Our very own Amelia Salyers, Head of Content and Brand at Mixpanel, joined GrowthHackers for an AMA on the ins-and-outs of developing a data-centric content strategy.
Two years ago, Amelia joined Mixpanel to build out The Signal team, so we could help the world learn from its data. Now, her reach extends to every channel we use to educate and share stories with our audience – whether that’s on the Mixpanel website, through customer case studies, webinars, and events, or in industry benchmark reports.
No doubt, Amelia has an eye for great narratives, but it takes more than that to create a content strategy that drives brand awareness and feeds the sales pipeline. In her AMA, she goes into what exactly it takes and what she still can’t quite put her finger on. And, as a little way to say thank you to those who make The Signal what it is (you, our readers), we’re sharing the highlights, so you can take what she’s learned and run with it.
Use first principles thinking to determine what kinds of content will achieve your goals
Understandably, teams want their content to do it all. But Amelia has seen narrow focus and depth pay off more than broad focus and breadth, especially in the early stages. “What is the goal we’re trying to accomplish that content and stories help us with? Are we trying to build awareness and buzz with a certain audience? Are we trying to own a certain term or idea on the interwebs? Are we trying to get traffic that converts into leads?”
Once everyone agrees to a goal, it becomes easier to decide what ideas are worth investing in, which shapes the approach to promotion and distribution. “For example, a blog or publication is great if you’re trying to get traffic and conversion over the medium or long-term. Blogs are less great when you’re pre-product market fit and/or not sure who your target audience or buyer is, exactly.” To pick the right channels – and avoid investing in the wrong ones – teams need a clear sense of the company’s secret sauce and priorities and where content fits in.
Find your “homefield advantage” and invest in it
Amelia recommends honing in on anything “unique to you and hard to replicate from company-to-company” whether that be “a well-known, in-house expert or original data, or an amazing customer willing to go on record.” Over the years, Amelia has continued to identify those what Mixpanel — and Mixpanel alone — has to offer. It’s ironic but true; every company needs to emphasize its unique attributes.
She discovered the first her third week on the job. “We had a massive customer email list, but almost never used it, except for the occasional product announcement. I persuaded our CEO to let me test sending out an email to this list promoting a really stellar blog article because I believed it would really resonate with that audience. The results were conclusive: we doubled the blog‘s monthly visits in a few hours.”
With the help of customers, Amelia and a cross-functional team recognized another area where Mixpanel could offer useful content that other companies couldn’t replicate. “The impetus behind the project was simple. We kept getting a question from customers that they (reasonably) thought we could answer, “What is the standard or average result for xyz KPI in my industry?”
Though Mixpanel had produced original data pieces before, the company had never produced anything at this scale. “The biggest lift was in cleaning up 50 billion events and getting them into the Mixpanel project, such that it would be easy for us to do analysis.” The results proved the investment worthwhile.
A strong content strategy is always evolving
The Mixpanel that Amelia joined two years ago is considerably different from the one that she leads content and brand for today. What works and doesn’t work in content has also changed. “If I had to start the blog again today, I’m not entirely sure I would even begin our content efforts with a blog! Going back to the ideas of goals and audience, I’d probably consider starting with a podcast or a series of guest posts on other sites or places like LinkedIn, instead since those avenues are less crowded.”
But it took everything Amelia has learned from running The Signal to come to that conclusion. The content team at Mixpanel is still relatively young and eager to keep testing new channels and ways of educating and engaging with our audience.
To read more key learnings on content marketing, read the full AMA on GrowthHackers.