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From PPC to IPO: How Snowflake Did It

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Last week was a bit chilly. It snowed all over Wall Street. 

All thanks to the oversubscribed IPO Day for Snowflake. 

While Snowflake might not be a household consumer brand, they’ve done a great job building a customer base in their niche (cloud-based data storage and analytics service). 

Snowflake boasts an impressive $532M ARR, a HUGE valuation of roughly $70B, which is more than 5X its valuation in February, and they generate more than 13 million website visitors a year. 


The website traffic numbers are the least impressive figures in this entire story. Yet, I have to point them out because this corner of your inbox is dedicated to talking all things content, SEO & growth. 

Keep this in mind though: 

Some brands need to generate millions of visits a day to generate thousands of dollars a day. Some brands need to generate thousands of visits a day to generate millions of dollars a day. 

The key: Reaching the right audience. 

That’s something that Snowflake has done extremely well. This isn’t a piece where I talk about a brilliant organic traffic strategy that generates millions of visitors a day. It’s not the story of a brand that has a deep understanding of their audience’s search behaviour and creating assets that rank in Google for both transactional and informational keywords. That’s not the story here at all. 

The story here is about their brilliant approach to paid media and targeting their audience. One of the most tried and tested methods for capturing value is good old fashioned ads. 

Snowflake has done an excellent job leveraging paid media to capture value where its audience is spending time. According to SimilarWeb, Snowflake ran more than 272 Google Search against various keywords in the last three months. 

These phrases range from: 

Cloud Data Warehouse, Customer Data Platforms, Data Lake vs Data Warehouse, Data Vault, Car Data Monetization and more. 

Throughout their batch of target keywords (there are hundreds of them) are a wide range of phrases with various types of search intent associated with them.

Search intent is a fundamental part of search marketing, but it’s often overlooked by marketers and content creators. Most search marketers only focus on keyword volume, when they should be thinking about the intent behind those keywords.

There are four key types of online search intent:

  • Informational: Looking for information (e.g., “who is Snowflake?”)
  • Navigational: Looking to get somewhere specific (e.g., “Snowflake ebook on Data lakes”)
  • Transactional: Looking for an asset to buy, use or download (e.g., “Snowflake Demo”)
  • Investigational: Trying to compare assets (e.g., “Snowflake vs. Redshift”)

Search intent is the goal a person has when they type a query into a search engine. Here’s a snapshot of what shows up when you do a Google search for “Data Warehouse vs Database”:

This is an informational search term.

Now here’s the thing:

This person isn’t ready to buy today. 

But that’s okay. 

The goal for Snowflake is to educate the audience on the difference between data warehousing and a database. 

The goal is to capture the contact information so they can be sold on the product later in the buying journey.  

  • Today this searcher is looking for information.
  • Tomorrow this searcher is going to be looking for a demo.

Each month there are 4,400 searches (in North America) for this search phrase at an average cost of $14.60 per click. Meaning the total value of the monthly traffic associated with that search term is more than $64,000 a month. That’s a lot of value. 

This is just one of the thousands of phrases that Snowflake runs ads against when it comes to search. Snowflake runs ads against keywords with informational intent, navigational intent, transactional intent and investigational intent. No matter what step someone is in in the journey towards signing up for a cloud-based data storage service provider — Snowflake is attempting to make themselves present through search ads. 

In the market today, Snowflake has hundreds of search ads and are spending hundreds of thousands a year on PPC across Google, Facebook, & LinkedIn. The paid agency behind their PPC campaigns shared a bit about the strategy behind their Google ads saying: 

We were able to enhance our capabilities to target the right users at the right time by leveraging Google’s online user behaviour data including search intent, predicted time to conversion, and users in-market. An experiment was run using remarketing campaigns and Google’s automated bidding to find the most profitable Target CPA. Results identified a solid target CPA and were leveraged to scale the test across all display campaigns.

And it’s working well. 

Across each of these efforts, they’re promoting various landing pages and offers depending on the search intent and user. 

Landing pages like this promoting their ebook ‘Data Sharing For Dummies’: 

One of the biggest mistakes brands make when running PPC in SaaS is just sending prospects to the homepage & hoping for the best. Smart brands create pages tailored to the keywords used by the searcher and align content with intent. 

Pages like this aren’t flashy, but they work.

Here are some things Snowflake does REALLY well with their landing pages: 

  • Singular focus on a CTA: The focus is clear and obvious. If you’re on this landing page the only thing you can do is submit your information or exit.
  • Clear value proposition: The value that the reader gets from reading the ebook is clearly communicated and conveyed.
  • Remarketing cookies: Snowflake has installed the appropriate cookies on this page so they can run remarketing ads at the people who visit the site in the future.
  • Exit intent pop up: If you do decide to leave the page, Snowflake has installed an exit pop up that will give you a preview of what will be inside of the guide.

And the agency behind their paid efforts spoke to this well stating:

Shortly after launching the new structure, we added remarketing, focusing our audiences on high value pages (instead of just using all site visitors). By looking at the initial cost/conversion data, we quickly discovered our top performing assets and swapped out lower performing assets with assets that drove higher conversion numbers. Later we segmented the campaigns by geographical region in order to move budget more aggressively to areas that performed better.

This is how it’s done! 

The results?

Conversion increased a staggering 24x, cost per conversion dropped by roughly 80%, all while budgets increased 4x year over year. As these front-end conversion metrics have experienced a significant lift, we also found improved conversion to pipeline and revenue: Cost per opportunity is down 86% and opportunities influenced is up 27x.

Now here’s something you might not know. 

The “For Dummies” book series has a spot in the heart for anyone who grew up in the 90s. But did you know it’s not just a batch of books? It’s actually a paid marketing tool for brands.

It’s a series that can help brands establish brand authority, own their category and generate leads. It’s been used by individual consultants to do exactly this but most recently brands like Snowflake and Oracle have also started to partner with “For Dummies” to create pieces of content that are used as lead magnets, awareness builders and sales nurturing tools for sales teams.

But Snowflake doesn’t end their paid lead generation efforts with the “Dummies” book series. The Snowflake team invests heavily in…

*Modern marketers will hate this lol* 


Most say: Boring. 

I say: Amazing. 

B2B audiences love ’em. So why ignore them? 

To be honest… I think most marketers ignore them because they’re suffering from the CMO complex and allowing their own biases to stop them from utilizing a form of content that works well. 


Webinars can be case studies, educational or even sales driven.

It’s the content INSIDE of the webinar that makes it valuable. The format is the least important part of the equation. It’s the delivery of information that helps move your audience through the buying journey that makes a webinar an important and powerful part of your content marketing mix. 

But just creating the content isn’t enough. 

You need to distribute your content as well. 

Snowflake realizes that distribution is just as important as content creation so they amplify their webinars, their ebooks, their blog posts and their latest news release. This is what smart brands realize. 

  • Distribution is underrated.
  • Distribution is under-invested in.
  • Distribution is the difference between winning and losing.

So don’t just create content. 

Invest in creating a distribution engine that will take your content and place it in front of your audience. 

This is what Snowflake has done well. 

Create a piece of content once. 

Distribute it forever.

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