Content Marketing All-Stars Q&A: Sheila Vashee of Dropbox

By NativeAI / January 27, 2017

Dropbox truly gets how to create great content.

The cloud storage and software service consistently
develops compelling digital pieces that connect with the right audiences. Its
content offerings, which range from informative blog posts to inspirational
videos, are truly superb in both concept and execution.

Recently we chatted with Sheila Vashee, Director, Head of Product and
Brand Marketing, to find out how Dropbox creates all this high-quality content
and to learn which trends in the space she’s watching closely.

Check out the Q&A below:

Q: What role
does digital content play for Dropbox?

A: Creating useful, compelling content is a critical
part of our marketing strategy. People use Dropbox in countless different ways,
and we see the role of marketing as helping people to understand those use
cases so they can make the most out of the product.

Content helps get our community more engaged, and that
encourages the use of Dropbox more and more. That’s really important for us
because we’re a freemium business, so the more useful people find Dropbox the
more likely it is that they’ll pay down the road.

Q: What do
you think the difference is between good content and bad content?

A:  For me, there
are three things that define good content. First, good content must have a
specific target audience. It’s critical that marketers understand who they speaking
to and what that audiences cares about in order to create something that really
matters to them.


At Dropbox, we work really hard to understand our
audience. For example, a few months ago we launched a new set of productivity
tools in Dropbox, and we knew that the people who were most likely to use these
were creatives such as designers and marketers. So we developed a content
campaign targeted at that group, showing exactly how the new tools could help
with things like getting feedback, design reviews, and all kinds of files, like
Photoshop files and PDFs. That campaign ended up being one of our most
successful ones because it really resonated with our target. 

Second, content that has a consistent and specific
voice and tone tends to connect better with people. At Dropbox we’re very
strict about the tone that we strike and over time, we’ve developed a brand personality
that comes through across all of our content.

We want to be a trusted friend to our users, so the tone
of our content is very friendly and approachable. Our brand personality also helps
us determine the types of content that feel are right for Dropbox. We want to
create content that’s helpful to people – stuff that makes their day better in
some way.

Finally, third, good content must be relevant and
topical. We always take the time to think about what’s happening with our users
– what blogs are they reading, what’s going on in their world?  We also look at other current content about a specific
subject matter were writing about so that we’re hitting the right note for our

Q: You were talking
about tone and how you work to keep that consistent across Dropbox: On a
nitty-gritty level, how do you do that? Do you have a style guide?

A: That’s a very difficult thing to do and it’s
something that’s still evolving over time for us.   

We do have a detailed style guide that gets into not only
the types of phrases we use, but even specific words.  It covers everything down to how we like to use
contractions because it feels more casual.

But a style guide can’t dictate everything. To really
embody a brand personality, you have to give your content creators creative
license as well. So we spend a lot of time training bringing new content creators
up to speed. We started off with one or two writers at Dropbox that embodied
our tone, and we asked them to train people. Now when you start creating
content at Dropbox you have a period where you co-write a few pieces with
others so that you can nail our tone and character. 

Q: Once you
have your target audience and your targeted content, how do you combine the
two? How do you ensure that you’re reaching the right audiences?

A: We have many channels that we use to reach the exact
right audience – from email to social, our blog, paid media, native
advertising, etc.

One really effective way to reach our existing users
is through email and our blog. We have millions of users that sign up to use
Dropbox every day, and we can target content based on their needs using those
channels. To reach new people, we’ll use earned media or paid channels. 

Q: Do you
have a personal favorite piece of Dropbox content?

A: In 2015 we ran a brand campaign for Dropbox that
centered on the concept of “Creative
It told the Dropbox story and the fact that our product gives people the
freedom to create any way they want – using any type of tool, file, or app. And
once people have that freedom, they can create truly amazing things.   

As part of the campaign we created a video to showcase the impact that you can have when you’re
allowed to work any way that you want. The piece was a rallying cry for our
brand and what we care about, and the video was comprised of content that
people had made in Dropbox.  

We reached out to a bunch of our best users, and they
contributed all sorts of things that they’d made in Dropbox. The video is made
up of 141 different pieces of work – live action, 2D animation, 3D animation,
illustration, and even stop motion.

There’s such a diversity of people included in the
film, from designers to scientists to photographers. There’s Barber & Osgerby
who designed the Olympic torch for the London Games.  There’s an animator and illustrator Julian
Glander. There’s the aeronautics department at Imperial College.

I love the video because it captures the essence of
our brand. We at Dropbox believe that we can help people achieve incredible
things by unleashing their power to create.


Q: Final
question: What are some content marketing trends that you’re watching closely
right now? What tactics or platforms are you looking at more closely in 2017?

A: They’re not all necessarily new, but there are three
trends that I’m watching closely.

First is native advertising. It helps distribute and
surface more relevant content, which is important. It helps find your target
audiences and continue to reach them on a regular basis.

Second, something we’re going to do a lot more of this
year is influencer marketing. Once you have that target audience, finding the people
that inspire them and influence them is a very effective way to connect.

Third, a platform that we haven’t started utilizing
yet but will be very relevant going forward is Snapchat. They reach a younger
audience in a very innovative way, and they curate the advertisers and content
they show very carefully. We should all keep an eye on them.  

Written by NativeAI / January 27, 2017