Women in Tech Spotlight

Women in Tech Spotlight: Lauren Van Mullem (@LVanMullem)

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Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

[Note: This post contains extremely useful tips from one of SaaS’s top copywriters. She wouldn’t have it any other way.]

If you ask Lauren, she doesn’t qualify to be on this list. “Tech?” she asks. “Pretty sure that involves numbers… or at least code. I don’t do any of those things,” she protests.

But what Lauren does is something the tech industry sorely needs – someone to explain it (and make it likeable) to everybody else. A tech ambassador, if you will. Someone who takes the thing made by engineers and gives people the best possible reasons to buy it and love the brand behind it.

Lauren has been a copywriter, specializing in SaaS and startups, for nearly a decade. If you ask me, she’s one of the best (and I’ve worked with her on more projects than either of us can count). She has a knack for finding the heart of a business, and expressing it with exactly the words that business’s target customers need to hear.

Meet Lauren Van Mullem

You’ve been writing tech marketing content for a long time – what do you like best about it?

I like the trend I’ve seen over the last decade of customers demanding better experiences, and the tech industry, especially SaaS, rising to meet the challenge. The Millennial market in particular fascinates me – I’m a card-carrying member. But they are asking for a degree of transparency and humanity that scares the pants off of many big businesses (and small businesses). We’re entering a new era where consumers demand to be treated like human beings, and I am really excited about that. I’m even more excited when I see a company that’s CRUSHING it.

Got any off the top of your head?

Absolutely. I keep a swipe file of marketing materials, home pages and emails that hit the target for me. One subscription-based online business that I really love is Bright Cellars. They target the millennial wine consumer, and do it brilliantly. The buyer’s journey starts out with a fun quiz (who doesn’t love a quiz?) that matches wine types to your personality and preferred flavor profile. If I say I like dark chocolate, they might suggest a petite Syrah, but if I say I like milk chocolate, they might pair me with a smooth merlot.

Then, they send a follow-up email offering a 30% discount and a “Delight Guarantee.” And this email is written so well that it sounds like a real person is sitting on the other side of your computer waiting to hear back from you. It’s very compelling.

And, they’ve got a robust customer success system. You can rate every wine, and your personal “wine concierge” will select the following shipment based on your feedback. I got great results, even though I’m a little too much of a wine snob to fit neatly into their target demographic (I’m a really terrible wine snob).

Even though they’re not strictly SaaS – their business model has a lot in common with it. It’s subscription-based, and they only survive if they can deliver a great product and great service every time. I love that about subscription-based businesses. I like that kind of sink-or-swim honesty.

You’ve worked with some very cool SaaS companies – who’s nailing it right now?

Content-wise? Customer success-wise? For me, content and customer success are inextricably connected. The best content tends to come from companies that genuinely want their customers to succeed – not just buy, and buy more. Right now, I give mad props to Cubeyou on all counts. They’re constantly coming up with ways to add value to their customers’ experiences and help them be successful through their content. And it makes their content fun, fresh, and interesting. They publish “Pitch Alerts” – to keep their marketing agency clients in the loop about potential opportunities, they post advice on how to win more pitches, and then they publish other posts explaining the quirks of various demographics. My 5 Insights into Millennial Consumers post is one of my favorites.

You talk a lot about customer success – how does that inform your content strategy?

My content strategies start with two things: Your goals, and your customers’ goals. You want them to buy (or click, or like, or follow); they want to spend more time playing with their dogs. How can we bring those two goals together? I firmly believe that when you help your customers get their desired outcomes (to borrow a Lincoln Murphy phrase), they’ll want to be your BFFs (aka. “brand advocates”) for life.

But I also think that customer success isn’t all of the equation. It’s a hugely important part. Maybe the most important. But my favorite companies also bring something else to the table: Likeability.

Oh, watch out! I’m throwing some Cialdini in here. If your readers didn’t know before, good copywriting is the result of lots and lots of reading and research about how people process information, and what motivates them to do what they do. Cialdini had a breakthrough idea – I’m joking, slightly – that “people buy from people they like.” And, “People like people who are like them.”

These two ideas feed into all of my copywriting. Likeability. Familiarity. Using the words and expressions that the target audiences uses, rather than the ones I’d use myself.

I was writing a sales page for one of my clients recently, and the most valuable part of my research was combing through all of his client testimonials and sorting them into major themes. These became my “Biggest Baddest Benefits” list. And I also highlighted the exact words his clients used often to describe these benefits – and those went into the sales page copy. It’s one of the best pieces of writing I’ve ever done, and really, his customers wrote it.

What is the most important thing to remember when coming up with a content strategy for SaaS?

Oh gosh. If I had to pick one, I guess it would be this: Be useful. Genuinely useful. Always offer value, whether it’s in an email, or a 140 character Tweet. And do it generously. Don’t save your best material for after the purchase – you’ll get more purchases if you give away those ideas.

Maybe that’s even more important. Be generous.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve downloaded an ebook that promised me “Everything you need to know to do X,Y and Z” – and inside was just fluff. Because they were too afraid to actually tell me how to do something they’d rather I bought from them. It undermines trust to waste people’s time like that. I never, ever, ever waste anyone’s time. Life’s too short.

Lauren can be found through her website, www.TruerWordsbyLauren.com, where she engages in what she calls “authentic content marketing.” She warns: “If you’re looking for manipulative sales tactics, go elsewhere!”

5 (or 6) Take-Home Copy Tips Lauren Insisted I Include

  1. Automate where you can, but always deliver a personal experience.
  2. Customer success is 90% of a good content strategy. What can you give your customers to help them bridge the gap between what your product does, and what they really want to do (even if that’s playing with their dogs).
  3. Content strategies start with your goals and your customers’ goals. And the key is to get them to tell you what they think your “Biggest Baddest Benefits” are.
  4. Mine your testimonials and user reviews for words and phrases you can use in your copy.
  5. Be generous with your expertise to win trust, win friends, and win business.
  6. (Bonus) Inboxes are SACRED! Don’t abuse your privileges with emails that offer little value. Better to send fewer emails and make them count.
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    […] Lauren Van Mullem says she uses Patreon to support the work of a writer who traveled to Sweden to record the stories of Syrian refugees. For $2 per story, she gets a unique glimpse into the refugee situation from their perspective. […]

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