Episode 161 | 6 Steps for Building an Effective Content Marketing Strategy

Show Notes

Transcript

[00:00] Mike: This is Startups for the Rest of Us: Episode 161.

[00:03] Music

[00:10] Welcome to Startups for the Rest of Us, the podcast that helps developers, designers and entrepreneurs be awesome at launching software products, whether you’ve built your first product or you’re just thinking about it. I’m Mike.

[00:17] Rob: And I’m Rob.

[00:18] Mike: And we’re here to share our experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes we’ve made. What’s the word this week Rob?

[00:23] Rob: Well I’ve had a pretty good week in terms of working on Drip. Last week I think I mentioned there were some things went down in terms of email sending and something being shut off and we spent the last week basically diversifying our sending points. So now we’re across 12 domains and multiple email back end providers and all that stuff and then we got that done last week. Its crazy how quickly two people can jump on something like this ad get like an entire new sub system written. My memory kept going back to when I worked – I worked at a credit card company. I also worked at the city of Pasadena.

[00:58] And what we did in 3 ½ days last week would’ve taken probably three months at either those places because so many people needed to be involved. So many meetings had to happen. So many specs had to be written. So much approval had to be gained and here it was like oh crap, we fixed this thing. Last week we had a couple hours where emails weren’t sending and we quickly got that fixed but then it was like how can I make sure this never happens again? And like I said, in 3 ½ days Derek wrote all the code. He and I worked together on getting everything architected and figuring out a bunch of details but that’s pretty much how last week went and it feels good. It feels good to once again knock another one of those things out where it’s solved for the foreseeable future and now we can really move back into building out features that customers want.

[01:42] Mike: I know what you mean especially the part about trying to fix things so that those problems don’t happen ever again or at least that they do then you’ll be able to address them in the future. One of the things I started working on this past week was a support tool box that is specifically designed to call back to some of the API’s that we’re using to do different things so for example regenerating all the reports for either a given customer or for every customer because we have several different reports and they’re all generated based on a series of cues so it’s like just grab the message off the queue and generate the report.

[02:16] Well what happens if in the middle of generating that report, something breaks because our code doesn’t necessarily handle it very well if a partial report is generated or if a piece of it is generated like the place holder and not the rest of it. So I built some support utilities that will allow us to go in and just automatically rebuild some of those which is kind of nice.

[02:35] Rob: Yeah. It’s crazy that typically my dad just told me the last 10% of a project takes 20% to 25% of the time because you always have these little loose ends you didn’t realize were there until you roll some into production and then you have to spend a lot of time troubleshooting. I guess the other update is revenue in November since we did launch to the public. I have a 21 day trial so a lot of revenue, big revenue spike happening as that rolls out. So that feels good. It puts a concrete success metric. It’s not all about revenue but it really does say wow, people are willing to pay for what you built.

[03:10] And so I’m feeling really good about where it is and also being realistic about December is going to be a big slow down as it always is and so long as we can stay flat is my hope during December that heading into January, I’m pretty optimistic about where we’re starting out with. And I’m happy that we got launched. I mean I at one point debated not launching Drip in November and pushing it off ‘til January but given how things are going, it’s just such a motivational thing to have people in there using the app and having pay us money and seeing the bank balance come in.

[03:42] Mike: That’s an interesting point you make about revenue and looking at that as sort of a bench mark because when you got a new product and you’re trying to figure out is it addressing the needs that people have and people start asking you questions about that product, that’s almost always the default benchmark that people go back to. It’s like well, how much money is it making because it’s kind of common number that you can just track across almost any application just like well how much money is it making? It tends to be cut and dry obviously if you’ve got like a Saas model versus a onetime fee. I mean it can be very wildly between them. But there’s still some general I’ll say consensus, ideas about whether or not you’re doing well and it’s only been out for a week or a month or something like that.

[04:23] Rob: Right. How about on your end what’s new?

[04:24] Mike: Audit Shark I suppose has become public knowledge on another podcast but Audit Shark is live at this point.

[04:30] Rob: Can I go to auditshark.com and sign up for a production account?

[04:33] Mike: Yes you can.

[04:34] Rob: Indeed except for I heard a little rumor that I won’t be billed. You don’t have the billing code.

[04:39] Mike: Well the billing code is there. It just tracks it like a Striped ID right now and I’d have to go in and manually do it. That’s more because I just have – I don’t feel like I’ve thoroughly tested the billing code enough so I’m not confident and just flipping the switch and turning it on. That’s not to say that I couldn’t turn it on. It’s just I haven’t tested it to know exactly what’s going to happen if I did.

[04:55] Rob: Right. So you’re taking cards upfront. You’re sorting the token. You run them through Stripe. They say it is a valid card. You’re storing the token locally so that you could run a charge at the end of your trial you just don’t have the schedule tasks up to run the job.

[05:09] Mike: The job is written. As you said, I haven’t turned it on. I haven’t scheduled it to actually run. But I mean aside from that, you could go out there and you could sign up for it but it’s not something I’m actively promoting right now. Literally before this podcast I got an email from my developer saying that he finished one of the reports. And we’re still going to have to work it into the code base over the next day or two. Now that that’s done, that’s one of the things that was holding up some of the people in the early access right now that says this is what is stopping me from pulling the trigger and say yes, I’m willing to pay for this.

[05:38] Rob: Very cool. So now you could go back to your early access list and start working with those folks one on one.

[05:44] Mike: I’m going to go through that list anyway and try to work with people one on one just to use it as a learning experience because those are the people that I feel that I’m going to learn the most from and those are going to be the ones that I can work with. So if they have questions or specific problems, there’s going to be I’ll say a little bit more of a warm relationship already because they’re already on the email list. They’ve already gotten a couple of emails. I’ll be able to go to them and say hey this is who I am. Can I get you to sign up and create an account and walk them through it and try and find out if there’s any specific problems they’re having and get those addressed. And in the mean time, if somebody comes through and signs up for an Audit Shark account, I have no problem with them doing that. It’s just the cold customers right now are still just not necessarily my focus.

[06:25] Rob: Sure and at this point that wouldn’t be my focus either. I just read two books. One is Hatching Twitter. It’s written by a journalist named Nick Bilton and I liked it a lot. It’s a journalist degree telling of the origins of Twitter. And if you’re into that kind of thing, The Facebook Effect was another book and In The Plex was the one about Google. These are all just retellings and reconstructions of the early days of a company. It’s fascinating. It’s a good read. I listen to it on audio of course. It definitely keeps you captivated. Nick Bilton is both a respected journalist but also just a good writer, an engaging writer.

[07:03] And it’s crazy the life that these founders went to to screw each other over and kicking each other in and out of the company at different times. It’s pretty intense. I’m thinking Facebook may have been an exception in terms of the turmoil between the co-founders but Twitter was maybe not quite as bad but there was a lot of chaos and a lot of “best friends” starting this company and then basically screwing each other over and kicking each other out. So I’d recommend it if you’re into that kind of thing.

[07:32] The other book that I’m just wrapping up with is called Remote and it’s by 37 Signals and it’s about working remote and how to manage people remotely and that kind of stuff. All of 37 Signals books, I’m pretty lukewarm about it. There’s nothing new in it that I either don’t already know or haven’t heard before and so I’m always trying to figure out am I too entrenched in this world already since I worked with remote people that this isn’t even written for me. I’m wondering who is this information really shocking to? Are there Fortune 500 companies that read it and think oh my gosh this is news to me because it totally was not news to me. It feels like its stuff we’ve already talked about and we all already know. It’s kind of common knowledge in our field.

[08:12] Mike: I’ll let you know what my thoughts are. I bought it probably several weeks ago and I haven’t had a chance to get to it. I was reading the E-Myth Revisited. Somebody in my mastermind group was reading that so I started reading that. Got I’d say 15% or 20% into it and I understand the gist of it. It actually makes a lot of sense but I don’t know how the rest of it turns out. I don’t know if I’ll keep reading it or just kind of start skimming through it [Cross-talk] a lot of things that are really repetitive.

[08:36] Rob: Yeah. I was going to say if you have the gist of it, my guess is you have the gist of it and you’re not going to get anything out of the rest of it. It feels pretty introductory. I think today we’ve just talked about this stuff so much that it’s going to be pretty obvious to you.

[08:49] Mike: I feel like a lot of the concepts and the things that it goes over obvious but I guess what it brings to the forefront of my mind is more the fact that it puts labels on certain things that I had never really had labels before for. So it makes them a little bit more tangible and not that it didn’t make sense before that I didn’t necessarily know about them in my subconscious but having those labels helps. I think Seth Godin is a big proponent of just creating names for things whether they make sense at the time or not, just create names for something so that it helps you to understand it a little bit better.

[09:19] Rob: Yup. I would agree with that. It’s kind of a common naming scheme for these elements. That’s what we talked about with lean startup. Right? That was kind of one of the benefits of lean startup while it has some of the pros and cons and some things we don’t agree with. The fact that they’ve put a label on a bunch of stuff helps us further the cost so that you can say one word and everybody understands kind of the deeper meaning of it.

[09:42] Mike: Yeah. It creates like a fundamental baseline for terminology. And once you have everybody using the same terminology, it makes it easier for everybody to talk about the same thing because then using the same terms everybody means the same thing.

[09:54] Rob: Yeah, there you go. So last thing for me, I appeared in Techzing episode 246 it’s the most recent episode and I talked a lot about Drip, about the launch, went more in depth to kind of the slow launch approach and then just updated on a number of things. So if you’re into a longer form podcast, a little over an hour but it’s a pretty fun casual conversation where I can go more in depth on stuff, go head over to techzinglive.com and checkout episode 246.

[10:20] Mike: Maybe I’ll check it out. My new iPad air at some point, I’m a little disappointed with the Nexus 7 I think I mentioned a while back that I gotten the Nexus 7 to kind of open myself up to the android ecosystem a little bit and I don’t know whether its android or the apps that are running on it but it just seems like the device crashes more often than – it’s just more noticeable I think than on the iPad.

[10:44] Rob: Right. And so do you have the new iPad air? Did you order one?

[10:47] Mike: Not yet. I’ll probably get it in the next day or two. I’ve looked at it a couple of times here and there just kind of deciding between the iPad mini with the retina display and then the new iPad air and be done with it.

[10:59] Rob: Right. Are you able to return the Nexus 7 or you’re going to give it to your wife or kid?

[11:03] Mike: I’ll probably keep it around just so that I have it. I mean maybe they’ll come up with some operating system updates that will fix some of the minor issues that I’m having. I mean it’s still nice to have because it’s kind of small but I just don’t use it for my email. You can’t really type on it. It’s nice to surf the web for stuff real quick because it’s bigger than my phone but beyond that I just don’t find myself using it very often.

[11:24] Rob: Right.

[11:25] Mike: And today’s geek note of the day is that there’s – did you ever play the lone wolf adventure games like you read them and it’s almost like choosing adventure but you actually have to keep track of some stats for your character like back in the 80’s.

[11:38] Rob: You know, I never did. Its lonewolfthegame.com and they put it into IOS and android.

[11:45] Mike: So it will be interesting to see how that turns out. I think it’s like $5 so it’s a little bit on the pricey side for most apps but…

[11:52] Rob: I’ll drop $5 just to check something out because the visuals are nice. Honestly this attitude in the mobile space is so irritating to me that $5 is a lot of money like that. I buy so many apps just because they’re 99 cents and I just want to check them out. It’s like we – I feel like developers should be paid for what they’re doing.

[12:09] Mike: Compared to the other ones out there and I feel like it’s expensive. And I think that’s changing over time as well.

[12:15] Rob: I’ve heard it’s going down though.

[12:15] Mike: Really?

[12:16] Rob: Yeah, that basically everybody’s giving them stuff away for free and that’s why there’s so many in-app purchases now because people are getting free so they could get on the free charts and they can get the distribution and then do an in-app purchase because not only does it allow you to have a free app but in-app purchases are kind of recurring revenue. They’re not subscription based but they are a long term revenues base versus if you charge upfront it’s a onetime sale to everybody.

[12:43] Mike: I don’t know, there’s a few games that I’ve bought that are like $3 or $4 for the game and it’s just like I would’ve paid $5 or $7 for the game because it’s such a good game but then they have like the in-app purchase. I’m not a big fan of the in-app purchases. They don’t necessarily give you that much more enjoyment out of the game.

[12:57] Music

[13:00] Today we’re going to be talking about how to build an effective content marketing strategy. I’ve seen a couple of things about this over on Twitter and Quora and a few other places. I thought it might be interesting to kind of put together an outline of some of the things that you might want to do if you’re looking at putting together a content strategy and it is something that I’m looking at right now. So some of these are pulled from the work that I’ve been doing but some of them I just did a little bit of extra research just to make sure that we had some more information for the podcast.

[13:27] Rob: Got it. And this is different than SEO.

[13:30] Mike: So with SEO, what you’re really doing is you’re to target specific keywords and trying to draw traffic into your website. So for Audit Shark for example I might say okay, well I want to do SEO because I want people when they search for server security monitoring to come to my website and then signup for Audit Shark. But with something like that, you’re really keying in on very, very specific things that you want because you want those people to be searching for specific key terms. Whereas with content marketing what you’re trying to do is you’re trying to cast a little bit more of a wider net.

[14:03] And primarily the reason you’re doing that is because people who are coming to your website aren’t necessarily always at the same level or same stage in your sales pipeline. Some people are going to come to your website because they just have no idea what they’re looking for, no idea what they should be doing with regards to solving whatever that problem is that your product addresses. So sometimes they’re just doing it for education purposes. Sometimes they’re a little bit further along and maybe they’re doing market research to compare competitors against one another and say which one of these two or three or five am I actually going to purchase?

[14:34] So depending on the stage of the pipeline you might create content for your website or for your newsletter or your blog such that it addresses some of the people who were in those different stages versus SEO where you’re trying to get just like one piece of it. Somebody search for X and I want to draw them to my website.

[14:53] Rob: Very cool. Let’s dive in. It looks like we have six steps here.

[14:56] Mike: So the first step is to plan and really what you want to do is you just need to know what it is that you want to do before you start randomly creating content. What is the purpose of the content that you’re creating? What gaps is it trying to fulfill? Who’s the ideal reader for that content? How is going to help them? Is it going to help them make a decision? Is it going to help educate them? Is it going to help position your product against somebody else’s? Are there certain features that your product has that somebody else’s doesn’t? Can you map specific concerns the buyers might have into their needs?

[15:29] There’s all these different things that go into it but you have to plan these things upfront and there’s six steps that we’re going to talk about here but the first one is planning. You need to know what it is that you’re trying to do before you set out and start randomly creating the content.

[15:42] Rob: Yeah and I think you actually have a really nice set of bullet points here that you just ran through. Let’s include those in the show notes because otherwise somebody’s going to have to frantically take notes on this but you touch on a lot of good points about who is your ideal reader, what stage in the buying process is this content targeted at? If you don’t think that through, you’re going to have exactly what you mentioned which is randomly created content but doesn’t have any type of cohesion or any type of sequence to it. The people who know how to do content marketing and execute on it well, there’s a lot of thought given to this stage, just sitting back and thinking how exactly is this going to help people what stage?

[16:18] And even as you put here, you didn’t mention this but it’s an outline. You said what are the marketing channels you’re going to use? Are you going to put on the blog? Is it going to be an email newsletter? Is it going to be an eBook or a white paper for people download? Are you going to create a tool? Because all of that is content marketing. Anything that folks want to share with each other, you look at hub spot and there’s an SEO site grader. There was some other type of site grader that Dharmesh built. These are all forms of content marketing. I think that sitting down and giving this some thought early on can save you a lot of time. Because if you build something that isn’t helpful to people then no matter how good it is, you’re wasting your time.

[16:54] Mike: That you just touched on in terms of the tools is a very important distinction when you talk about content. Content is not just blog articles. It’s not just text on a page. It can be videos. It can be tools. It can be audio. It can be all these different things that are content but they’re designed and put out there so that they help somebody accomplish something whether it’s their job or educate them about something, it does not necessarily have to be just text. Tools are really, really good examples of things that can draw people in if they’re executed well. But the problem with the tool is of course that it could be very time intensive to build some of those tools.

[17:31] Rob: Yeah. I mean even another example, I have two pieces of content that are interlinked for Drip. I haven’t pushed them out yet but probably will in early December and I’ll try to come back and update these show notes but we basically had a marketing intern for the last couple months and he wrote a really solid blogpost about how to calculate a gold value, how to calculate what a new trial or a new purchase is worth, try to get LTV out of things. So we wrote this post and the more we talked about he said you know, I could build a pretty nice calculator out of this that just asks a couple of questions and then calculates their LTV.

[18:06] So now we have a blog, article and a calculator that he created that set like a pretty good example. I mean everything doesn’t have to be two things that tie together but it’s kind of an example of how this content marketing stuff can run the gambit between like you said, words on a page and actual code being written behind the scenes.

[18:23] Mike: Yeah. And some of that’s cross promotion which kind of goes out towards step four which is publishing. So step 2 is create the content. And unless you’re a deep expert in a very specific field you should probably source it out to somebody else who has the time cycles to dedicate to building this content. The problem with building the content yourself is that its time consuming and its very mentally draining to create long pieces of content or even short pieces of content if you’re trying to build a bunch of them. You’re much better off giving somebody some ideas and guidelines and letting them know what it is that you’re trying to accomplish and letting them go out and actually do the work and then come back to you with it so that you can curate it from that point on.

[19:08] So the actual creation of the content I would probably advise most people to outsource that if you can. But in terms of getting ideas or the content there’s a lot of different places that you can go to. You can look at your keyword searches. You can use questions that are coming in from customers based on your FAQ’s or just your support questions. You can look at social media discussions. You can look at top 10 lists that are out there on the topic that you have your products around. You can also take a look at some of the different customer resources that you’ve put together or you can build customer resources for them.

[19:39] So for example you might want to build a checklist or a template for solving a particular problem like for example with Audit Shark I might create here’s a template or a checklist for locking down your server and these are the steps that you need to go through and oh, by the way this product can do it for you but if you’re going to do it on your own, these are the things that you want to do and these are the important pieces that you really need to pay attention to.

[20:01] Rob: The interesting thing is that creating this content can be done fairly quickly. I think it’s all a balance between how much budget you have and how much time you have. And like you said, if you can, then finding someone who’s an expert in the field and hiring them to do this is fantastic. But if you don’t have the budget to do that, there are ways go getting that same expert on Skype and doing a 10 minute, 15 minute interview with them. And if you ask them multiple questions during that interview you could realistically get one question and turn that into a 2 or 3 minute audio snippet and you’re at least one a week and you get them transcribed. Maybe you do a video interview but you have actual multimedia versions of this that you’re releasing and if you get people involved, that becomes a sequential thing and it can get people really involved.

[20:50] The other thing is to do case studies to interview your customers and find out not just how your product helped them because that’s boring marketing crap. But actually figuring out some tricks and tips that they’ve used to help them in their journey as it relates to not just your product but kind of the field you’re in. So with Drip, I might interview someone not with how Drip helped them but what are some things that they did that really kicked off their email marketing campaign or how did they use email marketing to improve their business and increase it? And other people could think whether they’re going to be a Drip customer or not, they could take and use it with any email marketing software.

[21:25] And another example is something like downloadable landing page templates like that Clay Collins talked about on the podcast a few episodes ago or with Drip, I’ve definitely considered having downloadable email templates, not visual email templates because we don’t do the visual newsletter stuff. But having actual pre-written templates that you kind of fill in the blank like an mad libs, things for five day mini courses and that kind of things that we already have in the app but to be able to give those away to noncustomers all of that is sharable content that someone might be interested in both consuming and then thinking man, this is cool someone’s giving this away for free and they want to tell other folks about it on Twitter. That’s really the goal.

[22:06] Mike: Step 3 in the process is to curate and optimize the content. And for this, if you have newsletters or blog articles, things like that, what you’re going to do is you’re going to want to use attention grabbing headlines and the general rule of thumb that I hear all over the place is spend a lot of time on your headlines because those are the pieces that you will draw people in. And obviously the content itself has to be good but make sure you spend a lot of time on the headlines so that you are attracting the eyeballs in the first place. But also look for places where you can leverage that content for SEO purposes and I really liked your question before about contrast this versus SEO whereas SEO just has one purpose but your content strategy can feed into your SEO strategy.

[22:47] Another thing that you want to do is if you have text for your newsletters or your blog articles, you definitely want to include photos or video or screenshots, slideshows, pretty much anything you can to make it more engaging and then in addition to that, you also want to make it easy to consume for people who just scan content. I’ve talked to other people who they’ve told me flat out they’re like yeah, I don’t read anything on the internet. I just kind of scan for the bullet points and just skip everything else. That is completely foreign to me because I have a tendency to just read things straight through but that has something that there are definitely a lot of people out there who do that.

[23:22] Rob: I think another thing you can do in this kind of curating and optimizing point is to link to external sources. Not only does this give you credibility but those external sources if they’re let’s say a blog or a podcast or some type of one person gig, it’s not some huge company, you can actually contact them and say hey I referenced you here, thanks for the data – that type of thing. They are very much more likely to actually share it to their audience. And if you use them as a reference, it’s likely that they are actually within line of your target market and the people that you’re trying to get this shared too.

[23:54] So you don’t want to go out and be the jerk who says hey, I used your thing. Now can you share it? Now you don’t want to be presumptive but at the same time I think there’s a lot of value in linking to eternal sources and letting folks know that their data is being used to kind of create a derivative work in something that hopefully improves upon the sources that he uses.

[24:16] Mike: The fourth step is to publish your content based on some sort of calendar and consistency can really help draw people back to your side. One of the things that I hear from a lot of different people about the startups for the rest of us podcast is that they love the fact that its every single week and they can always depend on it being out there on Tuesday. That consistency can really help feed people’s desires to have that information. If they know they’re expecting that email on Thursday, there are cases where there are certain emails that I get in my mailbox that I’m always looking forward whether it’s a weekly report or a weekly newsletter about certain topics, there are some that I actually really do look forward to.

[24:54] You can also reuse some of that content for things like social media or your email newsletters, any sort of auto responders or some of your webinars. There’s a lot of different ways that you can – I’ll say cross promote things between one piece of content and another. And then in addition to that, using that calendar can help you with any sort of complicated sales process. So if there are things that people need to do, you can create some content like you can create a video and send it to them and say hey I saw that you started using this feature in our product. Here’s something that might help you. Here’s an educational video that helps people use that and directs them on how best – how to get the most value out of it.

[25:32] And there’s other things that you can use that for as well. If they’re on a pre-sales newsletter for example you could send them a video about how your particular tool helped them solve a specific problem. In terms of publishing your content, you also want to make sure you’re keeping an eye out for ways that you can promote it. One of the obvious was is to ask the people that you’re sharing this content with to promote it. Ask them to share it, send out tweets or Facebook likes or even follow you on LinkedIn or the various other social media circles. There’s a lot of different ways that you can get your message out and get people to share it.

[26:07] And in addition to promoting it yourself, I mean obviously you can do any sort of paid marketing but reach out to influential people in your space whether its bloggers or podcasters, anyone who could help you get the message out in a way that is relevant to their audience and that’s something that is really key. You want to make sure that what you’re talking about or what you’re pitching to people is relevant to their audience and explain to them how is it going to help their audience. Because if you just go to some random blogger and say hey I’d like to be on your show and you explain all the great things about you, well then you haven’t really told them anything about why you should really be on there. How is it going to help their listeners or their viewers?

[26:42] So if you’re not pitching to their audience and their audience’s needs then the chances of them saying yes are probably much slimmer than if you explain it in a way of how it’s going to provide vaulted to their audience.

[26:53] Rob: Even something as simple as having that tweet button and the Facebook like and or share button and a G+ button on your blogpost, your infographic or whatever it is, the piece of content you have, this is something that I see people overlooking and frankly when I’m on my mobile phone, I’m on my iPhone, I click through – if there’s not a button there that I can click to retweet it, there’s no way I’m going to copy and paste the URL out of there, open the Twitter app, write something, copy and paste it in it, it just doesn’t happen.

[27:21] And a lot of folks now are on their phones when they’re looking at this kind of stuff. So you really want to enable one click sharing. And one click sharing is not – it’s a magic silver bullet that’s going to instantly mean everybody shares it but it just pulls away that little bit of friction and allows people to be able to be able to share it more easily.

[27:40] Mike: Yeah, I’m exactly the same way. If it’s not right there if I’m on my phone, chances are really good that I’m not going to bother to come back to it later.

[27:48] Rob: I think the other thing you touched on that I liked – let’s talk about content reuse. What’s interesting is I use to think that you have this blog and you write hundreds and hundreds of posts over several years and people – they’re just digging through the archives or its just dead material. But I finally realized there’s a lot of meat and if you have timeless stuff that doesn’t rely on particular time periods, it’s not a current tech news or something, you absolutely can reuse that and you could compile your old posts into an eBook. You could take old blogposts, put them into your auto responders sequence. I mean there’s so much that can be done with that. Don’t forget.

[28:26] And you can go even further and let’s say you can repurpose a blogpost into a podcast outline or sequence a blogpost into an infographic if you had research stuff. There’s a lot of ways to do this so that if you put time into creating content in the past, you don’t necessarily have to reinvent the wheel today when you do start to upgrade their content again.

[28:45] Mike: Step 5 is to engage with your audience after you’ve published the content. You can ask people to comment or tweet or respond in some way. What is your content ultimately supposed to do? What action is it that they’re supposed to take? And that’s one of the things that you want to address in your planning stage but make sure that you follow-up with it and engage with the audience and really ask them to take those extra steps and as you said in the previous step when you publish something, make sure that you have things like Facebook or Twitter buttons. If those things aren’t there, make sure that you’re putting them there if that’s the way that you want them to share it.

[29:17] Something else that you can do is are you hearing what other things that people are looking for from you for content? Are they asking questions? Are those questions something that you can turn into something else that could be published as new content? Are you asking them to contribute their own content? Those are the types of things that help you I guess fill up your funnel of content that you you’re generating. And then the last piece of step 5 and engaging with them is actually thank them. There’s a lot of people that will just do something because they like the stuff and they think that it’s nice to share. But going back and going out of your way to thank them is actually a very, very effective strategy

[29:55] As part of what my Twitter strategy, what I’ve been doing is taking the people who follow me back or – and this relates specifically to the Audit Shark account, following me back or retweeting things, we’ll go in and we will send them a message hey, thanks to so and so for retweeting this or for favoriting this or for following us back. And it is accounting to me the number of people who when we sent out a tweet that says we just want to say thanks to these five people for following us, it’s astounding to me the number of people who actually turned around and would retweet that. It’s just crazy. And it gets retweeted to like tens of thousands of people which I don’t know why that happens but it just does. It seems like it’s working really, really well and it just feeds that loop because people see that in the other Twitter feeds and then they come back to s.

[30:40] Step 6 is to measure and incorporate feedback from people. What content is it that you put out there that was actually shared with other people? How much was it shared? How many readers did you get from publishing a new piece of content? How many people took the action that you wanted them to take? How did some of that content relate back to your bottom-line revenue? I mean are you able to track some of that information? Those are the types of questions that you want to ask and make sure that you’re measuring different things related to your content strategies so that you know what’s working and you can double down on it and you know what’s not working and back off from those things.

[31:15] Rob: Yeah. But trying to measure ROI on content marketing is very difficult near impossible. The people I know who are doing content marketing successfully and I was actually doing this on HitTail for quite some time was getting a lot of buzz around the blog and it was driving visitors. But it’s so hard to figure out precisely how someone found you and you can see when they convert but it’s hard to attribute what the last click was versus the first click versus the steps they took in between that.

[31:46] And so the measurement is actually a challenge and Google analytics doesn’t do it very well. I know they’re branching into that and looking at attribution models. They would have multiple attributions meaning of someone originally found you through a tweet and then they continued to engage with you maybe through your email sequence or your auto responder or your newsletter and then later they typed your name into a browser window and just came in and converted that it tries to attribute those steps along the way. But don’t get too caught up in trying to get every nook and cranny nailed down.

[32:19] The thing is figuring out how many people you drive to that post initially is going to give you a baseline of what you can expect. And so if you’re only able to drive hundred new uniques to this blogpost you published that’s probably not going to be enough to warrant the cost or the effort. But if you’re consistently getting in the 500 or over 1,000 unique for a piece of content or let’s say you’re getting 100 retweets, I mean there’s some measurement that you’re going to start seeing and it’s just going to start to make sense that you should continue doing this.

[32:51] But I’d say minimum if you’re going to start content marketing, you have to commit to minimum 60 days and maybe 90 days of consistent publishing. I don’t know anyone who does haphazard here’s an infographic now and then a blogpost in a month and then a video interview in two months. It doesn’t work because you don’t build any kind of relationship and you don’t build any kind of longer standing narrative. If you just throw out these pieces of content there’s already so many around that without them being connected to one another and having some consistency, I don’t see how your conversion rate could really increase. The people I know who are doing it are doing it very consistently for a long period of time. And the longer you do it, the bigger that snowball of basically of ROI builds up.

[33:35] Mike: Yeah I mean that’s an important piece that you allude to. It’s just looking at the trend itself not necessarily getting caught up in the fine grain details, you want to look at that trend itself and make sure that what you’re doing and how much time and effort your investing into the content strategy is somehow in some way shape or for really impact your revenue. And as long as your revenue is going up and as you said, if you start out and you say okay well I’m going to try this for 90 days or 180 days I’m going to publish once a week or twice a week.

[34:05] If you can take a look back six months and you see that three months previously after you go this 90 days you saved from three months ago, there’s almost like a clean rise in your revenue for example or this website visits and all these other metrics. You may not be able to individually say well I sent an email to Joe at such and such domain and he came in and signed he up after this particular blogpost but if you can see a trend of some kind and you can see that your traffic or your revenue is going up definitively and you can almost attribute it to when you started your content strategy, then you generally know that it’s working.

[34:44] Rob: And that is the hard part isn’t it? Coming to me, I’m super into analytics and ROI and that’s why I like SEO and paid acquisition because they are so easy to track or they’re easier to track and so content marketing just has fuzzy things around the edges and it’s not super easy to really nail down every aspect of the ROI which makes it not for the faint of heart to be honest. And the fact that you really need to do it for 90 days or more to start seeing the return, you want to do some research into it before you just dive in and think that you can crank out one infographic and suddenly have the success that a kiss metrics is having.

[35:22] Mike: I think part of that problem is the engineer side of most software developers is like you want a concrete answer, math and science is you’re either right or your wrong or there’s some tolerance in which as long as you fall in that range you’re okay. But when it becomes very subjective, it’s very fuzzy around whether or not you’re on the right track and so think that’s what you’re kind of alluding to.

[35:43] Rob: A little bit. Yeah.

[35:44] Music

[35:47] If you have question for us, call our voice mail number at 1-888-801-9690 or email us at questions@startupsfortherestofus.com. Our theme music is an excerpt from “We’re Outta Control” by MoOt used under Creative Commons. Subscribe to us in iTunes by searching for startups or via RSS at startupsfortherestofus.com where you’ll also find a full transcript of each episode. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next time.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook Email

One Response to “Episode 161 | 6 Steps for Building an Effective Content Marketing Strategy”

  1. Hi Mike & Rob,

    After hearing you mention troubles sending emails from Drip, it makes me question a fundamental assumption I’m making. I’m building a Saas app that will rely heavily on sending transactional emails, and am initially integrating with mailgun and postmarkapp. I’m assuming these services never have delivery issues. Are there caveats I should be aware of? Assuming I set up DKIM and SPF, am I in the clear? Have others had any issues with these email sending services?