Be honest: if you had a sliver of downtime at work, would you spend that time reading the blog on a SaaS company’s website? Or, if you’re the owner of a SaaS company, would you read your own blog for fun?
If the answer is “no,” it’s time to rethink your SaaS blog content.
A functional SaaS blog is a powerful thing. Because so many SaaS companies rely on customers finding them through the internet (and commonly through Google searches), a well-maintained blog can help potentially pull in new customers from all around the world at a fraction of the cost of other types of marketing.
But all too often, SaaS companies make the same mistakes in their blogs, which result in bored readers or zero traffic from search engines. Here are some of the most common mistakes in SaaS blogs:
Pushing for a sale too soon.
Assuming your readers know your industry.
Choosing too-broad post topics.
Focusing on your product and its features.
Even if you’re following all of the technical “rules” of blogging (posting on a schedule, promoting on social media, and optimizing for SEO, for example), you’re far less likely to see ROI on your posts if you’re making the mistakes listed above.
Fortunately, these are somewhat easy to fix with a little focus. Whether you’re a technical writer or the owner of a SaaS company, here are the four deadly SaaS blog post errors and their antidotes.
Mistake #1: Pushing for the Sale Too Soon
A blog post isn’t a salesperson. And unless you’re selling something really cheap, or offering something for free, 800 words of content isn’t going to convince anyone to buy.
One of the most common problems with SaaS blog posts is that they ask the reader to “buy now” or “sign up.” It’s a common metaphor in the marketing world but it’s worth repeating here: asking for the sale too soon is like asking a blind date to marry you. You’ll almost always get a “no.”
Antidote: Treat your blog like a lead magnet rather than a salesperson.
Employ your blog for the job it does best: catching, and holding, the attention of your prospects. Use calls-to-action that are appropriate for prospects at the top of your sales funnel. For example:
Read more: Have your CTA be a link to further reading on your site about that subject.
Join the newsletter: On your blog, you have a decent chance of getting a qualified lead through a newsletter opt-in.
Share this post: People naturally share content they like. If you’ve written something worthy of sharing, you can see results simply by asking people to share.
Sign up for a free service/trial: If cost is your customers’ main barrier to entry, and your business model can afford it, offering a free service is a proven technique for getting more paid business down the line.
Mistake #2: Assuming Your Readers Know Everything You Know
Blogs are supposed to be easy to digest, but unfortunately, too many SaaS blog posts suffer from technical-jargonitis. Take that last sentence, for example. In manuals and other technical documentation, as you’re well aware, there’s really no place for quips and made-up words like that.
But in blog posts, it’s the Wild West, baby! Show your human side, have fun with it, and kick those terrible habits from English 101. The easiest way is to write the way you speak.
Antidote #1: Use conversational language.
If you struggle to write conversationally, here’s a good practice: write your first draft as fast as you possibly can. If you’re a subject-matter expert, this should come naturally to you. If you’re not, read as many relevant and trustworthy sources as possible before you begin — then write as fast as you can.
Stilted language is almost always the result of a tense writer, and tense writing is almost always born of fear. You’re walking on eggshells to make sure you say exactly what you mean, and your writing comes out forced and difficult to read. Relax, and write the way you speak. Take a piece of advice from Robert Cormier: “The great thing about writing is you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon.”
Antidote #2: Teach them what you know.
Another approach for addressing the tech jargon conundrum is to pick an industry term and write a post defining it. However, prattling on for 1,000 words about, say, DevOps, may not be the most helpful or interesting post for your future customers — but pairing the definition of DevOps with a strong angle probably will.
How a DevOps initiative can save your business money
What to look for in a DevOps specialist
How to write a job post for a DevOps engineer
Each of these headlines would give you the opportunity to define a technical term for your audience while also giving deep industry insights that they might not be able to find from other sources.
Mistake #3: Focusing on Your Product and Its Features
While big names like Microsoft can write blog posts galore on company-related news and product releases, a smaller technology company won’t have as much luck using the same strategy. Still, plenty of SaaS companies blog only about their own products, its various features, and how it stacks up to the competition — which is great for middle- and bottom-funnel readers who are ready to learn more, but not so great for prospects who have just discovered you and are learning about your industry for the first time.
Antidote: Write for your audience first.
You may assume that your future customers are on your website because they want to know more about you. But more often than not, your customers care more about their stuff than your stuff. Odds are, they entered a search query for some technical problem they were having, or because they needed to do research for their job. Your content needs to address these things, and they won’t always be obvious or even directly related to the product you offer.
Here are some examples of how this plays out on real SaaS blogs:
Product: Workflow automation app
Blog: Though Zapier blogs about how to improve productivity through automation (which matches what they’re selling), you’ll also find posts like “How to Conduct UX Research” and “Everything You Need to Know About the New Gmail.”
Bottom line: Zapier understands that their target audience is heavy into internet technology, and caters to this interest with posts that will help tech workers do their jobs better.
Company: Adobe Creative Cloud
Product: Creative suite of tools for digital media production.
Blog: The Adobe Creative Cloud blog covers a range of topics, from unique spins on news items to creative thought pieces. Headlines include “Multilocalism: Local Experiences Meet Global Consciousness” and “Thank a Special Teacher with These Free Teacher’s Day Templates.”
Bottom line: Adobe users aren’t just interested in dry how-tos on using Creative Cloud software, or general tips about how to do their jobs better. They’re often artistic people, looking for inspiration or hoping to feel moved by a compelling story — and Adobe taps into that need by publishing inspiring, thoughtful content.
Company: Survey Monkey
Product: Survey creation tool
Blog: Though the blog does feature some tips for creating effective surveys, it’s also home to spicy headlines like “Dating Apps and Sites Are Almost as Common As They Are Disliked” and “The State of Mental Health and Its Impact in the Workplace.”
Bottom Line: Survey Monkey is in the business of helping people ask questions — so it’s fitting that their blog raises interesting questions about the internet, the workforce, and modern life.
So, how do you figure out what your potential clients want to read about? Beyond studying your competitors and asking your clients outright, you can set up Google Search Console to see which search terms are leading people to your blog.
However, this is really only effective for sites that are already appearing in search results — so if your site is newer or less dense, use a tool like BuzzSumo or SEMrush to see what your customers are searching for and talking about.
Mistake #4: Choosing Too-Broad Post Topics
There are several reasons why writing about broad topics isn’t the best place to start. First, bigger and better sites than yours have covered these already — and they’ve likely done a really good job. You, too, might do a good job, but it will take you longer to outrank your competitors on broad topics than it will on granular topics. Additionally, the more granular your topic, the easier it is to develop a strong angle. With a general topic, you’re more at risk of writing fluff or restating the obvious.
Antidote: Have a relevant, compelling angle.
A topic is an idea for a blog post, where an angle answers the question: “so what?” For instance:
Topic: Artificial Intelligence
Angle 1: General AI will never really happen, and here’s why.
Angle 2: 5 Ways Your Small Business Can (Inexpensively) See Real ROI from Artificial Intelligence
Angle 3: This New Development in AI Will Fundamentally Change Marketing
Get deep and granular with the knowledge you share. As an industry expert, you’re practically a goldmine of valuable insights that your customers would just love to have access to. Don’t be afraid to bring your own perspectives and opinions into your blog posts, too. There’s a reason why “rants” and controversial angles do so well in the media. At the same time, you don’t need to be gimmicky or grandiose to get your readers’ attention.
Now that you know these four faux pas, commit to never commit them! Use them to guide you every time you start a new blog post. Over time, you’ll most certainly see your number and quality of leads increase, along with your site traffic, depth of interactions, and time spent on your site — which ultimately means more money for your business.