Sean Thomas Martin
It’s been so long that saying “content is king” is a cliché doesn’t even cut it. Everybody loves content. But even though everybody believes that content is vital to any SaaS brand's ability to grow their digital footprint, nobody seems to invest in it with the same confidence.
“We all want to milk the most value possible out of our content. But to create a truly valuable content marketing strategy, one has to crawl into the skin of their audience to understand what they want out of marketing experience. Truly successful content strategies are based on answering the questions and solving the problems that give their readers the most grief.”
The key to building a content marketing system that creates value and growth instead of just editorial dread and design backup is to step into the feet of your audience as well as your individual blog writers to see how to best support each.
Creating content that your customer wants
This may be a brutal shock to hear - but your product isn’t for everyone. And even though your product team might say otherwise, they aren’t the best source of topics and queries to help fuel your content machine. As a whole SaaS content marketers need to take a step back and worry less about what their brand wants to tell people and worry more about what people want to hear from their brand. The two can often be quite different.
Don’t worry, we won’t leave you with nothing but abstracts here. Let’s take a look at some ways you can tangibly reverse your content marketing research.
- Close the tracking loop to see what queries and what content are driving actually valuable conversions that lead to conversations, closes, and net new revenue (these are the topics you need to focus on)
- Take a moment to do some research on what your existing customers were actually searching for when they found your brand
- Reverse engineer your keyword research to actually start with the primary pain points and jobs to be done by your end buyers (instead of your favorite business units)
“When you’re considering your reader, think of two things: Who exactly at your target account company is going to be the one who finds your brand? And, are they the same person who’s going to be signing on the dotted line?”
- Organic Marketing Manager, Directive
It’s great if you impress the interns at your target company with your blogs - better if you impress the marketing managers. But it’s best if you impress the CEO (or whoever your target ICP is).
Why scale your content marketing efforts
Let’s be honest, organic SaaS marketing strategies like customer-led content marketing are certainly not the fastest in terms of generating ROI. But more often than not they end up generating the highest quality leads and highest LTVs.
This is where the value of scaling your content marketing efforts steps into the limelight.
Once you start to see the returns that customer-led content marketing can drive for your business, it’s only a matter of time before you want to double down. But keep in mind:
“Scaling content isn’t like scaling ads. You don’t get to increase the budget and watch impressions or clicks increase. Unlike platform based ad campaigns (however customized they may be) scaling content means scaling the hours you invest in your content creation more than anything else.”
5 ways to unlock your content publication at scale
To scale content, you need to scale writing resources. But that isn’t only the tip of the iceberg to a successful (and sustainable) content machine. So let’s check out these 5 secrets to unlocking quality content and scale.
Scaling your keyword research
Keyword research at scale can be daunting. But just because you’re aiming for quantity doesn’t mean you get to sacrifice quality or relevance. To make all this effort worthwhile, you’ll have to prioritize your keywords based on quite a few factors in order to properly allocate your focus and resources:
- Most profitable business unit
- Most in-need business unit
- Audience preferences
- Projected conversion rates
- Projected close rates
- LTV of closed/won from content
Either way, bear in mind that you’re going to need a massive amount of keywords to continuously sustain your scaled content initiative - and it’s better that you allocate this fuel before you start your journey instead of looking for it along the way as your keyword list begins to dwindle. Tools such as Ahrefs and Demandwell can help you narrow down your keyword list and prioritize content that you will have a better opportunity to rank for.
Organization: Scaling the content calendar
Managing content at scale isn’t just managing the publication calendar – it’s about managing the entire editorial process before each piece goes live.
This is where scheduling becomes so hectic.
You need to account for topic selection, keyword research, outlining, drafting, edits, revisions, design, approvals, and even CMS upload. As an editor or editor-in-chief, you need to receive pieces weeks before they go live in order to edit, revise, assign design assets, collect and assemble the final piece, and publish it. There are nearly too many plates to jungle all for the sake of any singular dish, let alone the entire feast.
This is where tools like Asana or Monday are going to save your life. But only if you know how to build them to the max of their potential.
Design turnaround times
Speaking of turn around times and design, let’s take a moment to discuss the more creative side of content. Most marketers really don’t have a strong grasp on design as a practical day-to-day workflow. It’s a blackbox that many of us take for granted, often scaling out marketing initiatives without considering what design will have to create and how fast they’ll have to do it.
Now, beyond workplace morale, this poses a serious issue to hitting a consistent content quota. If you don’t know how busy your design team is and what capacity they have and what turnaround time they need to help you complete a quality piece, you could have a tragically inaccurate content calendar you’re working with.
“Computing the design needs into your content calendar is just as important as remembering to account for editorial QC. If not as important, even more so. Because, unlike editing, you yourself can’t simply take that on in extra hours with some coffee and motivational music.”
- Editor in Chief, Xspekt
Pacing the writing ramp up itself
And of course, I won’t leave you without discussing how to scale the actual writing aspect of your content initiative.
In terms of finding the right freelancer to match your voice, I will leave that to you and your own brand specialists. However, in terms of managing their workload, after almost ten years in the industry this is the number that I’ve seen work best:
“As a general rule, capping writers around the 10K weekly wordcount seems to be appropriate. Keep in mind this is for full time writers, dedicated to pounding keys for you most of the day. And this is at their capacity, where turn around times will start to get tight and quality might start to decline.”
- Marketing Manager, Directive
Scaling with external editors (and keeping standards)
Lastly, keep in mind that more content means more words and more words mean more hours spent editing and revising. Unless you want to burn up your marketing manager’s precious hours, it's highly likely that you’ll need to hire some external editors to help carry the load.
This also means that as you start to hire more freelancers, you’re also going to have to hire editors.
It will also be important to have a uniform and ironclad brand guideline that you can share with your editors so you can entrust that the voice being sewn into each piece is the same.
Scaling your content isn’t about blog posts as it is about understanding the entire editorial process and how to manage, schedule, and optimize it to your advantage. And before you bring up how we’ve discussed quite a few additional resources necessary to scale content (which I’m sure has you gripping your wallets a bit tighter), consider this: for the highest LTV channel in most SaaS companies, doesn’t it make sense to scale as aggressively as possible in order to maximize the ROI of your highest LTV channel (even if it isn’t the fastest)?