Even 5-6 years ago, SaaS content marketing was almost a greenfield. Only a handful of companies knew what they were doing. As a result, there were a lot of trials and errors going on.
Since then, SaaS content marketing has matured. Early starters like Hubspot have managed to gain authoritative status. Also,the number of Saas brands into content marketing has ballooned.
Hubspot found the number of companies adopting content marketing went up to 17% in a single year (from 70% of respondents in 2020 to 82% in 2021).
However, what once worked for first movers isn’t effective anymore. There is too much competition and customer expectations have changed radically.
So how do you start, grow and retain the edge in 2022 when SaaS content marketing is more competitive than ever?
This article will answer your questions. Here are 22 ways to make your SaaS content marketing engine up and running in 2022.
- Ensure audience-content Fit
- Focus on the Bottom of the Funnel (BoFu) content (if the situation is right)
- Say “no” to mirage content
- Give product-led content a try
- Ungate your content
- Understand the value of both strategic and tactical content
- Build a community
- Have an opinion
- Create a content calendar
- Adjust your content to the maturity of the industry
- Publish more
- Optimize your content for better promotional success
- Update your content regularly
- Repurpose your content
- Focus on video-based content
- Build a personal brand
- Focus on SEO, but don’t over do
- Use the full potential of newsletters
- Go from “social media marketing” to “platform specific social media marketing”
- Think about UX
- Collaborate with other experts
- Spy on your competitors
1. Ensure Audience-Content Fit
Let’s kick off with a subtle thing that impacts your content marketing on a massive scale: Audience content fit.
Over the years, content has been deemed as the “magical solution” of SaaS content marketing.
That’s not entirely right.
Many SaaS marketers hire competent writers and produce excellent quality content. Yet, they don’t get expected results.
That is because they mess up audience content fit by unintentionally creating content for the wrong audience.
For instance, if an SEO tool blog covers only the basics of SEO it might get a lot of attention from beginners. But such content wouldn’t attract SEO veterans or CMOs who otherwise could have been customers.
So how can you ensure you are creating the right content for the right audience?
Start by defining the ideal customers for you. Consider their potential lifetime value (LTV), decision-making power and other factors. You may end up with one or multiple segments of desirable customers.
In the next step, you want to interview them and fill up your audience personas. Ask them what challenges they face, how do they use your tool and what their expectations are. Once you have the whole picture, create content around the audience’s interests.
2. Focus on Bottom of the Funnel Content
What makes content marketing different from just writing/ journalism? It’s the sales number.
Content marketing makes your sales easier.
Many marketers go all in and create top-of-the-funnel(ToFU) content. And to be honest, in the long run, ToFU content pays serious dividends.
However, if you haven’t seen much success from content yet, focus on(bottom-of-the-funnel) BoFU content. There are some good reasons for it:
- A good chunk of your audience is already aware of the value you offer. They don’t need education. They need reasons to choose your product over others. Great BoFU content pieces convert them like charms.
- When you are new to the content marketing game, BoFU content makes you less dependent on other “pricier” acquisition channels like PPC.
- ToFU content alone isn’t effective without BoFU content. ToFU content educates and attracts. It’s the BoFU content ( case studies, success stories and so on.) that drives sales. When you produce ToFU content in more mature stages, there should be a solid collection of BoFU content.
- Perfecting audience content fit and finding the brand voice takes time. Case studies, success stories, demos bring to sales while you experiment.
BoFU content isn’t limited to case studies only. It could be:
- Competitor comparison (Example: The TIP Tool v. AppColl | Who will be Your Invention Manager in 2022?)
- Tools Listicle (Example:8 New Age Financial investigation software to look at 2021 )
- Success story ( Example: Saxton Horne client success story)
- Courses that teach how to utilize your tools to solve customer challenges( Example: (SEMrush academy)
3. Say No to “Mirage Content”
Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Many articles are just parts of other articles stitched together. Needless to say, such articles often fail to provide value. Thus those don’t convert well.
Benji Hyam calls such content “Mirage content”.
An article with the title “ Best SEO practices in 2022” that lists entries such as “ Place keywords in the headline” would be an example of mirage content. Even an SEO intern probably knows that. That article is hardly worth readers’ time.
So, how can you avoid it?
Mirage content stems from atrocious audience content fit. If you take care of that, you won half of the battle there.
Also, you want to hire writers with domain knowledge or have a process to train your writers.
Original content like case studies, interviews and thought leadership pieces are by nature super useful to readers. Focus on those to keep your content valuable and relevant.
4. Embed Your Product into Your Content (Product-Led Content)
Most companies don’t mention their product in the content unless it’s BoFU. After all, they don’t want to come off “salesy” while educating their readers.
However, in reality, the customer journey rarely follows the AARRR (Acquisition Activation Retention Revenue Referral) model perfectly. Very few customers care much about starting from reading a ToFU content and booking a demo only after reading a case study( BoFu).
What they care about is a solution.
If a company blog post offers that solution and at the same time also showcases how their product fits into that solution, customers will buy it. That’s why you should invest in product-led content.
According to DrFio Dossetto (Ex Hotjar and founder of Contentfolks), “Product-led content is any type of content that strategically weaves a product into the narrative and uses it to illustrate a point, solve a problem, and/or help the audience accomplish a goal,”
Product led content is effective for:
- Attracting new potential clients and educating them about your product.
- Preventing customer churn. When existing customers learn about new ways to use the product, they usually stick around.
- Converting new visitors into customers fast.
Hotjar’s 5 questions to ask your customers about the product you are selling is an excellent example of product-led content.
Notice how hotjar features their product where it helps with surveying the readers’ customers.
5. Ungate Your Content
“Ungate all content, the future of content is ungated.”
That’s what Pulkit Jain ( Global content marketing manager, MoEngage) said when asked what SaaS content marketers should do differently in 2022.
Yes, it sounds counterintuitive. After all, you want some juicy leads in exchange for that excellent piece of content, right?
But making content ungated is great advice for any SaaS brand who are not in the mature stage of content marketing.
Gated content can work only if :
- You already have a good flow of traffic
- Your content is of extremely high value that visitors can’t get easily (Industry research report, for example)
- You have built authority with a solid collection of ungated content over the years
Most SaaS brands don’t check off all three. Thus it’s better if you don’t hide that awesome webinar of yours behind a form. It would serve you in so many ways:
- Your content will bring much-needed links and contribute to overall search traffic.
- You will have a better chance to assess your audience-content fit.
- You will build up a library of content, which in turn builds up your brand.
Once Impactplus ungated their Pillar pages, those have driven over 900 new leads and influenced $55000 in revenue.
6. Understand the Value of Both Tactical and Strategic content
Content adds value to readers by helping them with actionable steps to achieve a goal (big or small) or by providing new perspectives.
Most SaaS content belongs to the first category. Blogs, Webinars, videos- most of them are for solving only specific problems.
Cassandra Naji, Director of Learning & Development of Animalz calls such content “tactical content”. These are content topics people search for. Therefore the traffic potential of tactical content is high.
Strategic content, on the other hand, provides value by teaching new frameworks and changing beliefs. Counter narrative thought leadership articles, data-driven thought leadership blog posts, industry trend reports- all of these are strategic content. This category of content , by nature, is less optimized for SEO but perfect for building brand authority.
Drift marketing strategy: coin a new term is an example of strategic content from our blog. Its main goal is to introduce an underutilized yet effective tool of content marketing.
Ideally, you want to publish both. But depending on the audience-content fit, you might have to lean on one side.
If your ideal reader base is junior-mid-level titles who deal with specific problems, publish more tactical content. Since this type of content is more SEO-friendly, you want to publish more during the traffic building stage.
When decision-makers and C- level executives are your audience, producing more strategic content makes sense. They are often used to viewing things from a broader perspective. Therefore, they value strategic content more.
7. Build a Community
Many successful SaaS content marketers have turned to sustainable content channels like communities.
Because communities are:
- Great for interacting with the target audience
- Cradle of future content ideas
- Made of a band of brand supporters who value your product/content
- Great for promoting your content via dark social
- Perfect for repeat sales and upsale
Based on the state of the community management report, the ROI of online communities is crazy- 4530%. Since many potential customers actively seek out active communities, these can grow quickly.
In other words, brand communities are awesome. But where should you start from?
Ideally, picking a platform that your customers frequently use is the first step. Facebook and Slack are the two most popular platforms.
Once you are done with the setup, invite selective members through email newsletters. Promoting your community on social media also works. Here is an example:
Once created, share your insights, initiate conversations and be helpful. Answer queries and promote your existing relevant content.
For inspiration, check Lemlist’s Facebook community, Lemlist family. They managed to build an engaged audience by providing value.
8. Have an Opinion
Persuasion is the core principle of any content. A well written/produced content persuades readers to accept the message – be it a story, an opinion, a product page, or something else. After all, people take action only after they accept a message.
To be honest, readers want to be convinced first too. There is no shortage of info. But readers want strong enough opinions on industry topics that persuade them to take action. It is the reason why opinionated founder brands like Zerodha are so successful.
The best ways to be opinionated are speaking from your experience and taking a stand. These breathe a sense of conviction into your content. Ultimately, this air of humble confidence pulls readers in and makes them come again for more.
XoXoday’s 5 Incredible Ways to Gift Me-Time to Your Employees is a good example of content with an opinion.
They don’t hold back any punches while making their position clear with conviction–” It’s not selfish to take ‘me’ time”.
Ideally, your SaaS content should have such an opinionated voice.
9. Create a Content Calendar
Consistency is crucial for even the tiniest content marketing wins. D However, content marketers struggle with consistency. According to a Venngage study, 36.7% of participants mentioned consistency as the biggest challenge.
Now to be consistent with your content marketing, you need to ensure two things:
- Your content voice, opinions and editorial guidelines should match across all the channels.
- Don’t stop publishing.
You need a content calendar for that. It ensures all of your content related tasks are getting done in a planned manner. You can see who is working on what project and how they are making progress.
Content calendars are more of project management than an actual calendar. Therefore, use reliable project management tools to create your content calendar.
Here is a content calendar sample we use for one of our clients:
10. Adjust Your Content Strategy to the Maturity of Your Industry
SaaS companies often serve various industries and not all industries are on the same level of content maturity.
For instance, content marketing in industries like manufacturing or Agritech is still in the ‘Low maturity’ stages. Many brands are not even using content marketing.
On the other hand, we have industries like eCommerce and martech, which are highly competitive. Some of the best examples of content marketing come from these segments.
Your job as a content marketer is to get a sense of where your industry stands in the content maturity scale and adapt to that.
Do your readers expect top-notch content and flawless UX?
Forget run-of-the-mill ultimate guides and listicles (unless those are truly epic). Your content needs to focus on differentiation, opinionated content and to fill “gaps” in the search intent.
Do most of your competitor brands publish irregularly and publish average content?
You can do well with just decent quality blog posts and ultimate guides.
Also remember, content marketing is evolving. The current most popular content of your industry will not be the same in the future. Even low maturity industries will see more in-depth, mature content.
You should be able to read these changes and step up your content game accordingly.
11. Publish More, Preferably a Lot More
“How many times should I post per week”? It’s probably one of the most frequently asked questions in content marketing.
The answer to this question depends on what your goals are and how fast you want the results.
If you are looking to build traffic through SEO, you want to publish more, a lot more. Publishing long-form narrative style blog posts almost daily can help you meet your goals. A combination of high posting frequency and other factors (outreach, original data, visuals) has resulted in continuous traffic flow. However, this requires a huge amount of marketing budget.
But there is a nice hack to it – “Scalable Content Marketing”. Auto-generating thousands of pages with templatized yet unique information helps build authority in the eyes of Google. For instance, GreyB, an innovation research firm, use page templates to publish unique patent related content for innovative tech companies. Search for “[Any top tech company] Patents” in Google, and you shall find a result from GreyB on the first page of Google (most definitely).
In case your immediate priority is to support your sales, you can get away with publishing a lot less. However, in that case, the content must be super useful yet sales focused. Take either the BoFU content approach or the product-led content approach for the best results.
Animalz is a great example of a brand that supports sales with content. They cover both tactical and strategic content and align topics with readers’ interests. Their frequency is 2-3 articles per month. In case you are wondering, they make $7.3 M annually with only a 50 member team.
Some of you may not have the experience and the expertise required for building a content engine that churns out 3-4 high-quality blog posts per month. In that case, your best bet would be bringing agencies like Concurate to your side. They have both expertise and capacity to plan, produce and promote content on a large scale without compromising on quality.
12. Optimize Your Content for Better Promotional Success
The importance of content promotion can’t be overstated. To bring ROI from your content, you have to promote it before your audience.
Many marketers think of promotion as the last stage of the content process and take a shotgun approach. They just start promoting on the following mediums without much content level planning :
- Social media platforms and paid ads
- Search engine ads
- Email newsletter
- Influencer outreach
However, each platform is unique. The content format, content consumption habits and audience expectation vary across different mediums.
For instance, most are not ready to read a 3000-word blog post when they are on Instagram.
If you want an impressive result, think of your promotion and make adjustments before writing the content.
For example, if you want to promote content primarily on Linkedin:
- Include your personal opinion and experiences into the narrative as LinkedIn readers love learning from people with real experiences.
- Have a strong opinion to initiate conversations.
- Invite other industry experts to share their take on the topic.
- Be ready to participate in conversations taking place in the comments.
Here is an example of an ad campaign we ran on LinkedIn for one of our clients – Triangle IP. From the website we knew one of their templates that got downloaded the most. So we ran a paid promotion for that template on LinkedIn and doubled the number of leads that month.
However, if you want to use the same content on Twitter, you are better off creating multiple snippets and then promoting those. Every platform requires you to deliver content in a way their audiences love to consume.
On a Side Note: We landed a client through this one tweet – more on this story is soon to follow.
13. Update your content
If you Google any query, especially if it is time-sensitive, usually recent content shows up in search results. That’s because Google considers content freshness as a ranking factor.
After you publish your content, it gradually loses its freshness. Over the years you can see a slow decline in traffic and ranking.
Here is a visual demonstration of this phenomenon:
Even “evergreen” content is not invulnerable to this decay. After all, with time, new solutions to the old problems emerge and old practices get obsolete.
The only way to deal with it is by updating your content.
Once Google senses new updates, it rewards your efforts by improving both ranking and traffic.
When Ahrefs, for example, updated their content, they saw a sharp growth in organic traffic.
We, here at Concurate, are advocates of content update for another reason: It allows you to re-hook your readers by improving the content narrative. As your content marketing matures, you would find the audience-content fit has shifted over time. By updating old content, you can make your content more useful to your readers.
When updating old content, focus on the following areas:
- Fix your headlines
- Get rid of any outdated stats or advice
- Change images including screenshots
- Review links and fix the broken ones
- Get rid of any time-specific words/phrases
- Improve your storytelling
- Make your content compelling
14. Repurpose your content
Content repurposing is probably the most efficient way to create new content, without starting from scratch. Essentially you take one content, put it in “the jar” of a new format,“put a label” and use it as new content.
Here are some more compelling arguments in favor of repurposed content:
- When you repurpose and publish the content on a new platform, a new set of audiences get to see it that otherwise may never find it.
When Ross Simmonds turned a blog post into a video, 11k viewers watched it on Youtube. The vast majority of them found it the first time on Youtube.
- Repurposing helps you keep conversations going on a specific topic. The more you repeat the topic, the better ideas and new perspectives will pop up.
- When your users find your in-depth content, covering the same topic on multiple channels, you get one step closer to being an authority.
There are many ways to repurpose your content. Here is a list of the most popular ones:
- Turn your blog posts into podcasts/videos.
- Turn internal data into case studies.
- Use your blog posts to create ebooks/lead magnets.
- Convert testimonials into social media posts.
15. Focus on video-based content.
In 2022, there is one content format you can’t just say no to – video.
It is great for storytelling, retaining info and keeping viewers engaged.
It’s one of the favourites of marketers. According to Wyzowl 2022 report, 86% of businesses use videos as a market tool. ROI of video marketing is impressive- 82% of participants say video helped them increase leads.
Brands are generating such impressive numbers with webinars, explainer videos, live videos, social media videos and even client testimonials.
According to a Hubspot report, two major shifts happened in video marketing post-pandemic:
- The audience is now much open to consuming long brand video content, provided videos are educational and fun.
- Marketers are using content in all three stages of the funnel.
So what steps can you take?
First, work on a compelling narrative and ensure audience content fit.
Second, use videos in every stage of the funnel. Webinars are great for ToFU. Explainer videos are for MoFU and use client testimonials for the BoFU.
Third, promote your video on different platforms like Youtube, LinkedIn and social media. Don’t be afraid to repurpose your videos.
Special mention: Tiktok. Since the platform has a reputation of being suited for only certain types of creators, most SaaS brands aren’t there yet. You might gain first-advantage if you figure out the platform.
Feel free to take inspiration from brands like Shopify. They are inviting customers to create content on the TikTok platform. Considering the engagement, Shopify is doing great.
16. Build a personal brand.
In recent years, the way readers find new content has changed. People have started looking for content on niche websites and communities.
Because most brands are too busy chasing behind the perfectly optimized content. In the process of winning the “best SEO” status, their content often leaves out the actual depth that comes from real industry experiences.
Think of a financial prediction SEO blog post written by a generalist writer vs an elaborated thought leadership article covered by an economist. The former might be more optimized but readers would probably save the latter.
That’s why SaaS leaders with strong personal brands are so sort after. They built their personal brands by sharing their real knowledge, wins and losses. Readers trust such leaders’ content (and their brands) far more than any SEO article can ever achieve.
Thought leadership is the key to excel in content marketing in 2022. Start sharing your first-hand experiences on social media and your blog.
Nitin Kamath, CEO of Zerodha, is a great example. He has been sharing his knowledge and opinions on the Zerodha blog and his social media accounts for years. He has become the go-to influencer on financial matters for millions of readers.
17. Focus on SEO, but don’t overdo
Search engines are the most powerful mediums of content discovery. No wonder, you can’t talk about content without mentioning SEO.
If we see SEO from a strategic perspective, the most commonly preached advice won’t work for most SaaS brands. Do you think you can outcompete brands like Hubspot for competitive keywords? These behemoths have first movers’ advantage.
However, you can still dominate industry keywords provided your category isn’t “overSEO”ed. (For example, A SaaS startup that targets the manufacturing industry)
If your industry is relatively mature, use thought leadership to lead SEO.
By that we mean, you collect keywords around your audience interests (not your product-related keywords) and create content around those.
That being said, save high intent keywords for your landing pages. Ideally, your landing pages and other conversion-focused content must rank for keywords with high purchase intent.
Triangle IP seems to be implementing this thought leadership combined with the SEO approach. Their blog section is full of topics that cover readers’ queries ( not just strictly product related topics/keywords).
18. Use the full potential of newsletters.
Newsletters have always been marketers’ favourite medium and rightfully so. After all, email newsletters deliver $42 in return for every $1 you spend.
Many SaaS marketers use newsletters to drive traffic to blogs and renew subscriptions. That strategy isn’t wrong but certainly has limitations.
What you really should do is convert your newsletter into a content channel. Ideally, the email content should be a piece of useful content in its own right.
However, you CAN embed links to your blog posts/ landing pages as long as those fit into the email content narrative.
Alternatively, you can use product-led content as email content. Here is a great example from Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest newsletter:
Also, paid newsletters like substacks can be a great addition to your founder’s brand content marketing. Once you start publishing great content on substack, you can promote it on other channels for new sign-ups.
Long story short, prioritize the value first without sacrificing the promotional and sales aspects of your newsletter.
19. Go from “social media marketing” to “platform-specific Social media marketing”
Social media channels and content marketing are intertwined. However, from audience expectation to popular content, these platforms are often fundamentally different from each other in many ways.
For instance, Instagram is a visually dominant platform, whereas Linkedin is a text-dominant one. There is also a big difference in what the audience wants to consume. You probably have seen “this is not Insta” comments on Linkedin.
Here is an example of how marketing approaches vary in two different platforms:
Still, many SaaS marketers use a “one-size-fits-for-all” social media content strategy. They repurpose the same content on different platforms without considering these differences.
Instead, you should have separate strategies for separate platforms, preferably led by platform experts.
This specific platform focused approach will make your content adapt better to different audience segments. Once you hook your audience, results will follow.
20. Think about UX
In 2020, Google announced they would start counting users’ page experience as a ranking factor. It will be in full effect by march 2022.
But what are the yardsticks of user page experience?
Well, Google has disclosed a list of page experience signals.
Core web vitals: This includes factors like:
- LCP: The Largest Contentful Paint( LCP) measures the render time of the largest text or image block. Ideally, you want to keep it less than 2.5 sec. In other words, your readers should be able to interact with the largest text/image element on the page within 2.5 secs.
- First input delay: The First input delay or (FID) measures the time from the moment a user clicks on a link , taps on a button or uses any JS-powered control to the time when the browser is able to process it. FID should be less than 100ms.
- Cumulative Layout shift( CLS): CLS is the measure of a website’s instability. It determines whether a site behaves in the way it should. Make sure you keep the CLS score less than 0.1.
Mobile friendliness: Make sure your content loads fast, mobile optimized and is designed for an effortless visual experience.
HTTPs: Secure your website with HTTPs.
If you are already putting effort into content marketing, complying with Google’s guidelines shouldn’t be too hard.
However, content quality still is the most important factor. The same article also states“ Great page experience doesn’t override great page content”.
21. Collaborate with other experts
If you have paid attention, you must have noticed in the last two years leading SaaS brands have been inviting other SaaS leaders on their podcasts and webinars. These collaborations are all over the place across the entire SaaS industry.
There is a good reason for that.
Collaboration content is a win-win situation for all parties involved:
- The host gains some extra authority points by owning the platform where other experts share their expertise.
- The guest solidifies his authority by being invited to a platform that the audience trusts.
- The audience learns about new useful perspectives/ tips from experts who have real experiences.
- Both host and guest, get exposure to each other’s audience.
As a SaaS leader, you should reach out to other experts and collaborate.
Such collaborations can take the form of webinars, podcasts and even narrative-based thought leadership blog posts. Check Databox blog for some inspiration. They are focusing on narrative-based articles.
Webinars? Or Podcasts? This can be a tough choice. Overall, podcasts are better for attracting new visitors. Webinars can work, but those truly shine when it comes to converting attendees into customers.
For inspiration, head over to Coschedule and check out their “Actionable Marketing podcast”.
Buzzsumo has a great collection of collaborative webinars with some of the biggest names of the marketing industry as guests.
22. Spy on your competitors.
Let’s be honest. We, at Concurate, aren’t very fond of content marketing practices that focus more on the competitors than the audience.
With that said, some insights on what gaps they are leaving out are always welcome. And if you are a late bloomer (in terms of content marketing maturity) we advise you to actively find those gaps and fill them up with your content.
Also, if some content strategy is working for them, you can certainly give it a try.
There are enough tools available in the market to assist you in your mission to be the content 007. Tools like Ahrefs site explorer, Buzzsumo, Sparktoro deserve mentions.
Summing it Up
In conclusion, content marketing has evolved in the last few years. SEO-based content strategy once worked for early starters, but it won’t be the same for other SaaS brands. Your best bet is to create a subcategory in your niche and produce epic thought leadership content.
We, here at Concurate, have worked with SaaS brands from different verticals. We understand how content marketing works and when it shifts from our first-hand experience. If you need an ally to win at the SaaS content marketing game, talk to us. Book a calendar slot here.