So, you’ve survived the launch gauntlet. You’ve assembled your teams. You’re live and functioning and ready to scale. But you have one big problem: most of the seemingly good advice on content marketing simply won’t work for you. Why? Because SaaS content marketing is different.
SaaS businesses are not only highly niche, digitally reliant, and often centered around demo-based conversions, but most importantly, they’re also dependent on what stage of development the business is currently in (startup, growth, fully-established). Because of it, you’ll need to take special care in setting your content marketing goals, as well as how you aim to achieve them, especially if your business is reaching maturity—unsurprisingly, complexities tend to grow as the business does.
So to help you navigate the intricacies of setting meaningful and achievable goals for your well-established SaaS business, we’ve put together a guide to help you along the way.
Analyze Your Current Framework
Every company is different, even those at the same stage, so it’s always best to start by defining exactly where you and your company stand in terms of preparation for your marketing efforts to identify gaps, successes, and resources.
To begin, take detailed notes of the following:
The State of the Product
Is the product fully developed? Are there updates or maintenance that needs to be done? Which features are most popular? Which are most overlooked or misused?
Understanding of Customers
Is your branding effective? Has your brand personality and voice been resonating with your audience? Are your buyer personas well-developed? If so, are you effectively reaching your buyer personas and target audience? Do you know where to reach them? What KPIs can serve as proof?
Having well-developed buyer personas, like the one shown above, is exceptionally important to a comprehensive strategy that will fulfill your business’s content marketing goals.
Are you focusing on one product or service? If not, how does each one fit into hierarchy of your offerings? Which deserves the most resources? Which others will need support? Which can wait or be effective as-is? Have you completed a competitive analysis? What strengths and weaknesses can be gleaned from it?
Do you have in-house talent to take on some level of marketing initiatives (ideation, writing, researching, etc.)? If so, what’s their bandwidth? If not, what’s your marketing budget? Who will you hire? What tools do you currently use to monitor your marketing metrics? Which might help bring more clarity?
Are any major changes coming to the brand? To the product? To the other offerings, if any? Are there any upcoming events to leverage or deadlines be mindful of?
These details are exceptionally important because any efforts that aren’t currently effective will only become exponentially more ineffective when it comes time to scale. Correcting any issues that surface during the analysis phase could save you significant headaches—let alone resources—down the line.
Once you have a solid outline of where you stand with all of these categories and correct any glaring problems accordingly, you’ll be able to approach the next step with greater confidence and clarity.
Ask The Big Questions
Based on the answers you generated in the first step, you can now start asking—and answering—the big questions.
Question 1: What Are Our Business Goals?
Theoretically, a SaaS business’s content marketing goals should ideally align with short- and long-term business goals and be actionable—that is, SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Why? Because it directly translates into the way you’ll approach, execute, and monitor your content goals throughout your business’s lifetime.
While many businesses know bigger picture goals such as growing revenue, breaking down the smaller goals that make them up is key to figuring out how and which content marketing goals to set.
But before we dive into the granular details of how to make it happen, let’s put this concept into perspective with an example that’s highly common amongst established SaaS businesses.
Let’s say you’re finally stable and are now beginning to grow. Your product is market-ready, you have a small but dedicated sales and support team, you’ve got prospects getting their feet wet with the trial, and you even have some loyal customers already. But you’re not hitting your revenue goals. Why? Because you’re not getting the trial conversion rate you were hoping for.
So, what do you do? You answer the first big question by aiming to improve it with a SMART goal: Boost trial rate conversion by 5% in the next three months.
Question 2: How Do We Get There?
One of your business goals has now been translated into your overall marketing goals, so before you get to content goals, you’ll need to clearly define a path to them. So, where do you start? Responsibility. That means aligning sales and marketing.
Create definition between your teams by asking pertinent questions. What benchmarks or actions makes a prospect a marketing-qualified lead? A sales-qualified lead? How many should the marketing team be delivering the sales team in a given month?
In this example, you can use your current conversion rate to reverse engineer the number of leads needed to be passed between teams to hit the stated goal.
For instance, consider your intended 5% increase in trial conversions. If you previously needed 100 per quarter, you now need 105. How many site visits do you need to see to achieve that? If 1000 visits equals 100 conversions, you’d then need 1050 site visits for 105 conversions.
Now ask yourself where those visits come from. Once you answer that question, you should have a pretty good idea of what kinds of content you can focus on to generate more site visits, trial sign-ups, and eventually, trial conversions. And since SaaS is primarily digital, you should have no trouble tracking the individual metrics necessary to identify opportunities and achieve your goals.
Using analytics can help identify top performing traffic sources, channels and content. Both surface level statistics like these as well as individual blog and social media posts, landing pages, and so on, can help reveal what’s working and what isn’t—and indicate where to best allocate resources.
Reverse Engineer Your Content
Once you’ve answered the questions above, you can really dig into the nitty gritty of figuring out what content will best deliver the results you’re looking for, then set your goals accordingly.
In this example, it’s generally best to analyze the bottom of the funnel first—that is, the content that surrounds the trial itself. Not only is it the low-hanging fruit because prospects have already worked their way through the buyer’s journey to the decision stage, but also because it directly focuses on the KPI (trial conversion rate) that aligns with your overarching business goal of increasing revenue.
Start with analysis. If you’ve spent this much time developing the software, you should be monitoring and analyzing user behavior as well. Insights like commonly used and neglected features, frequent areas of hangups, and time spent on certain actions can reveal a lot about where and how you can offer users support through content or even live assistance.
In turn, that same data can give you insight into how you can strengthen your other content offers. If users get hung up on a certain feature, you may want to spend time expanding your FAQs, blog posts, guides, or other resources aimed at providing clients an easy and streamlined experience.
As you can see above, SecureAccess does a great job providing both general and technical answers to commonly-asked questions, helping to both qualify and inform their prospects and customers.
Work Your Way Back Up
Realistically, you shouldn’t stop with the last elements standing between you and your goals. While making the trial-to-paid path more efficient is undoubtedly advantageous, you should look at your entire funnel as if it’s lined with obstacles—because it probably is.
By continuing to reverse engineer your content and setting your goals according to each stage of the buyer’s journey, you’ll be able to improve performance every step of the way. After all, bringing more prospects from top to bottom will all promote a healthier, better functioning process for both you and your users.
Spend some time looking at how your content metrics shake out. Are there areas where a significant number of prospects fall off? Are you not bringing enough prospects into the pipeline in the first place? What stage-appropriate content might you be missing that is causing under-performance? And what goals can you set to improve them?
Test, Measure and Optimize
Once you’ve defined your goals, set a schedule to periodically re-analyze your efforts and the results. As you re-evaluate, make sure to keep your expectations properly aligned. If you’re not hitting your goals, you might not have figured the issue out properly—or what’s realistically achievable. If you’re over-performing, don’t be afraid to set your goals higher.
Be honest about what’s working and what’s not, consider why each occurs, then play to your strengths and game-plan how to fix issues on a regular basis.
If you’re still unsure where your demo is falling short, work with the development team to find a way to monitor and analyze user interactions to see where they might be running into trouble. Or better yet, simply ask them. Providing that level of support along with careful analysis and optimization will best ensure they understand and are the best fit for your offering.