Posted by H. Carpenter ● Fri, Apr 17, 2020 @ 11:00 AM
The Power of Simple Language In SaaS Marketing
As a marketer for a brilliant SaaS solution you are probably very proud of your carefully cultivated assets, particularly your website, and deservedly so. It represents hours of dedicated effort and vigorous mental exercise to creatively represent a sophisticated software product. With this in mind, we hate to be the bearers of bad news, but chances are your marketing isn’t reaching all the people it needs to.
For software marketing professionals, it is a difficult balancing act between providing the technical information domain experts need and still being able to reach a wider audience. When the average Joe (or Joanne) visits a SaaS solution site for the first time the experience can feel like going to a fish for a description of water: there’s a sophisticated analysis of currents and the photic zone, sure, but the concept of ‘wet’ never comes up.
You may be thinking, “but we aren’t trying to reach just anybody, our customers are experts in this field.” And that is likely true for many of your customers, however, reaching a wider audience - and market segments - is becoming increasingly crucial for SaaS providers.
Why this is important
We have been noticing a trend in the SaaS space: line of business workers are increasingly involved in the hunt for IT solutions. The business-end has been looking for ways to bypass often backlogged or outsourced IT departments by taking advantage of automation and low-code development solutions. Not only does reaching this audience require a different framing of communications, but it is also worth considering that initial solution research is often delegated to lower-level workers with less domain expertise. This can result in bemused sales assistants making many false starts Googling for solutions until they might find your site and even then still not understand what it is they’re looking for.
This can happen for a number of reasons, starting with the fact that Google searches do not always yield promising results, even for solutions from big brand providers. This is mostly due to the unfortunate fact that Google is not a mind reader (yet). Results are primarily constrained by the keywords the searcher knows to use, so in essence, you’re not going to find what you’re looking for unless you already know what you’re looking for. This is a big problem for those line of business workers with little to no experience with your kind of solution or the technology behind it. They only know the problem and that there is probably a solution on the market.
To put it into an analogy, say the problem is that you’re hungry and, though you don’t yet know it, the perfect solution for your hunger right now is an apple (for the purpose of the argument your understanding of food and how to get it is limited. Just bear with me here). Typing “hungry” into Google won’t get you anywhere. Even if you have some sense of what you’re looking for, searches for “sweet food” or even “fruit” will yield hundreds of results in which “apple” is completely buried, so, you either go hungry or wind up with a solution that doesn’t quite fit the bill. This is what it can be like for the uninitiated trying to find your solution.
In some cases, even if the searcher knows the type of solution they are looking for, search results won’t always have market solutions as the top results, even for big brands. It could all be blog posts and articles that only touch on the problem or are so technical as to be illegible to the uninitiated. In essence, even if the less knowledgeable audience knows some of the keywords, categorical searches won’t always lead them to your solution.
It almost goes without saying that SEO is a major factor here. However, there are already countless articles on SEO best practice, so we’d like to dig into some of the finer points on improving communication to better reach a broader audience.
Create a section of your site for the true beginner. Even a landing page will do. The important thing is to tailor it to someone who only knows the problem they are having. Ease them into what your solution does to resolve that problem, or how it can even help solve other problems. What is important is that you reach out to people with no previous experience in your space and take an educational approach. Provide content in various formats, including blog posts, videos, infographics, and podcasts. For more involved software, tutorials and free trials are an absolute must.
Describe your solution in the simplest, most straightforward terms.
“We offer X solution which solves Y problem for professionals in Z space.”
You may be amazed at how many solution providers forget or don’t even think to do this.
What does your solution do? What problem does it solve? Whom does it help? Figuring out how to answer these questions in terms that the average person can understand is a challenging task. Start at the 60,000-foot view of what your solution does and then work your way into specifics.
Be clear, not condescending
This is absolutely crucial when writing content for newbies and it can be a difficult line to walk. Assume your audience is intelligent, but don’t assume any prior knowledge in this space. Oftentimes experts in a given field are so immersed in the intellectual space of their technology that they’ve forgotten what it’s like to be on the outside looking in (remember the fish?). They use jargon and acronyms without realizing it which at best causes confusion for an uninformed audience and at worst makes experts come across as arrogant! It’s important to remember too that jargon isn’t just terms and acronyms: it’s the context given to other commonly used terms. For instance, the word “instance” has additional connotations in the context of programming than it does in everyday language.
The educational approach
We’re sure you’ve heard the advice before that you should educate your audience and that’s basically what the first three points are in aid of. However, teaching is an art form just as much as a skill and each student requires a unique approach. This is where getting to know your audience – your whole audience – will help you tailor your messaging. Make sure you know and can address the problem they are trying to solve, then explain how your solution answers that problem in the simplest terms possible and in a variety of formats for different kinds of learners. Have knowledgeable, patient sales reps who can communicate with people with varying levels of understanding in your product field. And remember, a good analogy can be one of the best tools for educating your audience.
Of course, all of the issues addressed here can be more efficiently managed with the aid of market research. Market research can help you get to know the people who are searching for solutions in your space, what messaging is most likely to resonate with them, and it can help you understand how they’re communicating with decision-makers. Objective third-party observation can be the key to unlocking barriers to the wider audience you need.
Heather Carpenter is Silicon Valley Research Group's Customer Success Manager.
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