Episode 21: How to Give and Receive Creative Feedback

Devin and Jimmy talk about feedback: how to give it, how to receive and the role it plays in growing a company. At Animalz, we’ve built feedback into our workflow so that every member knows what to expect and when to expect it.

You can follow Devin on Twitter at @devinemily and Jimmy at @jimmy_daly.

Episode 20: We launched a free tool!

We are really excited to announce that we’ve launched our first-ever software tool, Revive. It’s a free tool that looks at your Google Analytics and finds content decay. Andrew and Jimmy explain how it works and why we built it in this episode.

Announcing Revive: A Free Tool to Find and Prevent Content Decay

We are thrilled to announce Revive—our first product. It’s a free tool that finds content decay. You can try it out here.

Traffic growth can be measured just like a SaaS company’s MRR:

  • New blog posts drive new traffic (Acquisition)
  • Old blog posts drive recurring traffic (Retention)
  • Old blog posts decay (Contraction)
  • Refreshed blog posts drive increased traffic (Expansion)

It’s much faster and more efficient to grow a SaaS company by expanding existing accounts and reducing churn. The same is true for traffic growth, but most content teams focus exclusively on new, new, new.

At Animalz, we think of content like a product. It helps us take a more holistic view on content and prevents us from churning out content just for the sake of creating something new.

If you look at content through this lens, your priorities may shift. Finding content decay—i.e. posts that are losing organic traffic over time—then regularly refreshing that content is an excellent use of your time. This doesn’t fit neatly into most content marketing workflows, but it’s perfectly intuitive. Our new tool Revive automates a sometimes-tricky part of this process.

Find Content Decay—Without Manually Combing Through Google Analytics

We’ve learned a lot about content from working with the best SaaS businesses in the world. And we want to share those learnings at scale so that many more people can benefit from our experience. Today, we are excited to announce Revive—our very first (free!) SaaS tool and the first step in making content marketing easier for every SaaS company.

“Content refreshes are a really important part of a content strategy, but it’s difficult to keep track of decay. “Revive” finally makes this really easy to do.”

—Kate McDaniel, UiPath

Here’s a scenario that every content marketer is familiar with. Traffic is growing, but more slowly than you’d hoped. You login to Google Analytics and start digging around. Inevitably, a few posts that consistently drive organic traffic have tapered off. Without manually filtering out other traffic sources and checking each individual post, it’s impossible to tell which posts are trending up and which are trending down. Without custom reports and above average Google Analytics skills, content decay—the loss of traffic to a URL over time—is nearly invisible.

Revive does all of this automatically. Once you authenticate your Google Analytics, our algorithm will assess every URL on your site to look for pages that are losing traffic over the last 12 months. We’ll flag these so you can refresh them. Just like it’s easier to grow a business by upselling existing customers and reducing churn, checking for and preventing decay is the most efficient way to grow traffic.

Our Formula for Detecting Content Decay

We’ll explain how to use the tool, but first, here are some quick insights on how we do the analysis. Content decay, as it turns out, is somewhat subjective. Sometimes it’s obvious that posts are losing traffic over time. Other times, perhaps because of fluctuations in search algorithms or seasonality, it’s very difficult to tell.

After much testing, we settled on the following framework for assessing decay:

  • We’d only look at traffic coming from organic search. This helps us filter out noise from paid campaigns and social media. Organic traffic is what you want to grow, so Revive helps identify these opportunities.
  • We look for trends over a 12-month period. This is enough time to smooth out most fluctuations in search volume as well as algorithm updates.
  • We then look for the percentage of traffic lost, how many months have seen a decline and how recently, and whether the URL continued a decline in traffic throughout the year.

We will continue to refine the algorithm to be as accurate as possible, but we feel confident that it will highlight your biggest opportunities.

How to Use Revive

Revive is dead simple to use. Just authenticate your Google Analytics account, then sit tight. We’ll send you a report within 24 hours. Here’s a quick video walkthrough as well as step-by-step instructions.

First, enter your email address. This is where we’ll send your report when it’s ready.

Next, authenticate your Google Analytics account. Many teams use shared Google Accounts for Analytics. Choose the account that contains the site you wish to analyze.

We’ll then ask you to select the view you’d like to analyze. Choose the view that you normally look at it in Google Analytics. Keep in mind that the view needs at least 12 months of data in order for us to analyze it.

Once your view is selected, we’ll run our algorithm. When it’s ready, we’ll send you an email with a link to your report. It will show all of the articles that we recommend refreshing, along with how much traffic the article has lost since its peak.

We are really excited to finally launch this to the public and we are very eager to hear your feedback. There are two surveys in the product, but you can also email us with any and all feedback.

Episode 19: Using Content Lanes to Flesh Out Your Strategy

Jimmy and Jan discuss different types of content lanes—tracks that you can use to produce regular content for your blog—and what makes each one, from teardown to use-case content, effective and useful for readers.

How to Diagnose and Maintain the Health of a SaaS Blog

We’ve recently launched a free tool called Revive. It connects to your Google Analytics and finds posts that are decaying. These are perfect candidates for refreshing. You can learn more and try it out here.

All content marketers seem to believe that their site is underperforming. There’s an underlying sense of anxiety about never having enough traffic. At the same time, no one seems to know how much traffic is enough either. “I feel like this isn’t good enough, but I don’t really know” is no way to run a content marketing operation.

After reviewing Google Analytics for several dozen high-profile SaaS blogs, we can assure you that most sites are neither underperforming or overperforming. To help ease the anxiety of “never enough traffic,” we’re sharing a few ways that you can diagnose the health of your own traffic. The numbers provided are not perfect benchmarks—we did not analyze millions of data points to refine them. Rather, they are expert observations from a group of people tasked with helping B2B SaaS companies grow their organic presences.

Whether you choose the methods below or some other approach, analyze your content with a nuanced perspective. Out-of-the-box analytics never tell the full story, so it’s up to you to wrangle the data and build your own narrative.

Analyze Your Month-Over-Month Organic Traffic Growth

Month-over-month organic growth is a really important number that Google Analytics doesn’t tell you, at least not by default. Every SaaS blog should be increasing organic traffic to its content each month. To really clarify this number: we look at the month-over-month increase (or decrease) in organic search traffic to content.

This number is important because it’s a leading indicator for a number of other healthy metrics. Sites with steadily growing organic traffic also tend to have lower bounce rates, more pages/visit and have an easier time ranking new content. If your organic traffic is not growing, you almost certainly will have trouble improving other key metrics.

This is a very specific number that requires a little digging to find. In Google Analytics:

  • Click on “Acquisition” → “All Traffic” → “Channels” → “Organic Search.”
  • Change the date range so that you can view at least 12 months of data. Make sure you are looking at traffic on a monthly basis.
  • Select “Landing Page” as your primary dimension.
  • Use the search bar to filter out non-content. (Most people can do this by typing “/blog” into the search bar.)
  • Save this view as a report for future use.

Now, we’re going to pull each month’s organic user count into a spreadsheet. Then, we’ll use a simple formula to calculate the change each month. (That formula is: [current month – previous month]/[current month]).

MonthOrganic Blog VisitorsPercent Change
Jun 20184,688n/a
Jul 20186,67942.47%
Aug 20189,37940.43%
Sep 20188,961-4.46%
Oct 201810,64018.74%
Nov 201812,31915.78%
Dec 201813,72711.43%
Jan 201919,23440.12%
Feb 201919,7412.64%
Mar 201923,54319.26%
Apr 201924,9616.02%
May 201930,83023.51%
Average MoM Growth19.63%

This is real data Rev’s blog—Rev is an excellent transcription service—and it shows really impressive growth over the past 12 months. As you can see, growth fluctuates. Much like investing, you can’t worry about the day-to-day changes in your numbers. Measuring this way helps you take a long view of your progress and makes it easy to how far you’ve come over the last year or more.

19.63% average MoM growth is on the highest end of the spectrum. Here are some guidelines for choosing your own MoM growth number:

  • 2-5%: For a well established SaaS blog—meaning a blog with 100,000+ pageviews/month, this is a steady rate that will still yield meaningful traffic increases.
  • 5-10%: This is about average for a mid-size SaaS blog—i.e. a blog with 50,000 to 100,000 pageviews/month.
  • 10-20%: This is excellent growth. Smaller blogs—those with less than 50,000 pageviews/month—should pursue a number in this range. It likely won’t last forever, but ride the train as long as you can.
  • 20%+: This is really impressive. It’ll get your blog to 100,000 monthly pageviews quickly, but it likely won’t sustain for much longer.

Because this number is not easy to track in Google Analytics, we recommend tracking it in Google Sheets. Here’s a template you can use to track your own data.

Track Your “Organic Share”

Organic share is not a metric you’ll find mentioned on any other content marketing blogs—that’s because we made it up. Organic share is the percentage of total site traffic that comes from organic search. We prefer to measure it annually.

Here’s how you find it:

  • In Google Analytics, navigate to “Acquisition” → “All Traffic.”
  • If you are running any paid campaigns, filter that traffic out since it will water down the organic share number.
  • Set the date range for the last full year of traffic data, i.e. January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018. The percentage of organic traffic shown here is your organic share for 2018. Repeat for as many years as possible.

Organic share is hugely important because increasing it is the only way to grow a large SaaS blog (without spending a fortune on paid traffic). We measure it annually to smooth out the natural fluctuations in search traffic. We recommend putting the data in a spreadsheet so that you can easily visualize how it’s changed over time.

Here’s an example of organic share growth over time. AdEspresso’s growth has been very impressive. Traffic grew 10x in three years thanks to a laser focus on growing organic traffic.

The first thing nearly all SaaS blogs should do is aim for 50% organic share. Keep in mind that we measure organic share across the entire site, not just content. It’s likely that content will be the main driver of traffic growth, but that should lift the organic presence of the homepage and product/feature pages. If you aren’t at 50% yet, that’s your next goal.

In order to scale—and we mean really scale, like 250,000 monthly pageviews and beyond—you will need to increase organic share. Search traffic scales in a way that social, email, paid and referral traffic simply can’t. Large SaaS sites all rely on this same mechanism for growth.

Keep an Eye Out for Content Decay

If you could X-ray your Google Analytics, you’d see layers of content. Some URLs would be trending up, while others trend down. Cumulative traffic is growing, but if you look very closely, you’ll see that growth is slowed significantly by the decay of older content. Traffic growth, whether you realize it or not, is two steps forward, one step back.

This is nearly impossible to quantify in Google Analytics, so it’s rarely discussed among content marketers. The formula for traffic growth is as follows:

traffic growth formula

(For a detailed understanding of this kind of analysis, we highly recommend Tribe Capital’s recent post, A Quantitative Approach to Product Market Fit.)

To see if your content is decaying, follow these steps:

  • Click on “Acquisition” → “All Traffic” → “Channels” → “Organic Search.”
  • Change the date range so that you can view at least 12 months of data. Make sure you are looking at traffic on a monthly basis.
  • Select “Landing Page” as your primary dimension.
  • Use the search bar to filter out non-content. (Most people can do this by typing “/blog” into the search bar.)
  • Click individual URLs to see how they are trending over the last 12 months. Healthy posts are stable or trending upward. If you see posts that are trending downward, plan to refresh them as soon as possible.

We are working on a way to quantify content decay. It’ll be a number similar to negative churn—expressed as a percentage each month with the goal of adding more traffic than you’ve lost. We’ll post an update when we have that formula ready.

Want to try out our new tool?

We encourage you to check out our new (and free!) tool called Revive. It plugs into your Google Analytics and tells you which posts are decaying. Interested in trying it out? Check it out here.

You may notice that the three things we suggest measuring closely all relate to organic traffic. We just can’t emphasize it enough: organic search is the best way to grow a SaaS blog and the only way to scale to 100,000 monthly pageviews and beyond.