No matter what industry you’re in, or how big your company is, you need to have a solid marketing strategy if you want to succeed. And when it comes to SaaS (software as a service) companies, things can get a little tricky. The market is constantly changing, the competition is ruthless and the rules are always evolving. That’s why it’s so important to have a flexible SaaS marketing plan that can adapt as needed.
Identify your target audience & learn everything about them
Everything starts with your target group. Who are they? What are their motivations? What are their problems that only you can solve? Don’t underestimate this part of the research because this will determine if you’re successful or not with your marketing strategy.
So what are the best ways to learn about your target group?
1) Meet with your target group companies for a coffee or organize a Zoom call
This is hands-down the best way to gather information about your target group. This doesn’t scale well, but that’s not a reason to skip it. You should have a habit of doing monthly or quarterly calls/meetings with companies that fall into your target group.
- don’t talk about your product, talk about their problems.
- find out about their main motivations when it comes to your product category and the main use case – what problem are they trying to solve and how are they attempting to solve it
- read the book Mom Test and apply everything you learn from it to these chats
- don’t assume that you should only gather this information once and be done with it. your target group and their motivations and problems keep changing and you’ll need new knowledge about them in order to come up with the right marketing strategies
- organize at least 3-5 of these meetings every quarter
- communicate the feedback you get from these companies to your product team as well so they could improve the product experience accordingly
2) Create buyer personas
Once you understand your target group’s workflows and problems, it’s time to create buyer personas. These are fictional representations of your ideal customer that help you better understand their needs, wants, and behaviors. This will also help you figure out what channels to use for marketing and how to personalize your messaging.
Your buyer personas should answer the following questions:
- What is their job title?
- What is their department (e.g., marketing, sales, support)?
- What are they responsible for in that role?
- How do they solve problems today? How much time and money are they spending on it?
- What terms are they using when talking about your product category?
Define what you want to achieve with your marketing campaigns
Once you know who your target group is, it’s time to figure out what exactly you want to achieve. This will help you decide which channels are best for reaching that goal. For example:
If your goal is lead generation – SEO-focused content marketing, email marketing, and PPC campaigns might be the best choice;
If your goal is brand awareness – PR, social media campaigns, and events/conferences would make more sense.
Don’t forget that these are just examples of how some channels can be used. If a channel doesn’t fit your goals, don’t use it.
In addition to knowing your goal, you also have to determine the timeline you have for this goal and the resources that are available for it.
Goals vs timeline vs resources
Different marketing channels require different kinds of resources and time investment. Some marketing channels are easy to get into but will take a long time to pay off – for example – content marketing and SEO. Other channels can start generating new leads fairly quickly but require substantial funds – for example – Google Ads.
It’s important to remember that there are no shortcuts when it comes to marketing. You have to be prepared to put in the time and resources if you want to see results.
To figure out the right timeline and resources, you’ll need to understand your business model and the revenue cycle of SaaS companies in general. Paid ads can bring new leads, but those leads will take time to convert into paying customers. Understanding this is important because if you don’t have enough funds allocated for marketing, it’s better to invest in longer-term channels that will pay off down the road.
You might be eager to try out various marketing channels, but you have to remember that it’s very difficult to manage multiple campaigns at once and see results. So choose one or two channels at a time and focus on them completely until they start working for you.
Choose the right channels to reach your target group
Now that you know your target group, goal, and resources available, it’s time to choose the right channels. This will vary depending on your industry and product.
There are a number of different channels that can be used for SaaS marketing:
SEO & Content marketing
SEO-centric content marketing is one of the most effective channels for building a sustainable lead generation channel. The goal of SEO is to get your website to rank as high as possible on search engine results pages (SERPs). This will increase the chances that potential customers will find your website when they’re searching for a solution to their problem. When you add a content strategy to it, you’ll start driving more traffic through search engines that can potentially become customers.
- SaaS companies that don’t have a big budget to spend on paid ads and have a profitable business (bootstrappers) that keeps them afloat long enough to start seeing results of this strategy (could take up to 1.5 years for a brand new domain)
- SaaS companies with a strong product-market-fit
Paid ads (Google Ads, Facebook Ads, LinkedIn Ads)
Paid ads are one of the fastest ways to reach new audiences and generate leads. They can be expensive, especially for highly competitive keywords and industries. However, they do allow you to target a specific audience very quickly.
- SaaS companies that have enough funds (recently raised money) and need to show month-over-month growth to investors
- SaaS companies who don’t yet have a strong product-market-fit and need to test different value propositions and product versions on actual users
Email marketing (newsletters)
Newsletters can be effective in nurturing your existing leads as well as staying top of mind for them. The main problem with newsletters is that they can be easy to ignore and unsubscribe from so it’s important to provide valuable content in your emails.
- SaaS companies that have a list of email contacts (potential customers, existing customers) and know how to segment their audience based on the buyer’s journey
Outbound marketing (cold emails, cold calls)
Outbound marketing is great for targeting specific individuals, but it can take a lot of time to find the right people and get them interested in your product. This is why you have to automate as many tasks as possible during this process.
- SaaS companies that are selling high-ticket products aimed at businesses (enterprise) and have a lot of leads to work through
PR (media coverage)
PR can be a great way to get your product in front of the right audience, but it takes time and effort. It’s important to build relationships with journalists and influencers before you pitch them with a story idea or ask for their help promoting your company.
- SaaS companies that are looking to get their product in front of a lot of people very quickly and have the resources to invest in PR campaigns
- SaaS companies that are focused on B2C
Social media campaigns
Social media can be a great way to connect with potential and current customers. It’s important to create valuable content that people will want to share. You can also use social media for paid advertising.
- SaaS companies that have the resources to invest in social media campaigns and are looking to build brand awareness – especially if they are targeting the B2C market
The best SaaS marketing strategy: produce high-quality content that resonates with your audience
No matter what SaaS marketing channels you choose to use, creating quality content in some form is always essential. This content can be in the form of blog posts, videos, infographics, or even podcasts. The key is to make sure that it’s relevant to your audience and provides them with value.
The next step is to make sure that you are putting this content in front of the right people – by promoting it through social media (both organic and paid), email newsletters, or even advertising on Google Ads.
Experiment and analyze the results to optimize your campaign and find the channels that work best for your company.
No one knows what the “best” SaaS marketing strategy is – it depends on your target group, industry, and goals. However, by experimenting with a variety of different strategies and analyzing the results, you can figure out which ones work best for you and continue to improve your SaaS marketing strategy.
SaaS Marketing Strategies, Example #1
- resources: no revenue, just starting out, minimal self-funding
- timeline: a few months to validate the business model and product
- goal: get the first 10 paying customers
For this type of business, the best marketing channels should be closely connected to gathering product feedback and since the goal is to get the first 10 customers, they should focus on doing things that don’t scale well. This SaaS marketing strategy consists of:
- launch your SaaS app on ProductHunt and list it on other tool discovery sites to gain some backlinks.
- PR – founders should do personal PR by posting about their entrepreneurial journey on Reddit, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Look into building in public.
- join relevant Facebook Groups and Reddit subreddits where your potential target group gathers and start contributing to the discussions in useful ways. Try to build relationships that would allow you to schedule Zoom calls with the target group members to learn more about them.
- write blog articles about your service and create video tutorials so these would support your sales activities
- try to schedule as many video calls with your potential target group members as possible. Depending on the state of your product/service. Each of these calls should either help to gain a new customer or to have new critical information about how to improve the product experience, how to communicate the value proposition, or how to monetize it in a better way.
SaaS Marketing Strategies, Example #2
- resources: good amount of revenue, more than one year in business, funded
- timeline: two to three months
- goal: increase MRR by 20%
This SaaS company has been around for a while and has a steady stream of revenue coming in – but they want to grow even more. Their goal is to increase MRR by 20%.
A SaaS marketing strategy for this type of company would consist of:
- PR – hire a PR agency to get more media coverage (both online and offline) and boost your brand awareness. Participate in industry events that allow you to meet potential customers in person.
- paid advertising on Google Ads, LinkedIn, Quora, Reddit, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram that allows you to target your potential customers.
- create a lot of high-quality content (blog posts, videos) that can attract new visitors to the website. Promote this content on appropriate channels (email newsletters, Google Ads, social media, etc)
SaaS Marketing Strategies, Example #3
- resources: funded, profitable, more than two years in business
- timeline: 6-12 months
- goal: increase MRR by 50%
This company is well-funded and has been in business for more than two years. They want to grow their revenue significantly and their goal is to increase MRR by 50%.
For this type of company, a SaaS marketing strategy would look something like this:
- SEO-focused content marketing strategy – create lots of high-quality content (blog posts, videos) that are targeting bottom-of-the-funnel keywords and topics for your target group. Focus on content velocity and on covering all the important topic clusters within your niche. If you lack the strategic direction in-house for this, outsource the content strategy creation and marketing team coaching.
- PR – get featured in top publications in your industry and speak at major events. This will help you reach new customers (including potential enterprise ones) as well as convert some of your website visitors into paying customers.
- paid advertising on Google Ads, LinkedIn, Quora, Reddit, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram that allows you to target your potential customers and to promote your SEO-centric content.
- develop a lot of powerful case studies and testimonials from happy customers. Share these on social media as well as in email marketing campaigns.
FAQ: Are there differences in SaaS marketing strategies for B2B vs B2C?
Yes! If you’re working on the B2B marketing then your target group is very pragmatic and is expecting you to provide top-notch information on how you can solve their problems, save them money and time.
With B2C marketing, the buying decisions are a bit more connected to emotions and your main goal is to increase brand awareness in order to increase your market share. You can also get away with simpler messages and content depth, and influencer marketing seems to be working way better in this market than for the B2B marketing.
FAQ: Should we offer a free trial as a part of our SaaS marketing strategy?
Depends. What are your competitors doing? If everyone else is offering a free trial, then you likely have to do the same to stay competitive. If none of the competitors are offering a free trial, it might give you a competitive edge to start offering it. Do some research and experiment with it. Let the numbers decide this for you.
FAQ: How long should I stick with one SaaS marketing channel before giving up on it?
It really depends on the channel and how much traffic you are getting from it. If you’re getting a lot of sales leads through LinkedIn, continue doing that as long as they are converting well and the CAC vs LTV makes sense.
With paid channels – if your conversion rate is low and costs too high, then start experimenting with other channels (e.g. Google Ads or Facebook) until you find one that works better for you. But always keep an eye on your analytics and test new things to see if they can help improve results.
With content marketing and SEO – you’ll need to give it a least a year of honest effort to see the full potential, so don’t give up too quickly. If you’re not seeing the bottom line improving even though you’ve been creating quality SEO content for a few months, check the impressions number in Google Search Console to see if there has been any growth since this is the first metric that starts improving.
FAQ: What should we do if we’re not sure how to communicate our value proposition yet?
Talk to your potential customers and listen to what terms they use when talking about your product niche and their problems. Make a list of potential value proposition messages and set up Google Ads campaigns with each one and compare the results.
Another tip to use – always focus on what the customer gains in your messaging. Talk about benefits and not about your features.
Do you have a solid marketing strategy for your SaaS business in place? If not, don’t worry. We’re here to help. At Astronaut Marketing, we have years of experience crafting successful marketing plans for businesses just like yours. Contact us today and let us show you how we can help increase your market share and grow your business.