The Overrated Role of Viral Content in SaaS Marketing Strategies

Viral Content Marketing in SaaS

Viral content seems like the holy grail of marketing. Just imagine having a piece of content spread like wildfire, raking in endless impressions and exposure. As tempting as viral content is though, I’m here to make the case that it shouldn’t be the foundation of your SaaS marketing strategy.

Don’t get me wrong – viral content can absolutely supercharge brand awareness. But it rarely converts viewers into paying customers, especially in the considered B2B purchases typical of SaaS.

For SaaS companies, an obsession with viral content often leads to disappointment. Just ask Fyre Festival how well “going viral” converted into sales.

Instead of chasing viral unicorns, SaaS marketers should focus on targeted content optimized to attract and convert high-value prospects. Instead of clickbait headlines, we need substantive content that speaks to the needs of our ideal customers.

Next, I’ll break down the allure yet limitations of viral content for SaaS marketing. I’ll also outline smartest practices for content that converts and drives ROI.

The Allure and Pitfalls of Viral Content

It’s easy to get seduced by the potential reach of viral content. Just imagine – a single piece of content lighting up Twitter and Reddit, spreading to millions of screens. Your brand skyrockets in exposure.

Viral content leverages the power of algorithms and networks to get incredible reach with minimal effort.

But this allure comes with major pitfalls, especially for SaaS brands.

The problem? Virality and conversion are vastly different metrics. Just because something spreads widely doesn’t mean it will generate qualified leads and sales.

Viral content often lacks depth or substance. The focus is on getting clicks and shares, not providing value.

Viewers may be entertained and mildly amused, but they aren’t educated or converted. At the end of the day, massive impressions with low conversion are no money in the bank.

For SaaS brands, conversion means guiding prospects through an often lengthy, considered buying journey. Memes and listicles don’t fit that process.

Viral content spreads quickly but fails to make a lasting impact. It’s like fast food – consumed and forgotten without nutrition. Tasty but not filling.

So while viral content can raise brand awareness, it rarely drives conversions on its own. For SaaS marketers seeking leads and ROI, viral content should be an occasional snack rather than the main course.

Viral Content Rarely Drives Conversions for SaaS

The lightweight, entertainment-focused nature of viral content is fundamentally misaligned with considered B2B purchases. When prospects are carefully weighing options and scrutinizing solutions, a meme or funny video carries little weight.

For example, MailChimp’s viral content like funny 404 pages and quirky cartoons built strong brand awareness. But this content didn’t drive conversions on its own. MailChimp still needed detailed product pages, educational blogs, and sales outreach to convert viral attention into revenue.

HubSpot is another SaaS company that invested heavily in viral content like quizzes and listicles. While these pieces reached millions, HubSpot found that they didn’t move prospects down the funnel. The company pivoted to more educational content like free tools and in-depth guides.

Viral content might drive initial awareness, but it doesn’t provide the information and social proof B2B buyers need to make purchase decisions. Effective SaaS marketing still comes down to understanding and guiding the buyer’s journey – not chasing engagement vanity metrics.

SaaS marketers should be wary of assuming viral content will directly drive conversions. The demand generation heavy-lifting still requires rolling up your sleeves on targeted content across the funnel. Viral content shouldn’t replace that harder work – it should supplement it.

Crafting Targeted Content That Converts

If viral content doesn’t drive conversions, what should be the focus for SaaS content marketing? The key is strategically crafting targeted content optimized to move prospects through the buyer’s journey.

Long-form, educational pieces like eBooks, guides, and webinars go a long way in engaging and converting B2B leads. These in-depth assets build brand authority while providing immense value to prospects researching solutions.

Content should also be hyper-targeted to different funnel stages and buyer personas. Top-of-funnel content raises awareness of key challenges. Mid-funnel content compares solutions and builds preference. Bottom-funnel content provides product specifics and customer testimonials.

Targeted content aligns with the self-education buying process of B2B customers. Buyers seek out information and guidance tailored to their needs and questions at each stage. Targeted content fills these needs and moves prospects closer to a purchase.

Yes, targeted content takes more effort than quick viral posts. But the ROI is well worth it. For example, a targeted eBook can capture leads for under $10 each. An expensive tradeoff compared to $1 CPMs on viral content – but those viral impressions rarely convert.

In today’s crowded SaaS market, targeted content is the key to cutting through noise and generating qualified leads. Rather than chasing vanity metrics, SaaS brands should double down on serving buyer needs with valuable content across the funnel.

The Smarter Role for Viral Content

I don’t mean to imply viral content has no place in a SaaS marketing strategy. When used correctly, it can amplify brand awareness and top-of-funnel content. The key is integrating it as a supporting player rather than the headliner.

Gary Vaynerchuk is a master of using viral content to grow his personal brand and promote his core business offerings. He leverages short, entertaining videos to reach huge audiences. But when it comes to converting high-value customers, GaryV relies on one-on-one sales calls and carefully tailored content.

SaaS brands should take a similar balanced approach. Viral content can attract new audiences and spread brand messaging. But it shouldn’t be the foundation of the marketing plan.

The 80/20 rule applies here. 80% of content efforts should focus on targeted assets optimized across the funnel. 20% can be allocated to viral content that supports and amplifies the core content.

Viral content works best as part of an integrated strategy. For example, a free assessment tool can go viral while pointing traffic to gated offers. Or an entertaining brand video can circulate while linking to educational resources.

As we’ve discussed, viral content and conversion-focused content can co-exist in a smart SaaS marketing mix. But viral content works best as a supporting role, not the headlining act. Keep the core focus on attracting and converting high-value customers.

Summing Up

Viral content holds an alluring promise for marketers – reach massive audiences with minimal effort. But for SaaS companies seeking leads and revenue, viral content rarely delivers.

Conversion requires moving prospects through in-depth buying journeys with targeted messaging and value. Viral content lacks the focus and depth needed to drive ROI.

That’s why SaaS marketing strategies should keep conversion as the north star, not vanity metrics like views or shares. Rather than chasing the viral dream, put in the work creating targeted content optimized for buyer needs.

Take a balanced approach by integrating some viral content for awareness while focusing on converting leads. But don’t hand over the keys of your SaaS marketing plan to viral content alone.

The bottom line is that quality trumps quantity for SaaS content. Viral content might spread like wildfire, but targeted content is what truly fuels sustained business growth.

Keep that fire burning by crafting the content your ideal customers actually need.

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