Content marketing strategy for devtool companies - How we do it at PostHog
Aug 06, 2021
- Mo Shehu
Why you need content
Dev tool marketing is tough. Developers are a selective bunch when it comes to what type of content they consume, and clickbait-y “Ultimate Guide To X” posts won’t fly with them. Your content needs to be detailed, thoughtful, and relevant to their problems.
Content at PostHog is meant to accomplish two things:
- Tell our story
- Sell our product
We sell product analytics tools to help software engineers and product teams make sense of the usage of their apps and build better products. As such, our tutorials need to be detailed enough for a dev to understand, our blog content high-level enough that a non-techie (say, a Product Manager or CEO) can follow, and our content bank varied enough to keep our different audiences coming back.
Where to get content
Content isn’t just the job of your marketing team.
Content, at its core, is merely knowledge transferred from one entity (your company) to another (your audience). If one person’s knowledge is valuable - though filtered, since they’re essentially translating the company’s stance on things - then the whole team’s knowledge is even more leveraged.
For example, Marketing can create content that waxes lyrical about your product. Engineering can publish posts on how the product is built, HR on how you hire, Finance on how you price it, Product on how you design it, the CEO on its vision, and so on.
This ultimately lessens the workload on Marketing, giving them more time to think, strategize, and organize the incoming content. It further improves the individual and collective clout of every other department, attracts higher-quality candidates to work for you, impresses VC firms into handing you more money, and sways customers who were concerned about the quality of your product, in your favor.
Types of content you can create
We’ve experimented with a bunch of different content types over the years. Here are some content types you can include in your content mix:
- Blog posts: These can inform and educate in one go, and are best suited for dense information that a dev can scan quickly.
- YouTube videos: For the visually inclined, YouTube provides a place to binge-watch content about different topics related to the product and company. It also gives your audience an opportunity to get to know your team better - from mannerisms and tone to body language and facial expressions.
- Podcast episodes: Some people prefer consuming content on the go - and podcasts are the perfect format for that. In the beginning, your podcast can simply be an archive of the audio versions of your videos, and you can later invest in better production once you’ve got the time and resources to do so.
- Email newsletters: Email is still a great way to keep in touch with your customers, and you can bundle your content with your changelogs (or split them if desired). Keep emails short and sweet, add content blurbs to encourage clickthroughs, and speak naturally - nobody likes overly sales-y emails.
- Social media posts: Social media isn’t necessarily about any one platform, but about where people want to be reached. Beyond Twitter and LinkedIn, you can also reach developers and techies on Facebook, Instagram (yes), Quora, Twitch, Discord, Clubhouse, Reddit, and StackOverflow. “Can some of these be classified as social media platforms?”, I hear you ask. Yes. A good way to find out if a platform counts as “social media” is to ask yourself: “Can I create content on this platform? Can I engage with other people’s comments and posts (and vice versa)? Can I run ads?” If the answer is yes to most of these, it’s a social media platform, and there are likely developers on it. You can post photos, videos, text posts, and run live streams (both audio and video).
- Case studies: After you’ve acquired a decent number of customers, consider creating case studies that demonstrate what challenges you solved for them and the impact on their business. This builds your credibility and helps you attract and convince more customers.
- Tutorials: Depending on how complex your product is, tutorials might be a great way to explain its features and reduce the number of customer support tickets you get. You can host tutorials on a separate subdomain of your website or port them to your YouTube channel.
Your content production workflow will depend on what type of content you create, what channels you publish to, and how you source your content.
Ours is as follows:
- Shoot a video (optional): This could be an interview, talk, panel discussion, or tutorial recording. We’ll eventually edit this down to about half or a third of its size.
- Content interviews usually take 40-60 minutes, and we generate 20-30 questions for each interviewee. These questions range from their career history to their current role and product, plus a few personal questions to add flavor to the interview. Here’s an example of one we did with Eltje.
- We also do intro interviews, which is where we get to know new hires. These can take anywhere from 15-30 minutes and have fewer questions than a content interview.
- HogTalks are Zoom sessions where we invite an expert to speak on a specific topic. We package these videos for upload to our YouTube channel - no blog post required, just a transcript where appropriate. Here’s an example.
- The engineering team sometimes creates tutorials that we use to explain certain PostHog features. These can be turned into blog posts in their own right. Here’s an example.
- Get the transcript: We use Rev.com to pull the transcript from the video. Rev also lets you get a quick draft in just a few minutes, though we recommend waiting for the proper version, which can take anywhere from a few hours if ‘rushed’ - which costs extra - to a day or two.
- Write the blog post: Using the transcript, we write up a concise blog post about the discussion or tutorial. This is where we add more context to the topic and include links to other content for further reading. The length of a blog post can vary wildly depending on how long the video is (which is a function of how thoughtful and in-depth the questions are), but a 60-minute interview usually yields a ~1,500-word blog post. This is also the part where we publish it to GitHub for feedback and request artwork from our design team.
- Extract the audio from the edited video: This goes into the podcast.
- Post to social media: After the blog post is complete, we pull snippets from it and schedule them for publishing across your platforms.
- Share it via email: We bundle our latest posts (as blurbs with links) for addition to our next email newsletter edition.
Aim to publish at least 2 pieces a week: firstly for consistency, secondly to give your audience a reason to keep coming back, and lastly to provide enough content to repurpose across your channels over time. Of course, this isn’t a hard and fast rule - your content publishing cadence will depend on what type of content you’re creating, across which channels, and how in-depth your content is.
Content and analytics go hand in hand. There are several ways/metrics to track the success of your content, including:
- Views, comments, and shares: The more people seeing your content, the better - but it needs to be paired with some sort of engagement otherwise it’s a weak metric. Shares are the strongest indicator of resonance (more below), as it means your content gets seen outside the immediate networks of your audience.
- Clickthroughs: You want people clicking on your calls to action (CTAs) to perform some task, whether that’s signing up for your product, subscribing to your newsletter or podcast, or following you on socials.
- Traffic: The more people visiting your website or app page, the better. You can track this through Google Analytics; or if you use PostHog, by creating a special dashboard for all website-related metrics.
- Links: You can track how often your content is getting linked to through tools like SEMRush, Ahrefs, and Moz. More link-juice = more traffic.
- Resonance: Think of ‘resonance’ as a catch-all term for the other metrics in ways that aren’t necessarily quantifiable. For example, if you keep getting emails about the accuracy of an article you wrote months ago, that’s resonance. If your content or thoughts keep getting brought up at conferences or in conversations with random people, that’s resonance. At all times, strive to create content that resonates - it’ll take care of every other metric.
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