Have you heard of the content marketing treadmill?
It’s when you’re working your socks off and going nowhere. When the effort you’re putting in dwarfs what you’re getting back.
It’s something we see a lot, particularly in our early conversations with new clients.
You’ve got a blog, social channels, some lead gen campaigns, a newsletter. You’re doing all the stuff you should be doing and you’ve had some wins along the way.
But your stats are inconsistent - the wins aren’t as often as you’d like.
Also, you’re exhausted. Scrambling around for new ideas. Never knowing if next month’s results will be better than last month’s. Feeling the heat from sales and your leadership team.
It’s not a great place to be. 😞
You want steady growth in traffic and leads. You know that’s what the business needs but you can’t seem to get there.
So why does this happen? And how can you fix it?
There are two reasons marketers end up on the treadmill.
They’re usually doing too much stuff. And the stuff they’re doing isn’t BIG enough. 💪
Let’s face it. You’re not going to move your market with tweets. You’re not going to move your market with blog posts.
You move your market with big ideas that are easy to find and impossible to ignore.
Basically, if you want epic results, you need to do something epic. You can’t build a skyscraper out of matchsticks.
Here’s another way to think about it.
Let’s say over three months you publish fifteen isolated pieces of content on different channels, about different things, with different CTAs.
You might get some traction.
But you’d get way more traction if you launched one massive campaign, with a compelling idea at its core and loads of supporting content for your blog, social media and emails.
Sporadic content lives for a day and gets forgotten.
Campaigns have impact. Campaigns have longevity. Campaigns get remembered.
Big-idea campaigns are at the heart of just about every iconic brand you can think of. Would IBM be where they are today if, instead of building their brand, they spent all of their budget on direct response ads?
Of course not.
B2B SaaS marketers overlook the importance of creativity and differentiation. Most SaaS brands look, feel and act the same. This is a massive problem.
As Seth Godin put it, “Being good is boring.”
We don’t believe in the ‘little and often’ approach to content marketing. We believe in making big bets - and putting in the research so you can be confident those bets will pay off.
That’s what our High-Impact Content framework is all about.
Every other week we share links and tips to help you get more traffic and leads from your SaaS content.
Our High-Impact Content framework is a repeatable process that helps us come up with epic content ideas and distribute them to maximum effect.
It’s at the heart of everything we do and we’ve got really good at delivering it.
Here’s a quick rundown of how it works:
It goes without saying that before we do anything we take the time to listen to your goals and understand your objectives. But since pretty much agency is going to do that, I’m not going to dwell on it.
I don’t want to bore you with a super-detailed explanation of each step of the process of working with us. I tried to write one of those and it ended up being about 5,000 words long.
Nobody wants to read that. 😐
What I want to do is give you an idea of how we approach SaaS growth and what makes us different from other SaaS agencies.
Let’s do it. 👇
One of the golden rules of copywriting is that you don’t write great copy, you steal it from your customers. The same goes for content.
Speaking to customers is the most reliable way to come up with proven content ideas.
Marketers like to talk about ‘test and learn’. We prefer ‘ask, test and learn’.
Every client project we do starts with customer interviews and every one of those conversations pays itself back ten times over. They’re worth their weight in gold.
If you’re not in the habit of regularly speaking to customers, get in the habit. It’s the single best use of your time as a marketer.
We usually try to speak to 5-10 customers before we come up with any ideas. But we’ll gladly speak to more if we can.
These are the kinds of questions I’m asking:
Basically, I want to know:
We then follow this up with our own quant research. The questions we’re asking at this stage are:
By the end of the research process we end up with this.
The research process is about de-risking your investment. If we’re going all in on a big idea you want to be sure it’s going to work. That’s why we take research so seriously.
At the end of the research process, we’re able to make pretty watertight predictions about:
Armed with these scorching hot insights, we’re ready to move on.
At the heart of our High-Impact campaigns is an asset of some kind that we can use as our central CTA. The thing that will convert anonymous visitors into known contacts.
These could be:
It could be one of these things. It could be many.
We’re consistent in our vision for impactful content marketing. But not at all prescriptive about the ideas we come up with. The ideas vary from client to client, project to project and what we discover during our research.
That said, we do have a couple of criteria that help us sort the good ideas from the bad.
I can’t tell you how many times, early in my career, I launched what I thought would be an awesome piece of content only for it to be a dud.
You know why this happened?
Because I was relying on hunches. I was creating content that I thought people wanted. Unfortunately, I’m not psychic.
That’s why we always try to make sure that our ideas are rooted in first-hand comments from your customers. It’s the best indicator I’ve found that an idea is actually going to work.
Bonus points if we can back it up with some hard data.
I’m a big believer in the idea that the best content ideas are ones that only you can make. This can be because...
One of the unfortunate bi-products of SEO is that a lot of B2B content looks the same. Google most high-volume B2B keywords and you’ll see the same ideas over and over again in the SERPs.
That’s not to downplay the skill it takes to create good SEO content. We love SEO and it’s a central part of our distribution strategy (more on that in a sec). But your high-impact idea should be something unique. Something you can own.
One of our clients is a SaaS platform called Solverboard. They wanted to launch their product to innovation managers in enterprise companies.
We used social media, PR and their personal networks to ask the enterprise innovation community:
‘What are the top five things that get in the way of innovation in your organisation?’
(BTW, everyone loves complaining about their industry. It’s a great engagement tactic.)
Then we rounded up a group of experts to explain how they’d tackle people’s problems. We created a report and then repurposed it into a massive range of imagery, videos, blog posts and assets for social media.
Within six months that campaign had generated:
Here’s why that campaign worked:
That report has become an annual feature of their marketing strategy. Every year they survey the community and get innovation thought leaders to tackle the issues they identify.
That content is filling their pipeline and building their brand. That’s what we mean when we say ‘high-impact content’. Long-running, brand-building ideas that also generate leads.
If you want more info on that campaign, check out the full case study.
The final piece of our High-Impact Content framework is distribution.
I’ll be honest, this is probably the least fun part to read about. I could write thousands of words about how we combine lead nurture email flows with retargeting or how we optimise landing pages, but that would be really boring.
Let’s focus on the big picture.
Our philosophy when it comes to distribution is to spend 20% of your effort on creation and 80% on distribution.
What does this mean?
Basically, don’t create something amazing, share it a handful of times and then move on. Stick with it.
Distribute it across every available channel at your disposal. Then distribute it again.
Then hack it up and repurpose it. Take the topic and interview an expert about it. Take snippets of the interview audio and make audiograms. Take the best quotes from the audio and turn them into imagery. Combine all the imagery and make an infographic. Take each of the chapters, search optimise them and publish them as blog posts. Pitch the top podcasts in your niche to interview on the topic.
Basically, keep going. You’ll be amazed how far you can run with a good idea.
Just because it feels repetitive to you, doesn’t mean your audience feels the same way.
70% of your site traffic is new visitors. The average open rate of an email is just 20%. A fraction of your social followers actually see your posts.
Most of our campaigns run for around three months. It’s only towards the end of those three months that we see engagement start to trail off.
We don’t want to create a campaign that delivers leads for a while and then fizzles out. We want long-term growth in traffic and leads.
SEO is the ultimate long-term traffic source. Nothing else can touch it. It’s the only source of traffic that grows while you sleep - provided you know how SEO works.
Once the launch campaign is live, we focus our efforts on creating an evergreen source of SEO traffic for your campaign, so it can keep generating leads for years to come.
We’ve tried loads of different SEO frameworks over the years and the one that delivers the best results for us is the ‘hub and spoke’ model.
If you’re not familiar with it, here’s a quick explanation.
Let's say your short-tail keyword is 'saas marketing' and your first long-tail keyword is 'saas content strategy'.
Your hub page would be: example.com/saas-marketing
You spoke page would be: example.com/saas-marketing/saas-content-strategy
The great thing about the hub and spoke model is that it improves your search performance, your website structure and your content planning.
It's the most reliable SEO framework we've found so far.
We just covered a whole lot of ground, so let’s do a quick recap.
SaaS content marketing is undifferentiated. Most B2B SaaS brands look, feel and act the same.
This is a problem but also an opportunity. If you have the guts to stand out, you can radically set yourself apart from your competitors.
Content marketing is a powerful way to do this, provided that you:
We believe in our High-Impact Content framework and we’ll gladly talk about it till the cows come home.
Or if you have a project you’d like to discuss, book a meeting with our founder, Tom.