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How Creative Market Grew Organic Traffic 10x

The team at interviewed me for a case study recently on how content marketing has been a big part of Creative Market‘s growth story this year. Below is the transcript from the interview.

Scripted: How did content become a role in your marketing strategy?

Zack: My background is in social network product growth and designing viral user flows. When I came onboard with Creative Market, I knew that the marketplace growth strategy was going to be much different. You’re not naturally going to invite your friends to connect with you on an ecommerce site. I knew from my experience as a designer that when I needed a new font, WordPress theme or other design asset, I would most often hit up Google as my first step. SEO was going to be a big factor in Creative Market’s growth story. With inbound links being the key driver of search result ranking, I knew that content marketing was going to drive most of those inbound links and increase our organic search traffic.

After working with the team to optimize the site to become as easily crawlable as possible by the Google-bots, I hired a writer to head up our content efforts. We invested in beefing up our company blog and increasing the amount of content we published and we optimized the type of content based on what drove the most traffic. We upped the amount of attention and focus on our social channels. We partnered with other bloggers in the design space, mentioned each other’s content and often wrote guest posts. Over the past year, we’ve grown our organic search and content channels to account for more than half our traffic.

Scripted: How did you first come across the idea of outsourcing content?

Zack: I had coffee with Ryan (Scripted’s CEO) after a tech meet-up, and we started chatting about how Creative Market was tackling writing content. We were doing it in a pretty inefficient way. Our content marketing manager, Maryam was spending most of her work week writing. After speaking with Ryan and learning more about Scripted, we evolved Maryam’s role into more of an editor role and we built a team of top writers from Scripted to take on a chunk of the writing work. That opened up a lot of time and allowed Maryam to work on other areas of our content strategy, like social.

Scripted: How do you measure your content success?

Zack: Traffic. Since focusing on our content strategy we’ve grown traffic to our blog over 10x, within the past 12 months.

Scripted: What exactly have you done to generate that growth?

Zack: We’ve done a lot of different things, but at the end of the day we aim to post high quality content. We’re looking at the data and looking at what types of posts get a lot of traffic. We look at how can we write more content in the same vein as the super successful posts. We’re looking closely at things like page title, content and the structure of the post. We’re continuing to post a lot of really cool content that our community – being a design community – really gravitates to. Those posts get shared and our traffic continues to grow.

Creative Market's Growth Team: Maryam Taheri and Zack Onisko

^ Creative Market’s Growth Team: Maryam Taheri and Zack Onisko

Scripted: What type of content have you found to have the best ROI? What have you found to have the most success?

Zack: It’s a mix. We make sure that we post a diverse array of content subject matter. Some posts aim to reach beginners, others are for the seasoned professional. Some posts cover general subjects, while others are very niche. We published over 300 blog posts last year and we saw the most page views and revenue came from posts that listed top products. Posts like “12 Creative Examples of Flat Web Design” and “10 Best WordPress Themes for 2013” have done very well for us.

Scripted: What are your thoughts on our dashboard and the quality of content that you are getting out of Scripted?

Zack: It’s been a great experience. Initially we had a little bit of a learning curve ­– getting used to the process – and now it’s almost automated. We work with some really great writers who know the design world. They do really good work.

Scripted: What challenges do you still have today in content creation, and how are you trying to solve them?

Zack: I think the challenge is coming up with fresh, new, interesting content. I think at the volume that we’re producing content we’ve caught ourselves rehashing old ideas. If we’re not writing great content, it’s not going to get read and it’s not going to be shared. We have some nice momentum going now and I just want to make sure that we don’t lose the wind in our sails, because it takes a really long time to build up that momentum.

Scripted: What advice would you give to content marketers that are starting out with a blog or creating original content?

Zack: There’s no silver bullet that’s going to start driving traffic to your blog right away. Start out by building relationships with other bloggers and writers in your space. Ask them to mention your site or content on their blog. See what you can do to write on their blog or ask them to write on your blog. Work to optimize your sharing UI on your blog. Test multiple variations until you find something that works for your audience. Test only a few share channels versus many options. For instance, if most of your shares are going to Pinterest and only a few are going to LinkedIn, kill the LinkedIn option and make the Pinterest button more prominent. Finally, optimize the content in the body of your post so that when people read the headline and view the shared image in their feed, they are compelled to re-share it. Over time, if you are carefully monitoring your experiments and optimizing, you’ll see the results of your hard work and your traffic will compound and grow.