Note: Hiten Shah of Quicksprout & KISSmetrics presented the following framework during his talk at SaaSFest 2015. We're going to break it down here and share how to build a long lasting marketing funnel for your SaaS business.
(Check out Hiten Shah's SaaSFest talk)
In a SaaS business, content is king for marketing. We use content creation as a way to pump up our funnels with leads that eventually convert to customers. However, not everyone is approaching content and marketing channels strategically.
Marketing channels don’t last forever. They come and go just like everything else which is why you should be very tactical and data-driven with your content approach.
As we learned from Hiten Shah of Quicksprout (& founder of KISSmetrics) at SaaSFest 2015, you need to be testing different channels and optimizing your content efforts. Using Hiten’s framework, let's break down some important areas of content marketing that your company should be thinking about. By the end of this post, you can expect to take away tips for content marketing that you can implement in your business today.
Why You Should Love the Top of the Funnel
To understand why you you should love the top-of-the-funnel, let's take a quick look at what the funnel looks like as a whole. The first stage is Awareness which is the stage you do whatever it takes to drive the most traffic to your site. Next, there is the Consideration stage in which you basically hound leads through marketing automation. After that you have Conversion during which you upsell with an offer. Finally, the bottom of the funnel is the Advocacy stage where you hope that users promote your brand or product and tell their friends great things about it.
The most important aspect of the marketing funnel is WOM (word of mouth). Brand advocacy is essential to the lifetime value of your product and brand in the market place. Hiten points out that you need to flip your view of the marketing funnel. Instead of focusing just on converting customers at the bottom, dedicate a greater effort to people at the top of the funnel. To be even more clear than that, don’t just focus on your customers; focus on people in general. If you put emphasis on loving all of your visitors (passers-by and prospective customers, alike) and providing value from the start, the trajectory of people sharing, talking, and recommending your product will be exponentially greater.
"Great Content + Word of Mouth = A Marketing Funnel Full of Leads"
(You Can Edit Before Tweeting)
Content marketing has been booming for some time and remains a great way to get potential customers into your funnel. People, in general, are searching the internet to satisfy a hunger for information. If you plant good content on the web that is aligned with the needs of your audience, then you are building trust and positioning yourself as the source for that informational need. “The best way to build a long-lasting top of funnel is content marketing,” Hiten shared. Content puts you in the driver's seat to tell your story. As you bring leads in through your storytelling, you’re essentially grooming them to learn the way your business thinks about things; which makes it easier to sell your product when the time comes.
The KISSmetrics Content Marketing Secret
About 15 minutes into the SaaSFest talk, Hiten unveiled the KISSmetrics content secret. Before getting into their secret, here's a quick fact to demonstrate their expertise: the company was able to reduce the cost per sign up for the trial of their product by 63%. Phenomenal. They had previously been paying roughly $20 per click with Google which easily translated into hundreds of dollars for a click that didn’t guarantee a conversion.
The secret to how they decreased their customer acquisition cost is simply by answering these three questions:
Question: “Who are your customers?”
Question: “Where do they hang out?”
Question: “How should you engage?”
Answering these questions is what led KISSmetrics to finding out where their customers were spending their time on the web and Hiten leveraged those channels with high quality content at essentially no cost. In this case, it happened to be a Twitter hashtag that people were using to find content about analytics. So like any good marketer would do, Hiten and KiSSmetrics started posting content with their links to this hashtag creating a tremendous amount of traffic directly to their site.
This is a great example of how you need to understand deeply who your customers are and test different marketing channels. Content marketing works best when you know who your customers are and where they hang out on the internet so you can target them directly. You can then leverage your content into the best channels so that you create a streamline of traffic that brings you lead after lead while lowering your acquisition costs.
7 Things You Need to Know about Content Marketing
To leverage content, you need to understand the attributes of successful content from top to bottom. Here, Hiten shares 7 key lessons he learned from content marketing with his companies.
Content = Marketing: Any time your business is using words to convey a message or tell a story is marketing. Marketing is not to be confused with advertising.
People ignore ads but love great content: The only way to grow your content is to start with quality from the beginning. The top content pieces that people share and spread around the web are put together well and deliver immediate value to the reader.
Content marketing can be reverse engineered: Content is beautiful because you can repackage it into many different things that work to get people in your funnel. You can turn old blog posts into graphics, ebooks, email courses and more. The possibilities are endless and the return on your initial investment into great content can be extremely high.
Headlines are everything: Headlines are tremendously important because you only get one shot to catch someone's attention and convince them in a fraction of a second why they should click your link and consume your content.
Organic search is the top traffic source for content marketing: Organic search remains the number one traffic source on Google. This means you need to optimize your content to be searchable with a solid SEO (search engine optimization) strategy.
Content helps you tell your story: Building a blog gives you the platform to tell your story on your own terms. You can talk about anything that is important to your business or your customers.
Content creates conversion opportunitites: At the end of the day creating content allows you to educate people, tell them your story, and put them in position to easily adopt your product. Without content marketing, you have to force the transaction and convince someone why they need your product versus having them come to you already engaged and excited to try your product.
Content is King
Content creation is a very powerful tool when executed well. If you really get to know your customers and find out where they hang out on the web, you can leverage that information to flood the top of your marketing funnel with quality leads. To really become great at creating content, try to master the framework Hiten shared at SaaSFest and don't forget his seven tips. Your marketing funnel is only as good as the leads you bring to it, and those leads are only as good as the content that brought them. This is why you should be striving to provide real value above all else to your customers.
Check out Hiten Shah's SaaSFest deck below.