Every SaaS company should be thinking about how to create stellar content and a strategy that will help drive business growth. Of course, it helps to be (or hire) a snappy writer, but the quality of your writing is secondary to whole lot of other considerations when it comes to the success of your content marketing efforts.
Content creation should not be a box to tick off on some corporate rubric, but instead an exciting effort to build trusting relationships through helpful articles, guides, videos, and more.
To create really great content — the kind that actually helps you grow your startup — follow these six steps.
1. Create and follow a strategy with goals
If you are unsure what your content is trying to accomplish, you’ll have a hard time accomplishing it. Even a vague nod to “increasing website traffic” is better than having no goals whatsoever, but it’s even more effective to have specific ideas of what you’re trying to do with your content and why. The most common reasons companies use content are to raise their awareness with their target market, build an audience, drive qualified leads from new customers into your sales pipeline, nurture prospects through the buying journey, and increase loyalty with existing customers.
You can distill your content marketing strategy into one page by looking at what your company wants to do over the next year, such as launching a new product, becoming better-known in your space, or emphasizing your unique value proposition. How can your content contribute to this goal?
2. Set up processes for content creation
Creating a steady stream of quality content that appeals to your audience and meets your internal goals is a relentless task. Effective and engaging blog posts don’t just happen; they’re the result of a painstaking process that involves creating and following a strategy, brainstorming and approving topics, researching and crafting unique material, sourcing and sizing images, and getting the content into a management system and out onto the web. Publicizing, distributing, or otherwise using the content you publish is a whole other effort that is too often an afterthought.
All of this work must be organized, with people clear on their roles, a system in place to move content from one stage to the next, a streamlined method of obtaining reviews and approvals, and thought given to how to leverage the content you create. Project management tools such as Monday, Trello, and Asana will be your friend here.
3. Build an audience
One of the most essential functions of content marketing is to build an audience. The advantage of this kind of marketing is that you can attract those who actually want to hear what you have to say — and who may well want to buy what you have to sell. This means that your content should have an overarching narrative drive and personality that your audience can identify with. Have a blog post that’s getting crazy traffic? Delve into that topic or theme and continue to give those who read your blog more and more of the content they love.
Think more in terms of “subscribers” than “leads.” A subscriber is someone who likes what you’re putting out into the world and signs up to hear more from you without getting any one specific item in exchange. A lead, on the other hand, will give you some info, such an email address, in exchange for something specific, like a template or e-book. Subscribers are valuable, since you know they are interested in your content. You’re likely to find promising leads among your subscribers.
4. Focus on educating potential customers
In a study about blogging among SaaS companies, Cobloom found that educational blogs get 14 percent more organic traffic than blogs focused on PR or news. An educational blog is also the most popular format among successful SaaS companies, with 36 percent of the best-performing businesses in this space maintaining this type of blog.
On a functional level, this means posting about topics that help your audience learn new things about their field, the larger business environment, or whatever topic relates to your product. Stay away from posting too often about the great things your company has done, the progress you’ve made, or the amount of money you’re raking in.
5. Write well and don't forget to have fun
This is pretty essential; none of the other stuff here will matter if your blog is boring and riddled with errors. If you aren’t a good writer, hire someone who is. The best blogs are enjoyable to read, whether that means informative (without being pedantic), funny, personal, original, brimming with anecdotes, or full of insights people can’t get elsewhere (or ideally all of the above). Keep sentences pithy, paragraphs short, humor close to the surface, and a personal touch throughout.
Even if you’re writing anonymously on behalf of a company, you should not come across as a faceless suit or robotic marketing drone. There are creative ways to inject personality into even the most onerous topics or to bring a unique touch to corporate-style blogs and social media. For proof, consider Denny’s Twitter feed.
6. Measure your content's success
If you haven’t done step 1 on this list, go back and do that first. You can only measure your success if you know what you’re trying to do. Once you have a specific goal, you can design a metric by which to measure your progress. For instance, if your goal is to build your audience, you can track the rate of subscriber sign-ups. If your metrics are falling short, try changing up your content until you see more promising results.
There are a variety of metrics can track, so it’s important to decide which ones are most important to you and your goals before you spend a lot of time examining every number related to your marketing efforts. But once you know which metrics you want to see moving, be unforgiving in judging whether your efforts are providing sufficient ROI. A range of tools can help you do this; some good options are Google Analytics, Hootsuite, and Buzzsumo.
And if all else fails, go back to step 5, especially the second part of it. Happy Writing!