This journey started because our data was telling us something we already knew in our gut.
We need to transform how we market our company and product.
The orange line is 'returning users sessions' going up and to the right. This line shows we are solving problems for our customers and they are using our software more. The orange line makes me proud because it proves we are delivering a product that aligns with our mission: to serve digital marketing professionals and the organizations they run.
The blue line is 'new users sessions'. It's pretty much flat since we moved from a free to paid product in May 2015. That's also when we started adding to the team and generating some initial marketing momentum. But since then our website and blog attract roughly the same amount of monthly engagement from new visitors as 18 months ago. The blue line shows we have failed to serve our community through marketing efforts the way our product has.
Moving From a Place of Comfort
Journey's often start from a place of comfort. That's where we are. Despite a flat blue line we are growing fast and adding happy customers. We just hit cash flow positive with plenty of money from our seed round still in the bank.
Writing more and publishing blog posts is not going to be comfortable. It's scary to create new things. But, these challenges must be faced to have the type of impact on the world we want to have with our company and software.
A few months back it became clear we needed to make some changes. I started researching. I read books and blog posts. Listened to podcasts from people working at companies with marketing we admired. Reflecting on everything it felt like we needed some guidelines to help us make decisions about our marketing strategy.
Making Changes Using Guidelines Not Traffic Goals
Goals focused on increasing traffic and new sign-ups felt shallow. Google Analytics data like at the top of this post is important to monitor. But using data alone to drive marketing strategy can lead to problems. The common theme I heard from top marketers is traffic becomes a byproduct of focusing on the process of creating transformational marketing for readers.
Reaching a certain number of new visitors a month for your website doesn't mean you can stop marketing at that time. Marketing journeys have no end. Guidelines to help us navigate a long journey feels like a more solid foundation to build from and focus on.
Here are the 6 guidelines we'll use to make decisions about marketing:
1. Focus on Transforming Our Readers
We want to create change within people through our marketing. The best marketing makes a person‘s life better by challenging their worldview and giving them insights they didn’t previously have. If we are able to transform our readers worldview, even in a small way, we believe that will create better marketing and writing. We'll be asking ourselves constantly, ‘How will a reader be different after reading? What will they learn by the end?’
Our best marketing work will come from focusing on our readers, not ourselves.
2. Write About Topics We Are Uniquely Positioned to Write About
We have firsthand experience growing digital marketing teams, creating software for those teams and building our company. We should probably stick to what we know. This will give us the best chance to provide insights to our readers.
The topics we believe we have unique perspectives on:
Relationships between humans and technology within successful digital marketing teams
Our journey building this company
3. Be Consistent
Marketing involves a lot of writing. Writing is hard. It takes time, thought and repetition. We’ve failed to generate great marketing on a regular basis and we believe that has hampered our ability to earn trust with readers.
Our goal is to create at least 1 piece of original marketing work a week.
4. Value and Invest in Design
Even if the copy of an ad or blog post doesn't connect with someone, the design aesthetic and images can have an impact. We’ve started working with artists and illustrators to create unique images to accompany our writing going forward.
The design of a lot of marketing and blogs out there makes it feel like the page is yelling at the reader. We are working with designers to ensure a clean design that hopefully feels more like it’s talking with you.
5. Be More Transparent
We know there are people out there thinking about ways to improve their company's marketing or starting a new company. By sharing more of our marketing data and personal stories about how we are building our company, we believe we can create marketing that transforms our reader.
6. Remain Flexible and Keep Updating the Plan
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” — Mike Tyson.
These are guidelines not rules. We can’t be afraid to change our beliefs when presented with new information.
We are excited to see where the journey leads.
Join us at blog.shape.io/our-journey.