2023 Reflections: 19 learnings from your favorite SaaS marketers
We’re taking these with us to inform our 2024 plans
It’s that time of year when you’re reflecting on what’s worked these past 12 months.
You’re hoping somewhere in all that qualitative and quantitative data, you’ll find the key to unlocking future marketing success.
We’re doing that too. So we thought we’d help you unlock some strategic creativity by looking back on what 19 of our favorite marketers shared with us this year on the Content That Grows podcast.
If you’re unfamiliar with the show, we bring guests on to discuss a SaaS and marketing topic they feel is particularly relevant to the broader community. And at the end of each episode, we ask every guest the same 4 questions.
One of those questions is, “What’s a recent learning or success you’ve experienced?”
Let’s look back at what some of the top names in marketing learned in 2023 as a way to inform the strategies you’re building right now.
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Emily Kramer - Plan to build data reports
When Emily Kramer came on as our first guest of 2023, she shared that data reports are one of her favorite forms of content fuel. And she cited this for two reasons.
People like numbers.
That data is highly re-usable
We, especially as marketers, are always chasing numbers to help verify our decisions, whether from our first-party metrics or a reliable, third-party source in our industry. They help us keep up with what’s not working, what looks promising, and to better understand behavioral trends. Etc.
By creating our own data reports, not only do we attract our peers and potential prospects, we simultaneously have created stats that can go on the website, into sales enablement content, into speaking opportunities, and of course, all over social media.
In this episode, Emily gives a report example from Pocus that you can check out. She describes that they built the report by sending out surveys and using partners with a similar target audience. The beauty of using partners is that it both helped get more surveys filled out and it meant they had a built-in distribution system once the report was ready.
Pius Chan - You won’t be good at something on your first try
In this episode, Pius shares a life lesson for marketers who might branch out into new forms of creative content and take more risks. He asks marketers to remember that you won’t be good at these things the first time you do them.
In this context, it’s about fundamentally shifting your expectations and understanding that you need practice, which largely means you need more reps and feedback.
And, if you embrace this learning, you’ll find it easier to start doing and let go of the need to be immediately good at disciplines that people have spent years or even decades perfecting.
Perhaps even more vital in today’s marketing ecosystem, this simple learning will help prepare you to be in the right mindset as things rapidly evolve. What you’ve mastered today might change tomorrow, and you’ll need to be prepared to re-educate and reset expectations for yourself.
Amanda Natividad - Fine-tune your webinars for you and your audience
Amanda shared a reflection on a success that the Sparktoro team had experienced with their Office Hours (what they call their ongoing webinar series).
In it, she shares that the team felt like scaling back the number of Office Hours each month was necessary given the amount of work it took to create and promote them and how much that promotion was a potential burden to everyone on the receiving end of them. So, they scaled back from 2 per month to one.
This meant less grinding to continue to create presentations. If you haven’t attended an office-hours session, you should. You can see how much time they put into each one here.
What was the result of this scaling back? More time for the team to put together better presentations for their audience and an average session attendance increase of 600 per webinar to 1000 per webinar.
Sometimes, less is more.
Jess Cook - Challenge and trust yourself
Jess Cook’s win she shared with us was on more of a personal note. But it’s one all of us can learn from.
This past year, Jess jumped from Marpipe to LASSO (And even more recently, she joined the Island team.) As someone with a strong background in the industry that Marpipe served, she wondered if she was a strong marketer overall or if she was just well-equipped to market this product that matched her background.
She joined LASSO in late 2022 and started in an industry she was less familiar with. To her delight, she learned that she does know her stuff.
The lesson we can all walk away with here is to trust yourself with unknown marketing opportunities. Take your execution plans back to marketing's first principles, and trust that you have the tools to make informed decisions to help any company succeed.
Eric Doty - Personal brands win, and solo marketers should prioritize fast over perfect
Eric generously shared two learnings with us this year that we’re hearing more and more people talk about.
The first is how powerful it has been for Dock as a company to encourage its team members to start creating and sharing via their own personal accounts. Even when largely not discussing Dock, Eric shared that he and his team members have gotten so many more eyes on their startup by creating interest in their expertise, being featured in articles, and being guests on podcasts.
The second is one all of us content marketers can relate to, and Eric shares it’s especially important as a solo marketer. Publishing fast is going to benefit you and your company more than aiming to only publish when the content is perfect. It’s too easy to get bogged down and be wildly behind with your content calendar. And content can always be improved after publishing.
Alina Benny - Successful SEO programs result in low CAC
Alina kept her learnings short and sweet.
She and the team at Aura grew organic traffic for the cybersecurity company from 11k visitors/month to over a million visitors per month in record time. Her biggest learning was that the customers coming in from this content have the lowest CAC at the company.
Once you reach a certain volume of prospects coming to your site organically, all of whom have self-educated on your content, you tend to find that they’re coming to your sales team ready to buy and with fewer questions.
Jonathan Bland - Draw the dotted line back to the product
Jonathan came on the show and shared a recent learning their team had discovered while helping a client in the B2B space turn more demos into opportunities.
He overviewed the scenario in which the company spent the bulk of its budget paying to promote a content asset as a means of lead generation. After digging through the performance data, they found that those leads weren’t converting at a meaningful rate.
The solution was really about identifying that the content, while good, didn’t walk the readers back to the product as clearly as it could, and the team was able to re-allocate that content promotion budget into a product marketing campaign that increased demos to opportunities from to 2 to 28 over six months.
Tara Robertson - Buy-in is a secret ingredient to marketing
Tara came on the podcast and shared some C-suite-level advice with us. In this episode, she was excited to talk about one of their recent decisions to move their brand efforts in-house after deliberating about an agency they were using.
She explained that the agency wasn’t bought into their overall vision for building the brand, so they parted ways.
By empowering their internal team to be creative and own brand growth, their enthusiasm showed in the results. Suddenly, publications like Forbes and company partners wanted to know how they could get in on their recent brand campaigns.
Adam Goyette - Move fast and set yourself time constraints
Adam came on the podcast and shared a recent learning/win that teams should move more quickly and give themselves time-constrained goals to have campaigns and GTM motions stood up.
He shared that a company he consulted with had been talking about starting an outbound program for 4 months. So, he proposed that they launch the outbound program by the end of the week.
He said it served as a reminder that tasks often take however long you allocate to them, so deadlines move everything forward more quickly. It also puts people in the mindset that the initial rollout doesn’t need to be perfect, similar to a product or feature launch, and that there are tools (especially with AI) that can help make moving faster a reality.
And, instead of mulling around for 2 more months to make the decision to do it, you’ll now have actionable feedback and data in 2 months on how to best continue forward.
Justin Simon - Creating platform native content requires platform-specific expertise
Justin expressed in his learnings that for companies looking to start publishing on various platforms such as YouTube, Twitter (X), or LinkedIn, there needs to be someone on the team who understands how to use those platforms and what types of content do well in those spaces.
User behavior, audience expectations, algorithmic variables, and the pace at which things change on different platforms require a large chunk of dedicated time by team members to master if you’re going to find meaningful results for your company.
Gone are the days when you paid an intern to post on social media for you and hoped for success.
Jakub Rudnik - Prune bloated website pages to grow traffic
Jakub is known for being an SEO powerhouse for the SaaS companies he’s been at. He was excited to share a recent learning about performing a pruning project on the ActiveCampaign blog.
He indicated that after removing 500+ pages from the website, his team saw organic traffic growth almost immediately.
This is a result of fixing a common problem with older content. It tends to be worse in quality and can accidentally compete with more and more of your newest content over time. If the bloat on the site outweighs the amount of quality content on your site, you can even see it start to drag down content that is otherwise perfectly optimized.
You can also learn more about the process in our content consolidation guide if you suffer from a similar content problem.
Andrew Capland - PLG motions can re-engage enterprise leads
Andrew shared an advising learning where an enterprise company was looking to add a product-led offer as a feeder into their existing enterprise offer - hoping it would act as a standalone way to acquire new customers.
The biggest impact they found was that the free-trial offer acted as a significant accelerant for existing leads that had gone dormant and sped up the process for folks already engaging with the sales teams.
Natalie Marcotullio - Public-facing pricing increased leads
Natalie shared that at Navattic, the team was curious about the outcome if they made their pricing available on their website.
The assumption was that making the pricing public-facing would result in faster deal cycles but, overall, fewer leads.
They were pleasantly surprised to find that overall leads increased after their public-facing pricing had time to get in front of people. She cited that, partly, it has to do with the fact that some leads will assume that the product is expensive if you don’t show your pricing.
People were happy to see the pricing, making it easier for them to understand the value in relativity to their competitors.
Ronnie Higgins - Hire a VP of Marketing to bring it all together
Ronnie mentioned that their company had recently hired someone to fill the vital VP of Marketing role. Before this, he and several others on the marketing team reported directly to the Founder.
Ronnie explained that the role has brought the team together, encouraging collaboration and the removal of siloes.
This impact is becoming visible in both the quality of the content (more attention to design and flagging content for further opportunities to be used in other campaigns and on other channels), and in the results the team sees in reports. Hitting and exceeding numbers as a result of the efforts all coalescing.
Lauren Funaro - Paid campaigns can validate that you’re creating the right content
Lauren shared that she and the Scribe team recently saw a 50% increase in MoM paid conversions.
This comes from a team known for being aggressive about optimizations and their SEO strategy.
She mentioned that the fact that this content is performing well via a channel like paid is a good indicator that they’re creating their content and positioning topics in a way that speaks to their potential prospects AND ranks well in the SERPs.
Stuart Balcombe - “Make space to replay the hits”
Stuart stressed the importance for you and your marketing team to revisit the content that has performed well for your company.
It’s easy to get caught up in the next shiny, new object, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of keeping your existing content updated - ensuring it still effectively solves the things it was intended to solve in the first place.
Not only do the hits often still resonate with your audience, but a good steward of a content program understands that your content, like your explainers, will naturally become outdated as technology, tools, and expectations evolve.
Ryan Baum - People-first, expert-driven content
Ryan shared a win that he and his former team at Gorgias had about making content that focused on the user by having industry experts be the ones to create it.
The intentionality meant not only prioritizing some of the more traditional/technical components of a good SEO strategy (like internal linking and clustering), but elevating the overall content quality with the expertise level of its authors. So, instead of relying on a byline from a marketer, prospects could expect to hear from someone who had been there and done that.
And, because you’re working with outside partners and influencers, you get an additional organic distribution boost as the creators also share your content.
Ramli John - Find YouTube success by creating video scripts for your blog content
Ramli shared that the Appcues team is seeing their YouTube channel grow using a straightforward repurposing strategy.
They’re taking some of their highest-ranking and best-performing written content and creating video content that covers the same topic.
He shared that they’re not the only ones using this strategy. You can see companies like Shopify, HubSpot, and PandaDoc doing the same thing.
Alli Tunell - Practice nailing bite-sized takes in your audio and video content
Alli shared that she’s been practicing and improving on concise and hard-hitting answers in her video content.
This is especially relevant in today’s podcast and short-form video landscape. A lot more people are going to see the distribution of your short clips, especially on social platforms, than will ever listen to or see your full conversations.
Alli says she’s working on making this a part of her overall planning for her distribution processes - ensuring you’re prepared to get the soundbites you need into those full conversations so platform-native posts perform at their full potential.
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What marketing learnings are you taking into 2024?
We’d love to hear about and share your 2023 learnings and successes with our broader community of SaaS marketers and clients.
Be sure to share them with us by commenting below or tagging us on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/company/tenspeed)
And that concludes our December newsletter. We’ll be back in your inboxes in 2024.
Until then, be sure to check out the previous newsletter issues below and our latest trend post for SEO in the upcoming year 👇
2024 SEO Trends From People Who Practice Search Engine Optimization Professionally