Welcome back to Marketing Marvels, where I’m joined today by ClearVoice CEO Joe Griffin!
ClearVoice‘s capabilities will make any editorial manager’s heart sing. Forget the endless juggling of pitch emails, calendar applications, and publishing platforms. ClearVoice organizes your blog’s editorial processes into a single, powerful interface. It also arms you with tools for identifying influencers and hiring them as content contributors, helping your blog grow its audience and boost its credibility.
Get a glimpse of ClearVoice’s incredible toolbox by watching the video below!
Jay: Hey, everybody. It’s Jay Baer from Convince & Convert and welcome to Marketing Marvels, the video show where I bring you the very best marketing tools and software out there so that you, the busy marketer know what you should consider licensing and what you should set aside.
Every episode of Marketing Marvels has some interesting guests, has a quick demo so you can get a feel for the software and the tool for today’s episode, give you a place to go to request a demo of your own at the end of the show, ask some questions of the proprietor of that company, so you get a feel for them and their culture personally, what it costs, whether it is right for you.
I am super fired up about today’s episode of Marketing Marvels because my man, Joe Griffin, who’s the CEO of ClearVoice joins us. Now, ClearVoice is a super interesting tool. I really like how they’re coming at multiple problems and can combine those answers into one solution.
So let’s say you run a busy blog and you’ve got lots of different blog posts and you’ve got contributors and you’re also doing email and you’re doing podcasts and you’ve got all kinds of stuff going on. The question is always, “How should we manage that? Should we have a calendar? Should we have a calendar that different people can look at?” The answer is, of course, yes. ClearVoice has very robust calendaring and content organization schemas built into it so you can figure out, “When is the episode due? When is the blog post due?” etc.
But if you’ve got a very busy blog, lots of content to be created, at some point you might thing, “I don’t have enough people on my team to make all this content. I need other people to help write for us, make infographics, etc.” So ClearVoice has an influencer identification system and an entire database of content creators that you can hire inside the platform to create content for your blog and your content campaigns and initiatives. All the payment is handled right inside ClearVoice.
All the content submissions, edits and publication is handled right inside the tool and the tool hooks up to all the major CMS platforms, WordPress, of course, HubSpot, etc. It’s all for you there in one nice, neat, tight little package, easy to use interface as well as you’re about to see. Big fan of what these guys are doing. Welcome Joe Griffin to Marketing Marvels. Anything I missed in the description of your awesome tool, ClearVoice?
Joe: No. That’s a great overview. Thanks for having me, Jay. It’s good to be here.
Jay: It’s fantastic to have you here. Got all kinds of secret recipe stuff on the whiteboard behind him. So make sure we don’t show that too long. People will like steal your good ideas back there. You want to show it to us? You want to get in the demo?
Joe: Yeah. Sure. Let’s do that. Let me open this guy up real quick.
Jay: Do it.
Joe: Let me know if that’s popping up for you.
Jay: Yeah, I see it.
Joe: Great. So you gave a good rundown, Jay, of a lot of the things that are in the platform. I’d love to maybe step through a couple things, see if I can add some context to what you put out there. You mentioned managing content. I think that’s a great place to start. ClearVoice gives you the opportunity to manage all your content initiatives from one place. So what I’m showing you today is the actual clearvoice.com account we use to manage our own business and our own content marketing.
So we’ve defined different campaigns for our business. So different campaigns for us is our blog. Campaigns are our dated content, so, eBooks and whitepapers. Our PR initiatives that we’re doing are being done through campaigns.
So we use campaigns to set the brand voice and the tone for those different initiatives. So each campaign can have different settings, different guidelines, editorial guidelines, creator guidelines. You can set your personas up in the platform and then assign those personas to different campaigns so that if you’ve got one campaign targeting to one audience, those personas can be targeted versus a different audience, those personas will be targeted.
So campaigns are really the way that you manage all of your content projects and inside those campaigns, you have your assignments. Assignments are really the glue that’s holding together the content strategy, the writers, the editors, the deadlines, the due dates, all those different content initiatives are, again, managed through the platform and all the creation is done there. The editing is done there. The revisions are done there. There’s a system that’s built to manage all those revisions in the editing.
So what happens when you start to use ClearVoice to manage your assignments and manage your content, you kind of have this editorial counter that gets automatically developed for you. So you could at any time come to the editorial calendar, create new things you want due in two weeks or in a month. But also all the active assignments you’re working on just automatically live here.
As assignments are going through different stages, like maybe they move to the editing stage or as you change a due date or a publication date, the editorial counter is a live view that you don’t actually have to update. It kind of updates itself and it gives you a lot of transparency into the content that’s going on and what people are working on. You can jump in at any time into a particular assignment and see the progress of that assignment and where it’s at and collaborate in real time, built in messaging with those creators. So the calendar just gives you insight into everything you’re working on.
Jay: So do you get some email notifications as well? If a creator says, “Hey, I’ve submitted this piece into the tool,” do you as the editor get some sort of ping that says, “Hey, there’s something in there for you to check?”
Joe: Right. I think that’s one of the core thing that separates us from just a spreadsheet, like, “Why wouldn’t I just use a spreadsheet?” A spreadsheet doesn’t live update. This live updates, you can share this calendar with different people. Then like you said, it’s connected to email notifications.
So if an assignment is running late, you’ll get notified and if a due date gets pushed out or a publication date gets pushed out, if something has been submitted to you for editorial review you’ll be notified. Writers are also notified. At the beginning of the day on a deadline of content they’ll get a reminder, “Hey, your content is due today.” If they don’t submit that content and change the due date, they’ll get a reminder the next day, “Hey, your content is a day past due. You haven’t updated the due date.”
So there is an accountability that’s built into the platform and I think that I find it to be extremely useful because especially with content, as you know, you can have a million different initiatives going on and it’s hard to track everything.
Jay: I love it. Different people can have different versions of that calendar, right? The email people can have sort of their version. The blog post people can have their version, etc.?
Joe: Exactly. So you can filter by campaign. You can filter by user. You can filter by publication. So if you’ve hooked up multiple publications to ClearVoice, you can filter by publication, that’s really handy for actual publishers that may have ten different sites that are using ClearVoice. A lot of different ways to filter that calendar.
I mentioned publications so I’ll just mention while we’re at it. You can connect ClearVoice to your publications, so WordPress, HubSpot. We have an open API, which means even if you have something homegrown or some enterprise CMS, you can connect ClearVoice to anything. I mentioned personas as well earlier. You can put your personas into the platform to give your writers and editors context about who that audience is that they’re producing content for. I think it’s helpful to kind of give you a little sneak peek at maybe the user screen.
Our writers, we have a couple writers. We’ve got an editor. We don’t have a big content team. Like most companies, we don’t have a big content team. A company writers and an editor. We have some content strategy people. We have some SEO people, some social media people, some PR people, some marketing stakeholders, some directors of marketing, things like that.
So we want all of our team to have access to the platform so they can see what’s going on, so they can interact, so they have access to the editorial calendar so they can see where content is at in any particular lifecycle of that content.
We also have some freelancers of our own. So even before we built the platform we had a handful of writers and some creatives we were working with. So we invite those freelancers into the platform too where we assign them things, give them deadlines. They submit their content to us through the platform. We pay them through the platform.
So you can actually pay your existing freelancers through the platform as well and then we’ve recruited a ton of new experts to the platform by using some of the recruit functionality where we are able to then bring creators, of course, to you, to produce content.
So in our account, we have about 100 different users across all those different disciplines that I mentioned and we’re definitely power users but our content marketing is very visible in the organization. We can turn things around quickly and we have a ton of elasticity by using the platform.
Jay: So if you want to then find new people to create content for you, you can actually use the ClearVoice search engine to do that?
Joe: Right. Correct. Part of ClearVoice and some of the planning tools and also in some of the recruiting tools, we have something called Content Studio. Content Studio is a full index of almost the entire web. It’s the top 250,000 digital publishers. We index that content every day and we look and see who’s producing that content, how’s that content performing?
So we open up a search engine. I’m going to search content marketing, a relevant example. We’re going to bring in a lot of the publishers that are in that category but also all the writers that are in that category, the top creators, the top influencers in that space. We give you full access to this as part of the platform. Then you can view those profiles.
We have very robust portfolios for all of the different creators across the web and in our marketplace. Here’s an example of an individual who’s prolific in business, prolific in his content scope and his content capabilities. We’ve got works here on the left-hand side that are very, very current today.
So we know all the content he’s producing across all the different publishers and what he’s talking about and how his content is performing. That level of transparency now gives our customers the ability to partner with creators in a way that they’ve historically really not been able to do. We also treat that relationship a lot differently.
This is not a marketplace where you come and buy one piece of content. Yeah, you could do that, but really this is about building a relationship with creators and building out a contributor network. You might have two or three people that you partner with that are on your contributor network inside the platform. You might have 20, or in our case 100. We’re using these people for PR purposes. We’re using them for on-page content. They’re helping to author gated content, all kinds of things. You find them through the platform.
The way you do that is by recruiting those creators and posting a content job, which is a private content job where you will identify the topics you’re interested in, what your budgets are for some of the articles you want to produce and we’ll give you guidance around how to pay. But we do match up creators based on what they charge and our clients based on what they want to pay. We meet in the middle on that and we give guidance on both sides.
When you do recruit for these new creators, they’ll come to you. They’ll actually apply to work for you and then you’ll be able to analyze those opportunities, hire individuals to do a particular assignment, but you can also favorite anybody that came back to you that applied and add them to your team and then that means you can direct hire them in the future.
Joe: So a couple of these recruitment jobs can easily get you 5, 10, 20 creators that you can hire to do different works and then you can organize them in different ways, build teams, favorite them, rate them and really have a nice creator network you can have for yourself.
Jay: All the payment stuff goes right through ClearVoice, right? So you upload credit card and then all the payment to those creators happens through the platform.
Joe: Correct. Put a credit card on file. You fund your own account balance. When you run out of money, using the credit card that’s already on file you replenish those dollars. You can put in any amount of money that you want and then add money to your account balance. Then what’s also cool about ClearVoice, it’s just built in, all the creators accept these terms when they come to you and they apply. You don’t pay them until you’re satisfied.
So we do have a two revision limit request. That’s not a hard limit. We don’t want to see a ton of revisions going back and forth. We don’t try to moderate that a whole lot. It’s matchmaking more than it is buying content.
Joe: But the way it works is that they’ll submit their content and then any revision requests, any editing that needs to be done. You can collaborate. There’s built in messaging. You can live chat, live talk to them in the platform. When you’re satisfied, you click Approve and they’ll automatically pay them at that point in time and it will pull that money out of your account balance.
Jay: If you’re an agency and you’re working on content marketing, content creation for a number of different clients, you can manage all those clients inside one version of ClearVoice and have one sort of calendar for client B and one set of contributors for client B and a different calendar, a different set of contributors for client A and run it all through one license, which is super slick.
Joe: Yeah. Exactly. That’s the enterprise edition. The enterprise edition is designed for large teams and agencies. It gives them the exact functionality you mentioned so they can manage all their clients in one place and organize their clients easily in one platform.
Jay: The pro version is kind of the middle size and that’s for small and medium-sized teams who have multiple users inside the platform, two editors and a marketing director or something along those lines and then x-number of contributors. There’s no limit there. Then there’s a basic version, which is just for one user.
So if you are sort of the person who is running the blog and really wants to use ClearVoice primarily to find new writers, to find new contributors, then that’s the basic version which doesn’t give you as much of the calendaring function but gives you access to the database of people, the ability to higher people, post content jobs, pay them, etc.
Joe: Exactly. Yeah. If you’ve got an editor at your company, a marketing manager, a PR person, a social person, anybody that you really want to collaborate with, you’d want to be a pro edition customer. But like you said, if you’re just one person and you need to get some content with some creators, basic edition is all you need.
Jay: Awesome. I love it. Let me ask you a few questions here before we wrap it up. It seems like best customers for ClearVoice certainly if you’ve got a relatively small team but you need more content contributors, then the basic version is fine. If you’ve got a decent-sized team, you’re fairly serious about this, you’ve got multiple people inside the tool, then the pro edition is for you. Then if you’ve got a fairly robust set of circumstances and/or you’re an agency then the enterprise version is right. I assume you guys charge a monthly licensing fee for this?
Joe: Correct. Yeah. The average customer spends about $300 to $400 a month for the platform. That means that some of those customers are pro and enterprise. Some are basic. Our pricing starts really low at about $99 a month. So we try to really just lower that barrier to entry. But even for enterprise customers, we have some functionality that competes with some of other middle market, upper market tools that are out there, but we’re priced a lot more favorably.
Jay: That really is quite reasonable. You’re right. There are other tools out there that do some similar things that are five and ten times that amount of fee on a monthly basis. It is a super good deal for ClearVoice.
I’ll have Joe flip back over to camera, but meanwhile let me tell you where to go to get your own demo, ladies and gentlemen. If you are a Marketing Marvels fan and you want to spend a little more time with ClearVoice and I absolutely recommend that because I think it’s super-slick, really combines a lot of things in one tool, easy to use and super inexpensive, as I just said, go to content.clearvoice.com/marketingmarvels. You’ll see the link below this video as well.
Joe, a couple questions about you as well. You’re a smart guy. You’ve been doing business for a while. Why this company? How did you get here?
Joe: I think I found myself, my partner and I, we found ourselves in the same boat that a lot of marketers did in the early 2010s, 2011, 2012, content became . . . obviously we saw such a flood of content and Google and other search engines and even the social media landscape started rewarding high quality content in a way that was what we had talked about ten years before that but from an algorithmic perspective the way consumers reward content by sharing it, high quality content really started to stand out.
So we knew that this was something that companies would struggle with. We knew that companies today are being asked to be, in a way, content brands of their own, producing high quality content in a way they typically haven’t done in the past. So in order to do that, we wanted to bring them the functional tools and the people that would really allow them to do that.
We had always been invested heavily in technology. We have some roots in the agency background, digital marketing agency background. So we certainly understood the landscape and we made that decision kind of . . . we made a decision to really go all in and build a platform that any content marketer could use.
Jay: I love it. You’re right about any content marketer. The example that you showed for your own company of how to source contributors and content participants, you’re looking for people to write about content marketing, as am I on my blog, but a lot of people do that. But even if you have a really specific topic, like you’re looking for some weird pharma niche or something else, even if you don’t have enough content contributors in the existing ClearVoice database, your team will go out and recruit additional writers.
So if you think, “My company is really nerdy. My thing is really specific. We’re in this crazy B2B thing.” Don’t sweat. Because if there aren’t enough contributors that are topically aligned today, Joe and his crew will go out there and recruit them for you so that you’ll have enough potential contributors to work with.
That I think, is in and of itself, worth its weight in goal because if you had to do that yourself and approach those potential contributors, A, find them, B, approach them, C, recruit them, just the time required to do that would be significant for sure. So there may be a fee associated with that depending on what it is, but trust me, it’s way cheaper to have Joe and the ClearVoice guys do it than to do it yourself.
Joe: Well said, Jay.
Jay: Right? Exactly. Last question for you. Love ClearVoice, love what you’re doing. What else do you love? Other than your own software, of course, what’s a marketing marvel to you, Joe?
Joe: I think that when companies are able to get corporate buy in, we know how challenging it is and it takes time. The investment in developing content is one that you’re going to have to wait on a lot of times before you start seeing that payback.
I’ve been really impressed with some companies that are even small businesses that have been able to effectively blog. If a company can blog two or three times a week and just do that consistently and really put out some high quality content, there’s no reason to put out content that’s not high quality, so my recommendation would be if you can only blog once a month and that’s the only amount of high quality content you can put out, just do that and then work into that two or three times a week.
But companies that are doing two or three great pieces a week, not only are they getting great results from an email subscriber base perspective and obviously growing their ability with email marketing, but what they’re producing from an SEO perspective, powering their social media, I feel like it’s such a fundamental thing.
So that always impresses me. Other marketing marvels from a technology perspective, I love a lot of what Buffer’s doing. I think they’re doing a great job. HubSpot is probably one of the coolest brands out there in terms of they built a wide product but it’s deep enough that I feel like it services that SME market in a way that’s really unique. The price point makes a lot of sense and they’re such great practitioners of content marketing. That’s one of the reasons why we’ve partnered the APIs together, so we can push that content into HubSpot. Those are great customers for us. They need great content.
Jay: Yeah. No question. Those guys really eat their own dog food. They know what they’re doing, for sure, both Buffer and HubSpot. Joe, thanks so much for being on the show. Really appreciate you and the entire ClearVoice team for your partnership, for the work that we do together and congratulations on continuing to iterate a terrific tool that’s going to help a lot of people at a very reasonable price point. Folks, don’t forget to go to content.clearvoice.com/marketingmarvels to do a demo, talk to Joe and the team and see how it fits for your own content creation needs.
Here on Marketing Marvels we do new episodes about every three weeks. I bring you something else cool that I personally believe in that I think you will enjoy. Don’t miss an episode, though. Here’s what I want you to do. Go to bit.ly/marketingmarvels. That is the main YouTube page for this show. Just subscribe to my YouTube channel, that way every time there’s a new episode, you’ll get an email notification that there’s a new Marketing Marvels just for you.
Marketing Marvels is a production of Convince & Convert Media. We do Marketing Marvels. We also have five podcasts including Social Pros, Content Pros, Influence Pros, The Business of Story and The Convince & Convert Podcast. So whatever side of digital marketing you are on, we have got you covered. All of it is based on our main site, convinceandconvert.com. Of course you can find us on iTunes as well.
On behalf of the whole team at Convince & Convert, on behalf of Joe and the guys at ClearVoice, thanks so much for being here. This has been Marketing Marvels and I’ll see you next time.