As content marketers, the holy grail of challenges we all face is figuring out how to create engaging, relevant content that ultimately converts and strengthens the relationship we have with our audiences.
One of the many risks when it comes to investing in content is a lack of guarantee that all the time, budget, and effort your team devotes is going to yield your desired results.
This is where hearing from other content marketers who have learned the secret sauce can help you create better content.
Here is the first in our new Customer Success Story series, where we’ll be featuring rock star content marketers who will be sharing how they achieved their content goals, and providing tips on how to create your own award-winning content.
Introducing Wendy Zamora, Senior Content Writer for the Malwarebytes Marketing & Growth Team. She’s been a published writer for 16 years, with articles featured in national magazines, newspapers and websites for companies like Forbes, TechWireAsia, and Enterprise360.
Malwarebytes is a cyber security and anti-malware software company based in California. In 2016, the company ranked within Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 and was named Security Company of the Year in the 2016 Computing Security Awards.
And the awards don’t stop there.
Wendy’s Global Impact of Ransomware on Business infographic was a successful content campaign for the company, and ended up winning them the “Best Infographic” category at the Content Marketing Institute’s 2017 Content Marketing Awards.
From a single content syndication campaign alone, her infographic was successful in bringing in over 260 unique and qualified business leads. Social media engagement was high as well, with more than 12,000 people organically reached through Facebook and Twitter combined, and about 350 shares, retweets, comments, and likes.
Keep reading to learn Wendy’s content approach.
1) Tell a simple yet compelling story
Cybersecurity tends to be in the headlines a lot, especially when attacks like this year’s WannaCry ransomware took the world by storm. Although most people are aware that such a threat exists, and it can make for interesting news stories, most don’t understand the specifics around how these attacks work, and how best to protect themselves.
“These days it’s not too hard to make cybersecurity seem interesting because there’s so much in the news, but it is complex. So, our goal is to really boil it down without being condescending or patronizing, but also without striking too much fear. We’re trying to walk that middle ground of being informative but also authoritative.” – Wendy Zamora
Wendy and her Content Director, Eric Fairbanks, agreed that the best and most compelling way to communicate statistics from their latest report was to create an infographic. They had an editorial calendar in place and constantly evaluated ideas to make sure their calendar stayed relevant, so when this report came along, Wendy got input from all her key stakeholders, especially the product experts, to make sure that the data she was including in her narrative storytelling was comprehensive and correct. The challenge was to transform that data into a format that would be understandable for her audience.
To achieve this, she paired up with ScribbleLive Visually’s creative talent, Boris Benko, and the two of them bounced creative ideas around on how best to tell an engaging story that communicated all the relevant data and facts to the audience. In the end, Wendy says that ‘he gave us a really beautiful piece.’
Learn the ins and outs of your product/service from your internal subject matter experts, but don’t quote them word for word in your marketing messaging. Simplify the technospeak into layman terms that your audience would actually understand and find interesting. The images and graphics should do most of the explaining.
“At the end of the day, it’s about understanding what it means to be a good writer, not just a good marketer. It’s having storytelling capability but also a real dedication to accuracy and facts and research.” – Wendy Zamora
2) Get as much mileage out of your content as you can
One of the biggest challenges for content marketers is how to maximize limited budgets and resources. This is where repurposing content and being creative with distribution channels can be greatly leveraged.
Marketing isn’t the only department that requires content within a company, so understanding which other internal (and external) stakeholders could also make use of a content piece will help everyone in the end.
Wendy took advantage of her connections and relationships within Malwarebytes and created a comprehensive plan that made sure her infographic could be utilized in a variety of ways by multiple teams, including Public Relations and Global Communications, Events, Demand Generation, and Research.
When Wendy first went about developing her idea for the Global Impact of Ransomware on Business infographic, she made sure to get input from other departments and develop their use cases so that they could also leverage her content and help her distribute and communicate the content to a wider audience.
Some of the use cases included:
- Nurture campaigns for demand generation
- Newsletter features
- Social media posts
- Blog post
- Animated video for conference events
- Press outreach
- 3rd party media articles (e.g. Wirtschaftswoche, a top German business weekly)
To get the most mileage out of your content, be sure to include and get the input from all relevant stakeholders so you know how they would make use of your content. You scratch their back, they scratch yours. If they feel like they have a stake within the content strategy, they will be more inclined to help you re-purpose and distribute the content to an audience that reaches beyond what you may have access to.
But always be cognizant of who your audience is, especially if it’s customer-facing, to make sure that the content is in an optimal format that communicates your story the most efficient way.
“The customer-first approach is key. You want to think about putting yourself in your customer’s shoes. Would they find this information useful and relevant, or is this just going to tick them off or overwhelm them? I mean, I think it’s quality over quantity. Just keep that in mind. Don’t be afraid to put it out there, but put it out there in a way that’s going to be useful and make an impact.” – Wendy Zamora
3) Find reliable, top-notch creative talent
If you have an in-house creative and/or design team, you’re a very lucky content marketer. They know your brand, style, and content needs on an intimate level, and vice versa, you know what’s on their plate and how much time they can devote to your projects.. However, the majority of us out there aren’t as fortunate and must rely on outside help. And even those with in-house talent may not have certain skillsets or time to create more complex content pieces.
The marketing team at Malwarebytes has an in-house design team, but they use Visually for more time and labor intensive content projects.
“Our design team is responsible for everything from website product pages to headers for e-mails to in-house creatives for t-shirts and event swag. They have their hands full with high impact and fast turnover projects. And with infographics, we want them to be stellar and really stand out. But we know they can take a really long time to develop.” -Wendy Zamora
Wendy joined Malwarebytes two years ago, at which point there was only one designer on staff—the brand-new creative director.
“Our previous Creative Director was the one who actually recommended you guys. He explored a few other options at first but ultimately felt that Visually had the best fit with our brand.”
She had great experiences working with the variety of talent, but the creative connection was solidified once she started working with Boris Benko. Out of the eight infographics that Wendy used Visually to design, six of them were with Boris, who specializes in infographic design and visual storytelling.
He was matched with Wendy and her team on their third project, and since that time, Wendy has requested Boris for all her infographic projects.
“We wanted consistency with the look and feel of our infographics. His style is fabulous – it matches pretty closely with our style. It’s clean but edgy. His characters are eye catching, and effective at driving home the content’s message. We don’t even have to ideate at the beginning of the project now because he’s familiar with the type of content we’re going to deliver.
He’s quick, he’s friendly. Boris has beaten deadlines every time. Sometimes we come to him with a request we just got from P.R. and we’re like, ‘Hey, you’ve got two and a half weeks. Go!’ And it’s always done.
You know, it might actually be faster if you ask me what I don’t like about him.” -Wendy Zamora
Whether you have your own in-house design team, or you’re a team of one, outsourcing the developing of content can be an invaluable part of your content strategy. No matter how talented and experienced your creative staff, there will always be a knowledge or skill set gap, and/or time limitations.
For Wendy, her team needed to prioritize marketing tactics that had direct and immediate impact on revenue, such as website e-commerce pages. But they still needed high impact and premium quality content to help meet other marketing goals. They also needed help incorporating new and fresh ideas into their campaigns, so using ScribbleLive Visually to create their infographics was hitting two birds with one stone.
4) Use technology to optimize workflow management
Files plastered all over your desktop, being shared through email, Slack, Dropbox and Google Drive, versions numbering in the hundreds and no indication of which one is the most up to date– sound familiar?
Creating a piece of content can be a complicated process depending on the idea and how many people and revisions are required. The top challenges tend to be communication between team members, like sharing feedback and providing creative direction, and ensuring that everyone has access to the content itself for reviewal.
Wendy’s marketing technology stack includes a variety of platforms, each specifically selected for different purposes.
For in-house productions, the marketing team uses one platform to organize their projects and another to share the content with a variety of stakeholders in order to get input. They are both good platforms that integrate with one another, but jumping between the two can be confusing, especially when certain stakeholders have limited access permissions. In addition, one of the platforms, while serving their needs, has a few bugs. For example, sometimes their comments will disappear, which can be a significant problem.
Wendy has been using Visually in a similar capacity to manage infographic workflows and has seen great results.
“Visually is more dependable and I think it’s a really solid project management tool for any type of contract creative work. Our internal tools aren’t as well set up for that.
We use the platform to go back and forth with Boris. It’s really simple, and it’s nice to have one place where we can see the progression of the project. I like the timeline feature. And you get email notifications whenever somebody posts a comment. It’s been a really useful platform.” -Wendy Zamora
Having an efficient workflow within your team to organize the creation of content is critical. With every freelance designer having their own way of organizing and working, it can be hard to stay on the same page and ensure that you are working efficiently and effectively together.
Many marketing technologies exist that help with the project management aspect of a project, but the ease of use and accessibility will differ. The most important thing to make sure of is that everyone who needs to be involved in the creation of content has access to the platform and knows how to use and communicate through it effectively.
So there you have it – Wendy’s four step approach to creating award-winning content:
- Tell a simple yet compelling story
- Get as much mileage out of your content as you can
- Find reliable, top-notch creative talent
- Use technology to optimize workflow management
We hope that Wendy’s success story has provided you with ideas on how to improve your content strategy and given you direction on how to create your own award-winning content.
If you’d like to learn more about ScribbleLive Visually’s platform and see the portfolios of our various creative talent. Including Boris, be sure to book a demo with one of our Content Strategy Consultants.