The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted more than the way we navigate the grocery store. Industries that never attracted much prior attention have rocketed to the forefront of VC investment. Some growth trends have continued to accelerate, while others have fallen off. Crunchbase recently completed research to understand how the pandemic has affected startup funding. They uncovered six standout growth industries in their Opportunity Index Report. In this article, I share what you can do to take advantage of these opportunities if you’re in one of these industries — and how to optimize your SaaS marketing strategy if you’re not.
The hot six
Considering the way the pandemic is impacting the world, the industries that landed at the top won’t surprise you.
Once the red-headed stepchild of the healthcare industry, telehealth is officially on the way up. Startup funding levels for April 2020 represented 50% of total investments in telehealth startups for 2019. This industry has plenty of room to grow. In fact, 73% of all investments this year have gone to seed/angel and early-stage startups. As the pandemic drags on, changing consumers’ and providers’ habits, increased demand for telehealth services isn’t likely to wane.
2. Meeting and collaboration
With tens of millions of workers cut off from their physical workspaces, software that keeps remote workers connected is doing well. Investors predict that many companies that went remote will want to maintain the benefits of a remote workforce even after the pandemic passes. The first quarter of 2020 saw $167 million invested in this sector. Funding levels for April 2020 represented over 67% of the total investment raised during the first quarter of the year.
The virtual payments industry continues to grow at a healthy clip. From the start of 2019 to April, 2020, 263 funding deals had been closed, totalling $6.4 billion in new investments. As innovation in online banking, payment processing, and peer-to-peer payments continues, this industry’s long-term prospects look bright.
With schools shuttered or functioning on alternative schedules across the country, the fortunes of this already-rising sector have experienced a significant windfall. Funding deals were slower than most of the other industries in the report, but April 2020 funding levels reached nearly 50% of the total funding for the first quarter of 2020. Online education has both convenience and necessity on its side now, making the case for continued growth a compelling one.
Already a hot industry, the frantic hunt for an effective cure and vaccine to combat COVID-19 will continue to keep this industry well-funded. Since the start of 2019, quarterly investment in this sector has averaged $4.7 billion. The first quarter of 2020 saw this level spike to $6.7 billion.
The world isn’t getting any safer, at least online. With so many high-profile data breaches in the last several years, the importance of keeping consumer data protected has never been greater. Increasingly, sophisticated cybercriminals have made corporations and government entities prime customers for cybersecurity companies. In the first quarter of this year, $1.5 billion worth of startup deals were closed in this industry. As with telehealth, the overwhelming majority of funding has gone to seed and early-stage startups, indicating this industry remains a dynamic one.
Tune-ups for high-growth SaaS industries
If you’re in a high-growth industry, you’re in a position to take full advantage of the current expansion. Here are my recommendations for how to make the most of the opportunity.
Do a content audit
Though not a task any marketer relishes, a content audit is the most effective way to get an accurate view of the current state of your content library. It’ll also help you identify the gaps you need to fill to get better results. If you’re getting cold chills just thinking about conducting an audit, check out my 7-step Content Audit for a simple process.
Fill in the gaps
Your audit is likely to identify some holes in your content library. If your resources for a stage of the buyer’s journey or for a persona are thin, create and publish content to fill in the gaps. My Guide to Mapping the Buyer’s Journey will help jumpstart your efforts.
Increase investment in paid advertising
Consider increasing the amount you spend on paid advertising. Paying to get in front of your target audience is a quicker way to generate traffic than most organic tactics like guest posting and SEO.
Boost your social media presence
If you’re active on one or more social media platforms, now is the time to heighten your company’s visibility. Fleshing out your company’s profile, posting more frequently, or trying a new format like video postings can increase your levels of engagement.
In general, companies in fast-growing industries can afford to take more risks than those in stable or contacting ones. Experimentation often results in finding new, more productive ways to generate revenue. It also stimulates the creativity and risk-taking that’s essential for continued growth and improvement. Starting with small tweaks and ending with bold moves, here are eleven ideas for productive experimentation.
- Tweak your CTAs — CTAs offer lots of opportunity for optimization. If you’re in a rut with one or two go-to’s, it’s time to forge new paths. The most common place for a CTA is at the end of a piece of content. Try keeping your primary CTA there, but embed one or two secondary CTAs in strategic places within the content. Be deliberate with pairing CTAs with the type of content they’re used with. For example, a top-of-funnel blog post should offer a CTA that promotes a complementary top-of-funnel resource or mid-funnel piece like a case study. Mid-funnel content should promote other mid-funnel pieces like a needs assessment or bottom-of-funnel demo.
- Try a variety of content lengths — There’s no magical word count for marketing content. To find the ideal length for your blog posts and other content, take a lesson from Goldilocks: sometimes you just have to sample each option until you land on one that’s just right for your audience. Your industry and the stage of the buyer’s journey has a lot to do with content length optimization. Experiment and track the results.
- Get creative with your headlines — If your email newsletter open rate has been in the doldrums, add some zest into the subject line (and keep it short!). Better blog post headlines can also boost engagement. Write headlines that promise to make your prospect’s life easier, help them avoid a mistake, or share how to get the best of something.
- Rewrite your title tags to improve CTRs — Revamping your title tags can significantly boost your click through rate. Be sure your tags entice searchers to click. Besides including your target keyword, communicate what people will get from reading your content.
- Embed videos with bottom-of-funnel CTAs — No one likes to give out their email address. You can make that decision easier by placing a short video clip above a bottom-of-funnel CTA. In the clip, share a short intro about your company and explain what will happen when they fill the form. If possible, produce the video with a member of the sales team so prospects get to “meet” a member of the team before they hit the Submit button.
- Try a new social media platform — Consider branching out to a new social media platform. Creating a company presence on a new social site broadens your reach, giving you the opportunity to interact with people who may not be active on your current channels. Of course, be sure that the platform’s users include the type of people you’re targeting.
- Experiment with different content formats — Most companies fall into the habit of creating the same types of content over and over. After all, blog posts, e-guides, and case studies work! But there are many other types of content that may perform well for you.
- Explore new paid advertising opportunities — Depending on your industry and target niche, paid advertising on highly-targeted blogs and websites can offer a fresh way to reach new prospects. And pay-per-click campaigns on Google, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other social platforms are also worth exploring. It will take some experimentation to see which channels yield the best results.
- Schedule a brainstorming day and implementation time — There’s just no replacement for the magic that happens when you gather your team members together for a focused brainstorming session. Set aside one day per quarter to get everyone thinking creatively. Identify ways to branch out from “the way we always do things.” These sessions are usually more effective if they’re walking sessions or involve a creative activity. (This may be more challenging if you’re operating remotely, but the results will be worth it.) Identify high-value ideas and commit to implementing one new idea each month.
- Explore partner marketing — Sometimes two things are just perfect together: peanut butter and jelly, chocolate and peanut butter, bananas and marshmallow fluff (it’s ok to admit you love it!). Consider the products or services that complement yours and explore partner marketing possibilities. For example, Sigma, a SaaS that offers self-service analytics software that maximizes the potential of modern cloud data warehouses, has forged a partnership with Snowflake, an innovative CDW provider. They produce content together, host webinars together, and more.
Tune-ups for stable or contracting SaaS industries
Companies in stable or contracting industries may not be able to take the risks or invest the resources that those in high-growth industries can. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities. Here are several options for tuning up your marketing no matter which category you fall into.
Embrace experimentation as you’re able
You may not be able to go as fast or as hard in your experiments as those in high growth industries, but don’t let that stop you. Small experiments that don’t require a lot of resources can have a big impact.
Audit your marketing efforts
To make the best use of limited resources, audit each component of your marketing program to see which ones generate the best results. Allocate additional resources to the top performers and consider scaling back or mothballing low-yield initiatives.
Consider targeting a new, faster-growing industry
If your current targets are industries that are struggling, consider shifting your focus to an industry that’s thriving. Start by looking at niches with some similarity to the ones you’re currently targeting.
Explore new offerings
Offering a new service has the potential to open up an additional revenue stream. In order to better gauge unmet needs in your industry, interview current clients, and look at what others are doing in industries that share the same market or similar characteristics to yours.
Opportunities abound for your SaaS marketing strategy
Even if you’re not in one of the top six industries Crunchbase identified, there are always opportunities for those who know how to look for them. Often, all it takes is trying something new or doubling down on what’s already working.
By the way, here are three ways I can help you attract and convert your ideal customers:
1. For marketing teams at B2B SaaS companies, take the free Content Strategy Quiz to see how your strategy measures up and learn how you can improve.
2. For tech startups, grab my free workbook on how to craft a messaging platform that gets prospects excited about what you offer.
3. Schedule a call to share what’s holding you back from better content, and I’ll let you know if I can help and how. If I can’t help, I’ll recommend someone who can.