It didn’t take me long to realise, shortly after plunging head-first into the world of SaaS Content Marketing, that you need to do something different to stand a chance of being seen.
The SaaS space is saturated with people, all shouting “5 shocking things I learned from X!” or “10 ways to increase your [insert metric]”. I mean, just look at the Inbound.org front page, which is a pretty fair representation of the state of content today. I’m not saying there isn’t quality content and significant insights to be found – it’s just not highly visible.
So here are a few of the things we’ve experimented with at ChartMogul, and have seen some success in. I’ll warn you though, they’re not quick fixes or “growth hacks.” BUT they will help you grow a quality, sustainable presence in the world of SaaS.
Create resources, educate people
The SaaS space is full of complex concepts, business-lingo and obscure acronyms that can be overwhelming for businesses. Take this as an opportunity!
When people read your content, they want to come away from it feeling like they’ve earned something for the time they’ve spent reading it. That could be some piece of knowledge, or it could be some actions they can take with their business. But what people really LOVE are resources they can take away, that help them do their job better. Something they can print out and put on their desk, bookmark, download – something they can own.
At ChartMogul, we’ve had huge success with our series of cheat sheets and guides for SaaS Metrics. They’re free to download PDF’s with a great design, and condense all of the relevant information into a handy summary.
Play to your unique strengths
If there’s anything that the term growth hacking really does embody, it’s that spirit of using any way possible to just get things done. Part of this includes leveraging your own strengths, as well as those of the team around you. Got a colleague who’s a budding amateur photographer? Use them for your content! Know someone who can sketch? Get them to create some illustrations!
Accompany your written content to expand its reach
A written piece on your blog is all well and good, and it might receive a certain amount of exposure and reach online. But what we’ve seen is that accompanying your written content with additional resources, tools and research can really elevate it to a much high level.
An example: I produced a big analysis of some of the top SaaS landing pages in the industry – a deep dive into what makes up a competent landing page, and what trends exist across top SaaS companies. To accompany the written report on our blog, I also compiled a big Pinterest board which contained high-res full length screenshots of each website included in the study. This in itself is highly useful and shareable, and each pin links back to the article, and in doing this we’ve also grown an audience on Pinterest. Win-win!
There’s always a place for long-form, long-life content
We’ve seen that the longer-term benefits of having quality “evergreen” content on our blog far outweigh the short spike of traffic generated from a shorter, lower-quality piece that may not be relevant in a few weeks time. We see continuous benefits from SEO and re-purposing of content – having a collection of high quality pieces gives you a lot of options and flexibility.
Don’t be a sheep – look for what people AREN’T doing
It’s incredibly easy to fall into the pattern of looking at what everyone else is doing in your space, and going with the strategy of producing content similar to that. Unfortunately, that’s the easiest way to fall into the sea of noise – you won’t be recognized with this tactic.
Instead, think about what nobody is doing – the gaps that exist. And fill these! If everyone is writing similar blog posts, start a podcast. If everyone’s podcasting, try building a YouTube channel. If everyone’s doing that, experiment with live streaming. There are always new channels emerging, and with them are opportunities for those who are early to the game.
Look to communities like Quora for content inspiration
Quora is fairly under-recognised at the moment as being a significant inbound channel for businesses. There are lots of people out there asking questions related to problems that your product solves! However, there are some basic rules you should follow before you go spamming the community with shameless ads for your product.
Be useful. Take the time to actually answer the question that someone’s asking. If you don’t do this, you’ll almost certainly get downvoted or marked as irrelevant.
Look at the number of followers a question has. Questions with high follower counts and hardly any (or no) answers are a gold-mine – everyone will get a notification when you answer these.
Be inventive. What questions might your target customers be asking that aren’t so directly-worded around your product? Find these hidden gem topics and own them.
Play the long game. Don’t expect instant reward for your time investment. Build up a library of quality, useful answers and you’ll see a significant amount of traffic in the long run. By following this strategy for a couple of months, I’ve become the #2 most viewed writer for the SaaS topic.
I’m not saying that if you do all of the above things, you’ll be left with a highly successful content marketing approach. But if you consider at least some of these points when fleshing out your strategy document, you’ll at least stand a chance of finding your voice, and having it heard in what is a hugely noisy, competitive space.
by Ed Shelley @Mr_Ed
Ed is Director of Content at ChartMogul – Analytics for Stripe, Braintree, Recurly, Chargify and Paypal. ChartMogul gives SaaS and subscription businesses a way to measure Churn Rate, MRR, LTV and other SaaS metrics in one-click. Previously he built other analytics platforms as a Product Manager in the Ad Tech industry, and before that worked on educational products as a Software Engineer. Outside of that he dedicates far too much time exploring crazy food and drink in the city of Berlin.