12 December 2017

SaaS Content Creation – A B2B Horse of a Different Color

Of all the products and services Software as a Service (SaaS) companies need to acquire to be successful, content creation ranks high in terms of marketing and messaging complexity. As a SaaS company, you aren’t selling a tangible product that’s shipped from a warehouse. You aren’t delivering a service with a defined end date or deliverable.

It can be challenging for writing generalists to create meaningful, compelling content that generates interest in and sells SaaS. Even the costs and benefits of SaaS can be daunting to quantify and qualify.

Like the “horse of a different color” from The Wizard of Oz, SaaS services are ever-changing. SaaS companies work tirelessly to develop new functionality that maintains their competitive edge. As their customers’ businesses evolve, SaaS companies enable their customers to  reconfigure their cloud-based business applications to reflect their latest business processes.

Content creation to capture and convince

The practice of writing thought leadership content for SaaS companies is unlike that of most B2B content. You might say content creation for SaaS companies is a lot like being a horse whisperer. You need to know how to speak to customers in a way that keeps them from “running” (or bouncing) away like they do from less useful content.

As prospects read the words in your white papers or articles, the content needs to foster trust so they hardly feel the “reins” slipping over them as they sign up for a 30 day trial or opt in to your marketing lists. Your written content needs to convince your readers that their investment is safe with your company—and that you’ll help them navigate the business journey ahead, past pitfalls and forks in the road.

Unlike many other products and services, SaaS budgetary considerations aren’t determined solely by subscription, implementation or training costs. There are costs related to digital transformation and business process re-engineering which can extend the sales cycle. Thought leadership content is an effective way to give business decision makers a comfort level that they are making a wise investment. The SaaS company understands their business priorities and pains.

Tom Jenkins, the Chairman of the Board at Open Text, often describes the process of building credibility with prospects as similar to a safari tour guide. It’s like explaining, “Follow me, I have been down this road before, I know where I’m going, and how to reach our destination.”

For SaaS companies and the freelance content writers that serve them, a customer’s success is their success. It isn’t a typical client/customer relationship—it’s a partnership of shared goals, wins and trust.

Convert and corral

Once a SaaS customer is converted to a paying subscriber, digital content takes on a different, yet equally important role. The expression “care and feeding” your customers resonates very strongly in the SaaS market. Successful SaaS companies need to be proactive with their content creation, and provide self-service guides and tutorials that empower administrators and users.

SaaS customers are frequently “hungry” for content like testimonials from their peers about how they created efficiencies, improved profitability or improved internal or external communication and collaboration. SaaS companies that don’t prioritize content creation risk having customers leave them for competitors. Customer engagement is the lifeblood of SaaS companies.

Unlike many industries, intellectual capital is as much a product that customers pay for as is the cloud-based service itself. SaaS companies need to demonstrate they know how to help their customers improve business functions like:

  • running successful marketing campaigns
  • transforming information into insight
  • making structured and unstructured data secure and discoverable
  • having conversations within their company, and with their clients
  • increasing online and in-store sales

SaaS companies are like horse ranchers. They need to “corral” their customer base with secure, reliable services that enable users to work the way they want—and allow executives to make decisions with reliable data.

SaaS companies also need to feed their customers a healthy diet of insightful content which demonstrates authority, credibility and domain leadership. It’s not effective to “out-content” your competitors with volume and quantity. Quality, share-worthy visuals and written content are what resonates.

Partners, influencers and advisors

SaaS companies often rely on industry analysts, consultants and business partners to evangelize their services to a wider audience.

Well-written content plays a big role in:

  • recruiting reseller or referral partners
  • fostering alliances with service providers that extend a solution’s value
  • connecting with industry influencers, such as analysts, consultants and niche web publications

Partners help SaaS companies reach a broader audience, be it locally, nationally or globally. Creating thought-provoking content they can share with their clients (like sell sheets, ebooks and case studies) takes a lot of the friction out of onboarding partners and their respective customers. Relationships between SaaS companies and partners have changed drastically from traditional software publisher/partner relationships. The need for well-written co-marketing content has changed along with it, and is unique in the digital marketing realm.

As a CMO or marketing executive within a SaaS company, you are likely busy planning campaigns, events and tactics to attract and retain customers and partners. If you and your team don’t have the time to invest in thought leadership content creation for your audience, contact Emily at Uplift Content to discuss ways the Uplift team can take that burden off your shoulders.

TL,DR highlights:

  • Well-written, engaging content convinces decision makers that they should adopt a strategy or a concept because it will transform their business.
  • The words in a white paper, ebook or article need to paint mental pictures of how a SaaS app would create value for a customer’s business. Screenshots and recorded video demonstrations help, but without context or a customer’s own data, these visuals are often difficult to differentiate from vendor to vendor.
  • Case studies and success stories are essential. Claiming an app can deliver business benefits is a start, but the proof is in the pudding.
  • Converting a prospect into a client is only the beginning. SaaS companies need to convince subscribers to make a business application an indelible part of their business. A SaaS company’s content library needs to include digital assets that maintain customer engagement, and expand their “footprint” within their customer base.
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Emily Amos
Emily Amos

As the founder of Uplift Content, Emily leads teams in creating done-for-you case studies, ebooks and white papers for high-growth SaaS companies. Check out her bio.

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