The SaaS Marketing Compass

The complete guide to SaaS Marketing in 2024 and beyond.
SaaS Marketing is tough to navigate. This is our compass.

A novel way to implement SaaS marketing the right way, step by step.
ScaleCrush team
Written by the whole team!
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Lost in SaaS marketing? We've got you covered

This document is intended to be your new compass to find your way in SaaS marketing.

It is our compass when we craft, deliver and execute on SaaS marketing for clients. It's everything we know and believe in, condensed in a digestible way.

It'll help you stray away from the rocks of marketing bullshit, avoid the dangerous "marketing guru" pitfalls, and reconnect with the waves of reality.

(Yes, the maritime metaphor is over. I'm out of inspiration anyway.)

Have a good read, and when in doubt, trust the wind!

Chapter 1

Undertanding SaaS Marketing

Vince Moreau

Let’s start with the basics of SaaS marketing — or of any marketing project, for that matter.

Marketing is anything that helps you put a product to the market.

I know this sounds dumb, but you’d be surprised how many people confuse sales and marketing, or marketing and communications.

Marketing is about the product, the market, and the alternatives.

These are our 3 main players here.

In B2B, marketing comprises everything that happens before people get in touch with you.

Once they’ve “converted” (i.e. you have their contact information), sales takes over.

The role of marketing is to get people to contact you (and ultimately buy), but above all, to present the product as a solution to a problem.

Humans do not make rational purchase decisions. 

There’s an emotional and a rational component (or there wouldn’t be a need for procurement).

Effective marketing needs to convey both emotional and rational reasons to consider the product as a solution to a specific problem.

As we’ll explore in a bit, marketing is simple

  • Understand the problem you solve
  • Understand why people buy
  • Say that back to them
  • Everywhere they are.

That’s what the process looks like step-by-step.

3 Parts to Any Marketing Project

To do all of this, you need to divide any marketing project (whatever the industry, audience, product, etc.) into 3 parts: 

  • Research (Who are we targeting, what do they feel like, why do they buy, etc.)
  • Strategy (How are we planning on marketing this product to them?)
  • Execution (Let’s do it!)

(As you’ll realize, you won’t learn anything you don’t already know here. You’ll just uncover the process to execute based on what you know).

This sounds very dumb, but think about it for a second.

Did you do #1 and #2?

Most marketing teams out there never do #1 and #2. They just forget about it, make assumptions or educated guesses, and go straight into execution.

That “Execution” part is what everyone is talking about: 

  • Optimize your outreach open rates
  • Optimize your audience
  • Here’s how to properly SEO a blog article
  • Etc.

The reason most marketing campaigns fail is not the execution.

It’s that marketers forget #1 and #2.

I say that most marketing teams don’t do marketing — they do campaign management.

On the business side, it leads to:

  • Campaigns that don’t work
  • Missed targets
  • Stagnation
  • And low marketing ROI

All that puts more pressure on marketers with even more targets and pushier tactics.

On the market side (people who buy from you), it leads to:

  • “Boring” marketing
  • An inability to understand what the product does and who it is for
  • And a very confusing buying process.

We’re going to explore how to properly conduct research and strategize SaaS Marketing in the next chapters.

But I first want to make a quick digression to talk about a (very) important topic: complexity.

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Chapter 2

Navigating Complex vs Simple: Marketing Is Simple and Hard

Vince Moreau

We’re already going to have to nerd out here with a distinction that very few people make.

Bear with me, I promise it’ll make sense.

Complexity and difficulty are very different things.

Complexity refers to how intellectually challenging something is. How many moving parts it has, and how hard it is to grasp.

Everything lives on a spectrum between simple and complex.

Difficulty, on the other hand, refers to how challenging something is to execute — the amount of effort needed. Everything also lives on a spectrum between easy and hard.

2 important things to say right away: 

  • These things live on a spectrum — it’s not all black and white.
  • Don’t try to narrow it down to thinking vs. doing, or intellectual vs. physical. This isn’t what we’re talking about here.

Let’s illustrate with examples.

Some things are simple and easy: 

  • Riding a bike
  • Chopping vegetables
  • Brushing your teeth

Some things are simple and hard:

  • Performing a pull-up/push-up
  • Ironing a garment
  • Cooking a rare steak

Others are complex and easy: 

  • Driving a manual transmission car
  • Coding a website with CSS

Finally, some are complex and hard: 

  • Building a nuclear power plant
  • Advanced woodworking joinery

If you put things into a quadrant, it looks like this: 

Before we go on, I have to insist on the fact that these are inherent to the topic at hand. 

Some things become easier for you as you get better, and others feel simpler as you get familiar with them, but that does not change anything to their inherent degree of complexity or difficulty.

In other words, if you can do 10 pull-ups, that does not make pull-ups universally easy to do.

How Does That Relate to SaaS Marketing?

You may be under the impression that marketing is quite a complex affair. 

Lots of jargon, lots of debate, lots, and lots of people disagreeing with each other when you don’t even understand what they’re talking about.

You may have some of these feelings: 

  • It’s too much for me
  • I don’t know who to trust
  • It’s just a big load of horseshit
  • I have no idea what to do
  • I feel lost.

Some (most) people (influencers) out there tell you that marketing is complex. But (good news!) they make it look very easy, and they conveniently have the solution for sale.

It’s in their interest to convince the industry that marketing is complex because they can claim they have it all figured out, while you never will.

And they have an incentive to claim that marketing is easy because they have a magical framework/playbook/flywheel that you just need to apply to get results.

The reality of the matter is that marketing is very simple and very hard.

The reason your marketing efforts may be failing has nothing to do with your lack of understanding of the field, and everything to do with your inability to answer simple questions.

You’ve probably encountered online content that looks like this: 

This is someone confusing complexity and difficulty.

They think (wrongly so) that the problem lies in understanding.

The problem isn’t coming up with that list of 6 questions. It’s how to answer them.

Here are some examples of how this confusion between complexity and difficulty may present itself to you daily: 

  • “B2B companies should become media companies”
  • “You need to switch from lead generation to demand generation”
  • “The Demand Waterfall model is dead, you now need to consider Quality Pipeline Contribution”

I could go on, and on.

On Instagram, this is exemplified by people presenting cooking recipes as "very easy to do" just because they are listing a series of steps.

If Marketing Is Simple, What’s Hard?

Marketing is all about answering 6 overarching questions:

  • Why do people buy?
  • What problems does our product solve for them?
  • What are the alternatives, and how do we stack up? (including status quo) 

And knowing the answers to these first 3 leads to 3 more: 

  • What should we say?
  • How should we say it?
  • Where should we say it (where is our audience)?

If (like most people) you cannot confidently answer these 6 questions, you have lots of actual marketing work ahead of you.

Marketing isn’t only executing lots of different campaigns.

It’s understanding why these are the campaigns you should be running. It’s not about whether “XYZ is dead,” it’s understanding how XYZ fits into YOUR ecosystem.

In other words, I’m not claiming I have the answers to these questions, I’m claiming I have the process to get the answers.

These 6 questions are going to be our guiding thread throughout this piece.

They can be grouped into 2 buckets: research and planning.

The research questions can be answered through customer interviews, market research, and competitive intelligence: 

  • Why do people buy?
  • What problems does our product solve for them?
  • What are the alternatives, and how do we stack up?

The planning questions need to be answered through lots of brainstorming, hard work, and, let’s face it, some amount of talent.

Once answered, they’ll give us our very precious deliverables: 

  • What should we say? (Marketing narrative)
  • How should we say it? (Messaging)
  • Where should we say it? (Marketing plan)

Those deliverables will help us align our marketing efforts with the market — i.e. executing the campaigns. 

Our Marketing Process

Sorry in advance about the brain damage, but here’s what we’re going to go over: 

It looks complex, but it’s quite straightforward.

We’ll be going through it bit by bit to gather all the pieces of the puzzle together.

Let’s now explore Market Research, Marketing Planning & Strategy and Market Alignment in their own chapters.

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Chapter 3

How to Perform Market Research for SaaS

Kristin Myshin

Market research is the one thing everybody agrees is necessary, but few people do.

It’s the only way to get the 3 answers we need for our marketing to work on people:

  • Why do people buy?
  • What problems does our product solve for them?
  • What are the alternatives, and how do we stack up?

You might guess the answers to these questions because you have experience in selling your product. 

But without proper research, your assumptions risk being either incomplete or even completely wrong.

Even if you’ve been in business for years. 

Not so long ago, we worked with an idea management software, that sold their product as an innovation solution. 

After conducting customer research, we found out that the primary reason people were buying the tool wasn’t to innovate more, but to help with employee engagement. 

Now imagine if their narrative, messaging, and marketing strategy were all aligned with the main reason their customers buy. 

Exactly. The impact would have been stronger.

👉 You want to remove assumptions and guessing from your decision-making.

To know your market, you need to focus on its two main components: 

  • Your customers: collect insights from them through Customer Interviews and Review Analysis, and uncover their problems through the JTBD framework
  • Your competitors: study them through Competitive Analysis

Get to Know Your Customers with Customer Research

When performing customer research, you want to find answers to the three main questions we already mentioned:

  • Why do people buy?
  • What problems does our product solve for them?
  • What are the alternatives, and how do we stack up?

But you also want to go deeper, collecting unexpected insights, emotions, and honest opinions. 

Take note of:

  • How customers felt when buying the product
  • What worked, what didn’t
  • How they talk about the product and their sales experience
  • What triggered them to look for a solution to their problem
  • Etc.

The best way to collect this kind of nuanced information is by conducting customer interviews

Our Customer Interview Cheatsheet

Here is our step-by-step customer interview process.

1 - Select who to interview 

Picking who you interview is very important to avoid selection bias.

Even though we’re not doing statistical analysis, we still want to make sure we select the right sample.

You want to interview different types of customers: select a sample of people making up companies of different sizes, industries, or those using your product in distinct ways.

Focus on the type of customer that you want more of in the future, but also try to reach those who churned or might churn, so you don’t get into survivorship bias.

(i.e. “this $150k/year decision-maker told us he bought because I was wearing a pink hoodie on the call, so everyone has to wear only pink hoodies now.”)

If that sounds ridiculous, it’s because it is.

But some business decisions have been made on less evidence than this. I once worked at a company that banned green for some reason. 🤷‍♂️

How many people should I interview?


It depends on how diversified your client base is. The more different customer profiles you identify, the greater number of interviews required to achieve an understanding. Once you notice there’s nothing new coming out of the interviews, you’ve probably covered everything. 4 to 10 participants is a good number for a SaaS product.  

2 - Prepare your interviews

This is what you need to do to make sure you come prepared for your customer interviews:

  • Collect some background information on your interviewee: Go take a look at their company website, their LinkedIn profile, your records on them using your product. This is very important in order to get context and put the insights you receive into the correct perspective.
  • Set up the tech stack you need: I highly advise you to set up a process to record and transcribe your interviews. 
  • Prepare a customer interview script: Here is our customer interview script if you need inspiration. A script ensures that you’ve covered all the topics you wanted, but it can also help you approach a topic from various angles in order to get the answers you need.

➡️ You can download our Customer Research Interview Script for free with our code "COMPASS" following this link.

3 - Conduct the interviews

When conducting a customer research interview, always remember that it takes time to get to the root cause of a problem.

This is why the “5 Whys” exist.

When interviewing people, we always want to be asking “why” a lot, even when that sounds dumb.

People are keen on offering solutions instead of explaining problems because that’s easier.

We don’t want to hear about proposed solutions, we want to hear about problems.

It’s also important to ask questions about the emotional aspects of the problem & solution — this can greatly help with product positioning.

4 - Structure the insights you’ve received from your customer interviews

After each customer interview, it is really important to summarize all the received information into a clear doc, highlighting: 

  • Customer pains: Unresolved pains or frustrations that motivated them to seek a new solution.
  • Customer gains: What they wanted to achieve with a new solution.
  • Channels: Who or what influenced their decision, where they went to find trusted information.
  • Alternative solutions: Other solutions they considered, tried, or bought along the journey.
  • Customer anxieties: Their concerns before buying or objections they had to overcome.
  • Customer desires: Their dream outcome or how life would be better with the solution.
  • The winning value proposition: The #1 reason they chose your product over alternatives.
  • Important keywords: Keywords that you heard during the interview and thought important. 
  • JTBD statements (see next section).
  • Other important insights: Key takeaways and interesting patterns.

With all this information, you’ll have a good understanding of:

  • What problems your product is solving 
  • What are your customers’ concerns and anxieties, and how you can address them through your content
  • What type of content your customers are looking for
  • What dream they are trying to achieve
  • What emotions you can awake in them
  • What language your audience uses

Another Way to Gather Customer Insights: Customer Review Analysis

Another way to understand why people buy from a certain company is going over customers reviews. 

It’s a simple process, but it requires some analytical thinking to identify interesting insights and patterns to investigate further.

  • Scrap all customer reviews you have from websites such as Capterra and G2
  • Use Generative AI to sum them up in bullet points
  • List all the unique insights you get and cluster them in topics
  • See what topics are prevalent and investigate them further through customer interviews/surveys.

I like going over customer reviews before interviewing customers. This way, I already have an idea of the state of things, and it’s a good way to prepare myself before the call. 

Use JTBD to Uncover Problems

Gathering customer insights from interviews and product reviews already allows you to get a list of problems your product solves for your customers.

But what about the problems your customers encounter daily? 

If you manage to make your audience think, “Oh, this brand understands me!” it’s a big win. Because it leads to “this brand surely knows how to solve my problem,” which, in turn, has a great chance of resulting in conversion. 

👉 To raise awareness around your product, you can also focus on problems that you don’t solve first-hand but that people using your product have.

What is JTBD?

The JTBD framework was born as an innovation tool, and most of the content you can find about it online revolves around milkshakes and chocolate bars.

The idea is to identify “jobs” that your customers/audience/target market have to do every day.

Some of them can be small jobs (writing a welcome email) and others, big jobs (doubling ARR this year).

By looking at jobs, we can focus on problems instead of people, which allows us to make sure we connect with our audience.

There’s a great Intercom e-book if you want to dive deeper.

Use the JTBD framework to draw a portrait of your audience through their daily problems.

Put yourself in your customers' shoes, and formulate the jobs they would like to be done in this fashion:

“When I _____, I want to _____, so I can _____.”

Example: “When I build my marketing program, I want to find a way to raise awareness around the product, so I can hit my MQL target for the year.”

This gives you Situation/Motivation/Outcome.

Try to find at least 10-20 typical jobs-to-be-done for your audience, then analyze these jobs and see whether your product/service can help.

This exercise, taken together with your customers' insights, will help you understand why your customers buy your product, but also go beyond your current customers to see who else might benefit from your target.

With this information, you can now make customer-oriented marketing (and business) decisions. 

But there’s one more component you will need in order to effectively align with the market — the competitive analysis.

Get to Know Your Competitors’ Messaging 

One of the biggest mistakes you can make with messaging is copying what your competitors are doing. Your competitors’ messaging shouldn’t necessarily be a source of inspiration. 

That being said, it’s important to do your due diligence about what’s being done in your industry. 

You should study your competitor’s messaging to determine what they say, if their messaging is aligned with their product, and if their messaging is aligned on all of their owned content. 

You’ll most likely find patterns. 

I’m talking about patterns, because often, when a SaaS company with a successful product builds its messaging, companies selling similar products will start copying it, but with their own twist. 

Then, it becomes very difficult for users to pick a tool: all websites say similar things and sell similar products.

Another pattern is that most SaaS companies talk about themselves too much on their website (i.e. their features) and forget to talk about their audience’s problems. The truth is that nobody cares about your features. What people care about is how these features make their lives easier.

These two phenomena are more common than you think.

By studying your competitor’s messaging, you’ll be able to determine your own. You’ll be able to determine what you should NOT do.

Review Your Messaging

Now you can finally see the full picture, as you have information about: 

  • The first-hand problems your product solves for your customers 
  • The daily problems your product solves for your customers
  • The problems your competition solves for your potential customers
  • The way your competition positions itself on the market

And with all this data, you can proceed to a messaging review. Take a look at your website, your marketing assets, your content — everywhere there’s copywriting.

Answer these two questions: 

  • Is the messaging aligned with our unique positioning?
  • Is the positioning of your product on the market somewhere at the intersection of what your customers want, what your product has, and what your competition doesn’t?

After you take a closer look at your marketing assets, you may notice these types of problems:

  • Your product positioning is unique enough in theory, but your messaging is completely misaligned, so your audience doesn’t perceive it 
  • Your messaging is well–aligned, but it doesn’t actually respond to your customers’ problem, and it doesn’t differentiate from your competition enough
  • Your messaging is all over the place + you don’t really know what your product’s position on the market is

If you are guilty of one of these scenarios, let me tell you something: money is being left on the table.

Your audience can’t see why your product is unique and doesn’t remember you after being exposed to your marketing campaigns. You’re not memorable. 

In other words: you’re throwing money into marketing campaigns without building mental availability, you don’t attract qualified leads, and inherently, you don’t improve your sales.

The solution: a better plan. ⬇️

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Chapter 4

Building Your Messaging & Narrative

Vince Moreau

Great news, so how do we go about building that plan?

Let’s be straightforward.

By now you should know: 

  • The problems you solve
  • What people use the product for
  • The alternatives and how you compare
  • Why people buy from you
  • Where the gaps in your current assets are.

The first step in building our plan is simple: we need to determine what our marketing should say.

This is what we call the narrative.

It sits at the intersection of your product, the market needs and the market wants.

Building out Your Marketing Narrative

This is where things get a bit tricky.

There are no right or wrong answers at this point: it all comes down to your ability to synthesize everything you’ve learned so far to put it into a consistent story.

Think of the narrative as a cohesive way to bridge the gap between the solution and the problem.

Here’s what our cookie-cutter template looks like: 

It’s broken into a few sections — and for some clients, we can add more, depending on the product.

Now, what does the final product look like?

Marketing Narrative Example #1: Agency Profitability Software

Let’s imagine you own a SaaS product that helps agencies calculate their profitability and come up with accurate, per-project financial reporting.

The narrative might look something like: 

“We’ve been in the agency business for a while, and we discovered a big issue: agencies have notoriously bad margins, making a lot of businesses unprofitable.

This is an overall issue, but day-to-day, it can lead to situations where people don’t know how to scope certain projects. They get frustrated with resource management or don’t even know what type of project they should sell or which services to upsell.

After 15 years running an agency and trying to overcome this problem, we’ve experienced it first-hand, and there are a couple of reasons why this happens.

First, agencies are really bad at tracking hours. Second, agencies have very few tools at their disposal that suit their business model. In fact, according to consultancy.org, 90-95% of agencies don’t think their projects are profitable.

We’ve built a tool that solves both of these problems without requiring anyone to switch platforms.

First, we integrate with your time-tracking tool and project management platform to retrieve employee logs, tasks, and projects.

Second, we run our tried-and-tested financial analysis algorithms to build a dashboard that you can use to make better decisions and run your business confidently day in, day out.

Thanks to our use of AI and integrations with all major tools, we can build a dashboard for you in under 10 minutes and benchmark you against industry standards.

Across our 1,000+ clients, 95% see productivity gains within the first 3 months, and after 6 months, 85% of our clients see their revenue increase by 30% on average.”

No, that product unfortunately does not exist.

Notice how everything in this narrative flows together. Even if you don’t have an agency, you probably understand why agencies would need that tool.

And notice this: I didn’t say I’d make people save time, revenue, or effort.

Because that’s not the problem we solve.

Marketing Narrative Example #2: Time-Tracking Tool

Wait? A marketing narrative for a time-tracking system? Why would anyone need something that elaborate?

It’s so simple, right?

Well, do you know how many time-tracking tools are available right now? Yeah, lots of them.

Let me show you how building a strong narrative can help with differentiation and being memorable.

Let’s say your tool, like Everhour, has the added benefit of integrating with every project management platform out there.

“Tracking time spent on tasks is a staple of modern productivity, and it’s something so simple that it’s offered by most tools out there.

But ClickUp or Asana build their time-tracking and time-reporting features as an afterthought.

Chances are you can’t access reports, manage resources, create invoices from hours spent if you need to, or get detailed reports on what each BU spent their time on to pilot your department.

Not to mention, time-tracking isn’t particularly well-liked amongst employees.

The issue with modern time-tracking isn’t getting the data, it’s employee adoption + using the data.

To get employees to track time, you need your tool to be where they work — in your project management tool. And to use this data, you need a tool that gives you detailed and customizable reporting.We’ve built a tool that seamlessly integrates

with every major PM platform out there, regardless of whether that platform has native time-tracking. We add our own interface, and employees just have to click the big green button when they open a task.

We also sync your projects, departments, and clients so that you can access detailed reporting, and you can even build custom reports.”

Now, this tool exists, and I’ve been a client of them for years.

Again, see how we identified a problem (integrations & reporting) and focused on this. We’re not saying “our time-tracking tool will boost your revenue,” because that’s not what makes people buy (on top of being a lie).

How to Build Your Own Narrative

Building your narrative is extremely tricky — you need to repeat everything you’ve learned from your research.

The two examples above were easy for me to invent because I’m an agency owner and an Everhour client — I know both problems in and out.

But extracting insights from customer research is very hard.

Always be asking “why?” when you build the narrative, even if it seems dumb.

Your narrative should be a compilation of the things you heard from people — not random guesses.

If people tell you they felt stressed or hopeless, this is the moment to say it back to them.

Even though you’ll never use this narrative in this format (at least outside of an elevator pitch), it’s a great asset to shape the rest of your marketing — as you’ll soon see.

Now that we know what to say, let’s look at how to say it.

Building a Messaging Matrix

The idea of a messaging matrix, messaging framework — whatever fancy word you want to use — is to keep your messaging aligned with the market.

You know the main problem(s) you solve and how to get to your solution (narrative), but now you need to say it consistently across all your marketing.

There are just 2 very important points before we dive in.

1 - We’re not segmenting the messaging here. You solve one problem regardless of how many “audiences” you may have, and this is what you need to focus on.
This article has a fun way of putting it.

2 - Similarly, we’re not segmenting by “funnel stage.” Funnels are mostly BS (read this to understand where I’m coming from) and messaging is about problems and solutions — not about how close someone is to buying. If you have the right problem, your messaging will resonate at any stage of the buyer’s journey.

With that out of the way, let’s look at the matrix. And is there a better way to start than by looking at our own messaging matrix?

We created a spreadsheet with 6 columns: 

  • Context: What’s the context of the problem? What are people trying to achieve?
  • Problems: Describing the problems that you’ve identified or that they’ve pointed out
  • Symptoms: How do these problems occur daily? How do they feel about them?
  • Capability: What can they do about that problem with your solution?
  • Feature: What feature is it linked to? What exact actions?
  • Benefits: What does the end result look like?

Like with the narrative, being able to come up with this takes some skill, experience, and talent.

The last thing we want is to be guessing or making assumptions.

Don’t get me wrong: there’s a huge part of trial and error involved, and this document should be constantly evolving as you find new problems or new ways people express them.

Transitioning from Messaging Matrix to Reality

Now, how does that relate to building actual stuff?

In other words, how does one use this to build things?

Well, let’s look no further than our own website.

I’ve only highlighted a few things, and I didn’t go all the way down the page, but you can see how we use every piece of information we’ve gathered so far to come up with our web structure and copy.

We even take the opportunity to be memorable with a fun, custom illustration.

Yes, it does take some creativity and desire to challenge the status quo, but you’ll agree that our website doesn’t look like any other agency website.

That’s because we did the work.

This isn’t to say we’re inherently right: we could still have some work or tweaking to do, and this will need to be updated in the future.

But we’re way more likely to be right than by making “educated” guesses.

Putting Your Narrative in Long-Form Content

Another quick example from our long-form content. Our SaaS Customer Acquisition piece has some great tidbits.

Right in the intro, we start off reiterating the problem we solve: 

Later, we stray away from the cookie-cutter SEO approach to offer some contrarian point of view while adapting the narrative to the topic at hand.

Then we push our narrative even further to link the problem (customer acquisition) to our services (building a marketing plan and mental availability).

And because our messaging is consistent from one channel to the next, we can insert a bit from a podcast I recorded.

It builds my personal brand, makes the content relatable, and helps differentiate us from all the junk that’s out there.

By now, I think you get it: this approach works for any channel and any type of content, from social media posts to press releases to TikTok videos to ads creative.

The key here is consistency.

Just because I can, I’ll end this with a bit of marketing genius: “Just do it.”

Now that is consistency and market alignment.

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Chapter 5

Creating a Market-Aligned Content Strategy

Kristin Myshkin

We’ve only talked about individual pieces of content so far. That’s great, but it won’t cut it.

What we need is to be able to produce market-aligned content at scale.

Sidenote

When I talk about “content,” I don’t specifically mean blog content or long-form content.

Even if you primarily rely on ads, you still have to produce content: illustrations, videos, taglines, etc. Content is content, from ads to sales enablement to proposals (yes, even proposals).

To do this, you need a strategy and a process to execute consistently. 

Here’s how we come up with a strong marketing strategy at ScaleCrush.

Start By Realigning Your Owned Assets

You may have a great audience on social media or anywhere else, but your headquarters are and will always be your website. 

Why? Because it’s an owned asset (it means that it doesn’t depend on an external platform — your domain is yours), and it serves as a central hub regrouping all your company’s information: products, pricing, how to subscribe, etc. 

It’s pretty obvious, especially for a SaaS product, that customers generally end up converting on your website.

This makes it the best starting point for reworking your marketing. Only when your website is realigned will you be able to rework your social media accounts, paid ads campaigns, etc.

And trust me, after doing the work once for your website, applying the same rules to your other marketing channels will feel like a child’s game.

So let’s come back to our owned assets realignment goal. It starts with two steps: 

  • First, realigning your website pages according to your narrative: homepage, product pages, landing pages, etc. Your website should be an accurate showcase for your positioning.
  • Then, auditing your website’s organic performance: your content performance + the tech SEO aspect. Your website should be able to bring you qualified leads organically. 

Aligning Website Pages

At this point, you have already created your narrative template and your messaging matrix, and you know exactly what you want your website to say. 

Start by applying it to your homepage. 

Forget your current UX and homepage design — start afresh.

  • Come up with a new structure, based on your marketing narrative: sections where you expose your customers’ problems, the diagnosis, what needs to be done to fix it, how you can fix it, and the results. Write a draft of all the sections you need, and brainstorm ideas of how to formulate them. 
  • Write memorable copy, based on your brand guidelines: it’s very important here to stay aligned with your company’s voice and to make sure you differentiate enough for your prospects to remember you. Find a great talent to write your homepage’s copy based on the structure you decide on. 
  • Design UX that serves your copywriting: now that your copy is ready (and not earlier than that), think of how you can convey the message visually through design and visuals. Don’t be afraid to be original. I mean, we’ve even created a comic strip to help get our message across. 

Don’t hesitate to host brainstorming sessions with your team and spend some time on this step. 

Not only is it a great exercise to structure all your new marketing decisions practically, but it’s also a great way to start training your team to align their pitch to the new narrative.

Once your homepage is done, the other pages of your website (I’m excluding the blog here) should be much easier to work on. 

First, because they are more specific, and thus there is a clear direction to take.

Second, because you now have an example of how things should be said (your newly finished homepage).

You can now assign the pages to your marketing team to work on, and set up deadlines. Depending on your team size and your availability, you should be done in a couple of months. 

Website Performance Audit

Now, it’s great to have a well-aligned website, but you also want it to perform and bring you well-qualified traffic. 

For this, you need: 

  • To audit your technical SEO 
  • To audit your content performance
Tech SEO Audit

Technical SEO is the process of ensuring that your website is properly structured, configured, and optimized for search engines so that they can successfully crawl and index your site. 

Technical SEO is the backbone of a strong SEO strategy for a multitude of reasons. 

The good news is that there are in reality just a few core technical items and actions that can have an impact on your website’s performance.

→ Read our proactive guide to Tech SEO for SaaS companies here

If there’s one thing to remember, it’s this: don’t worry too much about tech SEO, but don’t overlook it either.

Content Performance Audit

Not every piece of content you’ve produced in the past has been a huge hit.

Most of the pages you published are not likely to be ranking in the top 3. Does that mean you should let these pages slowly decline and clutter your website?

The right course of action is to regularly revisit these pages and figure out WHY they don’t rank. That could be for several reasons: competitors have better content, there is content cannibalization, pages are underoptimized for SEO, they lack internal links, etc…

To identify these reasons, you need to perform a content audit. The process is roughly the same for each website: you crawl your website and attribute a content action to each URL.

Topic Ideation

Here’s the step where you find out what topics to cover in your content in order to attract the right audience to your company. 

You need to be top of mind, always where your prospects are, everywhere, all the time.

This way, you’ll build mental availability. 

Imagine a “mental availability” or “awareness” gauge. You want your prospects to be full of your brand, so the day they are ready to buy a solution to their problem, they come right to you. 

To be able to do that, you need to identify the right topics to cover with your content.

What are “topics”? 

Consider “topics” to be questions, concerns, pain points, or any other subjects that your prospect may potentially talk about and that you, as a company, have something interesting to say — an insight to offer. 

These are some topic examples for an idea management company: 

  • Employee engagement
  • Employee recognition 
  • Innovation
  • Company culture
  • Crowdsourcing 
  • Etc.

There is no carved-in-stone rule on how to select topics. At this point, the more topic ideas you have, the better. 

Think of these as hypotheses about the common interests you share with your audience. 

Take it easy, because at this stage, these are supposed to be unverified hypotheses (we’ll talk about how to verify them in the next chapter). 

Unverified, but not unfounded, as you have three strong sources of information: 

Your customer research

The pain points you’ve identified and the jobs-to-be-done analysis you’ve done during the customer research phase will give you a good idea of your customers’ common questions and concerns, which greatly helps in coming up with topics.

Your content performance audit

You’ll see what topics from your existing content perform the best, and thus, deserve more attention.

Your competitor content gap analysis

This is something we haven’t talked about yet.

In our process, this step has to come before topic ideation but after customer research.

The content gap analysis focuses on the content of the competition and identifies what areas are the most fruitful for your competition.

This will help topic ideation in two ways:

  • It gives ideas of topics to cover (you need to be where your competition is)
  • It helps identify areas that your competition may have overlooked (likely because they didn’t perform customer research).

Targeting these gaps presents an opportunity for your content strategy. 

Now that you have a list of topics to cover, you need to verify the profitability of these topics, and then, set prioritization.

Enhance Your Topics Through Keyword Research

In our process, unlike in the majority of content marketing agencies, the keyword research part only comes after topic ideation (we cover this in detail in our article Why the SaaS Keyword Search Game is Changing).

There are two reasons for this:

  • It just makes more sense to first listen to customers, identify their pain points, and base our content marketing strategy on that.
  • Google is moving away from keywords in search. It is now trying more and more to understand the overall context of a search — the overall topic — rather than solely focusing on keywords.

What’s important is not to make your content fit a specific keyword. What’s important is to fit a specific search intent.

To answer questions.

To provide solutions to problems.

To be helpful. 

Keyword research, with tools such as Ahrefs or SEMrush, is a great way to verify your topic hypotheses with search data.

It will help you uncover how much a topic is searched per month (search volume), how exactly your audience formulates its intent, how hard it is to rank for a piece, etc.

Combining this quantitative data with your qualitative research, you can now confidently create your content marketing strategy.

Regroup Everything in a Content Marketing Strategy

The goals of your content marketing strategy are to:

  • List all the topics/keywords you plan to address
  • Group these keywords in clusters (thematics)
  • Match existing pieces of content to keywords you plan to target
  • Assign actions to each keyword: some will require the creation of new content, others will require the rewriting, refreshing, or merging of existing pieces of content
  • Prioritize pieces of content: based on what you know of your competitors’ content, some topics will be better SEO opportunities than others
  • Decide on types of content: some topics will be better as blogs posts, others as comparative pages, e-books, etc.
  • Schedule the creation of content to stay consistent and track progress.

In other words, it’s a centralized plan that groups everything that needs to be done in terms of content. 

Usually, having a plan for 6 to 12 months is a good idea. Quarterly plans don’t really work, while plans for the next 24 months aren’t realistic. 

After a year, it’s better to perform a new audit to see what pieces of content are performing better than others and realign content marketing efforts to make the most out of them. 

You Now Have a Complete Marketing Roadmap

All the previous efforts were for this goal: a clear roadmap of what you have to do to make your marketing work.

No more one-off campaigns, no more disorganized marketing actions, no more misallocated budget. 

No more marketing monster.

No more uncertainty. 

You now have a clear:

  • Narrative
  • Messaging (+ brand guidelines)
  • Content Realignment Program
  • Tech SEO Program
  • Content Marketing Program

You’ll be able to advance on these strategic fronts in order to achieve significant marketing breakthrough within a year. 

They also give you a strong basis for all future marketing initiatives across various channels including ads, events, social media, and more.

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.

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Chapter 6

Reporting on Your Marketing Efforts

Alexis Herrington

Now that you have a plan, you need to report on your efforts moving forward. 

As you’ve seen, there’s a lot to do: customer research, building your narrative, creating a content strategy…

All of these take time and money, and you’re not going through these steps just for nothing. 

You need to have something to show. You may even feel a lot of pressure to show an immediate return on all these marketing investments. 

Because it’s all about the money, right? 

Well, yes and no. 

We’ll explain some of the issues with measuring ROI as well as important factors to keep in mind when doing your reporting. 

The SaaS Marketing ROI Conundrum

If you want to measure your return on marketing investment, you may think it’s a matter of doing a simple calculation.

I'm sorry to tell you that in reality, measuring marketing ROI is a lot more complicated than that. 

We’ve done a deep dive into the marketing ROI conundrum in this article, but we’ll outline some of the big issues here. 

Here’s the formula for measuring marketing ROI: 

(sales revenue - marketing cost) / marketing cost 

In order to do your calculation, you must choose what to factor into “marketing cost,” and this is where the waters start to get murky. 

Of course, you need to take into account your whole marketing budget. So not only does this include the expense of paid advertising and content production, but also time spent by staff, the cost of marketing tools, and even opportunity cost. 

Another issue to keep in mind is that revenue tends to trail marketing efforts by a lot. This rings especially true for SaaS products with long sales cycles. 

As Dale W. Harrison lays out in his Marketing Time-Lag Model, you won’t see the fruits of your current quarter’s marketing efforts until eight to nine months down the line. 

This time lag complicates trying to link your marketing investments to sales revenue and renders the ROI calculation overly simplistic. 

More specifically, Harrison’s model operates on the common belief that only 5% of the people you market to during a given quarter are actually ready to buy, and he concludes that only less than 10% of the people you are marketing to will be influenced to buy after a year’s time.

So when it comes to your marketing efforts, you must realize: 

  • You’ve got to play the long game.
  • If you only market to people ready to buy, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. 

What to do about all this? 

We’ve already mentioned the concept of mental availability and how memorable marketing is crucial. 

Well, when it comes to maximizing ROI, mental availability will have a big impact. 

If only a tiny fraction of people you are marketing to are actually ready to buy, you want to make sure your brand sticks in their minds when they become ready to buy down the line.

And this brings us to our next big issue with the topic at hand: when it comes to marketing ROI, not every marketing result CAN be measured (results that build mental availability as the prime example). 

Just because something can't be measured, doesn't mean it doesn't have a huge impact. Companies know this and often spend big bucks on efforts to build brand awareness through things like memorable advertising and helpful content. 

Take HubSpot, for example. They coined the term “inbound marketing” and produced tons of educational resources (guides, training courses, e-books, etc.).

It would be impossible to directly link HubSpot’s content marketing investment to specific sales yet the payoff of becoming an industry reference is obviously enormous. 

So you can see how evaluating marketing through revenue alone would be misguided.

Think of marketing as an ecosystem, rather than a collection of independent campaigns. Treating it as the latter would be far too simplistic. 

Tailor Your Marketing Reporting 

Marketing reporting is never going to be a one-size-fits-all endeavor. The way you approach it should be tailored to your unique organization. 

You’ll want to keep in mind certain factors like your company’s structure, number of people, and your overarching goals. 

Make sure you don’t ignore these two steps: 

1. Assess Your Organization

It’s important to take into account the structure of your company because you need to understand how marketing fits into the broader framework. For example, how do marketing and sales fit with one another? 

You’ll also need to identify reporting lines and the communication channels you will need to use. 

The size of your team is also a key factor, since it will often make a difference in your reporting. Small teams can have focused reporting, while larger teams may require more vast insights to coordinate with other departments. 

2. Determine Your Goals

This one is important, so you’ll want to pay attention here. 

Defining the goal of your marketing campaigns is a crucial step because the goal will determine the metrics you should be reporting (we’ll get more into metrics below). 

Keep in mind that not only should your goals be set for the sake of reporting, but it’s essential to determine the goals of your marketing campaigns before you even start creating them. 

The last thing you want is a marketing team shooting in the dark. 

Whether it's brand awareness, conversions, customer retention, or a combination of these, your precise goals will drive the design of your campaign as well as how you report on it. 

The 3 R’s Framework and the Buckets of Marketing Reporting

We’ve explained why you shouldn’t evaluate marketing through revenue alone, but that’s not to say you should take a lax approach when it comes to marketing reporting. 

Just as the marketing process begins with careful research and planning — never acting based on mere assumptions — it should end with thorough reporting. 

This will allow you to get a better idea of which campaigns are and are not working, giving you more valuable information on which you can base future strategy. 

So, all that being said, what other ways do you have to measure the success of marketing campaigns beyond revenue? 

The most useful method we’ve found is to apply the “3R’s” framework:

Reach

Reach measures the size of your audience. So, how many people actually saw the content that you put out there?

The way that reach — and the other Rs —  manifest will depend on each different marketing channel and the nature of the campaign.

Measuring reach is usually straightforward. You’ll be looking at the number of impressions for social media content, ads, and SEO-focused content (clicks and organic sessions). 

When it comes to email marketing, you should use delivery and open rates. 

Resonance

Once you’ve measured how many people your content touched, the next step is to understand: Did the content manage to connect with the people who did see it? 

Let’s look at a few channels and the metrics you can use to measure resonance:

  • Facebook ads: video view rates
  • SEO-focused content: average engagement time (time spent on page)
  • Email marketing: click-through rates 

It can be tough to measure the resonance of certain content, like non-video social media content, for example. In cases like this, you’ll want to focus on reach and reaction. 

Reaction

When we look at reaction, it’s all about measuring the amount of people who were driven to take your desired action. 

Obviously, reaction is the end goal, but remember that people can’t take action if they don’t first see (reach) and connect (resonance) with your content. 

What will reaction look like on your different channels? 

For social media ads, you can measure the number of clicks on ads.

For social media content (of any kind), look at likes and comments.

Finally, SEO-focused content has several options depending on your strategy:

  • Visits to another page
  • Clicks to pricing
  • Etc. 

Using the “Three Rs” framework across the board is great for gauging your campaigns' effectiveness relative to one another. 

Obviously, you’ll need to tweak your metrics according to your campaign. For example, if you’re running a promotional campaign, you’ll want to use the metric that reflects the desired reaction (in this case — conversion). 

The “Three Rs” framework not only helps you understand the success of your campaigns, it is also going to help orient your campaign from the get-go and manage expectations. 

After all, you’ll only be setting yourself up for failure if you’re trying to measure using the wrong metrics. 

If you take away one thing from this chapter, let it be this: you have to accept that for certain marketing actions, you won’t be able to measure revenue generated or even demos booked.

There will be different types of results, and that’s okay.

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