Interview: What the Hell is a Content Hacker? with Garrett Moon

By Jakk Ogden on September 8, 2014 in Content Tips, Interviews
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This is the sixth post in a series called Interviews at Content Hero, where we chat to industry leaders, influencers, and agencies about content marketing and how it can affect success. In our last interview, we talked with Simon Penson of Zazzle Media about content format.

Today we are chatting with Garrett Moon, the founder of WordPress editorial calendar software CoSchedule and website development agency Todaymade. Recently, Garrett published a fantastic infographic called The Characteristics of a Content Hacker on his blog, which got us thinking – why all of a sudden are growth hacking and content being mentioned in the same breath and, more importantly, what the hell is a content hacker?

So, we lined up an interview and hashed it out.

Tell us about yourself Garrett, you’re some sort of web guy, right?

Ha, I think that shoe fits. I am a designer/marketer by trade, but “web guy” is probably a lot more accurate description. I help lead creative and product management at Todaymade, a web development agency that builds cloud-based products. At CoSchedule, I head up marketing and operations for a thriving editorial calendar for WordPress. I seem myself as a product guy – I love building things that people love to use.

What is a content hacker?

A content hacker is part content marketer and part growth hacker. I like to say that they are a content marketer who focuses primarily on growth rather than just content. This means that their approach is different than the traditional content marketing mindset. Most content is usually focused on the creation process itself rather than generating real sustainable growth. Content hackers are results-focused and are willing to think “more like a hacker” in order to get there.

This means that they apply things like engineering, a/b testing, and experimentation to their content creation process. It isn’t just about writing a new blog post. It is about writing a post that gets them more traffic than the post before.

The goal is growth, not more content. I think there is a big difference in that.

So why is the phrase growth hacking only being combined with content now?

I am not sure that the terms are only now just being put together, but maybe just better defined. Usually terms like “growth hacker” or “content hacker” are the result of what is already going on rather than what is to come. The reality is that most growth hackers are already thinking like content hackers. Content marketers, on the other hand, aren’t always taking the same approach. My intention is for this definition to influence content marketers more than growth hackers. We need to start taking a more hacker-like approach to our content. There is more to it than just publishing. We need to wedge our way into the conversation.

When you start talking about growth hacking there is a lot of debate over the meaning and terms themselves. We like to ask if they are really necessary. Those arguments miss the point. These terms are merely there as an attempt to define an attitude more than an actual process. Yes, they are redefining practices that already exist, but that is exactly the point. Sometimes our mindset/methodology needs a jumpstart.

Your infographic sheds light on the characteristics of a content hacker, but I noticed there isn’t much talk about branded content. Does the content hacker care about branding?

Maybe. The “branding” discussion is usually very uninteresting to me. I feel like it too easily gives us an excuse for advertising/marketing that doesn’t actually drive results, and a content hacker doesn’t tolerate that sort of thing. The content hacker is looking for growth, which usually comes in the form of better traffic and more conversions. Branding isn’t usually the major factor there. It is more an element of the content itself.

That said, in some ways the content hacker blurs the lines more than anyone between branding and content. They care about pushing product and brand, so making them work hand-in-hand for results is a big deal.

If you could give three tips to the growth-obsessed content marketer content hacker, what would they be?

1) Test your assumptions. Marketers love to talk about results, but can rarely prove them. The goal needs to be figuring out how to make content a scaleable growth tool. Some things will work, and others won’t. We need to figure out where the drivers are and try our best to duplicate them.

2) Content isn’t just content. A new blog post or landing page is a lot more than just a grab for a few readers. Our content needs strategy. How will it bring more traffic? Why will it convert users to paid or trial customers? We need to think about how it will work, not just what it will say.

3) Results matter. This is really the big point. Content hackers value results over content. They also think outside the box when it comes to finding the right approach. This doesn’t mean that everything will work out every time. It just means that they will continually blur the lines of what’s expected and experiment with how content can better drive growth and value.

The Hulk vs. Juggernaut – who wins?

Probably the Hulk, but there is a lot that a content hacker can learn from Juggernaut’s sheer momentum.

You can follow Garrett Moon on Twitter @Garrett_Moon or LinkedIn. You might also like to tune into his ramblings on content marketing on the CoSchedule Blog.

About the Author

Jakk OgdenView all posts by Jakk Ogden
Jakk Ogden is the founder and managing director of Content Hero. Jakk's background lies in marketing, advertising and publishing. He is partial to the clever infographic, Mark Twain, golden age comic books and Johnny Cash. He has written over 3,000 articles that have been published online. Connect with him on Linkedin, , or buy him a coffee in Leeds to talk about how high quality content can grow your business.

3 Comments

  1. Dustin Verburg January 29, 2014 Reply

    Yeah, the Hulk probably would eventually win.

    Oh, and less importantly– interesting concepts, too. Good interview. a/b testing content is something I spend a good amount of time thinking about, especially when I produce something excellent that no one seems to care about. I think a/b testing might show me the little things I could have done better.

    Anyway, thanks for the post.

    • Author
      Jakk Ogden January 29, 2014 Reply

      Thanks for stopping by Dustin, glad you enjoyed it!

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