We caught up with Monica and JD at Zendesk to learn more about their content marketing mantra.
In recent years, bad customer service has become a growing problem. But the San Francisco-based company Zendesk has made it a priority to patch up customer-company relationships. While they’ve become all-stars in the help-desk arena they’ve also excelled at another challenging part of business: content marketing. Since kicking off their content efforts they’ve managed to produce high-quality videos (and humorous nonetheless, just check out this one) and a successful blog. We were lucky enough to catch up with JD Peterson, VP of Marketing, and Monica Norton, Senior Director of Content Marketing, to find out the inner workings of their content game plan.
Scripted: When did content become a priority at Zendesk?
JD: In the early days it was [the] CEO or whatever employees trying their hand at writing blog posts. When I joined two and a half years ago, we formalized it as a marketing function, and built a team. Those early days we were trying to figure out the audience. Trying to test and get things out there — see what worked.
Over the past year and a half, it was really about building the machine. Getting the processes and the staff in place to crank the wheel and [produce] high quality stuff. Now it’s more optimizing; continuing to raise the quality of our content.
Scripted: What kind of content works best?
Monica: Our most successful pieces come when we do original research. We do a customer service benchmark report every quarter —which industry and which country has the best customer satisfaction. Norway did last quarter, in Q4.
We did a special report on retail last quarter, because it was the end of the year. There were more tickets than usual, and customer satisfaction was a lot lower. We discovered that the likely cause for the dip in satisfaction was that retailers didn’t stock staff up properly.
When we get that kind of original research, we work really closely with our PR team to spread the word about that, and that really increases our traffic.
Scripted: How is your content marketing team structured?
Monica: We have a team of four five, including me, doing content marketing. Three are from a writing, journalism background.
They’re coming in with ideas, working with people from sales to documentation to our own customer service agents.
We try to keep our fingers on the pulse of the industry, so we’re always aware of what we should be writing about. They’re juggling short blog posts to long research projects to updating things and infographics. They’re great writers and researchers and listeners. They can go out there and get those stories, and make it sound amazing.
JD: We have also a dedicated video team. Videos are a big part of the content strategy. The primary people producing those report into a separate team here. There is tons of collaboration and overlap.
See also: When Video & Written Content Intertwine
Scripted: Tell us more about your video strategy, when did you decide to focus on it?
JD: Being fairly Internet savvy, I think the company liked the thought of doing video, so we did some early experimentation.
In the early days it was more animated videos. Very product focused. Didn’t do anything that wasn’t showing a new feature or supporting a launch. Lots of screen capture and hand-drawn animation.
Then we found an employee who had a real passion and, it turns out, real talent. That was a catalyst. After that we thought: “Wow! We can do a lot more. We can make commercials or mini movies — super high quality type of stuff.”
From there we ran with it and increased the investment. Three people, 100 percent dedicated to video. One or two super high-quality videos a quarter. It varies from top of the funnel type pieces, we have describing Zendesk overall, and then down in the weeds of the product.
Scripted: What’s the future of your content strategy look like? Is it mostly focused on video?
Monica: We’re still hyper-focused on quality. We feel comfortable publishing less, as long as it’s higher quality, valuable content. Especially now that I feel like we’ve really hit our stride. We have a lot of really good content, evergreen content out there already.
We’re not under the same pressure before I started, to just pump stuff out all the time. We’re kind of taking a step back and we’re focusing a lot on analytics.
We have an analytics team in marketing, which is really helpful, so they can help us kind of understand how we should be thinking about it, what’s working within social: what’s popular on Twitter and Facebook, what people are passing around. [We’re] now taking a step back and getting a deeper and better understanding of how to measure these things, and what’s working. I think that’s the focus for our future.
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