A content marketing team in need of a better way to share research
Sharpen is a Midwestern technology company that’s created a best-in-class, cloud-native contact center platform for today’s midsize and enterprise businesses. Companies from all over the world look to Sharpen’s product to help them gain the competitive edge needed to stay on top of their ever-changing market. But before these organizations can take advantage of the Sharpen platform, they need to understand:
- What omni-channel contact center software is
- How it can change their businesses for the better, and
- Why Sharpen’s product is the right choice for them.
Enter Murph Krajewski, VP of Marketing at Sharpen, and his small, yet highly-productive content marketing team.
Murph saw a need to improve the way his team shares the research they collect. He wanted a way to capture online content so it could be easily found - and utilized - by any member of the team, at any time in the future. By addressing this issue, he hoped that the team would be able to eliminate redundant research tasks, put top-notch source material to better use, and streamline the entire content production process.
Boil it down and the formula is a simple one: use high-quality source material to tell a better, more credible story. Do it enough times and the organization achieves the status of industry thought leader and reap the numerous benefits that this status provides. When seen this way, the research function within a marketing department begins to take on a new level of importance for the entire business.
A lack of collaborative research tools in the market
In the quest to find a suitable collaborative research tool, Sharpen’s content marketing team considered many technologies. But none could do the things that Sharpen needed them to do. As the team described their plight, it was hard not to empathize with them:
- “I hated the internal drive. Basically the place where the majority of [our content] was, was the last place I ever wanted to go. There was no organization to the file names, so I had to open five different documents to find the one I was looking for.”
- “We've all used Evernote individually, but we never even suggested it as a way to share research amongst the [team].”
- “We tried sharing web links through Slack, but it was messy.”
- “We were going to try Google Keep, but found it comically underpowered.”
- “I call [Confluence] the place where content goes to die. You file stuff there, but nobody knows where to find it again.”
- “There's always Delicious Library, or any of those. But they just live on your laptop.”
As Murph describes the situation, “It got to the point where we said something's gonna break and we’ve got to figure this out before we find ourselves in a mess.” Fortunately, Sally Mellinger, a Creative Content & Digital Marketing Specialist on the team came across Shelf late one evening.
Features that met their needs
The following day, Sally shared Shelf with the rest of the team and almost immediately, they were on their way. The product’s feature set was a natural fit for the work that the team was doing. Murph was blown away by the in-document search, which allows him to find a specific piece of information within a gigantic document. Josh Daugherty, a Content Marketing Specialist, is a fan of how the tags and folders allow him to organize content quickly so it can be easily accessed later on.
But the one thing that stood out the most was the collaborative web clipper. Everyone on the team saw the benefit of it immediately. Josh summed up how the team’s workflow has changed for the better, “In the past we’d divide up our research, only to realize later on that we all found the same stuff and didn’t use our time all that well. Now we can collaborate on research and brainstorm in real time.
With Shelf and its browser extension, the content marketing team has a way to organize its online research alongside traditional documents in a way that finally makes sense. And because everything that goes into Shelf gets indexed, it all becomes findable.
A better starting point for creative work = genuine business ROI
Shelf managed to streamline the team’s research process and improve their workflow in a meaningful way. Sally offers, “[Shelf] fills a void. When you're a content marketer and you're trying to release pieces that are well researched, there's nothing like Shelf to help organize your research.”
The implications of this improvement are significant, as team members are able to consistently use the best source material and the brightest thinking of their coworkers. Reinventing the Wheel has become a thing of the past for the Sharpen content marketing team. What does that mean, in terms of real-world, provable ROI? As Murph explains it, “Just Google ‘Sharpen’. Over the past year, we've claimed the #1 spot (away from the dictionary) for our brand name. We did this without spending a dime on PPC advertising. Rather, we did the hard work of organized research, quality writing, and circulation of content. Shelf tightened the workflows between research and writing, and should certainly claim some credit for the win.”