We’ve had a right old chat with James Ainsworth. James is the Global Head of Content at iManage. If you ever wanted to build a global content marketing engine, James is the go-to expert! So of course, we had to get him on the pod. We talk about everything from strategy, process, t-shirt sizing to content kpis.
Throughout our discussion, James shares invaluable insights on content framing for different audiences, the significance of feedback and the art of incorporating AI in a manner that truly enhances the experience. We’ve compiled his biggest takeaways from the episode, let’s get into it.
Takeaway #1: Humans will always have a role
Of course we had to talk about AI with James. He mentioned that there are different audiences and areas of concern when using AI-generated content. James will never publish something that is entirely created with generative AI, but he does believe in incorporating AI responsibly whilst still recognising that us humans still have a role, who else is going to add that human touch?
What was fascinating to learn was the willingness of content leaders like James to learn incorporate AI into their organisations, but not at the expense of content quality. If it can improve a process, save time or provide other benefits – that’s great! Ultimately though, an experienced writer or editor in his team, will always have the final say.
Takeaway #2: Content strategy and process is vital
With the benefit of experience, James talks us through transitioning from agency work to an in-house role brings the challenge of managing input from various stakeholders. It’s important to manage expectations and engage the appropriate individuals at the right times for each content deliverable.
James prioritises content strategy and organises his team around strategy, production and distribution. He emphasises the importance of strategy in guiding production and considering the bigger picture of content beyond tactical approaches. He uses Asana as a customised project management tool to collect detailed requirements, helping his team with faster delivery. It’s great as well because you can use the tool as a reference for past work and analysis.
To estimate effort, he uses t-shirt sizing (more commonly used by developers). A simple approach that everyone understands, as well as helping manage expectations and meet requirements from marketing, customer success and people ops teams. This comprehensive approach ensures a well-coordinated content strategy, efficient production and effective expectation management for stakeholders.
Takeaway #3: The value of content KPIs
James goes on to talk about what effective content looks like for him and his team. As well as having internal team processes and feedback loops, he talks us through the importance of working with internal operations teams to understand how their content is landing.
At iManage they use content relevancy (CRX data) scoring as well, which is a database of all the keywords, phrases and language their audience uses – an incredible tool to make sure they stay on-brand.
What’s next? Establishing feedback loops. Is the content relevant or useful? iManage are now working with Rockee to understand what users really think of their content. James talks us through the excitement in being able to optimise quicker and ensure their content lands well with their audience
(editor note: one month in – their case studies are killing it with readers!!)
So it’s now time for James’ favourite piece of content (it’s also one of our favourite pieces too!) Of course it’s the Michelin guide to restaurants. The objective was straightforward and ingenious: to encourage increased driving and tire wear among the people of France.
How did they do this? They created the famous Michelin Guide to Restaurants. It offered invaluable resources such as maps, tire repair and replacement information, and a comprehensive directory of restaurants, hotels, mechanics and gas stations along popular French routes. They had created a winner.
While the Michelin guide has evolved over time, its brand and objectives have found resonance in the modern context of raising restaurant profiles. The story of the Michelin Guide exemplifies the triumph of strategic creativity, the power of comprehensive execution and the art of extending a successful concept. Everyone’s aware of the Michelin Guide, it’s a true icon in the content marketing world, that people are forever referencing.
The sausage of death
James shared his ‘Sausage of Death with us’ and it’s a real stinker. Live blogs. They’re often used for events that don’t actually require real-time updates. He’s not a hater of them, James even has a history of live blogging. He once live blogged for 24-hours during a general election. However, since the election resulted in a hung parliament and the live blog had to be extended, he quickly realised that maybe live blogging isn’t the one.
A more recent example of live blogging going south, was for a Lewis Capaldi gig. A live blog was created by James’ local newspaper – where they covered an online ticket queue, but it’s Lewis, so of course the tickets sold out in a matter of minutes. A bit of an anti-climax for the bloggers right? So as expected (or not expected), the live blog ended shortly after. Cool blog bro?
James suggests that it would have been more suitable to cover a physical queue with interactions and interviews. It’s crucial to match the format with the content and objective.
Thank you to James for joining us on the podcast. We’re going to keep talking to guest experts about what truly great content looks like, so keep your eyes and ears peeled.
Let us know your ‘Matt’s Banger’ and ‘Sausage of death’, there’s no wrong answers!
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