This is Founder's blog - Subscribe RSS - Founder's blog - About

Hit the Tail: Marketing Hacks from Jitbit

Dec 11 2012 :: by Alex
Over the last couple of years we came up with a number of great marketing "hacks" here at Jitbit Software, that include:

1. "Marketing Mondays"

Every Monday the whole team works on nothing but marketing. Nobody writes any code, no one touches the servers. No hacking, no debugging, no database tuning... Just marketing. Brainstorming on new ideas, staring at Google Analytics numbers, reviewing conversion rates, running A/B tests, working on website design etc. I stole borrowed the idea from Mike Taber who was kind enough to share it when we met last year.

2. "Metrics Day"

Every 1st day of a month the whole team works on nothing but our SaaS metrics. Since our flagship product (hosted help desk) is a SaaS app we've set up an epic Google Docs spreadsheet that calculates all the key metrics. We enter some of the numbers manually (monthly visitors, signups, cancellations, new customers etc etc) and the spreadsheet calculates the rest - the conversion rates (visitor-to-trial, visitor-to-customer etc), the churn rate (percentage of cancelling users), the engagement rate (how many users have tried "feature X"), growth/drop factors for all the metrics and many many other things. We spend the whole day figuring what's worked and what's not, what should we try next, and where there might be a problem.

3. "Content Obligation"

Every week every team member has to write at least one article for the website, targeting one specific "long-tail" keyword. This hack worked well for many months and it's the one I wanted to dive into details about.

Catching the long tail

You all know what "long tail keyword" means. 80% of the search traffic comes from the long tail. To get that traffic, your website requires a content-creation strategy that needs to be both continuous and scalable. That's why we first came up with the following strategy: once a week every employee finds a longtail keyword and writes an article on it. Not just some spammy keyword-stuffed text, but a short human-readable article like this one: "Cloud help desk" - not exactly an extraordinary piece of writing, but a nice and readable article targeted at humans, not just search engines.

This works wonders when you're bootstrapping. But this strategy is not scalable, nor it is continuous. Not every team member has the required SEO skills to find the right keywords. Not every team member is a good writer, some of them spend hours trying to come up with an article - wouldn't it be more effective to simply let them write their code instead?

We decided to outsource both the writing part and keyword suggesting to third-party services. And while working with freelance-writers is a well known business (we quickly built a CMS for our freelancers where they can log in, pick a keyword from the list, read hints from us and submit an article) outsourcing the keyword-discovering part was not. Until I found is a keyword-suggestion service that analyzes your traffic and discovers some easy-to-rank-for keywords.

To use HitTail, you first need to install their tracking code on your website. HitTail will take it from there and start tracking the keywords people search to find your site across all search engines. These search hits are displayed in real-time (30 seconds refresh-rate), and the most popular longtail terms are added to the suggestions section. The idea is not new, I blogged about Lazy SEO back in 2008.

Hittail doesn't have many competitors, it's simply the only service like this. So let's go straight to pros and cons.

The pros

The cons

Overall, Hittail is definitely worth trying. It almost certainly will give you some new long tail keywords you can go after.

I've been using them for only a week now, so I will get back to this after a couple of months of usage to let you know how they performed over time.

Back to the blog or Subscribe RSS - Founder's blog if you liked the article