Valerie Riley

Content Marketing Director, Insightly

Content Marketing Will Have To Change With Altering Algorithms, explains Valerie Riley from Insightly

Content marketing has come a long way from when content marketers just kept pushing a bunch of content out there, expecting it to rank well. Things have changed, and focused, targeted, and in-depth pieces will do much better, especially in the B2B SaaS space.

Rishabh Shekhar, Co-Founder & COO at Pepper Content, speaks to Valerie Riley, Content Marketing Director, at Insightly, about all this much more in a candid tete-a-tete. 

1. Please give a brief background of your history and career.

I've been in tech marketing for 25 years. I was a marketing generalist until about 2016, but after that, I started focusing on content.

I've always worked in B2B for SaaS companies. I have also worked with many startups in the marketing automation MarTech space and EduTech space, and now once again, I am at a tech company that is a CRM.

Over the years, I have witnessed content marketing grow and change. I've been lucky enough to manage teams of content marketers and work with different technology platforms. I have worked with external firms, SEO agencies, and in-house teams. So there have been different combinations in all different roles.

But it all comes down to creating high-quality content at a cadence that works so we can grow organically. 

2. How have you seen content marketing evolve? What quantitative measures do you use to see whether you are doing it right?

I went to a content marketing world conference five years ago, and there were a couple of hundred people there, and now there are thousands of people, and it's a multi-day thing that attracts people worldwide.

The awareness of the value of content marketing has skyrocketed. A content person might have been your fifth or sixth hire, but now it is different. SEO is a long game; the sooner you start planting those seeds, the better. You need to get that person in quickly to start planting those seeds so you can harvest them in the years to come with a quality SEO strategy. 

In terms of quantitative measurements, it always comes down to lead generation. The metrics I look at weekly are how many leads we get from our organic strategies. How are we tracking the keywords we're targeting? Are we moving up? Are we continuing to get more and more traffic against our competitors on those keywords? 

3. How do you go about making a case for investments in content marketing? It can be quite challenging sometimes. 

Formulate and convince company owners that you need X dollars to invest in content marketing, but you would only see some results after six months or nine months. Startups get into content marketing only by the second or third year when they realize this is the only sustainable way to grow. 

I've been fortunate to work in the MarTech space, which is better than other industries in understanding that content marketing has great value. This awareness and willingness to spreads in general across B2B SaaS. 

When talking to a CEO or a COO making a case for content marketing, you just have to come up with data. You should also show them the plan and goals you're trying to achieve and how you will achieve them.

4. Around 60 to 65% of companies now outsource a large chunk of the content creation processes outside. Where do you stand on that?

It's hard to take a call across the board because there is such a variance in quality. 

We need in-house expertise because we can't expect freelancers or the outsourced agency to know our business's deep, dark inner workings. 

However, if we're going to outsource, we need to see if we have people that are knowledgeable in the industry who can write bang-on blog posts or webpage that are at least 70 to 80% accurate, and then we tweak and change their pieces. That’s a great investment.

Most of the time, they're going to save a lot of work for you, but it's not going to be 100%. 

5. What is the biggest challenge you face when leading current marketing at companies?

The algorithm just keeps on changing. You could be ranking well for a keyword, and then next week, you're not. And it's not because you, your competitors, or the landscape has changed. It's just that the rules have changed.

So, you must ensure your content adapts to Google and many other factors. Remember the helpful content update that came recently from Google! Five years ago, it was just put stuff out there. It didn't matter until we posted as much as we possibly could. And now, we have to go back and merge and prune these blog posts because this is a lot of noise, and it's not helping the cause, and now we're officially being penalized for it.

You have to stay on top of every update and continue monitoring what's changing in the world of search. 

6. Where are you on that quality versus quantity debate? 

It's very industry dependent. You must know what industry you're playing in, what vertical you're in, and what your competition is doing. So, for instance, in the CRM space, we compete. For example, HubSpot invented inbound marketing. So we're not going to beat them at their own game. It's not a quantity race at this point because they have so much amazing content that's been there for so long and, thus, ranks so high. So we have to be creative about what keywords we can go after and go in-depth on a topic that's important for someone who's CRM shopping.

7. What would that look like if you had to construct an ideal content marketing stack or platform for yourself, which will be the only thing you interact with daily?

We use SEMrush, Screaming Frog, Demandwell. These tools are at our disposal for any given SEO blog project. The MarTech landscape is full, and so many choices can sometimes be overwhelming.

People leave companies, but they don't necessarily leave the software. So you always bring the platforms that have been successful for you in previous roles or for your colleagues. In SaaS, we're getting to the point where there's a lot of parody. Most CRMs are pretty robust functionality. In our, we have to talk about what makes Insightly CRM better. We talk about our ability to customize, our amazing customer success team, etc.

So when I'm looking at how to populate my tech stack for content marketing, I'm thinking, what are platforms that I've worked with in the past that have amazing customer service that is effective and get the job done?

8. What is one thing you think new content marketers get wrong most of the time? 

Not paying attention to quality, keyword research, and trends and just putting a bunch of stuff out there to see what sticks is one thing that all content marketers must avoid.

What will happen two years from now is that 80% of your blog will not bring in a single piece of traffic, and 20% will do all the work. So don’t waste your time making that 80%. Focus your effort on a small blog with in-depth pieces targeting the right keywords.

Another thing is people put out a blog, then they walk away and never return. If you have a blog post or a piece of content specifically around your number one keyword, you need to revisit it every few months and think about how you can improve upon it. 

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