We dug through his experience as an entrepreneur and marketer at companies like Traden, Overbond, and TechBlocks to provide some great insights into why content marketing is vital for startups and why you need to be data-driven in your approach.
Stefan Kollenberg: Share some more about your background, what’s your story?
Stefan Katanic: I attended Seneca College for three years for financial mathematics, but realized while I was good at math, it wasn’t my passion. I pivoted a bit and went into wealth management, completing my licensing requirements LLQP, Canadian Securities Course which got me into the industry.
I was really interested in day trading, so I founded my first online business, where new traders can learn about it, over time the website traffic grew and we were doing everything from webinars to e-books. From the beginning, my number one focus was providing value to people.
Over time I found that the more value we gave out, the more opportunities we received in return. By creating content that people were searching for and found valuable, we consistently grew our user base and monthly revenues.
Stefan Kollenberg: How did you figure out what content was actually providing value?
Stefan Katanic: This is where math and data analysis come in really handy. We setup performance tracking for all this content to see which was most effective. When we found the higher performing material we would focus more of our efforts on that area.
For example, at Traden we created articles about certain currency pairs and noticed that in our cohort analysis, users would come back regularly to look through articles about those same currencies. We started to go more in-depth with those, as well as repurposing that content into other mediums.
Stefan Kollenberg: What’s the most important part of the content creation process?
Stefan Katanic: Your number one goal should be to figure out your audience’s persona. What are their demographics? Their affinity categories? Their mindsets and outlooks in life? Once you nail down that persona you will be able to put yourself in their shoes and understand what type of content provides value.
Stefan Kollenberg: When it comes to organic distribution, so not using any paid ads, what is something you’ve seen be really successful?
Stefan Katanic: Videos that are short, sweet and evoke emotions.
When I was helping build a Fintech company a few years back, we created a how-to video and it outperformed all our other content. It did a really good job, because it showed people authentic ways of learning and selling our vision. People really resonated with that authenticity, so that was key.
Stefan Kollenberg: What was the most memorable marketing campaign you’ve been a part of?
Stefan Katanic: Oh man, last year at a Fintech start-up in Toronto we pulled an awesome guerrilla marketing campaign. We had created a really in-depth visual white paper about what we were doing, our value prop, how it benefits our financial services clients, etc…
We wanted to switch up our distribution model though, our target customer was very high level and so it wasn’t easy to reach them digitally. Instead of bombarding them with emails we went down to every hedge fund, family fund, and institution in the financial district to deliver it in person.
In addition to the report, we gave each of them a personally packaged cookie. We handed out about 160 cookies in addition to these portfolios, meanwhile, we also had a geofenced ad running over their offices.
Included in that package was an invitation to our upcoming product launch party, that was our call to action. Overall the campaign worked very well, we moved a bunch of leads from MQL to SQL. It turned out, handing out cookies went better than using online ads.
Stefan Kollenberg: That’s amazing, I love the combo of physical and digital touchpoints there. So let’s switch gears a bit – tell me more about Coinbio.
Stefan Katanic: My team and I started to explore cryptocurrencies back in 2014, there was so much discussion around them that I needed to educate myself. After a lot of research my business partner and I wanted to take a serious step towards pioneering something new, and so we founded Coinbio.
Coinbio a Crypto-index where traders and investors can access the most current information about ICOs, tokens, and crypto-market trends. We were originally thinking of creating the ”Wikipedia for coins”, as we tested that idea and found that what would be even more valuable is the action that happens after you find this information, buying the cryptocurrencies themselves.
This is why we decided to create an exchange of crypto-currencies. To compare it to something in the physical world, if you’re traveling, you would go to the airport and exchange your Canadian dollars for American dollars – we built the same thing except for crypto to crypto transactions. Eventually, we want to become a full-blown exchange where we have startups within the Canadian ecosystem list their Security Tokens on our exchange for capital raising purposes.
Stefan Kollenberg: Love the idea, can’t wait to see you guys grow this! On the topic of growth – have you done much content marketing with Coinbio?
Stefan Katanic: We’re still early so we aren’t taking a proactive content marketing approach, yet. To begin, we’re setting the foundation for our SEO by doing keyword research and indexing over 2000+ pages. After all this is done, then we can implement our content strategy.
To get us to this point, the biggest market for Coinbio so far has been referral, we haven’t done any paid marketing yet. Pre-launch we ran a contest: we will give away one Litecoin if they refer a friend, and with that, we had a 62% referral rate.
Stefan Kollenberg: In your past startup experience, did you find content marketing useful?
Stefan Katanic: Yes absolutely. When you’re a startup it’s really hard to get your name out there because no one knows you. You can go to a PR firm and pay $20,000 to be featured on Bloomberg, but then the hype is gone after a week. It’s just noise.
For startups, they need to start at the basis of content. Begin simply with an FAQ-style blog (what is this about, why are you doing it, who are the founders, etc…) and then build out more niche topic areas based off what performs the best.
Stefan Kollenberg: Are there other benefits you see to content marketing?
Stefan Katanic: One of the major benefits of content marketing is establishing trust. If someone lands on your website and all they see is a call to action, they know nothing about you and won’t trust it. If you can establish a level of thought leadership through your content, it will help you to establish a mutual connection with your audience.
Stefan Kollenberg: Do you see challenges in content marketing? Is there a downside to it?
Stefan Katanic: One big thing is that there is a lot of testing and a lot of failures. We could spend 20 hours working on something that ends up only converting 2% of 1000 people. Once that happens though, you need to figure out why it wasn’t successful and avoid those mistakes moving forward.
Another problem I see a lot is when people create content for the wrong persona. You need to understand how your audience consumes content and what their interests are before diving in too deep.
Stefan Kollenberg: For new companies, how would you advise they go about adopting a content marketing strategy?
Stefan Katanic: If you want to grow your business, you need content. Consumers these days will do a large amount of research prior to actually reaching out to anyone and so your content is the perfect way to educate, inspire, and evoke proactive actions from people.
For a new startup, you want to focus on top of the funnel stuff – brand awareness/early users. After building out this base you can start to work your way down. So at the beginning, your KPI is going to be focused on how many sessions you have on your website. Once you begin driving this traffic, then you would want to start measuring the number of email signup conversions, then onto paid user conversion, and then finally the retention rate of these users.
Stefan Kollenberg: Are there any hires you need to make to properly execute your content marketing? Could the founders do it?
Stefan Katanic: You need someone to help you write and distribute the content. The topics and subject expertise will come from you as a founder but it’s important to get help on the execution side of things because you’re going to be overwhelmed otherwise.
Stefan Kollenberg: Are there any tools you love and would recommend?
Stefan Katanic: A couple great ones are Pardot and Marketo. They’re a bit pricey, but they are the top platforms for understanding your customers. Hubspot is also pretty good, but it’s not as easy to use as Pardot. Then on the day to day social media tools, you’ve got Buffer and Atomic Reach are cheaper versions of these. Atomic Reach is actually really interesting, it will make recommendations for your content based on your target persona, getting smarter as you use it more.
Stefan Kollenberg: This is great, thanks for sharing your experience and thoughts on content marketing!