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Teardown: How Adobe Software Uses Content to Grow 20%+ Year-on-Year

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February 25, 2022

Long gone are the days when Adobe strictly catered to office geeks moving read-only documents on box-shaped CRT monitors.

Now, it’s the go-to brand for anything to do with creating digital experiences. In December 2021, Adobe hit a record annual revenue of $15.79 billion — equalling a 23% year-over-year growth. Adobe’s stock price comfortably sits above $500 at the time of writing.

Adobe software, like Acrobat or Photoshop, has been used by almost every computer user out there. This means finding new users is a challenge in itself.

And one that Adobe tackled through pivoting its business model and brand positioning. Adobe’s move from licensed software to SaaS made it more affordable — and more attractive — to a wider audience. And by adopting a brand positioning that aligns with our increasingly digital future, it moved into the business-critical space.

There’s a common theme here that trickles down into its content marketing: a good thing can always be made better. This means Adobe is constantly looking for the next best product upgrade.

Combined with its audience-centric content, Adobe’s site gets more than 52 million organic monthly visitors and ranks for around 4.6 million keywords.

A graph depicting Adobe organic traffic
Screenshot/Ahrefs

So, let’s get into it. Here are three of Adobe’s most impressive tactics:

  1. A network of high-traffic feature pages
  2. A blog that educates, engages and inspires.
  3. A frictionless journey that converts visitors to users.

Create a network of feature pages for your product

Adobe’s extensive product suite isn’t short of features: there’s a reason why it’s the go-to brand for businesses and creative professionals.

But when you’ve got so much to advertise, it gets tricky. Features get lost, marketing opportunities get missed — and products end up undersold.

This is exactly what happened to Adobe Creative Cloud Express.

Now, CC Express has always had a ton of features — upwards of 30. And when Adobe first built its product page, it crammed all of this information onto a single page. Not only did this crowd the page, but it created a poor user experience (UX).

Plus, the page only ranked for brand keywords, namely Adobe Software and Creative Cloud Express. Considering the page was full of high-volume keywords — like image resizer, which gets 527,000 searches per month — the team realized they were missing out on some serious traffic.

To capitalize on this goldmine of keywords, the Adobe team built a network of feature pages. They broke down every feature into digestible terms and created a page around it. This ensures CC Express ranks for seriously competitive keywords, boosting organic traffic and overall user experience.

MadX uses a similar SEO strategy to help SaaS clients blast past their yearly revenue targets. Every feature and use case gets a unique landing page.

But I digress.

CC Express pages have:

  • An above-the-line CTA.
  • Tips on how to use the feature.
  • Details on the specific use cases.
  • A final CTA to the product.
Screenshot from Adobe Creative Cloud Express

The URL structure is just as uniform:

/[product]/[feature]/[feature name]

Which looks like:

/express/feature/image/remove-background

/express/feature/video/change-speed/slow-motion

/express/feature/video/video-to-gif

This makes it easy for Google to read the pages and understand they’re linked. Plus, if the individual feature pages do well, so does the /express page.

And speaking of, just how well has this tactic worked for CC Express?

See for yourself:

Adobe Creative Cloud Express/Ahrefs

The combined Creative Cloud Express pages (everything that rolls up to /express) receive 79 million organic visitors a month. They rank for 15 million keywords. And they’ve generated more than 3.5 billion backlinks.

And express and feature pages are the two highest-performing pages on the entire site:

Adobe/Ahrefs

How to create a highly transactional network — and rank beyond brand keywords:

  • Analyze your product or service and pick out the key features. But — and this bit is critical — map these features on a whiteboard.
  • Do the research. Check out search volumes and keyphrases that relate to your product/service.
  • Renaming features to align with search trends if you’re not creating a special category. (Bulk Mail feature from Postalytics comes as a good example.)
  • Create a page template to roll out feature silos. But don’t fall into the trap of just building this for Google. Stick to the normal UX rules you’d follow for any webpage.
  • Look at your URL structure: how can you optimize this? Make sure each feature rolls up to the main product or service page.
  • Test and tweak! Monitor traffic over a few months and experiment with key phrases to see what captures attention.

Publish a wide scope of informational articles

Ok, everyone understands the how-to blog post. It’s a reliable way to scoop up keyphrases and give valuable help to your target audience.

But Adobe goes further than this.

Adobe’s blog doesn’t just have all the educational articles you’d expect. In addition to the usual how-to posts, Adobe’s blog covers news stories, goings-on in the design and digital worlds, and event coverage. There are plenty of posts packed full of inspiration. And there’s a ton of user-generated content.

After exploring the blog, we figured all Adobe’s content meets at least one of three goals:

  • Inspire
  • Educate
  • Engage
Adobe blog/Screenshot

By focusing on these high-level (and more abstract) goals, as well as metrics and performance-driven goals, Adobe raises the bar. Which in turn makes its content more shareable, more useful, and more likely to turn prospects into customers, and users into advocates.

And this pays off.

Adobe’s blog gets 58,000 organic monthly visitors and ranks for 102,000 keywords. But it also has 1.9 million backlinks — proving the content is shareable and valuable. And one of its top pages — an article about Pantone’s color of the year — is a news article, rather than something about its own solution set.

Ahrefs/Screenshot

Adobe has another valuable tactic on its blog too.

It showcases a lot of inspiring customer stories and people. And these pieces tick every box: they inspire, educate, and engage. Sure, featuring in a profile would be incredible for most customers. But it’s probably not the easiest bit of coverage to secure, and it’s certainly not scalable for Adobe’s marketing team.

Adobe Blog/Screenshot

Instead, Adobe calls on the power of user-generated content to reap similar benefits. Through Behance, Adobe has built a community of true advocates — and a huge library of inspiring, engaging, and educational content.

Behance/screenshot

Behance gets some serious traffic: it has a profile of 214 million backlinks, it ranks for 7.5 million keywords, and it gets 3.9 organic monthly visitors.

And all of these visitors contribute to building critical brand trust and authority. Plus, it more or less runs itself, with no shortage of incredible content that ranks well on Google.

How to level up your organization’s blog

  • Think like a publisher, not a business. Think broadly: what makes a great story? What can you and your company talk about that no one else can? What do you have the authority to speak about? Jot everything down.
  • Consider the role of user-generated content in your industry. For a company like Adobe, it’s easy: people want to share what they’ve created. But it’s might not be so straightforward for your business.
  • You might need to think more creatively: maybe it’s requesting guest blogs from expert users, running in-depth surveys, or creating a bank of case studies.
  • Understand how your audience uses content. Are they like Adobe’s designers, who want to share, show off, and collaborate? What drives them to share: inspiring stories, new research, helpful tips? Once you’ve figured this out, build it into your strategy and create viral features.

Make it easy to convert — eliminate friction

Sounds obvious, right? No one sets out to build a website with a complex, tricky conversion process.

Now, think about how many times you visit a website and have to search for a contact button or read a blog to find related products yourself. These tasks aren’t difficult… But they tangle up the conversion journey. And this could push a prospect away if they’re still on the fence about sharing their credit card information.

So, what does Adobe get so right?

Well, first off, all its content is mapped to a funnel stage — even the pieces that fall into the inspiring and educational buckets we went through above.

Take this article as an example:

It’d be pretty easy for Adobe to write an inspiring, helpful article about successfully submitting a film — and leave it there.

But it doesn’t.

Instead, it pushes the reader down its funnel. And it does this in a way that isn’t brash or overly salesy. It keeps a trustworthy and helpful tone of voice while linking its product suite.

And this tactic is repeated across the majority of its blogs. Posts link to other content as well as the product suite — in relevant places, in moderation — to signpost readers to the next steps.

Next up is a contentious one:  pricing.

Ask ten people whether or not they should display prices on their business’s website, and you’ll get ten different opinions back.

It’s no surprise: pricing strategy depends on your market, your customers, your product/services, and your sales cycle.

But for the majority of SaaS companies — including Adobe — transparent pricing goes a long way in swaying a prospect’s decision.

Adobe gets straight to it: prospects can see costs in two clicks, straight from the main nav:

And once you’re on the page, you have every single detail you could need.

You can see prices for individual products, as well as packages. Adobe’s made it possible to filter by feature, and it’s included a live chat box, just in case any last-minute objections pop up.

The tiered pricing model caters to super-specific needs too.

Adobe gets that different buyer segments will want to buy and use its products in different ways.

Compare the business pricing to the schools and universities option: employees don’t share devices, so a per-user license is more relevant, while students are likely to share school computers, so a per-device cost works.

Another smart move from Adobe is its free trial. This is the first thing a visitor sees when they land on Adobe’s homepage — making it super easy to convert people. (And super quick.)

Finally, Adobe’s clear, uniform CTA buttons help readers instantly know what to look for to take that next step. It’s a small detail but makes a huge difference.

Especially when you consider that 70% of small business websites don’t include a CTA on the homepage.

How to improve your website conversion rates:

  • Put together a solid content strategy that cascades down the funnel. Every piece of content needs the next step. And plotting CTAs is just as important as planning KPIs.
  • Know the obstacles your buyers have and mitigate them. Do some research and figure out what’s getting in the way — then form a plan to tackle this. It could be displaying prices online, or building a library of FAQs. (Hot tip: FAQs are a great tool for improving your SEO performance too.)
  • Offer prospects some proof. Free trials are often the best way to turn prospects into customers, but if you can’t do this, think more creatively. Could in-depth demo videos do the job?
  • Sweat the small stuff: the words you use for CTAs are more important than you might think. Dig into the art of micro-copy, and make sure every word on your website is working for you.
MADX.digital

Final thoughts

Adobe is a content creation machine: from what it enables other organizations to do, to its own marketing efforts.

So, understandably, there are a lot of lessons you can learn from it.

But our top takeaways — and ones that every business, of all sizes, with any budget — should consider are:

  • Align everything: map user journeys through every piece of content and ensure there’s always a signpost to the next step.
  • Make sure your content has legs: work efficiently to get the most out of your content. Use templates to speed up creation, and see where a single piece of content can meet multiple goals. Let that content work for you.
  • Start from scratch: don’t be scared of overhauling existing processes if you think something can be done better.

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