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Case Study: CircleCI

CircleCI: How TNS Makes Startups More Discoverable

Ron Powell took on CircleCI’s sponsorship of The New Stack in early 2020. The company had published several articles that readers liked, but he believed the site held untapped potential and began to experiment. Combining SEO best practices with technical content, Powell shipped a new series of articles to TNS. The experiments far exceeded CircleCI’s expectations: Eight ranked in the 86th percentile or above — performing better than 86 percent of all articles on The New Stack — and six performed above the 91st percentile.

“Pageviews were an order of magnitude higher than expected. When you see that type of success, you think, how can I 10x this program?”

– Ron Powell, Technical Content Marketing Manager, CircleCI

As a startup, the key focus of CircleCI’s marketing team is to increase discoverability of the company and direct traffic to its website. The team had to determine which content to put on TNS versus its own website. To weigh the tradeoffs, Powell tested a post called “Do I Really Need Kubernetes?” that linked back to CircleCI’s own Kubernetes tutorial.

“It’s an introduction to Kubernetes tutorial, but there are thousands. I had very little chance of getting Google to rank a brand new post on our own site when there are so many that came before mine,” he said. His approach was to write fresh technical content for TNS that included a link back to CircleCI’s tutorial.

“And not just that, but it’s also the overlapping audience. There’s a 1:1 relationship to the TNS audience and potential CircleCI users. And TNS’s editorial quality is really high. Folks trust it,” Powell said. This combination of expert content and SEO best practices helped catapult CircleCI’s Kubernetes post to the top 96th percentile of TNS rankings while also directing traffic to the CircleCI website, boosting their own Domain Authority. “It didn’t feel at all like we were sacrificing pageviews,” he said.

Regular meetings with TNS help shape CircleCI’s editorial direction on- and off-platform. “Being able to see the ways that different types of content have been successful on the platform has given me a better understanding of how to leverage the relationship with The New Stack so that we can make optimal content for both of our audiences and get the type of return that we’re looking for.”

TNS continues to send hundreds of referrals to the CircleCI site every month. Alignment around audiences gave CircleCI the confidence to experiment further, Powell said. “This last year has shown that we’re just starting to scratch the surface. The real value that we were able to get from the Kubernetes post — in a non-trivial way and fast — tells me we need to do more.”

While the pandemic has created a proliferation of digital content as marketers sought alternatives to in-person events, Powell intends to leverage TNS to scale discoverability for CircleCI: “How do you cut through the noise of the internet? I don’t know a better way!”

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