What’s working now: Content marketing for software companies

by | Content Strategy, Tech Marketing

For software companies trying to gain a competitive edge in today’s crowded marketplace, having a top-quality product is no longer enough.

Companies need to create a magnetic attraction to the product and encourage users to seamlessly incorporate it into their daily workflows.

Content marketing can be a powerful tool for doing just that — if the company stays focused on creating remarkable content that bridges the gap between curiosity and consistent usage.

Let’s take a look at what’s working now for software companies that want to guide users toward becoming devoted product advocates.

Editorial content for product-led growth

Product-led growth (PLG) has emerged as a strategic approach to driving adoption and growth primarily through product experience. PLG leverages the product itself as the main vehicle for customer acquisition, retention and expansion.

Editorial content plays an essential role in PLG today. Software companies can use this content to showcase their product’s value and help users understand its relevance and application.

Instead of pushing for sales, content for PLG:

  • Educates the audience.
  • Guides them through the product’s features and benefits.
  • Highlights the real-world solutions the product provides.

In content for product-led growth, you’ll weave narratives around user stories, demonstrate successful use cases, and show the step-by-step processes of how users can solve particular problems using your software.

Many PLG-oriented software companies also emphasize community contributions, where real users share their experiences with the software, including their insights and achievements. By putting the spotlight on actual user experiences, the content reinforces the tangible value of the product (we’ll talk more about user-generated content in a minute).

When prospective users can see, understand and relate to your product’s value proposition through your content, they’re more likely to embrace your product — and that can lead to organic growth and long-term customer relationships.

Delivering value that meets customers’ stated needs

This one isn’t likely to be a big surprise: What’s working in content marketing today is meeting the needs of the prospect or customer. Responding to customers never goes out of style, and it’s just as important for software companies today as it’s ever been.

But this means that before you start creating content, you need to conduct customer research to identify the motivations, pain points and aspirations of your target audience.

This might include:

  • Engaging in one-on-one interviews.
  • Analyzing feedback from customer support channels.
  • Conducting surveys.
  • Reading product reviews.
  • Studying user behavior on the product or website.

With these insights in hand, you can create campaigns that address the specific problems your audience is facing today — instead of writing generic, one-size-fits-all content that doesn’t really deliver value for anyone.

Here’s the kicker, though: Your customers are human, and humans change over time. So if your company is still using buyer personas from five years ago, it’s time to do some fresh research and update them. Your content marketing success depends on it, in fact.

We’ve got a process here at Horizon Peak we call a Forensic Customer Profile that aligns your marketing with your audience’s reality — and it ensures you are creating content that consistently resonates and drives sales. Get in touch with us to learn more.

Creating content geared toward product adoption

As the software marketplace becomes more competitive, having a standout product isn’t always enough — you also need to encourage users to integrate your product into their daily workflows.

The best way to do that is to reveal the immediate and long-term benefits of using your software. That means creating and publishing content that is specifically tailored to drive product adoption.

Content like this can bridge the gap between initial interest and consistent usage. It illuminates the practicality of your product so users become more comfortable and confident in their decision to invest time or resources integrating it.

Content that drives product adoption could include:

  • Interactive demos.
  • Hands-on tutorials.
  • Detailed walkthroughs.
  • How-to guides that invite users to explore advanced features.
  • Tips and tricks that reveal lesser-known shortcuts.
  • Testimonials or success stories.

These types of content allow users to experience the product in action, making its benefits memorable and unmistakable.

Content that drives product adoption acts as an extended onboarding process, hand-holding users as they transition from novices to power users and product evangelists.

Personalizing content to promote retention

Right now, consumers are inundated with content and choices — so standing out isn’t just about the quality of your software. It’s about relevance.

With personalization, you can meet the unique needs and preferences of individual users, so they feel like the content they’re reading was specifically crafted for them.

When users feel that a company understands and caters to their individual needs, they’re more likely to stick around and stay loyal.

Think about the difference between receiving a generic email and one that addresses you by name, references your last purchase or action, and makes recommendations based on your preferences.

And now in the age of data analytics and user behavior tracking, it’s easier than ever for software companies to identify patterns and preferences in user activity and behavior. You can use this information to curate and present content that aligns closely with what your users will find interesting or practical in the stage they’re at.

For instance, a cloud storage platform company might notice that a user frequently uploads PDFs — then use that insight to send the person articles or tutorials on optimizing PDF storage, or even offer integrations with popular PDF editing tools. Or a project management app company might personalize content based on a team’s size, industry or the product features they most often use.

Of course, it’s crucial to strike a balance. Over-personalization or using data without clear transparency and user consent can feel creepy and invasive. Make sure users understand how their data is being used and provide them with options for controlling their personalization preferences.

Encouraging and leveraging user-generated content

Right now, one of the biggest things that’s working in content marketing for software companies is authenticity. And what’s more authentic than content created by users?

User-generated content (UGC) — which might include text, videos, images and reviews — communicates the value of your software by providing real-world validation.

When prospective customers see others sharing their positive experiences, it builds trust and can significantly sway purchasing decisions.

Encouraging UGC requires creating an environment where users feel motivated to share. This can be done by:

  • Hosting contests where users post their experiences or creative uses of the software.
  • Asking for user reviews.
  • Encouraging feedback and reviews post-purchase or after significant interactions.
  • Creating community forums or platforms where users can exchange tips, stories and use cases.

Once you’ve collected UGC, highlight it across your channels. This acknowledges your community’s voice and can help make users feel valued and heard.

Creating a content journey that spans all the channels where your customers are showing up

For software companies, the key to effective content marketing is not just creating valuable content but ensuring that it reaches your audience wherever they are.

All content marketing is omni-channel now. To make sure you’re showing up where your customers are, you’ll need to map out a clear customer journey across channels.

First, use customer interviews, message mining, analytics, and feedback tools to figure out where your customers spend their time, and understand what kinds of content resonates with them on each platform.

Once you have a clear picture of where your audience is and what content they’re consuming, create a content map. This map should help you visualize how your content interlinks across channels so you can create smooth transitions for users.

For example, an email might lead to a blog post that directs the reader to an on-demand webinar, which then triggers a nurture email sequence with further content. Each channel and asset can act as a stepping stone that guides the user deeper into your brand story and the benefits of using your product.

As you publish your content, monitor feedback, respond to comments and encourage discussions. When you engage with your customers as they’re on their content journey, you’ll not only keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening with your audience, you’ll also create a positive impression of your brand.

How software companies are using content marketing to build lasting relationships with customers

Modern software companies have innumerable opportunities to engage and connect with their audience members.

You can leverage the authenticity of user-generated content and the precision of personalization, as well as create content that drives product adoption — then stitch together all these elements into a seamless content journey that spans multiple channels.

When software companies invest in understanding, engaging and delivering consistent value across their content marketing efforts, they can position themselves for long-term success.

Talk to Horizon Peak principal consultant Jessica Mehring to find out how we can help you plan and execute a highly successful content marketing strategy.