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Case Study

David and Goliath: How We Helped Playbook 10x its Monthly Organic Traffic and Gain 700,000+ Subscribers

by Paul David Perry, Co-Founder & CEO


Case Study Highlights

  • 10x their monthly organic website traffic from 7,000 to 70,000 between January 2022 and Jan 2024.
  • Rank for 9x more keywords — from 20 in January 2022 to 180 in January 2024
  • Add over 500,000 new users between January 2023 and January 2024 to reach a total of 700,000 subscribers.
Introduction

The setting

There I was: doing a little happy dance in a church parking lot after my COVID booster. 🕺🏾

Needless to say, I garnered a few strange looks from the people waiting in line.

They probably thought I was just really excited to get my shot. I mean, I was — but that’s not what the dance was about.

I had just taken a sales call with none other than Jessica Ko — former Head of Design at Google, no less. 

Less than six months after launching an agency in the middle of a pandemic, we had caught our first “big fish.” (Please note: Jessica is a lovely human and not at all a fish. I can confirm this because we met for coffee once. It’s just an expression.) 

That fish was Playbook, the first-ever digital storage system created by designers for designers.

Since then, we’ve helped them:

  • 10x their monthly organic website traffic from 7,000 to 70,000 between January 2022 and Jan 2024.
  • Rank for 9x more keywords — from 20 in January 2022 to 180 in January 2024
  • Add over 500,000 new users between January 2023 and January 2024 to reach a total of 700,000 subscribers.

Here’s how we did it.

Introduction

The challenge: David vs. Goliath

Playbook was squaring up against the giants of the digital storage world — companies like Dropbox, one of the first-ever SaaS unicorns — and Google itself. 

Facing up to such heavyweights was going to take more than just run-of-the-mill SEO content to position Playbook within the digital storage market, boost its traffic, and increase its user acquisition. 

It was a mammoth task, but we knew our team of growth experts was up to the challenge.

As always, we started the first month running website and social media audits. These audits take the guesswork out of building a marketing strategy, as they allow us to show clients what’s working and what’s not and make recommendations on what they can do better.

We have to give credit where credit is due.

Not every client takes the audit phase as seriously as Playbook did. They treated our recommendations like an implementation checklist. This provided them with a much stronger foundation upon which we built our growth strategy.

Here’s what the audit phase looked like.

The Process

The audit: a solid foundation

Playbook already had a solid website design in place at the start of our engagement — and we wouldn’t really expect anything less from a team of professional designers!

We suggested a few tweaks that would improve engagement and conversions, including:

  • Adding tabs such as ‘Newsletter,’ ‘Resources,’ ‘About us,’ and ‘Use cases’ to the navigation menu.
  • Website copy hacks to highlight Playbook’s unique selling propositions (USPs) compared to its competitors, including its 4TB of free lifetime storage for designers.
  • SEO tweaks, such as updating URLs to reflect page content.
  • Adding page copy to make the site more crawlable by Google.
  • Highlighting artists, designers, and community members who use Playbook.
  • Running competitions and giveaways.

We also ran an Instagram audit for Playbook. They were doing a great job with the visual aesthetic of their page and had decent engagement. Our recommendations included:

  • Increasing post frequency to three to five times per week
  • Leveraging the bio to promote Playbook’s USPs
  • Adding a greater variety of content, including video content
  • Adopting a more conversational tone to increase engagement
  • Highlighting the Playbook features and use cases that make designers’ lives easier to complement their posts showcasing artists and their awesome work

Overall, Playbook had made a respectable start both on building their website and growing their Instagram presence, so we had a really solid foundation to build on and felt confident we could help them take on the industry giants. 

The Process

The strategy: more than just SEO

Playbook wanted us to build a top-down strategy to increase their organic traffic and user acquisition and entrusted us to build their content marketing strategy from the ground up. 

Working with them has been a joy — they have enough knowledge about content marketing to understand our recommendations, which they have accepted and implemented with the utmost grace and diligence. But they also trust us enough to let us do our job without micromanaging the process.

Supercharged SEO

Once the audit was out of the way, the content strategy team hopped on a brainstorming call and churned out over 50 content ideas for SEO-optimized blog posts during the first quarter of 2021. 

The strategy focused on building a community of artists and designers on Playbook — aside from its unique features, this would make it a more attractive platform for their ICPs than corporate tech giants like Dropbox and Google Drive. 

As well as creating SEO-optimized blog posts aimed at providing value for both individual designers and in-house design teams, we built out case studies to help drive conversions.

Building community with competitions and giveaways

Competitions and giveaways seemed like an obvious way to build community and drive user acquisition. The first competition we ran for them gained over 1,000 entries and 30,000 votes. 

Getting the right eyes on Playbook content

But we didn’t stop there. There’s a lot more to a successful content strategy than just ‘posting and praying’ — you have to know where to promote your content to get it in front of the right eyes.

As part of our audit process, the LH promo experts built Playbook an Earned Media Bible. The Earned Media Bible contains a comprehensive list of Facebook and LinkedIn groups, subreddits, Slack channels, and influencers to distribute content, as well as a comprehensive list of publications to pitch guest posts.

We then used this resource to promote every piece of content we published, as well as the competitions and giveaways, to further extend their reach. 

Creating the 2023 annual report

At the end of 2023, we produced Playbook’s first-ever annual report, a visual PDF that looks back on Playbook’s year — from its acquisition of CanFy to new feature releases like Playbook AI, as well as highlighting community members and competition winners. 

The Playbook team was delighted with the final result. Here was co-founder Alex Zirbel’s reaction:

“What makes Literal Humans an amazing partner is the depth they go to deeply understand our business and speak to our audience in the way that we would ourselves. The 2023 Year in Review ebook they prepared is a wonderful recap, touching on new features our users will care about, presented on-brand and in an engaging way. I’m excited for any chance to share it.”

—Alex Zirbel, Co-Founder and CTO, Playbook

The Result

The results: 5x more monthly active users

Playbook is one of our longest-running client partnerships — and perhaps this is why. Over the last two years, Playbook has grown from 20,000 active monthly users to over 100,000 — a five-fold increase largely driven by our marketing efforts. 

These results demonstrate the power of a robust content marketing strategy done right. I mean, just look at the numbers. 

In the first six months, we helped Playbook increase its website traffic by 26% week-over-week, tripled its organic search traffic, and increased its new user acquisition by five percent.

Over the following 18 months, we continued to help Playbook grow its organic search traffic and build domain authority. In December 2020, the Playbook website had 2,200 visitors. Fast forward to November 2022, and that figure has increased more than tenfold, with 33,000 monthly hits from organic search traffic.

And that’s not all.

In January 2022, the Playbook website was ranking for 143 keywords, including 20 in the top three spots, and had zero SERP features. 

As of January 2023, Playbook ranks for 5,966 keywords, including 186 in the top three results, and 261 SERP features. 

It also has more than 22,000 backlinks, which has helped push its domain authority up to 38, driving more organic traffic. 

Over on Instagram, Playbook had around 1,500 followers when we started working together. By implementing our recommendations, they’ve organically grown their following to almost 14,000. 

The Result

A winning content strategy is built on trust

The Playbook story is the perfect example of a plucky young tech company disrupting its industry and taking on the dominant players as a challenger brand with a unique value proposition. 

With Playbook, we proved that a brilliant tech-for-good product and a well-executed content strategy make the winning combination for growing a startup — no matter how big your competitors are. 

Our partnership with Playbook demonstrates the importance of a relationship based on mutual trust and respect. 

Playbook trusted Literal Humans to take their content strategy and run with it. We gave it our all, and the results speak for themselves. 

If you’re a small tech-for-good fish in a big pond looking for a marketing agency you can trust, look no further. 

Schedule a free discovery call with us, and let’s start building your content strategy today.

If you’re a small tech-for-good fish in a big pond looking for a marketing agency you can trust, look no further. 

Schedule a free discovery call with us, and let’s start building your content strategy today.

Let’s level up your content marketing.

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