Elad Levy, VP Product and Marketing at Fixel joins Hammad Akbar in this episode of Launch Legends Podcast
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Hey Elad, thank you very much for coming on the show. So, I know you guys sold your Fixel company last month. So congratulations. I know you guys have hundreds of thousands of customers. You were doing very good revenue and you were doing hundreds of millions of sessions every month.
So big deal. I know you've been in marketing for a very long time, and you've got some hacks of your sleeves. We were talking about how you used your hacks to, you know, for your startup to get traction. One of those being SEO, where as a startup, I know myself, we don't have enough budget, so it takes a while for anything to go right.
Well, you did something differently. Let’s talk about that first, and then I want to talk about other hacks you've got with Fixel.
Sure thing. So it's a pleasure to be here. First of all, myself, I'm coming from an SEO background. So, I knew that was one of the first things I'd want to be tackling when I'm starting to promote my startup.
And the thing about SEO is it takes a lot of time, it takes a lot of effort. And as you said, a lot of budget as well, and we figured we can really rank for the keywords we want, where we're up against giants. We were up against Credio, Adroll, all these different platforms that were playing the remarketing keywords.
And we couldn't really stack up against them, but what we could do is really build, you know, build the infrastructure and build whatever is relevant on our website. Have these keywords in place, have the technical code kind of optimization done, but on the other hand for the actual ranking, we decided to go for what I call a piggyback in SEO technique.
So, what we did is identify these key places where we'd want to be ranking. So, for example, take remarketing tools. Now remarketing tools usually is a very high intent keyword.
That's people searching for a remarketing tool that they can use. And it's something we'd want to rank high for, but most probably couldn't.
And when we've looked this up, we've seen that there's plenty of other tools that don't really relate necessarily to that and are ranking in the first pages and are talking about some other tools.
So you'd find their Raven tools, which is an SEO tool, you'd find their HubSpot, which is a CRM and marketing automation.
You'd find all these different other solutions and most of the content for these specific pages or blog posts was outdated. And being the good Samaritan that we are, we offer it.
And we reached out to these people, offering to operate this content. Value for them is very clear, a more up-to-date page, but gets better rankings and traffic.
So they're benefiting from that in any case. And we're benefiting because we're scratching out, you know, irrelevant competitors. We're putting our name in front of people and we're being equal to Credio, Adroll and all these other giants. And we're able to land quite a few results on the first pages, drive some fantastic traffic directly to our website.
Drive our organic rankings up because we were suddenly linked within the right context from fantastic websites.
And I think the most interesting part of it was we started seeing these articles being written about us and lifting us as top remarketing tools because whoever was doing the research was too lazy and it was looking at the first page and it was seeing us listed across, you know, with other tools.
So again, these organic new articles came in listing Fixel as one of these top solutions, just like that.
So, let me break it down. So basically what you did was you reached out to people based on content and you just offered to rewrite the content for them or update the content for them, because the content was outdated and then once you published the new content, you gave them new content.
That had Fixel as one of the tools or something related to Fixel in the content. That way you were able to get a backlink from the page that was ranking for a particular keyword on top, and then obviously some exposure of your brand as well. Is that right?
Exactly. So, we earned the exposure.
We earned a back link. We earned actual referral traffic. Strong referral traffic with high intent, I was driving back to our website. And again, this spun some sort of flywheel because other people researching remarketing tools to write about marketing tools listed Fixel in it as well.
Right. And so I'm actually going to go into specifics but before let's talk about the numbers. How many backlinks were you able to get and what kind of traffic were you able to generate over the time?
Directly, we're talking about a few dozens. And again this is manual labor. You have to research the specific keywords we want to be ranking for.
We had to do plenty of outreach to be able to rank each and every content piece and then write it, you know, to be good enough to actually replace the original.
Yeah. Right. So how long was the whole campaign? The outreach campaign.
So, it's an ongoing campaign. We did this in several bursts each time. It would take, I believe two to three months.
And, but overall it brought us some fantastic rewards.
Here's what I'm thinking. If someone emails me and tells me that, okay, your content is a bit outdated, let me fix it for you.
I would only trust that person if they have some credibility. You know, if I know them, if they have a brand, which I trust, how did you get people to actually believe in what you were telling them.
Because that I would be thinking, okay, they're just doing that because they want a backlink from that Page. How did you convince them? I would like to know about it.
So that's actually a key challenge. I had that conversation earlier today with a friend of mine who is facing that same challenge, right?
And myself, I get plenty of emails from different agencies or, you know, independent consultants that are urging me to share their blog posts or cross-post or whatnot. I really try to approach in a way that is a very, you know, candid. Not trying to hide anything.
But I do try to use, you know, the mutual benefit here and say, Hey, this is outdated. You can reach a better ranking if your content was updated. And this and this, usually I'd actually mentioned the tools that are, you know, obsolete there.
Really point out to specific problems within their articles and in some cases actually share a link to a Brian Dean's article about launching old content and what impacted drove for their website.
And this way they can actually realize the actual benefit of traffic that they can drive from it.
And again, it's a win-win ultimately.
So, what's your conversion rate on that page? If you post a hundred people, how many of, how many deals did you sign? How many agreements did you have?
So I must say that we were somewhere around the 60, 70%, you know, response rate, ultimately being able to engage to the extent of writing these pieces and getting these out there. We were somewhere 20, 30%.
Wow. That's really high. That's really high. So what SEO hacks work for your startup?
So in terms of SEO, one of the things that we do, like kind of do on our website and this, I believe ties back into stuff that you're doing is plenty of repurposing.
So, for example, we have webinars and we do these kinds of activities quite a bit. And every time we have these activities, it goes out as the webinar.
Of course, but then we take it anywhere else. So that's any webinars repurpose into a blog post. It also goes into these kinds of dissected pieces that go out on our social media.
And all of this spins again, that kind of fly rule that drives this organic engagement. So it's really very very important and that's what we're optimizing over time.
So, we had a webinar that was focused, for example, not even a webinar but an onsite event, that was focused on e-commerce, e-commerce marketing in that.
So we had speakers talk about Google ads, scripts. We had another one talk about the enhanced e-commerce for analytics and all these different, very specific topics. Then we've spun this off into a series of blog posts.
And after we've gotten these blog posts out and we've seen that they're reaching rankings, we've also identified specific keywords that they were organically ranking for us.
So we optimize them to gain or to boost them on top of these existing keywords, or even more targeted for them. Right.
So, even though we didn't, you know, provide that direction for the speakers in advance, we're able to use that in hindsight to really kind of micro target specific keywords.
Great, great, great. So before we move on to your Twitter hacks, I'm actually into learning about those. And they're quite good. I mean, I've been thinking for a while, how come not many people actually do multilingual. I've done some for one of the products. I realize that it's wide open.
There's literally no competition. So when you are doing this, you know, content marketing in English speaking markets, a little bit of competition, but if you go any other language, for example, Portuguese, Brazil, there's no competition.
Then the volume is huge. I know you talk about the language barrier thing where you can't provide support, but if you can somehow combat it feels like it's a relatively loose number.
What’s your experience? Why is everyone not even multilingual yet.
So I do think that as marketers, we too often, you know, limit ourselves to English speaking countries, and we have tested that around specifically, even Portuguese, we were doing campaigns for Brazil. Just pre COVID, I was supposed to fly out to Brazil in March.
And then luckily enough, that didn't happen. I'm not against Brazil. It's one of my favorite places, but at the same time, there was a huge, you know, outburst of COVID in Sao Paulo at that time. So I wouldn't want to be there. But, we were seeing fantastic results working with translated content for our audiences.
And it's not a huge leap to make, in my opinion, about being able to really start the engagement with them. And from that point onwards, usually if your platform is simple enough, they can even, you know, work in English.
So we've made the translation to a Portuguese, to French, and started playing around with these other languages. But, before we even go into translation, there are certain countries that you can approach in English.
Maybe that it's far easier than you'd expect. If you're talking to Sweden or Danes or even the Germans, their English is for the most, fantastic. And it's hard to say something you know, about the entire German population.
But generally speaking, they can engage easily in English speaking products, without any issues. So, really you need to think beyond the standard English speaking countries, to drive more audiences rather easily.
Yeah. I mean, I'm laughing right now because there's a story I keep telling people. So a couple years ago we had a product and we were investing a lot of money into SEO and content marketing and PPC and everything in the English speaking markets.
And I would say at that time, 90% of our sales were coming from only English speaking markets.
And then just nothing. We just started translating this site and we didn't really think much of it. We just started translating and we kept growing. And, we were growing at a pace where we were just hiring people and we just didn't really care about what was working because everything worked at that time.
And at the same time, we just kept investing in English speaking markets, SEO, and content marketing efforts. About 12 months later, we finally dug in and looked at the data properly and we realized that at that particular time, 25% of our sales were coming from English speaking markets. And 75% of the rest from non-English speaking countries.
For example, Brazil, even places like Korea, Germany, wherever we translated, the site just started to rank overnight. And it was just bringing us loads of traffic and sales but the funny thing is we were still spending most of our budget, almost all our budget on English speaking markets, but it's crazy.
It's been a mystery. Not many people do multilingual content marketing. And I would say online marketers for me, one of the smartest people that I've met, but for some reason they can't think beyond English, they don't go multilingual.
Yeah. I think, you know, you're not always conscious or aware of the data that's coming in and really looking into it.
And there's plenty of anomalies that, you know, where you run into along the way. A recent anomaly, by the way, just a few weeks ago, we were seeing a huge surge in traffic coming in from South Africa, fantastic traffic.
People are converting like crazy and signing up for our product. But none are converting to paid users.
So, we're looking and then started to research into that, and then we've finally realized looking at search console data, that these people were searching for a brand of sneakers, called Fixel that was popular at the time in South Africa.
They were running some TV ads or something. And we were ranking first for Fixel and they had brand colors black and yellow like we did.
And people aren't even reading our messaging. You know, you're invested so much in your messaging, what people read about your product and then, you know, positioning and what not.
But, they were, give me the sneakers. Come on. I'm signing up. Okay. Whatever, give me sneakers.
Yeah. Yeah. You're right. Yeah.
You're right. That's funny. That's pretty funny. Actually. Let's move on to your Twitter Hacks. What did you do there?
So coming into Fixel, I really like there was more to do about our marketing beyond, you know, the standard performance marketing tactics.
And, we did want to expand into things that are more, I'd say, promoting our brand, be that our personal brand as a co-founders and kind of positioning ourselves of the, I'd say experts within our fields analytics, the big data, PPC and the brand of Fixel itself.
We wanted to make it something that people are aware of and again, with limited to no budget at the time. One of the key communities we were able to identify is a community of PPC experts. That's located on Twitter and they have their own hashtag and PPC chat that they're tweeting regularly.
And they have all these different conversations that are happening there. It's very active specifically in Northern America, right. So we wanted to tap into that.
And one thing that we came across, we were looking to expand our tool into LinkedIn and to be able to integrate Fixel into it, and we had to create some hack that would operate the LinkedIn Fixel in a different way.
That hacks specifically opened up a new world of targeting for the LinkedIn Fixel that we could offer to anyone freely. So we figured we would use that as kind of a way to approach these PPC experts.
So we looked up who the top involved people were on that thread of PPC chat and people that specifically were into LinkedIn ads.
And we started sending out these tweets with the meme of Morpheus. What if I told you that LinkedIn ads targeting could be better? Okay. And really it's kind of a playful engagement. We're able to talk to these people and reach probably the most influential LinkedIn ads experts in the us.
And expose them to Fixel. So expose them to our solution, to the LinkedIn ads problem. And from that kind of, you know, get the conversation rolling and get Fixel on the map and also create some content around that and that was distributed and again, backlinks, traffic and all that at zero cost without really spending a dime.
Great, let me ask you this. How did you first, how were you able to identify those people at scale? I suppose you could do that and then chat with them nowadays.
I'm using tools such as SparkToro to do so. And you're really able to zero in on very micro kinds of audiences there at the time. We're using tools such as the Commun.it, which was able to expose these again, different, micro-influencer communities and who is talking about a specific topic.
And now this thing was simply researching on Google. One of our key resources for that was looking at PPC hero's top 50 influential PPC experts, extracting that group, seeing who they're interacting with and kind of building that map of the people we want to be talking to.
Great. You just mentioned SparkToro.
So I had Rand Fishkin talking to me a couple of months ago. He came on the show. A great guy. How is the product? I have not used it.
So it's a very neat product. I've also been lucky to interview him early on. We had a small podcast at the beginning of the COVID I think everyone has. So he's an amazing guy.
And as an SEO, you know, I grew on his guide to SEO so yeah, I owe him quite a bit.
Great. Great. Great. So let's talk about other hacks that worked really well for you. The Twitter bot one.
So Twitter bots is a very interesting one. Once we realized how much power there is in Twitter SEO, in the Twitter PPC community, we figured we want to be more involved in it, but at the same time, we couldn't sit around, you know, all day on Twitter.
We weren't really that kind of Twitter buffs. So, we wanted to automate this to some extent and then I came across a research tool by a friend of mine.
And he said that whenever he wants to identify what people are talking about, and then kind of identify the tone of voice about things, he goes into Twitter and has these different kinds of search operators that he can use, similar to the ones you would use in Google search.
So I figured out, we can take these search operators and try and use them for a different use. So I plugged in a remarketing and retargeting, which are the key topics we'd want to be tapping into.
I also put in the question mark, just to see if anyone's asking actively a question about that and excluded anything that had a link in it. So, it wouldn't be anyone who's, you know, promoting content about remarketing, but rather asking questions about remarketing. I've used a tool called Integral Maps to go into Twitter. The Zapier killer.
And so once a day, it goes into Twitter polls and sees whatever posts have been posted about those keywords and returns us a list of all these people.
We also pulled it with a number of followers. So we can then, you know, try and prioritize who we're going to be answering. The answers themselves were manually written.
We came in to each and every tweet and posted, you know, an answer about that and that didn't necessarily, you know, reference Fixel.
Cause it wasn't always the case that wasn't the answer to every question and I think it would be abusive to do so. And that drove that organic, authentic conversation, which again, semi-manual semi automated, but was able to drive that at scale.
Right. So how many of those questions on marketing and remarketing were you getting every day and how many answers were you given?
Usually we'd see a handful come in every day. And then we'd select, I believe one or two and have that going.
Yeah. Right, right, right. I mean, it would be great if you could do that in Facebook groups or maybe LinkedIn as well. I think that would be gold.
So definitely yes, Facebook groups and we've checked, they are more restrictive on the way that you can’t automate these kinds of scans.
So you have to be on top of it. I am a firm believer that you have to be in Facebook groups to engage with your audiences. We're looking at PPC experts in the ecom field. There's plenty of groups out there and it's one of the key places we need to be active.
Yeah. Okay, great. So one last question.
You know, the pain of the startups getting traction and getting eye balls over your product is probably one of the hardest things. You've given us three or four different things we can work on.
But if someone fits into this, what's the one thing they should focus on in terms of, you know, driving traffic and eye balls to that product.
I think the key thing would be less is more. So whether you are working, you know, on the content for your blog or you're working on your social media, whatever it is that you're doing less is more, try to be focused, try to drive long form content that is bringing true, true value.
There are plenty of startups I've been involved with, or even larger companies that have been blogging, like crazy and writing things, content or kind of marketing stuff that is irrelevant to anyone, and that isn't really going to get you anywhere.
So if you are writing something double down, see what the top results in Google are, and really try to write longer. Write, you know, more detailed going to more use cases.
If they're not using a video, put up a video, use an infographic, even in 2020, it's very relevant, not some generic Shutterstock images and really put your heart and sweat into it.
And cause that's what makes the difference?
Yeah, I think that's probably the best you could give to someone. A lot of the marketing strategies, it takes a lot of work, but if you try to do each one of them, nothing's going to work for you
Because you're spreading too thin. There's so much you can do. And you really got to understand that and embrace that and then double down on what you can.
Elad, Thank you very much. I hope I can speak to you very soon. Thank you for all the hacks and tips you gave us. Thank you very much.