3 SaaS Marketing Strategies + Case Studies & Videos
“SaaS growth isn’t that complex or even hard. It requires careful planning, elbow grease and a little bit of patience. In the tutorial below we’ll show you the exact strategy we used to get 10,000 views to our website in our FIRST month.”
Written By Sterling Sweeney: Published Feb 20th, 2020 | Updated Feb 20th, 2020.
Sterling Sweeney is a growth hacker and the driving force behind WhalePages, a SaaS marketing agency ⚡. Today, he focuses on teaching you more about the SaaS marketing strategies he sees work best time and time again.
14 Minute Read
“Don’t Think in Local Optimals. SaaS Growth 🚀 is About Different Parts of the Marketing Puzzle Working Well Together”
Today WhalePages, your favorite SaaS marketing agency, will be teaching you about three marketing strategies that we use to help drive more website traffic and sales for SaaS companies.
Below we’ll outline three of the best content-centric growth strategies we’ve used time and time again for massive traffic results. While these results don’t generally come in overnight, when they do, the results can be game changing for your business.
Below, we’ll even pull back the curtains and show you how we used content to help us generate 10,000 page views to our site in our very first month online.
When possible, we use case studies and examples to help us showcase the power and potential of each of the tactics we’ll discuss below.
1. 📝 Content Backed Growth: Outsmart, Don’t Out-Muscle Your Competition
We’re huge believers in the power of inbound marketing and SEO. We’ve grown multiple businesses to 10K / month pretty quickly using nothing more than a well thought out content strategy. For us, high quality content has always been the backbone of our SaaS SEO strategy.
And we’re not alone. We’ve interviewed countless SaaS founders about their biggest growth channels and virtually every SaaS founder we’ve interviewed has said the same thing; content is a HUGE driver of growth. When we ask about other growth channels like paid ads or affiliate programs we get mixed or less enthusiastic responses. Now of course it’s not that these channels don’t work, because they often do if all of the ingredients are right. It’s just that these other growth channels take more time to work out the kinks and many SaaS companies struggle getting them to produce a reasonable ROI even after the kinks are worked out. Content on the other hand, seems to be a quicker and easier win for most SaaS companies.
However, SaaS companies can’t just produce content and expect miracles. It’s not uncommon for content to take six months to a year to start bearing fruit 🍈.
This time lag between input and output will scare away SaaS entrepreneurs who have less patience.
If you have the patience of a gnat 🦟, this growth channel isn’t for you.
That said, content marketing is such a huge driver of growth, that it’s the growth strategy most SaaS founders we’ve talked to would double down on if they had to just focus on one growth tactic.
So what things need to be in place for a successful SaaS content marketing campaign?
👉 Keyword research and ideation.
The best way to ensure your SaaS growth campaign gets off to a good start is to setup an over-detailed content planning document. Too much detail is not enough detail.
The purpose of this document is to act as a content map that will bring you from where you are to where you want to be. Once the map is intelligently thought out and then drawn out, it’s just a matter of going through the steps. It becomes almost like painting by numbers. After you’ve established your content plan, the rest is simply careful execution and tenacity.
👉 Content prioritization.
Content prioritization is a big part of the SaaS marketing puzzle. Too often SaaS founders get lured in by large volume search terms and keywords. Generally speaking, these larger volume search terms are competitive top of the funnel keywords which are supported by very little buying intent. If you’re just starting out on your content marketing journey, you should be wary of these larger more competitive keywords. Big numbers are tempting, but they are also often a trap (there is one exception to this which will discuss near the bottom of this article).
Targeting high volume high competition keywords too early, often results in quick burnout and leads SaaS founders to declare that content marketing doesn’t work.
SaaS founders will often feel frustrated when they target these attractive high volume keywords and then don’t rank for them within a reasonable amount of time. Trying to rank for these keywords out of the gate is like trying to learn division before you understand basic addition. You’ll feel frustrated with your lack of success and be more prone to give up.
Instead start by targeting keywords and producing content you actually have a chance of ranking for. A lot of this content will have less than 100 global searches per month. Don’t let that put you off. Not only will you keep team morale much higher once you start landing on the main page for these search terms, but you’ll also start build up enough link equity (through the process of link earning), which will make targeting more competitive keywords in the future much easier.
👉 Searcher intent & funnel optimization.
Next, we need to look through our content marketing plan and analyze the buying intent behind each keyword. Remember, at this stage you’re not only targeting quicker content wins, you should also be prioritizing content with a focus on queries with higher buying intent. Acquiring early sales through your content marketing efforts will not only help you fuel future growth, it will also give you the much needed confidence to continue with your content marketing efforts.
👉 Understanding keyword difficulty. Target “low hanging fruit”.
Once you’ve prioritized content that not only is easier to rank for (generally lower volume) and that’s backed by high buyer intent, it’s time to prioritize based on difficulty. In the video below we show you how you can use free tools or an old fashioned manual method to search for the competitiveness of any keyword you’re trying to rank for.
👉 Create evergreen content. Stay away from “me too” content and ensure content engagement stays high.
One of the biggest mistakes we see SaaS entrepreneurs make when it comes to content production 🏭, is that they focus on modeling their content off of the content they see their competitors ranking for.
For instance, if you have a SaaS in the CRM space you might see that HubSpot is ranking well for a post about the “10 best CRMs in 2020”. As a small startup, you’re not going to out-muscle HubSpot for a high volume high competition keyword, so don’t try.
It’s like getting the ring with Mike Tyson 🥊 in his prime. So don’t try to out-muscle them. You’ll lose. Instead out-think them. Creativity goes a long way in the world of content marketing.
Now that you understand the basics, let’s dive into more detail by watching the video below so you can see how we approach keyword planning and content ranking for the projects that we work on at WhalePages.
2. 🔥 Content Distribution: How We Got 10,000 Page Views Our First Month From Our First 13 Blog Posts.
Now that you have a content plan, you’ve mapped out your content journey, and you’ve started producing high-end content, it’s time to start distributing your content. Remember, content is king, but distribution is queen.
If you don’t distribute your content it will likely never be found. In our first month at WhalePages we produced 13 pieces of content (almost all of our content was in the form of interviews with SaaS founders). When we published these interviews to our blog they brought in virtually no traffic. In our first month of existence, we had no Twitter, Facebook or Instagram followers. Therefore, naturally, when we uploaded our content to our blog we had no distribution or amplification network to plug into. All posts fell flat on their face 😔.
However, because we’ve done this so many times for multiple projects we know the process inside and out so we knew there was no need to feel upset or frustrated by the process that lay ahead.
Content distribution is harder when you’re just starting out, but it’s not impossible. Again, patience plays a big role here. We look at it sort of like making a small snowball and then starting to roll it down a hill. At first it starts out really small, but after a lot of pushing, your work starts to result in quicker and more noticeable gains. As the snowball gets bigger, the size of it will more easily pick up more snow and the volume will grow exponentially. Content marketing is very similar. You can’t expect to roll a snowball a few times and expect to have a snowman, just as you can’t engage in content marketing for 3 months and expect to have an authoritative blog. It takes time.
And all SaaS entrepreneurs have to start somewhere 🌱. Each month, as your social networks grow, as you continue to automate the parts of your SaaS marketing channels that can be automated, and as your domain authority increases, content distribution becomes much easier. We often find that it takes 4 to 12 months before content distribution starts to feel easier.
Without exception, your first few months of creating and distributing content will feel a lot like you’re swimming upstream 🏊♀️.
Let’s look at WhalePages as an example. I’m going to pull back the curtains and show you our first month of growth. We used no paid ads, had no twitter followers, no YouTube videos, zero domain authority. Nothing. Zip. Zero.
We, like many of you reading this, were starting from absolute scratch.
So we got to work creating and then distributing our first round of content.
We created 13 text based interviews with SaaS founders for our blog (the posts can be seen here). We didn’t create any other type of content our first month. By the of the month we ended up with over 5000 unique visitors and over 10,000 page views to our site!
For a 30 day growth plan, that’s no bad. Take a look at our Google Analytics dashboard below which shows both unique users as well as pageviews.
My guess is that without concrete distribution plan we might have seen a couple hundred visits. However, in your first month if you can only draw in a couple hundred visits, that’s not bad. Remember, the content you create your first month can be re-purposed and re-used every single month. So even if you don’t gain much traction with your early content, the content will continue to work for you month after month. In fact, content appreciates in value over time. Therefore, the content you produce this month, will be more valuable to you in 6 months down the line.
That said, nobody want’s low traffic numbers for too long, and therefore it’s important to have a content distribution plan in place so you can start building up a baseline level of traffic to your SaaS company website. You should begin by creating a content distribution template for your SaaS’s niche so when you have content to promote you’re not scratching your head trying to figure out what to do with it. No two SaaS companies are the same, and therefore no two content distribution strategies will be exactly the same.
However, to point you in the right direction, we’ve created a SaaS content distribution template for you to use, where we teach you where you can distribute your SaaS content on 62 + online channels (for free). This is the exact content distribution strategy we used to get our first 10,000 page views (as shown above).
Of course, you’ll need to modify this template to fit your SaaS company’s specific needs, but this template will give you a good place to start.
We’ve also created a video tutorial outlining our content distribution strategy below.
The beauty of content marketing is that the digital assets you’re creating (your blog posts), never go away. Your posts can keep working for you month after month. In fact, the longer content marinates the more valuable it becomes.
Content appreciates in value so quickly that the time you invest today producing content will continue to benefit you for years to come 📅.
This level of marketing value appreciation is seen in very few other marketing channels. Paid ads for example, may look attractive to many SaaS founders because there is no time lag between input and output. If you put $100 into your ad campaign today, you’ll get $100 worth of traffic to your site by the end of the day. But once your budget dries up, so does your traffic. There is less residual benefit and the $100 you spent doesn’t appreciate in value. Paid ads depreciate in value.
For these reasons (and others) WhalePages, as part of our SaaS marketing services, focuses heavily on content as a growth lever. We’ve just seen it work well time and time again.
3. 👍 GUEST POSTING & EXTERNAL CONTENT: HOW TO GET AROUND GOOGLE’S DOMAIN AUTHORITY BIAS?
The next SaaS marketing strategy you should explore is guest posting. Writing for related blogs in your niche is a great way to use your content ideas on other people’s websites to help you bring in more traffic and backlinks.
However, please be aware that all guest posting opportunities are not created equal. There is a guest post industry now that bloggers are tapping into to in order to monetize their blogs (content factories which generally deteriorate quickly into digital dumping grounds 🗑️).
The belief is that “the more content the better” and what’s resulted is the production of countless blogs that have turned into content waste yards. Today you can find countless SEO services where SEO “experts” will offer to write guest post content for you, or simply publish your content on blogs (usually for a small fee of $30 to $100), to help you improve your SEO. In virtually all of these cases the blogs are either incredibly low quality (even if they have a decent domain authority) and in many cases they are part of a PBN (Private Blog Network). It’s all very spammy and very high risk from an SEO standpoint. It’s sort of the underbelly of the content marketing world. Avoid that industry like the plague.
In our experience researching these opportunities, I would say about 80-90% of guest posting opportunities are either entirely worthless, or could do more damage than good. The other 10 – 20% are great opportunities but they are hard to come by and can take a long time to finalize.
It’s not uncommon for the best guest post opportunities to have 2 – 8 months of back and forth communication, countless edits and the possibility of doing all of that work, and then having your content rejected. Good opportunities are far and few between. The reason is that great online destinations have gatekeepers (people or algorithms) that ensure a content standard is met. If you find a blog that accepts guest posts from anybody who submits content, you can be 100% sure you’re hanging out in the wrong neighborhood.
That said, there are incredible guest posting opportunities to be had. Finding these diamond in the rough opportunities could dramatically change your SaaS business overnight.
Our strategy behind guest posting is quite unique. Remember earlier we talked about the importance of planning your content and not producing content that is too competitive? Well a good guest posting opportunity could be the exception to that rule.
Previously, we advised you not to fight for these keywords because doing so would be like getting in the ring with Mike Tyson in his prime. That said, a high quality blog that allows for guest posting opportunities for high quality content could be the digital equivalent of Mike Tyson. The logic here is to not fight WITH these people, but to have them fight FOR you.
If you’re just starting out, you don’t have the domain authority or domain age to rank for higher competition keywords. Google has a big domain authority bias and that’s why we recommend you prioritize content production based on your current website strength.
The logic is simple. Don’t fight for a keyword with a difficulty level of 9 if your domain only has a strength of 2. Instead, fight battles you can win 🥊 or partner up with others to have them fight your bigger battles for you.
Some of these blogs will have been around for years and will have the strength to be able to rank for higher competition keywords. So rather than publishing a harder-to-rank-for piece of content on your blog, you might consider writing and optimizing this content on a more powerful blog.
You’re essentially piggybacking off of someone else’s strength while at the same time providing their audience value. It’s a win-win. That said, finding perfect match partners can take some time.
Here is a video we put together which will teach you how to use free tools to find the highest impact guest posting opportunities.
If you follow the advice I outlined above your SaaS company’s website will grow. It’s guaranteed. In 20 years of being engaged in content marketing, never once have I not seen content drive growth (if done consistently and intelligently as discussed above of course).
There are only two types of people who fail with content marketing. Well three, but if you’ve made it this far I doubt you’re #3 🤨
The people who fail with content marketing can generally be grouped into one of three categories.
👉 Most failures fall into this first group. In the vast majority of cases a SaaS company’s website will fail to gain traction because SaaS founders pull resources off their content marketing campaigns too early. Too many SaaS founders don’t have the patience to wait 6 – 12 months to see the results of their hard work. Granted, it is a long time to wait. But for better or worse, it’s the natural rhythm of this marketing activity. I look at content marketing much like I look at pregnancy since it has about the same gestation period. There is not much you can do to speed up the process of either.
With a pregnancy you need to wait about 9 months after conception (input) 🛏️ before you have the birth of a child (output) 👶. Give or take a few months, the same rhythm applies to content marketing. The sooner you come to grips with this reality, the more comfortable you can be with letting the process run its course.
👉 The other group of people I’ve seen fail is content marketers who use low quality writing services. If you think you’re getting to the top of search engines by working with writers off of Fiverr you’ll be sadly disappointed 😥. While content production costs might be cheap, I’ve never seen it produce any meaningful results. As search terms continue to get more competitive to rank for, the content producers who best satisfy a search query will be rewarded with top placement. The rest can expect to find their content on page 32, which is the equivalent of page 3,456. You need first page ranking to do well, and to get first page ranking you need to produce exceptional content.
👉 The last group of people I’ve seen under-perform with content marketing are people who just don’t really nail their content. Their standard of “high quality” may not match Google’s expectation and therefore their fluffy “me too” content just won’t go anywhere. These people often can’t identify value gaps in the market and then add exceptional value where they find those content gaps. Instead, they just re-hash what’s already been said a million times. What results is a sort of digital “hot air” 💬.
💣 Truth Bomb
The truth is you either need to have time to do it well, or you need deep pockets. Most bootstrapped SaaS companies don’t have deep pockets, which is one of the reasons they come to us. We can get high-end quality produced affordably.
The content marketing strategies we discussed above work wonders for SaaS companies. That said, they aren’t SaaS specific. We’ve used these very same marketing strategies to help grow IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a Service), DaaS (Data as a Service) FaaS (Function as a Service) and even DBaas (Database as a Service) companies.
No matter what technology you’re playing with, content can help. Want proof it works? You’re reading this right now. 🤯
I’ll leave you with this… Imagine that every piece of content you produce will be responsible for driving 100% of your growth. Put your heart 💜 into it. Create content that surpasses your readers expectations and adds real value to their life.
Written By Sterling Sweeney: Published Feb 20th, 2020 | Updated Feb 20th, 2020.
Sterling Sweeney is a growth hacker and the driving force behind WhalePages, a SaaS marketing agency So, if you have a SaaS company and you’re kinda into things like website traffic and increasing your MRR, then be sure to check out our homepage.
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