Project: New Content Department
Audience: Beginner e-commerce merchants located in India, China, and Pakistan interested in selling to countries in America and Europe
Results: $6.3 million in Gross Transaction Volume from Converted Customers
For 14 months, I served as the Marketing Communications Director at 2Checkout, an online payment processor that specializes in international e-commerce transactions. (The board eventually scrapped the product to start from scratch.) Throughout my time with the company, I created and managed a team devoted to growing a new inbound marketing program based around content. The content focused on educating new merchants on the basic tenants and strategies of online trading to maximize sales. In the spirit of inbound marketing, the imperative was to focus on values and passion, not solely direct sales. The project also entailed adding a degree of B2B “sexiness” and “sheen,” two words that I interpreted to mean well-designed and accessible. Within the role, I also communicated new product developments, branding, and the occasional pervasive customer service dispute. The platforms I created/managed include:
Canadian columnist/cartoonist Chip Zdarsky once described a newspaper as an airplane that runs on coal, and the coal is content. Once a publication runs out of content, the metaphorical airplane crashes, obliterating careers, reputations, and readership. I took a similar attitude toward the 2CO content program: consistent and relevant content on international e-commerce designed to build thought leadership. E-Books (branded under the “E-Commerce Academy”) stood at the crux of that endeavor. The company’s general insight was that the payment processor attracted highly-enthusiastic global merchants who had little formal experience or expertise. They lacked awareness of the break-neck pace of e-commerce innovation, as well as the most basic tenants of digital salesmanship. My team — three full-time employees and approximately five freelancers — pushed out two e-books a month, centered around incredibly basic e-commerce subjects. As our content built up, we addressed more timely criteria to complement recent developments and trends (i.e. an e-book on Chinese social media to reflect the largest new online market in the world). Specifically, I dictated the editorial schedule, edited, ghost wrote and helped guide the art direction with our in-house designer.
Visitors additionally had to register their email, company and other dynamic information to download the e-books. We would then hand that data over to the sales department to pursue new leads.
We also developed a video and copy E-Commerce Glossary to aid in thought leadership and education. Online payments aren’t a casual process to understand. The goal behind the videos — with bilingual captions for merchants who didn’t understand English — was to not only provide a Fisher-Price-simple discussion of payment processing/2Checkout’s most basic terminology, but to also rank higher for these terms on Google. Admittedly, our cue card and acting chops weren’t immaculate, but merchants praised the accessibility and simplicity.
The 2Checkout Blog was the connective tissue for all of our communication campaigns: new product announcements, e-books, podcasts, and, of course, blogging. My general approach was for the blog to celebrate e-commerce and innovation strategy, values, and news, without relying on messaging exclusive to the product. This tactic is obvious to anyone who’s read Fast Company in the last decade, but wasn’t quite as precedented in the B2B sphere of the Midwest. The goal was to provide relevancy to the brand through thought leadership over the entire industry. So we riffed on the potential of The Oculus Rift, discussed how Brazil hosting the the World Cup would benefit the digital marketplace, and why/why not Bitcoin was a worthwhile investment. Visa started to carry our content, which increased traffic and provided a great sense of validation. I wrote many of the entries, conducted the podcasts, set the editorial schedule, and edited my freelancers’ work.
Toward the end of my team’s run, we focused more on multimedia that could easily be distributed through email campaigns. The above piece of content was an animation segment that fit into a series detailing the largest emerging markets in e-commerce. We also started on a series of infographics outlining geographic design considerations, such as color significance by country and region.
Every few months, 2Checkout would release an updated feature or new tool within the software. The upgrades were largely technical and focused on mitigating busy work, extra verification, or security burden. We also made announcements for enhanced functionality with browsers and devices. My first product marketing exercise was a mini-campaign we launched regarding our VA (vendor area) redesign.
We instituted the change primarily to cater to larger merchants in the west, and our control pages — sufficient for smaller-scale merchants — weren’t impressing online sellers that had more sophisticated needs for bigger transactions. The audience consisted of companies that operated in entertainment, and predominantly had younger contacts and e-commerce managers. With that in mind, we took a more informal approach that would show our merchants that we listened intently to their needs, while also buffering the information in engaging language. I personally enjoyed it because we were able to incorporate design, copy, and video into one piece.