'Slicing and dicing' content for sales

When Parse.ly was getting off the ground, it’s marketing department was a one-woman operation. We talked to vice president of marketing Clare Carr about how she went from churning out standard, B2B gated content to overseeing a data-driven operation that feeds intelligence to every part of the company.

Q: Five years is a long time in this industry. What’s the biggest change you’ve seen since you’ve been at Parse.ly?

A: When I started, I remember there being lots of articles that came out that said, “We'll never let editors look at data. They can't handle it. They shouldn't need to think about data.” That's not something people say anymore. Now it's just a question of how are people using it. That’s just really exciting.

The product was very different too. We look at screenshots now and they're kind of laughable. It looked only at page views and for a just a couple months of data. And you couldn't really compare it to real time.

Now we’ve launched a consumer version of the real-time data we get. People were coming to us all the time and asking, “How much attention is being paid to this topic?” Or, “How much traffic is coming from this referral source?” Now, instead of having us as the gatekeepers, people can log in and look up a lot of that information on their own.  

Q: You’ve always been very intentional about the content you produce and how to make the best use of it. Why is that so important to you?

A: Our goal for a long time before we raised our series B was to hit profitability, and we did that. Throughout the company, as a culture, we have always put a lot of stock in sort of thinking about the marketing budget as our own money, as shareholders, not necessarily just as employees.  

I’m here for five years for a reason. I really like to get invested in one thing and see it through. So I've seen it as how can I protect my own asset? How can I protect the place that I want to be? That hasn't changed.  

Q: We’ve created a lot of content together over the years, from research reports to video and more. Now you’re producing a podcast too. How has the content you create changed as the company has matured?

A: I used to be super hyper focused, especially when I was a one-woman show, on things like reports. In fact, downloads are the perfect example. Five years ago, we just needed people to talk to. We do not see nearly the success with just gated content that we did back then.

Now we're seeing a lot more success with anything that's more consultative. We offered a Facebook assessment after the algorithm changes. We basically said we'll integrate on your site for a month and we'll be able to tell how at risk you are. And that was a huge success because it offered people something they couldn't get looking at their own data.  

Q: So if you’re not creating gated content, how are you identifying and tracking your leads?

A: It’s your classic marketers funnel, but now we're integrating a lot more data. We use systems like Node to evaluate commonalities—the titles, the geographic locations, the revenue size. What are all these elements that make up an ideal customer for us? That wasn't the information we had back in 2013. Now we're able to target people with a lot more accuracy because we have years of data to tell us who is a great buyer for our products.

“I’m here for five years for a reason. I really like to get invested in one thing and see it through.”

Q: Has that data changed the more traditional content you still produce—the blog, events, partner content?

A: It's really helped us focus. Before, it felt like a wide, open field. Should we be giving our opinion on something that is published in an industry magazine? Should we be talking about trends? Finding and nailing the right topic for each article was tough. We had certainly a lot of things that fell flat.

Now, it’s much easier to plan. We've moved the blog over to an editorial calendar style. So, if we're doing travel month, so everything that comes out is going to be around telling data stories and around audience attention but with a focus on travel.

Q: One thing I’m not sure all content creators understand is that their work has to drive business goals. How do you ensure your content is doing that?

A: It's very much saying ‘okay, these are three industries we want to break into, let's start thinking now about how we do that.’ Then, it’s sort of slicing and dicing the content based on different team’s needs. How is it being used for sales? How is the customer success team using it? How are we using it for outreach to new business? That’s not an afterthought.

The editorial calendar is a good example of this. Travel is a vertical that we’re trying to move into from a product perspective, so we’ll come up with a bunch of evergreen stories and then reach out to that vertical with a bundle.

For the sales team, we would take certain different charts and graphs and put them into decks or demos or sales collateral. One thing we tried to do is have one of our customer success team members do a webinar on it. So, now the audience is our clients. We did several press breakfasts. We used a lot of existing data.

We call it our COPE strategy: Create once, publish everywhere.

Q: Aren’t you worried about hitting people over the head with the same stories?

A: You have to repeat yourself a lot before anyone hears you. So, we will use something for six months, and I will tell you, the people who hear the same information again and again they also are the people who care the most and are moving forward in your sales cycle. I've never once had someone say, “Hey, haven't you guys already put this data out there?” Ever.

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