In a nutshell:
Helios helps cloud-native developers observe and troubleshoot microservices based on OpenTelemetry OSSs. It targets companies that develop cloud-native apps, helping them improve app performance and reduce MTTR.
This industry is very crowded with many competing vendors from small to mid-stage startups all the way to giant APM players.
The battle for developers’ attention is strong, and advanced data-driven marketing techniques are widely used in this industry (paid media, smart SEO, programmatic SEO, developer communities, and more).
We had to find creative ways to compete, especially given that Helios is a young startup and lacks the enormous resources the big players have. Not to mention the fact that developer marketing is nothing like other forms of marketing, and demands specific expertise that we have.
We worked with Helios on creating content for developers, SEO, paid media campaigns and more.
- Organic traffic rose significantly after just 3 months
- Organic traffic quadrupled within 6 months
- Monthly new signups tripled
- Quality leads came through ad campaigns and organic results
- Positive Search Console trends became clear
- Multiple target popular key terms generated top-rank results
The growth as seen in GSC over the course of 6 months:
Product signups, 6-month trend:
Organic traffic uplift by months:
Challenges and activities, step by step
Step 1: Reliable data analytics
Reliable data is a known challenge in SaaS marketing. Even though Helios is not an open-source tool (where the attribution problem is much more dramatic), the data was still scattered between different analytics dashboards (the website, the app DB, GSC etc.), and each dashboard showed different numbers.
We had to configure Google Tag Manager and build new processes to make sure that we reported accurate and reliable data.
** There are always deviations between systems but we ensured that these were not too significant.
Step 2: Data-driven DNA—coherent reporting processes
Once we had reliable data, we initiated an ongoing tracking process of all important metrics (funnels) and additional quantitative data to track progress for both SEO and paid campaigns. The purpose was to gain visibility into all important metrics and also be able to explore the long-term trend.
We call it data-driven marketing DNA, and it’s extremely important in the SaaS/PLG industry.
Step 3: SEO—technical and onsite legacy issues fixed
After using professional tools and running a site audit we fixed multiple issues related to internal linking, duplicated titles, headers, content, orphaned pages, invalid URLs, broken links and a whole lot more.
Once site health went up significantly, we moved to onsite internal content.
Step 4: SEO and dev-focused content strategy
Creating content that adds value to developers, DevOps or platform engineers is a huge challenge. It can’t be done without a profound understanding of the product, the audience, and the ecosystem.
Having said that, it’s important to remember that content is not just king, it’s a key.
We ran extensive keyword research and decided on a strategy that revolves around longtail terms that include both focus key terms and specific dev languages, environments, tech stack, and similar concepts. This proved to be an optimal direction, and together with a smart internal linking strategy, results started to show faster than we expected.
Next, we moved on to create content that addressed specific microservices issues that needed troubleshooting, which proved to be a smart move.
The content (articles) was of top quality, highly technical, focused on solutions to specific pain points and was meant to help software engineers address observability and troubleshooting problems more efficiently. Contact us for examples.
Step 5: Backlinking
Every SEO professional will tell you that backlinking is a significant part of the strategy, and they will be correct.
We republished written articles and shared content on quality “do follow” sites that are tailored to developers, such as dev.to and others. We closed the loop by monitoring the results and the quality links that we received.
Step 6: Adding Google ads to the blend
There are rumors that developers don’t respond well to ads, that they “hate” marketing, and that you can’t use the “regular” toolbox with developers. Well, I say that’s only partially true. Like any technical audience, you need to respect them and try to add value rather than be the “foot in the door” kind of marketer.
We saw interesting results for Google ads campaigns that were specific enough for certain environments and pains, as well as niche errors that are relevant to Helios products.
The better we segmented the campaigns based on specific dev issues and environments the better the results got in terms of optimized PPC.
See this PPC cost decreasing trend, month by month:
When it comes to the developers’ landscape, direct and organic channels will always win over PPC in terms of conversions or signups.
Still, we could see campaign contribution in the assisted conversions report in GA (we used the conversion paths report).
Google ads played an important role in feeding our SEO strategy as well, as we could quickly understand which keywords are highly searched, what are the terms that lead to the best signups (intent-wise), and more.
We could also test different messages.
7. Dev communities and channels
We engaged in different dev channels and explored outlets such as Slack, Discord, Reddit, and the like, hunting for specific pain points, sharing our content, and collecting feedback.
We were surprised by the informative feedback that we received. We realized that if the questions we ask and the content we share are of high value, we will earn developers’ trust.
We never hid our identity, we didn’t pretend and we never tried to trick the readers. Our approach is honest and is based on value-adding marketing; this proves to work really well with developers and other technical audiences.
Something about dev marketing is particularly appealing to us. Maybe it’s the technical complexity of the product the advanced techniques, or the audience’s no BS approach… One thing’s certain: We LOVE marketing dev tools and DevOps products.
We know how to produce content that developers appreciate. We know the communities, outlets, what works and what doesn’t. We are well-connected to the DevOps startup community. We are familiar with tools, stack, different players, technologies, industry pains and so much more.
This really helps us onboard new products and it helped us a lot to create value for Helios. Additional activities not discussed here included social media management, events management, LinkedIn ads (to mid and high-level engineering management), and more.
“Marketing for developers is different. G2Mteam keep exceeding our expectations” – Roni Saban, VP of marketing at Helios
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