Ellen Gomes knows content. As the Senior Content Marketing Manager tasked with running Marketo’s blog, she lives and breathes it, working with her team to deliver the best content marketing to, well, an audience of marketers. While it may seem like a daunting task, she loves it.
We love her enthusiasm, so we wanted to chat with Ellen about what it’s like to mastermind a marketing blog. In this Q&A, we cover where she gets her inspiration, how to avoid burnout, and a lot more.
C5: What do you do at Marketo?
C5: How did you find yourself working in content marketing?
EG: I had been working in other functions of marketing that were related to producing and distributing content but were never quite creating content. I had worked in PR for a security company and started some of their social channels. That role evolved into a full-blown social content manager role, which meant managing a blog, video production, and our social media channels.
My role after that was social-focused as well. What I found in each of these roles was that while there was plenty of emphasis on growing subscribers and engagement, there wasn’t a ton of content to share. Inevitably, I fell into creating content simply out of need. When I saw the role open at Marketo, I jumped at it. I had been following Marketo’s blog for a while and had been using it for ideas and best practices. I was really excited about the opportunity to be part of what I saw as (and what is) a content powerhouse.
C5: What kinds of stories are most exciting to you/your team?
EG: I think there is always the story you tell your audience, but the best stories come from your audience and reflect their experience back at you. As a content creator, my favorite aspects of my role often are the parts where I am working with partners, customers, or influencers to get their perspective and point of view.
I also love working in an environment and in a space that allows for not only creativity but experimentation. I love the fun themes we use in our infographics and GIFographics and am really proud of our live-stream videos, which have no budget but a band of dedicated marketers set on doing something different.
C5: Who are your favorite storytellers (author, screenwriter, filmmaker, musician)?
EG: Favorite storyteller? This has to be a trick question. There is almost nothing I won’t read…not joking…I will read the back of shampoo bottle. But when it comes to favorites, I really love Gillian Flynn—she’s famous for Gone Girl, but I love her other works and how complex she makes her characters, who are despicable heroines. I usually read serious or dark books but watch light-hearted TV and films. I am never sad about a Will Ferrell comedy, and I love Brooklyn Nine-Nine. I find that regardless of what I am watching or reading, I need to feel emotionally connected to the story—whether that emotion is fear or happiness—in order to continue investing in it.
C5: Where do you and your team find your inspiration?
EG: Each other. Is that a cheesy answer? But, honestly, I really think we brainstorm and talk and that’s where we uncover and fine-tune really good ideas. We’re all big content consumers, and so we each bring that perspective to the table.
C5: As a content marketer who is creating content about marketing, is it hard for you to stay inspired?
EG: Heck no! This is the absolute best part of my job. I absolutely love the audience I get to create content for. It feels like a luxury to get to write for marketers about marketing. Marketers are some of the most creative and innovative people I have met, and they have high standards. It’s a high bar to create content that intrigues them and is valuable, but when you vault over that bar, the feeling is amazing.
C5: How do you all avoid burnout?
EG: Work, like anything, happens in waves. I think if your burnout is project-based, it’s really important to remind yourself that whatever it is—a project, a deadline, etc.—will pass. At the same time, it’s really important to set good boundaries and have interests beyond work. For example, I have a corgi, a cat, and a partner who want my attention when I am home—and that separation makes work feel more interesting and focused while I am there, doing it.
C5: What does good marketing look/feel/sound like? What about bad marketing?
EG: Good marketing considers its audience and offers its audience value—whether that value is entertainment, practical advice, or guidance. There is not one thing it looks like, but it doesn’t forget who it is for. On the flip-side, bad marketing just doesn’t consider the audience or often is a product of the “I represent everyone” mentality, which can really lead a marketer and a project astray.
C5: Who do you think is killing it in content marketing right now?
EG: I think LinkedIn B2B is killing it. I think there is a lot of innovation coming out of that team. Not only do they do the standard activities, blog, assets, etc., they really push the envelope and create video people want to watch—and assets in unique formats.
C5: What do you want to see more brands doing well? What do you think has jumped the shark?
EG: I think the more brands can find ways to feature their customers, advocates, or influencers, the more success they are going to have. I think the virtual reality opportunity gets plenty of hype and coverage at events, but many marketers haven’t really cracked the nut on being able to regularly do high-quality video. That makes me feel that VR is going to really be for a select, well-funded few, and it makes me question how consumers will feel about it.
C5: What is your team’s approach to forming and iterating on your content strategy?
EG: We’re a small but mighty content powerhouse, and in order to address both our audience’s needs and hit our business objectives, we think about content across the entire org. We don’t invest people or budget in a project that cannot serve multiple audiences or does not have a plan to do so. We also have a really clear view of the goals we’re trying to achieve with each asset we produce.
C5: What is most painful about creating engaging content?
EG: I think the most painful thing about creating content is that there really is no way to make all your content evergreen. You can take some steps to make it evergreen and have a longer shelf life, but the truth of it is that the market and consumers move fast. Inevitably you will have worked on something that simply isn’t super-relevant anymore—and that’s just a fact, but it’s also a bummer.
C5: Where do you feel like marketing stops and sales starts?
EG: Ideally it’s a partnership all the way through. Successful teams are hyper aware of what the other is doing at any point in the buyers journey and is available and willing to help. They are the revenue team, and they play toward the same goal.
C5: What do your sales teams think of content marketing?
EG: It’s helpful. I think the key to how sales feels about content is based on how accessible that content is. No one wants to slow down and take a long time to search for something, so it really becomes about how fast and searchable can you make it.
C5: Which content marketing assets have made the biggest impact on your businesses?
EG: It’s funny because people think that no one reads long-form content or blogs, but that’s simply not the case. I find that both our cheatsheets (very short assets) and Definitive Guides (very long assets) do really well. They serve different purposes during the customer journey, and so they perform well for the unique goals we have for them.
C5: Any last words of wisdom?
EG: Readers make the best writers…read more for fun, hopefully with a cup of tea or a glass of wine.
Many thanks to Ellen for sharing her thoughts. For more wisdom from game-changers in content marketing and content strategy, check out these Q&As:
- Ethan Zanat of Zendesk talks rebranding and creativity.
- Carly Stec of Hubspot talks about the challenges of building and running a brand publication.
- Course Hero shows us how to build a brand through user-generated content.
- CoSchedule shares the content strategy that increased traffic six-fold.
- Jeff Marcoux of Microsoft chats about implementing an Account-Based Marketing strategy.
- Business Insider’s Mike Nudelman tells us what publishers want from your content.
- LinkedIn’s Alex Rynne explains how to use LinkedIn to build your personal and professional brand.
Of course, if you need any help with your own marketing, we’d love to chat.