Shaun is a Growth Marketer at Lean Labs, working with deserving brands to create, implement, and optimize proven growth strategies.
SaaS businesses invest 80% of their revenue in marketing and acquisition in the first five years.
Does that ring true for your company? We’re willing to bet it does. And it makes sense. You must get your SaaS product “in the hands” of as many people as possible. I’ve put quotes around “in the hands” because you’re not handing a product to your customers. SaaS products and services aren’t tangible.
And therein lies the problem. Marketing for SaaS products and services is more complex than physical products because potential customers can’t see or feel your products. The only way to show them the actual value of your product is through first-hand experiences, such as a demo or free trial.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to get marketing wrong and waste valuable time and resources on marketing strategies that don’t bear fruit.
So, how do you market your SaaS business? This article provides seven proven strategies for effective marketing and includes examples of real companies achieving remarkable growth with these strategies.
What is SaaS Marketing?
SaaS marketing focuses on driving traffic to your website and acquiring leads for subscription-based SaaS products and services.
We’ve already touched on the difficulty of marketing something that isn’t tangible, but all is not lost. Your SaaS business can thrive with a focus on growth strategies and content marketing.
You’ll need a clear and concise strategy centered around your buyer’s journey (or the process by which your customers go from relative strangers to raving fans). You’ll need to focus on the 6 Levers of Growth to hone your marketing strategy and achieve the best ROI (return on investment).
Without a solid strategy, you risk wasting money, time, and resources on mediocre marketing that doesn’t provide quality leads and instead causes your marketing and sales teams a headache. Conversely, a robust marketing strategy ensures you’ll have a pipeline of quality leads and people that want to use your product or service.
Let’s dive into some proven strategies that you can implement today.
7 Proven Strategies: How to Market Your SaaS Business
- Develop a buyer’s journey
- Build an organic growth engine
- Deep-dive into SEO
- Be a Guest blogger
- Form a Webinar Partnership
- Content Marketing
1. Develop a Buyer’s Journey
Who are you selling to? How does your SaaS product or service solve their problem?
You need to dig deep and get specific here. It doesn’t need to be as specific as:
James: Has two dogs, follows the Dodgers from state to state, and his favorite food is an Oreo cronut.
Although that isn’t far off. You do want to get pretty specific—you’ll just want to hone your specific details to match your business and the solution you can offer to your target customer:
James: CEO of a SaaS/Tech Startup that needs growth fast and can’t hire five full-time employees.
Knowing your customer’s challenges and pain points helps you position your brand and personalize your messaging. Talk to real people. Ask people in your target audience if they would chat with you for 15 minutes about their problems. You can also talk to your current customers if you have any.
Where traditional marketing fails, growth marketing excels. Traditional marketing focuses on awareness (driving traffic to your website) and acquisition (turning website visitors into leads).
Traditional marketing has its place, but for SaaS products, it’s crucial to get your product in the hands of the people who need it most and then delight those people so that they become advocates for your brand.
That’s why SaaS marketing strategies encompass the entire buyer journey.
- Awareness: Your potential customer knows they have a problem but need to define it. The content you create here will bring the people most likely interested in your solution to your website.
- Consideration: Your potential customer has clearly defined their problem and is considering solutions. You want to be in the mix, and you’ll use acquisition and activation strategies to turn relative strangers into qualified leads and nurture those leads to become customers.
- Decision: Your potential customer has narrowed down the list of potential companies they want to work with and is ready to buy. Your goal here is to overcome any objections or concerns that might stop your buyer from choosing you.
- Retention: Once your buyer is a customer, what will you do to keep them? It’s near impossible to grow if you’re continually churning more customers than you’re bringing in. You don’t want to be fighting math. Focus on the customer experience. Delight your customers, upsell, cross-sell, and turn them into raving fans.
- Referral: Your customers are your best marketers. If you’re delighting them, they’ll turn into raving fans and bring more people to your business.
Example: Lean Labs
Lean Labs uses the 6 Levers of Growth with all of your clients. Every week, we look at every lever (Awareness, Acquisition, Activation, Revenue, Retention, Referral) to determine where we’re crushing it for our clients and where we can improve.
Lean Labs redesigned the brand experience for Brian Tracy International. As one of the world’s premier coaches and authors, Brian Tracy had a busy website full of information that overwhelmed visitors instead of offering a straightforward buyer journey.
Lean Labs delivered a tactical website, focusing on brand experience and inbound marketing tactics to give Brian Tracy International a solid foundation and build the best possible website for their customers.
2. Build an Organic Growth Engine
Organic growth is a long-term play, but when done right, it can deliver massive ROI. You’ll have to invest in marketing, sales, and customer service, but the payoff is worth the outlay.
Due to a lack of market research, poor planning, and mediocre marketing, among other reasons, 80 percent of startups don’t survive past a year. If you flip that on its head, 20 percent of startups do survive. And we believe it is at least in part because they build an engine focused on growth.
To start, systematically scan for new growth opportunities. You need to identify pockets of growth and allocate resources to them. You’ll establish goals, set the agenda throughout your organization, and have a system that manages your pipeline of potential leads.
You might create or innovate new products and services to complement your existing offer. But most importantly, you should excel at what you do and ensure everybody knows it.
Crucially, ensure all of your efforts point towards growth.
What worked well in the past might not work now, so you must be willing to experiment, fail, pivot, and try again.
To build your engine, create an organic ecosystem of content, SEO, PR, word of mouth, email marketing, and social media.
Intercom is a messaging platform that provides a suite of apps for businesses to manage their sales, marketing, and support communication. Intercom focused on using a Jobs-to-be-Done framework to help customers solve their problems through fresh and compelling content.
Intercom considered the jobs their product fulfills and set about creating a content strategy focused on storytelling, sharing valuable insights, and conducting research. Through research, they create better products and compelling messaging.
Intercom drive growth by helping companies focus on the retention and referral stages of the buyer journey.
3. Deep-dive into SEO
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the process of improving your website to increase its visibility on Google and other search engines. Optimization makes it easier for potential customers to find you when searching for products or services related to your business.
SEO plays a crucial role in content creation. Without it, you run the risk of throwing mediocre content out and seeing what sticks. Through regular optimization of your titles, metadata, format, and load times, you make it easier for Google, Youtube, and other search engines to find your content and match it to user intent.
To make the most out of SEO:
- Don’t get overwhelmed by trying to optimize everything at once.
- Look for low-hanging fruit, like keywords with substantial search volume and low competition.
- When you write a blog, make sure you have internal links that let your customers know you have more educational content that can help them.
- Ensure you have a meta description and the proper blog layout.
Build the content you create around solid keywords. Try to find the gaps in relevant content. What questions are other companies not answering?
You can use tools like SEMrush and Moz to brainstorm and grade potential keywords. For more on SEO and content creation, check out SEO and Content Marketing: A Match Made In Heaven (And How to Do It Correctly).
Example: Take Note
Take Note is a UK-based business that provides audio and video transcription services, captions, and on-site notetaking. They decided to use SEO optimization to reach their customers.
Thomas Carter, Director of Marketing at Take Note, said, “I think for us, SEO is the way to grow within such a competitive market.”
Take Note has a blog titled ‘Adventures in Transcription’ where they host Expert views, news, and insights from the world of transcription and notetaking. They write about particular topics that their customers resonate with.
Since focusing on SEO, Take Note has seen a 22% increase in website traffic, 16% increase in customers, and 116% increase in leads.
4. Be a Guest Blogger
It’s exactly what it sounds like. Being a guest blogger involves writing and publishing one or more articles for other websites and publications. Sometimes you’ll get paid for your articles; other times, you might get a link back to your website or social media accounts.
There are a few benefits to guest blogging:
- You can grow your audience
- You can build a reputation as a thought leader or industry expert
- You might improve SEO on your website
- You can build authoritative backlinks
- Drive referral traffic
- Improve your own company’s brand awareness
- If you run a new company, you get the chance to borrow an audience from an already existing blog or website.
If you work with websites that allow you to link back to your website or resources, you can improve SEO. Guest blogging is an inbound marketing tactic that drives traffic to your website and can increase your revenue.
When he first launched Buffer, the founder of the social media scheduling app, Leo Widrich wrote approximately 150 guest posts. Using a robust guest blogging strategy, he grew Buffer’s customer base from 0 to 100k in 9 months.
He played the long game. He started writing on smaller blogs and built a reputation as a thought leader. His early blogs barely drove traffic, but his perseverance led to writing for more prominent sites.
His top tips are:
- Find one traffic channel that works and scale it up.
- Check out posts that are already doing well and find the key elements that made the posts successful.
- Contact marketing directors and build relationships–don’t just send a link request.
- Show some examples of your past guest post to establish credibility.
5. Form a Webinar Partnership
Video content is crucial to a modern marketing campaign. And webinars are a fantastic way to entertain, educate, and sell to a captive audience. You can engage your existing pipeline, showcase thought leadership, and increase brand awareness.
In a recent study, “73% of marketers and sales leaders find webinars to be one of the most reliable ways of generating quality leads.”
But what if you form a partnership with someone else in your industry? We’re willing to bet you can increase the success of your webinars even more. As a host, you benefit from being associated with experts and thought leaders. These associations can be crucial to building trust with your audience.
You can repurpose webinars into videos, blogs, and transcripts and continue to drive leads by offering replays. You can even drive traffic to landing pages. The possibilities are endless.
Related: 6 Tips For Repurposing Video Content
SaaStr has a clear goal: “To help your business grow from $0 to $100m ARR with less stress and more success.” And they produce industry-leading content in the form of webinars.
They produce content for various topics, from Saas product pricing to SaaS events. They regularly address the growth challenges SaaS companies face and provide actionable advice on how to grow your SaaS business.
Recent speakers include Eric Rea, CEO of Podium, a company that went from $0 to $60 Million ARR in four years, and SaaStr CEO Jason Lemkin.
Webinars are a great way to re-engage people who left your website or signed up to your list but haven’t taken action. Put simply, retargeting tracks your website visitors and displays online adverts as they visit other sites around the web.
If they visited your site, they might visit a competitor or someone you have a strategic partnership with, and you can retarget them there.
Retargeting improves marketing metrics. It builds credibility, increases brand recall, and if you offer something of greater value, people will want to buy from you.
Retargeting tools allow you to launch campaigns based on events such as attending a webinar, and some tools let you target people with similar interests and characteristics. You can also use retargeting on social media with ads relevant to the pages people visit on your site.
Example: Total Wine
- Revenue generated from retargeting increased 20.7% year-over-year;
- Lifetime return of 6:1 on ad spend;
- A 50% increase in reach year-over-year.
Total Wine created targeted audiences and segmented lists using their CRM and matched them to those audiences available on platforms like AdRoll and Google Ads. Using a CRM is clever because it holds valuable data about the preferences and behaviors of your current customers, past customers, leads, or email subscribers.
This helps you create unique audience groups and get hyper-specific with ads you show them on social media and the websites they browse.
7. Content Marketing
Content marketing is evergreen. Unlike PPC (pay-per-click) advertising, where you constantly pump money in, but traffic stops when you stop paying, content continues to drive leads as long as your potential customers can find it.
Use content in every stage of the buyer journey. Your customer is the hero, and you are their guide. Every potential customer is the main character in their own story. What are their pain points? What are their problem and challenges? What excites them? What gets in their way?
If you can answer these questions, you’re one step closer to knowing how you can help your customers transform. Remember, you’re selling an aspirational identity, not software.
Building a content library of articles designed to educate and help your customers builds trust, empowers, and inspires them.
Canva consistently creates content that drives traffic, user growth, and retention.
Canva covers all bases with long-form tutorials and its library of thousands of design templates. At the top of the funnel, users will find inspiration in educational content, and at the bottom of the funnel, users can browse an endless supply of templates to work from.
Canva has grown to a $6 Billion valuation and generates 20 million monthly users. They’ve acquired over 4 million backlinks and 270 million visitors a year. And they did it with a robust content marketing strategy.
How to Market Your SaaS Business: Implement These 7 Proven Strategies
Marketing your SaaS business can be a daunting task. But with the right strategies in place, you can see impressive growth. Implementing even a few of these strategies could make a world of difference for your business.
But you don’t have to do it alone. And you don’t have to figure out which strategy you should use and when. We can help you come up with a plan. Work with a partner that has experience driving massive growth in SaaS companies. Some of our results include:
- A 22 percent quarterly growth rate.
- $100 Million in directly attributable client revenue growth.
- $90 Million in client funding raised.
Do you want to see how we work and how we can help you?
Check out our Growth playbook. It will take you through the exact steps we take to plan, budget & accelerate growth.
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