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plotly Leverages AdWords to Drive Content Strategy

Finding a data visualization tool that enables collaborative work was nearly impossible for "big data" analysts. In both academic and business settings, many would spend countless hours e-mailing back and forth updates to data sets. Even when the data analysis was properly aligned, visualization options were limited. Analysts did not know that there was a better way--that graphing could be beautiful and collaboration could be seamless.


As a freshly funded startup, with a limited user base driven through word of mouth, plotly knew it would have to invest in acquisition. Through paid search, we worked to accelerate customer acquisition, leveraging learnings to maximize a limited budget.

plotly launches AdWords and discovers new customer insights

plotly supplied a detailed list of keywords full of terms they believed were core to their business. These terms, however, tended to be too technical and not consistent with user search behavior. By structuring the account to maximize quality score and click-through-rate, we cast a wide net and stretched the budget to improve keyword discovery.


"Evan has found traction for us in surprising ways. He takes the time to really understand our product and continually gets exponential increases on his work"

—Matthew Sundquist, COO, Co-founder at plotly, "40 under 40 for data"

For example, we targeted keywords around product benefits and leveraged dynamic keyword insertion, a technology to insert user queries directly into ads, to make sure our ads were always relevant to the searcher. We tested over 10,000 search terms and once we found pockets of success, we quickly scaled campaigns by creating custom-tailored ad groups.


plotly pivots marketing strategy, outranks competitors for key terms

In the highly competitive analytics space, a newly-funded startup simply can't afford to compete on many of the most valuable, most expensive keywords; we knew we had to develop a content strategy. After careful analysis, plotly's search query report revealed high search volume and strong conversion intent for a set of long-tail queries that were not thought to be core to the business. Because of the long-tail nature of the queries, no major competitor was properly addressing user concerns.


We sensed an opportunity and created compelling long-form content to answer users' overarching question of how to make beautiful graphs online in any coding language. 

Evan's strategy and guidance helped drive hundreds of organic conversions a month and helped plotly to reach the top of the search results for very competitive terms ultimately saving the company nearly $20 on every user acquired. "We've changed our site to drive organic traffic with content based on what we've learned from ads," noted Sundquist. "He's people-smart and knows how to turn numbers into actionable product insights. That's super valuable for us." As a result of our work, plotly now has over four million open-source users and is ranked in the top three data visualization tools in a market expected to reach $8.5B by 2018.

  • plotly makes online graphing and analytics beautiful and collaborative.

  • Headquarters: Montreal, Canada


Growth Goals
  • Uncover a high growth channel

  • Maximize number of free account signups

  • Launch AdWords account to quickly test a broad keyword set

  • Utilize Dynamic Keyword Insertion to drive high click-through-rate

  • Develop content strategy based on paid advertising learnings

  • #1 in organic results for key business terms

  • Savings of nearly $20 per user acquired

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