How A Video On LinkedIn Won Us A £20,000+ Client – A Step By Step Guide

How A Video On LinkedIn Won Us A £20,000+ Client – A Step By Step Guide

Recently, Kontent360 closed a £20,000 deal as a direct consequence of an abridged version of this video I posted on LinkedIn.

One of my contacts saw the video and forwarded it to his Head of Marketing who scheduled a call with me. One week later, we signed a large content development deal.

And this was one of my less popular videos on LinkedIn. It got 1,097 views, 9 likes and 2 comments. 

I’m posting videos on LinkedIn almost once a week and I usually get between 1,500 and 2,500 views. Each week’s video gets me around 5 new subscribers to my email list and one project inquiry.

Granted, I have 3,000+ contacts on LinkedIn, so that helps, but take whichever number you have and you’ll quite likely have similar results. 

It turns out that LinkedIn is pretty spectacular for videos.

First of all, videos on LinkedIn are rare. Take a scroll through your newsfeed and less than 5% are videos that auto-play (without sound) as you scroll. Most people posts text updates. Video is more difficult to produce and that’s why you stand out if you do it. 

Second – the organic reach you get is phenomenal. When was the last time you, a small B2B company, got 2,000 reads on a blog post?  Yet video gets me 2,000 views each week. It’s pretty impossible to get this exposure for free, unless you already have a big audience.

In this blog post, I will give you the recipe to replicate this success.

 

Topics

What should your video be about?

Basically whatever a blog post would be about. Anything that serves your audience. A great way to kill two birds with one stone is to simply talk about a blog post you’ve written in a conversational style. This is a good example I did: I wrote a blog post on the topic of Content Market Fit and then simply talked about the idea in a conversational manner. Again: 2,000+ views, 31 likes. (By the way, while these are vanity metrics, they show that I’m hitting my audience’s spot. Content is there to be consumed. And as we’ve seen, these vanity metrics do drive business, too).

 

Length

Length doesn’t matter. Ignore those who tell you that video needs to be a certain length. A video is as long as it needs to be. Cut out fluff in your script but don’t artificially constrain yourself to some arbitrary maximum minute figure only because your guru of choice says so. If you always aim to serve your audience in the best possible manner, length is irrelevant.

 

Presentation or talking into the camera?

You’ll notice that my video above contains a presentation and I’m not showing my face. Is this better than talking to the camera? Again, it depends. If you want to talk about a complex concept that is best visualised, use a presentation.

But when either works, talk to the camera. Humans are drawn to faces. It also makes your company more concrete. In the end, your clients will work with people, not with a company. And so it’s great to see the people’s faces. Don’t be discouraged if you feel you don’t look good on camera or think you’re not a good speaker. Here’s how to overcome this issue.

 

How to become a good speaker in front of the camera.

1. Drop the perfectionism. I’m not a good speaker myself yet. I have a bit of experience now but I still cringe when I watch myself. But already I can tell how I’m getting better, and editing my own videos helps me become acquainted with my mannerisms and improve on the next video. As long as you’ll be getting your point across and are genuine, you’ll be fine. It’s far more important that your content be interesting. As long as your delivery doesn’t outright suck and is just average, content quality matters more.

2. Be prepared to do multiple takes.  If you talk off the cuff (i.e. with just a few notes stuck on the wall next to the camera, not reading a script), you will need multiple takes. Just let the camera run and accept that the first 3 takes will go in the bin. I had to do 15 takes in one of my most recent videos. I know Person Facepalming on Apple iOS 12.1

3. Slow down. It’s much better to speak slowly than to speed up and down. Your viewers can always speed you up if they think you talk too slowly. Most amateur speakers vary their number of words per 5-second intervals considerably. Pro speakers are much more consistent. I’m certainly guilty of that. I tend to talk fast until I lose my train of thought and then just stammer around. Instead, if you can even out the amplitudes and constantly talk at the same comfortable speed, it’s far easier to listen to. 

4. Drop the fluff. Forget about long elaborate greetings and talking about trivialities at the beginning of the video. I see many inexperienced YouTubers do this, they talk about their day or why they are wearing a certain t-shirt etc. Go RIGHT into the topic at hand. Unless you have a devoted audience who loves you personally, no one cares about your day’s back story.

5. Keep at it. Over time, you’ll know how to improve. Force yourself to watch your videos after you’ve published them. With a bit of distance, you’ll see your video with fresh eyes and notice which things you need to improve. For example, one thing I noticed about myself is that I repeat myself a lot. I make a point and then reiterate it using different words. Often, it’s not necessary and it makes for tedious watching. So I’m much more aware of it now. 

 

What to do when you mess up a sentence

Whether you read off a teleprompter or are just riffing with a few (mental) notes: You will mess up the flow of words coming out of your mouth. How to fix this in a way you don’t have to do the whole take over and over again? 

First of all, I wouldn’t worry about it. Even when you stumble over your words, just leave it in. People are forgiving of mistakes. 

Then, see if you can support some of your points with visuals. Look at my video below (the one about RolePoint). There are a few instances where you don’t see me but see the book I’m presenting. Those bits are a god-send because all I had to do in this video is to get my words straight until 2:12 where I showed the book and I wasn’t in the picture. And video that’s only audio and not you moving your mouth in the picture means you can cut out errors. If you had to cut out errors while you’re talking you’d have weird jump cuts in the video. 

If you do need to do jump cuts, e.g. you say sentence 1 correctly, and mess up sentence 2, start sentence 2 all over again. Not just the last few words. During editing, you will then make a cut after sentence 1 and plug in new sentence 2. 

 

Equipment

You can do your videos just using your smartphone.

But putting in a little bit of an effort will make your visuals pop and you will stand out.

If you want more of a studio feel instead of a wobbly video selfie, here is the equipment I use: 

  • Camera: Canon EOS 200D £520
  • Camera tripod: Zomei Q666 – currently it’s out of stock on Amazon. I recommend buying something above £50. You want this one to be sturdy and heavy. Not one of those flimsy £15 stands. After all, it’s carrying a £500 camera. 
  • Extra Light: Abeststudio Soft Boxes £46 – you always need more light than you think. Just let those babies shine in your face like you’re being interrogated by Scotland Yard. Place them one on each side 1m diagonally in front of you, at a 45 degree angle. Also, place a light somewhere behind you. It’ll add depth to the light setting. 
  • Teleprompter – You can either buy a teleprompter or build your own. It’s surprisingly simple. Follow the instructions in this video.
  • Audio Recording – don’t skimp on audio. As most YouTubers will confirm – good video is mainly about good audio. Also worth noting for novices (I didn’t know this before): You will record your audio totally separately from your video. You talk into the camera, the camera records the image, but you record your voice on a separate device. When you then assemble the video, you then overlay these two channels, sync up the audio with the video, and delete the crappy audio that your camera recorded.
    • For talking to the camera. I just clip on a mic on my shirt and plug into my phone which is in my pocket.
      • Clip-on mic £9.50
      • Any free recording app, I use Voice Recorder on Android
    • For screen cast recordings (PowerPoint)
      • device: Zoom H6 £259. This one is used by professionals, I took the recommendation from Tim Ferriss. Less relevant for the videos where you talk directly to the camera, this one is good for clean, quality audio when recording screen casts. It’s a bit of audio luxury, though, and using the clip-on mic above should be good enough. In that case, you can omit the Zoom H6. 
      • Shure Mic £108, mic foam cover £7, XLR cable £3, mic stand £6
  • And finally, for editing I use Adobe Premiere Pro. £30/month or something like that, depends on the plan you have with Adobe. I found it extremely intuitive and easy to learn, and whatever you don’t know how to do there’s a tutorial on YouTube. 

 

Add subtitles

You’ll get more engagement with the video on LinkedIn if you add subtitles to it. See this video of mine. Not sure if subtitles have been the cause, but this one had very good viewing and my best engagement figures so far. 

The reason subtitles work is that often people who start watching your video see it auto-play when they are scrolling through their feed. And if you give subtitles they instantly see what your video is about. If it interests them, they will turn up the volume. But if they see just your face moving but they cannot hear you, they don’t know what you’re talking about and they will scroll past you.

Here are great instructions how to create subtitles in Adobe Premiere Pro.

 

How to upload the video to LinkedIn

Don’t just upload the video to YouTube and then post the link to the video on LinkedIn – you won’t get as much engagement with that vs if you upload the video natively to LinkedIn. The reason is in the previous chapter – the video will only auto-play if it’s on LinkedIn, not just a link to YouTube. 

Here’s how to do it: 

1. Start creating a post

2. Click on this icon

3. Upload the video. 

Important: It can be max 10 minutes long. If your video is longer than 10 minutes, I recommend you simply chop it off at 9:30 and insert a call to action that directs people to your website where you post the entire video. 

Example: The video that converted the client is 20 minutes long. The version on LinkedIn is the first half. The second half is on the Kontent360 website

 

Make it a habit

Finally, one very productive hack was for me to set up the equipment in one corner of my home office and leaving it there permanently. Now, when recording a video, I just switch on the camera and the lights, plug in the mic and am able to roll in a matter of 2 minutes. Psychologically that’s a big barrier gone, and I have fewer excuses to not record a video. 

 

Conclusion

I hope this was useful. Remember, this practice will drive new business for you, so commit to doing videos regularly. Don’t expect success with the first few videos. But if after 3 months you haven’t seen results, then it’s time to reconsider. Until then, don’t think twice and just do it. 

Follow Kontent360 on Twitter or Facebook, follow me on LinkedIn, and if you feel like all of this above is too much for you to do, get in touch with us at Kontent360 and we can do all your company videos for you.

Benivo Book about Employee Experience published – “The Value of Welcome”

Benivo Book about Employee Experience published – “The Value of Welcome”

After the overwhelming success of the first Benivo book – “Attracting and Retaining Talent in Times of Brexit”, we’re very happy to announce that the second Thought Leadership Book “The Value Of Welcome – Employee Experience For New Joiners” is out.

Benivo Book "The Value of Welcome"

This book has been edited and orchestrated by us at Kontent360.

As in the last book (which can be downloaded as an eBook here), we have a long list of illustrious contributors, among them

  • David M. Walker, former Comptroller of the United States under Bill Clinton & George W. Bush
  • Laura Hinton, Chief People Officer at PwC
  • Dee Clarke, Head of Campus Recruitment at Amazon
  • Dan Cable, Professor of Organisational Behaviour at London Business School
  • Katie Burke, Chief People Officer at Hubspot

and many more.

The point of the book is to showcase how leading companies and academics see the important topic of Employee Experience. The book contains articles that teach Benivo’s audience (HR Managers, In-House Recruiters, and Global Mobility) how to approach this concept and provides countless ideas and examples that can be copied and stolen with pride.

Employee Experience is an idea that people managers increasingly care about.

But like with most trendy concepts, digging beneath the surface is important. This is what we’ve done in this book. By illuminating the topic from different angles and providing a cut-the-crap-style essay on how to measure employee experience and continuously iterate and improve on it, we hope we provide real value to Benivo’s audience.

Benivo’s first book has brought the company lots of new business. This one is bigger, better, far more beautiful, and twice as thick – no doubt it will be twice as successful.

Below are a few screenshots from the inside. You can order a copy here.

And if you’re intrigued by the idea of publishing a book like this for your own company, go here.

 

 

Going back to print: How an old-school book drives tons of new leads for B2B companies

Going back to print: How an old-school book drives tons of new leads for B2B companies

One of the problems that content marketing runs into is volume. There’s just too much content online.

How many of the genuinely interesting newsletters you’re subscribing to do you actually open on a regular basis?

Online content has a low barrier to entry – you don’t even need your own blog, just get a Medium account and off you go.

That makes it really difficult to get noticed.

HOWEVER – here’s an amazing way to stand out:

Do a printed book

A book for which you ask knowledgeable people you know to contribute on a given topic. Case in point: Benivo and their book “Attracting and Retaining Talent in Times of Brexit”.

Book Cover Benivo Brexit Book

Benivo is a mobility solution for early career employees. There are relocation companies who help senior employees relocate from one country to another — Benivo does that for junior people, using technology. 

Benivo were looking for a way to feed the top end of their funnel, find more prospects. Their target audience are HR people, recruiters and global mobility teams inside big companies.

And here’s what we did:

We took a topic that is on everyone’s mind in the world of HR and talent, at least in the UK: Brexit. Everyone is worried one way or another. EU citizens are leaving the UK because of Brexit, companies are worried they won’t be able to hire from the EU, there’s a lot of uncertainty.

So we said: what if we compiled best practice advice from experts on how to attract and retain top talent in times of Brexit? Get HR people, recruiters and mobility managers inside big companies weigh in on the topic.

And so we decided to ask them to write 500-600 word contributions on the topic, compile them all in a book, print it, done – a thought leadership piece, a how-to blog post on steroids.

You can download the eBook version here, but let’s also take…

A quick look inside

This is the front and back cover — summary, company logos.

front and back cover Benivo Brexit book

This is where it pays off to have contributions from well-known companies, because you can pop their logos on the back of your book and benefit from the halo effect – of course, make sure you have their permission to use their logos. 

Here’s the foreword from the CEO:

And another one from the Deputy Mayor of London:

Rajesh Agrawal Foreword for Benivo Brexit Book

Here’s the table of contents:

Table of Contents Benivo Brexit Book

An example article:

Article in Benivo Brexit Book

Each contributor has a chance to enter their bio and a company description:

Bio and Company Description Benivo Brexit Book

And then finally there’s an “About Benivo” page with a call to action:

About Benivo Section in Benivo Brexit Book

Distribution

All the authors promoted the book on their social media channels, and some even posted their contribution as a blog post and linked to the book order page.

The only way someone could order a book was by filling out a form on a dedicated page on the Benivo website. Because we were giving the book away for free, those ordering were quite generous and shared a lot of specific information with us: Their job titles and what their relocation-related challenges were.

That allows Benivo to later target them with specific sales messaging.

The Results

The book was immensely successful:

  • We did a print run of 1,000 books and those were all taken in less than a week.
  • So we did another print run of 1,000 which also was used up completely save for a small amount we kept for the company to give away at events.
  • Hundreds of eBook downloads
  • Hundreds of brand new leads
  • And we’re working on our second book, due to come out later this year

Here’s How Nitzan Yudan, CEO of Benivo sees it:

 

Why Was The Book So Successful?

1) It opens doors

It’s so much easier to ask someone for a 500-word contribution than just selling to them. it’s much easier to start a conversation with someone if you don’t have to sell to them directly. 

2) You build allies

The book has helped Benivo to massively deepen the relationships with the people they already knew. Being asked to contribute a piece of expertise for a real book is a big ego-stroke, and people enjoy that attention and will pay you back in kind. Some of the authors in the book are inviting Benivo to events all the time, give them speaking slots at conferences, and introduce them to companies that might become customers. It’s a flywheel of good publicity.

3) Your allies promote you

All the authors in the book promoted the book to their network, on social media etc. And because they are all in the HR and Recruitment and Global Mobility space, that means that many people in THEIR network will be in a similar space, so it’s an amazing multiplication and network effect. And some of those allies then start actively hustling for you, as it happened with Benivo.

4) It stands out

Small companies usually don’t go around publishing hardcover books. So especially if you’re not big, it can make you look much bigger.

5) It stays front of mind

Even the best eBook or White Paper will be forgotten because they’re so easy to produce. But if you got this book sent to your office, it will be sitting on your desk. There’s a good chance it will be sitting there for many months — a permanent reminder of your company’s existence.

6) It’s hard cover

There’s something in human psychology that creates a barrier when it comes to throwing away a hardcover book. You just won’t do it.

 

Do it yourself?

If you’re excited and want to do your own book, that’s great! Here’s a few tips

Come up with a good topic

It has to be something that’s open-ended for which there is no definitive answer. “How to retain your best employees” is a great topic because nobody has a real answer. Or anything that has to do with prediction “the state of renewables in 2050”. Also good is something where you combine two trends, let’s say “The impact of AI on renewable energy”. It should be something that many experts can have different opinions on, so that you can create a bit of tension and controversy. At the same time, it shouldn’t be too narrow or esoteric. You want everyone who works in your field to be interested in it. Most important is that the topic is useful, educational, and solves a problem. That’s a good topic.

Write a concise guideline document 

You will be sharing this with potential contributors, outlining what it’s about and narrow down the choice of topics and give style requirements. This is very important because otherwise, people will write about all kinds of stuff. You need consistency. 

Ideally, interview people instead of having them do the writing

Many people aren’t great writers, even when they are subject matter experts. Those articles where we interviewed people and then wrote it up for them, tended to be a bit better. Just arrange a call, record the call (with their knowledge, of course) and write it up. 

Get VIPs and do the work for them

Try to get at least one or two high profile people to write a contribution. Maybe you can feature one of them in the book’s introduction. You’ll have a better chance to secure them if you suggest that you’ll write the content for them.

This is a great way to get the top experts in their field – they usually have published stuff already on this topic. Suggest to them to adapt some of the work they’ve already published. Basically, just minimise their effort and they will do it.

Finally, here are a few questions I usually get:

FAQs

Why would people write something for free for you?

With Benivo, around 70-80% of the people we approached ended up writing something for us. It’s a good means of self-promotion for them and their company. So don’t worry, you’ll get people to do it for you.

It’s not that much work, after all. It’s a short blog post, and experienced people write a lot anyway. Also, if they seem short on time, offer them to do the interview method I mentioned before.

Now that we’re doing the second book, we get people APPLYING to get featured in it.

What helps in this context is if you don’t plan to sell the book for money, i.e. you don’t try to turn a profit on it. On that note:

 

Shouldn’t you be SELLING this book instead of just giving it away?

You can, of course. The problem is that then you may get a few potential contributors asking for royalties. That’s unpleasant to deal with.

I think the best recipe is to give the bulk of the books away and sell a small portion of them on Amazon. You can then argue that you are just recovering some of the production cost and that you’re not turning a profit.

By the way. If you do sell them on Amazon, you have to have an ISBN number and a barcode. Here’s how to do that.

 

Can you reject submissions?

That’s a sensitive topic. Imagine you won someone to write a contribution and they’d be your dream customer. And then their article really sucks. What should you do? It’s a difficult balancing act. It depends on the relationship you have with them and how much risk you are willing to take to potentially tick them off.

What you definitely shouldn’t do is to compromise on the quality of the book – you will damage your brand.

But here’s what you can do: Ask the person who wrote the poor article for a phone call where you ask them to “clarify” a few of the points they made. Ask them to elaborate on the topic and then completely rewrite their piece. Then, run it past them and say you’ve made a few minor changes. Most will be ok with this approach and you don’t burn any bridges. 

This is where it’s really helpful to have an agency working with you.

If you work with us, Kontent360, you can, when you reach out to your network and ask them for contributions, say that editorial control lies with this agency, Kontent360, and that you defer to their judgment when it comes to editorial quality. If we then reject someone’s contribution, it won’t reflect badly on you and your relationship with them. Although we will always try to salvage any contribution.

So if you want to work with us, just get in touch and we can work on your book together

 

Is this only good for B2B and not for B2C?

B2B is better because the pool of potential decision makers is much smaller and each book costs money to produce. I’d say it’s possible for B2C, but only if you’re selling large ticket items. Or if you sell the book, that would work for B2C as well, but then again you will run into the royalties problem.

Speaking of money:

 

How much does it cost?

If you work with Kontent360, we’ll quote you a price depending on how big the book would be and how fancy you want to get. Ballpark, it’s going to be in the low five digits. Just email us and we’ll get you a quote.

If you do it yourself, without help from Kontent360, I would calculate that one person will probably spend 3-4 months on it.

And then on top come the printing and shipping cost. If you find a good printer, you’ll pay somewhere around £5-7 per book, of course depending on how many you get printed.

 

Books are a growing market

The last available figure from the UK publishers’ association is for 2016 and that year shows a 7% growth versus 2015. So people still love to read, and a paper book is definitely something that will make you stand out, because so few others are doing it.

 

So what now?

Let’s work on a book together! Get in touch and we’ll custom-tailor a proposal for you.

 

 

Photo by Aris Sfakianakis on Unsplash

How GoSquared is Building a Grand Palace of a Business, Blog by Blog

How GoSquared is Building a Grand Palace of a Business, Blog by Blog

James Gill is the impossibly affable CEO of GoSquared, a Shoreditch-based SaaS company offering an analytics and customer intelligence platform.

It turns out that GoSquared is a powerhouse of content, which drives over half the company’s business, James says.

In this interview, we go deep into how it is possible to make a 1,000% ROI on Content Marketing, discuss some very specific promotion tactics, and get James’ take on what really annoys him. Enjoy!

 

My key learnings and takeaways from the interview:

  • Try to have a content honey pot that will attract inbound traffic. GoSquared has the section “Global Metrics” which receives a lot of inbound traffic (e.g. people searching for different operating system adoption rates). Is there some interesting content hidden inside your organisation that people search for on Google?
  • Paying for advertising is like renting a home. The money is gone after the fact. Content marketing is like buying a home. You’re building an asset.
  • Content has not only driven engagement with prospective customers of GoSquared. It also helped start conversations with other companies who end up integrating GoSquared into their product offering. It wouldn’t have happened without the content.
  • Mention other companies in your posts. It amplifies your audience and starts a conversation.
  • When critiquing others’ work (eg page design, copy etc), phrase it as a user test would. Don’t say “this is bad” but rather “this doesn’t work for me as a user”. You don’t know how this piece is working for the company in question or what has led to them making this decision.
  • When you’re considering gated content, don’t only think about white papers or eBooks. You can also do an email course that drip feeds people the basics of what you have to offer.
  • If you have problems publishing content on a regular basis, write a weekly newsletter and commit to your audience. That will keep you on your toes.
  • Key advice from James on content marketing superstardom:
    • First think about what your audience would enjoy reading. It’s more important than what you would enjoy writing.
    • Don’t treat promotion as an afterthought. When you hit publish on a piece of Content, you’re only halfway there.
    • Resurface your content. It’s like your tweeting never happened. Keep republishing your old content.

Michal: Good to see you James. So we’re speaking a few days after your super-long blog post on Calls to Action went live – a real monster. It’s the longest blog post in the history of mankind. Did you write it yourself?

James: (laughs) I did. It wasn’t too long, maybe 2-3 days? As with the rest of our Content Marketing, we’re targeting growth teams and marketing people in general. Recently we’ve noticed that we take for granted some of the knowledge we’ve built up inside GoSquared. One day I was capturing our knowledge on Call-To-Action buttons, and thought that this could be great content for our audience. I added some examples, and then it became this huge thing.

James Gill, CEO of GoSquared

James Gill, CEO of GoSquared

But that’s the direction we want to go – provide in-depth resources for growth marketers to benefit from. We see there’s a lot of knowledge inside the team so we just have to make time to dig it up and get it out into the world.

Michal: Oh yea, a lot in Content Marketing is about the process of unearthing the knowledge that already exists inside the company. Also, there’s a mindset shift that needs to happen in people’s heads to think in Content Marketing terms. A product manager needs to think “oh, what I’m thinking right now would be a good piece of content to share with our customers.”

 

You need to get into the mindset of “I don’t know much, but that little is already helpful to someone.”

 

James: Another problem is that you often feel that you don’t know enough and should wait until you do. But what you’ve learned so far has got you to where you are now, and that helps those people who are starting. So you need to get into the mindset of “I don’t know much, but that little is already helpful to someone.”

Michal: You’d never write anything if you need to be a Nobel Prize winner first.

James: Exactly.

Michal: So let’s look at the big picture. What kind of structures does GoSquared now have in place for Content Marketing? Or is it simply you putting out a piece of content once a week and that’s it?

James: We have the blog, we have a page called Resources where there’s free downloads on various topics. And then there’s the page Global Metrics. Because our code sits on so many sites, we have a lot of good data on device or browser usage, our audience can access that. And that attracts a lot of inbound traffic and is often the first touchpoint where people find out about us.

But more generally, the way we try to think about content is: People rarely see a piece of content and then sign up. And that leads potential critics to say “oh it doesn’t lead to signups, so content is not worth it”. And yes, it IS notoriously hard to measure the impact of it. But what we know is that the content is one of the first touchpoints how people get to know about us. From there, they sign up for our newsletter or check out our homepage.

Michal: Do you retarget them?

James: We used to, in the past. We could be a bit smarter about that. But then, we don’t have a dedicated person on the team doing marketing. We’re a very small team. And any paid acquisition you do, you have to resource it well because you’re going to suck early on.

Michal: Yea but that applies to everything. Your time is money, too. And only because you don’t receive an invoice after a weekend spent writing content, it still cost you.

James: True. But another way to look at it is: When you’re paying for advertising, it’s like you’re renting. The money’s gone at the end of it, it’s never going to come back. But content marketing is like buying a house. You’re building an asset.

Michal: I like that analogy. But then also consider that there’s good ways and bad ways of spending money. I think spending money to promote your content is fine if you have all your infrastructure ready: You are optimising your popup triggers, you have forms to “upsell” visitors to eBooks and white papers, you’re sending them the right email sequences etc. So you buy traffic but turn a lot of the traffic into an asset itself.

James: Totally. But we’re not there yet. Currently, we see this sequence: View a post, view a few other posts, sign up to the newsletter, read that, sign up for a free trial. How our audience interacts with the newsletter – how much they open it, if they click through – that helps us with lead qualification.

 

“What has worked well for us is that our content attracts other companies to us who then become partners.”

 

Michal: What has worked most for you with Content Marketing?

James: What has worked well for us is that our content, shared on Twitter, has attracted other companies to us who then become partners. They integrate GoSquared with their offering, which drives business for us. And that wouldn’t have happened without the content and without Twitter.

Michal: Can you give an example?

James: So with our CTA post. We share it on Twitter, and other companies in our space like it and retweet it and so on. We thank them and ask if they would improve something. And often, this starts a conversation. The way the collaboration starts is that they see something on our blog and want to write a post for us. Or they offer us to write a post for them. For example, we’re collaborating with a SaaS company that tracks Net Promoter Score. They got in touch with us because we wrote a post about NPS and they wanted us to write something on their blog. And now we might do an integration with them.

Michal: And you don’t think this would be happening if you only shared other people’s content?

James: Yea, I don’t think it would. Now, we are the creators of it, so people who comment on it are more invested because they’re talking to the author.

Michal: Are you doing this in a targeted way, where you think “hm, this company X would be a great integration partner. Let’s write something that would get their attention.”

James: (laughs) it’s not as strategic as it could be. That CTA blog post we used as an opportunity to engage with people we wanted to. When you look at the post, there’s some 60 examples in there. The strategic side of the post was to a) not include direct competitors and b) add in those companies with similar audiences to ours. We also used it to restart some dormant conversations. For example, it’s been a while that we’ve spoken to the guys at Geckoboard. So we added an example from them in the post, tweeted at them, got some interaction out of it.

Michal: I think this is exactly the right recipe for Content Marketing. Come up with something genuinely useful for your audience, but then be tactical with your examples. The content serves your audience, the examples serve you.

James: Yes exactly. This was one of the first times we referenced so many other companies in a post and it has worked really well for us. We were hesitant about doing this in the past because I don’t like criticising someone else’s work. It’s one of the things that really bugs me when people comment negatively about other companies’ page design or CTAs without having insight how the business works and what has led them to make this decision. So one of the challenges with that post for me was giving an opinion on how we might do something, without implying that we know better than e.g. Geckoboard. The secret lies in phrasing it like it’s a user test – giving our opinion on how something works for us as users.

Michal: What else has worked for you in content?

James: We once did a post about our login screen, which is something that’s normally overlooked. I mean, it’s a friggin login screen. Email address, password. What the hell, doesn’t matter. But we’ve been thinking a lot on how to make it better. That’s the product philosophy at GoSquared, we keep trying to make things easier and nicer. And we do it because we care, not because someone is going to pay us more. So you can’t justify work the login screen from an ROI point of view. But we still did it because we’re geeks and whatnot.

So we made the login fast and slick and better on mobile. And we wrote about all those decisions we made in this context. That post went quite mental: Designers really liked it for the design aspects, engineers liked it for the technical details. It became very popular, got reposted, retweeted. What was also cool that it drove people to actually engage with the product. Sure, it got us a lot of junk signups, but some of those who signed up ended up engaging with the product.

 

“To say we have a strategy would be an overstatement”

 

Michal: Is there a strategy behind all this? Would you say you have a Content Strategy?

James: (laughs) To say we have a strategy would be an overstatement. But if I had to phrase it on the spot I’d say it’s: Creating the best possible content for people in charge of growth – that’s mainly marketing, but also sales and product. People that are at the top of the funnel. And get it seen by as many of them as possible. That means promoting it a lot on amplification platforms like Reddit and Quora. But also getting people to link to it so that we start appearing in Google searches.

What we haven’t done enough of is to do gated content – requesting people’s email addresses. But not only as downloadable content, also for example doing an email drip with some marketing basics, like a 10-step course.

Michal: What amplification platforms work for you? And do you put original content on there or do you just copy and paste?

James: We do bespoke content for the platforms, like a summary of the post, with a link at the end. We are still only exploring at the moment. Quora, Reddit, Designer News have all been a good channel for us. Hacker News as well, but not always best for end-to-end conversion to signup.

[Michal’s note on this point. Apparently, Google does NOT punish for duplicate content, after all. There is a persistent myth in this regard, manifest in 119k search results for the phrase “duplicate content penalty”]

Michal: Do you feel you’re reaching your potential customers on Twitter? It often seems like it’s the service providers and influencers following each other.

James: I hear you. The experts are very vocal on Twitter, but the customers are there too, but they are not as loud. A lot of our existing customers are on Twitter and are following us. But I do think that the customers are more on Google, searching for answers. Which is why it’s so important you show up in searches.

Michal: Well one of Google’s check boxes you are ticking for sure, and that is sheer consistency. I was digging into your blog and it was so impressive, over the last 10 years you’ve been putting out content almost every week – it blew me away.

James: Yea, consistency is very important. This is one of the reasons we have a newsletter, so that we are forced to get something out every week.

Michal: Based on all the lessons learned, what would be your advice for other content marketers?

James:

  1. Think about the audience first. Think about what they would want to know. Instead of just producing content and then asking who will read it and how they’ll find it, think hard about what your existing audience would like. This is how our CTA blog post came to be.
  2. Don’t treat content promotion as an afterthought. We used to write a post, put a lot of work into it, and then hit publish and be done with it. The promotion used to be an afterthought, like “ah yea we should probably tweet it”. It’s very different now, we always think about all the channels at our disposal. And it’s also important to know that the communities like Quora or Reddit don’t like it if you just swoop in and deposit your content and leave. You have to be there and engage with the community – leave comments, upvote a few things, and so on.
  3. Think about resurfacing the content. If you are producing evergreen content – only because you shared it once doesn’t mean it got read. Not everyone lives on Twitter every day and remembers every little thing you put out. That’s why also in our newsletter we have the section “in case you missed it”.

 

“Think about that. With 0.4 FTE, you are driving more than 50% of your business”

 

Michal: How many of your existing business would you attribute to your content work? I know it’s impossible to say precisely, but what would be your best educated guess?

James: We really only do content and word of mouth. But the word of mouth would have never happened without the content to kick it off. So my best guess is that at least half of our business must be from the content we’ve put out. Content is the seed of what got people to know about us.

Michal: And how many FTE work on content? Is it just you?

James: Yes. And I would say that I spend two days a week on content, so that’s 0.4 FTE.

Michal: That’s amazing, though – think about that. With 0.4 FTE, you are driving more than 50% of your business.

James: Yep. I ran the numbers and I calculated that we must have something in the range of 1,000% ROI on Content Marketing

Michal: This is stunning.

James: Yea but it did take a long time to build up, of course. It didn’t come out of nowhere. Still, it’s great ROI. I remember reading a post from Hubspot where they were asking what would you do with a $1bn marketing budget. Their response was that they’d hire an army of people to write more content. But then, I mean, they would say that. (laughs)

Michal: Let’s move to conversion. How do you track people’s content consumption and check if they are ripe for becoming a customer?

James: Yes, our own product helps us quite a bit with that. We have these things called smart groups for our users, they are almost like smart playlists. Once you have their email address, you build a group for what we would consider qualified trial leads. Have they had this many visits, how many posts did they look at etc. And then we contact those who look most promising.

Michal: Any other tools you recommend?

James: The Yoast SEO plugin is very good, helps you make the most of your content’s SEO value. And then I really like Dropbox Paper – you can share documents within your team, have people comment on it.

Michal: Wouldn’t Google Docs do the trick?

James: Hm… I guess it would. I like that Dropbox Paper has fewer options, fewer font types and sizes – it’s just: Write. I like that minimalism.

Michal: James, thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us. It was enormously insightful.

James: I love talking about this, it was a real pleasure!

Michal: How can people hear more regularly from you?

James: Well that’s an easy one – sign up to our newsletter if you’re interested in content about how to grow your business. Follow us on Twitter or drop by our offices in Runway East Shoreditch.
Image credits: The Noun Project, Adobe Stock

How To Deal With A Boring Product and Too Much Content – Mint and Freshbooks Case Studies

How To Deal With A Boring Product and Too Much Content –
Mint and Freshbooks Case Studies

What if you’re a company with a boring product? Does it make sense to use Content Marketing? Is there anything interesting to write about?

And, on the opposite side of the spectrum, how do you stand out in a very crowded content area?

We look at two companies who have succeeded in Content Marketing in two different ways.

In principle, Mint has it easy: Personal finance is a bottomless content gold mine. It is one of the most popular subject areas to write about. There is plenty evergreen topics, and you can jump on societal and technological trends that open new ideas for saving or making money.

But popular also means crowded, and Mint needed to stand out. In 2007, when their story began, there already was a huge amount of online content on the topic of personal finance.

Mint asked: What’s the right angle to serve young professionals and turn content readers into Mint customers?
logos

In contrast, Freshbooks had a different Content Marketing challenge. Its core business is an invoicing solution for small and mid-sized businesses (SMEs). But who wants to read about invoicing? If Content Marketing was the way to go, Freshbooks had to come up with interesting topics that would drive traffic, despite the unsexiness of its product.

What Freshbooks had going for it, though, was a very specific user base: Freelancers and leaders of SMEs. Surely, there had to be content that would cut across SME verticals and be interesting – no matter if you sell plumbing, beauty, or PR services.

So the companies faced different challenges:

  • Mint needed to stand out in a highly competitive content marketplace
  • Freshbooks had to find a content angle that would engage their small business audience

This difference lies at the heart of Content Marketing strategy: Most companies either inhabit a high-interest topic or they have an audience united by a common identity trait.

There are companies who don’t inhabit either one of these worlds. Mainly because their customers are so widely varied and they are part of a huge market. Large hotel chains, energy providers, and mainstream car brands come to mind.

Some of these companies try to overcome this problem by creating entertaining content with less emphasis on usefulness and information value. For example, Marriott and its two bellmen video series. Rather than Content Marketing with its focus on performance and conversion, these efforts are better described as Branded Content which has less emphasis on ROI. Also, it usually isn’t owned by the Performance Marketing function in a company but by its Branding department.

But I digress.

How did Mint create a fresh take on personal finance?

  1. They asked personal finance bloggers to write on Mint’s blog. They did so for free as long as they could link back to their own site. This meant high quality content and borrowing that blogger’s audience.
  2. They made access to their alpha product conditional upon the user placing a Mint “badge” on their social media profile, which linked back to mint.com and thus gave the site SEO mojo
  3. They sponsored other blogs and thus built relationships with influential writers
  4. They seeded its content on popular content distribution platforms at the time (Digg and Reddit) and tracked its popularity
  5. They created content formats that superbly leveraged human psychology:
        Trainwreck Tuesdays – stories of personal finance disasters. Few things attract attention like someone else’s misery.
        Interviews with their own staff about their personal finance habits – showing your face and opening up on this sensitive subject builds trust – which is an absolutely essential ingredient for a company that will have access to your sensitive data.
        Interviews with influential people about their personal finance habits which is an ever popular content format: How do successful people do it?

    As a result, Mint ended up amassing an audience of 20,000 before the launch of their first product and, for a while, grew to have the largest blog in the personal finance space. Two years after its launch, Intuit acquired Mint for $170 million.

    What did Freshbooks do to engage its audience of SME leaders?

    No matter which field they are in, people launching their own business have very similar challenges: Time management, client acquisition, hiring, cashflow, employee motivation – all are part of the journey. Therefore, what suggests itself for a company like Freshbooks is to create an all-round small business advice magazine. Here’s some of the blog titles that showcase the breadth of the Freshbooks blog:

    One important component of Freshbooks’ Content Marketing is the profiling of small businesses. In this example, they had an in depth conversation with a freelance consultant.
    neil-chudgar2

    This serves three purposes:

    1. The profiled person will become a Freshbooks advocate. Grateful that his business will receive exposure to many new prospects, he will benefit from the credibility boost for his article on the Freshbooks’ blog. As a result, he will likely endorse the product to anyone who asks. Also, he will probably share the article with his network where many will also be freelancers or small business owners. It will put Freshbooks on his network’s radar screen.
    2. It serves as an endorsement of the product. There is no mention of Freshbooks in the article at all, and Neil doesn’t expand on the topic of invoicing or billing. But the article title mentions that he is a customer. And when the customer is profiled well and credibly, has an interesting story to tell, the message is being conveyed: This is a solid small business that uses Freshbooks. It won’t
    3. It is plainly good content and, as such, grows Freshbooks’ reputation. It is informative, well written, and provides many points of identification with the protagonist. And being good content, it adds another piece into the mosaic of credibility that Freshbooks is building in the minds of its prospects and customers.

    I wasn’t able to find data on Freshbooks’ success with Content Marketing. however, the fact they continue to publish two posts a week is a good indicator of its positive impact.

    This last point is important to keep in mind: Content Marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. As opposed to sales and performance marketing that shows more immediate results, Content Marketing requires a long-term commitment to be effective. If the company published too little or stopped publishing new content altogether, it would work against them. People would look at their blog and think “wow, they haven’t published anything in months. They must be in trouble.”

    There is a similar story from a company that sells help desk software for SMEs – Groove. They have followed in Freshbooks’ footsteps and created an online magazine for small businesses. Content Marketing is the only marketing channel they invest in. The results of their work? Their company saved from bankruptcy, an engaged audience of 250k readers a month and $5m in annual revenue. You can read the full story here.

    So even if you’re in an “unsexy” business or face strong competition in your chosen content area, take heart – there are ways to get noticed and grow your business!

    Let’s have a chat! Contact us to discuss what Kontent360 and Content Marketing in general can do for your business.

     

     

    Sources:
    http://onboardly.com/content-marketing/how-content-marketing-rocketed-these-startups-forward
    https://blog.kissmetrics.com/how-mint-grew/
    http://okdork.com/startup-tips-how-i-grew-a-waiting-list-of-20000-at-mintcom-part-i/
    https://contently.com/strategist/2015/03/23/how-mint-turned-content-into-a-big-business/

Write White Papers, Make $1m. Simple. —  A Content Marketing Success Story.

Write White Papers, Make $1m. Simple. — A Content Marketing Success Story.

Case Study: How a traditional company made a splash with Content Marketing by listening to their customers and meticulously optimising for performance.

Automatic Data Processing (ADP) is a large American HR software company, familiar to most Americans who receive a paycheck.adp-logo At a market cap of $50bn, they are living proof that you can be successful even with a really boring company name.

Until 2012, the company had not run a proper digital marketing campaign and decided to do something about it. The rollout of Workforce Now, a new product for mid-sized businesses, was a good occasion. The company researched what types of workforce management challenges their target audience (mid-sized businesses) was facing.

At the time, the ACA (Obamacare) was being rolled out, and companies needed to

  • get educated on their rights and obligations
  • manage the ACA-related complexity and
  • be aware and take advantage of opportunities under the ACA.

So ADP started creating a steady flow of content (blog posts and white papers) on these topics.

They also created an promotion plan for the content:

  • Using paid display ads to drive traffic to their landing pages
  • There, collecting email addresses in exchange for white paper downloads
  • Retargeting and bringing back those page visitors who did not download the white paper the first time around.

Throughout the process, the company tracked and optimised Cost Per Lead metrics.

Already the first wave of content surpassed their expectations. ADP continuously optimised their campaigns. They pushed the content that resonated with their audience, and removed unpopular articles from the promotion cycle. They also focused their spend on those channels that were yielding the highest conversion (= white paper download) rates. “We could look at which messages and which (ad) sizes were working”, said one ADP executive.

In the first three months alone, Content Marketing drove $1m in new sales opportunities.

Today, the company offers a massive library of content on HR topics for US businesses of any size – best practice documents, legislative updates, how-to guides etc. In 2014, $3.4m of revenue was attributed to content marketing, at a 906% ROI.

Lessons Learned

1. Establish your baseline, change the input factors, and measure performance from there on

Let’s briefly think about losing weight. What’s the most logical way to go about it?

  1. Weigh yourself
  2. Take note on what and how much you normally eat and how much you exercise
  3. Then, change the parameters you can directly influence (eat less and exercise more) and track your weight
  4. Results will follow

Well, this is what ADP did with their Content Marketing: They established how many website visitors they had, how many social media followers, what their cost per acquisition was. They set this as a baseline on which to improve. As they took different actions (purchased traffic, created landing pages, optimised calls to action), the results followed.

2. Have a clear goal with a measurable metric

The company aimed at growing demand for Workforce Now, their product for mid-sized businesses. Every action taken in this context can be measured on this yardstick: Is this piece of content contributing to the growth of sales on this product? If yes, let’s write similar ones and promote them. If not, let’s stop it. Over time, many new goals were added, but every campaign had its clear, measurable goal.

3. Paid traffic is the spark

Content Marketers often wish they could only use free traffic, using their email lists and social media followers. However, to drive meaningful business, you’ll need paid traffic.

Some executives might be put off by this idea. The content is valuable, so readers should come by themselves – after all, the content is free! And you already paid for its production. Paying again for promoting it sounds like there’s no end to the spending spree!

The problem is: there is so much content in almost all areas, with very few unoccupied niches left. As a result, you have to treat content marketing just like any other lead acquisition channel. You would pay for a lead, right? So why not pay for a reader which one day will become a lead?

ADP’s experience (906% ROI in their second full year) shows that the model works. I don’t have ADP’s data but conceptually it will look something like this:

Again, we don’t know the actual numbers. But we can safely assume that leads acquired through Content Marketing were less costly for ADP, or at least not much higher than other leads.

By the way: the above graphic does not take into account a very powerful aspect of Content Marketing: Its capacity to bring results long after it has been created, especially if it’s evergreen. As the months and years go by, that pale pink block will keep decreasing. If the content is still relevant, it’s like a house you can rent out over and over again. (In this case, ADP does have the disadvantage that if Trump gets his act together and repeals Obamacare, ADP’s content will become obsolete). (See what I did there?)

To conclude: It won’t really work without paid content promotion. Content that spreads for free is the exception, not the rule, especially in the beginning of your content marketing efforts. If the occasional content piece you write DOES become viral and boosts your sales, that’s the cherry on top. But make plans for a solid cake foundation first.

4. Be rigorous in your conversion funnel

Content is just like any other component in a data-driven conversion funnel. You discard poorly performing ad creatives and run AB tests on Call-to-Action buttons, right? In the same way, blog posts and white papers are items whose performance you measure. Therefore, on a regular basis, ADP looks at which content performs well with its audience. Then they push the winners and discard the losers.

5. Things can move very quickly

Admittedly, Content Marketing is usually not the go-to method when you need results fast. But ADP’s $1m worth of business within three months of starting the project is an impressive number. It is when a meaty subject (Obamacare), a willingness to spend on traffic, and a clearly defined goal (selling Workforce Now) intersect that results can be fast and substantial.

In sum, the ADP case shows how hard work, solid content and continuous optimisation bring results, without the need for virality and marketing gimmicks.

Sources:
http://adage.com/article/btob/adp-content-campaign-pays/289193/
https://www.singlegrain.com/blog-posts/content-marketing/25-brands-made-big-content-marketing/
http://www.aspe-roi.com/blog/content-marketing-campaign-week-adp

Cover photo by Jesus Kiteque on Unsplash

A New Blog Post Every Week.

Get fresh insights about Content Marketing, Great Copywriting, and Email Best Practices.

We are 100% GDPR compliant and will never share your data with third parties. Read our Privacy Policy here.

Get all the best stuff about Content Strategy, SEO, Writing and Productivity
+