Last week, the Bowery Capital team hosted Jed Alpert, SVP of Marketing at 1010Data, for a discussion on “Effective SaaS Case Studies and White Papers.” 1010Data’s data insights and analytics cloud platform helps 750+ blue-chip clients make sense of trillions of data points on the regular. In that episode, Jed detailed 1010Data’s systematized content marketing playbook and his approach to driving organic traffic and mentions with strong content marketing. Content marketing, especially in regard to writing effective SaaS case studies and white papers, has changed for the modern content marketer. From getting customer permission to outlining effective channels for distribution, Jed explained everything his team does that goes into SaaS case studies and white papers in his chat with us. Here are some of his key insights:
1) How do I get customers to agree to doing case studies in the first place?
Getting a customer to agree to doing a case study is one of any marketer’s hardest jobs. A sizable segment of your customer base may be unconditionally opposed to revealing any information for a case study, for instance, such as the hedge funds and large private equity clients 1010Data services.
1010Data’s respect for these firms’ privacy translates into frank honesty with clients that remain potential case study targets. When pitching customers, Jed is clear about the value add and reciprocal success entailed by participating in a case study or white paper. Whereas many companies try sneaking case study provisions into contracts, Jed’s approach is to find one person within the company to go to bat for your business.
1010Data, which bootstrapped itself as an early SaaS/big data company in 2000 and did not have a formal marketing department until 2011, attributes its success to a fundamentally strong and interesting product foundation that customers loved. Their data insights are regularly quoted in the press, and customers are more than willing to take part in their content marketing as a result.
Happy customers will delight at the opportunity to jump through PR and legal hurdles to get your name, and theirs, in the press and for follow-on interviews. Media exposure is a strong driver of organic traffic, and if a company is in the process of a turnaround or repositioning itself within the industry, pointing out the opportunity for press coverage is a strong selling point.
Jed’s advice is to not be afraid of asking the customer for anything, and that one can often be surprised by a client’s willingness to take part in a case study. B2B clients are often educated on what they want, so the ability to differentiate for great headlines and interesting results is key.
2) Which marketing channels should I focus on?
1010Data is not meant to be a destination site when it comes to content. Jed’s team instead focuses on the distribution channels that drive organic growth and traffic, most notably LinkedIn, search engine marketing, and trade press.
Strong SaaS case studies and white papers are made even more impactful by a systematized pre-release regimen: leveraging relationships built over time with the press lends 1010Data’s name to regular exposure in the media. Reporters enjoy exclusivity, versus republishing content posted elsewhere, so Jed is careful to reach out to reporters at least a week prior to releasing any content to the public. During this pre-release stage, work and data are going into building targeted LinkedIn, Google, and Twitter sponsored marketing campaigns.
LinkedIn has especially been a strong avenue to push content through: the ease in targeting employee of certain profiles and titles has made sponsored content a huge booster for click-through rates. The follow-through is just as important: once a reader clicks to read, then that reader is ideally funneled into an email drip campaign as the final part of the content marketing full-court press.
3) How have case studies and white papers changed for the modern marketer?
The changing face of digital distribution and media is shaking up content marketing. Jed points out that trade publications, edged out by newer digital media outlets, are hungry for content. Because of decreased attention spans, more recent white papers have become more like issue papers, running a shorter length compared to traditionally longer white papers that are now reserved for technical discussions. Jed’s team is also experimenting with video content, and doesn’t discount its novelty compared to the traditional case study format.
In this new era of content marketing, SaaS case studies and white papers have a much longer evergreen lifecycle. A single recorded webinar, for instance, can be transcribed and spun into five different blog posts. Jed points to a six year-old white paper 1010Data put out on columnar databases, one that continues to generate lots of traffic despite its age. Because of the piece’s success at thought leadership and education value of putting a technical item into layman’s terms, it continues to reach a diverse audience of not just data scientists, but managers and executives as well.
Listen to the full episode with Jed here and subscribe on iTunes to get a new episode of the Bowery Capital Startup Sales Podcast every week.