Updated October 12, 2021
Content marketing and SaaS companies are a match made in heaven. Here’s why:
Content marketing aims to provide educational and supremely helpful information that gives real value to the reader. In turn, the reader will consume, share your content, and eventually view you as a trusted resource and expert.
The results? Not only do you win a sale, but you also win a long-term relationship with your brand.
But of course, this is easier said than done. That’s why we’re here to give you the full scoop on how to build a SaaS content marketing strategy that can bring your business lasting results.
Why Content Marketing Is Essential in the SaaS Field
The software that SaaS companies offer helps solve complex problems. Because of that, much of a SaaS company’s sales process primarily focuses on how customers should use your product. This how is the reason why content marketing should be an essential part of your promotional strategy—you need to explain your product in a way that entices people to take money out of their pocket.
How Content Marketing for SaaS Companies Is Unique
Perhaps the biggest content marketing challenge SaaS companies face is the highly technical nature of the business—producing content that is easy to understand can be surprisingly difficult. While your product experts may be incredibly knowledgeable, they aren’t always the best writers. And even if our product experts are great writers (which we know some are), writing marketing content isn’t their primary job.
To further complicate things, SaaS companies typically have long sales cycles, although it can vary greatly from business to business. It can be challenging to create a content strategy positioned to generate the greatest return on your investment, simply because there’s so much to cover.
Your Content Marketing Strategy: Creation and Promotion
No matter what industry you’re in, content marketing has a lot of steps to get right. But to simplify it as much as possible, an effective content marketing strategy for your SaaS company should comprise two basic components.
- Content Creation: Developing and creating content that is relevant and helpful for your audience.
- Content Promotion: Publishing and marketing your content so it is seen by as much of your audience as possible.
These two steps are reliant on each other for their success—you have nothing to promote without creation, and the things you create cannot be successful without promotion.
Let’s take Salesforce as an example. One of their web pages has a long list of upcoming webinars people can sign up for.
Now, do they just post those webinars on the site and cross their fingers that people will flock to them? Of course not—“build it and they will come” is not a sustainable marketing strategy, no matter what Field of Dreams tells you. Instead, Salesforce is frequently posting about their webinars on their social media channels so they can get as many people involved and interested as possible.
Without promotion, content marketing is a dead medium.
With that in mind, let’s quickly go over four things you should know when making a content creation and promotion strategy in the SaaS industry. We’ll also signify whether each step is helpful to creation, promotion, or both.
Identify Your Audience (Creation)
Before you start writing, you need to know who you’re talking to. To truly know your audience, you need to establish two things:
- Customer Persona: Customer personas are fabricated archetypes that define the key traits and characteristics of your audience segments. These traits should be based on data collected about your audience—you can’t simply “manifest” an ideal customer through personas. Hubspot created a persona template you can plug your data into and develop a persona you can reference at any time.
- Customer Journey: The customer journey signifies how close a person is to converting. This journey map should cover at least three stages: Awareness, Consideration, and Decision. Framing your content around these three stages will help you target people at every step.
Find Where Your Audience Hangs Out (Promotion)
In digital marketing, you must learn where your audience hangs out online. Are they Facebook frequenters? Tactful Twitter users? Alliterations aside, knowing where your audience resides will teach you where you need to promote your content for maximum reach.
An easy way to gather this information is to look on Google Analytics. It will tell you how people are getting to your website. Are they coming through Google Search? Or through a link on Facebook? Those insights will tell you where you’re already having success and can dial up the promotion.
But low traffic numbers don’t mean your audience isn’t hanging out at a particular online water cooler. It could be that they don’t know how to find you there—yet. Identify a potential source of new customers and run a test campaign.
Learn What They’re Talking About (Creation)
Your audience has questions about your product or your industry that they want answered. A marketer’s job is to know what those questions are so you can address their concerns in your content.
A great way to learn what people are talking about is to look at SaaS industry-specific publications like TechCrunch and SaaS Metrics. You may also check out industry forums on Reddit and scan discussions people are having in the SaaS industry in real-time.
Once you know what questions your audience is asking, write content that can provide an answer. This means researching the topic in depth.
And don’t forget to write with the customer journey stages in mind! Here are some quick examples of which content types fit in different stages:
- Awareness: Glossary pages, infographics
- Consideration: Video tutorials, case studies
- Conversion: Testimonials, surveys
Know How Your Content Performs (Both)
Finally, you need to know how your content is being received. But how do you know if your content was successful?
With Google Analytics, you can measure things like site traffic, conversion rates, and SEO performance. These are all excellent indicators of how well your content is answering your audiences’ questions.
This data can also indicate how well your content promotion efforts have done and whether or not your content is answering your audience’s questions. For example, if your newest blog post has a low bounce rate and leads people to other pages, you can assume it’s answering a lot of questions.
The 4 Best Tactics for SaaS Content Marketing Beginners
The above points are just the bare bones of what a SaaS content marketing strategy is; these points really boil down to coming up with content ideas and knowing where to put them.
The next step is to focus those content ideas into specific tactics and formats that will interest your audience. So what are some marketing tactics that are effective in the SaaS industry? We’ll outline four industry favorites, give you examples of who’s doing it right, and alert you to potential pitfalls you may run into.
1. Educational Onsite Content
Educational onsite content is a great SaaS content marketing tactic for three reasons:
- The first is you can educate your audience about topics related to your product. This kind of content can help your audience realize their need for your SaaS product.
- The second reason educational onsite content is so effective is because it can teach your users how to use your product. Most SaaS products come with a relatively steep learning curve, so having content that can explain the nuances of your service will make your customers’ experience with your brand significantly better.
- Another huge benefit of onsite content is its longevity—a single piece of content can last indefinitely. You will need to update the information every now and then as information changes, but otherwise, this is a very low-maintenance form of content marketing
Success Story: Hubspot
It shouldn’t be any surprise that Hubspot, a SaaS company that delivers marketing solutions, has a killer onsite content strategy. Their resources are used by universities and marketing agencies alike to teach principles of marketing and instruct their users on how to use their services.
Consider Hubspot’s web page for their free email tracking software. It clearly outlines why it’s beneficial, the features it contains, and some FAQs regarding the product. This content is informative, instructive, and indefinitely true (until the newest update!).
- High volume required: You’ll need to produce a lot of writing if you want to make an impact with onsite content. That may end up being a larger time commitment than you bargained for (but you can always outsource content creation to save time).
- Slow startup time: It can take a while to see the results from onsite content, even if you implement SEO into your content (which can take months to make traction). To accelerate results you can always pay to promote your content, which will of course take more out of your marketing budget.
2. Educational Video Content
Some of your customers are visual learners—while written content can be somewhat helpful, they’ll get much better insight from a video that walks them through every step. This also perfectly complements the industry, since SaaS relies so heavily on designs and visuals. So, you can show your customers exactly how to use your service with the same visuals and prompts they will see when using your product.
Success Story: Vidyard
Vidyard is a service that allows you to easily record and share videos with other businesses. To prove their product is an effective video creation tool, they have a plethora of interesting and informative videos that explain how their service works. They also feature sample videos to show the versatility of their product.
- Difficult to make it look professional: Frankly, video is expensive. If you don’t have the right equipment or skill set, your videos can look cheap and unengaging, no matter how interesting the video topic actually might be.
- No easy way to update: Unlike onsite content, videos are pretty much permanent. There’s no easy way to go in and edit something—you’ll have to reshoot a portion of the video if something needs to change. Or, if you need to revise the entire video, you’ll just have to film a new video entirely.
3. Gated Resources
Gated content is full of information that you can’t get anywhere else (at least that’s what it should be). Since SaaS products usually deal with incredibly complicated tasks, customers will want a resource that goes in-depth about your service, whether it’s a general guide of how to use it or how your service applies to a specific industry task.
Usually, gated content is guarded by an information exchange request. For example, you may have to input your email to gain access. This is a quick and easy way to build on your lead-nurturing strategy, allowing you to send out emails to people you know are already interested in your service
Success Story: Adobe
Adobe’s services branch into nearly every industry and each service is lauded for its sophistication. But ease of use? That’s a different story. To compensate, Adobe produces hundreds of guides, tutorials, and online courses. Anyone can access these resources, provided they give Adobe their email address.
- Hard to come up with valuable content: To really warrant gated content, the resource has to be really, really awesome. It has to offer unique insight into a specific problem. That kind of solution is hard to come up with, and even harder to put into words.
- Difficult to manage the new influx of emails: You can get a lot of email subscriptions from your gated content, but you also must know what to do with them. Processes like marketing automation can help you organize and make use of these new leads, but without that service, those emails can quickly go to waste.
4. Industry-Related Podcasts
Podcasts are a fantastic way to establish your authority in the SaaS industry—who wouldn’t trust a well-produced radio show? But in all seriousness, podcasts are opportunities to build an audience, establish your expertise, and inspire conversations around your services. If you’re consistent about posting, you can promise recurrent value to frequent listeners and further engrain their loyalty to your brand.
Additionally, podcasts can be easily repurposed to other forms of content. Simply copy the transcript and turn it into a blog post, or film the recording sessions and make a video.
Success Story: ProfitWell
ProfitWell offers subscription management services for some of the most recognizable brands in the market. They also have a podcast, DTC Priced Right, that discusses the effectiveness of certain direct-to-customer (DTC) business models. Essentially, they’re producing case studies for reputable DTC companies so their listeners can learn what works and what doesn’t work in the DTC space.
- Easy to run out of ideas: If your podcast is focused on delivering advice, you can quickly run out of meaningful things to say. You can get around this by conducting interviews and responding to questions from listeners, but those shouldn’t replace genuinely thoughtful insights.
- Schedules can get the best of you. Podcasts should be published regularly. If you falter from that schedule, you may lose some of your listeners to other podcasts.
Make Your Content Marketing Plan Today
We’re done! This is everything you need to know to get your SaaS content marketing strategy up and running. Now it’s time to outline a content plan and start coming up with ideas to write about.
If you think you’ll need additional help, at least to just get started, consider what Big Leap’s marketing experts have to offer. Contact us and see how our content marketing services can help strategize and implement your content marketing plan.