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For this episode of E-Coffee with Experts, Ranmay Rath interviewed Perry Steward, Founder at MADX Digital, located in London, United Kingdom. Explore the advanced world of data-driven link-building, the evolving role of AI in SEO, and the pivotal role of streamlined processes for digital marketing triumph. Uncover the secrets to staying ahead in the fiercely competitive SaaS marketing arena in this engaging conversation.
Watch the episode for more insights!
Sometimes the SaaS can be so niche that it’s hard to find relevant niche websites to which they can get links.
Hey, hi, everyone. Welcome to your show, E Coffee with Experts. This is Ranmay here, your host for today’s episode. Today we have Perry, Steward, who is the Co-Founder at MADX with us. Welcome, Perry, to our show.
Hey, Ranmay. Thank you very much for having me on today. Excited to be here.
Great. Perry, before we move forward and pick your brains about how digital marketing is done for SaaS companies and more about back links as well, why don’t you talk us through your journey this far and what MADX is all about, and then how has been the journey overall?
Yeah, thank you. My name is Perry. I’m the Co-Founder at MADX Digital. We are an SEO agency that is specific to SaaS and tech startup companies. We work with people and, businesses of various sizes, from early-stage startups up to enterprises. And we’ve been doing this for the last few years. Before that, I worked in SaaS and tech companies for my whole experience in the business world. And then one of the things that we noticed was people often forget about SEO in the tech landscape, and we wanted to help them realize the potential of SEO.
Wonderful. You have had a decade of experience with the SaaS and tech startup ecosystem. Could you share some specific challenges that SaaS companies face when it comes to building backlinks, especially considering unique business models?
Yeah, like I mentioned already, and we talked about this before the actual session, right? Yes. A lot of SaaS companies don’t tend to prioritize SEO, especially in the early stages of their startup. They’re focused on their budgets, they’re focused on spending it on product development and getting this really good product out, but they forget about that marketing angle. And the thing with SEO is you can do SEO pretty affordably from the early stages, and SEO gets bigger and bigger over time. It improves the earlier you can start, that’s the best thing you can do, I think because it’s compounding. You make great ROI at the end of it. Then the challenges that maybe they face in link building specifically is, I think there are a few things, depending on the maturity of the company. Sometimes they don’t understand it, they don’t get why they need to do link-building. And if they do, they start doing things in a very simple way and maybe they don’t get what we as link builders look for, which is relevancy to business. They care about getting wings from Apple. Com or something like that, which is good.
But the majority of your links you want to have are niche relevant to your industry. I think one, people often maybe forget that, or two, like, Sometimes the SaaS can be so niche that it’s hard to find relevant niche websites to which they can get links. Another example is that there’s high competition out there in SaaS markets now. It’s really hard to differentiate yourself. As an example, if you’re an email marketing platform, how do you stand out from the competition? And where do you even go and start link-building efforts? One of the things that we like to do is get into those top listicles, the top market for email marketing teams. That’s high competition now. So how do you stand out from that crowd and provide something unique that your competition doesn’t have?
Great. And what are some of the most effective strategies for building backlinks in the SaaS space?
Yes, the way that we tend to do it, you’ve got your classic blogger outreach techniques, which is you can go look at your competitors, use tools like Ahrefs to find what links they have that you don’t, then you can do the classic blogger outreach that way. That’s good. It’s a great way of getting some backlinks. One of the things that we find successful as well is the benchmark Skyscraper technique. So, skyscraper has been pretty popular for the last couple of years. And really what you’re trying to do is build links with content you’re producing. But to do that, you have to build a really good bit of content first. And benchmark data is really about producing content that’s statistics-based. Any SaaS companies have probably done this search. They’ve put in their SaaS conversion rates for 2023 because they want to find what their best conversion rates are and benchmark themselves as a company against what the industry standards are. And that piece of content that they will click through is called benchmark data content. And it serves two angles here. One, you’re providing search intent or answering search intent for your target audience, if you can produce that for your audience and they find you as an authority on the subject.
But there’s another angle which is people might be searching for those conversion rates because they’re writing a piece of content and need a source for that piece of content and will use that source if they find your content useful. That’s the thing we find good. It’s a bit more of a long-term strategy, but it helps to build links organically over time. The other thing that you can do is you can go to tools like Ahrefs, and search for the keywords that they might be using, and SAS conversion rates. Or if we go back to that email marketing idea from earlier, you might want to know email marketing response rates by industry or something like that. You’ll search that in Google and you can see results for it. You can use tools like Ahrefs to look at the competition and see what backlinks they have to the top search results within Google. Then something you can do is you can do some analysis on the anchor text that people use to link those reports. What you’ll do if you do that is you can find specific statistics that people find most interesting within that article.
Then what you can do is you can start curating those top interests, those top statistics, find out what they are, and put them in your piece of content. One of the things that we find useful to do is we’ll go and research that piece of statistics that’s mentioned many times over and over from multiple articles and see if it’s out of date, and how old that information is. What we tend to find is it’s really out of date by a few years. We’ll go and do some research and curate, go online, find some recent studies that have been done on that area and update that statistic in our content, and then do outreach to those that are out of date and say, Hey, by the way, did you know your content? Five years out of date? Here’s the most recent up-to-date information. Would you link to us instead? And it has really good response rates. People are interested. They thank you. They’re like, Oh, my God, thank you so much for pointing out this is out of date. And then we’ll give you a free backlink.
You’re right. Wonderful, wonderful technique. Also, could you describe some advanced data mining techniques that are found particularly effective for uncovering battling opportunities within the state?
Yes, that was the previous example was good. It’s probably one of the most effective strategies that we’ve found. I think we’ve answered your question. The question you just asked me.
Yeah, and moving on to content, like we were speaking about it as well, data-driven content is a popular approach these days. And what are some of the lesser-known techniques or capabilities that these SaaS companies who do not have experts like you can use their data to build backlinks?
Yeah, I like the example around building benchmark data-driven content that can build links. The example I gave a minute ago was about curating other people’s research. So going on to Statista or other people do statistics research and using their content as the source. One of those problems we mentioned earlier at the start was about how you stand out from the crowds in a highly competitive area. The only way that you can do that is through uniqueness. If you are an email marketing company, you have results and data points on response rates for different industries and things like that. So use your data to build that data-driven content that makes you stand out from the crowd. Once you make that and put it on your website is a great start. But you also need to promote that content as well, especially if it’s highly competitive. So you might need to not just rely on search and organic, but you need to promote that content maybe through social media and maybe even think about a bit of budget for paid ads as well. So search ads and then maybe paid social as well to get that content in front of the right audience to get it moving.
And talking about the startup ecosystem, the first thing that comes as a challenge is budgets, limited budgets. So what cost-effective link-building tactics or resources do you suggest for these companies to compete with the large players out there?
Yeah, so I think this benchmark data idea that we love so much is cheaper than traditional back linking, right? Either you have to set up an outreach team within your business to manage all that outreach and get those links placed. A lot of the time you have to pay for those links as well. That’s a high cost. Now, that has faster results. But if you’re starting early and you don’t maybe have the budget to do that stuff, the benchmark data approach is fairly easy to do. Just your time, you have to create that content piece, and research the competition to find out what statistics are being mentioned. And if you can write the best piece of content, and put your unique spin on it with your data, over time, that piece, if you optimize it, can rank organically in SEO. And then once it ranks in SEO, you’ll start getting click-throughs. And that’s going to be positive for two things. One, there’s going to be bloggers that are looking for data points to source and they’ll source your content instead of your competition. The other point is that if you’re writing the right type of benchmark data, it can actually bring your target audience onto your website and build trust with them as well.
And that we all are in the storm, Perry, the artificial intelligence and machine learning storm that is changing the SEO landscape. How do you see AI and automation tools evolving in the context of data-driven networking for SaaS companies in particular?
Yeah, I think this is a great question. It’s something we’ll ask all the time as an agency when we start working with clients is, are you using AI? How are you doing and the truth is, we actually don’t use too much AI. We’re investigating it and offering it as a separate solution. We do some content writing with AI for sure. We do some research and things like that. But the thing that we are finding with AI is if you ask it to do some statistics-based work, or if you try and write a benchmark database for conversion rates or email response rates or anything like that, it will give you a number and it will give you a good outline, but it doesn’t tell you where they got that data point from. It doesn’t go and do that research. Most of the time, it makes it up on the spot. Tools are definitely getting better. There’s some out there, I think Bing is starting to provide sources for certain information, which is a good start. But again, the great thing about being a SaaS company and if you want to create this content is you have your data.
In the future, when AI gets better and it can source other information, it’s still going to be what everyone else is sourcing. There’s no uniqueness whatsoever. And the thing with AI is it cannot access your data. So as soon as you write content using your specific data and provide that uniqueness, you’re going to be way better than that AI writing and have a way better chance ranking at Google for those keywords.
Absolutely. In talking about links, let’s say we have spoken about the process and the techniques of acquiring those links, but once they are acquired, they require maintenance and periodic audits. How do you go about doing it? Could you elaborate on some of the best practices for SaaS companies in terms of link audit, removal or discoverable? And how data can inform these processes?
Yeah, this is definitely something with the benchmark data and this linkable content, you have to keep an eye on because a lot of people are starting to do this technique. So if you’ve written a piece of content and it was last year, best conversion rate is 2023, as soon as 2024 comes along, you need to update that piece of content to keep ahead of the competition. And then what you want to do is make sure that you’ve got all the links that you currently have to that piece of content. You need to do an outreach and say, Hey, by the way, you have links to our piece of content here about the statistic that was true in 2023. It’s been updated in 2024. Here’s the current information for it. Because if you do not do that, your competition will do that. And you want to make sure that you’re ahead of the curve there. To keep on top of things like that, using tools like Semrush and Ahrefs to do backlink monitoring is great. I think it’s all that pitch box as well. So if you’re using pitch box to do your outreach, they also have link monitoring tools inside of that. So keeping on top of all that stuff is important and putting that into your processes.
Agreed. But yeah, lastly, as someone at school founded his agency and has been doing good and been a part of this industry for so long, what advice would you want to give those budding entrepreneurs or additional marketers who are trying to make a mark? How do they tear it up like you did?
In the agency world, you mean or in general?
Yeah, in general. Digital marketers in general, are entrepreneurs who are trying to build up their agencies. A lot of people are working in digital marketing agencies that are part of digital marketing agencies at senior positions, mid positions, whatever. For all we know there is always this butterfly, this stomach of trying to open up their agencies. So if you had all of them listed out there, what advice would you give?
Yeah, the biggest thing that’s helped us is processes. Having those SOPs in place for the team to follow, making sure that everyone’s doing the same thing. And then once you have those in place and you have that quality assurance in place as well, so something we do is we have SOPs for teams to follow, but we have this do a review mentality. So when anyone does a piece of work, we have a second person vet and QA the work, and they each have their SOPs to follow the mission that work gets done correctly and then the work’s quality controlled before it gets shipped. That’s important we found. Having a place where all those processes are, you could use Google Box and a spreadsheet if you wanted to track everything. The notion is great for a wiki, so something that’s easy so people can self-service it in your team. And then once you’ve got that in place, it gives you time to think about the more holistic strategy thing, which gives you time to go and do research and think about things like benchmark data, which might not be a process you have today. And then make sure you’ve got time to think about new processes and how you build them in.
We’ve also followed this methodology up to an extent, where we have a quality team that checks through all the work that has been done by the team, which is like you mentioned, a dual team before it goes out to the client. So the processes are very important. Great there, Perry. But before we let you go, I’d like to play a quick rapid-fire with you. Okay, sure.
Yeah? Yeah. Your last Google search.
Oh, God. Probably ChatGPT.
All right, you’re right. And what did you do with your first paycheck?
Oh, what did I do? As in from the agency, what did I do? We didn’t pay ourselves for six months of the agency, so I think I paid a lot of bills that I owe.
All right. And let’s say if we were to make a movie on you, what genre would it be?
Let’s say action and sports action, but it’d probably be more hackers in a bedroom, dark.
All right. And your favorite sport?
Brilliant. All right. We’ll not grill you any further, Perry.
I was saying, let’s say our audience says that they want to reach out to you, how do they do that?
Yeah, the best thing is to connect with me on LinkedIn. I’m pretty active there, so you can just search my name, Perry Steward or MADX Digital and find me that way. Our YouTube channel is pretty active as well. So we launch a video every week around SaaS marketing, and that’s just at MADX Digital. And then our blog is very promoted as well. We publish very often there, and that’s MADX. Digital/learn.
Brilliant, yeah, Perry. Thank you for this fantastic conversation. I’m sure our audiences would have benefited a lot from the insights that you shared. And we thank you for taking the time and doing this with us. Appreciate it.
Yeah, thank you very much. Great to be here. Great.
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