Content is the core of how we drive growth here at Gleam, 95% of our customers come from some form of inbound marketing (and we spend very little on paid advertising).
Writing great content is an investment that you make. Good content will continue to bring customers for years to come.
Imagine if we could replicate the same success with 25 more guides? That’d be 1M visitors per year from just 25 posts.
In the last 12 months we’ve grown our yearly inbound visitor totals to 1.5M+ users. We’ve also grown our daily paid signups by 250%. We can attribute most of these increases to content, and in this post I’ll walk you through the types of content we focus on to get results.
Content is usually consumed, but it can also be interacted with. Over the past year we’ve been experimenting with ways of encouraging users to be more engaged with our content.
Regular + Partner Contests
I spoke with the marketing lead at a very popular B2B app last week and he told me that contests don’t work for us. Which I think can be a common feeling when you don’t work in a particularly glamorous industry that has good products to giveaway.
But it depends on how you use contests in the first place. We have been experimenting with contests of our own for ~12 months now, and they have worked fantastically as an engagement tool.
- Contests allow us to engage with existing customers (and gives them an opportunity to win an account upgrade or some swag)
- Contests also allow us to chase new unexplored market segments to test ideas (for example: Event Marketing or Webinar Marketing).
- We use each contest as an opportunity to bring on additional marketing partners. Which gives us extra reach and a bigger prize pool.
- The contests grow our list and give us a opportunity to educate customers about new features.
- The contest also acts as a working live demo that allows customers to test out our product.
- Partnering with speakers at events has been great to get exposure on the big stage.
— Lauren (@LaurenInSuffolk) June 20, 2015
Make Our Live Demos Easy To Access
When I visit other SaaS products I often always look for a demo of the product. Playing around is usually the best way to sell to me as I have a very practical mindset.
I’m often amazed at how many hoops you need to jump through just to try a demo – if you want to setup a call with me I’ll usually pass.
We’ve gone the complete opposite direction by trying to make our demos as easy to access as possible.
Hacking Our Blog Title
If you’ve ever been reading one of our blog posts, then tabbed away somewhere else you’ll notice that our title changes, it wills you to come back, almost makes you feel a bit guilty for leaving us hanging.
Actionable Blog Posts About Our Own Product
I mentioned above that I’m quite a practical person, I really enjoy seeing out of the box ways of using a particular product – it makes me more likely to experiment (and potentially realise all these uses I’d never thought about).
But when you’re writing these sorts posts for your own business there’s a fine line between the post being useful vs extremely self promotional.
We’ve been experimenting a lot with useful posts about our own product, or guides on how we’ve used our own product to achieve some sort of positive output.
You can read a few of them here:
One very interesting side effect of creating content like this is that it really helps during the pre-sales process.
For example if we get a particular question from an E-commerce store we might link them to that guide.
I also include a link to our 25 Growth Hacks post in my email signature. It’s a great way to get users interested in your product and give a complete overview of your capabilities (with examples).
I used our own URL Shortener to create a memorable link:
Then tried to use this link in as many places as possible.
You can even get creative and use it on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram or Snapchat.
Or even use this content in ad campaigns. The sky is the limit when you’ve written a really solid piece of educational content about your own product.
Writing great content can help you become a thought leader in your industry. When you inspire others you help drive a new set of behaviours that turn users into brand advocates. And as a result you will see more:
- Users referencing your posts on their own blogs
- Links from publications or presentations at conferences
- More mentions on social media
- More cold or warm email outreach from peers or salespeople (not always good 😜)
- More requests to guest blog or supply content for courses
- Requests for speaking engagements or interviews
The more you inspire users with your content, the more of the above will happen. Which in turn, helps you reach even more people with your content.
Just look at someone like Gary Vaynerchuck, what he is doing with his content currently is simply amazing. He’s inspiring hundreds of thousands of people every week with his shows, videos or quotes on how to do better business. But he portrays it in a way that is real, there’s no easy road, you need to put in the work to see the returns – and you need to work smarter rather than harder.
Here at Gleam we’ve been trying more ways to inspire users with our content. And it can manifest itself in many different forms – like inspiring potential customers to run a campaign based on something they’ve seen us write about, or inspiring someone to write about Gleam because they really enjoyed our post.
Let’s be honest about case studies, most of them are boring and one dimensional. It’s usually a bit of marketing speak mixed with a few quotes from your PR department.
Company Y really helped us achieve our goals this year through smart optimisation of their SomeProduct™ vectors
To me this means that businesses don’t give a shit about the actual content, they just want the case study on their site to provide the social proof that they are working with Company X.
But what if you could make your case studies more interesting? This is something we’ve been trying by making our case studies….less like case studies.
We’ve been testing and following a specific formula with Case Studies to make them more inspiring.
- First have a case study that’s worth talking about
- Have a hook in your headline to make users want to read it
- Back up your headline with actionable content
- Add in actionable tips that readers can do themselves
This approach drives over 5k+ visits a month to our case studies, which drives a lot of signups and interest in our apps.
Monthly Growth Newsletters
I really wish we had started our Growth Newsletters earlier, in the last 9 months we’ve grown from 0 to 10k+ subscribers.
Having your own newsletter is a fantastic way to engage with your community. We use it to announce our posts, we write secret posts and tips and we also run private contests that are only open to our members.
Our aim is to make it enjoyable for users to get our posts, to inspire them to try something, or read a certain bunch of posts that inspired us.
We also directly expose the number of users on our list on every page on the blog. The aim here is to show others how many users are signed up to receive our mails, to provide some sort of social proof 💸
Followup Emails After You Test Our Product
Another way to inspire users is to capture them with the right information at the right time.
So when you test one of our example campaigns we instantly send you an email with some guides to help you dive right in and get started.
Strike whilst the iron is hot as they say!
Humans are emotional creatures, we respond differently to certain messaging or triggers. A good marketer can appeal to these emotions to provoke a specific reaction from the reader.
An extremely powerful emotion is envy. Remember when you were a kid and someone brought the latest Transformer or Barbie into class? How bad did you want it?
That emotion never leaves people, why do you think we have such an unhealthy obsession with celebrities?
Users will feel the same about your product if you build something good enough to create envy. Then find a way to tastefully put your branding on it (and charge more to remove the branding).
This drives over 30% of our growth believe it or not. If a brand in a specific industry is the first to start using our product (or new feature), then like clockwork we start seeing their competitors signup.
Behavioural Popups + In-app Notifications
We also use the product to announce new features to our customers. For example we just launched a new Snapchat action type last week.
We created a very simple floating bar that’s seen by all users that are logged into Gleam. In the past week it’s been viewed over 20k times and clicked by 6.5% of all users.
This is incredible engagement given that this is something that look less than a minute to setup and deploy.
Trust plays a huge part in getting people to signup and use your product. So you need to consider ways that you can amplify your trust through content.
A popular way that companies build trust is through showing their client-list. Or by capturing testimonials from customers and showing them on key landing pages.
We show this quite high up on our landing page (rather than hiding it at the bottom), as typically you only have seconds to make a great impression with your website or offering.
Just like writing great blog posts, writing amazing product guides has been a huge win for us over the last two years.
Our guides have generated over 100k visitors in the last 12 months, and rank fairly well in search engines (which drives a lot of additional customers). It’s just a matter of identifying a problem that your customers have, then aligning it with how they search for it, and writing the best possible guide on the internet 💪
Gleam is a fairly modular product, in that there’s no one way to setup a campaign. We have millions of potential combinations – which can sometimes put users off.
To combat this we have a fairly comprehensive library of examples that we use to show users all the different types of campaigns they can run. Users can then also use these examples as templates in our backend.
I would consider each one of these examples as a piece of content, each designed to appeal to a specific customer need.
We can design and market new examples to help draw in a new market, or look at existing segments that perform well and use that as the basis for more examples.
A live example to play around with easily helps the user trust your product more, they don’t need to delve in to play around to maybe see if it meets their needs.
More examples = quicker path to a new customer.
This has easily been our most utilised page in the last 12 months.
Last but not least, there’s the simple, mundane content that you just have to write. It could be docs, or FAQ’s or on-boarding for your app.
Product Documentation + In-line Help
I get it, docs are boring. But for me docs serve a dual purpose:
- Good docs will reduce the amount of support requests, giving you more time to spend on growth
- Good in-line help and error notifications will also reduce the amount of customer frustration
We’ve written so much documentation now that 95% of our customer support queries can be answered by linking to a specific anchor. And as we get more queries, we use this to continually expand the information available.
For example we get a few very common queries.
How do I install your widget? 👉 How To Install Gleam
How do I promote my campaign? 👉 Contest Promotion Guide
Do I need to pay more for multiple brands? 👉 How Many Sites Do I Need?
How does your viral share action work? 👉 Viral Share Guide
Having this documentation ready when responding to customer support makes you seem professional and organised. Many of these articles can also convey a lot more information that you would be able to via a chat window or email.
There’s a certain amount of simple content that you’ll do which just needs to get done. A good example is writing social updates for content that you’ve written.
We try to write updates that will attract attention and get users to take a specific action. We do this by trying to take the content and portraying it in a way that will engage the audience.
For example, the update below highlights the business outcomes of a specific blog post:
Whereas this update is drawing attention to a specific new feature being launched. Notice how in most updates we let the imagery do most of the talking.
— Gleam (@gleamapp) February 4, 2016