Earlier this month we published a blog post, How We Grew Our SAAS Startup’s MRR from 0 to over $2k in Under One Month, and received wonderful feedback from the tech community.
This post was even featured in Episode 177 of the incredible podcast, Startups For The Rest of Us. We recommend checking it out – and not just to hear the story of our beginnings. Rob Walling and Mike Taber, the hosts of the show, provided additional insight and useful suggestions that any startup in the beginning stage could implement. One topic they discussed was connecting with industry leaders. Rob mentioned that he’d be interested to see an entire blog post breaking down how we connected with these leaders, what we did, and the results. So, Rob, this post is for you. And Readers, if you have any questions about the MRR post, or the podcast, just leave us a note in the comment section and we’d be happy to follow up.
Connecting With Industry Leaders
One of our six key takeaways was to connect with industry leaders who shared our content and provided invaluable insight into our product.
Creating relevant and useful blog content doesn’t help your bottom line if no one sees it. Distribution is as important as the content itself. Mark Suster, a VC and blogger, published a guide to blogging on TechCrunch a few years back. He says, “If you’re too squeamish to ask for help in promoting it or to do so yourself then you’ll never build an audience (you’ll also likely not make it as an entrepreneur. Sorry. But that’s true.)” From my previous experience with other startups, as well as with my personal blog, I learned that the quickest way to get traffic is by having industry leaders share your stuff.
It all comes down to strategy. When we were still in Beta, we started blogging about and connecting with players in the competitive intelligence industry. Our industry is a bit outdated – most of the key players aren’t super active on Twitter – so we monitored LinkedIn groups to see who was posting the most content and receiving the most comments and likes. It became clear early on who these industry leaders were. If I was interested in talking to a leader, I first made sure they knew who I was by liking, commenting, or sharing a handful of their posts before I reached out to them. Once I made an initial online connection, I would send a friendly email asking to Skype to talk about our product or to schedule an interview that would be displayed on our blog. Everyone in the CI space said yes. Those Skype calls and interviews helped me, as a content marketer, to quickly realize the trends in the CI world that would be great to turn into topics, and it also helped with product validation. It did not, however, skyrocket leads. As mentioned in the original post, CI professionals are not our target market.
We then experimented with the blog to see which topics and keywords led to the most traffic and conversions. We wrote a series of posts that covered the reasons it is important to monitor competitors fundraising, such as: Top Four Reasons Every Startup Needs to Invest in Competitive Intelligence. When the posts were published, I reached out to Venture Capitalists and other entrepreneurs in the Berlin scene and asked them to republish. These posts received more views initially because of the shares. Over time, more and more people returned to our blog to check out our CI related articles.
More recently, we’ve been writing about experimenting with growth hacks. Since this topic was at the forefront of our brains, we decided to write about it. We began with a post, The Ultimate Guide to Getting Conversions by Growth Hacking Relationships, which received twice the traffic and shares of our average post. We realized that this is a topic of interest to our target audience and, since we were already experimenting with growth hacks anyway, we decided to create more content in this space. I knew that an industry leader featuring, or sharing our posts would rapidly increase traffic, so I reached out the growth hacking godfather, Sean Ellis. Since I happened to be in California that week, I was able to meet him to discuss both Growth Hacking and Competitive Intelligence. That post, combined with a follow-up post the next week, Top Nine Everyday Growth Hacks Your Startup Needs to Implement, tripled traffic and leads for March.
As head of content, my main advice for bloggers, especially in the B2B space is: First, really learn what your target audience wants to read about, and how to connect that to your product. Second, personal connections matter. Go to networking events, connect with people on a personal level, be kind, give people credit when they write something amazing. If you can’t meet an industry leader at a conference, find out what contacts you have in common and ask for introductions.
On a side note, I was connected to Sean Ellis through an amazing yoga instructor I met while traveling in Nicaragua. The lesson? Personal connection from one part of your life could matter in other parts of your life, and yoga benefits you in ways that you could never have imagined.