Data Driven Content Helps SaaS Onboard Customers
“Data based content brings in a lot of trials and also get us mentioned/linked from other websites in the industry – it also takes some outreach effort, of course.”
Written By Sterling Sweeney: Published Sept 1st, 2019 | Updated Sept 3rd, 2019.
Sterling Sweeney is a growth hacker and the driving force behind WhalePages, a company that offers SaaS growth boxes to help software companies grow. Today, he sits down with the team at Social Insider to talk about the growth of their social media analytics SaaS product.
9 Minute Read
Data Focused Content Works Best. It Allows You to Get Industry Mentions & Links… But Not Without Some Good Ol’ Fashion Outreach.
Today, WhalePages was lucky enough to sit down and chat with the team at Social Insider, a social media analytics SaaS product which provides companies with a 360 degree view of their competitor’s digital strategy. We’re excited about this interview because we’ve often thought about our own growth here at WhalePages as a sort of race where the focus is on keeping our eyes on the people ahead of us. For us, it helps make winning less abstract because we’re using available data to forecast and benchmark growth. Needless to say, we’re looking forward to chatting with a company that puts the social media marketing strategies of your leading competitors front and center. So let’s jump in!
Hi and thanks for joining us today. Can you begin by giving us a little bit of background about Socialinsider?
Happy to answer your questions – Socialinsider started in 2017. We wanted to offer quick and easy social media benchmarking and help marketers infer data about competitors’ social media strategies, as well as understand where they stand within their industry.
We had been working on a product that did online monitoring and wanted to add social media benchmarking as a feature to that. After we launched it as a feature, we realized that people were mainly using it and ignoring the rest of the product.
We then made it into a standalone application and since then it grew and became the only product we work on. We started as three founders, 2 tech guys and 1 marketing princess and are now a team of 5 😀
That’s great news! Well done. Let’s dive in and talk a little bit more about your product now. Your tool has a lot of features and integrates with many different social media platforms, but your focus is on benchmarking your user’s social media accounts against the current leaders in their space. Tell us a little bit more about the benefits this gives your users and tell us how people can use this information for the benefit of their own companies.
Socialinsider’s focus is indeed on benchmarking – it allows our users to have more context of their social media efforts.
Besides the regular reporting of their own accounts that saves them a lot of time, going deeper and conducting a competitive analysis will allow them to make better decisions and adjust their social media campaigns to maximize ROI.
But not all our users are the same – some use the benchmarking feature to create better pitches for potential customers, some use it to prove that their work was on point.
What’s the current breakdown of your user base? Are most users entrepreneurs using Socialinsider for their own company, or do you work primarily with agencies using the tool for client work?
As our product grew, our user breakdown evolved – being connected to the user persona we were targeting.
At first we just wanted users to validate our idea, and our first users were mostly social media freelancers.
As our offering grew and we refined our users personas, the user breakdown shifted and I’d say that our users mostly work in agencies and use the tool for their clients.
The split would be 90% of our clients are agencies/freelancers and 10% use it in-house in their social media departments.
Now, let’s talk a little bit about your own company’s growth. How have you approached funding your company? Do you have investors on-board or are you self funded? What are some of the pros and cons of the funding approach you’ve taken?
We’re completely bootstrapped and haven’t been looking for investors.
The pros of this would be
– we do things on our own terms
– the autonomy we get in shaping our product and company
– not having to sacrifice things for the sake of quick growth
– freedom to invest resources in what we feel we need
– not always having resources to try new things
I’d say it’s more of a preference for us and each company does it’s own thing. Depending on their timing and the resources available, some might want to look into investments early on.
There’s more pressure to become sustainable when being bootstrapped, and growth might not be super impressive at first, but we feel it was worth it.
Let’s go back in time a bit and talk about your early days. What were some of the most successful marketing strategies that helped Socialinsider gain traction and on-board the first round of paying customers?
Coming from the online monitoring app that we were not quite able to sell (it was a product aimed at bigger companies and we didn’t have the sales know-how) we approached Socialinsider as a marketing trick to get more leads for the bigger tool. Sticking to this idea would have been bad for us and we’re happy that we made the switch in focus.
After we fully committed to Socialinsider, the first milestone was that we did a Product Hunt launch that went quite well, and we started getting more traffic and trials.
We were offering it as a free product at the time and after we saw people using it and seeing them get value out of it, we added pricing to the website.
Our first customers were mostly organic or related to the Product Hunt campaign we did.
From the start, our marketing has focused mostly on content – building a blog and trying to push interesting content. Of course, it requires periodic adjustment and we now steered towards more data driven studies and articles as we found these get us better results.
One thing we’re happy we did from the start is having a live support widget and manning that across the clock. It got us closer to our users and for a while we mostly spent our time implementing our users’ feedback.
“From the start, our marketing has focused mostly on content – building a blog and trying to push interesting content. Of course, it requires periodic adjustment and we now steered towards more data driven studies and articles as we found these get us better results..”
That’s really interesting. We see very similar stats here at WhalePages. For those reading this who don’t know, we focus on helping SaaS companies grow by increasing their discoverability online by hlpeing SaaS companies get links and acquire partners (See the service here). What we find is that data focused content works incredibly well for the clients we work with. So does the following types of content:
1. “The best of” content (i.e. “the best SEO software”) + paired with the current year
2. “Alternatives to _______” content (i.e. Alternatives to Moz SEO)
3. “Roundup” content (i.e. 20 SEO experts weight in on what it takes to succeed with SEO).
Roupup emails work really well because they often reference many people who all share the content on social media. It can take a while to collect the roundup content, but we find it’s almost always worth it. However, ideas #1 and #2 generally lead to better bottom of the funnel leads, while #3 might bring in more traffic, but it’s often less targeted.
Let’s move on now and explore your company’s growth priorities. Where does your team spend the most time between customer acquisition, monetization and retention? Where do you think you could do better as a company and what are you doing (or planning to do) to improve that?
A lot of our resources are aimed at acquisition but we’re improving in the retention and monetization areas as well. We’re currently working in reducing churn by learning why people leave and trying to figure out if there’s something we can offer to change their mind.
I love your approach to capturing leads through case studies. For example, you have a case study that analyzes if it’s better to put hashtags in the caption or the first comment. Can you tell us more detail about how well your case study approach is working in terms of conversion rate?
The content that works best is data based – we publish a big study each month, like the one you mentioned related to hashtags in the caption or the first comment.
We also do a couple of smaller case studies that focus on specific industries.
These bring in a lot of trials and also get us mentioned/linked from other websites in the industry – it also takes some outreach effort, of course.
Speaking of Conversion Rates, what CR optimization strategies do you use (or have you used) within your own company to optimize your sales funnel?
I’m not an expert at this but an important thing we did is that we took more time developing the user personas we’re targeting.
We then adjusted our messaging, pricing, product features accordingly.
Another aspect was trying to remove friction wherever possible in the trial period.
We used Hotjar too see where people struggled to get to the ‘Aha’ moment and made the experience smoother.
Everything is a continuous effort and we periodically look at our conversions and check if what we did made things better or worse.
I also see you have an affiliate program where people in the social media space can sign up and earn a 25% commission for sending new customers your way. Can you tell us a little bit more about running this affiliate program? What have been the most successful strategies for on-boarding high quality affiliates into your program? What are your most successful outreach strategies? What have been the major lessons learnt from running your affiliate program?
The affiliate program hasn’t been part of our main focus in terms of customer acquisition.
We created it as a lot of users were asking to become our affiliates and promote our products. It hasn’t brought in huge results but it does drive some traffic towards our website.
I also see you have a webinar series and even a catalog of previous webinars on your site. How important have webinars been for on-boarding new users?
We started the webinar series recently and their purpose is not quite to on-board new users but rather for us to create a series of educational videos.
We don’t track conversions from them, but they do generate leads that will later receive a message with a newsletter or study.
Socialinsider seems like a company that would perform really well using paid ads on social media channels. Is this something you’ve experimented with, and if so how have the results of paid ads on social media performed for you?
We played around with paid ads but nothing serious. Our efforts are focused on growing organically, ranking better on certain keywords and getting mentioned in industry publications.
We are considering running paid campaigns in the future.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today. To our readers, if you want to learn more about socialinsider please head over to their website to learn more!
If you have enjoyed this interview and would like to read more just like it, then head over to our SaaS marketing blog.
Written By Sterling Sweeney: Published Sept 1st, 2019 | Updated Sept 3rd, 2019.
Sterling Sweeney is a growth hacker and the driving force behind WhalePages, a company that grows SaaS websites. So, if you have a SaaS company and you’re kinda into things like website traffic and increasing your MRR, then check out our SaaS marketing services.
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