5 minutes with Harry Foges, Head of Content, Zoopla

The Neg talks to Harry Foges, Head of Content at online property portal Zoopla, about what it takes to stand out from the crowd as a content creator.

You’ve worked in editorial and content roles at AOL, Orange and BT, and are now Head of Content at Zoopla.  So what makes a good content creator?

Great question! In a world where anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection can generate a blog, a YouTube channel or a large Instagram following, more and more people define themselves as ‘content creators’. So for me, to stand out from the crowd you need to tick three key boxes:

Firstly, a curiosity to learn from others (brands, colleagues, thought leaders) and use those learnings to develop strong ideas or best practices for your company. Whose blog content do you return to read or watch? Whose social media posts make your thumb stop scrolling? Whose customer service content makes you feel valued?

Secondly, a flair for writing engaging copy (whether for long-form articles, social posts or email subject lines). Despite the rise in video and audio content, the importance of writing smart, useful, actionable copy has never been more important. Your customers are being bombarded with information 24/7 – how can you stand out?

Despite the rise in video and audio content, the importance of writing smart, useful, actionable copy has never been more important.”

And finally, a relentless audience focus (for example, in the case of an estate agency, it could be local homeowners thinking of selling). What do you know about your target audience? What action do you want them to take after viewing your content? How will you know if your content has performed well? What can be improved for next time?

Why did Zoopla decide it needed a Head of Content? And why do you think you stood out above the other applicants?

Our CMO recognised that a successful brand like Zoopla needs to play a regular and relevant role in the minds of consumers and estate agents, 365 days a year. An ‘always on’ content strategy, which it’s my job to create and deliver, supports that ambition.

As for why they hired me, I like to think my career background, initially as a hands-on digital editor and then as a builder of successful content teams, helped convince them I was the right man for the job. Well, that and my obsession with the UK property market!

What exactly does the Head of Content role at Zoopla involve?

My role is to support our marketing strategy with compelling content that delivers results, including helping encourage more buyers, sellers and renters to view our property listings.

I manage an in-house team that creates or commissions content for a number of channels including the Zoopla website, app, social accounts and email comms.

Quality content generates more visits from buyers, sellers and renters to Zoopla, which in turn helps us deliver increased numbers of vendor and applicant leads to our estate agents and new homes developers.

The term ‘content’ at Zoopla can mean anything from first-time buyer guides to estate agent interviews; house price trend analysis to property renovation tips on social media.

What’s your biggest achievement so far at Zoopla?

I joined in the summer of 2019 and it’s been a hugely rewarding experience so far. In terms of achievements, I would say our response to the coronavirus outbreak in March 2020 is something I’m particularly proud of.

The government released new guidance affecting the property market on an almost daily basis. We quickly turned that guidance into content featuring advice from lawyers and insights from our Research department – helping demystify the impact of coronavirus on the market for consumers, estate agents and developers.

The government released new guidance affecting the property market on an almost daily basis. We quickly turned that guidance into content.”

We created a dedicated coronavirus content hub on Zoopla.co.uk that quickly ranked on page 1 of Google for many relevant keywords, and we had our most successful period ever in terms of content traffic and engagement.

This was particularly important in a time where our estate agent partners were facing unprecedented challenges. It meant we kept consumers primed to use Zoopla for their search when restrictions eased, and we used content to explain which elements of the home-moving process (viewing homes using video tours, for example) were still possible.

We were trying to help people whose property moves had stalled or who were facing property-related financial challenges as a result of the pandemic, and I felt we did that.

Do you have any content marketing advice for other agents?

Knowing how clued-up agents are on marketing their agencies and properties, I wouldn’t assume to know any more than them!

We’re spoiled by the amount of content marketing channels available these days – from social media platforms to Spotify playlists, Pinterest boards to podcasts.

However, for me, email is often still the most effective way of reaching and talking to your customers.

Spending time crafting the content of your emails, analysing the best times to send them out based on open and click-through rates, and learning from past performance can have huge benefits to your business.

For more marketing tips, I’d encourage agents to watch these videos from our recent Agent Advantage series:

Kickstarting your digital strategy

Get the most out of your marketing efforts

How to win at social media

This interview was kindly arranged by Assist Inventories.

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