How Content Marketing and SEO Helped BuildFire Become a 7-Figure ARR SaaS Company
by Mike Khorev
Growth Everywhere is one of my favorite podcasts where Eric interviews successful entrepreneurs, founders, CEO, marketing leaders and venture capitalists. There is a lot of valuable information and insights on how those companies achieved customer and revenue growth and what marketing strategies and tactics they used to get there. I often hear that founders emphasize the importance of content marketing and SEO and how those channels played the main role in company success and growth. In one of the interviews, Eric Siu chatted with Ian Blair who is the CEO of BuildFire. BuildFire is the mobile app builder that provides no coding required mobile and its a development platform for people to quickly build their own mobile app. Ian said that content marketing, the first page rankings on Google and SEO is the reason where they’re at today.
Ian shared impressive SEO and content marketing results that they were able to achieve since they launched in 2015.
BuildFire Revenue, Customers and Marketing Numbers
- Revenue: Seven Figure Company
- Customers: 1000, Powering over 10,000+ apps in the App Store
- Main customer acquisition channel: Content Marketing and SEO
- Publishing 2 blog posts/week
- Content team: 5 writers
- Organic Traffic: 140,000 visitors/month
You can listen to the full interview where Ian Blair reveals the numbers and discusses how content marketing and SEO helped with initial exposure and became their #1 customer acquisition channel.
Ian: I think first it starts off with just finding effective channels to grow. It’s always a daunting task when you’re first starting your company because no one knows about you. You have zero revenue in the door and it’s just like a behemoth task. Like how on earth am I going to get there? It just first starts off with like bite size chunks and you’ve got to let the world know that you’re out there. For us, we chose content marketing as our initial growth channel and it’s been phenomenal for us. It’s really propelled us to where we’re at today. We also started off with a little bit of PR in the beginning. I’d say every company gets a bit lucky when you first get started and that was definitely the case for us. We did a PR release I think with like business like News Wire, one of those. We actually got featured on Business News Daily and what was awesome was there was people would search for like best mobile app builders out there. Since obviously you know Business News Daily has been around for a long time, they have great domain authority and we were at the top of the article. Basically we were pretty much dominating the search results because anyone would click on that, we’d be right at the top and we’d be just driving so much traffic to our site. That was just huge for our initial growth and initial traction and that was able, we were able to catch up with our own organic rate things and building our own domain authority so sometimes you get lucky and that was definitely the case for us in the beginning a little bit. But it’s just a lot of hard work and determination trying to figure out what are the most efficient levers for you.
Eric: Yeah so PR, obviously PR can be a huge spike kind of a boom or bust type of thing and I think what I want to focus on a little more is the content marketing aspect because that’s what a lot of people are talking about and obviously we know it’s the consistency that gets you there. When you’re starting from, I guess I should start first by asking, what’s working well for you in terms of content marketing right now and how are you promoting the content?
Ian: I think content marketing really starts off with having efficient and smart keyword research. You want to know what you want to go after and where is it realistic for you to rank. There’s so many tools out there for doing keyword research. You know Moz just came out with a great new keyword tool where you can see what the opportunity is, what the relevancy is. For us, it really just started off as what are great terms that we might able to rank for that are relevant to our audience? One of our highest performing articles has been a free app promotion so I think we have like … I don’t know, at this point we’ve just been growing and growing. It’s probably like over fifty creative ways to promote your app and that’s like we rank number one for app promotion, that’s been like an example of like an article that early on there wasn’t much competition for. We saw that we could rank for it and we just wrote an amazing piece of content and it’s been a consistent driver of traffic for us. We have lots of those examples where we find and it’s almost kind of like Brian Dean’s method of building skyscraper content. You go out there, you find the keyword you want and then what’s ranking at the top and then just absolutely crush that piece of content and you know, you’re bringing a lot of value to people, that’s going to rank. It’s just kind of like a methodical, if you kind of take like the approach of like paid advertising for example. Where you get data really quick and you iterate, kind of take that same methodology and bring it to content marketing. I think a lot of people, they just put stuff out and they’re like okay maybe like what’s the actual results on it. I think having like a methodology to be able to track progress and success is hugely important. For content marketing, that’s been one of our main approaches to it.
Eric: What are the main I guess KPI’s for your content marketing efforts?
Ian: Really we’re looking at, I mean at the end of the day, we want people to sign up for free trials for app builder so we’re tracking how many people are coming into our site, how many of those are converting to free trials and also like how many people are signing up for our email list because we want to have an audience. As you get bigger and having an audience it’s really helpful for putting out a lot more content. It’s really like just a matter of building your audience and how many free trials are we signing up.
Eric: Right. I think something, you know I think those metrics are perfect. Right? A lot of people are like oh you know let’s get more visitors, let’s get more page views but I think going with emails on free trials, that ties a lot closer to the bottom line at the end of the day.
Eric: But just rewinding a second I should say, I think a lot of people, you talk about people producing content just for the sake of producing content because everybody is talking about content marketing right? But a lot of people tend to forget about the research portion. Like you actually have to do the keyword research, you have to actually look at what the market is doing at the same time, maybe even look at Google Trends. I think that’s a forgotten piece of the puzzle and I think the fact that you guys are covering that aspect and you guys are succeeding just adds more validation to that.
Ian: Yeah. The whole keyword research process isn’t easy. It takes time and it takes a lot of brainstorming but I think with the wealth of information and tools out there, it’s been made easier. I think everything in business requires planning, right? If you want to be successful, you’ve got to have a plan, a strategy and like the ability to measure if it’s working or not working. I think if you just take those fundamental principles, like it can be massively successful. If there’s any information gap, like okay I don’t know how to plan content really well or I don’t know how to write great content or where ever you have a deficiency, there’s other people who have you know closed that knowledge gap. I think it’s really important in the whole online marketing space just to like stay super relevant, see what you know people who are really successful, like what are they doing, how can we take some of their methodologies and bring them into our own company? Right? Yeah I mean everything just fundamentally starts from that initial planning phase.
Eric: Right. You mentioned Brian Dean. You talked about the skyscraper technique. I think that’s something everyone can pick up from, right? You just look at what’s already preforming out there and then you just kind of ten x it.
Eric: Yeah I mean there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that and it certainly works. But I guess another question for you would be, since content marketing is working well for you, why aren’t you driving or are you driving I should ask, are you driving paid advertising to that content if it’s converting well?
Ian: Yeah that’s a good question. We’ve experimented a little bit with paid advertising on some of our posts. You know doing like promoted posts on Facebook. I’d say as a start up we have limited bandwidth and I think as we grow more and I think like just have the ability to focus on more channels, we’ll probably look into something like that and I know some people have been super super successful with that. Like the whole paid Facebook advertising, you know posts might do well or you could be attracting people through a lead magnet. I’ve seen some other companies doing like really really well with that and I think that’s exciting to see the potential of Facebook. I’d say the difference between Facebook advertising and Google Ad Words is that Google Ad Words is fulfillment. Right? People are going if you’re going to try and rank for something or you know have ads for something, people are already searching for it. People already kind of know what they’re looking for where like Facebook is really unique because there’s demand generation. Right? Products you might not have ever heard about and you know we can target people who might be interested in it. I think the mobile app building space is a very early market and not too many know that you can actually go online and build a sweet app for your business or if you have an idea, turn that into app right? I think it’s going to be really cool once we start to fire on all cylinders in that space but we just haven’t gotten to the point where we’re like all right, let’s go full bored and have a huge effort towards that.
Eric: Right. Okay. Now, I think you know a question people might have also, because content marketing is such a big channel for you guys right now, how is your content marketing team organized first of all?
Ian: Yeah so we actually started using a really cool tool lately and I think it’s helped a lot with our organization. We use CoSchedule and basically it allows us to have our whole content marketing calendar, right? Basically the way we start is we have like okay, what’s the keyword we’re going to go after. Right so kind of back to that initial finding like what’s the opportunity for it and how are we going to measure success for that and we plan those out on the calendar and it makes it pretty easy to get like a big picture, a quick picture of like you know what’s the next month going to look like in terms of content. We basically manage and schedule all of our content marketing efforts through there, with the research and planning. Then we have a whole team of writers that we hired that will work on the particular piece that they’re most qualified to write about.
Eric: Got it. How many writers did you say you had again?
Ian: We have about five right now but we worked with probably fifteen writers. I think you’ve got to test along the way. You can see like past results and what they’ve done. They might be a good fit for your organization but you might want to test them out for three to five articles and see how it performs and one thing we’ve always tried to do is just weed out the lowest common denominator and work with just writers who have been really successful with us.
Eric: Great. These are contractors?
Ian: They’re all contractors correct.
Learn What SEO and Content Marketing Strategies BuildFire Use to Drive Traffic and Revenue
To complete the overview of BuildFire content marketing and SEO I recorded a short video with a deep dive in their rankings, traffic, blog posts and Conversion Rate Optimization. Watch it to learn more about their content marketing and SEO strategy that helped them grow to a seven-figure company. You can apply the same strategies to your brand and accelerate your traffic growth, leads, sales and revenue.
Notes and highlights from the video:
- BuildFire started link-building mid-2014 and their backlink profile has been steadily growing over time.
- Organic traffic chart has the same trajectory as backlinks charts. That proves that backlinks are an important ranking factor and BuildFire has been focusing on quality, not quantity.
- Over the course of the last 5 years, they created backlinks from 3,200 new domains and published over 300 blog posts.
- That helped them to rank for 90,000 new keywords (an increase from 1.6K to 92K ranked keywords). The number of keywords that rank on the first page of Google had increased from 220 to 15000.
- Over the last 5 years, organic traffic from Google increased from 2,300 to 140,000 visitors per month. An average traffic increase is 100% year over year.
- Since they offer 30-day trial with no credit card required we can assume they have a pretty high conversion rate of around 8%.
- Their content marketing strategy for the blog post includes keyword research and writing long-form blog posts. They’ve written over 300 blog posts and some of the best performing posts have backlinks from over 100 domains.
- Each post targets specific keywords that their prospects would search online and most likely to convert to a client. Here are a few examples:
- They rank in the top 4 worldwide for the keyword “how to make an app” with 27,000 searches per month just in the US as well as other 1532 similar keywords and driving 19,000 monthly visitors. To achieve that they’ve built links to that post from 113 domains. With an average conversion rate of 8% (they don’t ask for a credit card) that’s 1520 trials/month from that single blog post.
- They also rank top 3 worldwide for keyword “mobile app development” with 7700 searches per month in the US only as well as 238 similar keywords and driving 2300 monthly visitors to that page. To achieve that they’ve created links to that post on 54 sites. With an average conversion rate of 8% (since they don’t ask for a credit card) that’s 184 trails/month from that single blog post.
- Overall they have first-page ranking for almost everything related to app development, app statistics, mobile trends and mobile marketing
Takeaways and Next Step
SEO and content marketing worked well for BuildFire and helped them to grow to a seven-figure company. Their marketing team executed a well-planned content strategy that helped them attract 140,000 monthly targeted visitors and convert them into trials and clients with effective conversion rate optimization techniques. You can use their strategy and my teardown as an example to build your own SEO campaign as SEO works the same way for any industry, keywords, type of product whenever it’s B2B, B2C or SaaS.
To make SEO work for your business and reach your revenue targets make sure you follow the 4 step process:
- Perform keyword analysis to find what your prospects are searching for on Google.
- Create SEO optimized pages (home page, internal service/product pages, blog posts, case studies) targeting those keywords.
- Build quality, relevant contextual links to your home, internal and blog post pages
- Track your rankings, metrics, conversion rate and continuously optimize performance and CRO
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April 6, 2020