July 19, 2022

The Optimizely Podcast—episode 21: completing the content lifecycle with one tool

The Optimizely Podcast welcomes Kara Andersen, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Optimizely, who will be talking about how Optimizely is revolutionizing the way teams produce content with a complete, end-to-end solution for enhanced content planning and authoring. Click below for more.

 

Transcript: 

Laura Dolan:

Hey everyone! Before we jump into today’s episode, I want to give you one more chance to grab early bird ticket pricing for Opticon, Optimizely’s annual flagship conference. The event will be back in-person this year in San Diego, CA from October 3-5. Early bird registration for Opticon 2022 will end this Friday, July 22. So please go to optimizely.com/opticon if you want to take advantage of this money saving opportunity! Again, Opticon 2022 early bird registration ends this Friday! So, if you haven’t already, be sure to get your early bird tickets this week at optimizely.com/opticon and hope to see you there!

Laura Dolan:

Hello everyone. And welcome to The Optimizely Podcast. I am your host, Laura Dolan, and today we are joined by our own senior product marketing manager, Kara Andersen, who will talk about our recent acquisition with Welcome and how its marketing platform will coexist with Optimizely's content platform. How's it going, Kara?

Kara Andersen:

Hey, Laura, it's good. How are you?

Laura Dolan:

Good. Thank you so much for coming on. It's so nice to have you here.

Kara Andersen:

It is so great to be here. I'm really excited.

Laura Dolan:

Where are you joining us from? What part of the country are you in?

Kara Andersen:

I'm in Chicago.

Laura Dolan:

Oh, okay. Nice. You're close to me, I'm in Columbus.

Kara Andersen:

That's right. Okay. Are you having amazing weather? We're having a rare 75 degrees and sunny beautiful day.

Laura Dolan:

It is a beautiful day here. It's same thing. It's the upper 70s, not a cloud in the sky. It's just a gorgeous summer day. So very rare.

Kara Andersen:

Indeed, I love it.

Laura Dolan:

Yep. It's a shame we have to be inside.

Kara Andersen:

Right?

Laura Dolan:

What do you do? Well, thank you again for coming on. Just wanted to talk a little bit about our new merger acquisition here. Just a lot of buzz about it right now throughout the company and on the website. So let's start by talking a little bit about the current state of the content production process. I feel like there's a lot wrong with it right now. So what are we doing about that?

Kara Andersen:

Yeah. So we notice that there is a big gap when it comes to the marketer experience, and the tools that align specifically to that marketer experience, in the way that content is created and published and managed. So the solutions that we've seen out there to date have not really been focused on the marketer and the jobs that they're trying to get done. Not exactly making marketer's jobs easier. Or they're kind of trying to do a patchwork version of it. So maybe taking a technology that was built for a different use case and trying to make it appeal to marketers. But again, really not thinking about what the marketer actually needs and how they actually work. So none of these solutions are really putting marketers at the forefront and trying to solve for all that work that goes into creating and publishing content, all the stuff that has to happen way before you're ready to press the publication button.

Laura Dolan:

Right.

Kara Andersen:

So a lot of these solutions, they might solve for one piece or a chunk of that content lifecycle, but they're not really thinking about the content lifecycle holistically.

Laura Dolan:

Exactly. Because it has to start somewhere. It has to start with ideation. And I think a lot of people don't see the backend, behind the scenes, if you will, of what goes into content creation.

Kara Andersen:

Yeah, exactly. You're totally right. There's the ideation process. There's the planning process, where you're collaborating with all these different people within the organization, both on the marketing team and from other areas. And then there's the approval and workflows, getting that content to the point where it's ready for publication. And then once it's published, you've got it out into the world, and then you're starting to... You're trying to optimize that content for the audience and make it work even better than it was before. And then through that optimization, you're testing, you're experimenting, you're learning even more about what works, and then you're going back and starting right over again with the ideation phase and thinking, "Okay, now that we know what we've learned, what are the next pieces of content that we want to create?" and starting over there.

Laura Dolan:

Right. And I think that's a common mistake that a lot of companies are making is they feel like they put a piece of content out there and they're done. And that is never the case. Because I think you need to keep nurturing that piece of content. You have to keep promoting it. You have to put it out on different channels. And I think once they feel like it's out there, it's just there. But really, how it's working right now is, because there's so much content online, you're just putting something out into the void and it just disappears. Unless people know it's there, you have to create that awareness. So I personally have... Well, we've all been using Welcome, obviously, since the acquisition and I find it's a remarkable tool because you can create that workflow for after the fact. After it's published, it's like, "Okay, what are we doing with it now? How are we promoting it on social? Are we putting it in any newsletters?" and being able to track that progress is actually pretty remarkable.

Kara Andersen:

Yeah, I totally agree.

Laura Dolan:

So what are some of the common challenges that you see marketers struggling with when it comes to overall content development?

Kara Andersen:

Yeah, I think, and to your point earlier, we don't really talk about, or we don't really think about the content lifecycle holistically. And I think that does create a lot of challenges for marketers. So what we are primarily seeing is right now that first, as Deane Barker likes to talk about the first 85% of the content lifecycle, everything that happens up until you're ready to publish, that often doesn't have a lot of process around it written about as well. So, it can be really complex.

Kara Andersen:

So you've got, in my experience, for example, I'm a marketer, I'm used to using tools like Google Docs or Microsoft Word to create the content and then share it out with the stakeholders that need to see it and put it through the approval process that way. But sometimes you can have, you're working in documents and then eventually you need to get everything into the CMS, and not everybody has access to all of these tools so it can be really, really challenging to get that full visibility for everyone. And this way of working, it gets tough because when you have all these processes living in all these different places and only certain people have access to them, it can create a lot of these team silos. So it just makes the work environment a lot more complex than it needs to be.

Kara Andersen:

The second thing that we see is content production can be slow. So marketing is often super dependent on more technical teams or sometimes marketers don't have access to the CMS at all. They're just bringing it to a point where it is ready to put into the CMS and then another person is taking it from there. So they can be often reliant on getting the content to look the way it needs to in the CMS. And they often don't get that opportunity to preview what it's going to look like or really think through what it's going to look like.

Kara Andersen:

And that's a huge challenge. So imagine if you're creating a webpage and you are writing the content for it, but you just have no idea how everything's going to look once it's in there with all the images. It can be really challenging. And if you're trying to get that view, then it often you're going back and forth from the CMS into wherever your content lives. It's really cumbersome and it's just going to slow you down. So it means you're not going to be able to move as quickly and as nimbly.

Laura Dolan:

Yeah. It's all about giving people that accessibility because, like you said, then you're relying on other people on your team, hoping they even have the bandwidth to take that piece of content from you and post it on a CMS. And then there's a process. There's a process that goes into getting the images, and sometimes getting different types of content that you want to put in there, like a YouTube video. And if there's one source of truth where everything lives and everyone has that visibility, then it can come together so much easier.

Kara Andersen:

Totally, totally. Yeah. 100%. And the other thing I want to mention, too, is it can be expensive. So there's a lot of additional resources that you need to support web publishing from the creation, to the proofing, all the revisions. So that can really end up inflating the total cost of ownership for the organization, which is not going to be the marketer's primary problem, but if you are leading a marketing team and you're trying to think about how do I solve this problem, that's definitely something that's going to factor into it.

Laura Dolan:

So what is Optimizely's solution? How is it different?

Kara Andersen:

At Optimizely, we have our best-in-class content management system and we have recently paired that with Welcome to bring together three of our really best-in-class products. So we have the Welcome content marketing platform, that's for campaign and content creation, and then we have the Optimizely CMS for content publishing, and then the Welcome digital asset manager. And we're bringing all three of these products together to... We've just revolutionized the entire content production process by helping teams plan, ideate, create, and publish their content from a single unified solution. So it's one solution that supports the entire content lifecycle, not just a piece of it, and it's purpose built for the authoring and editing experience. So the needs of marketing teams and content marketers are very much at the forefront of this solution and what we're thinking about as we think through the different use cases and what problems we're trying to solve. So as a result, we're able to improve that team collaboration, help marketers work faster, and reduce a lot of that waste by eliminating the extra time that's needed to manage all these multiple systems.

Laura Dolan:

I am so excited about this. As a content manager and content editor for this company, I cannot wait to see what it's going to look like. Because I feel like it's going to be so much more streamlined and just so much easier to have all the stakeholders, everyone on the team, just has that ability to see what's going into this piece of content, what it's going to look like. And also it probably just makes it so much easier to modify, because I've found in Welcome, because everyone has access to one document, we can all modify it together and then it updates itself so that we don't have to put in multiple attachments and different versions of things and then we're just all confused. So it's really nice to have just one central place to have everything. It's incredible.

Kara Andersen:

Yeah. I love it. And, I have to say, I'm getting really familiar with Welcome because we're using it internally as well. We're using it as a tool to help us manage all of the content that we're creating around this launch really. And it's just so neat to see how seamless everything is and how easy it is to... I created a one-pager the other day and I was able to easily get that in front of the stakeholders that need to see it, and we got that approved so quickly, and design was able to take it and run with it. It's just so seamless and it's really exciting. So I can't wait to see what it looks like once we start working in the CMS as well.

Laura Dolan:

So can you elaborate on how bringing the CMS and Welcome together will empower content marketers?

Kara Andersen:

Yeah. First of all, it's going to provide a more simple way of creating and publishing and reusing content that is already approved by moving this whole process to where the content marketing teams are already executing. So this is going to help a lot with breaking down some of those silos that I was talking about and really improving transparency between teams across the organization so that everyone can really see and understand exactly what's going on.

Laura Dolan:

Yeah, we need that so much right now. And it's great because it's not just the workflows that'll help create that visibility, there's the different calendars and the different areas where you can organize the content and tag people and give people access to certain things that they didn't have before. So it levels the playing field.

Kara Andersen:

I totally agree. And the other thing I love about it is that it's going to help us move faster, too. So you can bring in pre-approved templates, so templates that have already been created by maybe a systems admin or whoever manages the template creation in the CMS, you can actually pull those into Welcome so that marketers have access to them so that they can then create content, let's say for a webpage, based off of those templates and the whole template is already pre-approved and ready to go. So they're not having to do all that extra back and forth and they know exactly what kind of content they need to produce. So it gives them really full autonomy to create a webpage, for example, and it can help speed up the production.

Laura Dolan:

I am nerding out right now because I cannot wait to see what this is going to look like. The fact that this is going to be so much more simplified. That when you get that set template, you know what to expect going forward. It's like, "Hey, this is going to need a title and a subtitle and some metadata and a byline," and what have you. It's the fear of the unknown is gone.

Kara Andersen:

Yes, exactly. Yeah. You have everything you need right where you're already working.

Laura Dolan:

That's incredible. So, Kara, before we wrap up, how can teams learn more about the technology and the benefits that it could bring to their current content processes?

Kara Andersen:

So definitely visit optimizely.com, check out our website just for more information about our solutions, and you can use the link there to reach out to us directly if you want to speak to someone to learn a little bit more. I want to mention, too, that this is actually a bit of a sneak peek with our CMS and Welcome connection. So the technology is currently in beta right now, so we have a few customers who are testing it out for us and providing us with their feedback, so we're going to be rolling it out to the market later this summer. So keep an eye out for that big announcement. It's going to be really exciting and I can't wait to share more.

Laura Dolan:

Well, thank you so much, Kara, for coming on, this has been incredibly informational and valuable and I can't wait for launch and to see what it looks like. And feel free to come back on with any updates after launch and we could talk about how it's been received and how it's working and just how it's making the lives of content producers and marketers easier, because we really need that right now.

Kara Andersen:

Agree, agree. Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. This has been so fun. Definitely looking forward to coming back later this year and sharing more with you.

Laura Dolan:

Absolutely. We'll definitely do a follow-up, Kara. Maybe in the fall sometime we'll-

Kara Andersen:

Wonderful.

Laura Dolan:

We'll get together again.

Kara Andersen:

Love it. Can't wait.

Laura Dolan:

Awesome. Well thank you so much and thank you all so much for tuning to this episode of the Optimizely Podcast. I am Laura Dolan and I will see you next time.

Laura Dolan:

Thank you for listening to this edition of the Optimizely Podcast. If you'd like to check out more episodes or learn more about how we can take your business to the next level by using our marketing, content or experimentation tools, please visit our website at optimizely.com, or you can contact us directly using the link at the bottom of this podcast blog to hear more about how our products will help you unlock your digital potential.

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