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From pains to gains: how Sleeknote scaled their content marketing

The SaaS startup was scaling swiftly. Here’s how they maintained order and met deadlines through the rapid growth.

Sleeknote is a SaaS tool that lets you easily grab info from your website’s visitors. As the leads came in and their business grew, their Marketing team needed a way to scale with the times. All it took were a few small changes to get big results.

Like many fast-growing SaaS startups, our goal at Sleeknote was to hit the ground running with content marketing. But with few employees and limited resources, we didn’t always follow best practices when it came to creating content.

In an effort to publish on time, we sometimes forgot to assign a target keyword to a blog post. And when we remembered, it wasn’t always the best term to target. At other times, images were titled incorrectly, missing key metadata, or overlooked entirely.

Don’t get me wrong, our content was performing. We were getting positive feedback and building links from other sites. But we knew that to succeed, we needed to get way more organized—and fast.

Today, it’s a very different story.

We now have checklists and clear procedures for everything. From choosing a blog post topic to writing Google-grabbing meta-descriptions, our processes ensure that our marketing not only meets expectations—but exceeds them.

Want to increase your organic search traffic and on-page conversion rate? These tips can work for you too, even if you’re running a small business.

So without further ado, here’s five steps to help scale your marketing team.

Step 1: Make a list of your weekly recurring tasks

We all have those tasks, activities, and obligations that we do week in, week out.

But do you really need to be doing all these things? Let’s figure out what you can delegate—or even better, eliminate entirely.

Start with a 30,000-foot look at all your weekly recurring tasks. Write down every activity or effort you’re currently responsible for. If you’re like me, that’s a pretty scary looking list, right?

Then, write down how long it takes to complete each task. If you don’t know, use your best guess. Now sort your list by duration.

Finally, go through each point carefully and ask yourself, “Can I delegate this task?”

Here’s a personal example:

As Head of Content, part of my responsibility is writing. But writing content isn’t really just one task, is it?

‘Writing a blog post’ actually involves several actions, like validating the topic, doing keyword research, outlining, writing, editing, publishing, and more. Whoever said content writers can’t multi-task?

And that’s when I saw it: steps like ‘uploading a blog post’ weren’t a productive use of my time. It was something to delegate to someone with fewer priorities like an intern.

Got your task list? Let’s move on.

Bored of blog posts? Here’s 7 less conventional content marketing examples to try out.

Step 2: Decide on an organizational structure

You need standard operating procedures for every task in your content marketing department. It will save you time, and your coworkers will thank you for it.
Rikke Thomsen, Head of Email Marketing

As your department grows, so will the number of processes you need to outline—your standard operating procedures (SOPs). This can feel overwhelming, so make sure that each procedure is clear and easily accessible to everyone.

First step: decide on a folder hierarchy in Google Drive.

At the end of the day, organization is a matter of preference. But a good rule of thumb is to organize by team, such as content, growth, etc.

So for our example of “how to publish a blog post,” your folder hierarchy might look like this:

Get this right from the beginning, and you’ll never have to worry about SOPs slipping through the cracks of your Google Drive again. You can rest easy knowing that anyone, at any time, can easily find out how to do something–regardless of the task’s complexity.

Feels good, right? Onto the next step.

Step 3: Document your processes

Everyone has their own way of approaching a marketing goal. And while there isn’t a ‘right’ way, there’s definitely a wrong way.
Emil Kristensen, CMO and Co-Founder of Sleeknote

Let’s be honest, documenting processes isn’t a whole lot of fun. So it’s an easy one to write-off.

But by documenting an SOP, you’re building a Time Asset—something that will save you time in the future, especially when onboarding new employees.

My recommendation: document a process while you’re doing it.

So, next time you have to do keyword research or optimize images for SEO, create a Google Doc, and jot down every step you take in as much detail as possible.

And remember: a picture says a thousand words. So include a screenshot with each step using a tool like Awesome Screenshot, and annotate the image to highlight key points.

Congratulations—you just saved yourself about 972 words, per step!

Here’s an example from one of our SOPs:

You’ll notice each action has a step of its own, explained in simple, concrete terms. Nothing is left to assumption, and most importantly, anyone can follow it to completion.

We have a template for our SOPs to ensure all requirements are met, which includes the SOP’s core objective, formatting requirements, and when it was last updated.

Step 4: Test. Test. Test.

Once you have documented a process, it’s time to gauge its effectiveness.

Ask the person who will be performing the task to go through the SOPs, step by step.

Here’s the golden rule: They shouldn’t have any questions. None!

If your colleague asks a question, don’t answer them. Seriously. Go back to the SOP, clarify where they got stuck, add a screenshot if needed, and then ask them to go through it again.

At this point, your new coworker might think you’re a bit weird for refusing to give a straight answer. But you’re not being aloof or unhelpful—you’re making sure your SOP is foolproof.

Step 5: Commit to continual improvement

Your SOPs won’t be perfect the first time around, but that’s okay—they’re not meant to be. It’s something you refine with time.

As people work on the documented tasks, they’ll see things to improve and help you “work the system” until each version is better than the one before.

And you might see some side benefits too.

Got a 48-step process? Chances are that someone will find a way to shave off a few steps by automating or eliminating them entirely.

So what began as a system for documenting and onboarding becomes a system for increasing productivity. Now you have extra time to create even more SOPs. Just kidding. Go have yourself your drink.

When we saw the results, our jaws hit the floor

We began implementing our new content marketing system in Q1 2017, a time when we were publishing one blog post a week. That quarter our blog received about 3,000 organic sessions.

Not that impressive, right? We didn’t think so, either.

We knew it would take months before our freshly documented SEO optimization processes would reap visible rewards. But when Q3 2017 came around, even we were surprised.

By creating—and following—our new content marketing system, we increased our number of sessions by 186.52% and our on-page conversion rate by 291.46%.

I have to admit, documenting processes isn’t one of my favorite things to do. But when you see numbers like that, you know it’s been worth it.

If you want to scale, you need to systemize

Systemization isn’t always sexy. But it’s a crucial part of any business, regardless of age, size, or industry.

Without documented processes, your business’ activities and obligations remain in the mind of the person who knows how to do it—which is often you.

However, if you systemize your business, and commit to a culture of continuous improvement, your business will grow in a predictable and reliable way.

And you can rest easy knowing that your business will run efficiently—with or without your involvement.

Sam Thomas Davies is the content marketing manager at Sleeknote: a company that helps ecommerce business owners capture and convert more leads without hurting the user experience.

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