Find me someone who expects quicker wins from content marketing initiatives than a SaaS executive. I don’t think you will. Because in the SaaS space, everything is functioning at warp speed. Hiring talent. Product development. Growing top of funnel leads.
If you’re not driving immediate results, SaaS executives will quickly question your efforts, your initiative, and sometimes even your entire marketing plan. And then they will jettison anything they deem as not working.
How exactly do they weed out these so-called lacking initiatives? By constantly (we’re talking at least every quarter, if not every week) evaluating your efforts and obsessing over metrics.
In their defense, SaaS execs are typically under immense pressure to prove progress to impatient VC funders. Plus it’s a rapidly evolving industry. Once one company charts a path to success, another (often similar) SaaS startup copies — and attempts to best — their product, sales and marketing engine, and processes. In other words, you better move quickly or you’ll fall behind and fail.
None of this is inherently bad. Optimizing decisions and processes based on data is necessary and effective. The problem is getting your boss’s buy-in on content marketing. Since content marketing doesn’t traditionally produce short-term ROI, SaaS execs might be unwilling to wait for results, despite your (correct) insistence that content marketing’s long-term value is unmatched.
To help you fight the good fight and keep your content marketing budget intact, we’ll guide you in highlighting your content marketing plan’s iterative progress while you (read: your bosses) wait for those big ROI achievements.
SaaS Content Marketing Starts With Setting the Right Expectations
We’re going to give you tools to prove your content marketing efforts are working, even in the early days. But let’s reiterate the truth: Content marketing is simply not designed for short-term ROI. It’s a long-term play, and setting expectations with your executive team as you kickoff your content marketing initiatives is critical. For example, a blog post usually has to mature and gain traction from an SEO perspective before it starts attracting readership, let alone conversions. Consequently, that blog post is unlikely to result in immediate demo requests for your platform.
That said, there’s a reason every successful SaaS company invests in content marketing. No other marketing initiative can match the compounding effect of content marketing done right. If well executed, your content marketing can drive sustained lead growth over the long term because it is an always-on form of marketing.
Take this example: Your Series B SaaS company invests $3,000 in a LinkedIn Ad campaign that generates 10 SQLs in two short days. That’s awesome! But what happens when you stop funneling money into that campaign? Oh, right. It stops converting leads.
On the other hand, say you spend that same $3,000 on one single kick-ass SaaS blog post. It probably won’t convert leads in the first couple of days like your paid campaign did. But what about in a year or five years or even a decade after publishing? Without any additional investment, we’d bet it easily generates hundreds of leads in the long run. You can’t beat that!
We’re preaching to the choir, right? We know you know this stuff, but it’s your job to continually educate your bosses so they have realistic expectations.
Explain that while they probably won’t see a sudden influx of leads the way they might with a paid media campaign or a direct sales push, they need to stick with content marketing. If they give up too soon, they’ll miss out on those big wins when it really counts.
Sidenote on Sales vs. Marketing Leads
While you’re setting expectations with your bosses, make sure you also disseminate this message: Content marketing only works if there’s a clear understanding of the difference between true hand-raisers and folks in research mode.
A hand-raiser is someone who converts on a demo request or a contact form. They’re, well, raising their hand. They want to be contacted directly by your sales team. That’s a sales lead, or an SQL in SaaS parlance.
Someone who converts on an eBook or a webinar recording, however, isn’t necessarily saying they want to hear from you ASAP. Research mode implies they’re not ready to buy just yet. They’re learning about your industry, category, and solution. That’s a marketing lead, or it may be an MQL depending on your qualification rules.
You can’t treat hand-raisers and researchers the same way. A researcher will be put off by aggressive sales tactics. Then they’ll never become sales-qualified leads. Drop them in a nurture campaign and let them self-select over time instead.
This is yet another expectation you need to set with your execs. They need to know they might get more passive folks converting on content who need a lighter touch, at least initially.
2 Ways to Prove Content Marketing’s Value When Your Bosses Still Won’t Wait
Regardless of how well you set your executives’ expectations, they’re going to want something to show right away for content marketing. It’s how they’re programmed.
If you’re in need of quick ammo, talk through these two pro-content marketing points:
1. Content-Driven Site Visitors Are Higher Quality
While it’s true you might have to be patient while waiting for your content to convert leads, you should still start to notice a trend in visitors consuming your content. They’ll prove to be more educated, valuable, and sales-ready as prospects and eventual customers. You’ll see this in metrics like time on page and total pages consumed.
Why? Because someone who engages with topical content before they buy tends to be more serious if and when they do convert. They know what they want and what they’re going to get from you.
Conversely, someone who navigates right to your contact form and haphazardly fills it out might not even know what you offer.
Don’t take our word for it. GoCanvas is proof. When a prospect downloaded one of their topical eBooks, they were six times more likely to convert than their company average. Six times!
The quality of content-driven site visitors and conversions can be an early indication of content marketing’s success, even if the volume isn’t there yet.
2. Paid Media Accelerates Short-Term Content Marketing Wins
Are executives still itching for actual numbers proving content marketing’s ROI? Pair it with paid media.
Like we said, paid media provides quick wins. You can start a campaign and see qualified leads all in one day. Don’t be afraid to promote your content via paid to get some leads in the pipeline right away and appease your executives — at least momentarily.
Paid media does more than just accelerate content conversions. It also shortens the learning curve. By promoting your stuff with paid, you’ll instantly see what content your prospects are attracted to. Then you can produce more like that.
Just remember (well, remind the higher ups) that paid media is not a replacement for content marketing. First off, paid media typically needs content to feed it. You can only go after so many keywords before you need a gated asset to promote. Content is a sales tool too.
Most importantly, paid media will never have that compounding effect exclusive to content marketing. You need to pay for every paid media campaign. You only need to “pay” for a piece of content once for it to produce leads for years to come.
We guarantee that if you explain these quick wins to your stakeholders, they’ll be satisfied and you’ll get to keep playing the long game.