SaaS brands are known to be data-driven, and that’s certainly not a bad thing. But some brands get so caught up in the numbers that they neglect the story. Brand stories are told through content marketing, and for most brands, it works. In fact, brands using content marketing see around 30% more growth than those that don’t, according to a ProfitWell report.
But content marketing for SaaS is a little different than the standard fare. Though it’s just as effective as content marketing for other industries and types of brands, there are certain considerations you’ll need to make as a SaaS brand.
If you’re ready to jump headfirst into content marketing for your SaaS brand, we’re here to catch you. And we’ve got all the guidance and tips you need to create a SaaS content marketing strategy that grows your brand…and kicks SaaS (SWWDT?).
Read on to find out how to do it:
What Is Content Marketing?
First off, let’s start with a definition of content marketing. In broad terms, content marketing uses the power of all types of content — blogs, downloadable assets, videos, podcasts, infographics, user-generated content, and more — to promote a brand.
While you can use paid advertising to distribute certain pieces of content, on the whole, content marketing in an inbound marketing methodology, or organic marketing, means that your audience comes to you. Content is less about cold calls and paid ads and more about creating content that speaks to your audience’s needs, pain points, and desires and delivers information and solutions.
While the content marketing process will look different for every brand, you can count on certain phases and milestones you’ll want to meet in your own content strategy.
Wondering how you can create a SaaS cycle like this that will work for your SaaS brand? We’ve got you covered. But first, the $64,000 question:
Is Content Marketing for SaaS Different from Traditional Content Marketing?
In short, yes. Content marketing for SaaS is definitely not the same as traditional content marketing, though you will see some areas of crossover. But if you’re wondering how SaaS content marketing is different from its more traditional cousin, here’s the breakdown:
- SaaS is a product type that can span many industries and niches, so there’s no one-size-fits-all approach.
- SaaS brands are promoting an intangible product and the service they offer customers, so they have all the challenges of both tech brands and retail brands.
- SaaS can include both B2B and B2C products, which must be marketed differently.
- Content for SaaS audiences must balance engaging content with data and information.
- Reviews and referrals are critically important to SaaS brands, so content must drive those.
You might be tempted to lean toward product-led marketing for your SaaS brand, but remember that SaaS customers are evaluating not just your product but your service and support, along with their own experience. Content marketing can tie all of those elements together and put your product in the spotlight while still giving consumers the content they need to engage and make a purchase decision.
When it comes to marketing your SaaS brand, it all begins with a content marketing strategy.
We’ll have more on building strategy a little later. But before we get into that, you probably want to see some examples of how successful SaaS brands are leveraging content marketing, right? We thought so.
7 SaaS Content Marketing Examples
Want to see how some of the biggest and best SaaS brands stay on top of their content game? We’ve got seven of the best right here:
Any great SaaS content marketing list wouldn’t be complete without HubSpot, the brand that basically owns the whole concept. HubSpot offers a huge library of services and tools to brands and marketers across several hubs. While their products are paid (at certain levels), they also provide free resources, along with freemiums and trials.
Everything available in their resource library is content. From ebooks to calculators, templates, and guides, HubSpot understands the power of inbound marketing and uses content as their cornerstone.
Design platform Canva makes amateurs feel like pros. But aside from a great product, they also offer valuable content that supports their brand. For example, Canva’s Design School is a repository of resources and interactive courses that get users engaged and interested in the product.
As a SaaS brand, Canva understands putting its product front and center but also the importance of the user experience. Design School is just one of many initiatives created to do just that.
SEO leader Ahrefs knows search — but they’ve also got a great handle on content. They offer many tools for marketers, and as a B2B SaaS brand, they clearly excel. The Ahrefs Academy offers an expansive library of video content that targets their audience at all stages of the funnel.
Above, you can see a video tutorial on how to use Ahrefs — a top-of-the-funnel content piece for those just entering the awareness stage — along with an Ahrefs certification course for those at the bottom of the funnel ready to convert. This end-to-end funnel optimization sets their content apart.
Social media management platform Hootsuite knows about more than just social content. They’re also experts in B2B SaaS, and they tailor their content marketing strategy around that expertise. They know B2B audiences love data and information, and they’re big fans of webinars.
As you see above, they’re promoting a live webinar. A content piece like this drives urgency and creates a sense of FOMO. And though it’s not promoted here, those unable to attend the live webinar would likely be able to download a recorded version after the fact — maximizing the impact of this content asset and creating more opportunities to generate leads and engage with customers.
Shopify is a B2B SaaS company that powers many B2C brands with their ecommerce platform. They’ve become a respected leader in their industry, which is largely due to their SaaS content marketing. Shopify has leveraged the power of podcasts by launching several of their own, targeting different buyer personas at different stages in the funnel.
Shopify understands that podcasts are becoming increasingly more popular and are relatively easy to produce. Podcasts can get you a lot of bang for the buck, and they work to boost your brand’s reputation, trustworthiness, and position as a thought leader.
Drift is a lead and demand generation platform that leans into AI to help you start conversations with your audience…and turn them into conversions. Drift has a ton of content across their website, and as a B2B SaaS brand, they focus pretty heavily on delivering information, facts, statistics, and data.
One of the more robust sections of their website is their library of ebooks, whitepapers, and reports. These are in high demand for the B2B audience, and they’re a perfect way to do what Drift does best — bring in the leads.
Another well-known SEO platform, Moz offers a bevy of tools that allows brands and SEO professionals to see real-time analytics and search performance — for their own website and those of their competitors. But the Moz blog is where they really shine when it comes to content.
In fact, most top-performing SaaS brands have a blog that they update consistently. And while a blog can feel somewhat old-fashioned in the fast-paced marketing world, it’s a proven method of content marketing that drives results.
How to Create a SaaS Content Marketing Strategy That Delivers Results
Now that you’ve seen how some of the top SaaS are managing their content marketing efforts, you might be ready to give it a try yourself. But before you get to their level, you’ll need to develop a solid SaaS content marketing strategy. Here’s how to do it:
Know Your Ideal Buyer
Your ideal buyer is often referred to as your buyer persona. You might have more than one, but don’t get that confused with your target audience. A target audience is a broad way of reaching people who might be interested in your product. A buyer persona is a much narrower and more specific target that you develop using what you know about existing customers, those of your competitors, and who you think your product is right for.
While target audiences look mainly at general demographics, buyer personas take into account demographic data but also psychographic details and behavioral attributes.
Understand Their Needs
Now that you have a better understanding of your buyer persona, you need to dive into the big question — what keeps them up at night? Remember that when you’re starting out, much of your content will focus on the consumers' needs, not necessarily on the solutions your product provides. That’s the fundamental basis for top of the funnel (TOFU) content.
Make sure any content geared toward the awareness stage hones in on the user’s pain points and not as much on your solutions (you’ll get there later when you create more middle and bottom funnel — MOFU and BOFU — content).
Once you’ve got an idea about what your buyer persona is losing sleep over — their pain points — you can create content that offers them higher value and moves them further down the funnel. But to do that, you need to be prepared to walk a mile in their shoes.
Embracing empathy means you need to take a step back and see your brand as your buyer persona sees it. Consider what questions they’re asking at each stage of the buyer’s journey (Google’s People Also Ask questions are a good place to start), and then design content that answers those questions.
This is a great opportunity to do even more research into your buyer persona and really engage with your ideal buyer. You can do that on social media or check out online forums like Reddit and Quora. These platforms put you in direct contact with the people you’re hoping to market to so you can discover their wants and needs in a more casual way.
Establish Goals and Metrics of Success
Content can be a tricky area when it comes to measuring performance. Because you’ll be creating a lot of content at the TOFU/awareness stage, you may not always see your return reflected in revenue or sales. Content — much like SEO — is a long game and an investment for the long term. But there are some things you can measure to make sure your strategy is on track:
Point of First Contact
Think of this as the first impression you make on a potential customer. You can use gated content assets to acquire new leads and find out where those leads are coming from. In other words, you can track which piece of content moved them enough to give out their contact information. Knowing where their positive first impression occurred will help you create more content that gets results.
Customer Acquisition Costs
Customer acquisition cost, or CAC, compares what you’re spending on marketing to the number of customers you acquire for that spend. The formula for CAC is as follows:
CAC = MC (marketing costs) / CA (number of customers acquired)
You may choose to look at the CAC of your entire marketing budget or break it down into siloes so you know which initiatives and strategies are most effective.
Increase in Monthly Visits
Keep an eye on website traffic to understand if you’re getting more or fewer visitors after launching your content strategy. You can’t know if your content is driving new traffic, but you start to identify trends (e.g., your traffic goes up whenever you post a new blog).
Building a strong backlink profile is crucial to improving your search ranking and increasing your domain authority. And the good news: Content is one of the best ways to build backlinks. When you create content other people want to link to, you get a lift. Or you could create guest posts and content for other high-authority sites. Whatever your approach, you’ll want to closely monitor your backlinks as you launch your content marketing strategy.
Free Trial Registrations
This is a big one for SaaS brands, many of which are built on the free trial or freemium models. Registrations for trials will likely come more from middle and bottom funnel content, so you’ll want to keep a close eye on those to ensure they’re driving users to sign up.
Every piece of content you create should be optimized for search. That means you should have your priority keywords strategically placed throughout. For a lot of SaaS content, you’ll want to select lower-volume, high-intent keywords that drive conversions. They’re much easier to rank for, and they’re typically more effective than focusing on mega keywords that are highly competitive.
Average Lifetime Value
Now that you know how much it costs to acquire a new customer, you’ve probably also realized that it’s more cost-effective to hang on to the customers you’ve got. So you’ll want to keep an eye on average lifetime value (LTV). The formula for calculating LTV is:
CLTV = CV (customer value) x ACL (average customer lifespan)
You can calculate LTV in two ways: either using past data to look at historic values or using predictive analytics via machine learning to anticipate the value.
In addition to free trial registrations, you’ll also want to track requests for demos, as these are often very motivated buyers. You’ll want to make sure you’re tracking exactly where the requests come from, whether it’s via your blog, social media, or somewhere else, so you know exactly which piece of content is driving them.
New vs. Returning Visitors
Increased traffic is a great thing, but if they’re visiting your site and never coming back again, all the traffic in the world doesn’t really matter. Plan to keep tabs on how many visitors come back to your site. You can then determine why they’re jumping ship and create content that gives them a reason to stay on the site.
Lead Conversion Rate
Lead conversion rate or LCR measures how many conversions you’re getting for each visit to your website, whether those conversions are opting in to notifications, signing up for a mailing list, or downloading a piece of gated content. The formula for LCR is:
LCR = C (conversions) / L (lead opportunities)
LCR will be different based on what you’ve determined to be a conversion and how you define a lead opportunity.
Conduct Competitor Analysis To Review What’s Working for Your Competitors
If you’re an established SaaS brand, you probably have a good handle on who your competitors are and what they’re doing to market their brand. But if you’re a newer SaaS brand or startup, or you simply haven’t checked in a while, you’ll want to audit the content your competition is distributing before you launch your own content marketing strategy.
Check out their websites, read up on their blog, and go ahead and download a few gated assets so you get a good handle on what they’re prioritizing. Don’t forget to check out the content they’re promoting on social, and take a good look at how engaged their followers are. If you find high-quality content and plenty of interaction between the brand and the consumer, you’ve found a good blueprint for what you’ll need to do to compete.
Map Keywords to Buyer’s Journey
To make sure your site is ranking well — so all that great content you’re creating gets found — you’ll need to make sure your keywords are all mapped to the buyer’s journey and align with where your users are in the funnel. That means you’ll need to create content specifically for each stage in the journey.
It’s tempting to focus most of your content at the top of the funnel because that’s where most leads come in. And more leads = more opportunity, right? Not always. Because TOFU content is so broad, you’ll get a lot of leads coming into the funnel to get the info they want and just as quickly falling out of it.
If you choose keywords based on the top of the funnel, you will have a lot more competition, a harder time ranking, and minimal results. You shouldn’t neglect the top of the funnel, but don’t be afraid to focus a little more on the middle and bottom sections (the consideration and decision stages of the buyer’s journey). This is where the magic (i.e., conversion) happens.
Choose MOFU and BOFU keywords by aiming for long-tail keywords that are low in volume and heavy on search intent because those are the ones that answer your buyer persona’s questions and give them the exact info they need to proceed down the funnel.
Create Content That Achieves Your Goals
What are your content marketing goals? You might have many you want to achieve, whether it’s just getting more traffic to your site, generating new leads, or increasing conversions. There’s no “wrong” goal to choose when it comes to content marketing, but you do need to make sure that each goal you set is SMART:
The goals you set will also help define which metrics are the most important in tracking your success.
Create Content for Each Stage of the Funnel
Whether you’re aiming to go wide with TOFU content or narrow down to motivated buyers with MOFU, you can’t ignore any stage of the funnel.
Be aware of what your buyer persona is looking for at each stage, and make sure the content you’re creating fulfills their needs.
Don’t forget to target your post-purchase audience as well. Content is a great motivator for getting repeat customers that refer their network, so this isn’t an area you can neglect.
Establish a Process for Content Creation
Most of the work you’ll do for your SaaS content marketing strategy will happen during the actual content creation. So you’ll want to have your process established early on. It’s important that your brand maintains a consistent publication schedule (more on that in a minute), so having a clearly outlined process will help ensure you’re always meeting deadlines. To find gaps in your content planning, you can use a content matrix to plot out your strategy.
The content creation process will look a bit different for individual brands, but you can expect it to include most of the following steps:
- Research trending topics within your industry and niche, and brainstorm content ideas that align with the funnel.
- Plan out content on a monthly/quarterly basis using an editorial calendar.
- Seek out talent to create the content, whether it’s freelance writers, an outsourced agency, or in-house team members.
- Edit all content for brand tone/voice consistently, grammatical errors, and alignment with your brand style guide.
- Schedule content and publish across distribution channels.
Your process might include additional steps in between, but these will cover the basics you need to get started.
Publishing irregularly will not deliver results. You don’t need to publish content every day, but you will need to establish a regular and consistent cadence for your content publication and distribution.
Most B2B brands publish content on a daily to weekly basis, with “multiple times per week” being the most common. Your schedule will vary based on the availability of resources and whether you have to find outside support to create your content. But the important thing is that the content publication happens regularly.
Have a Plan for Earning Traffic
You don’t want to invest all this time and energy into creating killer content only to find that no one actually sees it. That means you need a plan for getting traffic to your site, your social platforms, and anywhere else you’re distributing your content.
There are two reliable ways to increase your traffic:
SEO takes time. It’s a long-term investment in your brand, and it comes with some great ROI. SEO involves making sure your content is optimized with your selected keywords, but it’s more than that. You’ll also want to improve your site’s technical and on-page SEO by ensuring there’s no errors or issues that turn off visitors. SEO is an excellent partner to content, and they nearly always work better when used in conjunction.
If you’ve spent time building a comprehensive email list, you’re already ahead of the curve. Email is a reliable way to get your content in front of the right audience because they’ve already opted in to hear from you.
Develop an Email List Building Strategy
Speaking of email, it’s important that you build a solid list and put some energy into keeping it maintained. Clean it up regularly, eliminating duplicate addresses and managing unsubscribes.
Then, create a strategy for distributing your content to your list. Look into segmenting it so the right content always gets to the right audience. Then create email campaigns highlighting your content, whether it’s a newsletter, product updates, lead magnets, or downloads.
Create a Content Distribution Strategy
When you’re putting together your SaaS content marketing strategy, you’ll go through several stages before you get to content distribution, which is one of the final steps in your content marketing journey.
Where you distribute your content is almost as important as what you distribute. Not all content is created equal, and as you’ll likely be tailoring content to different buyer personas at different stages in the funnel, you can’t just expect to broadcast it to the entire world and call it good.
Break down each piece of content by funnel stage, buyer persona, keywords, and strategic goals, then figure out which platforms will work best for distribution.
Repurpose Published Content
The best thing about content (in our humble opinion) is that it just gets better with time. If you’re creating relatively evergreen content, you should be able to update, repurpose, and reuse it for a longer period of time.
In fact, older content that gets repurposed and redistributed on different channels usually delivers the best results:
As you can see above, the key isn’t just updating the copy and not changing anything else — instead, you’ll want to change up the format (turning an infographic into a video, for example) and distribute it on a new channel.
This is a cost-effective and efficient way to approach your content strategy. It will save you time and money in the long run and improve your outcome.
Track Results and Adjust Based on Data
Earlier, you laid out the most important metrics you want to track to make sure you’re heading toward achieving the goals you set. But how do you track all that data? Most of the tools you use will have some sort of analytics you can use, and some will offer the ability to create a custom dashboard so you can always keep tabs on important KPIs.
Another way to track and use the data to your benefit is with A/B testing. Also called a split test, A/B testing is a valuable way to understand what your audience wants to see…and what they don’t.
One important thing to keep in mind:
Only test one element at a time, whether it’s a blog title, a CTA, or a webpage header. If you test more than one thing, you won’t know which is performing better and which is struggling.
A/B testing will give you quick results, so you can adapt your strategy as needed. It's something most startups are very familiar with, but all businesses can learn from experimentation and testing. You should plan on a regular testing cycle throughout your content campaign so you’re constantly making improvements and finding the best variants for your audience.
Embrace Automaton with SaaS Content Marketing Tools
There are so many tools available to marketers and brands these days, and many of them provide a valuable solution that will help you create a SaaS content marketing strategy that works. Here are some of our favorite picks:
Ahrefs is a trusted SEO tool, but they also offer the Content Explorer tool, which can help you generate content ideas that are already working in your industry and niche.
This is a great way to check out what your competition is doing and get real data on how the content they’re distributing is performing.
Another tool known more for its SEO abilities, Semrush also offers their Content Marketing Platform, which is an end-to-end content solution. This program will help you generate ideas and will also help you plan those ideas, create briefs, and optimize your content for search.
Once your content is distributed, you’ll be able to use Semrush’s analytics tool to keep tabs on the important metrics.
If you’re having a hard time sourcing the right talent for content creation, Frase could offer the solution you need. Based on artificial intelligence, Frase takes your content briefs and turns them into fleshed-out articles and more.
Frase also helps you improve SEO for your content to ensure that it ranks better. And you’ll get a customizable dashboard so you can track your analytics and make changes to your strategy as needed.
Another AI content management tool, MarketMuse, focuses more on planning and strategy. Their niche is in tech industries, so they’re a great fit for many SaaS brands. According to MarketMuse, most content pieces can take upwards of 19 hours from start to finish, but with their service, you can have a complete, optimized, and ready-to-publish piece in just eight hours.
You know how Google autocompletes your searches, saving you precious seconds when you really need to know, “Why are Olive Garden’s breadsticks so good?” Well, marketing expert Neil Patel has found a way to tap into that dataset and uncover insights that will help you create amazing content your audience wants to read.
There are millions of never-before-seen searches on Google every day. AnswerthePublic allows you to listen in and find out what the audience that matters most to you is searching for — so you can then deliver it to them.
Buzzsumo is a leading content management platform with a bit of a difference. Buzzsumo does what the other platforms do in terms of research, planning, and analytics, but it also has a core focus on influencer marketing, which is becoming a more and more important part of most brands’ content marketing strategies.
Convertkit is the platform you need to help you create the content you want to distribute to your audience. While they focus quite a bit on the creator industries (artists, musicians, writers, etc.), any brand can take advantage of Converkit’s tools and resources. With Convertkit, you can create landing pages, design emails, and even manage your ecommerce.
When you think of content, you often think of blogs, web pages, and other owned spaces. But you don’t want to forget about your social media content, which is where Buffer comes in. Buffer helps you build an organic social media presence and will help you publish and promote your content consistently. They offer flexible pricing with many different tiers to fit any need and budget.
Google Analytics, the latest iteration of which is called GA4, is the old standby when it comes to measuring and tracking your KPIs. From your Google Analytics dashboard, you can gain a lot of insights into how your website is performing, who your audience is, and where (and how often) they’re converting. Plus, Google Analytics is free, and the platform offers plenty of tutorials and support to get you set up for success.
Content Marketing Is an Ongoing Activity, Not a One-Time Task
Creating a content marketing strategy is a huge step forward in your SaaS content marketing efforts. But it’s not exactly a one-and-done event. Your strategy will evolve over time, and you’ll need to continually update and improve it to make sure you’re creating the right content for the right audience.
That’s a lot of work, and that’s why a lot of brands choose to outsource or partner with a trusted content marketing agency. In the long run, it can really maximize your investment and improve your ROI.