In the growing field of SaaS, or software as a service, several leading companies are taking advantage of blogging to tell great stories and share helpful information. We’ve singled out five SaaS blogs in particular that are getting content marketing right.
What makes these five blogs so effective?
There are a lot of fantastic SaaS blogs out there, but these stand out for the following reasons:
- They provide genuinely useful information, including how-tos and customer support.
- They incorporate multimedia, such as podcasts, YouTube videos, illustrations, and tweets to make their content engaging.
- They get personal, sharing stories about their companies that gives them a voice.
- They play to their companies’ strengths, showcasing their best qualities.
- They're consistent, with strong copywriting and a uniform tone and perspective that reflects their brand.
- They're transparent, clueing their readers in about their business’s leadership changes and workplace culture.
Without further ado, here are five companies that are getting SaaS blogging right:
Close produces software that makes it easier for sales teams to communicate with their clients. Its blog furthers that goal by providing tips and advice for salespeople and Close customers, written in an engaging tone.
Close understands its niche. Its content marketing strategy assumes an audience with a high level of SaaS expertise. Its posts, like this one about using UX to design high-converting sales pitches, are written at a relatively technical level. At the same time, it isn't afraid to be a little silly. A photo of Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat accompanies an article that addresses techniques for selling with an accent.
The photo sets a carefree tone that matches CEO and founder Steli Efti's writing style. "When I first came to the U.S. 11 years ago, I was incredibly self-conscious about my accent," he writes.
"Any time I had an interaction with a potential client or partner, a little voice in my head would pop in and say: 'You sound so stupid, Steli. You don’t know how to express yourself. What are you even saying?'"
Efti’s personal story adds depth to a post that's both useful and entertaining.
Close’s blog also manages to include calls to action without being too obvious about it. For example, Efti wrote a post about tactics for effective startup recruiting. He offers extensive tangible advice on how to use the interview process to your advantage, but he doesn't forget to invite the reader to subscribe to Close's newsletter and even apply for a job with them. The invitations don’t feel forced, because in the article, they’re surrounded by useful advice. They feel more like gentle asides than blatant advertisements.
Close is very active when it comes to monitoring its comments section, and quickly responds to the questions and feedback it receives. Close's Twitter and Facebook accounts match the blog's lighthearted tone, making mild jokes and references to popular culture. This post, for example, features a reference to the cult television show “Arrested Development.” Using humor on social media can be a great way to engage your users and acquire more views.
Buffer, which allows users to schedule and analyze social media use, actually has three different blogs covering engineering.
Buffer uses its blogs to solidify its reputation as a social media authority. Buffer co-founder Leo Widrich told Mixergy: “Buffer helps you with Twitter and LinkedIn and Facebook. So we naturally wrote [about] how to do well on Twitter, how to do well on LinkedIn, and how to do well on Facebook.”
Widrich also said that the people who read the Buffer blog are not necessarily Buffer customers, but more likely, “A large audience that could be inspired to go away and maybe tell someone, ‘Hey, I read this great post on the Buffer blog.’ And that guy says, ‘That’s cool, and Buffer looks cool. I might use that.’”
Buffer publishes its employees' personal essays on its blog. For example, a Buffer customer associate shared his experience being a gay man in the workplace. Posts like these humanize the company, making it relatable.
Buffer's podcast, called the Science of Social Media, offers tips for using social media to your greatest advantage. These skills are related to its product, but not directly: almost anyone can listen to the podcast and find something useful.
Buffer takes the opportunity to publicize details about its company, which in turn fosters positive customer and investor relations. For example, one blog post series details the company's goals and budget.
The post invites readers to chime in:
"We’d love to hear from you! Have you ever created a company budget? What does your process look like? Please share any budget-related questions you may have in the comments and we’ll aim to add answers in our next post."
This can be a great way to engage people who care about your company.
Dedicated to radical transparency, Buffer published its employees' salaries and even discussed the decision with commenters.
"The blog is a fascinating, practical guide to actually running a startup," SaaS marketing agency Cobloom wrote.
Several blog posts cater directly to Moz’s customers, highlighting the benefits of its products.
One blog post on Moz's Link Intersect tool begins in an unusual way: "Let me tell you a story." Although SaaS content can be dry at times, Moz understands how to make its content personal, as if it were having a conversation. The author's story, which is about the way he won the contract to develop the Link Intersect tool, has a casual and engaging tone, making a potentially dry and confusing topic more approachable.
The blog post shifts to a very straightforward walkthrough of the best way to use the Link Intersect tool, providing useful advice after grabbing the reader’s attention.
When readers can expect content on a particular publishing schedule, it may be more likely to integrate it into their routines. Moz is known for Whiteboard Fridays, in which its experts share helpful tips and tricks on topics related to SEO. By offering this free service, Moz has grown in name recognition and expanded its visibility as a leader in the field.
Whiteboard Fridays are offered in lots of different formats. They feature a video, audio clip, video transcription, and color-coded whiteboard notes, appealing to different learning styles. This is also a great way to be inclusive for visually and hearing impaired blog readers.
In the comments section, audience members share tips and feedback. When individuals ask follow up questions, the author of the presentation responds with useful advice. This kind of direct reader engagement can be a great way to gain trust and credibility.
On YouTube, Moz videos have gained millions of views, proving to be a valuable resource for anyone trying to build great web pages.
Like Close.io, Moz uses its Facebook and Twitter accounts to promote its blog content.
The blog for Intercom, a program that helps software businesses communicate with current and prospective customers, features practical discussions on sales, marketing, customer support, and design. The blog has a visually pleasing layout that features engaging illustrations. Although it's easy to find free stock photos online, as Intercom demonstrates, working with a freelance illustrator can be a great way to make your content pop on the page.
The blog gives an estimate about how long each post will take to read at the top of the page, helping readers budget their time without getting distracted.
Blog posts cover basic sales as well as more specialized toolsets. One post on real-time selling helps salespeople become better at closing the deal. It is transparent about Intercom's goals and strategies, outlining the way in which sales reps work on the site. The reader then becomes a trusted confidant.
Intercom Senior Sales Director Jeffrey Serlin writes: "Reps shouldn’t be afraid to show some personality either – they’re human and their lead is too!" The same goes for blogs. Readers want to feel as though they are simply having a conversation.
Other Intercom blog posts specifically help customers get the most out of their experience with the brand, providing clear examples of the best ways to use its products.
Like other blogs, Intercom writes about what it’s like to work at the company, giving the brand a sense of community and personality. An essay from an Intercom employee about video games gives the brand a personal feel, enriching the customer experience. Readers get a sense for the author's values, goals, and experience working for Intercom as she reflects on her job.
"Figuring out how to do, say, customer research or market analysis today so you know what to plan for in the medium term. It’s the opposite of instant gratification and simulation games not only taught me that, but also taught me how to enjoy it," she writes.
Intercom has become a leading authority in SEO by engaging other experts in conversation. In one podcast episode, for example, Reddit's VP of engineering, Nick Caldwell, told Intercom about his leadership techniques, as well as his career path. This type of original content does not directly relate to Intercom's products, but it enriches its brand.
As with any good marketers, the Intercom authors do not neglect the sales pitch, inviting the reader to subscribe to its newsletter at the bottom of each post.
Intercom also reposts relevant articles from other websites. Content partnerships between publishing sites are a great way to help blogs keep their content fresh without putting too much pressure on their writers to generate new content that might not really be necessary. Reposts can also direct readership between the blogs, helping them both gain visibility.
Dropbox, a file sharing and cloud storage site, uses its blog to highlight company news and products. It also takes opportunities to show how other companies use their products. For example, one post introduces three new Dropbox features and explains how they can be useful.
One great way to use a blog is simply to announce company news. For example, Dropbox announces leadership changes in one post—it's short but effectively keeps customers and investors in touch with changes at the company. These press releases are also a useful resource for journalists.
Dropbox is able to reach a wide range of users on social media. SEO expert Neil Patel notes that Dropbox actually rewards social media followers with a 125MB account increase, which can be a great way to build a following – as long as your content is good enough that your readers will want to keep following.
Incentivizing subscriptions can be risky. If your content isn't good, it can call attention to that fact and make it seem like you can only get followers by bribing them. Conversely, if you're publishing high-quality content, it communicates the opposite – that you're confident in it and want it to be seen by as many people as possible. It's a strategy that clearly works for Dropbox; on its Facebook, its news and product updates regularly receive thousands of likes.
Dropbox actively uses several different forms of media to reach out to its customers, as in this video that shows how Dropbox helps an organization that works with farming communities in Tanzania. In this example from its Twitter, Dropbox uses a simple GIF to illustrate a new feature.
— Dropbox (@Dropbox) September 6, 2018
Dropbox isn't afraid to be a little unconventional. The company uses its blog to announce games and events, such as the famous Dropquest, a scavenger hunt it sponsored in 2012. Users who completed the game received free storage space from Dropbox. As Neil Patel noted, the event generated a lot of publicity for the company, and netted them more than a few Facebook and Twitter followers and likes.
Let Compose.ly Take it from Here
If you're ready to take your blog to the next level like these SaaS companies, bear in mind that many businesses hire someone externally to manage their blogs. Outsourcing blog content allows them to save money and still maintain the quality of their content.
Here at Compose.ly, we match you with the ideal writer so that you can focus on running your business. We will find you someone who specializes in your industry and can match the tone and style that you are looking for. Please don't hesitate to contact us today.
This article was written by Compose.ly writer Naomi LaChance.