Editor’s Note: We’re stoked when industry heavy-hitters approach us with a personal request for us to get involved in their own companies (cc: Ann Handley & MarketingProfs). In this case, keynote speaker and author Michael Brenner recognized that his team at Marketing Insider Group needed a beefier solution to manage a new content service. DivvyHQ was a perfect fit and, after the implementation dust settled, we asked Michael to give us an honest account of his experience with getting his team to implement and adopt the platform. Read on.
In the fall of 2018, we started the soft rollout of our blog writing subscription service. After working with nearly 100 brands on developing their content marketing strategy, we learned that the companies that execute a publishing frequency of 2-4 articles per week saw the best (and even predictable) increase in traffic and leads.
As part of the service, we start with creating a list of 100-200 article ideas based on our client’s focus keywords, then we schedule them on a calendar. Calendars are really just math problems visualized into days of the week:
Very quickly, we recognized that we needed a tool that could manage the writers’ deadlines, the clients’ deliverables, all on a small agency budget. So I asked Bridget, my lead writer and project manager, what she uses.
“Well, I’ve been using Trello,” she said.
That is when she discovered my self-diagnosed but violent allergic reaction to tools like Trello and Slack. (No offense to either, my just brain does not like them.) I think I have about 35 slack board invites in my trash folder. I’ve even accepted a few of them.
I probably have even more Trello boards out there (that I have never looked at). I didn’t need another list organizer or text messaging platform. What I wanted was a real, native-calendar technology to manage our client deadlines, our workflows, and our writers all in one place.
I met the founders of DivvyHQ years ago at Content Marketing World (ask me about it – it’s a good story!) and I have been big fans of their content. I was even part of their Big Simple Series last year.
I also have been heavily involved in reviewing the Content Marketing Platform landscape for years. Our criteria were simple:
- We needed a visual content calendar
- We needed all the functionality of an enterprise content management platform
- And we wanted to work with good people.
So I scheduled a demo call with Brody and Brock and the team at DivvyHQ. After the 30-minute demo call, we decided to move forward with their platform in December 2018.
It’s been 6 months since we started using DivvyHQ. Here is our experience.
Marketing Insider Group’s Needs
Our need for a centralized calendar was two-fold.
First, the launch of our Content Builder Service. This service includes all ideation, creation, and editing for 2-4 articles per week per client. So we needed to be able to easily separate and organize each client’s content calendar, while also allowing me to see an aggregate of all content we need to deliver for all clients on any given day.
Second, we added a couple of writers to our team. We also work with supporting agencies and freelancers. So a centralized project management tool to manage production, reviews and approvals was critical to our success.
While we do not use each and every function of DivvyHQ, their customizable features and constant customer support has been invaluable for me, Bridget and our team to manage our projects.
Based on the package we selected, DivvyHQ offered 4 one-hour training sessions, of which we only needed to use three.
In our case, we knew we had a deadline to get started. The content marketing platform needed to be ready to use before we launched our first client program.
During our training sessions, the DivvyHQ team assessed our goals, tasks, and helped us set up our account structure and initial set of content calendars.
Bridget did the majority of the training. When we brought on new team members, they were able to use DivvyHQ with minimal training.
Using technology in the digital age means that at some point, you will come across issues. Whether it is user error or a bug in the system, you want a company’s customer support to respond quickly.
When publishing content for different clients, we’re forced to work with other content marketing platforms that are much more expensive. Their user interface is difficult and their customer service can be slow to respond.
We have had the opposite experience with DivvyHQ. Their customer support is helpful and responsive. They solve our problems and are open to hearing feedback on ways to improve their platform.
It took some time to optimize our processes as expectations and timelines change. However, what we learned is the first thing that is critical to a user’s success is to use Divvy’s customizable workflow builder.
We work ahead so that our clients have time to review content and request revisions if needed. For some clients, we are also responsible for selecting images for articles and posting them online.
Each client’s workflow is different. For the one shown below, the workflow begins with seven days for writing. This is followed by one day for editing and then sending to the client for approval. The client then has seven days for approval. Once the article is approved, we schedule it for publishing.
One of the critical parts of the workflow is making sure each responsible party marks their task complete. That notifies the next person that the project is ready for the next step.
Creating Content Calendars
When it comes to creating content calendars, DivvyHQ has two options. The first is to manually add a piece of content with the deadline and other pertinent information one-by-one.
Since our content service immediately generates 100, 200 or more content ideas, adding each of those pieces one at a time was not efficient.
Luckily, DivvyHQ also provides customers with a content import feature that enables a bulk upload of ideas or planned content. While this may seem like a simple feature, it is not available on every platform. And this is a huge time saver for us.
Each time we welcome a new client or add projects to a current campaign, we use Divvy’s import template as the starting point to build out their content calendar.
Customizable Content Calendar Views
Once we established workflows and uploaded articles for our clients, I took at a look at the overall calendar.
The first view made my head spin.
The “everything” screen
I came to realize quickly that Divvy’s default calendar view is truly a “master calendar” showing all content deadlines and tasks across all clients. Then Bridget let me know that I can use filters to create custom views so that I don’t panic every time I log in.
As I played with it more, I liked how I could create and save specific views based on my role in certain client projects, or filter by project status, content types, etc.
For me, my core need is oversight of deadlines and knowing when and if I need to send a project to a client for review. So I created my ideal view showing just content deadlines. The customizable calendar views make everyone’s jobs easier.
My “Deadlines Only” view. LOVE IT!
The Parking Lot
It is not uncommon for us to get a project where we need to wait for guidance. That means we don’t have a set deadline nor do we know the scope of the content.
Rather than have that project live in our email inboxes and hope we remember later, we add it to DivvyHQ’s parking lot. Once the scope and deadline are determined, we can simply drag that project from the Parking Lot to the designated date on the appropriate calendar.
Other Noteworthy DivvyHQ Features
As mentioned earlier, we do not use all of DivvyHQ’s features due to the scope of our business. However, their features cover the entirety of a content marketing program. Users can be as detailed as they want with each program or campaign. From ideation to maintenance, DivvyHQ allows you to identify and tag target audiences and keywords, and set dates for promotion.
The platform is set up to support all types of digital content: blog posts, white papers, news releases, social media, images, etc.
Users are also able to publish articles directly to WordPress from DivvyHQ.
Providing Value and Efficiency
This year has been one of the busiest years yet for our agency, Marketing Insider Group. DivvyHQ’s content marketing platform has helped us stay on track so we can deliver quality content on time to our clients. As DivvyHQ grows, we look forward to growing along with them.