Kubernetes container orchestration platform continues to gain momentum as one of the most promising systems and happens to be a strong member in the development stack for companies focused on growth with advanced DevOps innovation strategies.
It’s not surprising we meet more and more new businesses helping other businesses with Kubernetes adoption in terms of tooling, solutions and services.
Startups successfully leverage numerous business opportunities to enhance the core technology with deeper observability, code delivery and integration, management and security features. Check the list of the hottest Kubernetes startups of 2020 by CRN to learn more about new members in the ecosystem.
Even though the competition is not as fierce as in some other niches of the software development market, Kubernetes startup marketing could still be the challenge. For those startups who managed to hit a product-market fit stride, and are now working hard to grow their business in terms of revenue I would recommend not to ignore digital marketing opportunities as well. Finding your way to leverage content marketing tactics to boost web visibility, generate traffic and gain customers organically with relatively small cost per acquisition can be tough, but definitely worth your efforts.
I’ve built a list with tips that can help you to keep your Kubernetes-based product ranking high on search engines, to drive exposure for your brand and solutions through organic traffic.
Modern search engine optimization (SEO) is all about EAT methodology, I’ll give you some intro on that approach so that you understand the levers to push to succeed in your digital marketing efforts.
EAT means Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trust, and those are the components you should tackle in order to get web visibility and search engines favor.
Expertise is all about credentials, whether you qualify to write about the subject. So, showing your Kubernetes expertise on your website is crucial.
Authoritativeness means to prove you are a known and credible authority on the content you’re publishing. It’s about your role in community and thought leadership.
And consumer Trust is something that comes with Expertise and Authoritativeness both in place. Working on brand trust level that Google usually determines through a set of signals and metrics helps improve your rankings and drive organic traffic and leads.
The formula for a Kubernetes startup as well as any other software business to dominate the web in your niche is to
∞ Publish and distribute high quality content
♕ created by experts.
☆ Have credible home and about pages
✓ with recognizable brand signals like certifications, awards, reviews, testimonials, and articles in place.
☺ Add technical SEO (site speed, markup, mobile-friendliness, etc) and a bit of link building and that’s it!
Let’s dive into practice, I’ll outline a few essentials for Kubernetes startup marketing applying EAT approach.
Authority means you are a Kubernetes partner and that is visible straight away on your website whatever the page is where a user bumped into. That would be great to be involved as a CNCF member and Linuxfoundation member as well.
Make Developers certification your high priority and keep the number of certified developers constantly growing.
Being a Certified Kubernetes Training provider can also provide you with a number of benefits if that is applicable to your business and you define this a part of your growth strategy.
It’s easier to facilitate trust when you have a bunch of badges from websites like Clutch and G2 showing up your brand as a reliable partner for a particular type of services or solutions, with significant number of positive customer reviews and ratings. Same with awards like those from CRN, but do not go in for awards too much as they are sometimes far-fetched.
Now it’s time to discuss how you thrive to outline the expertise you have and convince prospects you are the right partner for their project. Here the content marketing steps in with its various types of content like cases, blog posts, articles, guides and white papers.
I’ll check on some of the most inspiring examples a few paragraphs later.
One more channel to gain industry exposure and reap the benefits of being a part of a strong Kubernetes community is event marketing. There are options like sponsorship, speaking on conferences like DevOpsDays, KubeCon, participating in local meetups to get deeper insights on your business.
To share a few unexpected and fun ways for your business to get additional exposure in the community – guest speak in a podcast episode, participate in a series of webinars or even shoot a course for LinkedIn Learning platform.
So the headline of my post states I’d like to provide you with the list of search engine marketing tactics to win the SERP competition and reap the benefits of free organic traffic to your website whatever you may offer, a Kubernetes product like PaaS or professional services around the platform. Let’s dive in right to some key points for your search marketing strategy.
1. Content marketing
Creating various types of content like cases, blog posts, articles, guides and white papers is the most valuable investment you may ever take for your SEO and organic leads, it’s #1 advice you always get from any marketing expert and your ticket to success in terms of not only being visible and recognized in the business niche, but getting valuable organic traffic from search engines, visits of your target audience coming to your website to engage with your brand.
Let me share some great examples of this strategy in action.
Weave.works ranks in top 3 for “kubernetes deployment strategy” search query, right between kubernetes.io and cncf.io. You may also notice that container-solutions.com has won a featured snippet, but that’s another story, I’ll dig deeper on featured snippets in point 4.
Stackrox.com totally dominates the web having position 1 and 2 for “kubernetes security benefits”.
Caylent.com ranks in top 4 for “kubernetes cli tools” with a content and headline type (lists) considered to be one of the most effective in terms of click-through-rate.
SumoLogic.com ranks in top 2 for “kubernetes vs docker” search query. I admit that content based on comparison, alternatives overview, etc is highly recommended for software businesses especially for SaaS products.
2. Link building
When you’re on the way to gain more web visibility and build brand awareness, essential things that you should consider are SEO and working on your website’s link profile. External SEO and primarily link building is as important as technical SEO (internal linking, structured data, site speed, duplicate content issues, etc). Do not hesitate to earn links through PR, utilize tech directories like Crunchbase, Clutch, G2, and niche directories like this one.
Here comes a short list of highly relevant media with guest posting opportunities.
- Kubernetes.io (submit your case study, industry report or well-researched blogpost right to the Kubernetes.io blog)
- Consider writing on Medium.com, there’s an option to avoid duplicate content issues with canonical tag, so you can even syndicate the content from your blog.
- Check how other businesses utilize Thenewstack.io. Examples: Mirantis, CircleCI.
Combine with the list of technology sites with an option to become a contributor, and you have a perfect list to start with.
3. Long tail keywords
One of creative and not-so-obvious strategies to gain long-tale search traffic (yeah, creating blogposts is quite an obvious one) in your niche covering particular search semantics segment is to build a knowledge base with a set of tutorials. Q&A section or text-based learning project like online academy are also great in terms of sending you a hefty doze of organic visits.
Check AquaSec’s wiki as a good sample.
4. Featured snippets
Featured snippet is a so-called position zero on a search results page. This is a box with an instant answer for a user searching for particular information, a content that answers to his question with no need to go out from Google.
Content with a featured snippet gets a 2X higher click-through rate. And that is obvious taking into account that featured snippets take up the most space on a search results page.
And here’s how featured snippets success looks for the content created by AviNetworks and Weave.Works.
5. Standalone content project
Consider launching a standalone content project like those of RedHat for example. Though that’s truly a next level branding and marketing, and it requires significant budgets.
6. Event marketing
Organizing and participating in Kubernetes events, webinar, meetups, workshops and whatever you think is a great initiative for networking, education, growing a community, and building relationships can also be the thing. Make sure you’ve added the info about your Kubernetes-related event to https://discuss.kubernetes.io/, that might help as well as listing it on other websites like Eventbrite.com, Meetup.com, and boosting registrations with social media marketing.
7. Your workforce contributing to marketing
Your talented team members can not only give you a quality code but also help to promote the brand they work for, and do it so naturally. Just ask them to not hesitate to add a business name and website to their bios and profiles on websites like Stackoverflow, Stackexchange and other developers communities they participate in.
That’s how a user profile helps passing some link juice and giving additional web exposure to the domain.
8. Lead magnets
When it comes to well-researched, high volume and value content like research papers, study guides, e-books and industry reports it’s quite fair to ask a visitor’s contact information in exchange to those high quality content pieces. That marketing data can be then leveraged in remarketing campaigns, email drip campaigns, and whatever your digital strategy suggests and your sales funnel may adapt.
I’ll show you a couple of examples (Altoros, Codilime and SumoLogic) of content marketing assets that serve as lead magnets.
At the same time you can go an alternative way and make your research or study open for everyone and turn it into a linkable asset to grow backlinks and raise your authority (both domain authority in terms of SEO and brand awareness) like Bejamas.
9. Unlinked brand mentions
According to a recent study from Semrush working with unlinked brand mentions to turn them to links is one of those quick and effective link building strategies SEO professionals love and successfully use as well as broken links replacement. Let me explain the technique in a few words. You search for unlinked brand mentions and ask website owners to turn them into links performing creative outreach campaigns. To give you some inspiration I’d like to mention a case with 11% success rate – the author generated 17 links of exceptional quality with 160 emails outreach campaign.
10. Cost-per-click (CPC) campaigns
When it comes to SEO efforts and organic traffic growth it all takes time to kick in. So do not hesitate to leverage paid channels to support your content marketing efforts.
Some of successful techniques related to CPC campaigns I would recommend for software businesses are:
- LinkedIn lead gen form campaigns on lead magnets and gated content
- Facebook ads to boost registrations on your events, webinars, or training
- Classic lead generation campaigns on Google Ads targeted on keywords your prospects use with an intent to find a product or solution, searches with commercial potential. The cost per click in your niche may be quite high, that is typical for software development, where the competition for prospects attention is fierce. But there’s definitely a room for experiments and over time you’ll manage to hit a cost-per-lead (CPL) metric and achieve positive ROI.
As a bonus, I would like to give you two more tips that aren’t connected to SEO, rankings and traffic, but are definitely worth your attention if you are a Kubernetes-based product marketer and you’re struggling to fill your sales pipeline with dozens of high quality MQLs through digital channels.
- When planning a new marketing endeavor, consider a couple of digital marketing methodologies and approaches, and even mix and match them to get your unique recipe. For instance, in B2B marketing for technology companies you can combine inbound marketing with account-based marketing campaigns, though account-based marketing is more like an outbound technique, but from my experience it comes to be quite an effective combination.
- Coming up with ideas on strategy and tactics, try to think of a big picture of what you do. I always say Start Small but Think Big. I mean when you work hard on your landing pages and forms in order to improve conversion metrics, take time to think of your initial goal from the big picture perspective. Maybe there’s an alternative way to do the same thing. Like building an awesome chatbot your prospects will have fun to engage with (like the one on mirantis.com homepage), or trace your potential leads right to the scheduling app so they can instantly book a call with your expert or sales manager. The tricks I mentioned can also serve you as great ways to improve conversion rates, but they are not related to forms and experimenting around fields, messaging and CTAs most marketers will stick to when they have conversion optimization task moved to a high priority.