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Product-led content: What it is, why you need it, & examples to show you how to build it

Exploring what product-led content can do for your company and how you can approach it? Read on to learn more.

Having a product that seamlessly encourages activation with little effort from a sales team is the dream.

For a PLG go-to-market strategy to work, however, you’ll still need to make people aware of your product and illustrate it as a needed part of your prospect's tech stack.

One of the key ways more and more savvy content marketing teams are doing this is through a product-led content strategy.

Let’s discuss what that means, why it’s essential for most D2C and B2B SaaS companies today, and show you what it looks like.

What is product-led content?

Simply put, product-led content is a marketing approach where the value of your product is illustrated through the medium of content.

Some common product-led content examples that you’ll recognize are:

  • How-to articles focused on your customer’s JTBD or pain points that overlap with your product’s capabilities
  • YouTube videos focused on overcoming a challenge and subtly featuring your product as part of the solution to the larger problem
  • Listicles and tech stack recommendations that can include product marketing assets to add further context for your product’s importance

Unlike your traditional, direct product marketing that bluntly pitches a product's features and benefits (cough…cough, like your sales team or a feature page on the website), product-led content subtly weaves product narratives into educational, entertaining, or informative pieces. 

For content marketers like you, the distinction lies in showcasing the product's real-world applications and impact (focusing on the user's experience) instead of simply offering a sterile list of features.

What role does content play in a product-led growth strategy?

In a product-led growth (PLG) GTM strategy, content plays several pivotal roles in contributing to your company’s overall growth:

1. Educates potential users 

Through blogs, guides, webinars, whitepapers, podcasts, and more, content enlightens potential users about several important facts regarding your product and your company:

- You’ve built a product that can solve their problems or help them achieve their goals more conveniently than if they didn’t use your product.

- Your company has unique knowledge that it uses to create a library’s worth of trustworthy content that educates audiences. The content topics should be directly and tangentially related to your product.

- Your company’s content is so helpful that it’s worth bookmarking and sharing with others in your industry who may eventually find value in your main product, too.

2. Creates brand awareness

As we mentioned in our article regarding what SaaS SEO means vs. other types of SEO, content marketing and SEO for a PLG company must balance the needs of the product, the brand, and what makes the content interesting or satisfying to digest.

Nailing both topic selection and distribution is the ticket to growing your brand’s presence while ensuring a dotted line throughout the content consumption experience. This helps your target audience grow awareness and affinity regarding your brand and its product offerings. 

Recommended Reading: How to Choose Content Marketing Topics That Will Grow People’s Interest in Your SaaS Company

3. Nurtures leads

Not everyone is ready to buy the moment they learn about your company or after the first piece of content they read from you.

Consistent, high-quality content keeps your audience engaged, gradually guiding them down the funnel from mere interest to actual purchase. It’s never as linear as you might hope, but prospects find their way through the funnel via their unique paths.

And if the content doesn’t bring them over the finish line, their allegiance to your program makes it easier for your nurtured accounts to refer you to their peers, often shortening their timeline to becoming a part of your pipeline.

4. Drives product adoption 

Content can provide walkthroughs, how-tos, and tips to make the product easier to understand and use, driving product adoption.

Whether the content contains contextualized product demos and other product marketing assets or acts as one engagement in the customer journey, it plays an outsized role in giving your product purpose.

5. Fosters customer retention, upselling, and cross-selling

PLG companies derive a lot of value from the content they create concerning their existing customers.

By delivering them a consistent drip of curated, personalized content that shows you’re listening and interested in solving their specific problems, your customer success team will find it easier to keep them around longer and upsell them into your next-level product tier.

Recommended Reading: How to Use Content Marketing to Improve Customer Retention

6. Acts as a product itself

There are times when your content should be treated as its own product within the company.  You’ve probably seen this talked about in books like Product-Led SEO by Eli Schwartz, in which companies prioritize creating a web experience of information with a highly desirable UX.

Recommended Reading: Explaining product-led SEO: Is it right for your SaaS company?

The best product-led content marketing requires an integrated or connected strategy

You’ve likely heard of an integrated content strategy where all pieces - blogs, social media posts, whitepapers, emails, videos, and others - are connected and work together to meet a common goal. 

Here’s why your PLG brand should prioritize such integration across your content as well:

Consistent messaging

This approach ensures that all your content, across all channels and employee advocates, aligns in tone, messaging, and brand image. This consistency bolsters your brand's credibility and enhances customer trust.

Efficient resource use

By coordinating efforts across multiple content formats, you can leverage posts created for one platform on others, saving resources and time. 

E.g. for long-form SEO articles, we’re consistently coaching our clients on leveraging the data, images, and thought-leadership messages inside those articles as fuel for their other channels.

Increased engagement and impact

Consistent, relevant content across platforms caters to customers' varying preferences, increasing their engagement with your brand and ultimately driving pipeline. Aka, keep giving people the content they expect, where they want it.

Improved SEO

Consistently publishing content across various platforms boosts your SEO performance. As the off-page signals for authority grow due to your company's integrated strategy, you’ll notice an improvement in rankings and traffic growth from these URLs.

Trackable metrics

Integrated strategies allow for consolidated analytics, providing insights into what's working and what's not. This information can guide future strategies and help improve your ROI.

Recommended Reading: 8 Must-Have Content Types for PLG Companies Investing in SEO [+184 SaaS Marketers Told Us Which They’d Build First]

Product-led content strategy: Building content hubs around product features

Building content hubs around each of your product’s features is a method that focuses on creating comprehensive, interlinked content pieces that delve into each unique product feature’s most valuable solutions.

What are the advantages of building hubs around your product’s features?

  • The user experience for onsite prospects seamlessly guides them to their next natural interests - staying relevant and expanding on the topic they were initially reading.
  • Google rewards you with improved rankings because they see a growing resource of semantically related topics being connected.
  • Every piece in these feature hubs can point a user down a nurture pathway and a conversion pathway since they’re always related to the product.

Product-led content strategy

We explained the keyword research process for this in a newsletter article a couple months back that outlines how you can build on of these and what topics to choose (linked below).

Keyword research for content that celebrates your SaaS product.

Examples of product-led content worth studying

Zapier’s app-related products are built into their content

We’re all familiar with Zapier and their content program’s success. What they’ve done better than almost any other brand is integrate their product offerings across their website, even in their blog content.

Here is a great example: 

Zapier's product-led content example

The brilliance of their product-led capabilities is that they offer related zaps for the products they discuss in this article. Throughout the piece, then, they’re able to invite you to conveniently start implementing the solution with their product.

It’s smooth, and it’s effective.

Their product-focused CTA in their content

Supermetrics’ product-lite templates leave you wanting their product

Before you fully commit to paying for Supermetrics, a business analytics software, they give you a variety of templates with which you can often fully integrate your data for free.

As your needs and requirements get more complex, you can grow into their product offering, having already gathered value and an understanding of what you’re specifically looking for in a better analytics experience.

Supermetrics' product-led content example

Teamwork’s inclusion of product screenshots is very user-friendly

Teamwork is a project management and team collaboration software that gives users a subtle nudge toward their product in much of their content.

That nudge is facilitated through the use of screenshots from their product showing you how to solve your specific problem. 

They don’t have to tell you that it’s their product, but a reader’s curiosity into how they can get that view or product feature for their project management needs creates interest.

An example blog post can be found here.

Teamwork's product-led content example

Ahrefs’ use of written + video content puts their product on display

Ahrefs has masterfully focused on a slew of product-led content by not only using a similar framework as Teamwork, but also by doing a spectacular job of creating in-depth video content that similarly makes their product feel important without pushing you to buy it.

An example of their screenshots + video content strategy can be found here.

Ahrefs' product-led content example

Scroll down the page, and you’ll read lessons, see product screenshots + walkthroughs and several videos on the topic.

Screencastify’s product comparison pages make it easy

Every company has to try and nail the vs pages as part of their product-led efforts at some point. 

It’s bottom-of-the-funnel content, and it drives the metrics that you or your boss care about the most.

A good example of a company that’s creating these comparison pages effectively comes from Screencastify. They feature the key differences, product specs, industry uses, etc. can use them to rank above their competitors to increase activation over more well-known brands.

Here is an example of Loom vs Screencastify. It’s simple, short-form content at its best.

Screencastify's product-led content example

Interested in what other product-led marketing activities most PLG companies invested in for driving user acquisition? You can read more on that here:

What Product-Led Marketing (PLM) Is, and How to Use It to Grow Your User-Base [+ Helpful Resources]

How to create product-led content for your SaaS company

1) Educate yourself & recruit a subject matter expert regarding your product

Everyone says they want to have a product-led content strategy. 

But if you’re going to excel at this, you’re going to need to educate yourself on the functionality and use of the product. It also helps to have a subject matter expert willing to give you time on their calendar.

Doing this creates an environment where certain content must-haves all come together, including:

Displaying a deep understanding

A product expert, often a product manager or developer, has a comprehensive understanding of the product, its features, and its unique selling points. They know it in and out, enabling them to provide nuanced insights that might otherwise be overlooked.

Value articulation

The expert can clearly articulate the value each feature brings to users, making it easier to create content that truly highlights the product's problem-solving capabilities.

Problem-Solving Perspective

They understand the problems the product is designed to solve and can offer real-world examples of how it does so, making the content more relatable and convincing to prospects.

Technical accuracy

When creating content around your product, technical accuracy is paramount. A product expert prevents potential misunderstandings or false promises that could harm your brand's credibility.

Competitor awareness

Product experts are aware of how your product stacks up against competitors. This knowledge can help create content that subtly positions you as superior.

Having an expert as part of your content creation process is like having a guide who ensures your journey into product-led content is on the right path.

2) Use customer interviews, testimonials, reviews, forums, and cross-functional teammates to source topic ideas

Feedback from multiple sources is an invaluable resource when developing your product-led content ideas. Here's how it can inform your topics:

Customer interviews and testimonials

These offer direct insights into how customers perceive and benefit from your product. They can highlight the most appreciated features, which you can use to focus your topic pillars and clusters around. They also expose pain points or areas of misunderstanding that your content can address.

Reviews

Publicly posted customer reviews provide information about what real users think of your product. Positive comments can guide you toward your product's strengths, while constructive criticism can reveal areas that your content might help to clarify or enhance.

Try searching G2, Software Reviews, or Capterra to see what people are saying.

Cross-functional teammates

Sales and customer success teams are in constant contact with your customers. They have a deep understanding of their common queries, challenges, and specific product features that most appeal to them.

Their feedback can help you tailor your content to the issues that matter most to your customer base - even their goals outside your product’s abilities are informative.

By integrating these feedback channels into your content creation process, you ensure your product-led content is rooted in real experiences and needs. This results in posts that are more engaging, relevant, and effective at showcasing value.

3) Identify opportunities with search traffic related to your product and ICP

Once you have identified topics based on customer feedback and cross-functional team input, you can leverage popular keyword research tools to enhance your product-led content roadmap.

Here are the basics of what you’re looking for regarding these topics:

  • Identify search demand
  • Find related keywords
  • Understand intent
  • Spy on competitors

Once you’ve established a keyword roadmap, you can build optimized product-led content that allows you to leverage organic traffic. 

With the right inputs, you can quickly start to move a baseball stadium's worth of traffic throughout your website and into your other content to attract them to you and your company.

Recommended Reading: How do you convert your organic traffic?

4) Start with content that allows the greatest emphasis on your product

Most teams want to create content that will lead to the biggest impact in the shortest amount of time.

You’ll want to prioritize a healthy balance across the funnel, but you’ll be best served to focus most of your time, at least initially, on content that is most directly related to your product.

Here's a simple system to guide your prioritization:

  • Direct emphasis on product: Start with content that fully showcases your product's value proposition, such as comprehensive guides, in-depth reviews, or detailed feature breakdowns. These pieces allow you to dive deep into your product's capabilities and benefits, educating potential customers about how it can solve their problems. These assets will work well in indirect-product content later on and in your paid ads.
  • Use cases and success stories: Next, prioritize content that highlights real-world applications of your product. Case studies, success stories, or use cases show it in action, demonstrating its benefits in a real-world context.
  • Product comparisons: Creating content that compares your product with others in the market is an easy win to capture demand. These pieces subtly promote yourself while providing valuable information to prospects in the decision-making phase.
  • Indirect product mentions: Finally, create content that only briefly mentions your product. These pieces, like industry trends, how-to guides, or thought leadership articles, establish your brand as a knowledgeable authority in your sector. While your product may only get a passing mention, this content builds trust and credibility, which can be pivotal in a customer's decision-making process.

Remember, this isn't a rigid system, but rather a guideline. 

The order can be adjusted based on your needs, audience, and product.

In our case, as a content agency, we often work alongside the in-house team to help build out content with indirect product mentions and comparison pages while they focus more of their time on the first two bullets above. This helps us start to reach scale and impact more quickly across the array of content needs.

Check out our services here to see if Ten Speed can help your company build a more effective content engine.

5) Build with distribution across multiple channels in mind

Creating product-led content is only half the battle - distributing it effectively is equally important. Otherwise, no one will see it.

The teams that do this best build their content marketing strategy with distribution in mind. 

This means that knowing you’ll need to share it on social, via email newsletters, on YouTube, and through organic search should impact what you include in that content. This way, you have the fuel to generate all those distribution engines.

We’ve discussed a lot about content distribution, but most recently we covered this exact topic with Justin Simon. You can listen in to this conversation for more on what a distribution-first strategy means.

Achieve greater product-led growth with your content

With the above article’s explanations, the linked resources, and the product-led content examples, you and your team should be well on your way to building an effective content program.

If you need assistance with prioritization and building optimized content, we’re happy to see if our services make sense. You can book a call here, today.