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Revenue-focused consulting for B2B SaaS startups who target marketers, salespeople, or developers.
What org structures tips does the Content Marketing Institute recommend for B2B SaaS startups?
Let’s start at a high level, looking at marketing organizations in general, then deep dive into the content marketing function, roles, and changes over time.
Editor: Since you’re sourcing content from different places in your organization, you’ll receive content of different qualities.
For my readers, I’m going to assume you know what HubSpot is, and jump right into the interview.
Mike Volpe: “The content team is led by Joe Chernov, our VP of Content, and is split pretty evenly between blogging, offers, and a hybrid. On team evolution: From 1st hire to your team size today, how did the team that executes HubSpot’s content marketing strategy evolve?
Mike Volpe: “We’re an inbound marketing company, so from day one we’ve believed that content and free tools are the key to connecting with your audience in a way that is valuable, effective, and relevant.
We started publishing ebooks and webinars around 2008 to start nurturing leads with longer-form content and realized we needed to scale our efforts more effectively so we broke the team into two parts: top of the funnel content and middle of the funnel content. Mike Volpe: “Creating an inbound experience requires creating a systematic approach to delivering the right content to the right people at the right time.
While the structure of your team is important, it’s more crucial for businesses in their early stages to be producing quality content at a steady pace and reiterating their content strategy constantly as they go based on the audience’s engagement and feedback. What org structure tips does the Content Marketing Institute recommend for B2B SaaS startups?
Robert Rose: “Indeed, this is going to be very different at a large, global (read siloed) organization than it would for a startup. The biggest factors – and what I advise startup CEO’s (or CMO’s) to do is to first understand where the goals of the company are. David: What are some of the most effective team structures that you’ve seen, for driving leads and conversions to sales?
As the company grows and CM expands to other parts of the funnel – that’s when we see the Content-Marketing-specific roles start to be hired.
In this post we covered everything from organizing your marketing team, to organizing your content marketing team within it. If you’re the leader of a B2B SaaS company – how did you structure your marketing organization, and your content marketing function? This post is part of my series on Best Practices: How to Build a Content Marketing strategy for your B2B SaaS startup in the Early or Growth stage. What is a Content Marketing Strategy and how does it relate to an Inbound Marketing Strategy? I’m a huge fan of Jason’s work, so I want to make sure I not only explain what his definition of “Lead Velocity” is, but also discuss that while I’m in complete agreement with his argument that it is “the most important metric in SaaS”, I’d like to improve upon the name, and provide my reasoning, based on correct terminology in physics.
Before we get into SaaStr’s definition of “Lead Velocity”, let’s first acknowledge that what we’re trying to do here is get scientific with our revenue models. Velocity is the rate of change of the position of an object, equivalent to the specification of its speed and direction of motion, e.g. So – let’s break down the formula into parts, and find the equivalent concepts in lead and revenue generation processes.
We want to be very specific about our buyer’s journey to customerhood – and therefore define the path that they must take and the distance that they travel. In the example above, we have a simple lead lifecycle model that turns leads into sales opportunities, which become customers and who in turn become repeat customers. The time it takes is usually measured in days, but I’m sure you can find examples where it makes sense to measure hours or minutes, if not seconds. Lead Velocity is how long it takes a lead to move between specific stages of the lead lifecycle. Qualified Lead Velocity Rate (LVR), [is] your growth in qualified leads, measured month-over-month, every month. Jason’s talking about the growth in qualified leads, month over month, rather than the length of time a lead takes to convert through the buying process. I’m actually going to give Jason a lot more credit here, because what he’s talking about is both the growth in sales qualified leads, as well as the assumption that SQLs convert to customers at the same, constant rate.
The reason it’s key is because of the word “qualified.” A “qualified lead” is the great equalizer, in that it doesn’t matter where the lead came from – because it’s been allowed to pass to the stage of being “qualified”, we can begin to assume that all else being equal, both the velocity and the conversion rate of the leads will be the same, month-over-month. What Jason’s saying is that if you can establish such a solid relationship – a correlation between the number of qualified leads, and the number of wins, then increasing the number of SQLs (while keeping the lead scoring process constant) will increase the number of wins, and therefore revenue. This sort of combination of increasing quantity (ie increase the number of leads) combined with the assumed constant velocity, also has a name in physics: momentum. Therefore, the most important metric in SaaS is “Lead Momentum”, and the definition of Lead Momentum is: the month over month increase in the number of Sales Qualified Leads. There are multiple answers to those questions, so today, we’ll explore one of them by creating an Inbound Marketing plan.
If you’ve read my previous posts in this series, then you know it’s important to set goals, pick target metrics, and target an audience before putting together the plan.
In Stage Two, you have a relatively clear idea of what Problem Alpha is doing to your company, but you still need to figure out how to prove the need for a solution internally.
Situation A: You just found them at this stage, and you’re not exactly sure what the product does, how it works, who else is using it, if it does the job well, or if you can believe anything that you’re reading on their website. Situation B: You heard about these guys back at Stage One, and they seemed respected in the space for their thought leadership.
Think about each of the people involved in the purchase decision at your customers’ office. Write down the Top 5 Questions that each of them is likely to ask, and create content that answers each question.
Congratulations – you’ve just created your first funnel that converts visitors into marketing qualified leads! Tweetable Tweet: “What #inbound #content should I create at each stage of the #buyersjourney? A more in-depth exercise will likely give you better conversion rates, and it will serve as the framework for your inbound marketing strategy as time goes on. You will eventually use both off-site and on-site content to attract leads for each stage of the buyers’ journey. Your goal is to nurture your lead through the stages of the Buyers’ Journey, as they convert to a Marketing Qualified Lead and then to a Sales Qualified Lead.
As with building a complete marketing strategy, a content marketing strategy needs to segment your audiences from the rest of the world and clearly identify your targets. I believe that you should develop personas for segments within each of these audiences, even those that are not directly purchasing your product. Let’s start today by looking at your Customer audiences in more detail, as we move towards building a framework for creating content that addresses their needs throughout the Customer Life Cycle. She wants to engage with potential customers earlier in the buyers’ journey, to establish credibility for her company and brand.
She’ll turn into a user quicker than anyone else in her company, and advocate for speeding up the purchase decision process. Stage 1 (Unidentified Need) +++ Sarah reads about one thought leader article per week and a number of tactical posts that help her to do her job better. Stage 2 (Defined Pain) +++ Because she has personally experienced the problem, Sarah can explain how it affects her work day. Stage 3 (BANT) +++ Sarah knows that she’ll be using the solution if the company chooses to buy one, so she wants to make sure that it meets her requirements. Much of what I have been reading online for several years now shows us the types of content to create – blog posts, tweets, status updates, videos, whitepapers, webinars, infographics, reports, Slideshare presentations, case studies, press releases and the list goes on.
And then there are the posts that tell us how to create good content – interview people, curate and aggregate, ask the community for ideas, top ten lists (I hate these), review a product or service, and I can’t even think anymore.
And we can’t forget the posts that outline characteristics of good content – human voice, put the audience first, ensure it’s optimized for search, keep it simple, keep the facts straight and that good content must entertain, provoke thought, educates and informs and that word we all love and often over use … relevant.
And lastly, I love reading the posts about “The top 10 content marketing mistakes” and it’s usually the common themes of having no plan, wrong purpose, plagiarizing, recycling old content and I am sure there are a hundred more that I can’t remember. Building a collaboration infrastructure is important to ensure consistency and that everyone involved in the content strategy (from ideation to creation to distribution and measurement) understand the business and marketing goals; and proactively share knowledge and best practices. As with most content marketing and community management initiatives, there is always the possibility of running into disgruntled customers or a potential crisis. Unfortunately, as you reflect on the types of posts that float around, many people simply reiterate the same information about content marketing. Instead of doing a little work here and there, you have an organized schedule that will make it easier to manage your time and stay on task.


Creating a list of marketing initiatives is easy, the hard part is planning it all out and making them work together. Next, drill down in to each item and write out what you plan to do with it over your timeline (we go more granular and list 60 days at a time instead of months). Strategy maps are diagrams that allow you to quickly visualize the performance of your balanced scorecards. The main idea is that each objective in your balanced scorecard is represented by a shape, usually oval or square.
If you're interested in simply displaying KPIs rather than managing strategy, Dash is a fantastic option.
You’ll be joining the 130,000 Smart Insights members from 80 countries who trust our advice to Plan, Manage and Optimize their marketing. Regular readers may remember that, earlier in the year, we published some joint research with HubSpot to explore best practices in managing content marketing.
Although content marketing is still seen as important by many businesses, our earlier research suggested that how to develop a content marketing strategy or plan is less clear. To help develop a content marketing plan or review existing methods, I thought it could be helpful to apply some of the planning techniques applied in our Digital planning workbook.
Step 2 Content marketing objectives and KPIs This uses an efficient planning table I have developed for summarising digital plans on one page.
Step 3 Content Gap analysis This uses a new visualisation of the Content Marketing Matrix that you may have seen before developed by Dan Bosomworth of First 10 and Smart Insights. So, we hope that’s useful - do take a look at the free download and tell us what you think.
I think we can all agree that the health insurance reform legislation of 2010 will touch each and every one of us. If you are a business owner, it is vital that you understand how it will affect you and your employees.  Why? Because of the dramatic impact of this legislation, there is an urgent need for comprehensive and understandable information so that business owners can plan intelligently. This creates a uniquely powerful opportunity to provide relevant and compelling content for your current and prospective customers. When you go to their website, you can find a broad range of information about the kinds of insurance coverage they provide, how they help you manage risk, and exactly who they are. The timeline chart below is a great example of the hard work they have done to help their clients understand what’s in store.
In short, Gulfshore Insurance is executing a content marketing strategy that genuinely benefits their customers and will therefore benefit to them well into the future. BB&T is a huge regional bank which has in recent years acquired numerous local insurance agencies. Unfortunately,  they are missing an unprecedented opportunity to show authentic thought leadership.
If you go to the old local web address or the parent company insurance agency address, you will find absolutely nothing about healthcare reform. Gulfshore Insurance is showing authentic thought leadership that will resonate with clients and prospects for years to come. By providing lots of relevant, localized information, Gulfshore Insurance enables search engines to rank them highly and prospective clients to find them easily . Gulfshore Insurance shows up high on the first page of local search results for terms such as health insurance, business insurance, and personal insurance.
BB&T has lost that same once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to show thought leadership and engender trust. This entry was posted in Content Marketing, Examples of Bad Content, Missed Content Opportunities, News, Online, SEO and tagged BB&T bank, Gulfshore Insurance, health insurance reform, healthcare reform, small business insurance.
In order to figure out which team is right for your environment, your goals, and your budget, I’ll outline the roles that you can fill, and let you decide what works best for you. This person should be experienced in all the roles – ready to help out when needed, and comfortable working with analytics. Your editor is able to improve the quality of every writer in the organization by identifying what makes content amazing, describing that to the contributors, and helping them to improve their individual pieces.
Often, it means choosing the right words, and ensuring that your content shows up when the right people search for it. They should be able to get involved in the community, encourage sharing and awareness of your content, and pull more ideas from the community to inspire your content creation process.
You’ll want designers to handle everything, from online ads to tradeshow exhibition booths, to email templates, landing pages, presentations, videos, and more. If you don’t, check them out – they’re a leader in the Marketing Automation space and they coined the term “Inbound Marketing” in 2005. Our marketing blog gets about 1.5 million views per month and we have three full-time bloggers (and currently, one blogging intern) dedicated to maintaining our traffic and crafting original content to attract new visitors and qualified leads. I joined HubSpot in 2007 as the fifth employee and like any bootstrapped startup, it was all hands on deck when it came to creating content and marketing our free tools.
From that point, the team slowly started to grow into what we know as HubSpot’s content team today.
As a result, you need to think early on about people who can be utility players and be incredibly effective at content creation, promotion, and alignment as part of a broader inbound strategy.
Say you have two dedicated content creators, have them spend about 70-80% of their time on blog posts and lead gen content, and the rest of their bandwidth producing offers (e.g. Then – initially we see a traditional marketer focusing on the sales enablement piece since that’s usually the first pressure point for any startup. And assumably the marketing person is getting probably one hire (maybe two) with that money….
We explored the roles involved on the team, and looked at tips from HubSpot and the Content Marketing Institute. We want the same level of understanding, control and predictability with our sales revenue as physicists have in sending a rocket into space. For this conversation, we’ll use a simple model, but you can imagine how it would extend to the stages you use in your process.
That’s why qualified leads are a much more accurate predictor of future revenue than your sales pipeline.
I’ll also provide you with a template based on the concept of the Buyers’ Journey, so that you can do it yourself.
I helped build ZeroTurnaround (as CEO) from $0 in ARR (annual recurring revenue) to $2.5 million USD in ARR in 3 years, profitably, on a minimal budget, largely using inbound and content marketing.
The key takeaway is that these engagements are not implications of buying habits, but of personal interest.
You heard about them again at Stage Two, and they provided a handy ROI calculator that helped you to make the case to senior management. Use the question itself as the title of that piece of content, and post each of them in places that those people are likely to look.
Gate this asset on a landing page of its own, behind a form that requires First Name and Email Address.
Remember to track leads sent from offsite content so that you can account for it when you measure Revenue Contributed by Content. When you are creating a content conversion flow of your own, think of the topics that answer the questions that your lead is asking at each stage.
You can start with a simple template like this, and then get much more detailed as we move on to marketing automation.
An analyst will look for different content than a potential customer, and the right content could help that analyst decide to include you in an upcoming report. She needs some help to put together a business case for implementing a solution, so she’ll do some research for guidance. She’ll attend demos from multiple vendors, ask questions, and help shortlist products for trial.
She’ll consume content that adds credibility, helps prove ROI, and shows how quickly benefits can be seen from implementation.
It’s really the heart of what we do at Edelman Digital.  We use content to grow communities, be more visible in search, engage with influencers and advocates and more importantly to change behaviors. If you have several employees, marketing teams and regional leads engaging in social media, the last thing you want is disjointed content (i.e. Now, the only thing I’m worried about is that your picture clearly shows a left-handed person. This post is something that everyone who has a hand in an organization’s marketing should read. These shapes are then grouped by perspective and lines are drawn to show the cause and effect chain. They come with all of the dashboards you need, and allow you to manage your team with advanced permissions and the convenience of centralized billing. Content marketing is still comfortably rated as the most commercially important marketing tactic for 2015 in my recent post exploring digital marketing technology options.


The chart below shows that the majority of businesses surveyed didn’t have a plan, but kudos to the 44% of businesses who do have a defined strategy! So we again teamed up with HubSpot to create a simple 4 Step process you can follow in the Content Marketing Planning Template published today and free for download via HubSpot - it also links through to the research we completed earlier in the year. This is a classic SWOT analysis where we have given examples of problems with content marketing programmes that are often forgotten. Here, as the example shows, it links objectives, strategies and KPIs across the customer lifecycle shown as the RACE Planning approach. If you have other methods of planning or visualising content marketing we’d love to hear about them in the comments or even in a blog post. Because, unless you are a very small business, you will either have to provide healthcare insurance or pay a penalty for failing to do so. You can demonstrate thought leadership at a time when business owners are desperate to find an information source they can trust.
In the case of health reform, timeliness is vital because so much is undecided, in process, and apparently changeable.
In Southwest Florida, they bought an excellent local firm whose management team and employees continue to provide great products and services. During this turbulent time in American history when healthcare and healthcare insurance is changing forever, they are missing in action online. Neither their current website address nor the predecessor local website shows up at all when you search for health insurance in Fort Myers or Naples–our two largest local markets. I love the fact that content marketing can come in so many forms–and be so effective for marketers in even the smallest companies. It’s a great slideshare that describes how different marketing organizations are structured in 2014 – with real-world examples.
You can combine these roles into one position or split them into more than one position as needed. They need the authority to approve the goals and inspire other departments to create content.
An SEO specialist is invaluable – they can turn your post-and-pray approach into a methodical process and show you specific results of their work, in terms of an increase in inbound links, backlinks, higher page rank, and higher page authority for your content. When you’re ready to get someone full-time, pick someone up from an agency – they’re used to handling many diverse projects, and they’re often overworked and unappreciated.
There are content strategists on the team dedicated to creating longer-form offers (ebooks, SlideShares, templates, and guides etc.), and one that focuses solely on crafting offers and blogs for our Partner agencies. We couldn’t afford a full-time blogger so our co-founders and myself both set time aside to write weekly. Even though our budget and resources were limited, we had a scrappy team that pumped out content from clever YouTube videos like Baby Got Leads and lipdubs inspired by Alanis Morisette to blog posts analyzing Twitter data and lots of great webinars. We were able to hire two full-time bloggers and introduced a blogging quota for every team within marketing (Brand & Buzz, Funnel, Product Marketing) where, depending on how large your team is, you were expected to publish X blog posts a month (we stopped doing this recently as our dedicated blogging team grew). Utility players are incredibly valuable in the startup world, and marketing is no exception. There are precise equations that govern the speed and location of an object in motion, given a specific set of assumptions – and equivalently we want to write down the set of equations that govern the path of a sales lead on the journey to revenue. Outbound marketing (if done efficiently) is not only highly scalable and cost effective, it is a perfect compliment to inbound marketing – particularly inbound lead generation. This post is part 3 of the Best Practices Series: How to build a Content Marketing Strategy for your Product or SaaS Startup.
You’ve even started reading ahead a little, so you have a decent idea of how their solution works, and the solution is compatible with other infrastructure you already have in place. Based on the piece of content a visitor is looking at, you’ll know approximately which stage of the journey they are in. If so, emphasize and encourage that flow of content with supportive email lead nurturing campaigns. This is another example of content marketing being more than just inbound lead generation (which we went into detail on in Part One, where we included this image of Content Marketing’s Winning Drive). She may not have control over a large budget, but she gets us in the door, and can introduce us to Directors and VPs. Our own content that provides tips on how to solve the problem for free or on her own, before graduating to other solutions – will be well-received. Truth is, everything we do as communicators and marketers revolves around content across paid, earned and owned media channels. It’s an initiative that requires a multitude of stakeholders, various levels of expertise and an organization that exemplifies enterprise collaboration. Having a crisis escalation plan is  important to ensure that all contributors and community managers understand the process to escalate conversations and to whom they should escalate them to. You explain with such clarity in ways that other recycled information can’t come close to touching on. This example template links different content assets with content distribution or promotion options (look out for a new Content Distribution Matrix infographic we’re publishing soon to prioritise these). For example, Chris Pile shared the Farm Digital ABC Content planning prioritisation approach. You will have to make some tough decisions in the years to come about how to handle your employees’ health insurance needs. It helps if they are multi-talented – creative, visual, textual, and really in tune with your various audiences. I lump this together with infrastructure because you often find that SEO specialists are more technical than others on your team, and they can be good at setting up your email marketing, connecting your analytics, creating campaigns and codes for them, and tracking the effectiveness of your programs. Our inbound marketing fellow, Dan Lyons, runs the Up and to the Right blog and publishes offers as well.
Eventually, the blog became HubSpot’s biggest source of website visitors and our free tool Website Grader became the second biggest source, so we proved that this whole inbound marketing thing actually works.
We jumped at every opportunity to post new types of content and over time, we doubled down on what was working best.
We had one person dedicated to brainstorming, writing, creating, and publishing behind-the-form content like ebooks and webinars, and over about two years, this grew into a full-fledged Offers team. These content creators, along with your CMO, should also be the ones analyzing your content’s performance and strategizing around what’s working and re-evaluating what isn’t.
Later, this person (or company) becomes a lead (first MQL, then SQL), prospect, and customer. You’re rising up the ranks of your organization, learning great things, and overcoming hurdles as fast as you discover them. From there, you can recommend other appropriate content, and create timed lead nurturing email campaigns that help to guide that potential customer through the rest of the journey. You employ a user-up strategy to drive leads into your sales pipeline, and you’d like to get a clear picture of who your users are. She started using our product at her company first, and signed up with a personal email address before her work address. We are a junior achievement company and we have made interesting post in these months but not a lot of fans give us feedback. I was keen to show the options for repurposing content assets during a campaign since often opportunities are missed where there is one central asset in a campaign such as a whitepaper, but it is not repurposed to give the campaign more momentum. They should be able to repurpose content and approach the same topic from multiple angles to maximize the effectiveness of your content machine. Marketing infrastructure can grow into a sub-team of its own quite easily, especially as you grow into marketing automation. One of the biggest mistakes marketers make is generating the same content as everybody else; trying new formats and taking risks with your content is good, but once you can evaluate what’s performing best, opt for quality over quantity. When it comes to content creators, it isn’t hard to find someone that’s a good writer anymore, or someone who has blogging experience, but you want a team that not only knows how to create content, but understands how to distribute, evaluate, and optimize it.
The structure of your team will take shape as your business grows and as leads, prospects, and customers provide feedback, directly or indirectly, on your content. This means: thought leadership, high velocity blog posts, webinars etc… They are usually leveraging some level of existing personnel such as the CEO, the CTO or others that they need to put a “vision” to the brand. At this stage in your business, you’ll want employees who can wear different hats and extend their inbound marketing skills across the board. If we solve this, what benefits could we expect?” At this point, you’re focusing your web browsing, as you research answers on a specific topic, and although you’re not interested in sales pitches at this point, you’re engaging in Stage One of the Buyers’ Journey.
You discover a new product by a credible-looking company that might be interesting for your team.



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