Kayako is a global technology company that sells customer service software to help teams be more productive and build customer loyalty. Their brand is friendly and accessible, and their marketing strategy is aimed at support professionals and startup founders. Adam Rogers, Content Marketing Manager at Kayako, tells us how the company uses social media to promote their well-known software brand.
Working at a startup-turned-global software company comes with unique challenges and opportunities.
In some cases, it can be very easy to develop a career quickly: if the company culture is all hands-on-deck, and rigid professional hierarchies are ditched in favour of merit-based promotion. A startup can also be a challenging environment, where relatively inexperienced employees can be awarded outsized responsibilities. Some, like Adam, rise to the challenge.
“I used to be a freelance content marketer with my own blog. I came into Kayako through an internship in 2015. After working with them for a month, they hired me on a permanent contract. They promoted me to Content Marketing Manager in February 2017.”
And that’s how Adam ended up in his current position in charge of content marketing for the UK arm of Kayako.
As a global brand, there’s immense pressure for someone in Adam’s position to deliver value with content. And he does it all on his own, for the most part.
“I’m basically a one-man content marketing team. I run the Kayako blog, schedule all our social media, design our promotional strategy, work with a small team of freelance writers, and do some of the data analytics for growth at Kayako. I’ve got my finger in every aspect of content marketing. It can be stressful, but our team is growing.”
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Adam’s role underscores the huge variety of skills involved in the discipline of marketing. The necessary work ranges from the artistic and creative side of content production, to analytics and performance-measuring based on hard data.
Social media demands a lot of time if it’s to be done successfully. As an all-round content marketer with many demands on his time, Adam has had to be creative in his approach towards it.
“In the early days at Kayako, I had more time to run our social media, and this gave me more room to experiment. I was spending a lot of my time collating articles to share on our social media channels. One day, I wondered what would happen if we stopped doing this.
“I changed our strategy from being really helpful to making our channels all about ‘us’, and, weirdly, it worked. I found out that the effort I spent researching articles on the web wasn’t actually improving our social media metrics.”
The social media landscape is constantly changing, and the advice that worked in 2010 is going to be hopelessly out-of-date now. Googling ‘how to gain thousands of twitter followers’ is not enough.
Just because you’ve heard a particular tactic worked in the past, that doesn’t mean it will work now. The key is to experiment with your approach, and find out what works for your particular company.
“Social media has changed a lot since it first became popular, and it’s now become more about telling your story. Imagery has also become increasingly important across all platforms.
My tips for succeeding are to hire a good designer, because great artwork results in eyes and gets clicks. It can also help to hire a professional copywriter if you’re an entrepreneur, to achieve that consistently professional tone.
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Recognising where you need help is important in any business, but especially when developing your social media strategy. It can be a lot for one person to handle, and hiring specialists can give you a boost. While this can be costly, your reward will be long-term ROI (Return on Investment) in your social media marketing.
Social media is a key channel for distributing the messages of a global software brand, though the foundation of Kayako’s marketing comes from organic search.
“Social media is a branding opportunity for us, where we distribute our messages. We have a three-person design team that helps us showcase our best work. I reach out to people on Twitter, or highlight people in our blog posts and tell them on Twitter so we can develop the reach of our content.”
Social media is all about having a conversation with people in your network. They’ll love it if you give them a shout-out on your channels because it’s free promotion for them. Tag people’s Twitter handles in the content you share if you mention them, especially if you collaborate with other parties on it.
Even if you have a well-staffed content marketing team, it helps to use the right tools to effectively manage your social media presence.
“I use a mix of tools for managing social media, including our own software Kayako, for social media monitoring. I love having Kayako’s inbox rather than a timeline because once you answer something, it goes away. I also use tweetdeck to monitor hashtags and certain blog posts. We also use Hubspot for scheduling, which suits me as a one-man team.”
Tools like Hubspot or Buffer are great for scheduling, while Twitter-owned Tweetdeck is a massive help in monitoring hashtags and accounts relevant to your marketing. There are a mixture of paid and free options that you can combine to best suit your own workflow.
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Remember that the success of your digital marketing doesn’t just hinge on the fancy software you use, but is all about building online and offline relationships.
Social media isn’t an end in itself, but rather the modern way brands can connect with their customers, and other businesses. A blog is great way to achieve this, and Adam suggests creating content with a strategy in mind.
“Start a blog! It’s really helpful if you want to build your brand with social media. Use your blog to showcase companies you love and respect, and then interact with them on social media to piggyback on their following.
“Our target audience is customer support managers and directors, a mix of online B2B and B2C ecommerce, and software businesses.
“If you’re passionate on one subject, find a publication that shares your passion, and swap some of your content. Promoting each other’s stuff helps build momentum for both parties.
It can be tempting to focus a lot on social media, but your other channels are important as well, like your website and email list. Prioritize what’s working, and be willing to experiment.
Even if you’re part of a bigger brand like Kayako, you can still build personal, genuine relationships with other brands to help grow your social media following. Authenticity and genuine interest is key, as companies will instantly sense a cynical intent.
Kayako have produced content like helpful articles and thought pieces relating to the customer support industry, such as what their customers have said about bad customer service.
Their articles are usually accompanied by lush, colourful illustrations, produced by the Kayako design team.
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“We illustrate our written content with back and forth between marketing and design. 90% of the visual creativity comes from the design team. They’re given some very basic instructions, and then they’re allowed to unleash their creativity on the given topic.
“The feature image ties in the subject of the blog, but if we’re commissioning paid online advertising then we’ll create a specific image. We use our in-house designers to maintain a strong visual style.
“Creativity works best without too many constraints, and micromanaging hurts both teams and products.”
Visual design has been core to the Kayako rebrand, which took place last year.
They brought their brand far more in-line with their current offering, which is a customer support and experience software solution, as opposed to the ticketing system that they began with.
“Kayako’s been around for 15 years, so there’s already a lot of brand awareness out there, particularly in Europe and the US.
"We’ve got really good domain authority and strength now, because we’ve been around for so long. That makes it easier to promote new blogs, and makes my life as a content marketer so much easier.”
A brand legacy can be useful in having earned domain authority, so your website pages show up in the search engine results page with relatively little effort on your part.
On the other hand, there can eventually be a need to move away from legacy branding, as the business has evolved into its current form. Kayako did this in order to earn a new reputation as a modern software solution in the newer ‘customer experience’ marketplace.
“We rebranded last year and launched a new product, shifting gears in our marketing and design. We moved ourselves away from being a typical ticketing system to what we are now: software centered around customer experience and support. We created visual distance with the past version of our product with visual design.”
Create visual distance with your old brand with new marketing materials, that use different colors, fonts and imagery.
For Adam, it’s important to him to be true to his company’s values by providing excellent customer service. This can prove difficult working in a demanding, fast-growing, global technology company that specializes in customer service.
“One of our main challenges is being a customer service company and living by our values. Because it’s just me managing social media marketing, it would be easy to outsource the work. You risk a lot if you take that approach, and we aren’t prepared to take that risk right now.
“Since we promote best practices like responding to customers within an hour online, we have to be careful we don’t come across as hypocritical if it in reality it takes us a day to respond. As a customer service company, that feels like a punch on the chin.”
For growing companies trying to scale their customer service efforts, focusing their efforts is the way forwards.
“Our biggest marketing challenge is finding the balance of doing just enough with my time versus trying to do it all. Everything feels important, and you want to try everything, but you have to pick the ‘minimum viable product’. I apply this to running our social media.
“Companies can have high expectations for social media without realising how much time it takes, especially scheduling. That’s why Social Media Manager is a job in itself. You’ve got to be good at writing copy, using visuals to attract the eye, and gain clicks.
“Seth Godin published a blog post about being good on Twitter. He says the required effort you need to put in to really excel, say to gain tens of thousands of followers, might not be worth it for smaller teams.
“If we recruit a Social Media Marketer we’d like to be more experimental with our social media.”
Your social media channels would be nothing without your own content to share, but this is where many companies really stumble. Their content doesn’t generate ROI because no one is interested in it, or they don’t convert.
It’s tempting to simply publish anything in order to compete with the many brands out there, but even just a few pieces of great quality content will distinguish your brand. It used to be the case that quickfire, short pieces of content could improve your website’s ranking signal, but those days are long gone.
“We’re a big believer in quality content over quantity. There’s an ocean of content out there on social media, blogs and video platforms, because it’s so easy for anyone to post content. Now we’ve reached the peak of content marketing, the people who stand out are those who understand their audience and publish quality content.”
The world’s most popular search engine, Google, prefers quality, longer content. Quality is measured by how long users spend on your page, and whether they go on to visit other pages of your website afterwards. This kind of content usually helps users achieve a specific goal related to your industry, but not always.
The image showcased below is from an inspiring, multimedia article that Kayako produced showcasing inspirational customer service quotes. It’s an example of the kind of content you can publish to make your company stand out from the rest.
Quality content gains trust from your audience, and showcases that your company really knows what it’s talking about. Especially for software companies, this can be important in building an expectation of what it would be like to use your product.
You should be like a friend who guides your audience through their professional troubles and pains of their day. To stand out as a brand, you have to truly know your audience and anticipate where they might need help.
“Transparency helps companies stand out by enabling them to articulate their mission. Kayako doesn’t just build software to help our customer, but to help our customer’s customer.”
It’s difficult to tread the line between content that really helps your audience, and being too salesy. You need to gain ROI from your content without sending your audience running for the hills.
“Tread the very fine line between engagement and acquisition. You can write a blog post without being too salesy. Naturally guide your customers towards your products by showing your customers how it’s useful. It’s what well-known marketer and author Seth Godin calls ‘permission marketing’.
“Gaining permission to market your products through providing authority content is more compelling for customers. It’s the key to being consistently engaging in blog writing.”
“Have a customer journey map to help you generate new content ideas. Personal anecdotes and stories make for engaging reading, so highlight these in your content. Try to help or educate people.”
Social media is a useful way for brands to connect with their customers, but it can be overwhelming to keep up with the demand for content to share.
Make the most of each piece you produce by tailoring it directly to your customer’s needs, sharing it with the relevant parties on social media, and trying to engage with others online. You can also repurpose content into different mediums to gain more value, such as summarising a podcast into a blog post.
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to social media marketing, as you must experiment to find the right approach to your company. Social media should be fun, and brands have never had such a good opportunity to connect directly with so many of their customers before.
Value your networks, put in the effort, and watch your following grow over time.