On January 8th, 2021, I launched Your Content Mart. The goal was simple. To build a content marketing agency that competes with other existing ones in the industry.
Having failed previously to build a successful link building agency, this was another opportunity to take a bet on myself.
Months after launching this new agency, I realized that I was stuck in a rut.
I tried different tactics to help and attract clients, such as:
- Blog posts
- Social media
- Guest posts
- Free content audits
- Community marketing.
Yet, everything was at a standstill, and I was about to give up again.
I hopped on about a dozen sales calls yet couldn’t close a single prospect to become a client.
A feedback from a SaaS founder whom I helped with a free content audit in August 2021 made me question everything I was building at the agency up until that time.
From the conversation with this SaaS founder, I realized that most startups believe that content marketing doesn’t work.
As someone who has previously helped bootstrapped B2B startups rank on the first page of Google and drive qualified traffic in the process, I knew this was a wrong notion.
To find out why they think so, I reached out to founders and marketers in early-stage B2B SaaS companies to understand their experience from investing in content marketing.
From these interactions and discussions, here is what I found
Why Most SaaS Startup Founders Believe That Content Marketing Doesn’t Work
Most startup founders I interacted with had similar concerns about why they believe content marketing and SEO aren’t the best approaches to growing their business. Below are some of them:
SEO is Rigged to Favor Big Brands
This is the most common objection. Most startup founders believe that if you’re not a big brand, you can’t get results from SEO and content marketing. They think that domain authority and brand awareness are why bigger companies dominate the SERPs.
So, as a startup without these, you’d most likely never outrank these bigger companies on Google and not get results from content marketing.
Content Marketing and SEO Takes Time
Most startup founders and marketers believe that it typically takes months and years before you start seeing results from SEO and content marketing. So, they feel strongly that it makes more sense to invest in a strategy that can drive immediate results instead of waiting endlessly to see results.
Driving User Signups Directly From SEO Content is Impossible
SaaS Startup founders believe that driving user signups directly from SEO content is impossible. Instead, they think that SEO is simply a tactic to get more people to discover your content and join an email list. Once they do, you can now promote your software and what it does to them.
From these discussions, I identified four gaps in the content marketing industry that our agency could fill for SaaS startups. That way, we could help them get more results that move the needle business-wise.
Before we dive in, here’s the biggest lesson we learned from these interactions.
Most Content Marketing Agencies Aren’t Built To Serve SaaS Startups
My discussions with several early-stage SaaS founders and marketers show that most content marketing agencies weren’t built to help them. Instead, their processes and solutions were better off for growth-stage and matured SaaS companies.
Initially, this was the same process we focused on in the early days of our agency. That said, interacting with those working in these startups shows the gaps we could fill to help them get results that move the needle business-wise from content marketing and SEO.
Let’s delve into each of them below:
Gap 1: Most Content Agencies Prioritize Top of the Funnel Content That Has a High Search Volume
Most agencies and content marketers focus on targeting and creating top-of-the-funnel content with a high search volume.
Here is what I mean by that…
Let’s say you just launched an SEO software for marketing agencies.
For most agencies and content marketers, here are the typical keywords they’ll target first.
- What is SEO
- SEO best practices
- Link building
- Keyword research
- Technical SEO
While there isn’t anything wrong with these keywords per se, if you’re a startup, it’ll be most likely difficult for you to rank on the first page of Google for any of them.
Let’s take the search phrase “keyword research” as an example.
According to Ahrefs, that keyword has a global monthly search volume of 40,000. However, it’s super hard to rank for, as you’d need at least 1,197 backlinks to stand a chance of ranking on the first page of Google for it.
If you go after this keyword as a B2B SaaS startup, here is what will most likely happen.
First, you won’t rank high on Google because you don’t have as many backlinks as the websites already ranking on the first page.
That’s not all…
Even if you rank high for ToFu keywords like this, the bigger challenge is that it won’t move the needle for your startup business-wise.
Here is why…
Someone searching for the phrase “keyword research” on Google is most likely not hunting for an “SEO software for a marketing agency.” In contrast, an agency owner who wants to buy an SEO software subscription already knows what keyword research is.
What ends up happening with keywords like this is that you attract the wrong type of audience, who are most likely not in the mood to try out or pay for your software yet.
This brings us to the next gap, which is…
Gap 2: Most Content Agencies See Traffic Acquisition as the Ultimate Goal
Acquiring organic traffic from Google is a metric most content marketing agencies care about.
Of course, organic traffic increase is essential. This is because if no one is visiting your website, they won’t know that your software exists in the first place.
That said, we believe that traffic acquisition isn’t the ultimate goal. It’s just a means to an end and nothing more.
For most SaaS startups, you don’t even need to acquire thousands or millions of organic traffic visitors to get business results for your brand. Instead, you should focus on attracting the right traffic of high quality, even if the volume is low.
Since most agencies chase traffic volume, they optimize for the wrong things. Eventually, they don’t get the results that’ll help them increase their startup’s bottom line.
Gap 3: Most Content Agencies Focus Less on Driving Leads and User Signups For Clients
Suppose you acquire millions of organic traffic visitors monthly and cannot convert them into leads and user signups; it won’t help your startup.
And guess what?
It’s rare to see a content marketing agency that promises to help you drive more leads and user signups for your SaaS startup.
This makes one wonder why agencies will shy away from focusing on a metric that could make or mar the success of a business.
For growth-stage and matured SaaS brands they could care less about this metric. They’ve already built brand awareness and could acquire more leads and signups because the market knows about their business.
For a startup, you must focus on acquiring more leads and signups through content marketing if you want to grow.
Here is an example…
Let’s say you just launched a CRM software to compete with the likes of Hubspot, Salesforce, Zoho, SugarCRM, and so on.
Most of these large companies have built a brand and reputation in the industry and could get leads and signups directly from that. However, as a startup, you do not have any of these, so you should do more if you want more people to sign up to use your software.
Gap 4: Most Content Agencies Don’t Leverage a Multi-channel Marketing Approach
Most content marketing agencies focus on acquiring traffic from organic channels alone through SEO content pieces.
While this strategy might work for growth-stage and matured companies, you must go beyond organic channels to distribute your content as a SaaS startup.
The reason is simple…
As a startup competing against well-known companies on the SERPs, it’ll most likely take months before your content starts ranking high on the first page of Google.
Hence, if you focus on SEO alone as your distribution channel, you’ll wait for months before getting tangible business results from content marketing.
In contrast, if you diversify your marketing distribution channels, you’d get business results faster from content marketing.
These gaps show that early-stage SaaS startups need to approach content marketing differently if they really care about getting results. Else, they’ll end up complaining that content marketing doesn’t work.
To fill these gaps, here are the solutions that our agency offers.
Solution 1: How We Identify The Pain Points and Jobs To Be Done Of Our Target Readers
Most content agencies build a content strategy for clients by copying existing competitors. We do the exact opposite of that. Instead, we focus on identifying the pain points and jobs to be done of their target audience.
The reason is simple.
Experience has shown that a content strategy that worked well for a top competitor in your niche will most likely not work for you as a startup.
This is why we focus on identifying why users opt to use our clients’ software and what’s going on in their lives when they do.
We’ve written extensively about pain-point content and how we approach it.
In essence, we try as much as possible to understand deeply:
- Who our client’s target audience is
- What is keeping them awake at night
- What problems they are facing
- What they are looking to achieve.
- And so on.
We have an in-depth discussion with the founders, support, and sales teams to get this information. We also reach out to customers, if possible.
With this, we then proceed to perform in-depth keyword research and create a customer-focused content strategy and not a rehashed version of what the competitors are doing.
Solution 2: How We Create Content Pieces That Attract The Right Traffic and Drive User Signups
When working with SaaS startups, we focus less on Top of the Funnel (ToFu) content pieces. Instead, we help them create Middle of the Funnel (MoFu) and Bottom of the Funnel (BoFu) content pieces.
We do this for a couple of reasons.
One, by going after MoFu and BoFu keywords, we can create content pieces that attract the right traffic who’s primarily interested in our client’s products.
Two, we’ve realized that it’s easier to drive user signups directly from MoFu and BoFu content pieces due to the searchers’ level of intent.
Three, ranking for these MoFu and BoFu keywords is much easier due to the low level of competition (in most cases).
Some MoFu and BoFu content pieces we create for clients include:
- Comparison (X Vs. Y) posts
- Alternatives posts
- Templates posts
- Best JTBD software posts
- Case studies
This is an example of a comparison post that we wrote for one of our clients recently.
As you can see, this article compares our client’s software to one of its top competitors. Our client currently occupies the top position (number 1 spot) on Google for this keyword and its variations.
It has also contributed immensely to the leads, user signups, and paying customers we get each month for this client.
Solution 3: How We Show Readers Our Client’s Product in Action Without Being Salesy
User behavior has changed drastically in the last few years. Today’s users want to see how a product works before signing up. As a SaaS startup, you must do this in your content pieces if you want prospects to choose you over well-known brands and competitors in your niche.
This is one of our areas of focus at our agency. We call it product-led content marketing and have written extensively about it in the past.
The reasoning behind it is simple.
“Don’t just tell, show.”
Telling readers what your product does is good. But, showing them how it works is better.
When you do, they’ll be interested in learning more and most likely want to sign up for a free trial to see it in action.
Not only that, it also helps with customer activation and retention.
Here is an example from an article we wrote for our client about timeline templates.
As you can see from the screenshot above, we showed the reader exactly how they could create timelines for their employees using our client’s software.
That way, they know what our client’s product does and how they can use it to solve their pain points.
Solution 4: Our Multi-channel Content Distribution and Promotion Strategies
As a B2B SaaS startup, don’t rely on SEO alone as your distribution channel.
The reason is simple…
If you’re just starting and in a competitive niche, it’ll take time before your content ranks high on the first page of Google.
So, what should you do if your content isn’t ranking yet?
Most startups and agencies take the “blog and pray approach,” which means publishing and hoping that your content eventually ranks in the long run.
This approach might be effective for growth-stage and matured-stage SaaS companies, but it’ll be disastrous if you do the same as a startup.
This is why we include content distribution as a core part of our engagement with clients.
So, we don’t wait for weeks and months for articles to rank high on Google before acquiring user signups. Instead, we start promoting them as soon as we’ve published them on our client’s blog.
For this, we leverage a bunch of free and paid content distribution strategies.
Here is an example…
We recently published this teardown piece on Coschedule’s content marketing strategy.
Instead of waiting until we rank on Google for this piece, we leveraged different content distribution strategies for it.
And guess what?
A marketing executive in a growth-stage company found it through one of the Slack channels where we promoted it.
With this approach, we help our clients achieve business results from their SEO pieces, even before it starts ranking on Google.
Finally… We Help Clients Generate Qualified Traffic, Drive User Signups and Grow MRR
Organic traffic increase isn’t the only metric that we measure at our agency.
Instead, we care more about the quality of the traffic and how to convert them into leads and user signups for our clients in the long run.
Below are some graphs showing the qualified traffic we’ve driven for one of our clients from template posts in the last 12 months:
Interested in Driving User Signups and Increasing Revenue For Your SaaS Startup? Here are the Details Below
I’ve shared the reasoning behind building an ROI-driven content marketing agency for B2B SaaS startups with you.
If you feel this resonates with what your business is looking for and you’d like to explore the possibility of working together, kindly check out our work with us page. There, you’ll learn more about our services and what we charge clients for a monthly engagement.