8 Marketing Ideas from Inside a $50 Million Startup

Marketing Ideas from Intercom's Multi-Million Dollar SaaS Growth Strategy

Intercom is a quietly MASSIVE hit:

  • 17,000+ paying customers
  • $50+ million in annual recurring revenue (ARR)
  • Investments from the “who’s who” of investors (including Mark Zuckerberg, Jason Fried, and Jack Dorsey)

I asked Chris Von Wilpert, the brains behind Rocketship Agency, to be a marketing detective and figure out WTF marketing ideas they use to grow so quickly.

Today, Chris is going to show exactly how Intercom has grown from $0 to $50 million — and how you can use the same principles in your own business.

Take it away, Chris…

BONUS: Get the 5-step checklist to Reverse Engineer Your Competitor’s Traffic & Conversion Strategy

Intercom has grown from $1 million to $50 million annual recurring revenue (ARR) faster than other “big-name” SaaS startups including

  • Shopify
  • New Relic
  • HubSpot
  • Zendesk
  • RingCentral
  • Atlassian

Here's an even crazier fact: The only SaaS in history to grow faster is Slack.


Best of all, Intercom has grown — and continues to grow — WITHOUT spending insane amounts of money on advertising or marketing.

This means you can do it for your business, too. Let's get it on!

Traffic Sources Intercom Used to Build a $50M+ Brand

Intercom is a tool founded in California by Eoghan McCabe, Des Traynor, Ciaran Lee, and David Barrett in 2011. The tool’s goal is to help companies personalize, simplify, and organize their communication.

Here’s how Intercom gets most of their web traffic.

Marketing ideas courtesy of Intercom

With an amazing blog, a select group of targeted paid keywords, and an advanced referral traffic strategy, it makes sense they have a very high amount of direct traffic.

Beyond direct traffic, Intercom gets the most traffic from search and referral.

To increase your own direct, search, and referral traffic, here are eight growth marketing ideas you can apply to your business.

[Tip #1] the Biggest Viral Marketing Hack You've Never Seen: "Powered by" plus Dynamic Keyword Insertion

Here’s a look at Intercom’s top referring sites.

The number one referrer is from the Intercom app itself – most likely coming from the free trial or paying customers logged in to the app.

The other referrers are where it gets more interesting because of Intercom’s incredible “powered by” tactic. Let’s look at the 2nd referrer as an example.

First, we head to the Atlantic Global Asset Management page. Notice the personalized live chat box in the bottom right corner.


If I click the chat box, I’ll find an unobtrusive little message stating “We run on Intercom.”

If I’m curious and want to learn more, I can click and I’ll be taken to a dedicated landing page Intercom has set up for people who come from the Atlantic Global Asset Management website.

This is what the landing page looks like (pay close attention to the headline):

The team at Intercom uses dynamic keyword insertion in the headline to personalize the landing page experience for visitors based on the referring company.

They do this using a custom keyword variable in the URL. Here’s the exact URL for Atlantic Global Asset Management:


You’ll notice Intercom is using a “company” parameter in their referral URL. Intercom combines the “powered by” tactic with dynamic keyword insertion to increase conversions from their referral traffic.

The takeaway: Identify marketing channels that are already working for you right now and look for ways to growth hack them to a whole new level.

[Tip #2] Competitor Traffic Strategy: Steal Your Competitors' Traffic With "Alternative" Landing Pages

Drift (one of Intercom’s competitors), is on Intercom’s list of top 5 paid keywords.

Intercom has done enough research to know the type of people searching for Drift have certain needs. And Intercom can “intercept” those searchers and appeal directly to those needs to turn these people into customers.

Here’s the paid ad Intercom uses to direct Drift branded traffic back to their website:

Specifically, Intercom sends people to their live chat landing page for Drift branded keyword traffic.

When you look at Drift’s top paid keywords, you can see that three of them are Intercom-based:

Drift isn’t just standing by, though.

They’re following a similar strategy to try and get people to switch from Intercom to Drift — but they’re taking it to a whole new level. Check out Drift’s “Intercom Alternative” landing page.

The Drift team is using this personalized landing page to try and convert Intercom customers into Drift customers.

Below is an example of one of the questions. Take note of how Drift uses question-based copy to tie into each of their unique selling points to try and convince people to switch from Intercom to Drift.

They even use their chat widget to link to a case study on their blog about why 15Five switched from Intercom to Drift (the first time you visit the page). Here’s what it looks like.

If you’re trying to compete against a major competitor, this is your David vs. Goliath opportunity to take them down using highly relevant, targeted marketing.

Bidding on competitors’ keywords isn’t cheap, especially when your competitors are bidding on their own branded keywords (like Intercom).

The takeaway here: Be aware of big competitors that may have a more enticing offer than your own and work to counter it (Intercom use the same strategy for Zendesk branded keywords, sending Zendesk branded keyword traffic to a dedicated Zendesk Alternative landing page).

[Tip #3] Simple SEO Growth Strategy: Focus on Google Keywords That Will Bring You the Highest Number of Qualified Leads Using "The Core Problem Framework"

Intercom has built their keywords and SEO presence by providing answers to core problems their target customers face every day. This has allowed them to achieve 2 specific goals:

  1. Build a trusted brand authority website
  2. Focus on Google keywords that will bring them the highest number of qualified leads

409 of Intercom’s 29,230 keywords on Google rank as first page results.

While the raw number of total organic keywords (409) may be on the low side, every keyword that ranks on the first page has one common theme.

Each piece of content solves one core problem.

Here’s a summary of some of their top organic keywords, ranked by keywords on the first page of Google with the highest average global monthly search volume:

Intercom didn’t get these rankings by keyword-stuffing articles.

They got them by writing articles solving a real problem their target customer faces.

It’s what SEO experts call “Semantic SEO.”

BONUS: Massively awesome SEO tips from my go-to SEO expert

In other words, an article answering a question or search phrase, so even when the article doesn't contain an exact match of the keyword, Google’s search algorithm is smart enough to interpret a searcher’s intent and show it to the user.

The takeaway here: With artificial intelligence in search evolving beyond “keywords”, using the “The Core Problem Framework” is a great long-term white hat SEO strategy that is proven to work.

[Tip #4] New, Brand-Building Content Strategy: Write Original, Thought-Provoking Branded Content to Get THOUSANDS of Shares Using "The Proven Topic Framework"

You may think that all of Intercom’s organic traffic just comes from their high ranking Google keywords in the last section, but that is not the case. Those “Semantic SEO” optimized articles are just one part of Intercom’s overall brand-building content strategy.

Intercom’s content strategy also includes original, thought-provoking branded content pieces that get thousands of shares (but you won’t find ranking anywhere on the 1st page of Google).

These original, branded content pieces are at the core of Intercom’s marketing and customer acquisition strategy.

Intercom’s content team has been blogging for close to 6 years to build their branded content, starting when Des Traynor posted their first article “Recent new features in Intercom” on October 6, 2011 (98 days after Intercom launched).

The branded content on their blog has helped the product rapidly grow so, it’s worth taking a look at some of their most shared posts.

Let’s breakdown how each of these individual posts have become so popular...

This is Intercom’s most popular article that draws inspiration from a 2014 article with 4,700 shares on qz.com titled “Most smartphone users download zero apps per month”.

After drawing inspiration from that article and adding to the discussion, Intercom’s own article went viral on Hacker News with 185 comments:

Coming up with content topics like this comes from reading widely. This “Read widely” content tactic is tip #5 from Intercom’s Managing Editor, John Collins in his article from “How do you decide what to write?

This is Intercom’s second most popular article that was published on March 7, 2017; however interestingly enough there was a post that went viral and made it to #1 on Hacker News on exactly the same topic over 4 years ago on February 7th, 2013:

Intercom leveraged the popularity of this #1 Hacker News post from over 4 years ago, drawing inspiration and adding to the debate.

Instead of leading with a story like the old Hacker News #1 article did, Intercom lead with data-backed evidence from a recent study to “move the conversation on.”

This smart “Move the conversation on” content tactic is tip #4 from Intercom’s Managing Editor, John Collins in his article on “How do you decide what to write?

Intercom’s third most popular article is a direct response offer to help Muslims in the tech community relocate to Dublin (providing free relocation advice, a job opportunity in a Dublin tech company, legal bills up to €5k and an Intercom buddy program to explore Dublin).

This article was so widely shared because of the amazing offer Intercom made giving back, and expecting nothing in return. It also perfectly aligns with Intercom’s original vision, marketing strategy, and current solutions that are all based on one emphasis: Real, human connection.

This “Recycle content” content tactic is tip #1 from Intercom’s Managing Editor, John Collins in his article on “How do you decide what to write?

Intercom’s fourth most popular article became so popular because it was their first public update from co-founder, Eoghan McCabe on Intercom’s growth since their last 4 rounds of funding.

In the post Eoghan reveals Intercom’s number of monthly active users, in-app conversations, revenue growth for the past 5 years, profitability and plans for future growth.

This “Expose your data” content tactic is tip #2 from Intercom’s Managing Editor, John Collins in his article on “How do you decide what to write?

The takeaway here: There are many different ways to make your content viral. Pick a content marketing idea from Intercom’s content arsenal and write your own original, thought-provoking piece of branded content.

[Tip #5] the Most Unusual Method for Converting Content into New Product Signups: "The next Step CTA Method"

There are 2 elements that are uniform across all of Intercom’s blog posts:

  1. An author caricature. Keeping in-line with Intercom’s emphasis on real, human connection, you’ll find a small caricature of the author at the top of each and every post.
  2. A big, bold statement at the top of the page. All of Intercom’s blog posts begin with big, bold statements that capture the reader’s attention and gives them a hint as to what they’ll find if they keep reading.

But arguably, one of the most interesting and unique aspects of Intercom’s blog posts is the final call-to-actions are very irregular.

At the end of a blog post for your average website, you can almost guarantee you’ll be bombarded with an annoying, brightly colored email sign-up box or sales push.

That’s not always the case with Intercom.

While some of Intercom’s articles do offer the expected lead magnet, the others vary quite a bit. See below:

Here’s a quick breakdown of the CTAs from the image above:

  1. Free book download (Intercom on Product Management) in exchange for giving your email address
  2. Free book download (Intercom on Customer Support) in exchange for giving your email address
  3. Downloadable “cheat sheet” (Research Message Cheat Sheet) that readers can download without giving any contact info (this is an unusual tactic as it gives Intercom no way to continue nurturing these leads in the future)
  4. Post conspicuously absent of any type of call-to-action at all

Occasionally, I came across a CTA asking readers to join the free newsletter.

Of all the CTAs I saw on Intercom’s blog, the ones broadcasting the newsletter were the biggest and boldest (though compared to what you usually find on other websites, it really was neither big nor bold).

Even the weekly newsletter itself lacks any sort of the usual CTAs you would expect to see.

The lack of CTAs is likely a reflection of Intercom’s vision. As opposed to focusing on keyword-stuffed, lead generation obsessed articles, many articles operate from a foundation of strong, personal, genuine communication.

Here’s an example. This article is a visual representation of the company’s #1 goal: Clear communication and open dialogues.

In some ways, perhaps creating articles without strong CTAs, annoying pop-ups, or aggressive “marketing speak” is one of Intercom’s ways of showing its customers that it hasn’t given up on its original vision of authentic connection.

In other words, this could be a beneficial way to strengthen customer trust and improve perception of the company as a whole.

The takeaway here: Think about what the most logical next step is for someone to take after reading your content piece and use that as your CTA. Is it to download your book, download a cheat sheet, sign-up for your newsletter or something else?

[Tip #6] Follow Intercom's Simple Offsite Content Strategy to Get All Your Content Seen by a New Audience

To increase the traffic, reach and engagement for each of their blog posts, Intercom set up a Medium publication called Inside Intercom (to match the branding of their blog).

They launched their Medium publication on July 3, 2014 and use Medium as a platform to re-post their articles from their blog.

Interestingly, Intercom doesn’t just re-post to their Medium publication right after a blog post is published. They wait 2-11 months before re-posting their original piece of content from the blog.

Here are the top 5 Medium posts (based on Medium recommends) with their publish dates on the Inside Intercom blog vs. Inside Intercom Medium publication:

As you might have noticed, their most recommended articles on Medium are not the same as their most shared blog posts on their main website’s blog.

I found the exact same findings when I researched HubSpot’s Medium strategy.

HubSpot found that their “optimized for search” blog content wasn’t generating many views on Medium. Instead they found “optimizing for people” with opinion pieces, personal accounts and reaction posts had the best performance on Medium.

The takeaway here: Articles with unique and controversial viewpoints generally perform better on the Medium platform (as you can see from Intercom’s blog vs Medium data).

The most common Intercom Medium articles have four different CTA links:

  • Author’s Twitter profile
  • Intercom blog
  • Intercom home page
  • 3 other relevant articles on Intercom’s blog

Instead of forcing readers down one specific path, Intercom give people multiple options to further engage with their brand.

The takeaway here: look for other media platforms where your target audience hang out and re-purpose your content for that platform (like Intercom are doing with their blog content on Medium).

[Tip #7] Ultra-Granular Paid Search Marketing Ideas: Focus on High Buy Intent Keywords If You Want to Be Successful Without a Big Ad Budget

Of the 2,000 PPC keywords Intercom is bidding on, here are its top 5 highest performing ads:

BONUS: Get a list of the 5 tools we used to Reverse Engineer Intercom’s Traffic & Conversion Strategy (including the tool we used to find these top performing paid search ads)

The ads vary by directing visitors to different landing pages depending on a search term. The variance in ads allows each of Intercom’s solutions to get exposure.

Here’s the entire paid search funnel for the second ad “The Autoresponder Tool”.

This is how it breaks down:

  1. One keyword (autoresponder keyword)
  2. One ad relevant to that keyword (autoresponder ad)
  3. One landing page relevant to that ad (customer engagement solution landing page that talks about Intercom’s autoresponder functionality)

After scrolling past the top performers, the focus seems to be on paid ads targeting the live-chat tool – most likely because this is a search term that has proven to do extra well.

On that note, here are Intercom’s 4 main active paid search funnels along with the 4 landing pages they drive traffic to:

  1. Unbranded Customer Engagement Keywords > Customer Engagement Ad > Onboarding & Retention Solution Free Trial Offer
  2. Unbranded Live Chat Keywords > Live Chat Ad > Live Chat Solution Free Trial Offer
  3. Unbranded Customer Support Keywords > Customer Support Ad > Customer Support Solution Free Trial Offer
  4. Unbranded Alternative Keywords > Alternative “X” Tool Ad > Alternative To “Zendesk” Free Trial Offer (hint: this is how Intercom steal Zendesk's traffic and sales)

The majority of Intercom’s PPC keywords were first seen at the end of 2016.

This suggests it’s only recently Intercom has been ramping up its paid marketing strategy (probably because their content and word-of-mouth marketing has been so effective).

It also looks like Intercom is investing in retargeting ads. Recently, this ad popped up on my Facebook News Feed:

To really grab the attention of casual Facebook browsers, the ad double-mentions the free trial — Something the Google ads above don’t.

The takeaway here: PPC traffic works best when you go ultra-granular (1 Keyword > 1 Ad > 1 Landing Page). It’s a strategy I see more and more SaaS companies like Intercom using to increase qualified leads as they dial in their PPC campaigns.

[Tip #8] Advanced Landing Page Strategy: Convert Your Traffic into Customers by Matching Your Landing Page with One of the 5 Levels of Market Awareness

Intercom has three main landing pages, one for each of their three core solutions.

But the long-form copy solution pages you can see on Intercom’s website are NOT the same landing pages they use for their paid ads. They use short-form copy solution pages for their paid marketing campaigns.

Here’s the above-the-fold section for Intercom’s Onboarding & Retention solution.

There’s a lot happening on this page, so let’s break it down:

  1. The headline emphasizes the promise of something all businesses strive for (good communication)
  2. The sub-headline gives some specifics as to the type of messages Intercom can help with (email, in-app, and push messages) and hooks readers with the prospect of better sales conversions (“drive people towards a common goal by sending messages based on behaviour”)
  3. Here’s an easy-to-spot and easy-to-use CTA which makes it hard to say “no”: You know it’s free and all you have to do is put in your email
  4. In case visitors want to know a bit more, they have a secondary CTA below the main CTA to speak to a representative via live chat (the same type of live chat that they, hypothetically, could add to their very own website should they choose to work with Intercom)
  5. Visitors can watch a short, simplified animated explainer video that will give a visually appealing overview of how the product works and what customers can expect
  6. Visitors also have the option to check out a second video that highlights the product working in action

If visitors want to know more, they can continue scrolling to read through the features.

You may be thinking right now… why are they talking all about features and not benefits? Isn’t using benefit-driven copy marketing 101?

Well, yes and no.

Intercom understands people in their market already have a very high level of market awareness about products their solution is replacing. They’re what legendary copywriter Eugene Schwartz calls “Most Aware.”

When you’re marketing to customers in the “Most Aware” stage, you either need to differentiate yourself on product or price.

Intercom differentiates by telling people about their unique features. This lets potential buyers know how Intercom is different from standard marketing automation, CRM, live chat, and help desk tools.

Intercom mentions some of the more surprising features that customers might not expect (for example, in-app messages). This section also uses catchy sales language that the visitors want to hear like “lead”, “drive them towards a goal”, “target your customers” and “live goal conversions.”

Once people know what Intercom’s Onboarding & Retention solution is and how it can help them, a final scroll offers some social proof and tells them what to do next.

Let’s take a look at more parts of the page:

The three elements on this part of the page:

  • Personal testimonial from a VP at a big-name company. It’s been well-established that headshots with short testimonials near CTA buttons and lead forms promote increased conversions
  • Page is topped off with a final CTA that’s clear and easy-to-follow
  • Fine print under the email field tackles any last-minute doubts visitors have… making it highly likely that they will at least succumb to testing out the free 14-day trial

All three of Intercom’s solutions have a very similar landing page layout by covering the very same sections numbered 1-10. Here’s an example of a landing page for Intercom’s live chat software:

The takeaway here: Match your landing page copy with the level of market awareness for your product in your market to convert more of your traffic into customers.

What Have We Learned?

Intercom has adopted marketing strategies outside of the norm, and that’s how they separate themselves and stay wildly successful.

By avoiding flashy CTAs and big, over-the-top sales promises, Intercom has kept its core ideas strong.

In other words, it remains a company that thrives on word-of-mouth brand awareness by creating content that’s useful to its customers and true to its company’s vision of personal communication.

Of course, this isn’t to say their entire strategy is perfect - but you’ve seen the results possible after just 6 years, and you’ve seen the analysis.

Here are the 8 key takeaways:

  1. Identify marketing channels that are already working for you right now and look for ways to growth hack them to a whole new level (like Intercom did with their referral traffic by combining the “powered by” tactic with dynamic keyword insertion)
  2. If you want to steal your competitors traffic, use “Alternative” landing pages that clearly outline the unique selling points your product has vs your competitor
  3. SEO can be simple if you just focus on “core problems” instead of keywords. It will ultimately lead to better rankings and help you generate more qualified leads.
  4. Remember that you’re building a brand. Consistently create quality branded content based on proven topics and the rewards and ROI will come to you in the long-run (not every marketing tactic is about short-term ROI).
  5. Think about what the most logical next step is for someone to take after reading your content piece and use that as your CTA. Is it to download your book, download a cheat sheet, sign-up for your newsletter or something else?
  6. Look for other media platforms where your target audience hang out and re-purpose your content for that platform (like Intercom are doing with their blog content on Medium).
  7. PPC traffic works best when you go ultra-granular (1 Keyword > 1 Ad > 1 Landing Page). It’s a strategy I see more and more SaaS companies like Intercom using to increase qualified leads as they dial in their PPC campaigns.
  8. Match your landing page copy with the level of market awareness for your product in your market to convert more of your traffic into customers.
  9. Eat more tacos, it will make you healthy, wealthy and wise like Noah 😉

What You Should Do Now

If you are serious about becoming great at growth marketing, you should do two things:

  1. Retweet this article (just click the retweet button on the image below)
  2. Leave a comment with your biggest takeaway from Intercom’s growth strategy

For every person who retweets and leaves a comment, I will get a Twitter notification. Then, I’ll tweet you a growth hacks and marketing ideas spreadsheet (WITHOUT an opt-in required) with new growth hacks from:

  • Salesforce
  • HubSpot
  • KISSmetrics
  • Buffer
  • And lots more to grow your business

Leave a Reply

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145 responses to “Marketing Ideas from Intercom's Multi-Million Dollar SaaS Growth Strategy”

Brian Mcfarlane
November 22, 2019 at 4:03 pm

How can a saas company pull off the "powered by" in tip one. Its a great tip but how would you actually do it for another business that is not a bot company.

Chris Von Wilpert
December 4, 2019 at 12:24 am

Hey Brian, use a custom keyword variable in the URL for the referrer. Then use that same custom keyword variable on the landing page. This is something you could ask a developer to help with.

Or look into "website personalization software" on Google (for example: RightMessage). Link them to this article and see if their software is able to do it.

May 20, 2019 at 11:20 pm

Definitely "the powered by tactic" coupled with the dynamic keyword insertion. Very cheeky way of driving leads and conversions

Chris Von Wilpert
July 18, 2019 at 5:38 am

Yes! Killer tactic. Glad you liked it Adom.

April 1, 2019 at 11:07 am

Excellent article. Very helpful
I learned new marketing ideas.
Thank you Noah.

Chris Von Wilpert
July 18, 2019 at 5:36 am

Nice one Olivier. Best of luck using the ideas 🙂

Seb Abecasis
October 9, 2018 at 1:23 pm

My main takeaway is how user focused they stay.

Notably when laying out the next logical step, picking core problems for SEO keywords and using different awareness levels to inform their landing page copy.

They clearly understand their customer and design everything around them.

This is something you often here, but seeing the sophistication with which they carry that out is striking.

Chris Von Wilpert
November 10, 2018 at 10:32 am

Go get it Seb!

February 26, 2019 at 7:36 pm

Hi Noah I can asking how can do this marketing

Antonio Casula
July 11, 2018 at 12:25 pm

Excellent, practical and detailed
What can I ask more?
Thanks a lot Noah!

Chris Von Wilpert
November 10, 2018 at 10:30 am

Awesome to hear Antonio. Thanks for reading 😉

June 18, 2018 at 7:34 am

A very well articulated piece of Intercom case study, Chris - thanks a ton!

Chris Von Wilpert
November 10, 2018 at 10:29 am

You're welcome Surya.

May 22, 2018 at 12:59 am

Really inspiring article. At initial stage when we don't have any marketing budget, i think it is better to concentrate on creating valuable content which will bring initial customers and then use that budget to start using Ads

Chris Von Wilpert
November 10, 2018 at 10:27 am

Great takeaway Sripal 😉

February 14, 2018 at 2:05 pm

All these points are very cool and insane. The main thing to use them!

Chris Von Wilpert
February 16, 2018 at 11:22 pm

Haha yeah for sure Mike. Don't be reading and procrastinating. That's just as bad as drinking and driving. Both lead to loss of life 😉

Avijit Sarkar
September 17, 2017 at 10:16 pm

This is very detailed and well written. Thanks Chris

Chris Von Wilpert
December 1, 2017 at 11:50 am

Thanks Avijit, appreciate the comment my man ?

September 10, 2017 at 7:30 am

Love the detailed analysis of growth levers. Intercom had a well-thought out strategy and an amazing execution.

Chris Von Wilpert
September 16, 2017 at 5:31 pm

Thanks Dejan. The only execution I've seen better is that standing overhead press in your profile pic 😉

September 17, 2017 at 4:41 am

You're making me blush, Chris ??. One thing that I'm curious about is how did you find out which 4 websites where the biggest contribution to HubSpot's growth. I haven't been able to find that through SimilarWeb. Did you use something else? Thanks!

Chris Von Wilpert
December 1, 2017 at 11:52 am

Hey man, I did background research on all of HubSpot's website properties, then ran them through SimilarWeb.

Andy Peterson
August 22, 2017 at 4:13 pm

Thank you for this valuable post! I'm a bit confused about the "Bonus" sections. I'm looking for this one below, where do I see this list of 5 tools?

BONUS: Get a list of the 5 tools we used to Reverse Engineer Intercom’s Traffic & Conversion Strategy (including the tool we used to find these top performing paid search ads)

Chris Von Wilpert
September 16, 2017 at 5:27 pm

Hey Andy, you just click on that link and opt-in and you'll get the list of 5 tools I used. If you don't see the link, try opening this article in a New Incognito Window and you should see it.

August 1, 2017 at 11:56 pm

Hey Chris, do you have the URLs for the 3 landing pages? Very intrigued by this idea and want to review in a lot more details.

Chris Von Wilpert
August 2, 2017 at 12:58 pm

Hey Alex, which tip in the article are you referring to? Let me know and I'll dig them up for you.

July 28, 2017 at 5:31 pm

Straight fuego.

What do the folks at Intercom think? 🙂

Chris Von Wilpert
July 30, 2017 at 2:01 pm

Dude, the Intercom folks were drooling all over their keyboards in shock, awe and amazement wondering what tools I used to reverse engineer their marketing strategies.

Jokes aside... I setup a call with Des Traynor (Intercom's VP of Marketing) and Noah for Noah's podcast, so you should get the low-down straight from the horses mouth soon.

July 24, 2017 at 7:30 am

Christ, this is a great article with loads of added value. There's loads of helpful info here.

There's just one this that's not clear to me; the relevance of dynamic keyword insertion.

Is this for SEO and/or clarity for person who clicked through?

I'd really appreciated it if you could let me know the relevance of eace

Chris Von Wilpert
July 24, 2017 at 1:24 pm

Thanks James. Dynamic keyword insertion is used to increase conversion. If you click on "We run on Intercom" to see what tool that company is using then you are more likely to convert if the headline of the page mentions the name of the website you came from (as you are familiar with them).

Dynamic keyword insertion also works really with Google ads, so when people click on your Google ad they see the same keywords from the ad on the landing page. It increases relevancy for the user so they are more likely to convert.

kevin long
July 18, 2017 at 12:37 pm

Finding out about Similarweb, found out so much info on my competitors, game changer for sure, thanks a bunch

Chris Von Wilpert
July 18, 2017 at 6:04 pm

No worries Kevin, SimilarWeb is a baller tool for spying on your competitors website traffic. It's the closest thing to having access to their Google Analytics.

July 18, 2017 at 4:05 am

Really interesting article, good point with the blog CTA. Will use this in our experience!

Chris Von Wilpert
July 18, 2017 at 6:02 pm

Thanks mate, best of luck implementing this.

July 17, 2017 at 1:04 pm

Well done. I loved the article--concise with detailed backup! Nothing better than a real life, qualified case study. Thank you!

Chris Von Wilpert
July 17, 2017 at 2:54 pm

Thanks Lel, only the best for you my man.

July 15, 2017 at 7:41 am

The reason why Intercom has been so successful is they invested heavily in understanding their customers struggles and motivations for buying and using or stop using Intercom. This new knowledge about their customers has helped them create compelling advertising that speaks directly to the visitors' struggles by using language from their existing customers. To find out more about what they did, read this: https://blog.intercom.com/marketing-the-job-to-be-done/

Chris Von Wilpert
July 18, 2017 at 7:07 am

Thanks for adding to the discussion Rene. Intercom certainly have a world-class product and starting with the Jobs-To-Be-Done Methodology developed by Clay Christensen is definitely one of the best ways to inform go-to-market strategy.

It's super insightful to see how Matt Hodges leveraged Clay's methodology to take Intercom from 1 product to 4 that solve specific jobs people need to have done in their business.

But sometimes the devil is in the details... exactly how did Intercom use the Jobs-To-Be-Done methodology to 5X their qualified traffic from 35k/mo uniques to 220k/mo uniques in 1.5 years? This article answers that question by showing people EXACTLY where that traffic came from.

July 23, 2017 at 4:47 pm

Thanks for the response, Chris. I do think the tactics you outline are great, however, folks should be aware that the tactics alone won't necessarily bring the expected results. You need to do the ground work of truly understanding your customers' struggles, motivations, hopes and expectations as they will be fundamental for your tactics to work. For example, Intercom knows from their JTBD research with language/keywords to use in their advertising. IMO, this could have been highlighted more in your article. And speaking of "sometimes the devil is in the details", Clayton Christensen actually did not develop Jobs-To-Be-Done at all. He certainly popularised the phrase in his book "The Innovator’s Solution" (2003) but the actual creators of the theory are John Palmer, Richard Pedi, Bob Moesta. Even their work is the result of many people over a long period of time.

Chris Von Wilpert
July 23, 2017 at 9:33 pm

Good point, I should add a tip about JTBD as the framework Intercom used to base the core foundation of their strategy around... I'm just busy right now over in Austin consulting with Noah to grow Sumo.

I'm pretty sure the link you referenced was to a video with Intercom's Senior Director of Marketing, Matt Hodges who said Clay was the brains behind the JTBD methodology during his presentation. I guess no one has the trademark on it.

Patrick McCrann
July 5, 2017 at 4:48 am

At first I thought I liked all the OKDORK stuff for the taco bullets because I am hungry all day...now I realize that was all a ploy. You guys are crushing it with food for my brain. So much to consider here, and all so actionable. As a non-tech SAAS company, we run on the same principles as the big boys but without all of the smarts, articles like this are critical for us.

My biggest take-aways here are: (1) simple marketing strategies work, even at scale (2) speak personally to people as they will respond better to your content (3) getting your customers to talk about you is the most important predictor of "scale success" ....

Thanks again!

Chris Von Wilpert
July 8, 2017 at 6:22 am

Haha, I'm glad this analysis was so helpful for you Patrick. Great takeaways. Hope you can go out and kill it at your non-tech SaaS company with all these new marketing weapons now you know how it's done.

July 3, 2017 at 11:24 am

Awesome work. Great read!

Chris Von Wilpert
July 4, 2017 at 11:12 am

Thanks Krael, glad you liked it buddy. You snuck in comment #100 😉

Jason Goodrich
June 29, 2017 at 3:06 pm

My takeaway is the power of well-written, targeted content. As a former editor, this is reaffirming.

Chris Von Wilpert
June 30, 2017 at 8:41 pm

Is that "The Jason Goodrich"? Great takeaway my man and great photography shots on your site 😉

June 28, 2017 at 2:42 pm

Hi Noah! Interesting post. Great to see you using screenshots of SimilarWeb's free product to understand a website's traffic sources and referrals. Can you please cite the source in this post and any other where you use our data!?

Chris Von Wilpert
June 29, 2017 at 11:02 pm

Hey Nitzan, glad you liked it. I was the one who included the SimilarWeb screenshot. We've included a link to the source in the content upgrade on the post. I've also been sharing that document with hundreds of people who have asked me for it, so rest assured SimilarWeb has gotten A LOT of exposure.

We used many competitive intelligence tools in the post, so found it more effective to include all the tools we used in one simple pdf document people can access. SimilarWeb in #1 on the list with a direct link to your website.

Kuba Rogalski
June 28, 2017 at 8:19 am

That's an impressive piece of content, and I'll certainly try to implement some of the tactics you presented. I am just wondering if competitor bidding isn't somehow frowned upon?

Chris Von Wilpert
June 28, 2017 at 9:37 am

Thanks Kuba. It may be frowned upon by some people (especially your competitors), but it's perfectly legal if you're willing to spend 'cash money cash' to buy the traffic. The only thing illegal is using your competitors trademark in your ad copy.

Tristan Ward
June 24, 2017 at 11:54 pm

Nice breakdown, found it really useful!

Chris Von Wilpert
June 25, 2017 at 9:22 pm

Thanks Tristan, glad you got some growth goodness from it.

June 24, 2017 at 2:03 pm

The dynamic powered by hack is some Hing to try out. The competitor bidding is a standard tactic and should be used if u have a large budget to play with. Those leads cost a lot.

Chris Von Wilpert
June 24, 2017 at 10:22 pm

Glad you found a nugget in their for yourself Janis. Yeah, that competitor bidding tactic is done by a lot of companies, but I've never seen it executed quite so well as Drift did against Intercom.

Their USPs on that landing page are very compelling. They have studied their competitors product inside and outside before putting that landing page together. Very few companies do that level of research.

rabani kharbanda
June 18, 2017 at 5:07 am

Absolutely loved the post. I'll be definitely implementing some of these tactics.

Chris Von Wilpert
June 19, 2017 at 1:26 am

Go for it Rabani. Implement like crazy!

Maggie Lamarre
June 17, 2017 at 2:50 pm

This is the best reverse engineering I've seen, totally awesome.

Chris Von Wilpert
June 19, 2017 at 1:23 am

Thanks Maggie. Good ol' fashioned blood, sweat and tears PLUS 40+ hours research, 20+ hours writing, 10+ hours editing and you've got the formula for killer content.

Then there's the 30+ days of content distribution if you want people to see it.

But it's all worth it in the end for comments like this 😉

Erin O'Bannon
June 16, 2017 at 1:39 pm

Awesome post Chris. Thanks for doing all the research and sharing. I've been thinking a lot lately (waking up in the middle of the night) about reasons our traffic isn't converting on landing pages, and think it is because the LPs are not 1:1 with the keywords and/or the wrong level of awareness. I'm curious to know if you recommend a tool for creating those "template" landing pages. My wordpress theme isn't conducive to it.

Chris Von Wilpert
June 16, 2017 at 10:57 pm

No worries Erin, glad you liked it. That doesn't sound healthy waking up in the middle of the night due to traffic conversion problems.

I'm not sure where you are at in your business and what your offer is, but if you are just getting started with AdWords this article I wrote should help you out (https://rocketshipgrowth.com/the-highest-roi-adwords-campaign-in-the-world-1-in-13-out-873570508d45).

Step 3 about three quarters down the page goes over the exact landing page formula I use to convert traffic into conversions. The tool I used to base that template on is LeadPages. Shoot me a message if you're still having problems after that so we can get you sleeping well at night again 😉

June 14, 2017 at 7:46 am

Brilliant insights!
The different landing pages thing sounds really cool. Especially when it comes to convincing people that your product/service is better than a competitor's one. This article got me thinking about the possible implementation of this trick for my business. Thanks!

Chris Von Wilpert
June 15, 2017 at 4:11 am

Yep, it's a baller strategy Max (that your competitors are guaranteed to hate). Building a landing page like that really forces you to think about what your 4-5 unique value propositions are vs your #1 competitor.

June 12, 2017 at 11:07 pm

thanks for the great post. The biggest takeaway for me is the long-term nature of brand building.

Chris Von Wilpert
June 15, 2017 at 4:07 am

Great takeaway Linh. 5 years of brand building and all the glory in the world is yours to have. Just don't get bored of it after 5 months and move onto the next thing like most people do 😉

June 12, 2017 at 4:40 pm

Very helpful article. I did have a question: What is "The Core Problem Framework"? Could you please provide a link or something to understand the framework. Google didn't come back with anything particularly relevant.

Chris Von Wilpert
June 15, 2017 at 4:02 am

Yo Hassan, great question my man.

I coined the term “The Core Problem Framework” in Tip #3 to succinctly describe what Intercom are doing with their SEO strategy (that’s why you won’t find it searching on The Big G).

It’s basically about writing articles on topics based on core problems your customer persona faces (not just writing to rank for a keyword). In Intercom’s case some of the core problems their customers face include: customer feedback, user onboarding, pricing models and user engagement.

If you still need more clarification, then let me know.

Thomas Danielsen
June 11, 2017 at 3:19 am

Love this article! #2, #4 and #7 are very usable and applicable to one of my businesses at the moment. Will definitely dive more into those! Thanks!

Chris Von Wilpert
June 15, 2017 at 3:57 am

Thanks Thomas, really happy you found 3 nuggets that you can directly apply in your own business! Go out and execute like a mad man.

June 11, 2017 at 2:28 am

Great article but had a question. Where does the 351 keywords come from for tip #3? Were you looking at stats for .io or am I misreading as Intercom.com ranks for a lot more keywords than 351- both homepage and blog.

Chris Von Wilpert
June 15, 2017 at 3:52 am

Good fact checking Josh. You're right, that is an error. The correct # of total keywords is 29,230 with 409 ranking on the first page of Google.

Thanks for picking that up and helping improve the accuracy of the article. Noah is going to eat a taco, then login to WordPress and update it 😉

June 15, 2017 at 6:25 pm

Mmmm... taco's.... NP and great article.

Cyril Gupta
June 10, 2017 at 11:04 pm

Wonderful article! Thank you. Gave me some pretty good insights. Looking forward to using some of the learning.

Chris Von Wilpert
June 11, 2017 at 10:29 pm

Thanks Cyril, glad you took some good insights away from it. Start executing on them my man.

Shawn Burst
June 10, 2017 at 9:36 pm

Great article

Chris Von Wilpert
June 11, 2017 at 10:25 pm

Thanks Shawn. Brief and to the point, I like it.

Michael Repetny
June 10, 2017 at 1:02 am

Great article! Liked the #1 tactic the most, wondering if they might even apply remarketing to visitors (excluding their customer audience) only interacting with their widget without clicking "we run on Intercom".

Thanks once again for the summary.

Chris Von Wilpert
June 10, 2017 at 11:12 am

Thanks Michael. Tip #1 is definitely a killer tactic few are leveraging. I doubt they have a remarketing tag embedded in their chat widget. I could imagine their customers being pissed for stealing their traffic.

Also, that would probably cause privacy concerns as that sort of thing would need to be mentioned on their customers website privacy policy. Interesting growth hack though if they found a way to do it.

June 9, 2017 at 10:41 pm

Very insightful. Appreciate the information and tips

Chris Von Wilpert
June 10, 2017 at 11:03 am

Mo, you're welcome my man. I now anoint you Mo "the growth beast."

June 9, 2017 at 7:54 am

Question for the group on the competitive Drift / Intercom ads. Isn't it against Adwords TOS to include trademarked terms in the ads? Noticed intercom included in the display URL.

Fantastic Post!

Chris Von Wilpert
June 9, 2017 at 9:07 am

Hey Justin, great question. It isn't against AdWords TOS. The trademark owner needs to fill out the AdWords trademark complaint form (https://services.google.com/inquiry/aw_tmcomplaint) to stop competitors from using their trademark in their ads.

It's possible that Drift either hasn't filled out that form to protect their trademark or their trademark isn't registered in that country Intercom is advertising.

May 11, 2018 at 7:15 am

or, drift is also using same technique to get the traffic. so seems like both parties are having smoking guns 😀

June 9, 2017 at 4:48 am

As usual, yet another great post from the Chief Sumo! I have definitely learnt a lot of creative marketing ideas. What I am thinking is that, at its core, it still comes back to genuinely helping your clients solve their problems. We can see this when 'semantic SEO' is at play. Also, customers wouldn't stay if the product itself is low quality.  

Chris Von Wilpert
June 9, 2017 at 8:55 am

Too true David. Great takeaways my man.

June 8, 2017 at 11:57 pm

Thanks for the fantastic article. I'll surely apply the content strategy that you mentioned.

Chris Von Wilpert
June 9, 2017 at 4:01 am

My pleasure Alice. Apply that content strategy like it's never been applied before... your target prospects won't know what's hit them when you start solving the core problems they face via your amazing content.

Mark Rist
June 8, 2017 at 8:53 pm

I'm just about to launch my business and have no experience in marketing. However, this article about Intercom ramping up to a $50 million dollar company and how they did it gave even this newbie a framework for even a small level of growth. You took a complex marketing strategy, analyzed it, and presented it in a way that even I can understand. Not only Intercom but Noah Kagan has provided a model for me to communicate my message effectively.

Chris Von Wilpert
June 9, 2017 at 3:56 am

Thanks for the detailed comment Mr. Rist. That's what big dawg taco-eating Noah is all about... making complex marketing ideas, simple.

Best of luck with the launch of your new business, and if you ever get stuck with marketing your business this article and the comments section is only 1 click away 😉

June 8, 2017 at 5:38 pm

I'm so gonna copy the cra[ outta these tactics

Chris Von Wilpert
June 8, 2017 at 10:40 pm

Hahaha... Do it! That's what they're there for. Go to town on these tactics Dennis 😉

Nate Raynor
June 8, 2017 at 12:36 pm

This was a great article. Thank you for taking time. As a follow-up, I am always interested in knowing how companies, like Intercom, grew to their first $1,000,000, and how that varied from reaching $5,000,000 or $10,000,000. Again, thanks for putting in the work.

Chris Von Wilpert
June 8, 2017 at 1:11 pm

Thanks for the follow-up tip Nate. Duly noted. May the growth gods be with you.

June 8, 2017 at 11:55 am

I love this post! Very detailed and some cool growth hacks I never thought of or read about before.

Chris Von Wilpert
June 8, 2017 at 1:08 pm

Thanks for dropping by and reading Chris. Keep kickin' ass and takin' names 😉

Steve Cary
June 8, 2017 at 11:51 am

Outstanding article. I'm starting up a new company focused on content marketing. I'm spending a lot of time honing in on my core value proposition which leads to the biggest take-away from this article: "Focus on Core Problems". This is similar in concept to E. Musk's focus on 'core engineering principles'. It's easy to get distracted by trying to game key words and similar tactics, but if you stay focused on delivering a product that solves a 'core problem' for your market, your customers will be better off and so will your brand.

Chris Von Wilpert
June 8, 2017 at 1:06 pm

Great analogy with Elon Musk's 'core engineering principles' Steve. Good luck with the new company and focussing in on your customers core problems.

Jon Symons
June 8, 2017 at 10:52 am

Fantastic article. This article itself is a fantastic model for powerful content creation. I might be getting old, or my spectacles need a bigger lens, but some of the images are too small to be useful. 😉

William R.
June 8, 2017 at 9:23 am


Once again an excellent blog post and insight into the growth and marketing strategy of an awesome SaaS startup. This is all beautiful music to my ears. I've been fortunate enough to apply some of the above the strategies and tactics. I'm slowly pushing my marketing team at a new company to take these strategies seriously. This is just another excellent example to evidence!

Chris Von Wilpert
June 8, 2017 at 1:02 pm

Thanks for the comment William, best of luck as you continue to motivate your team to execute on some of these strategies.

Mauricio Sanabria
June 8, 2017 at 9:06 am

I really think that the content strategy they are using is awesome. I live in Colombia and all the content that is out there, is really crap. I think I can make incredible improvements of most of the content of the big news sites. We all here complain about the quality of the information they write. I really think no company has a really killer content strategy in place. I´m going to get into it. Thanks man...

Chris Von Wilpert
June 8, 2017 at 12:59 pm

Go out and kill it Mauricio! Few companies do content really well like Intercom. And the few that do often don't know how to promote their great content pieces properly to reach their target customer. Most companies content marketing is missing the 'marketing' part.

The Colombia market and your new title awaits you... Mauricio "the Colombian Content King"

June 8, 2017 at 8:46 am

Another excellent article, Noah. I'm going to share this with my team and implement these strategies, especially the SEO tactic you mentioned. Well done sir!

Chris Von Wilpert
June 8, 2017 at 11:10 am

Thanks for the kind words Noah (nice name too BTW). Go get em'!

Romeo Jeremiah
June 8, 2017 at 8:29 am

Great article, Chris.
"The only SaaS in history to grow faster is Slack." That's a huge accomplishment, if true. I wonder how that compares to Russel Brunson's ClickFunnels? According to Brunson, and an Forbe's article that featured him, he hasn't taken on any outside investments and grew his company to over $360 million in just over 3 years, averaging $60 million per year.

Chris Von Wilpert
June 8, 2017 at 11:07 am

Romeo, that is a great smile my man. Russell Brunson is an A grade SaaS baller. I believe ClickFunnels did $30M last year. That $360M figure is a bit of creative math from the Forbes reporter. It's an amazing result though, and ClickFunnels is possibly the fastest-growing non-funded SaaS in history.

Rohit Kumar
June 6, 2017 at 7:09 am

First, when I saw the tweet, I hesitated a bit before clicking as there are too many tweets every minute.

But after reading this post, I am happy and subscribed also.
Will be back soon for more.

Chris Von Wilpert
June 6, 2017 at 9:13 am

Music to my ears Rohit! When Noah tweets you know he means BIZness. Glad you liked it and if you're really hungry for more growth goodness, I'd recommend you check out Noah's podcast: http://okdork.com/podcast/

I've been listening and can't believe he actually hops on a plane to go interview his guests #realtalk #RabbiCan'tLose

June 5, 2017 at 4:26 pm

On tip #6 - I thought this was an SEO nono - to post duplicate content. Is this not the case for posts on Medium.com?

Chris Von Wilpert
June 5, 2017 at 11:15 pm

Nice spotting Aaron. Medium actually has an 'Import' feature which will allows you to import a blog post from your blog and attribute the canonical URL (the "preferred" version of a web page you want to rank for SEO) back to your original post.

I'm not sure if Intercom are using that feature or not, but that is how you do it right. That's also how you should do it if you are re-posting your content on any other media platform (point the canonical URL back to your original content piece to avoid duplicate content issues).

Aaron Davis
June 6, 2017 at 7:17 am

Awesome! Thanks for the reply.

Ryan Heneise
June 6, 2017 at 3:19 pm

My understanding is that it's ok to cross-post as long as you indicate which version of your content is the canonical source. For example, you can include a blurb at the end of your post "This article originally appeared here", and link back to the original article. Here is a very good article by Ryan Battles about the good and bad of cross-posting: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/seo-impact-cross-posting-linkedin-medium-ryan-battles

Ryan Heneise
June 6, 2017 at 3:21 pm

Another tactic that I've seen used successfully is to rewrite or paraphrase enough of the article that it becomes a truly separate article.

Chris Von Wilpert
June 6, 2017 at 11:27 pm

Thanks for adding to the discussion Ryan. You're right, you just indicate which version of the URL you want to be the preferred URL with the rel="canonical" link element in the section of your page.

Here is what that code looks like on this article you're reading right now:

link rel="canonical" href="http://okdork.com/marketing-ideas-from-intercom/"

Then you make sure wherever you re-post the piece of content that there is a link back to the original article.

Personally I don't like the rewrite/paraphrase tactic because re-posting your content won't hurt your SEO if you do it right like above. I believe you should be spending your time creating original, well-researched content that can add more value to your audience.

Shaikh Masood Alam
June 5, 2017 at 3:54 pm

First time to read a whole article in one sitting, its lengthy but worthy to waste your time to understand the new tactics. I really fascinated with blogging strategy and thinking to implement on my blogs. Thanks Noah.

Chris Von Wilpert
June 5, 2017 at 11:06 pm

Very happy to hear this article was worth your time to read in one sitting Shaikh. Definitely jump on that blogging strategy and see how it works for you. Write down the steps you need to take and execute on it my man.

Lauren Holliday
June 4, 2017 at 11:27 pm

I wonder what Intercom's retention metrics are like.

I've been a user twice for two different clients. Both times, I had an awful experience. Granted, one client was convinced it was email marketing software, which it most definitely isn't, so yeah, that wasn't fun.

But also, support was never there when you needed them, which was often.

Anyway, I'm happy to read about these marketing tactics because they're definitely working at the TOF.

Chris Von Wilpert
June 5, 2017 at 11:03 pm

Hey Lauren, yeah it's hard to look 'under the hood' at retention metrics unless the company makes that retention metric public. Overall their revenue growth is growing, so Intercom are definitely acquiring more customers than they lose.

I know though that retention and churn are always big issues for fast-growing SaaS companies while they try to manage customer hyper-growth and customer success at the same time.

Sorry to hear you had a bad experience with them, hopefully they've taken the feedback onboard from when you used them last and doubled-down on world-class customer support since then.

June 7, 2017 at 3:25 am

Hey Lauren, I feel like this article will be in your newsletter on friday? 🙂 Anyway, fun to see you in the wild!

Jeppe Rask
June 3, 2017 at 6:44 pm

Thanks for sharing Noah - Awesome read with lots of tips and interesting insights. Now I just discovered two new blogs to follow (yours and Intercoms). Great stuff! I would really appreciate if you would send me the growth hacks and marketing ideas spreadsheet. Thanks.

Chris Von Wilpert
June 4, 2017 at 1:15 am

Thanks for the kind words Jeppe. If you want that growth hacks spreadsheet, just retweet that tweet at the end of the article. When you do that I'll get a Twitter notification and PM it to you.

June 3, 2017 at 1:25 am

What's the best way to get all these metrics, Noah?

Chris Von Wilpert
June 4, 2017 at 1:11 am

Hey Tim, can you elaborate more about what you mean by "get all these metrics". Are you referring to the tools I used to reverse engineer Intercom's growth marketing strategy?

Some are free and some are paid tools. Some of it is just good ol' fashioned blood, sweat and tears research going back through 6 years of Intercom's online history.

If you want a pdf of the 5 tools I used, I'll barter trade you for it: You share this post, then tweet to me @vonwilpert with the proof and I'll PM you the pdf.

Paulo Beneton
June 2, 2017 at 10:40 pm

Hello Noah,

I'm Brazilian, from Varginha / MG of ET land. I know of appsumo but did not know who the founder was.
Today through an email marketing of Ramon do Grothw Hacker Brasil, inspired by the emails of TIM Ferris of Growth Hacker Idea, I had the pleasure to meet you through this excellent article that you wrote, about intercom.
I read your article twice, I liked the content too much.
I have a question and I would like to ask you.
In Tip # 3 you talk about a simple SEO strategy. You quote "The Core Problem Framework". Do you have this material to share? I did a google search, but I did not find it. Can you talk more about it?

Thank you,
Paulo Beneton, his newest blog reader.

Chris Von Wilpert
June 4, 2017 at 12:57 am

Yo Paulo, thanks for the comment. "Ramon do Growth Hacker" sounds like a pretty cool dude for hooking you up with this article. Thanks for taking the time to read through TWICE.

I coined the term "The Core Problem Framework" in Tip #3 to succinctly describe what Intercom are doing with their SEO strategy (that's why you won't see it being talked about anywhere).

It's basically about writing articles on topics based on core problems your customer persona faces (not just writing to rank for a keyword). In Intercom's case some of the core problems their customers face include: customer feedback, user onboarding, pricing models and user engagement.

In Noah's case some of the core problems his customer persona faces include: website traffic, email list building, content marketing and business growth. That's why you'll see articles covering these themes on Noah's site.

Hope this explanation helps. Hit me up if you still need clarification on anything.

June 2, 2017 at 6:35 pm

Thanks for these tips! What's great is that these marketing tips can be applied to all industries not just SaaS!

Chris Von Wilpert
June 3, 2017 at 8:59 am

You got it Miku. Lots of friends have been contacting me and saying exactly the same thing. Whenever someone asks me for startup marketing advice now I'm just going to refer them to this article (it's got all the fundamentals... Viral Marketing, Competitor Marketing, SEO, Content Marketing, Offsite Content Marketing, Conversion Optimization, PPC, Landing Page Optimization).

Hugh Durkin
June 2, 2017 at 3:48 am

Excellent post, Chris, and pretty accurate too 🙂 Controversial posts can often outpace more "niche" posts, and often generate more top-of-funnel signups.

That said, it's important to have a mix of both - the cumulative niche audiences you'll reach with those types of posts are often more likely to take action and try your product more quickly to solve a specific problem they have at that point in time. Measuring the top of funnel effect of each post is good practice.

It's often worthwhile to partner up with other publications on Medium to drive distribution of what you've written. My "Browsers, not apps, are the future of mobile" piece was (strictly speaking) published via "The Startup" on Medium (https://medium.com/swlh), which helped drive distribution of the content to a new audience.

Expect to hit the majority of recommends on Medium within a 2 week period, as was the case with the "End of app stores" piece. Don't forget to link back from Medium to the original post, and include a form (where possible) embedded on Medium to collect intent signals from people who don't hop back to the original post.

For brand new blogs, often the "Offsite content strategy" (nice name for it btw!) can work well with a 2 week re-post waiting time, instead of 2+ months, to help get distribution for your content quickly. I've adopted this for a new blog launched less than a month ago (https://www.developerecosystem.com/) and Medium is already delivering some slow but steady referrals and recommends (https://medium.com/developer-ecosystem/what-is-a-platform-anyway-5b4d3b7aad2).

Kudos again on a great post! Not every tactic you've called out will work for everyone, so don't forget to test and iterate as you go 🙂

Chris Von Wilpert
June 3, 2017 at 8:06 am

Thanks for chiming in on this Hugh. That's smart how you leveraged one of the biggest Medium publications to drive distribution of your content to a new audience.

I can see your "Browsers, not apps, are the future of mobile" article was published on the Intercom blog on October 31, 2016 and then 30 days later on November 29, 2016 you got it re-posted on The Startup Medium publication.

Thanks for the tip on the re-post waiting time. I think that will help a lot of people.

Congrats on the new blog. Just shared your article on Platforms vs Products on my Medium and Twitter.

June 1, 2017 at 5:21 am

The first time, I read a full article. Thank you, Chris for explaining wonderful marketing ideas these will definitely help newbie to market their SaaS business.

Chris Von Wilpert
June 1, 2017 at 9:23 am

Great to hear Sam! We tried to cut out ALL the fluff and just give you all the juicy bits... that's how Noah likes to roll. I think this is gonna help the SaaS newbies and the big boys kill it with digital strategy. Just leverage one of these strategies and you've got $$$.

June 1, 2017 at 12:56 am

Brilliant read Chris. Well structured and written. I will remember a lot of takeaways from this for a long time.

Chris Von Wilpert
June 1, 2017 at 9:11 am

You da man Kausik! Don't just remember them, use them as well my man 😉

May 31, 2017 at 7:51 pm

Always good to read about how successful companies have made it. Great analysis here, excellent work! 😀

Chris Von Wilpert
May 31, 2017 at 10:40 pm

Thanks Hugo. We're all about taking your growth powers to super saiyan level 😉

May 31, 2017 at 4:51 pm

I love this idea to focus on core problems instead of keywords implementation while creating a content for a blog! Sounds like a smart plan, thanks a lot!

Chris Von Wilpert
May 31, 2017 at 10:28 pm

You nailed it Alexandra, there's soooooo much content being put out today, but if you focus on core problems you can break through the noise and create a piece of content that has real value for your audience. It also means you can develop a content plan around many of the problems your target customers face on a day-to-day basis (not just problems your product solves).

Tejas Kinger
May 31, 2017 at 2:47 pm

Whoa! This is some mind-blowing analysis, Noah! Thanks a ton, for this detailed guide, it surely helps aspiring content marketers and product marketers grasp some of the strategies that Intercom has used to get to where they are today. I think the biggest takeaway for me at a personal level would be to working backward from my goal of what I'd want my audience to do after reading my content and craft an ideal CTA accordingly. I also love the power of the subtle "we run on Intercom" badge.

Chris Von Wilpert
May 31, 2017 at 10:16 pm

Thanks for the comment Tejas. Yeah, the next step CTA method you mentioned is a great one and really requires thinking about the ideal next best step for your audience to take after reading your content piece. The "Powered by" tactic is a classic one, and Intercom nailed it with that subtle copy.

Ryan Crispin Heneise
May 31, 2017 at 8:49 am

The WORST thing about most growth hacking articles is that they all seem to include a big heaping scoop of good old fashioned dumb luck. I loved this article because it shows how Intercom methodically and consistently used several very smart tactics to drive viral and organic traffic. None of it (or very little) was luck - all of it was hard work done repeatedly over a long period of time. Luck I don't have, hard work I can do.

Chris Von Wilpert
May 31, 2017 at 9:43 am

Thanks for the mad props Ryan. You discovered the secret to all things great: HARD WORK

Tom Wood
May 31, 2017 at 7:57 am

Superb article Noah, in particular I thought the section about Semantic SEO was very interesting – there is so much emphasis on keyword stuffing, that it's very interesting to hear how writing genuine content is worth it.

Chris Von Wilpert
May 31, 2017 at 12:34 pm

Thanks for the comment Tom, you found one of the golden "nuggets"! Semantic SEO is definitely the new SEO. Keyword stuffing is dead.

May 31, 2017 at 2:57 am

Thank you for such a detailed guide, Noah. Great strategies, we are actually currently trying out this Product Alternative tip you've described with Chanty. Moreover, I've seen some popular SaaS products doing the same thing. GrooveHQ has a number of "competitor alternative" pages to collect traffic to their website and receive leads. They claim it's their top working strategy so I think it's definitely worth trying out.

Chris Von Wilpert
May 31, 2017 at 12:41 pm

Nice work Olga! Good to hear you are executing on the competitor traffic strategy. Smart SaaS companies are doing this like you said. It works great when you have a really compelling USP that can solve your customers problems better than your competitors.