Episode #26

It's all about nurturing Content, Customers and Community

Nurturing Content, Customers and Community

Mark Kilens, the Vice President of Content and Community at Drift, leads the content, events, community, and learning and development teams. He brings his unique perspectives on personalization, using entertainment and education to build great communities. He has spearheaded the Drift Insider, a community with 35,000 members and he is a seasoned inbound marketer.

Your key takeaways:

  • Personal operating system
  • Improved personalized experiences for your customers
  • Content Strategy that has worked
  • 6 types of cornerstone content assets

Creating your own Personal Operating System

How do you manage time with so much public engagement?

Mark: I have been focused on developing a personal operating system for the last 15 years for myself, and I am constantly searching for ways to improve the same as things are constantly changing. For example, I recently had a child, and the baby changed my personal operating system, like how I prioritize things, the system I used, the tools I used to take care of my family. Creating a personal operating system that makes your life fulfilling allows you to focus on things that matter to you.

Do you blog about personal operating systems?

Mark: I haven't talked too much about it publicly. I have done a couple of LinkedIn posts. In Google, you get a lot of content for this. For example, Tim Ferris talked a lot about this, but to me, it's like you have to live deep-rooted with principles and purpose, and you need some methods for time management as time is a most precious asset with the focus on living life more deliberately and free-floating. So there should be some structure, and I use the personal operating system to help me.

"Stop leaving money on the table" if you are not personalizing

What does this statement have to do with scaling personalized experiences for your customers?

Mark: Engagement with customers and buyers is essential as they are precious assets for sales, salespeople, and marketers on the website. You are leaving money on the table if you are developing great digital-first experiences amidst this pandemic situation that changed our habits, routines, and patterns. This situation urged me to think like a marketer or salesperson about providing the best experiences to customers and buyers who visit our website. If we don't make their journey easy and personalized, then it would be like missing an opportunity or "leaving money on the table".

In my opinion, every interaction is precious irrespective of how big or small it is. So every engagement is an opportunity to build trust and relationship with your brand and business. And personalization here allows marketers to use more tools and technologies to personalize the experience at scale with more focus on customers. You are making the seller and marketer more focused on customers. Personalization is a must to engage and offer a one-to-one experience for website visitors and engage with your marketing and sales teams.

What creates human connection in context with data and hyper-personalization exercise?

Mark: The power of conversation plays a vital role in this context. Conversational data is a revenue acceleration platform, and we use it in sales to unify the marketing and sales team to engage customers. The conversation includes engagement, shared level of understanding, recommendations, and all the information like metadata is valuable for marketers and salespeople, customer success people, product people to create improved brand experiences, better products, and features. We have conversational insights powered by AI drift to parse through all this data and personalize the experience for customers. We use this as insight into proactive and reactive ways to develop new products and experiences for people. The conversation moves marketing forwards, irrespective of whether it is B2B or B2C.

It is crucial for building relationships within a community like a one-to-one way between sales or customer success. There needs to be a connection through the conversation like online forums, virtual events, in-person events, but the conversation itself is a way to develop a connection, relationship, and trust. Marketers should utilize the power of conversation to develop their brands and build a relationship with customers.

Content Strategy that has worked for Drift

What content strategy do you implement for Drift, and what are things you realized during the transition from Hubspot to Drift that needs to be changed quickly?

Mark: My content strategy is focused on community building. For the best content marketer, the customer is the center for any action. Learn from your customers, the people in your tangential category or industry. Skill up yourself in channel tactics, copywriting, marketing-centric, and content marketing type of skills. It is about storytelling, inspiring people, educating them on something unique about your business, and for me, it's about creating movement.

I have this idea called cornerstone content assets that develop gravitational pull around them, and it is divided into six types of assets that you marketers should use. Start with one or two in the initial stage.

  • In the first two types, you will create micro-content from this cornerstone content asset. These six types are like books, and they can be in digital format or print format.
  • The other is like having courses, and a course can be with an assessment or without assessment, AKA certification. The event is content and brand experience. The successful event is rooted in the design of what people are learning and what their experience is. For me, it's a virtual event or an in-person event, and it all starts with content.
    Therefore we have coupled with the content team.
  • The third is customer stories which is a cornerstone of case studies. It is like a whole package on how customers achieved some level of mastery with your solutions, the examples, and the proof on how and why they did it.
  • The fourth is both high level and details that can be packaged into a variety of different formats. It can be taught through class, like how a customer did it in a structured learning way or through a website page.
  • The fifth is research that you create as first-party research or a piece of content. It is like you are doing research, and you are publishing a report in a presentation format. You will be collecting third-party data from that research that you are finding online, and you will be creating a presentation or a report using third-party data or maybe some first-party data. You try to create some point of view around that. This is super interesting because having legit data is super powerful these days as it can be used across all other cornerstone content asset types.
  • The last one are shows that can be episodic, video-based, or podcast. But having a show with media-centric type content is paramount. Drift has six podcasts with no filter show. Shows are unique, and you can build this cornerstone content app from the agile method or top-down method like you publish assets and then break them. Or you publish a series of assets and then build those cornerstone assets because you created a series of assets of podcast shows that eventually become a book. We did it in Drift. We wrote a CMO secret book based on nine conversations with CMOs.

One cornerstone content creates another cornerstone content, and it also creates micro-content used across all available distribution channels—the one you own and the one you rent.

The company called Casted is focused on amplified marketing. You use these different types of assets to amplify the reach of your message to audiences through different channels and break the content. When people see the customer journey they see this content, the messaging is consistent, but the method of engagement is personalized.

How do you pick which asset works as there are many of them?

Mark: You have to look at your audience, goals, and competition. These are three things I consider when I have to pick an asset to create a particular thing.

Top advice for aspiring marketers

  • Study human psychology and human behavior
  • Study patterns like anthropologists that are not related to your industry
  • Study copywriting
  • Engage, talk and study your customers
  • Talk to your success team, talk to the product team
  • Practice the habit of creating a lot of content always even if you have ample free time

                     "The power of conversation plays a vital role in the context of hyper-personalization."

Contact Mark Kilens


Twitter: @MarkKilens