Content Marketing and Measurement: Interview with Kevin Cain from Openview Partners

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How do you get buy-in on content-based marketing and social media? How do you measure those efforts and ascibe real business value?

Last week, I interviewed Kevin Cain, Director of Content Strategy at Openview Partners, the leading venture capital firm in content-based marketing. Kevin is on the forefront of content marketing development and measurement.

I caught up with him at the Content Marketing World conference in Columbus, Ohio.

MP: Now, Openview is unusual in the venture community in the use of social media. Can you talk a little about what was behind that strategy and how it has worked out for so far?

KC: Yeah, absolutely. We started with content marketing back in 2009; we actually read Joe Pulizzi‘s book, his first book, “Get Content, Get Customers.” I got Maxwell, the founding partner of our firm, to reach out to Joe and start a relationship. We got Joe to be one of our senior advisors and it began initially with a blog our own. We had everyone in our company blogging at least once a week. Over time, we created a newsletter content hub site, where we started curating content, writing original articles, videos, podcasts, and sharing that all socially.

Recently we’ve gotten into some more reports, eBooks, infographics, assessments,etc. The idea is that we create content that is very utilitarian for our portfolio companies, because we want to help them become more successful. At the same time, we want to engage the entrepreneurial community so that they’re get the same kind of information and becoming aware of us so that we can increase our brand and hopefully get more investors.

MP: Now, you said at the beginning that it started out with the partners all blogging. I know that many of the people reading this post have trouble getting the leaders in their company to engage in social media and blogging. What were the keys to getting buy-in?

KC: Absolutely. For us, it started with the top down. The head of the company believes in the benefits of social media and has built incentives for his partners to participate in social media. Other things that we’ve done include setting up senior partners with a freelance to spend 20-25 minutes on the phone and go over ideas for 3-4 blog posts. Then write those posts and review them with the partners. So they’re still producing content, just with a little bit of help.

MP: And how do you measure the success of your efforts?

KC: We measure our progress in a bunch of different ways, on a weekly basis. We’re looking at growth in number of newsletter subscribers, click through rates, web traffic, social media interactions, all of the standard stuff.

Since we don’t have a product that we sell, there’s no way to tie directly to revenue. What we’re looking for is how many eyes get to our content and how much is our brand growing. A lot of that is anecdotal as well. When we started out 3-4 years ago doing this, you would call up people on the phone–whether it be perspective firms that we might invest in or other venture capital firms, and they had no idea who we are, but now, when we call, 9 out of 10 times they really do know who we are. That is the biggest kind of anecdotal measure of our success.

And, of course, what we do with our more tactical metrics is look at what we’ve done well, and optimize on that and repeat those behaviors and then see where things didn’t work out so well and correct it. We’re always looking for those outliers and trying to get that sort of upward curve.

MP: So if you were to look forward, what are some of the big new initiatives that you will be doing?

KC: Well, a couple of things. We’re in the process of revamping our content site “Openview Labs”. It’s getting redesigned right now and coming out in the fall. We’re also in the process of creating assessment tools. Basically, for example, if you’re new to content marketing, you’ll come to our site and answer a series of questions, and then get a grade of how you’re doing. With that grade you’ll get recommendations on what you should be doing to improve the impact of your content marketing. We’re also working on an assessment tool for customer service right now in addition to content marketing.

MP: If you were starting out today, what advice would you give to somebody trying to bring content marketing into a company that has never done it before?

KC: I think first you need to get that engagement from the top down. You need your CEO, if you’re in a small firm, or maybe your CMO, if you’re at a bigger firm, someone who can really enforce the importance of content marketing and get people to walk the walk and not just talk the talk.

I think you definitely need to remember to start small and work big in scale over time. What I mean by that is you don’t want to try to produce 12 e-books, send out a blog, do 10 reports and 16 case studies — that’s not realistic. So, figure out what piece of content is most needed by your audience and create that one. Develop and hone your skills skill and over time add to it and build rather than trying to take on everything at once–it’s just too much.

MP: Thanks, Kevin for your time and insights.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mark Price
Mark Price is the managing partner and founder of LiftPoint Consulting (www.liftpointconsulting.com), a consulting firm that specializes in customer analysis and relationship marketing. He is responsible for leading client engagements, e-commerce and database marketing, and talent acquisition. Mark is also a RetailWire Brain Trust Panelist, a blogger at www.liftpointconsulting.com/blog and a monthly contributor to the blog of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Marketing Association.

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