Martech Stacked Episode 27: The Easy Way to Record and Share Videos - with Kaya Ismail
26th November 2020
I’m joined today by a man who’s been writing about enterprise software since 2012, for various publications including Shopify and CMSWire. He’s the founder of a boutique content strategy agency for business software vendors called Wordify. Welcome to Martech Stacked, Kaya Ismail.
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David Bain: I'm joined today by man who's been writing about enterprise software since 2012 for various publications, including Shopify and CMSWire. He's the founder of a boutique content strategy agency for business software vendors called Wordify. Welcome to MarTech Stacked, Kaya Ismail.
Kaya Ismail: Thanks for having me, David.
David Bain: Yeah. Thanks for joining us. Great to have you on. You can find Kaya over at wordify.co. So Kaya, explain what Wordify does and how you use marketing technology to make it better.
Kaya Ismail: Brilliant. Well, thanks again, David, for having me on. To give a very quick summary of what Wordify is and what we do, we are a content marketing agency for SaaS companies, and even more specifically than that, we help the DXP companies and CMS companies. So that's digital experience platform vendors primarily. So to give you some examples, you mentioned Shopify. That's one client that we've had in the past. Liferay, who would be another name that may ring some bells. Basically anything to do with web content management, that is our forte, that is my personal forte. As you mentioned in the intro, it's a topic I've been writing about for a good few years now. So we help those companies with their content marketing, everything from blog posts, white papers, ebooks, landing pages, the strategy that goes along with that, how to distribute that content. That's pretty much what we do and our services in a nutshell.
David Bain: So just before we dive into the specific marketing technology that you use within Wordify, let's touch on content marketing strategy, because as we mentioned, you've been kind of working in content, content marketing, content production for the last eight years or so. So how has it changed? What content are you producing now compared with eight years ago, and has it changed that significantly?
Kaya Ismail: That is a good question. The answer is yes and no. From one perspective, it hasn't changed in the sense that we're still writing blog posts, we're still writing articles that get published on a website just like you would have read 20 years ago, really. That hasn't really changed even from before my time. The good old blog post. Perhaps 10 years ago, you would have thought, "Well, the blog post will probably be replaced by something else in a few years time," but it hasn't, and it continues to be the best way for companies to display thought leadership, rank well on Google, and just in general put out content is going to engage and educate their audience. So from that perspective writing blog posts has very much stayed a constant. Similarly with ebooks, similarly white papers, especially among B2B companies, which we work with primarily B2B companies, those kinds of things have remained a constant, and I can't really see them going anywhere anytime soon. For good reason, because like I said, they do a great job of engaging the audience and providing valued thought leadership.
Kaya Ismail: Having said that, the way a blog post is written and the way content in general is presented to the audience has changed a lot. Taking blog posts in isolation, perhaps... This is my personal opinion, so with blog posts 10 years ago, perhaps you would have seen blog posts being written and researched very much in line with what Google wanted and only what Google wanted, and that often resulted in a very keyword heavy blog post, a blog post that wasn't necessarily built to engage the reader or educate the reader so much as it was to impress Google. So those were the blog writing tactics perhaps a decade ago.
Kaya Ismail: What we've now seeing over the last couple of years is the best blog content is actually content that is aimed at pleasing and educating and engaging the human reader, and Google has actually got better at recognizing when that's happening and rewarding the blog post or the website that hosts a blog posts with with a better Google rank. So we've definitely seen that shift happen. I personally have seen that shift happen in my own general journalistic work. We've seen that happen with our clients as well, where we've had to definitely not disregard Google, definitely not disregard our keyword research, but prioritize what information, what value we're bringing to that end-user so we can hit other metrics such as time on the site, have they clicked the downloadable with a blog post, or download a piece of content is going to give them some more information in exchange for their email, which is, again, for a B2B company, extremely valuable. These kinds of things have come to the forefront, and keyword stuffing and making sure it's fantastic for Google, but not exactly fantastic for the reader, that has slowly and rightfully so faded away.
David Bain: How do you do your topic research nowadays, and has that changed significantly? Because obviously you touched upon the fact that you used to cater primarily towards Google and keywords and ranking in search engines, but nowadays it's more about writing for users directly themselves. So does that mean that you form some kind of focus group, do you ask companies themselves what topics are more important for them or do you still do keyword research?
Kaya Ismail: That's a brilliant question, and it's something that we're writing about, so hopefully we'll have some published on this very topic in the next few weeks. Basically we have definitely not disregarded and definitely not left keyword research. Probably our first step is to find out which keywords are our client's competitors ranking for, what keywords are they targeting in their most recent blog content or most recent landing pages? All that kind of stuff. There's stuff that everybody always used to do. Every marketer has always done that. So we always start there.
Kaya Ismail: However, there are a few examples of where we've had some fantastic success despite the data. I'll give you an example of that. The keyword "headless CMS is" now quite a common keyword, is quite a well searched keyword, is a high volume of search for that every month, "headless CMS". But we worked with clients who had the CMS space for over two years now, and when we first started working with them, because of my background in this space, journalistic background in that space, I knew that "headless CMS" was a trending term at that point, and I knew it was a growing term. So the data was telling me that perhaps this keyword is not brilliantly important over some other keywords. I mean, the data wasn't quite there in terms of monthly search at that time two to three years ago.
Kaya Ismail: So I had to convince some clients that this is something that's trending. They'd heard about this top term. They were attempting to use it in some ways, but they weren't convinced it was going to bring them a ton of traffic. They weren't convinced that it was something to pour a lot of time and money into. But thankfully at least one of our clients listened to us at that time, and we've got case study with that client. I don't think they'll mind I mention the name, Core dna. So you can head over to wordify.co and find that case study. And we basically produced a lot of content around that keyword at the time when the monthly search volume was not fantastic, and they benefited quite a bit from that.
Kaya Ismail: And had we've restricted ourselves to only following what the monthly search volume was telling us, we probably wouldn't have wrote that content and would have waited until it was a common thing to write about, and we would never have ranked as high as we ranked, and our client would never have experienced the traffic spikes that they did and the spike in organic traffic that they did. So what my argument really is not to disregard keyword research, but to never restrict yourself to it. And there is a caveat there, and that caveat is you have to know the industry that you're in in order to do that. I could never really walk into the golf industry and spot trends, because I've got no experience in golf, I don't know about golf. I'd never be able to do that.
Kaya Ismail: But if you do have experience in industry, do the keyword research, but also put your ear to the ground, speak to other thought leaders, see what the competitors are saying, the new stuff they're saying. See what analysts are saying. Your Gartners and your Forresters in my case, and try to spot the trends there before they become common, or try to spot the trend before it becomes a trend, if you will, and that way you'll probably be able to produce some content early on and rank very well, even though the data wasn't quite there at beginning.
David Bain: Great point. I love you're saying trying to spot the trends before it becomes a trend, because if you're inside the industry, if you've got a certain understanding of an industry, then you can see an inflection point. You can see where a trend is potentially starting when there is perhaps not so much competition out there, and if you can start to get your article published then, when it's not so competitive, you're more likely to get a decent number of back links, a decent number of people sharing the article, and then to stay the number one article or one of the top articles for that particular subject moving forward, because you were one of the first movers for that. So wonderful point there. Let's swerve into technology and get your feelings for what are your top tools that you're actively using at the moment. So in terms of MarTech tools, starting off with number three, what are your top three tools in your current MarTech stack and why?
Kaya Ismail: Okay, so the third one is Loom. That's useloom.com, I believe. Relatively common tool, and I think all three of our tools will be common, but I'll hopefully have some unique ideas on why we use them. So Loom, for those who don't know, it's a screen capture tool that allows us, at least, to capture certain workflows, certain tasks that need to be completed. We can capture that very quickly and easily using their Chrome extension, their Google Chrome extension, and save that onto the use Loom dashboard and share that with our colleagues, and sometimes with our clients as well, if that's necessary. So yeah, Use Loom is our third on the list or bottom of the list, if you will.
David Bain: I'm sure there are many other tools that are even underneath that in terms of being bottom of the list, but bottom of this particular list, absolutely, and you must have been, I reckon, using that tool for a while. The reason I'm guessing that is because the domain name is now just loom.com, and they've got the domain name loom.com, but useloom.com directs to that.
Kaya Ismail: There we go. There we go. You've caught me out.
David Bain: It's good. It's good getting in towards the beginning using a piece of software for a while and obviously getting used to it, getting comfortable with it. So what's a typical use case for you? How do you go about creating videos and what audience have you tried to target, and for what purpose in the past?
Kaya Ismail: To be honest, this is something that we use internally more than anything else, and sometimes for our clients. So I'll give you a good use case for this. One of our clients requires us to not only write the content that they want published, but they also want us to use their bespoke CMS to upload that content into their backend. So I've obviously got colleagues. That's not a task that I want to be doing every single day. So what I did is, I learned how to do that myself based on the client's instructions. Once I was confident enough to do that, I record it using Loom, record it once, and like I mentioned earlier, easy to save, easy to share, and I was able to share it with my colleagues.
Kaya Ismail: And on top of that Loom also allows you to see exactly when each person viewed that video. So I know exactly, has my colleague actually viewed that? Have they not? Do I need to nudge them to see it, basically, and get onto that task? And if they have, then I know that that's done and that can then stay in Loom and it can be reused over and over again. So as we get new team members, they can watch that video however many times they need to watch it. It's basically staff training on Loom, and that's basically how we use it, and we have a few different tasks and workflows in Loom that can be used over and over again. Whenever a particular colleague of mine forgets how to do something correctly, they can go back and reference the video. And when we hire again, then the video is right there, ready for them to learn how to do the basics.
David Bain: Superb. It's a great service. It's a cost effective service. It's a popular service. And it starts off free of charge up to a hundred videos as well, so it's really good value. The business plan is only 10 US dollars per creator per month, so it certainly doesn't break the bank at all. Can you think of any other competitors that are similar to Loom out there that you considered prior to using Loom?
Kaya Ismail: At one stage, I believe we were using Screen-O-Matic. Not exactly the most-
David Bain: Screencast-O-Matic.
Kaya Ismail: Screencast-O-Matic, that's the one, I believe. Maybe they changed their name as well, but I think it was... Either one of the two. They had a similar offering. The UX UI wasn't quite as smooth, they didn't have a Google Chrome plugin, which is probably the main thing that attracted me to Loom. So yeah, I think prior to Loom, we were using either Screencast-O-Matic or Screen-O-Matic or perhaps even both.
David Bain: So that's Loom, that's your MarTech tool number three. What is your tool number two?
Kaya Ismail: Okay. So our tool number two is MailerLite. We use MailerLite lights for... Well it's a newsletter platform, so we use it to create and send out our very recently launched newsletter called DXP Report. And MailerLite basically allows us to build landing pages, websites, and the email newsletter itself. It has automation features and whole bunch of other cool features along with it. But yes, we use that to support our new newsletter.
David Bain: Okay. And there are so many different email marketing options that are open to use nowadays. I've had a package with AWeber for forever. I've also used MailChimp quite a bit in the past. I've used EmailOctopus more recently as well. I think that's a really nice solution as well, because it's really cheap, but also it integrates directly with Amazon servers, so you can scale what quickly with that. What makes MailerLite the choice for you?
Kaya Ismail: Very good question. We too used three different platforms before, so we were using MailChimp at one stage, which I enjoyed. I think they changed their pricing structure relatively recently, within the last year at least, which made it a little bit less tempting to use. But MailChimp, I've only got good things to say about MailChimp, they were always very, very reliable. We also used... What did we use? I very briefly used Ghost or I considered using ghost for our project, DXP Report. Now Ghost isn't primarily a email platform, but they do have that feature. Ghost is primarily a blogging platform. It was founded by an ex-WordPress employee whose name escapes me, but it was basically WordPress SaaS, open-source SaaS WordPress competitor that also now has email platform and a membership platform, so a subscription platform so you can monetize your email list. So that was very tempting as well.
Kaya Ismail: I did enjoy using Ghost, but their templates weren't the best, and they weren't that customizable. Excuse me. So we decided in the end to use MailerLite, which had quite a bit of customization that we could tinker with, and it was relatively easy to use and it also came recommended from one of my colleagues as well, so I knew that he had experienced using it. So, yeah, we decided get to go with MailerLite and we're happy so far.
David Bain: Okay. I'm sorry, just researching Ghost. I've researched Ghost in the past. I haven't actually used it, but John O'Nolan, I think, is the person that founded Ghost. It's supposed to be a more simplistic version of WordPress isn't it?
Kaya Ismail: It is. I've only used it for blogging a couple of times, just to test it out, really. I haven't actually launched any projects using it. I just used it to test it, probably over a year ago, its blogging function. I tested out the newsletter function maybe three or four months ago. I do like it. I've only got good things to say about it. It's got very nice interface. It seems to be quite well-rounded in terms of features. Whether it's more simple nowadays than WordPress is arguable. I'm not sure anymore. It does have quite a few features on there. So that's a subjective one that maybe everybody has to test it out and see. But they have a 14 day free trial, so I think that's worth checking out.
David Bain: Great stuff. And just staying on MailerLite for a second, what are your thoughts on best practice email marketing strategy for B2B nowadays? Is it important to embrace, for example, HTML and have fairly fancy looking email newsletters? Is the fairly plain text looking like coming from an individual approach the most effective when it comes to open rates and interaction rates?
Kaya Ismail: Good question. It's something that we're still tinkering with, but for now we're using a hybrid of both. So we've went for a very simplistic magazine type look, so a few thumbnails to go with the headlines, some very brief text to introduce each article, and then as you scroll down, we've actually got some bullet points. I don't know if you're familiar with newsletters such as The Hustle. It's quite text-heavy, and at some stage they have just bullet points where it's things we've seen this week, things that caught our eye this week, and it will just be some bullet points where they just say, "Hey, Apple was on such and such," and then there's the link to go and read the full article, and they have these very brief bullet points. I thought that worked very well. It has worked well for us so far, although we're very, very, very new, a very new newsletter. So I think a hybrid of both, but even when there is a fancier section of the email, we've tried to keep that very, very simple.
David Bain: And have you experimented with incorporating other forms of communication, like text or chat into the mix as well?
Kaya Ismail: We haven't. We're thinking about surveys and thinking about surveys more than anything else right now. We haven't really thought about doing anything other than surveys right now.
David Bain: And just staying in social media for a moment longer, do you have any thoughts on best practice or what is working really effectively now in terms of the type of content to share? I.e. native video, adding a lot of text to posts, hashtags, usernames in there? Is there anything that you've seen as a trend that is working really effectively to encourage post engagement just now?
Kaya Ismail: I think our most successful social media content was from our podcast, which we turned that podcast recording into a video, in a sense that we had... The name of the name of it escapes me, but the sound bar, the sound bar moving around with our logo on it, because we weren't recording the podcast like you're recording right now, a video, so we had that sort of video/audio content going on.
David Bain: Was it SoundCloud or quite similar to SoundCloud?
Kaya Ismail: Similar to that. It was actually an app called Headliner. I think if you Google Headliner app, it will come up, and it's basically turning audio content into video content for the specific purpose of turning it into social media posts. It does a pretty good job. It takes a minute of audio, it turns into video. And that was successful for us. Obviously we used a few hashtags in there and we we made sure the content was relevant, of course, to our audience. So that helped. But that's probably the best kind of content we've seen working for us at least.
David Bain: How do you go about launching your own content when you publish it? You mentioned that you were working on a blog post to publish fairly soon. How will you go about telling people about it? Will you just publish it and people will naturally gravitate towards it, do you do any paid campaigns to try and actually get some more eyeballs seeing it?
Kaya Ismail: We haven't yet done any paid campaigns. A lot of my personal content goes out on CMSWire, which has a fairly large audience. Our company content, Wordify content does just go out onto social media as is with no specific launch plan. However, we will then email our clients, email those in the industry we have a relationship with and say, "Hey, we've just written this, what do you think? We'd love some feedback. Feel free to share?" And that usually helps them get some views and get some engagement.
David Bain: So how will you go about choosing whether to publish a piece of content on CMSWire or on Wordify?
Kaya Ismail: Great question. That is a great question, although I don't have a fantastically ready answer for it, to be honest. I'll tell you what, it's a slightly different audience. So CMSWire, although there is an overlap between the DXP space, their audience is comprised of people from many different industries. So we're talking about people who are looking to improve their customer experience, so perhaps CMOs and CTOs, CIOs, and CEOs of medium and large companies are reading that. And as well as that, you've also got the DXP vendors are reading that for DXP and CMS related news. So there's a bit of a mixture going on there. It's not totally our audience. Whereas with Wordify, we're quite well established as a company that focuses on the DXP space, especially now with the newsletter we're launching. So I suppose if it's only relevant to the DXP space, I would probably write it ourselves and write for ourselves our own company. Whereas if it's got a broad application, if it's relevant to other industries for digital transformation, for customer experience, for employee experience, then it's probably best suited for CMSWire.
David Bain: Great stuff. Okay, I won't dive into that any more there, but I like following the marble sometimes and seeing where it goes. Let's dive back into marketing technology for a second and just ask you, as your business grows, what's an example of a process that you currently do manually that you may wish to automate using marketing technology in the future?
Kaya Ismail: Thankfully, me personally, we've managed to do a lot of that already, where we can automate things. A lot of our sort of workflows depend depend on us manually doing it, really, so as a content marketing agency, we have to put pen to paper, so to speak. So there's not a great deal of automation that we can do without harming the quality of our work, which is obviously our priority. One area that I'd love to automate is the keyword research side, if possible.
Kaya Ismail: To drop another name in, we use Ahrefs, which almost made my list as well, to do keyword research. It's a brilliant tool. But again, it's a manual tool. You've got to go do the research yourself, and often you can spend 20 minutes really digging around on even just one specific keyword and finding out all the nooks and crannies around them. So that can be quite time consuming. Although it's an interesting process, it can be quite time consuming. So I'd love some automation around that. That's probably what I'd love to see next. I don't see a tool out there that does that very well just yet, but that'll be an interesting one.
David Bain: Okay. And kind of a related question, but this one's about more looking perhaps many years into the future. So what is something that you have in your mind that would be wonderful piece of marketing technology that doesn't exist yet, but you would love to see created?
Kaya Ismail: I think something around stories. So we've seen recently LinkedIn stories launching, and obviously Instagram stories is something that's well established now. I'm a business owner who wants to do more stories, but I just don't find the... It just doesn't come to my mind enough to take my phone and do a selfie video and just throw out there. Maybe that's a discipline problem, which probably is, but at the same time, I think there can be some tool to maybe aggregate that content, store that content for later, that could be posted later on. Perhaps it's 3:00 AM where I am and I don't want to post my LinkedIn story right now, so I'll just save it on my camera roll, I'll forget about it, and now it's too late. So there's maybe something there where somebody can create an app to store or buffer the content as it goes out, but specifically for the story content.
David Bain: I haven't even tested LinkedIn stories yet. I should do, but it doesn't come naturally to me. I haven't embraced Instagram stories or any similar kind of Facebook stories. So how have you tested LinkedIn stories or you haven't actually tested it personally yet, have you?
Kaya Ismail: We have. When DXP Report launched last week, we put out a couple of posts and we've got some decent engagement. Nothing crazy, but some people took notice, some people viewed it. Some people messaged me because of the posts I put out there on stories. It's the kind of thing, again, that's great for brand awareness, and it's the kind of thing that I know I should be doing more of, especially on LinkedIn, just to be on top of that page there. People click on it, they see my face, they see our logo perhaps, and it allows you to stay top of mind, and it allows you to maybe put out some thought leadership as well. But again, like you, it doesn't quite come naturally to me. I'm not averse to the camera or anything like that, but like I mentioned, it just doesn't come to my mind to pick up my camera and then speak to it. But maybe that's a skill that I have to learn.
David Bain: Yes, perhaps it is. I always gravitate towards long live streams that are perhaps pre-planned a little bit more, and I'm very comfortable doing that, but picking up a phone and maybe recording something for 30 seconds without any scripts and publishing that, it's not something that turns me on.
Kaya Ismail: And for me personally, I don't know about you, but recording one 30 second video often takes me up to five minutes.
David Bain: Yeah. And most of it's just stressing about it beforehand rather than actually thinking about to say. So Kaya, you've shared a lot of interesting thoughts there as part of our discussion today. Would you say there's one key takeaway that you'd like to leave the listener with from today's discussion?
Kaya Ismail: Key takeaway? What I would probably say is that thinking about the MarTech that we use or rely on, it did give me some insight into how much manual work we're doing and how much is sort of automated or supplemented by technology. And although I mentioned earlier that most of our work depends on it being manual, I think there are a few more tasks in there that probably we can find some automation tools for, or some tools to help us get on top of things, help us do things more often that we don't do as often as we should. And I think in other industries, for other companies who are perhaps not so dependent on their work being manual, i.e. us writing blog posts needs to be a manual process, I think a lot of a companies could probably look at their MarTech stack and think, "Have we done everything we can to optimize our human work hours?" So that's probably something that I would say.
David Bain: Great thoughts. Try and be a little bit more efficient. I guess the challenge is you want to personalize things, you want to make sure that you're doing things as effectively as possible to begin with. To a certain degree, you have to do things manually to begin with, to get as effective at them as possible, so you can automate things in the most appropriate manner. So you don't want to automate things too soon, but you have to accept after a while you're being inefficient by not automating.
Kaya Ismail: Very true. You have to master the task before you delegate it. Whether you're delegating it to a human or a robot of some sort, you have to master that task, otherwise you won't know if it's going wrong. You won't know if there needs to be improvement. So yeah, totally agreed.
David Bain: Yeah, wonderful. In fact, you said that earlier on in the conversation, when you talked about Loom, you talked about mastering the task, first of all, before recording a video on how to do that and passing that onto one of your team. So you're certainly living the message. Wonderful stuff. Okay, well, I just want to say to the listener and the viewer, this is actually the last episode in series one of MarTech Stacked. Hopefully we will be back very soon. If you want to say hi, I will try to publish a story on LinkedIn, David Bain on LinkedIn, but I can't guarantee I will. Perhaps I will do.
David Bain: If not, maybe say hi at CastingCred.com. We produce podcasts for B2B brands. So maybe you can say hi there as well. And of course the ContentCal social channels on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram. Say hi there as well. And let us know what you thought about the series so far, what you'd like to see in other episodes in the future as well, and perhaps whether or not you'd like to be a guest. But Kaya, thank you so much for being in the last episode of series one. Really appreciate you coming on.
Kaya Ismail: Thank you for having me.
David Bain: And thank you dear listener for joining us. If you haven't done so already, sign up for your free trial of ContentCal. Plan, collaborate on, approve, and publish your content in one simple and intuitive calendar interface. Plus check out all the other MarTech Stacked show episodes over at ContentCal. Also, wherever you're watching or listening to this show, let us know your opinion. What are the three most important marketing technologies in your business? Let us know, and we'll try and get give you a shout out on a future show, or maybe even have you on as a future guest. Thanks again.
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