Product-Led Content Strategy w/ Atlassian Product Marketer Alex Zhitnitsky
- Content Marketing
- Product Led Growth (PLG)
A content strategy can be one of the most powerful tools in the early stage founder’s toolkit, but it can also be a time suck and fall flat when approached the wrong way. In this session, Atlassian Product Marketing Senior Team Lead, Alex Zhitnitsky talks about taking your first steps in creating and executing on an effective content strategy that targets developers and technical buyers.
- Product-Led Content Strategy
- Getting Started with Product-Led Growth
- Go-To-Market Prerequisites
- Components of Content Strategy
- Three Stages of PLG Funnel Alignment
- Components of Content Strategy, Continued
- Execution & Writing Tips
- Summary and Final Thoughts
- Who in the company owns and updates messaging pillars?
- Content Marketing vs Products Marketing responsibilities?
- What CTAs make sense for each area of the funnel?
- How important is SEO optimization in the early stages?
- Insights on Keyword Research
- How to talk about competitors?
- Quality vs Quantity in the early stages?
- Is repackaging an element of distribution or production?
- How to measure success when there's little data in the early stages?
- Recommended tools for metrics?
- Producing content related to the technology vs your product?
Product-Led Content Strategy
Hi, everyone. Thanks for taking the time to join me today. Today we're going to talk about content strategy and, more specifically, how does content support a product-led growth motion? I think that especially in today's market conditions when so many companies and startups are cutting costs, content can be one of the most cost effective channels to drive sustainable growth so this talk is very timely.
But with that said, creating content just for the sake of it is obviously not something you want to be doing so in this session we'll go over some guiding principles and thought -tarters that I hope you'll find helpful. The TL;DR here is that
content is a little bit like WD-40 for your marketing funnel but you don't just spray it carelessly. You need to apply it to the areas that squeak.
I'm a Senior Product Marketing Team Lead at Atlassian. I'm not a professional developer, but I have a background in software engineering and I've spent a big chunk of my career at Over Ops which is a Heavybit portfolio company.
In my spare time I'm also a program advisor with the fund, and I've been having office hour conversations with some of the founders. PLG go-to-market is something that's been coming up pretty often in these chats, so that's how the idea for this talk came about.
Getting Started with Product-Led Growth
We'll get started with creating a foundation, expanding a bit about why companies are investing in content alongside PLG, and some prerequisites that I recommend on having before really diving deep into it. Then we'll talk about strategy and execution, including a few of my personal favorite tips for writing. Wrapping it all up with some Q&A.
So first things first, what is a product-led content strategy? And is PLG really a new concept? That's the cue to put your tin foil hats on because maybe this term is actually a VC content marketing tactic all on its own. Considering it was coined by a venture fund, I'm going to say it's a little bit of both.
Lets look at the definition from Open View Partners, the venture fund that's been focusing on this term. They're saying that product-led growth is an end-user focused growth model that relies on the product itself as the primary driver of customer acquisition, conversion and expansion.
In other words, they're creating this distinction between a funnel that is mostly self-serve and bottom-up, targeting users with free trials or with free accounts or trial accounts, versus a more traditional sales-led funnel that targets buyers where you have to speak to a sales person to get more familiar with the product.
All in all, I think that PLG is pretty much synonymous with self-serve products, so it's not really new but this term does a really good job of creating the distinction between these two go-to-market motions. One thing that's important to note here is that sales-led and product-led are not an either/or, they're not mutually exclusive. The same company and product can have multiple go-to-market motions, and it's not unheard of to move around that scale from one side to the other or to mix in both.
But with that said, PLG is not a silver bullet. Some companies look at PLG as the answer to all of their go-to-market problems, but a different business growth model or pricing and packaging exercise wouldn't magically solve product/market fit, so that's one caveat.
Unfortunately, it's also not a magical solution for driving TOFU traffic. I mean, it can certainly help and it's a big step forward, but it's not a, "If you build it, they will come," type of situation.
For some products where it makes sense to build virality into the product, then maybe. But even companies that are very well known for their PLG motions are also investing more in more marketing channels to drive growth and they've layered sales-led motions on top of PLG as they mature.
So I think that if you're not investing in content, you're missing out on PLG's full potential as a growth lever. Even the term PLG itself is content marketing. It's also not only about PLG, content has a big role to play in sales-led motions as well.
More specifically, it's not just content for the sake of making content, but it's content that is on the one hand aligned with your product's goals, and we'll talk more about that. On the other hand, it brings something new to the table like your company's character or unique point of view on the market.
Now, we can't pull an effective content strategy out of thin air, unfortunately. I'm a big fan of just getting stuff done, just publishing, trying things to see what sticks. It's a really great approach when you're early stage, you can start producing content without having it all figured out. It's even encouraged, just to get into the habit of putting stuff out there.
But if you're looking to set up a foundation for scale, you'll need some assets that really crystallize what your company is doing and also be leaving many things to chance.
The first thing is really nailing down positioning, making sure that you and your team know what your competitive alternatives are, what are the unique attributes and benefits your product brings to the table, and who are the customers that care about these things.
You don't need to have it all figured out in the first version. It will evolve over time, and even though as founders you may have most of this stored somewhere in your head already or in some investor deck, by doing this exercise together with your leadership team and putting it down in writing; you're helping spread that knowledge across the company, helping inform everything you do.
Including content strategy, let your leads from every function be part of building the positioning. To reiterate on that, positioning is something that sometimes seems as a marketing task that marketing should figure out this thing on their own.
But it's really a cross functional leadership exercise, and even if your entire company fits into one conference room it can be surprising how many different opinions people will have about what it is that you're doing.
Although event in the absence of this exercise that gap will be filled on its own, that's how you get fragmented positioning, with each function in your company having some other view on what is it that you're building, selling, marketing or supporting.
We won't to dive deeper into this, but one book that I really found helpful and, to be honest, almost felt like go to market therapy when reading was Obviously Awesome by April Dunford (https://www.aprildunford.com/obviously-awesome). So go check that out, it's a quick read, almost reads like a blog post. It's worth doing this exercise to capture your positioning in writing.
The second piece is crafting a narrative that ties it all together, and the narrative in this context is the story that describes your unique point of view on the market and includes a description of the world that your target audience is living in, what's wrong with it and the new approach that your company is taking to tackle it.
A good software engineering analogy here is that your narrative takes all the source files, or Lego pieces, from your positioning and compiles them into a story that's going to be easier to communicate and execute on for your market, which will truly feed into your content strategy.
One thing to note here that's a common mistake, is that this narrative isn't the story of how you and your team ran into the same things your customer have and came up with the idea for the company, the idea for the product. But in this story the hero is the customer in their world, not your team's world.
One person that I recommend following here to learn more about this concept is Andy Raskin (https://www.heavybit.com/library/video/building-a-better-core-pitch/). He also did a talk for Heavybit about building a better core pitch and it's available in the library on the site. So yeah, bookmark it, go check it out, I highly recommend it.
Finally, I'm going to assume that you're already at the stage where you already have somewhere to post content. This could be your website, blog, resource center, documentation, social channels, anything really. Before we move forward, there's one anti-pattern that's worth highlighting here, is not owning your audience.
Let's say if you choose to start with blogging on a third party platform like Medium or LinkedIn, make sure you understand the trade-offs first. I think these platforms are great for building personal brands, but I wouldn't necessarily start there when you're thinking about your company's content marketing motion.
Components of Content Strategy
So we'll touch on the components that will help you put your content strategy together and get it off the ground. The first one is really setting expectations about the objectives and the primary outcomes you're looking to achieve.
Some common ones are establishing your brand as an authority in the space that you're operating in, attracting top-of-funnel (TOFU) visitors, building an audience maybe as a secondary CTA so that even if someone is not ready to evaluate your product right now, they'll pretty much still want to hear from you as you continue creating new content, and ultimately step into the product when they're in market and ready to try, or if they run into a similar problem to the ones you're describing in your content.
Then beyond TOFU, thinking beyond acquisition, improving conversion rates across the funnel. So it's not just about acquiring users, it's also about helping your users go through activation and expansion. If you're not 100% self-serve, also arming support and sales with content.
Another objective that's worth highlighting that not a lot of people are thinking about, is initiating and building closer relationships with customers and partners. Your content can be a great excuse just to get in touch with influencers in your space, potential integration partners, and customers on your wishlist, helping amplify your message and giving something to them before asking them to give back, giving them a stage on your blog.
But at the same time, try to steer clear of these misaligned expectations or pitfalls. The first one is expecting instant results. It might be tempting, but seeing results takes time and I think that consistent, high quality execution should be the goal at first as you're building your content muscles.
Perfect attribution is really a hot topic, it's kind of made to look like an exact science but it's not really an exact science and you won't always be able to tie signups back to content. Not in a clean way, at least.
But it doesn't necessarily mean that your content is falling flat, and I think that directional evidence is good enough most of the time, some qualitative evidence and some trends and metrics that won't necessarily be 100% accurate. But they'll be good enough to make decisions based on them.
Another pitfall is doing a lot of research upfront and treating execution as an afterthought, so analysis paralysis so to speak. Or even just doing a lot of research, building a content strategy and then handing it all off to an agency. While there could be value in outsourcing some content work, I think that when you're just getting started the hero or core pieces of content should be created in house, in my opinion.
Finally, set it and forget it. This idea of really not being agile and sticking to the original plan without updating it to align with your company's priorities as you grow.
Three Stages of PLG Funnel Alignment
Really that's where this next piece of funnel alignment fits in, so really tying content back to the PLG funnel. We're looking to create content pieces that will help us work our audience through acquisition, conversion and expansion. In the first stage, we're really trying to capture the attention of someone who is looking to learn about a new topic or they could just be bored, to be honest.
That's another valid audience. They may or may not be problem-aware, which is a term that marketers like using but what it means is that they might not even know about the problem that your product is solving. Assuming they fit your customer profile, our goal here would be to educate them about the problem, turning them from unaware to aware.
We still need to deliver on the promise of the specific content piece that they landed on, we need to make it worth their while. But if we don't find organic, natural ways to lead them to the next step, from general awareness to being problem aware, without being pushy, then we didn't really do our job at this stage.
In the next stage, we're dealing with in-market users that are ready to evaluate the solution. Maybe they landed directly on your site, or maybe they searched for some highly relevant keyword or they recalled your brand based on their previous experience with your TOFU content.
Our goal here is to make the evaluation experience as smooth as possible for them, giving them just the right amount of social proof or customer stories and helping them form an opinion on the capabilities that the solution they're looking for should provide. It's onboarding content, they need to set them up for success with your solution so this could be getting started guides, documentation.
Finally, assuming that they're in the tool and looking to get the most out of it, providing more advanced guides, helping them make that next step to expand their use cases and add additional team mates and just generally help retain them, build them up to be advocates for your solution.
One thing that separates good from great at this stage is leveraging the narrative that we talked about in the prerequisites throughout all these stages.
All these content pieces are contributing to that one big narrative, to tell a coherent story that builds upon your unique point of view on the market.
Components of Content Strategy, Continued
This brings us to content themes. Some companies call these content pillars or story arcs, but it's all the same. It's just a different name for the same thing. I like to think of them as different paths that all lead to the same destination, or different lenses that you can use to communicate your product's narrative.
For example, a content theme could highlight a specific persona or role, say SREs for example. So creating content that would speak to site reliability engineers and how they view the world, translating that higher level narrative into their universe.
Another content theme could be a market category that you're trying to create or fit in, or a segment within an existing category that you're trying to create, like the content that Gartner would eventually put you in. That could be its own theme as well.
The third example could be the benefits you're driving towards or the more technical prerequisites, so let's say React developers. It really depends on the product and your specific situation. Each of these themes connects to the main product narrative and gives you the opportunity to target more specific keywords and brainstorm content topics. Each of these paths should organically tie into the product somehow, but also signal to the audience that they can subscribe and follow your brand for more relevant content like this.
The next piece in the puzzle is market research, specifically competitor research, mapping out the topics that your competitors are focusing on, their top pages, and trying to identify the gaps that they're leaving in the market.
One way to do this is using dedicated tools for competitor SEO research, but you can also just manually go and check. That's also perfectly fine. A gap here could be a whole theme a competitor is missing out or, in the more likely scenario, maybe they are focusing on that theme but the content is pretty shallow and you have an opportunity to do a deeper dive within that specific area.
One more thing I'd like to spend a little time on is the distribution piece, and this concept that the work isn't over after you hit publish and release that new piece of content into the world. So a distribution plan is critical and you should have a little playbook for how you want to release content once it goes live. Social, email, online communities and influencer outreach are a few of the immediate suspects.
One thing that I used to do when the contexts around it made sense is to share a draft with a few influencers before a post goes live to get their take on it and incorporate their quotes in the post. Also, increasing the likelihood of them sharing it, helping generate more relevant content for your audience and hopefully boosting the signal once that tweet or post goes live, encouraging them to share it.
Last but not least, setting up your content roadmap with an editorial calendar so that everyone knows what's coming when and who's writing it. As part of this, you'll want to identify the people on the team who'd be open to help with ideation or contribute content themselves, and help them find their voice and a topic that would align with their interests.
As part of that, I wanted to shine a light on this misconception that many developers have, I used to have it too, and maybe help some folks overcome it. I ran into this a lot when working with other engineers on creating content.
You don't have to be an expert to be helpful.
You're not writing an academic paper when you contribute content to a blog and I think that a good rule of thumb here is to always lower your assumption of the base of knowledge for your readers.
There's also a lot of value in sharing a beginner's point of view on a topic and also something to be said about letting readers join you on your learning journey to help them and yourself navigate a new topic. So you don't have to be an expert to be helpful.
Execution & Writing Tips
With that, let's move to a quick round down of some execution and writing tips. I'm sorry to disappoint, but I don't have any magical tricks up my sleeve here. But if there's one thing that works like magic, it's leading with a framework, and specifically SCQA is a wonderful way to get started and add some structure to your thinking.
SCQA is a framework from a book called The Pyramid Principle by Barbara Minto. It was written in the 80s but it's super relevant today, and it stands for Situation Complication Question and Answer, which is kind of a cheat sheet for structuring introductions. It also helps crystallize your thinking as you put it into writing. So you start with the answer first, the TL;DR.
It works for emails, blogs, internal docs, even social posts. So if you're on Twitter and you're seeing all these threads that pop up, a fun thing I like doing when I look at it is to identify the situation, complication, question and answer in those threads. Yeah, I don't know if the people writing them are aware of the framework but it's kind of funny how they all follow a similar structure.
So this framework follows a pyramid structure that goes into more specific arguments and supporting evidence. Let's see an example, here's an outline, kind of a trimmed down, very trimmed down outline for a blog about testing.
So the situation is, "When we release new code, all tests have to pass." Then the complication comes in, "But code still breaks and users complain about errors." Which raises the question, "What should we do about it?" And the answer is, "We need to invest more resources in code quality and reliability," flowing into these three supporting arguments.
We're kind of short of time so I won't dive deeper, but this is the TL;DR for what is SCQA, and if you're interested to learn more about this method check out the session from Michael Dearing (https://www.heavybit.com/library/video/executive-communication) in the Heavybit library. That's how I learned about it, which got me to read the book, and I think that one Speaker Series session was probably the most eye-opening meetup I attended when we still used to do these in person.
Next up, making it easy to consume and scheme friendly. Content has to be easy to consume and scheme friendly, and this was true before the Tik Tok era, but today it's twice as important. To do that we need to use a conversational tone and write like we talk. Again, this isn't an academic paper. Some technical blogs sometimes sounds like ones, but this is one thing I like to avoid and try to simplify when I'm editing content.
So highlight the takeaways even if someone isn't going to read the whole content piece, they'll understand what you're saying. Two ways to do that are using lists and bullets, using a method like SCQA, creating cheat sheets for your readers, summarizing takeaways, whatever makes sense.
One other method is investing in visual examples. This could be an interactive demo snippet, this is something I'm trying right now with a new tool that we're playing around with. Or just a flowchart.
As an example, here's a visual that I created to illustrate how the product at OverOps, and we ended up using it in our sales pitch decks, the blog, other marketing assets to help communicate the concepts that our audience wasn't familiar with like quality gates and dynamic code analysis.
Finally, reread, rewrite, simplify and have someone review your work. There's a saying that "half of writing is rewriting." For me personally, I feel like 80% of writing is rewriting. But yeah, a good way to do this is finding a writing buddy or having an internal Slack channel where you can bounce content ideas off of people.
By writing buddy, I don't mean somebody who will proof read your texts, although that's helpful too, but you can use Grammarly. I mean someone who will help you make sure that the content is appealing enough for your target audience and will make sense to them, someone who's not afraid of giving direct feedback.
The last but not least piece of advice here is putting some extra thought in the packaging and not going with the first title that comes to mind. Try to think of things that will grab your readers' attention.
This was a constant debate that I had with my former VP of Marketing, because he was pushing for it more aggressively and I was always the one pushing back. But we always found a middle ground that makes sense, so things like listicles, writing on a relevant trend, some negativity bias. There are many ways to do it in titles.
With that said, if you're delivering on the promise in the title for your readers, it's not clickbait, it's just the hook for your post and you're doing your audience a favor really by making that topic more entertaining, more appealing to them, more accessible to them. I think that it's worth making yourself a little bit uncomfortable when you're thinking about titles, but not going overboard still.
Summary and Final Thoughts
There are no easy hacks and creating an effective strategy is not a one off challenge. There's a lot more to it than I was able to pack in this presentation, but I hope this session was helpful. Thanks, everyone.
Who in the company owns and updates messaging pillars?
So I think that there's two parts to this question, one is just general about positioning and messaging, and the other one is about the content pillars. Positioning and messaging, I think positioning has to be a cross functional exercise. Marketing can lead it, facilitate it, get everyone in the same room and help the follow-up process.
It can also be more opinionated, bring your own point of view to the table. But you'll want to make sure that everyone's voice is heard and everyone feels like they have contributed something to it. I think that's a great way to make sure that it will actually be used later, giving your team some room to contribute.
Then on the content pillar side of things, I think marketing can drive that on their own. Obviously it's always helpful to get feedback from product and cross functional partners, but I think the content pillars themselves are something that marketing can decide on.
In terms of when to update them, I'd stick with it for a quarter or two but then it will always make sense to revise as product strategy changes. Things are shifting around so that's also going to affect the content pillars, especially if one of them is a persona and suddenly you figure out, "Okay, maybe that segment of the market wasn't the right one to focus on." So you'll want to adjust things as you go, but still plan ahead.
I just thought of a great example for that, from the time I worked at Over Ops. One of our most successful pieces of content was GitHub versus BitBucket. It was number one, getting tons of views, tons of clicks, but we were targeting back-end developers. I think 80% of who clicked in were actually front-end or full-stack so it wasn't aligned with the audience we were attracting.
So the content piece was great. It was getting a lot traffic, lots of comments, but they weren't really part of our target audience.
Content Marketing vs Products Marketing responsibilities?
It's going to depend on the specific company, but one way to think about it is breaking it down by funnel stages. Product marketing are really the experts on the product, so they could work on the product guides, getting started, things that have more direct connection the product. In those types of situation, content marketing is focused on TOFU stuff.
Now, there's a gray area in between so it's not a clean cut. But that's kind of the rough way I look at aligning it to areas in the funnel of acquisition versus conversion and activation.
What CTAs make sense for each area of the funnel?
For TOFU/acquisition, the CTA would be to go to another content piece that's closer to the topic that your product is dealing with. So maybe here we're talking about the problem and then we have another blog talking about the solutions, our goal wouldn't be to say, "Hey, immediately go sign up." Maybe the person that landed on that blog wasn't even aware of the problem that your product is solving.
So at the acquisition stage I direct them to either maybe 'sign up for the newsletter,' or move to another content piece, or a more extensive guide about the topic.
Then in the conversion stage, the CTA would be around signups, getting them into the product, or if you have these two funnels side-by-side, direct for signups. But then demos are also a valid CTA here.
Then in expansion, these CTAs would be tied-in so the audience here is already in your product. The CTA here would be to add an additional use case, add additional teammates so they would be connected to in-product actions.
How important is SEO optimization in the early stages?
I think SEO is very, very important. First thing is you want to make sure you have the basics covered, so you have the H1s, the H2s, the titles, the meta descriptions, meta images. All of that in good shape, so that's the bread and butter. Then specific keywords and keyword research, I think it fits with the market research you'll be doing, competitor research and the content themes.
We talked about how content themes can give you this opportunity to explore keywords in a certain area, so that's where SEO fits in. In terms of the level of investment, if you have a great idea for a content piece and then it doesn't necessarily attach itself to a specific keyword or you don't think you have a chance to rank for that keyword, I wouldn't let that stop you from publishing that blog.
You don't necessarily have to have a keyword for each piece of content, so it's going to be a mix. There's going to be the usual suspects for your product, so there'll probably be a few keywords or a family of keywords that you'll want to build a more detailed strategy around. But that is going to really depend on your use case.
I think one challenge is if you're creating a new category, maybe you have some keywords but they're kind of made up because the name of the category is new, it doesn't receive a lot of volume. Then in that case, the sneaky way to still get relevant traffic is to think about what other topics interest your target audience and trying to connect them to that new concept that you're building.
One thing we've done at Over Ops was to focus on comparisons between tools in the space and tools that we knew our target audience were using or thinking about. So for example, we weren't a performance monitoring solution but we did create a post about AppDynamics versus New Relic and Splunk versus Elastic Search because we wanted to attract those kind of people who were evaluating these tools.
Then with that, a paragraph about how our solution fits in with both, so that's another kind of tip for those situations where you don't have the perfect keywords to focus on.
Insights on Keyword Research
The first one is Google's keyword planner, that's free. You can get the search volume for keywords. It's kind of manual. Then two other tools that come to mind, Similarweb. They have a free plan so you can look up your competitors' domains and see what are the top pages, keywords, where are they getting traffic from. The paid plan is also not that bad.
Then also classic SEO type of tools, there is Ahrefs for example, SEMRush. Yeah, there are just a ton of tools there. I don't recommend any specific one, but yeah, worth checking that group of tools out.
How to talk about competitors?
I think head-to-head comparisons are okay, but then you need to be careful with the tone you're using and really think about the positioning exercise you've done at the beginning. So maybe that solution is great for a specific segment of the market, but this other, new, emerging segment, your solution is a better fit for.
So making it positive, saying that, "Yeah, that's a great tool if you're one, two, three. But for new, modern teams that are three, four, five, maybe this new approach is worth checking out." So that's how I'd create that distinction while still being positive.
Quality vs Quantity in the early stages?
That's a great question, and I'm definitely camp quality. But I wouldn't say one content piece per year. If you have a line in the sand, a goal for let's say one blog per week and then you missed a week because you want to put some more thought into this content piece, I think that's fine. I wouldn't be too rigid with the guidelines you set first for yourself.
Bu I wouldn't want to go a whole month without anything new or even two weeks without anything new. I'd focus on quality, and by quality I mean the topic has to be interesting. It has to bring a lot of value to the target audience. I don't mean quality of writing, there are a lot of blog posts that maybe weren't written that well, but the content itself is interesting so they're still going to attract a lot of people, a lot of visitors.
So I'd focus on the core ideas in the blog and wouldn't necessarily wait another week to perfect the elements around it.
Is repackaging an element of distribution or production?
I think it's an element of distribution but then you really need to put some thought into the different platforms. There is this trend of not linking out of Twitter and LinkedIn, and heading more content to the actual post and keeping people in the platform where they're consuming the content. So you need to do some copy editing to adjust the content to feed those platforms, but yeah, repackaging is great.
One more thought about repurposing, one of the most popular blogs we had at Over Ops was Five New Features in Java 8.0., then Five New Features in Java 9.0, Five New Features in Java 10.0. That same title, we ended up using it so many times but really it always worked and we always got into the top five results for those different Java versions. So if there's any technology that your audience is following, that's another kind of content theme to build upon.
How to measure success when there's little data in the early stages?
That's a great question. Page views and signups are two immediate suspects. But when we're talking about more qualitative metrics to see if the content is really engaging, I think about time spent on page and then also bounce rate. So if you're able to attract people's attention but then they're just reading that blog or maybe not even reading it, just closing the tab and not continuing to other pages on your blog or site, that's a red flag.
You'll want to work on improving that bounce rate over time, creating these journeys as part of the content themes so if someone landed on a high level thought leadership type of content you'd want to encourage them to move to another related content piece that's closer to the product. So looking at that bounce rate and making sure you're moving people down the funnel or from the blog to the main site.
Recommended tools for metrics?
So at Atlassian the situation is different because we have more elaborate systems built around tracking metrics. But back to startup mode at OverOps, we were using Google Analytics for that and we were aware that it's not 100% reliable, but it did give us directional feedback about where we were going and it was good enough for us then.
I think another really important piece of this is not focusing 100% of your time on the quantitative things, there are some qualitative signals that can let you know that your content is working, if people are mentioning it when they are talking on sales calls or with support. Like, "Oh, I read that blog, I like that."
So when you start hearing these kind of things, when people reshare your content on Twitter, when you see engagement outside of your blogs, those are additional signals that can let you know that this is working.
There is this, especially with developers/engineers who always want to look at the numbers and make sure that it makes sense. But it's kind of like that thought I shared about attribution, it's not perfect. Those tools make it seem like they've got it all figured out and you know where 100% of your traffic is coming from. But that's not always the case, so I just focus on directional feedback and adding some qualitative signals to know if the content is working or not.
Producing content related to the technology vs your product?
So you'd want to make sure that you have a few core content pieces around that beta, that you're not just focused on that. Promoting that content, and if you're not getting enough traffic then you'll start thinking about expanding it to more TOFU and related topics.
So I'd start with a topic that's closer to the thing you want to promote, and then especially with the beta, sometimes you don't want too much people in there. You only want, I don't know, 10, 20, 30 beta testers, so I'd just focus on the core part of it before branching out to additional topics.