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How to do Content Marketing for SaaS Founders (2022)

We discuss how you can run content marketing for your SaaS growth, its benefits, and how useful and practical running content marketing is for SaaS founders.

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Note: SaaSwrites is a curated growth marketing hub and resource built to help SaaS founders grow their products. We sincerely thank all our experts for their constant value addition to this world.

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What is Content Marketing for SaaS?

Content marketing is a strategic approach to creating and distributing valuable, consistent, and relevant content to your audience for your SaaS product. Your content can be entertaining and educational.
As a SaaS company, content marketing is essential to your success. By creating helpful, educational content, you can attract new leads and convert them into customers. ~Tweeting Monk
When you do content marketing, you do not have to worry about selling the product to your customer. Your primary goal is to help your customers respond, engage, interact, and get involved, especially on social media with your SaaS. It’s a slower process, and it targets customers who have an interest in your SaaS product and industry.
The truth is that many SaaS brands will come and go. But those that'll stand the test of time will do so through content marketing. If you doubt me, study some of the most successful SaaS brands' content marketing journeys. They don't just rely on how good their services are. Rosemary Egbo
Content marketing can be through storytelling, articles, blog posts, e-books, newsletters, emails, quizzes, infographics, videos, or podcasts.
Any media targeted to bring a loyal audience and not sales is content marketing. Content marketing is delivered for a long time and is ongoing.

Why is content marketing important for SaaS products?

Content marketing for SaaS becomes a supporting channel that helps your customers without asking them to pay (yet). Customers trust SaaS products that help them with relevant and valuable information without selling them anything.
A big reason why content marketing works in the 2020-2030 decade is building an asset with an audience.
Your audience will turn into your best customers. You can take feedback, ask which products to launch, take their inputs, build in public, and communicate in so many different ways.
I cannot stress how important content marketing is for a bootstrapped SaaS business. It takes a fair bit of time to start to see this kind of content works, but once it does it provides a long-term reliable source of new prospects. ~ Rick Mills
Your SaaS customers are most likely online and absorbing lots of content on a daily basis. It helps you create awareness and trust with your brand and SaaS product.
Content marketing will help turn your existing SaaS customers into brand advocates.
How content marketing helps your SaaS.
How content marketing helps your SaaS.

1. Content marketing helps your SaaS increase audience retention.

Content marketing is generally a positive experience for customers and helps them keep them coming back to your SaaS brand.
For most SaaS businesses, content marketing and word-of-mouth marketing stay relevant, interesting, and ‘fresh’ for the longest, compared to other strategies. ~Abralytics

2. Content marketing helps your SaaS with social media traction.

If you’re looking for ways to boost your following on social media, quality content marketing can help. Content marketing will help attract people who want to learn about topics related to your SaaS product or SaaS service.
When I started to market Parthenon, my goal for the first month was to get 500 visitors. I got 20,000 visitors. Simply from content marketing and me explaining something I'm passionate about. People are interested when you're passionate. Iain Cambridge | The SaaS Dev

3. Content marketing helps your SaaS establish trust with your audience.

With content marketing, you’re not constantly marketing at people. You’re talking with them and not to them. This helps individuals feel confident in your exchange.
When you’re creating value without expecting anything in return, they’ll ultimately trust your advice, recommendations, and product.
"Of particular interest in B2B marketing for SaaS companies is the ability of content marketing to build trust. When one brand is searching for another business to work with, they want to know who’s on the other side of the desk" - Thomas Smale

4. Content marketing helps your SaaS generates leads for free.

More than 80% B2B SaaS products use content to generate leads for their business. Content, especially in the form of blogs, newsletters, emails, etc. can help guide users to landing pages. Your landing page can then help book demo calls or convert leads into sales.
Proper content marketing that works to cultivate leads isn’t salesy, or slimy, or too much. It’s good business. And while we cultivate a brand online, at the end of the day conversations need to convert. ~ Rachel Wandte
According to stats, content marketing generates 3x as many leads as outbound marketing at less than half the cost. However, the time it takes to create content and for it to work could be 3X longer.

5. Content marketing helps your SaaS enhance SEO and your long-term growth.

High-quality content boosts SEO and helps your SaaS become more visible online. For micro-SaaS, indie-SaaS, and unknown SaaS brands, having a strong SEO can differentiate you from your competition.
If you want to maintain that early success and create a sustainable advantage for the long-term, focus on content marketing and SEO. ~ Anthony Gaenzle
Content marketing is the lowest playing field as far as cost is concerned. Shelf life for paid and organic is very short. But SEO and YouTube will last for a longer time. SEO is a long-term game and enhancing it with content marketing ensures you’re winning for the long term.

6. Content marketing for SaaS helps raise brand awareness.

If you’re starting new, content marketing is the fastest way to pick up your brand. It helps build the right perception about your brand as a solution to your customer problems. It shows that your brand understands their needs and is going the extra mile to help them.
To increase brand presence while doing content marketing, insert your brand into a conversation that’s relevant to both your offering and your audience. ~ Janet Machuka

7. Content marketing for SaaS helps generate industry authority in your category.

Al ries in his famous book 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing mentions the importance of building authority. Content marketing will help your brand stand out from the crowd and generate industry authority. Most likely this will position your brand as number 1 leading to more sales and greater business.
As part of your content marketing strategy, your company blog will help position you as a recognized industry leader, especially in a highly competitive space. Even more, positively impacts your SEO, inbound leads, PR, and community building. ~ Chief El

When should SaaS founders do content marketing?

The best time to begin content marketing was yesterday. The second best time is now.
Ideally, your content marketing should begin before you build your SaaS product. However, you can start with content marketing at any stage of your product. There is never a perfect time or a later milestone to begin your content marketing.
I would say you can always get started with content marketing before building a product; you get a chance to warm your audience up to the idea of what you're solving! ~Vanhishikha Bhargavan
When should SaaS founders do content marketing?
When should SaaS founders do content marketing?
You might not create a huge engagement right away. But this will slowly build momentum and is a long-term game. You might not see results for years, but know that it can generate passive leads for years to come!
Content marketing is not about likes, shares or comments, or even follower growth. It's all about the long-term game and staying visible. People don't always engage. But they sure are watching. And gonna buy from you when the time comes. Keep publishing! ~ Jelena Ostrovska

Why should SaaS founders do content marketing?

As a SaaS product, you are looking for a consistent Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) that offers exponential growth. Your marketing efforts
B2C and B2B businesses have very different goals for their content marketing. The top B2C content marketing goal is building engagement on social media. While the most common goal for B2B businesses is lead generation. ~ Ravi Kiran
Content marketing can bring you unimaginable ROI.
Content marketing for SaaS businesses, when done right, ALWAYS brings amazing ROI: Quality content + search optimization + a value add product plug = educational content for readers plus potential subscribers. @ahrefs absolutely nails this. Invest in it, you won't regret it! ~ Andy Chadwick

Content marketing can be useful and cost-effective from day one

Your SaaS is likely solving one painful problem. All you need to do is talk about the problem and how your customers can apply your SaaS solution. This becomes useful. Your content marketing efforts tell your customers that you have expertise in this one key area.
You don't need an advertising budget when your content marketing is far ahead of your competition. ~ Alex Garcia

How to do content marketing for your SaaS?

Foundation shares a simple process
The 5 W's of content marketing:
• Who is my audience?
• What do they want?
• Why would this content matter to them?
• Where should I post?
• When should I publish?
The only way to win at content marketing is to write for the audience, not the brand.
The 5Ws of content marketing for SaaS founders.
The 5Ws of content marketing for SaaS founders.
It's that simple.
Content Marketing is all about understanding your audience more thoroughly than your competitors. ~ Rahul Marthak
Allie Decker shares:
When it comes to building a content marketing strategy, both consistency (tenacity and discipline)
and pliancy (quick, creative judgment calls) play an important role.

There are three core types of content marketing

Three core content types.
Three core content types.
  1. Search Optimized • Build an organic growth engine • Distributed via organic search (keyword targeting) • Generates compounding traffic.
    1. Example: Amplitude
  1. Thought Leadership • Share your “earned secrets” • Distributed via email, social media, communities • Builds credibility, backlinks and awareness
    1. Example: Trello
  1. Sales Enablement • Accelerate sales conversations • Distributed via sales team • Addresses common objections and shares social proof
SEO Tip for SaaS websites: Google loves content that answers user questions. Create public help docs, guides, and tutorials for your SaaS software Your users will benefit from the content and strangers will be able to find your SaaS on search results. ~ Roberto Robles

Content marketing is writing that serves a business objective.

It exists to make sales easier.
How?
  • Generate new business • Add value through education • Build company and personal brands • Share your vision for your industry • Build a marketing moat
I’ve worked in content marketing for a decade. I helped build, scaled, design, and implemented content strategies for a lot of notable brands. If there was one thing I wished every content marketer knew, it’d be that business strategy dictates content strategy. Every time the business strategy changes, the content strategy needs to follow suit. ~ Ronnie Higgins

Different types of content have different strengths (and weaknesses)

Content performs best when it's pointed at a single goal.
Good strategies deploy a balanced "portfolio" of content where the weaknesses of one type are offset by the strengths of another.
The most valuable company blogs aren’t just filled with content that is intended to capture traffic on the back of SEO. This is a common marketing mistake. The best SaaS blogs embrace having opinions, storytelling, data, research, culture, insight, instructions, and so much more. ~ Ross Simmonds

Create content with a primary distribution channel in mind.

Content that performs well in search looks radically different to content that performs well on Hacker News.
For each channel, reverse-engineer successful content to identify common characteristics.
The best content distribution channels.
The best content distribution channels.
The best distribution channels (from our research) are:
  • Organic search: “59.22% of total traffic came from organic search.”
  • Email: Both owned and earned newsletters
  • Social media: Viral potential from sites like Hacker News and Twitter.
Sometimes I feel so smart with my SaaS content strategy and SEO plan. Then a recent customer on our highest self-serve plan says he found us from a random newsletter and I just (╯°□°)~ Monical Lent

Write a baseline of four articles per month

Writing four articles per month helps you to:
  • Allow for faster experimentation and identifying successful formats
  • Help hit threshold domain authority
  • Accelerate compounding of organic traffic
Don’t expect automatic results as a company blog can take a significant amount of time to yield results. Dedicate at least six months to it. ~ Chief El

You can enhance your content by:

  • Building a mailing list for 1:1 engagement with readers
  • Pairing articles with lead generation assets
  • Repurposing core ideas into new content
  • Structuring SEO content in a hub and spoke
  • Partnering with complementary companies
If you’re overseeing content marketing at a brand w/ an existing blog & several years of posts Cleaning up, rewriting, redirecting, redesigning, and republishing can get you to 1M monthly sessions by end of year. ~ Tracey Wallace

Quantitative signs that your content marketing is working:

  • Blog & website traffic increase (From our research, blogs with <10k monthly page views grow at 6% CMGR)
  • Keyword rankings go increase
  • Newsletter sign-ups go incrase
  • Free trials or demo requests increase

Qualitative signs that it's working

  • Sales prospects reference your content (word of mouth)
  • Other people and companies adopt your language and ideas
  • “Natural upswelling” of brand awareness

Common mistakes

  • Not having a strategy. Target audience, distribution channel, and concrete business objectives are prerequisites to putting pen to paper.
  • Lack of focus on a primary goal. Content works best when targeted at a single objective (lead gen, links, etc.)
  • Not connecting it to revenue. Every article should have a clear call to action that leads toward conversion.
  • Giving up too soon. Content marketing takes months of sustained effort to work at maximum efficacy… but eventually generates traffic at zero marginal cost.
  • Failing to differentiate. Content marketing is crowded, so it’s essential to offer value above and beyond the existing content.

Masooma sums it up well. She shares that content marketing is not just writing.
It is:
  • Content research
  • Interviewing experts
  • Figuring the angle to take
  • Storytelling
  • Outlining
  • Rewriting & editing
  • Nailing the voice
  • SEO optimization
  • Content distribution
  • Content repurposing

How much does Content Marketing Cost and what is the effort?

Content marketing works best when you have more time and less budget. For early-stage SaaS products and founders, your content marketing efforts can bring you, users and customers, from day 1. It also helps you build a media empire along with a SaaS product that can potentially generate a higher ROI for your efforts.
64% of SMBs have a budget of under $1,000 per month for creating content ~Ravi Kiran
When your SaaS is creating a healthy recurring revenue, you can always scale your content marketing efforts to help you build a scalable product.
Once you can afford it, hire specialists for each aspect of SEO that is critical for your business (technical SEO for aggregators, content marketing for SaaS, etc.). Ideally, hire experienced specialists from excellent companies that have already done what you want to do. ~ Matte Landwehr
You have three options in building your content marketing:

1. Creating content yourself

  • great for very small teams (usually founder(s).
  • helps you understand your market and customers on a greater level.
  • build your ideal customer profile and overall marketing strategy.
When to do:
Costs
Effort
Impact
Early-stage (< $10k MRR)
Very low
Very high
Low

2. Working with external partners

Working with external partners to develop your content is ideal when:
  • You want to learn from the experience of others
  • You're looking for a smaller upfront investment
  • You need help with a specialized aspect of content marketing
When to do:
Costs
Effort
Impact
Looking to Scale (> $10k MRR)
Moderate
Low
Moderate
Here’s a breakup (not most up to date) of in-house team costs from Ryan Law: Freelance • $1k - $1.5k per (good) article • Requires time to manage contributors, strategy, ideation, briefs, editing, scheduling, reporting... Agency • ~$10k/m • Includes dedicated writer, strategist, researcher, editor, copyeditor • Benefit from experience working across dozens of similar companies.

3. Building an in-house team

Building an in-house team to develop your content is ideal when:
  • You have a “content culture” where leadership is fully bought in
  • You're ready to make a significant upfront investment
  • You have an experienced practitioner to take charge
When to do:
Costs
Effort
Impact
Looking at 6-figure growth (> $100k MRR)
Very High
Moderate
High
Here’s a breakup (not most up to date) of in-house team costs from Ryan Law: Average salaries via Glassdoor: - Content Manager: $57k FTE - Content Strategist: $70k FTE - Editor: $52k FTE - Copyeditor: $45k FTE - Fully-loaded cost of 1.25x - 1.4x salary (FICA, FUTA, unemployment, workers comp, employee benefits, etc.)

How to measure ROI for your SaaS content marketing with SEO?

Derek Flint shares his experience from running content marketing strategies for years.
Content and SEO can feel a bit like playing battleship with your client's customers.
The general hurdles of any campaign:
  • Accurate / interpretable ICP data
  • Workflows to produce/scale blog post publishing
  • Having inhouse SMEs
  • How much of a topic are you willing to cover
How much revenue a blog post will produce is impossible to determine.
Content marketing costs 62% less than other marketing methods, generating 3x times the leads. Hence, learning to build a content marketing strategy for SaaS is crucial. ~ Render Forest
You need a perfect mix of meeting a customer at the right moment, with the right amount of content, and a product they're looking for within their budget.
A blog post about marketing automation might make an automation company.
The same post for a marketing agency might help retain a client or work as an upsell opportunity.
Another company might simply use it to build a cluster/rank for other related keywords.
Or all 3.
ROI from content is going to come from a few areas:
  • New organic traffic
  • Returning organic traffic
  • Warm leads (distribution to email - subscribers/demo attendees, social media/other owned channels)
  • Current customers (similar to above)
SEO is meant to bring in new organic traffic. If you're going to maximize the value of a blog, you'll need to distribute and repurpose it.
You don't want to sit around and wait for it to make you money.
Your brand should become known for that topic - aka you need to share it
Direct revenue from content via organic traffic isn't typical.
People who find you organically via a blog are likely somewhere between the top and middle of the funnel.
They're learning or shopping around.
If you're getting direct revenue or last click revenue from the blog, it's likely the bottom of the funnel content.
  • Your company vs another
  • Your product vs another
  • Your service vs another
  • Listicles
  • Etc.
Organic traffic revenue from content, whether we like to admit it or not is a mixture of 4 things:
  • Amount of content (amount of traffic)
  • Relevance of content to your audience
  • Distribution strategy
  • Trust and community built around your brand
If your other marketing departments are creating a story and an awesome experience for your customers, you're going to more easily generate revenue with organic leads via your SEO investments.
The existence of your blog is not always enough to make your company money.
In SEO, we (for very competitive spaces) need to create relevant pieces of content that will possibly never create a conversion.
This content makes you look like an expert to your customers/tells Google you're an authority covering subtopics about a main topic. It helps rankings
A lot of your revenue will come from a small number of your most relevant blog posts.
These and other blogs are meant to push people around your content and into your main marketing pages for a lot of money.
You can bet HubSpot makes no revenue on the majority of their organic content traffic.
But their entire ecosystem of marketing, distribution, and product make them piles of cash.
A lot of the exponential growth in revenue from content will likely come after you've created a certain threshold of content.
This revenue will feel like passive income as more content brings in more traffic and more for readers to learn from.
One of the most valuable conversions for SEO traffic is email leads. This allows you to continue nurturing, educating, and entertaining your audience.
Your content can generate six figures per month from email leads while you wait for it to rank.
For a lot of SEO campaigns, ROI seems to explode for companies between year 1 and 2.
This has to do with backlinks, volume of content, and authority from a consistent publishing schedule.
You can more quickly ramp up revenue on blog content by more quickly producing content.
You need the staff and/or the budget to make that a reality.
The important part about understanding content and ROI is it's not a simple money in = money out equation.
It's a content marketing strategy first with SEO applied to it.
The content will need love and attention like any other part of your brand.
And if you're investing $1000 per month - don't expect to spend $24,000 over 2 years and be generating $1,000,000s.
Be realistic about investments. If you spend $100,000s per year, then we can start talking about you making $1,000,000s + per year.

Content marketing inspiration

Three blogs that serve as aspirational examples of content done right:
  • @Amplitude_HQ —"full-funnel" combination of SEO content, thought leadership, and product marketing has helped the company scale.
  • @intercom—Mature content marketing operation; lots of sales prospects cite them as their biggest “content crush.”
  • @buffer—Small marketing team generating 1.6MM sessions per month. Content has been a company-wide priority from day one.

How to scale your SaaS with content marketing?

Turn your writing process into TINY steps

I used to think “writing” = one step. Truth is, writing is actually made up of 30+ steps.
Steps for creating ONE piece of content:
  • Keyword research • Topic selection • Choosing a content format (list post, guide etc.) • Outlining • Editing • Creating visuals • Quality checks • Formatting
I used to do all of these steps myself. Which meant that I could only publish a new post every 4-6 weeks. Today, I have an entire team to help me with each of these steps. Last year we published 3x more blog content last year than ever before. (Without sacrificing quality)

Create a Single Source of Truth (SSOT)

This is another lesson that I had to learn the hard way. My editorial calendar used to live in my head. Which meant no one (except for me) knew what was going on. Today, we rely on an SSOT for everything.
The SSOT includes:
  • What needs to be done • Who’s working on it • When it’s going to be finished
Your SSOT can be a content calendar tool. A Google Sheet. Or notion (that’s what we use). The platform doesn’t really matter. The important thing is that every step is on the SSOT. This eliminates annoying back-and-forth: “Wait, I thought Mike was working on that.”
“What’s the status on that graphic?”
“When does that need to be ready by?” Instead of endless email chains, everyone can refer to the same SSOT. And see what’s up.

Write content based on first-hand experience

In other words: “Document. Don’t create”. This little mantra has helped me write better content. Plus, I can write content 2-3x faster than before.
Example: I used to try to write about content on things like CRO and PPC. (Which I don’t know a ton about). That content came out poorly. And it took FOREVER.
Today, I only write content if it’s something that I have personal experience with. No exceptions.

Use super detailed outlines

“Great content isn’t written. It’s assembled”
In other words: Every great piece of content starts with a super detailed outline. That way, you only need to fill in the blanks. I used to write blog posts like I was Ernest Hemingway.
I’d grab a cup of strong coffee. Whip open WordPress. And start banging on my keyboard. Which was SUPER slow.
Today, I write everything (including this thread you’re reading right now) from a detailed outline. This is much faster than writing on a blank page. Plus, it makes my content better organized and structured.

Hire writers with real-life experience

Hiring a freelance writer SHOULD be easy. Post a job on Upwork. Hire someone that can string a few words together. Unfortunately, that’s how most people outsource writing.
And it’s why 99.9% of all content online is hot garbage. Instead of hiring randos off of Upwork, I recommend working with domain experts. In other words: People that have first-hand knowledge of the thing they’re writing about. How?
Find people that run blogs in your industry. And offer to hire them. For example, let’s say that you run a personal finance blog. Google “best personal finance blogs”. And you’ll find curated lists of awesome blogs in that niche.

Staff up

For your content marketing to really scale, you WILL need to staff up. Whether you hire freelancers. Or full-time staff. Or a mix of both. Once you have the process in place, scaling content is all about people.
And I’m NOT just talking about writers. As you grow, you’ll need people to handle the 30+ tasks that go into publishing high-quality content. (Like design, editing, layout, promotion, and more.)
Who you hire depends on the content format that you focus on. For example, hiring a team of people for a podcast will be VERY different than a blog.
As an example, here are the key roles that have helped us scale up Backlinko’s content production: • Content Coordinator • Designer • Editor • Developer • Data Person • Content Promoter • Performance Analyzer • SEO Expert
You don’t need to hire a specific person to fill every single role. In fact, most of the time you’ll have one person on your team in charge of several different roles. But in my experience, it’s SUPER important to have someone in charge of each of them.

Conclusion

Content marketing is effective. Content is the central component of all your marketing strategies. In the digital world, you cannot do marketing with content.
notion image
It applies to your ads, email marketing, social media pipeline, SEO, generating leads, and building your SaaS authority. If you master content marketing, you will master every other marketing channel.
 

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