Whether you’re a scrappy startup or a well-oiled powerhouse, you’ll need a SaaS content strategy if you want to make a splash with SEO.
But why does SEO matter at all? Building a SaaS brand can be difficult, especially if you are bootstrapped. For many SaaS brands, most early resources are spent on product, leaving little to nothing for marketing or sales.
In the beginning, it might feel like the right decision to wait until the product is perfect before you start building an organic growth strategy. The only problem is that by then, your user growth will be way behind and you’ll be scrambling to unlock the right channels.
With this in mind, one of the easiest and most effective ways to get started with building early and sustainable demand for your product is to leverage organic inbound marketing, by developing an effective SaaS content strategy.
A great SaaS content strategy helps bring new visitors to your website and helps convert visitors from other channels once they’ve arrived as well. That’s not all: high quality B2B SaaS content helps educate your audience, contributes to brand awareness, and positions your brand as an authority in your market, all of which can have lasting effects on your success as an organization.
Think about it: when you Google a question or topic, you’re likely going to click on the first few listings you see which actually address your needs. Your prospective clients are going to do the same, and when your content strategy is strong, your own brand will be in those valuable positions in the search engines.
Now that you’re in the know, let’s dive into the why, what and how.
Should Scrappy SaaS Brands Even Build Content Strategies?
Usually, because of budget constraints, most SaaS brands wing it when developing SEO strategies and content marketing. For most SaaS brands, this involves writing a few blog posts detailing their product and others promoting the best features.
However, churning out 20, 30, or even 100 random blog posts is ineffective content marketing.
Yes, even if you hire an excellent writer and the blog posts are well-written.
Why do I say this?
Effective content marketing starts with a thought-out and clear plan. It starts with a content strategy. Here are a few reasons why you need one:
- Helps you understand your audience
- Gives you insight into the content types and formats that work for your target audience
- Ensures every piece of content has a goal and helps drive business growth
- Makes it easy to align your business objectives, content, and team members so that everything works toward the same goal.
All these result in content marketing campaigns that produce a good ROI. So, while it may seem like a lot of work to develop a content strategy, it will ultimately pay off as your content quality will improve. You’ll also enjoy better ranking and a boost in conversion rates.
So, yes. You’ll still benefit from creating a content strategy no matter how small your SaaS brand is.
And with studies showing that 63% of businesses lack a documented content strategy, having one will put you ahead of the pack.
What Counts as “Good” Content?
Developing and deploying an excellent B2B SaaS content marketing strategy might seem paradoxical. You’re supposed to post frequently, but quantity alone won’t move the needle. The quality of the writing matters, but simply having good writers on deck isn’t going to cut it.
So, what gives? What actually counts as good content in a SaaS content marketing strategy?
Firstly, the word to keep in mind is “effective.”
Content is good when it’s effective in completing its intended purposes, whether that be brand awareness, conversions, more leads closed, or something else.
For example, if a blog post is designed to educate your audience about a solution to their pain point, and then lead them to book time with you, the content can be considered effective if it’s doing that.
Next, it’s important to remember that the content has to actually be high quality in order for it to perform well.
Google specifically has what it calls “quality rater guidelines,” which informs how Google evaluates its search ranking systems. These guidelines follow an acronym: E-E-A-T, which stands for “experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.” The most recent addition to this acronym was the first E – experience, and it’s an interesting guideline to keep in mind.
As Google says:
“Does content also demonstrate that it was produced with some degree of experience, such as with actual use of a product, having actually visited a place or communicating what a person experienced? There are some situations where really what you value most is content produced by someone who has first-hand, life experience on the topic at hand.”
While Google says these guidelines “don’t directly influence ranking,” they pull the curtain back in a way, and show us what Google ultimately sees as valuable, “good” content.
Before We Talk About Strategy, Let’s Talk About the Customer Journey
Before we dive into the elements of an effective SaaS content strategy, it’s crucial that we discuss the customer journey first, also known as the sales, marketing or content marketing funnel. This is important because your content must be targeted at users at the different stages of the customer journey.
Let’s quickly look at the three main stages of the funnel that all your customers pass through, and which should inform how you craft B2B SaaS content.
Top of Funnel (ToFu)
ToFu, or top of the funnel, refers to the stage of the customer journey where people are still investigating their problem and its solution. Because of this, ToFu content has the highest search volume yet the least buying intent.
The main reason for creating ToFu content is to raise brand awareness by driving traffic to your site. Examples of ToFu content include:
- Blog posts
- Social media posts
ToFu content is excellent for introducing yourself to your target audience and building a relationship with them. Executed well, your ToFu content will result in more visitors moving to the next stage of your content marketing funnel.
Middle Of Funnel (MOFU)
The middle of the funnel (MoFu) refers to the customer journey stage where users are aware of their problem and are still researching different solution providers. Because of this, MoFu content must be designed to earn your audience’s trust and put your solution ahead of the others being considered.
Your MoFu content must prove that your product can help users achieve their goals. The types of content that can help you do this include:
- Case studies
- Checklists and tools
- “How-to” content
- Comparison posts
- Thought leadership articles
Despite users having greater buying intent at this stage, MoFu content still shouldn’t be salesy. Instead, it should focus on proving your ability to help. From an SEO point of view, MoFu content is also excellent for link building.
Bottom Of Funnel (BOFU)
The bottom of the funnel (BoFu) refers to the funnel stage where users have the greatest buying intent. And because it’s the bottom of the funnel, the traffic here is the lowest compared to the other two stages of the funnel.
Your content must be designed to drive sales at this stage, so don’t be afraid of being salesy.
Examples of BoFu content include:
- Solutions pages
- Use case pages
- Customer stories
- Service or product pages
- Spec sheets
- Product demos
- “Alternative” posts
- “How-to” posts
Because people at this stage are ready to buy, your content must help them decide to go with your solution. To do this, it must be promotional yet helpful at the same time.
Tying in Search Intent
Understanding the customer journey is only one part of the content puzzle: another key component is search intent. While the buyer’s journey speaks to specific customer profiles (which the SaaS content then can address), search intent also plays a critical role in creating effective content, and therefore in a SaaS content strategy.
Search intent refers to the “why” that’s driving your customers to search. It answers the question “what is your customer’s goal with their search query?
Search intent reflects what people are actually searching for, and understanding these goals can help you create content that addresses their real-world pain points.
There are typically four different stages of search intent:
- Informational: During this stage of search intent, your customer is conducting their initial rounds of research. Their queries might be very general.
- Navigational: When a buyer is acting with navigational search intent, they already know where they want to end up (webpage-wise). Examples of this include “RevenueZen blog” and “Google Maps.”
- Commercial: Commercial search intent is when someone wants to know more about brands, products, or services. Examples of commercial search intent is if someone is searching a specific brand or product reviews.
- Transactional: This stage of search intent occurs when someone is ready to actually buy something. Their keywords will reflect that they’re prepared to make a purchase.
Content Strategy Considerations Specific to SaaS Brands
Now that you know what a SaaS content strategy is and why you need it, let’s quickly look at some important considerations specific to SaaS brands.
Start with Bottom of Funnel Content First
As a SaaS brand, one of the first things to consider as you develop your content strategy is to focus on BoFu content. This is because users at the bottom of the funnel are more likely to convert. In addition, doing so will pay off by shortening the time to value for your campaign.
For example, you can create a “how-to” post that shows users how to solve a specific problem using your product. Make sure to include lots of screenshots and instructions for getting started with your product. Here’s an example from an SEO tool:
Content that shows users how to solve a problem using your solution is powerful in driving signups and sales.
You can also create alternative posts to help you position yourself better against industry leaders.
Another reason BoFu content must be a priority is that it helps reduce your marketing budget while giving you the maximum ROI for your content marketing.
Don’t Be Rigid with Your Messaging & Topic Selection
In the initial stages of your content marketing, you need to realize that no matter how revolutionary your product is, it’s still rare for companies to invent a new category. This is important because it will help you understand the market and category you should go after.
Once you’ve determined your target market, you need to consider your messaging. Don’t be too rigid here. Instead, study the industry terminology and consider using that in tandem with your unique messaging. This is crucial to driving initial demand and raising brand awareness. You can focus on setting yourself once you’ve achieved this.
Prioritize Keywords & Content Topics Based on Potential Business Impact and Your “Right to Own”
One of the biggest mistakes many SaaS brands make with their content strategy is to focus on the wrong keywords. These are keywords with high search volumes but little or no business impact.
The point of a SaaS SEO campaign and content marketing is not just to drive traffic. It’s to drive relevant traffic that converts.
To get the most out of your SaaS content strategy, you need to prioritize keywords and topics that have a greater impact on your business. While these keywords may have low search volume, they’re more profitable as they convert more.
Once you’ve found this type of keyword, create BoFu pages tailored to users that are ready to buy.
For example, say you have a revenue operations management software that has analytics as a feature. A generic “analytics software” solutions page might make sense but wouldn’t be a great place to start for a strategy. In this case, that term is so generic that it likely isn’t your target market and is already competitive. And if it does drive some traffic, chances of the traffic being relevant are pretty slim.
However, targeting a keyword like “revenue operations platform” would be much more ideal, even if it has a significantly lower search volume. This is because it will attract users looking for the solution you provide.
The key to finding the right keywords and topic ideas is to choose an area of focus where the content will align with the center of your business model.
Use Sales, Onboarding, & Customer Feedback Data As a Starting Place for Your TOFU/MOFU Content Planning
With the competition in the SaaS space becoming fiercer by the day, you need to find a way to differentiate yourself from your competitors.
The best way to do that is to create data-driven content.
To do this, you must gather customer data from every touchpoint possible. You must use sales, onboarding, and customer feedback data to understand customer pain points and areas of friction when using your solution. The feedback and questions they leave are not only great topics for blog posts. You can often use them for sales enablement or social media thought leadership.
When you create your ToFu and MoFu content this way, it resonates more with your audience than generic content topics. As a result, you earn their trust much easier and position yourself as an authority.
Publishing Volume & Consistency are Key
When you’re a startup or have a new domain for your SaaS, publishing volume and consistency are crucial to the success of your content marketing campaign. One reason for this is the famed Google Sandbox phenomenon.
In simple terms, Sandbox is a term used typo refer to the probation period for new websites. This is where restrictions are placed on new websites before they start ranking.
The reasoning behind Google’s Sandbox is that the search engine needs to determine the relevance of a website and its content before ranking it for particular keywords. It’s important to mention that the search engine giant has never acknowledged this phenomenon. However, many SEO professionals and webmasters have observed it.
The Sandbox is one of the reasons every SaaS brand must consistently publish quality content, particularly in the early stages. Doing so will help search engines better index your content, helping you move out of the sandbox much faster.
Another reason is that regular content updates can help build an engaged audience as you get traction. This will result in better rankings and lead to users sharing your content more on different platforms.
How to Build Your Own SaaS Content Strategy — 7 Simple Steps
By now, you probably agree with me that a SaaS content strategy is a necessity. And you’re wondering how to create your own. Here’s our 7 step process for creating SaaS content strategies that help drive business growth:
1. Define Key Metrics & Objectives
The first step to creating a killer SaaS content strategy is to define your objectives and key metrics. You’ll have to answer questions like:
- Who is our target audience?
- What do we want to achieve with our content?
- How will we measure success?
Some of the objectives you can set for your content include boosting brand awareness, driving traffic, lead generation, and even sales. Once you’ve set your objectives, you can consider the following key performance indicators (KPIs) to track the impact of your campaigns:
- Site visitors (traffic)
- Page views
- Clickthrough rate (CTR) and conversions
- Number of sales generated by each article.
To come up with the best objectives and KPIs, you must involve key stakeholders like product developers, sales and marketing departments, R&D managers, e.t.c.
2. Complete Jobs to Be Done Exercise
The next step to creating your content strategy is to complete the jobs-to-be-done (JTBD) exercise. This is critical to your content creation as it will help you paint a clear picture of the outcome users will get from using your product. After all, people only buy a product to get a particular job done.
To create your content strategy around the JTBD framework, you need to identify customer pain points, needs, and desired outcomes. Doing so will help you create content that walks users through the steps they need to take to achieve the desired outcomes. For best results, make it as easy as possible for users to get from where they are to attain their goals. And your content should paint that picture of ease of use.
This is not easy to do with technical content. That’s why you must have a good system for creating effective and engaging technical content.
3. Scan Competitive Landscape
Another important aspect of an effective content strategy is to scan the competitive landscape. Essential factors to consider include:
Understanding your direct competitors (running the same business model) and indirect competitors (not selling the exact product but attracting the same target audience).
Consider competitors’ keyword rankings, content assets, partnerships, key messaging, and site structure. These are a great starting point for your research.
Scanning the competitive landscape is an excellent starting point to help you properly orient yourself in the market and fast-track your penetration. However, be careful to avoid “crowded spaces,” particularly in the early stages. Instead, ensure you’re using a unique spin on your content, tone, brand voice, e.t.c. This will help you stand out.
4. Conduct Keyword Research with Search Intent in Mind
Most brands focus on keyword research as the primary element of their content strategy. However, going after keywords without understanding search intent leads to poor results.
That’s why you must always record search intent alongside all your other metrics.
Apart from that, you must also give each keyword an opportunity score. To help you do that, answer the following questions:
- Do the competitors look and sound like you in the search results?
- Does your website or content asset have a similar backlink profile as the results?
- Do you have the resources to create the type of asset currently ranking?
- Is the potential volume worth your investment?
- Is the traffic potential high enough?
Besides the target keywords, you should also give each target a business prioritization score.
- How lucrative is this topic to the business?
- Based on the answer to the question above, you can give a subjective score (for example, 1-10).
Conducting this kind of research will help you understand your target keywords much better, resulting in you creating content that meets users’ search intent.
5. Perform a SaaS Content Audit To See Where Your Gaps & Opportunities Are
If your SaaS brand has an existing website, a content audit must be part of your content strategy.
A content audit is a systematic process of analyzing and assessing the content on your website. The ultimate objective is to reveal your current content strategy’s strengths and weaknesses.
Running a content audit will help reveal gaps in your content that need to be filled and the opportunities you’ve been missing. This will help you create a more robust content strategy that drives results.
Here’s our recommended SaaS content audit process:
- Use a tool like screaming frog, google search console, or ahrefs to get a complete list of urls on your website in a spreadsheet. Use these tools to record technical information for each page like:
- Status code (301,200,404,etc)
- Robots directives (index, nofollow, etc)
- Number of backlinks pointing to the page
- Other important technical metrics
- Use Google Analytics or your preferred website analytics tool to also include website engagement level factors to your sheet:
- New users
- Unique sessions
- Time on page
- Other important metrics for each piece of content
- Categorize each page type on your website. This should be whatever is most helpful to you to analyze your site’s performance. You can even automate this by using an IF statement in Excel or Google Sheets.
- Create criteria for scoring each metric of the pages performance. These should be specific to your goals with the site and content strategy. Criteria could include:
- If conversions for the last 12 months is less than 4, url action = “CRO audit”
- If backlink count is less than 5, url action = “add to link building outreach plan”
- If total ranking keywords is less than 3, url action = “merge with similar topic or perform further keyword research”
- The key here is to have enough criteria to quickly and effectively evaluate performance and give a well defined action. I find that “improve on page SEO”, “content refresh/add content”, “delete/redirect”, “consolidate”, and “leave as is” are great actions to start with.
- Manually review each page and it’s metrics in the sheet to both quantitatively and qualitatively evaluate the content. This is crucial because metrics don’t always tell the whole story. Depending on the criteria you set up, you’ll be able to confirm the automated recommended action or add in your own custom action item to improve the content.
- Create a plan to implement your recommended actions. You should assign a priority to each url, timeline needed for completion, a due date, a person in charge of the action, and what tools/resources are needed for the action. This is crucial to ensure the exercise wasn’t a waste of time and that each action actually gets done.
And there you have it. How to perform a SaaS content audit. Moving on!
6. Create an Editorial Calendar
Armed with all the information and data collected in the steps above, you’re now ready to start planning out your content.
It’s time to create an editorial calendar.
An editorial calendar is a timeline for creating your content and executing your content marketing strategy. It helps you map out what content will be created, who’s responsible for creating it, and when it will be created.
And as you create your editorial calendar, select topics that directly relate to the jobs to be done framework. These make for excellent BoFu content that drives fast growth and sales. Also, map each topic to target a specific keyword and stage of the customer journey.
7. Define a Publishing Schedule & Responsibilities
The last step to creating an impactful SaaS content strategy is to define your publishing schedule. To do so, you need to determine:
- How often you will publish
- Which days
- The CMS you will use
- Who will stage the content
Answering these questions will help ensure that your content marketing functions like a well-oiled machine.
A SaaS Content Strategy is the Key to Effective Content Marketing
No matter what stage you’re at or the size of your brand, a content strategy is an essential part of your growth engine. This is particularly true in this age where B2B and SaaS buyers start the buying journey by researching products and solutions online.
And remember, content marketing is a long game. The best way to win is to have an effective strategy.
If you need help with yours, don’t hesitate to reach out, and we’ll be more than happy to help.