Why Transparency Is The New Marketing

open minded

Do you know one simple way you can generate more traffic and sales? It’s actually by being transparent.

Being open about your business is a great way to gain people’s trust and loyalty. By sharing problems you maybe facing, or by sharing your financial numbers (whether they are good or bad) will help you build a larger following.

And with that following, you’ll be able to convert more of your visitors into customers.

But don’t just take my word for it. Let’s look at some companies that share their numbers with the public to their benefit and how you can replicate their successes…

Being transparent

A great example of transparency is Moz. Each year, they reveal their revenue numbers. Whether they have had a great year or a bad one, they stay transparent.

moz rev

For example, in the article I linked to above, they discuss how they lost 5.7 million dollars in 2013. They talk about their lessons, the progress they made, and the areas they can improve upon.

And it’s not just Moz. Groove also reveal their revenue numbers every month.

groove rev

To follow along their journey, you have to subscribe to their blog, which helps them generate more traffic. And in exchange, they share their lessons and strategies they use to grow their company.

You don’t have to have a software company or service-oriented company to do this. You can do the same as a blogger. Just look at Smart Passive Income. Pat Flynn has been sharing his monthly revenue and profit numbers every month since 2008.

What’s interesting about the revenue Smart Passive Income generates is that a lot of it is affiliate revenue. And a good portion of it comes from people reading the income reports and clicking on their affiliate links.

Does transparency really work?

Just look at the three examples above. Not only have these companies’ revenues been climbing, but their traffic has been as well. According to Alexa, Moz is the 360th most popular site on the web; Groove is the 13,405th most popular site; and Smart Passive Income is the 7,092nd most popular site.

It works so well that I am taking a page out of Groove’s book and redesigning my personal blog to share my journey to 100,000 monthly visitors.

neilpatel traffic

By sharing my traffic numbers and lessons, I am hoping to generate more visitors than I am now.

I know what you are thinking though… If you share your numbers, your competition can copy you, right?

It’s actually not the case. Even if you knew everything your competition is doing, what works for them may not work for you. Just look at Moz. If you are a competing SEO software company, knowing their revenue numbers won’t help you beat them.


Because you don’t have their traffic numbers. It’s not easy to take a website from zero to a million visitors a month.

Transparency is everywhere

It’s not just the web where transparency is working. Just the other day, I was eating dinner with a friend in Los Angeles. Next to us was a lady of my mom’s age, sitting all by herself.

We struck a conversation with her, and within an hour, we heard her life’s story. She told us that she was educated in England, that when she was younger she lived in New York, and that she focused her career on selling art to rich people.

She even told us that she has dated people just because they were rich and that she is tired of doing that and is looking for true love now.

People typically aren’t that open, especially the first time you meet them. But she seemed nice and genuine. Sure, some may judge her in a negative way based on what she said, but it’s her life. As long as she isn’t harming anyone, she can live it the way she chooses.

And because of her transparency, I will probably end up doing business with her one day. She was teaching me how I could make money investing in art and was giving me examples of what to look for.

Of course, I’ll verify if the information she has told me is accurate because I don’t know much about art, but assuming it checks out, I don’t mind investing in it.

So why not be yourself with people? Lying and beating around the bush will just make your life more complex.

And if that story doesn’t convince you, just look at Buffer. They received 381 comments on a blog post that discusses everyone’s salary within their company. It not only helped them gain thousands of visitors and new customers, but it also helped them gain a lot of respect from other entrepreneurs.


With so much information being out there, why not be transparent? It’s just a matter of time before your competition knows what you already know. So why not just put it all out there and gain traffic and revenue from it?

I know I’m going to start being more transparent. I’ll test it out with NeilPatel.com over the next few months, and if it works there, I will start implementing it with some of my other businesses.

So, what do you think about transparency? Are you going to start sharing your numbers and knowledge?

P.S. If you want help coming up with more marketing ideas, such as using transparency click here.


  1. Palash Kumar Daw :

    Agree with you.

  2. Looking forward to the numbers of QuickSprout Neil 😉

    I will address this topic with the team and see how we can be more transparent too. Thank you once again.

    • I love numbers too. I think this is why blogs that cut and paste their google analytics are popular…….curiosity gets us every time. Maybe it killed the cat but it sure gets my interest.

      Even better? When big sites, big bloggers post their monthly income reports. Who doesn’t want the inside scoop?

      • Raul, at the end of the day they act as testimonials. People cannot believe that a process or idea works unless they see the results. I am very results and data oriented.

        • Remonia Muhammad :

          I believe that transparency is the way to go.. I’m a Life Coach, and the most break through with clients is when I place myself before them to take a look inside my World. This allow for deeper connection and you build a strong foundation that’s built on trust… I don’t care, people don’t buy from you, because you have a nice sales pitch, it’s about connection.. Nice post sir.

  3. My traffic increased just because Of Neil with 200%, thanks a lot brother.

  4. Md. Hamim Mondal :

    Absolutely right Neil Sir.

    Now being transparent is the best way to generate more traffic and sale.

    Thanks again for this awesome post. 🙂

  5. Paul @ IMH Blog :

    I happily share how much I charge for projects as well as share how much things cost. What’s the problem, it’s just a number and the other person looking for that information is more than likely going to find it from somewhere else. Potentially losing you a lead.

    I enjoyed your more personal articles recently (clothing, watches) so Im excited to see what your personal site will share.

  6. Hi Neil, I have a SaaS time tracking application for remote teams (https://hubstaff.com). We released our revenue numbers to the public a few months ago and the results have been interesting…

    We thought hard about releasing all of this data, but in the end it’s been a good decision.

    1. It’s easier to write and get attention for your startup because the media sees you as more “real”. It’s something tangible they can write about and mention.
    2. Clients and customers kind of jump on your back and do what they can to help.

    You can see our public numbers here – https://hubstaff.baremetrics.io/

    Thanks for writing about this topic. I have a feeling that a lot more startups will be doing this moving forward.

    • Dave, love what you guys have done here. I really hope people take that big step too. It really helps out your bottom line when everything is transparent.

  7. Yes! I’ve been on the fence about this, but after reading this and the case studies, the easy answer is Yes! Thank you! 🙂

  8. Hi Neil

    Transparency works well when you have high number of visitors or high revenue..

    Suppose i have a blog and have 20 subscribers.. do you think people will subscribe to my blog if they only see 20 subscribers. I think no

    Transparency works well for large business. for smaller one its better to show off

    • Ajay, I think you have to be honest about your business if you want to build trust — with that being said you should do what you feel comfortable with.

  9. Some peoples might think if we tell what we are doing or so called Transparency, everybody can copy and do the same.

    But, as in my journey. I never found even one because everybody is different even in online business.

  10. Mary Collings :

    Hi Neil

    I truly admire all those who are transparent. It’s much more inspirational than any “get rich quick” scheme. It was Pat Flynn’s transparency that made me an immediate fan.

    The other aspect of transparency that intrigues me is why you guys are all still doing what you’re doing. You never need to work again. So, either you really love what you’re doing (which is an inspiration in itself) or you’re “doing a Tim Ferriss” and wrote this on a beach in Anguilla…

    Thanks for another great post 🙂

    • Mary, those are all great examples of people who have been extremely transparent and successful. At the end of the day it’s all about sharing your experiences and building trust.

  11. That’s perfectly correct Neil. Each time I share a post on my blog exactly how I make a certain amount of money, that post is always a big hit. People like to know the truth and if you become that transparent, you get their attention

    Happy New Year Neil

    • Enstine, thanks for the feedback. I think at the end of the day people just want social and data based proof that your approach works.

  12. Agree. I’ve always connected with people — both online & offline — more when they’re transparent.

    Being genuine is real. And isn’t that who we want to do business with? A real person.

  13. I think if there are things like 30 subscribers .. 50 likes.. etc this gives negative impact. It may increase bonuce rates.
    Transparency works when you have high number of social counts.. high traffic… etc.. because people converts on seeing good signs not negative signs.. its a different thing when we show how our blog reached from zero to hero stats.

  14. Hi Neil,

    Although the idea of transparency looks very appealing and sincere, I have enough life experience to judge that it’s just another side of a marketing skill.

    I don’t say transparency is always deception, but it’s (or can be) a kind of manipulation. (Manipulation can be built completely on truth, or on partial truth to be precise)

    Anyway, I’m not going to preach morality here, because in general I like the idea of being truthful, transparent etc, because it adds up some more additional value to the content and branding.

    But after all, I’d like just to point out the following:
    – For consumers: don’t be naive, take someone’s transparency as a part of a marketing strategy, not a will of good faith alone.
    – For marketers: don’t try to be transparent only in order to be transparent. Put transparency in service to give more value to your users, but don’t be stupid transparent.

    Perhaps it’s obvious, but I see that a lot of people don’t understand even the basics, so I’m making my input here.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post!

    • Michael, you bring up a great point. I think it’s important to still use intuition and logic when assessing people’s words. That is why I always double check on my own — like the case with the art dealer. It’s important to trust, but also be mindful of the pitfalls of blind trust.

  15. Great post Neil. I suppose the saying, “just be yourself” goes, further than one may think. Being transparent allows others to potentially trust us, trust in turn builds relationships, and that’s what we’re after. Very inspiring, thanks again!

  16. I’m all for transparency and believe that it’s THE way to create trust.

    I did year ago casting for Finnish “Married at First Sight” TV show, where a group of experts try to match couples with the help of science. The twist is that these couples don’t meet each other — of know anything about each other — until they get married. Yes, actually married.

    Finland is a small country with only 5,5 million Finns. Finnish people are known for being “sensible” and cautious.

    I was asked to find smart, nice, “normal” and relatable people to marry a total stranger in a TV show.

    I.e. people who wouldn’t normally do anything this crazy.

    I managed to get a large group of people to agree to our crazy proposal and the experts were able to find three great matches.

    The only way it was possible to pull this off, was to be totally transparent.

    I told them that how scared we were that we wouldn’t find the right people. That we knew we were asking a lot. How I thought media would react to the whole thing. How it felt to be a divorcee. How I had coped with bad the press in the past 18 years.

    (I’m a best selling author and media personality in my country.)

    When the first episode came out a week ago, everyone was shocked to find out how lovely and nice these three couples were.

    Yes, transparency can feel scary and intimidating, but I do think that really is the way of the future.

    • Kat, I loved reading your experience here. I think it’s important to weave a story into any experience — and I think you have mastered that! Thanks for sharing!

  17. Timely post. I’m in a discussion group with a guy who claims to be making six or seven times as much money for his work as he actually charges. I’m not sure what he was hoping to accomplish by lying about how much he makes for the work he does, but it had two effects on me–I resigned from the discussion group, and I stopped following him on that social network.

    I guess some people like to play the big shot, but what’s the point? It’s not even an effective business strategy–as you pointed out in your post, Neil–transparency is the way to go.

    What other ways can you be transparent, besides sharing how much money you make?

    • Randy — that’s where lying and being “transparent” can go wrong. It’s important to build trust and not lie — which is why this guy probably wont succeed long run.

      I try to share personal experiences and funny stories to humanize everything I do business wise.

  18. This is a new movement in tech marketing, especially for SaaS companies, and honestly, I love it.

    Joel from Buffer is tremendously open about his company and it’s a big, refreshing change from the normally closed, hush-hush tone of most software companies.

    It’s also very inspiring to see such numbers from respected entrepreneurs. Even though Joel and Leo aren’t running one of the valley ‘unicorns’ with $1Bn valuations, they have earned tremendous respect in the field because of their transparency.

    Good marketing, good branding.

    PS: Neil, how about a follow-up to the post on why you *shouldn’t* be transparent?

    • Puranjay, those are great examples of how transparency can work in a positive way.

      It’s all about being realistic and sharing honest insights. Great idea for a post 😉

  19. This is a wonderful and timely post!

    Only in my 30’s have I begun to drop pretenses and just be me. Hard lessons and lost friends led to this decision. If someone doesn’t like it, then I don’t particularly care to know them.

    Keep up the good work. You have a wonderful knack for this.


  20. Great Neil, i truly believe transparency is one of the key to success,s i mean our customers need to trust us, and they need reason to trust, great post 🙂 We recently published on how we made $4300 in 3 months from our Eventblog, and we applied the same strategy there, sharing all the data , number of posts, backlinks exact timing and even the stuff we bought with the money , helps a lot 🙂

  21. Neil, you amaze me with the quality blogs posts on digital marketing you publish. Keep up the great work 🙂

  22. Randy Kauffman :

    Hmm, interesting. I am going to try it. I want to get to $50,000 per month of revenue. I will let everyone know and start posting what our revenues are.

  23. Thanks Neil, I believe transparency is essential, especially with ourselves.

    A little typo I found:

    Lying and beating around the bush will just make your life *my* complex.

  24. Hi Neil,

    Few weeks ago you wrote an article about your new site Strideapp. That was a very intersting article and I created an account. You were very enthusiastic about it: If I’m not wrong you were expecting to generate at least 100 million dollars with it. But, two days ago I logged in and it seems that you don’t own it no more. Could you please tell us what happened? Speaking of transparency, I think this could be a great subject for a blog post.

    Thank you,



    • Oswaldo, we actually sold it. It was a great product that we helped build out. At the end of the day we like to make products better — so that was a very challenging and enriching product.

  25. Tim Van Samang :


    I’m finally commenting after years of reading your content. I haven’t commented before, but I sure have shared your work.

    I Love Transparency, but trying to convince Baby Boomer Business Owners to be more transparent is near to impossible, especially in a finance business.

    Any Tips?


    • Tim, I find that certain segments of the population are more reluctant to share. At the end of the day you just have to build trust if you want someone to share with you.

  26. Hi Neil,

    Thanks – Great for building trust with clients too I assume.

  27. Cody Bollerman :

    Solid Post – Definitely, doesn’t matter if you are Neil Patel, Rand Fishkin or on a lower level of digital marketing etc. you will make mistakes..just part of the game. I believe remaining honest is the oldest form of marketing and the glue of word of mouth/referral. That is just as valuable as running ads or investing in other channels if you have already reached the right clients..

  28. Hi Neil.
    I totally agree with what you say in this post. Transparency and honesty ends up bringing more people to your site.

    I was thinking the very same thing before your conclusion: the transparency factor is more like a psychological factor. When you are transparent, people tend to trust you more and feel closer to you. It’s like blogging, blogs tend to have more visitors the more the blogger shows his flaws and successes.

    The other day my site’s server went down for a lot of time and I had to be honest and explain it to my social networks followers. It paid off.

    • Louie, you did the right thing. The more transparent you are the more trust you build. Trust goes a long way in business — and people often overlook that.

  29. Raymond Philippe :

    I do indeed think transparency has its benefits. I will be rethinking how far I am willing to go myself. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the topic.

  30. Hi Neil,

    Didn’t knew that being transparent can be useful, but I am little bit skeptical about it. What if marketers use this to pitch their products even if you don’t need one. Sharing is good, but sharing everything might not be a great idea.

  31. Hey Neil,

    The Concept of transparency can act like boomerang. How? If we share great lessons and what we learnt in the journey. More people can really interested and get benefited.

    So people will have a very good opinion of the company or the product. That helps every company in driving more numbers than before with less hurdles.

    Sharing great information gets your attention by lots of amazing people out there.

    I guess, I should give a test try in my new upcoming blogs.

    Thanks Neil!
    Have a great year with your numbers & journey.

  32. Kranthi Kiran :

    I think you are right Neil. I once read your article with a honest comparison of crazyegg and mixpanel.

    Although I’m a big fan of mixpanel myself, my respect for you grew leaps and bounds. 🙂

  33. Deepika Tanna :

    Yes, transparency the ideal way to get more and more genuine traffic. Thanks Neil for a great post

  34. Kelsey@Brosix :

    Glad that you mentioned Pat Flynn because his monthly income report is the best example of transparency that I can think of. I now see a lot of bloggers doing the exact same thing!

  35. Since my blog is based on personal development (neuroscience) and nutrition science I think I will start by writing about “lessons I learned from….” from my personal experience in both these areas. Let’s see how it goes.

    Thanks for providing ideas for new blog posts Neil! 🙂

  36. hii neil, i admire how you write articel like this , amazing , easy understanding , and yeah i just like it !

  37. Hello. Neil, I agree with much of what you state in your lens. I’m all about transparency. I believe in transparency so much so, that our business Facebook page contains post that we blast every so often letting people know what we are about. Being transparent helps to avoid a lot of misunderstanding as to the type of audience and potential prospects you aim for. Speaking of the arts, it can be a very tricky world. As I am an artist, whose Social Media Marketing (SMM) also helps to promote the arts, and provide support for the living artist. Promoters of The Arts. “Promotion & Marketing for the serious Artist.” www.promotersofthearts.com. And, Funky S.a.K. Original Artwork/Art prints & Downloads. “We don’t just sell art. We help you create your ambiance.” www.funkysak.com. Would love the opportunity to assist you with your art buying. Thanks for the informative post. Happy 2015!

  38. Great post Neil. I guess transparency can make your business appear human in a very cold and corporate world. Would you say that social platforms are the best way to provide that level of comfort between business and consumer?

    • Joe, I think being transparent about growth figures and tactics that aren’t confidential is a good start. I just try to help everyone out.

  39. Neil,

    I guess I get the idea and can see how people can appreciate transparency but don’t you think if an ordinary blogger were to start doing this, it wouldn’t be that fun to look at?

    I mean my goal is to have monthly 100,000 visitors on my site, I am working on trying to achieve that figure but it’s not as smooth as some of the other site’s journey towards that goal.

    • Saad, it’s definitely tougher for people starting out on the bottom to scale. However, I look at my own experiences and realize that anything is possible with the right mindset and with the right subset of people looking at your blog.

      • I guess you’re right Neil, I should focus on attracting the right kind of visitors and once my new blog gains a bit of traction I can think of being transparent with my journey. Thank you for replying 🙂

  40. Sanford Dragt :

    There’s an important lesson to be learned from that attitude, too. You’re an inspiration, Neil. 🙂

  41. Tom from Ultimatebanners :

    Wow, Moz’s transparency numbers are nearly vertical!

  42. Neil, I can’t thank you enough.

    For years I’ve been developing site after site, they’ve all had their major flaws in some way, but they’ve all had something that works.

    Then, some 9 months ago I discovered you… I’ve read so much of your blog, I’ve discovered so many ways I’ve gone wrong, and, gone right.

    I’m compiling all my efforts into a new website / blog, I’ve got a long term plan thanks to you.

    Would you suggest transparency from day 1?

    Thank you!

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