Q&A with Holly Dowden, former VP of Marketing at mPortal

01 Jul Q&A with Holly Dowden, former VP of Marketing at mPortal

Launched in January of 2012, mPortal’s blog The Connected Experience showcases thought leadership from CEO D.P. Venkatesh and the entire company.

On June 4th of this year, mPortal was acquired by BroadSoft, which is launching a new business unit called “BroadSoft Design.” The following Q&A took place before the BroadSoft acquisition and provides insights into mPortal’s pre-acquisition blogging operations.

Holly Dowden, now a senior director of product marketing at BroadSoft, assumed management of the blog when she started with mPortal in 2013. She was nice enough to answer a few questions for us and share some insights. Enjoy!

Full disclosure: SBX worked with mPortal on the launch and management of its blog.

Can you tell me a little bit about your career path and how you came to be the force behind mPortal’s blog?

I actually came to this role with very little background in social/digital marketing. My career path in technology has mostly focused on product marketing and various related roles. However, when I first started at mPortal there was no one solely focused on marketing, and the first thing on the agenda was to create some awareness of what the company could offer. There were some start and stop attempts that had been made in the marketing arena, but I needed to amp up the game. I really have to give a shout-out to HubSpot here – their marketing automation software was the one thing we had in place, even if it was not being used to its full potential. As a resource, HubSpot has been invaluable to me, not just for its tools, but for its massive online training library.

Is your job solely focused on blogging and blog strategy, or are you responsible for other things? If so, what things?

No. At a small company you often have to plant the seed, sow the seed, bake the bread, etc. Although I have a VP title, I am a marketing team of one, so not only do I set the strategy, but I am also the one who creates most of the content, pushes the buttons on the tools, and generally gets the messaging out there. I also try to do a lot of research in order to stay abreast of market trends, which often feeds back into our blogs.

What are your blogging goals? How do they align with corporate goals? How often do you look at and refresh your blogging goals and strategy?

We don’t have a formal corporate goal per se for the blog. Because we have such a small team, we use the blog as a way of keeping our “content” updated and fresh. It’s really the easiest way to keep engaging customers and partners, by writing small pieces which are optimized as best we can for SEO, and then sending readers back to our website with appropriate CTAs.

What metrics to do you track and why? Are there any insights you’ve gleaned about your readership from tracking these metrics?

I use HubSpot to track the number of visitors to our blog, as well as downloads of content and “conversions” (to contacts). We don’t have the type of business model that lends itself to turning inbound contacts into customers in a direct/linear sort of way, although we do follow-up with everyone who has filled out a CTA form. We don’t attach hard ROI to our digital marketing efforts. It’s more about brand awareness and customer engagement, which is a very nuanced thing and doesn’t always lend itself to direct and measurable results.

What benefits have you seen from the blog? Anything that was a surprise?

The major benefit for us is building a solid repository of information that can be used again and again in different ways. As most bloggers know, it’s not your most recent blogs that necessarily matter the most – the longer a blog is up there, the more hits it will get. I can’t say that I have seen any surprises to date; it’s more of a consistent, slow and steady wins the race deal, from my point of view.

Strategy-wise, what tactics did you employ to attract the target audience you were seeking?

Currently, we don’t spend a lot of time engaging a specific audience, which of course is something we aspire to do. Our contact database is filled with people who are in our industry, but I’d like to see a lot more segmentation. Strategy-wise, we should also be making an effort to socialize with specific online communities and bloggers, which again we are not able to tackle at the moment. Being completely transparent, most of our traffic is organic, which – while not a bad thing – is not the ideal.

What incentives do you use to motivate blog contributors?

This is typically the most difficult thing to do at any company – get people to take time out of their busy days to contribute content to a blog. We handle it in a couple of different ways. First, we rely on SpeakerBox to help with a lot of the content development. This is an absolute lifesaver – without SpeakerBox writing support, I’d be dead. Even if the content is needs adjustment, it’s much easier for me to edit than to start from scratch – and most importantly, it keeps me on track. In order to keep our content as meaningful as possible, we often try to connect our writing support partners with our SMEs. We also give a small stipend to mPortal employees who DO contribute blogs, however the content has to be of the highest quality for us to accept it. And lastly, I simply write a fair amount of posts myself.

How do you promote new content?

We use a couple of consistent methods – Twitter, LinkedIn and a monthly email blast to our contact database.

Do you keep a personal blog? If so, what about? And, how has that experience helped you with your business blog?

No. I get more than my fill of socialization at work. It’s fun and challenging, but I like to cut it off at some point!

Ali Robinson
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