Do I Need to Be A Storyteller to Write SaaS Content?
Storytelling is an integral part of the human experience.
From the first time a caveman drew pictures on a wall to warn against eating a certain kind of berry, our race has valued stories as a way of collecting and sharing information.
Storytelling is how we stay connected in this complex and diverse world. Over the years, we’ve used our narratives to communicate, connect, and learn from each other. Now, we’re using them to sell.
People always look for stories to help them make purchasing decisions. When you need to buy a new piece of accounting software, the first thing you do is look online for reviews. Those reviews are more potent than any list of facts or features because they tell the tale of someone just like you, who solved their problem with a specific piece of software.
When people come to your SaaS company, they’re looking for a narrative that answers their questions about who you are, what you do, and why they should care.
The question is, how do you tell the story your customers want to hear?
The Benefits of Using Storytelling in Content
While storytelling in content is nothing new, it is something that B2B companies have struggled with for a while now.
In an Ad Age interview, Matthew Luhn of Pixar said that digital advertising teams had begun to forget about the importance of making their customers “feel something” with their campaigns. According to Luhn, the best way to elicit emotion from your customers is through a good story.
Storytelling instantly makes your company more relatable, by showing your customers that you understand what they’re going through each day. With a B2B story, you tell your audience that you know what it feels like to be in their shoes and that you have the solution to solve their problems.
According to a study by Pennsylvania University, people are naturally more alert to stories than they are to dry statistics. In other words, lists of facts won’t make B2B customers believe in your brand, but a good narrative might. Other benefits of storytelling include:
- Give your company a human side: Software as a service organizations have a habit of being bland, humorless and somewhat robotic. Stories bring life to your brand with humor and emotion.
- Differentiate your organization: Stories show that you’re dedicated to creating real, memorable experiences for your audience. They set you apart from the other B2B brands using dry content in their campaigns.
- Give your company credibility: Tales taken from your customers or employees provide a more authentic voice to your marketing messages. You’re not just making claims about what your software can do; you’re proving yourself with real, authentic experiences.
Why SaaS Companies Need to Rediscover the B2B Story
Historically, storytelling has been branded as the marketing solution for B2C customers. There’s a misconception that “consumers” are the people who make emotional decisions, while businesses respond exclusively to numbers. This misconception means that much of the B2B advertising you see online today takes a very logical approach to connecting with clients.
While logic is a crucial consideration for B2B brands, you can still pull at heartstrings in the SaaS world. 50% of B2B buyers are more likely to buy if they experience an emotional connection with a brand. Additionally, psychology proves that purchasing decisions are 80% psychological, and only 20% logical.
B2B buyers are just as emotional as consumers – the trick is to pick up on the right emotions. For instance, B2B clients need to know that their purchasing decisions will benefit their business. This means they make decisions based on emotions like trust, dependability, and affinity. You can create all of these feelings with storytelling.
How to Succeed with SaaS Storytelling in 5 Simple Steps
B2B marketing strategies don’t just rely on your ability to present facts. The study above by Google also found that if buyers can establish a common ground with your SaaS brand, they’re even 50% more likely to make a purchase. On top of that, 68.8% of the customers surveyed said they’re willing to pay a higher price to buy from a brand they believe in.
So, how do you start using SaaS storytelling in your campaigns?
Step 1: Create a Foundation for Your Story
The best stories happen when you know who you’re writing for.
Before you begin planning your narrative, make sure you understand your audience and what they’re looking for from your brand. A B2B story can only engage your clients if they can see themselves in it, dealing with a problem they need to solve. To find out what kind of story you should be writing:
- Speak to your sales and marketing teams about the most common pain points your customers’ experience.
- Build-out buyer personas that highlight the defining characteristics of your target audience (who they are, where they live, how old they are, etc.)
- Read reviews and stories written for competing brands – it’s likely your customers will face similar issues with your product.
Leading SaaS and technology company Microsoft has a dedicated customer success portal where they cover stories that relate to all the major questions and concerns that their clients may face. By collecting so many diverse stories, Microsoft ensures it has a narrative to resolve almost any matter that may stop a customer from working with them.
Step 2: Focus on the Right Stories
Once you have a clear view of the audience you want to target with your storytelling, the next step is to begin building the right narratives. One of the most popular stories for any software company is the tale of their origin.
Your origin story is crucial for bringing humanity and depth to your business, but it’s also a great way to show your expertise. Make sure you share your story in a way that highlights the significant milestones in your company’s history. For instance, was your banking software the first of it’s kind in a particular country? How did you overcome the challenges that came with being first? What do you do to stay unique today?
One of the best examples of a company using storytelling in content comes from Zendesk, the B2B customer support software. By telling the tale of how another business stole their name, Zendesk became more relatable and human in the eyes of their customers. Zendesk’s video is a great example of how even the simplest SaaS product can become more exciting when it’s connected to the right story.
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Step 3: Share Your Story in Different Ways
As a company in the technology industry, you should know first-hand content doesn’t have to be written to be effective these days. We can share stories in a multitude of different ways, from interactive slideshows to videos, and infographics. By playing with a range of multimedia experiences, you can show your audience that B2B marketing doesn’t have to be dull.
With a video, you can tell a complex story in a more accessible way. What would take thousands of words to write into a case study or press release can be covered in a few minutes through a video. It’s no wonder that 51% of marketing professionals consider video to be the content with the best ROI.
What’s more, if you’re hoping to encourage people to share your story, social videos get about 1200% more shares than images and text combined. Workday, a SaaS company offering enterprise management software, made their brand more shareable with an engaging video explaining how their product solves common customer problems.
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Step 4: Add Relevant Supporting Data
Just because SaaS storytelling needs to have an emotional side, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have logical appeal too. The more data you include in your stories, the more credible they appear from your customer’s perspective.
Look for ways to add numbers and statistics to your posts. For instance, don’t just tell people that your CMS software improved customer retention for a company, tell them you helped the business to reduce their customer churn by 67%.
Salesforce is an expert in using storytelling in content. They share countless customer success stories on their website, complete with videos from the companies they’ve served, statistics, charts and more. For instance, in this case, study about Adidas, Salesforce highlights how many employees they helped (1,100), how many stores Salesforce is deployed in (50), and how many countries Adidas uses the software in (40). Adding facts and numbers to your stories makes them more believable.
Step 5: Have a Personality
Finally, remember stories need to be emotionally compelling.
SaaS is a problematic area to create emotional connections in because technology can be challenging to relate to. However, countless companies have begun to use storytelling to give their digital ventures more depth. For instance, Cisco Systems, a huge telecommunications and SaaS company frequently uses humor in their storytelling strategies.
Consider the ad below from 2013, which is all about showing the fun side of Cisco.
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Additionally, Cisco has also been known for making up fun statistics as part of their success stories, like “73% of people who read B2B blogs are people“. A little bit of humor can go a long way in the SaaS marketplace.
Time to Start your SaaS Storytelling Strategy?
For years, we’ve known that storytelling has the power to build crucial connections.
However, it’s only recently that B2B companies and SaaS brands have discovered storytelling doesn’t belong exclusively to B2C organizations.
If you haven’t begun building your narrative, now could be the perfect time to get started. Experts are already predicting that storytelling could be a significant marketing trend for 2019.
So, what’s your story?