“Buffer has become the startup standard-bearer when it comes to blogging.”
That’s how we described Buffer’s content marketing success in our list of must-read marketing blogs. Buffer’s explosive growth to more than 1 million users is due in large part to its strategic approach to content. They run two blogs — the popular Buffer blog which covers productivity, life hacks, social media and marketing, and the Buffer Open blog, which details the company’s growth, values and even employee salaries.
Buffer recently hired a new Head of Content Marketing, Courtney Seiter. When Chris Hexton and I saw this, we thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to pick her brain about content marketing?” Luckily for us, Courtney agreed to chat about her new role, their approach to content and email marketing, and some of her favorite blogs and newsletters. Without further ado, meet Buffer’s Head of Content Marketing, Courtney Seiter!
You are relatively new to Buffer … what were you doing before?
Courtney: I’ve been at Buffer since the beginning of February (2014) so just a few months now! Oh, gosh let’s see … my pre-Buffer life has included a lot of different stuff. I was a freelance magazine writer in New York, a longtime newspaper reporter and editor and a SaaS community manager before coming to Buffer. Basically anything with words, I’ve always wanted to be in the middle of. 🙂
— Leo Widrich (@LeoWid) April 8, 2014
Buffer kills it with content. What is the secret to the success of the Buffer blog?
Courtney: I feel so lucky to work with such a well respected and celebrated blog every day. Leo spills a lot of the secrets of Buffer’s success in this post. The main one I focus on is the idea of “Would anyone email this article to a friend?” With that as our guiding principle, we try to make sure every piece we publish is thorough enough, unique enough and helpful enough to pass that test. Another thing I love about the Buffer blog is how much we, the content creators, are able to learn right along with our audience. We use a lot of studies and science to back up everything we write, and that’s because the Buffer blog isn’t really about entertaining you or offering up our own opinions about what you should do – it’s about objectively experimenting and learning together.
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Editor’s note: I’ve seen this deck referenced on the Buffer blog. It’s from Moz, and it’s pure gold.
How do you and (Buffer Content Crafter) Kevan Lee work together to tackle posts? Where do (co-founders) Leo and Joel fit into the content strategy?
Courtney: It’s a very communal, teamwork-oriented atmosphere at Buffer, which makes for a lovely and creative environment. This post talks a good bit about our workflow, but basically both Kevan and I — and really, anyone else at Buffer who wants to — contribute ideas to an ongoing Trello board as we think of them (which is sort of always!). Once a week, we’ll go through the ideas and plan the week ahead. Once a month, Joel, Leo and I get together to talk high-level strategy and overall vision.
“The Key Ingredient of Buffer’s Most Shared Content, According to Research” https://t.co/nnjHR6lFue
— Joel Gascoigne (@joelgascoigne) April 1, 2014
How do you divide your time between writing, promoting and strategizing?
Courtney: That’s a really great question, and honestly something I’m still trying to figure out. At the point, Kevan is Buffer’s main writer, and he’s producing a ton of really amazing stuff. On any given day I’m talking to folks on social media, editing future content, finding great gems for Buffer’s content suggestions, working on educational resources like webinars (we’ve got one coming up April 30 with Twitter for Small Business) and looking at overall strategy – while still dipping into writing as often as I can, because I really enjoy it.
How The Buffer Blog Did in March: 717,070 Uniques; 20,256 Email Subscribers: https://t.co/SrrR0glpu0
— Buffer (@buffer) April 11, 2014
How do you use email to drive traffic and engage readers? Do you use drip campaigns to convert free users to paid users, or focus on only building traffic to the blog?
Courtney: Supersmart question! Working at Buffer means you’re pretty much always in the middle of an experiment, which is so much fun. We’re always learning. A lot of our latest experiments rely on email as a way to get new customers more active in Buffer and remind dormant customers of what we have to offer. So we’ll maybe take a particular post that has performed well on the blog and email it out to customers who haven’t posted in a while as a useful reminder about Buffer. And we’ll use email to give you great content suggestions when your Buffer queue is empty, so even if you’re new to Buffer you can begin to see right away how easy it is to share great content and get a response from your friends and followers.
Are there any resources (books, blogs, people, etc.) that you would recommend to the content community?
Courtney: Definitely! Here’s what we’re reading lately at Buffer. As for blogs/news sources, we read a lot of Zen Habits at Buffer, I think The Atlantic‘s tech coverage is great, and I adore the resurgence of unique, offbeat email newsletters like Austin Kleon’s, Alexis Madrigal’s, Barking Up The Wrong Tree and NextDraft.