A SaaS Marketer’s Guide to Success with Content Marketing
2013 was a big year for content marketing, and 2014 is looking to be even more definitive as we delve deeper into the digital era.The increasing diversity of companies from various sectors and industries are starting to realize the growing importance of content at a rapid pace.In previous blog posts, we have generically discussed content marketing, then went a step further to discuss the matter on a B2B level, including its impact on the manufacturing sector. Now, we dive even further into the expansive realms of content marketing to uncover its potential under the umbrella of cloud computing, and in particular, its impact on SaaS providers, whom we believe have a golden opportunity to capitalize on the power of content. Read on to discover how
A SaaS-y Story
For this blog, we’ll create a persona with a typical story that reflects some of the challenges that SaaS (Software as a Service) providers face when it’s time to market their products, and how content marketing/ digital marketing can assist in overcoming these difficulties. Suppose Mr. X is a talented geek who heads company Y. And let’s say Mr. X is 35 years of age. We’ll pause the persona’s description for now because already there’s an opportunity for content marketing.
We can assume that such executives will have a lot to say about their brand. Any company head of that caliber will certainly be able to communicate the benefits of his/her brand’s products with relative ease and fluidity. And there it is, right there is the first opportunity for content to come into play. When you have such a character in your company with experience and communication skills, it becomes a fantastic chance to translate whatever he/she says into online content. Get it down in words, publish it through your website, start blogging! But most of all create a culture of content creation. Because when top level executives speak their minds, we tend to listen, and in the case of blogs, we tend to read, then we share, and sometimes, just sometimes, an article will go viral. That’s great for your exposure because that’s all increased traffic in a digital world that’s cramped and difficult to shine in.
If Mr. X is a software expert and knows his product well, he will be able to respond to comments and questions, by what may be a prospective buyer. The responses will be read by others as well, and seeing a company head that really cares by taking time out of his busy schedule to respond to what may be just a curious visitor is actually great for reputation and image. Even better, Mr. X can receive crucial feedback about the product by possibly attracting other SaaS experts with valuable and free, outside perspectives and opinions. Just that, on its own, and in the opinion of this writer, is enough to give huge credibility and value to content marketing.
Let’s suppose Mr. X is in charge of marketing product Z, a product that’s been launched a few years back, saturated in the market and receives regular updates. Based on this information, yet again we can draw further opportunities for content marketing to make its ever-growing mark on this example. Through his company blog, Mr. X can directly communicate the benefits of the updates as they are released, instead of just listing them as we have come to see all too often. In the case of updates, Mr. X will have a chance to go into more detail, perhaps a teaser of what’s to come etc. the possibilities are endless. Once again, it’s a means of communication via a low-cost platform.
Concept of Target Marketing
Another excellent way in which content can drive your business is the indisputable power it places in your hands to carry out target marketing in whichever way your heart desires. With all content, there are parameters and rules that can be set that dictate who, when and where the content will be viewed. Targeted content is the holy grail of content marketing. The content can be personal and speak specifically to a certain person, most preferably, a potential buyer, with a specific need, at a specific point in his or her buying journey. Depending on where the buyer is in that journey, the content can be created to raise awareness or encourage a sale. Back to Mr. X, it’s a chance for him to harness the power of content through various digital channels, by focusing on different keywords according to the different industries and markets, possibly in different countries that a SaaS provider may target.
Even YouTube videos are a form of content marketing, it’s not just text, images or PDFs. Product features can be highlighted through videos which tend to be a lot cheaper than TV commercials. Getting the cameras inside the business to capture the culture and reveal the spirit of the workforce can be a welcomed alternative to the one-dimensional face of traditional advertising. By now, you should be picking up on a characteristic; businesses may be showing as a result of content marketing. That’s Called Transparency. Transparency in the digital age is something, which can lead to a failed venture if it is ignored, and yes, it most definitely correlates with the rise of digital marketing.
Communication Is Vital!
Communication between a brand and a customer is more direct and face-to-face than ever before. It’s more human with the advent of social media, where brands can have a normal conversation with anyone. Whether we like it or not, businesses are becoming more transparent than ever before. And it’s required because your competition is letting your customers know through content and communication all they want to know, in the most social and humane way possible. If you don’t jump on the bandwagon, you will miss out.
It’s vital to use content to communicate with prospects, to showcase your expertise and why your software is better than the rest in your own language, and to take your search engine rankings to a whole new level. Don’t miss out on somebody searching for your software in another industry, in another country because you didn’t have the content that tells Google, “Hey Google, show them this post/photo/video, it’s exactly what they’re looking for.” And all of a sudden, your SaaS product is on the radar of a Silicon Valley investor, or the next genius developer you’re about to hire from Sweden who will pioneer a whole new field of cloud computing under your company’s name.
Adding Strategy to Your Content Marketing
However, creating content can be very time-consuming and expensive, especially if you don’t have a large budget and a content marketing agency at your fingertips. So, how do you choose whether to create a viral cat video or invest in writing up a technical whitepaper? Or should you just spend time updating your website’s FAQ page instead?
We will share some tips and ideas for developing a good website content strategy based on the conversion funnel concept.
From a business point of view, an excellent content strategy for Mr. X is the one that embodies the business well, connects prospective customers in a non-intrusive way and helps amplify sales or meet certain objectives that the business has. Before he starts developing a content strategy and integrating it with his website production processes, it’s crucial for him to understand the journey his customer takes, from initially hearing about Mr. X’s company to making a purchase.
In general terms, we can refer to the journey that a person takes from being a non-customer to our customer as the conversion funnel. A generic conversion funnel can be comprised of four steps:
- Awareness : The stage of initial contact with the customers. This is when the customers first learn about your company.
- Interest: Once the customers are aware of your company, they might become interested in you.
- Desire : After the interest of the customers is aroused, the customer could reach a point where they starts wanting your products and services, although no purchase action has been made at this stage.
- Action : At this stage of the conversion funnel, the customers are not only wanting and daydreaming about your product/service, but also gathers up the money, time, and effort needed to buy it.
Customer behavior fluctuates broadly across all these stages. For instance, someone who has just learned about your product (awareness), will behave differently when compared to someone who already wants to buy your product (action).The objective of the content strategy is to quickly and effectively drive the customers from awareness to interest, to desire, to action by providing the right content for each stage.
Irrespective of how brilliant your content is, it will not find the customer by itself. You also need to choose how you are going to distribute it to the customer. The best content delivery channels vary for each stage of the conversion funnel, and therefore you must find out where the customers typically find content at each stage.
For example, In the case of Mr. X, his customers at the action stage of the funnel are already looking for his software product Z. They are probably using Google to search for various options. They may also look at industry blogs, forums, and review sites to find out the best option. Thus, consecutively to capture that audience, he will need to build up content that would counter the questions arising at that stage.
Moreover, he needs to consider ways in which his content is circulated. It could be search engines, blogs, forums, review sites, YouTube etc. It is important for him to figure out the most effective digital marketing channel to get the piece of content forward in order to hit the right people.
The customers prior to the awareness stage are probably not looking for his company at all. Therefore, Mr. X can get the customers attention by attracting them with relevant and interesting topics, let’s say by developing a collection of benefits and how it is different from the others, a tutorial on how it works, or a case study where software product Z is already in use. The distribution channel could be his company’s blog or industry blogs.
Depending on the bottlenecks in the conversion funnel, Mr. X can thus lay focus on creating the content for the stage that would help him the most at any given time.
Steps to Success
There is no rule book written in gold as to what must be followed and what can yield cent percent results. However, there are some core steps for Content Marketing that must be carefully adapted for a successful program.
- Step 1 – Plan a content marketing strategy at the heart of your marketing
- Step 2 – Find the connection between your brand and audience
- Step 3 – Define your content hub
- Step 4 – Create e-communications strategy by choosing the right Channels
- Step 5 – Process this content by maximising visibility and share-ability
- Step 6 – See Conversions happen
- Step 7 – Measure and improvise using analytics
Finally, you should never rest on your success and presume that what worked yesterday will work tomorrow. Competitors are constantly thinking about how to produce the most compelling content to lure the customer’s attention. It is all in your hands to produce the right content at the right time to target the right audience with patience, as the fruit of it is SWEET and yours to benefit from later. That, dear SaaS providers, is why content marketing is crucial for you.
Any thoughts and comments can be shared in the section provided below. We would love to hear your experiences and inputs towards this pressing topic. If you’re wondering which content channels serve best for your company or how you can profit from content marketing? Who better to help you than us! Find us on Facebook or Contact Us to help you enable the leading content marketing solutions for your firm today!