Emma Cimolini is the Marketing Director at Routific, a B2B SaaS startup that does route planning for delivery businesses. Emma was in the event industry for a long time before moving to agency work. She ended up at Microsoft for a time but knew a big corporation wasn’t for her. She’s one of the elite few that loves the chaos of startup life. In this episode of The Content Callout, she shares some strategies she’s learned around B2B marketing for a SaaS startup.
Outline of This Episode
- [0:35] Learn more about Emma Cimolini
- [1:53] Building a marketing strategy from the ground up
- [5:57] Developing a content strategy for a startup
- [10:33] Don’t be afraid to fail—and fail fast
- [12:26] How Routific defines an MQL
- [14:34] The disconnect between marketing and sales
- [21:41] Education and information: what’s relevant?
- [27:57] With ever-changing SEO, quality content matters
- [31:26] Creating marketing processes and content guidelines
- [40:40] How to find the perfect content partnership
- [45:11] How to connect with Emma Cimolini
Building a marketing strategy for a SaaS startup
Route planning and route optimization is still a growing industry, catapulted ahead because of COVID. Delivery from a distribution center—referred to as “last mile” delivery—is the most complex and expensive part of the supply chain. Emma notes that it typically accounts for 50% of the supply chain cost. Many small local delivery businesses are last-mile delivery companies, and they’re footing the bill and don’t even realize it. With Routific, they can access this type of software that would typically only be cost-effective for the Amazons of the world to have.
When Routific started marketing, they focused on an inbound strategy. They looked into SEO keyword search problems. They spent time on Quora looking at the questions people were asking. They looked at what their influencers and competitors were talking about. There was nothing to start with. Their customers were in many different industries all over the map, so that they couldn’t take one single approach.
Because of her background in the event industry, Emma knew they could look at the programs from conferences in the industry. Many programs are vetted by professionals, and it’s a great way to see what’s top-of-mind for people. They also validated the information they gathered against press coverage and customer interviews.
Another approach you can take is speaking directly with customers. Routific came up with a general topic of what they wanted to talk about and asked questions related to it. They used the answers to create a structure for their content while keeping SEO in mind. It took some legwork, but they’re at a point where their blog went from 1,700 monthly readers to 20,000 visitors. Now, their competitors are trying to copy their content.
Developing a content strategy for a startup
Routific focused on SEO and inbound traffic with their blog. But there’s a limit to search volume and keywords that are out there. They had to marry that with what their customers were searching for. So they kept their keyword focus around route-planning.
People often search for “How do I do this?” With that context in mind, you tend to get the beginners—not the experts. So they provided content around that. They attracted small businesses seeking out route-planning software for the first time. That was one of their biggest challenges—the type of audience they were attracting. If you’re looking to attract a specific audience, you have to make sure you target what they’re searching for.
If you’re building a content strategy for a startup for the first time, you have to realize that everything is an experiment. Emma recommends continued experimentation but doing it with an iterative process. Don’t just “run with it,” but have a plan in place for your content. Start small, test it, see what traction you get, and scale it from there. Don’t be afraid to let something die and be willing to fail fast and move to the next thing.
Don’t be afraid to fail—and fail fast
Emma likes using the Bullseye framework (from Gino Wickman’s book, “Traction.”). She breaks it up into three phases:
- The exploratory phase: This is running a scrappy experiment. Start by creating some metrics to determine what success and failure looks like. It makes it easy to decide whether or not you move it to the validation phase.
- The validation phase: Is this tactic or strategy actually going to be worthwhile? In this phase, you invest more resources to decide if it’s something to move forward with.
- Scale: If something is working, you put all of your eggs in one basket and scale it up. You start with one channel to drive your acquisition and marketing efforts.
Marketing teams never have enough resources to do what they want to do. You test many areas to find one channel or activity that will drive you to the next level of growth. If that plateaus, you go through the process again to find another channel to layer into your strategy.
For the full conversation on MQLs, SEO, content, and more listen to the whole episode!
Resources & People Mentioned
- Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman
- The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership
- Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy