For this week's Small Business Spotlight, we're talking to Formstack, an online form builder, and I can tell everyone there would get along great with all of us at eZanga! Both of our companies even have horses as employees and Nerf toys around the office. We wish we could have met more of their team while we were both at SXSW earlier this month.
They seem like an all-around super company, providing helpful tips to their customers on all of their social profiles, along with fun pictures and other helpful information and blog posts. They also provide a little bit of customer service on Twitter, which goes along way for building a customer-oriented reputation.
Here's a little more about what they do online for marketing.
Tell us about your business, including the products/services you offer, your target customer, and overall marketing strategy.
Formstack is an Indianapolis-based software as a service (SaaS) company. We produce an easy to use online form builder. Users can build web forms to meet a variety of needs, from collecting contact information to processing payments, using our product and our integrations with a variety of other web apps.
Because our product can be used in so many different ways, we do not have an extremely specific target customer. However, the majority of our customers work for small businesses or nonprofits who are looking for an inexpensive way to create web forms and start collecting customer data – but that doesn't require extensive HTML or coding experience.
The majority of our marketing content is centered around providing these users with the knowledge they need to create excellent forms. We communicate with our customers through blog content, social media, how-to guides, and email newsletters. We hope to empower our users to create forms that will maximize customer engagement, subsequently growing their businesses.
What online marketing methods have you used in the past? What results did you see?
Our blog and social media platforms have consistently been a way to communicate with our customers. With these mediums, we have been able to inform customers about Formstack updates and other company news, while also connecting with media contacts to spread the word about our company.
However, we have evolved these strategies to make them more efficient for our growing business. We recently redesigned the Formstack blog, giving it a fresher look similar to many media sites. Also, the addition of an email marketing specialist has allowed us to further promote blog content in email newsletters.
One marketing method that plays a lesser role in our current marketing efforts is pay-per-click (PPC) marketing. When Formstack was smaller, we used PPC to maximize exposure to the Formstack link across the web. However, as we've grown, we've found that organic content creation and search engine optimization (SEO) can play an equally great role in driving traffic to our site.
What online marketing method has been most beneficial to your business? What is your strategy for that channel?
As I mentioned before, we've implemented several tactics to revitalize traffic to the Formstack blog, resulting in a 107% increase in blog visits in 2012. Our blog redesign cleaned up the viewing interface, added social media buttons to each post for sharing, and added popular posts to the blog sidebar. This increases exposure to other blog posts we've written, increasing the probability that users will spend more time on the site.
We've also recently started sending weekly email newsletters that link to one older, but still relevant, blog post. This not only drives traffic to the blog, but it highlights older blog posts that could still be applicable to users that might have missed it the first time around. Some of these older posts are now some of our highest-viewed pages.
What online marketing method would you say is most difficult for you or your company, and why?
At Formstack, we have always placed a high emphasis on company culture. Ping-pong games and beer are very much the Formstack way. While we always used social media to promote company and product news, we also like to project our company culture to customers.
However, it has been hard to find a balance between informative, product-focused content and company culture posts on social media. While we do want our customers to see the personality behind the product, we also want to keep the product at the center of the conversation. After periods when culture has been our primary social media focus, we are starting to take our marketing efforts in a direction that keeps all content deliberately product-focused.
When you first started out, did you have any misconceptions about online marketing that were cleared up with experience?
As an organization that operates solely online, we have always been confident in our digital marketing efforts. If anything, we are less active with traditional marketing efforts and are beginning to employ these processes.
What do you think is the best piece of advice or thing to keep in mind for a small business looking to improve their online presence?
At Formstack, we've dubbed 2013 "The Year of Intentional Marketing." In the past, we've tended to have a "trial-and-error" attitude toward our marketing. If something led to less trial-to-paid conversions after a few months, we changed our marketing to reflect that. While planning was present, it was very short-term.
This year, we are placing a higher emphasis on goal setting and long-term planning to accomplish those goals. As a small business, it can be tempting to change your marketing processes based on the current state of your business. However, by setting long-term goals and processes to achieve those goals, you can document your successes and setbacks more easily and chart ways to improve your efforts.
About the Small Business Spotlight Series
Since we love small businesses and online marketing, we decided that small businesses who rock at online marketing deserve more attention. So for the next few months, once a week we're going to feature a Q&A with a small business that has a great online presence. It may be social media or PPC, but all of these small businesses are doing at least one thing right.