion Copywriter. Creator of CopyHackers

One of the most playful and awesomest people in the content space is Joanna who has a super-human ability to make words dance, hop, pop and jump as you read them. If you’re looking for copy that’s going to cause a burning sensation to make folks just wanna convert, then check out what Joanna and the Copy Hackers crew are putting out there. She’s one of the more entertaining writers on this list and I always look forward to her newsletters where I come away with a new quirky word each time!

Twitter:  @copyhackers

13. Chad Pollitt -  Professor. Writer. Co-founder of Relevance

A generalist with much to say about every aspect of content marketing, Chad is a former US Army Commander who has made it his mission to battle wimpy inbound marketing and content campaigns. He’s practicing what he’s preaching and constantly churning out ebooks, guides, cheat sheets and contributed articles to help gain exposure for his messages.

Twitter:  @ChadPollitt

14. Ryan Hanley - Podcaster. Author. Blogger.

Host of the Content Warfare Podcast, Ryan Hanley is determined to help you “win the battle for attention online.” He has a keen sense of how to define what’s core and what’s to be tossed in developing a brand’s messaging and guides readers through how to achieve this within their own content marketing campaigns.

Twitter: @RyanHanley_Com

15. Shanelle Mullin - Content and Growth at Conversion XL.

I’m a bit biased here, but I know how fantabulous former Onboardly staffer Shanelle Mullin is when it comes to her knowledge of content marketing. If growth is your thing (seriously it should be if it isn’t already), then Shanelle is your go-to-gal. You want your content marketing to work right? You want to matter to your customers right? You want sales, app installs, downloads, repeat purchases - ALL THE THINGS right? Well start following our buddy Shanelle and you’ll be well on your way to growing beyond your wildest dreams.

Twitter:  @shanelle_mullin

16. Ardath Albee- Content Marketing Strategist. Writer. Author.

With a mission to turn prospects into buyers, Ardath’s focus is on content marketing efforts that convince and encourage through each step of the buying process - what she refers to as ‘The Continuum Experience.’ She is driven to helping others understand what each potential buyer is focused upon and then ensuring that they develop key insights in order to enable action. Every marketing interaction has an action and a subsequent result. Ardeth will help you connect the dots.

Twitter:  @ardath421

17. Michael Brenner - CEO of Marketing Insider Group. Consultant. Speaker. Author.

With his hands in every potential element of content marketing for notable mega-brands such as IBM, Pfizer and Verizon, you have to listen to him. Really. You do. He’s also the Head of Strategy for content marketing platform NewsCred which well, gives him all the more cred in confirming that he knows his stuff.

Twitter:  @BrennerMichael

18. Heidi Cohen - Actionable Marketer. Speaker. Professor. Journalist

Known for her Actionable Marketing Guide, Heidi dispenses real world, practical advice for marketers looking for simple techniques to generate an uptick and make their content count for something. She defines the un-definable, reduces complex methodologies into a digestible format and makes you feel like you can really make this marketing thing work for you.

Twitter:  @heidicohen

19. Ana Hoffman - Blogger. Small Business Owner.

For those with small marketing budgets, we know the reality - everything counts and you are pinching every penny to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth. Ana’s a pro when it comes to instructing on how to generate traffic. If you’re not generating attention, then what is the sense in churning out podcasts, videos, ebooks and blog posts? Ana offers tips for content promotion and audience generation to ensure your content isn’t just left by the wayside.

Twitter:  @AnaTrafficCafe

20. Gerry Moran - Global Head of Social Media & Content Marketing at Cognizant

You’ll find a bit of everything on Gerry’s blog. From social media hacking to small business tips. Content marketing advice, personal branding tactics and social selling help. He’s a generalist who offers something for everyone, and that something is top quality information that is of use.

Twitter:  @GerryMoran

So there you have it. Onboardly’s list of the top 20 content marketing influencers that you absolutely must follow. While it was a difficult task to only keep it down to just 20, we’re confident that you’ll learn something new or to up your game if you spend some time with these smarties.

Was this post useful? Did we miss anyone who should be on this list? Should YOU be on this list? Leave us a comment and let us know.

What do you think?


Thanks for including me Tanya! Such an honor to be listed amongst friends and mentors in my industry. I greatly appreciate it. Happy new year to the Onboardly team!

Thanks for including me! Honored.

No Neil Patel?