The Type of Content to Produce at Every Lifecycle Stage (Part 3)
April 1, 2020
In part one and part two of this three-part series, we discussed what kind of content early-stage SaaS companies and companies that have found a PMF should publish. In the final part, we’ll do the same for SaaS companies that are scaling.
Even though scalability when building a SaaS company is what interests most founders, scaling isn’t easy. This is why most companies don’t ever get there, even if they’ve managed to find a product-market fit.
What gets you from product-market fit to scaling is different, so the ingredients of the recipe have to change. As you can imagine, one of the things that changes is the kind of content you create and publish.
Some facts about this stage:
- You have authority in your niche—and an audience that follows you and consumes your content
- You’re looking for repeatable and scalable ways of generating new product-qualified leads
- You have both the budget and the resources to execute complex content strategies
- You’re probably introducing new features that don’t belong to your core product
- Your website has a high domain authority and gets a considerable amount of traction
- Your competitors know you and—based on how you play the game—they respect you
This stage is completely different from the previous two. Here, everything you do must be scalable and repeatable. For example, guest posting—which is a great way to gain exposure and earn some valuable links in earlier stages—may not be the ideal way to grow after finding a product-market fit since it isn’t as scalable. (That’s not definitive, but it does apply in most cases.)
So the question here is: What kind of content should you publish? As a Content & SEO agency working with clients who belong to that category, we’ve identified the following areas you should focus on.
1) Create original research and studies
Unfortunately, most content out there isn’t original. In certain industries, things are worse since you don’t get to see anything innovative about the content that companies publish or any new approaches as to how companies create and distribute that content. So we witness a recycle of the same topics without anything worth noticing or paying attention to.
But publishing original content can be beneficial when you’re in this phase. To give you an example of what truly original content looks like, we can once again look to SEO software Ahrefs.
If you take a look at Ahrefs’ “Best by links” report in Ahrefs itself, you’ll notice a pattern: most of these pieces are studies and original research done by Ahrefs. This shows us that people value original content that includes statistics and data, and thus feel the need to mention or use it in their own online content.
On top of establishing yourself as a thought leader, this type of content also attracts many links, which is why it’s usually referred to as linkable assets. Such posts may not be getting as much organic traffic, but that’s not the objective here. The intention and overall objective behind them is different.
This type of research costs a lot of money, but by this point, you’ll have both the resources and the capabilities to correctly execute and come up with research findings that will be of genuine interest to your industry.
2) Surveys and annual reports
Another type of content that fits the needs of this stage is annual reports and industry surveys. Even though execution for this type of content isn’t easy, SaaS companies that use it usually have both the resources and the experience to do it correctly.
But why surveys and annual reports? Why not more of the same thing (e.g. blog posts)? It’s simple: By this point, you’ll have covered a wide number of topics around your product and the industry in which you’re operating, so you need to find ways to grow your audience and generate even more awareness.
A good example here is HubSpot’s State of Inbound annual report, which is considered one of the industry’s standards for sales and marketing. (HubSpot is a public company and doesn’t quite belong to this particular stage, but their execution on the State of Inbound report is still worth mentioning.)
Image Source: State of Inbound
3) Focus on product marketing
As you probably know, scalability comes with a variety of business problems. Customer education and continuous training around your product is one of them. As your product grows and evolves, so does the need to educate your customers on how to use it.
Your team (e.g. customer success) may be growing as well, but it won’t be enough to cover your customer education needs. So at this stage, pay attention to creating more product-focused content. After all, most content and keyword gaps will be filled by now, so you have to focus on your own product.
A good example is Moosend, who started as email marketing software. However, the needs of the market and the company’s growth helped it explore other ways of adding value to their thousands of users. One of these ways was to introduce new features, like the landing pages below.
Image Source: Moosend Blog
Introducing new features isn’t as easy as just announcing the feature. This is why the company goes the extra mile to create in-depth and feature-specific content, such as educating users on how to create a landing page.
Would this have been possible or necessary earlier? No—it would be a waste of time and resources. But as a company scales and the product evolves, the need to improve the level of education for users increases.
The content game never ends. As one of our clients once described it, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” What changes is the way you’re going about it, based on the stage you’re at at any given time.
When you’re at an early stage, you may miss a lot of things, but you can and must create content. Finding PMF may be important on a business level, but it doesn’t mean you should stop creating content—you should just change the way you’re doing it. Similarly, scaling doesn’t mean you shouldn’t create any new content—it just means you have to do it differently.
The guidelines I’ve provided here are just that: guidelines. This means that you can (and have to) create other kinds of content for each of the three stages mentioned throughout this article. These are just the types of content we see working better, based on our experiences.
Every day, I see companies struggling with content. They don’t know what to do or where to start. Interestingly enough, most of them have the resources and capabilities to invest in such endeavors. The fact that they can’t manage to move the needle shows us that it’s not a matter of resources so much as it is one of guidance and good execution.