How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy for Your SaaS Company

In today’s article I’m going to show you exactly how to design a content marketing strategy for your SaaS startup or company and get more leads with it. 

In this post you’ll learn how to:

  • Create your content marketing strategy
  • Set up your content OKRs
  • Align your content OKRs with your business goals 
  • Create content that sticks and generates leads
  • Promote your content the right way
  • Lots more

Let’s dive right in.

1. Content OKRs (The 3×4 Rule)

What’s the first thing people advise you to do when developing a content marketing strategy? That’s right! Set up your KPIs or SMART goals.

I’ll be more radical and I’ll tell you to forget about KPIs and SMART goals. If you want to ground your marketing vision and get results from your content, work on your objectives and key results (OKRs). 

What’s that? According to John Doerr, OKRs are the yin and yang of goal-setting. Your objectives are the far horizons. Your key results, on the other hand, will include hard numbers, such as: 

  • Revenue 
  • Growth 
  • Active users
  • Quality 
  • Market share
  • Customer engagement

Here’s how a content OKR will look like: 

Objective: “Increase the number of high-quality leads with XX% by MM/DD/YYYY.”

Key results: 

  • Create 3 gated checklists 
  • Design a smart form to qualify leads …
  • etc. 

You have a specific objective, a deadline, and key results you’ll be achieving. 

How’s that different from your KPIs? As Doerr argues, KPIs are numbers without soul or context. What’re the differences between OKRs and SMART goals? According to Rob Davies, marketing consultant at ALSO Group, these are the main differentiating points: 

  • With ORKs there’s no room for interpretation
  • OKRs provide an additional level of organizational structure 
  • OKRs ensure the cohesion between goals across the entire organization 

In other words, your content OKRs will always be aligned with: 

✅Your business goals
✅Your marketing goals 
✅The individual goals of your team members 

That’s the best part of it. It makes you consider the bigger picture. If your business goal is to increase the MRR with XX% by MM/DD/YYYY, then your content OKRs should be aligned with this main objective. 

But more about that a bit later.  

The 3×4 Rule 

For the sake of simplicity, you’ll want to set up your content OKRs following the 3×4 Rule: 3 Objectives and 4 Key Results (per objective). 

To set up your content OKRs, start by looking at your business goals. The whole point of content marketing is to sustain your direction and help you get those sales numbers. In other words, you’ll want to identify those content OKRs that are strictly aligned with your business goals (or business OKRs). 

Let’s see how this could look like: Business and content OKRs that lack alignment: 

❌Attract X% more qualified leads per month 
❌Create content that will reduce the bounce rate with X%
 
❌Increase the MRR with X%  
❌Create X-number of client-oriented content pieces 

❌Reduce churn by X%
❌Create X-number of lead magnets to attract new prospects 

Aligning your Business and content OKRs:

✅Attract X% more qualified leads per month 
✅Create X-number of lead magnets and get X% of downloads 

✅Increase the MRR with X%  
✅Maximize the content conversion rate by X%

✅Reduce churn by X%
✅Create X-number of content pieces to reduce the learning curve by X%

Your content OKRs

When starting, plenty of SaaS companies want to cover as much “content territory” as possible. They’ll include everything in their content strategy without taking a second look at their main business goals. They’ll want to: 

  • Create X-number of magnet leads by MM/DD/YYYY
  • Drive X-times more traffic to the website by MM/DD/YYYY 
  • Increase the social media engagement with X% by MM/DD/YYYY
  • Get X-times more newsletter sign-ups by MM/DD/YYYY
  • Improve the search ranking for X & Y keywords by MM/DD/YYYY
  • Guest posting on X-number of industry websites by MM/DD/YYYY

And all this … at the same time! 

It’s a total mess! They’ll lack an articulated action-plan to get that one or two business results they’re after. So what do you do when designing your content OKRs? 

It’s simple.  

Take a look at your quarterly or even yearly company goals and define those content objectives and key results that will help you get the business results you want. Here are some 3×4 Rule-based content OKRs: 

If you’re careful and selective about your content OKRs, your content actions will be well-oriented and focused on achieving a very specific goal. That’s more efficient than fighting lots of battles without a specific goal or result in mind. 

More resources: 

2. Audience profiling (Buckets & Decision Levels)

Profiling your audience can be messy. 

Some say you must create empathy maps and focus on what your target group thinks and feels (good luck with that). Others say you should identify people’s motivations, fears, and values. 

I have a problem with this approach (although I was also one of those people preaching the need of getting in the head of your audience). 

Here’s why: 

✔ Getting to know your audience is an ongoing process. Running a few surveys and in-depth interviews won’t help you map people’s fears or feelings. 

✔ We can’t know exactly how people feel about things. It’s a very subjective matter so I’m yet to see an empathy map at work. 

✔ The best way to get to know what type of content or topic works for your audience is by … publishing content, promoting it, and analyzing its performance. Experimenting is the way. 

Obviously, you can’t have a content marketing strategy without knowing what are the most burning pains of your audience. After all, great content is the one that provides immediate solutions. 

Nor you can’t create content without knowing what language (aka exact words and sentences) your audience uses to articulate their challenges. This is the only way to connect with the narrative that goes on in their heads.

However, you can definitely build a strong content marketing strategy without knowing: 

What are the major worries people have? 
Who they listen to? How can you identify that, in the first place?
What are their feelings? How reliable is that for creating content? After all, feelings change so quickly. 
What are the values people have? Again, how certain can you be about knowing for sure what are the values of other people? 
What their fears are? I know some answers … Snakes, mice, high altitudes, being fired … Is this relevant to your business? 

I wouldn’t waste my time on that. Plus, people care and have strong feelings about these three things only: 

  • Money 🤑
  • Fitness 🏸
  • Love 😍

(We could also add politics & football … yes, in Europe we call it football …)

If your SaaS business doesn’t cover one of these 3 areas, there’s no point in trying to understand how people feel. Here’s what you’ll need to know about your audience: 

✅ What’s the job they want to accomplish? 
✅ What’s the outcome they want to get? Focus a lot on this one. For example, you may think the result they want to achieve is to save time and money on event planning logistics. But in reality, it’s to get more leads by running brand events.
✅ Which challenges that stay in the way of getting this result?
✅ What would they do to overcome these challenges?
✅ What are their industry-related interests? 

See, you don’t need to know lots of things about your audience. Gathering intel, especially related to how people feel and think, may take lots of time and isn’t always reliable. 

So work with what you have. 

Plus, there are two awesome frameworks you can use to profile your audience the right way and start creating content that sticks. 

Framework #1. Buckets 

Not sure if you’re familiar with bucketing. Entrepreneur Ryan Levesque was the first one to introduce this concept. As he explains, no matter how big or small your market is, you must define the segments—or the buckets—your prospects fall into. 

Buckets refer to having 4 or 5 different categories for one buyer persona only. For example, if you’ve developed a SaaS product for entrepreneurs, you may have the following buckets: 

✏ Entrepreneurs that are at the beginning of their journey 
✏ Seasoned entrepreneurs 
✏ Entrepreneurs that have more than one business 
✏ Entrepreneurs that are ready to sell their business 

As you can see, it’s the same audience persona with different variations. Why should you go with the bucketing framework?

Two words … Personalized content. 

Although you could create fit-them-all content for entrepreneurs, you’ll be getting less-satisfying results than by publishing personalized content.

For example, seasoned entrepreneurs may find certain content irrelevant, since they have a strong base knowledge. Bucketing will help you personalize your content. And the best part is that there are 4 ways in which you can do the bucketing: 

1⃣ Journey buckets

You’re in a market where it is a linear success path for your customers to follow. 

Example: 

  • Bucket #1. Seed and Angel funding 
  • Bucket #2. Series A round of funding 
  • Bucket #3. Series B round of funding 
  • Bucket #4. Series C round of funding

As you can see there’s is a particular journey startups must go through in terms of funding. This means you can separate your content depending on the funding stage.  

2⃣ Challenge buckets

There are different sticking points that people run into when trying to accomplish something. These points aren’t necessarily related to each other.

Example: 

  • Bucket #1. Freelancers that can’t find high-quality clients 
  • Bucket #2. Freelancers that can’t get their clients paying the invoice 
  • Bucket #3. Freelancers that are searching for virtual assistants 
  • Bucket #4. Freelancers that want to raise their fees 

3⃣ Situation buckets

This one refers to different statutes, demographics, or types of prospects that encounter specific challenges. 

Example: 

  • Bucket #1. Freelancers 
  • Bucket #2. Consultants 
  • Bucket #3. Solo entrepreneurs 
  • Bucket #4. Entrepreneurs 

4⃣ Hybrid buckets

This bucket spans all three approaches. 

Example: 

  • Bucket #1. Event professionals (situation bucket)
  • Bucket #2. Marketing teams (situation bucket)
  • Bucket #3. Personal assistance without a planning background (challenge bucket)
  • Bucket #4. Companies that want to digitize their events (journey bucket)

It’s important to note that the number of buckets (categories) shouldn’t be more than four. Here’s how you can identify your audience buckets (quick tips): 

  • Tip #1. Who are you’re serving? Who’s you’re buyer persona? Analyze your clients and identify the variations you get. 
  • Tip #2. Identify the different challenges your buyer persona has and create buckets aligned with these issues. 
  • Tip #3. What’s the process people go through to achieve their goals? List the steps of the process and build the buckets considering the sticking points everyone is going through. 
  • Tip #4. What are the specific outcomes people want to get? Create one bucket per outcome. 
  • Tip #5. Ask Google. Here’s an example: 
Searching buckets on Google

#2. Decision levels Framework

“Create content for decision-makers.”

That’s the most common advice companies get from marketing professionals. And although the recommendation is relevant and useful, by focusing on decision-makers only, you’ll miss the opportunity of talking to other people whose opinion (about your product) is also important.

That’s relevant especially if you’re developing B2B SaaS products. Not sure what I’m talking about? Then let me ask you a quick question: 

Let’s say you want to purchase software that will help you create interactive lead magnets, such as quizzes and calculators? 

Wouldn’t you ask someone in your team to check for brands that could be interesting? And wouldn’t you ask your marketing team to study the options and come back with some feedback? 

When making an investment, you want to make sure it’s a good one, right? So even if you’re the ultimate decision-maker, you’ll always ask for your team’s opinion.

This is also true for other companies or brands. To sell your SaaS product, you’ll need to have a few people in the same company, advocating for your product. This means you’ll want to create content to cover all the decision levels. Which are those? 

According to Jimmy Daly, Marketing Director at Animalz, there are three audience levels you should consider when creating your content marketing strategy: 

Researchers: These are the professionals who’ll be studying different tools and suggesting which ones are better aligned with the company’s needs.
Implementors: These are the people who’ll be using your SaaS product.
Leaders: These are the decision-makers or those people who’ll purchase your SaaS product.

What type of content should you create for each one of these categories? This depends on the results and the outcomes of different decision level-professionals may want to get. 

Let’s take them one by one: 

👩‍🔬👨‍🔬 Researchers

📌 The outcome they want to get is to find the best tool their company needs to achieve specific business results. 

📝 The content they’ll connect with is the one presenting the differences between your SaaS tool and other options. 

✏ For example

Content for Researchers

👩‍🔧👨‍🔧 Implementors

📌 These people will be focused on getting the job done. They may be interested in the time they’ll manage to save and in the user-friendliness of your tool. They will also have questions about the learning curve. Hint: Having to learn a new tool (especially if it’s a complex one) is not fun. 

📝 They’ll like the content that gives them immediate solutions to solve the burning issue they have. 

✏ For example 

Content for Implementers

👩‍💼👨‍💼 Leaders

📌 Their main concern is the overall vision. They have a strategic approach and they want to achieve better business results. 

📝 To get them on board, you’ll want to create content focused on analysis, data, strategy and how they can achieve their executive goals. 

✏ For example

Content for Decision Makers

The secret is to keep it simple and create content that covers these 3 decision layers. 

To recap: 

As you can see, you don’t have to run Jungian personality tests or have a Freudian approach when profiling your audience: 

☝Know who your audience persona is
☝Identify the desired outcome of your audience persona
☝Determine what are the challenges that keep people from getting the outcome they want.

And you’re good to move forward with your content marketing strategy.  

More resources: 

3. One niche expert 

When starting out you may want to create content about … everything. Here’s what I mean plus what I’ve noticed: 

Example #1

 🛍 Company product: Advocacy marketing software  

Content niches: building a brand, becoming a startup leader, innovation, loyalty programs, engaging a community, organic search on social media, lead generation strategy, and much more. 

📝 As you can see, apart from advocacy marketing, the team is tackling multiple aspects related to entrepreneurship and digital marketing. 

Example #2

🛍 Company product: Event marketing software 

Content niches: event marketing, marketing conferences, sustainable events, post-event surveys, sponsorship, inclusive events, event design, event value proposition, event technology trends, in-store events, on-site communication, etc.  

📝 In this case, the team is focusing mostly on event planning, logistics, and design, making a smaller emphasis on event marketing (which refers to promoting your brand, products, and services through live events). 

Example #3 

🛍 Company product: Social media collaboration and approval platform 

Content niches: marketing news, brand ambassadors, digital advertising copy, time management strategies, sales, and marketing, building a brand, entrepreneurship, creating videos, storytelling, etc. 

📝 This company is creating content about multiple topics that are directly or indirectly related to digital marketing 

Look, there’s nothing wrong with sharing your knowledge about a big variety of topics that aren’t exactly aligned with your product. But if you want to become a go-to expert, you’ll have to choose one niche and generate massive amounts of content on this topic only. 

Once you’ve become a go-to expert, you can expand and start adding new topics that are related to the main subject, this way strengthening your expertise. 

Let’s take the example of Brian Dean from Backlinko.

Backlinko example

When he started, he would focus exclusively on backlinks. He could easily create content on a broad list of SEO-related topics, but he decided to narrow down and become a go-to expert on backlinks, which he did. Now, he is publishing content about SEO, YouTube SEO, content marketing, growing a blog, promoting your content, and much more. 

He started by becoming a backlinks expert, gaining recognition and attention. He also grew a big community of people interested in SEO and backlinks. Once he did that, he expanded his scope, continuing to deliver high-quality content related to SEO. 

So if we’d go back to the three examples above, I would suggest the following content niche approach: 

Example #1 

🛍 Company product: Advocacy marketing software  
🎯 Content niche: Brand advocacy 
📝 Headlines: 

  • What’s Brand Advocacy
  • How to Attract Brand Ambassadors
  • What’s the Difference Between Brand Ambassadors and Brand Advocates
  • How to Connect with Micro-Influencers
  • How to Boost Employee Advocacy

Example #2 

🛍 Company product: Event marketing software 
🎯 Content niche: Event marketing 
📝 Headlines: 

  • How to Run Events that Drive Sales
  • How to Build an Event Conversion Funnel 
  • Steps to Transform Attendees into Customers 
  • How to Capture Leads During Events 
  • How to Plan Events that Convert 

Example #3. 

 🛍 Company product: Social media collaboration and approval platform
🎯 Content niche: Social media content  
📝 Headlines:

  • How to Adapt Your Content to Different Social Media Platforms 
  • How to Publish Content on Social Media Consistently 
  • What’s the Best Hour to Publish on Social Media 
  • How to Create Attractive Social Media Content 
  • How to Repurpose Your Social Media Content 

As you can see, my recommendations focus on ONE specific niche, along with different topic angles and headlines. Why other SaaS companies don’t do that, choosing to go multi-niche from the beginning?

My take on that is the perceived lack of … topics. 

It may seem that you can’t write again and again about the same niche, so marketers fail to explore its richness. The good news, however, is that you can generate countless headlines and topic angles from one niche alone. 

How? 

Answer the Public is a free tool that can help you with that.

Just enter the keywords in the search box and let the content ideas flow. Here’s an example for the event marketing keyword: 

Answer the Public Keyword Search Example

Give it a try. It’s a really good tool, especially if you don’t have inspiration.

Now you don’t have any excuse. When developing your content marketing strategy, focus on one niche only. Then, grow gradually your expertise and enjoy the results.

More resources: 

4. Conversion 

Designing the conversion funnel is the next step in creating a results-driven content marketing strategy. 

What’s conversion? Conversion happens when …

✅ Your blog visitors introduce their email to download your eBook. 
✅ The podcast listeners go to your website to try your free trial 
✅ Your YouTube viewers give you their emails to download a checklist you’re offering 

In other words, conversion happens when your audience takes the desired action, such as: 

  • Subscribing to your newsletter
  • Downloading a template
  • Using the free version of your product

This is the moment when the unknown and faceless audience persona becomes a lead and starts his or her journey through the funnel. 

What’s a funnel or better said what’s a conversion funnel? It’s the representation of journey stages your lead goes through until he or she becomes your paying customer.

When designing your content marketing strategy, you’ll want to develop a conversion funnel and decide what types of content you’ll be creating for every single stage.  

There are different representations of the funnel. In this post though, we’ll discuss the traditional one, based on three conversion stages: 

⬇ToFu [Top of the Funnel]
⬇MoFu [Middle of the Funnel]
⬇BoFu [Bottom of the Funnel]

ToFu or articulating the challenge 

Those who are at the top of the funnel didn’t articulate their problem yet. They have some challenges but they aren’t sure what they’re looking for. They’re trying to put into words their issues and find validation.

To connect with them, you’ll want to publish content that: 

  • Puts their burning pain into words
  • Validates their pain
  • Explains their pain 
  • Gives them quick pain killers to alleviate the pain 

To convert people at the top of the funnel, create: 

✅ Assessment tests that will show people what their problem is 
✅ Gated step-by-step guides 
✅ How-to posts and downloadable checklists 
✅ Expert’s opinion 
✅ Downloadable templates 

✏ For example

ToFu content example

At this stage, your job is to accompany people through their problem articulation process, validate them, and help them understand better why they can’t achieve their goals. 

MoFu or searching for solutions 

Having a much better understanding of their challenges, the Middle of the Funnel audience will be searching for different solutions. 

To connect with them, you’ll want to focus on content that: 

  • Provides a list of solutions they can try 
  • Presents the industry benchmarks 
  • Analyses the benefits different solutions can provide
  • Explains the difference between solutions 

To increase conversion, publish these types of content: 

✅ Next year’s trends & What’s Working Right Now posts 
✅ Original research 
✅ Expert interviews 
✅ What’s the Difference-type of posts 
✅ Curated lists 

✏ For example

MoFu content example

At this stage, you’ll want to guide people through their solution exploration journey. Remember not to be pushy nor salesy. You’re just presenting what’s on the market and what are the best practices that work for other people.

BoFu or analyzing the options 

Those at the bottom of the funnel made up their minds about the solution they want to deploy and they’re searching for a tool that will suit their needs. 

To get them to pay attention to your brand, generate content that: 

  • Explains what’s the added value of your software
  • Proves your expertise, trustworthiness, and efficiency 
  • Presents how your tool works and what its benefits are
  • Shows how others used your software and achieved remarkable results

In this case, you’ll want to create: 

✅ How We Did It posts 
✅ How it Works webinars 
✅ Success stories 
✅ Interviews with clients 

✏ For example

BoFu content example

Remember to present your tool without being salesy. Always focus on people’s needs and the value your tool can provide to help them achieve their goals. 

+ Bonus stage: Delighting your customers 

There’s one more stage that refers to your paying customers. Why should you care? Reducing churn rate may be less expensive and less stressful than attracting new leads, so keeping your costumers happy is a priority. 

Moreover, by delighting them, you can transform your customers into brand ambassadors and spark the word-of-mouth ripple effect. 

Content marketing can help you. In this case, you’ll want to focus on creating content that will: 

  • Explain in the smallest details the entire onboarding process
  • Provide exciting tool-related insights that people wouldn’t discover otherwise
  • Show your customers how to take the best advantage of your tool
  • Present the exact steps customers must take to achieve a very specific goal

In this case, you can publish: 

✅ Tutorial videos 
✅ In-depth case studies 
✅ Pro webinars

✏ For example

Delight-your-customers content example

The point of fuelling customers with highly-valuable and actionable content is to accompany them through their tool discovery and adopting processes, reduce the learning curve, and help them to take the best advantage of your software. 

That’s it for the conversion funnel. Once you’ll design it, you can move forward with your content marketing strategy.

More resources: 

5. Content promotion  

Content is King, yet he can’t move on the chessboard without the help of other pieces. He’ll stay blocked in his fortress and he’ll never win the game. 
In other words, content without promotion is useless. 

When designing your content marketing strategy, you’ll want to decide and list those promotion techniques you’ll be deploying. 

And believe me, posting the URL to your content on social media is not content promotion. It’s wishful thinking to believe that someone will be interested in clicking on it. 

So, what are the content promotion techniques you can add to your content marketing strategy? 

Let’s take them one by one: 

Technique #1. Content co-creation

Build content partnerships. By co-creating content with other brands and companies, you’ll: 

✅ Get access to a second email list to promote that specific piece of content 
✅ Start building your industry network 
✅ Expand your outreach as a brand 

✏ For example

Content co-creation example

Here are the steps you can take to deploy the content co-creation technique: 

1⃣ Make a list of the brands you want to collaborate with. Choose the ones that aren’t your direct competition but are somehow related to your industry. 
2⃣ List the benefits they’ll get by co-creating a piece of content with you. You’ll use them in your outreach email. 
3⃣ Decide the type of content you’d like to co-create with a third-party. Also, get clear about the responsibilities you’ll be taking over. For example, apart from producing your part of the content, you can also take care of the design or the editing.
4⃣ Create an outreach email. Make it short and straight to the point.
5⃣ Follow up if necessary. 

Technique #2. Expert’s opinion

A different way to promote your content is by creating pieces that involve the opinion of the industry experts. 

✏ For example

Expert's opinion example

Here’s my quick advice: 

1⃣ Create a next year’s industry trends post. 
2⃣ Identify the industry experts that could share their opinion about a specific trend.
3⃣ Email them and get a quote. 
4⃣ Publish the post and send them the link. You can apply the reverse engineering strategy and tell them that you’re not looking for link shares. On the contrary, you just wanted to send them the article and thank them for their contribution. 
5⃣ In most cases, people will share your article with their audience (if they love it, obviously). 

Technique #3. Live events

Speak at events. 

Find speaking gigs, build an interesting story to share, and get in front of the public. 

By promoting yourself, you’ll promote your website and content. 

✏ For example

Attending events example

Technique #4. Physical content products

I bet you never thought about physical content products. 

Yet, this can work very well, especially if you’re attending events. Also, it can work in your favour when sending your leads the real, physical book, instead of a digital copy (free book + free shipping).

✏ For example (also from Drift)

Physical content example

Obviously, this will cost you money, but the thrill and buzz you’ll generate will grow your traffic and will increase your brand awareness. 

Technique #5. Social media conversations

Although I said not to publish your content links on social media, this doesn’t mean you have to ditch social media altogether. 

What should you do instead, though, is to change your approach. 

Instead of creating sporadic content for your social media accounts, I’d recommend you to: 

1⃣ Choose one platform where your leads are and focus on it.
2⃣ Create daily, super valuable content for that platform. No links, no URL. Original content only. It can be anything: text, images, infographics, video, memes, etc. 
3⃣ Leave super valuable comments under other people’s posts. Yes, go search for people and industry-related posts and make good, long-format comments. “Great post!” won’t work. Get real about it and be mindful. Connection and engagement are essential. What you want to do is to connect with your audience, not just leave some comments thinking that you’re tricking the algorithm. 
4⃣ Engage your audience. Don’t just share your piece of content. Get people involved. For example, tell people that if they’re interested in getting a new piece of content to write YES in the comments and you’ll DM them the link. 
5⃣ I would recommend you to create 2 – 3 posts and leave 15 – 20 comments … daily. 

Yes, I know it’s a lot of work (and I can help you with that).

But all social media platforms are overpopulated. How will you stand out? If you want to promote your content through social media, be willing to put in the effort … 

Here you have it! 

A few content promotion techniques to include in your content marketing strategy. 

Obviously, there are plenty of other tactics you can deploy but this is a good starting point, especially if you didn’t do much or didn’t achieve good results in terms of content promotion. 

More resources: 

What Do You Think?

Before you get started with creating your SaaS content marketing strategy, I’d like to hear from you. 

What do you think about this post? 

Or maybe you have a question about something you read.  

Let me know by leaving a comment below.


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