Why Content Is One of the Highest ROI Growth Levers

Jason Saltzman
Head of Growth

At Verbatim, we don’t consider ourselves an outsourced content shop. We’re your first head of content. While editorial is our strong suit, we often find ourselves in a position of advising early-stage founders on their broader go-to-market motion.

Over the past quarter, companies from pre-seed to Series B have been getting hit hard by constricting markets. In this context, we’re often asked which GTM levers are the most cost-effective – and we typically give the same advice across the board. We dive into:

  1. Why startups should be as judicious as possible with marketing spend
  2. Getting the highest ROI out of your marketing channel mix
  3. How great content delivers direct and indirect returns

Marketing ROI Matters Now More Than Ever

As we covered in our Q2 Update, the current state of the markets has created a massive tightening on early-stage venture funding. 

Almost every founder who’s raised a round is essentially cutting all external vendor contracts, whether it's freelancers, paid performance agencies, or PR firms. You name it. 

Additionally, many are cutting internal teams. When internal, recession-driven layoffs occur, marketing team members are usually the first to go.

Unfortunately, these efforts aren’t limited to preserving runway by cutting down on burn. It's also getting harder to secure new funding. 

Founders are asking themselves: “How do I maintain GTM efforts in a cost-effective way?” Taking this even further: “Which GTM levers have the highest ROI from a revenue lens?”

Your Options for Organic Growth and GTM

For B2B SaaS companies, there are three main levers you can pull for GTM efforts, whether you’re working in-house or with external contractors: 

  1. PR – External placements to drive awareness
  2. Paid Media – Through Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. 
  3. Internally Produced Content – Value-add content aimed at tactical storytelling

As a content studio, we’re naturally advocates for editorial. At the same time, we’re big supporters of paid media or PR in the right scenarios — as long as there’s clear ROI.

Here’s what we’ve been advising companies.

Use PR for Initial Awareness

PR can be incredibly effective for getting your first 3 or 4 media hits for credibility. 

It’s similar to how, in building organic content rooted in social proof, you can leverage client logos across testimonials, email campaigns, and even externally produced pieces. 

For PR, we recommend working with a firm as you launch for 1–2 months. Spend time chasing 3–4 great placements, and then use those logos forever across different marketing channels.

After that point, your returns start to diminish pretty quickly. Given the market conditions, continual PR likely isn’t the most cost-effective way to acquire new leads. 

PR firms are great for driving initial awareness and social proof. So, use your PR efforts to get into Forbes, the WSJ, Fast Company, TechCrunch, or wherever your ICP spends time. 

Once you’ve accomplished this, it’s probably time to move on.

“If you’re at a Series-C company or larger, your team will not get the resources it needs if you cannot prove that your content generates revenue.” - Tracey Wallace, Klaviyo

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The Declining ROI of Paid Media

On the other hand, paid media for B2B SaaS companies is an entirely different story.

Across the board, paid media has been facing an uphill battle since the rollout of iOS 14.5.

The lack of first-party data makes it hard to predict and target the audiences you're going after.

For B2B SaaS companies, the usual paid channels — think Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or SEM through Google — often aren’t where your target customers are spending time. 

If you’re a consumer product, ranking on Google or paid social is a great tactic to, for instance, sell your $20 sparkling water to users who are fans of higher-end F&B brands. 

In comparison, for a B2B SaaS company that has an average LTV of $20,000+, the target customer likely isn’t searching for their solution on Google or clicking on an ad on Instagram.

We recommend starting by mapping your target customer’s funnel experience. 

Where does your ICP go if they have questions about the tool you're selling? They likely turn to their networks: founders, investors, operators, and friends. Maybe they follow influencers. 

Why Organic Content Outperforms

Circling back to GTM functions: There are two main reasons why Verbatim champions organic content as one of the most cost-effective marketing channels teams can leverage.

  1. It generates direct, immediate revenue through organic acquisitions
  2. It has long-term utility, particularly in building out premium editorial and pillar content
1. Immediate Revenue Generation

High-quality, long-form organic content boosts awareness, generates leads, converts, and captures investor attention.

Quite simply: Good content drives revenue. 

2. The Evergreen, Compounding Value of Content

As mentioned, when you first use PR, you can repurpose those logos as a form of social proof for years to come. At Verbatim, we’ve found the same applies to high-quality organic content. 

Formats like case studies and collaborations with partners or investors generate social proof, testimonials, and pull quotes that you can tweak and redistribute across your socials forever. 

Evergreen content is thus repurposable across branding, fundraising, and SDR decks; BD campaigns; nurturing sequences; landing pages; email drip campaigns — the list goes on. 

By doubling down on your content function, you’ll get 1–2 articles per week, which become 4–5 social posts per week. In other words: It’s a recipe for long-term, compounding value. 

“With longer-form content, you can break it up and easily repurpose it. It’s far lower risk with a greater upside than traditional digital marketing.” – Oliver Citrin, Goody
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