How do you actually get paying SaaS customers? (Reddit Question)

When I found this question on Reddit recently, I had to answer it.

When we talk about content marketing, growth marketing, and more, all of these techniques come back to this question. While I’m tempted to say, “it depends on your situation,” I’m not going to leave you hanging.

In this article, let’s assume that you have at least ten paying customers. If you have less than ten customers, marketing should not be your focus. Putting all of your energy into one on one sales techniques is the way to go.

1) Choose your SaaS purchase model: self service or sales based

In business to business SaaS products, there are two ways customers can buy. First, you have self-serve products where you buy the product with a credit card. Second, you have complex purchases where higher purchase prices require more. For example, if you are purchasing a $100,000 per year SaaS product like Braze, then you are probably not going to put that purchase on your corporate credit card.

Resource: Want to learn more from high growth SaaS companies earning $100,000 or more per customer? Check out this post: SaaS Churn Metrics: Insights From 16 Companies with ACV Over $100,000.

2) If self service SaaS, then take a marketing-led approach

With these purchases, your product likely has a purchase price up to $100 per month or $1200 per year. At the upper end of this range, you have the top tiers of products like ClickFunnels and Keap (formerly known as Infusionsoft) priced in the $250 to $500 per month range.

At these levels, the traditional suite of sales staff, such as a sales development representative (SDR) and account executive (AE), probably does not make sense. There is not enough margin or complexity involved to justify such a sales model.

Instead, you need to think more like an e-commerce store like Amazon, Dispatch Coffee, or Threadless. These brands do not rely on sales professionals. Instead, they drive leads and purchases through marketing.

If you have limited resources, I recommend choosing a single marketing channel to get started. For more insight on the options available, review my past article on SaaS marketing channels.

3) If complex sales SaaS, then take a sales-led approach

There are SaaS companies where the average contract value (AVC) is over $100,000. I first heard about these companies through the Get Latka database. For example, Braze has an average contract value of $100,000 for its marketing automation solution. If you visit their website, you will see that there is no free trial available. Besides, there is no pricing page that I could find.

At higher prices and complexity, you get paying customers through a sales process. Almost no customer will reach out and decide to buy a $100,000 per year software product.

Further, buyers of such software are not simple. You need to convince them that you have robust cybersecurity. You might need to invest in third-party certifications like InEvent did to become more credible with Fortune 500 firms. For more on InEvent’s marketing, take a look at my interview with InEvent.

Marketing is still a critical part of the picture in terms of creating a strong brand. For example, look at the incredible diversity and quality of content marketing that Salesforce publishes today! However, you are there to support sales rather than drive the entire process.

Now you know how to acquire customers for your SaaS product.

How Uploadcare Doubled Their Revenue In 2019 Selling To Developers

Selling software to developers and software engineers is a thriving business. Developers are under pressure to ship features and build reliable products. They also need to move vast volumes of data around to keep their products working smoothly. That’s where Uploadcare helps.

Irina Rimecode, VP of Marketing at Uploadcare, recently shared a few thoughts on the company’s SaaS growth.

1) Tell us about your role and the company

I strategize and orchestrate 20+ specialists responsible for several marketing functions in the organization, public relations and connecting with the software engineering community included. Also, we support the sales team with marketing collateral like landing pages, white papers, and presale documentation.

We have both self-service and business customers on our platform. Most of my focus is on the self-serve market. In contrast, the sales team focuses on the enterprise group.

2) In the past year, what’s the most significant marketing success you’ve achieved?

The most significant accomplishment in the past year is successfully meeting our pipeline goal. Right now, we’re preparing for Round A for investing. To get ready for that, we’re working on achieving a more stable sales and marketing process. In 2019, we doubled our revenue!

3) What are some of the growth tactics that have worked well for you?

Even though we offer a technical product, we are seeing good results for consumer-oriented marketing.

  • Black Friday promotions. This strategy has worked well for us.
  • Social Media: We are using Instagram and Facebook to reach business customers.

On Instagram, we use this channel to promote annual subscriptions to our platform during the Black Friday promotion. This promotion makes sense because we are aiming to move more of our customer base to a yearly subscription.

I find that this type of retargeting advertising works well when you have an automated purchase process that only 1-2 clicks to buy.

Ultimately, you need to remember that people are forgetful. They may not remember your offer at first. Instagram and Facebook helped us to remind them of the offering. While Uploadcare is a business product, it’s essential to recognize that business people are still on consumer channels like Instagram and Facebook. We market to our audience wherever we can find them.

4) What’s working for you in terms of SEO?

SEO is a significant growth channel for us. In particular, it is influential in helping us to attract self-serve customers. In the long term, SEO traffic also helps us to build up retargeting lists. In 2019 30% of total traffic came from search compared to 24% in 2018.

It is valuable for us to appear in search results for generic terms like “uploader.” Appearing highly on the search results for generic industry keywords also helps to position us as a credible company.

So far, I’ve observed one major limitation with SEO. It has not been as effective in attracting enterprise customers.

5) Uploadcare has many impressive customer stories. What is your strategy for choosing which customers to highlight?

A case study is helpful for larger customers. It should tell larger customers that you can serve their needs. In developing case studies, we first identify a highly satisfied customer. Next, we explore the journey: what problem were they having and how did they overcome that problem

In the case study themselves, you need to balance a few elements. You need to show that the customer was satisfied. Also, show the numbers that prove the results you achieved for the customer.

6) What are the themes you’ve observed in preparing case studies?

I see three main themes: better web performance, improved quality of experience, and enhanced customer experience. Also, there is a lot of interest in understanding how to cut costs by using the platform. For example, you can deploy faster. The total cost of ownership for our platform and it is faster than our competing solutions.

For high growth companies, our product helps people achieve faster time to market, and you can move products more quickly. This is critical for developers and start-ups. In this case, they want to have a proven product faster.

7) Your email list has 86,000+ subscribers. Take us inside your email marketing strategy. What’s working well?

My best email marketing advice: don’t bother people with irrelevant emails. When people sign up for our newsletter, that’s exactly what we give to them.

It’s not about pushing a product. Instead, we mainly focused on publishing exciting content for our audience.

To improve your email marketing results, use your analytics. 

Our experience shows that it’s crucial to include at least one CTA in your email. In case you’re trying to sell something, design a very short customer journey from the email: use just one link or button to drive a customer directly to the dashboard with pre-filled offer and discount parameters. Conversion and customer behavior are the two main things in the spotlight of our analytics. You need to understand why people are opening emails vs. not opening them. Analyze your results and look for ways to improve it. For example, we should be willing to remove people from the email list if it is clear that they are not engaged or interested in our offering.

8) Uploadcare offers a free plan and paid plans. What’s your marketing approach to transition free users to paid accounts?

The conversions rate varies broadly. Some people downgrade to the free plan after a trial. In those cases, the reason is that they only need a fraction of our platform’s capabilities.

It is still helpful to obtain free users because it is an opportunity for us to become part of a developer’s daily workflow. Once they see how it works, they may move to a higher-priced plan because they need to handle more volume.

We don’t push people to buy plans. The point is to communicate with people who see the value. We watch which users are using the product.

8) In the online marketing world, who are you following or studying right now?

I focus my effort on studying software engineers. I’m mostly interested in a mathematical approach to marketing and running experiments.

I’m reading blogs that feature automatic marketing. I look for recommendations from my network to come across exciting ideas. Among several blogs I’ve been reading recently are Joshua Hardwick, Alex Birkett, Nick Eubanks, and Mike Rudenko.

9) Where should people go to connect with you and find out more about the company?

To connect with me, use LinkedIn. To find out more about LinkedIn, visit Uploadcare.

What Is SaaS Marketing?

What is SaaS marketing and why is it special?

That’s the question you have to answer if you want to grow your SaaS company consistently. Before going any further, let’s give a precise definition

What Is SaaS Marketing: The Basic Definition And My Definition

What Is SaaS MArketing

The answer is “SaaS marketing” is marketing focused on promoting and selling software as a service.  

My definition is a bit different:

SaaS marketing is your system for attracting relevant prospects to your software product and encouraging them to engage with your company.

There are a few critical components to this definition that we need to unpack.

  • System. In SaaS marketing, you do not want to act randomly. All of your marketing techniques and processes ought to be organized systematically. That means you can measure your SaaS marketing and determine if you are making progress.
  • Attracting relevant prospects. You want to draw in only the right type of prospect. This is critically important to keep in mind. If it might be easy to attract college students as leads, but they are highly unlikely to purchase $1,000 per month marketing software.
  • Engage with your company. This part of the definition takes us beyond mere “awareness.” I consider brand awareness to be the icing on the marketing cake only. For your SaaS marketing to be worthwhile, prospects need to take any action that signals their interest. Depending on your sophistication, you might have a single goal (e.g., free trial signups) or multiple goals (e.g., email list signup, webinar sign up, etc.).

This definition might come across as a bit abstract. That’s why we are going to look at what makes SaaS marketing distinct from other kinds of marketing.

What is SaaS Marketing: Five Unique Factors You Need To Know About

To fully answer the question “what is SaaS marketing,” you need to understand a few SaaS specific marketing issues.

1) Software Is Intangible

Despite what some people might say about demos, software products are intangible. There’s nothing you can hold in your hands. It requires considerable marketing effort to help people see the value of an intangible purchase.

2) You Are Marketing A Recurring Purchase

Think about purchasing a movie versus signing up for a Netflix subscription. In the first case, it is a simple one-time purchase, and you know exactly what you’re going to get – the Dark Knight Trilogy! In the latter case, access to a streaming service is an ongoing purchase. You might spend hundreds of dollars more throughout your subscription.

Most SaaS products are sold with an automatic billing program. That means that you have to keep marketing even after the purchase makes a purchase.

3) There’s Always A Learning Curve For SaaS Users

Your SaaS product produces no value until your prospect puts it into use. That’s why companies like Salesforce and HubSpot offer certification training programs and specialized consultants. There are real challenges to learn how to use new software. This challenge is even more significant if you are seeking to invent a new category.

4) SaaS Purchases Require Technical Integration

Over the past decade, SaaS integrations have exploded in popularity. For example, you can integrate Pipedrive CRM with Google Email. As a Pipedrive user, this integration means that I don’t have to copy and paste tracking information for emails sent and received. Instead, those messages are tracked automatically.

However, some SaaS integrations are more complex and need more work effort. From a marketing perspective, the requirement to do technical integration between your product and the customer’s existing systems is an issue. If a customer believes that these integrations are challenging to implement, they may be reluctant to use your product even on a free trial basis.

5) SaaS Purchases Often Involve Multiple Stakeholders

Focusing on B2B software products, you need to market to multiple people to reach success. Your account executives and sales development representatives may be inclined to focus on one or two decision-makers. In terms of closing the deal, such a laser-targeted focus is reasonable. However, marketing needs to take a broader perspective.

In addition to the primary decision-maker who signs off on the SaaS purchase, other stakeholders matter. For example, you may have to engage end-users like business analysts. If those users complain about your product or fail to use it regularly, you stand a higher risk of churn. Fundamentally, signing up customers only to have them cancel quickly doesn’t make sense.

Therefore, your marketing needs to consider multiple stakeholders. By all means, focus your efforts on the main decision-maker such as executives. However, some of your content marketing resources should address questions and concerns raised by other stakeholders. Less senior staff may not be able to

Three Universal Marketing Factors You Cannot Ignore

In different ways, SaaS marketing is not unique. Successful SaaS marketing also needs to cover traditional marketing requirements. Here are a few key elements to keep in mind.

What Is Your SaaS Positioning?

More than anything else, positioning is a critical discipline process to separate your product from others in the marketplace. If your SaaS positioning is poorly developed, you are going to face more discount requests. If you are just getting started with positioning, I recommend reading “Positioning” By Al Ries and Jack Trout. For a focused application of positioning for the technology industry, read “The Positioning Manual For Technical Firms” by Philip Morgan.

What Is Your SaaS Pricing.

As a marketer, your SaaS pricing shapes much of your marketing strategy. Offering a lower-priced SaaS product that can be bought directly by credit card requires more of a direct response approach. In contrast, a proposal based SaaS marketing approach.

If you offer an enterprise SaaS product that is paid by invoice, then your approach to pricing will be entirely different. You may need to factor in professional services into your pricing. While complex pricing is sometimes necessary, consider pushing for simplicity. More and more SaaS products use simple pricing models such as $99 per user per month, for example.

What Marketing Channels Will You Use?

There are many different SaaS marketing channels available, many of which are in common with other types of marketing. For more insight into the available SaaS marketing channels, please read my article: SaaS Marketing Channels.

Three Simple Ways To Get More SaaS Leads And Customers

By this point, you have a clear answer to the question What is SaaS Marketing? Simply knowing the definition of just the start. You also need to look for ways to improve and improve your results. Here are a few ways to improve your results

1 Take inspiration from other content marketing examples in the industry

Content marketing is one of the best ways to get more leads in SaaS marketing. For guidance on how to get started, read my previous article on content marketing examples. Creating content might feel daunting if you have never done it before. The good news is that you can model what other successful companies are doing.

Even better, sign up for my email list to receive a weekly letter with marketing insights. You’ll be the first to hear about new articles, upcoming books and other insights I only share with email subscribers.

2 Get more user reviews

A decade ago, online reviews were mainly limited to consumer websites such as Amazon.com. That’s all changed with the rise of business software review websites like Capterra, G2 and Software Advice. These websites collectively have more than one million reviews from users. If your software product has no reviews, then you are going to lose the attention of prospects.

To get your first three user reviews, follow these steps. First, reach out to the sales team and ask them to make a list of their 10 most enthusiastic customers. Ask for an appointment to get on the phone with a few of these customers to hear their feedback about the product. If hear positive comments, ask to write a review. If you are particularly keen to get your first review, then consider holding their hand virtually through each step of the process.

It is well worth the effort of getting more reviews. First, it shows that people feel strongly enough about your product to leave a review. Further, reviews can help you to get more traffic because some business software review websites let you sort product listings by the number of reviews.

What Is SaaS Marketing - review website example
Top 20 Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software According to Capterra

3 Recruit SaaS affiliates and partners

There is no need to rely exclusively on your sales and marketing employees to grow the top line. You can also achieve results by recruiting others to sell your product.

In terms of SaaS marketing, ClickFunnels and FreshBooks both offer competitive affiliate programs. For example, the Freshbooks affiliate program offers two different payments to affiliates. Each free trial sign up generates a $5 commission. In addition, the company offers a $55 payment for each free trial sign up that converts to a paid plan.

What Is SaaS Marketing - Freshbooks example

ClickFunnels, the marketing automation software company, has a more complex affiliate program. The company offers an increasing level of compensation and bonuses to affiliates. For instance, the company offers to pay for your “dream car” by offering bonus compensation. As a result, it is no surprise that ClickFunnels has recruited a large number of affiliates.

In reading the ClickFunnels affiliate agreement, you will see that the company currently offers four types of affiliate commissions:

  • Badge Commission. 20% commission rate
  • Front End Affiliate. 40% commission on front end offers.
  • Open Affiliate. 30% commission on SaaS and 40% commission on front-end offers.
  • Qualified Affiliated. 40% commission on SaaS plus 40% on front-end offers.

The company rewards affiliates with greater commissions after they generate a certain level of commissions. Unlike many other SaaS companies, ClickFunnels offers both software and front end offers. Front end offers typically include training products such as video recordings of seminars, audio books and printed books.

If you are just getting started with your affiliate program, I recommend modelling FreshBooks first. Their program has relatively few moving parts so it will be easier to operate. If you find good success with the affiliate marketing channel later, consider adopting ClickFunnels more complex model.

Content Marketing Examples: 8 Real-World Lessons From Successful SaaS and Consulting Companies

Content marketing examples are inspiring because they show you what’s possible to achieve. Instead of vaguely understanding that you need to create content, you can see a live example. To help you achieve your growth goals, you will learn specific examples from 15 companies that are thriving today.

Why Study and Model Content Marketing Examples?

There are three reasons why it makes sense to study content marketing examples. First, this is one of the easiest ways to solve creative blocks (i.e., “blank page syndrome”). Second, seeing other successful companies win in content marketing is inspiring! Finally, it helps you earn support from other people. Some people are skeptical about content marketing ROI. To address their concerns, point out these examples. Instead of merely providing a conceptual answer to “What is content marketing?”, I find it much more powerful to define the strategy through real-world examples.

5 SaaS Content Marketing Examples: Ideas You Can Use Today

Software companies have many different ways to grow. Some companies prefer to focus on a sales-driven model with sales development representatives (SDRs) and account executives (AEs). Others focus on content marketing to attract leads and position them in the marketplace. To illustrate what’s possible for SaaS companies, check out these five companies.

1) ClickFunnels

What To Learn From This Content Marketing Example: Grow a software company with the founder’s personal brand

Content Marketing Examples: Grow A SaaS Company Via The Founder’s Personal Brand

As I write this post, I’m nearly finished reading Russell Brunson’s new book, “Traffic Secrets.” I’m a massive fan of his work! Previously, Dave Woodward from ClickFunnels was a guest on this blog: From $0 to $70 Million: Inside The ClickFunnels Marketing Machine. There are plenty of lessons to learn from Click Funnels. Today, I’ll focus on one point: personal branding. Russel Brunson, one of the company’s co-founders, is a content production hero with multiple books, podcasts, and social media updates. He strikes an excellent balance between growing his personal brand and growing the company brand.

If you are a SaaS company founder and wonder whether it makes sense to build your personal brand or the company, take note of Russell Brunson’s success. He has shown us that it is more than possible to create both a personal and corporate brand at the same time.

2) QuickMail

What To Learn From This Content Marketing Example: Use podcasts to promote your software company

Content Marketing Examples: Publish A Podcast To Promote Your SaaS Brand

While content marketers often focus on written content or video, audio, and podcasts are an important channel as well. Quickmail stands out as a successful podcast (the Cold Outreach Podcast) based on cold email. After listening to dozens of episodes, it is clear that the show hosts Jack Reamer & Jeremy Chatelaine are committed to sharing valuable insights.

In April 2020, the podcast published an episode on backlink request emails. Instead of providing general frameworks, the hosts took a teardown approach. In essence, they analyze and optimize outreach emails. This content marketing examples demonstrates another content marketing example – create content by providing commentary or analysis on somebody’s else work.

3) PhoneWagon

What To Learn From This Content Marketing Example: Attract attention by publishing industry-specific guides.

Content Marketing Examples: Publish In-Depth Guides To Help Your Customers Reach Their Goals

Publishing relevant content is one of the best ways to achieve results in marketing. In Phone Wagon’s case, they have achieved results by publishing guides dedicated to specific niches (also known as industry verticals). For example, take a look at this guide: The Ultimate Guide To Selling Leads To Chiropractors.

How can you publish in-depth guides to help your target market achieve its goals? That is a powerful question you can use to inform your content marketing strategy. Content marketing is just one part of Phone Wagon’s growth journey. The company also has an interesting origin story about finding product-market fit through cold calling. Find out more through my interview with Phone Wagon: Helping Agencies Deliver Better Results With Phone Tracking: The PhoneWagon Story.

4) HubSpot

What To Learn From This Content Marketing Example: Achieve success by committing to long term publishing.

While HubSpot prefers the term “inbound marketing,” their commitment to producing outstanding content is clear. As I interview SaaS marketing professionals, HubSpot is one of the commonly cited examples. Honestly, spending a few weeks studying the HubSpot sales and marketing content is one of the best ways to get up to speed on the latest and greatest strategies.

Here is one some specific example of HubSpot’s successful content to consider:

5 Steps to Create an Outstanding Marketing Plan [Free Templates]

Content Marketing Examples: Publish templates for your customers to use

From SEO and Google Ads research, I know many people are looking for plans and templates in the marketing space. HubSpot’s blog post showcases several critical practices in one place. First, they are creating relevant content based on market demand (e.g., interest in marketing plans and templates). Second, they offer a free download to pull leads into their system. Third, their content is presented in an easy to read format.

I could write an entire post about the company’s content strategy. For this post, let me focus on one fundamental practice: consistent publishing. HubSpot has been publishing new content on sales and marketing for years. As a result, the HubSpot blog has become a go-to resource for digital marketing.

5) Ahrefs

What To Learn From This Content Marketing Example: Publish actionable tips for your target market while showcasing your SaaS product.

Ahrefs is one of the best SEO software products on the market. The company’s blog provides an outstanding commitment to detailed tips that are easy to understand. In particular, Ahrefs is doing excellent work publishing content aimed at novice marketers. They are one of my go-to resources for content marketing ideas because of their commitment to high-quality headlines, and content quality sets a great example.

For example, take a look at David McSweeney’s article “The Noob Friend Guide To Link Building.” Right up front, David tells us that we will gain four benefits from his content, including link building theory and “essential skills and tactics.” As you progress through the post, you will see charts and data points presented based on Ahrefs data.

Content Marketing Examples: Note that Ahrefs includes a table of contents and article stats.

By showing the product’s data in a blog post, you can imagine how using the product will help you to do your job better. However, it is not just a sales pitch. Whether or not you sign up for Ahrefs right away, you will learn insights. As you invest in SaaS content marketing, look for ways to showcase your product directly in your content.

Topical Content Marketing Examples: Key Lessons From Consultants

In addition to SaaS companies, I occasionally work with consultants to help them grow their authority. Since consultants are in the business of selling expertise and solutions to complex problems, content marketing is a natural fit. Long before the Internet, consultants used content marketing in the form of newsletters, public speaking, and books to build their expertise.

6) 4 Thought Marketing

What Too Learn From This Content Marketing Example: Provide expert commentary on new industry developments (e.g. GDPR).

Specialized in Oracle Eloqua marketing technology, 4 Thought Marketing has worked on content marketing for years. As a result, the firm has established a growing email list of engaged subscribers.

Since Oracle Eloqua is a sophisticated marketing platform, potential clients are going to have different concerns than novices. For example, they may have a long list of marketing projects they need to execute. Specifically, larger companies are concerned about marketing compliance. They can’t afford to get into trouble by accidentally or deliberating regulations like GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in Europe or California’s CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act).

Take a look at the firm’s topical content marketing examples based on GDPR and compliance topics:

Content Marketing Examples: provide commentary on new regulations and laws

When you see a significant change in your industry due to regulations, new laws, or market conditions, that is an exciting content marketing opportunity. Studying industry publications is one way to find out about these breaking news topics. You can also find topical content marketing examples by studying the agendas for industry conferences like SaaS North.

7) Jonathan Stark

What To Learn From This Content Marketing Example: Stark illustrates that you can achieve content marketing expertise in multiple sectors.

How does content marketing strategy evolve when you change your business focus? Jonathan Stark’s content marketing provides an example. Stark has successfully built an audience and authority in two different markets.

Market 1: Technology Consulting Expertise

Years ago, Stark developed a specialized in mobile apps. As he developed expertise, he published books two books: “Building iPhone Apps with Html, CSS, and JavaScript: Making App Store Apps Without Objective-C Or Cocoa” and “Building Android Apps with Html, CSS, and JavaScript: Making Native Apps With Standards-Based Web Tools.” In addition to these books, Stark focused his business on working with credit unions. This combination of technical expertise (i.e., mobile apps for Apple and Android) and industry focus (i.e., credit unions) helped Stark to build a

Market 2: Professional Coach To Freelancers and Consultants

Content Marketing Examples: Take note of Stark’s 50+ guest blog appearances.

In the past few years, Stark has shifted his focus to coaching and training freelancers and consultants. In evolving his business, content marketing played a critical role. Stark launched a podcast “Ditching Hourly” which made a robust argument against billable hours as a business model. Building on this base, Stark also published digital books like Hourly Billing Is Nuts and launched a new podcast, The Business of Authority.

At first glance, Stark’s success in these two markets appears to be unrelated. There is a connection between his success in both markets. Stark built expertise and skills, like writing blog posts and writing books in the first market. Besides, his success in technology consulting gives him credibility as a consultant to other freelancers and consultants.

8) McKinsey & Co

What To Learn From This Content Marketing Example: Invest in high-quality publications to maintain your positioning as a thought leader.

McKinsey & Co is one of the world’s largest management consulting firms. They are worth studying because their publication is an excellent source of topical content marketing examples. We’ll take a close look at those examples in a moment. Before we dive in, there’s a critical point to realize. McKinsey & Co is established, and they work with the Fortune 500. There have been multiple books published about their methodologies like The McKinsey Way and The McKinsey Mind: Understanding and Implementing the Problem-Solving Tools and Management Techniques of the World’s Top Strategic Consulting Firm.

Despite McKinsey’s success, they are not resting on their laurels. Instead, the company has one of the most prestigious consulting publications in the world: McKinsey Quarterly. The firm’s publication is a serious rival for other business publications like The Economist and Harvard Business Review.

There are two specific content marketing examples to learn from McKinsey. First, the firm has invested in a beautiful, easy to use website that makes articles easy to read. Second, articles present original research on emerging trends. For example, take a look at this 2018 article: Thinking inside the subscription box: New research on e-commerce consumers. The article draws on research with thousands of consumers to understand the subscription e-commerce trend.

McKinsey Content Markeing Example: Conduct original research with thousands of people

Highlights from the research include the following:

“Our research shows that 15 percent of online shoppers have signed up for one or more subscriptions to receive products on a recurring basis, frequently through monthly boxes.”

“The subscription e-commerce market has grown by more than 100 percent a year over the past five years. The largest such retailers generated more than $2.6 billion in sales in 2016, up from a mere $57.0 million in 2011.”

“E-commerce subscribers tend to be younger urbanites with money. Compared with the general US population, they are more likely to be 25 to 44 years old, to have incomes from $50,000 to $100,000, and to live in urban environments in the Northeastern United States. These subscriptions particularly appeal to women, who account for 60 percent of them.”

For a client interested in e-commerce trends, McKinsey’s depth of insight and original research is compelling. You might not have the resources to survey 5,000 consumers like McKinsey. I included McKinsey’s approach to content marketing to show that the sky is the limit when it comes to publishing content to build a business.

Content Marketing Examples: What You Need To Do Next To Keep Growing Your Following

Studying these seven content marketing examples illustrates what’s possible. You can follow the ClickFunnels content marketing strategy and grow by leveraging the founder’s personal brand. Or you might prefer to focus your content marketing strategy on a podcast like QuickMail. Fundamentally, generating content marketing ideas is not a problem once you see all the successes in the marketplace.

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From T-Shirt Printing Service To Corporate Swag Management Giant: The Printfection Growth Journey

What if you could send company-branded swag to customers and prospects on demand? No need to carry products to events. No more endless boxes of company t-shirts cluttering your office.

It gets even better. With Printfection, a swag management platform, you can send a direct mail package directly to a prospect in just a few clicks in Salesforce.

Ryan Campion from Printfection recently sat down with me to share some of his marketing lessons learned growing Printfection.

Ryan Campion from Printfection

1) Introduce yourself and the company

I joined the company two years ago. My focus is on driving net new business for the company, engaging our customers effectively, and boosting revenue from existing customers.

Since the COVID situation hit, my focus has shifted. I now spend about 60% on initiatives focused on our existing customers.

2) How has the COVID crisis impacted the company?

Printfection creates branded swag for many use cases, and a big one is trade shows. In the past, we would do 10-12 events per year to meet prospects. Since the virus, that entire channel has evaporated. It has impacted customers and our business as well.

3) What is a marketing win at Printfection that you’re proud of and why?

Right now, it is challenging to land new customers. A lot of customers in the B2B and tech industries are suffering. To breakthrough, we’ve developed a highly targeted outreach effort. Using Outreach.io, we are contacting a list of targeted accounts. In our messaging, we address the pandemic right off the bat. The early results are very promising. We’re seeing double the number of replies that we used to receive. In addition, we are also seeing good results in booking meetings.

Second, we are working on engaging our current customers more deeply. Specifically, we are sending out packages to our customers. We built a work from home comfort bundle. 

Example swag items you can send in a work from comfort bundle.

It includes a package of candles, options to choose from a plush blanket, or slippers, and other items. The call to action on the campaign is to encourage our customers to reach out to their customers with similar engagement items.

From a marketing perspective, this type of outreach to current customers is a way to show that we care and ultimately reduce our churn.

4) With so many offices closed, how do you get up to date addresses to send out packages?

With our product, there’s no requirement to know all of your prospects’ mailing addresses.

In our product, you can direct customers to a custom landing page. They then have the option to choose which item they want to receive. Once they have made a selection, the user then enters their address. You don’t have to worry about asking for addresses manually – it comes up in the platform.

Find out more about how the product’s giveaway feature works here.

5) How are your customers currently using your platform?

In the direct mail world, people are using direct mail a bit less for demand generation. We’re seeing more usage for the platform for employee engagement and to current customers. 

The Giveaway link is a way to engage attendees for virtual events and webinars. We’re seeing people moving some of their spending from tradeshows and there is an interest to boost engagement and attention by giving away products. As work from home continues, it can be difficult to get people engaged in webinars. By sending a package to people in advance of a webinar, you can significantly boost webinar attendance.

You can also give away items to attendees who stay on for the entire duration of your session, or who participate in your presentation, or who perhaps express interest in your solution via a post-webinar survey, for example. 

There are truly many different ways you can leverage giveaways to improve your virtual events. 

Video: See a video on how to use the Giveaway feature in the product.

6) Sending packages out to people can become quite expensive. How do you think about this challenge?

We recommend taking a tiered approach. Say you get 1,000 attendees to the webinar. You probably wouldn’t want to send a premium gift to all 1,000 of them. Instead, you might choose to send items to people who commented or asked questions. Or you could send a package to people who request a demo. You could also send a lower priced item to people who registered but did not engage.

7) What is the most helpful marketing advice you’ve ever received?

I received an insight from the book “Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth” by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares.

The book talks about a methodology about choosing 1 or 2 channels. For example it is best to choose 1 channel. Focus your energy on that channel to see if it is a fit for your situation. Once you have chosen a strategy, test it out quickly and cheaply to see if it is a fit for you.

For example, I focused on outbound email marketing. You start sending out emails and you find out quite quickly if people are interested. When you see results in it, you can invest in tools like Outreach.io to scale up your program further.

Tip: Find out about other SaaS marketing channels like directories and social media.

8) What is your approach to SEO?

Our SEO backlink situation reflects our company’s evolution over time. In the past, we had an entirely different business model. We offered a screen printing service. When users created accounts through the service, there was an easy way to give a link back to our website. As a result, we gained a large number of consumer links.

In 2012, we moved to a more B2B business model. We’ve partnered with an SEO firm earlier in the year to improve our results. As a result, we are shifting our SEO profile to emphasize our B2B target. From a content marketing perspective, I try to publish a new article once every 1-2 weeks.

9) What role does online advertising (e.g. Google Ads, LinkedIn Ads etc) play in your marketing?

Paid search was something we tested a few years ago. We’ve had some challenges with this early on. Since then, we’ve hired a firm to help us with this channel. If you are a software company with a large deal size, paid search makes sense.

We’re seeing good results with competitor-based PPC campaigns. You will see higher CPC. However, it is well worth the expense in light of our customer lifetime value. Our best customers are paying around $30,000 or more per year on swag.

The challenge with paid search is that you end up getting good fit leads (e.g. companies that spend on swag) vs non-fit prospects (e.g. a sports team that wants to use branded swag).

Bidding on a competitor’s name from a keyword perspective is working well because the searcher is relatively qualified.

Aside from Google Ads, we’re starting using LinkedIn Ads in May 2020. 

10) How do you measure your online advertising efforts?

We use Bizible, a marketing attribution software solution. . They help you track the origins of a person when they come to your website.. For example, did people find you through an ad on LinkedIn, a PPC ad, and so forth. 

Also, from a paid search perspective, Bizible can help you determine which keywords are working best. Bizible will tell you more about the searcher’s query, the ad, and see which campaigns and ads are generating results.

11) What marketing metrics do you track on a monthly basis?

There are three metrics that I track regularly:

  • Leads
  • Sales Qualified Opportunities
  • Meetings

While certain “vanity” metrics are important, like click-thru rates, email open rates, etc., they are vastly insignificant compared to aforementioned three, which really determine whether marketing is helping to increase the pipeline. 

12) How has customer lifetime value (CLV) evolved over time?

Over time, we’re seeing CLV generally go up. Direct mail as a channel is coming back into vogue. There are a lot of new competitors coming into our space. Those companies are raising the profile for direct mail as a channel. When you get something physical, that stands out.

13) Which integrations (e.g. HubSpot, Shopify, Slack) have been most effective from a marketing perspective (e.g. driving more traffic)?

Our integrations with marketing automation tools and CRM products have been the most significant. For example, our Salesforce integration gives you the ability to send swag directly from Salesforce, which is incredibly useful for reps trying to net more meetings

14) What company or expert do you follow online to learn the latest marketing?

In terms of companies, I’m a big fan of HubSpot’s content.

In terms of individuals, I’m a fan of Dave Gerhardt (formerly from Drift) on LinkedIn. He is one of the first people I saw doing LinkedIn Ads. It was a non-polished video shot from his phone. I thought that type of candid marketing was really effective because it felt so much more personal than the majority of professionally-produced, corporate ads. 

15) Where should people go to learn more about you and the company?

You can go to Printfection.com and you can connect with me on LinkedIn as well.

From College Startup To Serving The Fortune 500: Marketing Lessons From InEvent

Events are a significant marketing channel for businesses of all sizes. While events are changing dramatically in 2020, they remain an essential channel.

InEvent, founded in 2016, is a SaaS tool to help companies get more leads and value from events. Pedro Góes from the company recently sat down with us to share his marketing insights.

1) How did InEvent get started?

We started the company while studying computer engineering at the University of São Paulo. If Mark Zuckerberg did this at Harvard, we could do it!

Before starting InEvent, we tried five other ideas. For example, one idea was about improving restaurant delivery, one reminded us to drink water every hour, and another was focused on fan sponsorship. Eventually, we focused on events and came up with InEvent.

We explored the market for a couple of years and, in 2018, one major American customer found us online and decided that our product was a great fit for them. Eventually we didn’t close the deal, but it was a great eye opener for us of our global potential, which we have been focused on since then.

Now, with the outbreak, we launched the Virtual Lobby feature in March 2020 after coming up with the idea in late 2019.

2) What are some of the marketing angles you use to promote InEvent?

Fundamentally, InEvent is your event revenue platform, helping you generate more business, leads and conversions.. You can track results from your events and manage your budget more effectively. We’re working mostly with the business manager or the marketing manager, mainly the person that is using events as tool to get their KPIs delivered at the end of the year / month. 

3) In the past year, take us inside a marketing win that you’re most proud of?

Joining Y Combinator was a major win for us. The organization has an excellent track record of helping to launch successful companies like Stripe, Airbnb and Dropbox. By participating in Y Combinator, we’ve increased our credibility, and we’re able to open more doors as a result.

The next big win is moving our business model to long term contracts, which comes from implementing a clear revenue strategy for our customers. In the event industry, there’s a structural challenge because events tend to be one-off arrangements. Right now, we’re focused on building deeper multi-year relationships with customers. 

4) How has the COVID crisis impacted the product and marketing?

On the event side, there’s a lot of focus on virtual events because that is the only option in the short term. There was a recent article in Forbes [BH1]  (e.g. Innovate Or Die: How A Lack Of Innovation Can Cause Business Failure) some companies are being forced to innovate because there is no alternative.

I think that that there will be an impact on business events even after the pandemic subsides. As a result, companies are going need to move more of their events online to fill their pipelines.

From our customer base, we’ve observed the following trends. About 40% of customers have postponed their events. The remaining 60% of customers have migrated to online events in some form. We’ve seen good results in producing own virtual events engaging with our audience through that channel.

5) What are the customer service implications of scaling up virtual events for your customers?

People are asking questions about how to deploy these events. For example, they want to know about achieving reliable HD video today. People also want advice on Internet providers and vendors that can help them with new providers.

From a strategic point of view, we want to keep a cap of about 15-20% of revenue as professional services. For customers who need further in-depth assistance, we have a network of third parties who can provide additional support.

6) What are the most important marketing channels for InEvent?

Our blog and LinkedIn are the two most important marketing channels for us.

  • LinkedIn. I like the fact that you can get excellent distribution for content. When somebody likes a post, it goes through their network. You don’t get that level of distribution on other social platforms. Content also has a longer shelf life on LinkedIn. On Facebook, content largely disappears from view after a day or two. On LinkedIn, it can last much longer.
  • Question and Answer Websites. I’ve also seen some good results on Q&A websites like Quora. We have had success in writing detailed answers on those websites. For example, we posted an answer to this Quora posting asking for a ticket selling platform that is GDPR compliant
  • Membership Associations. There are also private membership forums from organizations like the Event Management Association. Typically, you pay a few hundred dollars for a membership. Once you are a member, you can gain access to a membership. That is a great value! Think about how far $500 in ad spend would go on LinkedIn where you can have $10 cost per click. With a professional association membership, that membership fee will give you access for a year, and you build connections with people in the industry.
  • Business Software Review Websites. We also see good results from websites like G2 where users can share their comments.

7) Your website lists some major brand names as customers – like Citibank and Dupont. How did you land these customers?

Closing deals with more substantial companies can take a long time. We had one example where it took 2.5 years to close a deal. To move these deals forward, it is critical to find the key person within the organization.

From a credibility point of view, it’s essential to have all of your certifications in place when you sell to larger companies. For example, these companies will ask you about SOC 2, GDPR and Privacy Shield.

Once you deliver an excellent service, many of these companies tend to have a high renewal rate. Keep in mind that these companies typically have an annual budget for events and related expenses. Once you are in the company and deliver excellent results, you have a good chance of being used over and over again.

My sales approach leverages focus and personalization. I start by choosing a company that might be a good fit. Next, I send personal notes to people at that company. In those messages, I reference other events that will be meaningful to eh client. When possible, I also go to events and connect with prospects in person.

8) What is a marketing software app or tool you rely on every day, and why?

LinkedIn is my favorite tool. Use it every day. Everyone in our market has it. It is critical to developing relationships as well. Within LinkedIn, pay attention to comments and content because that presents an excellent opportunity to connect with people as well.

9) Who do you follow or study in marketing for inspiration, ideas and insight?

There are some Slack groups that I’ve joined that I find helpful like the Y Combinator Alumni Group. For insights on the broader industry and marketing, I like websites like MarTech Today and SaaStr.

10) Where should readers go to learn more about you and InEvent?

They can reach us at InEvent.com and start a free trial today. You can connect with me on LinkedIn.