What Channels Did — And Didn’t — Drive Traffic to SaaStr.com Last Year

Times have changed in the almost 10 years the SaaStr blog has been around!  While the blog keeps growing and is the hub of the SaaStr community, it’s now just one spoke:

  • Our podcast gets 100,000+ downloads.
  • Far more folks find our content on social media than directly from our blog.
  • We have 120,000+ subscribers to our newsletters and send 1,000,000+ emails to them per month.
  • SaaStr University has 12,000+ founders sharing learnings and taking free courses on it.
  • And our events are a massive source of content and engagement, both IRL (Annual, Europa, etc), and since Covid, almost 100,000 have attended our digital events.  We never even did a digital event before March 2020.

So SaaStr is a lot of places, and a lot of things.  But while SaaStr is no longer just a blog, its website is still its heart and core.  And for the content marketers out there, it may be at least a little interesting to see where our traffic growth to SaaStr.com in 2021 came from.  And … didn’t come from:

1. Organic was up 13%, but not as much as I’d hoped.  I’m no SEO expert but it seems like our SEO rankings now compete with each other.  Good to see it’s still growing, but I wish it magically built on itself even faster at scale.  We continued to refresh older top content, but it’s not clear this really has a huge net impact based on the raw numbers, although it seems to, based on basic Google keyword searches.

2. Newsletter was up 27% in terms of driving website traffic.  I actually again thought this would be higher, mainly because we substantially improved the SaaStr Daily newsletter, added the SaaStr Insider, and as a result, sent a lot more emails in 2021.  Still, +27% is still pretty good.  I expected a little bit more though, given how chock full of content our newsletters are, and that they drive almost all their traffic to the website.

3. Twitter up 29%, but almost entirely from the @jasonlk handle.  @saastr handle declined as a source of web traffic.  This is interesting and something most of you may know, but social media services that just recycle content as new posts don’t seem to perform very well anymore.  I put a lot of work into @jasonlk, but @saastr is still mostly just AI-driven links to our content. The @jasonlk Twitter account drives 5x the traffic that @saastr does.  Social media recycling engines aren’t what they once were.

4. LinkedIn is very vibrant, and up 34%.  If you are in B2B and aren’t catching up with your LinkedIn feed, you’re missing a lot. Some junk, and a lot of self-promotion, no doubt.  But a lot of engagement and energy.  It’s a bit harder to use LinkedIn to drive traffic to your own site than Twitter, because LinkedIn’s algo heavily penalizes posts that include URLs in the main post.  Still, even with that challenge, traffic from LinkedIn to SaaStr.com was up 34% at our scale.  Almost all of that came from my account, with almost 200,000 followers.  The SaaStr LinkedIn account with ~20,000 followers, for now, is just recycled bot content, and that has very low engagement, like on Twitter.  We’ll work on that in 2022!

5. eBooks up 112%.  OK, this was a surprise.  We need to understand this better.  Our eBooks are really, really good.  Like excellent good.  But we don’t regularly publish new ones all the time.  So my #1 learning is a strong eBook can have a really long tail.  And check them out here.

6.  YouTube up 281%, but from a smaller base.  We didn’t (unfortunately) take our YouTube channels seriously until 2H’21 — we waited way too long given how insanely good our YouTube sessions are, with CEOs of Notion, Atlassian, Slack, Databricks, Monday, Mailchimp … everyone!  We’re investing much more here in 2022.  First up, it’s much better scheduled and organized.

So that worked.

What didn’t work in 2021 … and admittedly, we put zero effort into these channels, so it’s no surprise:

7. Facebook, down 20%.  Recycled content just doesn’t work here.  Maybe we should have a Facebook group, but we put that energy into SaaStr University instead.

8. Quora, down 13%.  This one (still) hurts a little.  We have 70,000,000+ total views on Quora and 1000s of amazing answers and pieces of content, but its mission has changed and it just doesn’t drive the internal engagement on Quora, or the traffic to SaaStr, it used to.  In the early years of SaaStr, Quora was a far more important platform than anything else for us.  Quora was our community, and it was wonderful.  But that platform moved on.  A reminder of the benefits (scale) and risks (goals can change) of building on others’ platforms.  We still love Quora and invest there, but it’s not what it was for us.

9. Medium, down 28%.  Medium has never performed for us, although clearly it has for others.  A reminder a platform that works for some may not work for others.

10.  Google News, down 24%.  A minor bummer.  It’s always fun to see a piece of SaaStr content make Google News, it’s fun to see, like Hacker News (not the same, but both are fun).  For whatever reason, our content didn’t perform as well there in 2021 as 2020 — even though we added more “Google News”-friendly content like our 5 Interesting Learning series.  Hmmm!

The bottom line is we had some surprises, like the strong performance of eBooks.  But overall, the channels we set goals advanced the most and made the biggest impact.  And the ones we put no effort into, actually shrunk.

That’s just what you’d expect.

A related post from a little ways back here:

Published on January 29, 2022

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