It’s nearly springtime, and if you’re a gardener like I am, you might be looking into composting. I know, you’re wondering what on earth composting has to do with content marketing, much less SaaS marketing, but bear with me. A successful compost pile is a carefully constructed layered mass of dry, brown matter – dead leaves, dry lawn clippings, straw – and green waste (fruit and vegetable waste from your kitchen). If you don’t get the ratio of brown to green right, you’ll wind up with a stinking heap of garbage.
Are you seeing the connection to content marketing yet? No?
Effective content marketing is a carefully layered strategy that requires a certain ratio of sales and conversion copy to free, high-value content. If you get the ratio wrong, you’ll wind up with a stinking heap of garbage – metaphorically speaking. Literally speaking, this leads to:
- Low email open rates (because you’ve taught customers that your emails will waste their time),
- Low conversion rates (because you haven’t earned the trust of your prospects),
- Low social media engagement (because you haven’t given them anything of interest to talk about),
- And, of course, lower sales for your SaaS business.
Let’s take a look at the layers of an effective content strategy. They start with the SaaS customer cycle
Success (Retention + Monetization)
Delight (Brand Advocacy)
Mapping content to each stage of the customer cycle is where every good SaaS content strategy starts. You’ll want to spread brand awareness through topical content that is of interest to your target audience, like blog posts, eBooks and webinars. We recommend taking a Customer Success approach to your content at this stage and plotting each piece of content around the question: What do my ideal customers need to achieve in the real world?
Consideration-stage prospects want more details. This is where you bring out your whitepapers, case studies, and free trials. At this point, they are evaluating what you have to offer, and probably comparing you against your competition.
Consider: What really converts prospects into buyers?
Hopefully, it’s not your price point. Nobody wants to be judged based on price alone, except maybe Wal-Mart.
The last time you bought a service, one that you were really excited about, what factor pushed you over the edge?
It probably wasn’t a single piece of content – was it? More than likely, it was a relationship with the company that developed over time. Perhaps over the course of months of inspiring emails and newsletters, or following the business’s blog, or reading interviews with and articles by the founder.
The most valuable type of content for conversion, therefore, isn’t going to be found on a landing page or on a CTA button – it’s the type of content that is so useful, interesting and inspiring that people seek it out, look forward to finding it in their inboxes, and share it with their friends.
Usually, this content comes in the form of emails, or emails that share blog posts. And every piece of content is written with the customer’s needs in mind.
Don’t bother sending newsletters filled with corporate news – nobody cares. Even if you’re planning a massive update to your product, few people will care enough to give your email more than a passing glance. But send them information, tools and resources that make their lives easier? They’ll open those every time.
And, eventually, you’ll win their trust – and their business.
This paradigm shift to creating content that supports the customer’s goals is what paves the way for retention and brand advocacy.
Content in the close stage is best-suited for informational product pages, pricing pages, and other brand-focused sections of the website. It's typically not great for blogs because it comes off as overly promotional and pushy. But it's still incredibly important - perhaps the most important - because it's the content that seals the deal.
The key thing to remember about close content is to stay customer-centric. This is an easy slip for brands to make because it's natural to start thinking that if you are talking about yourself, the content should be about you. It's not! Make sure that you prioritize benefits to the customer over brand features in all close content.
Retention starts as soon as you make the sale – and I mean the second your new client begins the onboarding process. SaaS companies lose the most customers after just two uses of the product, which means onboarding is a critical time to reduce churn.
The content surrounding onboarding can help keep clients on track by – did you guess it? – showing the client how to achieve his or her desired outcome with the product. These resources could be in-app tutorials, how-to guides, videos, or webinars, but they have to be designed to deliver measurable results fast.
Hey, if you’ve gotten this far, advocacy is your just dessert. When you design content around your customer’s needs and wants, offer them genuinely helpful information and resources, and ensure they get the results they hoped for… they’ll advocate. Oh boy will they. They’ll talk about you on social media and in industry forums. They’ll tell their bosses and coworkers and friends. They’ll leave reviews for you all over the web that will do more to influence future buyers than anything you write about yourself ever could. At this point, the advocate becomes a content creator for you.
But there are still a few things you can do to help them along.
You may want to create a customer advocacy rewards program, showing appreciation for reviews and social media engagement. You could form a “fan club” and give members exclusive access to extremely high-value content, like a live AMA with your founder. Use your imagination, but most importantly, just be appreciative. They’re marketing for you for free.
Follow these best practices in your content marketing and you’ll cultivate a healthy following of prospects and clients in no time.
For more SaaS solutions in marketing, and more tips on how to empower delighted customers, check out our eBook: Strategic Marketing Tactics for SaaS Companies.