Service: natural links and crowd marketing
Subject: keywords selection service
Region: English-speaking world
Duration: 5 months (November 2014 –March 2015)
Budget: 9250 USD
Average monthly budget: 1850 USD
Not all of our readers know that on November 2014 Serpstat team launched free web search tips selection service for international market. Since it is useful for SEO specialists, we decided to implement content marketing for project promotion.
This case study is notable because we had an opportunity to receive an absolutely clear campaign results due to the absence of any other marketing activities for the current tool. This service allows to collect tips by keywords, but you can only download this list through the registration form. That is why the general amount of registrations was chosen as a core KPI apart from the general traffic to the site with the complex of its qualitative characteristics We have also tracked number of links and mentions, and analyzed general link profile.
- Increasing the number of constant users;
- Growing the amount of registrations;
- Creating link profile aimed to increase visibility on search engines;
- Increasing the growth dynamics of branded queries in search.
It is worth clarifying that we didn’t use “pure” content marketing. What we did looked a lot like PR with a pinch of Reputation management. We did not develop a structure of our own channels as it is done in classic complex content marketing. We did not spend time on optimization, organization and content filling of our channels, such as groups in social media or our blog. We still do not have such channels. The reason is pretty simple: the tool is as easy to use as iOS, and it is its key feature. That is why we decided to simplify conversion funnel to the level of “visitor⟶lead”, actually cutting back on half of our classic Content marketing strategy.
The stage of preparatory works on content marketing fitted in the current checklist:
- Strategic planning of content marketing nucleus of actions.
- Defining the key tools in the frames of referral campaign.
- Designing the map of target audience segments.
- Drawing up a work plan with certain deadlines.
- Drawing up an interim KPIs map.
- Drawing up and regulating thesis positioning map.
- Preparing analytics systems.
On the current stage we have prepared all necessary tools and materials for a long-term and effective referral campaign:
- Guest posting;
- Publishing reviews;
- Social media pitching.
3.Content marketing strategy realization
After preparatory actions, we started experimenting with content marketing tools. To be fair, everything we had in the very beginning was service itself and a small press release about its launch. The first step was to make a newsletter with the current press release within our Anglophone email subscribers lists and the lists of our software. Our newsletter received a cold feedback. By and large, it resulted in 238 people following the link from the letter during the whole period of its existence (1,90%). And so we went further.
The second type of activity within our campaign was crowd marketing. By crowd marketing we mean mass posting of brand mentionings on relevant resources and topics aimed to increase its recognition and authority. The actual task for us was to fulfill the following checklist throughout crowd marketing:
- Register one hundred accounts;
- Get them reach the N+ amount of messages on general topics;
- Leave hundreds of mentions and (if we will be lucky enough) Serpstat links.
During the period we have left over 250 mentions on English-language forums, blogs and communities. About 30-40% of them are still functioning or have been active for a specified period of time, sufficient for attracting traffic and increasing brand awareness (which was the initial aim).
The main topics, where mentions have been left – keywords researches or SEO tools.
3.2. Review requests
Our next target was receiving publications from bloggers and influencers (opinion leaders) with reviews of your service. It is worthwhile noting that service specifics (simplicity) has been the determining factor here. It simplifies the process of influencer attraction to the service, but complicates the review receiving process – a detailed overview is too much for a service because there is simply nothing to tell about it. We started from search and formation of the suitable bloggers media list.
Media list is a bloggers and influencers contact database that includes their emails, social media profiles and personal information. This information helps to write an excellent email aimed to receive feedback. A personalized letter (pitch) has been created for each particular blogger within the period from January to the end of February. Pitches have been a subject for lots of our experiments. This is an example of one of them:
The key target of a pitch is to evoke blogger’s/ influencer’s interest from the headline, to deliver all necessary information in 7-8 words. The basic KPI is conversion of delivered letters into received feedback.
3.3. Guest post requests
When we understood how hard it is to receive a full-fledged review due to service simplicity, we decided to test a guest posting strategy. In this scenario we have been preparing the content ourselves and sent request to bloggers to publish our content on their site. To create content great, propagated and viral, you have to make it non-promotional. We reached this through preparing content written on neutral topics, such as “How to create a content plan using keywords”. Here is sample of our guest post:
Life hack for working with guest posts is to immediately send to blogger or journalist a letter with an excellent content, he/she is more likely to send you a feedback than in the case with an ordinary pitch, even if it is super cool.
3.4. Social Media Pitching
The next step of evolution of our activity was and is a severe twitter activity. Twitter today is the most topical way to reach influencer. As a rule, all of them are open to conversation.
- Followed social media accounts of SEO specialists;
- Searched for the ones, who has already tweeted about the service, and made retweets;
- Tweeted those who wrote something from our target keywords.
Prior to the results analysis, it is worth noting that content marketing campaign specifics lies in its sustainability. For example, going back to SEO (if we are talking about white hat optimization), sustainable dynamics is the results growth dynamics. However, when the optimization works stop, organic traffic rate can go down and due to the change of search engine and because of the emergence of a new competitor within the market that invests finances in winning the SERP for all key queries. Content marketing in its turn is a long-term work with the brand. Within the current project we have reached the “ceiling line”: now we can stop content distribution works at any moment, but it cannot produce a significant influence traffic rates. That’s because content is being spread by users themselves. Including the factor of its sustainability into results analytics, you can understand that any conversion price reached by content marketer will go down every month due to new user publications. Let’s move to the results:
4.1. Overall content marketing campaign results
While analyzing campaign results, it is necessary to study data from Google Analytics in the first sight:
As a result, we get the following stats:
- Received traffic: 12 534 visits;
- New users: 7 714 visitors;
- Registrations: 371;
- Visitor conversion into registration rate: 2,95% (34 visits per 1 registration);
- User conversion into registration: 4,8% (21 users per 1 registration).
Content marketing mainly works for branded and referral traffic, and we can see that on our graphs: 79,27% of traffic came from the brand and links.
4.2. Link profile
One of the interim metrics we chose was Ahrefs data as for the link profile. We knew which profile can be built on the basis of the results if our activity connected more with the content itself than with the link within it. So here is what we received:
Links regional division:
On the moment of writing the current case study, Ahrefs found 96 link domains and 161 link. For a more detailed understanding of the link profile, we gathered top 20 domains with links:
4.3. Results by publications
During the period of service promotion , we received 51 publication with direct links on our website. Total referral traffic is 6 031 clickthroughs.
To analyse the effectiveness of the following channels, we gathered all main post publications into a separate document, analysing traffic with each particular article. The current analysis was conducted to optimize our content distribution strategy and define the most effective channels and future work with them.
Total traffic from publications amlounted to 3 652 clickthroughts. This equals to 60,55% of all link clickthrougths. Referral traffic from social media and forums amounted to 2 379 clickthroughs, i.e. 39,45%. Fun analytics:
- Link displayed on https://blog.bufferapp.com/ (top rated link in our link profile) gave no clickthroughs. We associate it with content specifics: they published a post about “39+ useful tools” that did not give users orienteer on our link – service simply got lost in the long list of other tools;
- The top publication on http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/ attracted 1423 visitors, which amounted to 23,59% of total traffic received from the articles;
- Top 10 posts (20% from total amount of received publications) amounted to 91,54% from all clickthroughs from articles and 55,43% from the whole referral traffic. Pareto principle in its direct realization;
- 20 posts (40% of total pack) gave total traffic is equal to zero.
On top of everything else, we were able to even gain a video review of the service.
4.4. Financial analytics
As it was mentioned in the beginning of the current case study, campaign’s budget was $9 250 ($1 850 per month). In fact we did not spend any finances on a single publication, all content was posted absolutely for free. The whole budget amount was defined based on the individual hour cost of our specialists and the amount of time spent on the project. As a result, we received the following rates:
Content marketing allowed our service to receive enough traffic amount during the first month of its existence, and allowed us to test the series of methods for attracting this traffic. We received 371 registration, 12 534 site visits and link profile with big amount of high-quality donor domains. Our link profile (without distinct SEO works) allowed us to gain our own position in Google US SERP on key queries.
Another type of conclusion – several theses:
- Content marketing is expensive
- Content marketing is not for you if you have nothing to say and nothing to excite.
- Content marketing gives long-term results, although they can be seen just after the preparation stage and are cost-effective in the format of one or several years.
- Content marketing can build an excellent link profile and be a substitute for a part of works on SEO optimization.
Who worked on the project:
P.S. It is also super cool when in comments n Moz some user receives a link to our resource from other users, and foreign tools are already trying to conquer with us.
Thank you for your attention.