As a content marketer myself, I can’t tell you how many SaaS clients have come to me after struggling to get their content marketing to see real results, either with other writers or on their own.
It almost always comes down to one of three reasons: There’s a lack of consistency, a lack of quality, or a lack of strategy.
Content marketing can be insanely powerful (and we’ll show you a few examples in this blog post), but only when you know how to execute it properly.
In this post, we’re going to take a look at how to create a content marketing strategy for SaaS brands that actually gets you the results you want. It’s the process I use to create strategies for my own clients, and it’s similar to the process Massimo has used to build brands around content multiple times before.
There’s a lot to cover here, so let’s get started.
Why SaaS Brands Should Prioritize Content Marketing
Every Startup should be investing in content marketing as part of their broader SaaS marketing strategy, even if you can only afford the time or financial costs of creating a single create resource just once a month.
These are the core benefits of content marketing for SaaS brands:
- It sets your brand apart, showing that you’re not only investing in your brand with great content but also that your team is knowledgable and true experts
- It’s easily scalable— increase or decrease content volume as your budget and needs allow
- You can create evergreen content that provides significant benefits long-term, while also taking advantage of trending topics that have high search volume and relevance right now
It’s crucial to remember that SaaS brands are becoming extraordinarily competitive right now. Product development is becoming a commodity, and most SaaS brands are overfunded. They take that extra funding and spend most of it in marketing, making every activity for everyone much more expensive.
In reality, building a brand that stands for itself and will allow you to continue to acquire customers effectively is a key element for winning in the market, and content is the best way to accomplish this.
Proof That Content Marketing for SaaS Works
Need examples? The proof is in the pudding.
Content marketing has been a core pillar of the marketing strategies Massimo has used had the businesses he’s founded over the past ten years.
AdEspresso was the first. Here’s what Massimo had to say:
“A critical part of AdEspresso success was its blog. It created a brand positioning us not just as SaaS tool but also as the most trusted independent source of truth for Facebook Ads news. In just a little more than 3 years we scaled the blog from 0 to 700k visits per month. This was critical for our success. Given the low price point ($49) and the high churn of SaaS businesses targeting SMBs, it’s critical to be effective in acquiring customers at the lowest price possible. The blog allowed us to crush all our competitors who were heavily relying on advertising to acquire customers and in the end become market leaders”.
They’re already doing it again with their new SaaS lead scoring tool, Breadcrumbs.io. The data seen here from Semrush shows the rapid growth of online traffic that’s been surging since they started early with a strong and strategic content marketing campaign:
What Counts as Content Marketing?
When most people hear “content marketing,” the first and perhaps the only thing that they think of is “blogs.”
There are, of course, other facets and types of content involved in content marketing.
Let’s take a look at the benefits of different types of content you can create.
Blog Posts & On-Site Resources
Blogs are typically going to be the cornerstone of your SaaS content marketing efforts. They’re search-friendly, readily visible, and an easy way to cover a variety of easy-to-read resources.
Sometimes brands also offer additional resources on their site, which might include the following:
- Ultimate Guides
- Free digital courses that are expansive and detailed
- Free templates, often linked to from blog posts, that are accessible with a click on a link to a Google Drive
These are all free, available to anyone who searches— and that’s the entire point. It gives you an in, and you can gently promote your SaaS products and features in relevant content to start to capture user interest.
Lead magnets are any type of content that is used to capture lead information. This typically requires users to enter their email in order to access the content.
- Code as content (which involves creating free “micro-tools”; we’ll talk more about this later on)
- Downloadable checklists or ebooks
- Whitepapers behind a paywall
- Free templates that you need to download
Lead magnets are a useful mid-funnel part of content marketing. They’re key to bridging the gap between people who want a few questions answered in blog posts and paying customers converting.
It’s ultimately the easiest and lowest-risk ask you can make of a customer— get a free ebook!
Video-Focused Content Marketing
Most people think of YouTube as a social media marketing channel, and they’re not wrong, but I also swear up and down that it’s first and foremost a content marketing channel.
Video is an increasingly popular form of content, which is why “how-to” keywords absolutely dominate on the platform. People want to learn new skills, see reviews of different software, or learn how to navigate specific tools.
There’s room for content at every stage of the digital sales funnel with video marketing, as long as you prioritize high-quality, informative content— especially since you can embed it in relevant blog posts and share it across social media, too.
Creating a SaaS Content Marketing Strategy, Step by Step
Let’s get to the best part of this post: How to actually create a SaaS content marketing strategy that will reliably work for your brand.
There are six steps that will help you determine what types of content you want to create and why.
1. Define Your Goals
Before you so much as think about hitting “Create” on your first blog post, you need to understand what your SaaS brand wants to get out of content marketing.
These are the most common goals for SaaS brands when it comes to content:
- Increase search visibility & SEO ranking potential (and site authority along with that)
- Drive more traffic to your site through SEO, content promotion, and backlinks
- Build brand recognition
- Build trust by demonstrating expertise, becoming known as an expert in your field
- Lead generation and nurturing
- Generating free trials and, ultimately, paid customers
- Booking demos
- Engaging existing customers
Those are a lot of specific goals that come down to more ways to attract new customers, but it’s important to make the distinction.
Some high-value, high-level keywords might attract users who are more interested in demos. Someone searching for “how many hours is a full-time employee” is less likely to want to schedule a demo for a “call sales for pricing” enterprise-grade scheduling tool than someone searching for “how to automate employee scheduling.” Take this into consideration early.
2. Define Your Audience
This ties into the example we just discussed; you absolutely must have a solid grasp on your audience.
This means having clearly-defined audience segments.
You need to know:
- Who they are
- What pain points do they have
- Why your tool is a good fit for them, and why they’d choose you over the competition
- What sort of questions your audience may have related to your industry
- What people search for when researching solutions to problems that will lead them to your tool
We strongly recommend breaking down audience segments into detailed concepts by using buyer personas and ideal customer profiles (ICPs).
3. Consider What Types of Content You Want to Create
Before forming a strategy, think about the types of content you create.
Many SaaS brands start with a blog and then branch out to other types of content marketing.
Here are a few things to consider here:
- What do you believe your audience will respond to most, and what are they looking for? If you know that your audience is searching for keywords on YouTube in significant volume, you’ll want to factor video into your strategy.
- What types of content are you willing or able to create? Either writing high-quality posts or paying a freelancer to tackle this for you is one thing, but infographic design, code as content, and video marketing can be more complex; think about your budget and what you’re able to take on for now.
- What content are your competitors creating? This is always a good way to find out what works for them, and you should consider testing it, too.
4. Start with Keyword Research & Topic Generation
You now have a basic idea of what you want to write, who you want to write it for, and what you want it to accomplish.
This is the stage where you’ll break into keyword research and topic generation.
Some brands only want to start with keywords; some start with interesting topics and find keywords that fit.
I’m personally a fan of using an integrated approach.
I start by writing down all the topics and questions that would be of obvious value to a business’s potential user base. These may not always be high-value keywords, but they can be high-value topics.
Then, I conduct keyword research for the topics we already have and look for new primary keywords that would be a good fit for the brand.
Google’s Keyword Planner is a good free tool, but my go-to is Semrush. I use their Keyword Magic Tool to search for “seed” keywords that can help me find specific long-tail keywords that will be a good fit.
As you’re creating topic lists and matching them up with keywords, remember that each post should have a place in the sales funnel. Know what audience segment each post will target, what the end goal will be, and what actions you want to optimize users for.
Posts with topics like “how to run a Facebook Ad” is going to be entry level for an ad management SaaS tool, top-of-the-funnel, while topics like “software to split test ads” will be much lower-level.
A Few Quick Tips
In my experience, many clients who come to me have struggled with keyword research for several reasons.
These tips will help you find keywords that can work for you:
- Always factor in domain authority. A brand new SaaS site is not going to be able to compete with high-authority domains like HubSpot or TechCrunch. You need to find lower competition keywords to prioritize at first because this is what you can realistically rank for. You can check your domain authority here.
- Match search intent. The second biggest mistake I see is brands trying to “shoehorn” keywords to fit a topic they want. This doesn’t work. If your blog post is using a keyword and it does not match exactly what users are searching for with said keyword, you’ll end up with a lot of bounce rates. If you’re unsure about search intent, a quick Google search will tell you what people want to see.
- Remember that it’s not all about individual primary keywords. When I’m doing keyword research, I also flag a few secondary keywords that I want to include in each post. This can be useful for interlinking and building topic clusters so that we can make sure an entire topic is covered, and the secondary keywords can strengthen individual blog posts, too.
5. Map Out a Content Calendar
How often do you want to share content?
Budget and scalability of work will play a role here.
I strongly recommend posting once per week minimum as a SaaS brand, but consistency is the most important part of the equation. Post as often as you can while still maintaining consistency in timing and quality as much as possible.
Once you do this, determine your most high-value topics and create a content calendar. Make sure to account for any time-sensitive posts, like holiday content.
Content calendars aren’t foolproof; a contractor management tool I wrote for several years ago paused their calendar entirely when new laws rolled out in California that sent contract work for a tailspin so they could write about the trending topics. It’s still good, however, to have a guide in place, and it allows you to work ahead.
6. Execute, Test, Optimize, & Repeat
Your content strategy is now ready.
It’s time to put execution in place. Make sure that you’re happy with the quality of the content, no matter what types of content you create.
Outsource if you need to, and if you don’t like the quality, switch providers.
Make sure to provide them with great content briefs to get the most out of external copywriters.
As you launch your content campaigns, be diligent about testing.
What types of content are doing well? Which topics? What lengths of content perform well? (In our experience, 1500-2000 words for content that needs that word count is the sweet spot.)
Look at engagement, traffic increases, and signs for direct results like clicks to a free trial page at the end of a YouTube video or blog post.
Once you know what works, you can shift your strategy and go back to start updating and optimizing old blog posts with the information you now have.
5 Content Marketing Strategies for SaaS Brands
We’ve talked about how to create the outline of your strategy— so now let’s look at a few specific strategic tactics that we’ve seen work for SaaS brands time and time again to implement within your overall strategy.
1. Start with Low Competition Keywords
This is the low-hanging fruit, and there’s nothing wrong with sticking with options within your grasp when you’re getting started. In fact, we recommend this.
Low competition keywords do often have less traffic… but when your domain authority is low, you’re unlikely to rank for a 40,000 a month search volume keyword out of the gate. And it’s better to get 40 clicks a month than no clicks.
All keyword research tools will show you how competitive a keyword is, so start there.
And keep in mind that many long-tail keywords may have less competition, but they’re also more specific. This makes it easier for you to determine and deliver on search intent, even answering high-level queries at an expert level to attract your target audience.
When in doubt— look for question-based keywords. Some tools, including Semrush, have a “questions” filter to make this process easier.
2. Invest Time in Competitor Research
As a content writer, competitor research is a step I build into writing every blog post.
You should never, ever play copycat, but look at what they’re doing… and then see how you can do it better.
I’ll typically do initial keyword research, then create an outline based on initial research and the knowledge of what my clients’ audience needs. Then I’ll search for the keyword, and check out the top three posts. I also pay close attention to the featured snippets and the “people also asked” questions and answers— these are prime opportunities for visibility if you can beat what’s already there.
I want to make sure that I’m answering every question they are, and more— otherwise I won’t rank. Sometimes reading content from other brands also helps reveal questions that I find myself having as a reader, and then making sure I answer them.
You can also learn a lot by checking out the sites of your top direct competitors. What types of content do they publish most often? What types of media do they use? This is invaluable, because you can snag some of their strategies for your brand.
3. Know How & When to Push Your Product
Have you ever made a search for a topic like “how to set up zoom calls” and ended up on a blog post that only answered the question with a 500 word promotion for their own appointment-booking tool?
Bet you didn’t love that, right?
One thing I’ve learned is that content marketing for SaaS brands is great for driving free trials, demos, and product sales… but that you need to be a little gentle about it.
If you go right in hard with an elevator pitch at the beginning of every blog post, it’s like being invited to a dinner party and finding out it’s an MLM event where you’re pressured into purchasing expensive shampoo that makes your hair fall out. Hard pass.
Instead, knowing when and how to push your product is essential.
You should always answer the search intent first and completely before bringing up your product, and when you do, present it as a solution.
A blog post about “how to set up zoom calls” shouldn’t be a promo for a product like Calendly; instead, there should be a tutorial walkthrough, perhaps a pros and cons section of Zoom over Google Hangouts, and then a section about “how to automate Zoom scheduling” where the product is mentioned.
Here, you’d include a screenshot or video of the interface, list a few key benefits that highlight how easy it is to use it to set up Zoom calls, and then a CTA for a free trial.
The exception here is “X best tool reviews” or “Calendly alternatives” type posts, where the product mentions are front and center.
4. Leverage Products Like Content
We mentioned “code as content” already in the blog post.
This is a unique content marketing strategy I haven’t seen used frequently, but that we’re using here to great success.
The idea is to create small-but-hyper-helpful free tools that users can access in exchange for signing up for your email list.
When you want to talk about offering free value to build relationships, this is it. Think about what your audience needs, and find a way to create what I call a “micro-tool” to set you apart from everyone else.
Make sure that this ties into your tool if at all possible. At Breadcrumbs, for example, we have a free email verification tool to help increase data quality. It benefits everyone who would be a potential client and is worried about the quality of their lead data— and it’s totally free, no sign-up required.
When it comes to lead generation potential, this one is hard to beat, especially since you can promote it on its own, too.
5. Refresh Stale or Older Posts
Overtime, you’ll typically notice that high-ranking or high-performing posts start to lose some of their luster— or at least some of their results.
This is normal. Google does take recency of content into consideration for ranking purposes, and overtime in a fast-moving tech world, your content may become outdated on its own.
Brands writing about social media need to update many of their posts at least once per year because of this, speaking from experience.
So go through once a year. See what posts are decreasing in performance, and consider updating them alongside adding new content to your top-performing posts now to prevent decay.
For post updates, I do the following:
- See what the competition has done with the keyword since I’ve last written a post
- Considered what new information needs to be added, and what information is now outdated
- Check statistics to make sure that they’re still accurate and/or timely enough to be considered relevant (stats about working from home, for example, will have shifted dramatically after 2020 so 2019 data would be irrelevant)
- Re-read the post and considered what additional content might be helpful; more examples, more actionable tips, or a section that addresses new questions? .
Even one or two new sections and a few updated examples can make a big difference.
3 SaaS Content Marketing Mistakes to Avoid
A great content marketing strategy can unfortunately be derailed by a few simple mistakes.
These are the 3 SaaS content marketing mistakes I consistently warn my clients about:
- Prioritizing quantity over quality. Sure, both quality and quantity can matter, but without quality, your quantity will be useless. If you can only afford to create one great blog post a month, stick to that— and just make it really great.
- Choosing generic content from low-quality service providers. $50 for a 1500 word blog post may sound appealing, but we guarantee you won’t get the kind of results you need. It may seem fine at a first glance, but this content will almost never be original or actionable, and it’s sometimes even inaccurate.
Look for an experienced content writer or agency that has demonstrated experience working with SaaS brands if you want to outsource. You really do get what you pay for.
- Not optimizing each individual post for a strategic goal. You may have some posts that send users to an ebook landing page that’s relevant to the topic of the blog post or video so you can capture the user’s email. You might have some that take users right to a free trial, or to a free tool you’ve created.
Think about where in the sales funnel readers would be for each post, and how to move them to the next stage. That’s the action you should be optimizing for within your post and your CTA.
That’s it. That’s the bread and butter of content marketing for SaaS brands, and how to create a strategy that will cover all of your bases (and your entire digital sales funnel) while reliably getting results.
And I can’t stress this enough: If you’re an SaaS brand, start investing in content now. It takes time to see the real impact and results (sometimes as long as six months or more), but it’s like a retirement account— that compound interest adds up fast, and the best time to start is now.
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