September 26, 2022

What is Great Content? [+ How Marketers Create It, Consistently]

Derek Flint
Derek Flint

While marketers often hear how important it is to “always create high-quality content,” there’s less elaboration about what that content is and how you can actually take your content from okay to good to great

What we do know, however, is what happens when SaaS companies' content teams create great content, routinely:

  • It meets their audience’s needs by speaking directly to them about their problems
  • It guides users to other content in a way that feels natural, like they've volunteered for the educational reading or viewing rather than being marketed or sold to
  • Gives the brand earned credibility and future authority
  • Generates repeat visitors, giving significant reach and loyalty to your brand

Now let’s go over the must-have elements of great content and give you a game plan you can apply to every piece. 

What is great content?

Great content, or quality content is defined by the viewer or reader and is achieved when it satisfies the intent of the person engaging with that content.

That is to say, great content is relative to the person experiencing it and the context with which they’re approaching a given topic.

  • It can be short-form content -> especially helpful when there is a concise, exact answer that the user is looking for or when forced to conform to the rules of platforms, like social media channels.

  • It can be long-form content -> often for the thought leaders, conceptual educational materials, or complex how-to style content. You can group your blogs, podcasts, YouTube explainers, and webinars into the long-form category.

Again, it’s about what your audience wants most to engage with to find the answer to what they’re looking for.

We’d also note that what “great” or “good” content is changes and evolves over time as we respond to the ways that people enjoy finding and consuming content.

Defining good SaaS marketing content is often about the impact it has on the audience

As marketers who work with SaaS companies and enjoy continually pushing to understand what “quality, great, and good” looks like, here is our attempt at defining what it is for this industry, today.

Good or great content content has a lasting impact on your audience, and even on the teams involved in creating it. It is defined by the viewer and must also produce a desired result in the future for the company creating it.

This type of content goes beyond the bare minimum of utility that “okay” content offers; meaning it:

  • Makes people want to share the experience with their friends and business acquaintances and across their social media feeds. 
  • Creates a feeling for your audience like they’re now more informed and equipped than people who haven’t seen it. 
  • Provides your team with a sense of pride that makes them excited to promote it and talk about it
  • Often aligns or speaks to other authoritative sources but provides extra insights with the help of first-party data, examples, and illustrations of the solution and the challenge.

If the content doesn’t draw out an emotional response from the reader — whether it’s understanding, motivation, clarity, or validation — it’s just “okay.” 

Recommended Reading: SaaS Content Marketing Guide: Build a Strategy that Increases Brand Awareness and Influences Revenue

What does good or great content have that “okay” content is missing?

A unique angle or perspective on the topic

Many brands are producing content in an attempt to generate sales.

In the push to publish, a lot of the same topics are being targeted and the same language and recommendations are being shared. 

This is a recipe for disengagement — visitors will go anywhere because they can get roughly the same content everywhere. 

Great content stands out from the crowd with its own voice and point of view. Even if you’re creating content that discusses a popular topic, you should be able to provide an angle or perspective that doesn’t exist in every other piece. 

How do you inject your content with a unique perspective?

  • Interview knowledgeable teammates
  • Consult internal or external subject matter experts for fresh ideas
  • Poll people in your industry that have executed around the topic
  • Bring in your first-party data that no other company has access to
  • Partner with someone who can provide you that unique insight

Specific examples and insights that show you know what you’re talking about 

The best marketers build their company’s reputation and credibility by using real-world examples. Then they keep going to draw out the vital insights that speak to their ideal customer profile (ICP)

This step keeps your content from stopping at the surface level, which an experienced audience will sniff out quickly.  

In short, if you make a claim, always be answering the why, the how, and the proof.

How to include examples and insights:

  • Include an in-depth example section the points you make in your content
  • Insert case study findings that support your claims
  • Bring in insights and examples that are tough to replicate - meaning someone scraping the internet isn’t finding the same examples - aka unique examples that only an industry insider is likely to know

Actionable instructions or ideas to achieve a goal

“Actionable” content gives your audience the context, specific tactics, and tools to do something as a result of consuming your content. 

People love this type of content because they come away feeling equipped and fired up to take a next step, whether it’s making a Q4 strategy or recording a Zoom meeting. 

Your audience wants to go from theory to result as soon as they’re ready. With this in mind, good content helps readers take action through elements like how-to guides, downloadable templates, example workflows, FAQs, and tutorials. 

How to take your actionable instructions up a level

  • Include downloadable templates and tools (or links to them where applicable)
  • Work in video content showcasing a walkthrough (bonus if you can work your product in)
  • Include plenty of screenshots so readers know exactly what to do and where to look

The most recent data available

You’ve clicked on content like a date-specific, statistics-forward blog about 2023 or 2024 only to find the creator used stats from 2013 to make their point! 

Don't be like that creator.

Take this opportunity to stand out by sourcing the most recent data available.

It helps people trust your content; looking to your brand as a thought leader and source of truth. They'll know your recommendations, insights, and solutions are based on up-to-date information. 

It’ll also attract journalists and other SaaS content creators, generating backlink opportunities as these types of statistics are valuable and take time to source.

How to build trust and source updated data:

  • Use first-party data
  • Bookmark industry data resources and authorities that are known for annually publishing trend reports
  • Give your audience a link and mention of your sources as an added trust-marker
  • Take the time to find the original source whenever a company shares an interesting insight that you think your audience also needs to be aware of

A commitment to copywriting best practices (from grammar and spelling to formatting and branding)

Great content programs are built on a foundation of editorial guidelines that everyone can understand. 

Those guidelines result in having a library of content that feel as though they were written by the same, high-quality writer.

And while the internet has learned to forgive spelling errors and grammar mistakes, why give them the opportunity to question you in the first place.

How to nail copywriting best practices in your content:

  • Have style guides for the brand that all writers are equipped with
  • AN EDITOR SHOULD NOT BE OPTIONAL. Everyone benefits from a second pair of eyes on the content that they create
  • Your workflow should contain multiple reviews and approvals
  • Perform routine content audits
Recommended Reading: Creating a Content Workflow That Promotes Quality and Scalability for Your SEO Growth

Save visuals and multimedia for when they’re necessary or helpful

Visual and multimedia content can better illustrate an idea, provide an easy-to-digest overview, and/or add important detail without creating the dreaded wall of text. 

Okay content might have an unrelated stock image or two that looks nice but doesn’t serve a greater purpose to the reader. 

Great content will have visual elements like video or images when they add value. 

How to use your other media assets in content:

  • Use images and video that add to instructional content (walkthroughs, screenshots)
  • Use images and video that illustrate your point and can be easily shared(graphs, infographics)
  • Avoid stock images
  • Embed content that adds personality, and unique depth (videos/podcasts) to a topic
Recommended Reading: How You Should Use SEO to Amplify Your SaaS Video Content

A distribution strategy to share your content when and where it’s most needed

To get your quality content the page views it deserves, you need to serve it up to your ICP/ target audience on the channels they visit. And you should do so many times. 

Make a plan for sharing and promoting your original piece. Then, keep the momentum going by repurposing your content and distributing that across email, social media, and more. 

We’ve written before about how to create a never-ending supply of LinkedIn posts by reusing blogs and turn one blog into 30+ Twitter posts.

How to think about distributing your content:

  • Define your objectives/goals - are you expanding reach or speaking to your current audience
  • How much bandwidth do you have to distribute content
  • Where does your company have the most influence currently
  • Who at your company has the most influence (brand, founder, internal influencer)
  • Choose 1-2 channels to start and expand as your learn what works

How to create truly great content (and improve your existing content pieces) step-by-step

Choose topics that speak to your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

As we mentioned earlier, your ICP is a select group within your target audience that’s an ideal fit for your solution. When you know your ICP inside and out, from their pain points and goals to their Jobs To Be Done, you can better tailor your content to address their needs. 

Here are some simple ways to learn who your ICP is: 

  • Interview your current customers and/or send surveys to get to know them 
  • Interview your internal teams that interact with customers frequently, like customer support/success, sales, product, dietitians, etc. 
  • Check out your product’s or service's reviews, comments, social media posts, email replies — who’s raving and recommending your company and who is hating it?
  • Review your CRM data about how your product is being used and who engages with your company

After that, you're free to start creating more focused content by offering up the following:

  • Use/match your ICP's industry jargon (social listening, read their content, watch their podcast features)
  • Create longtail content, meaning, content that is responding to a very specific question or pain point rather than a vague, broad version of the questions people have
For example, if accounts that are a part of your ICP own ecommerce stores, use shopify, and sell clothing, instead of writing an article like:

“How do you grow an eCommerce business?”

Instead, try getting as specific as you can when selecting topics, like:

“What are the best Shopify plugins to help grow an online clothing company?”

Create content briefs for everything

Content briefs show writers exactly what you’re looking for in their final deliverable. 

They keep all stakeholders — like strategists, writers, editors, and clients, whether internal team members or external agencies — aligned and informed. A great content brief includes: 

  • Title tag and meta descriptions
  • Search intent
  • Target audience
  • Funnel stage
  • Competitor examples
  • Content outline
  • Suggested word count
  • Keywords
  • Internal and external links to include
  • Calls-to-action (CTAs)
Recommended Reading: How to Create SEO Content Briefs That Writers and Clients Will Love

Interview at least one subject matter expert (SME) for your topic

In order to provide the helpful advice, unique insights, and “hot takes” that readers want, you’ll want to go straight to the source. 

Identify SMEs, thought leaders, influencers, and other people who have expert knowledge and reach out to conduct an interview on the topic. 

This can be done live or asynchronously (whichever is more convenient) and you can get worthwhile details in as little as 15 to 30 minutes.

Pro Tip: If possible, send them the questions ahead of time so they can prep.

Position your content to directly answer readers’ questions and  lead with clear promises in your hooks 

Visitors arrive at your content with questions they want answered, and it’s important that you address them in a satisfying way. Not only is this helpful for readers, but it’s a  search engine optimization (SEO) win. 

By clearly answering questions, you can better match the search intent of visitors who arrived at your piece and optimize your content for long-tail keywords (as we mentioned above).

The trade-off of specificity is about giving yourself a higher probability of ranking that content on page 1 and speaking to your desired audience (higher conversion rates and click-through rates).

A big part of communicating this specificity around the question you’ll answer is “the hook.” 

A hook is the title or opening sentences in a piece of content that grabs your audience’s attention and tells them what they’ll learn.

Establish a strong team of writers and editors

Success requires a strong team of writers and editors. 

A good writer will take a simple brief and SME notes and deliver interesting content that’s on brand and follows your grammar and marketing style guidelines. 

Even experienced writers need a second pair of eyes. In addition to a great writer, you also need great editors to take your content from okay to great. 

They’re ultimately responsible for ensuring each piece is polished and to-the-point — while also giving helpful feedback to writers. Invest the time and resources you need to build a reliable team.

Organize your content in a way that improves UX (for individual pieces and across your website) 

A well-organized piece of content is key for creating a good user experience and keeping your visitors on the page. 

Take steps to provide a guided experience, like creating internal navigation to allow people to jump to the part of the article they want to read or featuring multimedia content where it makes sense. (Many content management systems offer analytics on where on the page readers spend the most time, click links, etc.) 

Beyond a single content piece, make sure it’s easy for visitors (especially new visitors) to move from piece to piece or topic to topic across your site. 

It should be intuitive and user-friendly, not rigidly segmented. 

Recommending Listening/Watching: Topic Clustering for Better UX and Improved Rankings

Keep your content on brand, accurate, and timely through regular updates 

Even the existing pieces of content you have can be dramatically improved by updating it from time to time. Your goal here is to make sure that your content library is continually aligned with your current product or service. 

Think about any strategy or messaging pivots, new features or services, changing target audiences or ICPs. 

You’ll also want to make sure that your data is updated to reflect the most recent year’s statistics or industry trends. These steps are key for preventing content decay and keeping up your brand’s reputation as a great source for relevant, quality content. 

Side Note: Even the best "data-supported" content ideas can flop when they're first published and distributed. It most likely needs reviewed and iterated on.

Instead of giving up on it, heat map that piece to see how far people are making it into the content, or play with the hook to find a phrase that speaks to your audience.

Great content is rarely ever finished.

Create content that your marketing team is truly excited about

The final (and often overlooked) way to produce really great content on a consistent basis? Make sure it’s content that your team is excited about. You want your team to make content they believe in and that they stand behind. 

Passion is contagious. It’ll be reflected in the final product and your team members will be motivated to share it far and wide, whether they contributed to it or just heard about it internally. 

And invested team members are more likely to innovate and iterate, improving your content in no time. 

From ICP research and building great content, let’s learn how to choose the best content topics

Applying all of the above techniques can help you improve the overall quality of your content marketing program and change the way that people perceive your brand and the value you provide to readers. 

Next, take a deep dive into how to choose content marketing topics effectively so you can connect with and grow your audience starting today.

Want an experienced partner to help build your SaaS brand through SEO and Content Marketing?

Book a call with our CEO, Nate Turner, and let’s see if you’d be a good fit for our services?

Discover how we can help.

Book a call with us and we’ll learn all about your company and goals.
If there’s a fit, we will put together a proposal for you that highlights your opportunity and includes our strategic recommendations.