Sarah Beldo Elucidates on the Dos and Don’ts of Content Marketing
There’s a lot of information about how content marketers must keep the audience at the center of their content. But not much is said about what content marketers mustn’t do. Whether it is about having a clear distinction between content marketing and product marketing or about questioning higher-ups, content marketers have their job cut out for them.
Sarah Beldo, Head of Content Marketing and Communications at Sanity.io, talks to Rishabh Shekhar, COO, and Co-founder at Pepper Content, about all this and more.
1. What is your story?
I've worked on all types of content throughout my career. I started in publishing and moved on to online writing, marketing, SEO content, UX writing, managing teams, and then going back into content marketing. For the last ten years or so, I've been working mainly in B2B SaaS content marketing, which is an area that's most exciting to me. I am now working at Sanity.io, which is a content platform in itself.
2. Is content marketing industry-specific, or does the flavor, the essence, remain the same?
I think it’s all the same with different flavors. You also create a very different strategy depending on the company's goals and audience. As we all know, content marketers can't do everything. Everything that marketing does could be considered content in one way or another. And so I think on a content team, you have to decide where your team and you can make the most impact. Assess your strengths and the company's goals.
For content marketers, telling the brand’s story is crucial because no other department covers that. That’s where we make the most impact on awareness. Before somebody understands your product, they have to care about the problem that you're solving and understand it.
Although, one place content differs is between a product-led growth company and a sales-led company.
3. Can you go into more detail on how product marketing differs from content marketing?
There’s a blurred boundary between the two. I guess it's about how close to the product you are getting. If a piece of content were all about the product, you’d rather have product marketing outline the messaging. Someone on the content side could finalize the message.
Sometimes content is more of a service. I use freelance writers for a lot of that and keep my team more strategically focused on something closer to the brand story or the thought leadership - an overall narrative that we're trying to attach ourselves to.
If you're telling stories that tell people to care about your existence without necessarily knowing or needing your product right away is when content marketing is more valuable.
4. How do you personally approach team building, and what's your mantra for structuring your team?
I look for two types of people - a more senior person, someone who can be a strategic value add, who really understands content strategy, starts from the goals you want to achieve, and puts together a plan for achieving those goals.
And then I also look for operators, people who can run programs themselves. What I tend not to hire, and I've learned this over time, is people who are just good writers. I don't think they need to be full-time employees.
5. What is your opinion on the quality versus quantity debate?
It goes back to goals again. Quantity tends to come into play when SEO is a big focus. To get a lot of organic traffic, you need a lot of different pieces of content. This doesn’t necessarily mean a million blog articles. It could be landing pages or templates along with blog posts that tell a story about how to use those templates.
I have seen teams that are just focused on quantity creating a lot of unnecessary content that never even gets consumed. So if there's no search volume for it, if there aren't people out there that actually need it or are actively looking for it, then quantity should not be your primary focus.
You should focus on telling a good story, understanding why your company is valuable, and creating those larger pieces you can repurpose.
6. What are the metrics that you chase as a content marketer?
That is dependent on the goals. It’s tough to say that a piece of content is successful. If one person at the right company sees a piece of content that eventually becomes revenue, that's a huge win. But we don't always know that's happened.
So it's tough to have definitive metrics. For example, I am tracking many things that I'm working on at Sanity right now because our primary goal is awareness.
We have a lot of awareness in the developer community, but if we actually want to sell to the enterprise, we need more awareness. So much of the content I'm focused on is about getting visibility. YouTube and TikTok are channels I want to invest more in. We created a video on YouTube that got a lot of engagement. It was the first time outside the developer community that I saw something go viral. People were sharing it without us having to push really hard on it. And I considered that a big win. I don't know the numbers, but my qualitative observation is that people like this content. It's engaging people; they want to share it.
7. What is the one piece of advice for budding content marketers to do or not do?
What to do is to keep an open mind, always learn, and observe what works and doesn't. So much has changed; video and shorter-form content is now more engaging. But only some people are ready to embrace it. Content marketers have to start thinking about it.
Always test, iterate, and learn. Talk to your customers, learn from people, and empathize with the people you're talking to; remember that storytelling is essential, and understand who you are writing it for. The person you're writing for or creating content for should always be at the heart of everything you do.
What not to do, I think, is, if you're a budding content marketer, don’t forget to question your higher-ups if you feel something isn’t right. Don't just blindly go into the whole process.
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