Driving traffic to your website can often feel like an uphill battle. SEO can take months to properly kick in, and while you wait, seeing a measly 50 unique page views in the past month to a blog post that took you a solid four hours to write can be disheartening.
You’re also probably a little lost thinking about new and creative blog titles to spin your SaaS product offering. How much interesting content can really be written about SaaS products? Are people really searching the web to read up about cloud-based CRMs, talent management software, billing software or cloud storage? The answer is yes and no.
While your ideal buyer may be looking up exact search terms to educate themselves more about the market space, they’re also researching tips, insights and trends that relate to the problems your SaaS product solves. This presents a huge opportunity for your brand to be a thought leader in the space and appear at the top of search engines when your potential customers look for answers.
While there’s plenty of great literature out there for building SEO, accumulating backlinks and link building, this post will focus on how to not only drive more traffic to your website, but how to drive the right traffic. Here’s your strategy in 11 simple steps:
Know Your Audience
Let’s start from the very beginning. Who are we defining as the “right” traffic? Get to know who your ideal buyer is, or the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). Where I like to start is by looking at your actual customer base. Pull all the customer data from your CRM and build a cohort analysis spreadsheet. You’ll want to see job titles, function, level, industry, company size, location, and so on. You’ll immediately start to see some trends arise pointing you to clues of maybe 2 to 5 ICPs.
Don’t stop there. Dig a little deeper with the help of your sales reps and customer success managers (if you have them). From your cohort analysis choose some examples of brands that stick out to you as representative of their ICP, then get the scoop from sales on what the sales cycle looked like, who were the other stakeholders involved in the decision making process, what were the “A ha!” moments during the pitch, and so on. Get insight from the customer success team on the customers’ varying use cases, which customers are very happy with the product and why, and which are having a tough time and why. This should paint a very clear picture for you.
Build Out the Customer Journey
Now that you know who your target personas are, it’s time to step into their shoes and build out the customer journey. I like to use Hubspot’s definitions of the stages within the buyer’s journey: Awareness, Consideration and Decision.
Start a spreadsheet with a tab for each of your personas and include these three stages under each tab. Include the following categories for each persona and stage: pain points, your value, suggested titles, and assets.
- Pain points – Here, list out the main issues the buyer is facing in a given stage. For example, in the consideration stage for a social media marketer that is evaluating social media management tools, a pain point may be “Inability to see which social posts are generating the most traffic.”
- Your value – Similarly, add your product’s value props for the persona’s specific stage. In the same example as above, you can add “social post performance monitoring” as a value.
- Suggested titles – As you’re doing your research, start adding suggested content titles. Sticking with the same example, you can use “How to Measure the Performance of Your Social Media Strategy.”
- Assets – Finally, add a list of assets that would be appropriate for each stage. Blog posts may be great in the awareness stage, while case studies may be better for the decision stage.
Identify Your Target Keywords
This is the step where a lot of businesses get stuck. While keyword ranking is based on a very elaborate science, Google’s algorithms for punishing and rewarding web content is still a bit of a guessing game. But one thing remains true – Google rewards good and thoughtful web content, and punishes those trying to cheat the system. That being said, there are still ways you can get more precise about your approach to identifying target keywords.
My favorite tool for starting my research is Ahrefs. I love spreadsheets so build another one for this exercise. Start off by using Ahrefs to find out the keywords that drive the most traffic to your website, and include the keyword volume (monthly average searches), and the keyword difficulty (how hard it is to rank higher for that keyword). Now comes the fun part, upload a spreadsheet of all of your competitors’ websites and take note of the keywords that drive the most traffic to them. I guarantee you’ll find some shocking insights.
With your new list of keywords, start putting them to work. Use tools like Buzzsumo to see what are the most popular and trending stories for your search terms. Add them to your customer journey spreadsheet as a suggested title (but give them a tweak, of course). I also like using LinkedIn Groups to see what topics drive engagement from my ICP. Join 20 to 30 LinkedIn Groups that include your target keywords and also take note of the discussions that have the most likes and comments. That way you’ll be writing content your audience actually wants to read about.
The Art of Writing – Just Do It
Now it’s time to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard. Build out an editorial calendar (on a spreadsheet, duh) with all of the great keywords and content titles you’ve selected out. I like to tag each piece of content in my calendar with their target persona, target keywords, the funnel or customer journey stage, and then the type of asset I want the content piece to be (infographic, blog post or Ebook, for example).
Writing all the content on your own can be a tedious task, so apart from hiring freelance writers, try leveraging the knowledge of coworkers and thought leaders. If you want to talk about a specific product feature you think your audience would be excited about, for example, try getting a Product Manager to guest write the post. You’ll be surprised by how much hidden talent your coworkers have.
For finding and approaching thought leaders, I always take to Twitter. Start using Twitter’s search function to find users that mention your keywords. Check out their profiles and if they have a significant following, write a lot on the topic, and if they use certain hashtags you should be taking note of. Make a list of 50 to 100 influencers and start a cold reach out, one by one, inviting them to write a guest post. Most will ignore you, others will try to charge you, but a handful will be excited to get their name out. The advantage of using thought leaders for your web content is it’s free and great content, and they will also help you distribute it, which brings me to my fifth step…
Distribute Your Content
While Google search will do it’s magic, provided you’ve followed these steps, the magic doesn’t happen overnight. In the meantime, you’ll have to start positioning your content. There are plenty of tips for distributing your web content, but I’ll focus on the basics – paid, social and repurposing.
Paying for traffic may seem like cheating, but it’s really a great way to give your content a quick boost. I’ve used tools like Outbrain to drive eyes to my more top-of-the-funnel (or awareness stage) posts with success, and have been able to see a steady increase in traffic after that initial push. Twitter Cards are another awesome tool to get more impressions.
If you want to take an organic route, start off with social media. Including images, questions, quotes and snippets from the content in your posts can have greater traction than simply typing the title of the article. Repurposing your content has proven to be another great and low effort way to get more eyes on your content. If one of your blog posts is starting to gain a lot of traction, consider turning it into an infographic, Ebook or slideshow. Place it on your website and you can even put a form in front of it. By repurposing, you’re essentially casting a wider net.
There’s literally no point in driving a ton of traffic to your website if everyone who visits does absolutely nothing. The whole purpose of traffic is to convert prospective buyers. Every piece of content you publish should have a CTA (Call to Action), usually a designed button at the bottom or middle of the blog post inviting visitors to learn more on the topic by downloading your Guide or Ebook. Constantly test and optimize the copy, design and location of your CTAs.
Consider investing in an SEO landing page project. You won’t be able to do this overnight, but from experience I’ve seen it yield significant outcomes. Build a landing page for every keyword you are trying to target and include valuable content, suggested further readings, images, graphs, and, most importantly, a form. If this landing page follows all of the SEO rules and is optimized for a specific keyword, you’ll be driving meaningful traffic to that page and giving them a one-click opportunity to learn more about how your business can solve all of your buyers’ problems.
Lastly, although sometimes invasive, there’s nothing like a popup. Sumome has helped so many businesses capture thousands of emails on their websites, so much so that I’ve seen it increase conversions on blogs I’ve worked with by over 10x. Offer visitors a free trial popup when they get to your pricing or product pages, and invite readers to receive your weekly newsletter when they visit your blog. Through A/B tests and constant optimizations, you’ll see the emails flood in.
Now that you’ve got the ball rolling, the real fun begins – seeing what works and iterating. Monitor your traffic, traffic sources and the conversion rates of specific content to gain insights into what’s working and what isn’t. With this solid foundation you’ll easily be able to take it from here.