Why we started on Quora
We are a startup. And like any other young business, the struggle of getting the first hundreds, and then thousands, customers is our daily routine.
One of the hardest challenges for us in terms of customer acquisition was to survive the time when the word of mouth started to become not enough, and we desperately needed to find at least one other thing that could fuel our growth.
Now, to give you more context, CodingNinjas is a B2B company.
We help digital agencies, marketers, small businesses, and startups find vetted freelance developers on demand. And as you can imagine, we have a pretty demanding target audience.
Our first go to option was paid traffic. We’ve spent several thousand dollars on Google Ads that brought us a single client. What a CAC, right? Under those conditions, we couldn’t afford any further experiments at that moment, even despite having a high ticket business and great customer retention.
So, the next thing we did in terms of marketing was SEO. If you’ve ever done SEO for your own business, you know that there isn’t such thing as quick results when it comes to organic traffic. So, naturally, we still had an itch to find another source, that would help us speed up the process a little.
That’s when we first went on Quora. At the time, we didn’t consider it would have any miracle impact or become a lead source for our business. But since our CEO Alex first started posting on Quora, we never stopped. Why? Because we discovered that without any investments, other than time and dedication, getting traffic from Quora pays off not in terms of keeping your marketing budgets low, but also results in hundreds of leads who are already solution-aware.
Here’s an explicit manual on how to make Quora your lead generation source #1.
How Quora works
If you don’t know what Quora is used for, I’d say the best way to describe it would be saying that it’s a lovechild of Reddit and Wikipedia.
The whole product is built around the idea of giving a second life to web forums where you could get answers directly from the experts from different fields. What’s their innovation? They’ve built a platform to unite all of your favorite forums into one.
Quora consists entirely of user-generated content. And thanks to Quora’s terrific understanding of what their product is about and what the users expect from it, the platform favors two things:
- Actively engaged community members
- High-quality content
And once you get to know Quora better, you start to understand why.
Spoiler: users value Quora because it’s become a place where you can get short and definite answers to questions you have. And quite often you’ll get them from people with first-hand experience on the topic. And since Quora is a social media with user-generated content, the users naturally play a huge part not only in creating, but moderating content too.
All they had to do is to come up with algorithms that would help them deliver their best content to readers and motivate great writers to come up with more great content.
Why it matters to you as a business owner or marketer?
Choose your favorite reason:
- Quora has over 300 million monthly active users
- On average, they get over 640 million visits a month
- Almost 30% of their traffic comes from the United States
- It’s a great platform to deliver native content to a diverse audience
- According to SimilarWeb, they are the second place people go looking for answers after Wikipedia
And last but not least, although Quora’s business model is monetizing through ads, it is still possible for businesses to reach users organically, without spending a dime. Given, of course, that they produce high-quality content.
At this point, we could have finished the article. Because we’ve already given out the biggest secret: write awesome answers — get hot traffic.
But another thing we’ve mentioned is Quora’s algorithms.
And, if you’re familiar with the concept of growth hacking, you probably already know by know where this article is going:
If there’s an algorithm, we can hack it!
We’ll dedicate the rest of the article to things you should do to make Quora promote the content you create, give your answers better ranking and even boost them through displaying them to your target audience in their homepage feeds, recommended answers and their email digests.
Optimizing Quora profile for the win
Before we even start creating content, there’s an important thing that you need to take care of: your Quora profile. The best idea is to provide as much information as humanly possible. Yes, even the year you graduated from college, and your spoken languages.
Personal info and Credentials
Think of your Quora profile as a personal landing page. Because the main reason people will end up there is if they’d seen your answer to a question that concerned them, and are now trying to verify your credibility and expertise.
First impressions matter, right?
Here’s your checklist for making the most out of your profile:
A real photo. It’s best to have a professional headshot, but a nice picture showing your face will do too.
Credentials. There are at least two different credentials you should fill out: personal and employers. You will also be able to choose which one to set as default. Additionally, you’ll also be able to set custom credentials for specific answers.
Personal info. This section is the first thing your visitors will see. It’s quite versatile, and you can come up with a lot of creative ways to drive traffic from your profile. Give them a short bio on your own persona and what you can help them with.
Your business’ elevator pitch. Same, but talk about your company now.
Links to your landing page. It’s best to create a separate landing page designed specifically for visitors that come from your Quora profile page with a copy that resonates with them.
Call to action. Always give clear directions. What people to subscribe for your newsletters, claim a deal or get on the free trial? Tell them to do so!
Contact details. It’s impossible to DM other users on Quora, so providing alternative ways to contact you is always a great idea.
It’s best to use different formatting styles, lists, and images in your profile description. Make the copy reader-friendly, short and simple.
Since from the early days we’ve decided to focus on developing our CEO’s profile, here’s an example of the profile that works great for us:
The “Knows about” section is terribly underestimated.
The thing is that this section of your optimized profile directly impacts the ranking of your answers and should be updated quite often.
Ranking of the answers is what we’re all fighting for because the first answer shown always gets more traffic, views, trust, attention, and leads. From this perspective, Quora’s content delivery algorithm basically mimics the search engines, and the winner gets it all. Here’s how our answer looks when we rank first:
The second-best answers on Quora exist in the same dimension as the results on Google’s 2nd page.
But in case with Quora, your profile info play a big part in how your answers rank. And if the question you’re about to answer goes along with the topics you’ve chosen to show up in your profile, that will positively affect your rating.
So, before you answer any question, look at what topics it’s related to:
And add them to your profile:
There are no restrictions on how different your favorite topics can be. So, if you’re an expert in both cross-stitching and rocket fuel, no one bats an eye.
There is a limit to how many topics you can include in your profile. But over two years of active presence on the platform and constant updating, we haven’t hit it still. So it’s probably not the reason to be too picky: just add as many relevant topics as you can.
Another frequently missed opportunity, the pinned answer is the one that shows on top of your content feed. Basically, it’s your chance to give your profile visitors another piece of the content they might be interested in.
Of course, it’s the best idea to use one of the answers that have organically gotten you great results, widest reach, and the traffic that converted.
It’s also a nice touch if the question you’re pinning resonates with your target audience and solution-aware customers. What you’re aiming for is to move the audience further into your customer acquisition funnel, so keep that in mind.
For us, it was the question about the best websites for hiring freelancers, where we gave an explicit answer about what types of marketplaces exist, which are better for both freelancers and their clients, and why, and what are the things you should pay attention to when choosing the platform you’ll be hiring from. Our answer proved to be valuable, got many upvotes, and the traffic that followed through to our website was converting into customers. So those are the criteria you should rely on when choosing what answer to pin to your profile.
One of the key concepts in content marketing in general and Quora, in particular, is the awareness stages.
In simple words, this concept means that before making the final decision on what product or service to buy, every customer goes through certain stages of awareness:
- Unaware – people who don’t know yet they have a problem your product solves.
- Problem-aware – already sense the problem but don’t know how to identify and solve it.
- Solution-aware – they’ve defined the problem and found the solution.
- Product-aware – they know which products solve their problem and are considering which one to choose through comparison.
The more aware the prospect is, the easier it is to close the deal and convert them into a paying customer. Mostly because you don’t have to spend your time and resources educating them and leading them through their customer journey.
That’s why when you’re just starting our on content marketing, it is best to produce content for the last category: the product-aware audience.
These people, in general, will be either looking to compare different products or alternatives to your better-known competitors. For us, the biggest competition is freelance marketplaces like Toptal and Upwork. They have been around for longer, and for a lot of people who are looking to hire freelance developers, those websites are the on-top-of-the-mind solution. Luckily, we have advantages over both of those platforms, and that’s what our first and best answers on Quora were built around.
Define customers’ pain points
Of course, as your business grows, and you gradually run out of the product-aware questions to answer, you will have to switch to producing content for the broader audience.
Your first step would be to switch to the solution-aware audience, and then — the problem-aware. In our case, the example of questions that bother our prospective customers were the ones regarding the best freelancing platforms and hiring remote and freelance developers. If you’re, let’s say, a producer of sailing boats, you should be looking for the questions about the best sailing boats.
So, the first two stages of content creation on Quora should be quite easy and intuitive. The problems appear once you switch to answering the questions targeted at your problem-aware folks.
The thing is, that if you think of your product or service as medicine or vitamins, you need to know exactly what your pills are curing, and what are the symptoms of the disease your target audience is suffering from.
The only way to create the content that resonates with your target audience is to get to know them better. Once we hit the point when we realized the answers we were righting are not bringing us any hot leads, we knew that something was off. And since we still wanted to use Quora for lead generation and believed its’ power, we decided we should talk to our clients and ask them directly what were their biggest challenges before they started working with us, and what were the problems they were trying to solve.
After all the conversations we did not only learn about their concerns but also realized what an awesome decision was to turn to deep customer interviews in our attempts to create better content.
If you are not entirely sure you know everything about what your customers are going through before they come to your landing page and make a purchase, put everything off and go ask them for a 20-minute talk.
That was how we learned a lot about our clients’ businesses, how they call themselves, what vocab they use, and how they dealt with the overflows of development tasks before they started delegating them to CodingNinjas.
It turned out, that a vast majority of our customers were small businesses operating in digital marketing space or web design and development. Many of them, even if they were a business ran by one person, referred themselves as digital agencies. And if it wasn’t for the interviews we did, we’d probably wouldn’t realize even now that the biggest challenges they are facing are growth-related. They were either growing organically and weren’t able to take care of all the development in-house, or were trying to scale and take on not only design- and marketing-related orders, but also were upselling the web-development as well.
So, if you’re not doing customer interviews yet, and you haven’t defined the biggest pain points and the words your customers use to describe what’s bothering them, go and schedule your first meeting with a client!
Win traffic and distribution
Another important thing to remember when it comes to which questions to choose is asking whether your answer gets a chance to bring traffic to your website or get significant distribution from Quora.
As we’ve mentioned above, Quora’s algorithms favor quality content over everything else. That means, your writing has to be strong and the answers — neatly formatted. We’ll dive in that further on. What you have to know it’s not the only tactic to win the best traffic, you also have to pay attention to a few details about the questions. There are a few major methods to make the most out of lead generation through Quora:
Questions that appear on Google
Aiming for the evergreen content, you should always give the questions that appear on the first pages of Google search the first priority.
After all, let’s not forget that Quora is considered to be a reliable source of information that features different points of view. It will always win the search traffic among the other competitors. And this can be especially valuable for the smaller businesses or the ones that haven’t been doing much in terms of attracting organic traffic.
So once you know which topics you want to focus on, go and search them on Google. If you see a link to Quora answer there — that’s what you want to answer first and put in as much effort as possible.
Here’s how the answers that brought us the most leads from Quora looked like on Google:
7:1 Ratio on Quora
“Everyone deserves to get the answers they are looking for”
That’s what the almighty algorithm seems to believe in. What matters to us is that according to Josh Fechter, the founder of BAMF.media and a growth hacker to follow, there is a magic 7:1 ratio that boosts your chances to get better reach and distribution.
This correlation implies to the number of followers to the answers already provided.
In other words, if there are at least 7 times more followers than answers, your content is likely to be pushed to show on the followers feeds or be sent out in the Quora digest and reach thousands of inboxes. Judging from our experience, this theory proves to be working.
And since the distribution seems to have a snowball effect, and the more credibility you’ve gotten before — the more you’ll get further on. So, if it’s your first time on Quora in a long time, or maybe ever, focus on those 7:1 questions even if they don’t seem to have too many followers.
Here’s where you find the stats:
Views and Followers
And, of course, you can’t ignore the questions that seem to have a big significance, those with many views, followers and even answers.
The more traffic there is — the more traffic you will potentially get.
But remember that the competition is going to be tough on the topics that get the most attention from the writers, and your content needs to be valuable. How to create the content that wins over competitors — down below.
Text and Structure
Quora offers quite a selection of tools when it comes to formatting the answers. And our best advice about writing a great answer is to put on all the glitter you have. Of course, it’s never a good idea to use bolds and italics where they don’t make any sense, and after all, we’re not only trying to get the robot to like us, but also should be thinking about the user and how readable our content is going to be for them.
So here are some ideas you might want to use:
- Write in short sentences and write as you speak. This is a rule to follow in writing in general, but it’s especially important for the platforms with user-generated content.
- Keep your answers explicit, but not too long. The perfect length is somewhere between 400 and 800 words.
- Use the quote formatting to emphasize the key ideas.
- Stress on other important things throughout the text with highlights, and bold or italic text.
- Refer to reliable sources from which you’ve got your data or research. Choose trusted and well-known websites, and link to them using anchor phrases.
- Thank and mention the person who invited you to write on the topic through @nickname
- Link your answer to other questions and answers on a related topic on Quora
- Answer questions related to web development or programming using the code container formatting.
There is nothing in the world that Quora loves more than lists. If there is any way you can incorporate a list in your answer, do so. And if you can do two, also do so.
But keep in mind, the for the best results you should be using not just the free formatting, but Quora’s auto-formatting for lists.
Here’s a bad example of a list:
And here’s a good one:
Notice the increased indent we used in this list — another feature favored by the ranking algorithm.
If you don’t believe that the lists can have that much power, you can repeat the experiment we did a few months ago: write an answer, but don’t include a list in it and see if it gets to be the first in ranking among at least 5-10 competitors. Most probably, it won’t get through to the first place. Then, add a list. Wait a few hours and see if your ranking has changed. We bet, it will change.
Images, videos, and GIFs are some other things that may give you the bonus points in the ranking game.
Again, it’s always the best idea to use your own illustrations, pictures, and screenshots. With tools like Canva or Crello it’s not that hard. But if there is absolutely no way you can produce the visual content, at least use the stock photos and drawings, even if that’s going to be a free stock (we sometimes use Unsplash or Pixabay for those purposes).
One more reason to use pictures for your answers is that you’re not always be ranked the first. In that case, the best you can do to be seen is to make yourself visible among other answers. A great way to do that is to highlight the beginning of your answer with a custom image. Just to draw the views and attention of those who are scrolling down the hundreds of replies:
Pro tips for Quora users
Answer Wiki is often the very first thing a user sees when they enter the question page. This section exists to summarize all the answers given into one, so the users don’t have to go through all the sheets of plain text.
But what we should really care about is that even if you don’t get to be the first answer your user sees, you still get a chance to catch their eye with Answer Wiki. And this trick is especially effective when your prospective leads are looking for the list of alternatives to your competitors, or “the best websites for…”
Important: Answer Wiki can only reflect the information from the existing answers. In other words, you can’t edit the Answer Wiki before there’s at least one answer mentioning your product or service or reflecting your opinion on the topic. So, the first step is always to write an answer, and then edit the Wiki.
Here’s how the process looks like:
- Find the question you want to answer
- Write your reply
- Edit the Wiki
Cheating on Quora
Once you start learning more about how to get clients from Quora, sooner or later you’ll run into some Reddit topic or a Fiverr gig where you’ll see people discussing buying the upvotes or paying others to ask a convenient question or write an answer mentioning your business.
What you have to know about all the grey- and blackhead tactics on Quora is that their algorithms are not only great in determining the cream of the community, they are also good at hunting down the abusers.
if when you get caught and banned, keep in mind two things:
- This is forever
- They won’t negotiate
The two worst things you can do?
If you ever decide to register a few accounts and start boosting your main profile with your side ones, or asking some new questions that help you create content which is convenient for your business using the fake profile, and then answering those questions like a hero…that will be exactly what Quora policies call sockpuppeting.
There a million ways to monitor such suspicious activities, and once Quora manages to catch you red-handed, you will receive a permanent ban on all the associated accounts.
Upvotes directly influence the ranking of your answer — that’s true.
But the way algorithm works and lets you get clients from Quora isn’t that simple and straight-forward, and upvotes have a dozen of different variables that decide whether the specific upvotes will affect your answers ranking. Among them, there are things like whether or not the upvoters are also your followers, do they enter the website via a direct link or search the question and upvote your answer organically, do they follow the topic you’re writing about? And many others.
So, even if you decide to pay strangers for upvoting, take into account that those engagements may not even be of any help when you’re trying to get leads from Quora, while you’d be putting at risk your hard work and dedicated time.
Just like any other content marketing strategy, using Quora as a lead generation tool, probably won’t bring you easy or short-term results. It requires a lot of time-consuming content production, expertise in your industry, and understanding your target audience better than you understand yourself. But in the end, it really pays off.
At CodingNinjas we still haven’t found another traffic source that would be as effective for lead generation as Quora. But as a startup, we hope it’s just a matter of time until we share another story on how we managed to x10 our user acquisition!