By Ankur Tiwari on 02-11-2023Follow @Ankurt04
This is a masterclass in SaaS content strategy.
I have spent months researching the content strategies of 27 SaaS businesses - a mix of early-stage, growth-stage, and mature SaaS companies.
Here are insights from the research for you to learn everything about a SaaS content marketing strategy.
And a framework to design a winning content strategy for your SaaS business.
This post is a part of the Organic SaaS Growth newsletter. Subscribe here.
The Internet today is littered with content no one consumes, trusts, or respects.
Such content helps no one - neither your business nor your market.
At its best, it moves vanity metrics: non-converting web traffic, impressions, and social likes.
But it drives no growth.
Make no mistakes: content marketing does drive growth - more demos, new signups, higher activation, improved retention, and more referrals, if done right.
I have created content strategies over a dozen times and have had my fair share of successes and failures. To create a blueprint for a winning SaaS content strategy, I have researched the content strategies of 27 SaaS businesses of different sizes for months.
Today, I am sharing the insights from the research. My aim is not to create another 'scrap-data-and-put-it-in-words' post. I want to leave no stone unturned in discovering insights and presenting you with a reliable blueprint.
Like many things in business, content marketing is part strategy, tactics, and execution. I will discuss them all today and share a blueprint for you to design a winning content strategy for your SaaS business.
Let's dive right in.
When conceptualizing this post, I narrowed down my research process and methodology. And it's only fair that I share it with you. This way, even after my best intentions, if I make a mistake, then at least you will know my process and reasoning.
I have tried to select a healthy mix of early and growth-stage companies for this research. Here is a list of companies:
With the context in place, it’s time to look at the insights from the research.
What Bill Gates wrote in 1996 about content being the king still holds two decades later.
Here are the top three channels of web traffic for the businesses I’ve studied and their respective contribution to the overall traffic:
For a SaaS business, you can attribute most of the direct traffic to the existing active users instead of prospects.
Organic search, the second biggest source of web traffic, depends on your content.
I will argue that a significant part of the Referral traffic, the third biggest traffic source, also depends on the content. It will be much easier to understand when you realize that partners create a lot of content to push their referral links and often rely on the company’s content as the primary source.
Thus, content marketing can easily solve more than 25-30% of your traffic needs.
What should be the subject of the content strategy for your business? Around what should you create the content?
Could it be your product?
When selling software, creating content about the product, its features, benefits, and grand vision seems logical.
Maybe your prospects will love to know about your product's unique capabilities, AI superpowers, and the cool new features you will launch next month.
You are not alone in such a line of thought; many SaaS companies love to talk about their product and its features.
And, then, they wonder why there is no traffic and no conversion.
Product features and benefits have their place, but they can not be the subject of your content strategy simply because there are not enough people in the market interested in watching/reading about them - no demand, no consumption.
Hence, your product is NOT the subject of your business's content strategy.
To make a large part of your market consume your content, you must create content around something they deeply value.
What could that be?
The market itself.
Their challenges, pains, needs, and aspirations.
Design your content strategy around helping your target audience win their challenges with your ideas, and along the way, position your product as the best tool for them to do exactly that.
For example, consider the content marketing strategy of email provider Proton. Instead of using the product as the subject, they consider their market as the subject and talk about topics that matter to their market:
Similarly, the no-code platform Bubble focuses on its market and publishes content around its interest that goes well with the domain of its product.
If you want to dig deeper into writing for your market, here is an excellent lecture by Larry McEnerney of the University of Chicago
Sometimes, people mistake blogs for content strategy.
Even though they consume different types of content, when it comes to creating a content strategy, their first instinct is to think about a blog.
There is no denying that a blog has many advantages, and it is a hub of your company’s overall positioning. As a reader, blog content is easy to navigate, search through, and skim. Anyone who has tried searching a particular line in a video can testify to it.
However, there are many different types and formats of content at your disposal, and depending on the context of your business, some of them will be more helpful than others. I will discuss the meaning of ‘context of a SaaS business’ later in this post. For now, here are some time-tested content formats:
You can always combine more than one content format to create a unique offering to support your business. Here are some exciting content pages I have found from the companies I’ve researched:
The bottom line is to focus on your market, its needs, and your business goals and then select or design a content format that works best.
SaaS businesses that create content only for acquisition miss on sustainable growth.
Let’s first answer a fundamental question - what is SaaS growth?
Is it acquiring thousands and millions of new signups?
Is it activating those users?
Is it converting to a paid plan?
Is it retaining them for a long time?
Is it maximizing the revenue with upgrades and expansion?
Is it ensuring referrals?
The truth is, SaaS growth depends on all stages of the user lifecycle - acquisition, activation, conversion, retention, and referrals.
And it is driven by the resulting flywheel.
Unlike transactional businesses like e-commerce, SaaS depends on customer retention, recurring revenue and lifetime value.
Therefore, the key to SaaS success is consistent value delivery over entire customer journey.
Needless to say, a good content strategy should help build the momentum of this flywheel by contributing at all stages of the user lifecycle.
And you do it by creating a content strategy for the entire user journey:
Each stage has different goals, and you need different types of content to achieve them.
Take, for example, the content of Pigment - a planning and budgeting software. They get about 40% of the total traffic via organic search. The key theme of their content is financial planning and analysis (FPA), though they also talk about business planning.
Their resource hub has content for prospects, new users, and monetized users.
They also have a community forum to help users solve problems and improve activation/retention.
There are many ways to design a content strategy for an end-to-end user journey. For example:
For awareness and acquisition, focus on highlighting the problem statement, building use cases, and enticing the market with the possibilities of a transformation. They do not know about your product, but they know their problems and challenges - meet them there and then show them how to succeed. You may share product demos, but do not go into full product training mode. It’s the time to build trust, offer a great solution to their problems, and focus on conversion.
During onboarding, activation, and habit-forming phases, create content to help them understand your product, achieve quick wins, and use it often. Focus on progressively educating them about the product without overwhelming them. Education and engagement should go hand in hand.
For monetization and expansion, shift the focus of your content to grand transformation, special needs, and intensive group training. You want the product to be really easy for them to use.
When selling to your prospects, you should design the content strategy around their buying process.
It’s a no-brainer, but not enough understood.
Let’s look at a few B2B buying processes:
Another way is to create content based on market segments and personas. However, creating personas is one of the misunderstood things. Here is a process you should follow:
B2B content strategy can not rely on just one buyer persona. You need to focus on the users, buyers, influencers, as well as blockers who can object to the deal.
Reprise - a demo creation software does it well by categorizing its content based on roles.
If your market can't find your content, it's of no use to them.
If they can't read it, it's of no use to them.
If they don't consume it repeatedly, they won't convert.
If prospects do not convert or customers do not succeed in adopting the product, it is of no use to you.
Thus, the content you create should be easy to discover, sticky, and comfortable to consume in addition to being valuable to your market.
How can you do that?
By understanding your market's content consumption pattern.
Here is a general content consumption pattern:
A reader comes across a content piece that they find impressive - either on social media or via search. They look around the website, and if more content is relevant, they take a mental note of the site as a good resource. Next time they want to read a related topic, they either come to that site directly or choose it over all others from the search results. The more relevant content they find and like on that website, the more they interact with and trust it. Once they trust the website, they start recommending it to others, and it becomes the trusted source in their circle, making it easy to make a sale.
There are many things going on here:
The first important factor is the navigation & UI. Blogs, webinars, and other content pages are true landing pages; design them for user-centricity and conversion. The same goes for social handles, where you can still optimize even though you have limited customization. When designing a landing page for your blog, focus on making it easy for the readers to discover content by categorizing relevant content based on content themes, user personas, etc.
Amplitude, an analytics company, categorizes blog posts around themes like Perspectives, Best Practices, Inside Amplitude, and customer stories. They also throw in a featured section in between to help readers navigate to interesting content without much effort.
Lemon Squeezy, a payments company, has an interesting blog page design, making it easy for readers to discover relevant posts.
There are many ways to design a blog page. If you are looking for inspiration, here is a sample blog page design to get you started:
The second important factor is the relevant topics. People in your niche want to read many related topics instead of just one post. If you can offer content on all related topics, they will visit your website frequently and stick to it.
That's why more and more companies publish content like a library instead of a magazine, i.e., they publish many content pieces on related topics and subtopics.
Whether B2B or B2C, every business is P2P (people-to-people).
That's why every successful content strategy connects with its market.
Lokalise does it by celebrating customers' success and publishing their stories as case studies.
So does Klue.
Bubble has built a dedicated 'showcase' page and displays it prominently on the navigation header. The showcase page tells the financial success stories of entrepreneurs who use Bubble to build their products. Bubble also helps users promote their apps by featuring 'App of the Day' on its blog page.
Customer success stories have twofold benefits: they help better relations with existing customers and attract new users.
You can judge the benefits of publishing success stories by the fact that more and more businesses are publishing them. You can do them in an interview format like Runway has done for this post or as a story written by your customer.
But you are not limited to just success stories.
Another type of content that you can produce while engaging your customers is the community-pooled domain wisdom.
Partner with your customers to publish domain insights and expert content. Such content easily attracts domain enthusiasts and prospects. Mutiny, a website personalization company, publishes expertise-based content from its users as playbooks.
A secret benefit is that you can produce such playbooks even during an early stage when you haven't got many success stories.
An often overlooked advantage of working with customers to create new content is discovering long-tail content ideas. To your surprise, when you engage with your customers regularly, you will chance upon profitable content ideas.
If a famous founder you admire attributes Twitter for customer acquisition, should you, too, start using Twitter for acquisition?
Suppose the market leader in your industry publishes a 'state of the industry' report every year and uses it to generate new enterprise sales. Should you, too, publish such a report as part of your content marketing?
Without an understanding of your product and its market, it is not possible to say with certainty what strategy will work for your business and what will not.
But if you do something only because others are doing it, you will surely fail. It's not a strategy; it's madness.
A foundational step in B2B SaaS content marketing is to establish the context of your business.
Is your product built for a particular industry or independent of it?
Are you entering a niche market or a mass market?
Are you adopting premium or budget pricing?
Is it easy or complicated to replicate what you are doing?
For example, Chess.com is a niche product built for chess players, and it has 'budget' pricing. You can use it for free and get a Gold plan for about $5 a month.
On the other hand, Discord is not a niche product - chess players can use it, swimmers can use it, and even astronauts can use it. People across industries, from construction to art, can use it; it is a horizontal product.
Therefore, parameters like product type, competitive landscape, competitive positioning, and product complexity can help establish the context of your business.
So, how does the context help you in designing an effective content marketing strategy?
Let's understand it for each parameter:
Horizontal SaaS businesses: since a horizontal SaaS caters to different audiences and industries, you can not influence them all with one standard message. Therefore, it's necessary to create use cases and micro-messages for each audience.
Niche market: When targeting a niche market, you need to corner a large part of the market compared to your competitors to make it worth its while. The way to do it with content is to go extremely deep instead of wide in terms of the topics you cover.
Premium pricing: When clients pay premium pricing, they expect a premium experience. When it comes to content, it can translate to custom presentations and exclusive content.
Low entry barrier: When you expect competitors to flood the market, you have to look for ways to improve retention: being present everywhere with multichannel content, company-level training workshops, content lead community, and so on.
The content strategy of a SaaS product revolves around its positioning.
And positioning depends on its target market.
The science of capturing a market share suggests targeting one market segment at a time, capturing it, and then increasing the target circle to include another market segment.
A common fear founders have with this approach is the possibility of their business getting stuck with the first market segment they decide to go after. It is a valid concern because the first segment is often an easy-to-acquire-but-small segment.
The way out of this fear is to realize and internalize that positioning evolves with the market and the product over time.
And it is true for the most successful SaaS businesses.
I will argue that a regularly evolving positioning with every strategic shift in the target market and the product is the key to building a sustainable and ever-growing SaaS business.
I mentioned earlier that to compensate for the lack of internal strategic insights into these companies, I look at the historical data and the evolution of their strategies over time. One of the ways I have done it is to look at the evolution of their messaging over the years using the Wayback machine.
Since positioning is internal to the companies, from the research point of view, I have worked with their messaging instead.
One thing that hit hard from this video is that often, businesses we are so impressed with started their journey most humbly, and then they kept evolving. There is nothing shiny about their origins.
Therefore, start with where you are and what you have. Position your business for your present target market and product’s capabilities. Design the content strategy around this positioning and keep evolving with the market.
Positioning a SaaS business needs a post of its own, but a good heuristic to go about it is to gather more and more insights from your prospects as well as from existing customers. It will help fight possible blind spots. Use these insights to pinpoint a few of the most promising product capabilities and highlight them. Do not discuss everything your product can do, or you will lose the differentiation.
Articulation of thoughts matters - similar thoughts articulated differently deliver vastly different results.
Here is a short story on the power of articulation:
If you are writing for pleasure, you can write whichever way you want.
But if you are writing for growth, as it should be in SaaS, you are working with set goals and expected outcomes and can not afford to write without a consideration for the art of articulation.
The goals of content marketing vary with the stage of the customer lifecycle, so should the articulation.
For example, at acquisition stage, content marketing translates to understanding prospects' pains and buying triggers, establishing trust, handling objections and discovering if there is a fit. Therefore, you should highlight the problem they face, clearly articulate your point-of-view about solving them, show them possible transformation, come across as someone who understands their frustrations and preempt their objections. At this stage repetition of your company’s positioning is also necessary. But repetition works in your favor only if you repeat the positioning argument, not the angle. You need to figure out different ways to articulate the same positioning - repeat but with different flavor. Short-form content does wonders when paired with such articulation. You want to create a space for your business in their minds, in their regular conversation. “Oh a no-code app builder? you should try Bubble!”.
Along the same lines, at the activation stage, articulation of your company’s positioning may translate to handholding and care. And it should reflect in your content as well as in communication of support functions.
Similarly you should map each stage of the customer lifecycle.
Now, the question is: what is a good articulation?
A good articulation is the one that resonates with your market most.
And, it is unrealistic to assume that you can craft it in a vacuum, from nothing.
Market interactions, demo calls with prospects, and regular interaction with clients - all of these are the sources to discover a good articulation for your business.
This is a fine point, and I’m going to simplify it as much as possible.
We are audio-visual beings; we live in an audio-visual world, and our actions depend on audio-visual cues.
That’s why brands invest more money in audio-visual advertising than newspaper advertising.
That’s why we like to see attractive people in the cinema, follow interesting personalities, and listen to voices we love.
But does that mean all of us like the same celebrity, the same decor, and the same song?
Of course not.
Because our definition of ‘interesting’ differs.
You might be thinking, what does this have to do with SaaS content strategy?
An integral part of every content is the creatives that go with it - banners, videos, gifs, landing page creatives, infographics, etc.
Not only do they help attract new visitors, they help communicate our thoughts better. Thus, high-impact creatives should be a part of your overall content strategy.
But don’t mistake high-impact visual content with professional quality creatives. Many times, thoughtfully conceptualized but amateurishly created ones work perfectly. It depends on your positioning and market.
For example, let's see the creatives of Runway's blog:
And the creatives of Toolio's blog:
Though they both feel very different, the data tell us that both companies attract about 40% of the total traffic via organic search. Hence, they both are working for their respective markets.
A framework for creative strategy is to work at the intersection of your company’s goals and your market’s likes/dislikes.
Keywords are important for search engine ranking and, therefore, for organic traffic.
To a large extent, the position of your content for each keyword decides the amount of traffic your website gets. However, the traffic is not linearly related to the search engine position. It means content on rank five does NOT get one-fifth of the traffic of the content on rank one. Traffic reduces non-linearly with rank, with lower-ranked content getting far less traffic than higher-ranked traffic.
To understand the performance of a company's content marketing, you can safely focus on its top-ranking keywords. For this research, I have focused on the top-ranking keywords of these SaaS companies in 1 to 3 positions. However, you can also consider keywords ranking up to the top 10 or 20 positions.
I would refrain from directly comparing these companies based on the count of their top-ranking keywords because some companies have been in business for way more years than others and have produced way more content than others.
Instead, it's better to take this graph as informative to understand that SaaS companies strive to find useful keywords and rank them high.
If you are researching competitors' content and looking for ideas to create content, you can look for keywords that competitors are not ranking. In this case, you can look at their keywords up to 50 positions.
When it comes to crafting a content strategy for your business, there are five key concepts every content marketer should know about:
Keywords help rank your content on the search engine and help in content discovery. That's why sometimes people like to stuff keywords in their content.
High keyword ranking can bring more readers to your content.
Keywords also help discover new content ideas and discover untapped opportunities.
But once prospects are on your blog, your content's quality decides what happens next. Will they skim through and leave or stay there, look around the website, subscribe to the newsletter, and sign up for the free trial?
For a potential customer, it's not the keywords but the quality of content, ideas, articulation, reasoning, insights from original data analysis, unique findings, insights from experience, stories, and arguments that build great content.
Prospects will convert to users if you educate, solve problems, inspire, and build trust using your content.
Thus, content marketing is way more than keyword stuffing.
Keywords have their place, but they do not lead the content strategy. Instead, market insights, primary research, and product positioning should lead the content creation process.
Over-reliance on keywords instead of content quality can cost you time and resources. And, once your market realizes that you create clickbait-ish content, it will cost you the brand name.
And for this reason, you should be wary of agencies promising keyword play.
To get the most out of the content strategy for your SaaS business, you need to prioritize keywords that have a greater impact on your business.
A keyword will impact your business most if your content can rank for it on the search engine result page. Thus, the ranking potential of a keyword is an important criterion for keyword selection.
Difficulty level and search volume are the common criteria for ranking the potential of a keyword. These values are readily available on SEMrush and Google Keyword Planner. Usually, marketers prefer keywords with relatively low difficulty levels and medium search volume. The exact values corresponding to low and medium levels depend on your industry.
Still, to give you a rough idea, I have dug out all the top-ranking keywords of these companies and mapped out their respective difficulty levels and search volumes. Here is an aggregate snapshot:
Keyword selection also depends on the stage of your business. The factor that comes into play for this is the Domain authority. New websites, thus new businesses, tend to have low domain authority (DA).
Search engines consider DA for ranking. They give more weightage to higher DA websites. Therefore, at low DAs, it isn't easy to compete with established businesses and rank for keywords they are ranking for.
In other words, creating content that can rank for highly competitive, aka high difficulty keywords, is difficult at low DAs.
It means that during the early stage, you should search for keywords that are important to your market but have been ignored by your established competitors.
Start creating high-quality content for these keywords and let your content rank on search engines. Gradually increase the difficulty level of keywords while creating rank-worthy content. In time, your website will have a lot of content ranking high on search engine results, and the DA of your website will also improve.
The execution of this strategy is more nuanced. For example, keywords important to the market are unlikely to be ignored by established competitors unless the search volume is too low for their effort or those keywords do not fit their positioning and/or focus areas.
It is safe to assume that at low DAs, your most compelling opportunities exist at low-difficulty, low-volume keywords. The way to maximize content contribution for business growth is to select keywords with the highest conversion potential. These are bottom-of-the-funnel keywords; even if only a few people search for them, their conversion potential is high.
Search intent is the purpose for which a user queries a search engine. When you know their purpose, you can successfully create content to suit it.
Search engines give importance to the search intent of their users as it improves their recommendations and provides a better user experience.
For example, say you want to learn boxing at home and type “how to learn boxing at home” in the Google search.
Google will show you many websites on its result page, most of which will be educational content teaching boxing.
You may visit a website; if you don't like it, you will return to the results page and see another until you find the one you like best. Search engines take note of this behavior and use it to re-rank the websites.
Your intention here is to gain information about boxing. Google knows it and is unlikely to show you shop pages for products like gloves and boxing bags.
On the other hand, if you query "boxing gloves", Google will understand that your purpose is to search for a product to buy and will show you shop pages.
Keywords people use in search queries indicate search intent which in turn affects search engine results.
There are four intent categories:
While designing a content strategy for your business, you need to consider all four of these intent categories and produce content for each.
Here is the intent wise keyword count proportion and traffic proportion data for the companies under this research:
Clearly, companies target informational keywords most as, at any point in time, more people are interested in information than in making a purchase.
However, for your business, you should create a mix of keywords based on your business goals and need gaps.
Within each search intent type, you can create content from various angles and make it super effective. For example, if you sell CRM software positioned as "simple CRM for fast-moving teams," here is how you can use informational search intent from different angles:
Informational-Educational: "How to set simple CRM to improve customer relationships."
Informational-Inspirational: "Case study: How ABC company upsold its way to $5 Million ARR in 20 months with a simple CRM."
In addition, an existing customer might want to learn to use your product and will type branded keywords to search for relevant content with an 'informational' intent. They can also have a 'navigational' intent while searching for your Help Center or Support.
Keyword research is a big topic and deserves a post of its own. I intend to write one soon. Still, I will discuss a few key strategies here so that you can do it on your own right away.
Select high-buying intent keywords:
As I have stressed in "The Art of Ranking on Google SERP," the most ROI-focused approach focuses on high-buying intent keywords, also called bottom-of-the-funnel keywords. Very few people search for them, but they are highly motivated to purchase. Hence, these keywords result in more sign-ups and demo bookings. This approach is immensely beneficial during the early stage when you are resource-constrained and looking for quick wins. One way to find such keywords is to research competitors' keywords and filter out those that match your positioning and have high buying intent.
For example, Lokalise, a translation software, should rank for "language translation software" as the user is clearly looking for a tool; they are not looking to know how language translation works or a Python library to integrate language translation in their web app. I verified it and found that although Lokalise does not organically rank for it, they target this keyword with Google ads.
Another strategy is to steal competitors' traffic by creating comparison posts. It is especially beneficial if you are a new entrant in a market with a few popular competitors.
After you have created a list of keywords to target, group them into major categories. These categories are called clusters. Create content for a keyword cluster instead of a keyword, and include all the keywords of that cluster in your content. This approach makes your content more suitable for reading and goes well with the natural information gathering of readers.
For example, if you want to learn about boxing, you would not only love to know about boxing techniques but also related concepts like fitness routines, gloves and bags, nutrition, and so on. If a blog post includes all these related topics, it will suit your needs better. It's also easier to rank such posts on search engines.
There are two main techniques for keyword clustering: one is based on semantics, and the other is based on search engine results.
Semantics clustering is easy, but SERP-based clustering has been very effective in my experience. I prefer to mix both. Like keyword research, clustering also demands its post, and it's on my list of future posts. However, you can find tools that can create clusters from your keyword list, and you can focus on using those clusters in your content.
Most SaaS businesses create all of their content around a few themes. They select themes/categories that interest their market and go well with their product and then go deep into these categories and cover every subtopic within them. This approach goes well with the library blog structure I discussed in section six.
In terms of page design, you can create one web page for each category. A category page act as a hub and can contain an index of all the related posts or even a long-form overview blog post that interlinks to all other sub-topic pages.
In terms of page design, you can create one web page for each category. A category page can act as a hub and contain an index of all the related posts or even a long-form overview blog post that interlinks to all other sub-topic pages.
More and more B2B SaaS companies are creating use cases.
For example, here are Pigment's use cases:
And here's a screenshot of Loom's use cases:
Use cases help communicate the value proposition of your business to a specific audience in ways they can relate to and thus increase the conversion potential.
There are two key elements of a successful use case:
To incorporate these elements, you have to understand:
To gain a better understanding, let's reverse-engineer Pigment's finance use case:
Specific Target Persona: Finance teams and CFOs
Let's dig deep into their messaging:
Message: "Make the flip: spend more time analyzing data than preparing it."
Meaning: In the current way of doing this, users spend a lot of time preparing the reports, and they don't like it. Possibly, you are using spreadsheets to make new reports every day!
Message: "Data preparation shouldn't take most of your time"
Meaning: Pulling data from multiple sources and legacy ERPs takes hours, slowing down the decision-making process. Pigment lets you do it in seconds".
Message: "Make 'no surprises' the new normal"
Meaning: This is touching a sore spot. CFOs want clarity, not surprises, and those who have been embarrassed by surprises would be drawn to this value proposition in an instant, and so would be those who fear being in such a situation.
Message: "Get rid of constraints on your models"
Meaning: Your models are inefficient and inflexible, and you know it. Stop living in the fear of unknowns and get the flexibility to update your models whenever you want.
A quick way to establish the positioning of your business is to fight alongside your market against a common enemy.
For example, Proton, a privacy-focused email client, fights against the big tech:
Pigment fights alongside its market against cumbersome and outdated spreadsheets and ensures that analysts covering the company know about it like in this TechCrunch article:
When you thoughtfully position your business against an enemy your market is struggling with, you immediately develop a camaraderie with your market - you become one of them.
Niche online communities can be excellent sources of early users, die-hard fans, and long-term advocates.
These people may or may not bring in big revenue, but they will use your product, provide deep insights, and proudly spread the word.
However, you must communicate candidly with them. They appreciate and respect intimate and vulnerable conversations. It also means that you must create content exclusively for these communities and can not rely on sharing mere links to your blog posts.
For example, take a look at this post by Bubble's founder on Indie hackers.
However, a community post is an open house especially when you don't own them. You should be prudent enough to know when to engage, how to engage, and when NOT to engage with the members.
For example, in the following post, Proton addressed a user's problem on the spot instead of directing them to support but disengaged when the user went overboard.
Proton answers a user's query:
But choose to not answer the follow-up query:
You can also use native content to share personal milestones, roadmaps, big wins and generate feedback. Many things can work as long as you understand the community and speak their language.
We now live in a world where it's becoming increasingly easy to create and launch new software products. It feels like a software-eating software' world. It is a time to discover and establish new moats for sustainable growth.
Communities are one such long-term defensible moat. Successful companies have built engaging communities in their market and have used them as acquisition as well as monetization channels.
It all started back in the day with Facebook groups, though now more and more companies are using dedicated community platforms like Discord.
Irrespective of the platform, there are two key pillars of a successful community: being an expert on your community members and posting super valuable content.
Runway runs an engaging community on Discord and has over 100,000 members. They drive engagement with events, product education, challenges, partner programs, and quick community help for active users.
When you know your audience and are an expert on them, you can devise new content formats to engage them.
In B2B, users differ from buyers, and it is your responsibility to engage both categories of people within an organization.
In PLG motion, you do so by qualifying product-qualified accounts and setting up custom outreach campaigns.
Somewhere between acquiring users and setting up an account-based outreach campaign lies the scope of 'advocacy by users' - when your users love your product enough to advocate for it within their organization. It is an extremely beneficial situation for you as a service provider, and you should proactively help users support you.
The way you do it with content is to create shareable content targeting buyers, i.e., CXOs and VPs, and make this content easily discoverable by your users. With the help of such content, your users can advocate for your business to their leadership effectively.
Companies are creating independent websites and hubs serving their market with highly engaging content. These websites are part of their acquisition as well as engagement funnels.
These grand initiatives make it possible to attract eyeballs without raising commercial concerns.
Product education is the cornerstone of the retention strategy.
Depending on the complexity of your product, you should invest in building resources for product education.
For a simple product, a drip email campaign to every new sign-up might be enough, while for a complex product, you need a dedicated product education hub.
For example, Amplitude, an analytics company, has created an academy for users to learn about its product.
Similarly, the AI company Runway too has an academy.
A secret growth strategy is to discover and build leverages. For centuries, companies have used different leverages for growth:
And so on.
When it comes to SaaS content strategy, there is leverage available to any business that can give you a tremendous growth upside in less effort.
It works by leveraging content for other growth channels and vice versa.
For example, you can pair content with a partner program. When you create insightful content, it works as a reference source for your partners. Technology and service partners can use this content to educate their users, while affiliates can use it to create viral content for their audience, bringing in new users to your business. So, your in-depth, long-form content helps build an affiliate channel. When affiliates create content to promote your business, they provide brand visibility and backlinks to improve your content's performance. Partners help build trust with niche audiences and set the growth flywheel in motion.
Adverity, a data management company, has a partner program for cloud storage and analytics companies, consultancies, resellers, and referral affiliates.
They regularly publish case studies to highlight the success of their tech and agency partners. They also create educational content like 4 Things We Hear Agencies are Struggling With to help their partners.
An analysis of Adverity's content reveals that they routinely create content to help their partners convince the end users. Major themes they create content on are:
Runway has a variation of this strategy in place with its Creative Partners Program.
The program provides a select group of artists and creators exclusive access to new Runway tools and models.
This strategy goes well with Runway's focus on storytellers and creators for its AI platform. They love to showcase creators' works and position the company as an AI company for art, entertainment, and human creativity.
Even the best of the best content will not help in the growth of your business if no one reads, watches, or listens to it.
Content distribution is an integral part of a SaaS content strategy, and no content marketing effort is successful without it.
There are a few ways to bring traffic to your content:
The benefits of owning the distribution are immense, and that’s why most SaaS companies actively build it:
So, how do you build an audience?
A good way is to skim off the most engaged audience from social media and take them to your platform, i.e., email list, community, etc.
LinkedIn is the top social platform for web traffic, followed by YouTube.
However, on average, social traffic accounts for only about 3% of the total web traffic.
But that is no indicator of ignoring social media.
Though less in volume, social traffic is of high quality when it comes to resonance with ideal client profiles and conversion rates.
When you connect with prospects, they see your posts getting responses from people like them and assume you are an authority in the domain, even if you are unknown outside the platform. A time comes when you are the talk of the town within that social platform and among your market, creating a perception of being omnipresent.
Thus, with social content, you can build trust and generate good quality new leads.
With platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter, it's possible to find and connect with your ideal prospects and position your business using short-form content. This type of content requires repetition, albeit with different angles.
On the other hand, long-form content works well on YouTube.
June's founder, Enzo Avigo, notably uses text and carousel posts to great success on LinkedIn. During the early years, Close CRM's founder, Steli Efti, used short-form video content with success. As I discussed in a previous section, you will have to create content around a few key themes.
Each platform has its own way of working, but if you are consistent and experimental, sooner or later, you will find your mojo and start getting responses on your social content.
For a quick start, here is a complete guide to using LinkedIn as a sales funnel for a SaaS business.
There are other advantages of social platforms, too, like message and angle testing, candid feedback, and brand awareness.
You have now gained a lot of insights into the content strategies of growing SaaS companies. However, there is one topic that has been discussed a lot in the past 12 months. And without its careful examination, no content strategy research will be complete. It is the role of new-age AI in content marketing.
As a content marketing practitioner, I have been keeping an eye on advances in AI-testing LLMs and observing the experiences of hundreds of other people for about the past 2 years.
Things have changed fast in the past 12 months, and I've heard bigger things are on the way, too. In this rapidly changing scenario, it is not prudent to make any statement for the future. But I have one suggestion - don't give in to sensationalism. Many people have capitalized on the fear of the unknown, information arbitrage, and FOMO in the past 12 months to make money out of thin air and, more importantly, confuse people. I have had some of my clients worried about AI for no reason. And it forced me to make this Reddit post:
To help you make better decisions, I am going to share my thoughts and the reasoning behind them on AI for SaaS content marketing:
Crafting a winning content strategy is multi-disciplinary work. It requires:
Research: Scope the project, select the methodology, collect the data, analyze the data.
Domain expertise: Have deep market insights and understanding of the domain to make sense of the data.
Content marketing expertise: Know how to take a company from the current to the desired situation using content, given qualitative and quantitative insights.
Creativity: The content you create should emotionally affect your market. It can come across as plain to the world otherwise but not to your target market. You need an element of human creativity to connect with other humans meaningfully.
The AI we know today is based on large language models (LLMs). As the name suggests, these are language models dealing with the generation and manipulation of language. They can help you generate new text, rewrite an existing text, analyze and summarize it, etc.
However, they can not work as a multi-disciplinary strategist simply because it requires capabilities other than language processing.
Since we are discussing strategy, do you think LLMs can play good chess?
When it comes to SaaS growth, content is valuable only to the extent of its contribution to growth - acquisition, activation, monetization, retention, and referrals.
It means creating content to educate, influence, persuade, excite, and engage. As a content writer, you can do so if you know:
Trained content writers gain expert insights by interviewing domain experts within the company, subject matter experts in the industry, existing customers, and prospects.
Search engines also prefer content with expert insights, as evidenced by Google advocating for Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trust (EEAT) in their recent search rating guidelines.
LLMs, being language models, can write expert-level content provided they have the business context and expert insights. Without these two ingredients, it will reproduce superficial content based on its training data and interaction with other users globally. In the end, you will get run-of-mill content that will leave no impression on your market, thus defeating its very purpose.
It means the popular trend of generating blog posts from a headline or even an outline can not create expert-grade content that can move the growth needle. It can only create clickbait-ish content with a high noise-to-signal ratio.
The fact that more and more people are adding ‘Reddit’ to their search engine queries suggests that people prefer human insights and authentic experiences. That’s also one of the reason for podcasts to become so popular.
AI has reduced the marginal cost of content production so you can quickly create a lot of content on every possible keyword. But unlike e-commerce and other businesses, a SaaS business relies on long-term value delivery for growth, and mass marketing usually does not work.
Moreover, Google is unlikely to rank mass-produced content lacking expert grade. Google knows its business inside out, and it’s unwise for anyone to try to game them.
Here is the best approach - ‘be good to Google, and Google will be good to you.”
In my opinion, the best way to use LLMs is to use them as a thought partner.
One area where you can rely heavily on the AI is social media posts. When you have a comprehensive content strategy, there is enough context for the AI to create short-form content reliably. It also helps that most of the social content is top-of-the-funnel content.
What makes a good content strategy?
The aim of a strategy is conquest; for SaaS growth, it translates to:
To achieve these objectives, a SaaS content strategy has the following characteristics:
Content marketing is all about understanding and communicating with people in your market.
While crafting a content strategy for your SaaS business, I urge you not to be a pessimist or an optimist; instead, be a realist. It means looking at the market and your product’s positioning as they are, not as you want them to be.
By now, you know a lot about the SaaS content strategy. If you want to craft a solid content strategy for your SaaS business, I have created a blueprint for you. It includes:
It will provide you with a structure and a framework to work through. And a system for implementation.
It is available here.
Crafting a solid content strategy is a necessary step but not sufficient, for strategies work only to the extent of their execution.
A strategy can recommend publishing two blog posts, one YouTube video, and ten social posts per week. But if you can not execute it, there can not be any benefits.
Most strategies live on docs and are not actionable — people simply do not know any better. But a content strategy that lives in a doc dies in a doc; there is no way to implement and track it without adding tools for project management, brainstorming, ideas, copywriting, and publication.
And when you add all these tools, it becomes a full-time job to manage the workflow.
That’s why I am building Thoughtlytics as a SaaS growth platform. The product vision stands on four core growth pillars - market, message, channel, and product.
I am launching the first version of the product with a focus on the three pillars - market, message, and channel. It supports a complete workflow for SaaS content marketing where you get a custom and, more importantly, actionable content strategy that lives natively on the platform (not just a doc), a repository of ideas and insights, a calendar to manage the plan, an editor to create content (yes, AI editor), the ease of publishing on social and many other features.
I will create the content strategy for your business and handhold you through its implementation.
You can run tight-knit, well-intentional, multi-channel content campaigns instead of relying on random blogs and social posts.
Book a demo with me, and I will show you the ways to supercharge the growth of your business with content.
That’s all I wanted to discuss today on SaaS content strategy. I welcome your suggestions, questions and feedback. Leave a quick comment below.
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