How do you gain brand visibility in a crowded market without spending too much resources?
For SaaS companies, content marketing is in many ways the greatest opportunity to grow and outperform competitors.
It's no secret that the SaaS market is very saturated – some would even say polluted. In fact, by 2020 almost 60,000 software companies in over 700 industries will be listed in the G2 Crowd.
In addition, startups no longer have the luxury of being unique. You have to be better – not just different – than the competition if you want attention and sales.
Whenever brands come to me with this problem, I give them the same answer: If you focus on customer-centric content, you will get great customer-centric growth.
The concept is really that simple. Implementation, however, is a different story.
Achieving thought leadership in a market full of smart experts is not easy. The ranking for important keywords is insufficient. You need to engage in the craft with authority, relevance and warmth.
Your client should always be the hero of every story you tell.
This is the secret recipe I've used for years to help SaaS businesses succeed. Today, I'll explain my rank-and-win process that I used to help a leading content collaboration company (which I'll call "Brand X" for our purposes). While I can't reveal the brand name, I can promise you that the tactic I used to help the company grow is very, very real.
Let's dive into four methods you should implement for customer-centric growth.
1. Create a voice.
Voice is everything. Every successful brand voice must:
- Talk to your target audience right away.
- Ensure consistency across all content and platforms.
Brand X developed an ideal voice to match their content: funky, chatty, and joking.
With this quirky voice, we managed to create content that was interesting enough to pique interest without displacing the leads with a selling tone.
Think about how you might find your own branding voice to make sure your readers are consistently excited about the valuable content that your company – and only your company – can offer.
2. Assign the iteration method for customer-centric growth.
Next, I had the team draw up a flywheel diagram – an idea I got from Jim Collins' book The Flywheel Effect. The flywheel diagram dictates a repeatable process that grows with each implementation.
As Jon Dick writes in this post, funnels lose momentum when they close. However, flywheels use momentum to keep turning.
At the top of the diagram, we've set the goal of increasing Brand X's website traffic. The wheel would turn like this:
Increase Traffic to the Website → Traffic Generates Demos and Trials → Demos and Trials Become Sales → Sales Earn Brand Awareness → Detection triggers more website traffic and the cycle repeats itself
In the end, we reinvested in research / development, sales and marketing.
The flywheel chart ensures customer-centric growth every time as it focuses on buyers' needs and weaknesses and can prevent loss of ROI from boring marketing or sales strategies.
Our analysis found that 438 items produced more than one head start in the past three years. This is just the average, so this is significant.
3. Create a thought-guiding strategy.
You cannot complete the flywheel growth process without content. Content marketing – especially thought leadership – fits perfectly with the flywheel strategy as it provides a continuous ROI.
Every SaaS company wants to position itself as a thought leader and inspire its audience. I have noticed, however, that most people get the wrong idea wrong.
Instead of striving for nuance in every blog post, focus on bridging a void with authority and commitment.
This is where the rank-and-win idea comes into play: First, Brand X filled an information gap with consistently high-quality content.
This content was then approved by Google and listed in the top 5 high volume keywords.
Next, other websites found this content and linked it back to Brand X. And finally, people shared the original content widely on social media.
These keyword rankings resulted in significant traffic to Brand X's blog, with 80% new traffic.
But how can you fill in gaps and rank in saturated markets? Brand X focused on six key topics in their content cluster. Then they created a structure and a workflow for brainstorming and planning for each topic.
Brand X did not try to be annoyingly unique with her line of thought. They focused on authority and customer-centric content.
4. Develop a content strategy for organic blog traffic.
When content marketing delivers conversions, it's not a coincidence but an insistence on quality.
Since our original flywheel goal for Brand X was to increase blog traffic, we focused on achieving quality and consistency. They currently publish an average of four blogs a week.
We set Brand X's KPIs to reflect what we were hoping for with the increased blog traffic:
- Assisted conversions (when a user clicks on a conversion page from a blog page, e.g. by downloading content or signing up for a free demo)
For Brand X, volume was critical – both in terms of the number of blogs published and traffic.
It was the first time you saw a steady return on investment from content marketing. As more posts were added each week, views increased dramatically.
This commitment to customer-centric content has allowed them to increase organic search traffic by 50% to 615% compared to the previous year.
Content is the secret to unlocking customer-centric growth in saturated markets
For SaaS companies, quality and consistent content win every time. Today, Brand X has a defined content strategy with a mission statement, frequency, resources and budget.
Best of all, they continue to rank in the top 5 for high volume keywords and get customer-centric growth from their content.
Ultimately, it is important that you focus on the needs of buyers and make prospects and customers the heroes of all your stories. With a commitment to this mindset and action, you can develop content that reaches, engages, and converts.
For more information on creating customer-centric content, see 8 Tips for a Customer-centric Organization.