A Link Building Playbook for Organic User Growth with Nadya Khoja

Posted on February 26, 2019

What we cover on Episode 29

Venngage is a free infographic tool used by over one million people. How did they acquire so many people?

We talk to their Chief Growth Officer Nadya Koja on how they built a repeatable content marketing playbook focused on acquiring new users from Google.

We cover:

– How venngage discovered their north star metric and the impact it had on their growth.
– Why link building is such an essential part of generating new users from Google.
– A creative tactic Nadya used in the early days of Venngage to grow both their SEO traffic and get a tonne of visibility for their brand.

Happy Growing!


1. Doubling down on your north star metrics can have a significant impact on your growth.

 

First things first, we have to give another shout out to squads, which we’ve talked about a lot concerning team structures for product-led companies. Venngage have organized their teams into squads around their most important metrics.

“We’ve structured teams into squads; each squad has their own goals around specific areas of the tools. For example, templates are a big acquisition source for us, so we have a whole squad looking at the entire funnel from acquiring new users on templates to them using the product and retaining on it.”

Venngage crunched their data and realized if someone completed an infographic, they were more likely to both upgrade and retain. Once marketing knows that metric, they can work back to traffic, knowing a certain amount of organic traffic will be enough to hit the companies revenue number.

“I’ve distilled my goals down to traffic – I know if I hit a certain traffic number, we’ll make our revenue goal.”

The Venngage team can now not only focus on getting more users to complete that first action but they also want to reduce the speed of users doing it, which is going to increase the pace of upgrades.

“We focus on both the number of completions and the speed of completion.”

It takes time to discover your north star metric. If you’re an early stage company, or you have limited data around usage actions, upgrade rate and retention, you might not be able to decipher what it is for your product, and that’s ok. You can still acquire users, onboard them more effectively and improve retention rates.

The advantage of having a north star metric is it does create alignment across the different teams within the company.

“It created a lot more alignment across the company and a lot more focus on the right type of users to acquire, and ensuring we created the right experience for them to get value from the product.”

2. When acquiring new users from Google, link building matters … a LOT!

 

When Venngage first began focusing on SEO they spent a lot of their time generating links to their home page and ended up getting a manual Google penalty.

The culprit? A feature that allowed free users to embed their infographics on websites.

However, Nadya turned the penalty into a positive. She worked to get all the links Google weren’t happy with disavowed and then invested her time into creating content that attracted links. She started to build repeatable playbooks around her content marketing process, getting rid of content that didn’t perform well and updating anything that was underperforming to improve results.

In a previous episode, we talked to Colm Flanagan from HiPages about the benefits in having a ‘Search Growth’ team to grow organic traffic through scalable content initiatives, and Venngage has also invested in that via their templates team.

“We have a template squad made up of product designers, engineers and a marketer who oversees the strategy. The marketer provides the keyword research to figure out the categories and sub-categories of templates we should create.”

Another critical part of being successful in the competitive world of SEO is acquiring links from other trusted websites. Nadya’s team have a great approach to link acquisition; in that, everyone on her team has a weekly link acquisition goal.

“Everyone on my team has a link goal to hit each week. Each person has to hit a minimum of two links a week; it has to have a certain domain authority, be a follow link, and not always be from the same website.”

That helps ensure they are continually growing their backlink profile, which makes everything on the website rank better.

Of course, part of link acquisition is creating content that’s link worthy. Nadya calls this ‘hybrid content.’ It’s designed with links in mind. Here is an excellent example of a link campaign they ran.

“We sorted a bunch of different tech companies into Hogwarts houses based on their company culture. We emailed all of those companies, and it did well because all of those companies and the company employees wanted to see what house they were in, and they wrote about it, and other websites picked up on it and wrote about it as well.”

3. As an early start-up, you need to be creative with the tactics you invest in

 

When Nadya was a team of one, she still figured out creative ways to generate both content and links for Venngage, and was able to scale them via low-cost sources.

One of her best tactics was ‘guestographics.’

“We started running with a tactic called guestographics. We would pitch people and let them know we could create an infographic for them to publish, free of charge, all they needed to mention was they collaborated with us on it, and link to us within the body copy.”

We’ve talked before about the importance of product-channel fit and this is another excellent example. Venngage had the perfect tool to scale growth through SEO, and also implement a tactic like this.

When Nadya saw the tactic was working, she did what any great growth marketer would do; she looked to scale it.

“When I saw it worked great, I hired a graphic designer through Upwork. I gave them the outlines for each infographic, and they were able to use our tool to create new ones quickly. We not only got the link, but we also got a tonne of branding because our logo was on each infographic.”

The podcast provides a more in-depth look at these topics, so if you enjoyed reading the above, please do give it a listen.

Happy Growing!

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