THE LIFE OF A REMARKABLE PIECE OF CONTENTDocument Transcript
THE LIFE OF A REMARKABLE
PIECE OF CONTENT
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THE LIFE OF A REMARKABLE
PIECE OF CONTENT
Lisa is the content strategist at HubSpot,
Dublin. She is a member of the international
marketing team, where she creates content
for a global audience, drives traffic from
outside the U.S., and generates leads for
HubSpot. Lisa is also a regular contributor
to the HubSpot blog where she writes
about various topics across inbound
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is a design and marketing specialist on the
Creative and Design Team at HubSpot. He is
responsible for designing a variety of content
including ebooks, infographics, and visual assets
for social networks. Desmond also manages
HubSpot’s network of freelance creatives.
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CRAP - The Content Marketing Deluge
Creator: Doug Kessler and the design team at
Velocity Partners. Doug is co-founder and creative
director of Velocity Partners, the London-based
B2B content marketing agency. Doug has written
a lot about content marketing including ‘The B2B
Marketing Manifesto’; ‘The Big Fat B2B Content
Marketing Strategy Checklist’; and ‘The Other ‘C’
Word: What Makes Great Content Marketing Great’.
• Make Velocity Partners the Thought
Leaders in Content Marketing
• Drive Engaged Traffic to their Blog
• Increase Consumption of Existing
• Increase Newsletter Signups
• Grow Social Media Following
• Attract New Talent
“The goals for CRAP were the same
as our entire content marketing effort:
attract like-minded B2B marketers who
want to do something special.”
Every marketer wants to create that one piece of content that just takes on a life of its own
and surpasses all expectations. Doug’s team at Velocity Partners was no different, and they
had the perfect inspiration; they were living each day in fear. They could see the way that
content marketing was trending. More and more marketers were creating sub-par content
and pushing it out in the hopes of generating leads. Doug lay awake at night wondering;
what will happen when there is so much content out there, that it just stops being effective?
Could the content they create become perceived as a commodity and lose its value? And
if it does, where does that leave Velocity, whose core business is content marketing? Enter
‘CRAP - The Content Marketing Deluge’; a Slideshare that Doug’s team created to address this exact fear, in the form of content marketing itself - a stroke of genius, we thought!
Doug’s primary goal for this project was to attract like-minded B2B marketers and shine the
light for them as the leaders in content marketing. He knew they would be quietly struggling through the same issues as Velocity, so he wanted to do something that would make
some noise. He also wanted to drive engaged traffic to their blog, increase consumption of
previously produced content, increase their newsletter signups, as well as attract great new
talent for Velocity, by demonstrating themselves as the thought leaders in content marketing.
For this, they created CRAP, a wildly successful Slideshare rant that has been viewed over
360,000 times, yielding tons of business oportunities for Velocity as a result.
“We wanted to try to capture a really timely issue and evangelise what we think is the main challenge
for all content marketers: building a great content brand that will thrive even when the whole world is
cranking up their content machines.”
Doug had high ambitions for CRAP. He knew that he wanted to out-perform their last few
pieces on all key metrics, and set the following targets.
Goal: Drive Engaged Traffic to the Blog
Key Metrics: Increase visits, time on site, pages viewed, bounce rate
Goal: Attract like-minded B2B marketers
Key Metrics: Slideshare views (target of 6,000)
Goal: Develop Thought Leadership for Velocity
Key Metrics: Tweets, shares, embeds
Goal: Increase consumption of existing content
Key Metrics: Views and downloads of existing content
Goal: Increase newsletter sign-ups
Key Metric: Goal of 150 new contacts
Goal: Grow Social Media Following
Key Metrics: Twitter followers, LinkedIn and Google +
Goal: Attract Great New Talent
Key Metrics: New hires
“To make content that really resonates with the right people, you sometimes have to ruffle a
few feathers with the wrong ones. We knew we wanted to do a ‘rant’, which is a tactic we really
believe in when targeting ‘change agents’ – and a tactic that suited the story we wanted to tell.”
The concept for the SlideShare was something Velocity understood really well. They
are immersed in the problem, because as a content marketing agency, they’ve seen
the growth in content spiral over the last couple of years. The story was something they
were passionate about as they saw first hand, the increase in poor quality content as
marketers tried to ride the content marketing wave. Therefore, more effort needed to go
into getting CRAP discovered than in actually writing and producing it.
Velocity decided that SlideShare would be the ideal platform for CRAP. The content
idea was visual, and SlideShare is an awesome place for telling visual stories. And since
CRAP was a rant, Doug knew that it was going to be highly shareable, meaning that the
embeddable functionality on the platform was going to be really valuable for growing
its reach. The audience for CRAP was marketers, and marketers love to share valuable
content. There is already a massive audience of marketers on SlideShare, so choosing
this as the platform for CRAP was a no-brainer. Plus, if you produce really great content,
SlideShare will give you a lot more visibility through it’s ‘Featured’ section - where it highlights awesome content - getting more eyeballs on it. This is what happened for Doug;
CRAP became a featured SlideShare, giving it a huge spike in views.
As the piece began to take form, Doug says that getting the balance and interplay between the words and design was the biggest challenge. ‘It’s a strong, linear story so we
wanted to take the reader by the hand and lead them through the piece. That meant
balancing the text, design and illustrations. We arrived at the core look and feel for the
piece early but we went through a LOT of iterations to get that balance right..’
Its important to allow yourself enough time for editing, reviewing, and testing before you
need to go live with your content. “We had between three and five days of real work
getting this 100% perfect before hitting the publish button. We also played around with
about a dozen different headlines before deciding on CRAP.”
There can be many moving pieces to a really successful piece of content and its vital to
it’s success, to have everyone working in alignment. Doug was the writer and creative
director on the piece and three different designers worked on it as it progressed. Using
tools to collaborate with everyone involved enabled the team to stay on track and provided transparency throughout the project. Velocity use a tool called Basecamp to stay
The team needed to make sure they hadn’t gotten carried away with their ‘rant’ and lost
sight of their end goals, though. They got their managing director to review and sign off
on the end piece to ensure it was aligned with the overall business goals. Doug says,
“Our managing director is always our first reader and makes for the best editor.”
“Leverage industry influencers as a sounding board as well as a sharing channel.”
Fortunately for Doug, Velocity have a lot of influential friends in the market that they
respect. They were able to leverage these relationships by sharing CRAP with those
people early on, as a sounding board, and then again when it came time to promote.
They hoped that CRAP was of the quality that any influencer would be happy to publicly
put their thumbs up for, and share with their own network. This dramatically increases
your reach; not only are you tapping into their loyal following, but you are also getting
the credibility that comes with having an industry expert share your content. Jon Miller
was one of the experts who picked up and shared CRAP. Jon has over thirteen thousand
followers, which CRAP went out to when he shared it on Twitter. As you can see below,
his followers seemed to engage really well with it, getting him more clicks than he had
ever had on any other tweet previous.
“Sharing it widely in all relevant places worked well for us as well; LinkedIn groups and
Twitter were the big ones.”
A great method for getting more traction to your content, is by splitting it up into smaller
bite sized pieces and reformating based on the platform you post it on. For example,
Doug believes that atomising a piece – into blog posts, emails, guest posts, etc. is the
best strategy for promotion. Doug guest posted on major sites like HubSpot, Marketing
Profs, and Social Media Today, which gave CRAP another huge spike in views.
The sources report shows how important the choice of platform was, with the
majority of traffic coming from embeds.
Top sources of embeds, showing that leveraging industry influencers makes a huge difference.
The results for CRAP far exceeded anything Doug and his team had ever dreamed of. They
had targeted 6,000 views of the piece on SlideShare, and at the point of writing this, they are
at almost 370,000 views. SlideShare as a platform was a huge source of views for Doug’s team.
CRAP was featured on SlideShare of the Day and Featured SlideShare –giving it a massive
boost in views. As a result, they were asked to write on the leading industry websites, further
propelling them into a position of thought leadership in content marketing, which was the main
goal for this project.
They have increased the consumption of previously produced content like the B2B Marketing
Manifesto and Content Marketing Strategy Checklist by 50-100%
• Views of their earlier SlideShare content increased by 300-500%
• They surpassed their newsletter sign up goal of 150 new contacts, receiving 500
• Added 2,500-3,000 followers across LinkedIn, Twiiter and Google +
• Generated 15-20 new client meetings and have acquired 6 new clients so far
• Added nine fantastic new hires since launching CRAP
They also tracked the magic metric they call ‘Ripples’:
the good things that happen when you produce something that resonates with an audience.
These include invitations to speak, guest blog, interviews, meet great people and help others
with their projects. Stuff very few people measure but really generate value.”
Which Festival Goer Are You?
Title: Which Festival Goer Are You?
Format: Interactive Quiz for Ticketmaster
Creator: Si Shangase, Account Director at Caliber.
Si Shangase has over seven years’ experience
working in the digital and ecommerce field, and
is a former Computer Science and Mathematics
student who enjoys coding in Java and Ruby. He
joined Caliber as a Strategic Account Director
who specialises in SEO, Web Analytics, Website
Architecture and Technical troubleshooting. His
work led to an acclaimed Gran Prix Aegis Media
Global Award in 2012.
• Encourage Traffic to Prominent
Festival Sales Pages
• Increase Facebook Page
• Gain Authority Coverage on
Large Publication Sites
Caliber is an SEO and content marketing agency with offices in Edinburgh, London and Dubai –
they specialise in SEO and content marketing, connecting their clients with the people who matter
to them. The big player in event ticket sales, Ticketmaster was eager to encourage more traffic
to their prominent festival sales pages, gain authority coverage, and improve their engagement
figures on their Facebook Page. They had noticed a disconnect between their actual customers (8
million + in the UK), to the amount of people who actually ‘Liked’ or engaged with their content on
Facebook. They needed help, and Caliber was chosen to save the day.
After sitting down with the client and discussing the challenges they were facing, they had a clear
idea of the direction this campaign was going to take. They wanted to create a light-hearted, fun
and highly shareable quiz that would both direct the respondant to a prominent festival sales page,
as well as encourage social sharing.
The plan was to develop eleven characters based on festival goer stereotypes, and create data
driven questions for the quiz, with the outcome being a personality and a festival ticket recommendation. Si knew that he needed to really focus on optimising the results page to be as sharable as
possible in order to reach their goal of improving Facebook engagement figures for Ticketmaster.
Fortunately for the Caliber team, Ticketmaster were able to provide them with a large resource of
consumer behaviour to work with in developing the quiz and it’s personas. They had tons of historical data on customer’s previous buying history that enabled them to develop the eleven festival
The characters included ‘Cool Parent’, ‘Earth Lover in the Mud’, ‘Fashionista’, ‘Glowstick
Avenger’, ‘Glamper’, ‘Guardian Reader’, ‘Hipster Music Lover’, ‘Moshing Metaller’, ‘Not
That Drunk (For Realsies Though)’, ‘Hamper Brigade Royalty’, and ‘Topless and Sunburned’. Here is one of the early character designs.
This is how the interface of the quiz was designed; simple, vibrant, and engaging.
Si was aware that this was going to be a multi-layered, super awesome piece, and would
require multiple people in order to get it perfect. He assigned a Creative Director, web
developer, ideation team, designer, data analysts, social manager, inbound marketing
executive, and PR team. The dream team was now assembled and ready to make all of
Tickemaster’s wildest metrics come true!
They began developing the personas and building out the back-end process. They needed all of the results to be saved into the Ticketmaster hosted database. “The functionality and code base of the platform shared dependencies with the back-end code, which
meant that resources and time were focused on the UI and interactivity.”
“We encountered daily iterations during development which took up the majority of time in
the pursuit of perfection.”
They wanted to be able to develop the quiz in such a way that they would be able to reuse the data for future projects, as well as re-skin it to target their different segments. The
majority of reiterations were down to getting the wording between questions right, refining
the character descriptions, and deciding on the conversion points at the end result page.
“Getting the content right was instrumental in ensuring the success of the project, as they
formed the base for the final outcome of the quiz.” They also spent time playing around
with the font and colours until they were 100% sure that it was on point with Ticketmaster’s
They made sure to allow enough time for testing the functionality and user experience
before going live. “We tested the platform on a test server two weeks before migration.
Furthermore three phases of testing where initiated on the live server one week before the
launch, with minor UI adjustments made.”
As this was quite a large project with many people involved, organisation was going to be
key to it’s success. Si managed to collaborate with all of the parties involved in the project
through tools such as; Google Analytics, Trello, GroupHigh, Excel, and Google Docs. They
also used project management tracking sheets to keep on track of the project and manage the deadline.
Si’s team spent a full week planning their promotion plan. They had to figure out how
they were going to achieve their goal of improving Ticketmaster’s Facebook metrics.
They also wanted to get the quiz to feed through to some big publication sites in a featured article to increase their authority coverage. For this, a brand new blog had to be
created specifically to accomodate the quiz and help facilitate content delivery, which
could be accessed on social profiles, like Facebook.
After the blog was built and the quiz was loaded onto it, the first part of Si’s promotion
strategy involved a paid Facebook advertisement. They focused on getting the targeting
right for the ad, selecting the following criteria:
1. Facebook users who ‘liked’ Festivals, e.g Glastonbury Music Festival
2. Facebook users who ‘liked’ the featured music associated to the chosen
3. And Facebook users who ‘liked’ different types of bands which were featured in the festivals which were sold by Ticketmaster in 2013
They created four different adverts with a 50/50 split between Sponsored Stories and
Promoted Posts. This got them some really great results, giving them an increase in
Facebook Fans by 110,000 over a period of 1 month.
For the second part of their promotion plan, they mapped out which websites they
would promote the quiz on, which included the Ticketmaster blog, Ticketmaster Facebook Fan Page, The Sun, Twitter, as well as submitting it to the CSS Design Awards.
Leveraging industry experts was also a key part of their promotion plan which got them
featured on websites such as The Sun, Cool Web Design, and SEO Pros Co.
“The Ticket Master quiz surpassed all of our expectations.”
After only three weeks of being live, almost nineteen thousand people had taken the quiz! A
number far greater than the Caliber team had anticipated in their first month. They also had the
2,606 new emails captured
2,572 Facebook Shares and Likes
Engagement Rate 2.45%
And as a special added bonus, the design has been nominated for a CSS Design Award
as well. Vote for it here!
Small Business Guides
Title: Small Business Guides
Format: Educational content series on multiple
Creator: Hannah Smith is a Content Strategist
working for Distilled in their London office. She
writes for Moz, Distilled, State of Digital, and
SEOChicks, and has spoken at various conferences
both in the UK and abroad, including MozCon,
SearchLove, BrightonSEO, The Content Marketing
Show, Digital Females, Be Wizard, and Think
• Increase Visitors and Conversions
• Reach a Larger Audience
• Improve Engagement with Existing
“It was clear that something needed to change. We acknowledged that we needed to
invest significantly more time and effort into creating big content pieces in order to gain
sufficient traction to really deliver the business goals.“
Distilled are a world renowned digital marketing agency and work with some of the biggest
brands in the world. They have offices in London, New York and Seattle, and run some of
the best known events in the world of search marketing. (check out Search Love here)
This case study focuses on Distilled’s amazing work with SimplyBusiness. SimplyBusiness
are a company who sell insurance to small businesses, but they needed help to improve
both the traffic and conversions to their website. Up until early 2012 their marketing strategy was really focused on product advertising and wasn’t delivering the growth SimplyBusiness wanted, so they turned to Distilled for help.
Distilled were tasked with helping SimplyBusiness reach a larger audience and increase
the engagement of existing customers with the brand. The immediate problem Distilled had
was the topic itself. Insurance is something that’s really important for small businesses, but
it’s not a subject that’s easy to create interest around. SimplyBusiness had already mapped
out their ideal customer so Distilled just needed to uncover the topics that were most important to them. They wanted to grab the attention of the SMB community and attract these
people to the SimplyBusiness website.
After some internal brainstorming, they decided to create in-depth guides that would help
small business owners grow their business using digital marketing. This was a perfect topic;
Distilled were experts in digital marketing so could create really valuable content on the
subject. It’s also a topic that would have broad appeal across the SMB community, attracting people into SimplyBusinesses website, where they could then nurture them further
down the funnel, towards becoming customers.
The Distilled team focused on making each guide interactive so that each user experience
was unique, and completely relevant to their business needs. The guides covered topics
like social media for small businesses, email, Google Adwords, Hiring your first employee,
and wordpress, among just a few.
Distilled wanted to split up every part of what it takes for a small business to succeed, and
create the ultimate guide for it. They knew that this was the perfect way for SimplyBusiness to attract new people to their website, increase their conversions, as well as engage
their existing customer base. They wanted to make each microsite really valuable and
educational, as well as making it an interactive and personal experience for the user.
For them, the research phase was as important as the build and design. “We spent 25%
of our time on research for the project, 25% on the execution and 50% on the promotion.”
Hannah and her team wanted to curate the best of the web for each topic in the content
series. They started out with some refined Google searches for their keywords and also
searched the leading influential industry sites for each topic. They aggregated the best
content as they went, and also spent time engaging with industry experts for their opinions and recommendations, which they found to be extremely valuable to the development of the piece. “Speaking to someone who lives in that world provides far more insight
than you could ever get by just downloading their content. It really pays off to interview
topic experts and grill them on the challenges they face on a daily basis, as well as how
they overcome them.”
Choosing your researcher is also a key factor in getting the right information. Distilled had
several people internally involved in the research phase, but made sure that each person
had some level of expertise in the topic as well. This will avoid a lot of time either looking
for the wrong information, or looking in the wrong places.
When it came to developing the personas for the project, Distilled were fortunate in that
the client had already conducted qualitative and quantitative research on their customers, and so had clear personas already in place. “If we weren’t already equipped with that
information, we would have spent a lot more time on researching who we were creating
this content for.”
As the development progresses in any content project, expect to stray away from the
original plan set out for it. For example, Hannah’s initial idea for the Wordpress guide was
to curate the top existing resources from across the web to educate small business owners on how to create their own website, but as they progressed, they felt strongly that
the best way to help a small business owner do this, was to show them. As a result, the
finished guide is a series of short video tutorials to take the business owner through the
process step by step.
“Trying out and testing the content plays a big hand in our success.”
A rule that Distilled abides by across the agency is to write at least 25 headlines for each
content piece and then get the team to agree on the best one. This maximises our potential click-through rate and ensures we have the most attention-grabbing and appropriate
headline possible. Hannah says; “The headlines for these content pieces actually came
pretty easily given the type of content we were creating. However, we usually make ourselves come up with at least twenty five before choosing the best one. We find that it’s
much easier to write 25 headlines - and then create something great out of what you have
- rather than trying to focus your mind on writing one.”
Hannah used in-house writers, designers and developers for this project, as well as an
in-house video production team. In order to collaborate with all of those people, they used
tools like Trello, Google Docs, DropBox, BaseCamp and RealtimeBoard. The Distilled team
sticks to a strict schedule of launching a new piece of content every 6 weeks, so they
can’t allow themselves to fall behind. By using these tools, everyone is made accountable
for hitting those deadlines.
“They are great for making sure you stay on track of deadlines and keep the lines of communication open at all times – providing visibility for everyone involved.”
“Promotion planning starts right at the concept stage”
There’s little point in creating something for which there’s no clear audience. Hannah reminds herself to always consider:
Who is this content for?
What problem are we trying to solve?
Why should someone share or feature this guide?
There are many different platforms to consider promoting your content on, but make sure
it’s the right one for your content and your audience. For example, the guide ‘How to use
Google +’ did extremely well on Google +.
A big part of Hannah’s promotional efforts was in reaching out to topic experts and asking
them to share the content with their audience. For the most part, they found this to be an
effective method, and most were very receptive to their requests. For example, they had
the official Google Analytics Twitter account as well as industry experts like Rand Fishkin, tweeting about their guides. They also encourage everyone within the organisation
to share every piece of content created to his or her own personal networks. The entire
organisation are always kept in the loop as to what content is coming down the pipeline,
so they can promote it too.
The Distilled campaign had amazing results for SImplyBusiness across all their key metrics.
As a result of this campaign, they rank first for some of their most competitive keywords :
a. Business Insurance (12,100 monthly searches in the UK)
b. Public Liability Insurance (49,500 monthly searches in the UK)
c. Landlord Insurance (27,100 monthly searches in the UK)
Organic traffic to the SimplyBusiness website grew by a massive 49% year on year. Not only
that, but Distilled’s content campaign increased conversions via organic traffic by 34% year on
Proving that great content can have positive impacts across your funnel, existing customers
who viewed one of the guides were much more likely to renew their policies (by as much as
30 percent) than those who had not.
They also got some amazing PR from the content; they were featured on the Business Insider
and on Yahoo Small Business
It’s clear Distilled’s big bet paid off. They believed in creating high value content to achieve
SimplyBusinesses goals, and the results showed they achieved that and much, much more.
If you have questions on this campaign, why not tweet the awesome Hannah
Take your content to the next level and find out how many leads and
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