Inbound Marketing and Software as a Service (SaaS) are a match made in heaven. Both are digitally delivered, highly measurable and ROI based. Marketers that work for SaaS companies usually "get" the idea relatively quickly as it is in their comfort zone and they are familiar with the underlying principles.
However, there are some common mistakes software companies make regarding their website content, blog posts, marketing emails, and social media posts. Here is how to avoid these pitfalls:
1) Talk About Benefits, Not Features
I am sure, your products are state-of-the-art, and you want everyone to know about your new Single-Sign-On, improved authentication management or comprehensive audit logs.
Features vs. Benefits
Single-Sign-On is a feature. The convenience of your users not having to remember multiple passwords to access their applications is a benefit. A feature is a factual statement about the product or service being promoted. But your prospects don't buy your features — they purchase the solution your product offers.
A potential problem your comprehensive audit logs might solve is to allow your customers to comply with industry regulations by creating detailed records of all user activities. This way, you not only directly provide a solution to your visitor's problems by laying our the benefits, but this way your content is more conducive to generating more organic traffic through searches.
80/20 Pareto Principle
But that does not mean you should cut out all features altogether. So, the question becomes: How much should you talk about benefits vs. features? A good rule of thumb is to follow the Pareto principle that states that 20% of the invested input is responsible for 80% of the results obtained. Or regarding your content marketing: Make sure no more than 20% of your content talks about your products, your company or your features. The remaining 80% (the vast majority of your content) should be either educational, informative or entertaining.
2) Stop Using IT Buzzwords & SaaS Jargon
We love to talk about "cloud computing", "Big Data", "IT transformation" and other buzzwords that make our solution sound so "on fleek" - oop, sorry, I could not restrain myself. But in reality, jargon and buzzwords are overused, that everyone sounds the same, they can impact your search rankings and worst of all they are killing your conversions!
Why You Should Not Use Them
We all do it and it so hard not to, but studies like the B2B Content Preference Survey show that 95% of all users prefer shorter simpler content formats. Our visitors don't want to figure out what you are trying to say in a fancy way; they want you to use plain and simple language! If you don't, they will quickly skim the page and leave.
By consistently using industry-specific jargon, you also exclude a vast majority of potential prospects right off the bat since they are not familiar with the terms that you are using or have an incorrect understanding of the phrase. (You would not believe how many wrong definitions of cloud computing I have heard in my 15 years of IT experience...)
Try Using Clear, Precise Language Instead
This does not mean, you should dumb everything down so your grandma can understand the last technical detail. But aim for simple and precise language that gets your point across without overusing jargon and buzzwords so much that they lose all meaning.
3) Don't Neglect The Top and Middle Of Your Marketing Funnel
The ultimate goal of many SaaS websites is to get the visitor to sign up for a free trial. In marketing speak, this is a bottom of the funnel offer that allows your prospect to test drive your solution to see if it meets their needs and ultimately make a purchase problem. However, if this is your focus, you are neglecting the majority of your buyer's decision-making process.
According to Forrester, a leading analyst house, 70% of the B2B buying process is completed by the time your lead contacts sales for the first time. The rest of the journey, you are virtually not existing. To improve your chances of signing them up for a trial or contacting sales to be an active part of the first part of the journey.
The SaaS Buyer's Journey
Every buyer, no matter if they are shopping for new sneakers or a project management tool for their Windows 10 migration, goes through a decision-making process called the "Buyer's Journey."
Let me explain what I mean by using the example of an enterprise IT project manager Sam about to embark on a massive Windows 10 upgrade. His buyer's journey would look something like this:
- Awareness Stage: Sam is aware that he has a problem. He knows his entire organization (more than 10,000 seats) needs to be upgraded within the next 18 months to Windows 10. As part of the migration project, a hardware refresh is planned, and the company is looking to consolidate its application landscape. Now, what? The last migration was a disaster. Thousands of to-dos, dependencies, emails... it was a never-ending nightmare.
- Consideration Stage: Now that Sam has given his problem a name, he will look for solution alternatives. The options available are all very different, come with a different time and cost commitment, but he can refine this solution approach further until he narrows down his choices to two or three.
- Decision Stage: Sam has decided that the migration project will be kept in-house, and he is looking into a software solution that will turn the expected migration chaos into an efficient and standardized process where he and his team are in control and will automate tedious tasks for him, essentially speeding up the process significantly. His signs up for a demo and loves it. He is ready to buy.
The awareness and consideration stage correspond with the top and middle of your marketing funnel. You can provide helpful content in form or blog posts, gated eBooks, guides and website content that speak to the problem your prospect is trying to solve.
No matter how seasoned we are as marketers, these missteps are very common, and all of us transgress once in a while. We hope this blog post reminds you to be aware of the mistakes and give you actionable advice how to avoid them.