Content Marketing for SaaS: A Seven-Step Guide

Set the Stage for Success with a Smart SaaS Content Marketing Strategy

Content Marketing for SaaS

Successful content marketing for SaaS requires thoughtful planning and careful execution. In this guide, we’ll lay out a seven-step strategy you can use to conduct a winning SaaS marketing campaign. We’ll cover:

  • Why content marketing for SaaS companies differs from other industries
  • What goes into a winning content marketing for SaaS strategy
  • How to identify your target audience
  • How to analyze audience pain points for effective marketing and sales
  • How to set measurable goals for your content campaigns
  • How to set up an efficient content production workflow
  • How to distribute content effectively
  • How to monitor and manage the results of your campaigns

Read on to learn what you need to know to make your SaaS content marketing deliver profitable results.

Why is Content Marketing for SaaS Companies Different?

Content marketing for SaaS is different than marketing in other industries in a number of important ways:

  • You’re selling both technology and service
  • Your marketing must focus on search engine optimization
  • Your marketing must educate prospects
  • Your sales rely heavily on reviews
  • You must address customer risk
  • Your marketing strategy must promote repeat business

SaaS software is a product, so at first glance, SaaS marketing might seem to revolve around selling a product. However, this is only half of the story. When SaaS customers are choosing providers, a major factor they consider is support quality. This means that SaaS marketing carries the dual burden of selling customers on both the product itself and the support behind it.

SaaS buyers research products and services primarily through digital channels, making SEO a critical component of effective SaaS marketing. SaaS audiences typically find products through digital resources such as white papers, website reviews and app marketplaces. Your marketing strategy should include an emphasis on SEO content which will attract buyers from these sources.

What Goes into an Effective SaaS Content Marketing Strategy?

A winning content marketing for SaaS strategy starts with marketing research and strategizing, proceeds through content production and concludes with campaign performance tracking. This process can be divided into seven major steps:

  1. Target audience identification
  2. Pain point analysis
  3. Keyword analysis
  4. Campaign goal setting and tracking
  5. Content production
  6. Content distribution
  7. Campaign results monitoring and optimization

For each step, following best practices will yield better results. The remainder of this guide will focus on tips for organizing and optimizing each of these steps.

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1. Define Your Target Audience

Identifying your target audience lays a foundation for a focused marketing campaign. You can analyze your target audience by creating a checklist of questions to categorize characteristics. For example:

  • Is your ideal buyer a business or consumer buyer?
  • What is their gender?
  • What is age?
  • What is their income level?
  • What industry are they in?
  • What is their title?
  • Which other brands do they buy from?
  • Which websites do they visit?
  • Which social media profiles do they follow?
  • Which trade associations do they belong to?
  • Which trade shows do they frequent?

Create your own checklist customized for your product and audience. An efficient way to analyze the characteristics of your audience is to use analytics tools to review your social media following. Platforms such as Facebook offer analytics services that allow you to see characteristics of your following in multiple categories in granular detail. You can also use this type of analysis to find other social media prospects who match the characteristics of your target audience.

Once you’ve identified the characteristics of your target audience, you can use this information to create a profile of your ideal buyer. Give your ideal buyer a name to put a face on your profile, which can be helpful for brainstorming.

In some cases, you may have more than one target market. In this case, you can create multiple ideal buyer profiles. However, creating a large number of profiles will become unwieldy and make it difficult to focus your marketing efforts. Limit yourself to a handful of profiles at most.

2. Identify Pain Points

Once you’ve identified your audience, you can proceed to identify the pain points which motivate your audience’s buying behavior. This will help you gear your marketing and sales strategy towards your audience’s needs.

A good way to identify your audience’s pain points is to walk yourself through your market’s experience and the steps which lead them from an interest in your product to making a purchase. You can perform this task by creating a customer journey map. A customer journey map lays out the steps your buyer's experience as they progress through your SaaS sales funnel from prospects to customers. The path of a customer’s journey includes:

  • Becoming aware of your brand and product
  • Visiting your website
  • Developing an interest in your product which leads to a free trial registration or demo request
  • Conversion to a long-term freemium user or paying customer
  • Active adoption of your product
  • Expanded use of your product by the adoption of new features or supporting products or services
  • Escalation of customer service issues
  • The decision to renew a subscription or license (retention) or let it lapse (churn)

At each step in this process, your customer can encounter pitfalls which impede their forward progress towards retention. Examples include:

  • Failing to recognize a connection between what your brand offers and their needs
  • Difficulty navigating your website
  • A poor experience during a free trial or demo
  • Problems with your payment process
  • Technical frustrations during product onboarding
  • Inactive usage of your product
  • Poor customer service experience
  • Problems with your renewal process

For SaaS marketing, the most critical part of the customer journey is their initial contact with your brand and website. Your marketing outreach must address the pain points which led them to seek out a solution such as that offered by your brand or competing brands.

Pain points will vary by industry, audience, and other variables, but some common ones include:

  • Financial pain points, such as low revenue or high expenses
  • Labor pain points, such as excessive work required to use a current SaaS product
  • Emotional pain points, such as frustration with user experience of a current product
  • Time management pain points, such as wasted time due to inefficiency
  • Learning curve pain points, such as difficulty learning how to use a SaaS solution due to poor training support
  • Technical pain points, such as the inability to integrate a SaaS solution with the desired app
  • Customer service pain points with present SaaS provider or past providers

You can develop variations on these general categories specific to your industry and audience. You may also be able to identify special categories of pain points unique to your audience or industry. Build your audience’s pain points into your marketing content development and your sales material.

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3. Identify Keywords

At each stage of your customer’s journey, they may use specific keywords to search for the information they need. For example:

  • Before becoming aware of your brand, they may search for information on “how to” solve a problem related to their pain points
  • After discovering your brand, they may search for reviews
  • After they begin using your product, they may search for information on how to complete the set-up process
  • As they actively adopt your product, they may search for tips on how to use specific features of your app
  • When they encounter customer service issues, they may search for solutions
  • When considering renewal, they may search for instructions on how to renew

By identifying keyword terms typical of each stage of your customer’s journey, you can develop content to address their needs at each point. This can promote more effective marketing and sales as well as higher customer satisfaction and retention.

For efficient keyword research, it’s important to use the right tools. Here’s a quick rundown on some of the most important ones:

  • Google Keyword Planner: A fundamental tool that allows you to generate related phrases from a target phrase, identify how much traffic a phrase is generating, and evaluate phrases in terms of competition and cost.
  • Ahrefs: A user-friendly tool which allows you to audit your site’s SEO performance, study competitors and see what’s trending with your audience and industry, plus features to support link-building strategies.
  • SEMrush: An all-in-one tool for marketing professionals with functionality similar to Ahrefs, plus advanced features such as the ability to audit competitor performance and backlink profiles.
  • Moz: A competitor of Ahrefs and SEMrush which offers marketing professionals an all-in-one SEO toolkit for advanced keyword research, site audits, rank tracking, and backlink analysis, plus strong support through online tutorials.
  • BuzzSumo: A social media analytics tool that allows you to identify trending topics, popular formats, competitor content strategies, and market influencers.

Use these tools to develop a list of keywords to guide content development. For best results, work with a marketing agency experienced with the use of these tools.

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4. Define Your Campaign Goals and Metrics

Before using your keywords to develop content, you should develop measurable goals for your content campaigns. This will enable you to align your campaigns with your marketing goals and to evaluate campaign performance.

Some key performance indicators(KPIs) are standard for content marketing in any industry, such as the number of unique visitors, session duration and bounce rate. These KPIs are also relevant to the SaaS industry. However, a few marketing metrics are particularly important for SaaS. These include:

  • Free trial registrations, which can be segregated to identify requests coming from specific pages on your site, such as your blog or resource guides.
  • Software demo requests, which can be segregated in a similar way.
  • Customer acquisition cost (CAC), which measures how your marketing costs compare to the number of customers you acquire for your expenditures.
  • Lead conversion rate (LCR), which measures how many conversions you get per visit to your site, opt-in to your email list or registration for a trial or demo.

CAC and LCR use specific equations:

Customer Acquisition Cost

The formula for CAC can be expressed as:

CAC = MC / CA

Where MC represents your marketing costs over a given period and CA represents the number of customers acquired for that marketing expenditure.

This can be calculated for total marketing costs, or it can be segregated by variables such as cost per campaign or per marketing channel. For instance, you might track how many acquisitions you generate for your expenditures on developing a particular content piece or promoting your content on a particular social platform. This type of information can help you determine where to best spend your marketing investment.

Lead Conversion Rate

The formula for LCR can be expressed as:

LCR = C / L

Where C represents the number of conversions and L represents lead opportunities, yielding a percentage rate.

This can be calculated for different types of conversions and opportunities. For example, you might define a conversion as a free trial registration and an opportunity as a visit to your website and then calculate LCR based on how many free trial registrations you get per visit. You could narrow this down to visits to a particular page on your site if you wanted to track the effectiveness of a sales page, for instance.

When you know your conversion rate as well as the traffic volume you’re getting, you know how much you need to invest to generate a specific number of conversions and the corresponding amount of revenue. You can also identify which content is generating the highest conversion rates and focus your investment on promoting it.

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5. Create Your Content Production Procedures

Once you know what keywords you need to target and what measurable goals you’re aiming for, you can begin producing keyword-oriented content to achieve your goals. To facilitate content creation, set up a step-by-step production process and procedures. Steps in the content production process include:

  • Research topics related to your target audience, customer journey and keywords
  • Create a content planning calendar
  • Recruit content creation talent
  • Content creation and editing
  • Publication scheduling

For each step in this process, create and document standard operating procedures. To optimize your procedures, use a project management platform to communicate with your content creation team.

When conducting research, don’t neglect the use of voice search as a research tool. This can sometimes speed up your research process.

When creating your content calendar, use your audience analysis and list of keyword targets to plan and prioritize your content creation sequence. To attract a wider audience, develop a mix of content for different media, including short-form blogs, long-form blogs, how-to guides, e-books, images and videos. Avoid scheduling content too far in advance, so that you can be agile in making adjustments to recent developments in your market.

When recruiting talent, you will get the most leverage if you can recruit freelancers who are thought leaders in your industry. Look for authors of content on topics related to yours.

When creating content, set a goal for each piece, such as increasing brand awareness, generating leads or educating your target audience. Draw from your research into audience pain points to ensure that your content addresses your market’s needs.

When scheduling content, set a regular, sustainable publication schedule. Estimate how much content you need to create per month to meet your marketing goals and how much you can afford to create with your budget and staff resources.

6. Outline Your Distribution Strategy

Your distribution strategy defines where and how frequently you will publish and promote your content. Your strategy should address issues such as:

  • Where will you publish your on-site content? Will you index it on your blog, in a resource guide section or elsewhere?
  • Will all of your content be publicly available, or will some be gated for premium users only?
  • What third-party sites will you use to distribute your content through guest blogging or partnerships?
  • Which social media profiles will you use to distribute and promote content?

Save time on distribution by using a marketing automation platform to upload content to your website and social media profiles.

7. Monitor Your Results and Make Adjustments

To ensure that your marketing investment is achieving the results you want, it’s essential to monitor the performance of your campaigns. You can do this by setting up a reporting system which tracks the key performance indicators you established when setting the goals of your campaign. For instance, if your goal is to increase free software trial registrations, include that KPI in your campaign results tracking.

Use an analytics software tool with a dashboard that allows you to create customized displays and reports tracking your desired KPIs. Establish a regular review procedure to review the results of your campaigns.

If you find that your results aren’t achieving your goals, take the opportunity to make adjustments. Identify which of your content pieces are generating the best results, and focus your marketing budget on promoting them. Use them as templates to replicate your success with other content.

At the same time, you can improve the performance of underperforming pieces by doing split-testing to test how making changes affects performance. You may find that a small change such as a different headline, slant or image generates better results.

Conclusion:  Follow the Seven Steps to SaaS Content Marketing Success

In this guide, we’ve covered the essential information you need to know to conduct a winning SaaS content marketing campaign. We began by analyzing how SaaS content marketing differs from other forms of marketing. This difference was rooted in the fact that SaaS marketing carries the dual burden of promoting both digital products and the supporting customer service backing those products. SaaS marketing further focuses on the end goal of promoting repeat business through subscription or license renewals. In addition to these key factors, we observed that SaaS marketing depends heavily on educating prospects, generating SEO results, alleviating customer risk concerns and eliciting favorable reviews.

We went on to identify the seven key components of an effective SaaS content marketing strategy:

  1. Target audience identification
  2. Pain point analysis
  3. Keyword analysis
  4. Campaign goal setting and tracking
  5. Content production
  6. Content distribution
  7. Campaign results monitoring

In each of these areas, we covered best practices that support successful execution. Respectively, these included:

  • Using demographic analysis to generate an ideal buyer profile
  • Building a customer journey map to pinpoint audience pain points
  • Correlating keyword research with each stage of your customer’s journey
  • Setting measurable goals such as demonstration requests, free trial registrations, minimizing customer acquisition cost and maximizing lead conversion rate
  • Creating standard production procedures for research, publication scheduling, talent recruitment, content creation, and content publishing
  • Identifying where your content will reside, whether it will be gated and how it will be promoted off-site
  • Setting up a results reporting system which focuses on the metrics you identified as campaign key performance indicators

By following these steps, you can optimize your SaaS content marketing to maximize your lead acquisition, conversion rates and profits. If you need help developing your content marketing campaigns, SimpleTiger specializes in helping B2B SaaS companies develop customized SEO strategies that get results. To get started, take a few minutes to fill out our online discovery form and schedule a strategy session to talk to our experts about how we can help you increase your content marketing results.

Simply effective marketing.