Content marketing can be an extremely valuable strategy for SaaS companies. It's one of the best ways to get qualified leads for your business. It can also be a powerful way to build your brand. Content marketing is a chance for you to get your message across in a way that's helpful and educational.
The Advantages of Content Marketing
It differs from other marketing strategies, such as paid advertising, in some important ways. When distributing quality content, you are proving the value of your brand right from the start.
When people access your content, they are not primarily interested in buying a product or service. They are interested in learning something new and perhaps solving a problem. If your company has a software or service that solves this problem, you can communicate this message to your audience.
As content marketing has evolved, it has gotten more sophisticated and complex. There are now more ways than ever to create and distribute content. Whereas in the early days of the internet you were mostly limited to articles and websites, now you also have the option of creating webinars, podcasts and live presentations on platforms such as Periscope.
No matter what form your content takes, however, certain fundamental rules still apply. You have to provide a certain value with all of your content, not merely give people a sales pitch. You also have to provide your audience with a clear call to action, so they know exactly where to get more information or how to access your software.
Understand Your Audience
In order to make your content marketing campaigns effective and relevant, you must thoroughly understand your target market. At the most basic level, this means knowing what specific problems they need solving. It also helps, however, to be familiar with many other facts.
You should do market research to understand the demographics of your audience. When you know the typical age, gender, location, spending habits and particular tastes of your audience you can do a better job communicating with them. This depends on both your own business model and the needs of your customers.
You have to decide if you want your image to be young and hip or more staid and conservative. You may be appealing to customers with a limited budget or to those who can afford a white label service.
Your content should have a certain consistency in terms of the style and basic message. It may take on different forms, depending on the platform and media you're using. However, your goal should ultimately be to create a cohesive brand that is recognizable from one platform to another.
While you can learn a lot about your audience by studying demographics and marketing data, you should also get information from people directly. Poll them and ask them questions. You can elicit valuable information from your customers and prospects that can allow you to fine-tune your services over time.
Create Content on a Broad Range of Topics
To get the most out of content marketing, it's important to address your audience's most pressing issues and concerns. If your software is designed for a specific problem, your content should either directly or indirectly address this issue. For example, a company that makes accounting software might post content on issues such as taxes, business expenses, payroll and other such issues.
At the same time, you can also cover topics that are likely to be of interest to your readers even if they aren't directly relevant to your software. For example, accounting software might have features useful for calculating travel expenses. Thus, articles about the broader topic of business travel can also be included in your content.
In fact, covering a broader range of topics can be helpful, especially if you can illustrate a way that the topic ties in with the solutions your company provides. It's a good idea to mix up your content, with some of it discussing the specific issues related to your software and other topics that have a less direct connection.
The call to action at the end of an article, social media post or newsletter can be the connecting link between the problem and the solution you provide. In case anyone didn't automatically make this connection, you can make it obvious by telling people how you can help them solve this problem by trying your software.
Avoid Hard Selling
The advice to cover a broad range of topics is related to another rule of content marketing -don't focus solely on promoting your own products. Effective content marketing is very different from advertising. Ideally, your content should communicate the message that your services can help your audience, but this message should be delivered in a subtle manner.
Content that is overly promotional, whether it's delivered via email, on social media, or on your website, will quickly turn off your potential customers. In fact, this is a good way to get lots of people unsubscribing to your newsletter and never reading your articles.
One of the defining characteristics of quality content is that it should provide value to the reader. This means that even people who never buy your software should gain some benefit from your content. Naturally, you hope that they will turn to you for the solution.
Educate Your Customers
You should have a distinct funnel and content marketing strategy for existing customers. In addition to educational material, you may have other products or upgrades to sell them. You should have a separate email list for people who have already bought your product and those who are still considering it.
If you have multiple products, you may need several funnels with content that addresses the particular concerns of different groups. You can use one website with different pages for many types of content. When it comes to email lists, however, it's helpful to segment these lists so people are getting the information that's relevant to them.
Keep in mind that your customers and potential customers are mainly interested in what your software can do for them. They're very familiar with their own needs and problems but are not yet familiar with your software. What may be obvious to you and your team may be confusing or obscure to them.
For this reason, a portion of your content should be dedicated to educating and training your customers. This is an ongoing process. Your software and services are most likely changing and evolving all the time; your training must keep up with this.
Distribute Your Content Across Multiple Platforms
One of the most powerful benefits of content marketing is that the same content can be distributed to many platforms. It can also be modified and repurposed to reach an even wider audience. It's important to get as much mileage as you can out of all your content.
Your website is always a good starting point for uploading your content. This, however, should just be the starting point. You should have links to your content on your social media pages and emails.
Videos are another powerful type of content that not all businesses use to full advantage. Even if you don't feel like appearing in front of the camera, animated or whiteboard videos can be very useful. You can make videos that explains the benefits of your software, as well as instructional videos that describe how the features work.
When leveraging different platforms, you have to stick to the rules and culture of that platform. Social media posts, for example, tend to be shorter and more casual than long articles or white papers.
Use Compelling Landing Pages
Landing pages are important for lead generation. A good landing page is the first stage in an effective sales funnel. You can use these pages to promote some compelling free content.
People can be enticed to sign up for your list by offering them free reports, eBooks, webinars or a trial of the software. When you post articles or videos, either on your own website or on another site, link to a landing page that offers people a free gift.
A good landing page should be brief and concise. It should focus on providing a reason for people to provide you with their contact information. Emphasize the benefits of the gift they will receive.
What Makes You Different?
Part of the process of educating your leads and customers is to make them aware of how your product differs from the competition. This is something that must be emphasized both before and after the sale. Keep in mind that even existing SaaS customers always have the option to switch to a competitor's model if it appears more enticing.
Your software may solve unique problems, have greater functionality, offer more flexible features or be the least expensive solution. Make sure you identify at least one unique selling point and make sure this is made clear when you describe your software.
If you have one or two well-known competitors, you might even mention them and describe exactly what's different about you. You could discuss these points in FAQ section of your website. You might devote an entire blog post, newsletter or video to this kind of topic.
Making Content Marketing Work for Your SaaS
Content marketing is more than a trend. It's one of the most effective ways for a business to get its message across in a way that's helpful, targeted and non-invasive. By treating your audience as intelligent equals who are seeking genuine information, you have the best chance of building ongoing relationships with them.
Content marketing has evolved quite a bit in the last few years. While you can expect it to change even more in the future, due to technological advances, changes in search engine algorithms and many other factors, the basic idea of delivering quality content to a targeted audience remains the same.
These are some of the ways that SaaS businesses can effectively use content marketing for lead generation, brand building and customer satisfaction. You don't want to simply create content for its own sake. You should be developing your own content marketing strategy, one that is consistently refined based on results and feedback.