by David Kirkpatrick
SuperOffice is Europe-based customer relationship management (CRM) software company founded in 1990. It operates in seven countries, and the website serves SuperOffice's 12,000-plus customers in six languages, including:
SuperOffice's target audience is the SMB market in Europe for CRM software.
Even though it is targeting a very specific market niche in European small- to medium-sized companies across six languages, as a CRM provider, SuperOffice is challenged by having to compete with very large enterprise companies such as Salesforce and Microsoft.
Its digital marketing team is small, consisting of Jennifer Lim Lund, Marketing Director, and Steven Macdonald, Content Marketer, SuperOffice.
Macdonald explained SuperOffice's marketing focus, saying, "We needed to find new ways to capture traffic and leads and grow market share. Content marketing was a natural fit as it was something we could do without increasing headcount and budget and could begin with immediately."
An initial element of SuperOffice's content marketing strategy was launching the SuperOffice blog in September 2012 to grow organic traffic, with a goal of creating three to four white papers each year to grow organic leads.
This case study covers how SuperOffice's content strategy reached across multiple marketing channels and tactics, including search engine optimization, social media, email and content marketing.
Read on to find out how this approach increased organic traffic 97% and organic leads 43%.
Macdonald said in 2012, SuperOffice received 32,000 organic visits. The team's goal was to increase this number to more than double — 72,000 visits — in 2013 and up to 100,000 visits in 2014.
To achieve this goal, while using a content marketing strategy as the framework for the overall effort, the SuperOffice team took a multi-channel approach to boosting both organic visits and organic lead generation.
Channel #1. Search engine optimization
Macdonald described search engine optimization as a "huge" marketing channel for SuperOffice.
He said, "It's the one traffic channel that we continue to see increase year over year. With a limited team, our focus is keyword research, on-page optimization and internal linking."
For keyword research, Macdonald said the team utilized tools such as Google's Keyword Planner, SEMrush and Buzzsumo. They also analyzed SuperOffice's competition and, from that information, target keywords with a combination of high search volume and medium competition.
Macdonald explained the approach, saying, "We cannot outspend our competitors, so our goal is identify keywords we can rank for and then create high-quality content around them."
One SEO issue faced by SuperOffice is that it has eight websites in six languages, so its approach is to create content in English and then optimize those pages for search engines. From there, the team sets guidelines that are sent to local offices across Europe so those websites and pages can be optimized in the local language.
This did create a challenge for the team because this process depended on local offices to optimize the local language websites for search, and those employees weren't necessarily adept at SEO practices.
"It's a steep learning curve, which is why we try not to overwhelm them with too much new content," Macdonald explained.
He also mentioned that the team learned how to improve SEO over the course of the campaign.
"One of our biggest key findings is that there's so much opportunity to rank well for popular keywords. It really does come down to using the data to find keywords with no [or] little competition and then creating great content," Macdonald said.
He added, "For example, we found the keyword phrase 'Customer service email templates' had practically zero content, so we created content around that keyword and launched [a blog post titled] '7 Customer Service Email Templates Every Business Needs.' This is our most popular piece of content and generates 50-60 leads per month."
Channel #2. Social media marketing
SuperOffice is active on four social media platforms:
- Google Plus
LinkedIn was included in the mix because Macdonald said that is where SuperOffice's target audience is found. The rest were included in the social media strategy because they are popular platforms.
Each platform was utilized with a specific strategy in mind:
- Twitter: content shared 3-4 times on the day of its launch and 1-2 times throughout the week
- LinkedIn: new content only shared once
- Google Plus: new content only shared once
- Facebook: new content only shared once
Macdonald said the social media strategy was fairly simple: "Once we create the content, we make sure we share it." He added, "although Google has said that they do not take social signals into account as a ranking factor, we've seen a strong correlation with increasing social shares and an increase in organic traffic."
Macdonald also explained how the social media strategy applied to the overall goal of increasing organic traffic to the website.
"We've grown from an average of 20 social shares per post to more than 200 social shares per post. Social shares increase brand awareness and that generates the demand for organic search," he said.
Channel #3. Email marketing
SuperOffice built its 50,000-strong email subscriber list primarily via white paper downloads, along with collecting addresses at events, via the blog and also contact forms on the website. The team only segments email by language.
For the content marketing push, the goal was to send at least one email newsletter
each month to the entire list.
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Macdonald said, "Each time we create a new piece of content, we email the list to announce the content is live. Recently, we've been sending a second email to subscribers who didn't open the first email with a new subject line [or] body to increase white paper downloads."
This tactic was implemented after the team tracked subscriber behavior.
"We created a piece of content and realized that not many people knew about it," Macdonald said. "So we sent an email to our mailing list with a link to download the content — it worked. We saw a spike in traffic and downloads, so we continued to do it."
He also mentioned an additional benefit the email channel offered the content strategy.
According to Macdonald, "When we email to a list of 50,000 subscribers, we have seen that they not only download content, but they share it across social networks. In doing so, this increases brand awareness, which in turn increases brand searches in Google."
Channel #4. Content marketing
The content marketing channel was the linchpin and focus of the entire campaign, with the SEO, social media and email channels playing a supporting role. Content fed the email and social media campaigns and provided a direct impact on SEO. At the same time, the needs of each of those marketing channels influenced the content that was created.
The primary content piece for the overall campaign was white papers
. Macdonald said he and Lund would determine the topic for each white paper, then write the paper themselves. They outsourced designing the content piece to a Danish marketing agency.
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Macdonald described the process of determining white paper topics, saying, "The topic is based on industry trends, keyword research and Google analytics data — when we create blog content and can see that it is well received, we build on that and create a white paper around the topic and include more detail."
He added that creating a white paper took about six weeks, including translations, design and writing. The entire process involved 10 to 15 people.
The content strategy at SuperOffice was methodical, with a content calendar broken out into weekly, monthly and quarterly activities.
The weekly content activity involved publishing new content on the blog, including guest post submissions that must meet guidelines published on the SuperOffice website.
Macdonald said a main goal of each blog post
was to deliver maximum impact on increasing organic website traffic.
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He explained, "We are consistent in the quality we produce. We also analyze each post for visits, social shares and content downloads. Each quarter, we review all blog posts published during that time and see which content the audience reacts best to, and then write more on that topic."
For example, Macdonald said "CRM" and "customer service" are the most visited and shared blog post categories. Knowing this, the team would focus on creating content around those two topics. He added topics that were also chosen by keyword research and tracked data on high-performing content, such as the posts about CRM and customer service.
After implementing this strategy, for some time Macdonald said the team learned what worked in terms of generating organic traffic.
"The biggest lesson we have learned is that you don't need multiple authors to write several blog posts per week. In 2012, we started with 14 authors and three posts per week. We barely saw any organic traffic improvements at all," he said. "We then changed strategy and published one post per week, with a higher emphasis on quality content — switched from 500 words per post to 1000 words per post — and we've since seen organic traffic explode."
SuperOffice's blog posts were an important part of the social media strategy because the blog was creating a lot of the content that was shared socially on a weekly basis. However, the blog did not figure into the email strategy. Macdonald explained that because the blog was only published in English, links to new posts were not sent to the email list.
The monthly content tactic was releasing a new white paper, ebook or guide around four topic areas:
- Customer service
These content pieces were translated into six languages and then launched on those websites. This translation was accomplished via a professional service, and then the local countries reviewed that translation and edited as needed.
Macdonald said the team considered white papers, ebooks and guides as essentially the same type of content, produced in the same way, although the different pieces might be different lengths.
He did add that the different pieces were marketed in slightly different ways. "We use the same tactics to promote a white paper as we would a guide or an ebook. However, we do use display banners to promote big pieces of content during the high season of CRM software. For example, in January, we launched display campaigns to promote the CRM buyer's guide."
Macdonald explained how these larger monthly content pieces fit into the social media and email marketing strategies, saying, "When we publish a new white paper, we create a blog post to announce the launch of the paper that we share across all the social media channels we are active in, and we email our subscribers a direct link to the white paper download form."
The quarterly content marketing activity for SuperOffice did not involve creating or publishing any new content. Instead, it entailed conducting auditing and optimizing the existing websites.
Macdonald described the process as mainly involving onsite optimization.
"We use Moz to analyze keyword rankings, and we look at keywords that are ranked six through 10 and 11 through 20. We then focus on these pages to boost the rankings, which in turn increases organic traffic," he said.
He added, "For example, if we see that a page ranks in position seven for the keyword 'CRM software U.K.,' we'll look at pages we can optimize to increase that ranking to positions three to five. This might mean creating a new title tag or linking pages together and optimizing anchor texts."
The team followed a set of steps in the optimization process:
- Look at the search query report in Google Webmaster Tools
- Analyze the data in terms of average rank or average CTR
- Review the existing title tag or meta description
- Create a new title tag or meta description to improve CTR
- Monitor the performance over the coming weeks
Another important part of the quarterly activity was internal linking. The team would review relevance and user experience to manually link content, such as linking a page that referenced customer experience strategy to a blog post featuring seven ways on creating that strategy.
Macdonald said, "We generally review all new blog posts each month and look at ways to internally link posts and pages together."
Macdonald said one of the most important aspects of the entire effort was that content marketing drives all of SuperOffice's marketing activities and has increased website visits, social shares, website leads and revenue.
Comparing 2013 to 2014, the content marketing campaign:
- Increased organic traffic 97%
- Increased organic leads 43%
- Generated around 10,000 leads through the blog, white papers, ebooks and guides
- Increased monthly blog readership 108%
Macdonald added that SuperOffice blog posts have been shared over 8,500 times.
He summed up the content marketing campaign with advice for marketers, saying, "We're not an army of content creators, but we're able to put out more than 50 blog posts per year and several white papers. Whether you're a small business or large corporation, the success we've seen at SuperOffice can be replicated."
- White paper
- Blog post
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