AMA with Emily Triplett Lentz, Senior Manager of Content Marketing at Calendly

Cierra Loflin
January 19, 2023

Emily Triplett Lentz is the Senior Manager of Content Marketing at Calendly and the former Content Marketing Lead at Loom. She built the content program at Loom from the ground up and is a pro at product led growth through content marketing.

Today's AMA focuses on: 

  • How best to support a product’s baked-in virality with content
  • How to balance driving awareness with enabling sales/expansion revenue
  • Which metrics make sense to track (or not) and anything else!

You can connect with Emily on Linkedin and Twitter.

I'm super interested in the baked-in virality question to start. How do you enable that with content?

Emily: Haha, the short answer is "you don't."

More seriously, though, you can support a product's natural virality with content, but how much a product inspires its own use is typically not driven by content.

For example: the end user sees that their experience was driven by a product -- e.g., "powered by [Tool]" -- and instead of linking to a home page, that can link to a product page geared toward people who are brand new to the product and intrigued enough to click and learn more.

Recent former-journo-turned-content marketer here, as well. Care to share how you marketed yourself using your background in journalism as you moved into content, especially as you advanced in your career?

Emily: I sometimes wish I had a standard/more linear career path (did any of us?) but the truth is that I am just old and have been doing editorial work for a very long time.

I started out working at a newspaper, then moved into corporate comms, freelanced as a writer and editor for a couple stints in there. Then a friend who was working at Basecamp told me they were hiring writers for their customer support team. So that's how I got into tech. And then I started doing more content for Basecamp in addition to CX stuff, and got excited about moving back into editorial work, which is how I moved into the content role at Help Scout. I'm afraid that is the least helpful answer ever.

But I will say -- everyone who has ever hired me for a content role LOVES to see that journalism experience. And I look for it too, when I'm hiring! I know it means you have standards and you know how to hustle.

Do Calendly and Loom have sales people? if so, how does content support them?

They do! I can't speak overly specifically to that or my comms team would have words with me.

But I will say that for the stage these companies are at, it's very common to be moving from a primarily PLG motion to blending that with sales growth. Then how to prioritize which content you create becomes a much more complicated dance.

It becomes about mapping out the customer journey and making sure you have the right content to support each ICP at every stage. NOT EASY!

You’ve worked for some of the top SaaS companies that do content. Could you talk a little bit about the company culture at companies that are really good at content? Any differences you’ve noticed, etc.

Help Scout had THE friendliest-to-content-marketing culture I've ever witnessed (and they're still crushing it). They went hard on Content as a brand mechanism, and had support for that from the top down.

Because of that, we were able to build out educational content ecosystems, get really involved in community, and invest over the long haul in developing brand affinity, experimenting with stuff that doesn't scale but that the people who love it, LOVE it.

But I will say Help Scout was not a PLG company! At PLG companies, content is more about sitting as a layer among all other marketing efforts. And there's a lot of ongoing education involved in making sure that other teams understand how content works, so that the content team isn't treated like an in-house service org. I'd say that's much more the norm.

I’m curious about getting buy-in for different types of content at companies. For example, I’ve often worked at/with companies who are 100% sold on “SEO” content and want to do lots of TOFU content, but it’s more difficult to get buy-in for (what I see as, often,) more valuable content like case studies, original research, “thought leadership” etc. Have you experienced that, and if so, how did you influence or direct the “content culture?”

Hoo boy this is a familiar story.

I mean, I'd be tempted to say, OK, let's try it. Let's do what everyone else does and generate a list of keywords and create a bunch of content from that and see what happens. What's going to happen? Traffic ... and that's about it. Vanity metrics. Once they see that it's not having a big impact on the business, then you can create the high-value pieces that map to where your ICPs are in the funnel.

But probably: I would just just put a deck together that explains all of this (leaders love a deck!) and make a case for a more revenue-driven strategy.

For people looking to move in their careers by applying to more senior roles, what advice do you have for marketing yourself successfully? Any interview tips/suggestions?

Short answer: Talk about yourself using numbers and money however possible. Learn to speak in terms of data, metrics, revenue -- the stuff senior leaders care about.

The fact that you are a part of this community is a very good sign, too! When I'm hiring content marketers, I want to know what they subscribe to, participate in, etc. to stay learning and growing in the field.

I saw that you grew Loom’s email marketing program “from 0 to several hundred thousand in <5 months." Wanna share your secrets with the rest of us?! What strategies did you focus on and how did you figure out what worked so quickly? Was the product’s “virality” part of that?

Oh for SURE. We ran opt-in campaigns with our existing users. I did not go out and scrape those subscribers off the sidewalk!

What are some key ingredients to include when creating product-led content?

Oh gosh. I will be transparent and say that I never think of the content I am creating as "product-led content." I am creating content for an organization whose growth can be attributed to the product itself.

And that can be intimidating! SOOO much growth comes from just the product being awesome. How can lil ol' content contribute? i.e., when there isn't a top of funnel problem

And the answer is: making sure there's relevant content in place for all of your ICPs at every stage in the journey.

What are your best practices or thoughts on how to successfully launch a content program within a company that was previously entirely driven by product marketing (especially in a fully PLG startup)? How do you avoid rubbing shoulders or creating conflicts while diversifying that brand’s marketing tactics?

Hm, in my experience product marketing teams are generally relieved to see content support come onboard, so I haven't been overly concerned about the stepping-on-toes stuff. That may be unique to each company's culture. (But of course all growth is change and all change is loss, and people are going to have feelings about that.)

I would just work to build social capital with those folks, and learn what they're excited to offload/partner on/add to the marketing strategy, and see where it makes sense for content to fill in those gaps, rather than try to wrestle beloved areas of ownership away from anyone.

Semi-tangential, but this is one of my favorite pieces about that kind of team growth and the push/pull that comes from it: Give Away Your Legos’ and Other Commandments for Scaling Startups.

How do you approach creating a content calendar?

I am adapting this all the time!

But I tend to look at it on a quarterly basis. What are the organization's goals? What campaigns is marketing running in support of those goals? Where are the gaps (i.e., do we need a midfunnel piece of content for ICP #3 because we have them for other ICPs and the nurture campaigns for those folks have been working really well?)

What is really old and out of date and needs to be refreshed? What are we launching or announcing? ... plus any other variables to be considered and weighted according to priority. Then we build out a plan.

I love using Asana for a content calendar, kanban-style, with each column representing the stage in the editorial process (ideas -> scheduled -> draft -> editing etc. etc.)

Both Loom & Calendly are pretty simple products at their core but have fairly strong POVs (e.g. eliminating unnecessary meetings or back-and-forth scheduling emails). I'm assuming Loom and Calendly both work with freelancers. How do you help them understand your brand's POV and messaging to avoid super vanilla content?

Great question. Yes, freelancers have been a critical resource in every content team I've ever been a part of. I will say, at least at first, they are most useful for top of funnel content -- super product-heavy content is best handled by in-house creators.

But gradually, you can build relationships with some key freelancers, hand over all the messaging you've created for internal teams, give them access to SMEs, walk them through why you made specific edits to their work and so on. When you have freelancers who know your product as well as you do, those people are gold!

I learned about Ageism in tech with regards to trying to land a role. As a 44 yr old, transitioning from healthcare to trying to land a content marketing role, any tips to work around ageism?

Ageism is definitely a problem in tech. I can't speak to your personal experience, but my initial reaction is that your pivot from healthcare to content is more of a concern for hiring managers than age. Like other immutable characteristics, there's nothing we can do about our age — we can just try to seek out organizations and teams where it's seen as a benefit. We have far more control over setting ourselves up for successful career pivots -- I'm sure you're exploring that for yourself, and it takes time, but I believe you'll get there!

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