July 18, 2022
Imagine… A visitor lands on your blog.
They read your content, discover your SaaS, and sign up for the trial.
Then, another one does the same. They read, learn about your product, and hit the sign-up button.
Then another, and another, and another…
Sounds awesome, right?
But I bet that, right now, it seems more like just a ridiculously crazy pipedream, right?
The thing is that what you call a pipedream is the everyday reality for so many SaaS companies.
Take Drift, HubSpot, Close, AdEspresso, or SEMrush, for example.
These companies achieved incredible growth levels by writing useful content. Most of them managed to dominate their markets by doing just that, in fact. Content also helped them become the go-to solutions in their spaces.
(I know. I worked with all of them.)
Here’s the kicker, though – You won’t achieve it by just churning more and more content. You need to understand how SaaS content writing works and learn the intricacies of creating content to promote software products.
And here’s the good news – That’s what you’re going to learn from this guide. You’ll discover exactly what SaaS content writing is and what you need to do to create content that drives incredible traffic and signups for your SaaS.
Here's what we'll cover:
But let’s start with the heavy blow...
I mean, just look at these stats:
You can safely assume that the number of companies battling for your potential users’ attention is staggeringly high.
But hey, I’m not saying all this to discourage you. Quite the opposite, in fact. I want you to start writing great content for your SaaS and scale like crazy with it.
But I also need you to understand how things really are. And I want you to see that there’s an opportunity in this situation too.
Let me explain.
Some do write amazing content, true. I love what HelpScout do, for example.
Their content really touches the audience. I can imagine that it helps customers see their lives improving and their challenges evaporating.
The content promotes their products too, of course, much like in the scenario I described earlier.
(Oh, and before you ask, no, I didn’t work with those companies. I do really love what they’re doing, though.)
But so many SaaS brands don’t understand the idea of writing content for growth. They churn new pages regularly, but they often focus on what the founders would like to talk about rather than what their audience wants to read.
In other words, they drum up the volume. They don’t get any significant results, though.
Well, here’s how to do the opposite.
The first thing we need to do is set the context. That’s because, to write great content for SaaS, you must understand what makes SaaS, well, SaaS.
(Stay with me, please. I do have a reason for starting this by covering such fundamental information.)
If you took a 10000ft view of SaaS, all you’d see is cloud software delivered over the internet as a service. From this point of view, a SaaS product is just a piece of software that you use but don’t have to install on your computer. You also never have to upgrade it or worry about some erroneous code wreaking havoc among your other applications.
But come closer, and SaaS begins to look differently. These products are more than just internet software.
Let’s be honest; there is no chance that I could run Smashing Copy without being able to share drafts with clients via Google Docs, for example. I’d never researched and built their strategies so easily without SEMrush. Or report on our progress without Accuranker, etc.
That’s the key to SaaS – These tools enable us to do more. And once you start using them, they become irreplaceable.
That’s also the secret to SaaS content writing.
SaaS content writing is all about that educate your potential customers about how they could quickly and effectively solve their problems with products like yours.
Now, this definition may sound a bit murky, so let’s unpack its three key phrases a little then.
SaaS content writing isn’t about selling. eCommerce brands sell with their content. So do small businesses.
But when you’re writing for SaaS, your goal is to show and tell people how to solve their problems (more on that below).
Of course, you also offer solutions and ideas. But these do not always include your product.
In fact, the more sales-oriented your content becomes, the more likely it is to flop.
[2.] Solve their problems
SaaS tools solve problems. That’s why we turn to those products.
Here’s the important bit: The same problems make your customers turn to Google and look for answers.
Naturally, these people will ask different questions, depending on what stage of the buying cycle they are at.
When writing for SaaS, you target those problems and answer your customers’ questions.
[3.] With products like yours
This is probably, the most problematic aspect of the definition. It’s easy to think that it means that you should write about your product all the time.
That’s not it.
What this means is that, when solving customers’ problems, you should gently embed an idea that the best way to do it is with software like yours.
In some cases, it will mean talking about the product directly.
For example, if you’re writing software category and comparison pages, it’s only natural that you’ll focus on your product. These pages answer questions like “what software should I use to solve my problem?” or “what are the best products to help me?”
(Pages like this one will naturally focus on products.)
But often, it only means gently suggesting to a reader that a particular product category is what they need.
If you’re writing top-of-the-funnel content, then you should first and foremost focus on answering the customer’s question. When it comes to promoting your product, all you should do to introduce the idea of using software like yours to solve the problem.
This page, for example, helps anyone interested in launching a podcast show understand the intricacies of podcast production. It answers questions like “does it make sense to start a new show”, “what do I need to do it,” or “how to produce a podcast episode.” But it also presents the product – a podcast hosting platform. However, it does it without a pushy sales pitch. It just suggests that you need such a solution. Full stop.
(The page only mentions the product in the context of the actual advice, rather than offering a sales pitch.)
This page - a guide to NPS - does the same. It presents the tool in context and even shows its dashboard. But it only does to introduce the idea of solving the problem with such a product to the reader.
Note how in both examples, the company presents the tool in context and hints at why such a solution is better than other options.
The hosting platform talks about the data and analytics such tools deliver (in contrast to using other, less professional solutions.)
“Dedicated podcast hosting platforms like Castos will also deliver data and analytics on your show’s performance, so you can monitor progress and make more informed decisions about future episodes.”
The NPS tool also presents features that such platforms include, and other solutions customers could use to run NPS surveys don’t:
“A dedicated NPS survey tool would include all the options you need. From setting up the survey, distributing it across many channels to customer segmentation, customization, and deep analytics.”
Neither of these sounds like a sales pitch, right? There are just facts that highlight the benefits of each product.
Because, at the top of the funnel, that’s as far as you can go with promoting your product.
To close this section, let me offer a quick quote from Surfer, an SEO software company. I love how, in just one paragraph, they summed up everything about SaaS content writing:
“Your content exists to engage the readers, build the brand, and convert. You have to make it engaging enough for the readers to stay on your site and follow the links further down the funnel.”
I hinted at the answer earlier on, but I hear you – With so many other marketing opportunities, does it really make sense to invest so much time and effort into writing content?
A quick note before I answer this – I understand that I may sound biased in my reply. I am a SaaS writer and create content for SaaS for a living, after all. I also run a SaaS content writing agency called Smashing Copy, and well, SEO content is what my colleagues and I do each day.
But there’s something else you should know. I do have a marketing background, and typical marketing concepts are nothing new to me. Plus, I worked in-house in a marketing capacity at a SaaS startup.
So, although I am not an expert in other marketing channels besides SEO and content, I do have enough experience and expertise to be able to evaluate how they stack up against content.
And the fascinating thing is that … content is part of almost all of them!
It doesn’t matter how you’ll decide to market your SaaS. Whatever you choose to do, you will need content. In SaaS, it’s hard to do paid advertising, use email, and video, conduct sales outreach, launch a podcast, or utilize any other channels without having content to support your efforts.
As you’ve seen above, this is largely because you market your SaaS by educating.
You target customer pain points and challenges relating to what your product does, offer advice, and in the process, position your product (or its category) as the solution.
A quick look at my LinkedIn feed confirms it. Here’s a Salesforce ad that just popped up there:
This Salesforce ad promotes content. The company isn’t telling me about their product or a particular feature. They advertise content – A report detailing SME marketing trends.
A lot of outreaches I receive also recommend me content the company believes I’d be interested in.
CallRail generates leads through a sponsored eBook promotion on Search Engine Journal.
Your SEO is all about content too. I explained it in full in this guide to SaaS SEO.
This handful of examples confirms it – As a SaaS marketer, you need content.
Here’s more data to prove the benefits of writing and publishing great content for your SaaS.
Here’s SEMrush traffic data, excluding branded searches.
Here’s Drift’s traffic growth (excluding branded searches.)
seoClarity (excl. branded traffic, of course)
Amazing, isn’t it?
Naturally, I don’t have access to these companies’ conversion data. We can’t see the full effect of content on their growth as a result. But given that these companies still invest incredible resources in their content production, I think we can safely assume that the effect is enormous.
I’m sure that after reading everything I’ve said so far, you’ll agree with me when I say:
Content is, by far, the best marketing strategy to get your SaaS found online, introduce the product to potential customers, and get them to try it out.
But it’s also so darn hard to do.
How else would you explain that a staggering 23% of SaaS blogs receive fewer than 500 visitors a month? Or that an average SaaS blog post receives just over 300 visits per month?
It’s hard to imagine such content driving any significant growth…
Well, there’s a trick to it, and the key to it is in the word “average.”
Because, often, those “average” posts miss the three pillars of great SaaS content:
Sounds obvious, right?
If the primary goal of your content is to educate, then it also needs to be useful.
And yet, I see companies skipping the useful part all the time. It happens in several ways:
The result is always the same – These companies publish content they would like to see on their sites.
But their audience usually disagrees and ignores it all.
How to spot that your content is not useful?
Short content. Of course, it makes sense to publish a short page, sometimes. However, you usually need to provide more information if you want to educate and solve someone’s problem.
There is no magic formula for the content’s length, of course. But most of the time, 1000 words is a bare minimum. At Smashing Copy, we rarely write content that’s shorter than 1500 words. My friend Brad and his agency, Codeless, do not even include content shorter than 2000 words in their price list.
Example - This page promises “best calendar/scheduling hacks,” yet it contains 395 words only. That’s far too little to communicate even a handful of hacks and explain to the person how they could implement them.
Over-promoting the product. Don’t get me wrong; you should mention products in your content. But those mentions must make sense. They must appear in context. And there shouldn’t be too many of them.
Again, your goal is to educate and provide value. Talking about your product in every sentence isn’t that.
It’s amazing... This research is 25 years old and still very much on the money:
It says that only 16% of visitors read pages word-by-word. The rest just skim the content, looking for tidbits that are useful to them.
(You’re probably doing the same right now. You scroll through this guide, picking the sections that interest you and skipping the rest.)
There is nothing wrong with this approach, of course.
The problem starts when companies disregard it and insist on publishing pages that resemble academic papers.
Example – I found this post on a SaaS company’s blog. The content even looks intimidating to read, and I’m still wondering how I am supposed to skim it…
The final pillar is all about keeping readers on the site. For SaaS content to work – build brand awareness, introduce the product, and generate signups – it must ensure that readers remain on the site.
How else can they learn about your product, after all?
Yup, it’s either through a (logically placed) mention or a link to a relevant feature page.
(TIP: Check this guide to learn more about converting blog traffic into signups and sales.)
But what makes content engaging?
Well, engagement is a combination of factors we’ve talked about already plus a few extra elements.
So, to engage, your content must be:
But that’s enough theory, I think…
Let’s put it all together and discuss how to write SaaS content that drives traffic and signups.
So, to begin at the beginning…
There’s a quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln that’s been making rounds around the internet. It says:
“If I only had an hour to chop down a tree, I would spend the first 45 minutes sharpening my ax.”
It’s true. And it’s very true when it comes to writing content.
Review some of the things we’ve said about why some companies fail at content:
In short, they fail to research and prepare.
Here’s what you need to do to avoid sharing their fate.
I know, I know…
You’re probably sick of hearing the word, goals, by now.
I’d also imagine that you already have a good idea of what you want to achieve with your SaaS.
But you know what…
When we ask potential clients about their goals for content, they typically fall silent. They don’t know.
That’s because we, typically, do not associate content with goals.
Any of these benefits of content deliver measurable results. So, they could become the basis for your goals.
Now, the above are just examples, of course. There are far more objectives you could aim to achieve with content. Perhaps you want to outrank bigger competitors, establish your brand in your space (or reposition to a different niche). The potential for what content can help you achieve is huge.
The key here is to have those goals and objectives.
Do something for me, please…
Scroll up and look at the reasons why content fails I listed above one more time.
You should see it straight away.
The most common reason why those companies fail with content is that they don’t understand their audience.
They don’t know whom they create the content for and what those people’s pain points are. These companies also fail to realize what factors would attract someone to their products and use that knowledge to convert visitors into trial users.
There’s a lot of information about developing ideal customer profiles or buyer personas. You can develop a very broad description of your audience. Or go very deep and research their personal motivations. It’s up to you.
At a minimum, however, I believe that you should understand:
TIP: Conduct this research before you start looking for keywords and building the content strategy. Otherwise, you might end up having to do it twice since the above research might render many keywords you’ve found irrelevant.
Here’s another thing you should do BEFORE researching keywords:
Identify all the content you have already.
True, it might not seem like an important thing to do when you’re only starting up. But if you’ve been publishing content for a while, take stock before doing any other research.
Doing so will help you:
TIP: Learn more about topical authority here.
Keyword research and topic ideation is, by far, my most favorite part of the process.
It’s when you collect a ton of data and build a roadmap to get you to the very top.
I like to explain this step to non-marketing people using a simple military analogy.
When building the content strategy, we’re like generals preparing for battle. We collect all information about the other side, and analyze their usual strategies and tactics. And then, plan how we’re going to be better.
(Worth noting – In this analogy, that “other side” is not your audience. It’s your competition that’s also using content to steal your potential customers’ attention. The objective of the battle – is to reach them first.)
Here’s how we do it.
NOTE: You can learn everything about finding keywords for your SaaS from my massive guide to SaaS keyword research.
But let me also give you a quick rundown of the process.
In general, researching keywords involves doing three things:
Competitive analysis helps you understand who your online competitors are, and reverse engineer their strategies to attract the target audience through the online search.
As part of the competitive analysis, you evaluate:
With this knowledge, you can close gaps between your sites:
A content hub is a centralized resource on a specific topic.
In practical terms, it’s nothing but a collection of pages that, together cover almost everything a person should know about a particular topic.
Here’s one example of a page with links to other assets in the content hub:
Organizing your content strategy around content hubs means that you always cover all aspects of the topic you want to target.
(And you can quickly see if something’s missing in the hub.)
TIP: Check out this guide to learn how to create content hubs.
There are so many content types you could create.
Not all of them will work for SaaS companies.
(And then, there are some content types that will work for SaaS brands in certain industries but might not work for you.)
So, below you’ll find a list of content types that work in SaaS.
Naturally, you don’t have to include all of them in your strategy. But the list will help you identify content types that you should prioritize to others.
SEO is the no.1 source of high-quality traffic for SaaS brands. (It’s a fact, proved by research.)
What’s more, SaaS SEO is primarily a content-led strategy.
So, to fuel your organic rankings and traffic, you need amazing content that targets the right keywords and matches the user’s search intent.
With SEO content, you typically target the informational and commercial intent. It helps you position your SaaS for searches relating to the customer’s pain point and when they’re looking to evaluate available solutions.
Types of SEO content that work particularly well in SaaS:
The idea of this type of content may seem like product-led growth that you’ve probably heard so much about already.
And the two are quite similar. Both place products in the center. Although, in the case of product-led content, you do that to help users solve their problems using your product.
There is no hard sell. No sales pitch. Nothing like that.
Product-led content is all about demonstrating how to solve a problem by showing how to do it with your product. Think of it like a tutorial that exclusively uses your product to demonstrate the process. And while doing so, you position your product as the go-to solution to the audience’s problem.
Opinionated content is just that, a page that presents an original opinion on a matter. Often, this content type targets newsworthy topics or current events. But you can write an opinionated piece to present your take on a particular aspect of your industry, for example.
Conversion content aims to position your SaaS in front of potential buyers and elicit action – sign-up, usually.
But the term conversion content does not relate to landing pages only. At least not in the sense they are perceived typically.
Since the idea here is to convert into a trial user, conversion content often revolves around offers that can make someone want to try the product:
What these elements have in common is that customers can use them in the app. This means that to use them, they must sign up first.
Example – We created a series of template landing pages for Stonly. These pages perform incredibly well in Google, driving hundreds of signups for the company each month.
To close this guide, let me share with you some of the best tools that help SaaS content writers like us conduct necessary research, write and optimize the content, and monitor results.
Now you know everything you need about SaaS content writing.
What’s left is to start implementing this advice in practice.