I once worked with a B2B SaaS (50-100 employees and $5M revenue) that published content for 3+ years and still failed to generate organic leads.
Things were so bad that they even struggled to rank for their own products.
Fortunately, after working on this client’s B2B SaaS content strategy we:
👉 Set a new record for generating organic marketing qualified leads (MQLs) for a high-ticket product ($20,000-$200,000+ engagements).
👉 Increased blog pageviews by 329%
👉 Ranked 2,304% more keywords on the first page of Google
🥊 Now compete with behemoth brands like Indeed & BambooHR for a coveted keyword (10k+ monthly searches) on page one, despite having weaker domain authority/links
In this post, you’ll learn how we achieved the above results and how to avoid the ROI-killing mistakes many companies make when attempting revenue-focused B2B content strategy.
Let’s get started!
What a B2B SaaS content strategy isn’t (TLDR)
If you’re in a rush and read no further, please know this:
❌ Hiring your team’s creative writer or subject matter expert (SME) to orchestrate broad business-oriented content strategy doesn’t always work.
(It often fails. I’ll explain why later.)
❌ A “B2B” content calendar does not equal a content strategy.
I repeat: a content calendar doesn’t equal a content strategy. Without relevant business goals attached and established editorial processes, it’s just an ensemble of potential topics.
❌ B2B content strategy isn’t just B2B blogging.
Depending on the nature of your business, a strategy could include and prioritize different forms of content: video, webinars, research, surveys, product pages, solutions pages etc.
❌ Plucking keywords from a tool like SEMrush or Ahrefs isn’t topic ideation.
Your two-bit competitors are probably doing the same thing. And your larger, content-savvy competitors are likely doing more than simple keyword research. So:
What’s going to make your content different, huh? 🤔
How do you know which keywords your team should prioritize? 🤔
What other metrics and KPIs will determine success? 🤔
Which elements of your product’s positioning and messaging must bleed through every page? 🤔
👉 These questions must be answered by the person in charge of your B2B SaaS content strategy.
</rant = complete>
B2B SaaS content strategy mistake #1: No content strategist
Want to know why publishing content for 3+ years yielded no results for my aforementioned client?
When delegating the task of content marketing, they didn’t encourage the new employee in charge of content to learn the specifics of modern content strategy
The client delayed the hire of a B2B content marketing specialist to support the small marketing team with a complex project
They didn’t map content strategy to business goals
The compounding ROI of hiring a freelance content strategist, an in-house content marketer, or even upskilling the existing creatives over a 3-year period would’ve translated into significantly more organic (marketing-attributed) revenue & inbound leads for my client.
Unfortunately, a few of my clients & prospects share similar backstories leading them to seek help with content strategy. They:
Realized the importance of content as a weapon for building a lead / demand generation engine. (Often after reaching product-market fit / having over-relied on outbound marketing / aiming to diversify their lead generation portfolio.)
Decided to invest in inbound content marketing and learned concepts like the “hub and spoke” model
Drew inspiration from competitors (who probably had different goals and inherent USPs) while researching
Bestowed editorial duties to the content creator or subject matter expert on the team, while using SEO keyword research tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs
Reviewed the results of their initial content campaign 3-6 months later, only to learn that it generates neither leads nor traffic
The truth is: B2B content strategy can get complicated.
It’s not a writer / SMEs job. And as a result, they sometimes won’t have the right skills.
Even if they possess the skills — project management, editorial operations, people management, SEO, ideation, analysis — can they do an honest job of content strategy and editorial management while juggling their main job without burning out and becoming apathetic?
The answer’s a resounding “no.”
Effective content strategy requires skills and adequate analytical thinking time that’s likely unavailable to writers/SMEs.
But what if your current budget doesn’t allow a full-time hire?
Use a freelancer to establish the initial foundations of your B2B SaaS content strategy.
Your existing team can then get busy creating content that successfully supports your business goals.
Once the results are in, you’ll have an easier time proving the value of content marketing and negotiating for more resources/budget because it’s already generating leads & revenue for your company!
Of course, you can avoid hiring a content strategist by training an internal employee in the “dark arts,” providing that all of these stars align:
⭐ Someone on your team has the desire to learn B2B content strategy
⭐ Your organization has the time to wait for this person to acquire (and then deploy) their developing skills
⭐ Mistakes can be made while they learn
B2B SaaS content strategy mistake #2: Misalignment with commercial goals
“When all you have is a hammer, everything will look like a nail”
Content marketing isn’t a silver bullet.
It isn’t ideal for every organization at every stage — no matter how targeted you think your B2B SaaS content strategy is. (*shocked gasp*)
Let’s say you’re an early-mid stage startup that needs leads and sales yesterday, and your Marketing VP/Director isn’t willing to wait 6-12 months for results — in this case, content marketing cannot help solve your problems and reach your company’s goals.
Performance marketing (outbound prospecting, paids ads, PR, or field marketing) is a better pursuit in this position because it can deliver scalable results rapidly.
(If you’re not 100% certain about what “Time to Value” your marketing initiatives need to deliver, check out David Fallarme’s recent post explaining which constraints to consider to make a logical, smart choice.)
Once you’ve established that content marketing can actually help you reach your company’s goals, the content strategist (or marketing manager depending on your company size) must map how content operations will map to said goals.
This is often lost in translation by most strategists because they lack one crucial thing:
Commercial awareness that extends beyond their own bubble of content marketing.
(I’ve been guilty of this too, hence I’m aware.)
They’re unable to acknowledge and pinpoint where content marketing can (or can’t) support business goals.
As a result, they “don’t know what they don’t know.” And continue to chart typical B2B content goals like “increase traffic by x amount this quarter.”
This is why Jimmy Daily, a content veteran in his own right, got fired from a content marketing role. (He generated a bunch of traffic for a client but failed to bag any actual leads over a two-year period.)
When I onboarded with the aforementioned client, I first researched how the business works before even thinking of setting content marketing goals.
This included scoping out the wider market, our competitive advantages, our history as an organization, how the business makes money etc.
Case study: Aligning B2B content strategy with business goals
My research (with the anonymous client mentioned in the intro) uncovered interesting insights that I used to tailor the content strategy around the business’s actual goals and unique structure. The CEO’s top targets were to:
Strengthen our presence in the US to reach more of our TAM (total addressable market) (the brand was recognized in UK-European markets)
Close larger deals in specific sectors such as government & finance
Generate more inbound leads that we could then pass on to vendors / resellers
Below are specific examples of using commercial intelligence to map content strategy to business goals (even in an “unorthodox” B2B SaaS):
B2B content strategy example #1: Partner-based business model with a global network of resellers
Commercial insight: My client’s business operated on a partner-based model with a network of resellers.
Our software was a central part of a high-ticket, business-critical service package that partners offered to their clients. (Clients included global brands such as Amazon, Deloitte, and Samsung.)
Tailoring insight to strategy:
After discovering that partners wanted to produce industry-relevant content but found it challenging due to having smaller marketing teams, I used the vendor-partner alliance and worked with our Partner Success team to develop a content syndication network.
With our explicit permission, partners could opt-in to republish certain content pieces we created (these were carefully hand-picked by me for maximum ROI).
This initiative was effective because it:
Increased partner engagement and motivated partners to prioritize selling our software over competitors!
Generated backlinks to our site (and to other pieces of content we wanted to rank for)
Amplified the reach of our content and brand (our partners’ customers would now see our name even if they were previously unaware of our brand)
B2B content strategy example #2: Our software is more customizable and adaptive than larger players in the market
Commercial insight: Despite being a smaller player in a 22 billion dollar market, one of our USPs was customizability and flexibility.
Tailoring insight to strategy:
👉 Psst…this next part played an important role in generating a 2,000% increase in keywords on the first page of Google.
After learning that customizability was a tiebreaker that caused certain customer segments to choose our product over behemoth competitors, I used SEO and in-content positioning to broadcast this powerful advantage.
This started with targeting keywords and queries that indicated a searcher would prefer our product over larger and inflexible competitors.
Naturally, some of these keywords were obvious bottom of the funnel (BOF) search terms like “customizable (product).” Other opportunities were more obscure and surfaced during deeper research.
Capitalizing on this USP was also great from a positioning perspective.
Thanks to the unique functionality of our product, we could say things (and target keywords) that competitors couldn’t (see detailed example towards the end of the article).
B2B content strategy example #3: Targeting the US market
Commercial insight: Our US market presence paled in comparison to the UK. Content would need to help balance this disparity.
Research showed that most US leads hadn’t even heard of us! Based on this insight, my client launched more US-based field campaigns, attended more trade events, and made strategic hires in the US.
Tailoring insight to strategy:
In coordination with other initiatives, I supplemented our editorial calendar with gated content assets that solved problems specific to a US audience.
Examples include content around HIPAA compliance (US-specific regulation) and medical device training to increase sales. To support in-field reps and marketers, we also worked on compiling educational case studies showing how other major US organizations overcame challenges that our product solved.
This helped attract more Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) and generate interest at tradeshows and conferences.
B2B SaaS content strategy mistake #3: Weak unsustainable editorial processes & structure
“Hey, Jemmah from the Product Team had this amazing blog post idea about the decibels that different farts produce. What do you think?”
Your content strategist is (or should be) responsible for editorial quality assurance.
They’ll get bombarded with potential topic ideas, and will need to ruthlessly assess topics based on ROI, the cost of production — will a piece require weeks of expert input and outreach, or can it be repurposed from published material? — and a host of other factors.
And measuring the cost-benefit ratio of publishing certain topics is only one side of an effective editorial process.
Collaborating cross-functionally is equally important for producing distinctive, authoritative content uniquely sourced from subject matter experts within your organization.
Ditto for B2B SaaS brands with complex products and technical audiences, who honestly can’t afford the fetid practice of compiling the top 3 results from the first page of Google into one amorphous post.
So how do you create an air-tight editorial process that propels your content ahead of the pack?
Follow these fundamentals:
👉 Plan content in advance
If there’s a post scheduled for next week but it’s not already loaded into your CMS and ready to publish, that’s a bad sign. It means you have a weak editorial process.
All it takes is a few sick days, frenetic workdays, or last-second priority changes to cripple the quality (and quantity) of your editorial calendar.
Prevention is the best cure here. Plan content far in advance. Give at least a month (preferably an entire quarter’s) lead time.
👉 Combine a spreadsheet with a project management tool to create your content workflow
A well-structured Google Sheet alongside a PM tool like Asana (love you Asana! Sponsor me please!) get’s the job done. You can also go for an Airtable+Zapier stack to automate your workflows.
Whatever tool you use, just make sure that you have a single place to keep an inventory of all the content you have scheduled and published.
👉 Involve subject matter experts in your content
Writing content is hard.
Writing technical content that’s completely out of your depth is a horrible experience and a recipe for tasteless content that’s a mishmash of the top-ranking posts on Google.
I know they can (sometimes) be a pain in the ass, but the best way around this is to involve the actual technical experts in the ideation and creation stage.
Get your writer to interview SMEs or use Google Forms to collect detailed answers to questions.
Including both editorial and technical reviewers in your workflow is imperative.
👉 For the love of god think about searcher intent
Is the potential consumer of your content making a comparison?
Perhaps they’re looking for a quick calculator to give them answers?
Are they actually looking for a 4000-word guide, or do they want a simple template they can steal and use for their own purposes?
Pondering these questions at the ideation stage will pay dividends down the line and avoid the catastrophe of churning out content that has no hope of ranking or helping anyone.
B2B SaaS content strategy mistake #4: Treating B2B SEO Keywords as gospel
Ranking for keywords isn’t everything.
Yes, SEO is important.
But it’s not the be-all-end-all of B2B content strategy!
We’ve all read content on the first page of Google and thought “how the f**k did you rank this 💩,” and then stalked their backlink profile like a longing ex only to realize their secret — a ton of backlinks.
Okay, maybe that’s just the nosey SEO consultant in me hulking out. But here’s the point:
An obsessive focus on SEO and traffic while neglecting actual brand and content strategy that incorporates your unique positioning and messaging is an insidious threat.
Your team will sense progress is being made thanks to more keywords ranking higher on SERPs. But in reality, you’ll struggle to generate leads or brand affinity amongst your audience because your content is “meh.”
It’s the digital marketing equivalent of opening up a retail shop on the same street as a competitor and cloning their branding, copy, store layout, and products—there’s literally no point. You’ve just turned yourself into an immemorable commodity.
This is why B2B SEO is part of a dynamic content strategy. It’s not THE strategy.❌
It brings visitors and potential leads to your site. But once those visitors land?
What you say, how you say it, the overall page experience, and the promise of value are what dictate whether or not people:
– Convert ✅
– Bounce 🏃♀️
– Browse 👀
– Buy 💰
– Or remember your brand 🧠
And if your content is the same as the other 9 competitors on the 1st SERP, guess what?
Your lead is most likely to bounce.
And even if they fill out a form, your brand won’t be remembered.
TLDR: SEO is table stakes. It is one dimension of your complete acquisition strategy that brings visitors to your site. Whether those visitors convert/buy/bounce, however, is determined by your content, copy, and the value your brand conveys.
So when you create a page or unique piece of content, look for the angle that expresses your brand’s unique ability to serve its audience.
B2B SaaS content strategy mistake #5: Failure to prioritize types of content
In the early days of onboarding with a team I always fall into the pattern of chewing everyone’s ear off with championing the big “P-word”:
What topic should our next batch of webinars cover?
Do we need to produce new feature/product pages this quarter?
What about sales collateral that the Sales Enablement team has been demanding?
Is it the right time for our CEO to publish thought leadership pieces?
Because B2B content strategy is a mix of art and science, there are no hard and fast rules for what — and when — you should create. In theory, the person in charge of strategy could produce anything.
This is where prioritizing and mapping to business goals is a fundamental part of B2B content strategy.
But what does prioritizing for different stages of the funnel and different goals look like?
Below are real examples (and results) from a past client in the HR tech industry called Totara:
Bottom of the Funnel (BOF): B2B SaaS content
Bottom of the funnel content strategy targets search terms with lower monthly search volumes but higher buying intent.
They’ll often yield the highest conversion rates for most B2B SaaS companies.
BOF content pieces are often:
Product/service comparisons: “Our no-code website builder versus Wix”. “Wix product alternatives”
Product pages: “No-code website builder”
Industry pages: “No-code website builder for restaurants”
Use cases/feature pages: “Build small websites quickly” “Build a website without knowing code”
For: Increasing revenue and traffic by attracting targeted leads with a higher intent to purchase.
Bottom of the Funnel (BOF) content strategy example:
With Totara, BOF content strategy contributed significantly towards the 194% YoY increase in marketing qualified leads (leads who booked a product demo) from organic channels.
In one example, I conducted a content refresh on a piece comparing two of our products:
A Learning Management System (LMS)
A Learning Experience Platform (LXP)
Most pieces on Google discuss choosing between both products, so we took a different approach by helping searchers understand the practical use cases behind both.
Prior to the refresh, this BOF piece didn’t rank on the first page of Google or convert any leads — despite being published in April 2021. After the refresh:
👉 The LMS vs LXP post garnered over a thousand organic visitors/month (based on traffic data from Google Analytics, not SEMrush)
👉 It ranks for 40 additional variations of the same keyword
👉 It consistently referred organic MQLs to the sales team (= leads who booked a product demo with a sales rep) every month
Middle of the funnel (MOF) SaaS content strategy
Middle of the funnel content targets users who are already in your CRM or marketing funnel.
It’s the “nurturing” stage of the buyer journey. And a large percentage of your leads will spend their time here.
Middle of the funnel content often looks like:
ROI calculators and tools
Whitepapers and ebooks
Webinars — which can be considered both top of the funnel (TOFU) and (MOFU)
Segmented email campaigns
For: Lead generation, lead qualification and scoring, and helping MQLs progress to SQLs (Sales Qualified Leads).
The MOF funnel stage enables marketing teams to provide cross-departmental commercial support to other functions in the organization.
This includes industry-specific content for in-field sales reps, ROI calculators, case studies, whitepapers, etc. to help with lead qualification and accelerating the sales pipeline.
Middle of the funnel (MOF) content strategy example:
On the Totara website, I built a completely new subdirectory [/totara-feature/] dedicated to ranking for feature-driven, product-specific queries we could rank for (and back up with strong messaging). We called these “feature pages.”
These pages cover product-focused keywords such as
In isolation, these keyword wins aren’t glamorous because the individual pages don’t have hefty search volumes. The long-term aggregate results of all the “feature pages” in this subdirectory, however, are great!
👉 Ranks for 300+ keywords
👉 Attracts in MQLs every month
👉 Allowed us to rank for terms that we couldn’t optimize for previously while still honoring our unique value propositions and features
🚩 Additionally, 100% of the traffic was non-branded (meaning they were new users who previously never heard of Totara)
Top of the Funnel (TOF) B2B SaaS content strategy
You’ve probably encountered the stream of “What is?” posts now ubiquitous on the web; they’re a common example of a TOF content piece.
Top of the funnel B2B SaaS content strategy involves high-level education to cold prospects and leads. While these topics cover keywords with high monthly search volumes, they also reflect a lower intent to purchase as searchers are often looking for surface-level information.
(Example: There’ll be more people in the world searching for “barefoot running” versus “buy barefoot shoes.”)
The potential traffic gains with TOF content are so high that content marketers will still vie for rankings despite stiff competition on SERPs, the need for a strong backlink profile, great on-page SEO, and of course, creme de la creme content.
For: The goal of TOF content is to move readers further along the funnel. Make sure you have forms, CTAs, and other ways to de-anonymize users who might be ready to buy from your brand at some point.
Top of the Funnel B2B SaaS content strategy example:
How do you create content that targets high-traffic keywords without blending into the sea of sameness on SERPs?
This is a challenge we faced at Totara because we shared an audience with other authoritative HR tech software vendors and sites such as Docebo, Talent LMS, and eLearning Industry.
Yet again, commercial awareness, strong brand messaging, and industry awareness came to the rescue!
Research told me that some of our ICPs (Ideal Client Profiles) were senior managers and team leads. Naturally, their jobs-to-be-done include creating development plans for their employees.
And this is where one of our highest-performing pieces comes in:
Ignoring the 300%+ YoY increase in content Pageviews, this article alone attracts more than 6,000 pageviews/month for a high-traffic, competitive keyword that more than 10,000 searches per month.
The content we created also stands out because it shines with Totara’s unique value proposition and approach to employee development.
The overarching solution that Totara’s product suite offers is an improved employee experience as a result of better employee development.
Understanding this ultimate benefit helped me imbue unique messaging and thought leadership into content at any stage of the funnel — including TOF content pieces gunning for higher traffic.
In the example above, I knew that searchers wanted a template they could use for employee development, so I provided a variety of different examples they could use. At the same time, I also explain how our product helps them elevate their employee development and performance practices.
🚀 I’m especially proud of this post because it’s ranking on the first page and gloving up against goliath sites like Indeed and BambooHR, which have the advantage of a stronger backlink profile.
(In fact, we have the weakest URL backlink profile on the first page of Google for this keyword and are still climbing the ranks.)
This achievement warms the cockles of my content-obsessed heart!
Rescue your B2B content strategy from being a bland failure
I hoped you enjoyed the real-world B2B content strategy examples in this blog post!
The main point of everything I’ve covered is that in order for a B2B SaaS Content strategy to:
✅ Attract qualified leads
✅ Bolster demand gen
✅ And actually convert MQLs to SQLs
…you’ll need more than just a calendar with a wishlist of keywords.
If you’re serious about B2B content marketing, the biggest mistake you can make is to press that heavy responsibility into the hands of an SME or content creator who doesn’t have the time, skills, or desire to fulfill the role of a content strategist.
A wider understanding of short-long term business goals and how content supports them is key; followed by strong editorial, project management, and SEO skills.