B2B SaaS Content Strategy: How to Map Your Content to Each Phase of the Funnel
Last updated: February 28, 2020
There are typically three camps of companies who do SaaS content marketing:
- Those who produce occasional content with an unstructured approach.
- Those who produce regular content with a semi-structured approach (eg. use a content calendar).
- Those who produce content within the context of a holistic content strategy.
If your SaaS company has been doing content marketing for 6 or more months and you haven’t seen meaningful increases in traffic or marketing qualified leads (MQLs), chances are you’re in Camp 1 or 2.
The main problems with producing content without a strategy are two-fold:
- Your content doesn’t reach the right people at the right times (eg. content for someone with high buying intent reaches someone high in the funnel who’s not thinking of buying yet).
- You waste time on producing content that’s unlikely to convert into actual revenue (eg. focus mostly on creating on top of funnel content like basic list posts).
In this article we’ll show you a simple way for you to develop a SaaS content marketing plan that can help alleviate these problems.
Below we’ll cover the different types of content we’ve found work best with prospects at different stages of the funnel (addressing the right-people-right-time issue), and the order in which you should create these pieces of content (helping you prioritize high value content first).
Let’s kick things off with how you should think about prioritizing specific types of content over others for the best results.
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Which Types of B2B SaaS Content Should You Create First?
In a well developed funnel, the majority of prospects in your target audience enter at the top, move to the middle, and eventually move through to the bottom. As such, many SaaS companies begin their content marketing efforts by creating top of funnel content first (eg. simple listicles or how to pieces).
The problem with this is that top of funnel content is unlikely to convert readers into leads or customers. So you can spend a year creating content without seeing any actual ROI.
The better approach is to actually begin with creating your bottom of the funnel content first (where you’ll see the highest conversion rates). This way you can capture the low hanging fruit: prospects who are directly searching for you or a solution to the problem your SaaS product solves.
Once you’ve exhausted the key types of content for the bottom of the funnel, you can move into creating middle of the funnel content, and so on.
Below we’re going to discuss the content types we’ve seen work best at each stage.
Top Types of B2B SaaS Content for Different Stages of the Funnel
Before we dive in, there are a couple of things to take note of.
- Blogging is a type of content, but blog posts are not the only kind of content that can facilitate lead generation. Non-blog pages such as product pages can also be thought of as content, and should be included in your overall content marketing strategy.
- Certain characteristics of content changes as you move through the funnel.
Regarding these changing characteristics, consider the following graphic:
“High,” “Medium,” and “Low” are all relative to each other within the context of your business, but in general, bottom of the funnel content will focus on search terms with lower search volume and higher buying intent, and will see the highest conversion rates.
Middle of the funnel content will focus on search terms with medium search volume and buying intent, and will have fewer conversions. Lastly, top of the funnel content will focus on search terms with the highest search volume, but the lowest buying intent, and will see the lowest number of conversions.
These heuristics are useful to keep in mind as you plan out your content creation because they can guide your keyword selection, help clarify your understanding of what content at each stage of the funnel is for, and set performance expectations.
Now let’s look at the content types we think B2B SaaS companies should focus on first.
Bottom of Funnel Content Types
Bottom of the funnel content is for prospects who are aware they have a problem and are looking for a way to solve it. The goal of this content is to get these prospects to book a trial or a demo.
Based on our experience with 35+ B2B SaaS clients, we have found the following types of content work great for converting prospects with high buying intent, and we’ve listed them in order of highest priority to lowest (ie. we create comparison pages first, then alternatives pages, etc.).
Note: Bottom of the funnel content should use clear and compelling calls to action (CTA’s) throughout the page.
1. Comparison Pages
In our article on Google Ads for SaaS, we discussed the concept of brand versus competitor intent — when a person is researching either:
- Your brand versus a competitor’s brand (eg. HubSpot vs. Salesforce)
- A competitor’s brand versus another competitor’s brand
In situation ‘A’, creating a piece of content to rank for these terms allows you to control the narrative of this discussion in the eyes of prospects. This way, you get to frame and position your brand against these competitors instead of third parties or your competitors themselves doing it for you.
In situation ‘B’, you can leverage a person’s intent to consider two or three of your competitors, and grab ahold of that discussion as well, while also inserting your brand into the mix and siphoning away attention from the others.
2. “Alternative to” Pages
There are a couple of scenarios in which people search “[Insert Brand] Alternatives.” One is when they are currently using a service that they’re unhappy with, and they’re looking for other options.
The other is when someone in research mode is aware of one brand, and they want to know what alternatives exist so they can weigh their options before making a purchase decision.
In both cases, creating content to rank for these terms is valuable, and it’s worth doing for several of your top competitors.
3. Product Pages
Product pages typically target keywords that describe the category of the product you offer and/or the solution that people are likely to be searching for.
For example, in the case of our client Structure Studios, we built out a product page for them around the keyword “landscape design software” — a term that represents both a product category and a solution.
We like to follow a specific format for product pages that we cover in our article on SaaS website best practices (Note: in that piece, we refer to product pages interchangeably with Feature and Benefit pages).
Product pages can be some of the most valuable content on your website (if you can get them to rank for the right terms) because the people searching are actively looking for what you offer.
4. Use Case Pages
In contrast to product pages, use case pages are not targeting a keyword related to a product or a feature. Rather, they target a specific action that someone is trying to achieve.
For example, if you’re a B2B company that sells website visitor identification software, you might create a use case page around the search term “how to identify who visits your website.”
Our framework for use case pages is also covered in our SaaS websites article mentioned above.
5. Case Study Pages
At first glance, some SaaS marketers might think of case studies as middle of the funnel content, but if someone is reading a case study on your site, it’s very likely they’re reading because:
- It’s about a company that’s similar to their own
- They want to see if it’s genuine and reasonable (ie. not some outlier, get-rich-quick scheme)
- They want to know if they might be able to get the same result using your product
This mindset indicates a reader is genuinely interested in what you have to offer. And thus, we classify case studies as bottom of the funnel content.
When it comes to keyword selection, case studies are unique in that pairing them with a keyword that attracts organic traffic is not always obvious or easy — but with some thought and finesse it can and should be done.
For example, in a case study on our client Structure Studios, we chose to optimize it for the term “paid media strategy.” While this is more of a middle of the funnel keyword, it gave us the opportunity to create a detailed piece of bottom of funnel content that can also attract prospects through organic search who are situated more towards the middle of the funnel.
Middle of the Funnel Content Types
Once you’ve covered all of your bases on content for the bottom of the funnel, you can begin creating content for the middle of the funnel.
The goal of middle of the funnel content is to get prospects to begin imagining what it would be like if they were using your SaaS, and to help establish the value of what you offer. The types of content we’ve found work best are interactive tools, market intelligence pieces, and product tour pages.
1. Interactive Tools
The job of an interactive tool is to provide prospects with a taste of what your SaaS can do for them without needing to fully commit to signing up for a trial or demo.
The types of tools we have found work best include:
By giving them a sample of the benefits that come with using your SaaS, you help them begin to see what life could be like if they were using your product, and you generate interest in learning more about what you offer.
2. Market Intelligence Pieces
The function of market intelligence pieces is to help establish the business case for using your SaaS.
Especially when your product has a price point that will need approval from executives up the chain (it’s not something a digital marketing manager can just put on the corporate credit card), this type of content can provide them with something to bring their boss who will ultimately need to sign the check.
So creating content that uses charts and graphs to show industry trends and statistics that support the business case for using a SaaS product like yours, you can remove friction in this process. Instead of the digital marketing manager having to do the research on their own, you can provide the information for them.
Note: Unlike case studies which need to reflect results your SaaS specifically has achieved, market intelligence pieces can be more high-level, general content about the use of SaaS products like yours across an industry.
3. Product Tour Pages
Product tour pages can be thought of as a proxy for demos, and they’re particularly useful for SaaS companies who have multiple types of product offerings that link to each other.
The ideal kind of product tour page asks the visitor a little about themselves like their job title, or the use case they are most interested in, and then points them to the part of the product that’s most relevant.
What this does is it allows you to take different buyer personas down a different path, tailoring their learning and discovery to their needs and wants, and optimizing the conversion path for prospects.
Top of the Funnel Content Types
Finally, once you’ve exhausted your middle and bottom of the funnel content, it can begin to make sense creating top of the funnel content to reach a wider audience.
The goal of top of funnel content is to educate cold prospects about the problem you solve (helping them become problem-aware), and also to put your brand on their radar as something they recognize. Whenever possible, you want to present opportunities to move these readers down the funnel (eg. by linking out to middle and bottom of funnel content).
The following types of content are what we’ve found work best for top of funnel content.
1. Expanded List Posts and Expert Roundups
These types of blog posts are great for people who are curious, looking to learn about what’s new and relevant, or looking for inspiration in the topic area that’s related to your business.
Modern search engines tend to reward list-style posts making them a potential asset with long term SEO benefits.
2. Ultimate Guides
The key to leveraging ultimate guides is to map them to the core use cases of your product.
Take our client Hurdlr, for example. Hurdlr’s product is a business expense and mileage tracker. So if we were going to create an ultimate guide for their blog, we could create something like “The Ultimate Guide to Tracking Business Expenses and Mileage.”
And from within that guide, we could link out to something like a calculator tool that we’d created previously, guiding readers down the funnel. Those who go and use the calculator are then seeing some of the benefits offered by your SaaS.
3. How to Narrative Content
Similar to the function of ultimate guides, “How to” narrative content is simply taking advantage of the opportunity to show up in search results when someone is looking for how to do the thing that your product helps them accomplish.
For example, a clickmaps software called Crazy Egg created a piece called “How to Interpret and Use Clickmaps to Improve Your Website’s UX” — the exact thing their product helps users do.
4. Opinion and Thought Leadership Pieces
Opinion and Thought Leadership pieces can be useful for generating social media sharing and discovery. They’re often an effective way to grab the attention of your target audience, bring traffic to your site, and generate brand awareness.
In addition, showing thought leadership helps build credibility and reputation among the industry you serve.
Great content marketing strategy doesn’t have to be overcomplicated. By simply understanding how to prioritize the order in which you create different pieces of content, you can ensure you’re spending your time on content that has the highest chance to generate meaningful revenue increases.
And by mapping the types of content you create to your sales funnel like we’ve laid out above, you can ensure you’re reaching the right people with the right type of content (and importantly, at the right time!).
We hope this article will help you refine your content strategy and develop a solid plan to move forward. If you’re interested in learning how we help B2B SaaS businesses win new customers through paid media and SEO (using many of the techniques described above), schedule a Free SaaS Scale Session.
What you should do now
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