When it comes to the purpose of a blog, views are split into two camps in B2B SaaS. 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 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 company’s 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 improving your SaaS website design? Check out our article on B2B SaaS website best practices, where we lay out our Authority Architecture Framework. Or, check out this SaaS website design case study.
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:
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, 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
It’s commonplace for SaaS blogs to have distracting sidebars with email opt-ins, various messaging and CTAs, testimonials or social proof, and links to related posts and other areas of their site.
Consider this screenshot of the sidebar on Reltio’s blog for example:
They have categories of blog posts, social follow CTAs, featured posts, and tweets. These are distracting for readers, who are there to read the blog post, while likely harming CRO, too.
Rather than using these traditional busy sidebars, we recommend using jump links to the various topics and subheadings on that page (especially if you’re writing longer-form content).
Think of it like a table of contents. This improves user experience by making it easier for readers to navigate the page. Since different people consume content differently, this provides individuals more opportunity to consume your content in the way that’s most preferable for them.
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
Our key premise when it comes to blog content is that SaaS companies should include more of the actions that they want readers to take right within their posts.
Placing these CTAs in context is much more effective than placing them around the perimeter of the page (in the header, footer, and sidebar menus) where they’re often ignored.
Below, we’ll cover how we think about structuring links and CTAs within blog post introductions, body content, and conclusions.
Introductions: Linking to Product and Use Case Pages, and a Contextualized Gated Offer
If you’re publishing blog content with the hope of generating leads, it’s best to create pain point focused content that’s related to the solution you offer.
The first few paragraphs should inform the reader about this problem in a way that educates them or has them nodding their head because it reflects their own experience.
In other words: help them become problem aware.
It’s within these opening paragraphs that we recommend linking out to your most relevant product pages that solve that specific problem. And also to your most relevant use case page.
For readers with higher purchase intent, doing this gives them an easy opportunity to find out 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.
Then, at the end of the introduction, before the first body section, we recommend placing your first CTA. Use a gated content offer that directly relates to the problem being discussed. Simply 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.
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.
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.
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.
Conclusions: Presenting a Final Email Opt-in
There are a few common approaches we see B2B SaaS companies take when it comes to blog conclusions.
Some offer email newsletter opt-ins — but people in the B2B space are often already overwhelmed by email, and therefore unlikely to sign up.
Some present readers with extensive forms to sign up for a demo, like this one from Invoiced:
But most readers won’t fill out a form that long unless they’re already a ways down your funnel.
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.
5. Footer Menu
Lastly, between the conclusion of your article and your footer menu, we recommend inserting a “What you should do now” section.
These are your final calls to action — 3 things that readers could do, with different levels of intent, that would guide them some distance down the funnel.
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.
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 to learn about how we can help your B2B SaaS business scale leads through your website? Reach out and schedule a Free SaaS Scale Session.