How to Create or Refine a Content Marketing Strategy

Content marketing has become very popular in the last decade. But for all that growth, there seems to be more noise and lower quality than ever. We’re seeing an influx of spending and a massive increase in content creation but a lack of effective content marketing strategy.

Content is a significant investment in your digital marketing. It also takes time to pay off, which is where many B2B SaaS and eCommerce companies get into trouble. Unlike paid acquisition channels, content isn't a marketing tactic you can easily turn on and off. It takes months, even years, to build momentum. If you’re going to spend that much time working on a blog, you better have a content strategy.

How to Develop a Great Content Marketing Strategy

A blog is only as good as the strategy and content production behind it. Here are the questions you must answer before and during——these are essential to earning traffic, proving that your company’s investment is getting them a return, and boosting conversion rates.

  1. Who Will You Write For?
  2. What Will You Write About?
  3. When Will You Publish?
  4. How Will You Earn Traffic?
  5. How Will You Support the Business?
  6. How Will You Measure Performance?
  7. Content Marketing Tools

1. Who Will You Write For?

Your target audience should be living, breathing people, not fictitious buyer personas. Target readers should be people you know and trust, people you’d be honored to have read your blog.

It’s important (and smart) to use real people rather than fictitious personas because this affects your approach to creating content. Creating content for “SaaS Sally” is very different from writing for your friend Ty Magnin, who used to run marketing at Appcues (and is now CEO here at Animalz). You’ll hold yourself to a higher standard if you’re writing for real people. Fictitious personas also tend to reflect the average, not the median. This means you risk writing for a person well outside the stated demographics.

Be thoughtful about the personas you create. “Reaching decision-makers” is a trope. Every content strategy aspires to reach the C-suite. But consider that software is often adopted by a collection of people:

  • Leader: sets the strategic vision, holds team accountable
  • Implementor: the people using and setting up SaaS tools
  • Researcher: the person tasked with learning about various tools and capabilities

Reaching readers in the C-suite is hard, but it’s actually not good enough. This is why you need to create content for the entire payscale—anyone who could be involved in the research, buying or using of your tool needs to be addressed. We think of this on a spectrum from very tactical to very strategic.

Tactical readers need information, comparisons, instructions and best practices. Strategic readers need models, frameworks and principles. Your blog needs a variety of tactical and strategic content to be comprehensive. For a more complete breakdown of writing tactical and strategic content, check out our guide to creating reader personas.

Remember that your ideal reader is the one who buys your product. It’s easy to get distracted by pageviews and newsletter subscribers, but the goal of a B2B SaaS blog is to drive business growth. Identify your ideal reader and serve them well.


2. What Will You Write About?

Topic ideation is something to be systematized. But first, let’s lay out a framework to help you understand the best way to choose blog post topics and decide on the kind of content that works best for your current and new audiences.

Your blog is not a publication; it’s a growing library of information. There are many reasons you need to adopt this mindset, but here are two guiding principles that should be enough reason on their own:

  1. Blogs that act like publications create a series of standalone posts on different topics. They are hesitant to cover the same topic or types of content more than once.
  2. Blogs that act like libraries create hubs of related posts. They have the freedom to cover the same core topics over and over again.

This strategy pairs nicely with another essential content marketing strategy: people should primarily discover you through search through high-quality content. Since readers aren’t checking your site each time you post something new, you can write about the same thing for weeks in a row. No one will care since they find what they need when they need it via search engines.

Most of your blog post topics should be driven by 1) keyword research and 2) sales and support feedback. Use keyword research to identify entry points for new readers. Keywords should be top and middle of the funnel, meaning they serve searchers who are looking for information and education. Create content for the bottom of the funnel by talking to your sales and support teams about what prospects and customers are having trouble with. This process helps you address the entire lifecycle, from awareness through purchase.

  • Top of Funnel: Use keyword research to address high-level topics, introduce new readers to your organization, and create brand awareness.
  • Middle of Funnel: Use keyword research in addition to sales and support feedback to tie problems to your specific solution.
  • Bottom of Funnel: Use sales and support feedback to write directly about your product.

Here are examples of each from Wistia:

  • Top of the Funnel: The Best iPhone 15 Pro Max Camera Settings for Video This post introduces iPhone 15 Pro Max users (or potential users) to useful tips for shooting better videos. Many people who find this post won’t be ready to buy Wistia, but some will be researching a work project and will remember this resource.
  • Middle of the Funnel: How to Get a Transcript of a Video This post is textbook middle of the funnel content. It inserts the product directly into a conversation about a broader and highly relevant topic (transcribing a video, particularly for accessibility). It’s thorough and insightful, with just the right amount of sales pitch.
  • Bottom of the Funnel: Product Spotlight: See What's New in Wistia Product updates are a great way to educate existing customers and nudge prospects. When you’re targeting the bottom of the funnel, don’t be shy about addressing your product.

To wrap up, don’t forget these two rules about topic ideation:

  • Write about the same core topics from every angle.
  • Serve the entire lifecycle, from top to bottom.


3. When Will You Publish?

It’s impossible to write too much, but it’s easy to publish too much.

“A lot of content marketers worry about not publishing enough,” says Podia CMO Len Markidan, “but the truth is that publishing too much is a more dangerous mistake. Write something your readers will love, and then give them time to enjoy it, share it, and hunger for more. This lands at the very top of the list of ‘things I wish someone told me when I started.'”

Remember the publication vs. library framework? Well, publications also sometimes get into the habit of publishing too often. The result is typically shorter, less valuable pieces of content. This is not ideal. What you want to aim for is the right schedule and the right mix of content formats.

The ideal publishing schedule is relative to your budgetary constraints. Still, it’s difficult to scale publishing volume without sacrificing quality, no matter how much money you can afford to spend. As a general rule, publish as often as you can without dropping your quality standards. There’s no use publishing content that won’t get read.

Here are publishing schedule templates you can use depending on your budget:

Level 1:

  • One article/week
  • One ebook/quarter

Level 2:

  • Two articles/week
  • One ebook/month

Level 3:

  • Three articles/week
  • Two ebooks/month

Remember that a successful content marketing strategy is all about compounding growth. Level 1 may not seem like much, but will result in 52 articles per year. Brian Dean grew Backlinko to 100,000 monthly uniques with just 35 posts. Level 3 will get you 153 posts yearly, but it doesn’t guarantee traffic. Don’t publish more if that time or money compromises time spent doing solid keyword research and great promotion and distribution.


4. How Will You Earn Traffic?

Here’s the golden rule of content marketing strategy: compounding growth is the only growth. Don’t invest significant time in non-recurring acquisition channels. When it comes down to it, organic search and your own email list are the only channels you can count on.

Organic Search

You should be thinking about organic search and inbound traffic from day one and every day thereafter. It’s essential that you gain traction in search engines if you want to grow your audience. Here are a few things to think about:

  • Internal linking: Go to Wikipedia and observe how they link all their entries together. Apply the same SEO strategy to your own site by linking to and from related posts. This helps search engines contextualize your site and reduces bounce rates.
  • Technical SEO: Your site structure, navigation, meta descriptions, and canonical links all affect your rankings. If you don’t have an internal SEO resource, hire a consultant to make sure you aren’t working harder than you need to.
  • Content Saturation: If you’ve been in the habit of publishing too much, consider deleting or refreshing old content. Pages that live on your site and don’t get traffic can hurt your rankings.
  • Content Length and Depth: Most research says longer, in-depth posts rank better. That fits nicely with the idea of publishing less often but does require plenty of writing. Brian Dean recommends a minimum of 1,900 words per post.

Email Marketing

Organic traffic compounds faster than email, meaning it should be the primary source of growth. But email is a medium that you have complete control over. It’s not a channel for new reader acquisition, but it is an excellent way to drive traffic to middle and bottom of the funnel content. Here’s a template for email that most SaaS companies can use:

  • Weekly Content Newsletter: Get readers in the habit of hearing from you each week.
  • Regular Product Updates: Let people know about product updates. This is a good way to tie education to your solution.
  • Free Email Course: This is an underrated way to capture email addresses on top-of-funnel posts. These can be short—three to five emails in a series—but should be comprehensive.
  • New Subscriber Welcome Series: Let new readers know about your product, what it does, and how it can help them.
  • Free Trial Onboarding Series: Use a blend of help docs and content to get people going. They should feel well-equipped and inspired.
  • Recurring Emails: Weekly or monthly usage emails. These are a great opportunity to use content to help people make progress in areas where they are lacking. (Example: “You haven’t created a new campaign in a while, here’s some inspiration from our blog.”)
  • Retention Email Series: These highly targeted emails are for users who aren’t engaging with the product. To get them going again, use a blend of content, questions, and help docs. Test these emails early and often.

There are, of course, other ways to get traffic, but they tend to be fickle and temporary. Should you invest at least some time in things like social media marketing, communities, and guest posting? Yes, but never take your eye off organic search.


5. How Will You Support Your Business Goals?

B2B marketers need to get very used to the phrase business objectives. Traffic is great. Email subscribers are great. But those things cost you money. The only thing that makes you money is recruiting more paying customers.

There are plenty of popular blogs out there that don’t drive business growth. A comprehensive content marketing strategy includes monetization. Here are five things that absolutely cannot be overlooked as you start, grow and run a blog.

Let Readers Know About Your Product

You have to assume that readers do not know there is a software product behind your content. It’s likely that they have 10 tabs open, Twitter notifications coming in, LinkedIn connections waiting, and a meeting that starts in five minutes. Make it abundantly clear that they are on a B2B SaaS product site, not just a blog. To do this:

  • Consider using a conversational messaging tool like Intercom to ask questions of readers while they are on your site. (Example: “Is there something about [topic] that we can help you with?”)
  • Keep your blog in a sub-folder, not a sub-domain, and definitely not on Medium. You want your main site navigation menu on all blog pages. The ideal URL is, not
  • Use author bios to let people know who they are hearing from. A post from “Jessica, head of marketing at SaaS Inc.” inspires more confidence than “Tom, freelance writer.”
  • Use product language in the header, footer, and sidebar. Don’t be shy about offering free trials, showing testimonials, or using social proof to show that people love the product.
  • Use contextual calls to action. If a post is about push notifications, use a CTA about push notifications.

Capture Email Addresses

Ninety-nine percent of readers won’t be ready to buy now, but many will need your product in the future. This creates an attribution problem that makes measuring content difficult, but it also means capturing email addresses is vitally important. You need to establish an ongoing relationship so that every reader knows where to go if and when the time comes to buy.

  • Offer a course instead of a newsletter. People know that newsletters are eternal, and that’s a big commitment. Courses have a clear start and end, which makes it easier for people to opt in. Once the course is over, you can transition them to an infrequent newsletter.
  • Or just send a newsletter. Courses are an easier entry point for new readers, but a good old-fashioned newsletter can still work too. Just make sure you let them know the frequency of emails they can expect beforehand.
  • Use content upgrades for contextual calls to action. Whitepapers, ebooks, case studies—these are content types that work really well for lead generation. Use them within articles on relevant topics.

Collect Zero-Party Data

In addition to capturing email addresses with the tactics listed above, you can also use forms, surveys, and other types of engagement to collect valuable zero-party data. This is important for two main reasons:

  1. Search engines are completely doing away with third-party (tracking) cookies, so by the end of this year, brands won’t be able to rely on this customer data for targeting.
  2. Customers willingly provide zero-party data, so you can be sure this information is the most accurate. There’s no need to rely on “lookalike” audiences, as the data comes directly from your real-life audience.

Using behavioral and demographic zero-party data lets you speak to your customers as real people and reach them exactly where they are, so your content marketing efforts won’t go unnoticed.

Follow Up with Everyone

If you have a sales team, make sure there is a process in place to hand off email addresses and other customer data. If you don’t, make sure you have good drip campaigns to nurture leads and build trust. Following up on every single lead is no longer a huge challenge thanks to behavioral email and marketing automation. This is key to any content marketing plan—put these tools in place and don’t let anyone slip through the cracks.

Agree on Attribution

Measuring content marketing is a real pain point and often a source of contention among stakeholders. Revenue growth from content is a lagging indicator of success since almost no readers will be ready to buy immediately. There isn’t a perfect way to attribute content to revenue, but here are a few things to think about:

  • Capturing email addresses makes it much easier to track a buyer’s journey and follow the path from reader to customer.
  • Running a site in a sub-folder as opposed to a subdomain makes it easier to attribute signups in Google Analytics.
  • Don’t try to make a 1:1 connection between reading a single post and signing up. Shoot for something more holistic, like tracking all behavior in the 90 days leading to the signup.

Scrambling to prove the blog is working is something you want to avoid (and it happens all the time). Agree on the KPIs you will measure ahead of time.


6. How Will You Measure Performance?

The hardest part of a content marketer’s job is turning writing into revenue. The second hardest part is proving your success to other people. That’s where reporting comes in.

No content marketing strategy is complete without reporting. By measuring the traffic, keyword rankings, newsletter sign-ups, and conversions generated by your content, you create a feedback loop that allows you to ditch ineffective tactics and double down on successful formats. (You also make it easy to win—and keep—budget from your managers and executive team.)

We’ve already mentioned the difficulties of attributing concrete revenue growth to content marketing, so we recommend tracking a few leading indicators to help prove the value of your work. Sustained increases in the following metrics almost always result in increasing sales and revenue:

  • Month-on-month traffic growth. A well-executed content marketing campaign should generate compounding traffic, where traffic from previously published articles adds to traffic from newer articles. Six percent month-on-month total traffic growth is a realistic target to beat.
  • Month-on-month organic traffic growth. Most blogs get the bulk of their website traffic from organic search, and regularly publishing keyword-targeted content should lead to more organic traffic, each and every month. We found that most blogs see their organic search traffic grow by 8% monthly.
  • Total backlinks and referring domains. Traffic isn’t the only way to gauge an article's success: content marketing can be a powerful tool for acquiring backlinks, which is particularly valuable for new blogs with low domain authority. These links will improve the search performance of your entire website.
  • Total keyword rankings. Healthy, well-optimized articles should rank for a broad cross-section of keywords. These keyword rankings are often a leading indicator of future traffic: the more rankings your article has, the greater the traffic you can expect the post to generate in the coming weeks and months.
  • Target keyword rankings. For many searches, the lion’s share of traffic is earned by the articles that rank within the top three search results, so tracking each article’s performance for its target keyword is important.

Content marketing generally takes time to deliver results. Reporting these metrics can go a long way towards relieving this frustration and demonstrating quick and sustained wins to managers and executives.


7. Content Marketing Strategy Tools

With your content marketing strategy in place, you’re going to need tools to make it all run smoothly. There are plenty of great options out there, but here are a few of our favorite content marketing tools.

SEO + Research

  • Revive - A free tool we built for identifying blog posts that need updating.
  • Ahrefs - An excellent tool for tracking links and doing keyword research.
  • Moz - Track your rankings for target keywords.
  • Clearscope - Do keyword research and discover opportunities for search engine optimization.
  • Screaming Frog - A website crawler for improving onsite SEO by extracting data and auditing for common issues.
  • - Get tons of keyword ideas.
  • - Get keyword ideas in the form of questions.
  • Buzzsumo - Research successful posts with search and social metrics.
  • Clearbit - Add data to your existing email list for better segmentation.
  • Semrush - A powerful all-in-one online marketing platform for keyword and competitor research, content audits, and social media content marketing.

Content Creation + Hosting

  • Google Docs - Our favorite tool for collaborative writing.
  • SketchDeck - Professional design resources on-demand.
  • Canva - Create designs, infographics, and more to include in blogs and on social media platforms.
  • WordPress - The best content management system for most SaaS blogs.
  • WPEngine - Our host of choice.
  • Wistia - The best hosting platform for video content out there (try it for podcasts too!).


  • ConvertKit - A tool built specifically for bloggers to send emails and create courses.
  • - An excellent tool for creating behavioral email campaigns.
  • CampaignMonitor - An easy-to-use email tool with beautiful templates.

Promotion + Conversion

  • Sumo - All kinds of tools for collecting email addresses on your site.
  • Typeform - Create engaging forms and surveys for collecting zero-party data from customers.
  • Freshchat - Simple live chat tool for having live conversations with readers and potential customers.
  • Buffer - The industry standard sharing tool for social media posts.
  • Copper - An excellent CRM that runs inside Gmail.


  • Airtable - Create an insanely powerful content workflow.
  • CoSchedule - Build comprehensive marketing and content calendars.
  • Zapier - Connect all your apps and automate everything.
  • Trello - A popular and useful project management tool.
  • Notion - An all-in-one workspace for notes, project management, wikis, and databases.
  • Confluence - A collaborative documentation platform for teams to create, organize, and discuss work in one place.
  • Teamwork - A robust and powerful project management app.
  • Mural - A visual platform that empowers teams to collaborate easily.

Analytics + Attribution

  • Google Analytics - Easy and free analytics. You can't beat that.
  • Amplitude - Tie your product data into your content data.
  • Segment - Centralize your event tracking for cleaner data.

More Reading on Content Strategy

We have an entire section of the blog dedicated to content strategy. You can check out it here, or you can choose from a few of our favorite articles below. Each tackles a specific pain point related to content marketing strategy:

Content marketing is an ongoing challenge, not a task to be checked off your list. Sign up for our newsletter below to stay updated on more helpful resources from the Animalz blog.

Editor's note: this article was originally written by Jimmy Daly and Ryan Law in December 2020. Court Bishop has updated and expanded the piece in April 2024.