Perfectly Content — Episode 1
Adrie: Today, I'm joined by Katie Leask, who is the global content manager at Contentsquare. I'm really excited to have Katie on today. She comes from an agency background as a content manager, which is not unusual for a lot of people working in content roles now, or global roles for content marketing. It gives you a lot of varied experience, which I'm sure she's going to fill you in on.
Adrie: But also the way that I actually found Katie was that she creates a content roundup called “To My Heart's Content”. I can really recommend it. The last one actually you've recommended a book, which I'm definitely going to read. Um, it's on my reading list, but it's a little bit of inspiration from all over the content space.
Adrie: But as content marketers, I think you're always looking for inspiration. So it's a really good one to follow. So I really appreciate that roundup, Katie and welcome. Welcome to the show.
Katie: Thank you. I'm so happy to be here. That was such a lovely intro. Thanks.
Adrie: So we always get started with a little bit of a background as to how you got into content marketing, number one, and then also a little bit about what you're currently doing at Contentsquare. So if you could kind of take us along your journey into the content marketing space, that would be great!
Katie: Yeah. So I'm Katie Leask. I am the global content manager at Contentsquare, which is a digital intelligence provider. Uh, so we track trillions of digital interactions, um, and turn them into intelligent recommendations that brands can use to improve their digital experiences. I'm actually the first person within a global content role here, uh, which means that I am in charge of setting and executing our global content strategy and all of that.
Katie: It includes absolutely everything from creating the tier one brand awareness and demand generation assets to working with the product team on buying guides, to supporting the SDR and sales teams, to writing editorial content, which shouts about how incredible our clients are, um, and showcasing some of the great things they're doing with the content scrap platform.
Katie: So, yeah, it's a pretty varied and busy job role. Prior to that, I spent four years at a global digital marketing agency called Jellyfish as a senior content manager. Where have I led the content strategy and content creation for clients like Clarins. Um, I worked on email marketing for Toyota, um, and so a lot of really great experience in all sorts of different industries.
Katie: And my experience gets more varied the further back I go. But in, in every role, since I've always been writing and creating content because that's what I love to do. It's always been something of a hobby, even from a young age, whether that was writing stories or poems for my parents or running a photography and lifestyle blog that I wrote and wrote and wrote on for years.
Katie: So yeah, content has always been something that was definitely on the cards careerwise.
Adrie: But also, uh, resonates a lot with me because I do think that the creative side of it is really satisfying. And if you can turn that into a career, I think it's something that you really enjoy, then it could be a really good fit.
Katie: Yeah exactly. My dad actually always says, if you do something you love, you never work a day in your life. And that's like a really famous saying, but it's so true. And like, I love working in content, so yeah, I completely agree.
Adrie: So tell us a little bit about this global role that you're currently working on for Contentsquare. You previously had a more regional role. Um, and then it moved up to global. Can you tell us a little bit about what your responsibilities are?
Katie: Yeah. So it's really exciting actually, um, because it's the sort of first global content role that we've had at Contentsquare. So that comes with a lot of opportunity to sort of get the ball rolling, um, and learn a lot as well.
Katie: So I think I've learned more in the last six or seven months of being at Contentsquare than I have in almost six years in marketing. It's been an absolutely mad ride, but yeah, so I'm in charge of leading our global content strategy. Some sort of really cool projects I'm working on at the moment are a really big buyer's journey mapping project.
Katie: So I’m interviewing loads of our clients, interviewing, um, our sales team, internal stakeholders, um, and really finding out what content our clients read and listen to and enjoy and making sure that we are providing them with that content at every stage of the marketing funnel. So that's sort of like a big labor of love at the moment.
Katie: Um, I’ve done loads of interviews with clients all over the world. The other thing I'm working on at the moment, which I'm super excited about is, um, a video series. Um, so obviously working in content, you get to do sort of the writing and then we've got an incredibly creative and amazing video team as well.
Katie: So I'm working on, um, with the creative team at the moment and design and branding for a video series that we'll be launching next year. So watch this space!.
Adrie: Well, great to know. We'll definitely, uh, keep an eye on you guys. All right. So let's dive into it. I know we kind of spoke, uh, very briefly about the challenge of having engagement, and I think a lot of people would actually love to have that challenge. You have a lot of engagement, but you kind of thought about this in transforming that engagement into actual results and actual relationships. So talk a little bit about it. What was the situation where you really realized that turning engagement into real relationships was going to be a challenge?
Katie: I'll actually take it one step back and provide a little bit more context about sort of Contentsquare and what our goal is. So our purpose at Contentsquare is to create better online experiences for everyone. So no matter what age you are or what physical or cognitive impairment you may have, and this one is really super important at the moment, because actually there are over a billion people in the world that have an impairment.
Katie: Which affects our ability to use the web. When I started working at Contentsquare and learned that and started researching this as one of our core content themes is crazy to me. Um, so it's part of our mission, um, to raise awareness around digital accessibility.
Katie: And then in that vein, we acquired a company called Adapt My Web, which is a Google Chrome extension, which lets you tailor the online experience. So you can do things like increase font size or adjust the display inline with what your personal requirements are. Um, and we also have The Contentsquare Foundation as a nonprofit organization, which raised awareness and educated people around digital accessibility.
Katie: So from a content standpoint, what we've been doing up until that point is running a selection of accessibility focused workshops as part of campaigns and events. So we have a session about accessibility and educating the clients and prospects on that within a wider campaign.
Katie: So we do want to do a women e-commerce webinar, or if we were doing an industry focused event, we'd always make sure that we were speaking about digital accessibility and we really quickly saw that these sessions were hyper-engaged. Um, like you say, people were super engaged with them. They found them really interesting.
Katie: The chat was absolutely popping off. Um, so the challenge we had then was how can we actually turn what we're already doing into an actual, tangible asset that can continue to help people and guide them in this relatively new space, above and beyond just attending sort of a regular webinar or some of our events.
Katie: And how could we tap into the interest that we knew was there and actually helped to drive positive change with things like digital accessibility. It's something that's so often overlooked as sort of people get really cool and creative with their online experiences. And, you know, the power of the internet and creativity is expanding and growing at an alarming and incredible rate.
Katie: There are actually quite a lot of the experiences that are being created are just, they're just not accessible. Um, so what was the best way to actually educate the wider market on this? Because it’s a relatively nascent topic in, in some markets, in some industries and then how could we make it relevant to them?
Adrie: So I guess here, it's really about value in content marketing. We're always talking about adding value and I think, you know, one session that's super engaging might add value indeed, but this is really about the followthrough of continuously adding value and thus doing exactly what content marketing intends to do, which is creating relationships with your target audience.
Adrie: So that's kind of the crux of the issue here. So, for you, what is really the solution to this particular problem?
Katie: Great question. So obviously our overarching goal was just to educate and raise awareness about accessibility. Really hammer home how this affects millions of people every day. But also, as I said, we wanted to provide something that they could refer back to, something that they could even share with family and friends, something that was a really tangible asset that did drive positive change.
Katie: So we did a lot of brainstorming with our internal team and various stakeholders. And we decided to put together this digital accessibility handbook, which would be our hero content piece. And the idea behind this was, it would be like a long-form research and educational piece, which covered everything from the purveyance of the problem to information on what the various impairments are and how they affect people.
Katie: And we really wanted to make it as actionable as possible. So, straight away knew that we wanted to put in a range of things that brands could take away to ensure that that online experience was more accessible. So that was a sort of hero content asset. And then we also planned to deliver a range of supporting blogs, webinars, email, nurture campaigns, and sort of other content derivatives.
Katie: And stuff like that as part of the wider accessibility campaign. So I used research from the foundation. I used research from the people that had been running our accessibility workshops up until then and did a lot of my own research. I spent a lot of time just reading about it and understanding the problem, um, and started putting together a framework of what that hero asset would actually look like.
Katie: At Contentsquare, we're really all about sort of the human understanding and the human experiences and really finding out what makes people click online, what content they engage with, what they don't, what's frustrating them, what needs changing to give them like a really seamless customer journey that people are expecting.
Katie: So straight away we wanted to move away from just providing stats and facts about disabilities and instead, really giving a voice to the people it was directly affecting and really humanizing that experience. So one of the first things I did was actually interview a range of people who were affected by inaccessible websites.
Katie: So people who had motor impairments or ADHD or vision impairments, and made sure that we shared their voices and used their experiences to add weight to the piece throughout the hero content asset. Now it's finalized. We focused really heavily on turning these numbers and stats into something that was actually tangible and relevant.
Katie: So the content piece actually starts with a metaphor about trying to eat soup with chopsticks. And that was actually an idea that came to me at 3:00 AM in the middle of the night. And it's one of the times I think the 3m thought actually sounded better in the morning. So yeah, so throughout it, we just made sure that we humanized it at every stage and gave voices to the people that it really affected.
Katie: But we also decided that we wanted to take it one step further and drive a real emotional connection. It's great to tell people and educate them, but there's nothing like actually putting them in their shoes. And luckily we had the resources in-house to be able to put together an interactive landing page where users could actually click around on the site and see how these impairments can actually affect someone.
Katie: So with someone that has a vision impairment, what a website might actually look like. If the search engine functionality is not accessible. So it was a real labor of love. And then we put a lot of effort and time and resources and research and heart behind it.
Adrie: Yeah. Well, I think that's where you get good content. Just thinking about that it’s not just the kind of what text is going to go in or what images are going to go in, but actually the real experience of the reader going through that content piece- what kind of stories do they need in order to make sense of this issue?
Adrie: I think that's the real powerful stuff here and I think it doesn't always come intuitively. So you already kind of outlined exactly the kinds of content that needed to go in there, were there some practical steps that needed to happen in order to make this a success?
Katie: Yeah. I mean, obviously, it's the way it's just making sure that the demand generation needs are brought in early on and they know what it is.
Katie: And also, you know, the sales team, making sure that when they are speaking to people, quite a lot of what we do isn't sales orientated, it is genuine awareness. Like this is one of our core beliefs that the internet should be accessible to everyone. Like the contents of our foundation is a nonprofit organization.
Katie: Um, but also if people did want to have that conversation about sort of using our platform and our tools to help guide them within the sort of accessibility journeys, just making sure that the sales team knew the conversation. We should be equipping them with the insights and the information to have those conversations and help people as best they could.
Katie: And practical steps were really just ensuring that we kept people involved. You know, uh, every stage worked closely with Marion who heads up the Contentsquare Foundation. She looks over all of the content that we produced. And we just made sure that with her expertise within the digital accessibility market, it was definitely speaking to the right people.
Katie: We had all of the right statistics in there and we just dealt with the subjects with sensitivity and compassion. Really. So yeah, in terms of making it a success, I'd say it was definitely a teamwork thing and just making sure that everyone was involved at every stage. So when the final asset came out, people knew what to do with it, and you have to speak about it and we're enabled to use it in the best way possible.
Adrie: Oh, that's good advice. Because I do think that you can get very caught up in making the actual content piece itself. And there are a lot of moving pieces. Exactly. Like you described. So tying everyone in to make sure that they know how to talk about it and they know what it needs to be connected to as well in their own competencies. That's a step that can easily be kind of missed out.
Katie: Yeah. I mean, it's one of those things it's easier to say. And actually to execute is always a lot more difficult and you know, we're a big global company. We've got teams in so many regions. There's always hiccups along the way.
Katie: Um, and I know this was the first big global campaign that I actually worked on. Um, it was the first hero content asset I wrote, I think it was in my first month of starting a Contentsquare. So especially for me, it was like a really big learning curve of working with people. And it's just something that we're going to be working on a lot closer together as we move forward.
Katie: So sort of taking the learnings from, from this piece, which there were definitely a lot and there was definitely some things that we could do better, but yeah, just taking them and making sure that when we do another global campaign in the future, it's, it's, it's even better and more efficient.
Adrie: Good. That you're always constantly optimizing. So let's talk a little bit about numbers, so I know, um, yeah, you said that this was your most successful ebook yet. So I'd love to hear about your numbers and the results that this kind of brought in.
Katie: Yeah. So, as you mentioned, this was actually, we got the highest amount of downloads that we've ever had within 24 hours.
Katie: And you would have to push me to find out the exact numbers. I definitely should have found next before the call, but it took off really, really well. We got really great feedback from, from the industry and our clients. We had multiple people that actually did suffer from these disabilities, get in touch and thank us for creating something that was so sensitive and educational about their own life experiences.
Katie: So it's obviously one of those campaigns that, because it's one of our core themes at Contentsquare, digital accessibility is something that isn't sort of one and done. So in terms of post-campaign analysis or like final numbers, it's always on like, we're going to continue launching this globally. So we initially launched within Northern Europe and sort of soft launched in the U.S.
Katie: We work in loads of other regions, as I mentioned. So those regions sometimes aren't quite ready for these sorts of conversations yet, but they will be soon if we continue nurturing them and sort of starting these conversations around digital accessibility. So it's a campaign that we launched in June, July this year, and yet did get some fantastic numbers in the first 24 hours.
Katie: But, you know, they're continuing to trickle in. It's something that we'll always be on. Um, and as a business, It's a thing that we're consistently going to be providing education and resources on, and we'll bring it back and use it again.
Adrie: So if you had to attribute the success to one thing, what would it be?
Katie: Definitely teamwork. This campaign is obviously something, as I said, that isn't intrinsically linked to sales targets. So it's a real passion project for us. And it was the level of teamwork and passion. And, you know, inspiration from people around the business that made this project a success.
Katie: So that's people like Marion who, as I said, heads up the Contentsquare Foundation, um, and is the founder of Adapt My Web, which we acquired. To people like Matt Christie, who is one of our lead UX designers who ran some of the first accessibility workshops that we did. And he has a real passion for talking about accessibility as much as he can.
Katie: Our events team who put on some incredible webinars to sort of nurture and further educate people where we'd live audited attendees websites. To the demand generation team who put together a killer educational email nurture, which kept the conversation going and provided more support once they downloaded the initial hero asset.
Katie: So I think success was definitely teamwork. Everyone pulled their weight and everyone worked on where their expertise laid to put together a fantastic campaign. So yeah, a real team.
Adrie: All right. So my last question for you, and I think as somebody who already does a nice content roundup, probably already have some ideas on this, but what is one person thing, piece of content that shaped the way that you view content?
Katie: Yeah. I definitely listened to a lot of podcasts and read a lot of books. So there's loads of things that either directly or indirectly influence how I look at content. But one thing that really sticks out is a talk that was at the marketing meetups. So one of Joe Glover's Marketing Meetup Sessions, which if you don't do them already as a marketer, especially in content marketing, like they are fantastic just for inspiration, for educational stories that.
Katie: Our team at Contentsquare religiously attends. Um, my manager actually did a session. Um, so Hannah did a session on Imposter Syndrome a little while ago, which was absolutely brilliant. They're just amazing sessions, but enough about that, the session, it, that really blew my mind as a session by Jeremy Waite, who is the communications designer at IBM.
Katie: And it was a session about telling stories with impact. And honestly, I don't ever remember coming away from a session and feeling so energized or mesmerized by a single person. And I scribbled down so many notes and Googled so many things and he spoke about so many things that I'd not heard of. And in ways that I've never heard people speak about them, he covered things like communications thinking.
Katie: and tips for becoming a better storyteller and frameworks to use. And it was just one of those sessions. I like I'd sat down with a cup of tea in the morning. I think I was having a bit of a bad morning and was just like, oh, I'll just listen to this while checking emails and sort of started checking emails and listening to the session and just completely was mesmerized by him for 45 minutes.
Katie: It was, yeah, it was amazing in terms of sort of creativity and inspiration. It was probably one of the best talks I think I've ever listened to. I think he's a fantastic speaker. So yeah, I definitely recommend that. But outside of that, just reading books, I think either fiction or nonfiction, there's always content inspiration and anything that you can read.
Katie: So I am just an avid reader.
Adrie: Good advice and definitely one to put on your watch lists. Thank you so much, Katie, for joining us.
Katie: Thanks a lot. It was an absolute pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.