How can a company turn a total disaster into a great opportunity to tell a story?
Lemlist did it in an attempt to change the way SaaS marketing should be done.
After all, it’s no secret that most SaaS companies follow a cookie-cutter approach when it comes to content marketing.
On-page SEO, social media and email marketing are usually the most prominent tactics implemented in order to raise brand awareness and attract new clients.
But what happens when a SaaS company follows an entirely unique approach?
We recently saw how Slidebean does things differently, so coming up we’ll also examine Lemlist’s innovative approach to SaaS marketing.
- Lemlist’s founder was completely transparent about the crisis the company went through
- Lemlist followed a unique content marketing approach
- The element of storytelling has played a key role
- Lemlist shows how SaaS companies can do marketing like media companies
Lemlist’s Crucial Turning Point
In order to give you some context, Lemlist is an email software and outreach automation tool, with thousands of users worldwide.
Image Source: Lemlist
In fact, the company’s success has been so great that it managed to grow from $0 to a $150M valuation in just 3.5 years, fully bootstrapped!
The three co-founders then decided to raise some funds by selling a 20% stake in the company for $30M, hence the valuation.
Everything seemed to be going great; with the company being able to maintain high-profit margins due to its lean team while constantly increasing its user base.
In fact, they managed to grow from $1M to $2M ARR in just 6 months without spending any money on paid channels.
Image Source: Lempire
The founders even had an action plan to make the business a billion-dollar company by offering new products to cross- and upsell.
However, things suddenly took a turn for the worse when two of the co-founders decided to quit the company, leaving the third one (Guillaume Moubeche) behind to run it.
If that wasn’t enough, two key executives (Head of Sales and Head of Growth) decided to leave the company as well, thus putting extra pressure on Guillaume Moubeche to fill in all the gaps
According to him:
What’s unique about this case, though, is the fact that GuillaumeMoubeche took this downturn and turned it in his own advantage, in a way that we would call revolutionary for SaaS marketing.
Here’s what we mean.
How Lemlist Changed SaaS Marketing
So far, it’s clear that Lemlist had probably reached the most crucial point in its lifetime.
While most founders would try to hide difficulties like these under the carpet, Guillaume Moubeche did the exact opposite; he created a YouTube series called Road to Billions, where he tells the whole story, how he handled it, the team’s mentality during theis time, and much more.
Image Source: YouTube
The series publishes a new episode every week and focuses on a different part of the journey each time.
For instance, the series’s second episode focuses on the company’s VC investment and how the investors reacted to the crisis…
Image Source: YouTube
…while the third episode revolves around how the company lost $300K creating a project that didn’t work out.
Image Source: YouTube
As of today April 26, all 6 episodes of the series’s first season have been published on YouTube, having gathered more than 20K views in 2 months!
We can also see a small boost in monthly views, with the help of a tool like SocialBlade.
Image Source: Socialblade
However, what has made this content effort successful isn’t just the high-quality production, but the element of storytelling.
It’s no secret that storytelling is an important pillar in content marketing, because it makes content more engaging and unique while establishing a connection with the audience.
It’s the main tactic Slidebean followed in its YouTube strategy too, as we saw in our last case study.
After all, as we’ve mentioned several times here at Minuttia, storytelling is a prominent format of original content, since its uniqueness draws the users’ attention, although many more formats can be utilized.
Just by having a quick look at some of the series’s video titles:
- “The Fall of a $150,000,000 company?”
- “Losing $300,000 in a few seconds”
- “Losing 20% of our employees in a few weeks”
- “How chaos saved my $150M company”
We notice that they’re not optimized for organic search (after all, YouTube is a search engine, too), but they aim to draw users’ attention.
This can also be verified by a tool like VidIQ, which shows that the searchability is rather low.
It’s a clear case of content that follows a heuristic approach instead of trying to satisfy search engine algorithms and what people are searching for online.
What we can say is that Lemlist changes the way SaaS marketing should be done.
Although more “traditional” marketing actions are important and what most SaaS companies invest in, in our opinion, SaaS companies should do marketing as media companies; and Lemlist isn’t the only great example.
What SaaS Companies Can Learn from Lemlist’s (And Not Only Their) Approach
Content marketers need to go beyond the traditional way(s) of doing marketing and create content that establishes an exchange of value between the brand and the audience.
In other words, carry out marketing as media companies.
Lemlist went above and beyond to do this, but there are some more examples of companies that understand the value of succeeding in the attention war.
This is exactly why Mailchimp launched Mailchimp Presents.
Image Source: Mailchimp
A set of short films, podcasts and documentaries, that tell the story of different people.
According to Mailchimp, it’s:
This further enforces the importance of creating original content nowadays.
Another great example is that of HubSpot acquiring a media company called The Hustle.
Image Source: Thehustle
Although it seems like an odd move for a SaaS company, as the official press release states:
This is all in order to create content that HubSpot’s community is passionate about.
Of course we could also go further and present the acquisition of Backlinko from Semrush, but from those examples alone, it’s easy for someone to wonder what email marketing software has to do with film productions, or why a CRM would acquire a media startup.
Although the reasons aren’t obvious at first, it’s all part of a wider content strategy that focuses on pillars like storytelling and the community, in order to go beyond traditional content activities like blog posts; something now synonymous with SaaS marketing.
Mailchimp, HubSpot and–of course–Lemlist are all great examples of how SaaS marketing can change and go beyond mainstream content efforts, in order to stand out, establish a community, and engage with users.
Now Over to You
Undoubtedly, Lemlist has followed an approach that most companies wouldn’t.
Not only was it completely transparent about the crisis it went through, but incorporating this journey into a YouTube series is what makes it unique.
Of course, the element of storytelling has played a key role in drawing the viewers’ attention and is something all companies should use in their content one way or another.
Feel free to share this post if you’ve found it useful. Go ahead and reach out to us if you have any examples of companies you think we should feature in one of our future posts, by sending us an email to email@example.com.