How to become one of the most popular blogs on WordPress
Interview with Brian Jackson, Chief Marketing Officer at Kinsta
«One of the best ways to increase sales is by creating a popular blog. But not only do you need to attract traffic to your blog, but you also need to make sure it will increase your conversions.»
So how do you create a blog with exciting content that will make people want to buy your product? We spoke to Brian Jackson, the chief marketing officer at Kinsta, a premium WordPress hosting solution that boasts one of the most popular blogs in WordPress.
How to write a blog post that will get traffic
What’s the main reason you write a blog post? Because you want people to read it of course! Brian reveals his top tips for writing blog posts which will get traffic including the optimal word count, how often you should update them and exactly what you should update your posts with.
Choosing the best topics for your blog
Even if you know exactly how to write a blog post you still need to pick topics that will get traffic on your website. Brian explains how to identify the content that will engage your audience and also the type of content that they’re looking to read.
Turn your traffic into customers
It’s one thing getting traffic but it’s another converting that traffic into paying customers. At Kinsta Brian uses a number of tools to ensure this happens and also has a number of techniques he incorporates within the articles themselves to encourage purchases. He reveals these tricks in the podcast.
The best ways to promote your content
There are so many social media channels that it can be tricky to know which is the best one for your business. Kinsta experimented with all of them before identifying the best ones of them. Brian tells us how they did it and what they learned.
Using paid ads
Brian says paid ads are still by far the best way to increase your sales. He explains how he uses Google and Facebook to optimize sales.
Brian also mentions how email marketing is crucial if you want to increase the traffic to your website. Check out this excellent list of the top ten cheap email marketing services for more information.
If you’ve been inspired to get started today, one of the best blog posts to take you through the most important steps is FirstSiteGuide’s how to start a blog in 2020.
Brian’s approach to the Kinsta blog when he first joined
When you first joined Kinsta what was your immediate approach to growing the brand?
I’ve always done kind of SEO on the side and I run another blog workup. It’s kind of like my own little personal marketing blog. And before Kinsta I was at KeyCDN which is a content delivery network. And there I did pretty much writing 99 percent of the time. And we had seen a strategy that really worked as far as if you push out really good content people will come and you’ll start getting rankings. It worked really well for us at KeyCDN and it has for my personal stuff too.
So going into Kinsta they hired me for that reason because they knew content marketing works but they didn’t have the manpower or anyone to do it. And so when they brought me on I was writing a good portion of the time. That was kind of the goal just you know to push out as much quality content as possible. That was the main goal.
How did you identify what was quality content and what might not be so relevant for the audience you're targeting?
I look at two things. We look at the content length. And the unfortunate thing is that more people realize that it matters even more nowadays because more important people have learned that Google likes to know lots of content. So you know now you’re having to write even more than you did two years ago which is kind of scary because at some point where does it stop? Like you can’t just write 30000 words. At some point, it becomes ridiculous but content length is important.
And then thinking of your audience. Not just writing any old topic, you want to think about what will actually convert on your site. You don’t want to just post some random topic just to get traffic because that’s just a waste of time. So thinking of your audience, what your product is and focusing on good quality content.
And the thing is we’ll keep adding and improving content so even if we write a 3000 word post, a year from now it’ll probably end up being a 5000 word post because we’ll see things we missed.
How to approach writing a blog post that will get traffic
As a rule for Kinsta to do you have a limit on the number of words a post should be.
We don’t have like a hard limit set but we don’t really publish anything under 3000 words. But we’ll go up into the 20000 words sometimes. Like the SEO blog post checklist I wrote was 29000 words so it’s a huge blog post.
And the thing is we’ll keep adding and improving content so even if we write a 3000 word post, a year from now it’ll probably end up being a 5000 word post because we’ll see things we missed. We’ll get feedback from comments on the blog about it. So we’ll keep going back in adding stuff to the post after the fact.
How important is it to update posts every few months?
That I would say is almost just as important as publishing new content nowadays. Since we do premium WordPress hosting I see tickets with our customers. I see all these different conversations happening and so I’ll know off the top of my head we have an article on this and I see someone was just having a ticket about this with a problem. So I actually go find the article and update it with however we resolved the ticket for our customer.
If you have a product or tool where you can interact with the support tickets or something it’s a really great way to get extra feedback or content ideas to keep improving stuff that you have. So just because I work with our customers so closely I use that as a great way to update our current content.
If you have a product or tool where you can interact with the support tickets or something it’s a really great way to get extra feedback or content ideas to keep improving stuff that you have.
Choosing the best topics which your audience will click on
How do you find out what topics are relevant to the audience?
The ways we get ideas is first of all user feedback. Sometimes we just have people asking that we write about posts.
The second thing is support tickets. We see people having problems. If we don’t have a blog post about it we’ll just write one because you know it solves a problem. It actually helps our support team. You know if it comes up in a ticket later they can just be like “Hey we have a super in-depth guide about doing this” and our customers love following a step by step thing instead of having to go back and forth with our support team.
Competition is something we definitely look at too and for that, I just recommend looking at who’s ranking for stuff that you want to rank for and compile your own list of your own competitors. I subscribe to a little RSS feed in Slack. I have my own little channel that I see all my competitors and what they’re posting every day. And so I check that each day to see if there’s anything we don’t have yet. It’s kind of a quick, easy way to see what they’re doing without having to browse their site every single day. If you’re in your content enough you should know off the top of your head what to ignore and what to make a note of.
Competition is something we definitely look at too and for that, I just recommend looking at who’s ranking for stuff that you want to rank for and compile your own list of your own competitors. I subscribe to a little RSS feed in Slack. I have my own little channel that I see all my competitors and what they’re posting every day.
And then the other way is to solve your own problems on a daily basis. I have my own side business outside of Kinsta. I am constantly troubleshooting things just like everybody else is with WordPress, trying to fix problems as WordPress continues to grow with Gutenberg and all these other changes.
And so stuff like that I use for new blog post ideas. How did I solve this problem? People love to read tutorials and Google loves tutorials for some reason too — they just seem to rank really high.
Another thing that ranks really well is list posts which I hate. But they work really well, people seem to love them. So I think the people that hate them are a small portion of the audience that maybe don’t share them. But the broad audience loves this post and they do share them. And Google seems to love them. So I do recommend looking at list posts whatever your niche product or competition is.
What’s the thought process to optimizing a post for SEO or for Google. Do you have a checklist in mind to make sure that it’s considered worthy for Google’s ranking?
I would say to anyone just starting out don’t do the broad topics. So like for the first year or two when I came to Kinsta we focused primarily on just WordPress articles until we got to the point where we could expand it to other ideas like outbound marketing. We realized we have lots of small business owners as customers at Kinsta so why not share other things like outbound marketing because those are also potential customers.
I would say to anyone just starting out don’t do the broad topics. So like for the first year or two when I came to Kinsta we focused primarily on just WordPress articles until we got to the point where we could expand it to other ideas like outbound marketing.
The thing is it’s so broad that you’re not going to be targeted as much as writing specifically WordPress. So if you’re just starting out I say you know to write as close as you can to your niche as possible until your traffic is decent until you have a good base for your content then you can start reaching out to maybe broader ideas.
Did you just exclusively write about WordPress hosting or about WordPress more broadly?
It was pretty focused like we were doing how to optimize your images for speed, how to decrease your time to the first byte which are all very WordPress hosting specific things because they’re all performance-related. Or how to manage multiple sites with a WordPress Dashboard tool. Everything kind of related back to someone that we wanted to sign up as a customer on that very day if they would hit that article. I think it worked well for us.
Yoast SEO has a term Pillar post that I kind of like because that’s kind of how I view them too. So even now I view those pages still as our pillar posts and we always go back and make sure those are updated because those are kind of what got us to where we are today.
And then the broader articles are kind of just to reach more people that we wouldn’t have gotten before. Maybe someone doesn’t know what time to the first byte is. So we would never reach a person because that is too technical for them basically but maybe they’re Googling stuff — how to do the marketing for their business — and they stumble across our site. They might say “Hey these guys look like they’re doing really cool stuff with hosting and maybe I don’t like my hosting at the moment.” So maybe they become a customer later down the road.
But as far as the checklist goes I look at it as a very technical approach. So I mean little things just as far as like naming your images appropriately and optimizing your images. I try to keep everything under 100 kilobytes you know every image. It’s kind of just a rule of thumb for me. Just to make sure your post is going to load fast as you don’t want it loading slow or even doing things like lazy loading your images.
But then doing keyword research is really important. I think we still do keyword research for every single post even though we still try to write smartly about it. The term I always use is: write smarter, not harder. So you can still write for the user and do keyword research like you don’t have to just do one or the other.
You don’t want to focus just on the keyword specifically otherwise it’s going to come off as spammy or way too keyword focused. So you know to pick a keyword or topic or even long-tail keywords like synonyms of that keyword and then start writing about the topic.
You don’t want to focus just on the keyword specifically otherwise it’s going to come off as spammy or way too keyword focused. So you know pick a keyword or topic or even long-tail keywords like synonyms of that keyword and then start writing about the topic.
But even things like naming the slug or the permalink of the article, using the keyword for that and keeping it a short permalink, all these little technical things that people might not think are important.
I recommend just Google SEO checklist or something. You’ll find tons of posts on all these little OCD things that all these SEO people are doing that are actually important and that’s one of the reasons why their stuff outranks other people. It’s because they do pay attention to those little things.
The nice thing is if you get used to doing them it’s not really that annoying it becomes just another kind part of your content creation process and you can still focus on the content and then that just becomes part of another one of your steps.
How do you approach keyword research?
We kind of do three things. So the first would be if we come up with a topic idea we first go and see if there is a keyword or keyword variations that could have search volume for this topic. And we use the tool Ahrefs which we love. That’s a tool that never closes in my browser, I have it up daily. It’s expensive, to be honest, especially if you’re solo, but there are other tools. KWFinder is a great cheap one that’s kind of getting popular.
If there’s 20 searches a month for a keyword you know it’s probably not worth it. We do write things once in a while that don’t have any volume. Like maybe if we do a feature update about a new thing you know there’s not going to be a search following because it’s something specific to our business. So we’ll still write about it but if we’re doing broader articles we always try to make sure there’s some volume otherwise you know nobody’s going to see it really. Unless you’re focused primarily on social media marketing but I would never want to put all my eggs in just that one basket.
So looking to see if there’s search volume and then also seeing if it would help your user demographic. So two things: is it something that maybe someone will find helpful and we can convert to a customer later. Or is it something that could actually help your current customers.
I think people forget about current customers sometimes. In the long run, it has saved our support team so much time just by being able to pass them a link saying “Hey we have a huge guide about this. Here it is.” And then they’re like “Oh my God this is amazing.” And so it helps us by saving us time.
Turning traffic into customers - how to increase conversions
I guess one of the dangers with the blog is you get a lot of traffic but you have very few conversions. So how do you approach trying to ensure you maximize the number of conversions you get from the blog?
That is a really good question and I’m glad you asked that because that question is actually getting trickier now. First of all we have the GDPR thing which happened where you now have these Cookie things that you have to accept and the bad thing about that is if you do GDPR the correct way in Europe a lot of the scripts are not supposed to run until they hit “accept.” Some sites just still have the “accept cookie” or not. And it doesn’t actually do anything behind the scenes which is technically actually illegal. Which is scary because I look at millions of sites that are doing it the wrong way still.
But if you want a good example look at Kinsta if you’re in Europe. We built ours ourselves. We didn’t do a plug in and I think we did a really good example of how to do it the right way. But we also spent a lot of time on it too.
So a lot of scripts don’t run. The example is the Facebook Pixel. If you’re tracking conversions from Facebook with an article that maybe you’re promoting on Facebook a lot of people don’t click that accept cookie thing. They just keep reading, clicking through your site and they leave a little bar down there at the bottom and they never click it. If they don’t do that the Facebook Pixel might not actually ever fire. And so if you’re looking at conversions on the Facebook tool like in Facebook Business Manager you might not ever see a conversion on that side from that because of the GDPR thing and they never clicked the accept thing. So because of that, there’s a lot of data not flowing in both ways.
Now you can still use UTM parameters to get it to flow into Google Analytics. So there are ways you can do that still but there’s a lot of data that is now missing because of GDPR. So I love privacy. But I really hated GDPR just as a marketer because a lot of data is just gone all of a sudden and it sucks because it makes my job a lot harder.
The other thing is you have all these browsers that are so hyper-focused on privacy. And again I want this privacy. I’m all for your data is your own data but it makes my job so much harder. You have all these browsers now — Firefox too is doing it, Google Chrome just announced last week that they’re going to launch a super hyper-focused ad blocker. The problem with that is they’re blocking things like Google Analytics by default. So someone hits your site and Google Analytics is not even running. And that’s a problem like the Brave Browser blocks Google Analytics which, I mean, what are you supposed to do as a marketer if you can’t ever see that person come to your site and they convert but you actually don’t know it?
At that point you’re having to almost rely on stripe data or your e-commerce data to see if, for example, we have a lot of people converting from the United Kingdom. But if I look at Google Analytics I only see 40 percent of those people. You have to make decisions based on a tiny fraction of the data. And I’ve talked to a lot of marketers about this problem and some say they don’t see 70 percent of their data nowadays which is crazy like they’re only seeing 30 percent. How are you supposed to make decisions on 30 percent of your data. It’s scary.
So what I’ve done is I take the small portion of data I still do have left. I use UTM parameters on everything I can to make sure everything goes into Google. The landing page section in Google Analytics is probably the best section to see what content is converting because if you have e-commerce setup in Google Analytics it will actually show you the path through all the way from when they first hit your site to if they bounced around eight different times and then converted. You can see on the landing page section if it converted to a customer all the way down the pipeline.
So what I’ve done is I take the small portion of data I still do have left. I use UTM parameters on everything I can to make sure everything goes into Google looks at it’s possible. The landing page section in Google Analytics is probably the best section to see what content is converting because if you take the time to set it up it will actually show you the path through all the way from when they first hit your site to if they bounced around eight different times and then converted.
So that’s actually really helpful to see if a blog post on how to speed up my WordPress site will convert down the pipeline. Again, I don’t see as much data as I like and so I think marketers have to work with their CEOs and their bosses. They look at Google Analytics and they say “Hey why is my traffic down?” And so you have to explain to the CEO that you know why. And it’s tough to say it’s because everyone’s concerned about privacy and so you’re not even seeing all the data anymore.
Thankfully our CEO keeps up with all these changes too and he understands that we’re not seeing all the data that we’re used to. But I think it’s important to communicate that data as well — the changes that are happening in this space. As a marketer, it’s a lot harder nowadays than it was even two years ago.
I imagine there's a lot of people out there who will take Google Analytics at face value and assume that that is the traffic they're receiving. So I think it'll be interesting to know the uncertainty that many blogs out there have.
And another important part is it also depends on what industry you’re in. So obviously people coming to Kinsta, they’re I.T. people, they’re web developers, they’re most likely the people that are running these ad blockers to begin with to block Google Analytics. So our industry is going to be one of the worst possible as far as seeing data. But if you’re targeting real estate people they probably don’t even know what an ad blocker is. So they might still be running Microsoft Internet Explorer or something or default Chrome which don’t have ad blockers. And so you’re going to see a lot more data just by default. I think it depends on what your industry is.
In your experience, if you do identify certain pages of blogs which are converting well, have you seen a pattern for why those ones work as opposed to others?
Yeah. And I can tell you right off that our pillar posts that I mentioned earlier are the ones that are converting the best. And that’s why it’s really important I think to write as much content as you can. Super hyper-focus on your niche first before you branch out because I’ve seen with the broader topics we’ll get random conversions here or there which if you get enough broad topics that’s great because you know here or there adds up to a lot.
But you don’t want just «here or there» when you’re just first starting out. You want five to 10 conversions a month or something from an article like that.
And so yes the same hyper-focus ones are the ones that are going to convert more. If you’re just starting out it’s hard to say because it’s different for each industry or niche. But for ours, I’ve seen a lot that convert well are hyper-focused on performance. So it seems like for us we’re a premium WordPress host and we are super focused on high performance where some of our competitors in the space aren’t. You know we’ve noticed that people come to us because they want faster websites. The content that commercially works for us are those pieces of content that are focused on speed.
I think you find your bread and butter. What’s good about your tool or what’s better. Like for you guys, I think it’s multilingual for the one tool so obviously, you focus on why you do multilingual better than the competition or something. Or maybe like a multilingual SEO would be a better topic rather than you know just broader SEO topics. Find what your audience is and what your bread and butter is and why you’re different.
What's your approach regarding the article itself?
So that’s something we’ve constantly been A/B testing. We have so much content now that I don’t even know how many words I’ve written in the past two and half years like I’m just tired thinking about it. But we’re to the point now where we’re trying to A/B test and improve on the current content because if you have content for like three years then these little A/B tests can do overnight wonders.
On an article we have a call to action in the middle of our article, we have one at the bottom of our article and then we actually have one that our developer just made which is actually kind of cool. We have one that if there are 10 or more comments then we actually have a CTA that appears in between the comments after 10 comments have appeared on the post. So basically it means if you scroll down enough another CTA shows up. But we don’t have it show up if there are no comments.
Thinking of little things you can do like that to add CTAs without spamming them is I think a good approach. And then we also have like a sidebar that scrolls with you. We’ve seen that works really well. It’s kind of annoying. I hate it. My boss hates it. But it works. We’ve tested a static one. We’ve tested like a little tiny one. We’ve tested nothing, leaving just the middle CTA and the scrolling one just works like I hate that it works. But it does.
We use a free tool to test all the stuff. We use Google Optimize which I keep finding a lot of people have never heard about which is funny because it’s actually Google’s own tool and it’s integrated with Google Analytics which makes it super easy to test as you can just hook it up to your Google Analytics goal within one click because it’s already part of Google Analytics.
So definitely look at Google Optimize if you haven’t yet. Basically, you can change anything on a page and just test headlines, test buttons, test anything you want it’s awesome.
How to promote your content on social media
How much did you use social media to promote Kinsta?
It’s still a pivotal part of our marketing approach but it’s definitely not something we rely on. But we live on Twitter. For WordPress space it seems to work really really well. WordPress people just seem to use Twitter over everything else more and then there are WordPress Facebook groups which seem to be popular in the WordPress space too.
I think you kind of have to find where your audience is. So for WordPress, I don’t really see a lot of stuff on Pinterest happening or Instagram. There might be some that have figured out how to drive traffic from that niche. We have really good success with Twitter even just organic Twitter-like just posting stuff. If you work on growing your following for a while and just posting random things about WordPress and stuff like works really well for us. And we get traffic that converts from Twitter and Facebook. And another thing we do is some ads with Facebook and Twitter with our content. Those do seem to work really well.
Our strategy is kind of when we publish a new post, if it’s one that we think is really good we’ll promote it. We don’t do it on the broad content. I can tell you like we just do it on the post that I know that are really super hyper-focused about WordPress because I know those are more likely to convert. So we don’t want to really waste money on promoting broader topics. A little Facebook advertising and Twitter ads have worked really well for us. And then just growing our social following organically and then finding the social networks that work.
I’ve been trying to figure out Pinterest and I’ve failed. I keep posting stuff that I don’t know how it works. But I can tell you one person, Adam Connell, he runs a couple of WordPress blogs. He does stuff on Pinterest and he’s figured it out as far as WordPress goes. And I’ve tried to replicate his results and failed so I wouldn’t say don’t try a social network just because I haven’t had success with it. I think there are people in every single niche. Even on Instagram I know there are people killing it with WordPress niche. So I think it’s hard to figure out what works and what doesn’t work. Even Facebook and Twitter you know it took me a couple of years to figure out like hey this works this. This hasn’t worked. There’s nothing that’s just like you know this works 100 percent of the time you kind of just have to start using it and trial and error.
What approach did you take to Twitter exactly? What did it involve in terms of the content of the tweets?
So if you go on a lot of our blog posts they’ll have like a little Tweet box. So we spend time trying to create these Tweet boxes that have a clever share for the post instead of just sharing the title of the posts. Because to be honest sometimes the title blog posts are not that interesting. Try to come up with a clever way to tie in your content.
Here I’ll give you an example from last nigh.t I shared a tweet and it already has 11 retweets and 14 likes since last night. Which might not be a lot for some people but I mean it’s a good amount for posting it at 2:00 a.m. I said I’d just moved one of my sites to a new shiny dot com home tonight. And then I put an emoji with a sunglasses smiley face. And I actually linked to one of our own guides that we use at Kinsta for moving domains across.
That’s something I was doing on my own time from my own sites and I actually took the time at the same time to go update that article. Things like that like, coming up with clever ways to share your content. Not just hitting the Tweet button and letting it go. You might not ever see anything if you just do the standard approach of just sending it out there and hoping something is going to happen.
I use two hashtags, always have. I feel that works the best. There have been case studies about this. It’s crazy. I don’t know how many hashtags but two is the magic number. If you want to skip the hard part. I would just start with two. And then reaching out to people that you include in your blog posts. The really good people doing stuff on Twitter are doing this and I don’t see a lot of people doing it.
But if you have a list post I’ll take the time after we publish that to go reach out to the developers of maybe the 10 plugins we shared. I go tweet them personally so it’s not public but it’s like they see it on their own feed saying “Hey we just included you on this post would love a share” like smiley face kind of get creative with it. And you know I’ll probably get 3 or 4 shares of that and most likely the developers of those plugins tend to have quite a good following already because they’ve been going for five years and have hundreds of thousands of installs so they have a good social following. And that right there, those five shares out of the 10 instantly generate traffic around that post and people retweeting stuff so it’s something free to do and it takes like literally like five minutes. So I highly recommend reaching out to people you’ve mentioned if you read it in their article in your posts like let them know otherwise they’ll never see it. That’s the thing.
Those five shares out of the 10 instantly generate traffic around that post and people retweeting stuff so it’s something free to do and it takes like literally like five minutes. So I highly recommend reaching out to people you’ve mentioned if you read it in their article in your posts like let them know otherwise they’ll never see it.
The last thing about Twitter is I’ve signed up people by creating conversations. People always use Twitter as a way to generate conversations and things with people but it’s really true. I’ve started conversations with people, I’ve signed up enterprise clients at Kinsta so they’re paying us thousands of dollars all from Twitter messages going back and forth and they literally sign up after we’ve DM’d on Twitter and I can see it go from my DM to sign up five minutes later and it’s crazy.
And I’ve even met with amazing people in the WordPress ecosystem that we’ve just connected on Twitter with DMs and they come down to Scottsdale for like a WordCamp or something and they tweet me and we hook up for coffee and it all happened from Twitter. Kind of an organic thing from tweets to DMs to getting to know each other a little bit and then ending up meeting each other in person. And then after that what you hope is they become a customer of yours and I’ve seen that happen as well.
I’ve even met with amazing people in the WordPress ecosystem that we’ve just connected on Twitter with DMs and they come down to Scottsdale for like a WordCamp or something and they tweet me and we hook up for coffee and it all happened from Twitter.
A lot of times I’ll start using their product vice versa too because once you start conversing with people it gives you a little more motivation to go check out what they’re doing. Those are the kind of the different ways I use Twitter. It has worked wonders for us.
The importance of using paid ads
We've spoken about what works for you. In the last few years are there any strategies you tried which didn't work which you think others who are starting out should avoid?
Twitter ads used to work a lot better for me. I used to kind of boost our new post on Twitter like I do on Facebook now but the Twitter ads aren’t working as well.
But what now works well I feel is Twitter remarketing and if anyone’s not familiar with remarketing it’s basically targeting people with ads that have already visited your site. You can Google «Remarketing» and find a tutorial about it.
So we’ll have clever things that show our tweets to people that have already hit our site once. That seems to work better for us nowadays on Twitter or ads rather than like lead generation ads or something. So that’s one thing I would say does not work for me anymore. I’m sure there’s still people out there that have figured out how to make it work but it’s something I have not.
What's it been your experience with Google as well. Do you use that?
We use AdWords now. We didn’t use to because AdWords is just expensive. And so when we first started out we didn’t do any AdWords marketing. I would say we didn’t start AdWords till probably about a year ago, so we weren’t doing AdWords for probably the first two and a half years or so that I was at Kinsta at all.
Relying primarily on content marketing, social media marketing and some Facebook social media ads we didn’t do AdWords at all. Now that we’ve grown as we have obviously we have a little more money for a marketing budget than we did when we first started. And so we’ve now started doing some AdWords partially too because we’re trying to compete with all these bigger guys in our space too. And AdWords works hands down, it’s the best one out of any ad or network. Hands down. It beats Facebook it beats Twitter.
The bad thing is it’s expensive. The good thing is you can start with a small budget and just test it for yourself to see so you don’t blow through a grand overnight or something which is very possible in some spaces. Set a small budget. See if you can figure out how to get the cost per click down and get it working because the thing with AdWords is people go searching for the product to sign up for at that very moment. So for us, people are going to search for “What is the best WordPress host” or they go just search for “WordPress hosting providers” or “Premium WordPress hosts.” They want to sign up for a host right at that time when they go to Google. And so if they click on our ad they’re already past all the “Hey this is a cool article, Hey I don’t know these people.” They already want this product. And so they’re already going to be past all those beginning phases and be at the part where maybe they’re gonna bookmark our site at that moment. They’re going to go check out for other competitors and make their decision. And sign up. You know their thought process is already very close to the purchasing decision at that point. And that’s why AdWords works so so well.
The bad thing is it’s expensive even for us. Like I’ve worked really hard on getting our cost per click down and cost for acquisition and it’s still compared to our other platforms so expensive. But you know SEO is not really free because you’ve still got to put your time in and you’ve still got to pay for it if you’re paying writers and stuff. But in a sense, you know SEO is way cheaper than AdWords. Definitely, I recommend AdWords if you can afford it or do AdWords once you can afford it. Like maybe you can’t at the beginning but do it later down the road. Don’t forget to try it.
How a multilingual website boosted Kinsta’s traffic and reduced ads costs
Have you promoted Kinsta using AdWords in different languages as well?
We just started doing AdWords a year ago and it takes time because I have so many other things going on that it takes me time to test all these things nowadays. And so we just launched a French AdWords campaign like a couple weeks ago. I can’t tell you if that works or not. The thing is I can tell you from looking at the data that the cost per click is way lower and because primarily we’re targeting the United States just because that’s where a majority of our users and customers are.
The thing is I actually think the bread and butter is in the other countries because the cost per click and the competition are way lower for AdWords. I think our costs will be a lot cheaper in these other markets just because of that. So I’m actually excited to go launch AdWords campaigns for all these other languages because we do have our site in 12 different languages and we have support you know for our customers in Spanish, in French, in German and we’re launching more support languages too. So like it’s definitely an integral part of our process.
The bad thing is and the challenge I found there is AdWords has specific character limits. For every line like the header, the context line. Everything. The problem is I went to launch I was like “Okay I’m gonna launch a French campaign this weekend I’m just going to bang out really quick.” And I learned that all the other languages are written way longer than English. And so a French guy gave me the translation and I was like crap, this is not going to work because everything’s way too long. So I had to go back to our French guy and be like “Hey, we need to figure out how to trim down.”
So we had to figure out how to strip the French wording down to be a lot shorter but not ruin all the messaging that I had done basically for the last six months. And he worked with me and we kind of figured out how to strip it down but that’s one piece of advice. If you do AdWords in different languages be prepared that you can’t just copy your English stuff to other languages because the other languages are just written with 10 more words or something for the exact same thing.
You mentioned how the website itself is in twelve different languages. How long ago did you translate the website? And how is it affecting your traffic and your conversions?
So we launched the Spanish site first and that was in 2017 and then we slowly started launching sites after that one by one. So it’s been a gradual process and we’re actually just about to make the announcement pretty soon here about all twelve languages. They’re actually already done but we just haven’t announced it yet. So we just finished the 12th and I don’t think we’re going to do any more at this point. We’re just going to focus on these 12.
But it has been a huge process more work than we ever thought possible going into that. We took the approach of hiring people in-house. So our Spanish team is in-house. We now work with an in-house French guy. We have an in-house Italian guy. So these guys are actually part of the Kinsta team full time. They not only do translating but they also go to WordCamps in France. They go to WordCamps in Italy. So they’re doing more than just translating for us now they’re really helping us fine-tune the communities for those languages because it’s something I can’t do.
We kind of outsource it until we can kind of get someone to come on full time. It has skyrocketed our traffic. And it’s because we spend all the hard time doing the research upfront on the English side. And so it does a lot of times replicate itself if we take the time to translate it for the other sites.
So the one thing I would say is focus on the quality of the English side. Before you replicate it down the pipe. That’s why it’s so important. Think of it as a funnel-like the best stuff should be on top. You know it gets replicated down the pipe. It’s 10 times our traffic basically.
So the one thing I would say is focus on the quality of the English side. Before you replicate it down the pipe. That’s why it’s so important. Think of it as a funnel like the best stuff should be on top. You know it gets replicated down the pipe. It’s 10 times our traffic basically.
I think it’s only going to get more as we keep diving into these different regions so it takes a lot of time and I know a lot of companies or people can’t do it. My advice to people is to use a plugin.
So you have 12 languages. How did you identify those 12?
Spanish was a mistake. Because we thought it would be the biggest one. Just because everybody speaks Spanish after English as the second biggest language. But that was actually not correct for us. So we found our audience was better in the German, French, and Nordic region.
And so we found that those markets are actually doing a lot better than our Spanish market. Even though Spanish does well, if we had to redo it we would have launched German like probably first and then probably French second and then Italian. We probably would have launched Spanish in the middle somewhere because we saw growth on the sites even SEO and on the other sites just skyrocket and Spanish has just been kind of slowly growing.
I would say do more research than we did. Do research where your current customers are too. If we would add on that alone like we would have been better off. And then you know look at search volume for different popular terms in those regions too. So current customers, search volume. If you put those two together that’s probably a good starting point.
I would say do more research than we did. Do research where your current customers are too. If we would add on that alone like we would have been better off. And then you know look at search volume for different popular terms in those regions too.
How to get to 20,000+ newsletter subscribers
How did you manage to grow your newsletter to have twenty thousand plus subscribers?
Obviously, if you keep growing your content and your traffic you’re going to get more subscribers so that’s one way. I mean focus on trying to improve your SEO, improving your content, growing your traffic because the subscription rates will just keep slowly going up if you do that.
But we’ve played with a different kind of A/B testing. We just changed one thing that actually hurt us. And I’m actually going to go change it back! We were using Elegant Themes Bloom plugin, a newsletter subscription plugin and we had it so when you would scroll 50 percent of the way down an article it would pop up from the bottom right and say “Hey do you want to join the twenty other thousand marketers that are getting our blog posts.” And so we have a little subscription box. So that’s something that’s worked really well for us. So why it worked is because I think people at that point they’re interested in the content. And so they’re like “Hey this is good.” And they’re reading it so they possibly want to hear more from you basically.
I just recently did some A/B testing and took that off. The problem is we have a sidebar CTA now that works really well and we can’t do both because it’s too spammy so I have to figure out a happy medium somehow. That’s the tricky part. I don’t know what I’m going to do yet. That’s the tricky part of marketing.
But the other thing that works really well for us that we just started is an e-book. I wrote a book on how to speed up your WordPress site, like 40000 words, crazy huge. We turned it into an e-book on our newsletter page. You can sign up for free to get the e-book and then you’re on our newsletter. The great thing is they’re on our newsletter, they’re reading our e-book which has a bunch of mentions of Kinsta in it and obviously because we provide a lot of ways to speed up your WordPress site. So you know there’s possible ways they can convert from a newsletter, they can convert from our e-book.
The thing I’m just now testing is actually launching a Facebook ad and doing it against our e-book landing page. So if you go to the footer of our website we have our newsletter landing page and we’re now doing a Facebook ad sending people directly to the newsletter landing page to get the free e-book. We want to see how many people sign up just to get the e-book. I don’t know yet how many people will just unsubscribe when they get that first newsletter. You know then if they’re reading your content and that they want more of it but that’s something I’m just now testing. I know it works because you see thousands of people out there doing the same thing.
So once you have these subscribers, what's your approach to emailing them? As in how often do you do it and how carefully do you think about the content of each of the emails you send out?
So I still do the newsletter myself and we do it every Thursday at 9 a.m. That seems to work really good for us. We’ve tested different times. The bulk of our audience is in the US. Like we want them to get it at 9:00 a.m. on a Thursday morning. And so that’s something you just have to test for yourself where if you’re in Europe you know it’s obviously you’re going to be different times.
The way to do that is we used MailChimp. But you can test different times and do it for a month and watch the open rates and click-through rates and then see like “Oh wow the open rate was 10 percent more when I was doing Thursday 9 a.m. than when I did Friday at 9 a.m.” You can see like “Hey that works better than the other one.”
We pick three content pieces a week that we share with people. They’ll always try to be the highest quality articles. We also share our knowledge-based articles. We have sometimes more content to pick from because we’re pushing out blog posts and some knowledge-based posts because we don’t share just for new users, we’re also sharing a newsletter for our current users.
We have a CTA at the bottom to kind of like “Hey if you want to migrate to Kinsta you can do it for free.” So that’s in case there are new people that aren’t customers yet that are reading it there’s still a place that can convert.
And then something we’re just now testing is we’re trying to fine-tune this process and with MailChimp you can do segmented groups and we’re going to actually hide the CTA to migrate to Kinsta for the people that are already customers. So then we’re going to show them something else like the plugin of the week or something to those people. And then for non Kinsta customers, we’ll show them the CTA still. There’s a lot of things you can do if you start wanting to fine-tune these processes.
And that’s kind of the point where we’re at. Just because we’ve been grinding for so long that now we’re trying to go back and see how can we optimize our current stuff to be even better for our users and convert even higher.