Teach Starter is a content-driven business.
We create content for teachers to use in classrooms, in the form of teaching resources.
We also create content for teachers to consume and use as ideas and inspiration in their classroom. This is where our blog comes in.
Our blog forms a crucial part of our marketing system. It is where the majority of potential customers first come into contact with our brand. They read something that provides value, then click on a link or two and begin to find out more about us. If they hang around long enough, they either sign up for a free account or subscribe to our newsletter. At this point, we know they’re interested in the solution we can provide.
Being a crucial component, we set out to increase our blog’s readership dramatically.
This blog describes some of the elements that helped us to double our monthly blog views to 300 000 in a one month.
1. We set a goal
It sounds obvious to write down your goal first, however it’s often overlooked. Our content team committed to achieving 200 000 blog views in a month. This ended up being on the conservative side when we hit 300 000!
2. We built a simple feedback loop to track progress toward our goal
This involved tracking Google Analytics traffic to an article one week after it was published. We sent this data to Slack (using Zapier)to keep the team focused on the content that worked and didn’t work.
A week of stats worked well, as an article is typically shared on Facebook within a day or two of being published, meaning that 7 days gave us enough time to gauge the popularity of the article.
3. We made tracking our overall progress easy and visual
All of the data we collect is piped into an Amazon Redshift database. This allows us to quickly and easily visualise a wide range of data using business intelligence tools. Our BI tool of choice is Chartio.
Our content team have access to a dashboard that gives them an overview of how they are tracking and progressing towards the goal.
4. We focused on providing exceptional value to our readers (asking for nothing in return)
I sound like a broken record with this one; we consistently provide exceptional value to our readers and ask for nothing in return.
We invest a tremendous amount of time and money to create the content we do. This often makes investing in content a tricky one for businesses to dive into. It can see like a sizeable investment, without a guaranteed return.
This is precisely why there’s a huge opportunity — not many businesses are creating great content! In our new office, we are creating a purpose-built studio to further increase the quality of our content and our production output.
Our blogs, videos and photos are free to view. We often include free resources in our articles to provide even more value. We don’t focus on ‘selling’.
And the consequence? More sales!
5. We placed equal emphasis on high quality writing, videos, photos and design
To create a single piece of content typically involves the following people:
- Content Producer — to write the article and guide the creation of supporting assets.
- Resource Producer — to create any teaching resources that support the article.
- Videographer — to take photos and create a short and shareable video that captures the value of the subject of the article.
- Designer — to design any resources or graphic elements (like banners, social squares or infographics) to bring visual flair to the article.
- Digital Marketer — to craft the copy and decide when and how (Facebook, Instagram, Instagram Stories, Pinterest, Youtube) to share the article on our social channels for maximum exposure.
All of these people are specialists who combine to create and market a single piece of high quality, valuable content. We don’t slap content together (despite the occasional last minute article!) — we rely on a systematic process that ensures success.
Our digital marketer, Holly, summed up this attention to detail well: “The main image that was shared on Facebook was another huge consideration. Facebook is such a visual outlet that you must have that perfect image that catches your reader’s attention to stop scrolling and click!”
6. We used a combination of social, email, direct, SEO and paid traffic to drive readers
SEO is a slow burn. It’s like a gigantic flywheel that slowly but steadily increases momentum over time. It seems insurmountable to get an article to the coveted number one spot in Google, however with consistent effort and applied strategies, it’s possible.
A long tail helps too. It’s not just about those four or five top Google listings in highly competitive keywords, it’s the hundreds of articles sitting at number one in less competitive keywords. This builds up over time.
Although SEO accounts for 60% of our blog traffic, because of its incremental nature, we needed to drive traffic from other sources.
Social media sources — with Facebook leading the way — provide the next biggest driver of traffic. The right headline, with the right comment and the right image sent at the right time gave our content the best chance of success. As Holly noted, “I tried to focus on blog articles that were simple and easy for teachers to achieve. Relevant, timely content that teachers couldn’t help but click on!”
Facebook and Instagram both utilise algorithm-based news feeds, so the more relevant content you can put out, the better. We made a concerted effort to double our number of daily posts and our engagement and reach literally doubled. Don’t be afraid of spamming — Facebook won’t let that happen.
We also decided to use blog articles as our primary content for paid ads via Facebook and Instagram. In line with our ethos of promoting content that provides value, our blog articles aren’t like ‘traditional ads’. They’re valuable content that our audience wants to click on. By ‘boosting’ these posts, we’re simply making valuable content easier, for those who are interested, to find.
Email also helped to provide a boost each month. We rely on two ways of highlighting new blog content via email:
- a monthly newsletter that highlights the most popular articles.
- a weekly notification email that highlights articles you might have missed.
These emails are a great way to directly reach out and re-engage inactive or ‘slipping’ members.
We have found direct traffic has simply increased as more members join. They’re aware of our brand and actively type ‘teachstarter.com’ in their browser.
7. We highlighted trending articles
We added a section at the top of our home feed highlighting the article that teachers are reading. This trending article is selected based on the member’s geographic location, to ensure that it is timely and relevant.
We also added trending recommendations at the end of our blog posts to ensure that readers continued to click on to the next article.
8. We redesigned our newsletter
We gave our newsletter a fresh coat of paint! It was looking dark and dated, so we updated it inline with our new branding. This minimal new look placed our vibrant content at its core.
Once again, we ensured that design and photography was high quality. We only used photos, instead of digital screenshots of our resources, to give an aspirational Instagram-style vibe.
While the new design only led to a single digit increase in open rate, it increased the click-through rate by over 25%.