The secrets of Zoom’s growth strategy

Ankur Tiwari
Dec 14, 2019 · 10 min read
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Zoom provides a cloud-based solution for video conferencing.

Zoom Video Communications is a super successful startup:

  • It is valued at more than $17 Billion (as on 12.12.2019)
  • It is just eight years old and listed on NASDAQ.
  • Earned $166.6 million in revenue in the last three months (Q3 FY20)
  • Have approximately 74,100 customers with more than ten employees!

As if this is not enough, Zoom’s Net Promoter Score (NPS) is averaging around 70 for the past few years. Customers love it!

Zoom has built a great product, had organic growth early on, and has built multiple growth channels over the years.

Zoom competes against the big boys like Microsoft and Cisco. Today Zoom stands tall at number one.

But Zoom started small. They had struggled to raise their first round of funding. They had struggled to find their go-to-market strategy.

So, if you are a SaaS startup, still figuring out the growth strategy, you can learn a lot from this story of Zoom’s growth engine. This is a detailed look at Zoom’s growth strategies and tactics. Let’s get started!

About Zoom

Zoom is a SaaS company in video conferencing space. Eric S. Yuan founded it in 2011. Eric was working with WebEx on building video conferencing products for over 14 years before starting Zoom.

Zoom is a product-first company. They invested all their initial resources in building a great product. On Zoom, you can host online video meetings with multiple people.

Eric was named Glassdoor’s top CEO in 2018.

Recently, on the Business Insider’s list of 15 best CEOs of 2019, Eric has been placed at #1.

Growth Strategy: Bird’s Eye View

A lot of Zoom’s initial growth came from organic outreach and partnerships. These partnerships helped Zoom to integrate their solution with existing B2B service providers and leverage the distribution of these companies.

In his interview with SaaStr, Eric has also attributed Walt Mossberg’s article for initial viral growth.

Presently key channels of Zoom’s engine of growth are:

  1. Partnerships
  2. SDRs & Demos
  3. Inbuilt distribution
  4. Social & Ads
  5. Content
  6. Zoomtopia

Zoom does not consider some of these channels specifically for customer acquisition. But all of these channels contribute to community building and filling top of their sales funnel (TOFU).

Here is a snapshot of how Zoom gets most of its traffic:

Marketing channel wise website traffic of zoom.us. Source: SimilarWeb
Marketing channel wise website traffic of zoom.us. Source: SimilarWeb

A quick analysis of Zoom’s over 30,000 organic keywords reveals that most of the top-performing keywords are branded keywords (‘zoom’ ). Thus bringing in a high branded traffic (> 94%). The same figure for Slack is around 92%.

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It seems that most visitors are aware of the brand beforehand and/or had direct links to click on. A catchy four-letter name adds to the fuel!

Thus their massive direct traffic is due to organic outreach, partnerships, events, inbuilt distribution, and offline ads (billboards, airports).

Let’s discuss the few key channels in detail.

Partnerships

Zoom has been building partnerships with other B2B companies to integrate and offer its products using the distribution of its partners. This is a very reliable growth channel and a high contributor to their direct traffic.

One way to understand this partnership ecosystem that Zoom has built is to consider Zoom as part of a stack from the user’s point of view. Zoom has been successful in positioning itself as part of an elite stack of top product-driven startups.

Take a look at the ‘similar sites’ metrics for Zoom and its competitors:

Sites similar to Zoom in terms of traffic
Sites similar to Zoom in terms of traffic
Websites similar to Zoom in terms of traffic sites similar to WebEx in terms of traffic.
Sites similar to GoToMeeting in terms of traffic
Sites similar to GoToMeeting in terms of traffic
Sites similar to GoToMeeting in terms of traffic
Sites similar to Skype in terms of traffic
Sites similar to Google hangout in terms of traffic
Sites similar to Google hangout in terms of traffic
Sites similar to Google hangout in terms of traffic

So while its competitors were fighting in ‘meetings’ and ‘conferencing’ space, Zoom went out and built partnerships with companies in other verticals to create a seamless experience for its users. Users can have great experience in using Zoom along with other apps for scheduling, conferencing, storage, communication, and more.

For integrations, Zoom has built an app marketplace. Some integrations allow users to access multiple services using the same Zoom dashboard. Such integrations not only reduce the resistance to adoption but also build the growth using network effect.

In her interview with SaaStr, Janine Pelosi, Zoom CMO mentions that they also build relationships with industry analysts. This helps them to get organic growth.

Takeaways:

  1. Find the best distribution channel for your product and build it first.
  2. The best channel is organic and targets ‘low hanging fruits’.
  3. Align your product as part of an existing ecosystem to leverage its distribution.

Built-In Distribution

The best way to distribute a product is to build the distribution within the product. I never signed up for Zoom.

I had actually enrolled for an online Sanskrit course, where the instructor delivered the course over Zoom. I received a direct link to join the course a day before the start date, clicked on the link, and set it up.

A few months later, I joined another course where too instructor was delivering the course over Zoom. I was familiar with the app by now.

Later, I wanted to communicate within my team and guess what was the first channel came to my mind? Zoom. No points for guessing.

From an online instructor to me and from me to all my team members, Zoom just spread without the company spending a dime!

One reason for it is Zoom having an excellent free plan. When I was asked to sign up by my online instructor, I never had to think twice.

Another reason is the product being great. Once I’ve used it without ever having any issue with the product, my default decision was to use it again. I never had to google “best website for video conferencing.”

Takeaways:

  1. Build distribution within the product e.g., use of the product should set up a chain of growth.
  2. Build an extremely simple and efficient product for users. “It should just work.” Eat all the complexities required (tech and/or product) to build such a product yourself.

Social & Ads

Take a look at Zoom’s social traffic:

Zoom’s social traffic
Zoom’s social traffic

The majority of the traffic is from Facebook with YouTube being a distant second.

Here are their few longest-running (hence the top-performing) Facebook ads:

Zoom Facebook Ad 1
Zoom Facebook Ad 1
Facebook ad 1
Zoom Facebook Ad 2
Zoom Facebook Ad 2
Facebook ad 2
Zoom Facebook Ad 3
Zoom Facebook Ad 3
Facebook ad 3

Angles of their Facebook ads are aligned with their brand positioning. Some ads are running for multiple audiences and they keep testing for angle-audience fit.

Key angle categories of their FB ads are:

  1. Product benefits
  2. Social proof
  3. Collaboration & Partnerships

With different variations of texts & images under these three-angle categories, they are driving traffic to specific landing pages and filling the top of multiple sales funnels.

Their key Facebook ad funnels are:

  1. Fb ad > Request for demo landing page
  2. Fb ad > Free signup landing page
  3. Fb ad > Zoom Rooms landing page
  4. Fb ad > Zoom Blog With Demo Scheduling CTA

So, they are essentially bringing in traffic to all of their offerings and from all types of clients (Individuals, SMB, Mid-Market, Enterprise).

Usually, for B2B SaaS companies’ Facebook ads, it is a good idea to use faces of people, as this creates familiarity. Rather than using the product dashboard screen. It is even better if the people in the image are doing something rather than just posing for the photograph. Zoom uses images with a bunch of people in a video conference. Smart!

Zoom takes it a step ahead with short testimonial video clips of their logo clients.

Interestingly, Zoom has also been sending its paid Facebook traffic to a dedicated landing page built for a Gartner’s report. Zoom has been positioned in the Leaders Quadrant of the 2019 Magic Quadrant for Meeting Solutions. Now, considering the audience of Gartner, this funnel is targeted at Enterprise clients.

Here is a Zoom’s Google ad:

Zoom’s google ad
Zoom’s google ad
Zoom’s google ad

Currently, they seem to be bidding for nearly 30,000 PPC keywords. However, most of their top-performing keywords are either branded (Zoom) or related to business (‘meetings’, ‘video conferencing’). Take a look at their top 5 PPC keywords:

Zoom’s top 5 ppc keywords
Zoom’s top 5 ppc keywords
Zoom’s top 5 PPC keywords

Takeaways:

  1. Always experiment with the angle-image-audience combination for Facebook ads.
  2. Build dedicated funnels for each of your products.

Content: Zoom’s Blog

blog.zoom.us is the Zoom’s dedicated sub-domain for their blog. Here is the organic keyword traffic on this sub-domain over the years:

Zoom’s organic keyword traffic growth over the years. SEMrush.
Zoom’s organic keyword traffic growth over the years. SEMrush.

This means as far as content is concerned, Zoom was late to the party. They started building their blog somewhere towards the end of 2015.

It is also noteworthy to take a look at their top-performing blog posts:

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Based on the evergreen score, these top 4 blog posts of Zoom either talk about Zoomtopia (their annual event) or the company level developments.

A quick study of the top 80 blog pots reveals that Zoom’s content can be classified into these four broad categories:

  1. Zoomtopia
  2. Partnerships and use cases
  3. Introduction to products & features
  4. Business and company level developments and news

This is a mid-market and enterprise clients focused blog! Three facts support this:

  1. Categories of the blog topics
  2. CTAs
  3. Traffic to the landing pages
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Yes! “Request a demo” / “Schedule a Demo”.

These CTAs are typically targeted at mid-market and enterprise clients. Individuals and small teams would probably go for “Sign Up Free”.

Demo CTAs take us to Request Demo and Live Demo landing pages.

Here is how much the Live Demo page gets traffic vis-a-vis their top 8 performing pages:

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Zoom’s web pages with the highest traffic
Free signup web page at zoom.us
Free signup web page at zoom.us
Traffic of free signup page at zoom.us
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The traffic of Zoom’s live demo landing page.

But then for mid-market and beyond, it’s the quality, not the volume that matters!

This is in contrast to an SMB focused blog e.g. HubSpot. But works for Zoom as they serve a wide range of clients, from individuals to enterprise.

Takeaways:

  1. Build the blog as a hub of your overall strategy.
  2. Find out a few successful themes and build all of your content around them. Depth is required to create an impact.

Zoomtopia

Zoomtopia is the annual event of Zoom. Started in 2017, this two days event has just completed its third edition. This annual event hosts keynotes, discussions, sessions from Zoom’s partners, and product use cases among others.

Overall, Zoomtopia helps in filling the top of the sales funnel, helps in up-selling, reaching out to new industries, and building long term brand value.

Zoomtopia landing page with clear CTAs
Zoomtopia landing page with clear CTAs
Zoomtopia landing page with clear CTAs

Zoom actively asks its users to participate and share their stories for this event. Use cases act as social proof and help in reducing the resistance to adoption.

Zoomtopia introduction on Zoom’s blog
Zoomtopia introduction on Zoom’s blog
Zoomtopia introduction on Zoom’s blog

Here is the list of key sessions organized during Zoomtopia over the years:

Zoomtopia Sessions
Zoomtopia Sessions
Zoomtopia Sessions list

Broadly we can categorize all the sessions of Zoomtopia under three categories:

  1. Brand Positioning: Sessions related to building a culture of happiness and how Zoom enables it.
  2. Product Education: Sessions related to the introduction of a product, product features, integrations, adoption and the ones for IT admins.
  3. Product Use Cases: Sessions related to applications of Zoom:

▹ in different industries (Health care, Online education, etc),

▹ by existing clients (Microsoft, Walmart, Oracle, Slack, etc), and

▹ for themes like ‘Future of Work’.

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As Zoom is growing, they are involving their clients and partners more and more in Zoomtopia. The number of sessions on ‘Product Use Case’ are increasing from 2017 to 2019.

Takeaways:

  1. Events are a great way to engage with your clients, build community, and establish a sense of ownership among various participants.
  2. Engage your clients and channel partners.
  3. Continuously educate your audience about the product, features, and possible use cases.

Pro Tip: You need not be as big as Zoom to organize events. If your clients are located within geography, call them for a small event and find out ways to engage. Otherwise, organize a virtual event for your clients, a webinar, a podcast or something similar which can provide them great value. Give away some gifts at the end. You can use Facebook live or maybe Zoom for such online events!

Conclusion

Zoom is a great product and a well-executed growth strategy. Their focus on organic ways makes them a perfect case study for startups. Having a great product is essential. But the product only will not bring in the clients. Start building one most appropriate growth channel. As you grow, build more channels.

Interact with your clients, engage with their success stories.

You can signup for Zoom here.

Zoom has guidelines to use their logo and brand materials, you can check them here.

Thanks for reading!

I am writing the Organic SaaS Growth newsletter, subscribe for actionable growth strategies every week.

Thoughtlytics

Stories and research on organic SaaS growth.

Ankur Tiwari

Written by

I help SaaS companies with organic growth @thoughtlytics, www.thoughtlytics.com

Thoughtlytics

We publish stories for SaaS growth. Thoughtlytics helps SaaS companies with organic growth strategies and powerful content. Submit you articles here: https://forms.gle/XHBZL363QuCQvYXx7

Ankur Tiwari

Written by

I help SaaS companies with organic growth @thoughtlytics, www.thoughtlytics.com

Thoughtlytics

We publish stories for SaaS growth. Thoughtlytics helps SaaS companies with organic growth strategies and powerful content. Submit you articles here: https://forms.gle/XHBZL363QuCQvYXx7

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