ABM Playbook

Get personal with content

In this episode of Lets Talk ABM we speak with Karla Rivershaw, Head of Marketing at Turtl on how to deliver a personalised ABM content experience.

Date published: Date modified: 2021-01-15 strategicabm 550 60

Karla Rivershaw
Head of Marketing, Turtl

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Karla Rivershaw

Karla is Head of Marketing at Turtl, a SaaS platform defining interactive content. Karla is an award-winning global marketing leader with a decade of combined start-up and corporate experience in technology, software and IT industries.

Declan heads up marketing at strategicabm. After some 20 years working as a CMO in the Professional Services, SaaS and EdTech sectors, Declan is now Agency-side building the Strategic IC brand and sharing our clients’ ABM success stories.

Watch this webinar to learn:

  • Why Turtl is on a mission to kill the PDF
  • The role of Turtl in your ABM tech stack 
  • How Turtl helps deliver a personalised content experience 
  • How content can empower your sales teams
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The full transcript

Declan Mulkeen (Strategic IC) - So today I'm joined by Karla Rivershaw, who's the Head of Marketing of Turtl. Karla thank you for joining us today. Tell us a little bit about Turtl and perhaps something that maybe people don't know about your company.

Karla Rivershaw (Turtl) - Sure, so Turtl is a… Gosh we, you know, we actually struggle to know exactly how to define Turtl because I don't think there is a category that it exactly fits into, a kind of like a new dimension I suppose. But basically, we are a platform for creating content that will help you to get read, essentially.

So we are really interested in making sure that the content that people produce is actually being read as opposed to just being out there in the world and then who knows what happens to it afterward. So, in terms of what people might not know about Turtl, I mean, I think it's probably fairly well known because we do talk about it, but it's probably the thing I think is most interesting about Turtl. Is the fact that it's very much founded on some principles of psychology, and I know this is something that we'll probably talk about a little bit later. 

But we're really interested in how the brain works, and how the brain interacts with content that it comes across, and how it absorbs information, retains information, how it persists with content that you're reading. And so when you produce a piece of content in Turtl, we take into account all of those psychological principles to ensure that the content you produce is the most engaging and piece of content possible.

Declan (Strategic IC) -  Okay well let's talk a little bit more about that a little bit later on in the conversation. But just because I think we're talking earlier about the times we're living in, and obviously, we're living through some rather extraordinary times at the moment. What have you learned over the course of the last few weeks?

Karla (Turtl) - I mean, I think what it has certainly helped me to do, is to really focus in on, I guess the most important things and the most important messages. Because prior to this, I mean particularly when you work for a small company, you have a thousand ideas of things you want to do and you spend a few minutes over here before you realise actually we need to go over there and do that.

And that's fine, but actually, with the COVID-19 situation, it's really helped us to focus on what are the key things that are going to resonate most with people right now? What are the key challenges that people are experiencing that we can help them to overcome? And so really, really thinking about that sort of, I guess that kind of customer obsession piece, you know,  what is it that our customers need right now and how can we help them achieve that?

So I think that's been quite a useful exercise for us. It's actually really helped to kind of cut down a lot of the fat, so we're you know, placing all of our energy into producing content for instance, which really helps to meet those needs. And I think that the quality of the content we've produced has been some of the best we've ever done.

So yeah, it's been quite an interesting exercise for sure.

Declan (Strategic IC) -  And talking about content, how has Turtl's marketing strategy changed over the course of the last four, eight weeks?

Karla (Turtl) - I mean, I think in terms of our strategy, it's really been around, first of all, thinking about those messages, what are the messages that are going to help, resonate with our audience? And then really gearing the whole company behind those messages, so making sure we're developing the right content to support that messaging.

And then basically training the whole company on that messaging. So we've produced a series of playbooks, which we actually launched this week, or last week to our company. Where everybody basically has exactly the same information in terms of what Turtl is, how it's going to help to support people, what are the messages that they need to use when they're having conversations, the same pitch deck that they all use, everybody's speaking off the same hymn sheet.

And yeah, I think it's been really, really good for us just to make sure that regardless of who you're speaking to, what part of the business they're in, what channel they're using to have that communication, that you know, it's all really, really consistent.

So I think just being really, really clear on who we are, what we're doing, and how we're going to help people at this time. Yeah, it's been great. So I think that's probably where we've been focusing most of our efforts over the last few weeks.

Declan (Strategic IC) -  And in terms of your clients, and obviously the conversation that you've had with your clients, how have you seen their attitudes change in light of everyone's working from home, you're sitting there at home, I'm sitting here at home, have you seen any changes with your clients on how they're talking to you about using your services?

Karla (Turtl) - I mean I think that the general feeling is, well gosh, you know, we had a lot of plans around using events for instance. That means for us to generate pipeline for the business and suddenly that's been taken away.

So obviously a lot of people have moved towards using things like webinars for instance, as a replacement for live events. But actually, a lot of businesses are thinking more broadly than that, they're not looking to kind of replace like for like, they're actually thinking, well how can we start to enhance our digital strategy, so that we're able to reach people in different ways.

And so the conversations that we've been having with people have been around 'how can we make sure that the content that we're putting out there is being read?'

'How can we measure the performance of the content?' Because a lot of businesses haven't been doing that, they still publish in say old formats, like PDF, and they have no idea how people are engaging with their content, so that's something they want to rectify.

And also they want to gear up their sales team as well, so that they are putting out content which is personalised, for instance. So you know, at this time where salespeople aren't able to get in front of people face to face, how can they create new experiences for those customers where they're able to build these personal relationships, without being you know, in front of them. And so content is a really good way of doing that.

So I think overall, the response we've been receiving from prospects and customers has been extremely positive. And you know, I've heard people say to me, "Gosh, you know, Turtl has come in at exactly the right time, this is, we need it now." And I mean that's obviously music to any marketers' ears to hear stuff like that, so.

Declan (Strategic IC) -  So you touched on it earlier actually, around the psychology and how we read and how we consume content. Would you mind expanding on that a little bit more?

Karla (Turtl) - Sure, sure, so I mean I guess the kind of… The foundations that we have in psychology started, oh gosh, I don't know, quite a number of years ago now. When our CEO and Founder, Nick Mason was working on a project at the University of Oxford. 

And he was, he happened to be in the same room as a bunch of researchers who were discussing some research that they were working on, and as part of this conversation, he came across this study that they referenced which was talking about content, offline and online content, and how the brain engages with that content. 

And basically, there was this study that was done where people were asked whether they preferred the offline experience or online experience of reading content more. And generally, people would say, "I prefer reading offline more than I enjoy reading online." And so they did some analysis of brain activity to see what's actually going on there when people read.

And the interesting thing was, that regardless of whether people were reading offline or online, the brain was exactly the same. So there was no change in terms of brain activity. So it wasn't like a physiological thing, this was a psychological thing. 

And so it really got him thinking about what could we do to make the online reading experience as engaging as the offline one.

Because clearly, you know, it's not something that can't be overcome. And he thought this could be a real game-changer for marketers, if they started to apply some of these

psychological principles to the content that they're producing, well that could make a huge difference in terms of the performance of that content. So some of the things that we've been looking at at Turtl is, one thing, for instance, is around how the brain interacts with imagery.

And imagery is such a powerful thing, and I think most people know this. That we are hugely visual creatures, I think it's something like 90 percent of brain activity is you know, focused on vision. And so we need to make sure that the content that we produce is very visual.

And it's one of the really interesting things about imagery, is it's a very visually persuasive medium. Which is why for instance, if you're watching the news for instance, and you know regardless of what news station you're looking at, they always have a very similar format

in terms of how they present their news, you know, they'll have like the big image, they'll have a little bit of text underneath. 

But it's all about the image. Because they know, and they've done so much testing over the years to see what kind of formats work and what don't, That having a big image, having a little bit of text is how people will engage for longer, they will remember more information, they'll keep going back to that news channel because that's just how our brain ticks. And there's a load of really fascinating studies around imagery. So making sure that the content we produce in Turtl is very visual, is the first thing. The second thing is around the layout of the content.

So, you know, if you think about the experience of, say, reading a book for instance, you know, a physical one, you're turning pages. Even like with the Kindle, they have tried to mirror that experience, you're still turning pages even though you're not physically doing it, you know, you have to turn a page. And the reason why that is so successful is because we have a limited working memory. So when you're reading, your brain gets filled up really, really quickly. And so that act of actually turning over a page helps to sort of reset partially that working memory.

So you're able to read for longer. And so if you think about other formats, say for instance, like a PDF, which we're on a mission to kill. It doesn't have that experience for you, because when you're reading a PDF, rather than turning pages, you're scrolling. And as you scroll, your brain switches from being in an active state to a passive state.

And you get what's known as scroll fatigue. So you're scrolling and you're scrolling, and before you know it, you're not actually taking any information in, it's a highly mundane experience I would say. So that's the kind of layout, so making sure that you do give your brain that chance to sort of reset a little bit.

And then the final thing is about interactivity. And that's very much around this like active state versus passive state, so you want to move your brain away from being in a passive state, to being in more active state. And the way to do that is through interaction. So again if you think about reading something like a PDF, it's a very static experience that you're going through. There's no real way to interact with that content other than to scroll down. Whereas if you start to introduce more interactive elements, so if it's like for instance, a Live Poll, where you can click on it, you know you have to think about how you want to respond to that poll, you can see the Live results pop up. Or if you want to know, watch a video, or if there's maybe a little quote that pops out that maybe you want to share on social. You know, it's just there's lots of different possibilities for you to be able to engage with that content, and it keeps your brain active, it doesn't allow it to switch into the passive mode. And that is so, so important. And there was a study that was done, I think it was maybe 2014, where they actually studied how persuasive content is, if it's like a passive a more interactive experience. And the results were overwhelmingly so, that if it's a more interactive piece of content it's far more likely to be persuasive for the people who are reading it.

So when we're producing content in marketing, we have to stop producing such passive content because it's just not persuading. And I know we had this conversation before Declan, where we were talking about you know, downloading that PDF and it's a, you know, 72 page white paper and you know, my heart just sinks when I see that. I just know I'm not going to read it because it's a really dull experience, it's far too long, it's just not engaging for the brain. So yeah, those are some of the psychological principles, there are more, but yeah, we'll be here all day, that we think about when producing content.

Declan (Strategic IC) -  You know I think the funny thing you know, as we're both marketers, you know, we spend an enormous amount of time creating content. And you know, there's a huge effort you know, a combined effort from many parts of an organisation to create that content. And it seems such a shame that that content is not really actively used, or it doesn't actually have the end result that you wish it to have with all that time and effort really. So let's just talk a little bit about ABM and Turtl, and how you see Turtl. I mean how do you see Turtl helping companies do better ABM?

Karla (Turtl) - I think in the first instance it's really about the insights that you're able to get out of the tools. So I've talked a lot about, you know, the format, but also about what you can get in the back end of the tool as well. And I think number one when it comes to account-based marketing, you've got to have the insights because if you don't have that, you don't even really know where to start like you know, one of the first things you need to do is account selection, and how can you possibly select accounts if you don't know a lot about them?

And obviously, some of that information you get will be through fieldwork that your sales team can do, but it's also really helpful if you have some you know, actual data, and insights that you can use to drive decisions. So for instance, what are the kinds of topics that people from this particular account might be interested in?

And you know, how granular can you go there? Like maybe you know that the people in this particular division are interested in these things. Those divisions in something else, or even right the way down to the individuals.

So you're able to start creating plans for specific people within an account. So I think the insights and intelligence you're able to get off that is huge, and for marketers, I mean this is just so valuable because we struggle so much to be able to show businesses the value that we deliver. 

I mean it's like a constant thing that we're constantly battling to show how valuable we can be. And actually, if you're able to deliver this with intel, to the business, and to salespeople and show them, well look, we know all of this information about your account or the, you know, people that you are prospecting, that is something that will really make a sales person's eyes light up. That's the stuff that they don't know and they're not able to get on their own, they need a marketer to be able to help them with that. So I think that is really, really interesting from an account-based marketing perspective.

And then, of course, there's the whole personalisation aspect as well, which I think we will talk about in a little bit. But you know, personalisation is obviously, it's a bit of a buzzword, it's something that people have been talking about for quite a long time now, but I honestly think that it's been something which is sort of like, it's been a tough nut to crack.

We've been talking about it a lot, but not really executing on it particularly well. Particularly when it comes to content and delivering personalised content at scale. And I think that's something that we finally figured out at Turtl, and hopefully we'll be able to help account-based marketers to achieve as well.

Declan (Strategic IC) -  So let's just continue that thread in terms of personalisation, you just touched on a couple of really good points there. One obviously is with like One-to-many programmes, very often what you're looking for is personalisation. Or a small degree of personalisation at scale, whether that's a one-to-many or a One-to-few programme.

And you touched on the fact that Turtl can help.

Karla (Turtl) - Yes, yeah, absolutely. So one of the really interesting developments with Turtl recently is the ability to be able to deliver personalised content. And basically how this works, just to kind of explain it to you, is for instance, you may have a piece of content that's, I don't know, it's got different chapters about different topics. And you know that people within a particular account will be interested in certain aspects of that content. Not necessarily everything, right? 

So they might be interested in the first few chapters, chapter 8, chapter 11, and chapter 12. So one thing you're able to do is to say, "Okay, I'm going to be sending this piece out, piece of content to that person interested in these things." So you're able to just kind of check a box to say, make sure that we're producing a piece of content that just contains those pieces of information. 

So you're able to do that, you're able to also fill in a form with maybe a little bit of key information about that person, so their name is Joe, and they work in this particular company, and I don't know, which is a part of this particular sector. And what will happen is that this piece of content will automatically get generated, specifically for that person, maybe even in their branding. I mean whatever, you know, the sky's the limit really in terms of how you want to customise this piece of content for that person. 

And it really, it was just like a click of a button, really once that baseline piece of content is produced, you can then slice and dice it however you want and it's not going to require you to go to a designer every time to produce a bespoke piece of content. I mean God knows, I've been there in the past and it is time-consuming and it's expensive. So now you don't have to do that anymore, you literally click a button and you have a piece of content which you can automatically send out to somebody. And that I think is super exciting from a personalisation perspective and it will be really powerful for those, you know, one-to-one and one-to-few examples.

Declan (Strategic IC) -  And so one more question around ABM. What use cases have you seen of how your technology has been best implemented at an ABM level? 

Karla (Turtl) - Sure, yeah so I mean I think the personalisation stuff is still to come because it is like I said, really, really brand new for us. So we know or think we know how people are going to be using it. But to be honest, like we learn so much from our customers all the time, they'll probably start to use it in creative ways that we haven't even thought about. But certainly other use cases, they have you know, obviously like the insights gathering is really, really important, so producing pieces of content, sending it out to people, using that as a way to then be able to decide what the next piece of content is they should be producing.

So if they start to see… Let's say they produce a piece of content that they send out to a particular account and you know, X number of people within that account. Then they will be able to see, okay, these people are particularly interested in these topics, therefore let's elaborate on that and produce something a bit more robust, specifically around that. Which we can send back to them.

So you're constantly getting kind of Live data and insights on accounts that you can use. So that's been really interesting. It's also really helped marketers to be able to identify opportunities.

So like one of my favourite examples, and it's not like a strictly account-based marketing example, but it would absolutely apply to account-based marketing as well. Is where one of our clients, produced this annual white paper that they would send out every year, and they would get like thousands of people downloading this report because it was in PDF.

And the challenge with that was, is they would provide all of these leads to their sales team, and the sales team would look at this list of, you know, 1,000, 2,000 leads. And they're just like, honestly don't really know where to start with this, don't know really how to prioritise this list. This is just a list of stuff.

And so ultimately they just wouldn't follow up with it, and you know, that's very disappointing from a marketer's perspective, because you spend so much time and money producing this, and then you don't really show a return on it. So what they started to do was to be able to produce this in Turtl, be able to track all of the insights from the back end. And they're thinking, hmm, okay, there's some really interesting data we can get in here. And so they started to have more strategic conversations with their sales team.

Where they're like, so what territories are you having the most success selling X product to? And the sales guys were going, well, we're really interested in selling to people based in Paris, who are interested in say the North African Energy market. And so the marketing team would say, "Okay, well we know that there are 50 people who spend at least five minutes reading this report, reading specifically the chapter on the North African Energy market, so maybe that's a good place for you guys to start prospecting." And the sales guys loved this like they were eating it up.

And so they were then able to start having much more strategic conversations with these people who'd been reading their content. I mean it's just so much better to do that, than to just be given like a list of 2,000 people and you don't really know where to start.

So I think that's been really cool, and I could certainly see how that sort of insight would help salespeople in an account-based marketing scenario prioritise the people that potentially they may want to start to have those conversations with.

So, if you produced an account-specific piece of content, they might be able to identify key people within that account that are most engaged, maybe they want to start following up first and then they will have all this intel on the things they're interested in. So you're able to pick up the phone and talk to them about specifically those things. So I mean I think that's really, really exciting.

Declan (Strategic IC) -  Yeah, it's almost like a type of intent data really, isn't it? That you're actually seeing a level of engagement, and a level of intent that you can obviously then lead that prospect, or even lead that customer down a conversation, and to introduce them to new solutions, or to acquire them as a customer.

So finally Karla, are you working on anything there, any innovations that are coming downstream that you can share with us? Anything new and exciting that we will be seeing in the coming weeks and months?

Karla (Turtl) - I mean I think there's probably not going to be anything more exciting than the personalisation stuff at this stage. That is really where we are focusing all of our energy right now.

And we're still in the process of rolling that out to our customers and more broadly. And there are more things we will be doing around that to make it even more sophisticated. So you know, we talked about like the one-to-one and the one-to-few, but how can then this be applied to like the one-to-many scenario so that account-based marketers are able to deliver truly personalised content at scale?

I mean I think that is where it's going to get like mega exciting. Because at the end of the day, the One-to-one and the One-to-few, it is possible to do that without our technology, it's just very, very time consuming and very expensive. But you can do it. But I think doing it at scale to lots and lots of people, that is something that is just not currently possible to do.

And that's something that we are working on and we will have something available.

So yeah, for me that's, obviously, I'm a bit biassed because I am a marketer, but I just, I think that is just so exciting to be able to get that scaled personalisation.

Declan (Strategic IC) -  Well thank you Karla, I look forward to seeing that coming on stream very soon. Karla thank you for your time today and lovely to learn a bit more about Turtl and how you're helping the ABM ecosystem. Thank you.Karla (Turtl) - Pleasure.