7 Steps to Create an SEO-first SaaS Content Marketing Strategy

SEO-first SaaS content marketing

For any SaaS company, there’s a lot of competition out there. Everyone wants a piece of the $157 Billion market. To stand out from the crowd, SaaS companies need to understand their customers and reach them through proper channels. 

An SEO-first SaaS content marketing strategy is the best way to attract and attain customers in 2021. In this fast-paced and expensive market, you need a sustainable and scalable content marketing strategy. That’s where SEO steps in!

In this article, we will take you through 8 steps to create an SEO-first marketing strategy for your SaaS company. 

What is an SEO-first SaaS Content Marketing Strategy?

SEO-first SaaS content marketing strategy is an SEO strategy designed specifically for SaaS content marketing. It’s an integrated marketing strategy that requires SEO and SaaS content marketing working hand in hand.

SaaS content marketing involves creating content including blog posts, videos, eBooks, infographics, case studies, etc that converts. Whereas, SEO involves making content valuable and engaging so that it ranks higher in search results.

SaaS companies use SEO to reach potential customers and help them understand their products. The content covers how the product (software) works and how it can make their lives easier and better.

How is SaaS Content Marketing Different?

SaaS marketing

SaaS content marketing is different because you’re not marketing a physical product, but something intangible. Additionally, SaaS products require upfront investments. First, you create the product and then you market it. 

Even then, you can’t sell the software at once as SaaS doesn’t work on a proprietary model. Instead, users pay for monthly or yearly subscriptions. That takes a lot of time, and throughout the way, you must keep creating content that attracts new customers and retains the old ones. 

SEO strategies have changed a lot over the past few years and a lot of you might be questioning whether or not it’s still worth it. Here’s a great up to date article on SEO and if it’s worth it

Step 1: Identify Your Potential Customer Base

Identifying your customer is the first and most important step towards creating a SaaS content marketing strategy. The SaaS market is huge and falls into two categories, B2B (Business to Business) SaaS and B2C (Business to Customer) SaaS. 

Defining customer base is critical as the content marketing strategy for B2B companies is different from one designed for B2C customers. 

B2B content marketing is focused on a small group of professionals and you’re aiming for a long-term working relationship. It’s harder, more expensive, and requires more expertise. In B2C content marketing, you’re communicating with the consumer directly. Here, the customer base is wider and they tend to be less loyal. Creating content for the public is less difficult in comparison. 

By identifying and analyzing your customer, you can market the product better than your competitors.

Step 2: Create a Buyer Persona

Once you’ve identified the potential customer base, the next step is to create a buyer persona. Your target audience must be living breathing people, like you and me. How you think of your audience affects the way you communicate, and that in turn affects your content creation approach. 

Writing for Tech Brandon is not the same as writing for Brandon Tyler, a software developer at Google who loves to play video games. 

It’s important to create personas around real people. To gather information, conduct research. meet your target audience in person, run online surveys, etc. after identifying their pain points and what makes them click, writing content is a breeze.

Step 3: Identify Your Long-term Goals

Every company needs to define its long-term content marketing goals. That way everyone’s goals are aligned, and they can focus their energy in the right direction.

For a SaaS company, the following long-term goals are important: 

  • Build a product that solves real-world issues.
  • Attract high-quality leads via SEO.
  • Communicate via focused content to turn visitors prospects and prospects into a buyer.
  • Retain the customer by delivering more than expected with new features and keep your customers informed about them. 

Step 4: Define Performance Metrics

KPI (Key performance indicators) are performance metrics that are used to track your business performance. For every SaaS business, the key metrics are different. You should carefully select the metrics that you should be tracking, A few critical KPIs include

Monthly Recurring Revenue 

For SaaS companies, the big question is not whether we’re creating revenue, but rather will the revenue be here tomorrow? That’s why we track the monthly recurring revenue instead of monthly revenue. Content marketing has a direct impact on the MRR. Posting regular content increases brand awareness, which results in trial signups, and more revenue.

Churn Rate 

People don’t just stop using a product as switching to another SaaS platform is not easy. If your churn rate is high (double digits), then there’s something fundamentally wrong with your software. 

The churn rate calculates the percentage of people who leave every month. 

You can decrease the churn rate with an SEO-optimized help desk that will help customers find and fix issues faster. One-on-one conversations, surveys, usability testing, can also help if you’re unable to find the problem.

Cost Per Acquisition

Marketing is expensive, and utilizing the wrong channels can destroy your profit margins. To avoid that, you need to track the exact cost per acquisition of various campaigns. 

The formula to calculate cost per acquisition is:

Cost per Acquisition = Total Marketing and Sales Expenses/number of a customer acquired

Revenue Per Customer

Revenue per customer is the average revenue you have already received from your clients. Once you’ve settled on a reliable customer acquisition channel and the churn rate is under control, focus on increasing revenue per customer via up-sell and cross-sells.

  • Up-sell means persuading customers to buy a more expensive version of your product. For example, Google Drive offers free storage of up to 15GB, after which they feature three pricing plans to buy more storage. 
  • Cross-sell are extra (paid) features that you sell with YouTube products. For example, plugins in a WordPress website.

Stay connected with your users via email newsletter. Get them interested in the upcoming features and let them know what features they’re missing out on.

Lifetime Value (LTV)

Lifetime value is the expected revenue that a SaaS product is expected to receive from its customers. LTV is calculated by combining the average revenue per customer and churn rate. 

Let’s start with the simplest formula:

LTV = Revenue per Customer x average subscription length

 Ideally, factor in the support and acquisition costs to see if the customer is profitable in the long run. Once you understand your customers, improving LTV is only a matter of placing the right CTAs at the right time.  

Step 5: Create a Sound Keyword Strategy

Since we’re creating an SEO-first SaaS content marketing strategy, keyword research is critical. It’s important for all stages of the funnel, but for each stage, it works a little differently. 

  • Top of the Funnel: keyword research for covering high-level topics (like how-tos). This will help introduce new readers to your brand. 
  • Middle of the Funnel: keyword research alongside sales and support feedback. This will help you address specific problems that your product is solving. 
  • Bottom of the Funnel: utilize sales and support feedback to write content about your product. This content will help users get started and give them tips on using various features. 
Creating useful content that serves an actual purpose

Here are a few awesome keyword research tools that you can use:

Step 6: Map Your Buyer’s Journey and Create Content for Each Phase

An effective SaaS content marketing strategy starts from your customer’s buyer journey or a buyer’s path to purchase your product. It outlines each step that the customer goes through from becoming aware of the product to when they purchase. 

In SaaS marketing, the funnel usually includes the following four steps.

Product Awareness

The product awareness stage is at the very top of the funnel. Here, you need to create content to targets the top industry-related keywords. This content is pretty generic and should be educational, engaging, and valuable to the readers. 

The content at the awareness stage includes:

  • How-to guides
  • Blog posts and articles
  • Videos 

Lead Generation

Once your targeted customer base knows about your software. The next step is to engage and get them interested. At this step, use MOFu (middle-of-funnel) marketing strategies to generate leads by providing lead magnets. The moFu content includes:

  • Case studies
  • E-newsletters
  • Free consultations 

Free Trial and Sign up

Once you’ve developed a rapport with your potential customers, it’s time to get them to try the software for free. Free trials are offered in this bottom-funnel stage. Giving your software a try will help them decide if it’s the right choice. Bottom of the funnel content includes:

  • Pricing information 
  • Product comparison
  • Reviews and testimonials 

Conversion and Retention

The conversion stage comes after the trial. This is where the customer decides to buy your product. In this stage, content should include live demonstrations, product walk-throughs, webinars and consultations. In SaaS, only the recurring customers count. You also need to make sure that the customer is not one-time, but rather a repeating one. Offer new features and support the customer at every step of the way.

Step 7: Search Engine Optimization for SaaS Content Marketing 

To grow your audience, it’s crucial to gain traction in organic search results. In a successful SaaS content marketing campaign, SEO is given high priority. 

SEO is the process of optimizing your site to rank for the target keywords and involves many on-page and off-page factors. 

Content marketing involves creating and distributing consistent, relevant, and valuable content to attract and retain customers. 

Yes, you can get traffic faster through Facebook ads and other paid methods, but SEO is sustainable, scalable, and more predictable. Nearly all successful SaaS companies including Salesforce, ZenDesk, and Drift invest heavily in SEO and content marketing. 

SEO and PPC meme

For an SEO-first content marketing strategy, here are a few things to focus on:

Content Optimization

"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing" - Benjamin Franklin.

If your content is better than your competitors, it’s will attract visitors and rank better in SERP. A few ways to improve your website’s content are:

  • Writing in-depth content pieces 
  • Adding images and videos to improve engagement
  • Format the content for readability  

On-page, Off-page, and Technical SEO 

Creating good content, isn’t it! There’s a ton of factors that go into assessing whether your website is fit to rank top in SERP. By utilizing all three types of SEO, you can help your website rank higher. Some SEO agencies may offer a full service package or only certain aspects of it. Make sure to coordinate with their team to make sure they have the necessary tools. 

  • On-page SEO is about optimizing individual pages of a website to rank higher in search results.
  • Off-page SEO involves everything that doesn’t happen directly on your website. That includes link building and social media marketing among other things.
  • Technical SEO is the practice of optimizing the technical aspects of your website so it meets the requirements of modern search engines.

Start by running an SEO audit on your website, and start working on fixing on issues holding it back from ranking better in SERP.

Internal, External, and Backlinks 

Links play an important role in SEO. They work as an endorsement that your website content is a resource that’s worthy of citation. There are three types of links on a website:

  • Internal links are links to your own website’s page.
  • External links are hyperlinks that point to another website. 
  • Backlinks also known as inbound links are incoming links from one website to another’s web page. 

It’s easy to add internal and external links to your website, but not the backlinks. To get another website to link to your site, every piece of content should be useful, unique, and linkable. 

A lot of companies hire a paid service for their backlink profile. We don’t recommend that because Google may penalize your website. And even if that doesn’t happen, it will take considerable effort and you can never ensure the quality of the backlinks. In the long term, it ends up doing more harm than good.

I paid to build links, now I'm paying to clean them up.

SEO-first Content Marketing for SaaS Companies

Whether you’re a B2B SaaS company or B2C, a good content strategy can do wonders for your business. SEO is the best and most reliable way to get customers, but don’t forget to utilize other customer acquisition channels besides SEO such as email marketing, social media marketing, referrals, etc.