With competition at an all-time high, making content personal and helpful is the key to creating a successful marketing strategy. In fact, 90% of consumers find custom content useful.
Some brands that you know and love have really taken it to the next level with their marketing by creatively sharing content, building features into their products, and more. The underlying theme here, however, is user engagement.
Also, check out our Complete Guide To SaaS Marketing blog for more details!
Take a look at some of our favorite brands and how they have creatively worked user engagement into their overall strategy:
Slack has experienced great success and grew from 15,000 users at the start of 2014 to a whopping 5 million currently. How did they experience such great success in just shy of 4 years you ask? The answer is simple: quality customer experience. Slack’s app actually runs perfectly fine for most people on the free version.
However, as most freemium models go, the paid version very quickly becomes a desire and an interest for organizations needing better features.
Slack has created a great ecosystem of allowing developers to build apps and bots tied to their software. This has turned into a genius marketing idea, as they gain exposure from 3rd party software regularly without spending an ounce to acquire that audience.
Hubspot dominates inbound marketing through many different channels. One of their most successful strategies is offering a free version of virtually all of their different products. A free trial is a great marketing tool and a solid step toward establishing goodwill with new customers.
Their blogs and their content literally dominates searches relevant to marketing and sales, and they encourage people to try their free products to get a taste of what they offer.
HubSpot has also done some amazing things with creating resources inside the company for users and prospects alike. HubSpot Academy has been an amazing resource, offering tutorials, videos, guides, knowledge articles, and project outline templates available to all.
These talk about their product, yes, but it’s far deeper than that, going into methodology and processes behind the use of the products as well.
Mint’s success was forefronted by creating content that related to young professionals and engaged with them through different forms of social media. Through their relationship building, they were able to become an established financial advisor. But what sets them apart?
They were able to grow through organic sharing by creating content that spoke to viewers on a personal level. By sparking conversations with people on common pain points and generating conversations on their products, Mint was able to capture the interest of thousands of people making them likely to download the app.
By the time the site was ready to launch, Mint already had over 20,000 interested contacts.
Shopify makes the list due to their wide array of resources they provide. Through blogs, videos, podcasts, case studies, and guides, Shopify has made very smart marketing moves to offer help from several respected professionals in the industry. They’ve provided this help because they want to see their clients succeed.
Shopify also started a great ad campaign where they utilize the integrations and apps that 3rd party people are building on the platform to encourage people to start their own store.
By teaching people “how easy it is to start your own T Shirt company,” they’ve been able to increase their conversions into even the smallest of their product lines.
Discover Weekly. The playlist made just for you, every Monday.
“Your playlist is crafted just for you, based on the music you already love”.
Based on music you listen to, Spotify creates a personalized playlist each week with new music recommendations.
This idea makes users feel like a valued subscriber. It’s a pretty clever marketing tool as well, as Spotify users rush to their “Discover Weekly” playlist each and every Monday to see what’s in store this week. Talk about keeping your clients coming back!
What can we say about Apple that hasn’t already been said. An organization that is always forward thinking, Apple has set the trend for major brands and has almost single handedly changed the landscape of the computer and personal device world. Their subscription models for icloud and Apple Music are practically unrivaled.
Apple Music is naturally the biggest competitor for Spotify (mentioned above). The use of celebrity endorsement for Apple Music has been a great way to build awareness (remember Taylor Swift’s epic treadmill video? 20 million other viewers do, too).
Moving away from the traditional iTunes store into a subscription model was a smart move, and shows a perfect example of a company making a major pivot to one of their staple products that needed a fresh concept update.
Buffer is a social media scheduling software that enables users to queue posts on a rotation at peak time throughout the day. Buffer has found marketing success through blogging to not only potential users, but general topics that attracted social media users with an established social following.
“This led to covering topics a wider audience could relate to — topics like psychology, creativity, multitasking, life hacks and more”(Moore, Hubspot).
This email marketing agency impressed us with their marketing strategy through their industry specific newsletters and articles. Movable Ink tailors their content to individual industries to provide useful content and show knowledge in different segments.
The content always drives the reader back to Movable Ink’s primary product goal with many internal links and calls to action.
This company has one of the most influential newsletters we’ve ever seen. It’s powerful, helpful, and highly anticipated each week. Most companies produce drab newsletters (if they’re still doing this dying trend).
However, Invision is unique in the fact that the content they are sharing is just really good. Even when we’re busy at work and we see an email from “Clark at Invision,” It’s usually time to stop everything and engage in some yummy content.
Clearly, Adobe is a monster in the fact that they own virtually almost all of the design industry.
From video, to graphic design, to 3D, to audio, to publication, there’s likely not a creative professional today who doesn’t use one of their software in some way (yes, we know, you’re the .005% of the general population that doesn’t use their software because you don’t like it. You’re so hipster, you).
A few years ago, Adobe modified their model from a hard disc install organization, into a subscription model (SaaS). What an important move that was for them!
As of 2016, there were about 12 million paid subscriptions to their software, and that number has increased drastically since that time.
Another giant in the media industry, Netflix, has had tremendous success producing original content in the form of movies and TV series only available to the users of their product. This was a bold move, receiving lots of initial push back of those thinking the idea would never take off.
Well, it did. Not only has the content produced by Netflix become highly anticipated and overwhelmingly well received, it has been nominated for, and won, several major awards.
It’s been such a success for Netflix, that this model of user engagement has quickly been adopted by other media giants, such as Amazon Prime and Hulu.
Speaking of Amazon Prime, has anyone opened a package shipped from Amazon only to discover packaging promoting their products or their discounts?
I can attest to this first hand, having opened packages from Amazon daily when my wife was nursing our littlest offspring in the middle of the night and going on infinite shopping sprees that she admittedly “forgot” she had purchased (Thanks Shannon - Love you!).
Amazon knows that people utilize their massive online shopping reach to order everything under the sun. They also know that the packages they ship these vendor’s products in needs a critical component: packaging and packaging tape.
Something as simple as custom branding on a product’s shipping components has helped raise awareness about new products coming up (hello Kindle, Fire Stick, and Echo?).
Dammit Beachbody. You sure do know how to make me feel like a guilty piece of sh*t, virtually all the time. But you know what? Your product marketing sure does work.
Beachbody altered their marketing to offer a subscription model of their highly sought after workout programs. DVD workouts like P90X and Insanity have had huge success. The problem? The audience reach using DVD players is plummetting. The Macbook Pro I’m typing this blog on doesn’t even possess a disc drive in it.
In fact, if someone gave me a DVD to watch right now, I’m not really even sure what I would do to watch it.
Beachbody uses their other products to also up-sell their brand through cross promotion. Having built a huge industry in the health and fitness world, they reach their audience by sharing their new subscription model, their cookbooks, their supplements, their workout accessories, and much, much more.
And never have I felt more fat shamed in my entire life than when they send me their marketing emails. There, I said it.
While technically not a SaaS company, they are a subscription model with a great referral program, so I think that’s worth mentioning here. Hello Fresh gives extraordinary referral discounts, including a “Free box” when you get one of your friends or family to sign up for the product.
This has been a large benefit to them, as it encourages people to distribute their product and get people to sign up.
Again, these products all encourage user engagement. It’s the crux of any smart marketing effort, and should always be in the back of your head when you’re thinking through pivots with your product and your next marketing campaigns. Don’t just produce content - make sure there’s a purpose!