Marketers everywhere relentlessly publish advice on how to create exciting blogs.
Research indicates the vast majority of blogs are boring. Clearly there’s an immense demand for boring blogs. I say give the people what they want.
Here are ten tips I genuinely believe will help you successfully blend in with the millions of tedious and tiresome blogs making our content completely worthless and our worldwide web wonderfully predictable.
Just sell shit
Educate? Entertain? Inspire? Bah.
The content marketing gospel is puffery, fluffery and other silly stuffery.
And come on, your resume doesn’t include a word about teaching credentials, performance experience, or motivational speaking.
You were hired to hawk. Do it. Get leads. Drive sales.
Real marketers forgo foreplay. They just get the deed done.
A must read. Ten tips to ensure your blog is boring from the always boring Barry Feldman… Click To Tweet
Write straight and stoically
How bizarre is the headline of this (stupid) post?
It sounds negative. What’s with the parentheses? And what’s with my cavalier writing style? Who’s going to tolerate…
The dumb questions
The made-up words
If you catch a blogger frolicking with your precious posts, fire his or her creative ass.
These aren’t the funny pages. Get serious or get out.
Only let Barry blog
Barry’s that dude in marketing who pens a darn competent post.
Remember that time Larry stepped in for Barry? Traaaaaaaaain wreck.
I heard a rumor CMO Mary wants HR Harry to bring an executive perspective to the blog. Someone said support specialist Terry could help share the voice of the customer. I even heard we might consider collaborations with cool customers like Carrie.
More is not merrier. It’s scarier. Don’t let anyone but Barry blog.
Don’t try anything new
Create a recipe for a blog post and follow the directions each time you bake another one. This way you won’t surprise your guests with unexpected flavors they might not love.
Perhaps a template will help you stay away from your impulses to be kreative.
Your “how to” or list posts please the masses. Why risk rocking the boat with out-of-bounds op-eds, stories and roundups? Why paint outside the lines with formats such as infographics and video?
Variety is the spice of life, not blogs.
Keep your opinions to yourself
The post you’re reading now is outrageously opinionated. What gives? Only objective journalists earn the right to blog.
You should bail now on this outrageously subjective post right now. Or you could scroll to the comments section and tell me what a loser I am.
Suppress your audience
For quite some years, bloggers thought it was a smart idea to invite readers to respond with comments. They could:
Challenge ideas in the posts and present counterpoints
But why? Who cares what readers think? If their comments weren’t compliments, they were mostly annoyances.
Even today, some publishers (who apparently have nothing better to do) even encourage readers to join communities, join groups on social networks, and share their opinions or their content.
This old school nonsense is thinly veiled as interaction. I’m listening. I feel you. I love you.
Don’t be pretentious. It’s your blog. The only thing you need from your audience is applause. Maybe money.
Stay away from you, I, me, and my
You’re a publisher now. Remember to remain aloof and disconnected.
Sure, the temptation is always there to bust down the wall between you and your audience. You’d begin by writing in a first and second person voice, but you’ll sound so much more corporate when you:
Keep yourself out of it
Refer to your company in third person, by its name
Describe your readers in cold terms like “user.” You could also third-person them by referring to them by titles.
Pack the page with prose
Photos, illustrations, GIFs, video, audio, interactive features… blah, blah, blah. The pundits are forever rambling about visual marketing as if a blog is supposed to resemble a Highlights magazine.
Poppycock. Feed the need to read. Fill your page with precisely what readers came for: words.
Here’s a boring, but politically correct photo. The people seeem to really like drawings. And coffee.
Also, much is written about how web pages shouldn’t resemble books or newspapers. They say the act of reading from a screen is more laborious. They say online readers are skimmers. They say online readers are prone to shiny objects and quick to hit the back button. And so they say your pages shouldn’t be populated with long paragraphs (like this one).
They say write short sentences. And short paragraphs.
And use bullet points
Use gads of white space. Yadda yadda.
Who comes to read white space? Pros populate pages with prose.
Earn an A in composition
Bloggers are trashing the English language. Not cool.
Why would the transition from print to pixels grant scribes everywhere permission to bastardize the rules of composition?
Contractions. Slang. Incomplete sentences… Ellipses. Periods. Periods. And. More. Periods.
WTF? No one’s LOL at your grammar blunders and Miss Spellings.
Bloggers shan’t use text talk; they should get out their old composition textbooks and learn how to use semi-colons. (This form of punctuation can be typed by pressing the key on the right side of your keyboard next to the L. Got a keyboard?)
Stay in the shallows
We established that web readers are reading impaired. Why torture them with long, detailed posts? If you filled your posts with depth, who among the attention-deprived set would remember all those details anyway?
Why has everyone in content marketing jumped aboard the scroll-your-readers-to-death bandwagon? Apparently screens now have “a fold” (though I still can’t get my iPhone to fold). Don’t go there. Give your readers a light and quick read so they can visit for 8 seconds and get on with their day.
Write posts that would reproduce well on a cocktail napkin. Keep ‘em thirsty.
P.S. Soon to come on this blog will be a sincere guide to publishing an exciting blog. It may be boring.
Clients, marketing service providers, I need to talk to you both.
First, clients, marketing directors and such, a word with you please…
An immense population of marketers (or those that pretend to be) are peddling falsities. A little lie detection may prevent you from parting with dollars you’ll later want back.
And now, marketers (or those pretending to be), please…
Stop bullshitting your clients.
Stop telling them to blog more often.
Stop suggesting they blast their voice everywhere. Every hour. Every day. On every network.
Stop telling them video is the answer to everything; they need to edit images for every shape and size; hash-out 5 to 10 can’t miss hashtags with every update; offer more downloadable content upgrades; recruit more influencers; turn their audio into video, their video into audio, their images into GIFs, their GIFs into slideshows, their slideshows into webinars, their webinars into courses…
Stop convincing clients to sell their souls and become wham-bam-thank-you-spammers of SEO-optimized and ROI-maximized content—unless you can prove it works.
If they’re paying you to advise them about digital marketing tactics, tell them the truth. Start with this:
Your content only makes a difference if it’s great.
That’s the truth. Content is a commodity now—a commodity people sell—a commodity millions are attempting to build businesses on.
So as with any gold rush, naturally, we have…
Group One—The real pros
Those unafraid to apply language arts and mathematics. The truth tellers forever unafraid to measure and own the outcomes.
But we also have…
Group Two—The liars Far too many will say whatever it takes to get “elected” — to win your business. When the abacus comes out, they’re nowhere to be found.
And then, unfortunately, we have…
Group Three—The ignorant
I’m sorry to say this is the largest contingent. These players tend to be copycats. They don’t make-up the lies; they repeat them. They don’t know any better.
It’s lie detector time my friend. Here are some of the misrepresentations you’re bound to get from groups two and three who often succeed in drowning out the voice of group one (unwittingly or not).
Six marketing lies—and some serious lie detection from @feldmancreative. Click To Tweet
“Quantity is what matters most.”
Bzzzzzst! That’s a lie. You can remove those sensors taped to your chest and clipped to your fingers now and get out.
No wait. I’m willing to make small concessions here.
If you update your website once a year, it’ll get indexed by the search engines once a year. That could indeed be a problem. So yeah, producing a piece of content annually won’t get the job done.
If you tweet once a month, your tweet will indeed fall in the forest.
I do believe you certainly can get further faster with more blog posts, videos, podcasts, infographics, landing pages, etc. However, this only becomes true if the content is consistently great.
Is consistently creating great content the plan? I sometimes get answers like…
We’re hiring a blogging service.
Our social media intern can write.
The product people are going to help.
We have some good templates.
And so on.
I don’t want you to lie to yourself any more than I want you falling for the lies.
No one succeeds with content marketing by dabbling in it. No one sees a strong return when skimping on the investment. And no longer does any brand get more results—of the meaningful variety—simply by producing more crap. (My friend and witty content marketer Doug Kessler gave this kind of content its official name.)
“Will 2018 be the year that marketers and business leaders finally wake up and realize social media, content marketing, branding and digital marketing is not simply about creating more and more content?”
This is the story social media sludge-meisters tell when no lie detectors are present. Some specialize in a specific social media channel, so they’ll often give you site-specific caca…
Every brand must have a YouTube presence. It’s the world’s second largest search engine.
You’d be crazy not to build a Facebook following. It’s the world’s largest social media channel.
You have to get busy on Instagram. It’s the fastest growing social media.
Pinterest is where you need to be. Pins point people to your products.
You won’t get anywhere without Twitter. Twitter is where news stories take off.
If you have a B2B product you need to do social selling on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the social network for professionals.
Obviously, there are additional social media channels—and more lies.
But get this: The second sentence in each statement above is true. Sadly, the first is not.
You don’t need to be everywhere. Your trustworthy social media advisors know that. They also know they DON’T KNOW precisely what squares to place your social media chips on.
Now again, a concession: they may know more than you, or me, or the intern, or the CEO. But even the authors of the “[Social Media X] for Dummies” books don’t know for sure what will work for your company.
They’re likely to know what has worked, or is working, for other companies—and that can be useful to you.
Pam Moore again…
“How did we get to this place that small businesses and even large organizations with limited budgets and declining sales believe that they need to post 5, 10, 15 times a day across multiple social networks? Why do they spend time on social networks where their target customer isn’t even hanging out on?”
Pam implores you to discover the content your ideal customer needs from you. She says you must take an audience-based approach to your marketing, social media, and content marketing. And she says it begins by knowing your customer.
You may want to explore a variety of channels to get in touch with your customer, but you’re bound to find the right ones on specific channels—with specific needs.
I want the social media marketer to recognize this truth. I want the client to hold them to it. And to keep it honest, I want both to understand there are no universal answers or forgone conclusions for social media marketing.
It takes experimentation. No lie.
“We know what will work.”
I suppose we have a close relative of my social media marketing tirade here, so I’ll keep it short.
But the pen on the lie detector plotter is jumping again because digital marketers that tell you what will work are liars (or bluffers).
“If you do this, you’ll get results,” they say. “This” is what they’ve done before, do most often, or make the most margins on. Maybe search, pay-per-click, blogs, ebooks, email, web design, video, etc.
Certainly, expert digital marketing professionals should be able to produce a portfolio of success stories, but beware of the marketer that unflinchingly testifies to a program that hasn’t yet happened.
The real-deal digital marketer will tell you what to try. It doesn’t mean you’ll stab blindly with no hypothesis or strategy. It means you’ll plan, execute, analyze and refine your efforts the way honest, accomplished marketers do.
Marketing professionals really don’t know what will work. The lie detector comes out. Click To Tweet
“The right software is your answer.”
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard a client tell me they’ve purchased HubSpot, InfusionSoft, or some marketing automation platform, so they’re in good shape now.
To me, it sounds like, “I joined a gym, so I’ll get into good shape now.” False.
I like the idea. Joining is a smart start. The gym’s not going to let you in if you’re not a member. However, the gym’s not going to drag your unshapely ass into it several times a week, ensure you learn how to use the equipment correctly, and actually use it. That’s on you.
The same goes for marketing automation. When I hear, “We bought HubSpot,” I respond, “Cool. Great tool. Do you have someone assigned to using it 20 to 40 hours a week?” Silence.
And I don’t mean to be singling out marketing automation or any one SaaS vendor.
Whether it’s the sales team at the software company or the marketing agency with an affiliate agreement, the line tends to be, “The technology will solve your digital marketing challenges with… email… analytics… social posting… predictive analysis… collaboration… scheduling… hiring, firing, and retiring young and rich.”
Bull, baby, bull.
I’m not saying don’t buy “the right software.” I’m saying don’t buy that it’ll solve your marketing problems. Marketing software will supply you the weights. You have to lift them.
“A blog is all you need.”
Marketers may tell this lie, but I believe brands tell themselves this one too. Why?
Blogging tends to be the cornerstone of most content marketing programs and relying on it is the easy way to get by. However, a blog alone is unlikely to achieve your content marketing goals.
See, blogging done well doesn’t focus on sales or most other types of conversion. You don’t sell your products and services on a business blog. You can try, but you’re bound to discover a salesy blog actually deflects readers.
You sell authority. You position yourself as an expert in your niche. You attempt to win your reader’s trust.
Your blog certainly can fuel your search and social media efforts, which more often than not, intend to bring people to your website. So when it’s working your brand is accomplishing brand awareness, the thing marketers characterize as a “top of the funnel” tactic.
What about middle of the funnel, bottom of the funnel, and post funnel marketing?
To move visitors to the consideration stage at the middle of the funnel, you need lead magnets. You want to capture email addresses, and possibly, more data.
To nurture prospects in the middle of the funnel that may be considering making a purchase, you need to send them email, foster a relationship somehow, and supply useful content applicable to their needs.
At the point in the funnel when it’s time to earn a prospect’s business, you need convincing content—the kind that does sell your product or service.
After the sale, in an effort to retain customers, realize upsell opportunities, encourage referrals, reviews, and word-of-mouth advocacy, you need additional types of content to address support, service and user experience issues.
And the entire sequence above is an extreme simplification. In summary, a blog is not all you need, but rather, is the smart way to start.
“Great content attracts a crowd.”
I’ll say the notion above is a true statement 1 to 2 percent of the time.
Content marketing expert Joel Klettke says the Achilles heel of the content marketing movement is “a complete and total inability to market content.”
In a strong post about content marketing misconceptions, Joel writes, “The elevator pitch for inbound marketing is often the flawed idea that if you just build wonderful enough content, it will attract throngs of rabid, money-throwing advocates straight to your front door – all on its own!”
Joel smartly points out when content doesn’t draw a crowd, it doesn’t mean the content is the problem. Even great content needs to be actively promoted through some combination of:
Employee and/or customer advocacy
Search engine optimization
Content reach takes effort. Paid, earned, shared and owned channels need to work together to take your content to an audience outside of your immediate reach. “Publish and pray,” as they say, is a dud strategy now.
Let the truth be told.
It’s more meaningful to create quality content than content in quantity.
Your brand needs to appear where it connects best with prospects, not everywhere.
Marketers don’t know what’s going to work until they experiment.
Software’s no quick fix.
Successful content marketing programs require execution beyond the blog.
CoSchedule’s robust microsite is a detailed 10-chapter strategy planner. To help make your experience productive, CoSchedule includes a downloadable Marketing Strategy Template Kit featuring a PowerPoint deck and spreadsheet.
Bonus pro hat tip
Great headline: “How to Create a Marketing Strategy that will Skyrocket Your Results by 9,360%.”
CoSchedule’s marketing mastermind Nathan Ellering once told me his company’s testing proven headlines structured with “How to (Do Something) ‘that will’ (Produce a Specific Positive Result)” perform remarkably well.
Content site — Adobe CMO.com
Some companies—not many, mind you—take content marketing so seriously they go so far as to adopt a strict publishing paradigm. They create an online publication and/or magazine—separate from their original branded website—different name and all.
I don’t know of many, but don’t take that to mean I recommend your SaaS brand employs this ambitious approach. You have to commit to assembling a vast and talented workforce entirely focused on publishing industry specific news and content for the long haul.
CMO.com is “by Adobe” (look closely). Visit the site if you never have and you’ll immediately appreciate how serious Adobe is about satisfying the informational needs of CMOs with features, interviews, opinion, Adobe Digital Insights (research), and more.
Here’s a seriously strong collection of the ways #SaaS brands use content marketing effectively… Click To Tweet
A community site— ZenDesk
“Relate is home to a diverse selection of expert content from ZenDesk,” says ZenDesk. “It helps you examine, ponder, and hopefully improve the interactions you have with other people whether they’re customers or coworkers, friends or frenemies. Cool.
I must admit I struggled with how to categorize this stellar site. Like the CMO.com site, we’re looking at a company sponsored website. However, Relate not only offers heaps of content—original and curated—but focuses in large part on ZenDesk events of the same name.
Click the link above and you’re led to “Relate Live Global,” an online conference about building better customer relationships.
The Relate site offers multiple content formats and is organized by them, including: posts, podcasts, videos (shown above), curated, acumen, and paper. You may have to check it out to make sense of some of that stuff, but trust me; this is a gargantuan content effort.
Answers section — BigCommerce
A recent opportunity to write for BigCommerce inspired me to learn more about their area of expertise: ecommerce software. Look what I found when I went hunting for answers…
I found Ecommerce Answers, an entire section of the BigCommerce website dedicated to answering every conceivable question. The questions are organized in eight easy-to-navigate sections. A glossary is offered too.
Each Q&A invokes its own page intentionally optimized to appear in search results when the topic is researched. It’s obvious why I found it, why thousands of ecommerce companies will as well, and thus, why this strategy is so smart.
Customer showcase — Kajabi
I raved about this awesome content initiative when I wrote a post about user-generated content ideas. #KajabiHero is a customer showcase, a series of case studies. It’s certainly not a content feature you haven’t seen before, however, they pull it off with some amazing panache and unique ideas.
Kajabi kicks off its “Hero” section with a fun video montage. What follows is a feature story of its newest hero. Then, a massive collection of customers is presented. They’re filterable by 18 distinct categories.
What I find crazy clever is when you choose to learn more about a specific #KajabiHero, you’re not sent to a Kajabi post or page, but to the client’s website. The genius lies within because the client’s website is built on the Kajabi knowledge commerce platform.
I suspect this strategy makes it remarkably simple to convince users to join the club.
Resource library — GetResponse
Strong content marketers often place the word “resources” in their menu bar and guide visitors to a library of helpful content. I’ve found some, but not many, SaaS marketers employ the approach, gate all or much of the content, and use their lead magnets to grow email lists.
GetResponse is one such SaaS company that offers a deep, impressive resource library. Check out that fun and inspiring subtitle above. I’ve written a few of the eBooks featured on this impressive content hub including the “Getting Started Tips” guide you see above.
Bonus pro hat tip
GetResponse created its marketing automation hub less than two years ago and hired many experts to “stock the shelves.” Look how the company has created a menu to help you find the type of content you seek—among 12 categories. Impressive.
Content showcase — Playbuzz
Don’t confuse Playbuzz with Buzzfeed. Playbuzz is a SaaS company publishers and brands use to create interactive content.
While the Playbuzz playbook looks to be expanding, the company’s bread is buttered mostly by customers looking to create quizzes. As such, a section of the website is a customer showcase, which is updated every time a customer chooses to take advantage of the option to appear here.
Um… though two of the four quizzes shown above are about murder, it’s just a crazy coincidence. Killer idea they have here though. (I couldn’t resist.)
Awards — Kapost
Kapost has a blog. They also have a robust resources section. I’ve got the call to pen several posts and eBooks for them. These content approaches do pretty well.
Kapost competes with various SaaS companies in the enterprise B2B content marketing platform space, but stands alone with their awards program. Each year, they evaluate hundreds of B2B brands and recognize 50 they deem to be the best and give each one a showcase page with a summary, a sample of “winning content” and a link to their website.
Bonus pro hat tip
The page where the 50 winners are honored offers a smart CTA: the Kapost Content Operations Assessment, which it says measures your content maturity. The page also archives each year’s winners since 2012.
21 off-the-charts #contentmarketing examples from leading SaaS companies. Click To Tweet
Research report — Buzzsumo and Moz
Buzzsumo knows how to get shares and links. Moz too. When the two SaaS companies combined forces to analyze the shares and of more than a million articles, their findings included:
“There are specific content types that do have a strong positive correlation of shares and links. This includes research backed content and opinion forming journalism. We found these content formats achieve both higher shares and significantly more links.”
They created a sumo-sized piece of research and ran with it, offering detailed posts on both of their blogs, as well as landing pages to download the report.
The results? The research was cited and quoted often in a ton of posts, and of course, earned immense shares and links. The research was also repurposed in a variety of ways.
The lesson? Research rocks search and social. Find a way to produce timely research in your niche and you’re likely to enjoy similar results.
Videos — Vidyard
I’m not going to tell you Vidyard stands alone by offering a healthy heap of videos as a content marketing strategy. I will tell you they’ve been doing it for a long time and do it better than most.
Vidyard is in the video business, so you’d expect good things from them with the web’s fastest rising content format. They don’t disappoint. Among the many video treats offered via the Vidyard resources section is the tidy Chalk Talks series: 10-ish minute lessons on specific video marketing tactics.
Podcasting — Rainmaker.fm
While the video format is used in a great deal of SaaS content marketing programs, podcasting is not. An interesting research report from Cobloom, The State of SaaS Content Marketing, reports only 18% of the 250 biggest SaaS companies have their own podcast.
Cabloom says SaaS marketers should watch this space because there are now more podcast listeners than Catholics in the U.S. Have mercy.
This is Rainmaker.fm.
I should note, Rainmaker was a SaaS platform, a robust digital marketing platform from Copyblogger. Now it’s more. In 2017, the company evolved to a hybrid tech and services model.
In any case, I had to showcase Rainmaker.fm to show you a SaaS brand that not only went into podcasting as a content marketing strategy, but also did so by creating NINE podcast programs. The attractive grid on the website shown above serves as a program guide though each program also stands on its own.
It’s a radio network, web style.
Webinars — Kissmetrics
Here again, we’re not looking at an unusual strategy, but a SaaS company that pursues a smart marketing strategy—webinars—unusually well.
Kissmetrics does a webinar each week. All of them are archived on a section of their site, which you can sort by category. Nearly all the webinars feature guest experts, so their strategy also serves to widen their net of influencers and promoters.
I know how much planning and promotion goes into the Kissmetrics series because I’ve joined them twice (the webinar top-right above featured me).
Bonus pro hat tip
The Kissmetrics webinars are very well attended as they are promoted via email and on an ongoing basis on their popular blog (as shown in the sample above).
Refreshingly, the webinars are not infomercials. While each focuses on delivering helpful marketing tips, you can stick around for a 5-minute product demonstration that follows the Q&A sessions at the end, if interested.
Templates — HubSpot
When it comes to SaaS content marketing strategies, HubSpot covers nearly every base. Being the pioneer of inbound marketing, they also teach many of the tactics we’re covering here today (though not with a focus on SaaS marketing). They’re also one of the premiere SaaS companies—especially in the world of marketing technology.
Whatcha’ need? It appears if HubSpot can help you by providing free templates they will. I suspect many prospects and customers find them valuable. The screenshot here shows six categories, but there are actually 45. That’s not a typo. 45.
If you like the idea of offering templates, perhaps what you have here is a template for doing so.
Events — Box
Box is another SaaS company firing on all cylinders with a well-stocked resources section to meet the needs of prospects, customers and partners. I found what they’re doing on the events page within their resources section interesting.
BoxWorks is a 3-day event. Obviously, they want you to attend. But if you didn’t they take the show on the road to provide helpful (and free) content. It appears they hit 8 big cities in a 3-day span with a lunch-and-learn event they call “Best of Box Forums.”
On the same page where you can book your spot, you’re also offered a consolidated, half-day, virtual version of the conference you missed and a preview of the next one.
One of the free offerings is the Twitter Report Card. The teaser copy reads, “With just a few clicks, discover how your Twitter efforts compare to your closest competitors.”
Bonus pro hat tip
Look at that great headline. You must learn the answer, right? Hat tip #2, the free tools Agorapulse offers are perfectly aligned with the brand’s value proposition.
Onsite training course — Ahrefs
SaaS companies often sell robust or complex tools that take time and effort to master. As such, offering an in-depth training course can be a smart way to win and retain customers.
Ahrefs Academy looks thoughtful, thorough, and perhaps most importantly, not overwhelming. You can learn how to use their search marketing solution by taking in a 10-pack of videos. Each is less than 10 minutes in length.
Offsite training course — MailChimp
You may have noticed a lot of savvy marketers, including SaaS marketers, take some of their content to content hubs they don’t own or operate.
YouTube is an obvious example, but Amazon is the best example of what I’m talking about because though most Amazon properties are not free, they very well can be. So, essentially, you can use the insanely popular shopping site as a content hub. Search for information assets there and you’ll find an incredible amount of freebies.
Now, examples include online learning sites. MailChimp has created a robust library of training courses and makes them available to a large audience of online learners via Skillshare.
Workshop — Canva
This next idea features training courses too, but includes a cool and clever spin.
I should begin by saying Canva offers amazing content of the educational variety including a blog positioned as a design school featuring articles, tutorials and tips.
However, this content marketing play—Teaching Materials—is a bit different. It’s not for online do-it-yourselfers. It’s actually for teachers. And the workshops “store” is stocked with content created by teachers.
The page says, “These workshops can be used for live instruction and cover topics ranging from the fundamentals of graphic design to practical everyday business projects.”
The rest of the page, or microsite, is populated with lesson plans (including the example above). There are currently 7 lesson plans, created by teachers, for teachers. It’s impressive.
Blog — Contently
I didn’t want to exclude blogs as an example of remarkable SaaS content marketing initiatives, but I didn’t want to focus on them either. Truth be told, the blog has become table stakes for content marketers. The secret to business blogging success is to consistently create great content.
Focus on quality over quantity. The occasional amazing post will earn you search visibility, traffic, social shares and subscribers far more effectively than a regular dose of short, lightweight stories.
Contenty publishes one of my favorite blogs and certainly one of the best in the SaaS business. I love how Contently’s The Content Strategist blog is organized into seven relevant categories, how it’s marketed via email, and of course, the consistently top-notch writing.
When you click into the blog’s first category, Accountable Content, you discover a micro-site or what’s sometimes called a content hub. A massive collection of articles dive deep into the topic and users can filter them to focus specifically on strategy, content, process and results.
Expert roundup — OptinMonster
It’s not surprising The Conversion Rate Optimization Blog, from OptinMonster, has more than 60,000 subscribers. Their team does great work organized neatly into seven categories.
A quick look at the articles featured in the sidebar under “Popular Posts” is a lesson in how to write compelling headlines.
Most are lists.
Benefits are clear and specific.
They use parenthetic statements (cleverly).
Research is cited.
They often call on experts and create great roundups with the ideas they collect. I must admit, given the outrageous popularity of the roundup format, I don’t jump at every invitation to participate in roundups, but I do when Sharon Hurley Hall of OptInMonster comes calling.
The content marketing mistakes post featured above is a stellar roundup I’m proud to be in. It has a compelling angle, features many great minds, and is shaped to tell a cool story,
Bonus pro hat tip
The roundup includes attractive share-worthy images (see the example below).
I call them “social media cards.”
Are you considering hiring a SaaS copywriter and content marketing consultant? You’ve come to the right page.
If you’re looking for the “how to” type of posts I generally write I understand if you skip this one and trust you’ll come back soon.
That said, if you have a SaaS brand or manage marketing for a software company, you’re bound to find this post valuable. The conversation here today (er, monologue) is about what a SaaS copywriter can do for you.
Most of my clients sell subscription-based software and rely on my experience to help generate leads, increase conversion, and foster loyalty. Based on my online travels and 30 years of producing marketing content, here’s what I think a SaaS copywriter and content marketing consultant can do for you.
Document a content marketing plan
Smart SaaS companies get serious about content marketing. They know their competitors will be duking it out with them for search traffic, social media prominence and the authority building that comes with consistently publishing helpful content.
Unfortunately, many of the same SaaS companies make the mistake of publishing content randomly, with little regard for what types of posts and media will make a difference.
You need a content marketing plan. Creating one isn’t always going to be in your copywriter’s wheelhouse. The process need not be complicated, but if you don’t have a one, or don’t know how to approach the process, hire a SaaS copywriter and content marketing consultant capable of delivering a simple and clear content marketing plan.
I use the following tools to facilitate the process. First this simple template I created…
Tackling this challenge isn’t the forte of most writers, however, it should be part of your process. Far too many companies, SaaS or not, focus strictly on lead generation, but an effective approach will involve planning and writing content to address the needs of interested prospects, comparison shoppers, and even, existing customers.
Create big content and lead magnets
Deep, thoughtful, thematic works are what my clients tend to need most. Want me to write your blog posts? I may do that, but what I prefer to do, and usually do, is create big content—ebooks, reports, and such that enable SaaS companies to:
Capture leads with gated content offers
Collaborate with industry influencers
Earn links to their content
Create highly repurposable content (our next topic
I rarely have my eye on one prize per content creation. Nor should you. Your SaaS company will get far greater bang for its buck and vastly improve reach when you create meaty pieces of content than can be sliced into small pieces and/or repurposed as different forms of media.
You have more content than you realize and it has more potential than you may think. With the help of your SaaS copywriter, you should review the gamut of communications resources (email, presentations, white papers, etc.) and develop plans to create new assets based on them.
Additionally, it’s likely existing works that were expressly made for content marketing have underperformed, but have untapped potential. A few examples:
Blog posts that perform poorly in search can be improved.
Presentations that are too long or technical can be simplified.
Landing pages with low conversion can be rewritten.
Autoresponder emails that strike out can benefit from new subject lines.
Convert visitors into subscribers
I strive to be my clients’ conversion copywriter.
Your conversion rate is never as good as it could be. Changes big and small can improve conversion. I work with clients to examine their key conversion plays, identify weak spots, and experiment with new solutions for:
Blog posts that attract traffic, but not subscribers
Site structure and navigation
Call to action copy
Write blog posts that rank on page one of search
Achieving success with organic search is hard and getting harder. It’s rare that I find my clients in the SaaS business exploiting keyword research, competitive analysis, on-page optimization, and user experience to the degree they should.
After having written thousands of blog posts, studying SEO, and experimenting, I’m pleased to say I know how to create blog posts that rank on the only search results page that matters, page one. I also know how to identify posts that rank on page two and optimize them to increase their rankings.
If you’re going to pour time and money into maintaining a blog, you need to get serious about search.
As a ghostwriter for your executives, a writing coach, or simply a digital PR advocate, I can help you earn valuable guest blogging opportunities on leading industry websites. You’ll earn recognition, backlinks and referral traffic to produce leads.
Call on your customers for content
The most interesting content includes people. You’ve probably read a strong SaaS marketing program makes your customer the hero. I’ll interview customers and partners to create compelling success stories and include your customers in your blog posts and other content. (good idea for post?)
Make your blog stickier
I find a of SaaS blogs missing out on opportunities to keep their visitors on site longer. I’ll look at the writing, design, page layout and the architecture of your blog and offer multiple ideas that compel readers to stick around and subscribe.
As you scale your blog and content arsenal beyond the blog, you’ll want the process of planning, scheduling, assigning, editing and preparing content for publication managed by someone well acquainted with the editorial process.
Build a strong multi-author blog
The process of scaling is bound to require expanding your blogging team. Depending on your plans and resources you may want a combination of dedicated bloggers, internal subject matter experts, freelancers and guest bloggers to join the task force.
If you don’t have an experienced managing editor running the show, an experienced SaaS copywriter that knows the ropes may be a good fit for creating and leading your multi-author blog. It helps to have someone like me assist in scouting, recruiting and onboarding the right talent for your blog.
Write persuasive videos
In most cases, when a SaaS company wants to create an important video for use on their site and social media, they allow the creative direction and script writing tasks to land in the lap of “the video company.”
I don’t mean to be saying such an approach is necessarily bad. However, if your SaaS copywriter steps up to become a marketing consulting partner—as I tend to—consider hiring him or her to conceive and write your video scripts.
Consolidating copywriting tasks may help you tell a more cohesive story across media types.
Identify where your website needs work
Most copywriters are taskmasters. Good ones will follow-through to take care of your requests. However, experienced SaaS copywriters, such as myself, are apt to take a more proactive approach and suggest where, how and why various sections of your website can be improved.
Create a more effective homepage
Let’s look at your website now, the static pages. By “static pages,” I mean the pages you don’t change often, the pages readers navigate to from your main menu, and possibly, additional submenus within the site.
To maintain a high converting SaaS website, the key pages of your website shouldn’t remain static forever more. On the most important pages, including of course, your homepage, an experienced SaaS copywriter can and should offer ideas worthy of testing for your:
Chances are high your company is creating landing pages to serve explicit campaigns in support of ads, content you promote offsite, and downloadable content offered on your site that require prospects to complete forms.
Your landing pages should be reviewed and revised by a pro, especially the ones that are under-performing.
Present your features effectively
In some form, the features of your software are presented in various places on your website, including: homepage, features page(s), video, demonstrations, etc.
Have your SaaS copywriter take a close look. I’ve done this countless times. It’s rare I don’t find opportunities to clarify the story and make it more compelling by:
Simplifying feature descriptions
Removing or re-ordering features
Translating features to benefits
Improving the visual presentation
Craft the collateral you need
I have to admit, in the “content marketing era,” the demand for brochures, data sheets, and various documents of the traditional collateral variety has declined dramatically.
Still, whether printed, offered as PDFs, or simply as product pages on your website, SaaS companies can’t dismiss the need for product-based sales materials. As your SaaS copywriter, I can work with your product and sales professionals to craft persuasive collateral to generate warmer leads and deals.
Make email your most effective tool
Apologies for the lofty superlative, but if you’re not working with your copywriter to make email your most effective tool, you’re missing the boat in modern digital marketing.
Email takes so many shapes and forms and can speak to prospects and customers at a variety of stages. I encourage my clients to allow me to offer strategic guidance and writing for:
Thank you email
Abandoned cart email
And whatever emails are needed to nuture leads, increase sales, and build stronger relationships
Help with social media marketing
There they are: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn (yes, it’s time to count Google+ out)…
Are you using them to promote content, engage members, and most importantly, build relationships?
In a consulting role, I’ll offer my SaaS clients strategies for making social media activities more meaningful for the development of their brand. And in a copywriter role, I’ll write social media ads and key updates to support content distribution efforts.
I also can help analyze social media analytics and suggest appropriate tools, resources and approaches to help you realize the benefits of social media marketing.
Write ads that earn clicks
I’m in my fourth decade of writing ads. Shwew. The media has changed a lot. The psychology hasn’t changed at all. The tactics you need to be effective fall somewhere in between.
My point: as your SaaS copywriter, I’ll write effective ads that will create clicks for your company.
Help execute effective content promotion
You’re probably not in the habit of asking or tasking your copywriter to help you distribute and promote your content. Understood. In most cases, it won’t be their forte.
I think we can agree bringing influencers into the fold can have big impact on the marketing of your SaaS platform. While there’s no singular formula for executing influencer marketing, I tend to recommend strategically recruiting the right industry leaders and influential voices to collaborate on content creation.
I recently read Subscription Marketing by Anne Janzer. Great book. Then I reached out to Anne, had a call with her and learned even more. Here’s the deal (you know this if you’re an accomplished SaaS marketer)…
While generating leads will always be important, long-term success depends on something else…
Value nurturing. Successful subscription marketers increase retention (thereby reducing churn) or they fail. This means the funnel doesn’t become a thin lane at the bottom. It becomes a feeder into a process that resembles a reverse funnel—or hourglass (see below). Buyers become loyal customers that are more valuable to your brand because they:
Stick around and keep paying
Buy additional services
Vouch for your brand
Refer your brand to the people they know
And essentially, help you market your brand
A complete SaaS copywriter and content marketing consultant will help you examine strategies focused on the value nurturing processes that represent the lower half of the hourglass. The goal, of course, is to produce marketing assets that will power the most persuasive type of marketing of them all: word-of-mouth.
Ready to rock your SaaS copy, content and marketing strategy?
If you’re a professional, you’re a brand. In this episode of Content Matters, Andy and Barry discuss Barry’s book, The Road to Recognition, and highlight many of its lessons on developing your personal brand in the age of digital media.
Highlights from the episode include:
Being the CEO of the brand called You (a nod to author Tom Peters)
How to pursue personal branding without getting overwhelmed
The need for a platform
Why you should Google
How to optimize your LinkedIn profile
Why personal branding is content marketing
The importance of generosity
Buidling relationships instead of just likes and followers
Aligning your activities with your passions
In the cheese & mousetrap segment:
Barry talks about creating content with other experts who have worthwhile stories to tell.
Andy explains why you should claim every social media account for your name, in every format.
Are you avoiding measuring your content marketing efforts for fear of its complexity? In this episode of the Content Matters podcast, Andy and Barry present simple ways to get started with content marketing metrics.
If you’re not making it a priority to measure the effectiveness of your content marketing, you’re denying yourself opportunities to improve—or even, justify—the efforts you’re pouring so much time into. Listent to Andy and Barry explain ten easy ways to detect if your content is cutting it—including:
Time on page
Social media followers
Social media shares
Links and authority
In the cheese & mousetrap segment:
Barry explains how to t est your headlines to improve your click-through rate
Andy explains why you should test your conversion on a channel-by-channel basis
I watch closely. Sometimes from the outside. Sometimes from within.
The death rate of SaaS companies can be discouraging, but on the other hand, the long and growing list of mega-success stories in the software subscription business is downright inspiring. The continued growth of the industry is too…
So what’s the difference between the movers and shakers of the cloud wars and the dearly departed? Well, I sit (virtually, that is) in their marketing departments, so from my point of view, the answer is the marketing tools they choose and the tactics they use.
Most of my clients are SaaS companies. Most offer B2B platforms. Staying on top of effective B2B SaaS marketing strategy is critical to my business. If you can say the same, this post’s for you.
27 effective marketing tactics. A must-read for #SaaS companies. @feldmancreative Click To Tweet
1. Identify your ideal customer
Many companies fail to identify their ideal customers and understand their needs. You need to. Start by creating personas to characterize your customer.
What’s his or her profession?
What’s his or her position in the company?
What problems does he or she face?
Dig into the process:
Pick the brains of the people in your company with customer-facing roles.
Sort through the data in your CRM.
Examine social mentions, user reviews, feedback, and queries.
The idea is to uncover characteristics and behavioral patterns that can help you create a realistic persona—or several.
2. Think inbound
Accomplished SaaS companies differentiate themselves and achieve growth by embracing inbound marketing.
HubSpot defines “inbound marketing” as an approach focused on attracting customers through content and interactions that are relevant and helpful—not interruptive. With inbound marketing, potential customers find you through channels like blogs, search engines, and social media. Inbound marketing enables SaaS marketers to:
Lower cost of customer acquisition
Increase the lifetime value of customers
Increase conversion and retention
Effective inbound marketers embrace content marketing and view their brand as a publisher. They define an editorial strategy that creates ongoing value for target audiences.
A blog is often the foundation of your content. Your business blog and content should focus on addressing customer pain points at each stage.
It’s important to examine the decision-making process as a series of stages and create content to satisfy the needs across the board (or down the funnel). The content you’ll create for someone in the awareness phase is different than what you’ll need for subsequent consideration and decision phases. Research and document exactly what this looks like for your customers (as shown above).
3. Buy traffic
Drive targeted traffic to your website with pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Some of the popular and proven methods for doing so include:
Build an email list, generate leads, and position yourself as an authority, by creating ebooks and white papers to serve as cornerstone content for your most prominent B2B SaaS marketing campaigns.
Above are examples of lead magnets created by (and in some cases, for) Feldman Creative. Many of them were the basis for blog posts, emails, infographics, webinars, social media posts and more.
6. Create industry research reports
Publishing original research is one of the most effective tactics you can use to position your brand as an industry leader and earn media mentions and backlinks.
Your options to create industry research are many:
Conduct surveys with your customers and target market
Use data collected by your web properties
Partner with an association or complementary brand
Find published reports and repurpose the most relevant data for your audience
7. Create vertical market content
Analyze your customer data to identify the most lucrative vertical markets you serve. Then, create and promote a market-specific report or some form of downloadable content specifically for the top verticals.
8. Create comparison content
Your potential buyers are using search and the various web-based tools at their fingertips to compare your brand to your competition. X vs. Y is an amazingly popular search and if your content appears in the search engine results, you’re bound to generate traffic, leads and sales.
Create the comparison content. Be fair. Optimize it for Google searches containing “vs.”
Another effective approach for accomplishing this strategy is to create a buying guide for your niche profiling your solution and competitors.
You want to be the leading answer source for questions your prospects ask. So you need to gather and list the questions and create content that answers them.
Find out what questions are asked via chat, calls or however you field questions. And, of course, talk to your sales and support teams.
Review what’s searched on your website. Research the questions asked via search engines. You might also use social media, especially Q&A sites (such as Quora) and forums, to uncover the questions that need to be answered.
I’ve covered a lot of content marketing strategies, not all of them are strictly blog posts. And I haven’t even got to case studies, videos, and some other popular branded content types.
Make it easy for customers and prospects to locate, preview and download your content by creating a content hub or resources page.
Certify nicely organizes a variety of content on a hub page to help visitors find whatever type of content they’re interest in.
11. Contribute guest posts
Unsurprisingly, it’s not easy to earn a good-size audience by publishing blog posts on your website. The competition is immense and the media noise is infinite.
The solution is to seek and snag guest post opportunities. Simply put, bring your conent to where your audience already is. Identify the most reputable and well-read online publications in your field and contact their editors with:
A compelling idea (or several) for a post
An outline, sampling or a complete article
An brief explanation of why your contribution will be of value
Links to your best written work
In some cases, you may have to dig into the website or LinkedIn to find the right editor to contact. However, in many instances, it’s easier than that because if you search you’ll find many blogs solicit guest posts and publish guidelines for submitting your ideas or work.
Often, when your guest posts are hits, editors may like the idea of having you become a regular contributor or even allow you to syndicate previously published content on their website.
Of course, simply publishing content is not enough. You need to promote it.
Therefore it’s essential to create and maintain a strong presence on social media. You can organically reach your ideal customers with valuable content, and, as mentioned earlier, buy social media ads to promote your strongest posts.
Stay on top of the social media networks you choose to use and follow through daily. SaaS companies that gain little or no value in social media often neglect or abandon their profiles.
Listen to what’s said about your brand and platform. Any mentions of your company—good or bad—call for a response.
Resist the urge to constantly pitch you wares on social. Follow your customers and invite them to converse, exchange ideas, and share. Show them you care about them as people.
Interactive content: it’s big and getting bigger. Why? It’s a win-win.
Prospects may learn, win, and have fun and share.
SaaS marketers draw prospects closer to their brand and can capture meaningful data about them.
Interactive content also helps your brand by inspiring user-generated content, which can be used in a variety of ways. ShortStack provides a platform that makes it easy to create interactive content including:
In your home page header, or somewhere near the top of the page, you can include opt-in forms and present calls-to-action for a free trial, demonstration, video, and more.
Your website’s footer can feature a contact form, email opt-in, and additional offers.
Your blog should feature conversion-focused items in sidebars, at the conclusion of posts and/or in relevant links.
Landing pages, as we covered earlier, should be designed to feature specific offers to meet the needs of specific visitors.
Present opt-in forms for relevant offers via pop-ups, slide-ins or even “welcome mat” style pages and exit intent offers.
Get started by using Google Analytics to identify pages and posts that get the most traffic and make sure there are strong calls to action on them.
Keep in mind, the key to conversion rate optimization (CRO) is providing clear and contextually relevant next steps for visitors to take. It’s also important to test and optimize your messaging, calls-to-action, and design.
16. Offer live chat
Why not try to engage visitors and answer their questions the moment they arrive on your website? You can do by integrating a live chat feature. No need to be pushy. Simply make the feature available, make on attempt to start a conversion, and of course, enable visitors to instantly close the chat if they want.
17. Offer live Q&As
Consider offering video chats with in-house experts or industry experts at regular intervals. The video conference service Zoom, which I’m a big fan of, makes it easy to conduct live Q&As.
18. Stand up and speak
Clearly, public speaking isn’t for everyone. However, having one or more experts from within your company speaking at industry conferences, MeetUps, or local events is a major opportunity to position your company as a leader in its field.
If the CEO or CMO of your company doesn’t love the idea of taking the podium, you might find someone in your company—or affiliated with it—to become a brand ambassador.
“S is for Speaking” is a chapter from my book The Road to Recognition. The book’s crammed with helpful advice for those that want to build their personal brand, which is a powerful strategy for leaders of SaaS companies.
19. Publish a book
The self-publishing revolution is in full gear. You may want to join it. Publishing a book may be the ultimate way to establish yourself as a leader and expert industry resource.
If finding the time to write a 200-page book sounds crazy impossible, consider some approaches to make it a more manageable task:
Create a series of blog posts that will be “bound” together as a book.
Dictate your thoughts into a recorder and work with a professional editor.
Hire a ghostwriter.
Collaborate with other industry leaders to “crowd source” a book.
Write a booklet or shorter book, which can be a quick read.
20. Host webinars
Webinars will generate new leads and nurture existing ones. Your use of webinars will help you:
Teach valuable lessons relevant to your platform,
Showcase success stories,
Survey and poll participants.
Lower sales costs.
The speaker or speaking panel for your webinars might simply be appropriate experts within your company; however, you should consider featuring guest presenters that can offer valuable lessons. I’m proud to tell you I’ve been asked to be a guest presenter for GetResponse, Kissmetrics, and Buzzsumo, LeadSquared and many more SaaS companies.
Early in the process, software buyers are bound to conduct due diligence on review sites that collate and review SaaS offerings. Make sure to target software review sites such as Capterra and G2Crowd. Send the editorial team all the information they need and encourage customers to review and rate your service.
“G2 Crowd has quickly become a staple for both our marketing and sales programs. The marketing department is able to leverage G2 Crowd as a key component in their word-of-mouth branding and content marketing efforts for driving leads, and the sales department is able to use G2 Crowd to educate buyers.”
~ Heath MacArthur, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Certify
22. Deliver amazing service and support
SaaS is an abbreviation for “Software as a Service.” Note the fourth word.
Your SaaS platform may or may not win every feature shootout or close more deals based on price. But you can—and should—win customers over by delivering the best service and support in your niche.
Make it easy to get one-on-one help via phone.
Arm your Twitter account for quick response support.
Answer email support inquiries fast.
Create the best help section or user forum in your field.
“The principles of good customer service don’t really change in social. Make it as easy and pleasant for your customers to do business with you and give them a reason to be so happy that they’ll tell their friends about you.”
“What changes most is speed. Compared to email, where most customer are happy to wait up to 24 hours for a response, 32% of social users expect a response within 30 minutes, and 42% expect a response within an hour. So if you’re going to invest in social customer service—and the research suggests that you probably should—understand that your customers expect you to be quick.”
~ Len Markidan, head of marketing, Groove
23. Automate and nurture leads
When your website begins to generate leads, your next task is to move them “down the funnel.”
Marketing automation makes the process more efficient and effective. Your marketing automation platform will help you learn more about your leads and how they interact with your business.
Using automation for lead nurturing will help you create a lead scoring system and increase the rate at which you convert prospects to customers.
You’ll want to setup workflows for:
Welcoming new prospects
Welcoming new customers (iser onboarding, getting started tips, etc.)
Offering upsells and announcing special offers
Offering premium content
Addressing expired trials and dormant accounts
24. Get serious about sales enablement
A modern, and important, B2B SaaS marketing strategy goes by the clunky name of sales enablement.
Sales enablement is marketers supporting salespeople with the content, tools, technology, training, and analytics they need to build relationships and win business.
“The glue between sales and marketing, sales enablement helps measure the effectiveness of content assets, messaging, and collateral that are sent to buyers,” writes social selling expert Jamie Shanks of SalesforLife. “There is a significant uplift with organizations that have solidified this alignment.”
Jamie examines how best-in-class sales enablement teams operate, and shares Aberdeen Group research that finds companies with a sales enablement content strategy in place excelled at creating a reliable pipeline with higher revenues.
The research found best-in-class sales-enabled companies:
Outperformed the competition, on average, generating twice as much total company revenue
Earned twice the average deal size
Massively outperform their competitors in lead conversion
25. Get your marketing stack together
I don’t want to extend this marathon post with a long list of marketing technology solutions. Suffice to say, it’s critical to get your core marketing technology solutions together, including, at a minimum:
Content management system (CMS)
Customer relationship management (CRM)
Social media management
26. Invest in marketing
According to research from Mathew Sweezey of Salesforce, published on SlideShare, high performer are increasing digital marketing spend 70% and budgets will double in all areas within three years.
Executives have to “buy in,” figuratively and literally. I don’t have a precise formula to force on you, but Matthew has all kinds of great ideas. Be sure to check out slide #26 to see the range of investments it takes to (1) maintain branding, (2) fall within the average range, or (3) achieve fast growth.
As a digital marketer, you’ll often aim to contribute content to other blogs in an effort to increase your reach and influence. There are effective—and ineffective—ways to conduct your outreach. In this episode, we’ll explore blogger outreach do’s and dont’s.
The episode includes:
Why influencer marketing is white hot
The many silly mistakes content marketers make when they invade the inboxes of influencers, especially with automation
The red flag that screams, “Give me a link”
Tips for making a good first impression
Tips for getting on the radar of the influencer BEFORE you make an “ask”
Wise ways to use LinkedIn for outreach and networking
You’re going to fail if your marketing strategy is to give homework to strangers, says @Crestodina Click To Tweet
In the cheese & mousetrap segment:
Barry explains why you need to offer influencers great samples of your work