Welcome to our AMA with Lane Scott Jones, Director of Content at Zapier
Her podcast episode is our most downloaded ever (episode and transcript here). As a refresher, she proved 454% ROI on content spend, grew her team from 4 to 20 people and created an editing bot to speed up production.
You can connect with Lane:
Well, I’d love to know what roles already exist on this hypothetical team, but I can tell you some of my most influential hires have been:
We’re battening the hatches against big bites that AI and platforms like TikTok are taking out of our SEO traffic.
For us, that means creating more content that is platform-first (whether that’s YouTube, TikTok) to meet folks where they are. I think the macro trend will be moving toward a personality-driven, media approach to content production and distribution — especially media platforms that we can own ourselves, like newsletters, podcasts, and video.
The content team at Zapier has historically supported all areas of the org, from PMM to customer success to community to sales.
Since I started, we’ve pivoted to focus content support on the areas that will have the biggest impact on the business. That sometimes means saying a kind “no” to internal-only projects so we can spend our resources on the initiatives with the highest ROI, like the blog. It’s important to remind leaders that we have limited resources: time spent on pet projects or important-but-not-critical ones means time away from our key programs. Lower blog production = lower traffic, signups, down-funnel metrics.
Tactically, this means setting up a lot more self-serve options for teams that we support. We’ve done this recently with PMM, by providing templates and (of course) AI editor bots so they can write their own copy, or deliver us drafts that need a much lighter editorial touch.
Yes! I built them on Zapier’s Interfaces, and it took about 2 minutes.
This process has been part strategy, part luck, and part right-place-right-time!
I was an English major so I started out writing blog posts as an IC, which was a natural fit, and stumbled into the tech industry through my first agency job.
My move from IC > leader was an intentional career goal. I wanted a seat at the table, because I saw the opportunities for growth through content and I knew I needed scope & a team to bring them to life.
I love being a leader and a people manager, but I definitely had a bit of an identity crisis when I realized I was going to be giving up my IC work — the thing that had gotten me here in the first place! It ended up being a great decision that let me have far more impact and reach than I did previously.
If you’re curious to hear more, I talk more about my career path on this podcast episode.
Our entire content marketing program is run on Zaps! We use them to connect AirTable (our editorial management platform) to Slack to let writers and editors know when tasks are ready for them. We use them for coordinating with our freelancers and SEO managers too. On a personal productivity level, I really like using emoji reactions to trigger actions — ex. if I react “TO DO” emoji, it gets added to my ToDoist list.
Like Jimmy said, my favorite Zaps have got to be the ones related to the chatbots though. Our editor bots (which anyone at Zapier can use to edit for clarity, humor, voice) have been a gamechanger. Other great examples are our Comms bots, which my colleague Carly created. A great one is the press release generator which allows you to input the details and outputs a fully-written press release in Google docs.
This is in the works! But still at the beginning stages.
We’re working with our SEO team to tag content topics based on how likely they are to convert based on existing data. Once we get those benchmarks set up, the idea would be to automate it using AI.
I’ll keep this group updated when/if we crack the code on that!
Love this question! One of the best things about working at Zapier is the lifestyle flexibility it gives me.
I was in Europe this spring and spent all summer on a roadtrip from Nashville to the Pacific Northwest, which was one of my favorite things I’ve ever done.
I was a little worried about how all the travel would impact my productivity, but I think it has actually made me more effective? I thrive on novelty, and changing my work setup really helps get me re-inspired and re-engaged.
My non-negotiables: fast internet, a good working space, and not moving locations during the workweek.
That said, I am back in Nashville for a bit, and very happy to be reunited with my standing desk and walking pad.
My personal workflow has mostly been experimenting with chatbots, but our team also uses Interfaces for lead capture forms, websites, and even some no-code app-building.
Here’s an example about building a lead form using Interfaces. As an Easter egg, you can also see an example of how we use Deb’s dog’s imaginary business for all of our blog use case examples.
Short answer: an amazing team, great processes, and a focus on impact vs. effort.
It’s the classic 80/20 rule when it comes to content results — we keep a close eye on that top 20% of results-driving content and focus on creating and updating those posts in order to maintain rankings. Some pieces just don’t perform, and that’s okay.
We don’t try to keep it ALL updated but we do try to experiment, iterate quickly, see what works, and then press the gas on those highly performing areas. Looker is our best friend in figuring out what to focus on and what we can safely ignore.
Such a good question, and one we’re always trying to answer for ourselves! Two things:
No steadfast framework — yet! It varies based on team and content type.
For the blog, prioritization starts with SEO search volume, then goes to the somewhat subjective question of how likely that topic is to drive qualified users. This is a mix of intuition and historical data. We have an idea of what content topics bring people who are likely to succeed with our product, and which ones are likely to drive a lot of traffic but never convert.
For our campaigns and sales-focused initiatives, it’s a close collaboration with PMM to figure out which content pieces can move the needle on our shared goals.
I’d love to hear from others how they approach this too!
We have a Partnerships & Partner Marketing team that handles this!
Our newsletter goes out to a HUGE audience so we’ve prioritized sending a diversity of topics so people can engage with the one that’s most helpful to them. Our blog editor is the one who sends this newsletter each week, so we try to keep the process streamlined, but we’ve identified a lot of areas for more segmentation. This is something we’ll be experimenting with a lot more in 2024!
We use Contentful as our blog platform, Looker for analytics, and AirTable for our editorial calendar! This was all in place before I got to Zapier, but we’ve done quite a lot of work with our engineering team to customize these platforms for our needs (ex. we just launched the ability to A/B test on Contentful)
As part of troubleshooting and augmenting our content ops stack (ex. finding features we needed and working with the engineering team to build them), our blog editors were spending a LOT of their time on non-editing tasks. Luckily, one of the editors at the time, Janine, had a deep interest and aptitude for the reporting, analytics, and operational work. She transitioned to work on that part-time, while still doing part-time editor, and then we eventually made the case to have her step into a full-time Content Ops role and backfill the editor position. Best decision ever! I can’t emphasize enough what a gamechanger she’s been.
I think she’s doing a podcast interview on this soon, so I’ll make sure to link it here when it’s live.
Nurturing is the name of the game! For measuring conversions from content, definitely check out the podcast ep I did with Jimmy. I get into all the details there.
But you’re right, it can be a long journey from awareness to becoming a successful user of the product. We drive a lot of TOFU traffic (our main success metric) but we use guardrail metrics around activation and upgrade rates to make sure we’re moving people down the funnel.
To do that, we’re really intentional about pairing all of TOFU blog posts with a corresponding mid- and bottom-funnel post that will help them move from awareness (I *could* do this) to actually being able to integrate it into their workflow (I know how to do this with Zapier).