Before any software sale is possible, a customer must learn that your product exists. Awareness is Step 1. Once you have a prospect’s attention, the next hurdle is understanding. For many businesses, that part’s straightforward enough—if you sold soap, no one would ever be confused about what your product does or how it works. But for SaaS companies selling complicated B2B software, the hurdle’s a big one.
No one’s going to buy your product if they don’t understand what it does.
The more sophisticated and feature-rich your software is, the more difficult your job becomes. The very features that make your product so valuable to businesses become a thorn in your side when it comes to describing your product.
Any product that has a learning curve makes your job as a marketer that much harder. But for any business doing inbound marketing, many of the general best practices of the field conveniently work as a solution to the problem. Here’s how inbound marketing can help simplify confusing technology products.
What your product does for clients is often less complicated than what the product itself does. Ask yourself: What is the biggest challenge or frustration our customers have day-to-day that our product solves?
Then, instead of saying something like, “Our product helps integrate data from various software sources and run them through an algorithm for blah, blah, blah,” you could say something like, “We help you analyze your data more quickly and effectively. ”
You can get more into the weeds of how your product works later in the sales cycle once your leads already know they’re interested. But to start, you need to find the simple version of what your product does best for customers.
Tableau helps businesses make sense of their complicated data. With big data playing a huge and often extremely complicated role in how many businesses function today, it’s a big job to interpret all of that information.
Instead of hitting you over the head with jargon and tech terms, the first line on Tableau’s website is “Answer questions at the speed of thought.” Woah, that’s fast. And it makes the seemingly tedious and difficult task of parsing data sound downright easy.
As you scroll down the page you get a little more detail into what the product does. You can bring data into the platform from various sources so you can see it all together (“connect to all your data”). You can see the data in different types of charts, graphs and views so you can spot trends (“explore and discover”). For every feature they offer, they manage to pull out the main benefit in terms that are simple and appealing before digging into what’s behind the benefit.
Does your software provide a lot of different features? Don’t try to cram all that information into a small space. People aren’t going to be swayed by a long list of features, at least not when they’re still at the stage of trying to understand what your product does.
Instead, if you’ve started by focusing on the main benefits, then once their interest is piqued you can explain more of the individual features on their own dedicated pages or in a series of blog posts, emails or videos.
Liquid Planner provides a quick overview of the features of their project management software on the main page of their website, but then digs deeper into the specifics on their individual Feature pages. You can read the details or get a video walk-through of their predictive scheduling on the page devoted to it—but only once you’re already interested enough in the product to click.
Trying to provide all that information to prospects that aren’t interested enough yet to take that next step (in this case, a click) leads to information overload. Breaking it down into different pages (and you’ll notice, even the page itself is broken down into short sections) allows visitors to explore the information at their own pace in more palatable doses.
Content marketing only works if people actually want to read what you write. If you’re loading your blog posts and eBooks down with jargon, academic writing or technical language, you’re going to lose most of the readers you’re trying to reach.
Write simply. Ask yourself if your mom would understand what you’re saying (assuming your mom doesn’t happen to be a tech wiz or an expert in your field).
If you’ve used Salesforce, you know the product does a lot and that there’s a bit of a learning curve for first-timers. Yet anyone going to the website can easily understand their explanation of cloud computing. And visitors to their blog can read entertaining stories, like How Analytics is Predicting the Fate of Jon Snow or Understanding the Psychology Behind Social Media Conversions.
Those topics are relevant to what they do, but manage not to feel like work.
When you’re in the B2B space, learning about your product and making a decision about what to purchase is work for your prospects. But it doesn’t have to be tedious. If you approach your content right, you can bring some levity to the drudgery of their workday.
People in inbound marketing talk a LOT about storytelling. You’d be forgiven for feeling it’s become a bit of an overused buzzword. But people talk about it so much for a reason—it works.
Telling a lead how your product will benefit them is one thing, but telling them the story of how it’s already benefitted a customer that’s a lot like them is powerful. Case studies do two important things:
When Wrike can point to a clear example of their project management software helping a client spend 20 percent less time on planning, 50 percent less time on documentation, and meet more deadlines, that adds some real weight to their marketing claims and gives leads something tangible to relate and aspire to.
Your prospects don’t actually need to understand the backend technological workings of your product. They just need to understand the features and benefits that relate to them and their needs. Don’t let your marketing get bogged down in the technical details. Content marketing gives you the chance to explain everything your leads need to know at the moment when they’re ready to learn it in formats that make it easy to understand.