2020 just went by, blaming everything that went wrong on the pandemic.
But 2021 will be better, fingers crossed!
In the wake of disruption caused by the pandemic, we can see companies are increasingly preparing themselves for a robust future.
And in this process of responding to and recovering from the impact, companies are embracing Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) because of factors like affordability, scalability, reduced time to benefit and ease-of-use.
If the stats are to be believed, today SaaS holds the most significant market share in companies’ IT-spend and is predicted to grow to $117.7 Bn in 2021, according to Gartner.
It presents a massive opportunity for SaaS companies to market and grab audiences’ attention now.
And SaaS companies that use content marketing as their preferred marketing tool have shown up to 30% higher growth and 10% higher retention.
We have seen how SaaS companies like Hubspot are leading the pack with high-quality content that generates tons of unique visitors month-on-month.
SaaS content marketing works. That logic is undeniable. But that makes us wonder if all SaaS content marketing strategies are generating high traffic and conversions? Are all content strategy made equal? The simple answer is, No!
I have seen companies investing years of effort in content marketing, but failing to get as many leads or views or sign-ups as targeted. The primary reason for the failed effort is the lack of a driving strategy.
Most companies start publishing blogs because someone said blogs are big, only to realise a year later that it is not working out.
Content marketing needs a solid strategy to lay a strong foundation. If you are looking to generate awareness about your newly launched product, then your strategy will be very different from someone who has an established brand and looking for conversions.
You should create content for every stage of your marketing funnel and develop a long-term strategy to get the desired results. Also, incorporate your buyer persona, competitor research, keywords, goals and buyer journey into the equation to come up with an effective plan.
For instance, Upword Media produced five case studies every month for six months along with other top of the funnel content for Airmeet, a virtual events platform. These case studies focused on different sector’s pain point and how they were resolved with Airmeet’s innovative design and features, to encourage trials. This bottom of the funnel approach helped their target audience cross the hurdle and make the decision to purchase/ trial.
Content strategy planning is definitely something that needs to improve in 2021.
To understand other SaaS content marketing trends that will rule in 2021 and what you should consider as a part of your strategy, I reached out to top marketing experts to characterize emerging trends.
I asked three industry leaders Gordon Donnelly, Senior SEO Specialist at Wordstream, Manu Mathur, Content Marketer at Neil Patel Digital and Brad Smith, Founder & CEO, Codeless, to share their insights, experience and wisdom.
And here’s a summary of their expert advice –
Trends To Consider In 2021
Gordon predicts, “Long-form content with strong UX will continue to reign supreme.
Marketers should particularly pay close attention to their Core Web Vitals reports in Search Console. The Google Page Experience Update launches in March of 2021 and could have a big impact on the search results.”
I agree with this as I have seen genuine engagement and SEO benefits with long-form content ranging from 2000-3000 words. A lot of SaaS companies like Buzzsumo and Podia invest heavily in long-form, value-driven and research-driven content to generate inbound leads.
So continue holding on to this trend in 2021 as well along with an eye on performance and metrics.
We have consumed video content during the lockdown like never before. And this trend has been on the rise for a while now because the audience retains your brand message better and engages for a longer duration with video content.
Manu highlights its importance and says, “More number of individuals/businesses are now leveraging videos to market their products/services. and they see quite a remarkable growth in their business. Owing to this revenue growth, I believe many tier-II and tier-III start-ups /businesses will too start focusing on video marketing in 2021 and the years ahead.”
Race To The Top
“SaaS content is getting exponentially more difficult each year. That means it requires vastly more resources to compete, where only a few at the very top win their respective markets. So only compete where you can be top ~1-3”, says Brad.
So if you are just starting to build a brand, focus on keywords that are not as competitive. Instead, you could focus on keywords with higher purchase intent. These might have lower search volume and less competition, but the chance of conversion will increase dramatically. And I say it is a good starting point!
Quality AND Quantity
Brad adds, “To race to the top, you need top-quality – subject matter experts, custom design, video, SEO, and more in each piece of content. BUT, because each market is also becoming more and more saturated, it means to break through you often do also need more output (increased quantity).
This can help you improve “topical authority” in the segments of the industry, target new vertical audiences, and also go after more long-tail options if the biggest keywords or topics in your space are too difficult to become ~1-3.”
This trend is picking up as SaaS companies are taking notice of the merits of quality and quantity together. They are no longer choosing one over other but using them together to scale and grow faster.
Customer-obsession is the new customer-centric, says Gordon and adds, “It’s no longer enough to merely focus on your customers; you have to obsess over them. From the content side, that means building out and writing for legitimate personas. You should be thinking about your customers in every step of content execution, from keyword strategy to tone.”
This we believe, is the thumb rule for any content strategy, SaaS or not.
Leverage Emerging Technologies
Manu points out, “Technologies like AI, ML, cloud computing are allowing the brands to interact with their visitors on a real-time basis.
Extreme resilience on AI and chat-bots further make it easier for businesses to offer their customers accurate information in minimal time, and I expect this trend to accelerate further in 2021.”
AI is set to make the content generation and marketing faster and efficient. But we are yet to fully understand the challenges and opportunities it holds for us. And hopefully. 2021 will be kind to us all.