Managing online marketing for a small business can be a daunting task. This is why one of the most frequent questions we get from business owners is, “What tools would make marketing more manageable?” One tool we think has a lot to offer is Shareist. This week, we got together with Shareist co-founder Scott Jangro to ask him some questions about the tool itself, his own marketing efforts, and to pick his expert brain about online marketing in general.
Little Jack: Give us a 3 sentence description of what the tool does.
Scott Jangro: Shareist is a content marketing platform that helps you plan, produce, distribute content and measure results. You can plan campaigns, research and capture ideas, schedule to social media channels, and publish to blogs, email newsletters, and ebooks. You can do this all from one place, individually or as a team.
LJ: What was the original concept of Shareist? We know the platform has been through a few versions. How and why did it change over time?
SJ: Starting back 10 years ago, we published a number of websites that focused mostly on niche retail communities, building an active audience around topics like fashion, costumes, green products, etc. We developed proprietary technology to support large product and content databases, as well as facilitate strong search engine strategies, both organic and paid, as well as social media. After several years, we identified that we had a product that other people could use and the idea of Shareist came out of that.
At about that time, the concept of digital curation was getting all the attention from online marketers and the first version of Shareist was a curation platform. It still is, but it has evolved to be something bigger than just curating work, delving into creating content and all the related planning, production, distribution, and measurement that goes along with that. It is now a full content marketing platform.
LJ: Have you noticed any patterns in the kinds of clients that depend of the Shareist platform? Who are they, and how are their needs unique?
SJ: Because Shareist has a lot to it, it can be different things to different people. There was a time where it felt like no two users were alike. So many interesting use cases: Teachers using it for their classrooms, writers turning blogs into books, curators creating unique collections of interesting content, teams of journalists sharing ideas, and more.
But patterns have definitely emerged, where most users are now individuals and small businesses who are managing their own blogs and social media presence, small agencies managing social media for their clients, or teams of people collaborating together and managing writers for a blog. It’s exciting to see people save time and money using Shareist to enable and improve their content processes.
LJ: In your quest to get the word out about Shareist, what techniques have you employed, and which have been the most successful?
SJ: Up until recently, we’ve relied almost entirely on friends and word of mouth. A TechCrunch mention didn’t hurt, giving us a base of about 1,000 new signups, albeit way too early. We’ve done sponsorships, conference exhibits, partnerships, and speaking. This year, we’ve been focusing on social media, both to engage with influencers as well as coming out with some ads. So far, the best technique has been leveraging our existing customers and influencers to talk about us, as well as getting in front of as many people as possible at conferences. At some point advertising will need to do the heavy lifting for us, as that’s what scales.
LJ: You’re obviously an expert on content marketing. What are some basic practices that you have found are the same regardless of industry for driving traffic through content?
SJ: I think more important than just driving traffic is driving targeted traffic and converting on it.
I think too many people create content for the sake of creating content. To do these things effectively, you need a content plan which starts with business goals. Then identify content strategies, or campaigns, to achieve these goals and get them on a content calendar. Every piece of content that you create in these campaigns should meet the purpose of the campaign, whether that’s to engage with customers, drive leads, or convert sales. If you can’t answer the question, “why?” for each piece of content, you probably haven’t planned very well.
From a practical standpoint, after you make a plan and break it up into campaigns, it’s a matter of executing on those plans: research, produce, and distribute content on a consistent basis, probably daily, and measure success. This is the whole cycle that we’ve developed Shareist to help with providing tools for every step. (For more best practices, subscribe to our 28 day email series on how to become a content marketing expert.)
LJ: What do you feel is the future of content marketing? What exciting things are happening in 2014? What can we expect 2 years from now?
2014 really is the year of content marketing, like social media was a few years ago. At this point, everybody knows they need to get on board, and work it into their marketing strategy. There are countless surveys and studies that show that massive marketing dollars are shifting toward content.
This means we’ll see a corresponding shift from marketers doing things by the seat of their pants to employing good process and strategy to most efficiently plan, produce, and distribute content. We’ll see a much more analytical approach to marketing with a focus on understanding what works, rather than just throwing stuff at the wall.
I think we’ll even see an entire marketplace of content producers materialize. And of course we’ll see an amazing set of tools, products, and services to support all of this, not just for the enterprise, but for small and medium sized businesses and even individuals. We’re at the beginning of a whole new industry, which is incredibly exciting.
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If you suddenly have a clear vision of where your company’s content marketing strategy needs to go, don’t be surprised – Scott has spent a long time thinking about content. That’s why Shareist has Little Jack’s seal of approval as one of the more reasonably priced content management tools for businesses who are ready to develop content.