Depending on our job descriptions, our goals, and our budgets, we all use a mixture of tools to create, promote or measure content. One tool that I’ve started using is BuzzSumo. I use it to discover content that’s been heavily shared, find influencers for niche topics, receive targeted content alerts based on keywords and check on specific sites’ content performance. (Note: I have paid for my BuzzSumo-pro subscription and have no affiliation with the company.)
After using their tool, I have four interesting observations that I can apply to content marketing: “Make it easy for users.
Make it Easy for Users
James Blackwell, Co-Founder of BuzzSumo, mentioned “make it easy for user” several times during our phone conversation. Initially, I was wondering what “it” is. At the end of our conversation, it became clear that “it” means user-interface design and customer experience. What can you do from a design perspective to make your product intuitive? If you can’t make it intuitive, is it possible to add something to assist users to figure it out?
When you log into BuzzSumo you see a clean design, which shows key product features on the top: Content Search, Influencer Search, Content Alerts and Reports. On the center of the page is a quick explanation of “Content Search”. If you don’t know where to start, no problem, let’s start with “show me how it works in 60 seconds.” When you click on “Show me how it works”, you get a quick, 7-step tour on “what’s what” on the page.
It’s interesting to note that they have not created any show-and-tell videos to educate their users. They took a slightly different approach and used a click-by-user tour guide as an alternative show-and-tell. Although they don’t use videos, they schedule regular webinars to educate their users on advanced and new features.
Fun and human-like copy
Words are not dead. Words are the best companion of an intuitive design. In addition, appropriately used words evoke emotions. A witty copy is sprinkled within BuzzSumo like little charms. Here are some great examples of copy used while waiting for reports to be loaded:
James calls them micro-copy. Injecting the copy as if the tool is talking to you adds a nice touch to the tool.
Old-fashioned word-of-mouth is the best marketing
BuzzSumo built its first product in six months and launched it in November 2012. Aimed at marketing agencies, they initially offered their products for free and did extensive manual outreach (Don’t we all do that?) to their professional networks. They asked marketing agencies, bloggers and any marketing professionals they knew to try it. James chuckled and said: The best marketing is old-fashioned word-of-mouth and referrals. It is just that we do “virtual” word-of-mouth and referrals via our online and social media channels. The tactics have changed, but the essence of marketing stays the same.
Marketing communications are seamlessly embedded in the products
BuzzSumo encourages users to try a free version of their product.
They discovered that conversions to paid versions tended to happen inside the product, not on their website. Therefore they embedded several communications features in the product itself. Product-oriented content, such as how to better use their products, is displayed while using the application. This is nothing new. However, they use the message board to quickly communicate new features and updates to their existing users.
BuzzSumo doesn’t need to do email campaigns and customers don’t need to wait for software updates. The best time to communicate with their customers is when they are using their products. Which BuzzSumo does in order to deliver the latest updates, blog posts, tips, and tricks. More communication is possible via a chat feature, which also yields feedback that is a form of marketing research.
In addition, BuzzSumo also hosts webinars that can be directly accessed from within the product. That’s pretty neat. Essentially, their product is their marketing platform.
Of BuzzSumo’s current 50,000 users, about 300 have subscribed to the paid version since it was recently launched in September of 2014. With a company of only 4 people, they are hoping to leverage the in-product marketing to grow the user base.
Not every company has a SaaS platform or software product into which marketing features can be incorporated. While this example may not apply to some industries or companies, the essence of “making it easy for your customers” and “making your product your marketing” should still be a guiding principle.