Ryan Mattison

In a conversation with Mohammed Sajjad, Senior Sales & Marketing Director at Pepper Content, Ryan Mattison, Senior Director of Content and Communications at ThoughtSpot talks about the key KPIs of a campaign.

Ryan Mattison on the key KPIs of a campaign

Measuring certain KPIs of a campaign is important for marketers because they help them understand the effectiveness of their marketing efforts, identify strengths and weaknesses, set benchmarks and goals, improve the customer experience, and justify marketing spending.

In a conversation with Mohammed Sajjad, Senior Sales & Marketing Director at Pepper Content, Ryan Mattison, Senior Director of Content and Communications at ThoughtSpot talks about the key KPIs of a campaign.

Here are some excerpts. 

1. Could you give a quick introduction about yourself? 

My name is Ryan Mattison. I look after content and communications at ThoughtSpot, which is the modern analytics cloud company. We help business users, data leaders, and data professionals make more sense of their data quickly using familiar interfaces from our personal lives, whether that's search, that's AI settings, recommendations, bringing that consumer experience to the world of data. 

2. How did content marketing happen to you and how's the journey been so far? 

I got my start outside of the world of content. I began my career working at a marketing agency called Eastwick that was later acquired by a larger agency called Hotwire. Not to confuse the travel company, but I really got my or cut my teeth in the communication space. So working with the press, with analysts, with companies, executives, really building sort of a skill set around telling stories, how do we take an outside imperspective or approach to telling those core narratives that get the audiences that matter whether those are employees, whether those are customers, respective customers, are investors, to really understand, what does the company do? Why do they exist? What are the problems that they solve? And how do they do it in a differentiated way? 

So that's really where I got my start in my career when I joined the spotlight. Now, over five years ago, I originally had a remake covering really again, that communication suites, social media and PR really again, that kind of core calm competencies. And over time, over the half decade that I've spent a Hotspot, the scope has really grown to include content marketing. And in my mind, there's a really natural synergy between good content marketing, good communications, because at the end of the day, what really wins is great storytelling and finding the right channel and medium in which to tell that story. 

So content marketing, I think, is for me, a really natural extension of the work that I came in initially, a tough spot to do. And then it was sort of a need in the business and so something that I think there was a lot of natural synergy to what I enjoy doing, the scope of my role and then what the company needed. 

3. What's the most exciting or the most tiring part of your job? 

The most exciting part of my job are campaign launch days, I love campaigning them. Like those are the days when all of the work that has been going on, sometimes it deals with things like behind the scenes folks outside of the marketing organization or the go-to market team who doesn't necessarily know what's cooking and then the outside world doesn't know either. So I love launch days, I love when you get to see new things going live on the website. I love seeing the press picking up on our activity or our announcement, I love seeing videos go live, social feeds lighting up. That to me is one of the most exciting parts of the job. 

I'd say the most tiring part of the job is usually the few days leading up to those launches. Those are when it's really cross functional. There's all the little paper cuts that are just part of a big launcher and integrated sort of campaign moment like that. That's when it will get exposed, that's when you're in the trenches with your colleagues, fixing things, tweaking getting it exactly right. So that, again, on that day it really everything shines, everything feels like it's sort of a polished machine that's up and running. So it's both right? Those are the days that I live for, that are so exciting and then the days before, the ones where you really have to put in the sweat equity in order to make those pop. 

4. What are the KPIs of a campaign?

You tailor your KPIs or your metrics to the individual campaign. But I think across campaigns what you want to see is in general, are you cutting through the noise? Are you getting people to come and engage with your content? Is it outperforming existing content? Is it something that if it's new, that it's getting that attention that you want? So in general, its sort of that attention grabbing moment. 

Second is once you have people's attention are they engaging. So you can look at that as like time on page engagements on social, but really looking for a metric that says our people want you with your headline or your ad or whatever you're using to bring people in your email to get them into your sort of content funnel. To start with, are they then spending time with that piece of content? Are they scrolling enough where you're like, okay, if I've got X amount of time on page, are they getting actually through 70% of the content, 90% of the content? And then third, are they taking an action that you want based on the story that you're building that content? So depending on what the campaign could be, that could be. Are they trying to starting a free trial of your product? It could be. Are they downloading a more expensive piece of content as an ebook or something that you're going to then they're getting into your marketing funnel. Is it that they sign up for an event that your company has listed, whatever that sort of conversion point may be, that really is the content and the story pulling into the funnel that you want first.

Are you cutting through the noise? Every content campaign, is it getting attention? Is it an eyeballs from there? Are they actually spending the time in your content? Are they bouncing? Are they seeing it as clickbaity? Is it actually providing value? Then I'd say most important for really good, especially the bigger campaigns that you're working on, do they take the final action that you want to get them somewhere else into the marketing funnel? 

5. Do you work more towards demand generation or is it more brand marketing or thought leadership positioning?

Yeah, especially when it comes to our content strategy, there's sort of two categories of content and they're measured a little bit differently. We've got as part of our sort of program here, SEO. What I mean by that is more like organic search. So people really like non branded organic traffic to people who are searching for not necessarily the spotlight or whatever your company is, but people who are looking for things going on in the industry, looking to understand the space better.

So we spent a lot of time building content. That's a relatively new muscle for us. But in the last year, we've spent a lot of time building content that's really about that evergreen discovery model. So those are really based on what I would call conversion. 

Do they come to the website and then do they take an action somewhere else? Meaning, do they go to a product page after? Do they start a free trial? Do they again download an ebook, but something where we see do they actually do they come in trying to learn about the industry or space and then they convert into doing something with our brand? That's sort of one given our business models, we sell to a lot of business leaders, senior data folks. 

The sales cycle there is very different and so the content role in driving that cycle is very different as well. So that's where we spend a lot of time doing leadership. More of these sort of change management campaigns where we are talking much more about, you know, sort of topics that are resonating at that G suite level so that's we think digital transformation that could be about how do you advance data maturity and the content we build there is very differently and that's measured differently. 

So the KPIs for that are again, I would say those are a little bit more traditional demand gen. Are they getting into pipeline? Are they taking a first meeting based on are we setting up basically the right sort of pain points that our SDR team can go and actually book a meeting off of? Again, that first sort of group of work, is there's awareness and there's are they doing something? Are they like trying to engage more with thoughts about and then when we think about more of that thought leadership type of content, again geared toward a different buying persona, that's really about is this setting up and solving a big pain point? And then do are we able to set like a real first meeting after that? Because again, we're setting up and we're attracting people who are sort of raising their hand and saying the problems that you solve are something that I'm interested in solving in my organization. 

6. What is your take on the quality vs quantity debate?

I wish I could say that it was one or the other. There's a little bit of a need for both. But I think good quality wins. I think about that. Like you look at pick any company that seems to be doing really well from, let's just say, like an SEO perspective, it's usually not every single piece of content is performing to the same degree. There's usually a couple of breakout stars that are really performing and that's because the content is good. I think about that even on our own side, we've got a couple of really strong pieces of content that continue to outperform even new content that we're launching. So I think the quality is a non negotiable in today's space. As soon as you start creating garbage content, it doesn't matter how much quantity you have, people are going to ignore you. And it's easier now than ever for consumers. And I'll say that generally we're all consumers, right? 

Whether we're in a business space. Whether we're in our personal lives, it's easier for us to ignore content both think about how much time you actually spend in a feed blocking out the ad boxes and things like that or unsubscribing to emails. We have a lot more control. But the flip side of that is that I think in general consumers are much more apt to say hey, you can have my data, you can reach me. I want you to be able to get in touch with me. If you're going to provide me with something that's valuable, if you're going to provide me something that's interesting so I think quality is the true non negotiable, then the question is how do you ramp quantity without sacrificing quality?

It doesn't mean that always every single piece of content needs to be your tier one big fancy polished, integrated campaign or asset. That's not what I'm saying but what I am saying is if you start to say hey, let's get two pieces done, they're only going to be 50% of what we were saying. In my mind it's better to get one piece of really strong content than to have something that is maybe going to fulfill your KPIs for that quarter but long term is going to hurt your ability to build a relationship with your audience. 

7. How do you go about the process of creating content? Do you rely mostly in house, or do you have freelancers, contractors, or agencies that you work with?

It's a little bit of a take the village approach. I have a fantastic woman on my team, elder who runs content for us. She's incredible. She's a really strong operator and leader. She's also a kick hat writer. She really drives a lot of the content production for our company. She does that through a mix of her own work that she creates and then we work with some agencies, some freelance folks. Depending on what the skill set is in terms of the content that we're looking to produce or even long form, is it going to be interactive? Is it going to live on a micro site? Is it going to be more of a blog? Is it a PDF? So depending on what the kind of content that we're looking to create there are different folks that we go in and tap.

8. What's your take on the future of work specifically for content?

I personally think it depends a lot on your market and where  depending on what content you're looking to create in our space. What I found i in a relatively technical space even though we have a pretty consumer friendly story, the type of content that we create, having expertise or experience in data and analytics is very, very valuable insofar as the space is complex. 

There's lots of different lenses that you can look at things. And so having a team of freelancers, if you can have long term engagements where they can learn your space, learn your product, I think can be really valuable. Historically, I found that in house production, or at least having experts SMEs from the content team or inhouse have a more technical product or a technical space that you're operating in is really valuable. People will, even if they're not, become experts in data and analytics, over a couple of months working at a company like thatspot, you become at least very conversant in the technology and phase in the market. And that's really valuable in terms of scale, ability to really understand and produce. 

Again, to talk about quality is so important. I'm not looking ever to create content that I could escape from other things on the internet, other resources. We want to have real insight, providing interesting perspective. And so having an inhouse team that spends time rocking our market and our narrative within that market is very, very productive. What I will say though, is even in that model, there's tiers of content, there's almost like tiers of complexity or technical need. And sometimes you don't necessarily need somebody who's got a bunch of experience in your particular space, but somebody who's a really good copywriter or somebody who is really good at taking existing material and turning that into a more compelling, narrative driven approach. And so that's where I think you can look and find amazing talent outside of your organization or outside of full time staff and where a partnership with freelancers or agencies can be incredibly valuable. 

9. How would you build a content marketing engine with limited time and resources?

I think it really starts with being very explicit with what the goals of the content program are going to be. Every part of marketing at some point is content, right? whether it's an email that it could be part of a nurture campaign, whether it's an announcement that you're going to make externally, whether it's a video that you're working on, everything can be seen through a lens of content. So I think being very close on what the content program is going to try to accomplish and how are you going to measure that so that you can be tight when you're building sort of this program from the ground up? I think back to I started off as really like a one man band here at ThoughtSpot, what I found to be successful is we've grown. 

The content team is being again just very explicit with the goals of the program and how are we going to measure if we in fact we've achieved those goals. That is the single best forcing function to drive efficiency and focus within a team. I think that's true generally, but especially in my experience of content. Because, anything in the go to market function can at some point be sort of seen as content.So being clear, is it awareness? Is it really a brand play that the content team is going to be held responsible for? Is it going to be SEO? And then percentage of conversion from some of that content? Is content main purpose to be the engine that fuels the demand gen team, if that's the case? MQLs and sales. So being very explicit with what is the goal of the team is important. 

The second piece is then being judicious on staffing resources with those goals. I think it's also something from the traps. I've seen other friends of mine who work in content marketing or building, especially at startups, from the ground up. They'll be like, okay, here's the eleven things that we want to measure the content team on. We have two or three people in your content team. So being clear about what's actually achievable so that you're not saying, here's the ten metrics we want to move, but we're going to be doing 10% on each of those, which is really not enough to actually sort of turn the dial. So then, it's pairing with the right resourcing with limiting the actual number of KVI that you're tracking. So you actually move those numbers forward. 

What really separates strong content marketing from being just a piece of the marketing side to being able to be really strategic and leading, is you have the data, and more importantly, get the analytics. Understand what's working, understand where do you want to dial something up, where do you want to dial something down, where do you spend more energy in terms of where do you have a gap in your customer journey or gas on the fire that's really, really raging? So I think, it really comes down to if you're not looking at your content through a data lens, you're leaving a lot of value on sort of the bar. 

It's almost never about you. It's about your products and about your company. How do you tell a story that's about things that are going on that are bigger, about the things that your customers are facing, and the trends that are actually shaping the macro environment? I always tell our team, we take a human centric approach to story, and our company and our product is not human. Human is always a user or a buyer.

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