You’ve heard the saying, “content is king.” This maxim is especially true when it comes to B2B digital marketing today. Up to 82% of marketers are actively investing in content marketing. Why is that? When done correctly, it’s one of the most effective ways to get in front of new, highly qualified leads.
While many B2B marketers associate content marketing exclusively with blogging, content marketing is a broad umbrella covering different styles and channels.
One type of healthcare content marketing for SaaS companies is thought leadership—and it can have an extremely high ROI. But there are a few ways it can go wrong, so we spoke with Sarah Loeffler, Content Director at The Spot-On Agency, to clarify how to integrate thought leadership into your SaaS content marketing strategy.
It starts by knowing what thought leadership is and what it is not. Many companies conflate traditional blogging with becoming a thought leader in the marketplace. Loeffler helps sort out the differences between these two tools and offers pointers for crafting thought leadership that gets results.
SaaS Content Marketing Tools: Blogging vs. Thought Leadership
When marketing your SaaS product to healthcare customers, the first thing to understand is that you’ll need both of these tools to become a standout. While thought leadership and blogging both serve to attract customers by helping them understand how to solve problems, many of the similarities end there. Not only does each type of content require a unique approach, but the goals are also different.
Blogging generally refers to consistently creating, publishing, and distributing useful, targeted content typically hosted on a company website. This strategy is often used in conjunction with search engine optimization (SEO), which involves optimizing blog content around certain keywords that an intended audience uses on search engines.
Blog posts should be engaging and valuable to readers, but another goal of blogging is to bring readers to a company website and keep them there long enough to convert into a lead.
“It’s 100 percent about your ecosystem and trying to get traffic there,” explains Loeffler. It’s about what’s serving the company from a pipeline perspective.”
While consistent blogging is important, you must have a strategy in place that defines key elements like blog topics, keywords, and promotion. It’s not enough to create blog posts randomly and hope they work out. “You have to start with that plan before developing content,” says Loeffler.
As you work on blog posts, you should also have a way for visitors to share their information, such as joining your email list, so they can continue to be nurtured as potential customers. “It’s not as much about demonstrating your company’s expertise—although that’s some of it — it’s more about how to attract the traffic needed and giving healthcare SaaS buyers the opportunity to recognize that they need your product,” explains Loeffler. On a company blog, it’s okay to mention your products and services if you also add value. Give the reader a reason to visit the blog and consume your content before you try to move them further along in the buyer’s journey.
In contrast, thought leadership content does not focus on describing the company’s products or services and is primarily distributed externally. “You are serving as an educational resource for the industry on topics the industry deems important,” says Loeffler. “It's very outward-focused. It's not about you. It's about what you can do for the wider industry audience to position yourself as an expert.”
Thought leadership content is generally created to provide value to a specific audience by helping them solve a problem. In healthcare content marketing, thought leadership can take many forms. It often comes in the form of a speech or presentation at a conference, an article written for an industry publication, or even an interview with a media source.
Executed successfully, thought leadership content builds trust with your prospects and customers and establishes your expertise with new contacts and media organizations. “It can be more powerful than ads because there's a halo effect of the trust the audience already has in the media outlet you're writing or speaking for,” Loeffler says.
SaaS Content Marketing: The Benefits of Thought Leadership
Thought leadership content has several benefits. It gives you reach in front of an audience that you might not otherwise have, businesses that aren't necessarily familiar with your brand.
Creating content on other reputable platforms is also key to building backlinks. The more links to your site that you can have from credible sources, the more it helps your website gain domain authority—one of the things that Google looks at when deciding how to rank search results.
It’s also a superb way to differentiate your company from the competition. Loeffler recommends looking to see what competitors are doing and how the topics you choose may help you stand out. “You want to be strategic—if your competitors are on the speaking circuits and publishing frequently, make sure your company is in those spaces as well. So that weighs more heavily into the value equation of pursuing thought leadership. You don't want to be left out of the conversation,” Loeffler says.
Good thought leadership can take time to develop, but your efforts can produce a snowball effect. The more often you are delivering editors good content, the more trust they place in working with you, Loeffler points out.
Thought Leadership Healthcare Content Marketing Tips
With these insights in mind, let’s examine some best practices for creating the kind of thought leadership that establishes your company as a SaaS content marketing leader:
Have a strong internal foundation.
Make sure your brand presence is on point before you launch into thought leadership content— it’s like cleaning up your home before inviting your friends to the party. The first place thought leadership usually sends new contact is to your website, so a well-designed, user-friendly website that’s been recently updated is foundational. “Make sure your website is in shape before focusing externally on getting bylines,” says Loeffler. You’ll want plenty of engaging, targeted content and opportunities for SaaS buyers to convert.
Ask important questions before beginning.
You don’t want to launch into thought leadership without intention. It can be rewarding but also time-consuming, so having your strategy nailed down helps with allocating resources. Here are some essential questions to ask:
- Why am I creating this content?
- Does it make sense with the rest of my communication?
- What industry trades are covering things in my space, including media placements, association publications or conferences?
- Do I have a good expert on staff who can be a great resource to be interviewed for an article or participate in a speaking presentation?
Even if you’re starting from scratch, you don’t want to try for every thought leadership opportunity available to you. Taking a more targeted approach will help ensure you pursue only opportunities aligned with your purpose and important to your audience. “Not everything's going to be the right fit. You need that alignment between what they want to be talking about, where you have expertise, and reaching the right audience,” Loeffler says.
Incorporate case studies.
When showing an audience how to solve or think about a challenge in their business, few things are more convincing than real-life examples of how a similar kind of organization achieved the desired goal. “To increase odds of having a customer case study published, you don’t want to make the project sound too easy or as if the answer is simply buying your product,” advises Loeffler. “Instead, your audience really wants to see what the process was, what the initial pain point was, how alternatives were vetted, what did—and didn’t — go as planned and what the featured customer would have done differently. Peers are most interested in hearing about lessons learned.”
Working with a SaaS Content Marketing Agency
Whether you plan on pursuing thought leadership, blogging, or both strategies, consider working with a B2B digital marketing agency that specializes in SaaS content marketing. For blogging, the right agency can help you identify keyword and SEO trends, improve your blog production workflow, and boost your traffic. With thought leadership, a SaaS content marketing agency can connect you with editors, conference organizers, and other gatekeepers whom they have existing relationships with.
“An agency can often sort of be a shortcut to some of this,” explains Loeffler. “They’re used to working with a lot of these editors, they know a lot more about the editors’ processes on vetting topics, they know how to pitch the sorts of topics that editors want to cover. The right agency partner can also help you polish your marketing materials and tune up your website so new visitors get the right first impression.”
Looking to work with an expert team that has years of experience helping clients with both kinds of healthcare content marketing? Click here to schedule a time to chat with us and learn how we can help your company achieve its content goals.