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COVID-19 changed a lot of things about the way we interact. For B2B businesses, social distancing, masks, and health concerns have minimised the number of in-person meetings and elevated the importance of digital-first sales strategies.
Companies that are thriving right now have ramped up their digital campaigns using content marketing efforts as a critical tool for connecting with customers online. While a lot of the foundational principles of content marketing apply to every market and industry, the key to content that converts is customisation to your audience.
This article is going to address elements of content marketing specific to B2B SaaS businesses and the fundamentals that B2B marketers employ.
If you want our full in-depth guide to building a B2B SaaS Go-to-Market Strategy, check out our free eBook — The Founders Guide to B2B SaaS Growth.
One common “content” mistake is believing that just writing content will attract attention. It won’t. Every day, 293 billion emails are sent, 4.3 billion posts show up on Facebook, and 4.4 million blogs are posted. The numbers are simply staggering.
What’s more, content marketing isn’t just about clicks. To be effective, content needs to drive business outcomes — that’s the “marketing” half of the equation. You should have a specific goal for each piece of content in mind, and each piece should slot into a larger, long-term content strategy.
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Your long-term content strategy should loosely align with driving business growth. However, that might subdivide between:
Individual pieces of content can align with any of these larger goals, and should be further subdivided by a “narrative strategy” and how you intend to get that content in front of an audience.
Your narrative goal could be to:
And how you intend to use that content could be:
Each of these different goals requires different types of content. For example, organic content needs to be keyword targeted, it likely would not address your product, and should be written to a broad audience that encompasses anyone who might make that Google search.
Content to be used in email marketing campaigns, however, should be far more targeted towards a specific audience, it might veer into “product pitch” territory, and doesn’t need to be keyword targeted at all.
In each piece of content you create, think about the action you want the reader to take. Design your content in such a way that it gets the reader to take the next step in the customer journey. Since 70% of B2B buyers research online and fully define their needs before ever engaging with a sales rep, your content needs to provide real value to position your product in the mind of the reader.
Compared to most B2B products, SaaS has fast sales cycles, relatively low per-user costs (and possibly low profit margins), and is often self-service. That means managing your customer acquisition costs is extremely important.
You can’t spend more on sales and marketing than your average customer lifetime value (CLV). If you make this mistake, it will slowly erode and then destroy your business. You need to make sure that you price your SaaS product correctly, and then align your marketing efforts accordingly.
What’s great about content is that it delivers a long-term resource that can help you reduce sales costs — again and again. If you build up a persuasive and informative library of content, it will help “automate” your sales journey by making it self-service.
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When visitors go to your website or are searching for solutions online, your content takes readers through a narrative of discovery without adding any incremental cost. Even if sales reps need to get involved, they can use content as sales collateral to accelerate that process and reduce their contact time — saving you money.
A unique feature of selling SaaS is the free trial — or freemium. Check out this blog if you are still unsure about the freemium vs free trial question. But in both cases, this delivers you a powerful marketing and sales tool that you should guide prospective customers towards whenever possible.
In addition to providing a very compelling product pitch, your free trial/freemium is what is known as a “gate” — a compelling offering that requires contact details to access. This allows you to then pursue that lead through a series of follow-ups.
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Other gated content, such as eBooks, whitepapers, quizzes, FAQs, toolkits, or how-to content, are also effective ways to gather information and draw your target audience into your sales funnel. However, your free trial/freemium is likely your most compelling offer, it already exists (or should do), and will do an unparalleled job demonstrating the value of your product.
Make sure to write content focused on driving customers towards that free trial, place CTAs (calls-to-action) in your blog and then follow up with leads.
Content is great for grabbing organic traffic and finding new leads, but it also helps with customer retention, upselling, and cross-selling. This is especially important when you realise it costs five times more to attract a new customer than it does to keep a current one. And, the probability of selling to a current customer is 60-70% compared to a 5-20% probability for a new customer.
Make sure to write bedrock organic content, but also write content that will engage with blog subscribers, such as thought leadership, industry trends, and helpful advice. This keeps customers coming back time and again and can also help with organic search results.
No matter how perfect the content you create seems to be, things never go exactly according to plan. You can’t get too hung up on whether everything you do will hit the mark. For example, you can never be sure what your blog will actually end up ranking for, or what will be most interesting to your audience.You need to try things, record the results, improve what works, and dump what’s not connecting. It may be as simple as changing a title to align with keywords that you actually rank for. Or it might mean changing the way to explain your value proposition.
Look at key metrics like traffic, bounce rates, conversion rate, and time on page. Pay particular attention to traffic sources. If you see a particular source that performs well, do a deeper dive to see if there’s additional content that can be targeted to work best with that source.
The better you know your target customer, the better able you will be to create content that works for lead generation. Your SaaS product fills a need for your customers. In the sales process, you likely define the problem for prospects and demonstrate how your product solves that problem. The same approach works well for B2B content marketing.
Here are a few case studies that show how knowing the audience well can lead to spectacular results:
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Each of these content marketing pieces came from knowing the target audience intimately and creating engaging content that provided real value.
Marketing for a SaaS company presents several unique characteristics that you need to take into account when planning your content strategy. However, the fundamentals of content marketing remain unchanged.
You need to add value to the reader, write with a purpose, track your outcomes, and tailor your approach to your audience.
If you need more ideas to kick-start your content marketing campaigns, or you are looking for expert’s advice on how to maximise the effectiveness of your B2B marketing strategy - please feel free to contact us today.