How do you create content for distinct, highly-specific audiences?
That’s the challenge Twilio, a cloud communications platform, has been successfully grappling
with recently. The firm is smartly finding ways with its content to seamlessly serve its core audience – engineers who use the product – while also engaging non-technical personas.
Recently we chatted with Clair Byrd, Director of Competitive Marketing at Twilio, to
learn more about how the company approaches its content strategy and development.
Check out the full Q&A below:
Q: Can you talk us through your background and role at Twilio?
A: I recently joined Twilio to build a new marketing practice here. It’s a combination of
approaching the market from an offensive and defensive perspective.
We want to highlight the unique things that differentiate Twilio from its competitors. We are looking to articulate and create content around the unique features of the product.
Before Twilio I was at InVision, where I led the marketing team. And before that I built content programs.
Q: Starting broadly, what do you think the difference is between good content and bad content?
A: The number one difference between good content and bad content is service: bad content doesn’t serve its user. It may serve the business, but it doesn’t benefit the consumer.
Also, there’s quality. The quality of the things you produce must high.
It’s that combination of serving a purpose and creating high quality pieces that makes good content.
Q: What role does content play for Twilio now and what role do you see it playing in the future?
A: Content has been the backbone of the company’s community since it started; the community evangelism team and the developer network are all built on content. It’s a great example of what amazing things you can build when you create for your end-users.
Content serves a multitude of purposes here already. It feeds the brand, community, demand generation, and has a sales role. There’s also a separate group dedicated to telling customer stories.
For my new role, we want to tell aspirational and transformational stories. What that looks like, and what format it is in, is still open. We want to show what someone’s business could be with our communication products, why human communication is important, and a whole host of other interesting topics.
Q: The audience you’re trying to reach seems to be a very specific one. How do you ensure your content reaches that targeted group?
A: That’s an interesting challenge at Twilio.
We have to date had two very different personas: the end-user who is using the products, an engineer, and then someone in a non-technical role, such as a product manager or innovation officer.
Right now we’re trying to build a narrative that connects with both of those groups. We want to find a way to have the same messaging resonate with both personas.
In terms of distribution, I haven’t been here long enough to get into that, but the way I generally think about it is as a hype-machine. So, a combination of things like email, social media, and retargeting can work together to make your content omnipresent.
And you can deliver the experience that feels native to the channel. For example, when I was at InVision we delivered an entire eLearning course via email. So the lesson itself was in the actual email. We found that approach was highly successful because engagement stayed strong through the entire 10-week course, plus it drove significant registrations and revenue.
The tl;dr version of that story is to shake the box. Be experimental with distribution channels.
Q: Are engagement metrics the KPIs you look at most closely? How do you measure the success of content?
A: Absolutely not. Engagement is interesting because it helps us understand whether to do things, but what I really look at are performance metrics.
That’s a survival mechanism. Content marketing is an expensive thing to do, from a time and effort and cost point of view. If a program just exists for the sake of it, it’ll get cut. Marketers have to be able to quantify, in dollars, how content is impacting the business.
So when I look at content performance I look at attributable revenue. I toss everything else. I’m looking for direct conversions, registrations, and revenue.
Q: As you look at the content landscape are there any trends that you’re watching closely?
A: I think content marketing isn’t going to be whitepapers and blog posts for very much longer.
The way people are thinking about content is changing.
Businesses are starting to go beyond the current best practices and simply checking the boxes. More people are taking a design thinking approach; they have a problem that needs a solution, they find the ideal solution, and then they work back from there.
Marketers are starting to build content in much better ways for their end-users than they have in the past. The types of content, how they’re distributed, is changing.
Also, I would love to see more and better video. That’s a superpower if a brand can do video well. It is game changing for a business. It can be an expensive channel, but it can also be incredibly powerful.
Finally, I’m seeing the industry coming back around to the customer; on being focused on customer stories and building a peership with their communities. A mind shift is occurring; hopefully there will be fewer proscriptive declarations and more listening.