How Headspace Built a Content Marketing Strategy That Generates Over 722,000 Monthly Organic Visitors
If you’re familiar with Headspace, you’ll know how impressive the content that fuels their marketing is.
From beautiful illustrations to a motivating and life-changing message. The Headspace platform, their articles, videos and thought leadership, all contributes to a single and cohesive content ecosystem.
In this article, we break down the content strategy the generates over 720,000 organic visitors and millions of video views every month.
More importantly, you’ll learn how this ecosystem has contributed to generating over 2 million paying subscribers for Headspace.
Table of contents:
- The Headspace content strategy: delivering value through content ecosystems
- Creating SEO-driven content in a competitive market
- Charming & educational video marketing (that generates over 120 million views)
- Digital PR, link building and getting Bill Gates’ attention
- Turning Andy Puddicombe’s expertise into a personal brand
- The conversion funnel: generating downloads and paid subscriptions
The Headspace content strategy: delivering value through content ecosystems
The Headspace product is itself a content platform. It exists to guide people through basic meditation principles, inviting them to subscribe and take advantage of the features to expand their meditation journey.
But you don’t need to be a paying customer to reap the benefits of Headspace’s content. Every single touch-point is designed to deliver value and educate their audience.
Even on their home page, they prioritize articles and guides about meditation and mental health before talking about product features:
They’ve done well to assist their audience during the COVID-19 outbreak. Guidance is there to help users navigate the mental and emotional hurdles the crisis presents. Customers who are struggling or face unemployment can get access to paid features for free.
There’s a blend of highly urgent and evergreen content. If you’re new to the meditation scene, there’s plenty here for you to get started.
No matter your level of experience, they ensure that you’re learning something new and guiding you through your meditation journey. Their mission is visible across every touch-point. It’s the first thing a new user sees.
Here’s what else their content strategy does exceptionally well:
- There’s a deep understanding of their customer personas, no matter where they are in their meditation and mindfulness journey
- They’re dedicated to overdelivering on value within evergreen topics (using a 10x content approach)
- They adopt a rapid, agile response to trends and major shifts in the world
- Their cheerful and engaging brand is present throughout every blog article, video and design asset
In short, it’s a strategy that ensures their audience finds the information they need. They’ve created a delightful experience, empowering their audience to get started right away.
No matter your offering, this is what great content does. It informs, educated and entertains in a way that builds awareness. But more importantly, it gets them started on a journey that leads them to using your product in a way that makes their lives better.
For consumer brands starting with content marketing for the first time (or those looking to make their existing strategy more efficient), there are a few steps you can follow to ensure you strike a chord with your audience:
- Set the context: Why do you exist in the world? What are you hoping to help your customers achieve? This must be present, in some capacity, in everything you do.
- Conduct qualitative research: Data is key, but hearing the words come from your customers is even better. Ask what your customers struggle with, and what they’re trying to achieve. Create content that helps them overcome challenges.
- Map needs to topics: Respond to these conversations by creating specific pieces of content. Map pain-points to topics. See what trends occur in the world that you can capitalize on.
- Go where your customers are: As part of those conversations, find where your customers are most active. Which channels, communities, social platforms and publications have their attention?
- Build a community: Even better, become that primary channel. Create a space to let your audience come together, building a community around your product.
For example, fintech company Dozens have created a community around personal finance to bring their audience together:
Not only does this nurture users into advocates, but drives the product to something their customers truly want. It’s also easy to set up – Dozens simply used Discourse as their platform of choice, allowing them to quickly get up and running.
The best content strategies serve the audience. But it must also align with your business objectives. Before publishing anything, ensure it hits the sweet spot between the two.
Creating SEO-driven content in a competitive market
Headspace have done a great job of planting a flag on channels like Instagram and YouTube for those who care deeply about meditation.
More importantly, this dedication to 10x content helps them rank for highly competitive keywords like “meditation” and “mindfulness”:
Collectively, the 143,000+ keywords they rank for generates over 720,000 visitors a month. To put that into perspective, you would need a monthly paid media budget of $619,000 to attract that volume of traffic.
Let’s break their SEO-driven content strategy down further, starting with this meditation basics resource hub:
Using a hub and spoke strategy, Headspace is able to:
- Rank for broad and highly competitive keywords
- Dig deeper into more specific topics to build out a robust and comprehensive resource
For example, this page currently ranks at position #9 for the term “transcendental meditation” (or TM for short):
This particular piece of content does several things incredibly well:
- It uses objective data from third-party sources to back up their claims
- It covers the basics of TM without overwhelming the reader
- It’s wrapped in a beautiful UI to keep readers engaged
The result is an incredibly engaging piece of content that organically attracts readers and backlinks.
Optimizing content for better results
A deeper analysis of this content shows several opportunities to improve results.
First and foremost, it could benefit from a more editorial-friendly format. This can be done by breaking down and expanding on various sections.
Furthermore, according to Clearscope, there are several opportunities to include new themes that will help improve rankings:
The same goes for their blog content. For example, this article ranks at position #17 for the term “high functioning depression” (which generates over 17,000 searches a month):
As you can see on the right-hand side, there are several themes that could be included to improve the performance of this content. By injecting new sections while maintaining a story-driven narrative, it’s entirely possible to help this article rank higher on Google.
I explore how Headspace can improve this piece of content in this video:
Does ongoing optimization of content really really work? Well, according to research by Neil Patel, sites that regularly optimize old content are more likely to see organic traffic grow during algorithm changes.
Not only does it improve traffic, but it can future-proof it. It’s the exact process we used to help a client increase organic traffic by 270% in 90 days.
The lesson here? Tend to your content like a garden. A publishing schedule and strong distribution strategy act as rich soil and fertilizer. But you’ll need to water and prune those plants for them to flourish.
Charming & educational video content (that generates over 120 million views)
The high-quality, educational content Headspace is known for can be seen heavily throughout their YouTube presence:
With over 188 videos, their presence on the world’s second-biggest search engine is impressive. According to Social Blade, Headspace’s YouTube channel generates an average of 658,543 views every day:
The channel offers a cohesive experience, consistently producing educational content around popular topics relevant to their brand.
This is an area where many brands fall flat. Instead of treating their YouTube channels as a content hub, they use it as a dump for every piece of video content they produce.
While this may attract views, you’ll struggle to build an engaged audience that comes back again and again, excited to watch a new video every time you upload one.
Thanks to their commitment to high-quality video content, Headspace has generated over 295,000 subscribers.
The question is, how are they using YouTube as a standalone marketing platform?
To answer this, let’s dig deeper into one of their most popular videos on understanding dark thoughts:
At a glance, the majority of these 127+ million views come from paid ads.
What’s impressive, however, is the level of engagement this video gets – more than 14,000 likes and over 900 comments from people who actually welcomed the disruption:
When content is engaging, useful and fun, people take notice. We’ve shown in the past how content can fuel your paid media efforts, and this creative from Headspace is proof that it works.
YouTube is also the second biggest search engine in the world. So, how does Headspace capitalise on using it as an inbound channel?
This particular video ranks highly for the term “meditation” (and other relevant terms), and has organically generated over 80,000 views in four months:
In short, video is a critical component of Headspace’s organic and paid acquisition strategy. It helps drive clicks, educates their audience in entertaining ways and drives new users.
Creating exceptional video content at scale
High-quality video content has been somewhat of an enigma for startups and enterprise marketing teams alike.
But what used to be an expensive and time-consuming production process can now be simplified in an affordable manner.
By focusing on establishing visual styles and proven video frameworks, it’s now incredibly affordable to produce video content at scale.
Headspace use creative restraint to consistently produce beautiful video content on a regular basis. There’s a clear visual style, and each video has a well-defined purpose:
- Short “How-to” guides: Beautifully animated videos that provides advice on specific topics.
- Interviews: Long-form videos where Andy Puddicombe interviews various experts and thought leaders
- Direct-to-camera: A formulated approach where Andy sits in front of the camera, providing advice on various aspects of meditation.
Furthermore, they create several “limited” video series on specific topics. One example of this is “Sleepcast”, which is an audio series providing free bedtime meditations:
Applying restraint to your video marketing production will allow you to scale up production while maintaining a high level of quality. Commit to specific frameworks, and batch production (e.g. videography) to maximize resources.
Use your social media presence to set audience expectations. This creates a cohesive experience for viewers, setting expectations and making them excited for future videos.
Dedicate your YouTube channel, LinkedIn page and IGTV profiles to providing high-quality content of a specific nature. By setting these expectations, your audience will subscribe knowing you’ll deliver something incredibly value-driven next time you hit “upload”.
Digital PR, link building and getting Bill Gates’ attention
Headspace have managed to get their fair share of press. With mentions from CNBC, Forbes and even Scientific American, Headspace managed to climb the attention ladder.
PR (and guest blogging) helps build a strong brand, expand your audience and connect with prominent influencers in your space.
For Headspace, this was taken to a whole new level when they got the attention of Bill Gates. In his own words, the product took him from a meditation “skeptic into a believer:”
They consistently get picked up by various outlets for several reason:
- They create exceptional content in a variety of formats: This includes all the creative and content covered so far, but also other traditional formats such as books. Packaging your content up and positioning it in new ways can open up new distribution opportunities.
- They simplify complex ideas: The science behind meditation can be daunting. Andy and the team have broken this down into digestible chunks, which is seen throughout their entire content ecosystem.
- They produce their own data: Studies and third party statistics are easy for journalists to cite. It helps them back up their content, make accurate claims and increases the credibility of their stories.
Headspace goes one step further, partnering with scientists and organizations to help conduct the research for them. This helps increase their reach, and makes their own research more credible:
This approach can help fuel your link building efforts, too. Do this by creating content assets that helps creators and brands enhance their own content. Experiment by creating content around highly shareable formats:
- 10x content: Expand on a topic in a way that delivers a delightful experience. Make your content so comprehensive that others can’t help but link to it.
- Studies and research: Use owned data to conduct research and report on trends. Survey your own audience on specific trends and topics.
- Infographics & visual content: Content creators are hungry for illustrations, graphs and infographics to include in their content. It helps them add additional value while breaking up content into digestible chunks.
- Video & animation: Commit to and conquer specific themes, creating written, visual, audio and video content. Gain exponential traction by doubling-down on a single theme.
Developing strong relationships is a critical ingredient. Cold outreach has it’s place, but establishing partnerships and collaborating with other brands is the most effective long-term link building and PR strategy.
Why? Because most editors, authors, bloggers and journalists have had enough cold emails to last a lifetime. Instead, find ways to collaborate and help everyone win.
For example, we recently helped a client get featured in several authoritative publications and blogs by creating content with other marketers and creators. With this approach, we achieved a 37.% response rate and a 44% secure rate on placements and links.
Most importantly, these conversations lead to other business opportunities that will ultimately help our clients capture a wider audience.
Turning Andy Puddicombe’s expertise into a personal brand
When much of the expertise a business is built upon is stuck in the founder’s own head, it’s important for them to get on stage and share it with the world.
Andy Puddicome took this advice literally. To date, he’s spoken at leading conferences like TED, SXSW – and has even appeared on The Ellen Show:
His story is a compelling one, and a narrative we can all connect with. The journey that led him to creating Headspace is full of valuable lessons we can adopt when trying and improving our own meditation practices.
No matter the size of your company, or your role within it, you can become a voice that people connect with. Be the bridge that connects the gap between brand and customer:
- Founders and CEOs: Become the face of your company. Get in front of the influencers and connectors in your space. As you step away from the limelight to let your brand shine, those new connections will last a lifetime.
- Marketers: Same goes for growth, demand generation and content leaders. You can make your job easier by becoming the face attached to every blog post, guest post and video. Not only will you achieve great results, but you’ll quickly strengthen and advance in your career.
People connect with other people. Building a personal brand and human presence is important for both startups and enterprise companies alike. Be the face your brand needs to shine.
The conversion funnel: generating downloads and paid subscriptions
No matter where you look, Headspace offers one clear call-to-action:
Download the app.
For some tech brands, this may be too much of an ask. But for Headspace, it makes absolute sense.
To understand why, let’s look at what the customer journey from “awareness” to “action” may look like for a single user:
- They browse YouTube and see a suggested Headspace video that teaches a “micro-meditation”
- They watch the video and decide to read up on a specific concept on the Headspace blog
- They follow a link to another article, and from there decide to check out the free ten day meditation lessons within the app
The Headspace content ecosystem has lead to the acquisition of a user. Within the app, Headspace can then add more value through free meditations, using relevant CTAs and offers.
In this sense, the Headspace product is part of this content ecosystem. It makes sense that downloading the app remains the primary offer on blog posts, YouTube videos and other owned content assets.
For you, the offers and CTAs you use across your content will depend on the complexity of your product, solution and sales processes.
You might offer a lead magnet (such as ebook or newsletter) to grow your email list. You can then use this list to nurture and educate your audience.
Or, you could offer a free trial or demo of your product. This is especially effective when crafting bottom-of-funnel content.
For Headspace, acquisition means they can nurture and retain users in three ways:
- Email marketing
- Push notifications
- Improving their product
For example, this short email delightfully invites new users to dive back into the app if they’ve been inactive for a period of time:
The CTA leads the user toward trying their first meditation. If people download the app – and use it – they’re far more likely to continue their journey to pay for a monthly subscription.
Any online platform or B2C brand can learn a thing or two from Headspace.
With a content strategy built on delighting, educating and empowering their audience at every touch-point, it’s no wonder they’ve built a brand loved by many.
This is what great content marketing does. It establishes a strong foundation for trust to emerge, while contributing directly to the most critical growth KPIs needed for success.
Start with your existing customers. Find out why they love you, and put more of that out into the world. Do it across your most critical channels, and you’ll quickly build a world-famous brand.