How to Design B2B SaaS Blogs for Conversion
Last updated: September 13th, 2023
When it comes to the purpose of a blog, views are split into two camps in B2B SaaS industry. One camp sees blogs as primarily educational resources, and the other sees them as a way to generate leads and sell.
What we’ve seen is that both camps (even the ones who view blogs as a lead gen asset) put a lot of effort into web design and conversion rate optimization (CRO) of their core SaaS website pages (ie. homepage, product pages, etc.), but less thought into their blogs.
As such, companies that try to sell through their blogs run into problems like:
- Their sidebar and footer email opt-ins being mostly ignored by blog visitors
- High bounce rates from their blog pages (which has adverse effects on SEO performance)
- Rarely having blog visitors fill out their lead forms, or click any of their calls to action (CTAs)
- Most blog visitors leaving, never to return again, and companies being left without any way of knowing who visited
Blog pages can quickly become the most trafficked webpages of a SaaS businesses site, especially for those who publish often. And not leveraging them to convert visitors is a missed opportunity.
In this article, we share our Authority Blog Post Architecture for B2B SaaS.
Think of it as a basic template or foundation that helps solve these problems. It’s meant to support conversion and lead generation and can be used for inspiration when creating wireframes for your website.
Want to learn more about how to improve your B2B SaaS website’s blog architecture? Get your free marketing plan here.
The Authority Blog Post Architecture for B2B SaaS
Below, we walk through the various elements of our blog architecture and describe the ways in which they’re different from the traditional approach to SaaS blog design.
We’ve broken the architecture down into 5 categories. Feel free to use these links to jump to a section that interests you, or keep scrolling to view them in order:
Note: We’ve used traffic-light-style color coding based on reader purchase intent. In the graphic above, elements highlighted in green require the lowest intent from the reader to click, ones in yellow require medium intent, and the ones in red require the most. We’ve positioned each link or CTA strategically based on these varying levels of intent.
1. Header Menu
Consider this header menu on a Salesforce blog post:
At first look, it’s not overwhelming. But when you take into consideration each of the drop-down menus, that quickly changes. For example, hover over the products menu, and you’ll find over 20 additional links all for SaaS sales related products:
The other dropdowns look similar, with upwards of a hundred options for a blog reader to click on (only three of which are CTAs).
While the scope of Salesforce makes them an exaggerated case, most SaaS companies use their full header menu consistently throughout their site, including their blog.
In part, this is because content management systems like WordPress do this by default. But we believe SaaS companies are missing a CRO opportunity here.
What we think they should do differently is choose to only include the links that matter most, taking inspiration from widely used best practices in landing page design. The idea is to think of your header as an elevator pitch for the value proposition you want to communicate to somebody when they’re first meeting you.
For example, you could exclude elements like your resources and integrations. And instead focus strictly on the fundamentals of your pricing, who you serve, and how your SaaS product works.
Then, rather than using a high-intent CTA like the standard trial or demo, we suggest using a medium-intent CTA. This will better match the intent level for the majority of your blog audience, and give you the opportunity to guide more of them down the funnel from there.
For example, if you have an explainer video, you might consider viewing that as your Header menu CTA. It’s a 90-second commitment that helps with engagement and time spent on page.
And it’s likely to be more appropriate for most new site visitors, taking into account their stage in the funnel. You could even set up a trial or demo CTA to display once the video is over.
For more ideas on types of medium intent content you could use for your header CTA and more broadly how to build an effective SaaS content marketing strategy, check out our article on SaaS content strategy.
2. Blog Post Date
Refreshing content has become a commonly practiced SEO tactic, and savvy SaaS companies periodically refresh their pre-existing content to improve its performance in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
However, often they miss the opportunity to include a “Last Updated” annotation and instead settle for displaying the date of when the post was originally published.
Adding a note of when you last updated your posts signals to Google and other search engines that you’ve refreshed those pages. This then enables your post to satisfy the “Quality Deserves Freshness” criteria, making it more likely to rank higher in the search results.
In addition, readers are more likely to trust your page if they see it’s been updated recently. This can increase engagement and reduce bounce rates which can help SEO across your entire site.
Simple WordPress plugins like WP Last Modified Info can be used to easily implement this.
3. Sidebar Menu
The sidebar is prime real estate to encourage your reader to take action, but many SaaS blogs underutilize this opportunity.
It’s common that the blog either doesn’t include any clear CTAs in the sidebar, or there are so many different options that the reader doesn’t know which one to click.
For example, you can see that the sidebar of Reltio’s blog is too crowded with social icons, featured blog posts, category pages, and other information, making it unclear what the user should do next.
This hurts conversions because the clutter overwhelms the user and they’ll simply ignore the sidebar.
Instead, look at your marketing funnel and include only an email signup and a single CTA for the next step in the funnel (e.g., schedule a demo, sign up for a whitepaper, etc.).
If you look at our own right hand sidebar, you’ll see that this is the structure we use.
On the left side, incorporate a table of contents as it makes it easy for readers to navigate the blog post. If you produce in-depth content, it can be overwhelming for readers to scroll through it and find the sections most relevant to their question. As a result, many of them will simply click back to the search results.
If readers immediately leave your blog post, you’ll not only lose them as customers, but it also signals to search engines that your blog post isn’t a great answer to the search query, which can cause it to drop in rankings.
A table of contents solves this as it allows users to easily jump to relevant sections of the article.
When users are more engaged with your content, they’re more likely to see more of your CTAs, and ultimately take the next step to convert into a customer.
In addition, this tactic can also set your blog page up to receive multiple links through search.
For example, if a post starts getting backlinks and gaining popularity, the anchor links can show up underneath your search result, allowing you to take up more real estate in the SERPs.
4. Blog Content
Informative blog content can drive traffic and satisfy user intent, but if there isn’t a compelling call to action that drives users to the next step in the marketing funnel, it won’t convert.
The good news is that you can significantly increase conversions by simply incorporating contextual CTAs to the next step of your marketing funnel.
Below, we’ll cover how we think about structuring links and CTAs within blog post introductions, body content, and conclusions.
4.1 Introductions: Linking to Product and Use Case Pages
A key reason SaaS content strategies often fail is that while the content may answer the searcher’s pain point, there’s no mention of the product as a solution to the pain point the user searched.
If your product isn’t mentioned in the article, users won’t know that it can solve their problem, and they won’t convert into customers or even take the next step in the buyer journey.
Alternatively, many SaaS blog posts mention the product in the conclusion, though most people don’t read all the way to the conclusion.
Therefore, we mention the product as a viable solution to the pain point that the blog post is targeting within the first few paragraphs.
Specifically, we’ll link out to your most relevant product pages that solve the specific problem the content addresses. If there are pages discussing relevant product use cases, we’ll link out to those as well.
For readers with higher purchase intent, doing this gives them an easy opportunity to learn more about your solution. At the same time, it gives readers who have mid-level purchase intent an option to learn more about how your product solves the problem you’re presenting.
Either way, you give readers a soft introduction to your product and move them from problem aware to solution aware and help them take the next step in the buyer journey.
Internal links are also beneficial from an SEO perspective as they pass authority from one page on your site to the receiving page and they also help search engine crawlers discover those pages.
4.2 Body Content: Contextualized Gated Offer
Internal links are excellent for introducing the product as a potential solution to their problem, but if you don’t capture their contact information, they’ll likely leave and never return.
As a result, you’ll find that your traffic won’t convert very well.
To solve this problem, we insert a gated offer into the blog post that fits within their current stage in the marketing funnel. Once they submit their contact information to access the gated offer, we can remarket to them.
We typically place gated offers part-way through the post, though you can experiment with positioning anywhere in the first half of the content.
The CTA itself should only ask for an email in exchange for the resource.
Note: This could be a banner, or text with a CSS highlight box around it, but it should look different from the rest of the post.
The gated offer itself should be a product-aware resource that’s relevant to the pain point and solution the article offers without disrupting the content flow.
So, let’s say your post is about 15 ways to speed up your sales cycle. Your offer could be a PDF checklist that helps a reader do just that.
If you’ve set up the problem correctly, this can be a compelling offer and help increase the amount of leads you generate through your posts.
Learn more about gated content offers in our article on B2B SaaS lead magnets.
4.3 Body Content: Linking to Related Articles
Most blogs display links to related articles at the bottom of the page after the conclusion. But for many companies, those links are rarely clicked on.
Instead, we recommend companies include links to related articles in select places within their posts. Ideally in places where the content of the current article is related to the post you link out to.
A CMS like WordPress has plugins that allow you to add related posts automatically, such as IntellyWP. This is possible with other CMS’ as well but may require a bit more technical effort. For example, if you’re using HubSpot, these community resources here and here may be useful.
Similar to the gated offer above, it should stand out from the rest of the post (design-wise). But don’t worry about images here. Simple text links are preferred.
This is an opportunity to increase the time spent on your site by sending visitors down a rabbit hole with your content. It’s highlighted in green because it doesn’t require significant purchase intent to click on.
4.4 Conclusions: Presenting a Final Email Opt-in
If readers didn’t take action on any of the previous CTAs in the post, the conclusion is your last chance to earn their email address and retarget them.
So always include a final email opt-in.
This final opt-in should only ask for an email. If you create an extensive form to sign up for a demo, like this one from Invoiced, you’ll see fewer conversions:
While a form may help you generate more qualified leads, it might also turn off leads that could become qualified. And once people are on your email list, you can segment them and weed out the unqualified prospects. Unfortunately, if you never collect the visitor’s email, you won’t have a method to follow up with them, and you’ll likely leave them for good.
You may have to experiment to understand what opt-in message and resource is most enticing for your reader, but we’ve found that the simpler the CTA, the better.
So instead we think it’s more effective to use a simple highlighted CTA that reads something like, “Want more posts like this one?”.
By phrasing it that way, if they liked the article, they’re much more likely to opt in. And with their email, you can then begin nurturing those leads and guiding them down your funnel from there, as opposed to missing that opportunity all together.
BTW – in case you’re wondering, you shouldn’t let your SaaS blog turn into a company blog with marketing campaign updates. Here’s an article on how to avoid the ‘feature releases’ content that many companies end up running.
5. Footer Menu
Following the conclusion, you have one last chance to direct the user to the next stage of the buyer’s journey.
Most SaaS companies include a CTA to schedule a demo here, but if some of your readers are further up in the buyer journey and need more education before they’re ready to schedule a demo, they won’t convert.
Alternatively, if your readers are ready to schedule a demo and your CTA is just a lead magnet, they probably won’t convert because they already have the lead magnet.
So we recommend that you include a “What you should do now” section that provides a logical next step for each person, regardless of where they are in the buyer journey.
We start with the highest intent CTA (a trial/demo signup), and then medium (a resource opt-in), and then the CTA with the least intent required (a social share).
Design-wise, this section should be distinct enough to stand out from the post, but it shouldn’t be just a list of links.
By the way: don’t just link to your trial or demo. Use your copy to present a pro without con. To elaborate, take accounting software like FreshBooks for example. Their pro without con would be something like the following:
“If you’d like to send invoices automatically, and never have to worry about manually following up on invoices again, sign up for a free trial today and get your first three invoices free.”
Follow a similar format with the resource opt-in. And for your social share CTA, keep it simple, saying something like:
“Did you enjoy this post and know a friend that might too? Share this on LinkedIn, Twitter, or email.”
Note: For the social share links, you shouldn’t include everything under the sun. Our philosophy is to pick which channels your B2B customers would be most likely to share through.
B2B SaaS Blog Optimization Case Study
To give you an example of this blueprint deployed on a real website, we’ll walk you through how we optimized a cybersecurity SaaS company’s blog to increase conversions.
They were receiving MQLs from opt-ins on the blog regularly but weren’t sure how to strategically nurture these prospects into SQLs.
We found several opportunities for improvement in the blog design.
First, there wasn’t a clear CTA, so the reader didn’t know what to do next. As a result, they typically just left the website.
In addition, the content was relatively lengthy and there wasn’t a table of contents, making it difficult for readers to quickly find the information they needed from the blog post.
We realized these two factors were likely causing the low conversion rates, so we collaborated with their team to deploy the blog architecture playbook.
Specifically, we implemented the following changes:
- Added a table of contents so the reader can quickly jump to the sections of the post that are most meaningful to them.
- Added a ‘What you should do now’ box to the end of the post so that readers always had a clear, appropriate next step to progress in the buying journey, regardless of their current awareness level.
- Added a sticky header with a clear ‘Get a demo’ CTA for bottom-funnel readers.
We also added an additional CTA partway through the piece for readers that were engaged but not quite ready to sign up for a demo.
Six months after implementing the blog architecture, the blog generated over 70 sales qualified opportunities of high ACV prospects.
Take The First Step To Improving Blog Conversions Now
For SaaS companies who’ve started to publish consistently or already have a large archive of posts, blog pages can quickly become the majority of content on their site. They also often become a company’s most visited pages from organic search traffic.
With both these factors in mind, there’s a flood of opportunity to convert blog readers into leads and customers.
By following our Authority Blog Post Architecture laid out above, B2B SaaS companies and marketers can leverage their blogs to fill up their pipeline of prospects and deals.
Want help generating more leads from your blog? Get your free marketing plan here.
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