An Interview with Danny Greer and Joseph Todaro.
In our recently released Marketer’s Guide to Customer Experience we share industry-leading perspectives on how brands are thinking about “customer experience.” Whether you’re a marketer or not, if you’re interested in improving customer perception of your product or brand, take a few minutes and check out the Guide — it’s a quick, informative read that will get you thinking about how you might up your CX game.
Two of our CX experts were from InVision: Danny Greer, Director of Content Marketing, and Joseph Angelo Todaro, Video Producer. Both had fascinating things to say about customer experience and marketing, but alas, we were only able to include so much of it in the actual Guide. So here’s the rest of the story — we’re sharing their entire interview below.
Let’s jump in. Danny and Joseph, would you mind sharing what your day-to-day work is like at InVision?
Danny Greer: Sure. I’m Director of Content Marketing, and I oversee social media, the blog that we put out, and some email work that we do. We also have some ancillary content platforms, like our e-workbooks, and some downloadables and freebies. Also, my immediate team acts as a support function for a lot of the organization, like onsite content, product releases, that kind of thing.
I would say we’re probably 50–50 split between original content creation, and just supporting the organization at large.
And then, Joseph on your end, how would you just briefly describe your day-to-day?
Joseph Todaro: Yeah, my day-to-day mostly consists of producing videos both for our blog and for product releases. Marketing videos, you could say. Some of it is directly marketing our own product, and some of it is just creating top-level content to attract people to our blog.
We make design-related tutorials, and things like that, that bring people along to learn about not just what we do and how to use our product, but also just design in general.
A big part of what attracted me to InVision in the first place was the culture of the company: giving, giving, giving. We feel like, hey, if you want to use InVision, come on along, but let us give you everything that we can, regardless. I thought that was really cool, because that was in line with what I was doing on YouTube with my channel: just trying to provide value first, and then bring people along to maybe purchase something second. A total secondary function.
FS: Educational versus a hard sell.
Joseph: Exactly, exactly.
Danny: I think a lot of the customer experience marketing that we do is really grounded in empathy.
For example, Joseph is first and foremost a designer, someone who knew design and knew the design community, and he was an Internet marketer second. I think that says a lot about the company as a whole and how we approach things.
We have a design education team. It’s just a team of two, but their whole job is in not pushing product, but actually pushing design … Teaching companies and individuals design best practices and how to be more successful at design themselves and organizationally as a whole.
I think that’s what’s unique about InVision. We try to empower our customers and give them the right information and tools, then the sales part of it is secondary.
When you’re deciding what next marketing project you want to take on, how does customer experience play into that decision?
Danny: One thing we always try to look at is, does this project solve a problem for our customers? Whether that’s a blog post we want to write, or a tutorial Joseph creates, is there a real problem that exists behind it?
I think that’s why it’s important to have people on staff who’ve been InVision customers in the past and understand the customer experience.
Of course, we do try to get into the customer’s head — we try to think like our customers, we talk to them. We try to figure out where their pain points are. And that goes back to what I said a minute ago: we try to create [marketing] that solves a problem, that’s really action-oriented and engaging.
And then I think it’s also about — not to be too cheesy — actually delighting and exciting the customer. How do we present it to them so it’s digestible? So it’s fun for them to take this information in?
A simple example is our weekly email list, where we send out our blog posts of the week. We write these clever little call-to-actions on every button that correspond with the post in the email. And it’s something that we actually get a lot of feedback on. People really like that. Little things within that kind of experience, we do them to make it fun for our customer audience.
Joseph: I can definitely say that as it relates to video, I feel very lucky to be part of a platform that I believe in, that I believed in as a designer before I was part of the company. In my role, I can remain very content focused and not have to worry so much about adding value through “marketing.” I hate to say the product sells itself … but in a way, we’re able to demonstrate the value of InVision by simply being honest.
FS: So it’s a lot less about “marketing” and much more about, as you said, content creation.
Danny: Full disclosure, I was not a designer. I actually had a video background, and have done web content for the last seven or eight years, but there’s a lot of internal communication — a lot of open dialogue always going on about designers and designer pain points. So that’s transferred pretty well across the organization which I think is helpful.
There’s a big push here for everyone to understand and have empathy for designers, whether they come from that background or not.
So there’s an ongoing internal conversation about your audience’s pain points and about what questions you need to be answering. How, then, are you gathering that information from your customer base?
Danny: We have folks on our team whose whole job is to keep their ear to the ground on the industry: who’s making moves, what are the industry trends, etc. And the content team that I work with is really involved in a lot of the online communities for designers.
Every piece of content we put out, it needs to be authentic, it needs to be helpful. And we can’t do that unless we keep a finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the industry.
We also talk to customers, too, quite often about their pain points or things that they struggle with as a design organization, for instance. Those, a lot of times, will lead to content pieces that we create or videos that we produce that help us solve that organization’s problem, and also open up conversations with more people. If one team has that problem, chances are a lot of other folks may also have that same issue or that same challenge.
Joseph: I can definitely back up that we’ve got an internal dialogue where we’ve always got our finger on the pulse.
We’ve got designers, we’ve got developers, and we’ve got so many different people doing different things who are all reading different articles and participating in their own aspects of the greater product design dialogue via Slack, we’re able to share those articles. I’m able to comb through conversations that I’m not even part of, between other people who are way more talented than I am, and see what’s meaningful to them.
So it’s a combination of that and, honestly, Twitter has been kind of valuable. For whatever reason, the design community is very lively on Twitter. That just gives us another opportunity to back up the general consensus, to see if something is just what a couple people are talking about, or if it’s part of the broader dialogue.
We’ve talked about how you guys are keeping your finger on the pulse of that conversation. On the other end of that, on the creation side, can you share a major marketing triumph where you were really confident that you did something in your marketing that created that delightful experience?
Danny: Probably one of our biggest wins over the last 12 months was Design Disruptors.
Design Disruptors is a feature documentary that we made. We talked to heads of design at companies we love, who use InVision to create products that people love.
For instance, the Googles, the Ubers, MailChimp, et cetera. We went out and talked to these folks that have really successful companies, mostly in tech, and it wasn’t so much about how they use InVision, but how they think about design. How do they come up with projects? What struggles do they have?
We turned that into a feature-length video, and we’ve used it to open up a lot of conversations with organizations and companies that want to take a more sophisticated, design-forward approach in their organization.
It’s really resonated, and people hold screenings all over the world. They continue to [screen it] — schools, colleges organizations, design companies — internally they’ll show it or externally. So a nice community has formed around it.
FS: I didn’t realize that there were still showings all over the world. That’s really cool.
Danny: There is, yeah. We actually just translated it … or subtitled it, I should say, into multi-language because we’re getting interest from all over.
People want to see it. Which is really great. That was a huge team effort, and took a ton of time.
What was really awesome was that there was so much transparency with a lot of the companies involved, as well. That was something we’re all really proud of. Again, it wasn’t product focused. I think that’s been really the key to our success: how we can be empathetic and helpful for folks, whether it’s education or inspiration. Be useful to people, and not so product focused. That builds a lot of trust with folks, because they start thinking of you as a creative partner and not necessarily a product. I think that’s the formula that we try to use when we assess any content opportunity.
We’ve talked a little bit about a major win. If we get into how you measure that … what data do you use to assess how people are experiencing your marketing, and whether it’s working?
Danny: A significant part of what we do is brand marketing, and in a lot of cases, that doesn’t have quantifiable black-and-white metrics associated, right?
Danny: So that’s the content marketer’s continuous struggle: proving value in the content that they produce that may not necessarily be directly conversion driven.
With Design Disruptors, for instance, these screenings are offline. That’s hard to measure. The amount of people that are going to the screenings, that’s difficult to measure. They happen — there are community screenings all over the world. But it’s hard to quantify.
For us, we can use something like Design Disruptors as a tool to start conversations with folks, with companies. So, that’s where the value is.
For our online content, we can use more traditional data and metrics. We use certain tools to look at things after we create them or promote them. We’ll look at, say, HubSpot and Google Analytics. We’ll look at things like engagement and visitors and that kind of thing.
But we’re increasingly using another toolset on the front end, before we create stuff, to measure basic search interest. Are people online talking about this topic [that we want to create content around]? What are the terms they’re using to discuss it? I like to look at trends like that. We use things like Google Trends, or Moz, or tools like that.
We very much understand the challenge of proving the ROI of your brand marketing. You know it’s important, but as you said, that’s the ongoing marketer’s challenge, right?
Danny: Yeah. It’s important for me that we remain at the forefront of the future of design. A lot of that is putting stuff into the world that folks may link to, or share, or talk about. There’s a lot of brand lift associated with that in framing ourselves as subject matter experts.
We do want to be data-driven and measure what we do, but there is a lot of respect here for just being good stewards of the brand, and of design best practices, and putting those out into the world.
Joseph: And when it comes to the content I’m creating, it is tricky to measure, but we do have some metrics and some analytics that we can work with. I think that we gain more insight reading between the lines.
For example, if I were to create a piece of video content, say, a tutorial about a feature, maybe even a third-party design application or practice. If we were to put that at the top of one of our newsletters, the number of clicks, the number of initial hits would probably speak more to the thumbnail, or the title, or maybe even the call-to-action, since we have those sweet catchy little CTAs in our newsletters. Everyone loves those.
But once that traffic lands, we use Wistia to host our videos, and Wistia gives us some extra insight that we don’t get on YouTube. By using Wistia to look at how we retain the audience once they’ve hit play on the video, we can get a better idea not only of how the video is structured, and whether or not we’re losing attention, but if there’s a drastic discrepancy right at the beginning between how many people click play and how many people stick around just in general, you can pretty much determine that the title or thumbnail was more interesting than the content itself. Right there, you’ve got some information between those two lines.
Just keeping an eye on people’s behavior during video playback has proven to be more insightful than I originally thought because then you can start to understand not only day one, day two, day three if people are sharing socially, etc., but exactly what you’re doing or saying in your delivery of the content that’s holding attention or losing attention.
What you would say is the most challenging aspect of understanding the customer experience, or managing the customer experience, in marketing?
Danny: I think our biggest challenge is that balancing act between being useful and having empathy for the customer, just putting out good information and karma into the world, versus how much actual promotion of our product we want to do. That’s a hard thing. I think that any piece of content that you create needs to have a desired path behind it.
So that balance … that’s the hardest thing for me, always, having that balance. I want to put out really awesome helpful things for folks. Figuring out the best way to do that and promote the product, without seeming to be disingenuous, is a difficult thing to do.
Joseph: I can definitely speak to the challenge Danny just described. The big fat now what? Once you’ve delivered great content, how do you leverage the trust that you’ve built? I can say that Andy Orsow, our lead video producer, is downright talented at simultaneously providing value about something neutral and at the same time, cultivating a need for our product to deliver on in a way that’s cohesive with the value he’s just provided.
For example, a design tutorial around a concept that proves to be more complicated than it seems, and then leading into a plug-in that we make, for example, that facilitates that need in a way that it’s a no-brainer. You gotta have that plug-in.
When we go in for the ask, we don’t go in big. We’d rather give, give, give, and then, yeah, if you want to pop your email address in here, we’ll give you even more and more and more.
One last question. You mentioned early on that in addition to that top-of-funnel marketing content that’s being created, both of you also have a hand in more of the educational content, like tutorials that are more likely to be viewed after someone’s already engaged with the product.
So, in regards to that more product-focused content, how do you collaborate across teams when it comes to issues that might affect customer experience?
Danny: The way InVision is organized, we’re not siloed, and we all use the product, as well. So as far as changes or updates, I send feedback probably once a week or once every other week to our Head of Product. There is a very open dialogue there.
With my own internal group that I work a lot with, I like to practice this idea of brutal intellectual honesty. So, everyone comes to the table with facts, and we try to make decisions on fact, not necessarily on emotion or opinion. And everyone can be very honest about what they think about it.
I can only speak to my immediate team, but I encourage everyone to poke holes in ideas. When we remove ego and opinion to just focus on what’s best for the customer, we can be more confident that we’re creating a great customer experience.
Joseph: One little side note on that. Some feedback and a relationship that came from an unexpected place is, I live physically near to one of our Customer Success Managers. So we hang out, we spend time together.
One day, I just said to him, “If you have trouble explaining something to a customer, if you’re on a call with a customer and they are struggling to figure something out or to understand something, let me know. Let’s make a video for them. Let’s create a tool for sales. Let’s create something for you that makes it easier for you to communicate stuff.” Because a phone call’s tough. To get on the phone with someone and to explain in words how they should be augmenting their design workflow, that’s a heck of a challenge.
So as a greater team, we do all try to make ourselves available to one another. But sometimes you’ve got to come out and say it. You gotta say, “Hey, I am a resource for this. If your team needs this, I’m your guy.” By being a little bit more proactive, we can definitely, I think at every company, we can all accomplish some interesting things.
— May 2017
We left this interview with compelling ideas for how to improve the quality and mix of content for FullStory. Most importantly, what most resonated was that if we create helpful marketing content that customers want (and need), the impact — higher sales, better customer experience — will follow as a matter of course.
Thank you Danny and Joseph (and InVision) for sharing with us!
If you liked this interview, be sure to check out The Marketer’s Guide to Customer Experience!