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Rhapsody.com

Customer Acquisition

Case study

Finding customers in a noisy market

Rhapsody.com is a streaming music services formally owned by RealNetworks. One Net Marketing drove 2,608,415 visitors and generated 256,000 paying subscribers via search advertising campaigns and an aggressive long-tail SEO strategy.

We knew the big players were competing heavily on keywords related to “online music”, “buy music online” and “free music."  While the volume for these keywords was huge, we didn’t have the advertising dollars to complete against large players like iTunes, Amazon, Yahoo Music, and MP3.com on these search terms.

Most competitors were running their paid search and display campaigns at a loss paying upwards of $100 to acquire a free trial user.  We had a $35 CPA to work with.

How could we stand out in the noise and convince music fans to pay for a relatively unknown service?

We knew the big players were competing heavily on keywords related to “online music”, “buy music online” and “free music.“ While the volume for these keywords was huge, we didn’t have the advertising dollars to complete against Yahoo or AOL Music on these search terms.

We did however notice a lack of competition on long-tail keywords – especially keywords related to artist, song and album titles. 

We loaded our playlists with keywords - not songs

In aggregate these keywords had a substantial amount of search volume. But how could we tell which were actually profitable. Even if they did were they likely to purchase their music or find it elsewhere from illegal download sites or P2P file sharing networks?

With millions of song titles, and tens of thousands of artists, where does one start to build a long-tail paid search strategy for artist, album and song names?

From playlist to purchase

There’s no way to test keywords without buying click, but we did have some tools at our disposal that helped us narrow down our original keyword set.

First, we queried the Billboard charts to identify top selling artists and albums. From there we generated a list of song titles. 

Next, we used the Rhapsody API to see which genres were being requested the most by current users.  We found Jazz, County, Folk, Classic Rock, Christian and R&B were the most popular genres for logged in users of the Rhapsody service. Once we identified these genres we used open source databases to retrieve artists, albums and keywords from each of these genres.

We now had two distinct keyword campaigns. One for top selling albums and their associated artists and songs and another long tail campaign containing keywords and ad groups for popular artist, albums and songs as requested by current Rhapsody subscribers. 

Pitch perfect conversion optimization

In paid search quality score can make or break your profitability. We knew we needed to have content on our landing pages specific to an artist and album. We also knew we needed to generate these pages quickly so we could test and exclude non-performing keywords ad groups.

We knew the Rhapsody API provided content and images for all artists in the Rhapsody database so we built a templating engine capable of rendering 4-page artist specific microsite in a matter of seconds. Each microsites contained artist bios, album and track information, images and a product tour. 

Impact

SaaS marketing plan

Our proven SaaS marketing methods wrapped up into an easy-to-digest marketing plan.

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