We recently hit a big milestone here at Slidebean, 500 paying users (wohoo!). So I thought it might be a great opportunity to show you how we got them, and how to make content that sells.
As your company grows you’ll find that it’s much more important to pay attention to the people that actually pay you because they find value in your product, than to any of your other users. It might sound obvious but it’s common to lose focus. If you’re interested in going deeper on this, not long ago we shared the pivots we had to make in order to re-focus, and how they saved the company.
This screenshot of our Paying user data spreadsheet (which I highly recommend you to keep) shows that from 560 paying users we have today, 257 of them came directly from our content efforts, that’s a whopping 46%!
What counts as Content Marketing efforts?
Blog: people signing up after having visited the blog
Social media: Twitter, Facebook, social visits
Search: people clicking through from Google
Direct: people typing your website in their browser or bookmarks
You might be wondering why Search and Direct are included here. A couple of days ago I stumbled upon a case study from the guys of Moz. They examined metrics like traffic, pageviews, bounce rate and time on site and studied their relationship with higher rankings.
There seems to be a correlation between website visits and Google’s search rankings. So, the more traffic a site receives, the higher it tends to rank. This means that it’s much more likely to see sites like Amazon and Wikipedia higher up in the results. Likewise, there appears to be a positive association between a website’s user engagement and its rank in Google search results.
To sum up: if you concentrate on producing and sharing high quality content and getting traffic, chances are you’ll start ranking a lot better in search.
“Only 21 paying users from the blog? That’s kind of low, isn’t it?”
Actually, we don’t know. What we do know is that those 21 people were somewhere in our blog when they clicked on the sign in button and after that subscribed to one of our plans. But what if someone was reading one of our blog posts, got really excited about Slidebean and the next day just typed “Slidebean” on Google? He was actually captured by our blog, but in his referral data he will appear as coming from “Direct”. This also explains why we include Direct in our content marketing efforts.
Content as a way to keep churn low
Looking at where our paying users were coming from we discovered not only a great amount of content referrals but also a great retention of them as customers! Turns out that users coming from content marketing campaigns seem to churn out much less than say, users that came from an Adwords Campaign. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of them come from AdWords and we’re not even close to cancelling that channel.
These people are interested in what you have to say and teach them, they share a lot of the same concerns and sometimes even the same values. They know you more and thus trust you more. If you don’t believe me, check out how the content-related customers increased since we started our blog:
Start getting revenue from content marketing:
1. Create a consistent content strategy for your company
About 3 months ago we decided to get serious with content. We were getting pretty good results from it but didn’t quite understand why or how to grow our traffic. If you really want content marketing to make an impact on your revenue the absolute first thing you should do is create a strategy. We actually increased our traffic by 110% in only 50 days after building (and executing) the strategy. If you don't know where to start, read about it here.
2. Make content a daily priority
After you set up a strategy, keeping a content track is a great way to make sure you’re focusing on your goals. Here's a guide on how to manage and organise the content work: How keeping a Content Track boosted our Blog (spreadsheet included)
3. Target your audiences as much as you can
I’m a big fan of content verticals in blogs because it shows that the main reason you write blog posts is to get people to buy your product. So setting specific topics should make you start seeing your readers as potential customers. These will be different kinds of people, with different jobs, interests and personalities. In Slidebean, we have 3 content verticals in our blog: Startup Insights, Slidebean Academy an Online Marketing.
So, besides publishing your blog posts to the entire word, if possible, try to target your different audiences in each of your channels. We’re currently doing this on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and our Newsletter.
As I mentioned before, we set 3 verticals for our blog, with 3 separate newsletters, so when someone subscribes they only get weekly tips on the topic they are actually interested in. This means we have pretty good chances to delivering meaningful content to that person.
You’ve seen the “Download this font pack” sign at the end of articles. It’s something extra to give to your readers in exchange for their email. I heard about this new thing called “content upgrade” in Brian Dean's SEO webinar. It’s about surprising the reader with something that they weren’t expecting to find on your article. So if you promised on your title to show them “The 10 Best hacks to do X better”, add a bonus at the end of your article and give them an “Extra 5 hacks to do X better” and get more people to subscribe.
Besides running a couple of remarketing campaigns on Facebook, we created this one called “Blog Content Marketing” to promote our articles. We built several Ads sets based on our content verticals, and for each one of our targets (startups, designers/presenters and marketers) we decided to try out different audiences, with small differences. That’s why you can see in the image above “Academy vertical 2”, “Startups vertical 4”... so that after a while we can find the Ads sets that engage more at a lower cost.
Dont forget to build an Ad set for each vertical importing your email list from the blog. This way, a person who subscribed to your newsletter will probably find your promoted posts relevant and engage.
Need some help setting up your Facebook audiences? Here’s the link to Facebook’s Audiences page: https://www.facebook.com/ads/manager/audiences/manage
Related read: Pro Facebook ads tips you haven’t heard about
As of today, we’re not promoting our tweets. But we're using a cool hack to reach out to tweeters that are interested in what we write about. In a previous blog post, I talked about Buzzsumo, this tool we used when we created our content strategy, to analyse what content performs best for any topic or competitor. Well, we also use our PRO account to look for similar articles than ours. Once we find one with plenty shares on Twitter, we download the Excel file with its sharers and then send them a tweet like this one: “@someone saw you tweeted about investor meetings. Thought you might like this article on how to talk to investors -> link”
If you don’t have a lot of time I suggest having a Hootsuite PRO account and using the bulk tweet uploader. It’s awesome!
Reddit is a great platform to find targeted audiences. In our case, we’ve seen great activity with the r/startups and the r/entrepreneur channels, because they are exactly the audience for our product.
Reddit is an extremely demanding community, only -very high- quality content will make it here, so make sure that you’re careful about this. Furthermore, avoid being too obvious about the fact that you’re promoting your company.
4. Keep track of where your paying users come from
As I mentioned before, we keep a Paying User data spreadsheet to analyse all sort of things. We saved two columns to focus on the users’ referrals. You can get that info from Google Analytics (if you set goals) or even easier from Mixpanel.
That's it for now. Now, get to work! As always, I'm open to comments and feedback.