Growth Secrets
8  min read

Traffic Secrets that Helped Notion Reach $10 Billion

Most companies ignore the biggest channel of Notion.

Abhishek Agrawal
By Abhishek A Agrawal
November 29, 2023

Steal the Growth Secrets Of Growing Companies

A startup’s success is highly dependent on discovery. It’s all about using different ways to reach the right audience, tactics to acquire customers, SEO, GTM strategies, product launches, and many other things. This is what I learned while running my startups for the last 10+ years. And, what better way to master this than dissecting the strategies of those titans who have successfully nailed it?

So, I have come up with a series in which I will research, analyze and guess the secrets of several tech giants and innovative startups. 

Each post of the series will give you a blueprint of the company’s success journey and key takeaways so that you can speed up that discovery phase! Subscribe now to get the articles right in your Inbox.

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Abhishek Agrawal
Author – Abhishek A Agrawal
Founder at Integrately – Easiest integration platform

Amazing SEO. But it’s not their #1 channel.

Building my startups without external funding, I always believed that the 2 major factors contributing to a company’s growth are SEO and paid marketing.

Then, I came across Notion’s stats, which changed my perspective entirely. 

  • Pulling in over 3 million visitors every month,
  • Ranking for a massive 61K+ organic keywords,
  • A gigantic 60 million backlinks

And all this in just 6 years!

My first thought? They must be wizards at SEO. And indeed, they excel in it, but surprisingly, SEO wasn’t their primary driver of success.

So, what exactly did Notion do to challenge the traditional methods of driving traffic?

Join me as I break down how this $10 billion giant with more than 4 million paying customers boosted their business exponentially.

Notion’s Early Growth Strategy: ProductHunt and Paid Ads

I guess Ivan wanted to see how well the redesigned tool would do, so he decided to use Product Hunt (a great platform for people to try and review products).

Thus, Notion Beta was launched on Product Hunt in August 2015 as a tool for writing and working together on documents. This not only sparked interest among the hunters but also fetched good upvotes and comments that helped Ivan improve the Product. 

He also sparked curiosity in discussions by hinting that a new version would be coming soon. This helped him a lot when Notion 1.0 was launched. It got a whopping 6522 upvotes and won several awards on Product Hunt.

Thus, Notion started gaining attention and traction. 

Then came Notion 2.0 in March 2018, which was another hit, grabbing the awards for Product of the Day, Week as well as Month!

I also noticed that during this period they usually increased the paid ads:

  • During traffic dips, and
  • After introducing new updates, features or launches.

In summary, combining Product Hunt with paid ads seems to be a winning formula for Notion to achieve that initial growth.

Also, a quick glance at their organic traffic shows a noticeable exponential growth majorly after 2019.

This made me wonder: What was the game-changer element for Notion?

The Secret Sauce: Building a Loyal User Community

Well, it was the hiring of their first marketing person, Camille Ricketts, that changed Notion’s trajectory.

She was smart enough to analyze Notion’s journey till 2019, and quickly notice that post-Product Hunt launch, many people were talking about Notion. There were small groups active on platforms like Twitter, Reddit, and Facebook who were discussing Notion.

There were topics revolving around what is Notion, how to use Notion, calendars, workspace notes, etc.

She also noticed that there was a Notion fan named Ben Lang who had:

  • Fansite about Notion that was getting 80,000 visits per month. 
  • Facebook group named ‘Notion Made Simple’ where users were actively discussing Notion
  • Launched Notion templates on Product Hunt (back when Notion didn’t have its template gallery) that gained a lot of traction.

Camille identified that these people were like mini power stations that could be turned into strong supporters for Notion. That’s when she hired Ben, and things started rolling.

Also, Notion made sure not to disrupt the existing communities and their style of working. Neither did they club the communities into a single one because they wanted their loyal fans to use their own voice, style, and promotion tactics as per their choice. 

So, rather than taking away their freedom, they engaged with such active user communities and offered them the required resources. They also initiated programs to maintain strong connections with these enthusiastic members. These efforts led to a group of dedicated Notion users who further contributed to Notion’s overall growth and improvement.

Today, there are 1000+ Notion Ambassadors and influencers, as well as 60+ Notion Consultants, who are fueling Notion’s traffic.

Besides, there are several active Notion communities and influencers across:

  • Reddit – the largest one with 309K active members
  • Facebook  
  • Slack
  • Discord
  • YouTube
  • TikTok

Can you imagine the impact these communities had on Notion’s incredible journey?

Let’s delve into the analytics for a moment. On average, the total searches containing the word `Notion` is over 3 million per month! That’s significantly higher than the search volume for other major players in the productivity space like Asana, Trello, and ClickUp.

But here’s what truly stands out – a substantial portion of the traffic lands directly on Notion’s:

  • Homepage, 
  • Login page, and 
  • Templates

This tells us something crucial. People aren’t stumbling upon Notion by chance; they are actively seeking it out.

So, why do people search for Notion? It’s likely because they’ve heard about it from someone, perhaps through conversations in communities or while seeking solutions to their real-world problems that others have solved.

This emphasizes the pivotal role of community and word of mouth in Notion’s extraordinary success – The strongest channel that has worked for Notion!


Building a Win-Win Ecosystem for Notion Users

Notion did not just stop at building communities; they went further to create an entire ecosystem around it.

Their first step was identifying vocal users and turning them into brand ambassadors. These ambassadors received special privileges like:

  • Early access to features
  • Opportunity to provide valuable feedback
  • Direct involvement with Notion’s team in improving the Product
  • Special training in order to train other people

This approach instilled a sense of ownership in each ambassador. They actively contributed to Notion’s development and took on the responsibility of spreading the word.

Notion provided these ambassadors with all the necessary resources and support, including funding for hosting events, meet-ups, and online discussions. As a result, Notion has created a network of over 200 ambassadors spanning 23 countries. They have been the ones driving the wheel for Notion and scaling it across the globe.

Apart from investing in the ambassadors, what’s truly remarkable about Notion is their commitment to giving back to the entire community. They’ve designed multiple avenues to benefit each Notion user and have created a win-win ecosystem consisting of elements like:

  • Notion Templates: It’s that space wherein Notion users can showcase their creative templates, get featured, and even sell the templates to generate good revenue.
  • Notion Consultant Program: It lists all the certified Notion consultants for hiring. They are the trusted productivity experts and solutions architects. 
  • Notion Affiliate Program: This program helps you refer Notion to your friends and followers and earn 50% of all referred payments. Best part – there’s no limit to how much you can earn.
  • Notion Champions Community: It is the community of the biggest Notion fans inside of companies. They can learn from each other, swap best practices, and also connect with the Notion team. They get benefits like early access to new features, open office hours with the team,  workspace walkthroughs, AMAs with Notion executives, and much more.
  • Notion Startup Program: Designed for startups, this program offers up to 6 months free, including unlimited AI.  
  • Notion Campus Leaders: Notion offers free access to students and teachers and equips them with the resources required to share and teach Notion effectively. This creates early adopters who are likely to use Notion throughout their life and career.

Besides these, Notion hosts events and webinars to support community groups and forums. These initiatives encourage user interaction, knowledge sharing, and support, benefiting the users as well as Notion.

All these elements club together to elevate Notion’s community and ultimately drive people to Notion. 

3 Pillars of Notion’s Organic Traffic 

At the core of Notion’s framework, the community functions like a high-powered engine, vigorously driving massive organic traffic.

And, the numbers speak for themselves!

Further analysing the Notion stats, I could notice the 3 main pillars driven by the community that have exploded Notion’s organic growth:

1. Templates: The User Acquisition Magnet

They have worked as the Midas touch in growing Notion’s organic traffic. Each of the template pages serves as an SEO mini powerhouse owing to its characteristics like:

  •  Simple Design
  • Minimal Content
  • Solves real problems, from organizing projects to planning daily life
  • Ready to use blueprints
  • Easy to share

These templates draw in around 15% of Notion’s traffic and have 650K+ high-quality backlinks. That’s indeed huge!

2. Translated Pages – Capturing Global Markets

Starting in March 2022, Notion’s foray into translated pages has been another game-changer. These pages now make up about 35% of Notion’s total organic traffic, drawing an average of 900K+ monthly organic visits. This strategic expansion has significantly broadened Notion’s international user base.

3. Help Guides and Informational Content

Notion provides detailed help guides and solutions to users seeking guidance. This has made it another hub for extensive backlinks and traffic, directly addressing user queries and enhancing SEO.

The blog is yet another source that Notion uses to provide quality content and engage its users. This further drives a good amount of organic traffic and backlinks.  

Interesting Observations About Paid Marketing

Notion compliments its organic growth efforts with paid marketing. Here are a few key observations that caught my attention:

  • Notion relied on intermittent paid ads for nearly two years to boost traffic during the dips.
  • Paid traffic is seen to amplify their organic growth, indicating a positive correlation.
  • Notion increases paid marketing efforts following product launches, feature releases, and major updates.
  • Initially, the landing page for ads targeting developing countries was the SignUp Page, whereas now it is for their products and templates. So, probably they want to educate the users first and thereby increase the chances of their conversions.
  • Developed countries are targeted with ads to promote products like Wiki and AI.
  • Multilingual pages are promoted to enhance global reach.
  • Templates are given a paid boost to tap the users seeking direct solutions.

Key Takeaways

All in all, dissecting Notion’s growth story gave me big-time learning of how community and word-of-mouth can work wonders, not just for brand building but for SEO as well.

Here are some quick takeaways for you to steal :

  • Design the product such that it caters to users’ needs and preferences
  • Select the right marketing channels
  • Foster a strong user community to turn enthusiasts into loyal supporters who spread the word
  • Leverage the user-generated content to improve your SEO
  • Opt for localized content to reach a broader international audience
  • Create programs and initiatives that benefit both your users and your brand
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