In a SaaS business environment, probably saying that your content is just as important as your software -your product- is not being over exaggerating. Content marketing is indeed a very important aspect of SaaS businesses. If we see all the major players from HubSpot to Marketo to Salesforce, among others, they all have one thing in common: a strong content marketing game.
Nowadays, content marketing is important for just about any businesses. However, there are three main factors why it is especially important for the SaaS niche:
- SaaS is a very competitive industry, and you are not selling a physical product
Meaning, it’s harder to get attention, and trust from your audience. People only purchase things from brands they can trust, and establishing credibility and expertise through your content pieces is one of the most effective methods.
- The long sales cycle
The purchase decision process in the SaaS industry can be really long and research-intensive. Your prospects will compare various products before they finally decide on a purchase. The thing is, they are more likely to buy from a company that provide them with a valuable content during this research process.
- It’s all about customer retention
Many, if not most SaaS businesses are using subscription-based or other recurring revenue business model. Meaning, even after a prospect bought your product, your business is still at risk because they can stop subscribing anytime, and even switch to your competitors. Content marketing is simply one of the most effective ways in maximizing customer retention.
Content Marketing As a Direction
Not only your content, as we have mentioned, is just as important as your products, your content marketing approach can shape your overall SaaS marketing strategy.
For example, if your product is a cloud computing software and you see an opportunity in “affordable cloud storage” keyword, you can pivot your marketing strategy and position yourself as an affordable alternatives to your competitors.
Similarly, let’s say you have developed a marketing automation tool and you see an opportunity in the keyword “HubSpot alternative”. You can then switch your brand positioning as the best alternative to HubSpot.
This way, your product and brand positioning will always align with your content marketing, which is arguably, the key to success to any SaaS businesses.
Here are some key considerations for this:
- Find relevant keywords where you see a high potential to rank in (we will also discuss keyword research further below)
- If you are already ranking for some keywords or even a topic, this can be a good place to start
- The better you understand your audience: their behaviors, their intents, and their needs; the better you can find these opportunities
How To do Do a Keyword Research for SaaS
In doing keyword research for an SaaS content marketing, there are two main factors to consider:
- Your audience’s intent
Ultimately, the keywords you are targeting should be relevant to your business.However, how can a specific keyword bring value for your business?
There can be many different factors, but the biggest one is how a specific keyword will meet your user’s search intent. Here are some common user intents in the SaaS environment, and the proper keywords to target these intents. Let’s assume you are company selling a marketing automation tool for these examples:
- Navigational: here, your audience is looking for your site directly. Probably they heard about your brand from their friends or colleagues and want to check out your brand. For this intent, you can optimize for branded keywords.
- Informational: the user is not specifically looking for a product, but looking for an information related to their problems or needs. For example, they might be looking for information on how to improve marketing productivity, and you can target keywords like “marketing automation to improve productivity.”
- Product research: the user is interested for a purchase, and is researching different options available, including your product and your competitors’. You can target keywords like “X VS Y”, with X being your brand name and Y being your competitor’s name, as well as keywords like “marketing automation tool comparison”.
Remember that during the audience’s progress on the buyer’s journey, the user’s intent will also evolve. So, the key here is to figure out all the possible intents for your audience, and figure out the proper keywords to target these intents.
- Search Volume VS Keyword Difficulty
Search volume refers to the number of times a specific keyword is being searched over a certain time period, usually monthly.
Obviously, we want to focus on keywords with the high search volume. However, generally, the higher the search volume, the more competition we will face. This is where the term “keyword difficulty” comes in.
Keyword difficulty is a metric coined by keyword research tools like Ahrefs and SEMRush, among others. As the name suggests, it refers to how difficult it will be to rank for a certain keyword, measured in percentage. High KD percentage on SEMRush or Ahrefs is a good indicator for a lot of competition.
So, the key here is finding that delicate balance: finding relevant keywords (refer to no.1 above) with decent search volume yet manageable keyword difficulty. This can be difficult, but the key is the thorough understanding of your niche (or sub-niche), and especially your audience.
Content Development for SaaS Checklist
Now that you have decided on your keywords, here are some key considerations when developing your content:
- Expanding keywords into valuable topics
One single keyword can have so many different topic possibilities, so how can you decide on the right one(s)?
A common (and effective) approach is to do a quick Google search for these keywords, and analyse the current top-ranking pages: the topics they covered, the structure, the length, unique values, and so on. Your job here is to aim to develop a better content than these.
You can also use various tools to assist you in this aspect, like Uber Suggests, Hubspot’s free Blog Ideas Generator, and BuzzSumo among others.
Arguably, however, the most important thing here is a thorough understanding of your audience’s needs and intents, as we have discussed above.
- Content length
Here is the main principle you should understand: the longer your content is always the better, as long as you can maintain quality and engagement. Yet, finding that balance can be difficult.
According to a report by Backlinko, however, the average length of top-ranking textual content pieces on Google is 1,890 words. So, for textual content pieces like blog posts, you should aim for a length of around 2,000 words while maintaining quality throughout your article.
What about other content forms like videos and podcasts? This article by MiniMatters might give you a better picture.
- Uniqueness and quality
With so many different blog posts, podcasts, and YouTube videos being published in a single day, it can be really difficult to stand out amidst all the noises.
There’s no shortcut around this, as you will need to publish a relevant, valuable content for your audience while providing a unique information unlike your competition.
“Uniqueness” is not solely the matter of passing CopyScape or other plagiarism checkers. Human readers can recognize when you are rewriting an article from another site, no matter how well you polish it. You will need to provide unique, well-researched, and if possible, brand-new information.
Also, a content based on your experience is often more engaging (this is why unboxing and review videos are popular). For a SaaS business, here are some approaches you can try:
- A honest comparison of your products and your competitors’
- A behind-the-scene content with your team members reviewing your competitor’s product and their opinions and feedbacks
- A benchmark video of your product compared with the competitors, with honest pros and cons
- An in-depth review of your unique feature and why it’s unique compared to the competition (with real examples)
- Title and description optimizations
How did you usually find a content? For the most of us, it began with a Google search. Then, after you searched for a certain query, you will glance upon all the different results. What, then, made you clicked on one content? The title of the content and the snippet, and that’s why optimizing these two is very important.
First,your title. Your title should include your target keyword. For SEO purposes, putting your keyword up-front usually generate better results. So, let’s say your target keyword is “marketing automation”. You can then create a title like “Marketing Automation: How To Increase Productivity.”
However, make sure your title is interesting and engaging for your human readers, and include your keyword naturally. Fortunately, there are now many tools that can help you create better headlines.
The same principle also applies to your META description: make sure it’s interesting for your human readers and include your keyword(s) naturally. You might want to check out this guide on more about optimizing META description.
Promoting Your Content
No matter how good your content quality is, it will bring no value unless someone (and preferably, a lot of people) is consuming it. This is why content development is just half the job done, and promoting your content is just as, if not even more important.
While there are many different channels available, it’s important not to think of all these different channels as different things, but rather one integrated approach. Here are the steps how:
1. Technical and on-page SEO to enhance your website
Search engines and especially Google is currently the most common way of how people are finding content. So, SEO is obviously the most effective tactic to promote your content.
While SEO is a pretty broad subject on its own (internal link), there are three core areas to consider if you want your content to rank on Google:
- Keyword optimization, which we have discussed on above sections
- Getting more backlinks, which we will discuss further below
- Optimizing the technical aspects
Here, our focus will be optimizing technical and on-page SEO factors, such as:
- Optimizing your page’s load speed
- Title, META description, and images optimizations
- XML sitemap
- Internal linking
This guide by Search Engine Watch will provide you with a comprehensive checklist for on-page SEO, a great place to start.
2. Link Building
Building backlinks is still an integral part of SEO, and hence, inbound marketing. The thing is, Google and other major search engines have dramatically changed how they value backlinks.
In the past, the more backlinks, the better, but that’s not always the case nowadays. Now, having just 4-5 backlinks from high-quality sites can outrank hundreds of low-quality ones. So, first you might want to figure out the high-quality sites that are relevant to your niche, and this guide by SEO Mark can be a good place to start.
So, aim to create 4 to 10 high-quality backlinks a month. How? Stay tuned for the next step just below.
- Off-site promotion to link build
This is why we mentioned how your content promotion should be one integrated effort with a single mission: building backlinks. More backlinks mean higher search engine ranking, which will generate sustainable organic traffic. If your off-site promotions also generate their own traffic, that’s an added bonus:
Here are some of the common content promotion channels, and how you can utilize them to get more backlinks:
- Social media marketing, both paid and organic: the more people who stumbled upon your content in social media, the higher the chance of getting backlinks
- Influencer marketing: influencers can have high-quality sites, and so by working with them, you can get backlinks from their sites
- Paid ads: same principle as social media marketing
- Guest posting: a good way to gain backlinks while also promoting your brand on third-party sites
If you want to rank on the first page of Google search, you will need to heavily promote your content off-site. Treat your content as a landing page: aim to build backlinks to each of them and optimize them using the previous approaches.
A successful content marketing is not about having a single viral content to drive a lot of traffic to your site, but rather consistently publishing valuable content. This way, you can establish your position as the thought leader of your niche.
Remember, trust is a very important asset in this saturated SaaS marketplace, and yet very easy to lose. In a SaaS marketing environment, arguably this is even more important: you are not selling a physical product, and so it’s harder to gain trusts. With physical products, you can show your prospects the product, which can significantly help in this aspect.
With that being said, here are some important principles in maintaining consistency:
- Aim to post a new content at least once a month with every possible channel (blog posts, YouTube, podcast, etc.)
- Understand the topic clustering principle, which can not only help with SEO, but will also help in planning keywords and topics
- Aim to cover different user intents as we have discussed above. Your content should help them move forward in their buyer’s journey
The main concept of content marketing is helping our prospects move through their buyer’s journey from just a site visitor, to a prospect, and finally, to a paying customer. So, there are two important things to focus on here: you should understand your audience’s current intent and provide them with valuable content, and second, you should maintain consistency in quality and quantity.
In the SaaS niche, content marketing is a very important aspect of the business. Your content can be just as, if not even more important than your product. A proper content marketing strategy can effectively generate leads and educate prospects into paying customers.