The importance of SaaS copywriting
There is a cost to getting people to your website. You’re paying for ads, outsourcing SEO, or spending your time on digital PR and cold outreach. That cost needs a return on investment which means that once people are on your site, they need to take action.
That’s why SEO copywriting for SaaS is important. It serves a double purpose:
- to get your SaaS found by the right type of customers in Google and have them click through (the SEO part)
- once they’re on your website, to guide them through your offer and make them sign up (the copywriting part).
Golden rules to follow when you’re SEO copywriting for SaaS
1. Do your research
When you’re creating new copy for your SaaS, you’ll often spend more time researching and gathering material than doing the actual writing. More concretely, you’ll want to
- do customer research
- do competitor research
- understand the ins and outs of the product
- look into traffic sources
- interview the founders
- do keyword research
Let’s dive into these things a little more.
Before you can start writing, you need to know who exactly you’re writing for. Start by gathering internal documents on customer personas and research. These will teach you whether you’re writing for one specific ideal customer or if you need to take different customer segments into account.
You’ll also want to read testimonials and go through customer feedback and questions to get an idea of what people like and don’t like about the SaaS, and which things about the product are unclear. Make a note of the language they’re using and whether you can spot recurring words or themes.
Expand on this research by diving into forums and review sites but make sure to only look where your target customer hangs out. There might be a lot of people with an opinion about your SaaS that aren’t in your target group and listening to them will delude your message.
At the end of your customer research process, you’ll have a clear idea of
- who these people are and what problem you’re solving for them.
- which type of language you should write in to resonate with them.
- which problems and questions you need to address to remove any buying barriers.
Once you’ve reached that point, it’s time for some competitor research.
To be able to stand out and make your customers choose you, you need to know who you’re up against. Make a list of your SaaS’ main competitors, visit their websites, and figure out
- how they position themselves (cheap, only for small businesses, enterprise-level, the most advanced, etc.)
- what their core messaging looks like and the type of language they use to convey it
- which type of CTAs they use (free trial, get a demo, sign up now, …)
You can go even further and read reviews of your competitors to learn what your SaaS does better, or which problems your SaaS solves that they don’t.
The goal is to differentiate your SaaS from your competitors but also to learn from their copy, especially when they’re targeting the same customers.
Understand the ins and outs of the product
As a copywriter, it’s your job to understand the functionality of your product from your customer’s perspective. That means you need to look beyond the processes and tech that keep it running and gain deep insight into how customers would use it and – most importantly – how it makes their work easier.
Play around with it and do everything a normal customer would. While doing so, keep in mind the things your customer research taught you is important but might not be addressed right now.
Look into traffic sources
If the SaaS’ website is already up and running, check where it’s getting its traffic from. Are they already ranking in Google or are all their customers coming via paid ads? How someone lands on the website can influence the mindset they’re in and so you’ll want to take this into account.
Someone who consciously searches for a “small business invoicing SaaS” is probably in a different stage of the buying cycle than someone who clicked a link to that same SaaS in a guest post about how to optimize your small business admin. The second person might have just clicked through out of curiosity and isn’t planning on switching their invoicing system just yet, while the first person is.
Interview the founders
You could always start by interviewing the founders and getting as much information from them as possible, but founders are busy people and when you talk to them first, you risk needing to contact them again when new questions pop up.
Do your own research first and only then talk to them so you can ask targeted questions and fill in any gaps. Depending on the project, you may also want to consider talking to the head developer or a customer service representative.
Determine your keywords
All of the above covers the research you need to do to copywrite a converting text. Now, you also want to rank that text which means you’ll need to determine which focus keyword you want to rank it for and if there are any secondary keywords you need to consider incorporating.
If you’re not sure how to go about that, this guide from Backlinko explains it perfectly.
2. Craft a story and make the customer the hero
Now that you know what matters to your target customers, it’s time to craft your brand story. Many SaaS fall into the trap of thinking their brand story should be about them, but it doesn’t. It’s all about the customer and how they can be the hero that solves a problem by using your product.
Don’t tell them how your product addresses their pain points. Tell them how they can address their pain points by signing up for your SaaS. You may be saying the same thing, but by changing the perspective, you put your customer in the driver’s seat.
By doing so, they’ll feel like they took charge of their situation once they’ve signed up, rather than that they’ve been sold to.
Once you’ve created your brand story, it’s important to communicate it in a consistent way. Most customers need to be exposed to your SaaS multiple times before they’ll take out their credit card, and if you tell them a different story each time they come across you, they’ll get confused as to whether you’re a good fit for them.
3. Use the language of your target customer
Not only should your messaging be consistent, but it should also be communicated in a way that appeals to your target audience. You learned what kind of language they use when you performed your customer research, now you need to incorporate that language into your copy.
If your customers are young entrepreneurs who talk about “dope features” and “kickass customer service”, use that same kind of language in your copy. But if they’re established heads of marketing in a rather conservative finance niche, please don’t.
4. Get to the point, instantly
You don’t always control what page someone lands on, so don’t keep them guessing and have a clear headline, subheading, and CTA right at the top. This is crucial for your SaaS homepage but it works well for other pages too.
Look at this features page from MailCharts, for example.
The heading tells us which feature this page is about (the brand search), the subheading shares what this feature allows us to do (easily find specific brands using powerful search filters), and the CTA invites up to sign up for free to give this feature a go.
It can hardly get any clearer than this.
5. Focus on benefits, explain features
Talking about features: don’t overemphasize them.
Many SaaS offer a wide range of features but let me tell you a little secret: those will rarely win a customer over. Sure, a company might be looking for a way to visualize its workflows with kanban boards rather than task lists, but they want to do so because it would allow them to work more efficiently.
That is what Trello, for example, is selling: efficiency.
Go back to your customer research and think about how your SaaS’ features address the problems your customers care about most. Then sell that benefit of your features. Sell a solution.
Mention how features work but always tie them back to your core message and the outcome they provide.
If you have pages worth of features, there’s no need to go into all of them in detail. Give more weight to those your customers can’t live without, and only briefly cover or list those that are only relevant to a small set of customers, or that you know from your research won’t affect their decision to buy.
6. Answer all the questions
Unless you have a very simple product, create separate pages to offer a more detailed explanation for every feature of your SaaS. Your prospects have questions and you can’t expect all of them to reach out for answers.
The better a job you do at taking away uncertainty about your product, the less people will click away, and the less your customer service will need to spend time on answering pre-sale questions rather than helping existing customers.
Surfer does this really well on their Content Editor feature page.
The page starts with a clear headline, sublime, and CTA, following the rule we discussed a bit higher in this post.
It then continues with a demo version of the tool that prospect can play around with right then and there on the page.
Next up is a testimonial linking to a case study so prospects can get an idea of what the content editor could do for them, followed by a closer look at what the content editor does in different sections. Each of these sections has an outcome-centered heading, like this one showing the reader how they would “write hyper-relevant content” with Surfer.
There are more testimonials and CTAs further down the page and all the time the prospect is scrolling, the menu bar with the bright green trial offer stays stuck to the top of their screen.
7. Keep it scannable
For years, marketers and writers have been taught that people scan web pages in an F-pattern based on study performed by the Nielsen Norman Group in 2006. NNG explains the F-pattern as such:
“Users first read in a horizontal movement, usually across the upper part of the content area. This initial element forms the F’s top bar.
Next, users move down the page a bit and then read across in a second horizontal movement that typically covers a shorter area than the previous movement. This additional element forms the F’s lower bar.
Finally, users scan the content’s left side in a vertical movement. Sometimes this is a fairly slow and systematic scan that appears as a solid stripe on an eye tracking heatmap. Other times users move faster, creating a spottier heatmap. This last element forms the F’s stem.”
After noticing how that study was often misinterpreted, NNG performed a new study which concluded that while people do read web pages following an F-pattern, they only do so in certain circumstances.
There are a variety of patterns readers can follow when reading a page and which one they’ll use largely depends on the state of mind the reader is in when opening the page. It’s something you can’t control.
What you can control, is making the pages of your SaaS site scannable. Instead of allowing people to scan your texts at random, craft them in such a way that you control which parts stand out. You can do this by:
- including the most important information in the first two paragraphs.
- liberally using headings and subheadings and making sure their fonts stand out.
- putting the most informative words at the start of your headings and subheadings.
- clearly formatting links so they differ significantly from normal text.
- making your normal text font size at least 16 px large.
- keeping paragraphs short.
- bolding important words.
- use bulleted lists.
- cut the fluff.
8. Don’t forget the social proof
Place customer testimonials on all of your selling pages. Don’t just limit them to the homepage and pricing page, but also add relevant user comments to your different feature pages.
It’s even better if you have testimonials from people who are well-known within your customer target group. These both give your brand an authority and instantly makes it clear who your ideal customer is.
Meet Edgar is a social media scheduling tool for small businesses and entrepreneurs. On their homepage, they kick off their testimonial list with Darren Rowse, the founder of ProBlogger and a well-known and highly-respected name in the blogger community.
You can bet that if another blogger sees Darren is using Meet Edgar, they’ll be more convinced to sign up than if this testimonial was from someone they’d never heard of.
The other two testimonials here are relevant too: one is from an author, the other from an entrepreneur, both profiles that fit with Meet Edgar’s target customer.
9. Keep detailed keyword optimization for last
You may wonder why we’ve saved the “SEO” part of SEO copywriting for your SaaS for last, but actually, SEO is the bun of your copy burger. First, it helps you determine the keywords to target with each of your pages.
Once that’s done, focus on writing well-targeted, well-converting texts following the tips in this article.
And only when you’ve created the best copy possible, have a look at where you can insert those keywords naturally to help your pages rank.
After all, potential customers may reach your site through various channels other than Google and you want to make sure they’ll all stick around and have a high chance of converting.
So have your keywords ready, but write your copy first. This is a different approach to when you’re writing content for your SaaS blog, where you’ll keep your keyword research in mind when creating an outline for your articles.
Don’t skimp on copy
You can have streams of traffic and the greatest product in the world, if you’re presenting your offer in a way that doesn’t resonate with your target audience, you won’t get many signups, if any. This is why it’s so important to invest either time or money in good copywriting for your SaaS and making sure your website pages follow the best practices listed in this article.
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