How Savage Ventures Grew Its Audience 121% With WordPress VIP
Venture capital firm Savage Ventures invests in, acquires, and operates high-growth digital-first businesses. Three of their media brands—Outdoors.com, AmericanSongwriter.com, and Rare.Us—use WordPress VIP Content Management and Content Analytics by Parse.ly as the foundation for their digital business. We spoke with CFO David Webb and their Tech Lead Mervin Hernandez about why they choose WordPress VIP.
Content to code, the challenges Savage Ventures faced
Managing many companies under one umbrella can create inefficiencies that hinder results. Before migrating to WordPress VIP, Savage Ventures’ media brands portfolio was stymied by disparate content management and strategy processes, decentralized code and platform development, and unpredictable costs.
Savage Ventures required a new platform for their brands with centralized content, development, analytics, and hosting infrastructure. Centralizing these processes would give editorial, technical, and financial teams consistent systems, workflows, and contracts—empowering their team with the efficiency they need to succeed in a challenged media environment.
WordPress VIP delivered with eye-opening impacts. These results from one Savage Ventures property compare year-over-year averages for a one-month period:
- Faster content creation, more engaging strategy: With a single system for creating and analyzing content, the editorial team publishes 79% more content, and the content has been 6% more engaging per piece.
- Developing compelling and scalable experiences: With just one code-base to wrangle, Savage Ventures engineers develop better experiences faster even as they scale. They’ve had no issues supporting 121% more visitors who spend an aggregate 133% more time on site.
- Predictable business: Finance teams can forecast exactly how much all this newfound success will cost—with no surprises.
Centralized workflows for the content team
Savage Ventures is always investing in new brands—a fourth property will be brought onto WordPress VIP this year. When they were independent, each brand had its own tools and processes, making onboarding a challenge until they migrated to WordPress VIP.
Using WordPress VIP across their brands provides Savage Ventures’ content creators with one familiar system for creating content (VIP Content Management) and analyzing it (VIP Content Analytics by Parse.ly). This allows them to onboard new brands and quickly implement a standardized set of best practices, without having to adapt to specific quirks of various toolsets. For one of their brands, the ease-of-use of VIP Content Management helped increase the amount of content they published 79% year-over-year.
Similarly, Savage Ventures collects performance data across their media brands using the Network Data feature. This feature of VIP Content Analytics by Parse.ly aggregates information from all properties they have on the platform. It simplifies zooming in and out of performance data—editors can easily spot trends across the entire network, and dive into the granularities of performance down at the article level. Using Network Data, they quickly identify the winning and losing strategies for each brand and cross-populate success from one team to another.
“Parse.ly is super helpful for standardizing our editorial analytics and for making data-driven decisions within our editorial team,” said Webb.
Unified code base with predictable product upgrades
Simplicity scales—as any technical team that must work in multiple code bases can verify. With the standardized development platform provided by WordPress VIP, Savage Ventures’ technical team now centralizes their work on one code base, instead of several. This standard architecture reduces toil for their tech team and also controls costs.
The technical teams are able to spend more time improving the visitor experience of their digital properties. In fact, total engaged minutes improved 133% year-over-year for one of their properties.
It’s also a reality of the industry that software is always being updated, which can lead to unexpected scrambling for technical teams when issues arise. This is especially true for open source software, where a robust community is always creating new features and patching vulnerabilities.
This is one of the main reasons why Savage Ventures prefers working with WordPress VIP. The WordPress VIP support team proactively ensures that the Savage Ventures’ technical teams are always briefed of upcoming changes to CMS, analytics, and platform infrastructure.
From a technical perspective, product releases from WordPress VIP can be planned centrally in a holistic fashion. To date, they haven’t experienced any breaking changes with a product upgrade or release.
“We’ve experienced changes with other environments that were not well announced,” said Hernandez. “That caused conflicts and breaks for us. But wth VIP, we know there’s a lot of foresight into the next version of WordPress. There’s ample testing on the VIP side, ample time on our side to test as well. That kind of communication is missing in other platforms, and we value it.”
Savage Ventures teams are also able to comprehensively plan site migrations and deployments—(including analytics/data workflows and more technical components like hosting and development pipelines)—in consolidated project plans and environments. This accelerates their launch times.
This proactive support approach and unified platform helps Savage Ventures quickly begin using new features, instead of solely concentrating on site stability prep. “The VIP account management and technical support teams are very responsive,” said Hernandez. “It absolutely speeds our implementation and adoption.”
- 79% more content produced year over year
- 121% more visitors
- 133% average engaged time on the site
- Comprehensive site migrations and deployments
- Predictable finances
- Accelerated launch times
Reliable tools and infrastructure
Success in the media industry requires being able to act quickly and publish consistently—you must always be publishing content, and you never know when your topics will trend. Being unable to act at critical moments can represent immense opportunity cost.
In the past, Savage Ventures used many different tools, from hosting providers to analytics to content management and beyond. The reliability of these tools wasn’t always bulletproof—their site might be up, but their development environment was down. Their historical analytics might be accurate, but the real-time information was patchy. Until they came to WordPress VIP, the mere availability of tools used by editors, developers, analysts—and their audience—was something they’d always have to stay on top of.
“I’ve used lots of real time reporting—Parse.ly is super reliable, we don’t have to worry about data sync issues,” said Hernandez. “Similarly, we don’t experience uptime issues. We know we can handle large amounts of traffic. Whether it’s our own team accessing the tools on the backend, or our audience hitting the sites on the front end, we just don’t worry about the infrastructure. It’s all snappy, it’s all solid.”
With WordPress VIP, one of Savage Ventures’ brands handles 121% more visitor traffic year-over-year without issue.
Predictable finances and centralized account management
When one of Savage Ventures’ brands reaches critical mass, they need to be able to predictably scale—which means they need to move it to WordPress VIP. This gives them one set of contracts, one point of contact for business relationships, one model for pricing, one process for onboarding, and other operational streamlining.
The finance team is happy because they can predict costs, as WordPress VIP contracts are structured with scalability in mind—there are no “gotcha!” charges related to matters like traffic spikes. The WordPress VIP policy is: “Why penalize a customer for their success?”
This also allows Savage Ventures’ acquisitions team to reliably forecast costs when they acquire new media brands. As these new brands join the portfolio, onboarding them to the new set of operations is a predetermined process.
“We onboard new sites we acquire or create in a seamless manner without having to renegotiate the details of a contract,” said Webb. “We have a bundle, consolidated pricing—we know exactly what the costs are, how the platform is managed, and what services are involved.”
Using WordPress VIP as their foundation, Savage Ventures publishes more content, faster, with more strategy behind each piece. The results noted in this case study speak for themselves. Compared to a year ago, one of their brands publishes 79% more content per month with 6% more average engaged minutes per article. Best of all, this has led to 121% more visitors and 133% more total aggregate minutes spent reading their content.
Clearly, riding this trend is the only option. No wonder Savage Ventures is bringing a fourth property onto WordPress VIP this year, reflecting ongoing success with the partnership.