Improving Core dna’s Growth Strategy by $2,175,000/year

Auditing Core dna's Growth Strategy

Jason Quey
Last updated: Sep 14, 2020
Originally published: Sep 24, 2019

Core dna is small but mighty.

Over 358,000 websites run on WordPress, the largest content management system (CMS) platform. It’s estimated over 35% of the web uses WordPress.

Compare that to Core dna, a CMS which has just over 2,000 active websites.

Then you look at Core dna's customer list: Stanley tools, Staples office supplies, and Tivoli Audio all run on Core dna.

In another article, I interviewed Sam Saltis to learn how he got his first 1,000 customers. Today I’m going to audit their growth strategy to give you actionable ideas on your journey from idea to scale.

The Good: Content Marketing

Let’s take a look at one of Core dna’s articles: “eCommerce Upsells: The Ultimate Guide (With Examples).”

To start, I know the main keyword phrase this article targets: “ecommerce upsells.” I know this because:

  1. The keyword phrase is in the page URL (
  2. It is in the meta title (eCommerce Upsells: Best Practices & Strategies You Can Use Right Now (With Examples)). And bonus points to Dennis for putting the phrase near the front of the meta title.
  3. It is in the H1 (eCommerce Upsells: The Ultimate Guide (With Examples)).
  4. Similar phrases are in the H2s (What is eCommerce upselling? Upselling vs. cross-selling: What is the difference? How to upsell: 6 things to keep in mind. 4 upsell strategies you can use right now: Lessons from Apple marketing strategy).
  5. It is in the introduction paragraph.

As a result, it’s no surprise this article currently ranks #6 for “e-commerce upsells.”

core dna growth strategy

Look again at the H2s I listed in point #4 above. I can also spot several relevant keyword phrases this article is attempting to rank for:

  1. What is e-commerce upselling
  2. Upselling vs. cross-selling
  3. How to upsell
  4. Upsell strategies

With an in-depth article of 1,500 or more words on a website with high domain authority, it’s common to also rank for other relevant phrases. Rather than leaving this to chance, Dennis specifically targeted these phrases. I’ll share how you can quickly find these phrases in the next section.

What I’d Do Next

Since Core dna has a solid content marketing system, I’d experiment with increasing the total content they write every week. 

Large companies write between three articles a week to five articles a day. This allows them to get more organic traffic by targeting many keywords. It also gives readers more reasons to keep coming back to the website.

I’d also flesh out the articles to target more secondary keywords. I talked about how to do this in my article on how to find keywords when there are “no keywords” to rank for. Here’s a simple summary of the process:

  1. Google a keyword phrase. I’ll look up “ecommerce upsells.”
  2. Open up the first three Google searches into a new tab. If you want to be thorough, you can increase this number.
  3. Use a tool like Ahrefs or SEMrush to find every keyword the page ranks for.
  4. Look for keywords which are on the same topic.

In doing this process, I found the following secondary keywords:

  • what is an upsell / define upselling
  • product upsell / upsell products
  • upselling examples
  • cross-sell vs upsell / upsell and cross sell / difference between cross selling and upselling
  • cross-selling strategies
  • cross-sell product
  • up-selling strategies
  • cross-selling opportunities
  • auxiliary products

Note: I put a few keyword phrases together using a forward slash (/). These phrases have the same search intent, so I would attempt to use these phrases in the same section.

If you notice, this process found almost every phrase I pointed out earlier, and missing “how to upsell.” Yet I was able to find many more secondary keyword phrases related to cross-selling.

Finally, Core dna should also consider building out a hub-and-spoke system. Each keyword phrase could become a separate article. Using the hub-and-spoke approach, Core dna would then link each article to the main article.

The hub-and-spoke is excellent for SEO because it links relevant topics together. And it also improves the reader experience because they can dive deeper into a topic.

The Bad: Very Few Middle and Bottom-of-the-Funnel Pages

When I start working with a new client, there are two page-types I find are often missing:

  1. Product feature pages.
  2. Comparative landing pages.

Related Article: The best landing page builders for startups

Here’s why these pages are valuable to build.

Copywriter mastermind Eugene Schwartz recognized five stages of consumer psychology:

Most Aware:

Your customer knows your product and he’s ready to buy. Give him a buy button and he’ll push that sucker faster than a teen at an arcade.


Your customer knows what you sell and often what the competition sells. But she isn’t sure it’s right for her. At this stage, you need to position your product against the competition.


Your customer knows the result he wants. But he may not know of your product, or that it provides the results he’s looking for.


Your customer senses she has a problem. But she doesn’t know what’s the right solution.


Your customer does not know of their pain, even though he has this problem.

Product page keywords help customers in stage #3. In this stage, the customer knows what the product or feature they are looking for, but do not know who offers it.

Core dna has a few feature pages, but each could use some improvement. I’ll use this page for my example so you can follow along.

Add more persuasive copy.

I would flesh out each benefit of the mini-features (“Full-featured catalogs & carts” is the first mini-feature). Not only will this sell the customer on each feature, but it will also improve search traffic.

Each mini-feature should become a new page.

People are searching for these keywords: checkout carts, ecommerce catalog management, inventory management, omnichannel dashboard, and personalized shopping.

This tells me Core dna’s audience wants to know more about each feature. By creating these pages and linking them together, the customer can effectively demo the product through the sales copy.

Qualify the buyer before the demo call.

The sales team knows who are their profitable customer personas. Right now, the team wastes a certain amount of time fielding unqualified demo calls. To reduce this time, they can hire a growth agency which will qualify buyers beforehand.

Comparative landing pages help customers in stage #2. These pages compare your startup to the competition. With these pages, you can position yourself as a better solution.

Because customers Google these keywords, you also will get more customers from organic traffic too.

Heck, I’ve seen these pages rank right under their competitor’s brand name.

I estimate Core dna could get an extra 24,149 organic clicks a month. As a result, they would generate $2,175,000 in annual revenue.

First, I found a list of Core dna’s competitors. I then used various keyword combinations to see what has potential traffic and how much traffic. Finally, I made some assumptions on their conversion rates.

Here are some assumptions I made to get to this number:

  1. The terms will get 258,830 searches/month, which will lead to 24,149 clicks/month. 258,830 is the total searches, not including their long-tail keywords. These pages will get about 9% of the clicks averaging a search position of 3, or 24,149 clicks/month. (258,830 searches X 9% = 24,149 clicks/month).
  2. These pages convert at 1% from traffic to demo and 5% demo to sale. The typical traffic to demo conversion rate I’ve seen is between 1-2%. I’m going conservative and using 1%. Then 1% of 24,149 clicks/month is 2,897 demos per year. If Core dna closes 5% of those leads, that’s 145 new customers a year! (24,149 clicks/mo X 12 months X 1% X 5% = 145).
  3. Core dna’s lifetime value of a customer is $15,000. The typical SaaS churn rate is 3-5%. This means the average customer lifetime is 20 to 33 months. So it’s not unreasonable to expect that their customers will stay on for 12 months. Core dna’s lowest package is $1,250/month. So 12 X $1,250 = $15,000.
  4. With 145 new customers at $15,000, the added annual revenue would be $2,175,000. 145 customers X $15,000 = $2,175,000.

What I’d Do Next

It’s often difficult for co-founders to create copy that sells. Why? Because they’re too familiar with their product.

Creating compelling copy starts by asking the co-founder, sales, and product team questions like:

  1. Tell me about the most recent conversation you had with a prospect. What was the challenge they were trying to solve?
  2. Tell me about the last company you had a really easy time closing?
  3. Tell me about the last company that was difficult to close?
  4. What are some common signs of bad leads?
  5. What are some of the top questions that you get asked on demo calls?

These questions will inform their position in the market, which I talk about in the next section. Once Core dna establishes their positioning, they should create the competitor comparison pages.

I’d also consider creating a video demo of the product. Benchmark numbers of traffic-to-demo conversions often hover around 1-2%. But benchmark numbers of traffic-to-video are 10-20%. 

One explanation for this is the commitment is a lot lower. A demo video may take 3-7 minutes. But I’d expect a demo call to be 40-60 minutes, with more pressure to buy.

The Ugly: Pitiful Positioning

When someone has a problem, they will invest time or money to get it fixed. 

For a business to be successful, they need a clear and compelling reason for a customer to invest that time or money into their organization. 

One important way to do this is by positioning your business. A positioning strategy is critical in communicating how you are different than the competition.

There are dozens of content management systems (CMS) Core dna competes against. Consider some of these big CMS names:

  1. WordPress
  2. Squarespace
  3. Drupal
  4. HubSpot
  5. Webflow

If you want the 80-20 to learn an online business’s position, there are three common places to look:

  1. The meta title found in Google. If someone finds your business in Google, this is often the first touchpoint to your startup.
  2. The main statement on your home page. If someone wants to buy your product, they will likely go to your home page.
  3. The content topics on the website. Content marketing is an excellent brand builder. It’s common for the blog, podcast, or video series to be another first customer touch-point.

Looking at Core dna’s meta title, their messaging is very unclear:

core dna growth strategy

Core dna is effectively saying their CMS is perfect for, “eCommerce, Intranet, Content Marketing, & SaaS.” This feels like the Core dna team is attempting to be “the perfect solution for everyone.” 

Which means they’ll become the perfect solution for no one.

The main statement on the home page isn’t much better:

core dna growth strategy

What’s the value of “content and commerce without limits” to my business? What does this benefit statement even mean? How is this different than the competition?

Next, I’ll look at their blog.

Most articles are written about e-commerce. There are a few articles related to content marketing and content management. But almost everything still ties in with e-commerce.

If I were to place a bet without talking to customers, Core dna is considering two markets:

  1. Enterprise content management system.
  2. E-commerce content management system.

Or perhaps both.

Either way, the core website copy fails to communicate which of these markets they are in.

Which market should Core dna pick?

As I talked about in my article on positioning strategy, the Core dna team needs to ask themselves three questions:

  1. Is it possible to become #1 in the market? 
  2. Is it possible to become #2 in the market?
  3. If not, can you create a new category with existing demand?

Answering these questions will only come by gathering competitor intelligence

Although there is more in-depth research, Core dna can start by using the three-step method I outlined above for each competitor:

  1. Check the meta title in Google.
  2. Check the main statement on your home page.
  3. Check the content topics on the website.

What I’d Do Next

Core dna needs to invest in positioning their product.

After picking a market, they should choose a unique benefit that appeals to their core customers. For example:

  1. They could emphasize timelessness, like Coca Cola.
  2. They could accent quality and craftsmanship, like Steinway pianos.
  3. They could focus on speed and convenience, like Amazon and Zappos.

To find out their main value position, Core dna should ask their customers questions like:

  1. What is the main benefit you get from using Core dna?
  2. What are the top three reasons you chose Core dna over the competition?
  3. What was an unexpected benefit you receive from using Core dna?

All areas of branding should then flow from this main benefit. This includes the logo, the fonts, the company name, and all other design decisions.

This growth audit is a sample of our full Growth Ramp Gap Analysis™. Click here to learn about our Gap Analysis Procedure™.

For more articles like this, click here to check out our growth audit series.

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Jason Quey

I am the CEO and Founder of Growth Ramp. I enjoy serving early-stage startups and later-stage scale-ups on their journey from idea to scale.

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