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We Buried Our Sales Guy in Leads: The Power of 10x Content

By Ryan Law on Thu, Jan 12, 2017

Since November 2013, we've published 317 blog posts - just shy of two posts per week, every week.

Most of those blog posts performed well, generating a steady stream of visits and leads. Others performed extremely well, while others still were a big ol' disappointment. Then there were the outliers.

This is the story of one such outlier, a blog post that slipped out of its expected orbit and shot straight for the stars, leaving a mass of leads trailing in its wake.

Now, two months on from publication, I'm reflecting on what we've learned about the power of 10x content, and helping you to harness its power for yourself.

The Impact of 10X Content

Before we dig into the how of 10x content, we need to cover the why, and explore the impact this type of content can have. This is the post in question:

The Ultimate SaaS Metrics Guide to Smarter, Faster Growth.pngSince publication in October, it's been viewed almost 4,000 times - but, as the post itself pays testimony to, vanity metrics alone can't build a business. More importantly, it's also: 

  • Turned 3,685 views into 163 new leads.
  • Converted visitors to contacts at over 5%, the majority of which (85%) were brand new contacts.

Traffic and Conversion Rate.png

  • Generated 26 unsolicited backlinks, ranging from opinion pieces to citations, without any heavy-handed skyscraper-esque linkbuilding.
  • Featured heavily in industry newsletters, like the Mattermark Daily and Akita's Customer Success Roundup.

Akita2.png

  • Earned kudos from the likes of Dan Martell (founder of Clarity) and Bill Macaitis (CMO of Slack).

Bill Macaitis Tweet.png

Dan Martell Tweet.png

  • ...and (most importantly), helped people navigate the complex world of SaaS metrics.

Jason Gelman Tweet.png

How to Create Your Own 10x Content

As a result of the post, we wrapped up 2016 on an all-time high - but the numbers seen here are still pretty mild by 10x standards, and by taking the time to create something extraordinary, a single blog post really can transform your performance.

But enough about us! Now that I've vouched for the power of 10x content, it's time to dig into the secret sauce you'll need to replicate these results. 

It's worth opening by saying that all of the oft-cited tenets of great content apply here:

  • Length = Strength. There's a positive correlation between content length and content rankings.
  • Solve a problem. Content has to comprehensively solve a real problem. The bigger the pain, the better the engagement with the post.
  • Be unique. 10x content is bigger, better and more detailed than anything that's come before it.
  • It has to "Wow!" Being good isn't good enough. To quote Rand Fishkin:

10x Content - Rand Fishkin

It's got to create an emotional response. I want to feel awe. I want to feel surprise.

I want to feel joy, anticipation, or admiration for that piece of content in order for it to be considered 10x.
Rand Fishkin, Moz

Most of this information is common knowledge, so I'm going to focus on that last point, and identify the little nuances of content creation that provide the elusive "wow!" factor, and turn great content into 10x content.

1) Find the Gap

SaaS metrics posts are dime a dozen, including huge, respected pieces of 10x content (like David Skok's SaaS Metrics 2.0).

SaaS metrics 2.0.png

You'd think that would exclude the topic from consideration, but crucially, my reading turned up a major gap in the web's content: no post had set out to collate all the definitions and formulae in a single place.

David's post offers an unparalleled look at why of metrics, but not the how. As somebody trying to understand SaaS metrics, this was the piece I wanted to read - so I went ahead and wrote it.

2) Make It Usable

We've written huge posts before, but they've always been big, ungainly masses of text. These are great for sharing around, but terrible for actually reading; resulting in lots of shares, and little meaningful engagement.

LinkedIn - Growth Hacks.pngWe decided to tackle this head-on, building out a custom navigation menu and design elements, even installing a LaTeX plugin to render formulae correctly.

This had a huge impact: instead of glossing over the content, visitors would actually read it, using the navigation menu to find a metric that appealed.

Heat Map.png

3) Write What No-One Else Will

Writing this post sucked. Really sucked.

I spent weeks and weeks alternating between dozens of Chrome tabs, my text editor, and my trusty calculator. I had to fact-check suspicious formulae, standardise inconsistent terms, and generally step well outside of my comfort zone.

Very quickly, I realised why nobody else had taken on the same task: it was a nightmare just learning this stuff, let alone translating it into a guide! But that was exactly why it worked: it was such a huge, painful problem that nobody had tried to solve it. Until now.

4) Create a Custom Call-to-Action

Our goal for the post was clear from the outset: we wanted leads. So instead of tacking a generic CTA on the end of an 8,000 word blog post, we created a PDF download of the entire guide, and put the call-to-action right at the top of the page.

We still have a "traditional" CTA on the blog post, and it converts visitors to leads at the lowly rate of 0.27% (largely because few people make it that far down the page).

CTA.png

In contrast, the PDF downloads converts at 5.2% - almost 20 times higher.

This is an approach we've adopted throughout the site, resulting in visitor to contact conversion rates as high as 10%.

5) Promote Smart, Not Hard

When we set out to promote the post, we had a clear goal in mind: get it into the hands of influencers.

Instead of adding to the growing ocean of email spam, we applied the 80/20 principle: choosing a handful of people with established, relevant audiences, and used personalised outreach to connect.

Outreach.pngThis approach worked for one reason alone: they were all people that would genuinely benefit from the post, from industry newsletters hungry for new content, to startup founders trying to navigate the confusing world of SaaS metrics.

The Secret Power of 10x Content

It's really hard to create 10x content.

It's hard to find the right topic, time-consuming to research, and exhausting to write... and at the end of it all, there's no guarantee the post will work as intended. 

But striving for 10x content does have a huge benefit. When you create something truly original, unique and helpful, you're proud to share it. You offer it to people with a clear conscience, knowing full well there's nothing in the world like it.

People respond to that sincerity, and they respond even more to the advice and guidance on offer. It's that extra step that makes the difference between a good blog post and a stellar one - between great content, and 10x content.

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