Michelle Adams, Sr. Content Specialist at San Francisco-based Kintone, is a busy marketer. To rapidly build a customer base in a competitive SaaS space, she needs to generate a variety of content, from digital ads and blog posts to ebooks, webinars, and more. With just one other marketer in a startup that’s in growth mode (they recently surpassed 50 employees), there’s no real time for her to write ebooks. Nor does it make sense for Kintone to hire a full-time copywriter…just for a few ebooks a year.
And yet, the technology startup recognizes the need to get its message out—consistently and powerfully. So they hired MarketSmiths to pen four ebooks.
Our Client’s Challenge (i.e. Great Copywriting is Hard to Find)
In working with previous outsourced copywriters, Michelle experienced a couple of agonizing misses:
- One time, a freelance writer hired to interview and spotlight a customer produced an article composed almost entirely of unedited block quotes—with little to no supporting text. (Oversight? Shortcut? Poor strategy? It’s hard to know for sure.)
- Upon receiving feedback, things got worse: the writer reacted defensively, claiming that 20 years’ experience made him right—and refusing to listen or revise.
- Another time, an agency copywriter produced a series of articles on pre-selected topics that seemed more like a Bingo card of SEO terms—than an article people would want to read. In short, this vendor “didn’t do much more than take dictation and type down my words,” says Michelle.
- For Kintone, these engagements revealed how unusable—useless and wasteful—bad copywriting can truly be. “My colleagues were like, ‘Oh! Agreed. You can’t just put coins in a machine and spit out the same result,’” she recalls, laughing.
- In her previous roles, Michelle has needed to hold writers’ hands and rewrite to get what she needed. “Sometimes, I’d spend so much time rewriting and editing that I may as well have written it myself,” she says.
As a result, Michelle’s criteria for an outsourced copy vendor was short but specific:
- Be able to learn a new industry.
- Discover business insights—and weave them into the writing. (This might involve light pushback to gain powerful insights and clarify direction and tone, said Michelle.)
- Deliver quality work product: fresh, humanized, and engaging.
- Deliver it in a timely way.
- Receive feedback openly—and revise work without drama or defensiveness.
“It’s always a challenge to find somebody who’s not just a good writer but a good business partner—and can learn how to write for an industry that’s not their own,” she says. Michelle found MarketSmiths—and her luck immediately shifted.
Our Shared Success
From the first ebook we wrote for Kintone in 2018, MarketSmiths blew Michelle’s expectations out of the water. Back then, she was Kintone’s only official marketing writer, whose responsibilities (as mentioned) left her with the ability to update ebooks—but not to write one from scratch.
In 2019, we wrote a second ebook. “The writing was wonderful. My direction needed work,” admits Michelle. Once we received additional clarity, we delivered to Michelle “an ebook that wasn’t just fantastic, but one that the CEO and clients are now thrilled to actively promote in their personal channels,” she says, adding:
“Compared to other downloadable content, this ebook outperformed all other content launched in the same campaign by 1200%. It also had one of the lowest cost-per-conversion rates of all individual ads. Finally, it drove 1.5x more traffic to our site than other ads. It’s been a pretty significant difference. Not only is it great for us—it’s also encouraged our marketing department to say ‘these ebooks are fantastic and we could use more.’”
At the start of 2020, we wrote a third ebook. Incidentally, this was the ebook that got botched in example #2, above. “Can you take this mess and turn it into something that would win a beauty pageant?” Michelle recalls thinking. “Your writers came back with an amazing version based on that, within 1 turn.”
We are now working on ebook #4—and already Michelle is pleased. “Your content strategist gave us pushback—he did not receive my direction passively. That’s a rare thing to find in any vendor,” she relays, adding:
“Being able to outsource a project of this importance and feel secure it’s going to go the right way is amazing. With other vendors, I am going to spend so much time rewriting and editing that I may as well have written it myself.”
Results—By the Numbers
So far, our ebook:
- Outperformed all other content launched in the same campaign group by 1200%
- Had one of the lowest cost-per-conversion (CPC) rates compared to other downloadable content
- Drove 1.5x more traffic to our site than other content
- Inspired CEO Dave Landa and the sales team to take quick ownership—causing them to actively promote this ebook in their own social feeds
“The quality that MarketSmiths delivers is better than any vendor I’ve ever seen. I know that your work product is going to knock my socks off,” says Michelle.