Data Should Optimise Your Content Strategy Without Losing its Essence

Data Should Optimise Your Content Strategy Without Losing its Essence

Hardik Lashkari 28/08/2020 5
Data Should Optimise Your Content Strategy Without Losing its Essence
  • Scratching your head around the KPIs to be considered to gauge the success of your content? 
  • Stuck between inbound and outbound marketing as a better choice to get ROI?

Our today’s guest is responsible for handling content marketing activities at Calendly, one of the fastest growing software companies of our times. Adam Lambert, Content Marketing Manager at Calendly, is sharing his thoughts on various aspects of content and marketing.

How Has Your Journey Been So Far?

Fascinating. In the beginning of my career, I worked inside ad agencies. I did this for years before a couple of SaaS companies offered me freelance assignments, and I noticed these tech companies were paying well because they were trying to scale so fast. 

Once I identified that opportunity, I decided to permanently move my career to the software industry. So I joined a SaaS company in Utah and worked there for a couple years before joining Calendly in January of this year (2020).

I was well-acquainted with Calendly because my previous sales teams, recruiters, and even marketing teams were using it to schedule our external meetings.

Frankly, I expected Calendly to be a 500-person company—if not larger—because of everyone I knew used it. But I joined this year as their 101st team member. 

Today, we have a 150-employee team that helps our customers schedule meetings without back-and-forth emails. 86% of SaaS 1000 companies use Calendly. We’ve been recognized as one of the best software companies in 2020 so I’d say Calendly’s future looks promising.

Did You Always Have a Knack for Writing?

Not until college. And only then after reading a lot.

I have a Bachelor’s in English Literature from East Tennessee State University and Master of FIne Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing from the University of Montana, but that’s not how it started.

I started my studies in biochemistry, and I was pretty good at it. But ultimately, I fell in love with all my literature courses and the readings for them. I would even read other books by the assigned authors because I was so enamored with the language.

When I first took a creative writing course, I would copy those authors. I didn’t have my own voice, so that’s all I knew to do.

Now, I would say I’m comfortable writing in my own voice, but reading was definitely my gateway into becoming a writer.

What Does Your Role at Calendly Look Like?

My role at Calendly is chiefly focused around top-of-funnel marketing efforts. 

I talk to people who fit our target audiences, but have not yet heard about Calendly, and how it can save them time and energy. 

For example: recruiters, account executives, SDRs, etc. can all use Calendly to schedule their meetings and cut down the burden of admin work. I decide where is the best place to engage those people, and what message they’d respond positively to.

Ideally, I’m trying to

  • grow our audience, and
  • create customers from audience members.

But those are two different endeavours when it comes to marketing communications. Part A is copywriting, where Part B is content marketing.

To distinguish: content answers all the questions that your customers have, copy persuades them to buy a product or service. You should keep those endeavors separate, and they should have different KPIs.

What are Some Preferred Channels for Startups, at Present, to Reach out to the Prospects?

LinkedIn, hands down, is the best channel right now because people there are genuinely interested in building relationships and acquiring new information. It’s literally a hangout spot for smart people looking to learn even more.But that’s almost exclusively for individual connections. 

For B2B, I would recommend them to build a strong presence on YouTube. It’s the second largest search engine after Google. 

If you can’t find an answer on Google, you search YouTube to look for a practical demonstration. Sadly, a lot of marketing organizations ignore video marketing because of the upfront cost, but it doesn’t have to be costly.

At Calendly, we supplement our own video content with videos from our customers. We’ve a lot of user generated content on YouTube which helps in building authentic backlinks for the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

“Data Should Optimise the Creative without Losing its Essence” - What Do You Mean by this Line?

When you’re working on a content strategy, you do an A/B test on a page or piece of content to see how your audience responds. You analyse the average time on page, the bounce rate, etc. and accordingly tweak the strategy. However, while doing it, you can’t change the underlying message of your content.  

If you need to amend your content for performance improvement, make sure you don’t lose the essence; otherwise, the purpose of the content will fail. You’ll have optimized your way to failure.

Should Content Marketers Rely on Industry Best Practices or their Own Instincts and Experimental Results?

The content strategy should align with the industry best practices. But at the same time, it’s important to create your own metrics and KPIs. 

For example, I would prefer to have a blog page where if 100 people arrived there, 70 of them stayed for 4-5 minutes and read a blog entirely, versus a blog page with 300 clicks but a 90% bounce rate. 

So even if the industry best practices consider a 30% click-through rate as a good sign, I wouldn’t focus on it as much as the average reading time. For videos, I would look at view time as much as view count. Personally, I count 1 full view as someone watching 70% of a video. 

Basically, you just have to decide what you’re willing to pay to expose your brand to a new person. Video can often accomplish this more affordably over the long run.

Say you run a YouTube pre-roll video ad. Figure out your CPC (Cost Per Click), then discover the total number of full views. From there, you can calculate how much it costs to acquire a new customer, but also how much it costs to tell someone about your product who doesn’t immediately convert.

You’re doing traditional lead gen (funnel marketing) while simultaneously growing the size of your audience. Those are your potential customers.

Just figure out what the two or three metrics are that really matter for your content, and don’t change them.

What Should the Marketers prefer between Inbound and Outbound Marketing?

You can’t choose one. The idea is to get them to complement each other. Inbound marketing has been hot in the last few years for obvious reasons, (Hubspot really pioneered that model) but outbound will always be there because it’s first.

Basically, if you ignore the top of the funnel—that is, building your audience—the rest of the funnel will be empty. Too many people focus their resources on inbound, or try to force outbound into being inbound. Instead of an audience member, they want a lead, which is understandable.

But there’s clearly value in people knowing your brand name; in growing your audience.

If you rely solely on inbound marketing to fill your top of the funnel, you are waiting for people to find you instead of you finding them. It’s challenging, time-consuming and worst of all it’s expensive. 

Outbound marketing helps you get the attention of your targeted audience.

For example, all copywriters know this acronym: A.I.D.A.. It stands for Attention, Interest, Decision, and Action. 

Outbound marketing is the attention part of that puzzle. To skip that hurdle makes your marketing communications sound awkward the same way it would sound weird if I asked you for a favor without saying your name first.

“Hardik, hand me that coffee cup.” versus “Hand me that coffee cup.” 

Without getting your attention in a positive way, I can’t really ask you for anything. Marketing communications works the same way, especially if you’re converting individuals. (Hint: you always are.)

What Should be the Right Content Strategy to Reach out to the Customers or Clients?

You need to have a data-driven approach in place where you’re talking to your most engaging and high-paying clients first. Look at the Pareto Distribution of your customers by spend, and concentrate on the top 5% of your audience. Spend half of your time talking to them.

Also, don’t be afraid to repost the content that worked well. If you shared a piece of content 6 weeks ago that performed well, post it again! Also, repurpose the content into other formats according to where you want to engage that audience.

For example, after you release a video, convert the audio into a podcast, then transcribe that audio into a text-based article for your blog. Pull the best quotes from that blog and create sharable images for Instagram and Facebook. All this value is built into that initial video.

It’s up to you as a strategic marketer to get all the juice you can out of it.

In a Brand Story, who’s the hero - A Customer or the Brand Itself? 

A brand can’t be the hero of its own story. The real hero is the customer, and a brand is the guide who gives the hero a plan to succeed. 

Pick any successful brand, and you’ll find that they don’t place themselves as the hero. They become a guide or tool to help their customers win.

Sometimes that’s in the form of sage advice, other times it’s in the form of a software. The idea for the brand is to own that mental space—like Kleenex, or Coke. You want to become the category, not the hero.

What’re your five tips for copywriters or marketers looking to improve their copywriting skills?

  1. Don’t use state-of-being verbs - Get rid of verbs like be, being, been, etc. because your copy looks weak when using these verbs. Use active verbs to sound more confident. Instead of writing, “we have been helping recruiters,” write, “we help recruiters.”
  2. Don’t delay the necessary information till the last paragraph - People often write essays instead of emails. You shouldn’t write 2,3,4 paragraphs before a CTA (Call To Action). Put your necessary information and call-to-action right in the beginning to save the reader’s time and efforts, especially while writing an email. 
  3. Personalise the subject line - This is a matter of attention. When you personalise the subject line to the individual opening the email, you’ll double open rates by including their first name.
  4. Don’t be a Walking Thesaurus - Instead of saying “utilise,” say “use.” Write simple words that convey the meaning as it is. The simpler you write, the more confident you’ll sound.
  5. Read your final draft aloud - Remove anything that sounds unnatural or robotic. Remember that you’re talking to other humans, so speak casually. A more natural tone gets friendly responses from customers.

These tips are equally important in content writing also. Focus on your reader, not yourself, and you’ll produce a better creative outcome.

What’s your Advice to Anyone who Wants to Start their Career in Writing?

You need to read everything that interests you, and you’ll inherently develop and aesthetic. Don’t overthink about finding a particular niche or favourite format. Just like movies, the more you watch the more you’ll find you like. Then you realize you have a certain taste in movies. The same will happen with good writing.

Personally, I like short-form writing, because I enjoy the challenge of getting someone’s attention. You might like writing poetry, fiction or academic essays. Everyone has their niche.

Start with what interests you. Gradually, one of these things will take off and you’ll figure out your preferable format and medium. When you get a taste for a particular topic, spend hours reading about it and educating yourself. That pays-off in the long run.

What Books would you Recommend to our Audience?

  1. For Copywriters: Predatory Thinking by Dave Trott
  2. For Creative Writers: The Poetry Home Repair Manual by Ted Kooser
  3. For Pure Entertainment: 17776, an online novel by Jon Bois

What are your Favourite Go-To Resources?

  1. Demand Gen Live - A live chat by Chris Walker, CEO at Refine Labs
  2. Orbit Media - An agency which is popular for content strategy 

If You Were not a Content Marketer, What Would You Be?

Perhaps an architect. I really enjoy imagining things and bringing them to life, and I really like drawing. I do this with writing already.

I suppose if I weren’t strategizing the architecture of B2B SaaS communications, I’d want to design urban buildings, or homes for eccentric people.

...

If you liked the interview and want to get in touch with Adam, you can connect with him here on LinkedIn.

What was the biggest key takeaway for you from this interview? Share it with your friends and network. Also, tag a content marketer below who needs to tweak their strategy after reading this article. 

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  • Chris Jackson

    5 minutes of pure value

  • Robert King

    Great interview

  • David Campbell

    Excellent tips!! Really helpful.

  • Clara Hansen

    Valuable post

  • Zack Curry

    Insanely informative!

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Hardik Lashkari

Digital Marketing Expert

Hardik is a content writer, marketer and Founder of Content Flavour. In the age of bots, Hardik writes content for humans. His niche lies into finance, startups & entrepreneurship, leadership, social media marketing and personal branding. 

   

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