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How content can improve the customer journey and pipeline Ft. Helen Baptist of PathFactory (Inbound Success, Ep. 194)

PathFactory COO Helen Baptist explains what a content experience platform is, and how you can use content to close more deals, faster.

How content can improve the customer journey and pipeline Ft. Helen Baptist of PathFactory (Inbound Success, Ep. 194) Blog Feature

May 10th, 2021 min read

You've invested the time and money to create great marketing content. How can you use it to directly influence customer experience and drive pipeline growth?

Helen BaptistThis week on The Inbound Success Podcast, PathFactory COO shares her perspective on how brands can create content experiences that improve the customer journey, shorten sales cycles, and close more deals, faster.

With so many brands now investing heavily in content and inbound marketing, there's a massive opportunity to do more with our content. That's exactly what PathFactory is solving for. 

Check out the full episode, or read the transcript below, to hear what Helen has to say.

Resources from this episode:

 

Helen Baptist and Kathleen Booth
Helen and Kathleen recording this episode

Transcript

Kathleen (00:00): Welcome back to the Inbound Success Podcast. I'm your host, Kathleen Booth and today I am excited to share that my guest is Helen Baptist, who is the COO of Path Factory. Welcome to the podcast, Helen.

Helen (00:26): Thanks Kathleen. I've long admired you and your, your journey. So I'm thrilled to actually spend some time with you.

Kathleen (00:32): I feel like this is incredibly overdue because I have known you for a really long time and you are doing just amazing work as a marketer. Path Factory is growing like gangbusters, and this is a classic case of, of, I, for some reason it has felt like I must've already interviewed you, but I didn't. And so when I finally thought about it, I was like, how have I not had her on this podcast? So it's about time. It's about time we did this.

Helen (01:00): Yeah. And likewise, I've followed you for a while and I, you know, you're, you're a mighty woman in terms of the things that you do. And I admire you across the board as a single contributor, you know, first person in on a company I'm doing all the marketing that you're doing and coordinating everything and then, you know, standing up podcasts and keeping that running and, you know, your posts on LinkedIn are prolific and I aspire to be like you one day, but I just don't have that kind of, and with an energy is what I would say. You're probably a lot younger than me.

Kathleen (01:30): I actually, I don't think so. I think I'm, I think I'm just crazy. I bite off more than I can chew all the time and whatever I, then I have to figure out how to swallow it whole yeah. You muscle through. But you're so sweet to say those kinds of things. And I am really, really excited for our topic today because I feel like my audience has a lot of people in it who are pretty experienced with marketing.

And I always tell my prospective guests, like the basic topics don't do well with these people. They know what they're doing. Like they, for example, content marketing, this is an inbound marketing podcast. They know content marketing is they are producing content. And so I always love when I get to talk to people who enable me to dive in a level deeper and, and really think about kind of, so you've mastered the basics then what, right.

Kathleen (02:18): And that is totally what this is about because you guys do some interesting things at Path Factory. The product is interesting. So I'm going to ask you to just start out, first of all, by sharing your story, because you're a unique guest in the sense that you're not just a head of marketing, you're a chief operating officer who, who is also a head of marketing. So if you could talk a little bit about yourself and your journey and how you wound up doing what you're doing, but then also tell us a little bit more about what Path Factory is.

Helen (02:44): Yeah. And I, I think it's an interesting perspective because I actually started as a secretary at an advertising agency.

Kathleen (02:50): Oh my God, it's working girl, the movie. Yeah.

Helen (02:53): You know, I'm not going to start singing, but you know, I think the rise to where I am has been a long journey and there've been a lot of people who've lifted me up and helped me get there. The first position after being a secretary, I helped with RFPs, believe it or not at the agency, we won Ikea at the time, back in late early nineties.

And you know, this idea of one-to-one marketing or direct marketing as it was called back then in the true sense of, you know, it wasn't male, right. Primarily really fascinated me because it was below the line in terms of it wasn't all TV advertising. It wasn't meant it was measurable. Right. And so my career has really been around things that are measurable and outcomes that you can actually point your finger to, and be proud of.

Helen (03:45): Like, yes, it's great that you have a TV commercial, but what, what did it actually do for the business? And so that was my passion coming into this arena when I first joined. And that's exactly what I do now. Right. I think that the difference now is that I see the entire customer life cycle from marketing through to, you know, customer success and churn, which is like acquisition to out of the back door and stopping the leaky bucket.

And how does that infinity of going back and forth really play together so that you can scale your organization so that you can become these growth machines that the, you know, the private equity and the VC firms are looking for. I'm not in the legend status of some of our colleagues in the, you know, the CMO coffee talks, but I have a pretty good track record for the investors.

Helen (04:33): This is my third ride with the same CEO. The same PE firm has jettisoned us in and you know, really helped break down silos that really exist between marketing and sales and CX so that we can be much more fluid and grow the business organically with the ones that we already have customers we already have, but then acquire new logos based on the successes of what we, what stories we have.

So that's kind of the view that I have and rev ops reports to me, BDRs report to me like, Oh, the whole revenue bag I carry as a burden for the organization, but, but, you know, I'm proud of the team. We've, we've had record-busting quarters, four quarters in a row. Our retention rate is through the roof both on gross and net and, and, you know, that's a testament to the team that's behind me and working with me and it's a team effort. It's not just an individual sport kind of thing.

Kathleen (05:31): I was going to say, how do you handle all of that? Because I know it can be challenging enough just being the head of marketing at a company where growth expectations are really high, but you're heading up marketing sales and customer success or customer experience.

So how, I mean, did you, did you do stints in each of those areas? Like how did you get to the point where you were able to effectively oversee all of that? Yeah, I think it goes back to

Helen (05:58): Agency land, right? I did marketing for customers. In my earlier days, I ran loyalty programs for British airways as, as their vendor, if you will.

And some other major companies I've been out on the client side, I worked as a consultant for AARP, and I was an employee there for awhile, large organization for people over 50, because I was going to be 51 day and thought I could change the world. And anyway, that's come and gone 50, by the way,

Kathleen (06:26): Let's say it's 50 felt like it was really, really, really far away until it wasn't exactly.

Helen (06:33): And then hit 55 and it's even more further away. The, the other side of it is, is, you know, on the CX side, you learn that from managing relationships when you're on a bet, you know, when you're a vendor or a partner the, the one thing that is really interesting is tying the sales motions with the CX motions and really understanding the interplay and the levers that you can pull to really drive organic growth.

You know, customer advocacy, customer marketing, I think is probably one of the most underrated marketing functions, and probably the least respected in terms of, you know, everybody's looking for DG people or, you know, ABM people or whatever that, that's what the market is hot for. But I think this idea of really leveraging your customer base to tell the story for you versus you shouting that we're the best is the way that we've grown a lot of our business.

Kathleen (07:29): That's so great. So, so tell me a little bit about what Path Factory does.

Helen (07:33): Yeah. So Path Factory is currently known as a content experience platform. You know, we serve up frictionless content experiences that, you know, people can consume as much content as they want. We know people are doing research to buy things.

Our customers are B2B marketers, and they're trying to provide an experience that allows me or you to explore as much as we want to, as frequently as we want to, and then know where you are in the sales cycle. So there's these, there's these intent databases that we can buy, right? That are, what did you look at across the web?

That's a source of intent, but I think this idea of what topics and you know, taxonomies are you really looking at really tell you where you might be in the buying cycle? I, you know, one of our big customers or our big customers are Cisco, Adobe, Oracle, these guys are selling multiple products and how do they know what sales motion should play?

Helen (08:28): Right. they, they manage their partner relationships through us. So they they're really, you know, serving up the right content at the right time and the right stage of the buying cycle or the customer life cycle or the partners life cycle, or even the employee life cycle with people using us for HR engagement as well. And so I think this idea of, you know, making sure that your omni-channel and understanding your content and what's how it's performing and how it's driving revenue really is like the ultimate.

We can put all the outbound messaging we ever want, but people have to consume something. Right. and rather than stopping at a dead end or a form, let's, let's do some testing around how far do we let people read a white paper, a Gartner report? Yeah.

I said Gartner you know, how, how far do you let people read before you engage them with a form, if you want to use forms. Right. so this idea of really testing and learning where people are and how much information you can collect in the life cycle, that their content journey with you is what Path Factory helps.

Kathleen (09:37): So, as I listened to you talk about this, what comes to my mind is that, and you tell me if this is accurate, it sounds like you guys are like the Netflix or the Spotify for content in the sense that, like, I go to Netflix and Spotify and it's watching what I'm doing.

And it's then using its artificial intelligence engine to like dynamically serve up something that makes sense as a next step. And it sort of, it, it like incentivizes me to binge to like go down that rabbit hole and follow it wherever it's going to go. And is that, is that fairly accurate or,

Helen (10:15): Yeah, I think that that's the one side of the coin that we offer, and that has been our primary emphasis. This idea of an intelligent content platform is where we're moving towards and this idea of really understanding the construct of your content, the attributes of your content.

So if you go and buy, you know, a can of Coca-Cola, you know, all the attributes of that can of Coca-Cola, there's called what's called the, you know, the, the nutrition panel is on there. And so you really do understand the construct of that can of Coca-Cola in terms of what's in it, most marketers don't know what's inside their content.

And so this idea of really understanding the attributes of your content, the effectiveness of those attributes, are you compliant? Are you SEO for accessibility, for example, are you optimized for SEO for your keywords that you're picking?

Helen (11:03): Does your content reflect that? And so this idea of really understanding your content much more holistically first, or even retroactively, because most marketers walk in and they've got hundreds of thousands of web pages and they've got thousands, right.

And most marketers life cycle is what, 18 to 24 months. They better pretty ha have a pretty big impact pretty quickly. So this idea of you really don't know what's working and what it's made up of and why it's not working is where we're moving towards. I think serious decision, you know, and released a report recently that said 14% of CMOs understand what content they have, which is pretty scary, the amount of money that is spent on content, right?

Whether it's a video, whether it's a syndication or whether it's syndicated content, or even your own people, writing content copywriters, as they were known back in the day now, fancy name of content writers you know, they, nobody really has this good handle on what is content and what is good content.

And how long should it be sitting out there in public? What's the decay factor of your content is really the insights that we're starting to deliver for our customers. I'm pretty jazzed about it. We've stolen some plays from the CPG industry and applied those back into B2B markets.

Kathleen (12:17): I think it's so cool because I have long felt, and I've been guilty of this that, you know, when you think about the Pareto principle, the 80 20 you know, I've, I have long believed that 20% of your effort should go into creating the content and then 80% should go into promoting it and, you know, going back and historically optimizing it and just like all the things you do with it once it's written.

But unfortunately, I think for most marketers, it's probably the exact reverse. We, we pour a ton of time and attention into creating it. And I mean, guilty as charged, I'm doing that right now, but that's also because I'm kind of early on at a company and we have to sort of now it's about building the foundation, but, but there, you know, a couple, a couple of companies ago, I was working at impact, which is where I first met you. And there is a place that has tons and tons of content.

And I, you know, I'll give credit where credit is due to Bob. Who's the CEO there, he's always had a big emphasis on things like historical optimization, but even still, it's very hard, even when you have a strategy to do those things, it's very hard to keep track of it all. And it inevitably becomes an insanely manual process. And so having a tool like this that can kind of figure it out for you is huge.

Helen (13:27): Yeah. And think, think about it like a content audit, right? Like baseline your, do you have alt text on your OG images? Do you have actual titles on your OG images? Like, do you have OG images on your, your assets that you're trying to use for digital and and so this idea of kind of really baseline understanding of what you actually have and is it optimized for step? Is it too hard to read? What's the readability score?

And then the topics of taxonomy that are below that and what, how much content do you have in a word cloud in one topic, are you overloaded versus where you want to go? And so this idea of really optimizing logically you know, the content that you have is something that we're working towards. I think the, you know, I think we were on a coffee talk one time, and one person said, well, we have 240,000 pieces of assets, assets of content.

Helen (14:17): And there was a 2005 price list on there. That's not really relevant for my sales team so, so like, how do you make sure that you are decaying, what you should decay? And you are understanding when the lifeline is what the lifeline is.

A lifespan of that piece of content is I was talking to my product manager the other day. And he said, you know, I, when I was at, you know, the company before this, I was the marketing manager and I'd paid lots of money to syndicate a white paper. And it was $80,000. And I got two leads out of it. The decay on that was two days I should have just stopped paying for it.

Instead we went and renewed it again. And so had I had that insight, I would have stopped and saved myself $80,000 and applied that somewhere else. So did he buy it properly in the first place? Probably not. Cause he didn't look at it in relation to what other things were working for him. So I think, you know, content is kind of a, it's not something that people talk about a lot. We talk a lot about the motions, right? DG, ABM, but what is actually behind that is structured content data.

Kathleen (15:25): Yeah, and you pour your heart and soul and your money and your time into creating it. And then if you don't take advantage of it, shame on you. Right. it, I'm curious to hear you talk about like, as somebody who oversees also customer experience and sales, you know, better than anyone, you know, from a marketing standpoint that all of this content creation is in service to those two things, right?

Like it's about the customer journey and it's about driving pipeline. So I would love to hear a little bit about how you in your marketing have, and I'm sure you're using some of your own tools, how you have handled that and what your approach is.

And side note, if it sounds really crazy while we're recording it's because all of a sudden in April, there is a, like a tiny hail storm happening. So there's like a lot of noise outside my window. So if you're listening and you hear this thunderous sound, that's, that's what it is.

Helen (16:21): You can't hear it. So maybe it's not being picked up, but I'm sure that you'll be safe with a, with a hailstorm in April. Is that an April fool's joke? It's April 1st as we're recording.

Kathleen (16:30): Well, that's a whole nother topic. Crazy, crazy weather.

Helen (16:33): So I think the, you know, the first thing that I do when I typically go into an organization and cause I look at the customer experience from the outside in what is the customer journey that we are delivering.

Once somebody raises their hand through to the time that they expire with us and expire is capital E not that they've passed away, but the contract is gone, right. I used to work at ARP and we'd talk about it anyway. The, you know, the really understanding the touch points and the impacts that you really want to have.

So the first thing we do when somebody signs a contract with us is within 15 minutes an email from the CMO goes, Oh, sorry, the CEO goes to the stock, the contract signers on the, you know, the right contact roles inside Salesforce.

Helen (17:20): That was a challenge in its own, right? Cleaning up data in the database so that you can do effective marketing. But I think this idea of not just customer marketing or, you know, dummy branded demand, let's put it up at the front there, whether it's ABM demand gen or traditional ways of doing things.

But this idea of, you know, tying the two together for this contiguous sales motion, right. That somebody feels good at any given stage that we're in the sales motion with them.

So part of our sale motion is we do a mutual action plan with the customer, and it's not to the end of the contract it's to the end of their first compelling event, whatever that is first campaign, they want to get out in the marketplace, but also for that individual, what do they want to get?

Helen (18:05): Do they want to be on stage? So they want to speak so that we can leverage that for advocacy to fill our pipeline with stories from customers, right? So it's a sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy. The, you know, I can't do an AB test with, or without Path Factory at Path Factory. But I was a customer of Path Factory before I joined here at my last company at item master, which got acquired.

And we've done some really cool work with some customers where we're actually tying CRM data to you know, be with Path Factory without Path Factory, to really understand the revenue impact for content engagement.

When people do traditional marketing without Path Factory, we see a slower, slower closed, no loss closed, lost faster close, yes. When they use Path Factory faster, close, no, because, so then the rep can move on to their next sales motion set and sales attack, whatever they want to do.

Helen (19:10): And we're seeing, you know, people really become creative around, you know, does it work for a specific segment, like my SMB, where it's it's product led growth. And I don't want to high touch with lots of sales reps versus an enterprise play, which is much more, you know, journal journalistic in terms of the journey that you're on with them.

We understand completely which area of the funnel drives, which segment for us. So for example, for example, our customers who buy from us in the enterprise segment typically engage with at least two to three pieces of top of funnel content in over a period of two sessions versus you know, the SMB team is typically middle to bottom of funnel, creative content which, which is really interesting.

It helps me make sure that we are building the right pipeline efforts to create demand and leads and contacts and that kind of thing for the two segments that I oversee. And that's, those insights are pretty profound when, you know, what kind of content people want and what makes them buy.

Kathleen (20:26): So are you using the intelligence that you're getting out of it to develop your editorial calendar then?

Helen (20:29): Yeah. And that, and I think that's the other part is what, what topics, what taxonomy is really resonating with a specific vertical or a specific type of customer or a segment, right. And, and those are the insights and Intel that, that content audit really can help us with and really is helping build kind of this more true marketing campaign, marketing calendar kind of thing.

Kathleen (20:53): And do you, are you able to look at the data that you're extracting from the product in terms of actual content consumption habits? And, and I know you can like retroactively look and say, like, you just had like two pieces of content for enterprise, top of funnel.

That's a good lead, but do you, is there any sort of almost predictive element to it where you're like, I'm seeing that this prospect is enterprise and has like started going down that top of funnel path. And so, Hey, that should kick off like some outreach from the sales team.

Helen (21:26): It hasn't gotten to that stage, but that's the desired end goal. Right. I think the, you know, this idea of Netflix is, is that you have a destination that you go to and you, you get served up the right recommendations for you. So, you know, I don't do horrors. I do, you know, Downton Abbey. Downton Abbey and, and Reign, and, all those British dramas.

Kathleen (21:47): Okay, so then recommendation, we're going to digress for one second. You should watch Home Fires. If you're into the masterpiece theater, Downton Abbey kind of stuff, Home Fires, great show.

Helen (21:57): I'm writing it down.

Kathleen (21:58): I'm giving TV show recommendations right now, but this is what we do in the pandemic, right. It's all Netflix and chill.

Helen (22:03): Yeah. Well, not in the true sense, but anyway the, the, the idea that a sales rep can actually see what that person has consumed. Absolutely. That is one of our key differentiators. We have, you know, the ability to send alerts from our marketing automation platforms.

And we do when somebody is a fast moving buyer where they've consumed the content criteria, scoring that we've set in Path Factory, as well as met the required that, you know, the lead scoring inside of marketing automation. But this idea of serving up the next best content is based on, you have to go to a destination at the moment, right?

And so our website tools functionality allows for that to happen in more, more and more real time. And I think we have like seven or eight different types of recommendation services based on the account you're coming from, based on people like you, meaning you're coming with firmographic data not necessarily account, right?

Helen (23:02): So people who are in, you know, $50 million companies or even industries. So this idea of serving up content based on your history, based on what you've viewed in the past, there's lots of different ways. Those recommends can work, how you serve them, how you manifest them can be done. Two ways with us. One is out of the box.

We have to, you know what I would call PR web promoters, one's called guide. One's called concierge more like a resource center page. The other we have an API. So for large enterprise customers, we know that they're not going to buy those out of the box visualizations. They have their own CSS. So we are going to serve them up an API that they can then create, we'll get the engagement data back. We'll tell them what kind of contents working for them.

Kathleen (23:47): So I love the idea of this, and I can totally see the use case. The one question I have is like, when you first put it in place, I'm like, I'm going to put my hat on as though I were still back at impact where we had tons and tons and tons of content. Like if we decide we're going to put Path Factory in place, we want to do sort of more of a content driven customer journey. How hard is it to set up?

Because it, like, I am, I can see on the one hand, it could be amazingly difficult where you're like, we have to classify all this content and, and tag it to different buyers or stages of the buyer's journey. Or is it like all automatic magic, press the button, does it for you.

Helen (24:24): Well there's two there's two ways, right?

Helen (24:26): Obviously data ingestion, content ingestion is, is our core competency, right? We've been around for 14, almost 14 years, I think. So understanding content is really one of our core competencies to set up is, I mean, it depends how far you want to go. We do crawl walk runs, right?

Depending on the severity and the, and the maturity of the marketer depending on whether they want to integrate with their marketing automation platform, depending on whether they want to integrate with their CRM, there's all these other considerations, but to get going, it's pretty darn easy, especially if it's your website, it's a tracking script.

And you know, that's, that's a JavaScript copy paste out of our, our platform and put it on your pages and away we go, we can scrape your data and understand that we can also understand how your, your visitors known or unknown are tracking against that combine the two together.

And it becomes very powerful, but this idea of really understanding your content is the first step. And, and a lot of customers don't know that because it's relatively new concept. So we're, we're, we're testing it out right now. And I'm pretty psyched about the possibilities of that stuff.

Kathleen (25:32): I mean, why I get so excited about this in part, because I'm just a big marketing nerd, but also in part, because I, I do talk a lot publicly about how I believe that marketers need to think more like media companies and like your con, you need to treat your content like a product.

And, you know, it's funny because like the media world is struggling. Journalists, journalism is struggling, but I think it's for the opposite reason, like they have great content, but they just don't have like the marketing mindset that, that we do. And I feel like if we could all meet in the middle, we would have the perfect organization.

But you know, and when I was at impact, I was working on just that building a media company around a company that was selling B2B products. And what's interesting to me about this is at the time I really struggled as head of marketing because like, I got the need to think like a media company, but there were not software tools available to me to support my ability to do that.

Kathleen (26:39): So I had marketing automation in place, and that was great. But one example, like it didn't let me generate reports of content performance by author, which like blew my mind. I just, that was such a, it's such a small detail, but I was like that, that is odd that they don't do that. And it would be insanely useful.

Cause I had a lot of writers working with me and I was like, I just want to be able to report to them how their content is doing. So that was like, that was the thing that initially kind of caused me to go out, searching for another solution.

And then as I started doing research into all these different platforms, I realized how much more there was that I was missing out on in terms of reporting on what my content was doing for me. You know a lot of what you mentioned, like really, how is it contributing to pipeline?

Kathleen (27:25): What is this? This also blew my mind because I've been a HubSpot user forever and, and HubSpot has all the data to basically tell you if, if it wanted to, what a closed won customer's content journey was, right? Like, you should be able to clearly see that.

And you can, if you, if you like manually go into each customer's timeline, but who's going to do that, especially when you're operating at scale. And so this is one of the reasons I love talking about this because the need has to me, at least so clearly been there for so long. And it's fascinating that nobody has come in to fill the gap, but it sounds like that's what you guys are doing.

Helen (28:03): Yeah. And I think the key is, is that there's these early adopters, you know, the Jeffrey Moore book Crossing the Chasm. Right. And I think of you as in that early adopter and really, you know, leaning in forward edge thinking woman,  I think people have taken content for granted. It feels kind of like the ugly stepchild that nobody pays attention to, but it's kind of the sexiest thing that people put out. Right and it really is definitive of your brand and the personas that you are talking to and, and who you want to be as a brand as well.

And yet people don't know what's effective or working. And it drives me crazy that, you know, I've got people creating content for the sake of creating content because we need to build pipeline. Well, what content should we build? And I think this is this idea of sitting between kind of the CDPs. The CMS is right.

The content management systems, the DAMs, even sitting between those and the activation layers, whatever you want to call that, whether you want to call that marketing automation platforms, ABM platforms, even us to some degree, we're an activation layer, but this middle piece in between what is my content finished artifacts and what do they look like and how good are they and how do they perform is not really owned by anybody at the moment. And that's what we're working towards.

Kathleen (29:29): Well, and I think I'm just guessing, but I would be willing to bet that there are probably a lot of marketers that actually don't want to answer that question because they're not going to like what they see. Like when you talked about content kind of not getting the attention it deserves. I totally agree with you.

And I would liken it to like, the approach we've taken with content is somebody once told us we should do it. Right. And so as an industry, it's like a game of darts. We were like, somebody said, you should play darts. And so we went and we got to the dark board and we picked up a handful of really pretty crummy, cheap darts that don't work well. And we took the handful and we threw it, all of them at the board at once. It's like, okay, check.

Kathleen (30:10): We've created content. I'm done. Now make it rain. Right. yeah, I would venture to guess it's sort of the same conversation that happens around when you talk to marketers about, do you want to be judged on the revenue or in the pipeline you drive, or do you want to be judged on leads?

A lot of marketers are like, don't open that can of worms. That's going to start a whole conversation. I don't want to get into. And and, but it, but it reinforced not talking about it reinforces the status quo, which is, there's a lot of really content out there.

Helen (30:45): Yeah. And I, you know, this idea of revenue marketing as opposed to, you know, to demand generation and then customer marketing as two separate entities. My purview is it's revenue marketing. It doesn't matter. It's sales and marketing together to the end of revenue.

And I put sales, you know, CS does, has CS customer success has responsibilities for bags too. Right in terms of carrying a bag on that, you know, the retained revenue, if you will particularly in a SAS model. And, and so this, to your point, my hypothesis is that there is a FUD out there that CMOs won't admit to, which is, I don't know if I really want to open that can totally, what is my content, right?

But I think if you can do it in a safe and prescriptive way that they can then make informed decisions on, around building their revising, revitalizing, optimizing their content strategy, sunsetting things that are not working quietly, without everybody knowing that they're sunsetting them paying smarter for contents indication, they become a more efficient.

Helen (31:52): And I think that the impact is both top line and bottom line. They're spending how much money with writers, creating content to what end, you know, I was talking to a customer at an enterprise account the other day.

And he said, I have spent more than $5 million already this year on content creation. Wow. And that kind of blew my mind. Cause you know, I work with small that's company just on content. Right. And I was like, so how do you know what's if he says, if you could tell me what was efficient and effective, I would love you forever because I could slash and burn and put, do outbound activation stuff.

So there's this, this two-sided coin of driving top-line and saving on the bottom line. Right. Cost efficiencies in this play that we've got.

Kathleen (32:41): I was going to say, I like, I know it works and I know it's worth investing in because I have, I mean, heck I've interviewed a ton of marketers for this podcast. I've heard a lot of stories, but then I've also done some experimenting on my own.

And I've seen countless examples of people who have like done away with 70% of their blog content because they know it's not serving them and it's not performing and they sunset it, as you said, and then what's left actually performs so much better because it's all high quality, it's all directly into the pain points and the challenges of other, other audience. And so like what a, what a low hanging fruit way to get better results. It's like, it's like Marie Kondo saying your, your content.

Helen (33:26): I, I, I think, I think it's, it's twofold. It's making sure that what you do have is discoverable first and foremost, is it hidden so far down in back channels of the, the, you know, the dirt dirty dark alley of blogs or is it a discoverable in its own? Right. And is it valuable?

And if it is valuable, then bring it up in discoverability. Right. And, and SEO optimized based on the keywords and the taxonomy that are in there. So I think people, you know, have really what effect story I'll, I'll expose some dirty laundry. When I first walked in, I was like, what content do we have? And it took somebody like, like two months to do an, a content audit. And now if I could run this scraper through your CD, your, your CDP or your CMS, I can give you an answer tomorrow which is kind of, and it's all in dashboards and it's, it's, it's a proof of concept for us and it, but it's pretty darn exciting.

I saw some stuff the other day on, on, on our website and it's profound that, you know, the number one word in the cloud in the, in the, you know, the word cloud is landing page. That's not relevant right. For the buyers. So how do we make sure that we have the right words that are, you know, the most prominent ones across things that we're putting out there is awesome. I'm pretty, pretty excited.

Kathleen (34:47): I just love it. I love it. I love, I love stuff like this that like makes it easier to do your job while also like it's like helping you squeeze more juice out of the orange that you already have.

Helen (35:01): Yeah. And I think it's too full. Like for me, there's like three steps in this lifecycle of content, right. First is really understanding what you have the content audit.

So, you know, what's the, what's the nutrition label, look of your product. What's the discoverability, what's the SEO optimization path for that content that you have? Is it accessible? Do you have the right alt text on, do your, do your, you know, do you have old texts? The second part is, you know, this idea of content performance in its own, right?

So content performance is which content is working in which content is resonating with whom demographically from a graphically, et cetera, et cetera, right. Known and unknown. How big is your buying committee? We can see who's consuming what by account. And then the third is your content revenue performance. What content is driving your revenue for you? So tying that to CRM data really allows us to then start to be laser-focused in terms of what to put into the content hopper, what to remove and when to remove it in the licensing.

Kathleen (36:06): Cool. This is so exciting. I have a feeling, a lot of people listening are like their ears have perked up, and they're thinking about all the past possibilities of using something like this.

And so the question I'm sure everybody has been asking is like, who is this right for? You know, and is it, is it a, an enterprise tool? Is it something that smaller businesses should use like an end or is it, is your applicability as a customer determined by the volume of content you have? Or how do you determine that?

Helen (36:37): I think it's all of the above. I think, you know, we have, we have a ton of SMB customers who are using us today, who aren't doing this content audit piece yet. Like I said, proof of concept, it's coming, stay tuned. But this, but we have a lot of people on our platform who are running content, who are either manually curating based on their best intuition or they're using our AI technology recommending a Netflix.

And I think the other part of it is our activation side has three levels of activation, right? We have this website tools that I talked about, which is always on recommendation, serve up your content the way you want to understand the journey, et cetera. We have our legacy platform called module called campaign tools, which is campaign centric. So send out an email, you social bounce people back to Path Factory pages, and you have the list of content that's applicable, either curated or manually or curated by a human or curated by the machine.

Helen (37:34): Does it, the other part of it is when we, we had this ask from customers that want it to see this unified vision of my customer in my content journey. So we were asked to build a virtual event platform at the beginning of the pandemic, and that's not our wheelhouse, and there are a lot bigger companies in there.

But I think the difference is that people who are doing campaigns can now see whether somebody is coming for an event. They can see whether they're consuming the same content in two places, two experiences to, you know, to messages. And they can then see if they're seeing it on the website as well. This idea of a unified vision of your customer across all marketing channels.

Kathleen (38:10): Yeah. It's a holistic customer journey. Not like, not like just the part of the customer journey that I care about. Yeah.

Helen (38:18): And it's, and it's a complete comprehensive content journey too. So if you're serving up recommendations on one page or you serving up the same recommendation when they're doing a campaign, the answer should be no, they should be the next best or the most related to whatever that interest was or whether it was their history or their firmographic data.

So this idea of, you know, serving up relevant content becomes much more pure in the way that you and I would think about serving it up as opposed to, you know, one-to-one in the 19, 1990s and two thousands with Don, Don peppers and Rogers, you know, peppers and Rogers. I worked with them, they were the, the grandfather and grandmother of one-to-one, but I think this vision is now really coming to life.

Kathleen (38:56): That's really cool. The possibilities are kind of amazing when you think about it. I'm going to shift gears because we're gonna run out of time and I could talk about this forever. So I always ask my guests two questions, and I'm really curious to hear what you have to say first is that, of course we talk, this is the inbound success podcast.

We talk all about inbound marketing, and I'm always interested to hear if there's a particular individual or a company that you think is really like setting the standard for what it means to be a great inbound marketer these days.

Helen (39:27): Yeah. And I, I tried to look at it from two lenses. One was, what do I get? Right. But I've worked in MarTech. And so I'm a bit more cynical about what's coming into me. And then I, you know, the I tried to look at it from a customer perspective, cause I'm always customer centric is the way that I look at the world. I don't look at inbound, you know, inside out I look outside in. And so I think, you know, a couple of our customers are doing some really great work and I'm going to shout them out.

So Druva is a company that I really respect in terms of the work they're doing. They're doing some really nice things on their website. Druva.Com. Pragmatic and Pragmatic Institute. And a lot of people who are in product management probably know that company, they are the people that you can get your product management certification through.

Helen (40:14): They've been doing some really cool things. They've obviously had to pivot from in-person training to online training and change their business model. And I think that they've really adapted nicely to that and they still are growing which is a great sign on the, on the marketing technology side or as a, as a purchaser of software, I think there's a couple one would be gong.

I think gong does a really nice job of, and, and Panda doc is another one for signatures and we don't use them. So I'll give them a shout out. They, they do a nice job of really making it human. And I think sometimes we get wrapped around the axles in our own terminologies and, you know, it's the, you know, you're creating a new category, you're creating a new topic or you're creating and we need to have the best terminology, but nobody knows what the hell you're talking about.

Helen (41:07): Right? These two, these two companies do a really nice job of putting the human language, basic language that, you know, not Washington post or not the financial times, but it's kind of in between USA today and the Washington Post that the average reader can understand what they're trying to achieve.

And I think this idea of, you know, really strong readability scores on content is where I'm laser focused is making sure people understand what we are talking about. I think people need to really sit back and say, is this language that, you know, my fifth grader or my, my five-year-old could understand if I explained it to them while we're pushing them on a swing or something like that,

Kathleen (41:46): Examples, those are great. I'm definitely gonna check them out. And there's a few new ones in there that I was not aware of.

So I'll put those links in the show notes. And then the second question is that so many marketers I talk to are insanely busy, overwhelmed, and they, a lot of them say that one of the hardest things is just honestly keeping pace with how quickly digital marketing changes, you know, just when you think you've figured out, for example, Facebook, you know, the algorithm changed, but what have you, so how do you personally keep yourself educated, stay up to date and stay current?

Helen (42:19): Yeah, like I, I think I'm curious by nature. So I Google a lot. Probably the algorithm for Google is really messed up with me, but I think, you know, I have people who are on my board of directors, my personal board of directors, who I refer to who are not in the same industry at all. I think that that's important. So I have a friend, a very good friend who is the head of CRM and loyalty for Red Lobster.

She's B2C. She's not in software. She buys from vendors. So I talked to her a lot. So she's doing some really fun things, obviously with Red Lobster going through the pandemic. And you know, I think there are different communities that I belong to as well. Obviously the CMO Coffee Talk and Last Sip Clubs are of interest to me.

Helen (43:07): I belong to probably five other Slack groups that are not my core ballywick, so I belong to MOPS, right. I belong to Customer Success channel. Those are really insightful ways for me to crowdsource intel. But then obviously, you know, there are other books and blogs and things like that that you read.

And, you know, you, you've probably heard the list, but I'm not going to spend a lot of time, but I, you know, at the end of the day core principles of operating are the things that keep it grounded for me. So we operate by two credos at Path Factory. Intelligent speed, which means you need to be 80% confident that the decisions that you're making are the right decisions for the company and for the customer and for you that there's no risk to any of those three parties.

Helen (44:01): So 80% nobody's ever going to be perfect. So 80% competent that it's the right decision. So that means that gives us grace when there are changes to algos, to new new things, it allows us to test. Right. and the other one is level five leadership, which is Jim Collins' Good to Great philosophy, which is lead with humility. There are no egos at the door to check them.

And I don't, and don't read my emails with Tom. I'm, you know, I'm, I'm straight to the point. It's about moving at intelligent speed. If I write. Yes, it means yes. If I write, no, it means no. But I think those two have served us well.

They broken down the silos a lot. And, and the other one is not, everybody's invited to every meeting. Like those are the three big ones for us. In terms of you'll be invited when it's right for you to be invited, you'll be filled in and contextualized and, and we'll move from there.

Kathleen (45:01): Love don't read my emails with tone. So much gets misread in written form.

Helen (45:06): Yeah, I don't write them with tone. Sometimes I do, but then I don't send them.

Helen (45:11): I let them sit for 24 hours and then I go back and clean up the tone. But don't read my emails with tone. Don't read my Slack messages with tone.

Kathleen (45:19): So good. I'm going to use that. Well, I'm sure there are people listening who are really now want to learn more about Path Factory, or have a question and would love to connect with you. What is the best way for them to find you online?

Helen (45:33): A couple of ways, Helen, Helen, at Path Factory. I'll put my email address out there, helen@pathfactory.com. I'm on LinkedIn, I'm on Twitter. I'm on Facebook. Facebook is personal, not professional. Twitter is opinions are my own, take them.

Helen (45:52): I do post some business stuff on there, but I have an opinion or two about politics as a relatively new American. And yeah, I'm on LinkedIn. I'm happy to connect. We've got a great community of people who would love to talk to you about us. We've got advocates up the wazoo. NPS is through the roof. And so we're happy to talk to anybody who wants to learn more.

Kathleen (46:16): I love it. Well, I'll all of those links to all of those profiles will go in the show notes. So if your listening, head there and you can connect with Helen, you can learn more about Path Factory, and you can check out some of the companies that she mentioned earlier that are good examples of inbound marketing.

And if you are listening and you liked this episode as always, I would love it if you would head to Apple podcasts or the platform of your choice and leave the podcast a review. That is how other listeners find us. And finally, if you know somebody else who's doing kick ass inbound marketing work, tweet me at @workmommywork because I would love to make them my next guest. That is it for this week. Thank you so much, Helen. This was a ton of fun.

Helen (46:55): Thanks Kathleen, for having me. I really appreciate your time and as always much respect for you and what you do.

Kathleen (47:00): Oh, right back at ya.

Helen (47:02): Cheers.

 

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