Doist is the tech company that makes the productivity and communication apps Todoist (a to-do list and project management tool) and Twist (a Slack alternative for remote teams). Their marketing team is also a fantastic resource for advice on adapting to remote work and a great example of conversational marketing. Doist editor Becky Kane and marketing manager Fadeke Adegbuyi took us behind the scenes.
When I asked Becky the goal for the blog at Doist, I got a surprising answer: “We’re trying to create the future that we want to work in,” she says, “a workplace that we think is sustainable and healthy for both companies and their employees. That means tackling big topics like work-life balance, being a better manager, and having a fulfilling life outside the workplace. “The people who resonate with those topics are also the people who are going to get the most benefit out of our products.”
It’s an admirable goal and one that’s informed by their own experiences working in a remote team. In other words, Doist is practicing a bit of content therapy — but on themselves. “A lot of our most popular content is just talking about our own struggles,” Becky says. The team has written posts on their experiences managing remote teams, their approach to remote communication and the downsides of remote work. It’s a transparent approach that’s also actionable, and it shows the value of Doist’s tools.
Conversational Marketing: Choosing the Right Topics
Coming up with topics for blog posts can be enormously difficult. It’s not just about having a good idea; it’s also about finding an angle that will help you stand out among the crowd vying for every Google search. The team at Doist generates ideas like the rest of us: They hold weekly pitch sessions, and they comb through lists of SEO keywords.
But as they think about how to rank for SEO, they also take the time to consider how they can make their content as actionable as possible, and examine topics in depth. They look to see where they can be “more helpful,” as Becky puts it. She cited an article on how to ask to work from home. When people are searching for help, she says, Doist differentiates itself not just by offering a to-do list, but by being “helpful to someone on more of an emotional level” and approaching the topic from a broader point-of-view, she says.
To gauge what readers may be looking for, the team uses survey data from customers and email newsletter subscribers. Surveys help the team understand customers’ core challenges and how they prefer to interact with content, such as whether they prefer audio, video or text.
But a more useful source of information than what people say they want to read about is what people are actually reading, sharing and talking about online. The content team at Doist keeps a close eye on the kinds of topics readers are engaging with most – on the Doist blog and elsewhere. If an article starts a conversation, the Doist content team listens. “If we share a piece of content and it finds its way to Hacker News, we got a lot of feedback there. If it makes its way onto Reddit, there’s a discussion that ensues there that we can eavesdrop on,” Fadeke says.
Conversational Marketing: Connecting Ideas to Sales
While the team values traffic and engagement data and keeps an eye on referrals to the Todoist and Twist product pages, Becky says they aren’t beholden to the numbers. “We like to say we’re data-informed, but not data-driven,” she says. “It’s more of a tool to reflect on what’s going well and what’s not.”
But the team is also cognizant of the fact that at the end of the day, content needs to serve a business purpose even if it’s hard to put an accurate number on its value. In fact, Becky says Twist threads allow her to follow along and be involved in a lot of the product marketing and branding conversations happening at the company to better understand the products she’s marketing and the challenges consumers might face.
Like most people who are looking around for a new solution to a work problem, Doist customers often take a winding approach from reading a blog post to signing up for the product. They consider a variety of products that fit the challenges remote teams may face. That makes marketing attribution complicated, if not impossible. “You just can’t say ‘This piece of content led to this sale,’ ” Becky says. Instead, she recommends focusing on how people connect with your brand and the stories you’re telling.