Angus Quinn is content marketing manager at Skimlinks. What does he do, and what does it take to do it?
We’re about to find out…
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Econsultancy: What do you do? And who do you report to?
Angus Quinn: Create content of all shapes of sizes. Day-in-day out I turn my hand to everything from infographics to videos to blog posts to social content and much more.
I’m also heavily involved in taking the lead on our events strategy, especially the events that we host ourselves and shaping our PR coverage in the media, working with our PR Agency to ensure we have regular appearances in our target publications.
I also work with our product team to help humanize product materials and produce regular data-driven reports with our insights team. These reports help our customers navigate ecommerce opportunities throughout the year.
I report into our Chief Revenue Officer, which means I constantly work to align my activities with the goals of our commercial teams and support them as much as possible.
E: What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
AQ: Something I find really valuable is being a good editor, whether I’m thinking about work I create myself or when I help others with content they’ve created. Being able to tweak, refine and enhance a first draft can make all the difference between a wonderful and a woeful end product. It also means you can spot how to improve things, tend to be able to think more strategically and can work to help other teams spot problems too.
I also find a lot of value in being a people person. When you spend your day creating content about a company, it’s helpful if you can talk to people, establish a rapport with them, digest their thoughts and express them eloquently.
Lastly, I’d say be a metaphorical plate spinner. The best content marketers are doing a million and one things at once. Inevitably, doing so much puts you at risk of getting confused, forgetting about things…and dropping them. So you have to be rigorous about organisation, content to work on multiple projects at the same time, and be able to balance them all.
E: Tell us about a typical working day
AQ: For someone who works in East London, it should really start with coffee at an independent coffee shop, but most days begin with my standard skinny venti caramel macchiato with origin espresso and sugar-free vanilla syrup from Starbucks. What can I say? Their click and collect app makes life easy!
After my morning caffeine fix, I’ll scan my emails for anything urgent (and respond to anything really urgent), then segue into daily social media management. Once I’ve checked all our channels, noted overnight notifications and mentions, I’ll schedule the day’s content to go out on social channels. I try to find a good balance between industry news I think our audience will care about, industry news about us (which you hope the audience will care about too!), and our owned content.
Aside from that, I don’t know that I have typical tasks, but I do separate my day into more and less creatively demanding zones. If I’m writing anything, or doing something taxing, I’ll make sure to do it in the morning when I’m more active and leave less intense stuff for the afternoon.
I also tend to bounce around the various projects I’m working on, as I find that gets better results than just staring at the same Google Doc for hours on end, and means I always have a sense of progress throughout the day too.
That means I can end up doing any number of things from writing a blog post, drafting a press release, talking to the product team about new reporting their publishing or meet with insights about some findings they have for an ecommerce event like Black Friday.
E: What do you love about your job? What sucks?
AQ: I love working with so many different people from different teams and the volume of different projects I get to work on. By title I am a content marketer, but I also lead on events and PR, and get involved in Product too. It means things are always fresh and there’s always something new to get stuck into.
As someone who loves writing, I’m also fortunate that I get to do it for my day job too. People often talk about dreading going into work, and while I’ve definitely dreaded the onset of Monday, I’ve never dreaded the work I’ll be doing once I get to the office.
On the flip side, writer’s block is a real frustration, particularly because unlike other workplace problems you can’t do anything about it. You just have to accept it, go and do something else, then revisit and overcome it. I find it really annoying when you end up writing something awful, knowing it’s totally awful and that you’re going to have to spend the next day reviewing how awful it is.
E: What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
AQ: It probably sounds obvious, but real engagement metrics are the most useful. As good as volume is, whether that means how much content has been created or how many people a promoted Facebook post reached, it’s immaterial without engagement. You need to be able to tell people whether trying out the new call to action on an email actually improved click-through rate or not.
I say most useful, because content can often seem quite fluffy, particularly if you get compared against other people who can more easily show a business result, so having engagement metrics to hand – whether that means open rate, or click through, or downloads – is really the best way to validate that you’re doing a good job.
E: What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
AQ: Practically? My MacBook Air. It’s light, portable and can go wherever I do. For marketing tools Hootsuite and social schedulers like it are a real life saver: it means instead of oscillating between social platforms and dropping in and out all day, I can manage them all in one fell swoop.
I’m also a real fan of our email management tool Autopilot which our growth hacker switched us to. Most email tools are ugly and awkward, but this is really beautiful and simple to use.
Lastly music is really important to me, whether that means streaming on Spotify or begrudgingly downloading an album (hello, Taylor Swift). It really sets my mood and helps me shut the world out and focus when I need to deliver things on time.
E: How did you get into ‘content’, and where might you go from here?
AQ: I’ve been writing stories since I was in school, but my first taste of writing content was writing and editing the UK’s most awarded student newspaper while I was at university. At the same time, I started writing for a blog covering the Eurovision Song Contest, which has since gone on to become the most popular of its kind in the world.
Off the back of my abilities as a writer, and love for writing, I landed an internship at an ecommerce startup, which turned into a full-time copywriting role and then made the move to Skimlinks a year later. Neither the student newspaper nor the Eurovision blog really led me to content, but I think the fact I don’t come from a tech background actually makes me more valuable in developing unorthodox solutions to problems.
Moving forward, I’m looking at becoming a more strategic and fully-rounded marketer outside of my current content strong suit.
E: Which brands have you been impressed by recently when it comes to content?
AQ: We live in a world where people are increasingly concerned about sharing their personal data and what brands are doing with it. So I think Spotify’s approach, of taking the data it collects about people, and showcasing that in smart ways is really cool: like that ad which said something like, “Dear person who played “All By Myself” on Valentine’s Day 60 times, you okay hun?” It’s personable and inverts the narrative thrown up around data collection.
I likewise think brands that have recognised the merits of storytelling over ‘Mad Men’ style sales content are the real winners today. Think about the Christmas Ads this year in the UK – Paddington Bear doesn’t have a thing to do with selling M&S clothes, but it puts the brand top of a mind. It’s like soft promotion for the brands and ultimately it makes them more memorable.
E: Do you have any advice for people who want to work on in-house content strategy for tech companies?
AQ: Don’t let a lack of “conventional” experience put you off. Your talent and utility won’t be shown by an encyclopedic knowledge of acronyms, it will be shown by the content you create and the creative abilities you bring to the table.
Nobody is expecting you to be an expert when you arrive – part of the appeal of the tech sector is the opportunities for growth and learning – so don’t feel that just because an entry-level job demands “3-5 years experience” that you can’t go for it if you don’t have that. Whatever your experience is be proud of it, link it back to your abilities, and the right company will take a chance on you.
Everyone you meet is a learning opportunity, so put the smartphone down and go engage people in conversation. I learned and continue to learn so much from the people around me. Going for a coffee or a drink with someone helps you get to know them, learn about their experience and forge relationships that can be really critical for your development. Ask questions, talk to people and you’ll set yourself up for success.
I would also say don’t feel the need to present yourself as “professional”. It’s easy to drown in buzzwords and jargon when you’re starting out, but honestly sounding like a human is the best thing you can do. “Professional” tends to serve as a proxy for boring, so being able to show off some personality and a different outlook on life makes the world of difference.