The Case for Awareness Content in SaaS Marketing
Prioritizing a marketing budget is not an easy job. While you probably do your best to make data-informed decisions, there is often a lot of estimating involved and even a little bit of luck – whether that luck is good (hopefully) or bad (sorry!). When you are planning a budget for a trailblazing software company, the lines become even grayer.
This content strategy and budget phase is about the time in which clients start to ask the question: Why do I need to publish awareness content in SaaS marketing? Why can’t I spend the majority of my scarce resources on decision-phase content and capture more high-quality leads that are ready for a sale?
The answer is that online marketing simply doesn’t work that way.
Most often, you cannot publish 50 pages of high-quality decision-phased content and ‘poof’ the leads magically appear on your site.
A major part of capturing these leads in the first place is by finding new ways to get out in front of an audience. Even if you have an in-demand, new idea that has a rush of customers at launch, you will need to focus on online marketing best practices to keep growing.
There are two important factors for getting out in front of new audiences online:
- An optimized content strategy (understanding the target market, their journey, and optimizing for search engines)
Awareness Content Does Not Equal Random Fluff
I think part of the misunderstanding is that customers in the awareness phase are floating around, nowhere near a decision and as such are extremely unlikely to choose you. But, especially in SaaS, that is not the case at all.
In its inbound marketing webinar series, Hubspot explains the phases of the buyer’s journey with an experience of the common cold. A person is experiencing illness symptoms (Awareness), they realize they have a cold (Consideration), they have to choose between primary care and urgent care for treatment (Decision).
That’s helpful but let’s look at it with a more relevant example for SaaS.
Here is an example of the journey one of my agency’s primary personas, a SaaS business owner, might take:
- A SaaS owner is seeing a lot of leads drop off after free trial (Awareness)
- They realize they need to improve their retention marketing strategy and need to decide between solving the problem in-house or outsourcing (Consideration)
- They choose between a few agency prospects (Decision)
As you can see, the material that is used in each of these phases helps support the sales process at the end. The content both brings in leads, while at the same time building authority on the subject.
Awareness Content Helps You Rank for More of the Conversation
There are a lot of factors that go into optimizing for search engines but experts always come back to sharing quality content and building links. Let’s focus on the first part. An optimized website most often has a LOT of content that answers all of the questions within its buyer’s thought process.
The more questions you answer, and answer well, the more that Google or Bing will reward you for being a quality, authoritative site. The length of the buying process will determine the amount of time you should prioritize to content for each stage of the buying process.
When I worked in higher ed, awareness content was a huge part of the strategy because the decision to go back to school was a major commitment for potential customers and often required a lot of thought ahead of time – particularly about a career path. Helping potential students answer the question of “what career was right” for them built a relationship between those prospective students and the school, and fostered confidence in their choice for a college program.
Incidentally, this same process is often similar for enterprise level businesses whose customers require a longer research process or more of a commitment. (Or even a software program that is contradicting norms and breaking past the status quo.) — A more robust content strategy can be incredibly beneficial!
But the process is not the same for every industry. You need to fully understand your buyer’s journey to identify the ideal content ratio for each phase (hint: the SaaS journey has a lot of phases and cycles and they all need content). Then, select the best keyword mixes that will help you rank and build authority in the eyes of the search engines.
Awareness Content Builds Relationships
Search engines are naturally used for research. Just think about how you format your questions. “Where can I get the best pizza in Houston?” Or, “How do I remove an ink stain from fabric?”
This makes search engines a natural place for awareness content with lots of opportunity for those lower-competition long-tail keywords. So, if you’re hoping to grow through organic search results. You simply can’t ignore awareness phase keywords.
Too Much Decision Content Pushes Potential Leads Away
Finally, too much self-promotional, decision phase content is just … awkward. No one wants to read 30 pages about why a company believes themselves to be the best option. There area times and places for content that educates and promotes your own product (particularly product pages, pricing pages, etc). But that type of messaging should be very few and far between on the blog.
Use the blog to grow your website with that evergreen content. Build up your authority and organic search rankings. And educate and connect with your customers to build lasting relationships. That’s why you should never neglect awareness content — especially for Saas, where those relationships will ideally last a long, long time.