Editor’s note: Verblio’s CEO Steve Pockross was recently interviewed on the UGURUS podcast, The Digital Agency, to talk about content, SaaS companies, and the changing world of content marketing.
The following post was written by one of our talented 3,000 U.S.-based writers summarizing the highlights of the conversation of Steve and UGURUS Chief Guru & CEO, Brent Weaver.
We originally forged a great relationship with UGURUS in 2019 (partly thanks to Steve’s amazing Obi-Panda-Nobi costume at the USUMMIT 2019 Panda Lounge). They’re thought leaders in the agency space, hosting podcasts, events, and classes to help agencies optimize their operations and sales to help them thrive.
So when Brent (UGURUS’ amazing podcast host) invited us to sit down for an episode, we were excited to be hosted on their digital talk show.
And yes, we did network in panda costumes at USUMMIT 2019 and yes, it was an event to remember.
We’re suckers for original content, so we highly encourage giving the episode a listen! It’s 30 minutes well spent—if you’re looking for it on your favorite place to get podcasts, the episode name is “Episode 132: Content As A Competitive Advantage with Steve Pockross.”
After the panda suits came off, we sat down with Brent to talk shop about Verblio. We’ve built a unique mousetrap for the content marketing industry, namely offering an innovative marketplace as a service that focuses on getting agencies the content they need to excel.
Long story short, we were very successful in 2019—and now we’re sharing our story.
To make sure you don’t miss a beat, we’ve put together this short summary of the highlights from Steve’s virtual visit:
The Highlights: Verblio Created 60,000 Pieces of Content for 2,000 Clients in 2019
Nope, those aren’t typos!
2019 was a great year for us, and our writer team created a ton of content in a wide variety of industries. We’re data (and content) nerds, so of course we were over the moon to round up numbers like this for the podcast!
How does Verblio manage this much volume?
Here’s how we do it:
First of all, we have a network of over 3,000 writers. And we don’t accept just any writer—only the top 5% of writers who apply to work with us actually make it into our system and write for us.
That means we take the cream of the crop and make them available to our agency partners (like UGURUS) using our proprietary SaaS technology and intake process. We maximize the efficiency of an agency’s internal team and minimize the time they spend creating or QA-ing content.
And since we make the tech do the work, we easily service more than 400 agency clients with more than two dozen industry niches (and have room for more!).
Those are our secret ingredients: top-tier writers and innovative technology. It’s a winning duo that we pass on to our clients, several of them UGURUS agencies, who use us to compete in the content marketing industry.
Let’s talk a bit about how those two work together to create something unique.
The Next Evolution of the “Gig Economy” —Marketplace As a Service
The thing is, Verblio doesn’t really fall into the traditional SaaS category—even though we do rely on the same style of technology (subscription-based).
We’re also very closely related to the gig economy (think companies like Uber or Grubhub) where individuals can find work at-will providing a service.
Our end-product is content, though, which will always require talented people to accent the technology. And since we want to stand out, networking with any writer who needs a gig doesn’t really help further Verblio’s mission (or hit home with our clients’ needs).
So, how do we find and deliver talent?
A typical word you might hear is “crowdsourcing”—but we like to view it as building a community. We attract great talent to our platform, then develop that talent with a network of people who can connect, grow, and find work that furthers their careers. The network benefits everyone.
And we mean everyone!
Verblio is trying to evolve the gig economy to provide a marketplace as a service—in other words, transcending the commoditization of particular products by focusing on the skills and expertise behind the product.
So, how does Verblio use the best practices of marketplace businesses and SaaS businesses to deliver high-quality work completed by skilled workers?
One word: niches!
Niche Writers = Growth
Verblio is nine years deep into the 20-year content marketing movement (so we’ve seen a few things come and go).
To date, the most powerful tactic for content marketplaces like us is to create sub-communities within the larger group. Like agencies going niche, as UGURUS preaches, we build niche writer communities to scratch those niches.
A great example of this is a large, established, operationally mature legal agency that came to us when they were looking to optimize their workflow. They specialize in promoting personal injury lawyers exclusively and use a very sophisticated process to deliver results for their clients.
They chose Verblio because they knew we were the best solution to scale their content marketing.
At the time, they produced about 200 pieces of content per month—but they needed to get up to 300 and increase word count per piece. Plus, they needed JD editors for all of these pieces. That’s a tall order on its own.
But we were up to the challenge. Verblio was able to fulfill these requests within a month because we could go to our niche community of legal writers, readily find the qualified people, and then pass the benefit onto the agency, then their client.
This shows off how vital it is to find niche content writers—and avoid the pitfalls of outsourcing content work to any random generalist writer.
The Evolution of Content Marketing
Roughly two-thirds of our clients are agencies—so we have to stay in the know when it comes to changes in content marketing and SEO. We also get to listen to the needs of agencies as they propel growth, find a niche, and evolve from there.
And believe us, agencies aren’t shy—we get a ton of feedback. We thrive on that feedback too, since it drives the content we build and put on our roadmap (and it ties into the tech side of our foundation as a company). So we definitely listen!
So what are the trends we see in content marketing right now?
These days, there are three main trends we see from our agency friends:
#1: Long-form Content Is Consistently the Top Priority
Only two years ago, 1,000 word pieces were 10% of Verblio’s deliverables. Now it’s more than 66% just a few short years later. That’s because this length has become the sweet spot, and agencies are driving long-form content growth.
#2: Multimedia Content is Growing
More and more agencies are adding video and design as part of their content offering, and for good reason. This trend is the driving force behind Verblio’s acquisition of a video company in 2019, so you can expect us to help innovate in this arena as well!
#3: Experimenting With Content As A Competitive Advantage
Once you solve the day-to-day hassle of finding reliable writers, you can really take a look at how your content can make you stand out.
In other words, you can look at ways to build your business on content and offer it as a competitive advantage.
Remember that law agency? They were able to leverage their content as a competitive advantage and include it as part of their pitch to clients.
Here’s another mini case study—we also work with an online publication that monetizes based on their ad revenue. That means they need traffic, and thus a ton of content to drive that traffic.
We were able to help them scale quickly—creating more than 1,200 posts per month for them—and our content generated enough traffic for them to see a positive ROI in just a few months. Verblio supercharged their growth.
We made it easy to be competitive with content in a way that requires no upfront investment in technology, finding writers, or many of the other hassles people experience with content.
The Verblio clients who take advantage of this are simply able to focus on getting content while we work on the technology, and they see the ROI working with us.
To Sum It All Up…
Innovating around a core business solution—that’s what Verblio is doing!
We’ve invested more in our tech than any other player in the space, which is why we can offer flexibility in subscriptions and provide niche writers for almost any industry.
Plus, Verblio can tell you what other agencies are doing—and you can leverage this insight with your own clients’ content marketing to outstrip the competition.
We also highly recommend filling out our Agency Content Creation Survey. It goes deep into the how, why, and what of creating content as an agency (and you can win $3,000 in prizes!). We look forward to sharing the insights of our survey with you!