From a Dying Start-up to a $5M/Year Business: How Groove Tasted Success with Content Marketing

Content marketing is not alchemy because the content is real, and there is no magic formula to shoot engagement through the roof.

Ask any content marketer, and they will tell you there is no-size-fits-all content strategy. But every now and then, we come across success stories that have nailed some formula to grow business with content.

Such is the story of Groove, a sales productivity platform that went from being on the verge of collapsing to earning millions of dollars in revenue. And how did they do it? Two words: content marketing.

Here’s Groove’s Journey from empty cash reserves to a $5 million-a-year business. And a content marketing example for the books.

About Groove

Groove is a cloud-based help desk platform tailored for small businesses and start-ups. Companies use it to communicate with their customers through various channels like email, live chat, phone calls, and social media. Basically, Groove, with its SaaS product, helps businesses deliver 24×7 customer service.

According to a report by Future Market Insights, more than 95,000 companies are active in the help-desk software market, which will reach a market size of $11 billion in 2023. So, it is indeed a booming market segment but a competitive one as well.

Alex Turnbull, Groove’s founder and CEO, founded the start-up in 2011 to be a player in this growing market at the time. But it was not long until he realized his start-up was a sinking ship.

The Journey Downhill

Alex Turnbull gathered a team and started Groove in 2011. They spent six months creating customer service software they thought people would use.

Read that again.

It was their first mistake – assuming what businesses need and spending six months developing a solution in isolation.

Neither Groove had a clear group to target, nor did the team ask many questions about what they thought their market was. As a result, the Groove version 1 failed miserably, and the start-up was on its deathbed with revenue being non-existent.

The team realized the mistake and spent significant time collecting customer feedback. Then again, they spent another six months rebuilding the software based on that feedback. The new product was definitely better than the previous iteration, but still, it was not enough to bring customers.

Groove was still running out of funds, and with each weekly report of all the metrics, it seemed the end was near.

Failed Attempt at Content Marketing

Think of a boxer trailing in the last rounds, and he knows he has to swing, is swinging but is failing to connect. So, he looks towards the cornerman to understand what he is doing wrong, but there is not much help.

Such was the Groove’s situation.

The team was trying everything they knew but failing. They even tried content marketing, following the footsteps of blogs like HubSpot.

But – once again – Groove’s experiments with content marketing were not based on research but mere imitation of successful content marketing examples. They put together some blogs and shared them via email and social media and failed to generate traffic.

The Journey Towards $5 Million Annual Revenue

Down and desperate, Groove needed to succeed at all costs, and there was no magic wand in sight. That is when Alex decided to take a step back and introspect everything that went wrong. He realized he needed to learn from people who were succeeding at eCommerce and B2B content. Here is how they did it.

1.       Regroup and Research

Before coming up with a new content marketing strategy, the Groove team took a step back.

In the founder’s words, they did nothing but research. For two months, they researched different companies and marketers to identify factors that turn a simple blog into an effective tool to generate leads and grow business.

2.       Email Outreach

The next step was to connect with marketers who have aced content marketing strategy and execution. And what’s a better medium than email? But if you have experience in email marketing, it should not be a surprise that most of those emails were ignored.

However, the marketers that agreed to connect changed Groove’s content marketing forever, and for the better. Upon connecting with some marketers, the Groove team faced questions like:

  • What is Groove’s outreach strategy like?
  • What is the hook for that blog?
  • And why not read some other blog instead?

These are some simple questions but essential in unlocking the true potential of the phenom that is content marketing. People at Groove knew precisely what they were missing, and there was no looking back.

Groove’s email outreach template
Source: Groove

1.       Restarting Content Marketing from the Scratch

After revamping their initial help desk software, it was time for Groove to restart content marketing from scratch. They shifted the focus from finding what would look good on a blog or what people may like to what would help the market.

Groove’s help desk software is targeted to small businesses and start-ups. But their content wasn’t. So, as the first step, their team spent weeks reaching out to different small businesses and entrepreneurial communities on LinkedIn, Reddit, and Twitter.

It was about being straightforward, asking people what their goals are and what hurdles they have between them and their goals. Then, it was the quest to truly understand what the people want and how to deliver it in the form of some content.

And so came the content strategy that took a dying start-up to yearly recurring revenue of $5 million. Today, Groove has more than 250,000 people reading its content every month and more than 5,000 happy customers.

Groove’s blog performance metrics
Source: Groove

Content Strategy That Worked for Groove

There is a lot to learn from Groove’s Journey, from being unable to pay bills to generating millions every year. You must be wondering how the team applied its learnings from research, outreach and feedback to gain traction and drive engagement. So, here are some of those tricks.

1.       Stealing Topics from the Audience

Even though they are a customer support software provider, they first said no to customer support content. It makes sense because there were already many such websites and blogs, and Groove needed something fresh.

Stealing sounds cheesy, but that is how founder Alex describes how they came up with topics for their revamped blog.

First, they reached out to their small businesses, and topics followed. They learn about all kinds of challenges small business owners face, whether cash flow, hiring, product or even marketing.

A quick Google search showed that only a handful of blogs focused on these challenges. And so, the Groove team unearthed a goldmine and turned these challenges into topics.

They also followed online communities to see what people were posting about. If something interesting came up, that was Groove’s next blog.

2.       Connecting with the Gatekeeper

It was just the beginning, so Groove did not have many audiences.

To build one, the team decided to build relationships with people with big but overlapping audiences. And it was more than just asking influencers to share the link to the blog. Here is how they did it:

  • An introductory email with a summary of the blog and permission to share the link to the full blog if they are interested.
  • A conscious decision not to ask influencers to share the blogs on social networks.
  • Always asking for feedback on the posts. It not only brings experts’ insights but also starts many conversations and helps build strong relationships.

3.       Always Improving

Blogs are on the right track, and the audience is building, but Groove did not shy away from experimenting with different things. Whether it was different title styles, formats, blog length, and image styles, they tested it all.

Some efforts failed; few worked. But the ones that worked, Groove stuck with it and rode to 250k monthly readers.

For instance, Groove A/B tested one of their blogs. The goal was simple: to see if people prefer no-sense to-the-point content or want value woven into a narrative.

The visitors who saw the story-based blog had an average on-page time five times than those who got the straightforward blog. Not only that. Around 300% more visitors scrolled to the bottom of the narrative-driven content.

results of Groove’s A/B testing narrative technique

4.   Telling Their Story as It Is

The narrative was now at the core of Groove’s content marketing. And talking of stories, Groove now had its own tale to tell.

So, they shared the numbers they were doing and promised to share their journey to $100k monthly revenue. Result? One thousand email subscribers in 24 hours, 5,000 in a month – more visitors, shares and actual customers signing up for the product.

They did the same when they hit $500k million in revenue, and their email subscribers hit the 100k mark. The rest is history.

Groove’s revenue increase after blog launch

Wrapping Up

That is the story of Groove and how they turned their fortune with serious content marketing. But also one of the most remarkable content marketing examples of the last decade.

Content is the only marketing investment Groove makes, and returns show it is one of their best. There is a lot to learn from their efforts and shape your content strategy for success. You must know what your market needs, whether it is product or content.

Groove’s is a tale of learning from those who excel in content marketing. Not imitating, but taking cues from them and taking a backseat to introspect what is going wrong. But most of all, not being afraid to ask the audiences what they want and going for it even if it was a topic outside Groove’s customer service domain.

And that is how Groove went from a dying start-up to a multimillion-dollar success story.

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