The chances are you decided to try how content marketing would work for your SAAS business. Everyone (including us) is talking about content marketing and how to do it.
I’m sure you already read through the tons of blog posts, infographics, and ebooks. Here you will read how we approach SAAS content marketing process.
Let’s start fast from the very beginning: Why online businesses should pay attention to content marketing. Or is it just another fluffy buzzword?
Here are the numbers:
- While content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing, it generates more than three times as many leads
- Content marketing pacemakers face 7.8 times more traffic compared to others
- 70% of B2B marketers are going to produce more content in 2017 vs. 2016
We see higher ROI compared with those of outbound marketing + higher traffic + the readiness of marketers to invest.
Does content marketing work for SAAS business?
Here are the opinions of SAAS marketing experts:
One of the most effective and efficient ways at generating leads for a SAAS startup is by focusing on content generation and inbound marketing.
– Patrick Merfert, the director of marketing at 9Lenses
Content marketing. It worked wonders for us at Snipcart. So yeah, I think the best way to grow a SaaS or a tech startup today is through content marketing.
– Francois Lanthier Nadeau, a marketing lead at Snipcart
And I just can’t stand but mention a great example of a SAAS content marketing success – GrooveHQ. They built the whole marketing of their customer service solution business around content.
I think that works because Groove’s team does content marketing right:
- segments their audience (2 blogs – Startup Journey with insights for startups, and Customer Service with the relevant tips for startups and established businesses)
- covers the topics their readers are really interested in. Groove team definitely hits the target with their to-the-point and to-the-heart titles
- tries out different content types: Started from the authentic stories in the form of the articles, then embraced interviews and created a content marketing course
- their content offers practical advice, and they stay consistent in their voice and tone (friendly and super-useful)
The marketing funnel is here to follow. Guide your customers through the funnel’s stages with content. Associate each SAAS content marketing goal with the respective stage and decide on what to measure to track success.
Why this is important
It’s a no-brainer: You do content marketing to achieve something. Decide on what that something is and how much of that something you’d like to get.
80% of B2B companies will focus on lead gen as a content marketing goal and 78% measure website traffic to see how their content marketing efforts deliver. Also, 66% of B2B marketing professionals stated: “developing targeted content by buyer stage” as the biggest challenge their lead nurture campaigns.
Indicate what to measure: Organic traffic growth during the content marketing campaign? Positions changes in Google SERP? Leads (sign-ups, lead magnet downloads)? Engagement (shares, likes, comments)?
Ideally, you would want to go for precise number goals, but that can rather difficult if you’re running a content marketing for the first time and don’t have any results history yet. So, you can take your competitors’ performance as a landmark.
To achieve your goals you need to speak directly to your audience. Tailor your content to their needs as precisely as you can and make sure they actually care.
Of course, your customers can operate in different industries, take advantage of your service for different purposes, and use the same tool in different ways. Not to mention they can target different countries.
Jot down a list of interests/use cases they can have. Let’s say you offer a live chat solution for businesses. Your potential customer segments can include:
- Small businesses and big enterprises (have different needs based on the size of their business)
- Business owners, customer service managers, and sales agents (based on the role)
- Online stores, travel agencies, airlines, banks (based on the industry)
By taking user segmentation into account when planning your saas content marketing initiatives, you will narrow your focus and increase your chances to hit the mark.
Steal it from your customers. How? Do thorough research. Really, to deliver something outstanding, you need to prepare outstandingly. Dive deep into your audience’s minds:
1. Check out online communities and Q&A sites. You can come across surprisingly interesting questions that resonate with people who use services like yours, or going to use such. Our imaginary live chat software company can find something like this…
2. Ignite discussions. Move from reactive to proactive: From search to asking questions by yourself. Ask questions on forums, Q&A sites, and social media. Something like ‘What thing about current live chat solutions drives you mad?’ or ‘Do you have any questions about live chat for business which remain unanswered?
We’re going to craft an incredibly actionable piece of content and look for things we might have missed.’People are likely to share their pain. And people usually love to help if you ask: So take advantage of this human trait. You can even design a simple widget or pop-up and add it to your website with a single line ‘What do you want to read about next?’
3. Run a survey. I recommend you to include multiple-choice questions and max. one open-ended question about the topics/content formats/publishing frequency etc. Here you can find out how to craft effective surveys for content marketing purposes.
How to get your target audience take your survey:
- Reach them where they hang out – You remember about social media, forums, Q&A sites. Don’t forget to share your survey with your email subscribers, on your homepage. Maybe offer your survey as a pop-up appearing on the screen when visitors are about to leave your landing page or blog post page.
- Offer an incentive – Free template, ebook, or product trial. Just make sure the incentive is relevant for the community members you want to get feedback from (hi, audience segmentation).
- Provide an insight into survey’s results – Show the participants their voice counts and confirm you take it seriously. Let them know how everything went, what results you got, what takeaways you found. You can be sure they will readily respond to your next survey.
4. Conduct interviews. When you’re interviewing industry experts, you can talk about future trends and challenges. When you interview your current customers, you can hear about real pain points and struggles that keep them up at night. Be ready to steal those for your content.
5. Analyze the relevant competitors’ content. Find what resonates with readers the most and steal like an artist. For example, Customer Service Report from LiveChat rocks on social media (especially on LinkedIn). If you want to reach business owners and professionals, a report is a good content type choice.
You can update it annually, cite influencers and ask them to share the report with their communities. Also, such report can be a great lead magnet – Offer it as a PDF and collect emails.
However, sometimes it’s difficult to produce a content piece that brings more value than a competitor’s one (LiveChat gathered data during two years). No worries, keep it for the future. In the meantime, aim lower in the list: Holiday Shopping Season guide looks like a nice evergreen content idea.
You decided on a topic, congratulations! Now let’s think about which format will fascinate your readers with a great user experience.
Answer the following questions:
- Will your content show a lot of numbers? Is data the foundation of this content piece? If yes, go with infographic, slideshow, or video
- Should it be entertaining? If yes, a blog post with gifs, video, or a podcast can work well
- Should it be educational? If yes, pay attention to the length: I prefer not to exceed 3,000 words when it comes to blog posts. If you see you can’t fit all the meat into 3,000 words, craft an ebook or white paper. This way, readers can download it and check later whenever they want.
As an alternative, create bite-sized videos demonstrating practical tips or record a webinar to explain a step-by-step problem-solving process.
Buzzsumo matched the types of content with the purposes of a particular content marketing campaign:
After you chose a content type, list channels you will use to promote your content. We usually use the table below to navigate through the multiple channels available. You can customize it and maybe add some prioritization.
I won’t focus on the writing – I think there are enough amazing resources already shared on the Web.
These guides and articles provide actionable advice on writing, and we refer to them all the time:
- The Definitive Guide To Copywriting
- The 80/20 Guide To Copywriting For Entrepreneurs
- The 27 Copywriting Formulas That Will Drive Clicks and Engagement on Social Media
I will walk you through the content creation process:
- Create an editorial calendar – Calendar allows you to plan content creation and choose the most appropriate dates and time to publish. Holidays and industry related dates (like when big conferences take place) usually generate hype and attract attention.
Here’s an amazing list of editorial content templates put together by Curata. You will find the one meeting your needs.
- Hire a writer and/or designer – I recommend you to hire a person who will be responsible for writing. While you may have someone in your team who writes amazingly, writing will still be priority #2 for them.
Go to freelance sites like Upwork, or look for SAAS content writers and designers on Google. You will find plenty of candidates. Ask for the samples of their work, agree on rates beforehand, and give a paid test task.
Test task is very important: You can see how they respond to critique, whether their style works well for you, and check their work discipline.
- Share the guidelines – Do you want to sound like a good friend sprinkling jokes and some slang, or professional like a well-established expert? If friendly, what slang words are ok? Do you care about Oxford comma? Well, you got the point. Guidelines help content creators to achieve consistency.
- Set up a task – Clearly state what you need. Share the ideal structure of a content piece. Describe what ‘meat’ you’d like to see there: Statistics, expert quotes, case studies, screenshots, etc. And be open to discussions.
- Do revisions – Be patient and don’t sacrifice quality because of a long editing process.
CoSchedule team nailed the content development process documenting, so read their post before starting yours:
Now it’s time to shout out about your amazing content and earn links! Make sure you:
- Come back to Q&A and forum threads you visited at the idea creation stage and share what you’ve come up with
- Reach top relevant blogs and media sites and offer to contribute to their resource. In this case, editors are more likely to respond to your outreach message as you offer them value and don’t ask anything without paying in return. And you can promote your content piece and link to it from your contribution.
- Connect with journalists who cover the problems you address in your content. They are always on the lookout for new sources for their articles and my cite yours. Take advantage of HARO and other services that connect journalists with experts (you):
- HARO (Help A Reporter Out)
- Muck Rack
- Media Kitty
- + read this guide and pitch media like a pro
- Share it with your email subscribers and social media following.
You would need to apply your detective skills to discover the contacts of your targets and master the art of outreach to grab their attention and agree on the collaboration.
Keep time zones in mind – If you send your message to an LA-based blogger at 9 am, it wouldn’t probably cut it for the editor who currently resides in Perth, Australia. By the way: According to the research, mornings are the best time to get your email open (from our experience evenings work well too).
The magic power of follow-ups – They work for us like a charm. Influencers and editors are busy people and your pitch isn’t the message of the highest priority for them. Also, we’re all human beings and sometimes we simply forget to send the line saying we’d be interested in the offer.
For example, I received this email after the first follow-up:
Finally, you need to evaluate the outcomes of your content marketing campaign. It’s time to return to the KPIs you defined when setting your goals at the beginning.
Let’s skim through the main things you can estimate:
- Reach – How many people came across your content? Check out page views, the growth of the number of organic visitors, etc.
- Social sharing – Number of shares on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other networks. You can also see if people forwarded a link on the content page via email (if you offered such option).
- Engagement – Track clicks throughs within the content, downloads (whether it’s checklist, white paper, any other PDF, or video, or podcast). Pay attention to the time spent on the page – it’s also an indicator of engagement level.
- ROI – Sales attributed to the content marketing campaign / Costs of that campaign. You can check in your analytics where the lead came from initially. Also, keep an eye on the revenue change after the campaign started – If you didn’t run any other marketing initiatives during that period, you can associate those changes with the campaign’s effect.
Have you already tested content marketing tactics for your SAAS company? Was that successful? Why?
Share your experience or drop us a line if you have any questions!
Looking for an expert opinion, advice, or content marketing services? SearchEva team is here to help! Let’s build a powerful content marketing strategy for your business!