In marketing, we always see stories like:
> How We Hit 200k Visitors Every Month
> How We Hit 500k/Mo Visitors In 2 Years
But it’s not enough to just get hundreds of thousands of visitors.
What’s really more important is how much of all that traffic converts into revenue.
Or at least, marketers should be asking, “What’s the plan to convert all that traffic into leads and sales?”
So we thought to do an analysis of:
- what Zapier uses their 500k/mo blog traffic for (demand generation)
- and how they hit that number month after month
We’ll start with two key things they’re using the traffic for.
[P.S. As of the time of this writing, we have no affiliation with Zapier].
1. Attracting product users through blog content
First off, if you’re not very familiar with Zapier…
It’s a tool that helps you integrate one app with another so you automate tasks and save time.
For instance, with Zapier, you can collect survey responses through Google Forms and automatically ship the responses to another app like Asana.
This means Zapier’s customers are essentially app users.
They’re users of tools like Intercom, MailChimp, Salesforce, and thousands of others.
So if Zapier can attract the attention of these app users — with relevant content — they’d be one step away from convincing them to start using Zapier.
And that’s what they’re doing…
The Zapier team use their content to attract app users
These are some of the tools Zapier has written about that bring hundreds of thousands of app users to them every month:
And as you can see, they don’t make their product the subject of their content.
They simply create content that answers questions app users have.
And then they introduce Zapier while they’re talking about those apps (we’ll show you how they’re doing this in a bit).
It’s a smart demand generation strategy
Demand generation is all about creating interest in a product or service.
And that’s what Zapier is doing with their content.
They’re creating blog content that helps their target audience and, at the same time, creates interest in their product. (BTW, at Premium Content Shop, we call this type of content “T-shaped content”).
For example, this is one article Zapier wrote about URL shorteners.
The article is obviously not about Zapier.
It’s not directly about what Zapier does (app integrations) either.
But get this:
The article alone pulls in 54,000+ visitors every month, according to Ahrefs.
And they have several high-traffic articles like this.
Which explains how they get over 500k blog visitors per month.
But as we’ve said, it’s not the number of visitors that matter.
What’s important is who those visitors are.
And in this case, these visitors are Zapier’s potential customers — app users — because they can integrate the URL shortener tool they’re looking for with another app using Zapier.
[In #2 below, we’ll show you how Zapier introduces their product in all this content to get more users.]
But here’s the lesson here:
- Do your research and come up with a list of key interests your prospects have.
- Create genuinely helpful content on those topics.
- Get a content distribution strategy: Zapier’s central strategy for distribution here is SEO.
(And if SEO isn’t a good channel for your business — maybe because your industry is very niche, find channels your target customers hang out at every day and use those for distribution.)
2. Lead generation (trial sign-ups) directly from content
Like any other SaaS business, Zapier needs trial sign-ups to survive and drive growth.
And they need like a gazillion of it. All SaaS businesses do.
So instead of just creating content to get half a million visitors every month, they infuse a lead gen strategy into their content.
For example, in their URL shortener article, they have at least 4 “Try Zapier” CTAs that readers will see before they get to the bottom of the article.
The first trial sign-up CTA appears on their sidebar when the reader is about 30% into reading their content:
Their second trial sign-up CTA appears right under the first URL shortener they recommended in the article:
Their third CTA shows up on the right side of the screen. It’s non-obstructive and clearly communicates a tangible benefit for the reader.
But here’s the kicker:
They share ten URL shortener apps in the article and in each, they show a CTA that explains how readers can use Zapier with the tool they’re researching.
Then there’s a fourth sign up CTA; it shows up when readers scroll about 70% into any blog post. And this time, it comes with a testimonial:
And this is how it slides in from the bottom right corner:
This way, their product gets exposed to the 500,000+ people who visit their blog every month.
That’s a lot of awareness for the company’s product — since those visitors are app users, Zapier’s potential customers.
And with this level of awareness, their sales team will have shorter sales cycles, making their jobs easier to do since they’ll be dealing with lots of qualified leads.
No wonder they hit 3 million users seven years after their launch.
It’s not uncommon to experience this type of growth when your content brings in hundreds of thousands of potential customers to your site every month — in a way that each visitor gets to know what your product does before they finish reading the content they come for.
And of course, this wasn’t an overnight success for Zapier. Back in 2018, Zapier’s CEO Wade Foster explained that they were typically seeing results per six months:
“…our blog took shape around apps and tools and productivity and stuff like that. It’s a lot of effort and it takes time, but it compounds. Those first six months were tough. The next six months were a little bit better. And the last six months have been great.”
So it wasn’t an overnight success.
But let’s backtrack a bit…
Early on, we showed you some really good tactics Zapier uses to generate demand from their blog content for their product.
Now, let’s talk about an error many businesses make while trying to use CTAs to generate leads or sign-ups from their blogs:
What a bad trial CTA sign-up looks like on a blog post
Unlike Zapier, many (if not most) SaaS marketers don’t put enough effort into driving demo or trial sign-ups directly from their content.
What you’ll see most of the time is they insert a “Try [our tool],” “Get started,” or “request a demo” button somewhere around their content — with little to no explanation of what readers will get if they clicked the button.
Here’s one example of such CTAs:
If you’re trying to run any demand generation programs with your content and you’re using a no-benefit-for-the-reader CTA like this one, I’d be surprised if the conversion rates hit 1%.
(If you use a CTA like this one in our example and it converts at least 1% of blog readers, please reach me on LinkedIn, I’d like to learn more about it and probably do a case study with you).
But generally, you’re better off making the CTA communicate a specific benefit to your readers.
Let it show what they’ll get after clicking the button to sign up.
Once you do this, one of three things will happen:
- Some readers will sign up immediately because they think they need your product.
- Some readers, after they see your CTA, will make a mental note of your product and decide they’ll check it out later or when they need it. This means you’re generating demand for your product or service.
In Zapier’s case, for instance, they aren’t only targeting direct sign-ups from their content; they know some readers won’t be ready to sign up immediately.
They’re also banking on their content to create awareness for Zapier — so that the reader wants to come back to it later.
Wade Foster said:
“We decided to put our resources behind content marketing and getting people to know who we were so that when they did need our product, it was an easy choice.”
Zapier’s primary content marketing goal was simply awareness, making sure that everyone who reads their content knows what Zapier does before they leave the site.
Which is great. But this also means they may not be able to track every sign-up their content generates — since creating awareness is their primary content marketing goal.
This part applies to most content marketing projects, though; it’s almost always impossible to track all the revenue your content generates.
Why you can’t track every single penny you spend on content marketing
We do agree you can track a lot of your revenue from content, but the truth is, you can’t track all of it. At least, as of right now, there’s no solution to track every revenue you get from content.
There are just too many moving parts that contribute to revenue. For instance, look at these scenarios:
- The most common scenario: a prospect reads your blog, checks out your product, likes what they see and decides they’ll come back to sign up later.
They come 2 weeks later and go straight to your homepage, visit a few other pages [except your blog], and sign up. All your analytics dashboards [or most of them] will read the customer journey like this:
Direct visit > homepage > product/service page > sign up.
… leaving content entirely out of the picture.
- Another common scenario: a prospect puts a question on some Slack or Facebook group asking group members to recommend a solution and someone recommends your product because they’d been coming to your site and consuming great content.
The prospect goes to your homepage, visits a few other pages, and signs up. Again, most of your analytics dashboards will read the buyer’s journey like this:
Direct visit > homepage > product/service page > sign up.
… leaving content entirely out of the picture.
These are just two common cases. There are several others that usually happen.
But the bottom line here is if your analytics reports show you got X number of leads through some content piece, there are often more leads than X number that you can’t track.
Now let’s examine how Zapier gets 500k visitors per month.
How Zapier hits 500k blog visitors per month
By now, you’ve probably figured how they hit this number every month.
And their traffic generating strategy is pretty simple; they:
- set a goal to attract potential users/customers
- find high-volume keywords/topics app users care about
- keep creating blog content on those topics
- optimize their content to rank (making them in-depth and doing amazing at satisfying reader intent)
- get thousands of links to their site and content (Ahrefs reveals they currently have over 120k links)
With this four-point strategy, they get many of their blog content to page 1 and drive 500k traffic every month.
Now, there’s one more thing we thought was worth thinking about here:
Is Zapier actually doing demand generation or is this all just some good old inbound marketing?
Demand generation vs. inbound marketing
Inbound marketing is all about getting potential customers to approach your business.
But demand generation is a marketing strategy that helps to not only attract potential customers but also create awareness and interest for your product.
So while inbound marketing encompasses everything you do to bring customers to your business, demand generation is more specific to creating interest for your product or service.
And that’s what Zapier is doing.
They’re not using their content to collect emails from gated ebooks or signups for email marketing or a webinar — in the hopes that they’ll do some lead nurturing and convert emails to revenue.
Instead, they’re using their blog for demand generation, pulling millions of potential customers, and creating interest for their product with each content piece.
Until recently, HubSpot had been the only example of great content marketing for B2B and SaaS businesses for a long time.
But now, there are other brands doing amazing things with their content. Think Buffer, Canva, Ahrefs, Sumo, and several others.
But we used Zapier as the case study here because there’s actually lots of good stuff to learn from how they use their blog for brand awareness and create touchpoints for their product.
The bottom line here is: it doesn’t matter how much traffic your content is getting or the social media buzz it attracts. What really matters is that your traffic converts to awareness, leads, and revenue for your business.
This is the approach the Zapier team takes with their content marketing and it’s impressive.
It’s also similar to our agency’s T-shaped approach to content marketing. So if you need help with content marketing for demand gen, see how we can help you.