This week we feature Devin Bramhall, Content Director at Help Scout. Help Scout is a simple, scalable help desk solution for small businesses to manage customer support.
In this interview, you can read more about her work at Help Scout, favorite marketing tools, productivity tips as well as her advice for budding marketers.
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Your location: We are a remote company, but I reside in Boston, MA.
Your favorite gadget: My iPhone (My iPhone is the tool I use the most aside from my Mac).
You start your day with: Coffee + comedy + meditation + NPR (in that order).
Your favorite time saving trick: I stopped reading productivity tips and doubled down on my own process.
Your top blogs you read daily: Lately, I’ve moved away from the obsessive review of blogs and introduced more play into my consumption. So I read a lot of fiction (fantasy, sci-fi, and anything my friend Patrick Hellen recommends). I also listen to podcasts — here are my top 3: Unthinkable, PNR: This Old Marketing, Selected Shorts.
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As a startup marketer, what are some of your favorite productivity hacks?
My “hack” is to stop looking for hacks! I stay productive by using fewer tools, and applying more diligence. The first startup I worked for made a personal organization app, so I’ve tried every productivity app and read every article there is on how to be more productive and organized. You know what I found? It’s not about the tool or the process, it’s about committing to a tool and process. If it’s not working, try refining it, not overhauling. There are more integrations available than ever before for just about every app you use, so explore what is available with the tools you’re already using before you go shopping. My team has been using Trello for our editorial calendar for years and we recently tried another tool thinking it would be better. The amount of time and effort it takes to move even a small team from one tool to another is significant. And no matter how nimble your team may be, everyone struggles with change. Next time you’re feeling disorganized, my “hack” advice: dig in and improve your current system. Often it’s the small changes that make the biggest impact.
As a person who is well-versed with online marketing/ inbound, I’m sure you rely on a few marketing tools to automate your efforts. What are the top 3–5 tools you use?
Ultimately, I think too much automation is a mistake (and missed opportunity). Everyone on our team is hired to invest in what they do, from editorial to social media to design. That said, there are some tools that help us be more productive and collaborate:
- Buffer: In my career, I’ve used HubSpot, Hootsuite, Sprout Social and Buffer. No tool is perfect, but I’ve consistently found Buffer to be the easiest to use, simplest to manage with multiple users and be the most current with features.
- Mailchimp: While I am big fan of Customer.io and Emma from afar (I’ve never used them), Mailchimp really is the best email tool I’ve used. They have the best user interface out there, outstanding customer support and docs and they’ve done an incredible job with their blog content consistently over the years.
- Trello: We use Trello company-wide and love it. My team uses it for our editorial calendar and big projects. But because our entire team is organized this single tool, I can easily check-in on what other teams are doing.
- Google Docs: It sounds obvious, but we really invest in organizing all of our team docs here. From blog posts to reporting, we use Gdocs to both share and organize everything. Having a naming convention for files and folders helps too.
How do you use customer insight to power your marketing efforts? What is your strategy for getting people to your site and then converting them to a customer?
We start by listening. What problems are our customers facing? What do their support teams need help with? We participate heavily in the customer service and support community asking questions and listening to feedback. We have slack channels where our customer team shares stories and bits of input they get from customers. This is company-wide and it starts at the top, and it is the most important part of our strategy.
Listening also helps us choose what topics and keywords to pursue. It’s an invaluable filter that is particularly useful for startup marketing teams who have limited resources. Everything you pursue is expected to be low cost and high impact. Using input from customers to develop your content strategy will definitely help you hit the mark more often.
Next comes content: since the beginning, we have invested in our blog and resources to drive business. Once there, we try to deliver contextual product and content suggestions. We see conversion more like storytelling. If you’re reading a post about writing great knowledge base articles, you might be interested in Docs (for example).
Right now we’re working on deepening those relationships at the top of the funnel and continuing the story beyond a post to a webinar, talking one-on-one with someone on our customer team, so we can learn more about our visitors and what they want.
Listen, everyone is always asking for the magic bullet and there isn’t one. Marketing isn’t a formula. It involves humans, and while we rely on personas to help us understand our customers at scale, when it comes to acquisition and conversation, it’s all about experimenting, listening (rinse repeat).