Content Careers: Eventbrite’s Mark Walker on Content Marketing & Misconceptions
Eventbrite UK’s Content and Social Media Manager discusses what’s made the company blog a key source of information for those in the event organizing industry. It’s been said that experimentation is the best method for discovering success in content marketing. But how exactly does one experiment with a brand’s voice and get quantifiable feedback? Mark Walker, Content and Social Marketing Manager Eventbrite — for the UK — successfully developed and evolved a content strategy in just six months on the job. In this installment of Content Careers, he shares the details of how his startup informed his content marketing career down the road. Scripted: How long have you been at Eventbrite? Mark: I started over six months ago, so it’s a relatively new role. Prior to that I was running my own startup — for 18 months — all centered around video content. I built a platform to sell video content from conferences using a marketplace model. I was matching demand for the expertise shared at conferences with those unable to make the event. Prior to that I was in the conference industry, which is where that idea came from. See also: Content Marketing World 2014: How to Be a Good Storyteller in Content Marketing, According to Kevin Spacey Scripted: How did that prepare you for content marketing? Mark: One of the core things I did with my previous company — my startup — was generating interest. As I had no budget, it was important to find economical ways to drive traffic to the site. The best tool I had was writing about the industry, giving advice to event organizers and using that as a way to get attention — and it worked. I realized how powerful content marketing was. Scripted: Can you describe what you do with your role? Mark: There are two main areas: content marketing and social media. Within the content marketing side, I manage the blog, set the editorial calendar and write the majority of the content. In addition to writing regular posts for our blog, the content marketing role also involves reaching out to others to find contributors, writing guest posts for other sites, writing white papers and downloadable resources for event organizers. I also do a lot of partnerships — working with other brands to create awareness. Scripted: How have you developed your content strategy? Mark: I like to be quite analytical, so it’s always evolving and is driven by tests and finding what works, then refining the strategy based on the results. Basically, since launch, the number one priority has been driving traffic to the blog, with the aim of being the number one place for event organizers to learn how they can be more successful. The next step is to optimize our traffic for conversions. This means creating more and more content that would warrant visitors exchanging their details for a download, white papers, resources and courses. Scripted: You mentioned doing tests to find what works. What sorts of tests have you done? Mark: I had a theory that long form content will perform better than short form. That idea has been going around for the last six months. So, over the course of three months, I’ve done a series of 500 word and 1,500 word posts to see which does better, looking at things like traffic, social shares and engagement. Scripted: What were the results? Mark: The longer form blog posts over time have done better. Traffic, engagement, backlinks; they tend to be shared more as well. The long form definitely outweighs the short. Scripted: What’s next for your blog? Mark: I want to get a more data-driven approach to the editorial calendar. A lot of the editorial calendar has been driven by my pre-existing knowledge of the events industry, but I think to take it to the next level it would be great to be guided more by data points, like what is working for competitors and other media sites. I want to be guided by research-backed insights more than intuition. Scripted: What has led to the blog’s success? Mark: It is all about quality rather than quantity. I don’t post anything that I wouldn’t want to read myself. In an ideal world, I like to post a minimum of three fresh articles a week. If possible up to five, but I am never dictated by that frequency. I will absolutely put the break on something unless it’s ready to go and I’m proud of it. See also: 3 Ways to Celebrate Content Marketing Success — And Keep The Momentum Going Scripted: What’s your approach to SEO? Mark: Organic search. I am not all about keyword stuffing — it doesn’t work anyway, because Google is too smart. I am talking about picking broad themes that I know we can be competitive in. I have faith, not blind faith, that with the right content and right techniques, Google will reward that approach. Everything is written for people and not Google. Scripted: What was it like to start the blog from the ground up? Mark: It is really exciting, it is so great to have this blue ocean in front of you that you can explore. I really want to put my imprint on it and drive it from nothing to something substantial. Scripted: What’s your advice to those starting out in content marketing? Mark: I think my advice for anyone in a similar situation is to first have a vision — an understanding of where you want to go and how to get there. Have some self-imposed restrictions, you cannot do everything at once or you will drive yourself crazy. Make sure your company genuinely believes in what you are doing. Eventbrite believes in the power of content marketing and wants it to be great — that’s been such an enormous help. However you also need to continue to prove the value of the channel to your management by relating your work back to results that are important to the business. It’s not: ‘Hey guys I did 20 posts this month, isn’t that cool?’ You need to back up the effectiveness of your work. The founder of MOZ, Rand Fishkin, has a series of videos called “Whiteboard Fridays,” and in one of those he said the idea that you can drive a straight line between content marketing and revenue is the biggest [misconception] in content marketing. A customer’s journey is meandering and complex. You just don’t have situations where someone who’s never heard of you, or may not need your service, read a blog post and signs up to use your service or buy your product on that first interaction. What did you think about this interview? Share your thoughts with us below.