How We Harnessed our Blog to Fuel SEO & Product AdoptionJuly 22, 2015
Let us start this one with two simple questions:
What's the best time to plant a tree?
Answer: Ten years ago.
What's the second best time to plant a tree?
Answer: Right now.
At a smaller scale, the exact same thing can be said of content marketing for startups or any online business.
A friend of mine told me he was thinking about building a (very cool) SaaS for front-end developers recently. He asked if I had any advice. Guess what I told him?
"Start blogging, right now. The earlier, the better."
Today I'm going to explain why I gave him this advice with a few examples drawn from our own startup. I'm going to discuss tangible business results driven by our content efforts at Snipcart. Let's talk SEO first:
Boost in search engines rankings and organic traffic
Allow me to be straight up with you here, no BS: when we started our content efforts, we had absolutely no detailed, keyword-centric SEO strategy in place. To be completely honest, we still don't have one. We just decided to talk about ourselves, our product and how it could actually help developers. Since Google's algorithm is supposed to be prioritizing quality content, we set out to publish just that. And it worked out very well.
Soon after launching Snipcart, we won an Awwwards SOTD. Referral traffic literally flooded to our website. It lasted a few weeks, maybe even months. An interesting percentage of this traffic converted, but the buzz eventually wore off. We needed another way to bring customers in, so we decided to give this content thing a try.
To me, that's exactly why even pre-launch startups should leverage content marketing. Starting to build online authority with audiences and search engines ASAP will highly benefit any startup in the long run. So, as soon as you can, kick off a blog and hold yourself and your team accountable for frequently publishing on it.
What should you talk about, you ask?
The short answer is to keep it real. Don't pretend you're an expert; don't bullshit your audience. Talk about what you know. Chances are you've built a great product for your users. Talk about that. Why did you create it? How did you create it? How can they use it? Where are you taking this product?
And be transparent. Nobody likes a peddler. Talk about your challenges, your ideas, your bad & good experiences. That's pretty much what we talked about at Snipcart. And like I said: it worked, a lot.
Boost in integrations & product adoption inside CMS communities
In our early months, we witnessed a growing traction for our product among the Craft CMS community. Snipcart was a good fit for this CMS, which had no clear e-commerce options at the time. Our founder got directly involved in the community discussions, and we decided to publish a post on integrating Snipcart with Craft. This post and various email exchanges eventually led a user to develop a useful Craft-Snipcart third party plugin for the community. When we witnessed this, we decided to give more visibility to various existing CMS integrations on the blog. By doing so, we saw a succession of similar phenomenons happen with lots of other communities: WordPress, concrete5, Middleman, Jekyll, Grav, Perch, Netlify, CloudCannon and more.
As the central product here, we highly benefit from peripheral third-party plugins and integrations being developed for Snipcart: it expands our reach, eases users into our solution and directly augments our user base and revenues. It also strengthens the technology-independent aspect of our product.
Come together and conquer
Using content to showcase and foster relationships with relevant communities and solutions is a good way to create business opportunities and drive results. For a developer-centric solution such as ours, it's without a doubt a great content avenue to explore. But even if you're not in the B2D universe, you should seriously think about leveraging other communities and audiences to augment your visibility and convert more users to your platform.
For instance, there's a whole array of web apps and SaaS out there today. Surely some of them play well with yours? Reach out to them. Exchange guest posts and audiences. Build quick integrations you can turn into blog posts. As long as both sides find value in the content efforts, everybody wins.
Conclusion: start feeding that blog, now
Whether you're a B2C, B2B or B2D startup, you should start blogging as soon as possible. Take people on a journey with you. Tell them what you intend to build, and why. Help them understand the value you're injecting into their world.
Because when done right, content will always be good to your business: it'll definitely drive search ranking improvements, and if you connect with relevant communities and partner solutions, it'll widen your reach and increase your product adoption. If you treat it well, your blog can be one powerful growth engine.
If we could have done one thing differently when we launched our e-commerce solution, it would have been to get serious with content even before our alpha release. Ater all, your first post doesn't have to be "Hey, we just launched!". It can be more of a "Hey, here's what we intend to build, and why".
So go ahead and plant that content tree, right now.
I hope you enjoyed this article, and found it helpful or motivating in any way. Feel free to share it on Twitter if you did. And if you want to know precisely how we handle our content creation workflow at Snipcart, you can read this post. We'll be back soon to discuss how content and support helped us turn users into product ambassadors. As always, your thoughts are welcome in the comments below!