Content Marketing ·

Scaling Your Content Production by Emilia Korczyńska of Userpilot

Bernard Huang

Webinar recorded on

Join our weekly live webinars with the marketing industry’s best and brightest. It’s 100% free. Sign up and attend our next webinar.

Last week Emilia Korczyńska of Userpilot joined the Clearscope webinar to share how Userpilot scaled content production from 4 to 40 blog posts per month.

Emilia broke down exactly how they organize their content strategy at Userpilot. And their Asana workflow is impressive.

Join our weekly live webinars with the marketing industry’s best and brightest. It’s 100% free. Sign up and attend our next webinar.

Watch the full webinar

And check out the resources Emilia shared below:

Emilia graciously shared access to the Google Data Studio reports she walked through during the webinar. You can grab them on her Patreon here.

Read the transcript

Bernard:

Emilia Korczynska is the Head of Marketing at Userpilot and as you've heard from Emilia, she's taken her SEO strategy going from four blog posts per month to 40 blog posts per month on a very tight shoestring budget, and she's here to show you how you can do the same for your organization. Emilia, the stage is all yours.

Emilia:

Thank you so much, Bernard. I'll be sharing my screen in a moment, but just a little bit more of the backstory. The first few months of 2021, we did a content audit with the help of this and our growth advisor. We analyzed our competitors and matrix and content gap analysis. We looked at what they were ranking for, what we were ranking for and we had a massive content gap, tens of thousands of keywords that we could rank for that we weren't.

Emilia:

Obviously we started from the planning stage and we identified the different problem areas that Userpilot is solving and clustered basically the keyword research around these problems. Then we had a really bad experience with working with freelance writers and agencies in the past because we are a pretty technical B2B SaaS product managers so our audience doesn't take any prisoners. It's not a lifestyle brand where you can talk about food and travel or whatnot. It's not even a mainstream marketing automation tool. It's very, very niche. So the topics can be, what's the difference between one metric that matters in North Star Metric, or how to improve user activation rate with welcome streams or micro videos or whatnot.

Emilia:

Freelancers usually don't get what we are about and how these problems can be solved with Userpilot. And the purpose of the content is not just obviously to write content and rank through it and drive traffic, but to drive qualified traffic that have the chance of converting. Basically, it has to show how to solve the problems that our audience is having with Userpilot. It requires a lot of screenshots, a lot of product knowledge, a lot of problem knowledge, and typical freelance writers don't have that. My idea was we need to hire in-house writers. And train them, they are going to become product specialists. Little did I know how unscalable that is and how difficult it would be to find freelance writers who have this specialist knowledge or want to write about B2B SaaS, don't cost a fortune, and at the same time wanted to write full time. I spent I think six or eight weeks looking for writers like that. I did find four by complete fluke. Someone's friend came redundant, I found someone make an insightful comment in our Facebook group and I was just approaching these people and trying to poach them.

Emilia:

I did assemble a small team of four full time writers and they had, I would say a reasonable expectation to write between three and four blog posts per week. This was the only thing they were doing. We gave them training, they had full two weeks of training on the product and our personas, everything we do, la-di-da. And then fast forward three months, three of them have quit and I was very much back to square one come May and I feel like, oh my gosh, I'm such a failure. I haven't really been able to scale this so far. Why are these people quitting? And basically, writing as your content full time, especially for a B2B SaaS can be pretty monotonous. Imagine you are a writer who you used to work as a product manager and now you have to write, on Monday you write Pendo competitors, on Tuesday you write Appcues competitors, on Wednesday you write about Chameleon competitors because the bottom of the funnel posts are the ones that rank best.

Emilia:

Obviously these people were like, what am I doing with my life and quitting their jobs pretty quickly. That's when I realized I need to go back to the drawing board, look at what I'm doing wrong and invest more time in building systems rather than investing this time in building up people because people are people. They all get sick, they all quit, et cetera. I spent good two weeks talking to other content managers and heads of content, both in other SaaS companies, in-house and in content agencies to understand what they were doing. It was just building up this knowledge and insights. Then one night of course, Sunday night, 3:00 AM, it all clicked. I literally jotted down on a piece of paper, the outline for the strategy.

Emilia:

And now without much further ado, I'm going to share my screen and show you what we did. So essentially this is the backbone of our whole content operations. I call it the content epics system because it all centers around these epics. So essentially this is Asana and we like using Asana for several reasons that I'm going to explain as we go. And of course, if any of you have any questions you want to stop me there, Bernard I will need your help with looking if there is anything in the chat. But essentially the epics of these content clusters, the problem areas that we are writing about, and we detected 10 clusters that we wanted to write about. They have changed a little bit since, but essentially 10 problem areas, 10 main topics ,that we created these epic tasks.

Emilia:

They're called milestone tasks in Asana. You can use Asana but you can also use any other kanban board, or even an Excel spreadsheet, or a Google sheet if your adventurers, but it's much easier to do it on kanban board. And then each of this milestone tasks has a particular delivery date. If there are two posts, then there are two days of the week when posts on this epic are due. And each milestone task, so each epic, has one full-time content editor assigned to it. Introducing this role was really a game changer. This is the person that is responsible for quality of the blog posts. And essentially they're responsible for creating super detailed briefs for these posts and I will show you in a moment. So essentially each epic has a delivery day on a specific date of the week.

Emilia:

If we have 10 then it makes sense to obviously have two epics per day. And each epic is assigned to only one writer and to one editor. The editor managers one epic per day. They have five epics under them, which is the comfortable pace. They basically have to create five briefs per week, one per day. And then also check five pieces of contents per week from the previous week. So let's take this engagement UX patterns epic. As you can see in the sub tasks of the main task, there are all the content that we have been creating around this topic. Let's take one that has already been done. This is the task for the writer. The task for the writer is also created by the editor that is responsible for this epic. So every week they add basically a new brief, which is the super detailed literally pained by numbers system for the writer to use. The writer doesn't actually have to have subject matter knowledge and expertise in this area. They just need to be able to follow instructions, think logically, and write well in an engaging style.

Emilia:

The briefs always follow a certain template. We have several brief templates now that have these fixed elements, word count, primary keyword, the links to the tools that we're using to optimize and manage content. We have the intro instructions. Too long, didn't read. Our blog summary instructions. This is a game changer as well. Because for SEO purposes, it's better to produce longer blogs. So usually a content management or content intelligence tool and so Clearscope will tell you how many words you need to create a competitive blog on that topic. But for the readers, the readers rarely reach the bottom of the page. They rarely read to the end so we create this post summary for them with the main links and with the CTA embedded in a bullet point list, which I will show you in a second.

Emilia:

We find a much higher conversion rate from the posts that have the TODR versus the ones that don't have the TODR so it's just a small hack. And the content editor basically creates this brief in bullet points. They sometimes copy fragments from our previous posts, because we write a lot around the same topics to cover and build some domain expertise in that. They put all the headings that the writer needs to include in the post, all the links with indication that they should be do follow or no follow, all the images. We have an image bank for the editors where we have all the images categorized by different epics and by different topics that we cover. Then the editors can just tap into that and insert the screenshots. The final product, what the blog post looks, it's been written by someone who's a pro and who really knows the tools very, very well. In fact, it's the head of content that has been taking all the screenshots over the course of the year and a half. Then they're just very well organized and they have the right file names as well, which is important.

Emilia:

So that's the brief, it looks super long and super detailed, but it only takes our editors between one and two hours to produce this. Because as I said, we have all the resources, we have things like, this is the links repository. So again, the links for the content editors are organized by category. They can just search for the relevant links and following our SUSOP, insert them in the right places. That's obviously Notion. A lot of you are probably familiar with it. It really helps organize, the whole content operation that we have is organized on Notion. So systems resources, SOPs, guidelines, checklists, and all the hiring materials. Over these couple of years, we've really built a large database of resources. And we also have epic brief templates. So for every epic, there are these subject matter specific resources included there as well.

Bernard:

So we have a slew of questions.

Emilia:

Okay, great.

Bernard:

First of which will come from Metangi. The question is, "Can you explain what an epic is? I'm looking at this and I'm like, an epic looks it can contain multiple briefs and a whole lot of stuff. Is an epic a topic that you're trying to go after?"

Emilia:

Yeah, exactly. It's basically a topic cluster. It's a folder of block topics that we want to write about that are related to the same topic cluster. If you are familiar with the HubSpot content clusters, content strategy, basically you build these content hubs that center around the ultimate guide to a particular thing, usually a problem that your tool is solving. Then you build the spokes, the individual posts that tackle more long tailed keywords, more like narrow topics and problems. So for instance, you have the ultimate guide to user onboarding. The epic would be on user onboarding, as you can see here, but you may also write more narrow blog posts about for instance, best user onboarding tools, or best user onboarding tools for SaaS, best user onboarding tools for large enterprises versus best user onboarding tools for SMBs. These are all the individual small pokes in the wheel which come out of this bigger hub.

Bernard:

Yeah. Makes total sense. A couple of other questions. Karina Wright asks, "How many content writers and content editors do you have?" And as a follow up to that, Josh Catone asks, "Are your writers in-house or freelance?"

Emilia:

They're all freelances now. They all write only one blog post per week. We try to avoid the single point of failure. We currently have 10 freelance writers, maybe even more because now we increased the budget. But when we had 10 epics, now we have 11 epics so we will have 11 writers. And 10 epics, we had ten writers. So essentially we assign only one writer to each epic and they only have to produce one blog post per week for this epic. That way they have enough time, they have the full week to work on the blog post. They gain more knowledge about the epic over time. They're not spreading themselves differently. And also if they have to leave or are sick or whatever, we only lose 10% of our content output for that week. Not 30 or 50 as we would, if we had one writer cover several blog posts.

Emilia:

We found that really works for us. And then we have two full-time content editors that are in house because this role requires a bit more subject matter knowledge to write these super detailed briefs. As I mentioned, they handle five epic each. So now that we will be scaling our operation even further, we'll be adding more content editors. Actually, because we have 11 now we'll still have our head of content who's taking care of one of the epics. So she's stepping into the shoes of the content editor to keep her hands in and writing one brief per week.

Bernard:

Awesome. There's a lot more questions I figure. I'll ask you them here and then we can start moving on with some of your process. But after the editors spend a couple of hours creating the brief, how long do writers spend creating the content and how much are you paying for each of those different activities?

Emilia:

Yeah, sure. That's a very good question. The editor writes the brief on the day the epic is due and they post the brief into basically Asana, they create this task for the writer. And what happens, they press tab plus P, that's a shortcut that allows us to essentially add this subtask as the main task to the to-do column. It's already there, it wasn't edited, but basically the subtasks become main tasks in the main column. And then from that point, the writer has a full week to complete the task. They submit it on the next Wednesday. And then again, the writer picks it up on the Wednesday and usually they spend an hour, two hours on editing the ready made contents so comparing the writers output to the brief, if nothing was missed, if there are some major areas that need improvement.

Emilia:

Usually there aren't so we don't send it back to the writers. We have a three strikes system if the writers are consistently not being able to follow the brief and even with revisions and comments from the editor, they are not able to improve, then we basically end the corporation with them. And when it comes to the pricing, let me show you, it depends on the word count, there are several tiers. I hope it's somewhere here. The head of content has been moving things around a bit. Roughly we pay between $225 and $450 per blog post. 225, that's for the shorter articles between 1,200 and 1,400 words. And 450 that's for the ultimate guides. So around 4,000, 4,500 words. I was trying to find the table with the pricing. Sorry. These are working files for each month. But we have these brackets basically. We don't pay the writers by word because that would quickly become very messy. But we do recognize that it takes more effort to create a longer blog post than a shorter one.

Bernard:

Awesome. All right. There are some more, but I figure we've done a slew of questions and I'd like for you to continue walking people through your process and then we'll get around to all the other questions that are continuing to pop up.

Emilia:

Yeah, absolutely. I think I didn't actually answer the previous question fully, so let me just fill out on that quickly. The editors are in house. We pay them basically a full-time salary. But we did try to hire some part-time editors when we had a shortage of staff. So some of the best writers were basically promoted to full-time editor, then we were paying them a hundred dollars per brief. Then we also have a proofreader, which I will mention in a second. That is part of the process and they charge us $25 per the final language checks. So moving on, we created the epics, the editor has created the brief. They have created the task for the writer, what happens next? So essentially the writer, as I said, picks up where the editor left off on the epic day. Each day is an epic day at Userpilot.

Emilia:

Pardon my dad jokes. When they get their assignment, they move it to in progress writing here on the Asana board. And it spends around a week there, as I mentioned, then they move it to editing. What happens in between though, this is important? They take the brief on the right, the first draft, and the content intelligence tool we are actually using Surfer, but it's pretty similar to Clearscope. I guess Bernard would be able to explain the difference to you. We made that decision already a year and a half ago. So basically it's still working for us. And it's essentially comparing the different blog posts that are already ranking for the queue that we wanted to rank. And creating [inaudible 00:22:19] by numbers, recipe, which keywords to include in what concentration, which headings to include. The editors also use it to basically create the brief and it tells us how many words we should ideally include.

Emilia:

And then as the writers write the first draft in it, it gives them a score. A score over 66 is considered a good score. We are instructing our writers to hit 80. We want to make sure that our content's really well optimized. As you can see this writer hit 93 for this topic so it's pretty good. What happens next? When the writer is done with Surfer, they've optimized the content, they copy the post and they move it to another tool that we are using, I'll explain why we need so many tools in a second. This is StoryChief. StoryChief is essentially a content management tool, which allows the editors to communicate with the writers. And then it allows the proofread to quickly publish this directly to our blog, our medium and all our social media channels with one click.

Emilia:

The writer is pasting their outputs from Surfer into here, adding all the links, formatting the content, and also adding the images, making sure that images have the right out text. So everything is essentially ready to be published. They also add the featured image, which is created by our in house graphic designers. So essentially we created a rule in Asana that automatically ends a task for the graphic designer to create the featured image. The writers, when they start working on this task, they already have the featured image to include here in StoryChief. They also add a meta description, meta title. The editor actually adds the right categories and tags and also checks that everything is fine here, that the writer followed the SEO guidelines in our checklist. The slide includes the target keyword for instance, et cetera.

Emilia:

And then when the editor is actually happy, if they're not happy with something minor, they will leave the writer a comment. Adina here left a comment linked to this after it was published. I could say, this is not the right word here or at the link here, et cetera. It really makes things easier. This is something that Surfer's not allowing us to do. Surfer's obviously not allowing us to publish the posts to the final destination so we need StoryChief as well. And then when the editor is done with editing the piece of content, first they add a payment. So sometimes when they're not able to finish the editing, by the end of the month, they add a payment for the writer before and just leave it in editing.

Emilia:

So essentially we created another board on Asana. We would put the writer's name here, let's say it was Theo. It wasn't Theo, but let's say it was. We would put them in the freelancers payments, add the fee and the month when it was done. When we create this task, it goes straight to accounting. And accounting on this board can filter by the different writers and see on list view how much basically we need to pay them in each month. Then when the writers send us invoices, we can very easily cross reference basically their invoices, itemized invoices, with what we have on our file. That helps and a funny tid bit, I introduced this follow up task after I went on holiday and then I started getting a lot of emails from the writers that, hey, they haven't gotten their payment yet. What's going on? And it turned out a new operations manager couldn't figure out Asana.

Emilia:

So he couldn't check if the writers really did all they said they did on the invoices. And he decided to wait until I come back from holiday. Then I knew I have to basically create a system for that as well. Essentially the editor is done with the post. They don't have any more comments, they're happy with it. To go to the blog, they put it in proofreading and this is where the proofread picks it up. Again, they know they only need to go to StoryChief. They go on StoryChief and the proofreader is usually a native speaker who's really good at grammar, really good at style and all that jazz. They read the whole blog again to double check for any errors, any [inaudible 00:27:39] because not all our writers are native speakers, some are some aren't, it doesn't really matter that much to be fair. And then the proof reader is also responsible for running the content against the SEO checklist. When we go to the checklist, they go to the final SEO checklist publishing procedure for editors, and they check if the writer has ticked off all these basically important items for us.

Emilia:

Usually if surfer and story chief say, so then it means yes, it's been done, but we want to be really sure. Then when the proofread is ready with the post, they publish it through, as I said, StoryChief. It goes straight to our blog with all the meta title, meta description, the right slide. It goes into our menu of the canonical tag. That really helps, this is redistribution and Medium is now our largest source of referral traffic. On a good month we're getting 20,000 views on Medium so I would recommend you to use that. They also push it to our social media. That makes things really, really easy. Then they move it to published repository and tick it off as done. But sometimes I go through the blog or the head of content goes through the blog and they see some typos or they see something is missing.

Emilia:

Then we basically create follow up task. And put it into to fix for publishing after publishing. That means the editor that is responsible for this epic needs to go back to the already published post and still make some fixes and I'm going to move it back to do so the writer doesn't get confused now. But this is a very high level overview of what we are doing here. And as Bernard mentioned, our initial target was to publish 40 blog posts per month instead of four. We managed to hit that target at the end of last year. And now we're scaling it's to 50. 40 blog posts per month cost us consistently under $10,000. With this system and with the division of duties between the different roles, we were able to hire more junior writers who essentially charge less. They're not necessarily worse, but they don't need to have super experience in SaaS and a degree in engineering to understand how to style a tool tip in CSS. Because this is what we handle internally through all these guidelines.

Bernard:

All right. I guess maybe some questions. Josh asks, "What are the output expectations for your writers? Are they simply just being assigned content to write and then producing it? Do you tie any traffic goals to what the writers are doing, or is it simply just get it done, we'll pay you this amount of money and that's all the writers have to care about?"

Emilia:

The latter. Get it done, we'll pay you the money. We only care about the output because the writers don't decide anything related to the content strategy. They can't be held responsible for the outcomes. This is something that we, the head of content and myself, are responsible for. We do larger keyword research every quarter. And then every month we still go through it and create these content plans that are basically monthly. You can essentially see which epic the specific blog post is in, which writer is going to tackle it, what is the keyword, what is the word count, what is the payment for this particular post. And this is the working sheets that our head of content is using to manage the monthly workload.

Emilia:

So also it wouldn't be fair to the writers because obviously in different epics, there is a difference in intent. So some epics are very bottom of the funnel, for instance, the tools epic or the onboarding epic where we write a lot about our tool, about our competitors. But some epics are more top of the funnel. So, say, product management related topics or UX related topics are more general. There's also a difference in surge volume and it doesn't make sense to hold individual writers responsible for traffic goals or the outcomes.

Bernard:

Yeah. That makes sense. As a follow up to that since you were talking a bit about it, Dave asks, "Do you only start with SEO for content topic generation?" I think what he's saying is who comes up with the content topics. I think I heard you answer that it's a combination of you and your editors and not the writers. The writers aren't really brainstorming topics.

Emilia:

No. The writers don't brainstorm anything or even what goes into the individual paragraph, hence the brief. It's not the editors that brainstorm that as well. It's the head of content. Initially it was me, but then we promoted one of our editors into the head of content role. And now she's responsible for brainstorming the individual topics based on the epics that we have and the keyword research that we've both done and she's doing some follow up keyword research to uncover more topics around that as well.

Bernard:

Yeah. So Kate asks then, "How do you go about choosing the epics?"

Emilia:

Yeah. So essentially the epics have to be chosen based on the problems that our tool is solving. It's more intent research rather than keyword research, so we optimize the epic for intent. So it is very high level understanding what our product does and what our audience wants. So that plus some ancillary epics that are more related to the audience and their problems in general. Ironically, I recently discovered that the worst leads that our content drives are the ones that have converted directly from one blog post. If someone just Googled one keyword, they found our blog, they went from the blog, read this one blog and directly booked a demo, usually they are bad leads. Because they sometimes feel or think that our product only solves one problem.

Emilia:

And because it's a larger platform, actually it's a product growth platform that does both user analytics and UX experiences in app, and it does in up surveys, maybe people don't want to pay for the whole platform if they only have one use case. So having these top of the funnel content that doesn't directly convert and it doesn't directly produce leads, but maybe leads to some assisted conversions is also very important because it educates the prospects and it educates the market. So we have a balanced diet of bottom of the funnel epics and we're like, there is some meat and there are vegetables.

Bernard:

Definitely. I guess a follow up question to that, Hannah asks, "Do you do attribution tracking so you can see how many posts each new lead or customer reads before converting?" And an interesting follow up to that just off the top of my head is, do you know how many is the optimal amount of blog posts that somebody should read before they end up, say, becoming a higher converting lead or potential customer?

Emilia:

That's a great question, Hannah. I didn't know that yet, but maybe I'll learn something from you and start actually tracking the optimal number of blog post that the best leads are consuming before they become our customers. That's a bit tricky because Google Analytics and search console gives you anonymous data. You see the sheer conversions where you don't know who that is and are they a good prospect or not. We also use HubSpot. We have a script installed on our blog that is trying to attribute basically website traffic to specific leads and specific companies. But I find that it only matches roughly 50% of the leads and the rest is just randomness attributed traffic, it's just random things, sources from integration or direct. Because as you probably know with attribution in organic is pretty tricky because there are the cross device and cross channel issues.

Emilia:

If the attribution window is longer, so someone bookmarked post six months ago and then they just found it again, a lot of these tools don't pick it up anymore after the 90 day attribution window. But what we do, because of course we need to somehow track if our content is leading to any good results or not, we essentially build these dashboards on Google Data Studio that plug into our Google Analytics and the search console. And we are tracking how many users each blog post that we produced in 2022 has produced. How many new users, how many demo button clicks and how many demos books. We have cumulative view from the beginning of this year and also the conversion rate, so this is just last start very, very conservative attribution. Correct me if I'm wrong Bernard, maybe I will learn something from you, but I feel Google Data Studio doesn't allow you to look at assisted conversions or does it, as a metric?

Bernard:

I'm not a hundred percent clear on that.

Emilia:

Yeah. Last time I checked at least, I couldn't find it. I was Googling that bit. That's why we're looking at these last start attribution. And you can see these are only posts that we produced this year. So not including all the others we produced the year before and the year before. So as you can see, they already resulted in 20 demos. They already drove over 42,000 visitors. Then we look at the conversions month by month and these in turn are our best, not best performing, or these in turn are our blog posts basically. In general, we're looking at total content performance month by month as well.

Emilia:

Then I'm just looking at the number of users and the conversion rate month over month to see the general trend. That was from Google Analytics. And from search console we are also monitoring the keywords that we basically optimize the content for this year, so each individual blog post. And we're looking, are they improving? If they're improving as you see in this first example, SaaS onboarding process, that's good. Of course if they're dropping, then it's an indication we need to go in and probably update this post to something about it. So we try to monitor this regularly, at least once per month. And then we're also looking at our all time top converting keywords. This is super important because if these are your honey pots, you don't want to start dropping inserts for these keywords. That's the mistake we made roughly a year ago.

Emilia:

It was actually when we discovered that after publishing all these new blog posts, our traffic actually declined at some point. We were like, what the hell? Then our advisor told us, "You seem to have dropped inserts for these bunch of keywords that you were aiming for that coincided with the big Google update back then in June 2021." We went in and we started doing content updates afterwards as well. So there is that. And if you guys are interested in these dashboards, I have actually unlocked them on my Patreon so I have this content ops Patreon here and Google Data Studio. Basically if you are interested in that, I created these templates. So for instance, that one is uncovering opportunities from existing keywords. I will send it to Bernard so he can put it in the show notes somewhere so you can just copy this template and use it for your content tracking if you want.

Bernard:

Great. I put the link to your Patreon in the chat, but we'll also distribute it in the follow up email. Kristen has just a note. She says that, "Assisted conversions are tricky via Google Data Studio alone. What they've been doing is offering a unique offer code, assigned that persists if people click through but don't convert, but that's not super helpful if people bounce and then come back way later." Just to comment on that. Elon asks, "What's the contribution of each blog? You were basically showcasing that, but do you get 25% more leads by publishing 25% more blogs?"

Emilia:

No, it doesn't work like that. If you are investing in content, you need to brace yourself. It's a very long term game. The growth is not linear, but it is correlated. This year, our content really took off around 26,000 visitors in February to now. What is it now? Right now it's 50 but by the end of the month, it will be around 55, 57 if things keep going like that. So essentially our average number of demos went from 8, 10 to 12, 13 per day. So you can see the impact of the content isn't linear. A year ago we only had 10 blog posts that were consistently driving conversions. Now we have around 30. We added basically 200% more our blogs that are converting by SU as you probably know. And as you can see from here.

Emilia:

Especially in such a niche industry, you don't have a lot of blogs with super high surge volumes that drive thousands of visitors. You need to create a lot of niche content that is only driving maybe at best, a few hundred and a few conversions per month. It's not going to be spectacular overnight results. But if you do it consistently it's an evergreen source of leads. And of course, if you do updates and maintain your blog properly, that's something that keeps on giving people unlike Google Ads where you have to constantly invest more budget.

Bernard:

Totally. We have at least four more questions. I'm going to ask you all of these. Any learning curves for your writers to use Surfer?

Emilia:

We have some piece for that. I wouldn't say because it's, again, the editor's job to set up the Surfer editor for our writers. They put in the keyword, they select the competitors that can be against, they deselect, they irrelevant pages, they deselect irrelevant keywords that may have fallen in, that does happen. So the editor has to do some work on Surfer. And the writer just comes into the fully set up editor and writes, so not much.

Bernard:

Nice. Josh asks that, "When you were showcasing one of your briefs, there were sections that your editors would write that say, 'Write something similar to.' Are these lifted from competitor posts or are these something that an editor writes and is just saying do this but better?"

Emilia:

Usually from our own posts because we have already written so much around these topics and then we take it from our previous content on similar topics, so not to reinvent the wheel constantly. Sometimes it is that the editor writes something themselves or they may have sourced some content from an expert. They add a quote there. And usually, no, we don't lift it from competitors because I think that's a bit unethical.

Bernard:

Yeah. And then anonymous asks, "Where do you find information on each topic? Through links stored in each epic or another repository of background information?"

Emilia:

No, we just Google stuff. We read around it. And then we also try to provide some original insights. We often interview people. I want to make that more into a process. So far we've been a bit informal, so it's hit and miss whether the editors have time to implement it or not. But moving forward we are planning every month at the beginning of the month, when we have listed all the topics for the month. And in the epic, we are planning to give the editors a day to collect insights from subject matter experts and basically improve the eats of our content. The authority and make it more thought leadership as well.

Bernard:

Awesome. One more question. Now there's some more trickling in, but Dave asks, "What are the big benefits of StoryChief? Our team uses WordPress, which seems to include several similar features. Autoposting to social, can publish to email, but why are you on StoryChief?"

Emilia:

Yeah. So first of all, we also use WordPress. I'm aware of these features and there are some similarities indeed, but on WordPress you can't really communicate with the writers. As far as I know, at least you can't say add comments on WordPress. You basically let the writers write [inaudible 00:49:18]. And I feel the editor is also not that super user and readability friendly. It's more challenging for us at least to read the content and basically check it for any errors. These are the reasons. And also the distribution where we can push it to Medium directly. But especially the commenting is the factor. Also the benefit when the writers write in StoryChief is that it has this basically repository of images. We basically store our image bank here largely in the image library. I know WordPress also has that. It's similar [inaudible 00:50:15] is the commenting and distribution.

Bernard:

Josh asks, "As you grow your output, do you find that you need to go further up funnel and away from purchase intent? And if so, do you anticipate conversions on new posts dropping over time? And if yes, how would you measure success in that case?"

Emilia:

Yeah, that's a really good question. I thought the same Josh. I felt exactly the same that, well, inevitably we have to go up funnel and we are going to run out of ideas for bottom of the funnel content anytime soon. And just a few months ago, three months ago, it really felt like that. But then I went to brightonSEO, I was speaking about this workflow there as well, but when I was sitting in the audience at one panel about essentially long tailed, zero surge volume keyword research, it dawned me that there was no such thing as running out of bottom of the funnel keywords.

Emilia:

Funnily enough, I came up with another process of generating these derivative keywords that are long tailed and probably either zero surge volume or very low surge volume. But we don't really worry about that because there are so high intent that it compensates for the low surge volume. And besides as we all know, it's not like your content ranks only one keyword. When you optimize it for one keyword, it starts ranking for hundreds of other similar keywords. So usually you see a discrepancy between what the keyword research tools tell you. So Ahrefs tells you this keyword only has 10 surge volumes. So how come you're getting 500 or 1,000 visitors per month from it? Have you ever wondered about that? So essentially it's all these other smaller keywords that drive traffic as well.

Emilia:

We are like, why don't we just stop looking at the surge volume for this and we start looking at intent. As you saw in the previous dashboards, I collected that top converting keywords in one dashboard and then I created a filter that essentially excludes all the exact matches of these highest converting keywords so we don't duplicate this content, but it includes fuzzy matches. So it includes all the keywords that contain this highly converting keyword. That essentially generates these derivative keywords. Some of them don't make sense, some of them do make sense.

Emilia:

We rank for this keyword with existing content, but then I sorted this by average position from the lowest. So somewhere on the ninth or 10th page, we are ranking with one of our posts for this keyword, but it means that we should probably create a breakout page that will be optimized for the super long tailed, low surge volume keyword that might have high intent. Of course that's just automatically created. So a human with some gray matter would need to still go through that and select the ones that really make sense for us and put them in the right epics. But that's another way how you can keep creating content that airs bottom of the funnel and that will generate conversions.

Bernard:

Cool. Then I would say the last one, and I know this one's very tricky, but how do you measure the ROI of your articles so that it makes sense for the business?

Emilia:

So attribution of content is a challenge because of all these across domain, attribution windows, la-di-da. But we essentially see that the majority of our leads come from content. Recently it went even up to 82%. So even just knowing that we know that there is an ROI. And then we pass them on to the sales team. Once they've booked a demo, we're done with them. But we can look at HubSpot and then see basically if there is a large deal, then I like to go into HubSpot, look at the script that is installed on our blog and see if it managed to attribute this deal. Sometimes it does and it shows me basically which pages the contacts from these deal have visited. Then I know, well, we managed to bring in this and that many thousands in ARR from these specific blog posts.

Emilia:

But I'm fortunate enough to have a CEO that doesn't sweat too much of every single piece of content and attributing everything because at some point, and this is also what our advisor who used to be VP of marketing told us that, "You need to choose when you are a startup and have a small team, are you going to be spending all your days trying to attribute things and sweating over data? Are you going to invest this time in actually creating things that move the needle?" Of course, if something is obviously not working, then we're trying to dive deep into that and investigate what's happening. If some of our important converting pieces drop in SaaS, or if we have an explained traffic drops, or an explained drops in the number of demos, then we do spend a few hours investigating that.

Emilia:

But at this point, we have a full-time team of six in the marketing department now, and that covers all the areas of marketing. We can't really afford to have a data scientist who would pour over things full-time and would basically need to make these choices. So knowing that 80% of our deals and leads come from organic content, we decided to just focus on producing more content.

Bernard:

Makes total sense. Well, lots of positive feedback from the audience. Mars saying, "This is very helpful to me as a newly promoted content manager." Cindy says, "Thank you. I'm off to ratchet up our content briefs." Elon Shaw saying, "Thank you." Thank you, Emilia for sharing the under the hood. I found it super interesting to see how a shop that's doing 40 moving to 50 blog posts is managing their content process and all under $10,000. I feel that's huge and when you say 80% of your leads are coming through SEO you know you're doing something right. And the team I'm sure at Userpilot is like, wow, we just need Emilia to start doing outbound now too. Why not? Domestic lead generator.

Emilia:

Thank you so much, man. Thank you everyone. I hope you'll find this useful. If you have any questions, just find me on LinkedIn and I'll try to get back to you as soon as possible.

Bernard:

Awesome. Well take care of everyone.


Written by
Bernard Huang
Co-founder of Clearscope

Join thousands of marketers who receive our weekly emails.

We share content marketing best practices and SEO strategies from the brightest minds in marketing. You’ll also be the first to learn about and join our next weekly webinar with the industry’s best.

Join today
©2024 Mushi Labs. All rights reserved.
Terms of service, Privacy policy