Better SaaS Content Writing. [3 Common SaaS Content Writing Mistakes and How to Fix Them]
Great SaaS content is persuasive. It’s authoritative. It makes the reader want to continue reading and to want to find out more when they’re done.
It’s that simple.
A lot of companies miss the point when it comes to their SaaS content marketing strategy. They talk about personas, journeys, and funnels. While it’s fun to strategize (it makes us sound smart, too), neither of these things is making our SaaS content better.
In this post, I’m going to share four mistakes that SaaS content marketers make and what to do instead so you can start making better SaaS content today
Mistake 1: Losing Sight of the Goal
In Eliyahu Goldratt's business novel, The Goal (which is the inspiration behind the popular DevOps book “the Phoenix project”) factory manager Alex Rogo is tasked with turning around a failing plant.
He elicits the help of his old physics professor and consultant, Jonah.
Jonah gives Alex these Mr. Miyagi-style tidbits of advice throughout the entire book. One of the questions he poses is this - “What is the Goal of a company.”
Alex and his associates are perplexed.
“To produce more products”
“To drive innovation”
“To increase efficiencies”
“To reduce cost”
After a day or so they come up with the simple, but correct answer: to make money
Anything that isn’t contributing to that goal is not only less important, but it might work against it.
Even if you're a non-profit, the goal is to raise money. Like it or not, the world revolves around it.
Many SaaS content marketers have lost sight of the goal because it’s easy to forget. They’re off chasing other things that are tangentially related to the goal like shares, keyword rankings, and personas. All of these things have a place, but they’re not the goal.
Instead: Remember the goal
How does SaaS content make money?
The purpose of SaaS content is to convince someone to take the next step - to request a demo, to sign-up for a free trial, to talk to sales, to purchase some licenses. And though there’s a place for informative content, the goal isn’t to inform, it’s not to educate, it’s not to inspire, it’s not to thought-lead.
B2B SaaS content marketers often make the same incorrect assumptions about what they need to do. Remember why you’re writing.
As uninspiring as it sounds, it’s to make money. The best B2B SaaS content inspires action and is directly attributed to more leads. That doesn’t mean you’re asking for credit card information in every post, it just means you’re moving the needle.
Sonia Simone from CopyBlogger talks about how to move the needle by illustrating the 10 Content Marketing Goals worth pursuing. Of those, these five stand out to me.
Explore Prospect Pain - Most products exist to address pain points. Try speaking to the frustrations of the reader.
Illustrate Benefits - What real, value-producing benefits does your product produce?
Overcome Objections - Be open about the shortcomings of your product. Then, overcome them.
Paint the Picture - The most effective way to deliver a message is through a story. Great content makes the reader the hero.
Deepen Loyalty with Existing Customers. Statistically, existing customers are much more likely to purchase from you than prospects. Make sure your content considers them.
Content should be creative. It should be compelling. It can be informative as well. Just don’t lose sight of the goal.
Mistake 2: Trying to Fit SaaS Content to a Persona
Personas are representations of a potential or ideal customer. At best, they are educated guesses and at worst, they are delusions. Personas work by assumptions about someone's behaviors, attitudes, interests, and motivations. It’s not a bad idea all the time, but they often miss the mark.
Here are the findings from expert discussions led by the persona group
Data collected for creating a user persona is based on stereotypes
Persona creation can be unwise given the effort it takes
Personas can become outdated quickly, rendering months of data useless
Focused on aspirations instead of real behavior
Spending little time creating a persona is a waste of a little time. Spending a lot of time and investment towards developing, researching, and iterating on personas is potentially a bigger waste of time and money.
Instead: Focus on the problem.
A clear understanding of a potential customer’s problem will go further than trying to understand their deeper motivations. There are great, lightweight frameworks that can help you identify these problems.
Framework #1 - Existing Customer Research
Why not start with an understanding of your existing customers? What problem did you solve for them? What made them choose you over a competitor? What mistakes did they make before finding your product?
There is no better persona than your existing customers. They've already bought from you. Statistically, they're much more likely to buy from you again vs. a new customer. They have a deeper understanding of prospect pain points.
Framework # 2 - Value Proposition Canvas
A Value Proposition Canvas maps the jobs, pains, and gains of the customer profile to the to products, gain creators, and pain relievers of the Value Proposition
Jobs are what a prospect is trying to accomplish with your product. Most importantly, it's the problem they are trying to solve.
For example, a customer isn't just looking for a shovel, they're looking to dig a hole.
Pains are the issues they encounter when they try to do the job without the help of the product or the issues that they face if they take no action. The pain could be the time and effort it takes to dig a hole or the sad feeling they get when they notice the lack of plants in their backyard.
Gains are how their lives will be improved when they solve the problem. What do they have to benefit from getting the job done? The gain is the hole, or more specifically, the tree or plant in their yard.
Product - The product or services you provide (the shovel).
Pain Relievers - The benefits of using your product. The relief to their pain. Maybe the ergonomic grip on the handle, or a sharp and durable blade.
Gain Creators - The reward from using your product. How your product made things easier or better. They were able to quickly and effortlessly dig the perfect size hole so that they could enjoy planting.
Framework # 3 - Jobs to Be Done
Although the Jobs to Be Done framework was created as a way to develop products, it is a powerful tool to inform content creation.
Similar to the Value Proposition Canvas, it helps align a product or service to a job or intended end-result.
More importantly, it helps you uncover the real benefits of your product. Start by identifying the main job to be done and break it down to the emotional, functional, relational, and social aspects. Lets look at our hole-digging example.
Functional: Dig a hole
Emotional: The satisfaction of planting something beautiful
Social: So that I can invite others over to spend time in my yard
With each of these frameworks and methods, we can create more persuasive content by focusing on how how to create positive customer outcomes.
Mistake 3: Geeking out over funnels and journeys
The popular consensus is that content marketers should spread their content out to target different parts of the funnel.
TOFU (Top of the Funnel) - People who may or may not be interested in your product. These posts create awareness.
MOFU (Middle of the Funnel) - People who are aware of your product and suspect they have a problem.
BOFU (Middle of the Funnel) - People who are actively searching for a solution to their problem.
The issue with funnels is that it suggests that gravity is working in your favor - that there is a natural current pulling people from the top of the funnel towards the bottom and it’s only a matter of time before they get there.
If only it were that easy...
As with the persona, we are making assumptions about the motivations of our prospects. We are guessing what content they will respond best to.
Your content should always seek to produce enough value to be relevant at any time. Prospects might have different pain points, but the end goal is the same.
The funnel also suggests a definitive end. Once they leave the funnel to become a customer, where do they go? Do they have nothing left to gain from your content?
As this piece succinctly states, the real journey looks more like an infinite discovery loop than a linear customer journey.
Instead: Embrace the unpredictable nature of buyers
In the infinite discovery loop there is not a predefined entry or exit. We don’t know what stage of the buying process our content will find them. The prospect can also come in and out as they please. As Mayank puts it - ‘discovering and rediscovering.’
It can take a long time for someone to come down the funnel. If they ever do. Good content should move the needle. Don’t wait for prospects to fall down the funnel. Pull them down.
All content should serve the same purpose, to remind your prospects that your product is the answer to their problem and to guide them where to go next.
On the hunt for better B2B SaaS content? It starts with remembering the goal, focusing on the problem, and embracing the unpredictable nature of buyer behavior. If you'd rather someone write great content for you, drop me a message for a free blog contribution.