6 Steps to a Complete Marketing Strategy for SaaS Companies
by Mike Khorev
You may think that SaaS marketing is all dry and business-like, a mirror image of old-school corporate B2B marketing. But stiff suits, trade shows, boring websites, and horrendous industry trade magazines have no place in the young and thriving SaaS sector. In fact, SaaS marketing strategy looks a lot like what you’d see for a B2C company: engaging, customer-focused, and data-driven. Here are six steps to creating a modern, effective marketing strategy for your SaaS business.
1. First, Know Your Metrics
Unless you enjoy throwing money down a dark hole without ever really knowing what becomes of it, you’ll have to get to know some basic metrics. Without measurement, marketing is just a guessing game driven by hunches and whim.
Before dipping your toes into the vast, icy waters of marketing metrics, it might help to understand why they’re the backbone of every successful SaaS marketing strategy.
Without metrics, you’ll never really know how effective your marketing strategies are. That’s pretty obvious. But perhaps more crucial, for any company who wants to grow, is that metrics can reveal areas of opportunity. Whether it’s new markets, new customers, or new products, moving forward requires looking back at your metrics. Here are a few of the most important ones for SaaS companies:
- CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost). CAC is a measurement of how much it costs to convince someone to buy. Combining sales and marketing expenses for acquiring visitors, then measuring how many of them become leads, and in turn measuring how many of those leads become customers, you’ll arrive at CAC.
Yes, there’s a bit of math involved. But in the old days, all companies could do was ‘spray and pray’, relying merely on how many leads they got to tell them whether their campaigns were working.Thanks to data-driven advertising campaigns that use tracking codes and powerful data-crunching tools, companies have this great new metric to help them assess their marketing efforts.
- LTV (Lifetime Value of a Customer). Hopefully, you’ll have repeat customers, which brings us to LTV. There are all types of customers, and hopefully through careful targeting and constant mindfulness of customer satisfaction, your business will attract the ‘good’ kind — the kind that sticks around for a long time. The more of those you have, the better your LTV metrics will look.
- ROI (Return on Investment). The most elemental metric of all, the classic ROI. Simply put, it’s the benefit of your investment divided by the cost of that investment.This metric is versatile, simple, and beloved by marketing experts since the beginning of time. It’s also a bit rudimentary, which is why it’s best used when combined with other metrics like LTV and CAC.
2. Now, Dig In and Study Your Competitors
Now that you know what to measure, here’s some actual strategy. This first plan of attack is used not just by marketers, but by anyone attempting to win at anything: study the greats. Want to play guitar? Study Slash’s technique. Want to rise to political power? Look at historical figures who’ve made it.
In our case, we’re studying the competitors — especially the really successful ones. We’ll be looking at:
- What strategies they use
- How strong their social presence is
- Their organic rankings
- How many backlinks they have
- Whether they run AdWords ads
Ahrefs.com will help out a lot here, showing data on organic ranking, backlinks, and Adwords.
3. Then, Create an SEO Strategy
If SaaS marketing seems dull to you, then perhaps it’s time to adjust your perceptions. True, it’s different from B2C because you’re targeting a narrower, more specialized audience — buyers and business owners. Both groups are generally more knowledgeable than the mass markets that B2C companies deal with. Business buyers are already well past the half-way point on the buyers’ journey by the time they’re ready to engage with an SaaS company’s website.
But that doesn’t mean they won’t respond to engaging content.
Marketing your SaaS company is, in some respects, just like marketing any product to a general consumer audience. Try and provide content that’s useful and which engages your visitors, and then you can start thinking about conversion. This technique, known as content marketing, generates triple the amount of leads when compared to outbound marketing techniques like trade shows and cold calling.
It also helps to have content that’s actionable, and that doesn’t just sit there. If your whitepapers aren’t doing the trick, or if your self-promotional blog posts aren’t converting, it’s time to reassess your SEO strategy.
To do this, map keywords to the buyers’ journey and create your content accordingly. For example, did you know that 94% of B2B buyers research their purchases online? That right there is a very strong case for putting out some fantastic whitepapers to capture those buyers at that stage of their purchasing journey.
Begin by using keyword planner tools and ahrefs.com to come up with keywords suggestion. Then, create landing pages for each set of keywords you come up with. Finally, support those landing pages with a series of on- and off-site blog posts on the same topic.
4. Next, Optimize Your Website For Conversion & Capture Emails
By now you sense that just having a pretty website is not enough. To capture leads and convert them to subscribers, you’ll need your website to work harder and capture emails for you. Then, once you know as much about your prospects as possible, hit them with stunning emails that reach them at the right time in the buyers’ journey.
Maybe they responded to a whitepaper download CTA. Or maybe they subscribed to your blog after reading a particular post. It’s that sort of information you’ll need to study in order to know where they are in the buyers’ journey.
That will set you up nicely for generating effective nurture campaigns for all those emails you collected. Different prospects will receive different series of emails, depending on how they came to you. Some of your emails will serve to convert prospects who didn’t subscribe to your software, for example. Others may target people who have let their free trial of your SaaS service expire.
Others will be nurtured along the buyers’ journey differently — there are dozens of touchpoints at which you can create opportunities for conversion. Sending the right email is key.
5. Don’t Forget to Submit Your Profile on Review Sites
Just as general consumers turn to Yelp to help them decide where to eat and shop, business software consumers turn to review sites as well.
There are plenty of SaaS directories for listing your business and, since online customer reviews are growing in influence, it’s essential that you check these directories out. Some of the biggest names include:
6. Finally, Run Ads
Identify your ideal customer, run paid campaigns and target them on Adwords, Linkedin and Facebook. One thing to keep in mind, so that you don’t bust your budget, is to remember your long tail keywords.
This is especially true for SaaS companies, who may be up against some very stiff competition. Let’s face it, there’s always a big dog who’s all but cornered the market in SaaS products and services.
Then, if you want to up your marketing game, you’ll want to also set up remarketing campaigns on all platforms and social media sites.
One Final Word…
Now you’ve got your six steps and your work is cut out for you. Better get cracking, since gone are the days when marketers could get by without knowing about metrics, buyer’s journey, keyword-driven content, email nurturing campaigns, and all the ways to use powerful data to run targeted ads.
If you’re feeling a tad overwhelmed, or if you feel your SaaS company can never compete in SEO, think again. SaaS business of all sizes are making steady progress with all these techniques I’ve outlined for you here. It’s a matter of studying your customer, learning your metrics, and creating a marketing strategy that fits your SaaS business to a tee.
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