Our Interns’ Experience with Content Marketing at Vertical Measures
We asked our interns, Victoria Bartelt and Adam Kull, to share what they’ve learned about content marketing during their 2016 summer internships. From learning new technical skills to really grasping the difference between traditional and content marketing, Victoria and Adam have learned a lot and we can’t wait to see them apply their new found skills to their future careers.
What were your goals for your internship?
Victoria Bartelt: My goals for this internship were to gain working knowledge of the technical skills used for content marketing. Vertical Measures taught those new skills with hands-on training and gave me constructive feedback. Now I have more confidence in what career direction I will pursue.
Adam Kull: Prior to working at Vertical Measures, I had never been a part of a professional office environment. Without any prior internships or time in an office, I wasn’t sure if I would fit in an office environment. In the first couple of weeks I found that my preconception of an “office” was quite skewed. Yes, there was a water cooler and cubicles of sorts, but everyone’s door was always open. Everyone was very welcoming to me, and the goal became to learn as much I could about content marketing in my three months with Vertical Measures.
What did you like most about interning at Vertical Measures?
VB: Aside from learning many useful tools, my favorite part about interning at Vertical Measures was the people. My coworkers were funny, and I could tell they loved working here. I felt like I was a part of a family here at VM. I enjoyed getting to know everyone and I loved all the events VM puts together. My favorite one was [the mock startup competition] Shark Tank because I was judge. I was impressed with how the teams marketed their items, and they sure made me giggle while presenting.
AK: I had grown up with advertisements — adverts on the TV telling me to buy a product, billboards telling me to watch a show, or even early internet ads for products that I didn’t want to buy. I didn’t understand advertising and I was, frankly, intimidated by it. An in-your-face salesperson would immediately turn me off, influencing me to do my own research on a product I wanted to buy.
I found I was not the only person that felt this way.
As the internet matured, people had access to reviews, ratings and other metrics that let people find all the information they were searching for. The content marketing that I was a part of during my time at Vertical Measures provides internet users the content they are looking for. It’s the idea that a user will find the information they are looking for and your website can be that source of information! To be a part of that vast network of knowledge and learn how to guide people down the funnel of information is incredible.
Describe your job – what did you do?
VB: At Vertical Measures, I was a part of the team. I never felt like the “intern” because my coworkers included me in collaborative meetings and tasked me assignments to help them with for the clients. I worked with each team, link building, PPC, SEO, but most closely with content.
I loved being able to work on different assignments every day because I learned all the ins and outs of content marketing. My assignments consisted of ideation, competitor analysis, writing articles, social media posts, and much more. Each team was more than willing to help me when I asked questions; in fact, they were eager to help!
AK: I helped with various departments within the company, learning each of their roles in marketing a website. One of my common assignments was to ideate topic “spokes” for free guide “hubs.” The idea is to create smaller, easy-to-understand articles that encourage the reader to find more information from the free guide “hub.”
The topics required more than simple brainstorming. Because the goal of article spokes is to create answers to searcher questions, a significant amount of keyword research is behind each individual article. This was a style of writing I had never before encountered. It was an interesting marriage between research and writing that was quite enjoyable to be a part of.
What were the top 5 things you learned?
VB: I learned that working on a group project enhances your people and professional skills. Creating the final product brings everyone together to combine their skill sets.
Secondly, between meetings, emails, instant messaging, note-taking, and documenting, this internship whipped my communication skills into shape.
I learned several technical skills during this internship but one stood out the most to me. Ideation is when you come up with potential article, free guide, or data/infographic ideas. After conducting keyword searches and finding the difficulty score, you have your potential idea. That was a brief explanation of ideation because there are so many more techniques that happen with ideation.
Another skill I learned was to put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. Some of the content ideas I thought of were too broad, and after talking with a coworker I came to the conclusion that being specific is what works best.
Lastly, I learned balance. I typically worked on more than one assignment a day. I learned how to balance out enough time to work on each assignment. This allowed me to meet my deadlines!
AK: In no specific order:
Task management: Using Outlook, Workfront and other organizational technologies was incredibly helpful for taking and organizing multiple tasks at once. Workfront allowed me to track my time for each task, showing how I use my time and what I spent too much, or not enough, time on.
Operating in a professional environment: As I previously stated, I had never worked in a professional environment before. At my previous jobs, I only worked toward short-term goals. At Vertical Measures I had the experience of being part of a larger goal — a bigger picture. Suddenly work wasn’t about only getting to the end of the day or making sure everything ran correctly for one day. Instead, I was part of a bigger picture where everyone made contributions to a larger project.
Content marketing: While a bit obvious, I learned some very important skills not only in research, but internet browsing. Through my training at Vertical Measures, I understood why certain websites appear higher in search results. I have learned how to better navigate the internet and how important a website is to a business. Learning how to research is something I had never considered the importance of.
Taking notes: An interesting part of my job was observing or sitting in on client calls and typing up notes on the meeting. This required a very specific skill; being able to pick important bits out of the discussion. Learning how to take comprehensive notes is a skill I’ll be able to use throughout my schooling and career.
Moving: A bit of an odd thing to learn from an internship, but still extremely useful. During my three months with Vertical Measures, the company moved to an incredible new office. Seeing huge, tangible growth was unlike anything I’d ever seen. I helped shuttle things between the old and new offices, setup desks and prepare the office as a working environment. Packing and moving electronics, setting up furniture were some of the more useful things I learned. But overall, not moving in the middle of an Arizona summer was easily the biggest lesson.
What surprised you about content marketing?
VB: What surprised me most about content marketing was how much work and in-depth research each team does before they give the client the content. It amazed me how focused and driven each Vertical Measures worker is. Because of their actions I was inspired every day to perfect each assignment I was working on.
AK: When learning about the content marketing process, I was very surprised about how different content marketing was to traditional advertising. Content marketing was described to me as “Focusing on the client, rather than the product and the company. It’s about you, not me.” This means writing content to help the reader, not to directly promote a product or service.
Although initially confusing to me, I began to understand the role of content marketing as building trust with internet users. As stated earlier, this contradicts traditional advertising because it does not encourage the reader to purchase a product, but rather gain interest in a company’s website and treat it as an authority in the industry.
When your friends or family ask you what you did this summer, how do you explain your job at VM?
VB: It was hard to explain to my family and friends what content marketing is because of all the in-depth techniques behind it. When my family and friends asked me what I was doing this summer, I would say I work for an internet marketing company and we help revamp our clients’ websites and produce content for them to market.
AK: When most people picture an internship, they imagine fetching coffee or shadowing someone do work. I have to explain that my three months were much more independent and educational than that. I often helped with projects and research, learning how the small work that I did contributed to the larger picture. I found it was very educational and fulfilling to see my work being presented to a client.
How would you explain SEO? This isn’t a test, but we’d love to hear your take after three months with VM!
VB: SEO is search engine optimization. By applying different techniques and tactics through SEO it can increase the number of visitors to a website by obtaining a high domain and page authority.
AK: I would describe SEO as actively improving a website’s ranking within search engines. While many services within SEO like backlink analysis and toxic link removals are immediate solutions, SEO is often a mindset that website owners should consistently maintain. When producing new content, keyword research should always be conducted to target a specific audience.
Additionally, constantly checking website rankings and seeing what keywords a website is already ranking for makes it easier to understand specific consumers visiting a website. These are only a few examples of the mindset, but the value of conducting SEO research is too great to ignore.
How would you explain link-building?
VB: The goal of link building is to use proven strategies to convince another website owner it is in their best interest to link to a specific website.
AK: Link building is a process within SEO and content marketing that helps users find websites relevant to their searches. Once the content is produced for a website, link building helps with the promotion phase; putting your website’s content out there for people to find.
This is done by establishing relationships with other websites, helping each other out by linking to each other’s content. Plenty of research goes into this process, as I personally have done a competitor backlink analysis to see how a competitor’s website uses links to perform well. Link development is not only a useful tool to improving your website ranking, but it’s also a fascinating insight on how the internet works as a whole: Establishing relationships with another website for the mutual benefit of increased traffic.
What’s next for you – where are you headed?
VB: What’s next for me is finishing out my last college years strong and scoring a career that I love. I enjoyed this internship immensely, and I could see myself working in the content marketing field even though I am a journalism major. Wherever my career takes me – whether in Arizona, a different state, or even a foreign country – I’ll never forget what I learned at Vertical Measures.
AK: I am a firm believer in the importance of diversity in education. I feel I get the most value out of my education when I choose classes that interest me, not filling my schedule with required and overly challenging courses. My internship at Vertical Measures further solidified my educational philosophy. Had I chosen the traditional route and taken a major-specific internship, I would have never learned of my interest in content marketing. My goal for the future? Diversity.
Is there anything else I didn’t ask you that you’d like to add?
VB: Thank you so much for all the help from my VM coworkers! I learned so many useful tools that I can take with me forever. The new office is amazing and shows how hard work can truly pay off!
About VM Interns
Victoria Bartelt is entering her junior year at Arizona State University this fall. She is a sports journalism major at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. Adam Kull is a sophomore at the University of Arizona. He’s currently a journalism pre-major.
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