The Content Strategy Playbook: A Framework for B2B SaaS Success

Tired of struggling to create an effective content strategy that drives results? Look no further! I’ve got you covered with a framework specifically tailored to B2B SaaS companies. This approach is designed to help you tackle common challenges like ineffective content distribution and boring content.

By the end of this article, you’ll have the tools to increase brand awareness, generate high-quality leads, establish thought leadership, and boost customer engagement. Ready to take your content to the next level? Let’s dive in!

Identify Your Target Audience

If we do not know who the customer is, we do not know what quality is — Eric Ries, American entrepreneur and blogger

Your entire business is built on serving customers. But how can you serve them if you don’t understand them?

For a SaaS content strategist, this should be real easy — literally it’s just a matter of cut and paste. Your ideal customer profile should already be documented, as part of your product development. If not, it’s symptomatic of a larger problem that needs to be addressed.

You need to understand your target audience’s pain points and needs, so that content can be tailored accordingly. By working off the same page, you’ll be sure your content aligns with your product, which in turn, aligns with your customer.

For example, a B2B SaaS company that provides a cloud-based project management tool may identify its target audience as project managers and executives at medium to large companies. They should analyze the pain points and needs of these individuals, such as the need to streamline communication, track progress, and collaborate with remote teams. By understanding these needs, the company can create content that addresses these challenges and demonstrates how their tool can help solve them.

This step is so critical that it needs to be done, to the best of your ability, before anything else.

There are different ways to hone in on that buyer persona. Jobs to be Done, popularized by Clayton Christensen in his books, The Innovator’s Dilemma and Competing Against Luck, is one approach to consider. If you’ve read Product-Led Growth by Wes Bush, consider tapping into his UCD (understand-communicate-deliver) framework.

Creating a B2B SaaS buyer persona

Here are the basic elements for a B2B SaaS buyer persona.

Basic demographic info like job title, company size.
Goals and challenges related to the product or service you offer.
Pain points and objections they might have about using your product.
Common buying behaviors, like how they conduct research, evaluate options, and make purchasing decisions.
Industry-specific insights, like common processes, trends, and competitors.

By fleshing out these elements, you’ll have a much clearer idea of who you’re selling to and how to craft your messaging and content to resonate with them. 👌

Determine Your Content Goals

Most good founders that I know at any given time have a set of small overarching goals for the company that everybody in the company knowsSam Altman, CEO, OpenAI

SaaS content needs to support specific business goals. From a B2B SaaS perspective, there are only four reasons to create content for an audience:

To attract their attention.
To acquire them as customers.
To help them adopt your product.
To turn them into advocates.

Every business needs that content, but how you balance that may differ based on your funding stage.

The four stages of an audience-centered B2B SaaS flywheel. Attention, acquisition, adoptions, and advocacy.
Attention, Acquisition, Adoption, and Advocacy are why you create content for B2B SaaS.
For example, in the early stage (pre-seed), the focus should be on building brand awareness and generating leads and investor interest, as the company is still in its early stages and needs to establish itself in the market. At the seed stage, the focus will evolve to expanding brand awareness and driving traffic to the website. At round A, the company now has more resources to invest in marketing and needs to attract investors for further growth. You may shift to establishing the company as a thought leader and scaling the ability to drive high-quality leads.

When setting content goals, it’s important to have a reality check. Your goals need to be ambitious, but also realistic and achievable. Consider your resources (budget, team size, bandwidth, etc.) and align your goals accordingly. This isn’t about selling yourself short. It’s about being honest with yourself and your team. After all, nothing kills motivation faster than biting off more than you can chew. Think of it like this: a marathon runner doesn’t show up to the starting line without training, and you shouldn’t set content goals without assessing your resources.

Audit your existing content

Beginning with brand rather than substance is dangerousPeter Thiel, Co-founder, Paypal

Most of what I’ve read about content auditing lacks a firm grounding in reality. Instead of worrying about the length of your titles or meta descriptions, I suggest a different approach. Look at auditing your existing content as an opportunity to assess the current content strategy. Aim to identify its strengths and weaknesses, through the following:

Reviewing existing content to see if it is still relevant, accurate, and aligned with the business goals.
Evaluating the performance of existing content to understand what’s worked well and what hasn’t.
Analyzing audience engagement with existing content, including social media comments, shares, and page views.
Identifying any gaps or inconsistencies in the current content strategy and using this information to inform future content decisions.

Here’s what I mean. A B2B SaaS company that provides customer support software conducted an audit of their existing content and found that:

Their blog posts on customer support best practices were outdated and no longer relevant.
Their videos on how to use their software were getting low engagement and views.
Their social media posts had very little engagement as measured by likes or comments.
They lacked content focused on the specific pain points of their target audience, such as the challenges of managing a high volume of customer support tickets.

Those are the insights that you want to gain from a content audit — what you won’t get from a typical SEO content audit.

A word of warning. Content audits can be very time-consuming, so consider doing spot checks as a shortcut to uncovering any potential issues.

Research Your Competitors

If there wasn’t any competition, I’d be very worried, because it would mean we were not doing very well — Marc Benioff, CEO, Salesforce

Competitor research is like a box of chocolates — there’s more to it than meets the eye. Here are some key things to look at:

Their content style and format: Are they producing long-form blog posts, short and snappy social media content, or a mix of both?
Content quality, coverage, and authority: Look for gaps in their coverage and leverage areas where you have authority and they don’t.
Marketing channels they use: Pay attention to any gaps that you can exploit.
Their messaging and value proposition: What do they emphasize in their messaging? How do they differentiate themselves from other players in the market?
Their engagement and reach: How much engagement and reach do they get on each channel? How does it compare to your current performance?
Their target audience: Do they target the same audience as you? Are they also going after a different segment or demographic?
Their overall SaaS marketing strategy: Are they more focused on content marketing or other tactics like paid advertising, influencer partnerships, or events?

For example, a B2B SaaS company that provides a sales enablement platform might research their competitors and find that:

Their main competitors are using social media channels such as LinkedIn and Twitter to engage with their target audience.
They’re also creating high-quality thought leadership content such as webinars and whitepapers.
However, they aren’t active on channels like Reddit or Quora, which could provide an opportunity for the company to reach potential customers in a less crowded space.

While it’s important to be aware of what your competitors are doing, you shouldn’t blindly follow their lead. Your business is unique, with its own distinct goals, audience, and strengths. Your content strategy should reflect those unique factors, rather than simply copying what your competitors are doing. It’s not a race to see who can be the most like everyone else — it’s about standing out and providing value that’s relevant to your own audience. You should use your competitors as inspiration, not as a roadmap.

The key is to think of your competitors as more of a reference point than a benchmark. They can provide helpful insights and ideas, but ultimately, you need to do what works for YOUR business and YOUR customers. You’re not just competing with other companies — you’re competing to be the best version of YOUR company.🏆

Plan Your B2B Content Marketing Calendar

No Plan Survives First Contact With CustomersSteve Blank, Entrepreneur and Educator

Regardless of how much or how little content you produce, you’ll benefit greatly by using a content calendar.

A content calendar can:

Help you stay organized and focused by mapping out your content in advance.
Improve efficiency by aligning your content with your business goals and marketing efforts.
Provide a consistent flow of content to keep your audience engaged.
Help you plan for seasonal or event-based content in advance.
Ensure a cohesive message across channels by aligning content with your brand’s voice and visual identity.
Maximize the impact of your content by promoting it across multiple channels and audiences.

In short, a content calendar can help you create a streamlined and effective B2B SaaS content marketing strategy that delivers real results. 💯

If you’re just starting out, any kind of calendar will do — even a spreadsheet. It doesn’t have to be complicated or cost you any money. That simple setup will do wonders for a long time to come.

When planning the content calendar, make sure to map out content that addresses your target audience’s needs and pain points. Use content types (e.g. blog posts, videos, infographics) that are best suited for the channels on which you plan to distribute. Remember to consider your resources and how much content you’re able to produce on a regular basis.

For example, a B2B SaaS company could plan their content calendar based on the goals established earlier:

Create at least two weekly blog posts that address the pain points of the target audience, such as increasing sales productivity, improving customer satisfaction, and reducing churn.
Create one video per month that showcases the features and benefits of the sales enablement platform, targeting C-level executives who are responsible for sales performance.
Create one infographic per quarter that highlights industry trends and best practices in sales enablement, targeting sales managers and sales enablement professionals.
Optimize at least three blog posts weekly based on Topic Authority, Personalized Difficulty, and ranking position.
Leverage the company’s social media channels to promote and distribute the content.

Speaking of regularity, consistency is key for building a loyal audience and maintaining visibility in any algorithm. Determine a posting schedule and stick to it!

Where possible, consider tying your content to current events, trends, or seasonal topics to stay relevant and engage your audience. But be aware that temporal content such as this has a limited shelf life, unlike evergreen content.

Think about how you’ll promote your content across different channels (e.g. email, social media, paid ads) to increase its reach and impact. A good tactic is to focus on creating one piece of content and then breaking that up into smaller pieces for distribution across other channels. That one piece could be a long-form blog post, video, or podcast — whatever you’re most comfortable with.

Create Engaging and Valuable Content

Quality content means content that is packed with clear utility and is brimming with inspiration, and it has relentless empathy for the audienceAnn Handley, Best-selling Author & Marketer

When creating engaging and valuable content, focus on delivering actionable advice that can help the target audience solve their problems, rather than just promoting the product or service.

Here are some tips for creating content that sparkles:

Use storytelling to make the content relatable and interesting.
Focus on providing practical tips and strategies that readers can implement in their own businesses.
Avoid industry jargon and use plain language to make sure the content is accessible to a wide audience.
Incorporate data, statistics, and examples to add credibility to the content.
Use visuals, such as infographics and videos, to make the content more engaging and memorable.

Consider your main piece of content writing as the ‘foundation’ of your content strategy. Although if you prefer, you can start first with creating a video — that works too. By creating a comprehensive and high-quality piece of content, you can then ‘repurpose’ or ‘reimagine’ it to create smaller, more targeted pieces of content that are optimized for different platforms. This helps to maximize the reach and impact of your content while minimizing the time and resources required to create multiple, unrelated pieces. Let me tell you, not having to come up with so many content ideas is such a relief! And it does wonders for content production efficiency. A process like this allows you to create a consistent and cohesive message across all of your content. Simultaneously, you’re reaching a wider audience and driving engagement.

This approach is like a Swiss Army knife for content creation. You get the big piece that provides in-depth information, and then you can take that foundation and transform it into a multitude of bite-sized, snackable content that appeals to different audiences. It’s like content alchemy — turning one thing into many different things, all while keeping the message consistent.

Plan Content Distribution

Great marketing is all about telling your story in such a way that it compels people to buy what you are sellingGary Vaynerchuck, Serial Entrepreneur

Think of promoting your content like hosting a party — you want to invite the right people, set the right vibe, and make sure everyone has a blast! From blogs to podcasts, social posts, and tradeshows, there are tons of ways to spread the word and get your content in front of the right people. So buckle up and let’s dive into the world of B2B content promotion and distribution!

Here are some content distribution and promotion ideas.

Leverage email marketing to share the content with the company’s existing customer base and prospects. It’s like a direct line to your audience’s inbox, allowing you to deliver your content straight to their eyeballs
Use social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to share the content and engage with the target audience. Think of it as a digital party where you can network, connect with potential customers, and show off your expertise, all while sipping a virtual cocktail.
Leverage content syndication platforms to distribute content to a wider audience. They’re playing matchmaker for your content, introducing it to new audiences on multiple platforms, giving it a chance to find the perfect partner (aka, a larger readership!).
Consider paid advertising on platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook to reach a wider audience and drive traffic to the content. Take what works well organically and turn it into an ad where you can target a transactional intent. It’s your chance to get your audience off the platform and onto your site.
Create content partnerships with other companies or influencers in the B2B SaaS space to help amplify the reach of the content. They’re like a networking event for your content.
Engage in online communities or forums where your buyer persona is likely to hang out. Share content and connect with these potential customers. It’s like joining a virtual happy hour with your target audience — you can start conversations, connect, and build relationships with people who are interested in your content.
Create an affiliate program to incentivize existing customers to share your content in exchange for a commission or reward. It’s like outsourcing your B2B SaaS marketing efforts to a loyal army of brand advocates.
Use PR and media outreach. Go on a media charm offensive — it’s about pitching your content to journalists and industry publications to get that coveted media exposure. It’s like turning your content into a viral sensation, without all the TikTok dance moves.
Host webinars or online events. It’s like throwing a virtual soiree for your content — you can educate, engage, and interact with your audience in real-time. It’s a digital meet-and-greet, where you can woo your audience with your expertise and charm, all while promoting your content.
Tradeshows can be a great way to get your content in front of a highly targeted audience. They’re the show-and-tell of the business world — you can showcase your content, chat with potential customers, and build connections. Plus, it’s like a lead-generating powerhouse with a built-in demo zone — cha-ching
Podcasts are like the cool kids of the content world — they’re hip, engaging, and have a devoted fanbase. With podcasts, you can flex your industry know-how, build credibility, and snag some sweet social proof — all while reaching your audience when they’re on the move.” 🎧

Once you’ve got your promotion tactics lined up, create a game plan that ties it all together and aligns with your SaaS brand’s goals. It’s like choreographing a synchronized dance routine for your marketing efforts — all those moves need to flow seamlessly and hit the right notes. 💃

Optimize for Channel Performance

Good marketers measureSeth Godin, Author

Optimizing your content can be a bit like lifting weights — it might seem like a hassle at first, but the payoff in terms of stronger engagement, better results, and increased brand awareness makes it all worth it. 💪

To do it, you’ll need to get comfortable with analytics. You don’t have to be a data scientist. But you do need to find insights that can inform future content decisions and help improve performance.

Here are some examples of how to optimize channel performance:

Analyze website traffic and engagement metrics to identify which content is resonating with the audience and which channels are driving the most traffic.
Use social media analytics to identify which platforms are performing best and which content formats are resonating with the audience.
Track and analyze email marketing metrics such as open rates and click-through rates to optimize email content and subject lines.
A/B test different elements of the content and distribution strategy to identify what works best for the target audience.

By harnessing the power of analytics, you can fine-tune your content strategy, optimize your channels, and make data-driven decisions that’ll have your audience saying ‘yas!’ It’s like taking a microscope to your marketing efforts — you’re looking for the nitty-gritty details that make all the difference in the world of SaaS content marketing. Boom – you’re now a content optimization guru!

Measure and Analyze Your Results

Never let your campaigns write checks that your website can’t cashAvinash Kaushik, Chief Strategy Officer, Croud

When measuring and analyzing results, pay attention to both quantitative (e.g. traffic and leads generated) and qualitative (e.g. brand reputation and user engagement) metrics to get a full picture of the success of the content strategy.

Here are some examples:

Track website conversions, such as sign-ups, downloads, and purchases, to measure the direct impact of the content on business goals.
Monitor social media engagement metrics, such as likes, shares, and comments, to gauge the effectiveness of the social media strategy.
Conduct surveys or collect user feedback to understand the audience’s perception of the brand and the quality of the content.
Compare results to industry benchmarks to identify areas for improvement and opportunities for growth.

To truly measure the effectiveness of your content strategy, it’s important to dig into the numbers and the anecdotes — think of it like a heaping plate of data and customer insights. By tracking conversions, social engagement, customer feedback, and comparing your results to industry standards, you can lift the hood on your content machine and see what’s working and where there’s room for improvement. This is where the rubber meets the road — by constantly analyzing and improving, you’ll take your content game from zero to hero!” 📈

Implementing This Framework

I’m a big advocate of an agile approach to everything content-related, including this framework. Think of it as your minimal viable product (MVP) — everything doesn’t need to be perfect, but it does have to function. Iteration and improvement applies not only to the individual parts, but to the framework as a whole. Revisit it periodically so you can fill in the gaps from your learnings.

Putting It All Together

Ready to put this framework into action and boost your content marketing game? All it takes is a little bit of planning, creativity, and consistency. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a killer content strategy. But with a little bit of elbow grease and a whole lot of determination, you’ll be well on your way to creating a content engine that drives results. So roll up your sleeves and let’s get to work!