The internet is saturated with content about creating content. After all, that’s what content marketers do for a living.
We have seen plenty of guides for software-as-a-service startups that want to attract users with smart content. However, there is less information for established SaaS companies that have a content foundation and want to take it to the next level.
This guide is for mature SaaS companies that want to speak to their core users, build awareness among potential users and speak to topics outside their primary offering. It’s designed so SaaS marketers can envision how next-level content can support their growth goals.
Learn to Target Multiple Audiences
Perhaps you are expanding to enterprises in addition to small businesses, to customers in different roles or into a new industry. Buffer’s Guide to Marketing Personas is a great resource to create personas for this new audience.
Depending on the audience and availability of your own data, you may need additional resources to create these personas. Plenty of tools companies can help. For example, you can use SEMRush or ahrefs to analyze a competitor’s target market.
When you build content, remember that each piece should focus on only one audience. That said, Stoney deGeyter at Search Engine Journal offers examples of subtle ways you can still speak to others, such as through calls to action in microcopy. At the end of the day, though, those who are most likely to buy your product or service should always take priority.
You may find that you need more than one site to address different audience needs. For example, Hubspot has three blogs for their different personas: marketing, sales and customer success. That doesn’t mean they create three times the content; they often write similar but slightly different posts on topics that are relevant to all three audiences. Natalie Burg at Contently also has a great case study on this with her post “4 Keys to Capturing a New Audience for Your Content Marketing.”
The next step is to sketch out those various audience members’ journeys. Here are a few resources to get you started:
- Percolate’s content marketing strategy manual is an example of how an enterprise platform created value for its key audience: content marketers.
- Marcia Riefer Johnston, managing editor for the Content Marketing Institute, offers a useful article and template on why and how to map your audience’s journey when creating your strategy.
- Automation makes segmented communications easier than ever. With a tool like MailChimp, you can send personalized emails based on a variety of data, such as a person’s role within a company or their response to previous communications.
Think Beyond the Sales Funnel
Many content marketers focus on the purchase funnel model and transactional goals like sales. LinkedIn’s Daniel Hochuli notes the problem with this model is it doesn’t account for the fact that some of our audience just wants to consume content. They aren’t interested in the product.
Hochuli offers a second model that focuses on content as a product, which might include hosting paid events and webinars, or selling ad space and paid subscriptions, for example.
Creating relevant content outside of your niche is also a great way to reach and build credibility with new audiences — and often much larger ones. This, in turn, can generate high-authority backlinks to your site and boost your search engine rankings. Marketing Land columnist Andrea Lehr calls this “tangential content” because it’s only somewhat related to your product or service rather than being more heavily branded.
For an example of what this looks like, consider HubSpot again. Their article on how to use Excel ranks No. 2 in Google’s SERPS for that keyword — only behind Microsoft — which means that piece of content reaches their primary target audience as well as countless others.
Pull Together the Tools and Data Needed to Inform your Content
Content marketers told the Content Marketing Institute that creating better and more engaging content is the biggest challenge they face. But the team at Automizy makes a great point: As a cloud-based solution, you have an advantage because you can track every step your users take. Not only can this help you target your primary audience, but it can also inform your communication to others.
In the Automizy SaaS product marketing guide, they recommend gathering data from your sales reps, customers, influencers, FAQs, Google Trends and more.
You can also look at your data to see how to improve the stories you are already telling. Have you found that video performs well? Perhaps you could document a customer’s journey, or interview someone those videos have helped.
Salesforce is a great example of SaaS content marketing done well. One of the big lessons that company has learned, according to Katie Dufficy, is that culture posts performs well, which tells her that Salesforce’s audience is interested in Salesforce as a company, not just as a vendor.
Publishing original research and content can be a great way to reach new audiences and get your content shared widely. Karola Karlson points to this post from Ahrefs as a great example of how actionable research can bring “near-magical results.”
Keyword research can also tell you a lot about what your new audience will care about.
Remember that earlier example of HubSpot’s Excel how-to guide? They created that guide after realizing how many people searched for that topic, and now they get significant traffic from it.
SaaS Companies With Content To Admire
Cobloom’s report on the State of SaaS Content Marketing 2017 can tell you what industry leaders are doing and where they see the best results. For example, 87 percent of SaaS blogs attribute content to named authors, so there is clearly value in putting a face and a name behind your brand.
Don’t just follow other SaaS companies, either. Karlson recommends partnering with them, as well. As an example of the power of partnership, she offers an infographic and article she worked on in collaboration with Copy Hackers, Aggregate and Venngage.
Finally, Rocketship Growth has an extensive case study on how Hubspot is a best-in-class example of SaaS content marketing in general. There are countless other SaaS providers with great content marketing, including Moz, Unbounce and KissMetrics.
Getting Started With a New Content Push
Now that you have a plan of attack, you need to assess your capacity to create more content and decide who in your team will take the lead (or, you might need to hire that person).
Then, it’s a matter of understanding whether you should create this content in-house or outsource. The Content Marketing Institute found that nearly three out of every four major organizations outsource their content. If you’re among the 27 percent who keep it in house, check out six tips for running a powerhouse content team from Cognitives.
Hopefully you have read this far because your company leadership already believes in the power of content marketing. But if you need to convince them, remember this: content marketing costs 62 percent less than outbound marketing but generates more than three times as many leads, according to Demand Metric.
However, it’s not just enough to play in the space — it also pays to be the best. Research shows that content marketing leaders experience nearly eight times more site traffic than non-leaders.
Be one of those leaders.
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