SaaS Content Marketing Ultimate Guide: Strategy, Tips, and Tricks

What type of marketing strategy costs 62% less than traditional marketing methods, but generates three times as many leads?

The answer is content marketing, and its popularity is still increasing steadily. 82% of companies are using this marketing strategy, a 12% increase since last year.

If you want your brand to keep up with the others, you need to have a good strategy yourself. So here’s the ultimate guide for you to start off if you’re new to content marketing, and to improve if you’ve started already.

What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is an inbound marketing strategy. It addresses a target audience’s inquiries by consistently creating meaningful content. Said content can be in any form and on any platform as long as the audience fits in with the brand’s consumer profile.

However, content marketing is not focused on explicitly advertising a product- it’s more about helping people with their needs while showing them how your SaaS could help them. This marketing technique can help you drive traffic to your landing pages, improve your brand’s reputation, increase your brand awareness and grow your SaaS revenue.

How is SaaS Content Marketing Different?

SaaS companies have different obligations because their products are not physical, and they rely on long-term relationships with customers that are usually done on a subscription basis. This means that there are several SaaS-specific points your company has to consider while doing content marketing:

  • You must be educative to improve the brand’s positioning.

Your leads should see you as a knowledgable subject in the field: that is how you get them to trust you and keep their business.

  • Search engine optimization is crucial for your brand.

You need to be one of the first companies to pop up once a potential customer in their research stage asks a question. You should aim to drive traffic to your site as customers find SaaS products through digital channels. Visibility is vital since 62% of consumers overlook a business if they don’t recognize their online presence.

  • You’re not only selling your service but also the support behind it.

Customer service is vital for SaaS companies: if you can’t help your customers when they ask for it, they’ll likely switch to a competitor.

  • Good reviews and reccomendations are important to get new and meaningful leads.

Word of mouth is one of the best ways to create awareness for your brand and to pull people down your sales funnel.

However, even with all of these expectations from customers, 70% of marketers still lack a consistent or integrated content strategy. Follow the step-by-step guide below so that your brand won’t be one of them.

An 8-Step SaaS Content Marketing Strategy

1. Define your Ideal Customer Profile

An ideal customer profile is a description of the company or consumer that will benefit the most from your services. The companies/consumers that fit this description are the quickest to buy your products, and they are the ones that stay loyal to your brand.

So how are ideal customer profiles different from buyer personas? Actually, ideal customer profiles are one type of buyer personas. However, not every buyer persona is your ideal customer. An ideal customer profile includes the firmographic details for companies and personal details for a customer, but these profiles are only the profiles that get your brand the most profit or attention.

Your content will be directed at these types of people, so start by learning about their characteristics. Some questions to ask are:

  1. What’s the company’s budget/the consumer’s income level?
  2. Which industry are they involved in?
  3. What other brands do they work with?
  4. Which media outlets do they use?

By using a good analytics tool like Hockeystack, you can identify the profile of customers with the highest retention rates. Once you do so, you can direct your focus at these types of customers instead of other profiles that are less fit for your brand. Your sales reps shouldn’t waste time on leads that won’t buy from you because of predetermined factors.

One last thing to keep in mind about ideal customer profiles is that they should be updated frequently. The profile will change as your company evolves and improves over time, and you shouldn’t limit yourself to the customer type that worked for you in the past.

The New ABM Approach – How to define an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)?
Image from the Smarketers

2. Analyze your competition

One of your biggest problems as a SaaS company is losing customers to your competitors. Content marketing is another area where you need to keep your competitors in mind: you need to know how they are pulling leads so that you don’t lose yours to their strategies.

I have talked about content gap analysis as a good inbound marketing strategy in our inbound marketing strategies guide: that was just one way of keeping track of your competitors. There are several other aspects you need to analyze which are:

  • Their sources of traffic.

Where do they get traffic from? Does it come from direct visits, referrals, social media, or other sources? By knowing their strongest source, you can identify the areas you should be competing in and build your content strategy accordingly.

  • Their backlinks.

Backlinking is crucial when it comes to search engine optimization: good and several backlinks put content at higher rankings. By looking at the backlinks of your competitors, you’ll decide on the standards for your own backlinking strategies.

There are two types of competitors when it comes to backlinking:

  1. Domain-level competitors
  2. Page-level competitors

Domain-level competitors compete with your website as a whole, not with just one article or one keyword. They are likely to be competitor brands within your industry that target the same audience as you.

Page-level competitors are pages that compete with you on specific keywords: they are not necessarily targeting the same people like you, and they might not even be in the same industry as you.

You should perform a separate backlink analysis for each type of competitor, and use the effective backlinks yourself. Use a good SEO reporting tool like the ones mentioned below to look at their referrers, and start using them in your own content.

  • Their advertisements.

You shouldn’t only look at referrers and backlinks: you should also have an idea about the advertising strategy of your competitors. Some things to look out for are the extensions they use and the separate landing pages they have for their ads.

Once you understand how their ads are structured, you should analyze the traffic that they are getting from them. If they are successful, analyze their ad texts, CTAs, and other tricks to use in your content. Having a general idea about your competitor’s budget also tells you about how much you should be spending on your paid content distribution.

Some good tools you may use to analyze your competition are:

  1. Semrush: an SEO tool that shows you the keywords you should be competing for with other additional features, such as the ability to examine competitor performance and backlinking.
  2. Buzzsumo: a social media analytics tool that helps you identify trending topics, keywords and competitor strategies.
  3. Ahrefs: a SEO tool that helps you research the backlinks and traffic of your competition.
  4. Moz: a competitor of Semrush and Ahrefs, offering advanced keyword search, site audits and rank tracking.

3. Define topics you will write about

Now that you know about your ideal customers’ needs and your competitors’ strategies, how can you combine your knowledge and create quality content?

Start by defining the topics you’ll write about. While searching for topics, start by identifying the needs of people at the different stages of their customer journey. You’ll have an easier time if you look at this journey by using Hockeystack: by analyzing the different steps your leads go through, you’ll know the obstacles that they face or the questions that may arise. You can then define topics that will address their needs at any stage of their journey.

But if I have to generalize the needs of different customers at different stages of their purchase (and so at different parts of your sales funnel), it’ll look a little like this:

The people at the top of your funnel require basic knowledge related to your field: their question may be as basic as “What’s marketing reach?” Do not ignore these fundamental questions and have topics that directly address them to create awareness for your brand.

The people in the middle of your funnel will be researching more specific keywords. If the same customer who had asked about marketing reach moves down the funnel, they may search for a more sophisticated inquiry like “How to improve B2B SaaS Marketing strategies.” These leads do not have problems with your product, but their problems are about general areas of improvement that can be solved by your product. Thus the topics you define for them should look like how-to guides with titles such as “How to find your customer persona.”

The people at the end of your funnel may have very specific pain points that need to be dealt with. These may be about:

  1. Having a hard time learning about integrating a SaaS tool to their site due to a lack of support, which may be handled by topics focused on your set-up process or about the usage of new features.
  2. Struggling to see how your service is a solution to their problem, which can be clarified by providing user guides that show how your brand helps them during the process.
  3. Doubts about credibility, which may be managed by comparison posts and reviews.

If you’re a brand that has used content marketing before, gather all the content you’ve already published and analyze their performance. You may want to look back at the topics that were in high demand and address them once again. If you’re completely new, create your content marketing plan based on the topics you have just identified, your ideal customer profiles’ needs, and the gaps of your competitors. Now you need to create a timeline for their publication.

4. Create an editorial timeline

The standards are high for content marketing: you need consistent and quality content, and you need it at the right time. Publishing too little is just as worse as publishing way too much or publishing irregularly.

Too little or irregular content lowers your chances of popping up on searcher’s screens, and publishing too much means less quality and more rushed content, which won’t satisfy the readers.

You need to find a balance between publishing lengthy, quality content and delivering quickly to your audience. This requires good organization and delegation.

That’s why you need to create an editorial timeline. On this timeline you’ll track:

  • The topics and content types to be posted,
  • The author/editor/publisher that will be assigned,
  • The publishing date,
  • The promotional channels,

And any other detail that seems necessary for your organization.

5. Choose distribution channels and create a distribution strategy

Distribution channels define the path your product goes through before reaching a consumer. They aim to promote products and make them accessible to the right scale of customers as soon as possible. Those involved for SaaS companies are mainly media channels, and they can be separated into three categories:

  1. Owned media channels: your brand’s website, social media accounts, email newsletter, and other channels you own.
  2. Earned media channels: looks like other brands mentioning your product in their own channels or reviews about your products,
  3. Paid media channels: include influencers, paid social media ads, etc.
How Does Outbrain Content Distribution Work?
Image from outbrain.com

As a SaaS company, you’ll be using all of these channels for your content distribution strategy. It’s important to find a good channel to content fit. To find the right channels, you will go through a few steps:

  1. Asking questions about your content
  2. Benchmarking
  3. Analyzing the costs and benefits of the channel

The first step is to ask some fundamental questions about your content. Where will you publish it? Keep in mind that different types of content will require different platforms.

If you’re mainly publishing on your own blog, you may consider earned media channels to get other brands to mention your posts. Which social media platforms are fit for your content?

You’ll probably publish on a platform that’s frequently used by your ideal customer profile. The channel that’s fit for distributing, say, Instagram posts are paid media channels (specifically paid social media ads).

The second step is benchmarking. With this method, you’ll research your competition’s distribution channels and strategy, and create a model that’s at least as efficient as it. You’ll ask the questions that you’ve asked about your own content in the first step explained above.

Then you’ll look for the distribution methods that they use for their platforms and measure their benefits. To find the most productive channels that they use, you’ll want to use KPIs. Learn more about KPIs in the step below.

The third step is analyzing the costs and benefits of a channel. Use a PPC report to see if your paid channels are worth their cost. Make sure to measure the effectiveness of your content distribution channels by using these content marketing metrics and KPIs (which are explained below).

Once you’ve established the right channels for your different content types, set a goal for each one. What do you expect from your social media ads or your reviews? Do you want to increase traffic, create awareness, or build your reputation? You’ll later measure the performance of your strategies by comparing the results and your initial goals.

6. Position your product as the solution

I have talked about customers’ pain points and addressing them under the third headline. But providing general solutions and not showing people the right tools isn’t good for anybody.

This is where your products come in. For a reader looking for ways to improve their marketing reach, you’ll talk about your insights tool and explain how it’s used to understand visitors’ pain points. You’ll tell them about your product’s ability to track page-based metrics, and you’ll even give them a short step-by-step guide.

There are some key points you still need to keep in mind while promoting your product as a solution though. These points are:

  • Don’t make your content all about your product. Your posts should mainly be educative, giving the reader information that they can use without your product as well. This way, they are likely to come back to your articles and have a better impression.
  • Don’t force your product into an article if it’s not really a solution to the user’s problem. This will make your content seem like a forced ad, which is the exact opposite of what content marketing is about.
  • Don’t make your content too general to show your product to a lot of people. There isn’t a crowd of people actively searching for a solution that your brand provides. Know that content marketing is supposed to be targeted, and that its intent is to reach the right people, not all people.

7. Measure performance

Once you’ve gone through every step that I’ve described above, your content strategy is good to go. But how do you know if it’s working as you want it to?

You know by measuring your performance as you do with every other marketing technique. For content marketing specifically, you should be using key performances indicators (KPIs.)

KPIs measure performance for a certain strategic goal over a specific amount of time. While metrics track specific actions, KPIs measure overall performance with respect to a specific goal. A metric and a KPI aren’t the same thing, but metrics are used in KPIs.

There are countless different KPIs that you can create for your content strategy’s needs, but all of these different indicators can be categorized under eleven main types:

  1. Quantitative Indicators: only use numbers to measure progress,
  2. Qualitiative Indicators: do not use numbers, examples include customer satisfaction surveys where the opinions are typed out,
  3. Leading Indicators: verify long term trends and predict possible positive outcomes for the future,
  4. Lagging Indicators: compare performance before and after a certain change is made in order to measure the initiatives’ success,
  5. Input Indicators: record the resources needed for a goal such as funding,
  6. Output Indicators: measure the success of a business activity or process such as profit, new customers acquired, etc,
  7. Process Indicators: measure the efficiency of a business,
  8. Practical Indicators: examine the effectiveness of brands’ existing processes, which may be unique to the companies,
  9. Directional Indicators: measure a company’s success by comparing with rival brands and examining specific metrics.
  10. Actionable Indicators: measure the ability of a company to adapt to changes and improvements,
  11. Financial Indicators: measure the monetary stability and growth of a brand
How to Do an SEO Competitor Analysis
Image from aioseo.com

There is a wide range of KPIs that belong to each one of these categories, but some of the most popular ones include sales growth, which is a quantitive and financial indicator, hours of resources spent on sales follow up, which is a process indicator, and monthly website traffic, which is an output indicator.

Your KPIs will be specific to your brand’s long-term goals and content strategy. You may create original KPIs that are tailored for your needs, or you may use the popular KPIs like the ones mentioned above. As long as you have specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based goals and select KPIs that are fit to follow these goals, you’ll be on the right track.

As I’ve mentioned above, KPIs involve a combination of different metrics. In order to record them, use tools like Hockeystack and get qualitative data plus automated insights, use tools like Ahrefs and track your ranking progress, and use tools like Mailchimp to get detailed reports about your campaigns. Software analytics tools like these make it possible for you to create displays and reports modified for your brand.

8. Optimize the process and content

After measuring your performance via KPIs, you’ll have a good understanding of your content marketing strategies’ strengths and weaknesses. Now it’s time for you to optimize the process by updating your topics, editorial timeline, and content distribution strategies according to the results.

If your strategies are all working–great! Locate the specifics (such as the type of content that’s thriving, or the distribution channel that is working best) and focus on using more of that method. If some of your strategies are underperforming, which is alright and quite likely, make adjustments and see improvements via lagging KPIs.

As you can see, content marketing is all about adjusting and catering to your audience’s needs. If your content strategy is constantly improving with this in mind, and if you keep on making unique, meaningful, targeted, and quality content, you’ll reap the benefits of this inbound marketing technique.

FAQ

What are the types of content marketing?

Content marketing types include blog posts, paid ad content, reviews, videos, infographics, eBooks, podcasts, and social media posts.

Why does content marketing work well for SaaS?

SaaS companies have to create brand awareness, build trust and look credible in order to sell–and to keep selling. Content marketing serves these purposes by informing consumers and creating an online presence for brands.

What are the disadvantages of content marketing?

The internet is pretty saturated with content and it’s hard to get to high rankings, and the benefits of this marketing strategy may not be apparent in the short run. It requires a lot of time and effort as the content has to be unique and meaningful.

How long does it take to see results from content marketing?

Results may vary, but small to medium-sized companies usually see results 6 to 9 months after starting to use a strong content marketing strategy.