SaaS content marketing is a tool to accompany a company’s SaaS growth strategy. This approach contains a set unique to your business and focused only on your target audience. Managing content marketing for SaaS and evaluating results requires handling concepts such as content distribution channels, media plans, metrics, content types, etc. In this article, we will look at the main theses of content marketing for SaaS companies and show how you can form an effective content marketing strategy.
Features of Content Marketing for SaaS
- 1 Features of Content Marketing for SaaS
- 2 How to Build an Effective SaaS Content Marketing Strategy
- 3 STEP 1. Conducting the Research
- 4 STEP 2. SaaS Content Marketing Plan
- 5 STEP 3. Selecting Content Distribution Channels
- 6 Step 4. Formation of Content for SaaS
- 7 STEP 5. SaaS Content Marketing Assessment
- 8 Create Buzz around SaaS Product
The challenges of developing a content marketing strategy for SaaS are complex in identifying and implementing them. Add to this the complexity of the creation processes and the high payback periods, and you can outline for yourself the main problem of developing a SaaS business in a strategic period.
Any SaaS niche requires equal efforts in its content marketing, the filling of which should be carried out systematically and continuously in the “client”, “company”, and “competitors” planes. At the same time, the main SaaS settings will be the positioning of your unique selling proposition and the awareness of the target audience about the SaaS product in the context of fierce competition in the market. The idea of content marketing for the SaaS company itself is to make your specialists understand the uniqueness and meaning of “software-as-a-service” by answering three main questions: “What?”, “Where?”, “When?” . Let’s dwell on this in more detail.
The question “What?” in content marketing for SaaS refers directly to the SaaS product itself, and the answer to it should contain awareness of how your product can help the client and how it will be helpful to him.
By answering the question “Where?”, you can decide on the channels and means of its placement. And therefore, you will have a clear budget for the distribution of costs for SaaS marketing.
And finally, “When?”. What is the time frame for implementing a content marketing plan for SaaS. Make a clear action plan with strict bindings to calendar deadlines and performers, track and control it, and do not stop there – look for new channels and promotion tools.
How to Build an Effective SaaS Content Marketing Strategy
Implementing the targets discussed above is impossible without a clear strategy and an action plan. Of course, the starting point for developing a content marketing strategy is the SaaS product itself. However, it should be remembered that a SaaS does not live by a single product. It is important to focus on its customers’ life values and consolidate these aspects in the company’s mission.
Based on this thesis, each client’s philosophy is unique; therefore, there is no single mechanism for creating and posting content. There are only general recommendations regarding the algorithm for passing stages in strategic actions. Below are the main ones.
STEP 1. Conducting the Research
Determining the Target Audience of Your Product
The target audience for SaaS is your potential customers, who, hopefully, will soon pay for a subscription and purchase your SaaS product. The specifics of the latter (multifunctionality, payment terms, and pricing system, focus on the B2B / B2C market, customer support, and maintenance) determine the scope of work to determine the target audience.
Using the following procedure, you can correctly identify the target audience, starting from the SaaS product.
- Analyze your SaaS product and highlight the TOP 3 key competitive advantages.
- Analyze existing customers and evaluate their attitude towards your SaaS product. Establish what is paramount for them when choosing SaaS and their preferences when choosing a service provider.
- Find out what the bottlenecks are in the SaaS product promotion strategy.
- Segment the market based on the previously identified key benefits.
- Develop a work plan with the identified target groups.
- Declare a portrait of the target audience at the SaaS marketing level of the company and test its viability.
If this method seems ineffective in relation to SaaS, then you can use one of the suggestions below.
- The “5W” method, the essence of which is to get answers to five standard questions and thus determine the target audience (“What?” – the type of product or what we sell; “Who?” – who is our client, and what is his portrait; “Why?” – what are the main motives of the client for the purchase; “When?” – when and under what conditions the client will make a purchase; “Where?” – what is the ideal place to make a purchase). The method is perfect for the B2C market.
- The method of determining the target audience from the market is based on the study of the current state of the market infrastructure and competitors’ activity. It is mainly recommended for use in the B2B SaaS market and is implemented as follows: we analyze the market (on our own or with the help of consulting agencies); we interview customers, incl. potential, about what is decisive for them when buying; study competitors and their USPs; we build a forecast for the target audience with a detailed description of the client; we test the channels based on the estimates.
It is important to remember that the choice of one or another method of determining the target audience in a SaaS content marketing strategy is not a priori a 100% hit in the marketing goal. However, web analytics tools make the life of a marketer easier – Google Analytics, SimilarWeb, Clicky, GoingUp, Emplifi, etc.
Determination of Pain Points that the Product Covers
An effective content marketing strategy for SaaS also involves implementing the concept of making customer purchases based on their pain points. Pains of SaaS customers is a description of a specific digital problem of the target audience that it faces at the stage of interactions at various points of contact with the SaaS product. Eliminating pain points is a tool that helps to offer the client a real solution to his “pains”. By doing so, we earn their loyalty and induce them to decide to renew their subscription, building trust in the brand.
The identified pain points affect the SaaS marketing strategy and sales strategy of the SaaS company as a whole, however, identifying them is often not such an easy task since the client himself may not even be aware of the depth of his problem. Various pain points require a systematic approach to developing and supporting a SaaS product as part of a content marketing strategy. In addition, the sales and marketing departments must build their relationships within the company in such a way as to create relevant content for specific consumer needs.
Establish communications with customers and learn more about them. Use online surveys, SMM, telephone surveys, industry-specific online and offline events, do your own target audience research or involve experts, and study competitors – all this will help you become a kind of pain point healer and help you create a unique SaaS product.
We offer you an approximate checklist of questions recommended for reflection that will help identify client pain points:
- For example, why have you/your company slowed down?
- How does this affect your work / the work of your company?
- What are you/your management most concerned about right now?
- What tasks do you / your company spend the most time on?
- What hurts you/your company?
Also, when communicating with the client, it is important to speak the same language as him and outline the sphere of influence of his environment when using the SaaS product. In this case, a trusting relationship with the client can provide a stable chain of long-term and strong partnerships.
STEP 2. SaaS Content Marketing Plan
Determining the Goals be Achieved with the Content
Setting goals is the first step in developing a content marketing plan for SaaS. It is precisely the correctly formulated target settings that will ensure its effectiveness. When formulating goals, experts advise using the so-called SMART methodology:
- S (“Specific”) – goals must be specific. Each SaaS content marketing strategy component should be carefully thought out and have a specific purpose. For example: “Increase the number of subscribers to the SaaS product”, “Increase the number of downloads of the demo version of the SaaS product”, etc. General, vague wording only confuses the performer.
- M (“Measurable”) – the goals must be measurable; they must be expressed in quantitative indicators, presented in absolute or relative form. For example: “Increase the number of subscribers to the SaaS product by 400 people”, “Increase the number of downloads of the demo version of the SaaS product by 15%” and the like. Remember, if at the end of the stages of the strategy, control showed that the goal was not achieved / partially achieved (which is contrary to the interests of the company), then such goals should be reviewed. And the sooner you do it, the better.
- A (“Achievable”) – goals must be achievable and based on resources and well-defined deadlines. So, in the context of our previous examples, this would be: “Perform email surveys every 10 days to increase leads by 15%”, “Place contextual advertising of a free demo version of SaaS product in partner networks to increase awareness CA by 20%. It is important to understand and align the SaaS content marketing strategy goals already formulated (“what do we want?”) with the objectives to achieve them (“how do we get it?”).
- R (“Relevant”) – the goals must be relevant (relevant), corresponding to the past experience of the company. So, for example, check if it is possible to increase the number of subscribers to your SaaS product by 400 people in the planned period if, over the past similar period, you have achieved growth by only 100 people, and the company’s potential is already fully utilized. Or can you really increase SaaS product demo downloads by 15% when affiliate programs halved last year.
- T (“Time-bound”) – the goals must be time-limited. Content development and hosting should have their own deadlines as part of the SaaS content marketing plan. The planning breakdown can be weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annual or annual. At the same time, it is advisable to monitor planned indicators on an enlarged basis since all events in content marketing are irreversible, and it takes some time to track their effectiveness. For example, “Every 10 days during the first quarter, conduct surveys in email newsletters to increase the number of leads by 15%”, “Place quarterly in each first month of the period, contextual advertising of a free demo version of the SaaS product in partner networks to increase awareness of the target audience on 20%”.
As for the functional focus of content marketing for SaaS, its goals may vary depending on the purchase cycle and the balance of interests in SaaS promotion: target audience growth, lead generation, increasing loyalty, customer engagement, brand awareness, nurturing leads, attracting traffic, leadership, expansion of affiliate programs and so on.
Determining the keywords for which you will attract a client
The definition of keywords to which a client is being attracted is directly related to SEO and the optimization process. Finding the words and phrases your target audience asks for is the backbone of keyword research in content marketing for SaaS. In addition, the keywords determined by your business’s specifics allow you to use them in building your company’s SEO strategy.
There are several approaches to defining keywords. Below are the approaches based on their personalized and industry-specific classification and the SEO procedure itself.
The first approach delimits the search for keywords into 7 main types:
- Market defining keywords.
- Client defining keywords.
- Keywords about a product or service.
- Industry leaders.
- Competing company names.
- Related keywords.
- Geographic targeting keywords.
The second approach, based on the principles of building a company’s SaaS SEO strategy and integrated into a SaaS content marketing plan, involves the following steps:
- Website crawling for keywords.
- Deep keyword research with Google Search Console, Answer the Public, Keyword Sheeter, Keyworddit, etc. services.
- Using competitor analysis tools.
- Search for the most useful phrases using keyword generation tools (Keyword Generator by Ahrefs, Keyword Tool by Keywordtool.io, KWFinder by Mangools, etc.).
- Consolidation of keyword data.
- Classification of keywords according to user requests and semantic search.
- Analysis of long-tail and short-tail keywords.
- Choosing the right combination of keywords.
Any of the above approaches has the right to exist and be used in developing content marketing for SaaS. However, the choice remains with its developer and is based on analytics results.
STEP 3. Selecting Content Distribution Channels
Determining the Most Effective Channels
When choosing content distribution channels for SaaS, an important criterion is their payment and the budget for its placement.
Based on the criterion of payment, there are:
- free channels – are platforms and services for the placement of content on which, that is, its publication, payment is conditionally not charged (conditionally, since we understand that time and minor financial investments directly into the creation of such content are still present);
- paid channels – are channels with full payment for placing content on them. They are relevant for newcomers to SaaS marketing and have pretty good coverage of the target audience, such as contextual or targeted advertising.
If everything is more or less clear with paid channels and content marketing for SaaS companies, then free channels should be given much more attention. Own and third-party free channels can grow your SaaS product and company as a whole. Among the own free SaaS promotion channels, the undisputed leadership is occupied by a website and a blog as the most effective digital marketing tools. And if the platform of its placement is important for a blog, then your own website is a universal way to express your vision of the development and growth of the SaaS product and the company as a whole. The use of SMM tools and video hosting is also progressive. At the same time, no one canceled the good old email newsletter. Third-party free channels include organic search, guest posts, partner materials, influencer blog promotions, and social media sharing (including your employees).
Media plan development
After we decide on the most effective placement channels, we can proceed to the development of a media plan. Its main purpose is a detailed specification of the selected channels and the frequency of their use in the time context, supported by the budget. Also, with the help of a media plan, it is possible to predict the results of using channels. Before you start creating content, be sure to set a budget for your media plan. The scope of a media plan varies and can reflect the results of a SaaS content marketing plan for both large campaigns and tactical actions to build connections with subscribers and customers. Real help in developing a media plan is tabular scheduling templates that contain information about the channels and content formats used, the timing of the campaign, the expected coverage of the target audience, the number of subscriptions, budget expenses, and overall profitability.
Step 4. Formation of Content for SaaS
Defining Content Types for Each Channel
The type of content for the selected channel is selected individually in each case, whether it is text, audio, or video format. To date, there are no universal recommendations for its choice. However, among SaaS marketers, popular types are:
- social media posts;
- video content;
- cases and case studies;
- quizzes, tests, and surveys;
- games and so on.
Creating a Continuous Stream of Content Generation
Content should be continuous; therefore, the developed media plan should be carried out systematically and subject to constant adjustment and extension depending on the goals of the content marketing strategy for SaaS. The main principles that marketers must be guided by when creating a continuous stream of content generation are its attractiveness to the client, high quality, information content, and relevance to the SaaS business and target audience.
STEP 5. SaaS Content Marketing Assessment
Monitoring the Performance of Each Channel
The key to the success of the stream will be the optimal media mix from the above list of channels. Tracking the effectiveness of the combinatorics of elements for SaaS from audio, video, and other digital content is based on several key metrics, namely: organic traffic, click-through rate, bounce rate, conversion, ranking position for keywords, referring domains, customer churn, user acquisition cost, user involvement, etc. Monitoring of such indicators should be carried out according to a predetermined plan.
Making Necessary Adjustments
Any deviation of a metric from its target signals the need to adjust the content marketing plan and check it against the developed content marketing strategy for SaaS as a whole. To this end, the structure of the development and implementation algorithm is checked for compliance with strategic criteria, and appropriate changes are made. Such changes may concern the direct selection of channels, the preparation of a media plan, and the determination of targets at the initial stage of strategy development. To justify the adjustments, we recommend using the following checklist for checking the SaaS content marketing content of the company:
- promotion along the funnel;
- schedule for creating and posting content.
Create Buzz around SaaS Product
By themselves, numerous examples of successful SaaS companies speak of the importance of filling the SaaS product with useful and interesting content. According to preliminary estimates, more than 80% of marketers actively use content marketing in their growth strategies for SaaS. Recently, more and more companies associated with “software-as-a-service” in their practice using a creative and non-standard approach to the formation of content.
So, for example, by uploading a video to your YouTube channel, you can create unique information or educational product with interactive elements that will be easy to digest, have a high degree of visualization of the results of using your SaaS, as well as leverage to attract the attention of potential customers.
Or, by posting a fresh post in the storytelling style, you can disguise the history of the creation of your SaaS product and link it to real events in the company’s life. In this way, you will make sharing on social networks work for you, increasing interest in your brand.
Or maybe you will be interested in a podcast as a way to convey information about your SaaS and its features. A few years ago, no one would even have thought that a progressive content marketing tool for SaaS companies would emerge based on the prototype of an ordinary radio show.
Or you will launch a new digital professional online publication whose publications and analytics will satisfy the information needs of your B2B customers, build loyalty to your brand and attract you to partners in the cooperation program.
Thus, you can draw ideas from the practices of international companies already established in the SaaS market or create your own, focusing on the trends, professionalism, and intuition of your marketers and content managers. Do not forget that the content should be useful and resonate with the product or the company’s SaaS activities. And interesting and useful copyrighted content is doubly great to share with partners and customers!
Author Tetiana Dedilova, PhD (Economics) (KhNAHU)
Checked by marketer Victoria