How to Develop an Effective Content Strategy: 5 Fundamental Tips for SaaS Companies
Your SaaS company needs a content strategy.
That may sound like an obvious statement, but it's something that many startups and small businesses overlook.
To be successful, you need to create and distribute valuable content that attracts your target audience and helps you achieve your marketing goals.
The question is, how do you get started?
Here are five tips for developing an effective content strategy for a SaaS company.
1. Segment Your Audience
The very first step you need to make is to segment your audience; create subgroups from your core market, and deliver personalized experiences to each segment. This is the most effective way to turn visitors into fans and then into leads.
You might think all your audience is interested in the same thing, but that's not exactly true. For instance, assuming you're running a nutrition blog for your supplements and fitness equipment store, you would be talking to at least two different subgroups:
- Fitness enthusiasts
- Overweight people
These people have different interests, and if you offer the same content to them, your response will be lower. Just think about it for a second.
Fitness enthusiasts want to build more attractive, healthier bodies, while overweight people want to lose weight and gain more confidence.
If you only produce content about gaining muscle, you'd be missing a considerable portion of the market.
Remember, the most critical element of effective marketing is how well your message matches how your prospective audience views things. You've got to identify their expectations and desires and then exceed them.
In simpler words, you need to identify all the segments or "buyer personas" within your core audience and create content that matches the interests of each one of them.
By taking this approach, you'll strengthen your content, and your visitors' likelihood to turn into leads will increase exponentially.
2. Create a Content Marketing Funnel
Have you ever heard of MOFU, TOFU, and BOFU before?
These are technical terms marketers use to describe the path your visitors follow from their very first visit until the moment they become a lead. TOFU stands for Top of The Funnel, MOFU stands for Middle of The Funnel, and BOFU stands for Bottom of The Funnel.
People behave differently at each stage of the process, so you can't treat them equally. For instance, when a person visits your blog for the first time, that person is in the TOFU or "Brand Awareness Stage."
When that person starts looking for more information about your brand, products, or services, they enter the MOFU – also known as "The Consideration Stage."
Finally, once that person decides to subscribe to your newsletter, request a free consultation, or start a free trial, that person has technically entered the BOFU or "Selection Stage."
Now, what does this have to do with lead generation? You might ask.
In a word: Everything.
Let me explain:
Content Marketing is like dating. Would you propose marriage on the first date? I'm sure you wouldn't.
First, you need to know that person in depth; generally, it takes months and even years. It's a process every couple needs to get through, and it all begins with a small commitment.
Before someone decides to do business with you, that person has to take several steps. This ensures that the relationship flows easily and you get the right expectations.
In other words, the Content Marketing Funnel will help you determine the approach you need to take to turn strangers into raving fans.
That said, here's how to proceed at each stage:
Top of The Funnel
At this stage, your visitors aren't familiar with your business. I mean, they don't know you nor have heard about you before, so they aren't very likely to become a lead.
So, you should focus on building credibility instead of trying to "convert" them.
No, it doesn't mean you won't get leads, but it's not a crucial factor.
Trying to convert visitors at the top of the funnel is one of the main reasons most businesses fail. A better approach is to build trust first – once people trust you, getting the sale is much easier.
How do you build trust? You ask.
The answer is simple: Providing relevant content helps users solve an extensive problem.
For instance, assuming you run an advertising agency, you could attract new readers by publishing content like "Why advertising is the key to growing a business" or "10 unexpected ways advertising can turn your unknown business into a Fortune 500 company.
This stage's purpose is to "awaken" people and let them know they need what you offer.
Middle of The Funnel
At this step, users are familiar with your brand – they recognize your "voice," know the type of blog posts you tend to publish and your content schedule.
Here's where they start considering doing business with you, so they start reading your blog more often and might sign up for your newsletter.
Also, your lead generation efforts tend to be more effective. It's recommendable that you offer content related to your products or services to help users understand more about you, your vision, and what your company stands for.
This will help them make the right decision, and getting the sale will be really straightforward if your content is helpful.
Bottom of The Funnel
At this stage, users are regular readers of your blog. They're also in your email newsletter and perfectly know your products and services. Here's where you can "propose marriage" with all confidence.
You aren't talking to a stranger anymore. You're talking to someone who trusts you and is likelier to do business with you.
Of course, the number of people who reach this stage is low, but it's enough to help you grow your business, and if you did an excellent job in the previous steps, turning these leads into buyers should be an "easy peasy" task.
3. Find What Keeps Your Readers Up At Night
Here's the brutal truth:
It doesn't matter how many people you drive to your blog. If your content sucks, all that traffic will be worthless. They won't convert.
That's why you always need to come up with exciting and relevant content for your core audience.
And here's a big problem:
If you head over to Google and perform a search for terms like "Content Marketing Tips" or "Content Marketing Best Practices," you'll see that "create buyer personas" is the most common advice you'll get.
And even though it's true that buyer personas are extremely helpful, most people get the concept wrong, and, therefore, they get misleading results.
Instead of creating buyer personas based on accurate data, they make them based on who they "think" their customers are. They stalk a few forums, interview some people on social media or talk with a few prospects, and think that's enough.
The truth is, that kind of buyer persona won't work.
Jon Morrow puts it well:
"We write down a few demographic facts about our prospects, or we read a few letters from our readers, or we spend a few minutes listening to a coworker, and we think we understand them.
But we don't. To really understand people, you need to know what keeps them awake until 2 AM, tossing and turning and unable to sleep."
I couldn't agree more.
If you want to produce compelling content. That is, content that turns simple readers into hot leads, you need to understand this concept.
Marketing is all about knowing your audience – the more you understand their way of thinking, their habits, and buying behavior, the more effective your content will be.
In other words, you must find what keeps your customers up at night.
To do it, you need to categorize your audience's emotions into three categories:
Basically, these are the three things people worry the most about.
Let's talk about each one of them.
People fear things that may or may not happen in the near or far future. Uncertainty is the most powerful fear driver in human nature.
Usually, these are people's nightmares. For instance, let's assume you run a nutrition business focused on helping skinny people gain muscle.
In this case, what would be your ideal buyer's core fears?
At this moment, I can think about at least two:
- Never get a girlfriend
- Be a social joke
Now, when crafting your buyer's fears, desires, and frustrations, I recommend that you do it in the first person. This will "humanize" your audience and help you see things from their perspective.
Taking the above examples, here's what they should look like:
- "I don't want to be alone forever."
- "I don't want to go to that stupid pool party. Once I take my shirt off, everybody will laugh at me."
As you can see, it's a straightforward exercise and allows you to understand the topics your audience might be interested in.
For example, right now, I can think about two unique topic ideas based on this specific buyer's fears:
- 15 Warning Signs That Your Workout Routine Isn't Working
- 10 Common Mistakes That Will Keep You Skinny Forever
People will always relate frustrations to problems they're facing right now. Taking the "skinny guy" example, some of his frustrations could be:
- Trying a lot of workout routines without seeing positive results
- Spending money on protein shakes that don't work
Now let's humanize those frustrations:
- "I'm sick and tired of my stupid body. It seems like I'll never get ripped."
- "I don't want to spend more money on useless products."
Finally, let's turn those frustrations into working topic ideas:
- How to Gain Muscle Without Relying on Protein Shakes
- Get Ripped! 10 Workout Routines That Really Work!
Would you feel attracted to any of those blog posts if you were that guy? I guess you would.
Like fears, desires are located in the near or far future. For our purposes, I recommend that you focus on short-term wants rather than long-term desires.
Just think about it. What's more attractive?
"How to double your income in the next 30 days" or "The 50-year plan to get rich?"
The answer is obvious.
That said, let's start with the exercise.
Skinny Guy's Desires:
- Attract beautiful girls
- Be popular
- Feel comfortable
Let's humanize them:
- "I wish I could have a six-pack. This way, I could attract a lot of sexy ladies."
- "I wish I could get stronger. This way, I could be good at sports and people would like me more."
Finally, let's come up with some ideas:
- How to Get a Six Pack, Attract Popular Girls, and Become a Sports Beast in Less Than Two Months
- How to Grow Your Muscles, Hour by Hour
As long all your topic ideas are based on your audience's fears, frustrations, and desires, you'll stay on the right track, marketing-wise.
4. Hire a Professional
This is a big one.
Many SaaS owners think marketing is just about putting words after words and promoting those words to the world. They want to do the job themselves.
In some cases, they delegate the task to an employee who hasn't more experience in marketing than they have in elephant anatomy.
If you're smart, you'll avoid doing that at all costs.
Content Marketing isn't easy – it requires the proper knowledge and vast amounts of experience to do it right. More importantly, it needs a strategy.
If you do it just for the sake of doing it, it won't work. Lack of strategy is why 70% of businesses report bad or neutral results with content marketing.
Neglecting this step will cost you more money in the long run than hiring someone with experience to help you.
Remember, content is an extension of your business, and you must treat it accordingly.
5. Host a webinar
Did you know that webinars rank in the top 3 most effective content marketing tactics?
According to Adobe, 63% of businesses successfully use webinars to deliver content marketing.
Not only that, but as a lead generation medium, Webinars work like magic. Here's what Neil Patel has to say about it:
"Our first 77 webinars had a total of 155,386 people who signed up to attend a webinar. Of those, about half (74,381) actually attended, and a solid 16,394 turned into high quality leads."
Here's how to get started:
- Warm up your audience – even though webinars are great sales tools, they aren't a presentation about your products and services. Not at all. In fact, you should offer 80% valuable content and only 20% pitching. By warming your attendees first, you'll be more likely to hook them and earn their attention.
- Make it enjoyable – the topic is crucial when it comes down to webinar marketing. Choose the wrong topic, and you'll screw up the entire thing. That's why you must understand your audience's fears, frustrations, and desires. If you focus on creating a webinar around one of those elements, your presentations will always be interesting.
- Engage your attendees – one of the main reasons webinars work so well is the ability to interact with your attendees in real-time. Encouraging your audience to participate, answering questions, and making the webinar interactive are proven ways to engage your participants.
- Close with style – If you offer 80% of valuable content, the other 20% of selling should be straightforward. However, to get you in the right direction, here's a fantastic guide from Scott Britton.
- Follow-up with attendees – if you're using GoToMeeting, you have access to the email addresses of all your attendees. This allows you to follow them up and get the most out of your effort in holding the webinar.
There You Have It
These are some strategies you can use to improve your SaaS content marketing strategy. However, remember that these are just starting points – the real key to success is continually testing and iterating on what works best for your business.
Don't be afraid to experiment, and most importantly, don't give up too soon. With a little effort and perseverance, you'll be well on your way to becoming a content marketing powerhouse.