How Content Should Go Beyond Quantity and Provide Repeat Value
From all the pieces of content you will create as a content marketer, only a few will actually be lapped up by your target audience, so better make it worth it. Ensure that the content actually wows your clients and that it doesn't always necessarily push them to buy but expands their knowledge about the concerned topic.
Former Senior Director of Product and Content Marketing at impact.com, Jaime Singson chats with COO and Co-founder of Pepper Content Rishabh Shekhar about the art of elevating content as a product marketer.
1. For our readers, can you tell us what your journey has been...
Content has always been a part of product marketing. I started with product marketing about ten years ago. As a product marketer, you typically focus on owning many thought leadership elements to educate people. We also enable our sales reps to come to the forefront and present their clients with the most memorable aspects of the product, whether through a sales deck or leave-behind content.
When I started with Impact.com five years ago, I was there to start and build up their product marketing team, and one of the first mandates was to establish a strong marketing content engine that was sourcing leads for us. So the initial focus in those early years was how do we start this demand generation engine.
The product marketing framework is very customer-obsessed, where you need to address who is your buyer personas. What are their main challenges? What are the trends in the industry that they're worried about? What are their big pain points? Do they recognize that they have a problem and are looking for a solution, or do they even recognize that there is a problem or an opportunity that they can grasp onto? We need to take them from the start of the journey of problem or opportunity recognition all the way to education.
The mindsets of a good content or product marketer, especially in the B2B landscape, are about how we generate and add value to the reader. The goal of the content is really important, especially when it comes to feeding a demand engine. You also need to consider what sort of journey we want this person to go through. So design a journey we'd like them to have, like the ideal journey through content.
So at the time, product marketers were generating a lot of thought leadership content besides fulfilling the traditional product marketing roles. So we decided to build a content marketing department, which I led. And at first, we started with contractors because we didn't have internal resources at the time. Over time, we built a department that was a mix of internal and contracted resources.
We produced 60 to 75 pieces of content every quarter through various formats. We were into format experimentation, including infographics, eBooks, blog posts, and interactive formats like microsites to find internal uses for this content.
2. Can you elaborate on this concept of internal use of content?
Your content should be such that your sales team can use it as a tool to educate the client on various topics.
We started creating more worksheets and interactive pieces just like the HubSpot model, where they didn't just create content to sell CRMs. They came up with content to teach us marketers how to become stellar marketers. So we created content to encourage partnership managers and leaders. The goal was not only to educate but to inspire, and broaden people's knowledge universe.
We also listened to our customers, who were telling us fantastic stories about how they succeeded in their careers and how what they did to transform their programs using our software. We then launched a project where we wrote a book called ‘The Partnership Economy’. People read it and loved it.
So we were creating a category around partnership management and automation. This book was a way to disseminate our clients' success stories.
3. Please shed some light on your SEO strategy.
We embraced the inbound marketing philosophy much more seriously. About a year and a half ago, we were not ranking in some categories. We were not even in the top 100. So we started adopting HubSpot's topic cluster philosophy and started thinking about what content architecture we needed not to confuse the search engine and also, provide some of the value. So how do we just not do content for content's sake?
Playing with keywords doesn't work anymore. People now read a post when they see value in it, but you also have to design the content architecture so that Google knows this is our pillar. Then our cluster contents were designed more around the secondary questions people would want to ask or if they wanted to dive deeper. So now, for something like affiliate marketing or influencer marketing, which we didn't rank for before, we have zoomed up to page two and page one of SERPs.
4. When creating so much content, where are your views in terms of the in-house versus outsourcing debate?
It's always a good idea to have a mix.
When you have a mature content marketing department, there's a lot more operational demand which you need to keep in-house.
We've also had tremendous success with outsourcing especially because we educated these contractors and ensured they speak the MarTech or ad tech B2B language.
Outsourcing also has a cost advantage apart from two other advantages. One is the outside and fresher perspective; two is they're also not distracted by overhead activities that come with working for a typical organization like an internal employee.
5. That is very well put, but much of it ties back to budgets. So, how did you face this challenge in your career, and how can other marketers make a case for budgets?
Use benchmarks like 10, 15, or 20% of your marketing budget should go to content production and more if you are doing videos. So leveraging and keeping an eye on those benchmarks is important. You might often have to borrow from the other parts of the marketing department, like events or big pieces of the marketing budget which you know you can't consume.
Think about videos strategically, like creating as many assets as possible from a single interview.
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