In the latest episode of #BiteSize, Morgan Brown breaks down a complete content marketing strategy for early stage startups.
Morgan is the COO of Inman News and the co-author of “Startup Growth Engines: How Today’s Most Successful Startups Unlock Extraordinary Growth” with Sean Ellis. A 15-year startup marketing veteran, Morgan most recently led growth for GrowthHackers.com at Qualaroo and Y-Combinator backed TrueVault.
Previously, Morgan held marketing and growth leadership roles at ScoreBig, Science, and SmartShoot (formerly TurnHere). He publishes a well-read daily newsletter on growth at morganbrown.co. Follow Morgan on Twitter at @morganb.
Transcript of the Video
Content marketing is hard. High quality content doesn’t mean it’s going to be read. And once you publish content, it has to be read – so you’ve given yourself 2 new jobs instead of just having to create growth and distribution for your product. You’re now having to create growth and distribution for your content, on top of your product.
The big thing that I’ve learnt creating content is that, first of all, understand what people are looking for. Understand what people’s pain points are and what problems they’re trying to solve. And I think too often we create content from where we sit, our point of view, and how we see the world. And we don’t take enough time to think about the person on the other end and what they’re searching for. Because when we’re honest with ourselves, they’re not searching for our content. They’re searching for answers to problems, they’re searching for solutions, they’re searching to get smarter.
And if we don’t put ourselves in their shoes and their frame of mind, we’ll never create anything that really draws people in and creates the growth we’re looking for.
The other thing related to that is there’s no longer a need to guess what people want. With a little bit of work ahead of time, we know what people want to read. You can use tools like BuzzSumo, Open Link Explorer, Keyword Volume Search Tools or Google Autocomplete or Reddit, trending subjects on Twitter. There are so many tools out there for someone creating content to figure out what people want before you even put pen to paper.
The other thing too is that we take for granted how much time people have in a given day. When we think of other people, we think that all these other people have more time in the world than we do. The reality is that they don’t. I think what’s really key to creating content is what David Ogilvy said, “When you write your headline, you spend 80 cents of your dollar.”
Nowadays, when you’re writing headline, you’ve spent 95 cents of your dollar. So really thinking about digestible content that fits into someone’s busy day is really important.
Alternatively, if you’re not going to be really short and really useful, then you can be the canonical source – to save people time by giving them everything they need. I also think that it’s important to break the mould when you create content. There’s so many blog posts being written, so many podcasts being done – what are the things that you can do different and stand out.
We created Growth Hackers – a content marketing strategy. Except that it’s through user generated content. We don’t create the content. Community is our content marketing strategy, where the community creates the content. So that’s a different approach to content marketing.
Another powerful content marketing strategy is to leverage free tools. So, for example, at Qualaroo we have Survey.io – a customer survey tool which is completely free and which generates leads for us and it’s free for people to use. HubSpot famously did this with Marketing Grader and Twitter Grader and many people have done it since.
I also think it’s you have to think about where people are online and how they consume content. For example, I did a project for a company called TrueValue – we published a whole guide on GitHub as repos because we researched that our customers spend time on GitHub and if they could read the content there and watch the repository as we added content, that would be a better way to reach them than just ‘blogging’.
The last thing is that you always want to think about how your content fits in your customer journey. So you’ll have some content that isn’t supposed to convert. It’s at the very beginning of the customer journey where they’re information gathering or learning. But if you map your content to the different parts of the customer journey and as you get closer to the point where they convert, you want to start building in natural conversion points in your content.
For instance, at Qualaroo, we published the beginners guide to conversion rate optimization. This is a 50,000 word guide and it’s all HTML, open and public. It’s great for search, but people can also download the pdf. And once they download the pdf, they go into a time sequence of follow up emails and the first email is not, “hey you should try Qualaroo,” but the first email is, “hey we also have this marketers guide to surveying users and how you can use survey data to improve business growth.” And then the next one is more guides. So it’s really about nurturing those people and providing them more information which maps to where they are in their decision making process and where they are in their journey.