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Case Study To Boost Organic Traffic of SaaS Product By 140%

Steps I Took To Achieve Content Strategy And SEO Success


Want to grow your SaaS revenue by getting more website viewers? But ads seem expensive and organic content seems daunting? I’ll share my process from when I worked with a SaaS company to boost the number of users finding them by 140% year over year.


I spent 4 hours and 7 minutes writing this post.

Person analyzing website data.
Person analyzing website data.

I originally published this post on www.sparkcreativetechnologies.com on Feb 18, 2024.


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Context

After the pandemic, distill.io saw a drop in its revenue and user traffic. Distill had been operational for over 10 years. Headquartered in Portland, Oregon, the company has 10 to 20 employees and makes millions (USD) in annual recurring revenue.


Consumers and businesses use Distill to track changes in websites.


For example, a popular use case is e-commerce. Imagine you want to buy the latest Nvidia GPU or Graphics Card for gaming. But the product webpage says “sold out”. You can use distill to select the text “sold out”. It will notify you when the text changes on the webpage. So you can use distill to track the availability of GPUs on e-commerce websites like Amazon. See a demo here.


Businesses in the legal, pharma, or insurance verticals also use the product.

Drop in number of website viewers.
Drop in number of website viewers.

We wanted to increase revenue. We saw a decrease in users discovering our product in Google Analytics. We wanted to get more users to try our product because the team was confident in the product quality. So, to boost revenue, we aimed to increase the number of users who discover our website.


They had previously tried paid traffic through Google Adwords but found the customer acquisition cost too high. So, they preferred to focus on organic growth, without paying for ads.


Project Milestones And Execution

We divided my project into milestones:

  1. Research to figure out our user acquisition funnel, the baseline metrics, and understand our customers’ perspectives.

  2. Experiments to give customers what they need, where they will find it, and when they need it.

  3. Building a sustainable process that doesn't rely on me. My goal was to make the client self-sufficient. The client can keep it going and follow the strategy on their own.


To drive organizational change and motivation towards this approach, we published our first piece of content before completing all research. We focused on a product use case many people look for, like tracking orders on Amazon. This allowed us to start publishing content, see the content creation process, and get motivated. Meanwhile, I conducted the research.


Research For Content Strategy

I followed a three-step reflective pyramid framework for my research. You can read about this framework here.

3 ways of understanding customer needs, illustrated by a reflective pyramid.
3 ways of understanding customer needs, illustrated by a reflective pyramid.

1 - Quantitative - I gathered data about the product and users at each stage of their customer journey. I used these tools:

  • Google Analytics,

  • Google Search Console, 

  • Google Trends, 

  • Chrome Extension App Store Analytics, and 

  • Telemetry data via SQL and Metabase.


2 - Qualitative - I reviewed 3,700 user reviews of our product and those of our competitors. I used this to build a Kano Model for the product. This helped me understand customer sentiments, reasons for satisfaction or dissatisfaction, and common use cases. I understood the competitive landscape.


3 - Empathy - I conducted interviews with 13 customers across segments. I talked to users in these segments:

  • New,

  • Old,

  • Free, 

  • Paid, and 

  • Recently churned customers.


The team used the insights from customer interviews to also modify the product roadmap. I’ll touch on the roadmapping project in a separate case study.


Customer Journey Map From Research

customer journey map visualizing 100,000s of customers through discovery, sign up, upgrade, and product usage stages.
customer journey map visualizing 100,000s of customers through discovery, sign up, upgrade, and product usage stages.

Combining insights from these sources, I built a customer journey map to understand how users discover our product. I noticed a decline in the number of users discovering our product. I also identified areas for improvement in retention and upgrades, which we addressed in separate projects.



Dealing With The Long Tail Of Content

I wish we could have created content on just 5 or 10 topics to regain our organic traffic.


But, our users used our software not on 5, not 10, but on 26,000 websites. So, we aimed to diversify our content beyond Amazon and Best Buy. But, we had to be realistic that we cannot cover every website.

Usage patterns show most popular use-cases and premium use-cases.
Usage patterns show most popular use-cases and premium use-cases.

Our content strategy's goal was to identify evergreen content sources, not trends or fads. I did a separate project to build a process to identify trends and create content to catch those waves.


I categorized websites using a website classification API. We scripted the Klazify API for extracting classifications per website domain. As always, I had to do some data cleanup too.


So, I could simplify the 26,000 websites into 30 categories.


This data, aligned with premium users' usage patterns, informed our strategy to target a specific percentage of blog posts per category to attract both free and paid users.


Sharing Content On Social Media For Discoverability

Treemap to visualize research of how customers discover our product.
Treemap to visualize research of how customers discover our product.

The majority, 40%, of our social media traffic came from Reddit. So, users could share a how-to guide when they want to share about our product with other community members without having to write instructions themselves.


We also discussed different approaches to sharing our content on social media platforms like Reddit. This was challenging because user-generated content platforms like Reddit have strong opinions against advertising or promotional posts.


We had to consider how users discovered our product on social media. For example, a community member might post in a gaming forum asking how to get the latest GPUs. Another user might respond by mentioning our product and explaining how to use it. However, writing down these steps for others can be time-consuming or difficult. So, making it easier for our current users to point others to us would help reduce this friction. This led us to focus on creating use-case or how-to articles, rather than concentrating on features, benefits, or competitive comparisons.


Executing The Effective Content Strategy

I distributed the content proportionally to attract more free users while putting extra emphasis on topics that attract a significantly higher number of paid users. I looked at:

  • Use cases that are most common among all users.

  • Use cases that are more common among paid than free users. 


We aligned on the content type, topics, channel, and process.


From here, the client owned publishing content covering all the topics to reach high coverage of our SEO keywords. It takes 6 to 9 months after we finished that to see the complete boost to our organic traffic.


Measurable Results: Effective Content Strategy

Organic traffic graph from Ahrefs going up and to the right.
Organic traffic graph from Ahrefs going up and to the right.

The weekly organic traffic to client’s website went up by 140% year-over-year from July 2022 to July 2023.


91% of all the traffic to our blogs now comes from the content made following our plan.

Split of blog traffic from topics shows most traffic comes from content following strategy.
Split of blog traffic from topics shows most traffic comes from content following strategy.

First-cut Recommendations

If you aim to boost your organic traffic or user engagement, start by understanding what works well.


Brainstorm or find out: 

  • Why do users enjoy your product?

  • How do they find your product?


Insights from these questions will guide your content creation and distribution strategies.

What have you seen work well to grow your organic traffic? What help do you need?


Related:


I originally published this post on www.sparkcreativetechnologies.com on Feb 18, 2024.

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