How Zuora, A Subscription Billing Solution, Uses A Blog For Marketing
Zuora provides what looks like a few solutions for subscription businesses.
The subscription model has really taken off in the world. It’s something that has been around for awhile, but more businesses than usual are using subscriptions than ever before and in ways that haven’t been used before.
You have Netflix, which started out as a subscription DVD rental business. Now they’re a subscription streaming service. You have Amazon and their Prime subscription service. That’s kind of new although retailers have done a little of that in the past. And you have software companies that sell subscriptions instead of one-time products.
Having a subscription model is great, but many businesses need a way to manage the billing and all the other technical aspects of collecting the money. That’s where Zuora comes in with their solution.
So that’s a little background and now we’ll switch gears and look at what Zuora is doing with their blog.
1. Knowledge Center & Support vs. Blog
One of the first things that stood out to me about Zuora is how they organize their information.
Something that I talk about when it comes to business blogging is the idea that you want to answer the questions your target audience is asking. If you’re a B2B, like Zuora, you want to identify the questions your audience is asking about their job and answer those with blog posts.
When you’re a B2C, you’ll answer questions that someone is asking about their life.
In Zuora’s situation there will be questions directly about their product. These questions often come from existing customers. They want to know how to start using the software or how to do a particular task. That’s where a knowledge center and support area are critical on a website.
Prospective customers might have questions about how the product works. Answers to those questions are good on regular pages on the site like the homepage and the description pages.
The blog, on the other hand, is where you answer questions that your target audience is asking before they know that your company even exists. For example, Zuora might answer a question like, Why is a subscription model good for businesses?, on their blog or they may answer the question, How do become a better manager?, on their blog.
It’s still the same audience. It’s related to the person’s job. The answer is valuable.
2. Long-term Commitment
The next thing I noticed on Zuora’s blog is their archive list. It’s on the righthand side of their blog and it’s impressive.
According to the archive list they’ve been blogging since May 2008. And it seems like they’ve published at least one post every month since that time.
That is long-term commitment. It’s one of the longest running business blogs I’ve seen and I do these blog analysis posts every week.
When it comes to blogging, it’s not something where you post one post here and there and get the results that you see other blogs getting. It takes a long-term commitment and works similarly to investing money.
You start putting some away. Maybe you slightly increase the amount over time. And after some time you start to realize that you have a good amount of money stashed away.
With a blog you start maybe with a post a week. Maybe you increase that slightly over time. And before you know it you’re getting traffic not only to the posts, but to the main pages on your site.
The reason that happens is that you build a reputation by answering questions and helping your target audience. And that lifts the profile of your entire website and brand.
3. Industry Trends
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a big trend in the business world right now. It’s big in tech, venture capital, etc. Business leaders in those areas are looking at IoT and asking questions. They may know certain things and have certain ideas, but it’s difficult to know everything. So they look for experts in the industry to provide thoughts and opinions.
Zuora linked to a great post on the IoT trend.
I’m seeing now that Zuora may have a curating strategy for their blog that contributes to some or maybe even most of their content. This is a post that originally appeared on another site.
That’s a good strategy and totally fine to do. They provide correct attribution and everything. They could have taken things even further on this topic by providing their own thoughts.
They do pull out some of the good quotes and this strategy does provide value to readers.
4. Lessons From…
Here is a great original post from Zuora. It’s about the lessons the CEO of Zuora gathered from an astronaut. These types of posts have become common in the blogging world over the years and there’s good reason for that.
We all often learn life lessons from people we look up to. They might be our parents, other family members, friends or others that we look up to from afar.
And many people find it valuable to read about and discover new people to look up to and the lessons others have learned. We’re a curious bunch and learning about people and learning how others live life is something we want to discover.
These posts can seem cheesy on the surface sometimes, but if they’re done right they can provide real value. I think this one does provide value.
I like the point in this post about being able to see different perspectives in life.
Here is a great interview that Zuora did as a blog post. The topic is security. That’s obviously an important topic in the software and tech world. It seems like every week there is news of a new issue with data being compromised. And it’s important for subscription businesses, Zuora’s clients.
So they brought one of their team members who is an expert on the topic and an expert from another company to have a discussion. They provided a lot of good thoughts and insights into the issue in the post.
Interviews are a great way to create blog posts for a company blog. Sometimes you’ll have people that have valuable insight and answers, but they’re not bloggers. They don’t like writing. Set aside 30 minutes, ask them questions and record the conversation. Then turn the insight into a blog post like this one.
Zuora is doing a lot of good things with their blog. I really like that last example with the interview. That is such a great way to create amazing blog content. They’re curating a bit of their content, but it’s helped them to publish consistently for many years. They’re doing good things and it seems to be leading to success with their blog.