MarTech Interview with Damien Mahoney, Co-founder and CEO at Stackla

To build authentic buying experiences, it is now time for marketers to capitalize on user generated reviews and user generated content to drive deeper customer journeys, Damien Mahoney, Co-founder and CEO at Stackla comments on some of the top content marketing tricks needed in today’s B2B market:

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Welcome to this MarTech Series chat Damien, we’d love to hear about your journey through the years…what inspired the story behind Stackla and since its inception, how has the platform evolved?

My co-founder and I were journalists and producers by trade, and honed our craft on digital platforms. A decade ago we saw the advent and dramatic rise of social media, combined with the proliferation of smartphones, and alas a perfect storm was created. The power of content creation was in the hands of billions of people (smartphones), and they had the social platforms to share their stories and amplify their voices. Then, brands were forced to become publishers and content creators, and many struggled to keep up with the demands of producing quality content on a daily basis. So rather than create content, we had the idea to tap into the wealth of content being produced by consumers to feed the hungry content beast. And so Stackla was born.

While our value proposition and technology has evolved dramatically to power a range of diverse use cases, the fundamental benefits we deliver to our customer has not. Content remains king in the digital age, and is still the key ingredient to garnering consumer attention and driving intent. Adding AI to our product ensures we can add scale and relevance to the most trusted and authentic source of content: content created by consumers.

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How are you seeing content marketing trends evolve in today’s B2C and B2B marketplace around the globe?

We’re seeing brands mature in their grasp of data insights, which gives them the means to create more targeted strategies for specific buyer segments and personas. However, as campaigns become more targeted and the number of online touchpoints continue to proliferate, it’s increasingly difficult for brands to produce enough content to support their marketing activities. 

To keep pace with digital content without breaking the bank, today’s brands have started to look beyond traditional content creation methods—like professional photoshoots and stock photography—and instead tap into all the organic customer-created content featuring brands across social platforms. 

As more and more brands put these types of trusted visuals at the heart of their marketing, the next big trend will see brands beginning to cultivate their own creator communities where they actively work with customers to make the content needed for marketing campaigns.  

Can you talk about some of the most high-end/high-impact visual content experiences you’ve seen leading brands build in recent times?

There is a pretty wide range of high-end visual experiences that brands have produced over the years. Brands like Apple and Nike are well known for the impact of their content experiences. I thought Nike’s recent ‘You Can’t Stop Us’ ad was particularly impressive. 

We’ve seen Ikea invest in augmented reality (AR) app technology to help people virtually test how its products would look in their homes.

In terms of branded physical experiences, Heineken pretty much set the bar when they built their Heineken Experience interactive tasting room for people to tour and take photos at—making it completely immersive for their fans.

How can brands today create a more meaningful shopping experience and interaction with their customers, using different content marketing techniques?

Stackla recently conducted a global consumer survey which found that 72% of people say real customer photos and videos are the content they most want to see on eCommerce sites when making purchasing decisions.

People seek unvarnished and authentic images from fellow customers. User-generated content (UGC) shows what a product looks like in real life and thus is more relevant and trustworthy to the average consumer.

The data also found that today’s shoppers expect brands to provide them with more personalized experiences. Brands that can effectively deliver more authentic and tailored experiences will not only give people what they want, but will also create more meaningful connections with online shoppers.

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Can you throw light on some of the most impactful ways eCommerce vendors can use visual content marketing to build better experiences – what tips/best practices should they be following?

Visuals can be very effective at grabbing shopper’s attention and showcasing product features, but they should also help to bring products to life for online shoppers who can’t physically see, touch, or try them for themselves. 

Offering a mix of third-party social proof with professional product images as well as a variety of photos and videos can help break down online barriers to purchase.

It’s also important to continually improve your customer journeys. A great way to shorten paths to purchase and potentially drive more product discovery is to make the engaging visuals on your eCommerce website actionable. Adding click-to-buy buttons to images, you can more quickly take people from the point of inspiration to point of purchase.

We’d love to hear about some of the ways in which platforms like Stackla have enabled better content marketing experiences for brands?

Because Stackla is truly an omnichannel platform, we help the brands we work with expand their user-generated content strategies beyond just social media to any and every customer touchpoint they want to create meaningful experiences for. 

Lush Cosmetics, for example, wanted to deliver authentic content and personalization at scale. They do this by using our platform to collect, rights manage, and publish content from their passionate community of customers back out onto their owned marketing channels. Doing this not only helped the brand develop closer ties with their loyal advocates, but it created a more personal experience for other shoppers who were inspired by seeing people just like them using the products. 

We’ve even helped them make those inspirational images shoppable by enabling them to add ‘Shop Now’ buttons to UGC—effectively connecting content to commerce.

As content marketing trends evolve, what are some of the top tips you’d leave marketers and business owners with? 

I think brands need to remember to try to lead with their customers and not just their products. User-generated content opens doors for brands, providing content at the scale and velocity needed for today’s busy marketing landscape.

There are myriad ways to make customer content an integral part of any marketing strategy. Invite customers to showcase products they purchase from you and reward them when they promote your brand. Provide easy ways for them to get involved, like uploading content directly to your site or posting a photo with a branded hashtag to be featured across your marketing materials. Run an online contest where winners are chosen by other followers and customers. You can even try curating TikTok and Instagram videos from customers to create a fun and engaging video ad for your brand. 

This is key: whatever strategy you choose, just remember to get permission from content creators before using their content to promote your brand.

Some last thoughts and takeaways for startup CEOs and CMOs to keep in mind?

Remain optimistic, but practice discipline and keep it real. Build a company you can be proud of, but most of all think of the legacy you want to leave behind and how your team, supporters and customers will perceive you when it’s all said and done. They don’t need to love you, but hopefully they will respect you and you will have somehow made a positive contribution to their personal journey. That is one of the sometimes overlooked privileges and responsibilities of being the leader of an organization, start-up or otherwise.

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Stackla, recently acquired by Nosto, is the leading user-generated content (UGC) platform for consumer brands, helping marketers around the world find and showcase authentic customer content across all their marketing touchpoints to increase engagement, strengthen customer trust and drive sales.

Damien is Co-Founder and CEO of Stackla. He has 20-plus years of digital marketing and publishing experience. He led Macquarie Radio Network into the digital age, was a senior strategist for the National Rugby League in Australia and managed his own digital agency before founding Stackla in 2012.