Businesses come in all different shapes and sizes and it doesn’t matter if you are a newbie or a market leader. Every entrepreneur has their own story to tell and has gone through unique experiences on the path to success. People love to hear these kinds of stories. Why? Because without people and their dreams, technology is just numbers and lines of code. If you want to tell the story of your SaaS platform… don’t just tell the story of your SaaS platform. Tell the story of your consumers and their dreams. It worked for Semrush, and it could work for your company, too.
People don’t understand technology. But they understand other people and their problems. They’ll therefore relate to characters featured in a display or video ad because they are human: if you figure out a way to talk about your product in the language that resonates with your audience’s needs and problems, you're well on your way to capturing their attention. There's still a long way to go to make a sale, but at least you'll get noticed. In a market where new SaaS platforms are created on a daily basis, that's already an achievement.
We're not saying that the stories you tell have to be true and the characters featured in the banners should actually be your customers. It's about creating a plausible message. It’s about emotions that inspire trust. It's about characters your customers will be able to identify with, because it’ll allow them to picture their own business and the problems they have to solve daily. Even the most complex SaaS software can be explained in this way.
Let us show you how, using this philosophy, we managed to create a multi-layered global marketing campaign for SaaS platform Semrush. The campaign was designed to drive new visitors to the company website and to then turn these visitors into new customers.
Shape your story: the Semrush campaign
1. Identify the very core of your product and express your message in a captivating creation
If you love the product you've created, you’ll want to share it with the world. This is understandable. Your customers want specifics and clarity, so your platform has to feature concrete figures, specialised industry vocabulary and dozens of functionalities. This, however, is where the message can become unclear. To get to the crux of what you offer, all you need to do is ask yourself five basic questions.
WHO is using the service?
WHAT kind of problems does it solve?
WHERE and WHEN can your customers use the platform?
And last but not least, WHY should they use it?
Without answers to these questions, both you and your clients – not to mention the agency that is tasked with working on the campaign – will be left fumbling in the dark. Communication will be blurry. Providing precise answers to these simple questions will allow you to set the course for your marketing strategy and then fine tune your creative approach. This needs to be the starting point of any campaign aimed at attracting new SaaS platform users.
Instead of talking about PPC, CTRs and backlinks, we placed potential customers at the heart of the Semrush campaign and let them #ShapeTheirStories. The result was a strategy that acquired the faces of specific people and real businesses. Semrush’s tools became the answer to real problems.
2. Fine-tune your tone of voice and copywriting
Who says copywriting always has to be based on persuasion and pushy selling? When it comes to brand communication, there can be room for an individual style – if your strategy allows you to have one, of course.
It is important to adapt to your audience, to stand out with your own personality and create your very own language which cannot be imitated. The closer you stay to the consumer and their problems, the more genuine and convincing your messages will seem.
3. Develop distinctive visuals
Good copywriting will allow your offer to be heard and understood, but it's the visual layer that will help it get noticed. Whether your consumers will want to listen to you, and subsequently trust and use your platform, is a completely different matter (one determined by numerous other factors, not just the way you go about communicating on it). Still, the more coherent and original the idea, the greater the chance that your brand will grab the audience’s attention and be remembered.
Try to create a communication strategy where copywriting dovetails with imagery: both parts should complement one another and point to additional connections and meanings. Honesty, simplicity and an individual brand style will always set you apart from your competitors.
Steer clear of stock photos in favour of your own photo shoots, use genuine people in your visual communication, create your own language of symbols and colours, keep your communication simple. Be consistent and selective when it comes to the main messages you want your audience to remember. With a well-laid-out marketing plan and the right promotional budget, results are bound to follow.
The Semrush campaign was created using vivid colours, six handpicked, relatable personas corresponding to different types of business and intelligent copy that put the focus on the client's business and played with the platform's offer. It was colourful, minimalist and to the point. In a crowd of pushy marketing offers, this approach stood out for its creative energy and created positive associations with the brand.
4. Ensure an accurate selection of advertising media
A compelling creative idea is a strong starting point. However, it has to be skilfully adapted to market requirements and properly placed in the banner, online video or blog content space.
Yes, the messages that appear in the advertising space are crucial, but precise targeting and being exactly where your consumers are is of utmost priority. It is by making spot-on, well thought-out placements that you will increase the chances of achieving your campaign objectives. In the process, you’ll manage your marketing budget wisely. So instead of spending hours on Excel, endlessly working on the ad formats you'll use in your campaign, go back to the five questions we focused on at the beginning of this article. These are the ones that will allow you to identify your campaign's audience, how they consume content and where they go online most often. Be where they are and prepare a message that goes to the very heart of their problems.
The minimal and universal nature of the campaign enabled the messages to be adapted to different forms of web banners, to the use of re-marketing, to animated forms and the creation of a video that explained the idea of #ShapeYourStory in an emotional way. The ads targeted those very types of businesses that were represented by the different personas on whom the campaign was based.
5. Be open to communicating in other languages
English has become so entrenched in marketing that we often forget that, in some markets, it can be more lucrative to communicate in other languages. If you have the budget and you feel it makes sense, think about creating a localised campaign in the language of the particular country where you want to attract customers.
Not only is it a question of making it easier for your target audience to understand the message, but it is also about linguistic nuances, creative potential, adapting to a certain culture or bridging the gap between you and the target audience. Obviously, we aren’t suggesting you create completely different concepts for each country. It’s a case of making slight creative tweaks, a task which shouldn’t be an issue with the help of an agency with an international team of specialists.
6. Outside-the-box solutions to get your consumers in the game
Ad campaigns don’t just have to be videos and banners. At times, something more 'sticky' comes in handy, something that will not only capture consumers' attention, but will also draw them into the brand's world and allow them to understand the advantages of the platform. It might simply show them that the service provider perfectly understands them and the way they operate their business and has consequently put together a product that is the solution to their problems.
In this respect, any interactive form that is not perceived to be a typical form of advertisement fits perfectly: quizzes, games, competitions, interactive videos, social media posts with a difference, storytelling or buzz marketing activities... There’s no limit to how creative you can get. These kinds of interactive mechanisms allow users to experience the advantages of the platform first-hand.
Rhapsody devised a mobile game and a personality quiz to get people to interact with the Semrush campaign. By creating unique, personalised experiences, we were able to highlight the benefits of specific Semrush tools to relevant segments of the target audience. These content formats were supported by downloadable materials and a prize draw designed to boost engagement and encourage sharing on social media.
7. Don't forget about the landing page, which will turn leads into new customers
The techniques described above help to effectively fill the sales funnel and reach the required number of prospective customers. Yet, in order to turn consumer attention into real sales, one more element is necessary: a clearly presented offer.
A well-designed UX/UI landing page is an absolute must. Here, consumers can find all the key information, learn about pricing, read about client testimonials and the advantages of the platform. Without it, no online campaign can be successful. It is important not to underestimate this element. After all, it is here, and not in a web banner or advertising video, that sales are made and that content consumers are converted into platform subscribers.
One way to help persuade a customer to buy is to offer them an incentive, whether that’s a discount, a free trial, the possibility of using pro features, access to a whitepaper or a website audit that will make running a business easier.
Ideally, the incentive should complement the creative idea driving the promotional campaign. In the case of Semrush, anyone who completed the survey or played the "Hop to the Top" game had the chance of winning six months of marketing services or a one-year business subscription to Semrush worth $9,000. A comprehensive guide to SEM/SEO activities was also up for grabs.
So? What’s your campaign story?
When considering 360-degree actions, you need to consider the scale of activity and the number of elements that will determine the potential success of a campaign. There are plenty of components, including the strategy, the creative concept, the creation of a visual language and copywriting, web or mobile development, video production, competitions, the interaction with the audience on social media channels, the project management of the campaign, budget management… and that’s to name just a few!
Of course, not all of these elements are required in every campaign, but a well-thought-out and coherent concept will have more complex production requirements. It won’t be enough to just create a specific landing page or a few banner ads. Instead, we advise letting an experienced agency take care of the strategy, creative execution and implementation of the campaign. As experts, they’ll be able to create a unique and coherent campaign that will draw new users to the platform.
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