In today’s special episode of the Animalz podcast, you have questions, and we have answers.
I enlisted Animalz CEO Devin Bramhall to help me answer some of the hardest content marketing questions you could throw at us.
In today’s special episode of the Animalz podcast, you have questions, and we have answers.
I enlisted Animalz CEO Devin Bramhall to help me answer some of the hardest content marketing questions you could throw at us.
We’ll do another Q&A episode in the not-too-distant future, so if you have a question you’d like us to tackle, click the link in the show notes.
Listen to the episode above, or check it out in your favorite podcast app.
"Two of the biggest challenges you need to overcome at that point, one, getting to revenue as quickly as possible. . .and a sub challenge of that is actually improving domain authority.
"When you've got a brand new website, no links, nobody knows about it, even ranking for very basic keywords is a massively uphill struggle. So whatever we do with content, I think it has to prioritize those two objectives first and foremost."
"Both honestly. I think that you get the shot in the arm versus your sort of long term strategy, which I think you'll end up leaning more on the latter later, right?
"Whereas a lot of people may be focused too much on the shot in the arm, and then they come to us later and say, hey, we haven't done anything to build up our organic traffic. And so they're kind of recovering later.
"So I think that there's a real value in building momentum in both areas at the same time."
"Trying to get other folks in the company to contribute to your content marketing program is just, it's not going to be easy. It's going to take work. So that's number one. Just accept the reality."
"I used to record conversation with folks because some folks either are bashful about writing, or in some cases are bashful about speaking. . .in that case, getting them to write a big brain dump of information helps, writing it into something, having them review it, that can work really well and be a great way to extract ideas from folks."
"For every piece of content, you can either prune it, refresh it or grow it. So either it's doing a great job, in which case it's worth connecting to more of your content, maybe making it a hub or including it in some kind of cluster of related content.
"Maybe it used to do good and it's not doing as good anymore, in which case, time to refresh it, update it, add new information to it, whatever needs to be done.
"Or like you said there, some content is just not worth keeping. Just say goodbye to it, move on with your life and do a better job surfacing the good stuff on the blog as well."
"I have a very strong opinion about this, which is you're asking the wrong question. It's not after the fact.
"So the beginning is, what do you want to achieve? And then figure out how you're going to achieve that with a combination of content and channels, right? You may decide that your blog post is actually better, will get more visibility in the form of a tweet storm, or in the form of a discussion topic in a forum."
"There are so many companies, especially B2B enterprise companies where the entire process of vetting and buying a product happens through word of mouth or referral or old fashioned communities of networks of people.
"Quite often, there aren't "what is" keywords or "how to" keywords you can target to reach those people and actually persuade them to buy from you.
"It has to be a lateral application of content in some cases. So one of the things we experimented with was basically ABM content - account based marketing."
In today's special episode of the Animalz podcast, you have questions and we have answers. I've enlisted animal CEO, Devin Bramhall to help me answer some of the hardest content marketing questions you could throw at us. We tackle launching new websites, balancing paid and organic spend, content promotion, offline buying processes, and a whole lot more. We'll be doing another Q&A episode in the not too distant future. So if you have a question you'd like us to tackle, just click the link in the show notes.
Welcome to another episode, the Animalz podcast. We're doing things a little bit differently today. I reached out to a bunch of followers and friends on social media to ask for the some of the hardest questions that keep them up at night about content marketing. I brought our lovely CEO, Devin onto the podcast with me. Hey, Devin.
Hi, good morning. Good afternoon in your country.
Yeah, and we are going to attempt to wade through these answers and share something useful and coherent and vaguely sensible.
Vaguely? I would say very sensible.
Very, extremely sensible, extremely useful.
Yes. I'm very excited. As I've told you already. Q&A's are my favorite, favorite format. Even better if I don't know the questions in advance, so.
Yeah, so I've totally cheated. I spend a bit of time thinking about my answers. Devin doesn't even need that. It's like a golf handicap she's got. She just wants to come in. No prompts, no nothing and just answer off the cuff, and she'll probably end up sounding smarter than me in the process anyway, so.
Will sound smarter together.
Oh, I love the original, the starting from scratch questions. Ryan, why don't you kick it off?
I will. So I was thinking a bit about this. We worked with lots of customers who for various different reasons don't have a website, or they've migrated to a brand new website, and it's literally like two pages on the internet, in some cases, not even indexed by Google. Probably two of the biggest challenges you need to overcome at that point, one, getting to revenue as quickly as possible. That's the entire function of having a marketing site is getting people there, getting them to understand your product and buy from you. And then I guess a sub challenge of that is actually improving the domain authority.
When you've got brand new website, no links, nobody knows about it, even ranking for very basic keywords is a massively uphill struggle. So whatever we do with content, I think it has to prioritize those two objectives first and foremost.
Yeah. I agree. I mean, I think I would start and PS if you hear a squeaky noise behind me that is my dog. So sorry. He wants to join the conversation. He found the squeaker in the thing, extracted it and now just goes straight for the squeaker. Yeah, I mean, I think you hit on it. The first thing that I would do is say, well, what are the objectives of my website based on what my product is, right? Getting to revenue? Sure. But in some cases people have products that aren't sold through a website, right? It's more hand to hand combat. So there's probably more information providing but whatever it is, your objective is write that down first, right? Be really clear, because I think where we see a lot of folks kind of recalibrating later, is when they didn't have a clear vision for or clear objective for their website when they got started. So they just did a combination of this is what I think I should do, right?
So they have sort of a combination of different strategies from different people may be trying to follow some kind of industry standard, and the things that other people do won't necessarily serve them. I would use Animalz as a perfect example. Up until 2019, our website was a very basic homepage, which for a while didn't really describe what we do.
It was almost enough to put me off applying to Animalz in the first place. I was like, is this even a legit company? It was so simple.
Yeah, yeah, right. And even earlier days before that, which I think we showed screenshots of it in the new website launch post, but it was just a landing page with some stuffed animals looking at a computer, right? But there was a brilliance to that because in the beginning Walter was leveraging his network to get customers and you needed real estate on the internet to show that they are a legit company. Because most of what he was doing to get new business was through networking, right?
Then when we got a little bit bigger, we had a slightly more in depth landing page. Then we went into a blog, no services page, right? The blog helped us diversify our lead sources, which was great, right? But we kind of took a step by step approach, right? Instead of trying to do the kitchen sink at once we said, what do we really need this for? And I do think there's a brilliance in that, and I think that a lot of folks make a website project really big too soon. It's like, start with the bare bones, layer on top of it as you have the resources and ability and need for more complex things, and it may be that when you think about content for your site, maybe you don't need a blog in the first month, maybe you just need your homepage, a few basic services pages, a way to reach out and you can think about content and building funnels later on.
We've even worked with some customers where they came to us thinking they wanted to launch a blog, and we dug into it, and we realized, given where they were in their business, they were talking to lots of prospects through referral kind of like we were in the early days, they were best served by sales enablement content, something that helped them codify their vision, articulate why their company was interesting and different. So we actually created basically an eBook that laid down their vision for their industry and their product, and that was the most impactful thing we could do. That helped them actually close deals.
In the early days, we did what we call bottom of the funnel thought leadership content. Basically writing about the problems and challenges that sales prospects have addressing that directly with content. So it's good blog fodder, it's good to share, people learn from it, you can grow the traffic that way, but it's also a sales tool first and foremost. I think probably one of the biggest mistakes people make is actually they say we've got a new website, we've got no links, no traffic, let's hammer a search as hard as we can, and they pick some really competitive, really high volume keywords and you just can't rank for those even if they're not that saturated if you have no domain authority. So if search is a priority, even starting with very long tail, low competition keywords and building up to more competitive ones is probably a good starting point as well.
Right, because that helps you build your brand as well. Top of funnel may get you some traffic, but it isn't necessarily useful traffic for you. Whereas like we operated as a speakeasy brand, but we earned a lot of respect from the folks that did know about us because of the topics that we covered on our blog, right? Because we weren't going top of funnel and trying to compete with HubSpot for that type of content marketing traffic, and I think that that served to help us build brand credibility alongside growing our customer base at the same time.
It's not an approach that every company is going to be able to take, right? We don't have investor funding, no one's asking us to grow at a particular pace. So certainly that's a consideration. But I do think that right now especially, a lot of companies are waking up to the fact that top of funnel traffic just isn't, makes you feel good about yourself. It doesn't do much for the bottom line.
Especially with an audience of very smart marketers and founders. If we just churned out generic marketing content, they're going to tune us out in a heartbeat. We had to do something different and smarter and stand out from the crowd I think.
It's my PR for B2B SaaS is so difficult to do, because you've got these folks who they think about things differently, and you have to get really specific and kind of geeky in a way, and it's just hard to package that up into a very simple message, right? And I think that's why bottom-up funnel content is so effective. I also think that does present, to get to the second part of the question, a very serious challenge with regards to promotion. It's not something that I think it's why a lot of companies sort of goes straight to paid promotion in the beginning because it is easier to scale if you can throw money at it.
But again to that end, if you get down to how many new customers you actually get from it, that can be disappointing. So you have to do a lot of research and homework and start to build up your presence in certain communities, through the individual folks at your company I think to make a really robust promotion plan work.
Well you've segued beautifully into our second question as well, which is how does paid marketing compared to organic in terms of performance and popularity? And which one should a brand new company invest in first?
I find that a very difficult question to answer. My answer would be both honestly. I think that you get the shot in the arm versus your sort of long term strategy, which I think you'll end up leaning more on the latter later, right? Whereas a lot of people may be focused too much on the shot in the arm, and then they come to us later and say, hey, we haven't done anything to build up our organic traffic. And so they're kind of recovering later. So I think that there's a real value in building momentum in both areas at the same time. I don't know, what are your thoughts on it?
Yeah, well I think that is probably one of the most common motivations for founders talking to us. Paid is really good because of the immediacy of the results you get from it. When you're brand new company, and you need to scale your company by X amount of revenue paid is a fairly good way of doing that, especially if you've got funding, because you put X into it, and you get Y out of it. And at least until you reach that point of saturation, it's fairly predictable.
Obviously, that doesn't last forever. Otherwise, every company in the world would use paid for everything they do. And at that point, you always want to have been doing organic already so you're not starting from square one, you don't have this awkward transition period. One of the things that does make that a bit harder though is right from day one of your company, you do need this kind of inherent writing culture in your company. Because a lot of the time when you're a very small team founders are busy doing everything. Writing is a big, big commitment. It's a big thing to think about and execute on. So it has to be something you care passionately about. You want to be able to document your vision or your ethos, your ideas, it's something that has to come from you first and foremost, I think in the early days.
Yeah. But also, I mean, yes and no. I think if you're a founder who can articulate your vision and your ideas and your perspective, I do think that you can lean on other folks within your company to write for you. What it requires I believe is one, a little bit of compromise. Maybe what you're able to produce in the early days, given that you're busy and trying to do a lot of things isn't the north star level that you want. But there's a value in just getting started and starting to express your ideas, and I think if your ideas themselves are strong and novel and unique, then folks will overlook the writing a little bit in the beginning, because there's like, you've got that newness factor to you, right? And so you can almost get away with a little more.
I wouldn't use that as an excuse for bad writing or poor quality or anything like that. But I think if you focus too hard on absolute perfection in the early days, right? That's sort of that slows you down, and the whole idea at the beginning days of a startup is pace, right? The time of pace matters more than ever.
We just published a blog post actually, by our wonderful strategist, Katie Parrott, and it basically lays out a really good dynamic for a founder who wants to get started with content for the first time and actually partnering with an agency, like the role and dynamics there. The way she explained it is the founder, the company C-suite, they have what we called earn secrets, which is this. It's an Andreessen Horowitz term comes from a great podcast we listened to recently.
You love those folks by the way.
The idea that your experience, your network, the people you interact with, you're uniquely positioned to come up with your own secrets, your own experiences that nobody else can emulate. And then working with an agency, for example, what we help a lot of founders with is articulating that in the clearest way. Bringing proprietary data to bear on their perspectives. Generally, polishing and breathing life into what can be quite a nebulous idea sometimes, and that can be really great for a founder. They just wants to start codifying their vision, getting that out into the world.
Yeah, or do a Q&A, right? If you really don't have time, you can do Q&A style. It's not necessarily my favorite, but if-
You said while doing a Q&A podcast.
... I know, I know. But sometimes it's like okay, fine. It's just question, answer, questions, answer, but if that's all you have time for, that's an easy format to execute on, right?
You could literally do it verbally and then have it transcribed and have someone clean it up, right? It would take very little time. And that's a way to just get your ideas out there, start publishing, start building up your thought leadership, starting to express the ideas that your product stands for, which I think is really, really important in the early days. So many people focus on the what. Get it. What is this project? What does it do? Who does it serve? But what makes your product sticky is the why and so if you can start to even in a scrappy way, articulate that it gives something for people to latch on to.
Part of the further reason Reddit AMAs are so popular. You've got some of the busiest people in the world who carve out time to do Reddit AMA is because it's a really effective way of surfacing their experience without actually having to sit down, write a laborious article. People love it. Even as a company founder, even if you're not Bill Gates or Elon Musk, you can still find some network, some community that you're a part of and add a ton of value through that sort of format.
Yeah, and what a clever way to promote your new website, new content, right? PR for startups or for tech startups, I guess, it's such a different process. But I think the folks that really succeed are clever like that, and they research all these other channels, like Reddit, doing AMAs, right? Finding their way in a clever way to start just growing awareness for their brand and for their individuals, right? I'm a big fan of identifying people in the company like multiple people, more than just the CEO to help promote the company through their own industry. So like someone on the marketing team, someone on the engineering team, someone on the customer support team and kind of making them the face for their departments. So that you've got multiple people promoting the business at the same time through their own industries.
Oh, awesome. Do that. Do that.
Do that thing. The thing Devin just said. Next question.
Yeah, it totally works though, because again, the tension in tech startups is this pull between reportable ROI and actual impact, and there were some things that we did at Help Scout that I couldn't measure. But that I know were, you just know and that was I remember when we did a redesign of our website, those can be really dangerous because we didn't just redesign our website, we redesigned the product. And I've been a part of a product redesign that went so poorly, it resulted in millions of users thinking that they lost everything that they had saved in the product.
And I was the only customer support person I think, at the time, or the only full time customer support person at the time. And we had, I mean, thousands, thousands of messages in a span of 10 minutes. People being, what happened? So it is a dangerous thing. People don't like change. You have to prepare them for it. And what we did was leverage internal folks to help us celebrate it, right? To sort of get ahead of any negativity, one of which was the lead designer and co-founder, right? So he wrote a whole blog post on the history of the brand, all the iterations they've gone through over the years visually, why they changed it to what they did, really kind of opened up the doors and said, come inside, we're going to show you all the insights of how the mechanics of how we got here, right?
We interviewed the head of engineering, or I forget what his title was, but something head of product engineering, which is another one of the co-founders, I interviewed him. We did lots of that stuff. I published blog posts via our head of sales at various moments, and the result, oh gosh, we even had a whole series called something about support 101, that featured one of our people ops folks, one of our customer support, folks. So it was bring all these people in.
All these people have recognizable brands affiliated with Help Scout, and all contribute to folks loving that brand even more. So I can't recommend bringing other folks in the company in highly enough and finding creative ways to do it, right?
Yeah. One of the struggles we've had is, in much the same way we have a team of 50 plus content marketing experts, people that really, really know this industry, have so much to contribute, but they all have full time jobs. Obviously, that's the nature of the beast. So finding ways to actually extricate their knowledge in a way that doesn't require them to sit down and carve out three days of time. It's been something that we've worked very hard at. One of the things we've, well I've started doing in particular actually is getting people on the podcast. Because it's a very, very quick and accessible way of getting insights out of people in a conversational, less scary way in some cases.
You don't have to go through this rigorous editing process. You don't have to worry about creating this really polished finished article. You can just have a conversation, and anyone that's an expert in any area can always talk about the thing they're experts in. Like we did podcast recently about EdTech content marketing with Stephanie because she lives and breathes that. Ecommerce with Laura because she has her own ecommerce brand. She works with all of our ecommerce customers. For the sake of like a 40-minute podcast interview, the information density you get out of that it's just staggeringly great.
Yeah, absolutely. Or just recording a conversation with someone. I think the thing to remember is that it's never going to be easy. Trying to get other folks in the company to contribute to your content marketing program is just, it's not going to be easy. It's going to take work. So that's number one. Just accept the reality.
No one will care about it as much as you do.
Yeah, or even if they do, trying to find time for one other thing is always going to be difficult. So just accept that as your baseline, number one, and don't try to make it necessarily, I've made the mistake of trying to use more people in the company to help build up my backlog, right? You've experienced this too, it doesn't work. It actually is way harder to get other people to write a blog post, it's easier to just sit down and write it yourself. So accept that you're going to have aspirations, you probably won't meet them 100% but it's good to go after them. And the second thing is, I used to record conversation with folks because some folks either are bashful about writing, or in some cases are bashful about speaking.
So in that case, getting them to write a big brain dump of information helps, but sort of getting the block of content from them, writing it into something, having them review it, that can work really well and be a great way to extract ideas from folks. But just not there's no secret sauce you haven't discovered to making it easier. It's just hard, but totally worth it.
Just before this call I realized I sent a slack message to our content ops channel where everyone talks about content, just with one very simple question. A good example of the kind of response I was looking for, just as a way to get people to feedback into an article, even in this tiny little easy contribution, it doesn't have to be a massive contribution in a lot of cases to be really worthwhile.
Yeah, yeah. Right. We used to do that too, and those posts end up being the little baby roundups from the team that include members of your team. Those can be some real kind of, I call them candy posts, right? They don't have a long shelf life, but when you release them, they get a lot of attention. They pull out the quotes. They're easy to consume, easy to share, fun to read quick. They don't take a lot of effort, but they can be really meaningful, right? And a great way to showcase the team.
And I think that a company isn't just about the CEO or the founder, right? It's like it is you can make your brand more lovable, the more you create personalities around other folks on the team. I feel like that's not done enough, and I can't recommend it highly enough, either.
Cool. Next question for you. When auditing a content database, so blogs, downloadable assets, videos, webinars, that kind of thing, what are some good questions to ask the data to find actionable insights to inform future content strategy? Obviously, at the moment, we've kind of going through this exercise a little bit ourselves. We've been building out an audit process. But one of the things we've realized is that most audits are disconnected from this last part of the question, informing future content strategy.
It's very easy to pick out 100 stats or little tidbits of information that you think hey, this sounds important, there's probably something I should do with it, and then have no idea how to actually translate that into a new blog post or improving the performance of an existing web page. So we're spending a lot of time working out how do you actually create audits that improve content strategy? Some of the heuristics we're using at the moment, very, very simple things but very powerful. Like what out of your existing content actually performs the best? That seems like a really obvious thing to ask but any content strategy is always a best guess.
You go into it with what you expect to happen, expected results, and if you're always in that kind of content creation tailspin, if you don't make the time to review that and see how it lived up to your expectations, you have no way of knowing whether it actually delivered on what you thought it did. So quite often, we've had customers where they've had traffic plateauing for I think 14 months is one example of a customer and we literally just looked back through the archive of content, and we found the one type of post, above all else, the signal amidst all the noise that was actually performing disproportionately well for them.
The simplest thing to do then is just make more of that content. Find the format or the template that's already working and just create more of it. It's kind of like a simplification process can be surprisingly powerful, especially when you've got like 10 content streams out there.
Yeah, I mean, to me, this is practically a one word answer, right? To this questions. It's like what are your objectives? I hate to always go back to that, but it's like, that would be the governing question. Going into an audit. It's like, what are my objectives, and are these different content streams serving that objective? And to me, the two primary objectives would be leads or some kind of new business metric, whatever yours is, and brand.
So you may say that we actually can't tie the podcast directly back to new business through whatever our measurement mechanisms we have in place, but we can see somehow that it's really good for the brand. A lot of people are listening or downloading. They're mentioning it a lot. There's a lot of signals on social media from it. So we actually think this is worth doing, for example. So I think in that sense, it's pretty simple.
The third thing I would add to that though is, what are the issues, right? Because I think that when you do an audit, you can find some things that are compromising your site in some way. It's a broad statement, because it could be anything but, oh, your footer doesn't have like the primary keyword that your whole business is about in it. You should just do that. Or we've got a ton of posts that aren't getting any traffic, and they're kind of hurting, just get rid of this whole pie. Redirect, delete, whatever, refresh. So it's kind of, what are the errors? Your link structure stinks. Yeah. So I think that's the only, what are your gotchas? That's the third thing I think.
One of the, I think frameworks that Andrew, our head of R&D, he's been thinking a lot about audits has implemented is this idea of, for every content, every piece of content, you can either prune it, refresh it or grow it. Fits into those three buckets. So either it's doing a great job, in which case it's worth connecting to more of your content, maybe making it a hub or including it in some kind of cluster of related content. Maybe it used to do good and it's not doing as good anymore, in which case, time to refresh it, update it, add new information to it, whatever needs to be done. Or like you said there some content is just not worth keeping in some cases. Just say goodbye to it, move on with your life and do a better job surfacing the good stuff on the blog as well.
Yeah. Oh, one more thing. What's missing?
Yeah, what are the gaps?
You're in that exercise right now, right? Yeah, exactly, where are the gaps? So it's like you noticed that on our site as of 2019, we have a services page, which is great, step one, but we don't have any more in depth pages that describe our services in more depth, as there are certain services that need more in depth descriptions, not the least of which is our brand new product, which are content audits, right? When someone says content audit or SEO audit or site audit, I think a lot of people still don't know what that means.
I certainly, if someone were to say that to me, my first question would be, what does that mean? How do you interpret that term, and what are you going to include in it? So that was really important for us to add, and I think that audits can help you. They can help you identify gaps. I think the most important thing though, is you need someone interpreting that audit, who is going to analyze it and be able to offer that kind of opinionated analysis, which not all of them do, but should because finding gaps is as important as reworking what you have.
We're in the homestretch now, two questions.
I have a very strong opinion about this, which is you're asking the wrong question. It's not after the fact.
I love it, yeah.
Yeah, okay. Well, I'm like, no, wrong. You're already on the wrong track, right? It's not after, it's at the concept stage. You haven't even written a word yet. The concept, the whole idea. This is why so many people have trouble with social media and why they think it's a failure because they're creating something in a vacuum, when content marketing isn't about writing a blog post, and then distributing. Content marketing is about creating a concept, period. Actually, that's just it. It's creating a concept and that concept includes the whatever that sort of like mega piece of content is and distribution, but those are all part of the same concept.
So the beginning is, what do you want to achieve? And then figure out how you're going to achieve that with a combination of content and channels, right? You may decide that your blog post is actually better, will get more visibility in the form of a tweet storm, or in the form of a discussion topic in a forum, and it's through that discussion that you have in that forum, where you start to get an idea of what the actual blog post should really be, and then you translate but then you brought it in the forums, so that when you come back to that forum with the blog post, you wrote, you've got a bunch of people who are hungry to consume it because you started with them, right? So now you go, because I've gotten my stuffing off of my soapbox.
I was going to beat the exact same drum. The kind of canonical example for me from when I was a younger content marketer is laboring over an SEO optimized article and then trying to plug it to every social media channel and getting so frustrated. Why is nobody sharing this? Why does nobody care about my blog post? Without realizing that it's not optimized for social media. An SEO article is interesting to people at one very specific moment in their life, which is when they've googled a query and they have a question that needs answering. Outside of that, that article is of no interest to anyone. It's very situational.
That's great for reaching those people at those key inflection points, but it doesn't have that widespread appeal on social. Nobody's going to suddenly go, oh, cool. This how to about a thing I've never thought about is worth sharing with my network. It doesn't happen that way. So yeah, every article, starting it with this one question which is where am I distributing this? Who is the audience that it's actually intended for and how can I shape the article to suit that audience? Because yeah, search content, SEO, Google is a distribution channel. That's a really important way of thinking about it.
Yes, yes, and thought leadership, right? If you're trying to grow your visibility in a slightly smaller ecosystem in search, it's like, okay, great. Start to put together a thought leadership sort of idea driven, opinion driven, stuff that will spark, maybe even spark argument or at the very least a conversation, right? Those ideas will probably flourish on social media. I think the thing to think about there is, okay, concept chosen, and that concept is going to be, it's a social media concept. So whatever your content is, whatever your distribution is, okay? It's going to live, it's going to thrive in a social media ecosystem.
I think the thing you want to think about there, the next level down of planning is, how do I make this successful in that ecosystem? So if you're a new business that doesn't have a huge audience yet, you don't have a megaphone, maybe your CEO hasn't built theirs up yet either that's where you start to go in stealth a little bit where you say okay, you find friends, colleagues, their friends, right? And say, okay, we're going to let this fly at X time and then you text it to your friends, hey, can you give us some traction, right?
We've done that for customers before. We've done a tweetstorm for them, published it in houses and hey, we want to give this some traction, can you all kind of rally around it, help it get some visibility and kind of work the system a little bit?
Well, we're gearing up to do all monthly reporting and one of the channels we've seen so much traction with recently, are just newsletters as well. The kind of content we create is, as you can probably tell when you read, it's not optimized for search in most instances, but it kind of is optimized for newsletters and people sharing it, people reading it and thinking, oh, that's a new framing. I've never thought of it that way before. Cool, final question. In complex B2B Industries, for example, where you've got low traffic keywords, you're trying to build a category, what is the best content strategy approach?
I might start this off just because I've literally written an entire blog post on this, on the CXL blog. So I'll link to that in the show notes because obviously, it's great. I wrote it. I would say that. But one of the things I realized relatively late in my career is that not every industry has like an online buying process. There are so many companies, especially B2B enterprise companies where the entire process of vetting and buying a product happens through like word of mouth or referral or old fashioned communities of networks of people.
Quite often, there aren't "what is" keywords or "how to" keywords you can target to reach those people and actually persuade them to buy from you. And that blew my mind when I first realized it. I was so myopically focused on what keywords can I target to reach these people without realizing that maybe you can't easily reach people with keywords. It just has to be a lateral application of content in some cases. So one of the things we experimented with was basically ABM content. So account based marketing,
The way we think about content marketing as a builder of traffic, that is actually only one subset of the things that content can do. We spent a long time actually building case studies designed for target accounts. This was like a flooring manufacturer we partnered with, and they wanted to say Hilton Hotels was one dream customer. It'd be like a six, seven-figure deal if they got in with that. So we would find similar examples within their existing customer base, create case studies based on that, and we'd use LinkedIn, InMails or just cold outreach to send those case studies to people we thought were decision makers there. It's a totally different application of content and it can be totally brilliant and totally valid and generate a huge amount of money through that process sometimes.
Yeah, I agree, 100%. We've actually worked with customers like that. I think Indio is an example where Ken came to us with a really interesting marketing problem, which was that none of his potential buyers used the internet to source his product. He said they all go to these old, not old school, because conferences are still current, but they go to conferences, network hand to hand, right? So it was more of printable assets that were going to be useful for them, and that I think, yeah, to your point, you can't forget the old way of doing things.
Just because the internet is available to us, it doesn't mean it's the only channel available to us. And I think now more than ever, as each new channel that comes up or a feature that helps us in our marketing becomes saturated, the more it kind of forces you to be creative and try different approaches. I think that's why you see a lot of more companies now, particularly B2B SaaS companies experimenting with out of home, right? They realize, okay, the internet too has its limits.
I think it's actually becoming in a way more limited the more saturated it gets. It doesn't mean that will reach some kind of point where it's not useful anymore, but I do think that we're being pushed to some analog places now, and I think that's really cool, and I think that if you can get on top of that, and start innovating there now, you have a lot of space in which to stand out, but isn't really available on the internet right now.
Yeah. I worked with a customer once that was, they made call center software, and we spent all sorts of time and energy trying to work out how do we actually market this? This very, very specific niche product that's used by like one person in this one relatively small industry, how do we reach them? And it turned out there was one magazine call center helper which had existed for two decades at this point, used to be a literal physical magazine that would be posted to people and was basically imported pixel for pixel onto the internet. Like the website looks like an old magazine from like the 1980s or whatever. And that is just, everyone in the industry uses it. That is the one place where decisions happen and new stories get broken. If we'd never have found that, we would have missed out on like the number one distribution channel that entire industry which just seemed absolutely crazy.
Yeah, yeah. It's like what's old is new again, and what's new is old. I don't know how that goes, but you get it. It's just don't limit yourself to the tactics that are right in front of you. Be creative. That's why playbooks are useful but only if you build them yourself based on your specific business, your specific buyers, right? Your specific team. I do think that just going to HubSpot and asking them what to do and just following their playbook, you're going to be disappointed.
That's why so many people, I get so frustrated when people come to us and are like, we want to create a category just like Drift, they have a playbook, we want to follow it. I'm like, aargh. It's probably not going to work, and it's like, you're going to spend a lot of effort on it, and you'll be totally disappointed, and then you're going to think that it doesn't work or that content marketing doesn't work, and that's not really it. It's like, you need to take this playbook, you need to see how you can adapt it to your business, right?
Be creative on your own. Think for yourself, come up with your own ideas and then create a hypothesis, experiment against it, test, collect data, see what happens and then revise, revise, revise, revise. Nothing about content marketing involves creating a playbook, executing on it and having it work and just doing that forever. There's constant adaptation. It's the same with building a product, right? Engineers would never go to you and be like, well, I created code and now that code exists and everything's fine. No, they're building on top of it constantly, they're measuring it, they're constantly getting feedback from users, adapting over it. Your marketing strategy should be the exact same thing.
That seems like a very profound, very inspiring place to finish proceedings, I think.
Steps off soapbox, sits down, relaxes, takes a deep breath.
Well, this was a ton of fun. I actually love just geeking out a response to people's questions.
Me too. I'd love to hear if folks think this format is useful because I am so in for that. This is a lot of fun to do, and I love hearing what the questions that folks are asking. So yeah.
I think what I'll probably do is I'll put a form or an email address or something in the show notes where if you have a question, something that's been inspired by our rambling today or is something you've just been struggling with to work out anyway, get in touch. Let us know. We'll mow it over, and we'll come back to you with our very best responses in another episode.
Yeah, sounds great.
Cool. Well, thanks for joining me. It has been an education as always, Devin.