When you consider content marketing for your SaaS, what immediately springs to mind?
For many SaaS, content marketing is seen as a lead generation strategy, a way to generate interest and effectively “prove” their expertise to potential customers. This is a great idea, but if you’re not looking at content with a view over your entire customer lifecycle, you’re possibly missing out.
When you think about it, at any given time you have customers who are at various stages of their journey with your SaaS and these customers have different needs and desires when it comes to content.
If your view of content is more of a “one-size-fits-all” approach, you risk becoming irrelevant to those who are at different stages. This is where targeted content comes in…
Why Targeted Content?
Targeted content means that you deliver relevant content to the right people at the right time. For example, if account records show a customer just took a certain action with you or reached a particular milestone, you might send them content which pertains to taking the next step.
To get an idea of what content and when, you’ll usually need to create content which falls under each of the phases of a typical SaaS marketing funnel:
Awareness or “top of funnel” is the stage where prospects have some kind of problem or need they’re searching for a solution for. They’ve come across your solution either via search or because they’ve heard through the grapevine that you can take care of their problem.
The usual content strategy at this stage is to provide them with a broader view of information that is relevant to their problem, or possibly to help them discover a need they didn’t realize they had (this stage may also be referred to as “discovery”). This is not usually the stage to share deep, analytical information about your solution because the prospect isn’t ready for that yet.
Middle of Funnel
At this point, the prospect is familiar with the problem and probably aware of multiple possible solutions besides yours. They’re in the “consideration” phase, looking into deeper research to determine which solution is going to be the best fit for them.
Middle of funnel content should establish you as an authority within your industry and help guide the prospect through their research. You want to establish trust and provide information specific to your solution, such as what makes you unique.
Content here may also include knowledge base topics or how-to videos; your prospect wants to know how your product works and preferably be able to see it in action to determine whether it is easy to use and has an attractive interface.
Bottom of Funnel
This is the stage where prospects are ready to make their final decision to purchase—the “conversion” stage. They will be looking for evidence that solidifies their decision to go with your SaaS such as social proof, free trials or guided demonstrations.
You might use case studies and testimonials, webinars or “master classes”, all designed to demonstrate the value of your SaaS and how customers can get the best from it. If your SaaS uses a customer success or sales team, you need to be looking at how your content at this stage supports their efforts too.
This is the next part — the “flask” into which your marketing funnel flows. We like this example as demonstrated by Moz because it is one of the few funnel examples which emphasizes the importance of not forgetting about the next stage of content.
For SaaS, keeping churn numbers low is a critical metric, so it’s important to make a plan which includes content for retention of current customers. The aim is to keep the customer engaged and continue to deliver something that is of value to them.
Content at this stage might include tips for getting the most of your software, how-tos, user case studies and email newsletters for subscribers.
Start by Tracking
If you want to get better at providing targeted content, you need to begin tracking usage data and segmenting customers based upon activity.
You need to understand your customer behaviors and preferences so that you can create content which is useful and relevant to them. For example, if you notice that current customers reach a certain milestone then tend to go quiet, you can focus on “next-level” content which will help them realize new heights of value.
Of course, this works when you have registered users to track. For prospects who are not yet registered, monitor the analytics for the content you are putting out and figure out what is working for getting people into your free trial. If you’re not sure what content to start with, ask people! You can only track if you’ve started with something…
It’s all very well talking about targeted content marketing in theory, but what does it look like when done well in practice? “Done well” is the caveat to success for any content marketing strategy; with the amount of content already being put out there, yours needs to stand up and count among the noise.
Here are some SaaS-based examples of content at different stages:
CrazyEgg uses strategies so simple, they’re genius. If you’re a newb arriving on their website for the first time, this is how you’re greeted:
Easy, intriguing and immediately relevant content. Who doesn’t want to know precisely how users are interacting with their website and what they might be able to improve?
This kind of gateway content provides value to the individual immediately and helps to drive awareness of the problems they should be monitoring for. It helps to endear CrazyEgg to prospective customers because they’ve already received something useful which helps to highlight the expertise CrazyEgg can offer.
HubSpot is a regular purveyor of multiple types of content. When it comes to middle-of-funnel, they have got some simple solutions for prospects. Take their marketing automation solutions as an example; if you’ve reached the consideration stage there, you might be offered a quick tour to see what makes it tick. As an aside, they also offer live chat as you go through that process so prospects are able to ask any questions immediately.
Do you have some good customer stories to tell? Netsuite makes the most of these to produce some “conversion” content that is relatable to prospects and sells their product well.
Moz are another example who are content machines at all levels of the funnel. Their content is a huge asset to them because they continue to deliver valuable insights, including those aimed at people who are at a more advanced stage in their customer lifecycle.
If you’re looking for the next strategy to spice up your results, Moz probably has it either in their blog or included in their in-depth beginner’s guides.
If you want to make content marketing really work for your SaaS, then taking a targeted approach is a good strategy. While you might get some good hits by blanketing content and aiming at all levels of the funnel, it is much more powerful when you are able to be relevant to the stage the individual customer is at.
Start by knowing the different stages of the marketing funnel and what types of content work for each. Track user activity and content analytics, ask customers what they’re looking for and create more content to suit the stage of the user.
Targeted content is an opportunity which many are now grabbing. Get your SaaS onto it and boost your chances of getting and retaining the right customers.