We interviewed Jonathan Singer of Akamai twice. Once in January 2014 and once in March 2014.
The goal of these interviews was to understand the real processes that large companies go through when pulling together a content team—for the first time.
In our first interview, Singer had zero people on his content team at Akamai—a $1.6B company specializing in Internet technologies. He also lacked marketing automation software, and an organizational foundation for a “content department.”
But in two short months, Singer had made a major dent in the content department overhaul. He had an eBook in review, several rockstar freelancers, and a developing content team infrastructure. He hadn’t made any hires, yet, but he was close.
Here is his story.
“What I was hired to do, and what I’m doing are completely different,” says Jonathan Singer, the man with a working title at Akamai, who is now developing the strategy, systems, and deliverables associated with content marketing.
Singer has a tough job. He’s got an eBook due in a month and a half, and so far, zero people to support production.
That’s because Akamai has never established a content team before.
“Everyone knows we desperately need [content marketing],” Singer says about putting together a content marketing strategy and team. “But no one’s had the time to dedicate it.”
That was, until Singer arrived.
Singer is ready to construct a content team, and has started by pouring over the online library of content marketing literature. He’s soaking up content research from pioneers like Eloqua, Marketo, Content Marketing Institute, and MarketingProfs to learn best practices and wisdom to create a killer content machine.
Apart from researching, Singer’s also been feverishly laying down the groundwork for success: finding internal people to assign to producing content, constructing editorial boards within his organization, ideating possible content production and distribution systems, and identifying key metrics and analytics to track.
So far, this is where he’s at in January 2014.
What He’s Got
- A two-tiered editorial board mapped to reflect the needs and departments of the entire organization
- One freelancer tasked to write an eBook
- A thumbs up from the executive board
What He Needs
- Marketing automation software
- A dedicated team of “content” staff
- An ability to track content metrics (more on the metrics to track here)
But despite a long road to travel, and the short time to do it, the mettlesome Singer is confident content marketing is where he wants to be. And he’s excited to get started.
The eBook is almost ready. That is to say, it’s written. After legal gets through with it, it’ll finally get pushed to the designers on its way to final production.
Meanwhile, the creatives are doing everything but sitting on their hands waiting to start designing it.
“Excitement” is an understatement. It’s also a sentiment that ripples through the organization for new content initiatives.
Singer says the Akamai executives and staff are on board with the changes being made to their marketing structure and he’s ticked a couple of important items off the list of things that he “needed” from January:
1. Akamai purchased a marketing automation software.
With Marketo purchased, they are getting staff trained on how to effectively use it to generate leads and track marketing analytics. Singer says he hopes the marketing automation software can support a system of content marketing analytics, too, but that part is still a little foggy. He adds that marketing automation has been on the docket for some time, and his colleagues have been “leading that charge” for nearly two years.
2. While they still don’t have a specified “content team,” Akamai has plans to hire content marketing staff.
This will happen as soon as their new processes are functionally in place. And Akamai isn’t alone. 78% of marketers plan to grow their content marketing teams by 1-3 people. But for now, they’ll stick with freelancers.
3. Analytics tracking has been tasked to a specific small team.
This team lives within the marketing department, and will be responsible for tracking and reporting on key metrics. It’s not 100% clear what the best method of tracking analytics will be, but there’s a team focused on it.
Singer’s advice to others building content machine: “The biggest focus is on process,” he says. Figure out how to make content marketing centralized and “useful for everyone.”