Anna Holopainen

📚 SaaS reads this week: Product-Led Marketing examples, User activation vs. "Aha moment", Zero-volume keywords

published6 months ago
6 min read

Hey friend,

You know how sometimes everyone in your networks seems to be talking about the same new shiny thing that just kind of appeared out of nowhere? For the past two months or so, it's been the comeback of Marketing Mix Modeling, at least in my small bubble.

Anyway, here are some of my best SaaS reads from the past few weeks (none of which is about MMM because I'm a laggard like that):

  1. Product-Led Marketing examples
  2. How to get traffic from "zero-volume" keywords
  3. Difference between "Aha moment" and User activation
  4. My favorite quick reads

#1 Product-Led Marketing examples

PLM is about reaching a broad swath of potential end users who experience a pain that your product helps to solve, and hence build trust. Here are some of the ways to do that:

1. Templates

  • Templates (programmatic or bespoke) allow attracting a wide variety of potential users with different use cases.
  • For programmatic templates like “How to do X+Y” pages, not much content is needed – just enough to convey value and the context of how you help a user achieve their goal. E.g. Zapier ranks first for the search query "calendly cancellation to slack"

2. Product-related hubs

  • Hotjar, the website analytics company, ranks #1 result on organic search for "heatmaps", "heatmap tool", and "heatmaps guide". They start by addressing the high-level intent of the visitor ("what is a heatmap?"), challenge the visitor’s question and raise the stakes ("here’s why you’re wrong and need to rethink it"), and finally address the broad range of related questions that folks have.
  • They break a complex topic into bite-sized, digestible chunks that users can navigate in their own way. Throughout the process they’re essentially funneling users through their product.

3. Benchmark & trend data

  • ShipBob, the tech-enabled eCommerce fulfillment company, makes for a great example with their daily (!) eCommerce trends analysis. The data has been aggregated and anonymized, then cataloged based on industry vertical.
  • While this kind of data may not rank highly in SEO at first, it’s a great way to generate backlinks from other websites and it’s something that gets frequently shared. Even better, it provides a well-spring of insights that can be repurposed for PR, blog posts, newsletters, etc.

4. Competitive comparisons

  • BigCommerce, the eCommerce platform and Shopify competitor lists out 15 eCommerce platform options, including their own platform as well as those of competitors, and walks through the benefits of each from a neutral perspective. When a visitor gets to the Shopify description, they’re nudged to “Learn more” where they land on a page comparing BigCommerce vs. Shopify Plus. This page includes key reasons to choose BigCommerce and examples of BigCommerce customers who successfully migrated off Shopify.
  • This strategy works especially well if your product competes in several different established categories, giving you multiple acquisition paths to reach users.

5. Product education

  • Ahrefs, the all-in-one SEO toolset, created a guide to keyword research that walks them through how to do it step-by-step in the context of how Ahrefs does keyword research using the Ahrefs product. Technical PLG products have a goldmine of product education material in your docs.
  • Product education campaigns convert extremely well because they attract a high-intent audience and make a persuasive case for using your product since they're already looking to solve a specific problem.

6. Free ungated tools

  • Carrd, the one-page website builder, lets people start using your product without creating an account. When you land on Carrd’s website, they nudge you to “Choose a Starting Point” (i.e. a website template). You start exploring from a library of options and then select “Use” in order to start customizing the template for your own use case. It’s so easy to do, that you can finish building your own site before you’ve ever actually signed up for a Carrd account.

Bonus: Product-led SEM

  • Grammarly, the online writing assistant, writes tutorials around common grammar questions that folks run into during their writing (e.g. no-one, noone, or no one?). Grammarly already ranks highly in organic search for these terms. But since there’s virtually no competition, Grammarly amplifies their organic reach through paid search as well. Then they’re welcome to try Grammarly’s free grammar check tool for their own writing (no sign-up required). As users get hooked, they’re nudged to download Grammarly to bring the product into their personal workspace including email, messaging, documents, and social media.

Read full article

#2 How to get traffic from "zero-volume" keywords

Some (allegedly – according to big SEO tools) zero search volume keywords can still result in clicks and even conversions if it either solves a problem or describes a problem your users are having.

Why zero volume keywords?

  • Easier to rank for, since most people tend to choose keywords that get bigger search volumes
  • Less prone to competition: very few will go for the same keywords since none of these are in databases people are looking for inspiration from.


Shaun Lee Wei Rong works for LinkedIn as a Senior Client Solutions Manager and in his job, he gets asked a ton of questions like "what's a good ctr for a linkedin ad." Keyword tools show zero volumes for the said query, but in reality, Shaun's post ranks now #2 for this keyword and – gets him leads for this side hustle.

How to figure out if there is potential

Are there a lot of forum discussions? (If yes, try this Quora strategy!)

  • Does Google (or your SEO tool) offer multiple zero-volume related searches? If yes, more people are searching for it – another great sign.
  • Can you ask it multiple different ways? Semantic search engines treat related (both natural and synthetic, i.e. search-engine generated) queries as something that can increases the relevance of the document to dominant and minor search intents – even if a query doesn’t have a proper search demand.
  • Are your customers talking about it all the time or asking the same questions over an over again?

How much effort will the article take?

  • Keep in mind: the same time and effort spent writing one 2000 word article could be spent writing two or three 700-1000 word articles that bring in more traffic. A content piece with higher intent but (assumingly) zero search volumes is more likely to generate conversions and have a higher CR% than a content piece with lower intent but higher search volumes.

Read full article here

#3 Difference between "Aha moment" and User activation

The main thing I wanted to highlight about this article is this, because I've seen so many startups just clump these two together – and then struggle with user activation 😅

  • "Aha moment" is just a mental state when your users perceive the value you’re offering and think “Wow, this is amazing. I think I’m starting to like this tool!” Its purpose is to provide your users with motivation before taking action and activating them. E.g. Userpilot realized that users who install their Chrome extension, create a product experience, and then “preview it”, are more likely to experience that first “Aha moment”.
  • User activation is the moment when your users got a value. It’s a phase where a user fully engages or activates the initial set of persona-relevant key features in the product. It’s actually the process when the user completes the action of converting from trial to the premium user account. User activation events are actually providing your users with tangible values to their business. E.g. For Userpilot to consider a user to be “activated”, he/she must install our JavaScript and deploy at least one experience live.

Read full article

#4 My favorite quick reads

How Gusto shifted from "growth at all costs" to profitable growth

twitter profile avatar
Jaleh Rezaei
Twitter Logo
September 7th 2022

How Typedream got their first 1000 customers by doing things that don't scale

twitter profile avatar
Michelle Marcelline
Twitter Logo
August 25th 2022

That's it for this week. I'd love to know what was your favorite read this week!

Cheers, Anna

P.s. Did someone forward this email to you? You can subscribe to weekly updates here.

P.p.s. Did you know you can now find all previous summaries here?

P.p.p.s. Connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter! (Warning: I mainly post memes and rants about marketing, but if that's your jam, let's be friends. I'm also Head of Growth at an EdTech startup and a freelance consultant for B2B SaaS startups, but honestly, I'm more into shitposting than personal branding.)