Content creation and marketing are becoming more prevalent by the day. Those that thought that we would see a plateau have been proven wrong. The growth of this strategy has seen no bounds. That is mainly because it works. Think of some of the most famous marketers or social media personalities. The only way that you would have come across them is through their content creation and marketing. This can be said about most SaaS companies. To put this into practice think of a problem that you are currently having that could be solved by software. If you have any software in mind, ignore it. Now search for that problem on Google.
One of the companies that are ranking well for this search term is Xero. They are a Saas company for bookkeeping. While some people will search for them by name, most people will start with a search that looks something like the one above. By providing a response to this query through content, Xero bridges the gap between the problem and the Saas product. If you need just one reason to do content marketing, let it be this one.
Although you may get some results by just doing content marketing, having a strategy to guide you in the way you do it, is a great way to get started. The most successful ways to do it is to have a content marketing strategy in place. This ensures that your planning is done ahead of time. That is how you can keep a reign on the quality of content that is being produced. There are countless tools that could be used for researching the keywords that you can use to reach your audience. Some of the most used ones in the industry include SEMrush and Ahrefs. The easiest place to start is always with on Google Trends.
Let us borrow from that bookkeeping example for the sake of illustration.
The first thing you would do is enter the search term that you want to identify trends for. The results are as shown above. I have circled the key areas that you should focus on to get started. The search term, location and the period that you are considering. Location is important to ensure that the region that you are considering is searching for the content that you are looking to create for them. The plotted graph illustrates the popularity of the term of the period of time that you selected. This illustration is out of 100. You may take this a step further by filtering the data by category or comparing one search term to another.
When you scroll further down you will see the information shown above. The columns are divided between Related Topics and Related Queries. This is a great place to glean ideas of other products and issues that your potential audience is searching for that your product offers. There is a toggle button labelled “rising” that will provide you with topics according to their rise in popularity over a period. Now that we have gotten the foundational side of things, let us dive into the strategy.
We are going to be looking at how to develop a content marketing plan for a Saas business. To illustrate this, I will be using what I call the 3 Ws and an H. It helps you ask yourself the right questions and answer them while developing your ideas. before you implement your ideas and as a way to evaluate the success or failure of the campaign.
This should be a no-brainer, but we will mention it anyway. The internet is filled with information that is deliberately designed to close a sale. Most of us are quite apprehensive of this approach. Consider the fact that the average person is exposed to upwards of 10 000 adverts per day in the US. The numbers will vary from one country to another. It is no surprise that people are seeking genuine help. That is where those that genuinely provide value win.
To be able to add value to your audience you ought to start by understanding who they are. Content that adds value is content that is crafted to meet the specific needs of the audience for whom it was written. You cannot have a one size fits all approach to this. In most cases, this may require that you create small pieces of content that are specific to user needs as opposed to larger ones that are more general. You can achieve this by addressing specific queries in each piece of content.
Make your content practical/actionable
Most readers appreciate content that they can apply to their situation. This is the sort of content that deals with problems that they may be researching when they come across yours. Practical content positions your readers in a place where they could go away with some action points or next steps in mind. Where this is not possible, it is likely that your content is inadequate. Think about it from a user intent point of view. Let’s consider an example. If a user types in [How to balance a spreadsheet]. The temptation that a SaaS company in this space would be to push their product.
There is nothing wrong with that. The user, however, is searching for action points that they should be able to apply. To sufficiently address this query you would need to provide a response that can be used without your product. Once the question has been answered, you could then plug your product into the article. A good approach would be to mention “If you want an EASIER, QUICKER way to do this, have a look at PRODUCT NAME.” Once the user’s needs have been met they are more receptive to your offers.
For instance, instead of creating content that covers “how to protect your website” you could niche this down to “how to protect your HTML website” or “how to protect your WordPress website”.
It is in this specificity that you will be able to steer clear of competitors. Let us illustrate a small way to check this using the words that we put above.
If we look at the results in the SERPS as illustrated above, there are over 1 500 000 000 results competing for the term “how to protect your website”. Let us do the same search for the more specific term.
Above you can see that there is significantly less competition for “how to protect your WordPress website”. If we were to take it a step further and do an “allintitle” search the results would be even clearer. The numbers are also much easier to digest.
There is a ratio of 311:2410 results. The preferred smaller number would also go a long way in addressing the need for meeting user intent. If someone landed on the general page that covers all sorts of website protection they may not find the WordPress content that they are looking for. Even if it was present, it may be crowded out by the information overload. However, if the user was to find a more specific result, they would likely click through from the results because it makes it clear that they will find what they are looking for. Secondly, the bounce rate would remain low, as they would find the content immediately.
Demonstrate your products and tools
Once your product has come onto the market, you will find that some users will need more assistance than others do. One great way to market your content is to provide guides on how to do certain things with your product. You can demonstrate the features based on a proposed scenario. One of our favourite examples of this is SEMRush. They offer a number of comprehensive courses and certifications through their website. Most of them add value to the user regardless of whether they use SEMrush software or another product. All of the technical demonstrations are done in SEMRush. This would be an easy way to equip your current users to derive the best value from your product. It would also be a great way to get other people in the industry to see the potential within your SaaS.
Most pieces of content that you create can easily be replicated. A great way to build unique content that is difficult to replicate is by creating resources that are specific to the industry that you are marketing your SaaS product. An example of this in action would be the creation of a social media marketing calendar is you have a Saas product in the Social Media Management (SMM) space. This is something that would add value to your visitors independent of your product.
You would then be able to tie your product into it by doing a demonstration of how you can use this free resource with your software. To ensure that you get the highest brand equity, ensure that all of the resources that you create are branded. You can also include contact details and a link to your website. Some of the users that find value in the resource may be interested in hiring you for the application side of things or using your Saas for it.
You are not an island
The success of any content marketing strategy will partly be hinged on this point alone. Social media is built for interaction. It presents all of us with the greatest opportunity to widen our reach. The more we can interact within the online community of whatever niche we are in, the better our content marketing is. This is a good way to establish individuals within the company and the company itself as an authority. You will often find that the more your help and give back value into the community the more amplified and esteemed your brand becomes.
The long game would be to network your way into guest posting on others’ blogs, featuring on their podcasts and so on. All of these opportunities will only result from relentlessly adding value. Quora is an easy place to start.
Once you are signed up. Here are some things that you can do to gain traction.
- Search for questions and topics related to your products and services.
- Respond to as many of these as you can.
- Your response should either provide more data or be more concise than the rest.
- Start with the question with the fewest responses.
- Be consistent in your effort.
- Find questions related to problems that your products solve.
To get the best results, you want to ensure that your profile on the platform is as detailed as possible. It must include links to your website. Here is a good example of a Quora profile.
The 5 key things to look out for have been highlighted above.
- She has put a clear photo (one that is personable).
- She has made clear what she does and where.
- She goes into her skills and responsibilities.
- Gives you an option to reach out to her.
- Links to the company’s profiles on various platforms.
It makes it easy for those that have found value in your input to them get hold of you.
Now that we have covered the strategies, let us go into the reasons behind our actions.
Any content marketing campaign that does not answer the question of why it is being done is treading on a dangerous part. There is a risk that you may develop the wrong content, or develop the right content but in the wrong format. That is just the tip of the iceberg. Get every key decision-maker in your business and every department to be represented as you answer this question. You are looking to understand what the goals you have for your campaign will be.
The more specific they are the better. One of the key ones that will apply to most Saas businesses is lead generation. We all want to see our product used by more businesses. The only way that we can achieve this is by getting it out there. Besides the leads, what most businesses may not realise is that some of the people who need your services are not aware that they do. If they are aware of the need, they may not be aware of the existence of a product or service to meet the needs.
Awareness can be looked at from various perspectives. Here are some of the reasons that you may be looking to raise awareness about your product.
- New Product
- New features on an existing product
- New Service
- New Business
- Keep the brand going
When you bring a new product onto the market, your content marketing campaign would be tailored towards ensuring that people know and hear about the service that you offer. If it is a product that has been on the market for a while but has since been improved, your approach could be slightly different. In this case, you may be looking to appeal to previous clients who left because this particular feature was missing. Perhaps, you may also be looking to attract customers from your competitors. That would be if your product is better in one way or another.
For new services, the aim might be to ensure that not only do people know that the service is available, but they also have enough information to reach a decision, preferably to purchase the service that you are offering. If the business is completely new, that is as good a reason to start your content marketing campaign. You want to make sure that people know of your existence. If your brand has been around for a while, content marketing could be done to maintain your position as an authority within the industry. For some businesses, this may be due to not having been active online. In which case, this presents a brand new market for you to target.
Conversion is at the heart of every Saas company. If you are driving traffic to your service but it is not getting you the sort of conversion that you would like to get most people would engage a CRO specialist. However, what you may miss is that there is a great value to be gained from a content marketing campaign when you are in said position. Not only will it drive new visitors to your product. A good content marketing campaign acts as a buffer. More of the people who end up on your site because of this campaign are certainly interested in what you have to offer. While engaged by your content, they will be moved one step closer to conversion by the quality of content you provide.
The leads will vary. What you want your content marketing campaign to achieve is to deliver more qualified leads to your doorstep. These are the people that your sales department will get excited. If they were not aware of the need, your content marketing campaign would have helped them cross that bridge. At the point of becoming a lead, they are interested in making a purchase. Without this buffer, you are wasting time in the form of man-hours that the sales team put into nurturing prospects that were never really prospects.
No matter how great your content is, it is of no good is you do not define WHO you are creating it for. There is no one size fits all approach to content marketing. Tailor your content to the audience that you want to reach. To figure out who you want to reach start by speaking to the sales team. You want to understand WHO they have been able to close so far. Building that avatar will allow you to create content that is ideal for them. Speak with the product development team.
You want to get an understanding of WHO the product/service was developed for. If you can tie this into a story, even better. What inspired the development of the Saas product. Within that inspirational story is another avatar that you may want to create content for. Comparing the avatar that you got from the sales team with the one that you got from the product development team will provide you with additional insight. If there is a massive difference between the two, chances are there may be ways to bridge it. It may also show some flaws in the methods that you have used to market your product so far.
It is amazing how well you can do by tying your marketing campaigns to events. We see more and more of this being done. Social media is awash with companies that market-based on things that are about to happen or are currently happening. This is an easy way to target people who are interested in your service. It is a no brainer in many ways. The avatars that you have developed as part of your WHO can be used to figure out the WHEN.
You first want to create a list of events that your avatar would have an interest in. These can then listed in order of the number of people that usually attend them. You can also run it through Google Trends to figure out just how popular each event is. Your content could target the most popular ones. Another approach would be to cover the least popular ones, seeing as they are the ones that tend to be the most neglected. That will mean less competition in the SERPs.
Create a content marketing calendar
Managing your WHEN is key to ensuring that your campaign remains live and fluid throughout the year. The easiest way to achieve this is by using a content marketing calendar. This will have dates that you want to publish content, what sort of content you want to publish and how this content will be created. The how will need to include all of the people that will be involved. If there are multiple persons involved, you may want to create reminders for each of them.
This will make sure that the calendar is out in advance. You will often find that event-based content will have annual peaks. This is the time of year that most people are searching for the information. Having several of these peaks throughout the year will keep your business going. One of the most interesting things is that content takes time to rank. Allow it time to be indexed ahead of the event. If you do not have the time, PPC is the best way to go. You can make use of the avatars to ensure that your budget is well spent on a target audience.
Figuring WHAT is the final step before moving onto implementation. Just to recap. At this point, we have figured out why we want to create content, who we want to create it for and when it should be created. The final step is to figure out what sort of content you should create. This will differ from sector to sector. One of the most common trends is the rise of video content. No matter what your content marketing campaign is, it must include some form of video content. When you do not include videos, you miss out on a lot of potential audiences.
Most Saas products are built to solve a problem. Creating videos of how your product solves these problems will go a long way. It helps a buyer along their decision making journey if they can see the product in use. This will highlight important factors such as ease of use. Consider the sort of questions that you have about products.
A great exercise that I have often used is that of searching the web for Saas products or software based on a problem. Let’s use delegation as an example. If you look up delegation software, several products and services will come up. Click on a few of them and look at the product page. What you are trying to figure out is what question you would genuinely have if you were on the market for this software? Consider your products in the same way. Create content that answers these questions.
Written content is just as important. In addressing your what it is also important to figure out what platforms you would want to place the content for the best visibility to your potential clients. While it is important to maintain your own blog there will be other places where content will perform better. For instance, placing your content on a large Saas blog will likely do it more justice than having it on your own blog. The key is to have both. Creating some content for guest posts that would pull some potential customers to your site. Your site should be where most of the content resides.
The final part is that your content should ideally be shareable. This is to say that it should compel the viewer/reader to want others to see it. You can do this by having content that is unique or better than other content that is out there. This is what drives memes. People share things that they like.
The “How” is an important part of the implementation phase. Once the content has been created, the role of the marketing strategy is to ensure that this content reaches the intended audience. If everything else goes well except for this part, the campaign would be considered a failure. One of the things that goes a long way in this regard is how the content is delivered and subsequently perceived.
The old saying “people buy from people” rings true here. That is why you will find that most products have a story tied to them. While writing this, one of the key examples that came to mind was that most whisky brands share their story. Think about it. What is your story? When people can relate, they go beyond just being customers. They become something of a tribe. That is what a story will do for you.
There are two ways that you can drive traffic to your content. One would be to do it through paid reach. Paid reach is the quickest way to get results. If you have an event that is around the corner and you are not sure that you would rank on time, PPC is your friend. Organic reach, on the other hand, is when someone search on Google, Bing and other search engines for certain terms and your content comes up in response to the query.
There are many ways to do this. Most of them would require a post of their own. You want to get the SEO basics right. This gives you a fighting chance. Search engine optimisation can be defined as the practice of ensuring that your content is found by search bots, indexed and then ranks high for your intended keywords.
- Make sure that your content has no more than one H1 (Heading 1) tag
- You can have several H2 tags under which H3, H4 and H5 tags will come as subheadings.
- Make sure that your site is connected to Google’s Search Console.
- Generate and submit a sitemap to search console.
- Ensure that your meta description is filled in on each piece of content.
- Ensure that the images have title tags
- Create internal links between relevant pieces of content.
- Share your content within your network on social media.
All of this would be futile if the end result is you being unable to capture any leads. You want to ensure that you have a full-funnel in place. That is one that picks your audience on various parts of their journey and nudges them forward until they are converted. Test your funnel extensively. I have had experiences of clients failing to make sales because their checkout page is not working. All of these leads would go to waste. If you are using PPC on a broken funnel, you are losing money. There are several lead capturing software that you can use to build a good funnel. Some of the best include:
- Active Campaign
There are several others. Building your own may be cheaper, but will often lead to more time spent maintaining it.
We have covered how you can go about content marketing for saas companies. The one thing that we have not mentioned are events. Attending and speaking at events presents a great opportunity to market your content and gain a new audience. Otherwise, everything that we have covered will get you on the right track. Remember to figure out Why, Who, When, What and How. If you have any interesting methods that we have missed out on, pop them in the comments section. Do the same if you have any questions.