How to Develop a Content Strategy for SaaS Brands that Moves the Needle

Many Saas companies struggle to develop a content strategy. Founders often spend too much time figuring out how to drive more traffic to their website, but when it comes to drawing the line at the end of the quarter, they struggle to see what impact content marketing had – besides driving a few visitors to the website.

A bold content marketing strategy drives revenue and enables a company to reach the right audience. The content can be distributed through various channels, which allows customers to keep up to date on the news about a product and helps increase familiarity with brands over time.

For this to happen, SaaS companies need to create a compelling content marketing strategy that generates leads, increases engagement, and drives sales. They need to identify what matters most to their target customer by analyzing the value they get from using their product. Then, write content that speaks directly to those simply and concisely.

Let’s dive right into the bread and butter of SaaS content marketing!

SaaS content marketing strategy differentiators

Content marketing for SaaS is different from marketing in other industries because of:

  • Lower friction and customer anxiety;
  • High trust in case studies;
  • Product-led content focus;
  • Huge opportunity in terms of transactional content.

In SaaS, friction is often lower because customers can test a product before committing, unlike service-based industries, for example. Because of this, you can prove the value of your product by having your potential customers use it.

Sales teams also rely heavily on case studies and use cases to demonstrate the value of their products—so much so that some sales executives even refer to their products as “the solution.”

Because SaaS is based on a product or service that solves a problem, it also means that your product should be at the core of your content strategy—they go hand-in-hand. This means that everything you do in marketing should aim to bring users into your sales funnel and better understand what they need from your product and how they use it.

Your marketing efforts should also focus on various types of transactional content that convert better than informational content. As opposed to e-commerce, for example, SaaS brands have a variety of options when it comes to conversion-ready content, such as:

  • Product X vs. Product Y;
  • Best Products for X;
  • Product X Alternatives.

But we’ll dive deeper into these later in this post.

SaaS content marketing goals at each stage of the sales funnel

I’m not a huge fan of “sales funnels” simply because I don’t believe a user has a clear path to buying a product.

In an ideal world, a potential customer sees your ad on Facebook, then converts directly from your landing page. In the real world, though, a user might take tens of other steps before converting.

They might see your ad, check out your landing page, forget about you for a week, see one of your blog posts on LinkedIn, read the article, sign up for your newsletter, and THEN convert through one of your emails at a later date.

However, I still like to think about sales funnels in terms of where your ideal customer is in their buying process:

  • at the awareness stage – meaning that they know they’ve got a problem and they’re browsing around for a potential solution;
  • at the buying stage – meaning that they’re decided that their problem’s causing too much trouble, they’re ready to commit to a solution, but they’re undecided about which product to choose.

When Dan and I build out content strategies, we focus on the buying stage 70% of the time, as those types of content most often bring conversions, and we leave the 30% to the awareness stage. That’s because we also want our product’s website to be the go-to source of information for potential customers. 

How to build a content strategy for SaaS

We’ve written a lot about the need for companies to focus on content marketing. Still, we’ve also talked about how it can be challenging for many businesses to measure the ROI of their content marketing efforts. And one of the most common questions we get from those interested in getting into content marketing is how they can determine what topics and keywords to target.

Many SaaS companies start by publishing top-of-the-funnel content, which is content that educates and tackles broad topics — think of “What is ***” or “The Ultimate Guide to ***.”

Unless your company is already well established and has generated a fair amount of conversions from transactional content (for example, alternative pages), there might not be anyone in your target audience who’s interested. 

Top of the funnel content is broadest because it targets all those people who don’t yet know anything about what you do or the problem that you solve. These people aren’t ready for a demo, trial, or product signup — they just need education.

You can still generate some leads from these topics, but it won’t be nearly as efficient as focusing on the bottom of the funnel. That’s where people are actively researching for problems or solutions to those problems. When you can identify those needs and create content that meets those needs, you have a much better chance of getting in front of qualified prospects who are ready to buy.

But how do you even get started with bottom-of-the-funnel? You start by identifying your potential customer’s pain points and research keywords based on them.

Address pain points

When it comes to identifying potential pain points, you fit in either two of these categories:

1. You’re a new business but likely have some competitors. Based on your assumptions about the target market, you can identify a list of problems a potential customer might have;

2. You’re a growth-stage business, and you’ve already generated a fair amount of sales from cold channels. In this case, you already have an idea of who your ideal customers are.

Our clients fit in the second category. With that in mind, we created a 3-step framework for identifying pain points:

  • chat with the sales team and gather insights about the types of leads the company gets;
  • chat with the customer success team and find out which customers are the easiest or most challenging to work with;
  • chat with the current customers to find out what prompted them to choose the product, what alternatives they had in mind, or what problems they were trying to solve.

Then we come up with a list of pain points to work with.

Identify keywords

Keep in mind — we always start with identifying pain points and topics before moving on with keyword research.

There are a few reasons for that:

  • content strategists are usually prone to bias. When faced with a list of keywords, they’re more likely to pick higher-volume, lower-difficulty ones. And while this is not entirely wrong, it limits their opportunity of going after more valuable keywords;
  • keyword tools are great when it comes to double-checking your assumptions. However, they don’t tell the whole story. Keyword volumes and difficulty are just estimations. Here’s just an example:

We targeted “are Shopify apps safe” for one of our clients. According to keyword research tools, the keyword has 20 searches per month:

However, according to Google Search Console, we’ve got 80 impressions during the last month, and we’re not even on the first position for this keyword:

A zero-volume keyword doesn’t mean nobody is or will be searching for it. It just means that the tool doesn’t have enough data to give you an estimation.

Because of these reasons, content strategists are more likely to dismiss a low-volume keyword even though it’s a valid pain point according to their customers.

Remember — a content strategy for SaaS should be driven by insights from your customers rather than data from SEO tools.

How to win at content marketing as a growth-stage SaaS

Bottom-of-funnel content doesn’t need to scream “BUY MY PRODUCT.” It’s similar to top-of-funnel content in that it educates the customer about a concern/curiosity they have; however, it’s tailored to potential customers that are ready to buy.

Here are the five main types of bottom-of-funnel content we love to create:

  • alternative pages;
  • comparison articles;
  • founder story;
  • case studies;
  • software use cases.

Alternative pages

When it comes to customers, there’s no shortage of businesses fighting for their attention. Still, competing against well-established brands with a large customer base can be incredibly challenging. That’s why many websites turn to alternative pages to help make their business stand out in the sea of similar offerings.

An “alternative page” is a piece of content that compares you against one or more of your competitors. This page should cover all the features and benefits your ideal customer is looking for and show why you are better than the competition.

Using an alternative page is a great way to highlight what makes your business different from what people already know. If your product or service is being bought from someone else, you must do everything you can to convince them to buy it from you. An alternative page allows you to demonstrate how your company stacks up against the competition. It helps you set yourself apart by pointing out how you’re better than anyone else.

Customers will naturally lean towards the product presented to them as the best option. Like all good content, alternative pages should be relevant and interesting to your target audience. This means you shouldn’t target anyone and everyone. 

Based on the research you’ve done before, you should clearly understand who your ideal customer is and present your product as the best fit for them. For example, if you’re targeting small businesses, you should clearly state that your product is best for small companies, while your competitors might be a better fit for enterprise.

You should:

– brainstorm a list of all the features and benefits that your ideal customer is looking for in their given industry;

– create a list of your most relevant competitors and pick the top features they have that you don’t;

– think of why you’re better than each competitor for the specific industry/pain point you’re targeting;

– create a fair piece of content that compares you to your competitors and doesn’t trash talk any of them.

Comparison articles

These are similar to alternative pages, but the intent differs. When it comes to alternative pages, people are already using a product but want to switch to an alternative for any given reason. 

On the other hand, when it comes to comparison articles, people have a few options in mind, but they’re yet to decide which one is best for them.

Comparison articles can be either:

– “Top X product for small businesses”;

– “Product X vs. Product Y vs. Product Z.”

When comparing various products, you should remain as objective as possible. People usually seek information regarding main features, integrations, pricing, or online reviews.

Founder story

Although a founder story is not necessarily a bottom of the funnel piece, it’s a great content asset to promote on social media.

You started your business probably the same reason your customers would decide to buy your product: you saw a problem and wanted to fix it. Maybe it was a problem that affected you, or it just seemed like something that needed to be fixed in the world.

Startups can be a confusing beast, so talking to potential customers or the press helps to have a clear message. But how do you put your story into a sellable narrative?

  • A founder story is one of the few pieces of content where you are the hero of your story. It’s all about your accomplishments, struggles, and why you started this company.
  • Think about how you want to be perceived. What emotions do your customers need to experience?
  • Determine one takeaway they need to know after hearing your story. What’s the point of it all? Is it to prove that anyone can start their own business? Are there problems in this industry that need solving? Whatever it is, make sure there’s one single thing that listeners walk away with from hearing about you and your business.

Case studies

Case studies include the best of both worlds – they provide the “how to” and prove that you’re the expert in your field.

I love them because they’re so relatable—we like to read articles knowing that they’re true stories, not just theoretical advice. People want to know what happened and how it turned out. Case studies are valuable because they provide this added context that most articles don’t include—and if you’re trying to sell your product as a unique solution, this is invaluable.

A case study is a story with structure—it starts with a problem and ends with a solution. You’ll need to prepare your case studies for this post, but if you can master the art of storytelling in a way that includes your unique viewpoint or expertise, it’s a great way to show off your value and stand out from the crowd.

Make sure to include the following:

  1. Incorporate concrete examples of how the product was used and (ideally) what happened as a result;
  2. Demonstrate the product’s capabilities to help readers figure out ways to use the same product in their own circumstances.

Software use cases

If potential customers are searching for specific keywords online, then it stands to reason that they have a need for products or services within your industry. These “software use cases” indicate an intent to buy on their part.

For example, the search phrase “wealth tracking software” suggests a good possibility that someone searching for it is looking for a specific type of product. They’re not looking to be educated on the topic. They want a particular solution.

Here’s an example of software use case content we wrote for one of our clients, Urlbox – Top 5 Website Screenshot APIs for Your Business.

Generating content ideas for your SaaS

The best way to generate content ideas and learn about your customers’ pains is to speak to the customer success team, the sales team, and existing customers.

Ask your customer success manager for a list of challenges users face:

  • What are the biggest problems with setting up, using, and maintaining the product?
  • Do people struggle with getting started?
  • Are there common errors or problems that occur after using the product?

Also, consider asking for feedback in survey form directly from users. What do they love? What would they change? Feedback can be qualitative or quantitative, but it’s essential to get it in some form to ensure you’re creating content that matters.

Only after you’ve gathered sufficient data you’ll be able to put together a content strategy for your SaaS. Remember, the main purpose of your content is to answer your customers’ questions. Your content should help them make the right decision at the right time. This decision is to sign up for your SaaS instead of going to your competitors.

Check out our process to see how we create and implement a SaaS content marketing strategy focused on conversions.

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