An avid baseball fan and enthusiastic marathon runner, Bob Angus is otherwise occupied with developing solutions for PayPal’s numerous merchants and commerce partners around the world.
With decades of experience in B2B and internet marketing, Angus’ expertise is currently trained on product launches, speaking tours, and campaigns as PayPal’s partner marketing manager. He also manages to maintain his own regularly updated website, bobangus.com, that delivers astute marketing advice on relevant topics and trends, including, of course, content marketing.
We caught up with Angus recently, shortly after the launch of PayPal Here, the company’s credit card reader for mobile processing, to talk about content in the context of channels, metrics, company culture, and more.
When it comes to evaluating the challenges and opportunities of today’s marketing industry, Angus lands firmly on the side of optimism. “Now is the most exciting time ever,” he says. “Marketers can be less about broadcasting and more about striking up conversations and actually seeing customers smile.”
The Content Marketeer: How did you determine which marketing channels to use for PayPal Here?
Bob Angus: You always want to start with your audience. Who are they? Where are they? How do they like to consume your information? When are they most open to your message? What drives the most interaction and conversions? Consumers and merchants who use PayPal have traditionally transacted with us online. As a result, online content channels are the most useful for them. So our corporate website and landing pages have always been the focal point.
Now PayPal is successfully driving transactions offline as well as online. Our ability to take any type of payment at any time has now expanded to anywhere, including in-store and mobile. This expansion involves new audiences and requires engagement with existing customers in a new way. We have to adapt our content channels accordingly.
Marketeer: What content types and/or formats have you developed, or do you plan to develop, for those channels?
Angus: The demand and consumption of videos, blogs, and online community content has increased dramatically. Almost every initiative now includes development of an on-demand video (short- or longform), blog posts, and community interaction. However, that does not mean the white paper or case study is dead. Audiences still are very much influenced by more in-depth content. Easy access to a greater variety of asset types encourages your audience to self-select the content they find valuable.
Marketeer: What do you consider to be the most effective types of content for marketing such products, and why?
Angus: I go back to the audience again. Different types of content are most effective depending where they are in the decision-making funnel. For example, an informative and entertaining video is very successful when developing awareness. I have always been a big fan of presenting unbiased proof points when prospects are comparing their options or almost ready to buy.
Quickly understood and highly influential facts will increase your conversion rate. These proof points come in the form of research briefs, case studies, testimonials, and worthwhile milestones. Of course, you can choose to present that content in a document, a blog post, a video, or all of the above.
Marketeer: Channels are proliferating. What’s the most important advice you would offer today’s marketers in the face of so many options?
Angus: Publishing fresh content across more channels and more asset types can quickly overload your resources. Content marketers have to make their work scalable. The best way to do that is to redeploy a single content source into multiple formats. For example, you can turn a white paper into a webinar, post the slides and video recording on social networks, and break it down into a series of blog posts. Then you can “mind map,” or derive closely related solution topics, to create even more fresh content. And repeat. Now you’ve delivered what your audiences want without soaking up all of your time.
Marketeer: How does PayPal’s internal culture influence its content marketing?
Angus: PayPal has a culture of innovation and freedom to do what’s right for our customers. That is clearly seen in our products and services. It also applies to how we develop great content. A great behind-the-scenes example of this is how we leverage analytics. We don’t use metrics as a way to say, “No don’t do that.” We use the metrics to identify and build more of what’s meaningful. We like to say, “That worked. What are five things like it that we should do?” And then we do it.
Marketeer: During a prior conversation, you mentioned that PayPal offers its content creators a fair amount of editorial autonomy. What are the keys to providing autonomy, and are there, in your opinion, any editorial guidelines or processes essential to making that work?
Angus: Editorial autonomy extends to recognizing, addressing, and solving your audience’s needs. PayPal is full of incredibly insightful subject-matter experts. Plus, we get a lot of direct feedback from merchants and consumers. That provides plenty of latitude to create impactful content.
Of course, content marketers do need to follow editorial guidelines and publishing processes. Consistent tone, style, and, most importantly, legal checks are required. Multiple content creators are still a single voice of the organization. That helps your audience build their relationship with you and avoids confusion.
Marketeer: Can you talk a little bit about engagement as a goal of PayPal’s content marketing efforts, and how that came to be?
Angus: Your audience is everything. Your content objective should always be to engage that audience by addressing their needs and issues. I feel engagement comes first, before thinking about financial results. In fact, content on its own usually does not directly produce revenues. Financial results are achieved only when you combine engaging content with great customer service to support a great product or service. Content is just one part of the success.
Marketeer: Why, or in what instances, should marketers prioritize engagement as a measure of content marketing success?
Angus: Content for content’s sake is not all that valuable to your audience or ultimately to you. Measuring engagement is the best way to you know you are on the right track. We all have opinions and good ideas, but metrics provide solid information to plan and prioritize what to produce. Measurements can also identify any differences between what your audience says they want and what they actually do. Actions speak volumes. Without some analysis, you are just guessing what your customers and prospects will act on.
Marketeer: How can they gauge if they’re on the right track with metrics/measurement? What can they do to fine-tune or evaluate along the way?
Angus: Consumption and influence are my two favorite measures of engagement. These measures are the most actionable and the easiest to access. Consumption metrics are your classic traffic data, like unique visitors, views, open rates, traffic sources, and day/seasonality timing.
Influence is measured by action. For example, clicks, leads, purchases, social shares, time on page, and exit information all map out what your audience is doing. These metrics give you insight and direction. You can clearly identify what’s working well. So you can do more of the same. Then you can also use A/B testing on certain elements of your content to fine-tune your content for optimal performance.