Content marketing has become a crucial aspect of any business’s marketing strategy due to the demands of the digital age.
For a SaaS (Software as a Service) business, however, content marketing is arguably even more important. Since SaaS businesses are selling non-tangible products, it’s very important to regularly connect with their target audience to establish credibility.
Without a clear content marketing strategy, it will be difficult for the SaaS business to stand out amongst its competitors and achieve its marketing goals.
This is where a data-driven content marketing strategy can help SaaS businesses in creating a competitive advantage, and in this guide, we will learn how.
What is data-driven content marketing?
Data-driven content marketing is a type of analytic strategy used for developing, distributing, and monitoring content. As the name suggests, this type of strategy heavily relies on insights from data to develop highly targeted content, rather than relying on gut feeling or intuition.
At the core of data-driven content marketing is collecting and analyzing data and insights of the target audience: demographic, behavior, pain points, preferences, and other insights. The aim is to use this collected information to develop content that caters to this audience’s specific needs and preferences so it can drive better-desired outcomes; from organic traffic to engagement to conversions.
A data-driven content marketing strategy involves three key stages:
- Collecting and analyzing data: using various sources from website analytics tools (i.e. Google Analytics), social media insights, surveys, interviews, and so on.
- Content creation, optimization, and distribution: creating, optimizing, and distributing content based on the insights gathered in the previous stage.
- Monitoring and adjustment: monitoring KPIs and metrics to measure the content’s performance against its objective(s), and make adjustments when necessary to drive better results.
All these three stages focused on the same goal: making data-driven decisions to drive better content marketing results that are continuously improved.
The benefits of data-driven content marketing for SaaS business
While content marketing is critical for any type of business, it is even more important for SaaS businesses where:
- It’s difficult to demonstrate the value of the product. SaaS product is, by nature, intangible, so it’s difficult to demonstrate their value in front of potential customers. With this challenge in mind, content marketing is one of the most effective ways to help demonstrate the SaaS product’s value and establish brand credibility
- Long-term commitment and nurturing. Most SaaS products are now sold in a subscription-based recurring revenue model, so it will require a long-term commitment from its customers. Content marketing is especially critical in helping the SaaS business to nurture and retain customers through content
- Continuous education. SaaS products are designed to be constantly updated and changed, so the regular publication of content can help in educating customers so they can keep up with all the changes (i.e., via release notes,) and stay relevant. The company can also leverage effective content marketing to explain complex product offerings and benefits
With these points being said, the data-driven approach can help SaaS companies to execute their content marketing better, which will result in the following benefits:
- Better targeting: by analyzing data, SaaS businesses can have better insights into who their target audience is and how to target them more effectively. Ultimately, this would allow them to create better content that is tailored to this specific audience’s needs to drive better engagement and achieve their desired outcomes.
- Save time and resources: by measuring and analyzing data to inform content creation, optimization, and distribution, SaaS businesses can free up their valuable time and focus their resources on only executing content with the highest potential for success on the most effective channels. This will allow them to save more time and resources in the long run.
- Improve marketing effectiveness and conversions. Data-driven and well-targeted content marketing will ultimately help SaaS businesses develop and publish content that caters to their target audience’s pain points. SaaS businesses can continually improve and optimize their content marketing strategy by measuring and analyzing data, which can ultimately increase conversions and sales and maximize the content marketing ROI.
- Create a competitive edge. Data-driven content marketing allows SaaS businesses to continuously improve their content marketing campaign based on data and insights. This allows the SaaS business to stay ahead of its competition and maintain a sustainable competitive edge.
These benefits show how data-driven content marketing can help SaaS businesses effectively reach and engage their target audience, drive conversions, and generate more sales. Data-driven content marketing should be considered by any SaaS business.
A step-by-step guide to developing a data-driven content marketing strategy
Developing a data-driven content marketing strategy should focus on three things:
- Collecting and analyzing data
- Using the data to inform your content marketing efforts so you can create more relevant and engaging content
- Continuously track performance data and adjust your content marketing strategy
In this section, we will outline a comprehensive guide to developing and implementing a data-driven content marketing strategy for your SaaS business in a step-by-step format. From identifying your target audience to monitoring and adjusting your strategy, this section will provide you with the foundation and tools you need to develop and execute successful data-driven content marketing.
Let us begin with the first step:
Step 1: Data collection
Establishing a data strategy
In planning and implementing data-driven content marketing, having a clear data strategy in place is critical to ensure a solid foundation for success.
What is a data strategy? Simply put, a data strategy outlines how the company should collect, use, and analyze data while also providing clear requirements on what kind of data is relevant to the company and its business objectives.
You can establish a data strategy by following these simple steps:
- Assess: evaluate your current data landscape. What kind of data do you currently have? Where and how it is stored? Who can access it? What is its level of quality and completeness?
- Identify requirements: what additional data do you need to achieve your goals? How will you collect data? How will you validate data quality?
- Determine technological needs: what technology (i.e. software) will you need to store, process, and analyze your data? Evaluate whether the technology is cost-effective and scalable based on your current needs.
- Establish a data governance plan: define who will be responsible for managing your data and how you will ensure data privacy and security. Develop a clear response plan for handling data breaches.
- Establish a data-driven culture: plan how you will provide your team with the necessary training and tools to help them collect, use, and analyze data as needed.
- Measure and evaluate: identify the KPIs of your data strategy. Define how will you measure the success of your data strategy and plan how will you optimize and improve upon it over time.
Different types of data to collect
For the purpose of developing and implementing a data-driven content marketing strategy, there are three types of data to collect:
- Customer data: any kind of data related to your customers, such as demographic information, behavior patterns, purchase history, and so on. Critical to help you understand the target audience of your content marketing campaign and how to tailor your content marketing to meet their needs and preferences.
- Market data: market data refers to any kind of data that provides insights into your niche’s market trends and conditions, including typical consumer behavior within the current market conditions. Market data is useful to help you understand market demand and to identify new opportunities, helping you in making informed decisions about your content marketing strategy.
- Competitor data: as the name suggests, this refers to data about your competitors, such as market share, pricing strategy, products/services offered, and especially their content marketing approach and overall marketing strategy. Competitor data should help you make informed decisions about how to establish a marketing strategy that can help you stay ahead of your competitors.
Each type of data has its own value and can help inform different aspects of your content marketing strategy. It’s best to combine all three types of data so you can gain a comprehensive understanding of your target audience and make data-driven decisions that ensure your content marketing success.
Three are several data sources you can use to identify and collect these three types of data, including:
- Demographic data analysis: you can use tools such as Google Analytics or a fully-fledged CRM solution to gather and analyze data about your target audience’s demographic data, such as age, gender, location, and other details.
- Collect customers’ feedback: another effective approach is to ask your existing customers directly for feedback. For example, via surveys, interviews, or focus group discussions. This approach will allow you to gather accurate insights into real customers’ needs and wants, as well as other useful information about your target audience.
- Behavioral data analysis: look and metrics such as bounce rate, dwell time, conversion rate, and page views, among others to study how your customers interact with your website, social media platforms, and other channels. This data would allow you to understand your ideal audience’s behavior and interest.
- Social media monitoring: with how a massive number of users are actively using social media every day, social platforms are now valuable sources of customer data. Monitor social media networks for mentions of your brands, your competitors, and any conversations about your industry in general. This approach can give you valuable insights into what your target audience is talking about online and what their interests are.
- Competitive analysis: analyze your competitors’ content and marketing strategies to identify which of their approaches have been effective. You can use this information to identify opportunities to differentiate your own content marketing approach.
- Industry reports: available industry reports and market research studies can allow you to tap into valuable insights into current market conditions and ongoing trends, as well as consumer behavior.
- Sales data: analyzing available sales data can provide valuable insights into market trends, and consumer behavior, and can also help you evaluate the effectiveness of ongoing and future marketing/sales strategies, including your content marketing strategy.
It’s best to use a combination of these data sources so you can get a holistic, A to Z picture of who your target audience is, what their interests are, and what are their need from your business, as well as the current market trends and competitors’ conditions.
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, and there are other methods you can use to collect customer, competitive, or market data. However, remember that not all sources of data are equally reliable, so make sure to validate the data you collect.
Step 2: Data analysis
Once you’ve successfully collected relevant data after the previous step, the next step is to perform data analysis so that the data is useable when planning your data-driven content marketing strategy.
We can do it in several steps:
1. Cleaning and organizing data
“Cleaning” data refers to the process of ensuring the collected data is accurate, complete, and consistent. The goal here is to ensure the data is completely reliable so that it can be used to make informed decisions when planning and executing content marketing.
We can perform data cleaning in the following steps:
- Removing duplicates: identifying and removing any duplicate records from the data set to ensure data consistency and accuracy.
- Filling in missing values. Identifying and filling in any missing values in the data set (if any.)
- Error correction: identifying and correcting any errors in the data set, including incorrect data entries and simple typos.
- Data formatting: when necessary, the data is formatted in a way that makes sure it is easier to analyze. For example, converting dates and times into a standardized format, or converting the collected data into a specific data structure (i.e., a pivot table.)
- Identifying and removing outliers: find out and remove any data points that are too different from the rest of the data set. Outliers can skew the results of the data analysis, so this step is very important.
Remember that the goal of data cleaning is to make sure the data is reliable and ready to be analyzed, so make sure to organize the cleaned data accordingly.
2. Identifying trends and patterns
Once the data has been cleaned and organized, the next step is to identify trends and patterns in the data set.
The main approach is to look for relationships between different variables in the data. For example, which content distribution channels are most effective at driving traffic to your website?
Identifying patterns and trends would allow SaaS businesses to gain valuable insights to make informed decisions about the content marketing strategy.
There are various data analysis methods you can use, including but not limited to:
- Data visualization: using graphs, charts, and other visual representations of data to help you more easily identify patterns and trends. This method is especially useful when trying to analyze larger data sets where manual identification can be difficult. Also, a useful approach for understanding the relationships between different variables.
- Data segmentations: this method involves dividing the data set into smaller groups based on common characteristics (i.e., location or demographic.) Segmentation allows organizations to identify trends and patterns within specific segments of the data set (i.e., a specific group of the target audience.) This can help the SaaS company when tailoring the content marketing strategy to specific audience groups.
- Statistical analysis: Using mathematical (statistical) techniques to identify patterns and trends in the data set, such as regression analysis, cluster analysis, time series analysis, and more.
- A/B testing: A/B testing is a method of comparing two versions of content and comparing their performances to identify which version is more effective based on certain metrics. This allows the SaaS company to identify trends and patterns, especially in conversion and engagement rates.
3. Using data analysis results to segment the audience
The trends and patterns you’ve identified within the data set should also provide you with clearer insights into relationships in the data—more specifically, data regarding your target audience.
You can segment your target audience based on specific criteria: based on demographics, behaviors, preferences, psychographics, or any factors that are relevant to your business. Use the patterns and trends you’ve identified to segment your target audience based on these criteria, then:
- Validate the segments: review the data, trends, and patterns to validate the segment. Your focus is to ensure each segment is unique, homogenous, and relevant to your content marketing objective(s). If necessary, you can use additional data sources such as survey results or customer feedback to validate the identified segments.
- Develop detailed segment profiles: create a comprehensive profile for each identified and validated segment. Include as many details as you can, from demographic information, motivations/goals of a specific segment, behaviors, and more. Focus on accuracy and be honest with your findings. A detailed segment profile will help you understand the needs and wants of each segment, informing your content marketing efforts.
- Test and refine: test your validated segment by targeting this segment with tailored content and measuring the performance/response. Based on the test results, you can fine-tune the segment. Repeat the process as needed until you have a clearer understanding of your target audience.
Segmenting your target audience would provide you with valuable insights into the needs and preferences of your target audience. These insights will, in turn, help you develop a more holistic content marketing strategy, improve your overall marketing efforts, and ultimately, achieve better results in your content marketing efforts.
4. Define KPIs and metrics
Defining KPIs and key metrics based on your data analysis results is a critical step to help you measure the success of your content marketing efforts and overall marketing strategies.
Here are some steps you can follow to use data analysis results to define your content marketing KPIs:
- Review your objectives: start by reviewing your content marketing and overall business objectives (goals). Makes sure you clearly understand what your business wants to achieve with your content marketing efforts.
- Identify relevant data: after you’ve reviewed your objectives, identify data that is relevant to your goals and objectives. For example, if your objective is to increase revenue, then purchase history can be relevant data to collect and track.
- Analyze the data: use data analysis techniques and methods that we’ve discussed above (regression, data visualization, etc.) to identify relationships between the data and your objectives.
- Define KPIs: based on the results of your data analysis, you can define the KPIs that can help you track the performance of your content marketing against its objectives. Make sure to follow the SMART framework (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound) when defining your KPIs.
- Implement, monitor, and adjust: set up tracking solutions and reporting systems to keep track of your KPIs, and monitor your campaign’s progress over time. Regularly review your KPIs whether you are on track to achieve your objectives, and make adjustments as needed.
By using data analysis results to define KPIs, you can gain a better understanding of the factors that will influence your content marketing success, allowing you to make data-driven decisions to continuously improve your content marketing and overall business strategies.
Step 3: Conducting a content audit
Assuming you’ve done content marketing in the past (even if it’s only a little,) this step is about assessing your published content to identify areas that you can improve, but also opportunities.
Here is how you can conduct a content audit:
1. Analyzing current content
This step involves assessing all the existing content your SaaS business has published before, including but not limited to blog posts, videos, podcasts, webinar content, infographics, and so on. Start by listing your content inventory so you don’t miss any of them.
Once you’ve identified all your existing content (at least, all that you can find,) then you should evaluate the performance of each, so you can identify any areas for improvement. You can consider various metrics to evaluate your content performance depending on your content marketing objectives, but the most common ones to track are views, engagement metrics (shares, comments, likes, etc.), and conversion rates. If possible, also calculate the ROI (return on investment) of each piece of content.
Besides the tangible performance metrics, you should also evaluate how the content aligns with your overall brand message (whether it’s still relevant to your current brand messaging,) your target audience’s preferences, and your content marketing objectives.
2. Identify gaps and opportunities
After evaluating your current content performance, the next step is to identify any content gaps and opportunities.
In the context of content marketing, a “content gap” refers to an opportunity to create new content that fills your target audience’s needs (i.e., answers a question they are asking) that is not being met by your existing content—and ideally, also your competitors’ content. Relevant topics that have not been covered are potential gaps, as well as underutilized promotion/distribution channels.
For example, the SaaS business may identify that its target audience is searching for a specific function of its software, but the current content doesn’t cover this function with enough detail. This is a viable content gap, and in this case, the SaaS business could create a new piece of content to address this target audience’s needs, filling the gap.
Another potential gap you’ll need to pay attention to is topics that are covered by your competitors but not yet covered by your SaaS business. You should also consider any emerging trends in your niche or any changes in the market that could impact your content strategy.
Identifying content gaps and creating new content to fill these gaps is a critical aspect of a data-driven content marketing strategy, which will ultimately allow the SaaS business to stay ahead of the competition while also providing value to the target audience with relevant and highly targeted content.
3. Prioritize content development and publication
Based on the results of the content audit, you can now use the insights gained from the content audit to prioritize which content types should be developed, which channels to prioritize, and which topics to cover for future content marketing efforts.
Here are some tips on how:
- Imitate high-performing content. The SaaS business should prioritize creating more content in the same type and format as those that have performed well. If your previous videos are doing good, then it’s a good indicator that you should create and publish more videos. It’s best to capitalize on the success of your existing high-performing content and engage the target audience with similar content.
- Discontinue underperforming content. On the other hand, consider regularly discontinuing content that is not performing well, especially those that no longer resonate well with your brand messaging and your target audience’s preferences. If possible, repurpose or update this underperforming content, but if not, don’t be afraid to discontinue them.
- Fill content gaps. Another priority you should focus on is to create new content to fill identified content gaps (as discussed above.) Addressing the unmet needs of your target audience can help you stay ahead of your competition by providing value to your target audience.
- Utilize underutilized channels: Prioritize channels that your SaaS business hasn’t utilized in the past but show potential for success. A good indicator is to assess which channels your competitors are utilizing that you haven’t already.
Step 4: Content creation and distribution
Finally, we’ve reached the content creation step, and we can divide this into several sub-steps as follow:
A critical aspect of a data-driven content creation strategy is keyword research. Keyword research allows the SaaS business to identify the search phrases and terms its target audience is searching for on the internet and create new content that is optimized for the search engines (i.e. Google.)
The idea is to optimize your content for these identified keywords to make it more likely to be found by your target audience.
Here are some tips on how to perform keyword research:
- Identify target keywords: There are three main principles to follow when identifying target keywords:
- The target keyword must be searched for frequently by your target audience. You can do this by monitoring the monthly search volume
- The target keyword must be relevant to your content marketing goals and overall business goals. Not all keywords that are popular with your target audience are relevant to your business
- Depending on your timeline and available budget, assess whether the competition level for the target keyword is worth pursuing. If the keyword is too competitive, it might be too time-consuming and/or expensive to compete in.
- Leverage technology solutions: There are various keyword research tools (both free and paid) available in the market like Google Keyword Planner (free), Moz, Ahrefs, SEMRush, and more. Leverage these tools so you can have an easier time prioritizing keywords and identifying opportunities with high search volume and low competition.
- Pay attention to search intent: It’s important to understand the intention behind the searches for each keyword (navigational, informational, or transactional.) Search intent information will be useful to inform the type of content you should develop to ensure it provides the information that the target audience is looking for.
Considering different content types and channels
Based on the keyword research results and other information you’ve gathered so far, by now you should be able to identify what type of content you should develop, and which channels to pursue.
Common content types to consider are:
- Blog posts: share industry news, company updates, or publish valuable content to establish thought leadership.
- Social media posts: share and promote other types of content, interact with followers, and promote your business in general.
- Infographics: you can leverage infographics to explain complex concepts in an easier way. Also useful for sharing statistics and complex data in a visual format.
- Email content (newsletters, etc.)
- Videos: demos for your SaaS product, tutorials, behind-the-scenes content (i.e. company culture,) testimonials, and case studies
- Webinars: educate your target audience about the value of your SaaS product, answer frequently asked questions about your product, provide tutorials, etc.
- Email marketing: share other types of content, share product updates, special offers,
Develop compelling contain
Always strive to create high-quality, valuable, and relevant content that resonates with your target audience.
While you should optimize your content for the search engines by including target keywords, do so naturally, and instead focus on making the content readable and valuable for your human readers. Content should be well-researched while providing unique and actionable insights for your audience, while at the same time should always align with your SaaS business’s overall brand message and goals.
Optimize for SEO
While SEO is a complex subject to discuss and deserves its own guide, here are some tips for optimizing content for SEO:
- Emphasize human readers: again, all the SEO and technical optimizations should not defeat the content’s purpose to drive value for its human readers.
- Keyword optimization: incorporate target keywords into the content’s title, headings (and subheadings,) meta description, and body text, but do so naturally. Avoid keyword stuffing, which may cause your content to be penalized by Google and other search engines.
- Meta description optimization: write clear, concise, and attractive meta descriptions that include your target keywords while accurately describing the content. Meta description would appear in the search engine results as a snippet, which will be prominent in attracting clicks to the content.
- Headings optimization: use concise, clear, and descriptive heading tags to structure the content (i.e., H1, H2, H3, etc.) and improve its readability. Again, include target keywords naturally on headings, but don’t force it.
- Image optimization: use descriptive file names and alt tags, and naturally include target keywords when possible. Compress the images to reduce the load time of the page.
- Internal linking: link to relevant content within your website. This can help Google and the other search engines to understand your site’s structure (which will improve its ranking,) and also improve user experience with easier navigation.
- External linking: link to high-quality websites that are relevant to the content (i.e., those that provide additional information or context to the content at hand.) This can help improve the credibility of the content, telling the search engines that your content is well-researched.
- Technical optimization: basically, optimize all aspects of your site that will improve user experience and/or search engine indexability. You can refer to this technical SEO checklist on how to optimize your content and your website.
- Link building: a critical aspect of SEO success is to generate high-quality backlinks to the website (the content.) Check out this guide to SaaS link building on how to generate more backlinks to your published content.
Repurposing content allows SaaS businesses to make the most of every piece of content they have published and maximize ROI.
You can take any existing content and republish it in different formats of channels either to:
- Reach a wider audience while saving time and resources by not having to create new content from scratch
- Improve the performance of underperforming content by publishing it on different channels and/or in different formats
Here are some examples of how to repurpose content:
- Blog posts to social media posts. Create a shorter version of the blog post that highlights its key points. This can help your content to reach a wider audience while driving more traffic to the original blog post.
- Videos to blog posts. Transcribe video content into a blog post. There are those who prefer to read than watch videos, and vice versa, so this approach would allow the SaaS business to reach a wider audience.
- Infographics to social media posts. Post key points on your infographics as social media posts, while encouraging the followers to share the infographic.
- Blog posts to email. Take a blog post and use the content as a basis for an email newsletter. This can also help you in promoting the blog post.
- Infographics to slide decks. Transform existing infographics into slide decks that you can use for webinars or presentations. This can help the infographic to reach a wider audience.
Step 5: Monitor and improve
Since content marketing is a long-term game, the SaaS business should continuously measure and analyze data related to content marketing performance. Doing so would allow the business to make data-driven decisions. This includes tracking metrics and KPIs such as website traffic (organic and referral), social media engagement metrics, email metrics (open rate, click-through rate), and conversion metrics.
Regularly review performance data and use it to optimize their content marketing strategy. For example, if a certain type of content is performing well (i.e., good engagement metrics,) then you should consider creating more of this type of content, and vice versa.
Remember that data-driven decision-making to improve the content marketing effort is not a one-time process, but rather a long-term, ongoing process. Aim to continuously improve by regularly measuring and analyzing data, and making the necessary changes to your content marketing strategy based on results. This would help ensure your content marketing strategy aligns with your SaaS business’s overall goals and is producing the desired results.
Implementing a data-driven content marketing strategy can help SaaS businesses to more effectively achieve their marketing goals and stay ahead of the competition.
By collecting and analyzing data, SaaS businesses can use the gathered insights to make informed decisions, allowing them to effectively reach their target audience, engage with them, and drive more conversions.
By continuously measuring and analyzing performance data, the SaaS business can also keep improving their content strategy and gain better results over time.