February 21, 2024

How To Develop Thought Leadership Content for B2B SaaS

Ryan Sargent
Ryan Sargent

Your perspective is the key differentiating factor in a saturated B2B SaaS market. Every personal experience, every strongly-held business belief, every marketing experiment — they all come together to create an irreplicable point-of-view that’s unique to you and, by proxy, your company. 

When you turn that perspective into educational content that adds value to your readers, that’s thought leadership. 

Don’t underestimate how valuable thought leadership can be for early-stage startups trying to make a name for themselves: You’ve probably even seen thought leadership content by Ten Speed’s founders, like this deep dive into SaaS content marketing inspired by scaling content at Sprout Social. 

Thought leadership content is a compelling marketing tool for B2B SaaS companies vying for the attention of the masses. But it’s one thing to have a general understanding of thought leadership as an ambiguous concept and another to know what it looks like in action.

What is Thought Leadership Content?

Thought leadership content is a bit like a square. 

All squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares — thought leadership content relies on your opinions, but not all opinions are good candidates for thought leadership.

Opinions do have a place in thought leadership — but they aren’t the only contributing factor. At its core, thought leadership is educational content. 

It informs, influences, and inspires. Whatever shape it comes in — podcast, blog article, or social media post — paves the way for new frameworks of thinking. 

There are a few pillars of thought leadership:

  • Authority and credibility: Subject matter expertise is never more important than it is for thought leadership content. Deep knowledge is a prerequisite for this kind of content to make an impact.
  • Insights and innovation: What you think isn’t as valuable as what you know. Data-driven storytelling comes in handy here. Show us what you’ve learned, how you learned it, and why we should change what we’re doing moving forward to see the same results. 
  • Personal brand and identity: Everything you create and engage with crafts a narrative about who you are. When you wield this thoughtfully, your brand becomes a powerful tool. 

All valuable content offers something to the reader. Often, thought leadership content brings something new to the table. If not a new idea entirely, then certainly a new approach, a new experience, or (you guessed it) a new perspective. 

What does thought leadership look like in practice? 

On LinkedIn, the Founder of Hootsuite, Ryan Holmes, has been known to chime in with riveting personal narratives, like this one about his time as a pizza shop owner, to connect with young entrepreneurs. 

LinkedIn is full of thought leadership because of its extensive B2B networks, but it isn’t the only place it exists. You can find thought leadership content anywhere you can find any content: webinars, white papers, podcasts, and even other social media. Get brilliant minds together, and bold new ideas are bound to develop. 

Andy Crestodina serves up another great example of successful thought leadership. When Orbit Media puts out a new survey, like this one regarding AI, readers will flock because Andy’s reputation as a thought leader is backed by data, adding a layer of trustworthiness to his insights and opinions. 

Who are thought leaders?

The name “thought leadership content” implies there are also thought leaders. 

So, what does it take to be one? 

Anyone can become a thought leader with the right combination of ingredients we mentioned earlier, but there are a few common types of players who hold the power to shift the industry tides. 


Entrepreneurs are problem solvers. For B2B SaaS ventures, these entrepreneurs are spearheading innovative technologies that change the way we work: 

  • Jason Lemkin, Founder and CEO of SaaStr
  • Zeb Evans, Founder and CEO of ClickUp
  • Rand Fishkin, Cofounder of SparkToro

Industry experts 

Tenured professionals have learned a lot of lessons along the way. We turn to them for their expertise, whether we’re looking for advice on how to navigate a specific problem or hoping some of their hard-earned knowledge will transfer to us via osmosis. (Or via a podcast or LinkedIn post.) 

Industry experts-turned-thought leaders include: 

  • Ryan Law, Director of Content Marketing at Ahrefs and former CMO at Animalz
  • Ashley Levesque, VP of Marketing at Banzai
  • Ramli John, Content Director at Appcues

C-Level executives

We often turn to the C-Suite for guidance on business best practices. In the same way, we keep our eyes and ears trained on them to glean their hardest-hitting insights in the hopes that the wisdom they share can help us steer our companies in the right direction. Some popular CEOs include: 

  • Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI
  • Nathan Latka, CEO of Founderpath
  • Marc Benioff, Founder and CEO of Salesforce 

These lists go on and on and on, but clearly, there’s some overlap happening. Some entrepreneurs and industry experts become execs because of their obvious chops. 

In short, thought leaders are people who aren’t afraid to question the status quo and have the expertise and authority to back up their beliefs. 

Benefits of thought leadership

We already know that thought leadership is a demonstratively impactful segment of content marketing strategies, but let’s dig into the details. 

According to Edelman’s 2022 B2B Thought Leadership Impact Report, 61% of decision-makers believe thought leadership showcases the value of a product or service. In a world where business is growing increasingly harder to win, that matters.  

Courtesy of Edelman 

When buying into a Saas product, companies want to know they’re in good hands. Thought leadership builds trust in the business for two main reasons:  

  1. It puts a face to the company. It’s much easier for consumers to trust a person over a faceless entity, the same way we’re more willing to trust a personal referral. It establishes credibility. 
  2. You’ve taught them something. By sharing thought leadership content, you’ve already added value to their lives. They’re, then, that much more willing to invest.  

Like any content in your arsenal, there’s a time and place for thought leadership to take the stage.  

If you’re launching a new product, there’s an innate opportunity to become the go-to expert on the problem your product solves. If you’re about to start hiring, consider using thought leadership to attract like-minded individuals who align with your company’s brand and beliefs.  

When you’re developing your content strategy, use thought leadership to your advantage, but don’t forget that strategies need elasticity to be effective.  

Say there’s a major disruption in the industry (like the generative AI boom). Make sure you can shift your content strategy to accommodate unexpected plan changes. You won’t have all the right answers at first, but you can establish yourself as a thought leader by being willing to think critically about the changes your industry faces.  

The more you write, the more effective your thought leadership strategies can be. Before long, you won’t just be the face behind a SaaS product or a service provider — you’ll be a trusted expert. 

Brand authority & credibility 

B2B SaaS is a competitive market that shows no signs of slowing down. You need brand authority the way a fish needs water. Otherwise, you’ll get lost in the sea of bigger, meaner fish. 

Here’s how thought leadership can transform your brand’s credibility and authority. 

Increased visibility

Thought leadership content is a fantastic way to get your company in front of new audiences. 

With regular posting, thought leadership establishes you as someone regular readers can count on. Not only will they look forward to your insights and engage with them (which trains the algorithms to see your content as valuable), but they’ll be more likely to share them with others, increasing your reach. 

More than that, you’ll also be telling search engines that you’re a reliable source of information. If you’re creating owned media, you’ll likely see a boost in domain authority and increased organic traffic. 

Brand differentiation

Thought leadership is directly related to your company’s core tenets. Where do you stand on AI? What’s the biggest mistake customers are making? What wisdom have you earned throughout your time in the SaaS world?  

You stand out in your industry through your unique point of view, value proposition, and brand values. Your thought leadership pieces should touch on all three of those things to become effective top-of-funnel content.  

Spend some time making sure your messaging aligns with the company’s to reap the full rewards of thought leadership content. The last thing you want is for your content to contradict your company’s. 

Generate backlinks

Your SEO team will thank you once you start posting thought leadership. Why? High-quality, well-researched, and thought-provoking content naturally generates backlinks.  

Don’t be surprised to find your posts included in roundups or your social media posts circulating. Content creators are constantly on the hunt for reputable resources and sources of data they can cite to support their content. Plus, engaging thought leadership content will spark new conversations, spurring engagement and, ultimately, backlinks.  

Regularly posting thought leadership content will solidify your place among thought leaders, bolster your reputation as a trustworthy and authoritative source of information, and become a consistent source of backlinks to your content. 

Engage potential clients

Have you ever seen an aggressively sales-y ad that would never convert you in a million years? When you’re trying to attract new customers, the same general principles apply: The pushy hard sell can be a turn-off. 

Thought leadership content increases your SaaS company’s visibility and engages potential customers without direct contact or obvious promotion.  

Because it’s typically very top-of-funnel, you might not immediately associate it with lead generation. However, if you’re posting that content on LinkedIn, you can create a direct line to potential customers with no strings attached. 

Not only does well-written content position you as a thought leader, but engaging in the comments may open you up to conversations that lead to conversions: You never know when someone asking a question could become a long-time user and advocate of your business. 


As you develop these one-of-a-kind perspectives into consumable media, you’ll stop following trends and start setting them. Staying ahead of the curve positions you and your company as experts and innovators, which is a must for B2B services.  

Thought leadership content is often a byproduct of asking tough questions, thinking outside the box, and staying curious. Those attributes are admirable in the constantly changing SaaS environment, especially if you’re at an early-stage startup.  

By creating thought leadership, you’ll foster a team of critical thinkers who continue to push the boundaries. Thought leadership won’t just impact your inbound marketing — it can also ignite and excite your internal stakeholders, building credibility in the brand. 

Types of thought leadership content

Thought leadership content comes in many shapes and sizes. However you choose to approach it, it can be an exciting element of your overall content marketing strategy. Let’s take a closer look at the key types of thought leadership you can experiment with. 


Everyone has rage-clicked “Show More” on a clickbait LinkedIn post before. However, not all counter-narrative thought leadership posts will — or should — spike your blood pressure.  

Counter-narratives are arguably one of the most recognizable types of thought leadership — it’s also where most people miss the target. It’s not enough to have wayward opinions. It’s why you have them and what you do with them.  

Beyond that, counter-narratives aren’t just empty critiques. They offer better approaches and unexpected solutions to problems we may not even know we have.  

There’s nothing better than a bullish take and the authority to back it to get people talking. 

Personal narrative

Thought leadership content is personal, and sharing personal narratives is a surefire way to build a connection with readers. Your individual experiences and unique perspectives act as a bridge between your audience and your brand. 

The more authentic you can be, the better. When you sound like everybody else on the market, you’ll always be overlooked. But when you’re true to yourself, you’ll build real connections that make you — and your brand — memorable in an oversaturated market. 

Data storytelling

At the crux of thought leadership is clarity and credibility. Thought leaders seem to have a preternatural ability to cut through the chaos and get right to the point. The key? It’s all in the data. 

If you’ve ever run a survey, you already know that parsing through the data to find meaningful learnings is no small feat, let alone visualizing that data in a way that is easily digestible. However, you can take the insights you get from that data and turn them into a diverse array of content when you put in the effort to do the analysis. 

This doesn’t need to be an overwhelming task. Data storytelling can begin from fairly simplistic analyses, like: 

  • Results of an A/B test you ran on your site
  • Observations from a lead nurturing campaign 
  • Findings from customer journey interviews

Like all good content, data storytelling takes work, but proprietary data is a renewable resource that you should be taking advantage of. 

Industry analysis

According to a survey by Orbit Media, clear communication is one of the most vital aspects of thought leadership. 

Courtesy of Orbit Media

Thought leaders are often at the center of the Venn diagram between astute observers and forward thinkers. When there are shifts in the industry, thought leaders are the first place people turn to help distill big, complex problems into bite-sized learnings. 

Whatever you say, make sure you say it clearly. 

Network connections

One of the core pillars of thought leadership is leveraging your network of experts. This type of thought leadership is particularly relevant for podcasts, but you’ll find networks utilized across all content formats — guest blogs, social media posts, webinars, you name it. 

When you combine your unique perspective with that of other professionals you know and respect, your content becomes twice as compelling. You’ll appeal to a larger audience — yours and theirs. 

How to build an effective thought leadership strategy for B2B SaaS

Because thought leadership can feel so personal, it’s easy to forget that for it to be truly effective, it needs a strategy. A solid thought leadership content strategy can take your online presence from good to great. Here’s how to build a sustainable and effective strategy for thought leadership content. 

Define goals 

Like any project, you’ll only know if your content is successful if you define how success looks.  

These goals could look like: 

  • Establishing brand authority and visibility 
  • Increasing lead generation and customer engagement
  • Nurturing customer loyalty and boosting retention
  • Improving SEO and organic traffic

Review existing content

Your existing content library is filled to the brim with your company’s brand messaging, so why not use it? After all, we always sing the praises of content repurposing

You’ll also want to familiarize yourself with the landscape of other thought leadership. You have to know the rules to break them, and it’s helpful to know where your competitors stand on industry-related topics so that you know where your company’s values differ.

Identify your company’s focus & your own thought leaders

CEOs commonly function as mouthpieces of a company, but creating thought leadership content doesn’t need to be a one-person show. Your company is brimming with innovative thinkers who are experts at what they do. 

You won’t be able to identify the thought leaders at your company without first understanding the types of thoughts you want to lead. 

A few questions to ask yourself when identifying your focus: 

  • What does our company do better than anyone else?
  • What makes us different from our competitors? 
  • What problems do we solve for our customers? 

Then, look at your personnel. They were all hired for a reason. Do you have any active content creators on staff? Tap into their talent and existing networks. The more thought leaders you deploy at your company, the more diverse your content and the more expansive your reach. 

What does thought leadership mean for B2B SaaS?

Things change fast in the B2B SaaS environment. Everyone is constantly searching for new breakthroughs to optimize workflows.  

Thought leadership content is the opportunity to steer the industry by being on the front lines of innovation. It allows you to become a defining voice and solidifies your role as a trusted figure. Not to mention, it can be a major driver for company growth. 

How to craft thought leadership content

Like all content creation, thought leadership content can be supported by marketing agencies, but you won’t be able to outsource your personal insights. Content ideas for thought leadership should come from the leaders themselves and then, if needed, be expanded upon by a team of content experts. 

Here’s what we recommend for creating effective thought leadership content. 

Select the right topic

If you operate a SaaS product that takes the hassle out of email marketing, you wouldn’t get on stage and lecture about bookkeeping tips. 

The sweet spot for thought leadership is when you identify topics that resonate with your target audience and reflect your brand’s expertise.

Be consistent

Messaging consistency is crucial for thought leadership content. Otherwise, your “leading” might look more like herding cats. 

Don’t get me wrong: It’s okay to change your mind from time to time — especially if you outline when, why, and how it was changed. But the way you present your observations and discoveries shouldn’t stray from your company’s core values. 

Aligning your personal voice with your brand’s voice is where the magic happens.

Write from an expert POV

If you’ve ever wondered why the posts you make from your company’s LinkedIn profile have a fraction of the reach you’re used to on your personal account, that’s because companies don’t have perspectives, but people do. 

Assume the role of the expert when creating thought leadership content. Present it from a place of confidence. What you’re publishing is meant to spark discussion, and your authority on the subject is valued. 

So, be authoritative. Lean on your experiences to carve out a niche for yourself in the thought leadership world where your expert point of view can shine. 

Align business goals & priorities 

The business impact of successful thought leadership could include increased organic traffic, stronger brand recognition, and higher returns if you align your content with your company’s goals. 

Do this in three steps: 

  1. Analyze current content performance to craft a plan to meet quarterly objectives.
  2. Integrate thought leadership into your overall marketing strategy rather than keeping it in a silo — allow it to enhance, not distract from, your content initiatives.
  3. Measure key metrics along the way and adjust your content plan accordingly.

If you want to learn more about how to keep your focus on business impact while creating content, tune into this episode of the Content That Grows Podcast

B2B SaaS thought leadership best practices 

Software is constantly evolving, which means that thought leadership is the perfect place to establish yourself as an expert when you work in the B2B sphere. To set yourself up for success, keep these best practices in mind as you start developing thought leadership content.

Audience-centric focus

If your audience has no interest in hearing what you’re talking about, they won’t listen. By identifying your ICP and speaking directly to them, you’ll give your thought leadership the legs it needs to stand on. 

Encourage engagement

Yelling into the void is not on the agenda for successful content. True leadership is hands-on. Your content should be thought-provoking and incite discussion among other professionals working with SaaS products — don’t just post it and walk away. Be an active participant in the conversation and watch as you begin to build a community. 

Data-driven content

Leveraging data is a must for B2B SaaS thought leadership. It’s not enough to simply have the data. Analyze it, visualize it, and craft a meaningful narrative that will resonate with your audience. 

Multi-channel approach

For BSB SaaS companies to get the most mileage out of their content, it’s best to post your thought leadership on multiple channels. 

Be authentic

If nothing else, the best thing you can do for your content is be authentic. Thought leadership needs to be thoughtful, authority-backed, and genuine to reap the full benefits. 

Real examples of thought leadership content

Let’s dive into a few real-world examples of thought leadership content. 

Ten Speed examples

At Ten Speed, we know how important thought leadership is — and we do plenty of it ourselves. 

B2B SaaS examples

The best SaaS marketing agencies all know how impactful thought leadership can be for a company. Here are a couple of ways other B2B SaaS companies are using thought leadership: 

Seeking a skilled SaaS agency with expertise in SEO and thought leadership content?

Ten Speed is a thought leader in the B2B SaaS space and has extensive experience supporting B2B SaaS companies looking for organic growth. We work closely with SaaS businesses to develop powerful content strategies, including thought leadership, that get results. 

Learn more about our services and book a quick intro call to see if we’re a good fit for your team.

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