Isabella Jiao is the VP of Marketing at FanFood, an on-premise, in-venue contactless ordering app for foodservice operations. FanFood utilizes webinars, blogs, and a podcast in their marketing arsenal.
- How they get the most out of their work with content repurposing and a wide distribution strategy.
- How they decide what efforts are worth their time and money.
- What’s working and what isn’t.
For the last two years, FanFood has published a weekly blog post and podcast. They hold a webinar every month, and run a few larger lead generation campaigns once a quarter.
Using a podcast as a marketing and sales channel
FanFood launched their podcast in the summer of 2019, based on how Rob Cressy (who eventually became the host of the FanFood podcast) pitched podcasts to FanFood CEO Carson Goodale. Being able to outsource the podcast to an external team meant Rob would handle scheduling, hosting, editing, and all the other time-consuming efforts, while FanFood just had to take care of publishing the transcripts and promoting on social.
They predicted the podcast would be a fairly low investment and wouldn’t cost the lean marketing team too much time. So, they launched the podcast more for thought leadership and branding, rather than expecting high lead generation.
They discovered the following benefits of running a podcast:
- Since they were using his services, Rob helped advise FanFood on their social media strategy and taught them how best to market a podcast.
- They were able to use the podcast as a way to approach target clients and high-profile companies to initiate a relationship without being too sales-focused.
- The podcast put FanFood in front of several industry leads and landed them some great partnerships.
Over time, FanFood learned the podcast performs more effectively with different audiences. Isabella says their podcast performs best on Twitter, and podcasts are really a social play, so they don’t promote it much in their email newsletter.
According to Isabella, it’s hard to measure direct ROI for a podcast since it’s so top-of-funnel and all about awareness. Sometimes the podcast is about sports marketing, sometimes how to engage sports fans.
As of January 2021, they’ve halted their podcast since it’s a less direct-to-sales channel and harder to measure.
However, the key benefit they observed is that the podcast circulates FanFood on their guests’ social media.
Tracking the user journey
FanFood’s podcast lives on their blog, which allows Isabella to track how many touchpoints a user has before signing up. By tracking the user journey, Isabella realized how they distributed content could be more important than the content itself.
“It’s less about the blog and more about how the blog is distributed. It’s rare to see a user journey where someone finds the blog, then converts right away. But I’ve seen people get an email with a link, visit the blog, then convert within an hour.” – Isabella Jiao
A blog or podcast may sit at the back of someone’s mind, not triggering them to take action; they need an extra nudge to convert.
Upon closer analysis of their funnels, FanFood found most of their conversions come from direct or organic searches, where people search specifically for “FanFood” versus using a generic term like “concessions app.”
After that, their conversions come from paid competitor bidding, then email marketing, and, lastly, social media.
Repurposing content and distributing on different channels
FanFood hosted their first webinar in April 2020 as everyone was transitioning to remote due to COVID-19. They wanted to run webinars in the past, but thought they sounded too formal.
“Back then was the best time to launch webinars — everyone was confused, so it was a great opportunity to move into the thought leadership space.” – Isabella Jiao
FanFood was expecting five registrants for their first webinar, but got 150. That was their “wait, this actually works” moment, and they started hosting a webinar every month. Isabella began to attend competitor webinars to observe what they were doing, tested different language and how to market webinars, and learned the various ways she could use webinars.
They also started doing different types of webinars. For example, they hosted a demo day focused on how FanFood works, which attracted attendees who were ready to sign up and hit the ground running.
Refining their webinar strategy to maximize value
“It’s all about maximizing everything we do and making sure content serves multiple purposes.” – Isabella Jiao
A webinar is free to host, but takes time to create, so you want to maximize their value. Over time, the FanFood team doubled down on repurposing webinar content where they could.
“We take video snippets, livestream the recorded session, and create images from our webinars.” – Isabella Jiao
From a single webinar, Isabella and her team would:
- Livestream the recording on social media.
- Create quote cards and graphics for social.
- Write blog posts based on the webinar.
Extending the lifetime value of their webinars became critical, because they post two to three times a day on social media and need different content for different platforms.
Everyone hosts webinars these days, so although webinar signups were high in the beginning, they’ve dropped in recent months.
“It’s also a balance between producing something quickly at a rapid pace, and thinking about how to maximize every webinar.” – Isabella Jiao
FanFood is already repurposing content to get the most out of their efforts, but they need to be thoughtful about how to attract more guests, what kind of guests (further down the purchasing funnel), and the like.
“Once we notice a drop in signups, we’ll start to rethink how we distribute a webinar. And even if signups are slow, we’ll maximize the recording and drive conversions that way to prolong the longevity. Either way, we’ll continue investing in webinars, because they produce good content we can use forever.” – Isabella Jiao
Isabella’s advice for other marketing teams: Focus on data and distribution
Isabella’s two big takeaways are:
Know exactly why you’re doing something. “Webinars” and “podcasts” are major buzzwords, but that doesn’t guarantee success for everyone.
“Everyone is doing it, but that shouldn’t be why you’re doing it. Think clearly about what your goals are.” – Isabella Jiao
Your distribution strategy is key. Distribution is the highest priority, because everyone is producing. For every podcast or webinar, Isabella’s team has a week of planning social cadence, how to follow up, what to say in emails, when to launch a blog post, etc. You need to know how to get in front of your audience.
“In 2021, we’re betting on sports returning.” – Isabella Jiao
FanFood doesn’t expect rapid growth in the first half of 2021, so they’re focusing on sustaining things until sports makes a return to in-person events. They expect to see things ramp up beginning in April, as teams and venues consider purchasing FanFood in preparation to welcome people back.
FanFood has also launched a new program called Building Eats, which allows restaurants to serve individual buildings, with a different restaurant each day for every building.