Adobe

 

Background

 
When I joined the content marketing team at Adobe, it was a new team testing a new model.
 

We’re the first content team in the company focused on creating original Adobe-branded content. Other teams mainly produce co-branded reports and license third-party whitepapers.

By creating original content, we can completely oversee the editorial quality of our copy and the beauty of our design. We want to establish Adobe as a thought leader with digital marketers (I work with Adobe’s Marketing Cloud), but that requires a great deal more time and labor than simply paying a licensing fee for a third-party report. 

 

Content Overview

I’ve overseen the content management of 55 thought leadership assets to date.

• 43 long-form assets (16-26 pages)

• 5 microsites

• 7  infographics

 
 

Data Analysis

There was some unspoken urgency to assess the performance and return of our new, and more time-demanding, model. No on our team had data analysis experience though, so I tasked myself with acquiring the necessary skills.

I met with a variety of teams and individuals to identify the metrics necessary to evaluate our content’s performance and then established the appropriate KPIs for each campaign. I began tracking, measuring, and assessing the effectiveness of our approach for internal improvement, and showcasing the findings to various departments across the company. 

 

Being the only person on the team today with an ability to conduct data analysis enables me to provide unique and meaningful insight into what is and isn’t working.

 

Monthly Reporting

I report on, and field questions about, my data analysis in a monthly meeting with the respective demand, product, and campaign marketing teams for various projects.

My analysis involves building out pivot tables to assess our content’s effectiveness in demand channels, the performance of our team’s original content versus third-party assets, and the performance of our team’s various pieces against each other. This analysis has significantly improved the understanding of what content truly is performing best across the company and allows me to instantaneously dig into follow-up questions in the middle of meetings.  

Content Audit

I conducted an in-depth audit – type of project that’d normally exclusively done by the data analysis team – of every piece of digital marketing content (not just our team’s assets) sent through demand over a 12-month period. 

 

I conducted the audit, analyzed the data, and presented the findings to Adobe’s Director of Enterprise Campaigns at an all-hands meeting.

 

I utilized my data findings to craft a story about the successes and failures of our team’s new model over the last year. I took the following analysis approach to get to the story: 

  1. Measured the *performance of our team’s original content against all other content (co-branded pieces not sent through our team’s editorial and design process, as well as third-party reports) on a quarter-by-quarter basis 

  2. Analyzed the *performance of all content (our team’s and other teams’) by asset type (Adobe, co-branded, 3rd party, microsite, and webinar) and point of view (Adobe, co-branded, and 3rd party) 

  3. Analyzed the *performance of our team’s content in each of the six business topics against the team average 

* Performance was measured by the appropriate KPIs for each campaign. 

Documents redacted to remove all confidential data

Results

It was rewarding to prove the value of our new content creation process to my manager’s boss. The findings clearly illustrated a staggeringly superior performance of our content versus the content produced from old models.

 

Our content’s KPI performance was more than double that of content produced by any other model.

 

I also used this analysis to identify areas where our team could improve and strategized possible plans to address the problem spots. I openly stepped through our team’s weaknesses and my ideas for how to potentially solve the issues.

 

I used this analysis as an opportunity to do more than report on numbers. I crafted a story to show the growth and strength of our team over the last year and identified opportunities for improvement in the next fiscal year.

 
 

Content Management

Our team’s new approach of creating original content was guaranteed to take more time than the old approach of simply licensing third-party reports. We needed to be as efficient as possible with our new timeline. To help solve this issue, I created content management spreadsheets to:

1.  Address our immediate project management needs

2.  Track and adjust critical paths to optimize our long-term process

1.  Address Immediate Project Management Needs

I built out Excel docs to automate the identification of project statuses and roadblocks (using conditional formatting to visually capture the severity of the delay). The spreadsheets also automatically calculated business days to the next milestone (accounting for corporate days off), upcoming milestones, and each project’s percentage complete.

The spreadsheets provided quick access to in-depth information about each project and an overview of the entire team’s project flow.

2.  Build out Optimal Long-term Process

The spreadsheets guided the testing of our process. We started off using the insight from the spreadsheets to identify general tasks that were and weren’t working, but with time I utilized the data for more precise adjustments to optimize our long-term process. 

 

The insight from the spreadsheets allowed me to diagnose the most helpful, and sometimes not as obvious, solutions.

 

For example, just because a task was consistently taking five days instead of the allotted two, didn’t necessarily mean the task should be given three more days to complete. Sometimes the data would help us see that we actually needed to add more tasks prior to that step, and by adding steps beforehand we’d save time overall. 

 

With so many moving parts and variables, creativity was mandated as I optimized our content management process.

 

We have around sixteen people involved in the creation of our assets, as well as a comparably long list of promoters/campaign managers we coordinate with. The spreadsheets helped us identify when to bring in and remove stakeholders, what stakeholders to add to the process, when to handoff different parts of the piece to internal teams, and how to align our deadlines with promoters’ timelines.

It’s always a tricky balance in business of getting projects done in a timely manner and creating the greatest work possible. I enjoyed helping find this sweet spot by (1) continually speaking with team members and employees throughout the company to get their perspective, (2) taking their input and testing various approaches, and (3) monitoring the effectiveness of such approaches in the spreadsheets.

 

CMO.com Articles

CMO.com (a subsidiary company to Adobe) provides thought leadership blog posts for marketers. Our team, on the other hand, also produces thought leadership content for marketers, but it’s longer (15-25 page PDFs/2,000 – 4,000 word websites) and is gated (form must be filled out to access content).

The balance between the teams’ differences (ungated v. gated and short-form v. long-form) and commonalities (thought leadership content and no Adobe product mentions), allows us to feed off of each other’s content.

To help improve Adobe’s content journey, I write Adobe-sponsored posts for CMO.com. These posts are to act as standalone pieces of content, as well as drive readers to explore longer pieces on the related topic (created by our team). 

Creating Change Through Data
Advanced data-driven marketing tools like algorithmic attribution modeling enable marketers to create real change. Read the story of a marketer who more than doubled one of his team’s KPIs by adopting a data-driven approach.

Results
42% of the article's readers have also shared the piece on social media. The site average is 24%.

*Three posts currently unavailable.

 

Research Briefs

Since we demand high editorial quality from our writers, we make sure they are well equipped before kicking off a piece. One of the things involved in this prep work is providing detailed research on their assigned topic.

My research involves combing through industry reports from companies such as Forrester, Gartner, and Econsultancy; stripping helpful quotes, insights, and stories from customer interviews; and reading through Adobe product blogs to provide technical background information. 

Highlights

Pedal to the Metal
It took a great deal of work to outline a natural theme (cars) for this piece, rather than just a tacky analogy. However, 17 pages of research later (for our 29-page brief) I was able to do that. The writer commented several times throughout the project that the detailed research laid an imperative foundation for the high-quality final copy.

On Love and Data
I love that moment when, after hours of digging, you sift through a too easily overlooked resource and find a perfect bit of information. My favorite find for this piece (pg. 9) is a story about an Adobe team’s significant mistakes and what they learned from their errors. The story was buried in an interview transcript from an old conference.

Circles of Trust
Part of the beauty of researching is found in the tangled mess you confront as your idea for a piece intersects with the information you’re discovering. I was forced to break apart the concept for this piece several times; it was rewarding to finally figure out how to integrate my research into the necessary messaging.

Cumulative List

Here's all of the pieces I've compiled research briefs for:

 

Tip Sheets

In my first few months at Adobe I noticed a recurring theme in meetings with other teams – they wanted to utilize our content more but didn’t have time to read through everything we were creating (papers average 16-26 pages). So, I created the template for a one-page tip sheet to summarize each piece of content we create.

Documents redacted to remove all confidential data

Results

Today, the tip sheets are used to inform a variety of Adobe teams about our content including – Sales for calls, Regional teams for translation/localization campaigns, Demand Marketing for demand briefs, Social for promotional opportunities (infographics, infobits, straight forward linking, etc.), Product Marketing for conference usage, Blog team for posts, SEM team for web optimization, and Partner Marketing for promotional opportunities with partners. 

Design Briefs

In my second month at Adobe we needed some work wrapped up by our Studio within a few hours, or we wouldn’t meet our scheduled launch for a piece. So, I walked across the building to talk with the team. 

 

As we talked through what adjustments could be made from both sides, someone from Studio commented that this was the first time (in her four-plus years there) that she’d had someone in the company come over to her desk to talk through a problem.

 

This discussion flagged how much opportunity there was for our teams to communicate more clearly. We needed to get on the same page earlier on to avoid unnecessary confusion and missed deadlines. So, I established a formal kickoff process and created a design brief template – concisely summarizing our final copy and addressing the designers’ needs – to run through in the meeting. Today we never begin design until we’ve had our kickoff and run a design brief. We also keep a more open dialogue with the designers throughout the process. 

 

These design briefs have governed the agenda of our kickoff meetings for over a year now.

 
 

It Matters. I was only a few days away from my first week of college finals when I decided to drop everything. I received a to-the-point-gchat, "Europe?," and two and half weeks later I was on a plane (taking my finals and deferring a semester before boarding). For five weeks I lived out of a small backpack (three shirts and two pants), mostly slept in chairs on trains, and lived off of one-euro baguettes and a communal Nutella jar. It was incredible. I saw some of the greatest artwork to ever be created. Obviously, the corporate whitepapers I create today stand millions of miles away from the importance of work such as the Sistine Chapel. Yet both types of work possess a ripple effect ability. There was so much beauty carried in the European cities I visited because of artwork created hundreds of years ago. I believe that when care is given to the things we create, and the brands we build, there can be a positive ripple effect on a brand for years to come. I've loved being on a team committed to becoming leaders in content marketing - continually seeking the highest editorial and design quality in everything we create. We strive to create content that makes a true and lasting impact with our readers. I look forward to seeing the long-term ripples that build into Adobe's brand because of our efforts.