Message Pillars, Content Strategy and Distribution
So I shared with you about our customer research process in my fitness pal and the customer journey mapping process at my fitness pal. We went to six cities, we talked to people, we talked to them in their homes. We went to the grocery store with them. Um and we asked some really general questions. First, really broad questions about what their number one obstacle to living a healthy life was. We often we um and then we narrow down as we needed to. Um Ultimately, we distilled some of the patterns that we heard them come back with into a customer journey map where we documented and understood their struggles, their successes, the individual stages of the, the universal stages of the journey from living in unhealthy life to live in a more healthy life where we inventory they're feeling as any emotions and things that got them stuck, the places they got unstuck. Um, the questions they asked and even their natural language phrases, um as you might remember, there were some surprising findi...
ngs in that process. We realized, we heard them say that the number one obstacle to um living a healthy life was cost was the cost of healthy food. And at first we didn't believe it until we drove through the drive through with them and saw them buying masses of food for very, very cheap prices on the dollar menus at various fast food restaurants, We heard them saying that cooking was hard for them and we knew cooking would help them be successful because we had seen that already in our usage data. Um we heard them saying, you know, cooking the food I cook doesn't taste good if it's healthy. Um it's hard, cooking is hard. Um and we heard them talking about, you know, calories being a little confounding for them. They sort of were getting the nutritional literacy of like this food has this many calories in it but when they were trying to stay within calorie counts it was really hard for them to put together a meal or a um day even within the calorie limits that they were trying to stay in. So we came out of that journey mapping and customer research process, not just with the journey map, like the one that I've showed you but also presenting. Um We made it, we just had a bunch of data and made a bunch of frameworks, we validated a lot of them with um usage data and with surveys we made sure that every everything that we were asserting about our customers was a thing we could back up or made sense to us based on what we had seen. Um We were able to use that data in a lot of different ways. So that's the other sort of pro tip here. As if you're having a hard time arguing for resources to do big research projects, figure out how you can use the research in multiple ways. So in addition to just doing our own internal content and marketing strategy and feeling a product roadmap, we actually also just built a media kit because we were an advertising, we sold advertising in our organization to and we hadn't had that level of a media kit. So we used the data and the marketing team actually produced this media kit for ad sales that started to kind of sketch out the picture for about who the my fitness pal customer was in a way that advertisers would also be interested in. Um I'm showing you these in part because they are from the media kit. So they were public data. The rest of the journeys and stuff I've had to take the data out of. Um for example, one of the findings we found here was actually a lot of my business people, people who were exercising but the exercises that they were doing were tended to be pretty beginning, you know what I mean? Like people bar in a way we're walking as their primary form of exercise. Right? So that's useful information and we basically were able to turn these insights into a whole con full blown content and engagement marketing strategy. So our theory always at that company um in every team was that if our users are successful than were successful, like we really thought much less about selling them stuff and about selling ads against them than we thought about like how do we drive customer success? If we can make them be successful, they will keep using it if they use it, we are good. We if we can't figure out the business that works behind that something is wrong if people use it were good and that was true. So we sort of systematically took these insights about what triggered their progress and where they got stuck and then programmed content to insert those triggers and remove resistance. So that's what I'm talking about success criteria, which we're gonna go over next. Um, we did the user research, we created the customer journey map and then we turned that into criteria for like, okay, if we do this, if we saw for this specific customer insight problem that content will engage, right? So we're gonna take a feeling or behavioral customer problem, we're gonna pick a couple and a piece of content that solves for that will engage. So example, cooking is viewed as time consuming, expensive and heart. So an editorial franchise of easy, affordable recipes with clear calorie counts will engage oh and approachable language. Sorry. Um so we definitely had people being like, healthy food is so gross, that was a common thing, or healthy, or like that's for fancy people. Um I e people who are not like me because I'm not fancy, that is me speaking in the voice of a customer, not me speaking the voice of me, because I'm kind of fancy. Uh huh. So an editorial franchise with stories and photos of real people who feel like they could be me succeeding and showing that healthy is actually gonna tasty and fun will actually engage. That was the hypothesis we came out of. Um so I'm kind of trying to show you the intermediate step, right, take the step of making the success criteria before you just start doing content ideas. Um you can do this with super big picture, like A million, $10 million dollar ad campaign that does these things that solve these issues will engage or you can do it with really super granular, like a subject line that solves for this issue will engage. Um So if our success criteria was, and one of them was that an editorial franchise with stories and photos of real people like me succeeding and showing modeling that healthy and big on modeling by the way in transformational work. Like people want to see, they don't want to hear you tell them what to do, They already know they've heard it. It's if you can show not tell great, if you can show with customers success stories great, this should engage. So we first did a single blog post. Or maybe we did like three or five single customer success story blog post that kind of did what this was. She looks like a real person, you know what I mean? Like she looks like a person you could know and she had a real health problems. Like a lot of our people had had some kind of health problem diagnosis, whatever, and she like, got it together and she lost £95. Um and yeah, she used my fitness pal, but she did a bunch of other stuff than just using my fitness pal to lose £95. Right? So we told stories like that and people loved them. So, again, we created a whole series of franchises specifically around this. We knew people wanted food that made them feel comfortable because they didn't feel full when they ate low calorie count foods. Um People just basic exercises we wouldn't be teaching. We literally were like, I've joked in here between the bracelets, two burpees, We would not have been doing burpees on this blog at this point in time because people were really beginners. Burpees are intimidating. We did a 28 days uh squat challenge. We every slow cooker recipe that we ever did in life. People love slow cooker recipes. Guys, I think people who don't even have slow cookers read slow cooker recipes, so we just would pay attention to what people clicked on and do more of that, and we would distribute it in a way that we knew would engage them. And so we created different editorial franchises, like once a week would send out at first, once a week, we would send out this hell are healthy and it had different topics. Um at some point, the recipes just kind of Went into this whole new stratosphere in terms of customer engagement. So every day we would send a recipe of the day round up and people would click on it, or unsubscribe rates or like .1. Um and not only when people click on it, people would click on it, who hadn't been in the app in a long time, and that is like a massive win for an app marketer. Um So we took this blog from Zero, like it didn't exist to um let's just see uh and we also would do these, like I said for um when we saw something really get a lot of play and a lot of engagement, we would do more of it, or do a special content program around it, so people who were really struggling with these like little low calorie counts, I've only got 200 calories left, what am I supposed to do with that? Um So we would give them just ideas and we ended up co publishing that with cooking light so that a lot of the times if we did a special content program, the business objective would be around distributing beyond our own um Brandon channels. So when you do a report or a book or a series or a thing like that, it's a lot, it's easier to get attention from the syndication partners you want who are often the outlets where your customers are already right? Especially if you're building something from scratch, it can be really, I've done this, I've even done this at T. C. I like when I first started um when I left my fitness pal and started this company and wrote this book, I created a couple of reports about the transformational consumer and got them like placed on Harvard Business review and big outlets because people want really meaty in depth content that's like valuable to their readers. And if you can do that, they don't actually, I mean you can't be totally a shady organization, but they don't care if you're like the biggest thing or the smallest thing. In fact sometimes the smallest thing is the coolest thing for an older media outlet to be associated with. Right? So coming up with ideas for content that reflects and is consistent with your messaging and what you do. That's a deep dive and you can offer to other outlets is an incredible way to get exposure on outlets. You really couldn't afford to pay for advertising. Um so we did this one uh this was like a calorie, I think that's where both of these were digital. Um This was a cookbook. Um this was a report. We did, I mentioned it a couple of classes ago, but we had data that um we had two things, we had social features in the app where people could add friends and people who added friends, lost a lot of more weight a lot. Um even if the friends were strangers, like you didn't have to know them just having friends on the app. Um And in fact, just as a side note, we often found that people who didn't have necessarily supportive families or people in their personal circle would do really well, making friends with total strangers across the world on this app, where all they did was just encourage each other. It was kind of lovely, in fact. Um so people would definitely lose more weight when they on the app when they had friends and we also just we're finding um and we wanted more, again, we wanted people to be successful, so we wanted them to add more friends so they could all just be successful. Um so I did a little survey of just some of our users and came up with a bunch of interesting data points about how people loved to work out with each other and loved to like take on these things um, jointly. And so we turned it into almost like an infographic style kind of book and pitched and place that along with the pr story about that data. So you kind of have to know like for us, it was always a important to deliver the message that we did have a very vast database of customer data, not for customer data purposes, like for us to use um in any kind of way, except to distill the insights about what works from a large group of people and share those back with people so they could be more and more successful, Right? Um So we created this book and it was helpful at both driving the messaging that hey, you should really use the social features on the because they work in your more successful if you do. Um but also was just content that was really engaging and we because it was deep dive and it wasn't about us really, it was almost not about as at all. Um we gotta placed on a bunch of great media outlets and sometimes I still find it there. So this is kind of what our numbers looked like early on. This was in the first Yeah. You know, let's see. This is really early on. Um we're just had a lot of engagement. We literally went from email traffic. So email was basically our distribution media that we were looking at in this. Um And you can see it went from like 300,000 people in one month to like 27 million people are views. Um with in less than a year. Um We had 50 million. This is about, yeah, this is months in, we had 50 million monthly page views on the blog. Monthly blog unique. Was a big metric that I was paying attention to at 10 million. And this was actually my biggest proudest number. So weakly active users and monthly active users. Our engagement numbers on the app. So we were bringing people back into the app. This is these are these numbers are strictly from content. They do not account for the fact that our product team was also crushing it. Increasing engagement with product features at the same time. So we were just driving a dramatically a dramatic increase in people's repeat visits to and usage of and time on site. Um and time and app with content. Um Let's see that. So I had a whole moment in time when I was very fixating on fixated on how can I reactivate users, how can I bring people back that haven't been to us in a long time? Um and we got to a place where we were bringing back about 500,000 new users every week. Um and in some ways, I mean this is not real authoritative quantitative data, but I will tell you if you've ever run a newsletter, it's very rare that people tweet you love notes about your emails that you're sending them. That's not really a thing that happens that much. But then being like whoever you are, who does this newsletter, you're awesome. Every article on your blog is relevant and interesting. This is very well done. And like I love your weekly newsletter is very interesting. Please keep them company that um, I cared about. And we really began to see this thing. You've heard this phrase probably before the Virtuous Cycle. But we started to see this as like, okay, we create content and apps, not just the business is not just the after business is also the content, right? Which was a shift for us big time. And both of these things, not just one both of these things drive user engagement and both of those things make our users be more and more successful. And that fuels back into the content that we do. And it just was a cycle. Like the more successful our users were, the more data points we could pull about of about what was making people successful. The morphin is tribe reports we could do. So it just became this huge cycle. And now it's your turn, it's your turn to like put all of these things into play that we've been talking about today. And I'll tell you, yeah, the world is ready for business to be done like this. And it wasn't always so I don't think there definitely was a day and age in which it was like the little guys out here fighting to do good business and lift people up. And the big bad mean companies know now the some of the big companies are like, just as motivated to do business in these transformational ways as the small ones. And a lot of the small ones are gonna get big by serving consumers in this way. Um, so I wanted to leave you with a couple of words of advice. Um the first comes from one of my heroes, the filmmaker Ava Duvernay, who talks and writes a lot about permission and about how many of us are stuck in our creative or like stuck creatively by like waiting to ask for permission or waiting for someone to give us permission to do something that's different than we've done before or different than anything we've seen before. And so, you know, really you should google her name and permission because some of the things she says, well, like blow your mind. Um, but there is one long quote where she's like, hey, my whole world changed. She was NPR she was a publicist and she now makes some of the biggest films in Hollywood because she like decided to stop waiting for permission to just do what she had in mind to do. So don't wait for permission but do create some space and carve some space out and to vote some resources to following through on this stuff. It is not going to happen overnight. It will not happen unless you're solo Procure. That's the one case in which you do have total control over your business. But it won't, it won't even then it won't likely happen with you on your own. As we've talked about before, you got to allocate space and time and calendar calendar hours in which to do the customer research, put things on, put it on the calendar calendar an hour in the next week to rethink what you sell in the way that we've talked about to do your story, spine, exercise and retell that story. Like if you can do one thing right now, calendar one hour in the next week to rethink what you sell and do your stories by exercise and just keep don't stop that our without Kallen during the next time for doing the next step, right? And then just like do it, start doing stuff, start doing stuff, I'm sure. And and remember the steps, remember the first step is to rethink what you saw. The second step is to end in there. You can rethink your competition, um rethink your customer who they are with the problem, you're actually existing to solve, become an expert on their journey. You know, then you re think your content marketing and especially if you're in a large organization, you will need to take some time out in this process to do some rethinking around team and culture at every role, every level. And that's some of the things that I deal with in the excerpt chapter that's in the bonus resources. Um but the biggest piece of advice I can give you is just start because just by starting just the fact that you step up and are like, hey, I'm wanting to do this project because I do not feel like we have the inside and intelligence about our customers. We need to be as effective as we could be. Just that you have no idea what kinds of resources may flow to you because you make that step and say that thing, even if you're relatively junior in a relatively large organization, if nothing else you may get introduced to the team that's responsible for that and have a whole new world open up for you. I've seen it happen over and over again. Um, I'm happy to help. Uh, the book is also happy to help. The book is me helping in proxy form. Um, and that's actually all for me for now. These are all the ways that we can work and play together. Work is play actually at this stage of the game. Um so a transformational consumer insights, um you know, strategy consulting, customer journey mapping. We're also running some mentorship groups for marketers now, so you would email me to get more information on that. I'll put my email up in just a second at Soul Tour, You can get the transformation Tuesday newsletter or join me on a 30 day writing challenge for conscious leaders and creators. It is one way in which people take on a bigger project, like the one we've talked about. So it's also free. You're welcome to register at tara Nicole dot com. Um And here are all the places you can reach me, including linkedin, which I do check all the time and email transformational consumer dot com.