Content marketing is a popular type of marketing for SaaS marketing. Many companies have succeeded with it. HubSpot, Ahrefs, Zapier—the list goes on.
Despite that, there is no one way to do content marketing for SaaS. Each SaaS operates in a different market with different customers, pain points, and needs.
As a result, every SaaS’s content marketing strategy will be different.
So rather than prescribe the “best” content marketing strategy you must follow for 20XX, I’d like to share how we’ve done it here at Ahrefs.
Content marketing is our main marketing type. And hopefully, by the end of this guide, you’ll take away some principles, ideas, and tactics you can apply to your own SaaS.
But first, let’s answer some questions.
While the principles are largely the same, there are a few reasons why content marketing can be different for SaaS:
Despite its popularity with SaaS companies, it’s not a must. Ultimately, it depends on your company, industry, and set of customers you serve.
In short, you must use the right “hunting strategy” for the right “animal.”
Content marketing is a “Nets” channel, i.e., it lets you pull in a large number of potential targets at once. This is suitable for companies that are targeting deer, mice, and rabbits—metaphors for customers who are paying you around $100–$10,000 per year.
If you’re targeting customers of those categories, content marketing may be a great channel for you.
This doesn’t mean content marketing won’t work for elephants and flies. Many companies targeting enterprise customers have also succeeded with content marketing.
Learn more: A Simple Way to Build Your Go-to-Market Strategy
The way we do content marketing at Ahrefs is known as product-led content.
Product-led content is about creating content that helps the reader solve their problems with your product. It’s not a hard sell; we’re naturally and strategically weaving our product and its use cases into the narrative.
Here’s how it works.
To create amazing product-led content, you have to know your product inside out.
This seems like an eye-rolling point, but you’d be amazed at how many marketers don’t know their product. That’s because many of them aren’t their own company’s target customers. They’ve probably tried out some features during their onboarding, but they’ve never seriously “eaten their own dog food.”
I admit this was the case for me as well. (Not at Ahrefs, though.)
You should know every feature and use case. You should keep up to date with every new feature your SaaS releases. You should be researching new use cases for existing and new features.
You need to know your product like the back of your hand.
At Ahrefs, we’re lucky we’re our own ideal customers. But we don’t take that for granted. Every new marketing hire works in customer support for three months before officially joining the team. They’re also expected to complete all courses in our academy.
This turns everyone in the marketing team into Ahrefs experts.
Features need to benefit someone.
So you’ll want to think about who needs your SaaS. And don’t just think about the most direct customer base. You should broaden your horizons.
For example, we’re an all-in-one SEO toolset. While we obviously benefit SEOs, there are also a ton of other people who can use our product, like:
This should be a piece of cake if you’ve done your market research and have your buyer personas on hand. But if you’ve yet to create buyer personas for your SaaS, I highly recommend following the process here.
Most people will likely discover your content via search engines. For that reason, you should create content for topics that your target customers are searching for.
Here’s how to find these topics:
Here, you can see that there are ~2.5 million potential topics you could target. Not only are there too many, but a lot of them are likely also out of your wheelhouse (at least for now).
So we’ll want to narrow down the list using filters. Specifically:
From here, you’ll want to eyeball the list for relevant topics you can cover.
Don’t just look out for topics where you can create articles. Since it’s relatively easier for SaaS companies to create free or limited versions of their existing products, you’ll also want to keep an eye out for opportunities where you can create free tools.
For example, our suite of free tools sends us tons of search traffic each month.
To find these keywords, use the Include filter to search for words like “tool, tools, calculator, template, templates, checker.”
Go through the list and see if there are any free tools you can create.
Learn more: Keyword Research: The Beginner’s Guide by Ahrefs
What’s the secret behind creating a piece of product-led content that doesn’t read like a hard sell?
Selecting the right topic.
At Ahrefs, we focus only on topics our product can solve. That way, we don’t look like we’re unnaturally shoehorning our product into the content—we’re simply offering the best solution to the problem.
How do we do this? We look at the topics we’ve found and give each of them a “business potential” score.
By prioritizing topics that score a “2” or “3,” we make sure that mentions of our product are natural.
Creating product-led content that ranks isn’t simply a case of hunkering down and writing. You’ll need to make sure you’re creating and optimizing content for search engines so it can rank and generate organic traffic.
Here’s how to do it.
Search intent is the why behind a query. It’s the reason why someone is searching for something in the first place. Google knows this and tries to rank only the most relevant results.
For example, if we search for “best wireless headphones,” the top-ranking pages are all listicles listing the best wireless headphones of the current year.
Figuring out the search intent for your target topics is relatively easy. Just Google the keyword and look out for the three Cs:
For example, let’s suppose you want to cover the topic “how to save money.”
If we analyze the SERPs, here’s what we’ll learn:
So it’s likely you’ll have to write a listicle like “XX Simplest Tips to Save More Money.”
For certain topics, searchers will be expecting you to cover several important subtopics. If you’re missing them, searchers may think your post is not good enough and bounce.
For example, some of the top-ranking posts for “how to write a press release” include templates:
It’s a clue that searchers may value posts with templates higher than posts without. So if you’re targeting this topic, you may want to include one.
Here’s how you can find important subtopics to cover:
Here’s how you can execute the latter strategy:
For example, here’s how it looks like if we analyze the top-ranking pages for “earned media”:
Looking at the list, we should be covering subtopics like:
As you’re creating the content, add your product’s use case wherever natural and possible. This is an art—there’s no perfect way to do this. It comes down to your copywriting skills.
If you need an example of how this is done, you’re reading it. 😉
Just remember: Don’t overdo it. If your product isn’t a good fit, it isn’t a good fit. Don’t shoehorn your product in just because. You want to be confident about what you’re selling—but not to the point where you’re lying.
Your content won’t get traction on its own. You’ll have to give it a push. That means you need to promote your content.
Here are a few ways you can do it:
Email, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. Wherever you have a following, let them know.
Backlinks are one of Google’s most important ranking factors. For that reason, if you want to rank higher on Google, you need to build links.
Link building is a whole can of worms, so I highly recommend you read our guide on link building or watch this video.
But I don’t want to leave you with nothing, so here’s a good starting point to begin your link building journey:
For example, let’s say we want to build links to our post on how to write a blog post. If we analyze the top-ranking page for that topic in Site Explorer, we see that it has 5,800 backlinks:
If we analyze them via the Backlinks report, we’ll see that HubSpot got a link from this page:
Looking at the page itself, it appears to be a page that curates resources for other industries. And there is a section for “Sales & Marketing Resources.”
If we reach out to the owner and introduce our post (or perhaps even something else, like our blog or academy), there’s a chance they may add it to their page.
Since you’ve already spent so much time creating the content, you should try and get as much mileage as possible from it.
You can do this by repurposing it.
Learn more: The Complete Guide to Content Repurposing
Finally, if you have the budget, you can always run ads to your content. Don’t just think about the big networks—smaller networks can drive traffic to your posts too.
For example, we run ads on Twitter:
And even YouTube:
Learn more: PPC Marketing: Beginner’s Guide to Pay-Per-Click Ads
This is the strategy we’ve been using at Ahrefs for the past few years. But the most difficult part is to do it consistently—steadily publishing content, following the strategy, and not chasing every new tactic that comes along the way.
Any questions or comments? Let me know on Twitter.
Source: ahrefs.com, originally published on 2022-10-12 01:00:00