Writing about Internal Data helps your SaaS Company Stand Out
There are a countless number of SaaS companies in the world. How do you stand out? How can your content stand out? There is an asset every SaaS company has to create unique, standout content: its internal data.
WHY WRITE ABOUT YOUR DATA
Your database contains information that only your company has. Countless startups from OkCupid to SeatGeek have written about their own data to success. In fact, research is the most successful type of content:
By analyzing your data, you’re guaranteed to create something that no other company can. No other company has access to your data, even if you write about something that’s been written about to death. Your company and its data can gain traction like the Heap Analytics research report on advertising channels. Advertising channels have been talked about to death on the internet, but the report still managed to get some backlinks.
I’ve gone through the process of writing about data several times. I like to call the process of finding data, analyzing it, and writing about it Original Research Content. While I can’t say that every piece of original research content I’ve created went viral and resulted in thousands of subscribers, I can say that I got backlinks and articles written about me every time. So far, every research article I’ve written has been a success.
MINDSET BEFORE WRITING
When writing about your data, you have to have a different mindset than writing normal blog posts. Research posts tend to take a lot more time, money, and effort. They may require you to ask your programmers to spend some time not building features or fixing bugs but making graphs.
It’s a serious commitment. My experience, along with the experience of other SaaS companies, has shown that taking the time to make this type of content is worth it in the end.
So what type of results can you expect from analyzing your data? I wish I could tell you that it’s guaranteed to go viral, but it’s not. No one can predict what content can go viral. If anyone could, they’d be a billionaire.
What you can more easily control are people writing about your research and providing you backlinks. By connecting with journalists, you can maximize the chance you’ll get written about.
If one or a few journalists write about you in popular sites, then you’re almost certain to get other sites write about you. Your main goal should be to get those journalists to write about you, everything else that comes from that is a bonus.
VALIDATING A TOPIC
When writing about your own data, your first step should be to find several potential topics to write about. You should already have a good idea about the topics your audience is interested in. If not, use a tool like BuzzSumo to figure it out.
Once you have some topics, see how your data relates to them. Since your audience includes your customers and your customers interact and create your data, there should be some connection between your data and the topics your customers find interesting.
I’ve had several people ask me how they can make their data interesting so they can write about it. That’s the wrong way to approach the problem. You’ll run the risk of creating content that is popular but your target audience doesn’t care about at all. Use your potential topics as your guide.
Before you start analyzing your data, you’ll want to ask journalists what they think about your topic and your potential research. Find around 50 journalists who have written about your topic or about similar research in the past (again using a tool like BuzzSumo) and email them if they’re interested in your research and what questions they’d like you to answer. Here’s a very generic email template. You want to personalize this as much as possible:
This accomplishes two things: First, it’s more validation that your topic and research are worth pursuing. If no journalists respond, then your research might not be worth pursuing. Second, it builds a relationship with the journalist and maximizes the chances that they’ll write about your research. Journalists prefer collaborating on a story than they do getting a straight up pitch:
CREATING YOUR ARTICLE
With some journalists’ responses along with your own knowledge of what your audience likes, you should have enough information to create your research article. I like to have “questions” that I want my analysis to answer. Usually, each of these questions become a graph.
Talk to your programmer about how they can analyze your company’s data and what ways they can morph it to answer some of the journalists’ questions. Once you’ve agreed on what your programmer can do with your data, have them create the final graphs. Simple graphs, like line graphs or bar graphs, will be fine. Better to be simple then to be complex and confusing.
With your graphs, you should be able to easily write your article. Most of the words you use should be to explain the findings to your audience and to show them why they should care about this research.
PROMOTING YOUR ARTICLE
While you should use the standard methods of content promotion (groups, email lists, social networks, etc.), you should put extra emphasis on reaching out to journalists. Journalists and bloggers like to write about data. It can help them prove a point and is a way for us as humans to reason about the world.
Email the journalists you contacted before for questions, even the ones who didn’t respond back to you. I’ve seen journalists not respond to my ask for research questions but then write about my research anyway. Here’s a generic template, again be sure to personalize it:
If you did everything right, you should get some backlinks and some PR hits. Like I said before, I’ve never done this process before and had it fail. Where you go from here depends on your SaaS company and its content marketing strategy.
Maybe you’ll leverage the PR generated to get onto bigger publications and drive more traffic that way. Maybe you’ll continue to write research posts to get more backlinks and boost your SEO. That’s something you’ll have to figure out for yourself. But, you’ve now built some real momentum for your content marketing to build upon.
Also published on Medium.