One of the most important goals of content marketing is to build trust — trust between a business and its customers. When a business is claiming that their product can solve their customers’ problems and make their lives better, it’s crucial customers believe these claims.
But you don’t just trust anyone claiming to make your life better. So businesses need to develop this trust by building relationships. In fact, trust is so central to customers’ decisions that 78% are willing to pay a premium for a product or service they trust.1
And as a digital product, software naturally lends itself to digital marketing, allowing the buyer to go through their journey entirely online. Content marketing is a crucial part of digital marketing. So when everything is done online, that trust has to be strong — which means that that content marketing has to be great.
In this article, we’ll give you the lowdown on content marketing for software companies, explaining how you can deliver content that raises awareness, generates demand, and drives sales.
Is content marketing for software companies different?
The short answer is yes and no. Fundamental content marketing best practices apply to any kind of company (more on this later). But, like with any kind of company, software companies should bring the unique elements of their product or service to produce valuable content that’s unique to them.
There are challenges, too. Customers can’t pick up software and examine it like a physical product, but they can get a free trial or demo. Customers can’t go into a shop and ask for advice directly, but they can read the company’s content marketing or, less often, speak with someone online.
With software, it’s not just about the features and benefits that product providers, they’re also shopping for the support and guidance that comes with it. And that means building strong relationships built on trust, which is exactly what content marketing is designed to do. Let’s get into how you can software companies can make it work for them…
Step 1. Set your goals
Every day, 4.4 million blog articles are published across all platforms.2 That’s over 1.6 billion blog posts each year. In a world awash with content, simply churning out more for the sake of it doesn’t mean you’re creating an effective content marketing strategy with clear aims.
You have an overall aim — to get people to buy or subscribe to your service — but to make content work for software companies, you should set clear goals for what you want each piece of content to achieve. And that goal should align with a wider organisational one.
For example, you might want to create entertaining content with the aim of getting users to sign-up to your mailing list, at which point you can nurture them into leads. You might want persuasive content talking about upcoming products with the aim of reducing customer churn. You might want to create provocative content that sparks engagement and discussion with the aim of building relationships and fostering loyalty.
Crucially, these goals need to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound (SMART). If your goal is to increase the number of people signing up for product demos, how many do you want? And by when? Set your goals and don’t move the proverbial goalposts.
Once you’ve set your goals, you can start thinking about how to achieve them. And the first step to doing that is to understand your audience.
Suggested Reading: For more on SMART goals and content best practices, read our blog — B2B Content Marketing Best Practices in 2022 and Beyond
Step 2. Understand your audience
To achieve your goals, you need to know who you’re creating content for. There’s no point writing an educative piece on the advantages of legal matter management templates if your audience is interested in data management best practices.
If you don’t know who your audience is, you’ll have a tough time writing content that engages them, and so a tougher time achieving your goals.
Create customer personas
The best way to make sure your content is targeted at your audience is to create customer personas: fictional archetypes that represent the customer segments you’re selling to. Once you’ve outlined some key personas, you can begin to come up with content ideas that target their:
- Pain points: A persistent problem that they’re looking to solve.
- Goals: What are they looking to achieve by purchasing your product?
- Interests: By creating content around what interests your audience, you begin to build trust and authority on the topic, making it more likely they’ll return to your business as they move along their buying journey.
By answering these questions, you can create different types of content that resonate with your target audience, answer their questions, and soothe their concerns.
Taking this one step further, you can also ask: where are our personas in their buyer’s journey? Do they still need help defining their problem, or are they actively looking for a solution? Aligning the content you’re creating to the buyer’s journey is one content marketing example worth copying, as it helps you create content that pushes customers closer to a purchasing decision.
Use your users
One advantage software companies have over other companies when it comes to marketing is visibility: you can see how customers are using your product. By offering free trials and demos, software companies can get people into their product and observe how it’s being used. What is it primarily used for? For how long? Is it solving users’ problems? Where are they getting stuck?
This direct window into users’ behaviour can be fed into software companies’ content marketing — and help them develop their product.
Suggested reading: Get more detail on how you can put your product at the centre of your sales and marketing with our blog: Implementing a product-led growth strategy.
Research your competitors
It’s also important to know what your competitors are doing. What’s their understanding of the audience? How are they describing their product and your audience’s pain points? What can you learn from their content marketing tactics? What’s being spoken about on industry watering hole websites?
The point isn’t to copy others. It’s to get an understanding of your competitors’ position and current trends, allowing you to create content that sets you apart. And also to see what language they’re using to attract their audience…
Step 3. Keyword research
Tech buyers do virtually all their research online, making search engine optimisation (SEO) a critical part of your content marketing strategy. Where organic search results are responsible for 53% of all website traffic, this number rises to over 75% for B2B businesses.3 In other words, making sure your content gets in front of the right people is crucial.
Creating a keyword strategy
To do this, you need a keyword strategy. Having created personas, you should have a better idea about your audience’s pain points, goals and interests. Now’s the time to find the right terms to talk about those things. You can create a keyword strategy by:
- Create seed terms: Come up with ‘seed’ terms that you want to rank for. For example, if you sell generate promo codes for eCommerce, you might search for ‘promotion experience platform’ or ‘promo code generation’.
- Identify the best terms: Using a keyword tool like SEMRush, check whether these terms are being searched for and how difficult they are to rank for. If no one’s searching for a term, don’t create content around this term with the goal of organic ranking.
- Intent analysis: Having selected your best terms, you need to check whether the content you’re creating matches the existing content on the search engine results page. Open an incognito window, punch in your keyword, and look at what comes up. Are the pages content-produced or product pages? Are they both?
- Group your terms: Group your list of keywords into topics. These topics should have a list of related keywords, around which you can create content.
But keywords aren’t everything
That said, not every piece of content must be keyword-led. Software can be very niche, ranging from analytics tools for Amazon sellers to conversation rate optimisation software, which can make it difficult to find keywords that people are searching for. This makes it challenging to create content that will rank highly in search engines.
But a lack of keywords doesn’t mean there’s no place for content marketing; it means you change your strategy for getting content in front of your audience. This includes:
- Sponsored posts: You’ll know the sites that your audience visits for information and updates. By taking out sponsored posts or adverts on these websites, you can get your product, brand and content in front of your audience.
- Social media: You might have a following on social media already. Sharing content across social media platforms makes sure it’s seen by your audience, and can be shared wider.
- Paid search: Depending on your budget, paid search tactics like display ads, remarketing and pay-per-click (PPC) can be used to get your promote your content and get it in front of real people.
Using inorganic tactics can also free you up from the structures of organic SEO. You don’t have to cram in keywords or twist a subject to match a keyword, which can help you create content with a degree of degree. But this, naturally, comes at a cost.
Step 4. Create relevant and interesting content
Now it’s time to get writing — and get creative. While each business will have its own unique content strategy, there are some specific ways you can create software-related content that is relevant and interesting. Let’s look at some examples.
Produce practical information about your product
Although inbound B2B telemarketing still plays a role in a modern business’s marketing efforts, most buyers are getting all the information they need online — specifically, from your content and your website. So your content (or some of it, at least) needs to explain what the product does, how it works, and how it can solve your customers’ problems.
FAQs, how-to guides or any content that helps customers use your product can act as a knowledge base for users and can help convert leads. These can be particularly useful for converting leads in the consideration and decision stages of the buyer’s journey. By opening up a forum, you can even encourage user-generated content — further building trust by enabling users to interact with each other.
Use content as a gate
You have a goal: to generate X amount of leads by the end of the quarter. One powerful way to generate leads is through gating your content or gating the CTAs within it.
eBooks, reports or interactive content often delve into greater depth on a subject than a blog or web page. By requiring people to put in their contact details to get it, you’ve gained a lead you can begin to nurture.
If you’re creating awareness content where your goal is to build trust with the reader, gating the content might not be the best strategy. But if the ungated content has done its job, readers will want to click on the call to action (CTA). This CTA could be an eBook, a free trial or a demo. Consider gating it. This way, it acts as a conversion point.
Write about what’s interesting
Your content needs to speak directly to your client. But that doesn’t mean always having a laser focus on pain points or writing about use cases. Talking to your audience’s interest points, literally what they find interesting, can help do several things.
- Grab your audience’s attention: Marketing jargon, straplines and copywriting can often be spotted a mile off. By talking clearly about something that your audience simply finds interesting, instead of trying to more obviously ‘market’ to them, you can get them engaged.
- Build a relationship: You like to talk to the person who’s interested in the same things you are, right? And if that person has in-depth knowledge about that subject, and communicates it in an engaging way, you’re more likely to want to talk to them again. The same goes for businesses. If you can talk to your audience’s interest points, they’ll keep coming back.
- Develop trust: Your content doesn’t always have to link back to your product. By providing interesting and educational information, and going without explicitly linking back to your product or business, your audience will trust you as a source of information, instead of a business providing some information primarily as lip service to get you to make a purchase.
Thought leadership content is often a good way to do this because it helps businesses position themselves as authoritative voices on the information that’s valuable and interesting to their audience.
For example, pipe sizing software company H2X produced content on how building information modelling (BIM) is impacting the construction industry. This primarily speaks to interest points and positions H2X as knowledgeable industry leaders.
Present your product as a solution to pain points
Because content marketing is all about building a trusting relationship, presenting your product as a solution to customers’ issues isn’t done in a typical ‘billboard’ fashion: shouting from the rooftops that you are the best. Instead, by educating your audience on how to solve their problems, software companies can position themselves as the solution — and authentically, too.
By using comparison articles, software companies can inform customers about when they’re genuinely a good fit for them, and when they’re not, for example in this article about the best tech partners in the UK.
Highlight use cases and results
Unlike many companies, software companies have access to data on their customers. They know how many people are using their product and how they’re using it. Including this in content backs up claims with objective evidence, providing potential buyers with real use cases, benefits, and outcomes.
Step 5. Measure and optimise
So you’ve published your content. Congratulations! Job done, right? Not exactly. It’s no good publishing content and then forgetting about it. Instead, you need to figure out whether it’s succeeded in its goals — and if not, why not.
As any marketing team will tell you, content marketing can involve a bit of trial and error before you get it right. What might work in theory doesn’t always work in practice. By measuring the success of your content, you can understand what works and what doesn’t, and then adjust your content to make it work.
So if what you thought was a stellar piece of content isn’t converting (or isn’t ranking), what might be wrong with your content marketing strategy?
Too much quantity, not enough quality
One successful blog post can outperform a hundred unsuccessful ones. So focus on delivering content that’s packed with information, easy to consume, and highly relevant. Delivering one new piece of high-quality content a week is a much smarter strategy than churning out average content every day.
Your content isn’t ranking
SEO isn’t an exact science. If you aren’t ranking for the original keywords, which keywords are you ranking for? Re-optimising for tighter-fit keywords will get your content in front of more eyes.
You haven’t clearly defined your goals
Think about the outcomes you want your content to achieve before you write it. If the point of content is for the reader to take action, figure out what you want them to do and work back.
Content marketing strategies for software companies
The tried and tested methods of content marketing apply. But that doesn’t mean all content has to be done by the book. B2B content marketing for SaaS businesses should highlight their unique components. Why? Because as the shop front for your product, if your content isn’t engaging, informative and, above all, unique to your product, people will walk (or click) on by.
Content marketing is something you can do yourself — if you have the time and expertise. This is where Gripped can help. Gripped is a digital marketing agency that specialises in helping B2B SaaS and technology companies generate leads and traffic through high-quality, targeted content marketing.
To see how we can make content marketing work for your software company, book a free growth audit today.