The complete story on how Boost.re helped us grow Noosfeer (our content aggregation platform), multiplying the reader base by an incredible 500% (+150k monthly readers).
In the winter of 2014, I quit my corporate job having no idea on what I was getting into: I decided to create my own company.
Since I was a little kid, I always wanted to create the best way to get the information we need, at any precise moment.
Something capable of helping millions of people learn anything they want instantly, without any barriers.
You see, I was a curious kid, and it often frustrated me that some information was denied because I was not part of an elite and didn’t attend the best schools in the world.
This feeling returned whilst working on my last corporate job.
I realized that the majority of new technologies, new apps, new medias, etc… were built to please mainly the western world.
They often forgot that there are billions of people out there wanting to grow, to be better, to give their families a higher and better life expectancy.
That is what brought Noosfeer to life. An “app” that would open that bridge to all the people wanting to improve their lives, regardless of their origins.
So, I put myself to work (pun intended).
After one year of 90 work-hours/week in my flat, eating ramen every day, crafting different algorithms, building offline reading capabilities, I finally came up with a ‘good enough’ MVP that was ready to see the world.
I sat down fixating my computer screen, I felt cold sensation taking all over my back and a small voice in my head asked: “Now what?”
How did Noosfeer go from 0 to the first 30k monthly readers
During my “garage days”, I got in touch with several bloggers, I got more active on Twitter and started networking in Paris, the city I was living in.
All these efforts landed Noosfeer in the most important accelerator program in France: Numa.
Being in an accelerator program helped Noosfeer grow the team, shape the UX and have the first visibility it needed to attract its first active readers.
Through all the office hours and iterations, reading a lot about Pinterest’s rapid growth and wanting to replicate it, we set the first BHAG for Noosfeer: having 100K monthly readers by the end of 2015.
Everything was in place, we started taking advantage of PR, some guest blogging and loads of reaching out to friends and family.
In 3 months we grow from 0 to 30K monthly readers.
In part, it was “so easy”: get a newspaper talking about us, see how our traffic grows.
Especially in March ’15, it was the magic month of news about Noosfeer.
We were set up to grow indefinitely (we thought) … till it stopped!
Once we got an almost flattening curve in April and May ’15, how could we continue to grow?
It was time to plan. Already two months of flat growth is highly dangerous for a bootstrapped startup like Noosfeer.
We went through all the marketing processes and channels we were using. One, in particular, caught our attention.
We set up a KPI of at least 100 (medium) reads per article, and a plan for the months to come.
We didn’t know it yet, but that KPI helped us discover something that helped us boost Noosfeer growth.
How could we get 100 reads per article each time we hit “publish”?
Each time a new article was published, we needed to start from scratch to bring new readers to our blog posts.
Because we choose to blog on Medium, building an emailing list wasn’t an option.
Hence, we started exploring different social networks, groups, communities …. Anything that has a group of passionate people gathered to talk about their interests.
The fact that we shared the articles in those communities helped us reach our KPI really quickly.
Especially because the content resonated exactly with what a community, in particular, wanted to read.
Our effort with the content marketing strategy paid off (at least for the blog).
Some of those articles went viral, with thousands of reads. They grew our followers base on Medium up to 2K.
We were onto something … What if we could replicate the same system inside Noosfeer.com?
Few months fast forward, this is how the reader’s curve looks now:
Not only we reached our BHAG of 100K for December ’15, in January ’16, we had more than +150k readers, doubling what we had in November.
We went from 30k to +150k in 6 months. Really good for a product that does not have inherent viral mechanics (yet)!
How did we do it?
We gave ourselves enough time to experiment and to be sure we could reach our BHAG.
The period between July and October ’15 became the time we used to test a new growth strategy.
We conducted loads of tests to see what worked and what not. There was steady growth, but still not enough to get to our BHAG.
Then, the big idea!
We could do the same thing we did with Noosfeer stories, only, this time, we would promote the top reads from Noosfeer.com.
Plus, if we scaled our reader base, it would also increase the traffic we’d send to other websites (and keep the publishers happy!).
We sat down and crafted what we called “Noosfeer’s content distribution strategy”.
Noosfeer’s content distribution strategy
The goal? Increase distribution of content indexed in Noosfeer.
The plan? We analyzed the data we had from our Analytics. The data told us that most of our readers were interested in Tech, Design, Sports, Startups and Travel.
First off, during the months we gave ourselves to experiment, we identified the best websites (social networks, forums, community-based websites) for the verticals we identified.
Those 4 months of hard work helped us build a huge data base (+10k) of different communities across the web.
Among those communities, there were Facebook groups, Twitter hashtags, Google+ communities, LinkedIn groups and a lot more.
All these communities had an engaged and active user base, they liked to share content with the intent of improving other peer’s lives.
We also tested the best times of the day/week to publish and the kind of content that gave the most results.
On the other hand, we were reaching out to our most loyal users and proposed them to help us.
Given that they wanted to see Noosfeer grow, and at the same time they enjoy social recognition, we kindly asked them to share content related to their interests.
But there was a catch: the share would not be on their own walls or simply tweeting the title of the article, the share would be done strategically only in the channels we recommended them to use.
It worked!!! The traffic started growing again.
Ok, we were able to bring traffic, now, what if that traffic didn’t stay afterwards?
The critical point was, once we start getting traffic to articles, how can we convert these curious people into regular readers?
We needed to create a “Blog conversion funnel“.
The funnel was fairly simple (mainly UX based):
1st time reader -> read the content -> See CTA about Noosfeer -> Go to landing page -> onboard new reader -> reader comes back
We starting running A/B tests in call to actions, designs, and onboarding.
All of these tests needed fresh qualified traffic and in big quantities to be of statistical value.
We had a clear need: Bring qualified traffic to read content and then engage that traffic into coming back Noosfeer.
This need was solved with what we eventually called “Boost”.
How Boost was born
In November ’15 something great happened. All of our plans and strategies started to pay off big time.
The traffic doubled, people started tweeting a lot more from Noosfeer, we started to get more feedback emails, questions, thanks, love (and sometimes hate).
It was great!
Witnessing these changes on Noosfeer, feeling that we were onto something big, we asked ourselves what could be done with such a powerful tool.
What if we put in place a new service to help other startups grow?
In a couple of days, after some brainstorming, we launched an MVP.
We put a landing page online, wrote some copy to explain what we wanted to do, and then contacted a few startups in our network.
Our first client was Oja.la, they wanted to promote their new app “Senseware“.
We sent traffic to one article that talked about their app, with the same techniques we were using for Noosfeer.
They were able to convert an incredible 20% of the traffic.
First I have to say THANKS to all the team. You’re awesome hard working people, and I’m really happy I’m working with you everyday!
Now, with Boost, we started with a clear problem, a clear strategy and a clear goal, this was a whole new venture for us.
We are really exited about this new product!
Our growth is amazing, we are currently working hand-by-hand with awesome startups, that soon enough will be recognized brands world-wide.
We discovered that helping other startups be more visible on the internet is in our blood. It gets our juices flowing.
If you’re working on a startup, creating high-quality content and want to amplify your reach or optimize your funnel, count on us to help you get there really fast!