How to Create Useful Content That Your Customers Want

How to Create Useful Content That Your Customers Want

Bogdan Zlatkov, Content Marketing Manager of LinkedIn Learning Solutions, joins the Content Experience Show to discuss using data to create useful content.

In This Episode:

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Full Episode Details

Using Data to Create Useful Content

Creating useful content as a business is a must, but it’s virtually impossible if you are creating in a vacuum. You need data to make strategic decisions with your content, but according to Bogdan Zlatkov of LinkedIn (and formerly of AdRoll), many businesses are gathering their data from the wrong place.

We have access to endless sources of data in the form of studies and ebooks, with companies around the world publishing their findings and success stories as their own forms of content. These are certainly useful, but to create truly useful content, the best source of data is your customers!

Bogdan and his team at AdRoll exemplified this idea when they created their Holiday Horrors campaign, digging deep into their own customer data to create content that spoke directly to their customers’ needs and tied into their products. By building off data from your own customers, you can ensure you’re offering relevant solutions to their pain points and demonstrating a commitment to a substantial relationship.

In This Episode

  • How Bogdan’s team at AdRoll responsibly used proprietary data to find trends in the Holiday Horror campaign.
  • Why ebook downloads can be a deceptive metric.
  • How LinkedIn keeps their content and products tied together in a way that benefits the customer.

Quotes From This Episode

“Every single piece of content that we come out with is always correlated to a product, and we actually modify the product so that it enhances the content campaign.” — @BogdanYZ

A good team structure is super important to help you make quality pieces of content. Click To Tweet


Content Experience Lightning Round

What is your favorite food in your favorite city?

While he wouldn’t suggest a specific restaurant, Bogdan’s favorite city is Miami, and he highly recommends getting a Cafe Cubano in Little Havana!

See you next week!

What Great Brands Do That Good Brands Don't in Content Marketing

Okay content is easy. Killer content is hard. This nifty eBook shows you the difference, based on our real-world work with dozens of brands. A must-read!

Episode Transcript

Randy: Welcome to CONEX the content experience show. I'm Randy, I've got Anna here and this week's episode was fun. It was fun because we kind of got to hear two podcasts if you will, in one. And don't get confused as you listen to the beginning of this one. Cause you may remember Jessica Cross from Role Works, Bogdan used to be there, Bogdan Zlatkov who is the Content Marketing Manager at LinkedIn Learning Solutions. So, we got to get to LinkedIn, but we had to get through Rolex to kind of get there. Right Anna? Anna: Yeah, but we had some really good conversations on the way. Specifically about a holiday horrors campaign that they executed. And now that everybody is done with the holidays I think that will be a nice little way to officially start 2019 with our first podcast of the year. Randy: True, true. You know what, I actually thought that the way he spoke of it that that holiday horrors was really cool. Not just because it was dramatic but more so that they used their own data to delivery this campaign. We tried that this past year, and we've had huge success. We did the content experience report at Uberflip, where we leveraged our own customer's data to help understand trends. And I think that that is something that brands just don't do enough. I know that you find this stuff really intriguing. Anna: Oh yes especially the stories that we could tell. And when we safely and responsibly use data to tell those stories and Bogdan talks us through sort of how they did it and found trends but obviously in light of data breaches we once again recommend data ... responsible data-ing I don't know if that's a thing, but it is now. Randy: Don't drink and data absolutely. Alright the second half we actually got hear a little about his new landing at LinkedIn where ... I'll let everyone tune in to hear just very honest feedback from Bogdan about being at a nimble content machine versus being at a very well built, well established content machine being LinkedIn. I think this podcast will have something for everyone regardless of if you worked at that growing, hacky company or that larger company, and how you balance the role of content within. So let's roll this podcast. I believe we got to bring in Bogdan, here we go ... Anna: Bogdan that you so much for being with us today! It's really great to be able to chat with you. Bogdan: Thanks Anna, I am excited to be here. Anna: You and I have gotten to get to know each other a little bit off air, but for everyone tuning in just now would you mind just giving an overview about yourself? Bogdan: Sure, I am a Content Marketing Manager here at LinkedIn. But prior to that I worked in the wonderful world of Hollywood, where I worked on some reality TV shows. That's where I sunk my teeth into video and then I had brief stint in a dream job which was a travel videographer. I basically got to travel around the U.S. for a couple years. I finally decided to get a little more domestic and stick here in San Francisco and do content. Anna: Nice. I have so many other questions now, but because we are gonna be talking about the content experience show, I'll save all of my reality show questions and all of the dirt for later when we are off the air. So because we are just coming off the holidays, and I know everyone's probably detoxing, it's a brand new year. When you were actually at Role Works, you did this really cool holiday horror campaign. And it was really interactive and it was just this great piece of content. How did this come to be and can you give us a little bit of an overview about exactly what the holiday horror campaign was because I know everyone probably just came off the holiday horror train? Bogdan: Sure, sure, it was a really interesting campaign. It started out as a lot of campaigns that I work on start out. And that's really like trying to solve a very basic pain point that the customer might have. So in the case of AdRoll, the customer are e-commerce companies and something that happens to them around the holidays is that for everyone else, the holidays is this joyful, wonderful time, time to be kind of like working a little bit less, more family time. It is the exact opposite for people running e-commerce companies, it's crunch time, it is super, super stressful. It literally can make or break their entire year. So knowing that, we figured out that they know they are supposed to spend more on ads around the holidays, but the big question is when do you start? How much do you spend? When do you spend it? So a big part of the holiday horror campaign was helping them figure out the timing of that. Being AdRoll we have access to all this proprietary data that we can aggregate from all of our customers. What we did was we created this calendar, which basically served as a heat map where we took all of our proprietary CPC/CPM data and we mapped it across the different months from October to January to show people where they could get their best bang for their buck on different dates. You could print out this calendar, or you could just put it into your G-cal, it would integrate itself. And with color coding it would show you, when it's really expensive to spend on ads and when's cheaper and you can kind of adjust your plans accordingly. Anna: Nice, I also love that you use proprietary data for that because I think a lot of companies out there especially those in content marketing roles don't realize just how powerful proprietary data is and in what kinds of stories it can tell. We are always looking to third parties to validate some of the things that we are doing or to provide back up but it's sometimes if we just look at our own data there is so much content to be mined from that. Bogdan: Definitely, I think using that data responsibly is super, super important and it's [crosstalk 00:06:03] after like use the actual specific numbers but in the case of the holiday horror campaign we were just showing trends, which I think ... to everyone else it's super, super valuable. Anna: Yes, no, just to clarify, I'm not promoting a data breach of any kind [crosstalk 00:06:22] that's information. I would never, but no, just exactly like you did, looking for trends, looking for data that can provide value back in a very anonymous way. Randy: Using data in a fun way, I think data to a lot of usage marketers is overwhelming and something we have to go make a quick decision on. As you are pointing out here, it can help people figure out what their year might look like. I'm wondering when we marketers are always trying to figure out what's gonna get someone to click through, what's gonna get us more data if you will, at the end of the day. It's a terrible cycle we have here. What kind of results did you see with this campaign versus sort of the more traditional ebook type format you may do year round? Bogdan: That's an interesting topic because right now I am in the throes of researching different content formats and interestingly enough... And I think this is popping up in all sorts of surveys, is that eBooks are not people's preferred form of consuming content, yet everyone kind of over-indexes on them, so I think it's something like less than 30% of people prefer to read an ebook. Sure, they'll download it, and you'll think, "Oh, I got a lead, people are interested in this." But, I am sure I am not the only one where I have a bunch of eBooks sitting on my desktop that I forget to open. The reason that I think this campaign performed better than our other campaigns is because it provided that interactive element. Just in terms of downloads and clicks, the calender out-performed all other assets in that campaign. Of course, we made an ebook. We obviously did a webinar, we also did a checklist, but because that was an interesting different format people were more likely to consume that than to consume the exact same information but in a different format. Randy: Gotcha. That's great. I love how you turned it into multiple assets, but with people with [inaudible 00:08:26] unique and different. What I want to do is take a short break, but when we come back you moved over to LinkedIn. So you're now [crosstalk 00:08:34], you're now at the big organization, not that AdRoll was any small shop by any means. You're at this big organization, I'm wondering what you've been able to bring in as the new way you're gonna get started creating content there. So we'll be right back here with Bogdan, to dig into that, and all [inaudible 00:08:51] at LinkedIn. Jay Baer: Hi friends, this is Jay Baer from Convince and Convert, reminding you that this show, the CONEX show podcast, is brought to you by Uberflip, the number one content experience platform. Do you ever wonder how content experience affects your marketing results? Well you can find out in the first-ever content experience report, where Uberflip uncovers eight data science backed insights to boost your content engagement and your conversions. It's a killer report, and you do not want to miss it! Get your free copy right now at that's And the show is also brought to you by our team at Convince and Convert Consulting. If you've got a terrific content marketing program but you want to take it to the very next level, we can help. Convince and Convert works with the world's most iconic brands, to increase the effectiveness of their content marketing, social media marketing, digital marketing, and word of mouth marketing. Find us at Randy: Alright, Bogdan, we're back and you know, you're at LinkedIn. Probably a dream job for a content creator. I love just creating content on LinkedIn, and the funny thing that I was contemplating as to what I wanted to ask you was, I associate LinkedIn as where I go and share raw thoughts. Ideas that I got in the moment. If any of you follow me on LinkedIn, you'll see I'm always posting a video, and it's pretty damn unpolished. Right? But, I know a lot of great marketers who have worked at LinkedIn, people like Jason Miller, people like yourself now. And a lot of the stuff that comes out of there just feels so polished, and it feels so methodical to this big vision. What is your expectation? I know you're only a month or so in, but what is your expectation to the type of content you're gonna be pumping out? Bogdan: Sure. So, I think the biggest difference that I'm noticing so far is just how well thought out each piece of content is. So, here I'm noticing that we definitely move a lot slower. But it's because we're concentrating on creating something that's really gonna be stand-out, and get your attention. So, for instance, at other organizations I might be doing an ebook every month or two, here, we're probably going to end up doing an ebook every one to two quarters, but that ebook is going to be very, very well thought out, researched, tons of data put into it, it's gonna be validated by third parties, it's super, super well thought out. Another thing that I've noticed is that every single piece of content that we come out with is always correlated to the product. Which I think in a lot of organizations isn't the case. So it not only gets correlated to the product, but specific features. So, for example, we have this campaign called "The Gift of Learning" where we modified the learning products, so that if you click the share button now, on any course, it shares it out onto LinkedIn, and unlocks it for all of your connections for 24 hours. So not only is it your share in content, and we have a content campaign behind that, but we actually modify the product so that it enhances the content campaign. Anna: Nice! I think in all honesty, I've looked at a lot of LinkedIn marketing resources and I think it's a testament to quality over quantity. I think to what you were just saying about methodically planning these things out, and getting things more on the quality spectrum than cranking things out every month. The other thing that's really fascinating is how you just said that all the content is tied to the product. And I know that there is a lot of debate out there about how you should be looking at things just outside, not just what you do or what your product is or what your business is, but also look at sort of the peripheral, and kind of what feeds into that. And, whenever content marketers kind of misconstrue that, is that they start there, and they add that there before they really lock in their product content. And it sounds like LinkedIn is really focused on locking in that product content, which it's apparent, it shows. The quality is really fantastic! Bogdan: Yeah, yeah, and I will say, I can't say this for sure, but my guess is that it has to do with our staffing, and the way the different teams are built. So for instance, at previous companies I've worked at, we would have maybe two to five product marketing managers. Here, I think, just on our team alone, we have something like fifteen to twenty. Anna: Oh wow! Bogdan: And so you have each product marketing manager can dedicate themselves and go so much deeper into that aspect of the product that they own. So that when we're all working together, you have much deeper insights into what we could do, different ideas, and things like that. So ... just from like a team perspective, I think that the structure is super important, to help you make those quality pieces of content. Randy: It's really interesting, looking at the two parts of this podcast. The first part, where as you said, you were at a high-growth company, still defining itself to a degree in the market, and you gotta be raw, you gotta show people how to think outside the box. And I think what I'm hearing at LinkedIn is it's all about, listening to this podcast, is that there's a difference when you [inaudible 00:14:19] someone who's established, because you have product marketers, who make sure the product is defined for the masses, you take on content, products that are less wearing hats that are about "Let me tell you about LinkedIn!" More, let me tell you what LinkedIn can do for you, now that you already know this brand, and it has all this brand affinity. I'm wondering, how you're gonna adjust your writing style, if you will? Moving over, have you had any thoughts about that? Have you had any ideas? It's kind of a clean slate, right? Bogdan: Yeah, yeah, I think one reason that they hired me is because they really liked my writing style. And so, they told me, "Please do not let us change your writing style, keep that." And if others were to describe the way that I write, whether it's blog posts or eBooks or anything like that, they would say that it's always very, very instructive and very actionable. So, if you can't read a piece of content that I've made and immediately that same day do something with it, and change whatever you're building, then I usually don't write on that subject matter. Anna: I'm a massive fan of that. I think that is exactly to me the purpose of content and creating content, is making it actionable and informative and insightful. If people just wanted to read something casually, they would go pick up a book or pick up something else, but yeah, agreed. When it comes to [inaudible 00:15:43] and product content, I'm on the exact same page, and I love that outlook. Bogdan, thank you so much for joining us! I know that we've gotten to talk about both sides, both at Role Works and of course now at LinkedIn. Hopefully, in the near future, in 2019, again, maybe later, once you've had a little bit more time there to [inaudible 00:16:01] we can come back and have you talk more about all the great things that LinkedIn Marketing has in store because there's a lot, a lot of content. Any particular place that you'd like to send audiences to check out some of this great content that's in progress right now at LinkedIn? Bogdan: I would say the LinkedIn Learning blog, come in about three months or so, it's gonna be really, really huge and we're gonna build it up really big. So that's Anna: Nice, alright, so everybody, go take a look. In the meantime, we are going to chat with Bogdan a little bit more on the personal side, now that we've gotten to know him on the professional side. So, Bogdan, stick around, and Randy's got some great "Getting To Know You" questions lined up. ... Randy: Alright, Bogdan, so, I'm still stuck at the beginning of the podcast where you told us about this dream job, and you got to travel the world or travel America, I think you said. Now, you landed in San Francisco, but if you didn't land in San Francisco, tell us where you would have landed, and the best food joint that you found in that location. Bogdan: Oh, amazing question! So, because I had that job, I frequently get asked what's my favorite state, and also, what's my favorite city. So, my favorite state was Colorado, simply because -- Randy: It's beautiful. Bogdan: The amount of nature and all the things you can do there. But, if I had to pick a city, it would be Miami, which I think most people find surprising, because it's not that well-known for being like, "Ah, this is my choice destination" But I loved it because it had this perfect blend of having American culture and then also Latin American culture in it. [crosstalk 00:17:40] I loved Miami, I loved Little Havana, and the place that I would steer people to is not any specific restaurant, but just get a Café Cubano in Little Havana in Miami, and sit, people watch, it's the most phenomenal thing. Randy: That's amazing! You know what, I can say I've gone to Miami quite a few times, and the people watching in general, in Miami, is something exciting. I think it's why Lebron took his talents there for a short time. Just that opportunity to watch everyone who's going by, and I don't blame you, I mean, I can't say I would choose Miami. Anna, where would you choose? Anna: Uhhhh, Portland. Randy: Alright, Portland! Cool, cool vibe, I like it, I like it. Well listen, this has been a ton of fun. I really enjoyed learning all about you Bogdan, I'm glad things have gone well at LinkedIn. Everyone can definitely check out some of the content you're creating there, until next time, thanks for tuning in to CONEX, the content experience show. I'm Randy Frisch, on behalf of Anna Hrach, thanks for making this part of your podcast listening. Until next time, we'll look forward to [inaudible 00:18:48] with you.  
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