How MarTech Companies Market Themselves
What we learned from our conversations with the ultimate SaaS marketers
How MarTech companies do content today
In 1996, Bill Gates coined the now famous phrase, “Content is King” in an essay on Microsoft’s website. In the essay, Gates suggested that content would become the driving force in the marketing world. Since then, Gates’ premonition about the prevalence of content has proven to be more than accurate, with 91% of B2B marketers using content marketing in some form.
Though a lot of marketers still lean on paid marketing channels, many of our interviewees revealed that organic content marketing is, in many ways, more important than ever. While blog posts are the foundational element in a B2B SaaS content marketing strategy, other mediums such as video, webinar, and social media content are playing a big role.
Today’s marketing teams at MarTech companies are:
- Focusing more on content quality than quantity
- Beginning with customer pain points
- Seeing the importance of brand awareness
- Getting creative with their content calendars
- Refining their understanding of how SEO really works
Let’s take a look at this is playing out at the MarTech companies we spoke to.
Thoughtful content strategies take precedence over production
Content is a crucial element of a B2B marketing strategy. However, the way content works is changing. One key change is the concept of quality vs. quantity. For a number of years, content volume was a means to improve search engine ranking through SEO.
However, as the internet becomes more and more saturated with recycled, low-quality content, some content marketers are choosing to slow down their blog schedule and focus instead on publishing high-quality, unique content that really speaks to their specific audience.
It’s way more important than it was a few years ago to have a really, really good content concept and strategy.
This is exactly what Samdock’s head of marketing, Dennis Sturm, has found through his experience: “It's way more important than it was a few years ago to have a really, really good content concept and strategy . . . Who do I want to target, what are the goals that I want to achieve with the content, where do I place it best, and so on.”
This shift to a strategic approach from one of simply producing seems to come as a team’s content marketing operations become more sophisticated. Head of growth Marcus Svensson notes this evolution at Albacross. “When we first started producing content, we were very much in the mindset of producing. This wasn’t a terrible choice, because it improved SEO, but we were really just producing for the sake of producing more. How we are working today is more about asking, ‘Why are we producing the content?’ To be honest, from what I see, a lot of companies could not answer this question or even place their pieces of content within their sales funnels.”
Mike Donnelly, CEO and co-founder of Seventh Sense, saw that it made a difference when they started to view their content as a strategic asset. He explained, “When we started doing content, we didn't have a good plan in place. It was more like, ‘Hey, let's just write stuff and start throwing it out there.’ But then we started really thinking about it as more of a strategic asset. We started trying to write it to rank through SEO but also to provide significant value. And that's when we started to notice a difference.”
We started trying to write [content] to rank through SEO but also to provide significant value. And that's when we started to notice a difference.
When it comes to content quality, some marketers set the bar so high that they’d simply rather not produce content. Vincenzo Ruggiero, CEO of Prospect.io, notes that it’s really difficult to produce the kind of content that he finds valuable. He said, “When I look at the blogs that I actually read, they are always written by very inspirational people. And most of them are the founders of the company, so they really bring something of value to the table.”
Vedran Rasic, LeadDelta’s co-founder, feels the same way. As a result, his company doesn’t “have much content out there.” He said, “I just don't believe in creating for the sake of creating. I was always a big fan of those guys that disappear and create—you don't hear a single thing from them in three months, six months, and then they show up, and they blow your mind with the new insight.”
While some marketers are still figuring out how to communicate with their audience through content, others have found their formula. Those who see success often shape their content around the pain points of their audiences.
MarTech content homes in on pain points
A common theme that surfaced in our interviews is the notion of using content to respond to the pain points of your ideal customer profile. For many SaaS marketers, this provides an effective way to connect with people.
Kronologic’s VP of marketing, Scott Logan, explained that tapping into his customers’ pain points helped him market a brand new product: “In terms of promoting a brand new product, what I'm finding is the best way is to find stories that apply directly to the specific pain points of each persona. . . . It's so tempting to talk about how cool or how revolutionizing your tech is, but we've found you never really get them excited until you connect with them emotionally about their challenge early on. Then everything you talk about from then on relates back to that.”
You never really get [customers] excited until you connect with them emotionally about their challenge early on.
Dave Smithbury, head of marketing at Ruler Analytics, also uses his understanding of customer pain points to help him craft content that feels personal. “On a B2B level, there's a shift toward understanding that it's more about marketing to people rather than marketing to a business. Getting to that one-to-one level of really understanding one person's challenges and overcoming them—I think that's really powerful. B2B is probably the one area where you can actually achieve that level of really getting to know your customer and understanding their obstacles prior to the solution.”
Head of marketing Will Pearlman also relied on understanding customer pain points during his time as head of marketing at Exceed. He told us, “The key to content is finding the pain points and expressing them and offering solutions. . . . When you identify what they need help with, then you can talk about your solution to help solve that pain point, because that's what everyone's looking for. No one’s looking for your solution. They're looking for an answer to ‘How do you solve my problem?’”
The key to content is finding the pain points and expressing them and offering solutions.
The great thing about pain-point driven content is that it can be used to address people at any point in the marketing funnel, even helping to build brand awareness.
Not every young SaaS or MarTech company focuses heavily on bottom-of-funnel content. Many include a good measure of awareness-generating content to help grow their presence on a bigger scale in their industry.
Even for younger companies that depend on quick wins, there comes a point when their company must work on building greater awareness. Here, a few folks share their successes using content to generate awareness, leading to growth for their companies.
We like to think of our articles as making people feel warmer toward the product.
Padmanabhan Ramaswamy, managing director of InsightzClub, explained that because his company’s solutions are not necessarily something people want to buy right away, focusing on brand awareness has been effective.
Padmanabhan said, “It can be nice to think of the sales process as a simple funnel, but it doesn’t exactly work in that scientific step-by-step way. Our approach to using content for brand awareness has been more effective. We like to think of our articles as making people feel warmer toward the product. At the top of the funnel are the content pieces that are mostly about creating some brand awareness and interest. And that builds a positive association.”
Still others, such as Tom Kuhr, CMO of Greenfly, have relied on content to generate awareness. For him, focusing on brand awareness and education has been an effective strategy in the early stages for his company. “A lot of what we're doing, because we're such a small company, is general awareness—letting people know, ‘Hey, this company exists; this product exists.’ So, it's a lot of early market education . . . And education is very important for us.”
Education is very important for us.
CMO Scott Todaro described how his team at Plannuh fueled an entire year’s worth of content across all their different channels—all from one book. “One of the things we did that was particularly successful was to write a book for marketers called The Next CMO . . . The great thing about a book is that it's got a lot of insightful content in it. To get additional content assets out of the book content, we sliced up each of the nine chapters in the book into three blog posts. Then we pulled all the quotables, and that became our Twitter and LinkedIn strategy. Next, we took the chapters, and we turned them into ebooks. And lastly, we took each one of the chapters and turned them into a webinar series. And so, with just one book, we filled a full year of content, and the content was incredibly compelling because we spent months writing the book.”
With just one book, we filled a full year of content, and the content was incredibly compelling because we spent months writing the book.
At ebCard, head of growth Elias Rizk uses just a few main SEO keywords to come up with an extensive content plan. He explained, “When you draw your content map, you're going to see that you have keywords, sub keywords, sub sub keywords, and topics that have several subjects. Looking at it this way, you’ll see an entire map of content that is generated. From one topic, we can have eight to ten blog posts per month. A surprising number of people don't get this.”
Scott Douglas Clary, CRO at Swift Products and Grass Valley, described for us how his team is spinning off one long-form piece into shorter content that can be repurposed across multiple platforms. He told us, “We're working on creating a content strategy that includes long-form interview content. We want to interview people who fit our customer profile and buyer persona. We'll ask them questions that our ICP and buyer persona would care about. We'll record that session, then turn it into content, whether that be a blog post, a YouTube video, a podcast, a social post, and so on. For us, it's about the process of breaking down one long-form piece into lots of smaller pieces that go across all of your social media.”
For us, it's about breaking down one long-form piece into lots of smaller pieces that go across all of your social media.
For content marketers, the ultimate awareness generation technique is content optimized for SEO. But winning at SEO can be quite a battle nowadays.
The key to SEO is context
While keywords, links, and publishing consistency were once the backbone of SEO-based content, these are now table stakes. Now, context—specifically search intent—is the most important influence.
Search intent refers to the reason someone is searching on Google. Google looks at the keywords that a user enters to determine what their intention is. Experts have grouped the various possible intentions into three main categories: 1) to learn about something, 2) to take action, 3) or to find something.
Emilia Korczynska, head of marketing at Userpilot, explained that creating content for search intent has become more important as Google’s algorithm has gotten more sophisticated. She said, “It's probably not news that the skyscraper technique is not really working that much anymore. It's in Google's best interest to rank content that is most relevant to the query. So, it's constantly trying to understand the search intent behind the content. This should be your North Star, not the keyword itself.”
Understanding search intent gives you an opportunity to create content that is more helpful to the searcher. Where the original approach to keyword targeting involved using the keywords in specific spots like headlines and anchor text, search intent data lets you take a more intelligent approach to create content around what the searcher really wants.
I am very excited about developments in intent data . . . finding out who exactly is searching for your keywords.
Anupam Dasgupta, VP of marketing at Quintype, described how the search intent data available today gives you more insight into the searcher: “In the B2B software product space, I am very excited about developments in intent data. Intent data is, in a way, exactly the reverse of search engine optimization. With search engine optimization, you would expect people to find you and come to your website. With intent data, you're actually finding out who exactly is searching for your keywords. And there are even some other tools like Zymplify that claim to provide you the exact persona who's searching for you.”
- Thoughtful content strategies take precedence over production.
- Martech content homes in on pain points.
- Brand awareness is a critical target.
- MarTech marketers are using clever methods to plan their content calendars.
- The key to SEO is context.