Successful B2B marketing teams spend about 40% of their marketing budget on content marketing.
You know it’s important for you to invest in a content strategy, but – naturally – you’re worried about putting in the effort and spending valuable budget without getting anything in return.
It’s true that creating content that influences prospects and creates pipeline is no easy feat — especially for SaaS brands.
With the right SaaS content strategy and an effective system, creating high-performing content for your SaaS becomes much easier. Especially if you’re willing to put in the mental effort required to dig deep into the nature of why your prospects buy from you, the specific problems they’re experiencing in their Jobs To Be Done (JTBD), and the lingo they use.
We’ve been in the B2B content marketing industry for quite some time. And we’ve seen tremendous results for our own business as well as for our clients through content marketing. That’s why we’ve decided to share our proven step-by-step system for creating useful, compelling, high-performing content for your SaaS.
Why Is SaaS Content So Difficult To Get Right?
Creating effective SaaS content is no walk in the park. It’s tough to plan and effortful to write, and Content Operations (‘project management for content creation’) can be difficult to structure.
So what makes SaaS a complicated industry to create content for?
Let’s look at a few reasons why:
It’s Often Technical by Nature
One of the first reasons it’s difficult to get SaaS content right is because SaaS is a highly technical industry. The biggest challenges with technical fields are the complex processes, oft-times confusing jargon, and other vices that come with the territory. These make it difficult to create content that resonates with readers.
Lack of Data
Another challenge with Saas content writing is that most SaaS products are cutting edge. Because of this, there isn’t much data to use to add authority to content. This is where case studies come to play, but more on that later.
Sometimes, a SaaS brand can be in a niche where there are only a few competitors. This makes it difficult to learn from others or compare a product to its peers.
Most SaaS founders are very close to their product — their product is their baby, sometimes bordering on techno-elitism stemming from Silicon Valley culture (which we have a love/hate relationship with). In many cases, they’re not inclined to share what they see as “the secret sauce”. They can also be overprotective over brand and product positioning. These all lead to a limit in the intellectual assets writers have at their disposal to create SaaS content for a particular brand.
Common Issues When Creating SaaS or Tech-Related Content
There are several reasons many SaaS brands struggle with their content marketing. And in today’s marketing landscape, if you can’t drive inbound leads through content, you’re bound to be faced with astronomic user acquisition costs.
That’s why you must deal with every issue that has the potential of negatively impacting your B2B SaaS content marketing strategy. For most SaaS brands, most issues stem right from the content production stage. Here are some common ones you should look out for:
Conflict Between SEO & SME
An issue you’re likely to face as you plan your content strategy and creation is a conflict between SEO and your subject matter experts (SMEs). An SME is someone who has in-depth knowledge of an industry or product and their input is valuable in creating high-performing B2B SEO content.
Unfortunately, however, sometimes there can be a conflict between a great SaaS SEO strategy and SME teams.
For example, SMEs may want to prioritize features because they understand them better. But SEOs know that readers are more interested in knowing the benefits of a product. This is just a simple example but in some cases, the beef can be worse than this.
Stakeholder Mistrust or Lack of Buy-in
One of the biggest issues with SaaS content creation is mistrust by stakeholders. SaaS products are built on proprietary code and perceived trade secrets that help brands acquire and retain customers. Because of this, many stakeholders would rather shroud their product in mystery, rather than freely share information. Of course, this is a clog that hinders effective content creation.
On the same note, the lack of buy-in from key stakeholders can be another issue you may have to deal with when developing your content marketing strategy. One reason for this is that it can be difficult to attribute revenue to content; so why, they reason, should they invest time in it?
Relying on Non-Expert Writers
Another issue that plagues SaaS content creation is the lack of expert writers. Particularly if you’re in a highly-technical industry, finding a writer who understands the ins and outs of your product can be a needle-in-the-haystack task.
Because of this, many brands engage non-expert writers as they’re easier to find. Also, they’re way more affordable than their expert counterparts.
However, no matter your reason for using non-expert writers, it can do more harm than good to your content creation, if you’re not taking extra care to infuse their work with subject matter expertise. For one, non-expert writing misses some nuances that have an impact on how your target audience receives and responds to your messaging. This can make or break your content marketing.
Getting Internal Technical Resources
Another critical issue that hinders many brands from creating high-performing SaaS content is the dichotomy between engineering and marketing priorities. SaaS content marketing involves educating your target audience about your product. It also, among other things, involves solving your customers’ problems.
This is why you must grant your marketing department, particularly your writers, access to at least some of your engineering resources. At times, this may simply mean assigning one of your developers to walk your writer through the main features of your product or even offering code snippets to use in the content, if it makes sense (for example if you’re an API-first product or a developer tool).
Helpful & Technically Relevant Content That Still Doesn’t Perform Well
Once you’ve started creating content, one issue you’ll undoubtedly come across is helpful, relevant content you’ve created failing to move the marketing needle.
Sometimes, you can invest in content that’s tailored to your audience and it still fails to perform.
How do you solve that?
Always align your content to user intent (A.K.A, search intent).
If you want to create high-performing content for your SaaS brand, you must understand what your audience is looking for. That’s what search intent is all about — understanding the reason behind your audience’s search queries. When you do that, you’re better equipped to create content that resonates with your audience. Not only that, but your content will also convert better.
Remember, there’s a clear Venn diagram between “Things The CTO Thinks Are Interesting” and “Content That Will Perform Well”. There is absolutely overlap, but it’s not a 1-to-1 comparison.
How to Create Authentic, Insightful, and High Performing Technical Content
Now that you know the challenges of creating effective SaaS content, let’s quickly dive into how you can create yours. Here are seven factors to consider as
1. Marketing Must Research Beforehand
Great content doesn’t come from excellent writing, it comes from exceptional research.
Besides keyword research, some areas to focus on as you research for your next content piece include:
- Competitor research. Check out what your competitors are doing and learn from what’s working for them and what isn’t. Research everything from positioning to messaging to user acquisition tactics and everything in-between.
- Market research. Understand who your target customers are and create an ideal customer profile (ICP). Dig deep into their challenges, goals, and aspirations. This also helps with product-market fit, a key ingredient to success as a SaaS brand.
Remember, SaaS buyers, unlike B2C buyers, are more knowledgeable about the market and the solution they’re after. For your content to resonate and convert, it must include authority-building industry stats and zero in on what your ICP really needs.
2. Don’t Skip Creating Content Briefs
A content brief is a document that outlines the objectives, scope, and requirements of a piece of content. It helps ensure your writers create content that aligns with your marketing goals and, more importantly, resonates with your target audience. Without a content brief, your writers will be “flying blind” and you won’t be assured of the quality of the outcome. A few elements a your strategist must include in a content brief are:
- Topic ideation
- Outlining the content
- Research notes
- Specific links, product feature/benefit mentions, e.t.c
- Target audience
Your brief must contain enough information to help your writers produce the best possible content for your brand. It also helps ensure you execute the best SaaS SEO strategy possible for your business.
If you don’t want to use a content brief, tell a freelance writer you just hired from Fiverr to ‘go write a blog post about FinOps for cloud teams’, and let us know how that goes…
3. Align On-brand Messaging / Verbal Identity Guidelines
Another crucial element to creating high-performing content for SaaS is to ensure your content aligns with your brand strategy, so it doesn’t feel disjointed to the reader. This involves ensuring your messaging is on-brand. To do this, you must clearly define your brand identity and develop brand guidelines for your marketing communication.
And your writers must be clear on these too. For this to happen, your writers must be clear on your:
- Value proposition
- Brand voice
- Ideal customer profile
- Buyer personas
Successfully aligning your content and strategies is essential to creating impactful SaaS content. So, before hiring writers or a SaaS SEO agency, make sure you’ve designed your brand guidelines and make them available to your content team.
4. Define Clear Goals & Outcomes for Content
To create high-performing content for your SaaS, it’s important that you set goals for your content. This is where many SaaS brands miss it. They create content just for the sake of publishing content like everyone else is doing.
Effective content must be tied to a business outcome. It must have a goal.
What should goals be for your content?
Easy. Look at your buyer’s journey and sales funnel and create content that helps you achieve your objectives at each stage. Each piece of content must help you move a prospect from further along the sales funnel until they become a paying customer. Looking at a basic sales funnel, here are some examples of goals you can set for your content:
- Attract. The content you can create here includes SEO-focused blog posts designed to drive traffic to your site. Influencer-driven content also works well here.
- Engage. Keeping website visitors engaged is crucial to finally converting them into customers. Content with the goal of engagement can include case studies, user-generated content (UGC), e.t.c.
- Educate. Another goal you can set for your content is to educate your customers about your product. This is where how-to’s, product demos, and reviews come into play.
- Lead generation. Content is a powerful tool for generating leads. Make sure this is one of your goals for some of your content pieces. Examples of content that works well for this include case studies, reports, mini-courses, quizzes, e.t.c.
Other goals you can set for your content include link building, SEO ranking, driving social engagement, and much more. At the end of the day, it’s obvious that content marketing should lead to revenue – but that’s a lagging indicator of success, so focus on leading indicators as well.
5. Build-In Short & Action-Focused Rounds of Revision
Another element you must include in your SaaS content creation system is revisions. Revisions can be time-draining and frustrating if not handled well. That’s why you must be strategic in how you include them in your content creation process.
Simple. Build-in short, action-focused rounds of revision into your content creation strategy.
Doing it this way ensures your writers don’t have to guess what to do to get the content to the standards you want. It also ensures less time spent on revisions, thereby shortening the time it takes to get your content live.
6. Automate or Outsource Content Editing, Posting, & Optimization
Content creation can be quite taxing and laborious. Because of this:
You can end up spending a lot of time on it, leaving you with less time to focus on driving insights and subject matter expertise.
Or you can rush it, resulting in poor quality content that ends up being technically-ineffective, such as the piece not getting indexed, or looking garbled after publishing.
Both scenarios aren’t pleasant. However, there is a way you can have your cake and it too. The trick is to outsource as much as you can of the process apart from raw subject matter expertise: particularly editing, posting, and optimization. Simple as these tasks may seem, they can be quite time-consuming. Also, they need a certain level of technical SEO expertise if your content is to be highly effective.
And that’s why you must delegate Content Operations to an expert.
An alternative to outsourcing the above-mentioned tasks is to automate. Thankfully, technological advancements have led to some pretty nifty SEO tools that can take care of most editing, optimization, and even posting activities. Examples include Grammarly, SurferSEO, Clearscope, and many more.
7. Engineers, Product Managers, or Highly Experienced SME Should Have Bylines
For your SaaS content to be effective, you must always keep Google’s E.A.T guidelines as a focal point of your content creation. In short, E.A.T. is one of many content guidelines Google uses as an indicator of whether a piece of content is valuable to readers. As such, it has a bearing on ranking.
So what does E.A.T. stand for?
- Expertise. Google prefers expertly written content that showcases the writer’s expertise in a particular field.
- Authority. This refers to the authoritativeness of the main content creator, the main content itself, and the website the piece of content is published on.
- Trustworthiness. Again, this refers to the trustworthiness of the creator of the content, the content itself, and the website.
Google E.A.T. is a way for the search engine to ensure that it returns accurate, useful, and reliable results to users.
And that is exactly why you must rope in your engineers, product managers, or other highly experienced SMEs to help with your content creation. It becomes easier for you to meet E.A.T. requirements as well as create highly accurate and effective content.
Tips for Using Your Engineers As Writers
We ended the previous section by showing you why engineers, product managers and other experts should be part of your content creation system. In this section, we want to look at a few tips that will help make that easy for everyone on the team.
Let’s get to it, shall we?
Have them record the content from the brief and get the content transcribed. Some people communicate better verbally and are not gifted in writing. Recording makes it easier as their message can be transcribed and polished up by a writer. If need be, send them question prompts over Slack and ask for audio-note responses – this often works like a charm!
Use Detailed Outlines
Another way of making it easier for your engineers and other experts to help create content is simply to ask create detailed outlines for them. These can then be fleshed out by a qualified SME who would otherwise be faced with writer’s block.
Don’t Require Too Many Rounds of Revisions
The experts on your team are super busy. Respect their time by not requesting too many rounds of revisions. If anything, focus on getting clarification where you don’t understand and let an SME work on the revisions.
Don’t Burden Them with Too Many Writing Related Activities
Again, your engineers and other experts are always pressed for time, so don’t burden them with writing-related activities you can outsource to someone else. For example, don’t ask them to do any kind of research or analysis to assist with content creation.
Be Detailed & Specific With Your Ask
Nothing is more frustrating than going back and forth trying to get clarity on an assignment. That’s why you must be extremely detailed and specific when you ask for help with your content creation. For example, your ask must include:
- Exact timeline and due date
- Exact word count
- Every sub-topic that should be covered
The more specific and detailed you are, the better.
Create High-performing Content for Your SaaS — Put the System to Work
No matter what your SaaS product is and who your target market is, content creation is an inevitable part of the SaaS marketing strategy.
In fact, it is a critical component you can’t do without.
That’s why you must sit down with your team and design an effective B2B SaaS content marketing strategy for your brand. You must also develop a content creation system that will ensure that each piece of content you publish produces results.
What if you don’t have the time, capacity, and resources to hire in-house writers?
You can still create high-performing content for your SaaS without an in-house team by outsourcing your content marketing to a proven freelancer or agency. When it comes to SaaS content marketing RevenueZen is one of the most celebrated agencies in the field. So go ahead, get in touch, and let’s talk about effective SaaS content for your brand.