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Unfortunately, writing great content is not enough in order to build a successful blog. Here are 11 channels to use so people will actually read your awesome posts.

What makes content marketing successful?

In my opinion it’s 50% about the content, and 50% about distributing that content effectively so people will discover your posts. There’s a tipping point where enough people follow your blog and new posts will gain a momentum without you doing anything. It’s usually around 10,000 monthly visitors. However, most people who choose content marketing as their main strategy fail to get there. This post’s goal is to help ensure that your great content is discovered by more people.

Voting websites

Before practicing content marketing, I used blogs/ PR as our main marketing channel. I think the thing I have liked best since switching to content marketing is that it’s a democracy. You don’t need to develop a ‘relationship’ with bloggers, try to hunt them down at conferences or pay an expensive PR firm. It’s the people’s choice: if you have good content and know how to distribute it, you’ll get the traffic. There are numerous “democrat” websites which offer users the opportunity to upload posts and let the readers upvote/ downvote this content. On the large sites, if you get to a high rank you’re likely to get thousands of visitors to your blog the same day. The main rule to follow on all sites is simple – make sure to publish content and not write about your product. People go on these sites in order to discover interesting content, not to purchase new products. Users are super sensitive to promotional content and it’s very likely to get downvoted fast.

Let’s cover the main ones:

Reddit:

The largest voting website, it covers a huge variety of subjects. In order to get started you need to choose a subreddit (= a group), create a user profile and submit. There are tens of thousands subreddits covering every topic you can imagine.

How to find the right subreddit:

  1. Make sure there are enough people in the group. If you post to a group of 300 members, you’re not likely to get much traffic. I try to target subreddits with over 10,000 members.

  2. Make sure the content really matches the subreddit. Check out the leading posts and see if your content is aligned with them.

  3. Here’s a cool trick to discover the right subreddit – you can see all the submissions coming from a certain domain. So, if you type in a successful blog that is similar to your area you’ll be able to see in which subreddits they post and where they get good results. Type “www.reddit.com/domain/” and the domain name. Here are the results for my company’s blog for example :http://www.reddit.com/domain/www.takipiblog.com

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Searching on which subreddits KissMetrics blog is submitted

HackerNews:

If you write about entrepreneurship or programming, HackerNews is a must. The downside – it’s very hard to get onto the front page. The up side – if you get there, you can expect 1,000-50,000 visitors. I reached the #1 position once and received over 20,000 visits in one hour(!). No groups or sections like on other voting sites. Tip: submitting your content during the ‘slow time’ – weekends or nighttime in the US – gives you a better chance of getting to the front page as you’ll need fewer votes.

I haven’t had a chance to work with Dig or StumbleUpon since my main focus is B2B, but if your focus is consumer products definitely check them out.

Visually: If you have an infographic, this is the place to post it.

Other places I like: DZone (programming), GrowthHackers (Marketing), Product io (new Products).

“Cool! I’ll ask some my friends to vote and get to a high place!” This strategy  doesn’t really work. We all ask for 2 or 3 votes from friends but it’s almost impossible to “cheat” with more.

  • All these sites track IP addresses so you can’t vote from the same place (yep, your colleagues are useless).

  • Most of the sites make sure that the same users don’t upvote the same users over and over. On HackerNews for example, the third time you upvote for the same user, your account dies.

Newsletters

The first time I even thought about this channel was when one of our posts was featured in a newsletter and we received great traffic, over 1500 visits with a good conversation rate. This channel usually brings very high quality leads. What do you have to do to get into these newsletters?  Pretty much like with bloggers, I email the person who runs the newsletter (it’s usually a one-man show) once we publish a post which is aligned to the content they usually publish. If you’re included in a newsletter, don’t forget to say thanks later. Many newsletters also suggest a paid channel and offer a sponsored post.

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Can a team of hard-core backend developers do marketing?

One of the main marketing challenges I faced over and over again was how to do effective marketing with a minimal or nonexistent budget. I always relied on the people I worked with, getting them to write, design and help me build creative campaigns. This didn’t prepare me for my next marketing challenge, though:  no marketing budget and 5 out of 6 team members being developers––everyone but me. I decided to build our marketing strategy around the thing my team does the best: coding.

Here are some of the techniques we used in order to get from a few hundreds to 100K unique visitors in three months (to our website, blog and mini sites). It’s a proof the new marketer is techier than ever.

Coding content

You don’t need great writing skills (or any at all) if you have exclusive, fascinating data. One of the first companies to use this technique for content marketing was OKCupid, which mined its database to answer important questions like “Do taller guys have more sex?” You can find the answer here. The first time we published content that relied solely on developers’ work was pretty random. When we had to choose in which Amazon region we wanted to store our data, we ran some tests and found out there was a big difference between the regions. Sounded like an interesting story. We spent an extra day improving our script and making sure we got the data right. The output was super interesting––the AWS Olympics. The results were featured on VentureBeat and published on our blog, bringing massive traffic of our target audience––over 15,000 unique visitors.

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And why I stopped asking for intros

 

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Let’s start with the results – Takipi went into public beta about 5 months ago. Although most of our users reached Takipi through different publications and our blog it was also very important for us to get to some large companies and brands. As Takipi requires installation on production servers, you can imagine it’s not an easy sell.

To get there, I used both cold emails and intros. The results – cold emails produced 7 meetings at Twitter, Klout, LinkedIn and more – 5 installations. Intros – 9 meetings which led to 2 installations. I’ve been using mostly cold emails ever since and I’ve learned that with prospects, bloggers and advisors I get much better results.

Why cold emails work better than intros

  • Find the early adopters – using cold emails flushes out the people who are really interested in trying out a new product. Some of the people I met through intros really liked what we are doing but the last thing on their mind was to start using a new tool, their hands were already very full. I learned that people you approach through intros will probably meet with you as a favor to someone else but they won’t use a new product unless they have a good reason, time and will. If they don’t have the time and will, they won’t answer your cold email, so you can save some valuable time for you and them.

  • Reach exactly who you need – by using cold emails I was able to reach exactly the right people in the organization, and that usually made a huge difference. You need to reach  certain people, not companies.

    When I started out,  it felt like I would be able get to any company I wanted. “Oh, sure, I know someone at Twitter/ Dropbox/ Evernote/ Foursquare” – I heard this from every other person I talked to and was sure that getting Takipi to those companies was just one step away.

    • C level intros,“I know the CEO/ CTO/ CIO of X” – unless it’s a very small company these intros usually consume lots of resources and don’t lead to the right person. You have a great meeting with the CTO, he refers you to someone else, who refers you to someone else who is usually, well, mmm, how to put it, not the busiest guy in the company. Or, in other words, after 3 meetings you get to someone who is not your ideal user but is basically someone who has the time to meet other companies.

    • “I know someone at finance/ UX/ sales” intros – I think you have better odds with cold emails. The tech guy (in our case, can be the marketing/ biz-dev or any other position) doesn’t see the person who referred you as an authority, so you go back to “I’m meeting you as a favor to someone”.

Who to write to and how to find them

I start out by making a list of companies I’m interested in. Although LinkedIn seems like the first logical place to start looking for contacts inside these companies, I actually prefer to first search other social networks. I found out that people who are more active on Twitter, give talks at meetups, blog or contribute to open source projects are more likely to answer cold emails and more importantly – more likely to try out new products.

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Reverse engineering marketing

Getting a peek at successful companies’ Google Analytics is probably a secret wish of most entrepreneurs and marketers.  Where does most of their traffic come from? How much is paid traffic? What type of content works best for them?

After co-founding Takipi, one of the very first steps I made was to research (like crazy) how other companies, which target the same audience as we do, get their customers. This is not to say that you shouldn’t do new and creative stuff, but if other successful companies are doing something right you should definitely learn from it.

The main question I asked was – what works for them? Which are their most read blog posts, their best campaigns, the most tweeted and liked content? When we started working on our blog we ran a script on 100 different blogs (particularly of other companies that build products for developers). The script sorted all the posts by the number of likes/Tweets/G+ and LinkedIn shares. The results were amazing. After a week someone had to almost forcefully pull me away from the 100 Excel-sheet results. Following this research it became clear to me which direction I should take with our blog, and today we’re enjoying the fruits. There’s an amazing variety of tools that helped me optimize our marketing and to reach more users.

OK, let’s get started:

 

How to choose the right content for your company blog – the advanced way

Understanding which are the ‘greatest hits’ of other company blogs is a great way to pick content and find good topics. I use ‘Open Site Explorer’ to get this data. You’ll need a pro version in order to get better results; use this link to get a free pro account for 3 months. Open Site Explorer lets you explore a domain and sort all of its pages by inbound links and number of shares on different social media networks. Perfect for blogs! For example, here are the results of the KISSmetrics blog. The posts are sorted by page authority but you can easily download the result in CSV format and sort it as you’d like. My favorite is by tweets.

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Sorting blogs by their most popular posts is also a great way to learn more about other blogs you wish to be featured on or to write guest posts for. You definitely want to align yourself to other successful posts and write about topics which brought nice traffic for this website in the past.

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NamingYourPostDark

Which posts get the most shares? With which title should you pitch your startup to bloggers?
Here’s what I learned from reviewing posts from over 100 blogs, after sorting them from the most shared ones to the least.

I’m in an interesting position these days, I lead the marketing at Takipi and the rest of the team are all developers. Of course they help with marketing. As you can imagine, having a marketing team made of developers leads to unusual content and methods. It’s absolutely amazing to view marketing from a different perspective and to use code as a marketing tool.
When we started planning our content marketing strategy we looked into different blogs to see which content works best. Now here comes the magic – we used a script (thanks @erans and Dor Levi) to analyze blogs and sorted all the posts from the most read ones to the ones least shared. While we can’t track page views, it’s possible to use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ APIs to figure out how many shares each post received. Here are some examples of the script results : ArsTechnica Technology, TechCrunch Enterprise, VentureBeat Cloud. You can check out this small utility to get the number of tweets/ likes/ G+ per link :www.likeexplorer.com

Which words to use in order to get more shares? 

When I reviewed the results, it was very clear that although the subject itself and the post quality are important, the post title has a huge impact on the numbers. It was super interesting to observe how titles which make use of certain words or patterns are usually among the top 20%.Following are some interesting conclusions about what makes a post more viral and the words you can use to get more shares – Continue Reading…

This post was originally published on OnStartups.com

The post is also a part of this really great book “Managing Startups: Best Blog Posts” published by O’reilly in May, 2013

Ninja CV

Call them ‘ninjas’, ‘rock stars’ or just great developers if you like. Other than being very talented, they all share one thing in common — it’s unbelievably hard to bring them on-board your company. And as if competing with other companies for the same talent wasn’t enough, being a startup just adds more challenges to the equation.

Your startup may be the next Google/Facebook/Instagram, but until then – how can you convince the best talents out there to join a company where the CEO’s office is an IKEA desk? Here’s one answer — recruit like a startup, in a creative and agile way, doing things the way big companies can’t. Over the last 5 years I’ve interviewed over 250 candidates and recruited dozens of great engineers. The first interviews took place in our tiny office’s kitchen, and we still managed to convince some of the best candidates to join. There aren’t any magic tricks involved, but here are some tips and methods which helped us get ninjas, rock stars and other highly talented people on-board.

1. You’re a startup — have the founders make the first contact

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This post was originally published on TheNextWeb

Autocad WS has over 10M users. For 8.5M of these English is not a first language.

Getting localization right that led to a huge growth in our download rate – from about 1500 per day to almost 5000, in less than 6 months.Translating the app is a significant part of localization, but that’s not what drives downloads. Localizing the marketing does – it’s not about the text on the button, but about the way users discover the app, decide whether to download it and most of all – how they experience it. Localization is not translation – It’s about providing the same marketing and product experience to a user from Mexico, Korea, Italy or the US. Translating the app itself is an important step but there are several other steps you should take whether you actually translate the app, or not.

Start by localizing the product page in the App Store/ Google play.

I have yet to meet an app developer who didn’t see a significant download rate increase after localizing the product page. Really localizing it. Localizing a product page means rethinking every pixel, every term and every detail – the currency in the screenshot, the image of the user, the name of the sample user.

Translating your app’s description is an opportunity to better connect with some of your global users by changing some of the details – names of countries, currency, measurement units. A translated description is also a great organic search traffic source. The real fun, however, begins with the screenshots. Every pixel can be reconsidered and every tweak can push downloads up by a few more percents.

In our app screenshots we changed the following –

  • User name – most screenshots include a ‘John Smith’ or similar. That’s not really a typical Spanish, Japanese or Russian name. ‘John’ become Mario, Carlos or 陶. We even scanned our database to find our users’ most common first names, for each language (most common WS user name was Jose :))
  • Units – We prepared different screenshots with Inches/feet or meters/centimeters. When we displayed the right units potential users immediately connected better to the screenshots. I heard similar results from app owners who changed pounds to kilos, dollars to euros (or any other currency), and so on.
  • Text labels – We changed the texts which appeared in the drawings in the screenshots so labels, drawing names and comments appeared in the target language.
  • Maps and images – I haven’t tried this one myself but this has been highly recommended by others – If your app has geo-related features make sure the maps or cities you present are local. There’s a much better chance a Japanese user will relate to a pinned location presented on a map of Tokyo, rather to one in San Francisco.

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