6 min read
Cara McDonald shares how to be successful with SaaS marketing
By: Nicole Proctor on Sep 19, 2022 3:34:30 PM
As a copywriter working with a variety of clients, I constantly pull from my (many) varied experiences across industries to dig into customer personas when writing. I physically picture everything from their day-to-day jobs to the pants they are wearing so I can draft compelling copy that will resonate to their pain points. Developing content for prospective technology buyers is accompanied by a few specifics unique to software products, so I sat down with Cara McDonald for what felt like a Masterclass in all things SaaS marketing.
Cara is our fearless leader here at Content Matterz, and for over two decades she’s worked with some of the top and up-and-coming tech companies, collecting insights and bringing our team along for the ride. Hoping to dig into some of the nuances of the SaaS industry, I knew Cara was the right resource to help educate me on the particulars of the buyer’s journey, B2B sales, trends and more.
We explored what SaaS companies need to do to get it right, and though I won’t share all her secrets, Cara has a few tips to help any tech marketer better connect their content to prospective customers.
Ready for those lightbulbs to turn on?
Map out a serious buyer's journey
To start, it’s important to understand your buyers’ journey — and we mean really understand it. Some SaaS companies get it right, and some get it very wrong.
Cara kicked off our conversation with a 101 on the SaaS sales funnel.
“The top of the funnel is when people don’t know you, and you’re just trying to build brand awareness, and perhaps draw attention to a problem or pain point they may be having that your product can solve. You want them to take interest and take an action like clicking a link to learn more. That's it; simply capturing their interest and planting the seed that maybe they have a problem you can help them solve.
The middle of the funnel is where you connect that problem with the solution your software can provide. You’re taking your product, attaching it to the problem and explaining why those two things are a match made in heaven so you can get them in with the sales team.”
My top takeaway from Cara’s sales funnel brief: set expectations. SaaS companies tend to have long sales processes that span multiple years, just like building a brand. You can’t do it all overnight.
“While buyers rarely buy in a predictable, linear way, marketers still must think about their content and marketing efforts linearly to ensure you’re catching buyers at whatever stage they are in — i.e., you start them here and working them through there — or you end up with kind of a free-for-all with big gaps where you’ll lose your buyers.”
“Consistency above all else” is a mantra I preach to our writers and strategists when coaching on how to match our client’s voices, tone and style — but Cara reminded me that this applies to your sales and marketing efforts, too.
“They must stay consistent with their marketing over the long haul. If you do all the right things today, then you have to keep doing those right things for the next six months to a year. Otherwise, all your efforts that you do in your one big push right now won’t build any momentum, and in a year from now, you’ll be in the exact same place, needing leads.”
In a nutshell:
“You have to do way more than you think you should have to.”
Make efforts specific
Remember how I talked about picturing everything affecting your customer, including considering everything down to the pants they are wearing? Cara reiterated that personas should play a huge role in your content creation process.
“For companies that cross every vertical possible, I recommend picking three that are high-potential verticals and focus on those, and pair those with three high-potential personas. The more targeted it feels for the audience, the more effective it is going to be.”
Cara’s advice makes sense — you can get a lot more mileage out of content campaigns by tailoring and targeting your efforts.
“It can seem like you’re narrowing your options to speak only to the targeted few. But put yourself in the shoes of a buyer — if a company says to you ‘we can save you time and money on your invoice processing,’ that sounds fine, but if they say ‘we save controllers in insurance agencies five hours a week doing manual data entry’ — aren’t you much more likely to respond to the second one if you’re a controller in insurance? You now know the company has specific experience helping people just like you. If you really do have a solution that works for a specific industry or a specific persona or both, you’ll build trust and improve your results by being specific.”
Watch the jargon
I admit it: I’m guilty of using “leverage the power of the cloud” more than once. These days, SaaS writers are using too many marketing buzzwords, which are meaningless (yes, including my ol’ favorite cloud-powered phrase).
Besides gently nudging me to try out different words, Cara had a helpful suggestion to keep in mind when crafting SaaS content that resonates: “Try to say it simply and plainly — what it is that you do, what are the benefits.
“Today’s buyers are much more interested in authenticity and realness.”
It’s like she gets me. (This is one of my favorite feedback staples for other writers, even if I’ve snuck in a few “cloud-powerds” into my copy).
Cara also reminded me that the people searching for a product or solution aren’t going to think that the content was written by the marketing team; they’re going to believe it’s authored by the company. Knowing this, it’s critical that the information be both relevant to the audience and easy to understand.
Her final thoughts on this topic:
“There is almost nothing in the marketing universe that influences a company's reputation more than what is written in its published content, both internally and externally. If it’s jargon, who cares?”
Know your competitors
Just like we’re not the only content marketing agency on the block, you’re likely not the only SaaS solution that does what you do. It’s a crowded marketplace out there.
“To stand out, the people creating your content need to understand where your company is positioned and what are the stand-out things that grab people’s attention as making you, you.”
One way to figure this out is via competitor analysis. As a bonus for reading this far, check out our free competitor analysis worksheet.
“If you don’t know where your company is positioned against these other companies and what is the specific thing that makes you better, different, and unique, then your campaigns are just going to sink into the background and get lost in the noise.”
Create a relationship with sales
Sometimes, marketers can live on their own island with sales teams on another. But reps can have first-hand knowledge or customer feedback that can positively impact marketing.
“The sales team might hear feedback about the content and how it's resonating. They’re also great reviewers because they talk to customers regularly so they understand where prospects are coming from. Salespeople can give you some great perspective on the content itself. But also give you some great ideas as to what’s missing in your content strategy.”
I get what you’re throwing down, Cara. Even if it’s challenging, be allies instead of adversaries with the sales team.
There’s a lot of advantages to working closely with the sales team. The more they feel like they’re being supported by good content the better it is for internal politics in general. And as a bonus, successful sales and marketing partnerships boost asynchronous selling.
Keeping up with the Joneses
I might have traded managing social media for copywriting, but I still love scrolling through great content and trying out new ways to interact with other people. It keeps my skills fresh and I stay in the know.
Whether it’s productivity tools or TikTok, it’s important for SaaS companies to keep up with trends — and Cara agrees.
“It still matters what’s trendy because it seeps into everything. What people see in their personal lives they see again in their business lives; what's popular is what's popular, and it will have the same kind of impact. You’ll feel a little dated in your practices if you don't pay attention.”
When you're trying to build content for an entire organization, you might not have the bandwidth to execute on trending platforms. Luckily, with the right team in your corner, you can tackle anything from complex marketing strategy goals to making an impact through whatever channel is hot right now.
Ready to back your content strategy with a team well versed in all things SaaS, sales, marketing and yes, even TikTok? Let’s chat today!
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