Lean Forward: The SaaS Content Marketing Gap

Article by David Preiss
5 minutes 15 seconds read

Content-based campaigns help companies increase sales. The drawback is that there is a lot of competition out there and only a small portion of quality content that provides value. How can your publishing efforts stand out better? How can you more effectively transition prospects to qualified leads, seal up a leaky funnel and accelerate your pipeline?

First, Some Basics

The concept of content marketing is simple. You offer well-targeted high-value content, be it wisdom or entertainment, and in return, you consistently stay in front of the right people. If successful, when the right time comes along for that prospect, your company is in the mix. Plus, you show prospects and clients that you have solid expertise in the right categories. The biggest key is that you are giving value, not constantly and annoyingly asking to “get” something from your prospects.

Next, you nurture. Each prospect’s level of engagement is a tracked quantity. Scoring is an educated guessing game, but your sales team generally knows who to reach out to and who to let alone. And prospects convert on their own by scheduling a demo, signing up for a free trial, or attending a webinar.

The Small Guns: Lean-Back Consumption

Very briefly, let’s explore the most common forms of content offerings:

  • Blog posts (like this one you’re reading one now)
  • White papers
  • Infographics
  • Memes (funny or inspirational)
  • Case studies
  • Press releases
  • Videos
  • Webinars

All of these small guns are an important part of your everyday content arsenal. They are meaningful when they show up at the right time: in a Google search, or while browsing your site.

The small guns also share a common distinction: they are lean-back experiences where the audience passively reads or views your information. Passive viewers may eventually tune you out and they are usually just skimming through your video, blog post or white paper. It is a fleeting engagement most of the time. How deeply is your audience absorbing and remembering the value of your product or thought leadership? How often are they sharing it and returning to it? How often will they take action and become an inbound lead?

The Big Guns: Lean-Forward Interaction

If you’ve ever given a speech or presentation, you already know the surest way to keep audience members from dozing off or fidgeting with their mobile phones is to invite participation. Ask questions. Answer questions. Invite people up to the stage. Take an impromptu vote.

Your online audience is no different. Invite them to participate. Create lean-forward interactive experiences that require them to make choices, solve puzzles, calculate ROI’s, unlock hints, and manipulate data. On an even higher level, you can gamify your content. The point is, compared with “lean-back” content, your audience won’t get as distracted, they’ll dive deeper and gain more of a connection with your message. And they are more likely to share it, spreading the word on your behalf.

Here are just a few examples of how it can be done. The first example (shameless self-promotion) was built by Launch.

Salesforce Pardot Interactive Guided Tour

Salesforce Pardot Guided Tour

In this experience, users are guided through Pardot’s marketing automation software. As they go through the tour, visitors can actually interact with a recreated version of Pardot: creating A/B tested emails, building nurturing trees, and viewing analytics. Visit our case study on the Pardot Interactive Guided Tour to learn more. Here are a few success metrics:

  • Generated a 75% lift in conversion
  • Filled in a gap as Pardot has no free trial
  • Educates (supports) current customers as well as prospects

How Much to Make an App Interactive Calculator

In this experience, users answer several questions that impact a running total cost for the app.  The experience ends with a final cost and a CTA to contact the company. Here’s what we liked:

  • Questions are formatted in a fun way and are easy to answer
  • Quick and easy
  • Not meant to be exact or literal

You vs. John Paulson Interactive Infographic

You vs. John Paulson salary design

In this interactive infographic you start by plugging in your annual salary. Then you get blown away by what an insignificant little gnat you are compared to power-trading hedge fund manager John Paulson. Here’s what we like about this experience design:

  • You begin by using a deeply personal data point to drive every other part of the graphic.
  • Using the slider to see how Paulson spending hundreds of thousands of dollars is financially equivalent in impact to how you feel spending $6.
  • Your initial reaction may be some form of disgust. But MahiFX ties it back into getting motivated to use their online trading platform.

Mind The Gap: Build Lean-Forward Interactive Experiences

Building innovative content experiences (lean-forward) in combination with published content (lean-back) can provide value to your audience on a deeper level. A much bigger capital investment is required for an interactive experience than for a blog post or whitepaper, but interactive content can fill the content publishing gap by motivating more prospects to jump into that free trial or sign up for demos. Plus, it does not get as outdated since you can continuously promote it for at least one or two years.

One lean-forward interactive experience is probably worth a thousand skimmed blog posts.