Software as a Service (SaaS) is a rapidly growing market worldwide. In 2022, end-users are expected to spend an estimated $171.9 billion on SaaS — up more than 40% from two years ago, according to Gartner.
But this growth also means it’s getting crowded in the SaaS market, making it critical for cloud service companies to leverage successful marketing strategies to carve out a niche. Read on to learn how to meet the challenges of SaaS marketing head-on, with plenty of actionable processes and tools you can use to find untapped market potential and entice your potential customers to take action.
What Is SaaS Marketing?
A SaaS marketing strategy helps create awareness of your brand and product using digital marketing tactics we all know and love, leveraging content marketing to build exceptional digital experiences for your prospects. Similar to any other digital marketing campaign, the goal with SaaS marketing is to connect with your target audience and deliver the right messaging at various stages of the customer journey, convincing them to purchase.
Of course, marketing a SaaS product is often more complex than selling traditional products or services. When consumers are familiar with the basics of a product — appliances or website design services, for example — there’s less explaining to do upfront. With SaaS, you’re selling a service that you can’t physically show customers, that’s difficult to describe succinctly and is hard to illustrate or display clearly (screenshots are often not the most alluring of visual attractions). In many cases, your prospects don’t know your services exist, nor that you can solve a problem for them.
That’s why SaaS marketing relies heavily on informative content such as case studies, articles, videos, and webinars to educate customers as to why your software uniquely can help them overcome obstacles. As your content inventory grows, you’ll establish your expertise and authority, build trust with customers, and make it easy for your audience to choose your SaaS product over a competitor’s.
B2B SaaS Marketing vs. B2C SaaS Marketing
Both B2B and B2C SaaS marketing rely heavily on digital channels, in an evolving world that continues to put buyers’ needs before the sales cycle. B2B sales, for example, used to rely largely on sales reps, but most corporate buyers now do most of their research online before even speaking to a salesperson. As Gartner notes, one-third of B2B buyers prefer a seller-free experience, increasing to 44% among millennials.
You’ll find a few differences in your customer, however, depending on whether you’re selling B2B or B2C.
- B2B SaaS buyers take a highly logical approach to decision-making, focusing on the solution offered and how to justify its price point up the decision-making chain. There may be more than one person making the final call.
- B2C SaaS buyers, on the other hand, are usually the sole decision-makers, and their actions can be more emotional, sometimes based on desire rather than need.
While you’ll customize your messaging according to your buyer’s journey, both B2B and B2C SaaS marketers depend on an arsenal of SEO-optimized content. Use this content to forge paths to audiences through search engines, social media, your website, and other digital channels.
What Do You Need to Create a SaaS Marketing Strategy?
A successful SaaS marketing strategy relies on:
- In-depth knowledge of your customer
- Quality content that builds trust and engagement
- Online visibility created through SEO, paid search, review sites, and other online platforms
In this next section, I’ll show you how to put these steps into action and make sure you have the tools you need to make these processes easier.
SaaS Marketing Insights
Before you build your SaaS marketing strategy, get to know your customer inside and out. Determine what’s important to them and gain insight into their behaviors. Once you know what motivates your potential customers, you can begin crafting messages to convert them into customers.
Understand Your Audience/Customer Journey
To fully understand your customer, perform in-depth market research:
- Create personas of customers that would be interested in your service. Who are they, and what do they do? For B2B SaaS, identify the industry your buyers work in and their role in the company.
- Gather information about each customer type. Identify their needs and the platforms they use so you can target the right channels and start creating awareness of your software.
- Determine what your audience does at each stage of the customer journey. Where do they look for solutions, and what are the keywords they use? Zero in on the search intent behind the keywords so that you know whether your content needs to focus on discovery and research or if you need to provide information to support final decision-making.
- Many SaaS companies offer a free trial or demo to let prospective customers try the product first-hand. Make sure that the offer comes at the right point in their journey, so they’re more likely to take advantage of it.
Customer retention is also a big part of SaaS strategy. With a typical subscription model, your goal isn’t to conclude a single transaction. Instead, you need ongoing engagement and support to ensure your satisfied customer continues subscribing each month.
Once you’ve acquired your customer, focus on keeping them. Provide video tutorials and articles to help them maximize the benefits of the software, and serve up related tips to keep them engaged. Ensure you release prompt information about new features or patches to fix bugs, and emphasize customer care and engagement to reduce churn.
Choose How You’ll Communicate
Use your customer personas to guide you in your marketing tactics to reach your audiences on the channels they prefer. This approach ensures your resources and energies are focused on the best possible results. While every customer is unique, in general:
- B2B buyers often frequent professional platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter and respond to compelling email marketing.
- B2C buyers are more likely located on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter and can respond well to both email and SMS marketing.
Pinpoint the Pain Points
Your customer’s pain points are the stumbling blocks that make their work difficult. Using market research, surveys, or interviews, identify the issues your customers are facing and how they’re impacted. Does this obstacle cost them money or time, or is it an inconvenience? How will things change if they use your solution?
If your product solves their pain points, you’ve found the right target audience and need to communicate the benefits of your solution. Of course, pain points vary for different types of customers, so it’s important to run through this exercise for each persona.
Tools to Support Your SaaS Strategy
Before we talk more about the marketing strategies to employ, let’s make sure you have the tools you need to succeed. Tools make marketing more efficient and streamline work. To maximize your marketing spend, you’ll need platforms and apps that help you manage your marketing strategies, create content, analyze data, and communicate with customers.
A CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software helps you track customer interactions in one place. Use a CRM to target the right audiences for automating marketing tasks, understanding customer behavior, and upselling and cross-selling to your contact database.
If not included as part of your CRM, you can use email marketing platforms to manage your subscription lists and target customers directly with personalized emails. Use this tool to design emails, select recipients, and track who reads your emails and clicks through.
Choose an SMS platform to segment audiences and send text messages directly to customers on their mobile devices. This approach is ideal for short, quick missives such as transaction confirmations, customer support, announcements, contests, discounts, polls, and feedback.
Webinar platforms let you host live online video events such as presentations and demos. In addition, you can interact with audiences through chats and questions, track attendance, and see when users join and leave.
Content Creation Tools
Make your content creation easier with a blog template, and then run the copy through a tool like Surfer SEO or INK to optimize for readability and keywords. When you need graphics for social media, use Adobe Creative Suite or Canva to build infographics, posters, and ads.
Google Ads are a form of pay-per-click advertising. The ads display above organic search listings for your chosen keywords and can give your business immediate visibility while you’re implementing a long-term SEO strategy.
SEO tools are software platforms that help with keyword research and show you how your site can rank better in Google search results. Popular SEO tools include SEMrush, Ahrefs, Moz, and Screaming Frog.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a free Google tool for optimizing your website in search results. You can see how your site is performing and the keywords visitors use to find your site. It also alerts you to issues that may keep Google from indexing your site.
For valuable information about who’s using your website and how, set up Google Analytics. This essential tool helps you analyze traffic data to refine your SEO and marketing campaigns.
Project Management Tools
An effective SaaS marketing campaign has a lot of moving parts. Project management tools like Asana or Basecamp help marketing teams stay on top of them all. Break each element into specific tasks, assign resources, and ensure resources complete jobs on time.
7 SaaS Marketing Strategies You Should Implement Right Away
If you’ve identified your customer base and have all the tools you need, you can implement your SaaS go-to-market strategy and campaigns.
Your campaigns will vary based on your resources and budget, but here are some essential marketing strategies B2B SaaS and B2C SaaS companies should prioritize.
1. Create Compelling Web Copy
As a SaaS marketer, your website is your main selling platform. You can drive traffic to the site through organic search, social media, and pay-per-click ads, but your website has to do the hard work of converting once your prospect lands. This makes your web copy one of the most (if not THE most) important content assets in marketing.
Invest time in creating simple, concise content that engages the reader. Reassure the buyer that your service solves their problem while showing and not just telling. The more difficult your service is to understand, the more detailed information you need.
- Present your product and its benefits clearly. Demonstrate how it solves the buyer’s problems with links to case studies, testimonials, product demos, and other content.
- Make pricing as detailed as possible. Customers want to know what they’re getting at each price point, so clarify the differences between each tier.
- Have a clear call-to-action (CTA).
2. Drive Traffic to Your Free Demo or Trial
CTAs that offer free demos or trials are among the best calls to action for drawing in customers and creating marketing qualified leads. Free trials allow customers to see first-hand how your solution works and the value of your service, without financial risk on their part.
The goal of a demo is to convert these leads into paying customers. But before you sign up prospects, you need to drive traffic to your landing pages. There are two excellent ways to do this:
- Search engine optimization (SEO). Your goal as a SaaS marketer is to get your well-crafted landing pages seen by customers. SEO is the process of optimizing your web pages to rank well in search engines, boosting your online visibility. You’ll want to research the keywords your target customers use in Google and employ best practices to incorporate them into high-quality content on your web pages. You’ll also want to build backlinks to your site to establish your topical authority in your niche.
- Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Because SEO strategies are a long-term investment and can take time to show results, many SaaS businesses complement SEO with a paid search such as social media advertising and Google Ads. PPC can deliver near-immediate visibility at the top of search engine results pages or social feeds.
SEO and PPC depend on the right keywords to put your business in front of your target customer. Once you perform comprehensive keyword research, you can use the same search terms for SEO and PPC campaigns.
3. Create Content That Adds Value
A key to SaaS marketing success is creating content that your audience wants to consume so they come to your website or social channels to access it. Whether you’re producing written copy, video, or audio, you need to deliver in-depth, valuable insights readers can apply to their own situations. Consider the following types of content to appeal to different audience segments and include them in your content marketing strategy.
Case studies are one of the most powerful ways to demonstrate the value of your product because you’re showing how you solved actual issues for a customer and generated long-term benefits. Highlight SaaS customers that fit your buyer persona and use real numbers that show quantifiable results.
Blog posts are a chance to entice readers to your website and share knowledge and insight that they find useful. Additionally, these articles incorporate keywords to help with SEO and build backlinks from other sites and social media to drive traffic.
Often used to target B2B audiences, heavily researched white papers backed up with data provide in-depth knowledge of a narrowly defined issue. White papers are usually used in later stages of the customer journey to help customers through the decision-making process. This type of content is often gated and excellent for developing leads, as prospects are usually willing to provide contact information in exchange for accessing the document. I’ve seen exceptional conversion rates in B2B software marketing leveraging these white papers in email marketing.
Webinars are an interactive way to engage audiences and establish a presence in the industry. These live, online sessions can take many forms: a presentation on a topic, a panel discussion with experts, a Q&A with audience participation, or an interview with an industry influencer.
Digital newsletters offer you a direct connection to customers, keeping your business top of mind and enabling you to distribute links to numerous pieces of content at once. The challenge with newsletters is that you’re competing against other marketing emails in your customer’s inbox, so incorporate your most interesting content to compel readers to open it as part of your inbound marketing strategy.
A branded podcast can round out your content offerings, providing an intimate and relaxed conversation-style format. Podcasts often appeal to busy executives who prefer to listen to content while multitasking.
4. Make the Most of Review Sites
While it’s important to create content to educate your audience about your SaaS offerings, customers also seek social proof from others that your product is everything you say it is.
Enter the software review site, similar to TripAdvisor or Yelp, but designed for tech users. These online platforms are a one-stop-shop for consumers to learn about different products and gather third-party reviews and testimonials in one place.
Review sites are an excellent marketing tool for SaaS businesses. While users may independently decide to submit reviews, you can also encourage your satisfied customers to share their insights. Simply send an email or text with a link to the site and request that customers give you a rating based on their experiences. You may want to offer an incentive such as a discount to encourage them to provide feedback (just make sure this isn’t against the site’s TOS).
Software review sites help increase your online visibility, giving users another path to discover and learn about your product. Your listing may display in search engine results, or someone may find it when browsing the site for competing products. And remember, the more stellar reviews you can generate, the easier it is for a prospective customer to choose your service.
5. Implement a SaaS Referral Program
You can also get leads through referrals from existing customers. Social proof is highly effective, but a recommendation from a trusted colleague or friend has even more impact. The numbers support this: consumers are four times more likely to choose a business when a friend refers to them.
A referral program makes sense for your bottom line, too. Nearly eight out of 10 B2B marketers say that referrals are a source of good or excellent quality leads. It’s a channel with one of the lowest costs per lead.
When creating a SaaS referral program, choose an incentive that will spur your customers to action. Upgrades, discounts, subscription extensions, and cash are all good motivators. Then, let your customers complete the referral in a click or two and send your leads to a convincing landing page.
6. Partner with Other Platforms That Can Help Your Customers
Another way to expand your market reach is to engage in partner marketing with businesses that offer complementary products. A partnership increases brand exposure in front of a new client base while adding value to your own customers. You’re also pooling your resources with another business to acquire buyers jointly.
The key to a mutually beneficial partnership is ensuring your target customers align but that your companies serve different needs. Once you’ve found the right partner, look for opportunities to co-market your solutions. You may want to host a webinar or podcast together, publish guest blogs with backlinks, run joint social media marketing campaigns, or develop other co-branded content. You can also create more formal partnerships that involve co-selling or reselling services.
7. Outsource to the Experts
SaaS marketing takes place in a fast-paced, competitive environment. Still, you can distinguish your brand from others by focusing on the value of your software service and how it makes life easier for your customers.
A successful campaign involves multiple tactics run concurrently to generate sales and fuel growth. Consider outsourcing some or all of your strategies to a partner that knows how to market SaaS software and execute each step to industry best practices. SaaS marketing companies have the tools and expertise in place to quickly and effectively build awareness of your brand and product.
Get Your SaaS Marketing Plan Underway
You now know the marketing insights, tools, and strategies needed to improve your company’s visibility and attract customers to your cloud service. Take the next step in your growth and find out how our SaaS SEO agency can help drive sales and elevate your SEO to another level. Our team of experts has extensive experience in helping SaaS companies rise in search engine rankings and attract audiences. Request a free SEO consultation today.