Content Marketing

SaaS Content Marketing: 7 Essential Steps [With Examples]

Nadav Dakner August 17th, 2021

If you’re wondering how to chalk out a SaaS content marketing strategy to increase brand awareness, grow your site’s traffic, and generate more leads, this article has all the answers for you.

I’ll give you a step-by-step content marketing framework to grow your brand’s influence and share successful SaaS content marketing examples we can learn from.

Sounds interesting? Let’s dive in.

What Is SaaS Content Marketing?

Software-As-A-Service (SaaS) content marketing is among the most profitable and impactful ways SaaS businesses can build brand awareness, generate leads, and drive repeat sales.

Unlike advertising and direct marketing, content marketing focuses on establishing your brand as an authority in your niche by publishing in-depth, highly actionable, and well-researched content that solves your audience’s problems and demonstrates your expertise.

It includes a combination of free, paid, and gated content published on your website, blog, social media platforms, and other high-authority sites in your niche.

According to a recent study by Hubspot, more than 60% of SaaS marketers consider content marketing critical to their B2B SaaS marketing strategy.

How important is content marketing to your overall marketing strategy?

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A typical content marketing-driven sales process looks like this.

  1. A user searches Google for a problem that your company solves
  2. Google Search shows them one of your blog articles on that topic.
  3. They land on your site, find value in your content, and start trusting your brand.
  4. They download one of your gated content resources (an eBook or training) to join your email list.
  5. You keep sending them free actionable content in the form of problem-solving blog posts and emails that strengthen your brand image.
  6. You pitch your product and drive conversion using CTAs in your content.

As you can see, content marketing makes the sales pitch after building authority. 

But why invest in SaaS content marketing and follow such a long process when you can simply use advertising?

Let me explain.

Why Invest In SaaS Content Marketing?

SaaS content marketing and paid advertising both go hand in hand and complement each other perfectly. However, it’s worth investing in content marketing even if you’re not using advertising.

Here’s why.

A research study of more than 7000 consumers found that only 38% of people trust advertising and sponsored content.

Content marketing

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In comparison, people overwhelmingly trust recommendations from credible sources and content published on reviews sites, online magazines, and company blogs.

So, if you can establish your brand as a trusted authority by publishing high-quality content, you can easily persuade people to buy your product.

But that’s not all.

Here’s another significant advantage of SaaS content marketing over advertising.

Every piece of content you publish on your site or in a third-party publication becomes your life-long asset that keeps driving results for years.

In comparison, ads only drive traffic and leads as long as you’re spending money on them.

Buffer has a perfect SaaS content marketing example to follow.

It’s a hugely popular social media app with millions of users. But almost all of its early success was down to its superior quality blog articles and in-depth guides that established it as the go-to information source in the social media niche.

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Oberlo is another brand that excels at SaaS content marketing.

It’s a Shopify add-on for setting up an automated dropshipping business that has grown exponentially over the last few years thanks to its world-class blog content, YouTube videos, and infographics.

By frequently publishing in-depth content, these companies have built such credibility that consumers trust every product they offer.

In short, content marketing is a long-term investment that takes a little time to reach its maturity stage but has numerous advantages over other forms of direct marketing.

7 Steps To A Winning SaaS Content Marketing Strategy

How do you create a SaaS content marketing strategy that establishes your company as an authority and persuades people to sign up for your product?

Here are eleven actionable steps you need to follow.

Step 1: Define Your Content Marketing Goals, Success Criteria, And KPIs

Before publishing a single piece of content, you need to finalize and lock your content marketing goals, key performance indicators (KPIs), and success criteria.

Why is this important?

Because research shows that 69% of the most successful marketers have a documented content marketing strategy for their organization

Content marketing is a long-term investment that requires a consistent and well-planned effort to produce results. Unfortunately, many SaaS companies invest in content marketing with unrealistic expectations and assume their content will start gaining traction from the moment they hit the publish button.

That’s not how it works. Content marketing takes time to mature, so you need to have a clear goal with realistic timelines and well-defined KPIs to measure your success.

What are the most common content marketing KPIs? 

According to the 2020 Content Marketing Benchmarks report, website traffic, email engagement, website engagement, and traffic to lead conversion are among the top metrics marketers use to measure their content marketing success.

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So, identify your primary and secondary goals with content marketing and have success criteria for your strategy.

Not every article you publish will drive sales, but it can attract traffic to your site, convert traffic into leads, or persuade your readers to sign up for a product trial.

Think of content marketing as a sales facilitator.

It will build the grounds for your sales team by making a solid impression on your prospects through credible content.

If you need help developing a content marketing strategy, contact us for a free consultation.

Step 2: Discover Your Audience Needs And Problems

No one reads technical content because they like reading.

People read company blogs, download eBooks, and watch tutorial videos to fulfill a need or solve a problem.

This is why an impactful SaaS content marketing strategy is always based on your audience’s core needs and problems.

Occasionally covering company news on your blog is fine. But proper blog management should always revolve around publishing content that shows your audience different ways to solve their problems using your product.

Because those are the topics your audience is searching for.

So how do you find the most significant problems of your audience?

Here are a few methods

Method 1: Google Search

Nothing complex here.

Search for a problem your product solves and see what comes up in Google Search. For example, Canva is a popular subscription-based design tool that helps non-designers create stunning social media and blog images, banners, infographics, icons, etc.

What’s the biggest question of an ideal Canva user? We could come up with questions such as “How to create a website banner”, “How to create a logo”, “How to create a social media image”.

You can see a couple of articles about logo design tips on the first page of Google Search for this keyword. Plus, Canva is also there.

Now scroll down to the related searches section at the bottom of the page.

More questions to help you understand the various angles of logo design your audience is searching for.

Click on any of these keywords to see more results and related searches to uncover more audience questions.

Similarly, type your core topic in Google Search without pressing the enter key to get Google Search suggestions.

Now randomly try different words or letters with your query to find more trending searches.

Or add words before your query to get more unique suggestions.

These simple techniques don’t require any paid SEO tools but will help you understand your audience’s needs.

Based on these keywords, you can develop engaging content ideas that will drive traffic to your site.

Method 2: Search For Your Product Features

Your SaaS product’s features are ideal seed keywords for finding highly relevant content ideas through Google Search. Consider the various angles your prospects use to search for your features.

For example, Monday.com is a leading project management tool with numerous productivity, task management, and collaboration features.

Its core features include agile project management tools, kanban, scrum boards, to-do lists for project teams, project management templates, etc.

The ultimate benefit of all its features is an increase in productivity and better collaboration.

Let’s try to find some topics for project management, one of its core features.

Google Search shows you the most commonly searched questions about your product feature. Each of those questions can be used as a separate article topic. Or you could combine multiple closely linked questions to write a long-form article.

Do this for every feature of your product to find relevant ideas.

Method 3: Analyze Your Competitors

Why reinvent the wheel when you can use your competitors’ research to find what your audience wants? Competitor research is a great starting point for your audience research.

Analyze the content by your top five competitors to see what topics they’re covering. You can also find new competitors by searching for your topic on Google Search.

Method 4: Forums And Q&A Sites

Sites like Quora, Reddit, LinkedGroups, and other niche-specific forums are research goldmines that will help you find new content ideas by understanding the context behind your audience’s needs. 

For example, Duolingo is among the world’s most popular language-learning applications and makes money through subscription plans.

Let’s search for a random language-related question on Quora to see what comes up.

I searched “learn Chinese,” and Quora showed me dozens of threads with hundreds of responses in response.

For Duolingo or any SaaS in this niche, there are priceless insights in these threads for understanding audience needs.

Plus, each of them can be turned into stand-alone articles.

For example, “How hard is learning Chinese” or “How to learn a new language.”

Method 5: Answer The Public

AnswerThePublic shows you search queries and questions related to your topic from various angles.

Let’s see what it shows when we search for email marketing.

All these methods help you understand your audience better to create content that solves their problems and establishes your brand as an authority.

Step 3: Target Long-Tail Keywords In Your Content Strategy

Keyword research is perhaps the most credible way of gauging audience interest in a topic. It helps you identify the keywords your audience searches for to target them in your content strategy.

But here’s a secret.

Savvy marketers focus on long-tail keywords in their SaaS SEO strategy instead of going after super competitive high volume head keywords.

Long-tail keywords are specific search phrases (rather than keywords). Research shows that long-tail searches drive more than 70% of organic search traffic.

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Unlike head keywords, long-tail keywords have a lower search volume. But they have a clear search intent and a higher conversion rate.

For example, “email marketing” is a very competitive head keyword with thousands of monthly searches.

But can you guess what the searcher really wants to know with this query? Not really.

In comparison, “how to write a sales email” is a long-tail keyword with a few hundred searches per month. But its search intent is obvious and tells you precisely what kind of content you must create to answer it.

How to Find Long-Tail Keywords for Your SaaS Content Marketing Strategy

1. Enter your base keyword in a keyword research tool like SEMRush or Ahrefs. For example, for an email marketing company, the base keyword would be “email marketing.”

2. Analyze the keyword list for long-tail keywords.

As you can see, all of these are long search phrases with 200-1000 monthly searches.

3. List down all the long-tail keywords that are relevant to your product and audience needs.

Don’t evaluate the search potential of individual long-tail keywords. Because when you target a long-tail keyword in your content, you’ll naturally rank for several other variations of that keyword.

For example, there are three very similar keywords in the screenshot above.

What is email marketing – search volume: 1000

How to do email marketing – search volume: 320

How to email marketing: search volume: 210

Any page that covers the keyword “What is email marketing” would have good odds of covering the other two keywords as well.

As a result, the potential search volume of these three keywords is 1530 visitors per month.

When you build your content strategy on long-tail keywords, you get more qualified traffic interested in your product and more likely to buy. Plus, your site never relies too much on one or two keywords for traffic. Instead, you get search visitors from hundreds of different long-tail search queries.

Step 4: Build Authority With Earned Media

So far, we’ve talked about creating content on your company’s owned media like your website and blog.

However, to build your company’s authority, you’d also need to actively invest in earned media assets on other high authority sites in your niche. Earned media assets like interviews and guest posts in the top publication of your niche help you reach out to a broader audience and create brand awareness.

Similarly, it helps with online reputation management. It establishes your brand’s credibility, acts as social proof of your authority, and plays a vital role in persuading people to sign up for your product.

Basically, this is where content marketing meets digital PR. However, many SaaS companies aren’t really sure what digital PR is and how it works.

This is why many SaaS companies hire agencies or collaborate with influential publications to publish interviews of their CEOs and founders.

Many SaaS companies overlook this crucial part of content marketing, especially in their early days.

Similarly, guest blogging plays a vital role in increasing your brand’s “neutral” coverage. The most successful SaaS content marketing practitioners leverage their connections with editors and professional guest bloggers to get their brands featured in different articles.

Here’s another example of ClickUp’s earned media coverage, this time in a Forbes article that lists it among the most helpful productivity applications.

However, landing interviews and guest posts in popular publications requires weeks (or months) of relationship building with the right editors and guest bloggers.

This is where we can help though, as we already have a network of journalists, editors, guest bloggers, and influencers working with some of the world’s highest traffic websites.

This allows us to easily land interview opportunities and guest posts for our clients, which helps them earn valuable brand coverage.

Step 5: Create Link-Worthy Content Assets On Your Site

To drive traffic to your site, rank for your target keywords, and build your SEO authority, you need to consistently publish high-quality content in various formats on your blog and acquire backlinks from high authority sites.

Here are a few content types and formats that’ll increase your audience engagement and help you get backlinks from other sites.

Long-form Blog Posts

Longform articles can be anywhere from 1500 to 10,000 words in length. They’re critical for your content marketing strategy for various reasons.

  • It allows you to demonstrate your expertise by covering a topic comprehensively.
  • It’s more actionable and shares step-by-step guidelines with the readers.
  • It allows you to rank for dozens of closely related long-tail keywords that are crucial for your SEO strategy.

Research also shows that longer articles get more backlinks.

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This makes complete sense because when websites publish short articles, they usually link to long-form articles on the same topics for their readers who want to learn more.

By consistently publishing 2000+ word content, you can quickly establish your brand as an authority, earn more backlinks, and rank for more long-tail keywords.

Original Studies And Reports

If your SaaS company has a few hundred subscribers, you can survey them and publish the findings in a research study.

Why bother? Because research shows that original research and data-backed studies not only increase your credibility but also help you earn more backlinks.

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Once you publish a study on your blog, spread the word about it in your niche so that other bloggers and content creators can reference it in their content.

Case Studies

Case studies are among the most effective content types for building authority and getting backlinks. 

They allow you to demonstrate exactly how you helped a client solve their problems.

So reach out to your satisfied clients and publish a few well-written case studies on your site that feature your clients’ before/after conditions.

If you want to see an example of a quality long form case study, check out the link below to Databox’s case study.

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Comparisons And Alternatives

“Your product vs. Competitor A” and “[Your top competitor] alternatives” are ideal content types for SaaS clogs.

Why? Because most prospects search for these terms when evaluating different SaaS products.

So, identify your top five competitors and publish articles on your site that compare them with your product.

Like this article on Asana’s blog.

Similarly, publish articles on your blog that pitch you as an alternative to your biggest competitors.

For example, ProofHub is a leading project management tool that frequently uses this approach on its blog.

In addition, you can replicate this same approach on earned media assets as well. For example, you can reach out to review sites to pitch your product against your top competitors (and frame your product as the superior option, of course.)

Step 6: Invest In Video Content Marketing For Exponential Results

Nothing communicates your message faster than well-made video content. According to a recent study, 8 out of 10 have purchased an application or software after watching a relevant video.

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This is why it’s crucial to include video content in your SaaS content marketing strategy.

Ahrefs’ YouTube channel is an excellent example of how you can seamlessly integrate videos into your content marketing strategy.

Ahrefs started taking their YouTube channel seriously 3-4 years ago. Today, their channel has over 250K subscribers who generate hundreds of leads every month (apart from YouTube ad revenue.)

Additionally, they embed relevant videos from their YouTube channel in every blog article as well.

This not only increases their audience engagement and keeps visitors longer on their site but also helps them communicate their message more effectively.

Canva is another SaaS that regularly updates its YouTube channel with new and engaging videos.

And of course, once you create a video, you can use it on other social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even TikTok.

If you’re just getting started with video content, it’s best to stick to proven topics from your blog and convert them into engaging videos.

As your channel grows, you’ll gain more insights about your audience and understand exactly what they want to learn about.

Step 7: Develop An Email Marketing Funnel To Grow Your Subscriber Base

One of the primary goals of any content marketing strategy is to attract traffic from search engines and convert it into email subscribers.

By converting into email subscribers, your website visitors permit you to contact them with relevant marketing messages.

This is a tremendous opportunity to build a relationship with your audience and convert them into paying customers.

A robust email marketing strategy also helps you diversify your traffic sources and reduce your reliance on SEO and other volatile traffic channels.

So what’s the best way to convert visitors into subscribers?

By offering a valuable lead magnet in exchange for your visitors’ email addresses.

Many SaaS companies also offer free product trials to acquire subscribers. ActiveCampaign is a good example.

But if we stick to content marketing, you can offer a free report, training, a free webinar, or any other valuable content resource for free to attract subscribers.

HubSpot uses a slightly different approach.

Instead of using a generic lead magnet across its blog, it offers article-specific content upgrades and resources like templates and PDFs to get subscribers.

Once a visitor turns into an email subscriber, you have the chance to nurture your relationship by sending them valuable emails that answer their questions and provide them value.

After the initial few emails, you can start mentioning your product more and more in your emails and persuade your subscribers to sign up for your product.

Similarly, you can also drive traffic to your new content by sending email updates whenever you publish a content resource.

Are You Ready To Invest In SaaS Content Marketing?

I’ve shared some of the fundamentals of SaaS content marketing with examples to elaborate on each step of the process.

But it’s time for you to take action.

Your competitors are already generating leads and sales from the content they published months ago. It’s time for you to plant the seeds of content marketing so that you can enjoy its fruits for years to years to come.

As always, we’re available for a free consultancy call to help you get started with SaaS content marketing.