There’s marketing, and then there’s SaaS marketing. Every industry, online or offline, has its marketing best practices and success stories. There’s surely no one-size-fits-all game plan. But how the heck did all those big names in SaaS get that big?
Slack has turned into a verb. So has Netflixing—one of the few B2C SaaS companies. Mailchimp is a synonym for email marketing. Don’t even get me started on the fame of Zoom.
You might think, ‘yeah, but these companies had solutions that people really wanted.’ Sure, but they also had plenty of competitors who had something similar. Skype was around long before Zoom, but which one did you use for your remote Friday after work drinks?
What these SaaS tools have in common, is that they all have a solid marketing strategy. They know exactly what they’re doing—because they measure the impact of every action they take. Plus, they test, talk to their audience and do their research.
It won’t happen overnight, and maybe not on that big a scale. Maybe a smaller scale fits you better anyway. But if you really want impactful marketing for SaaS, take a look at these top seven tips.
Table of Contents
But first… SaaS marketing: what are we talking about?
Why are we talking about SaaS marketing only? Aren’t these tips also applicable to other companies? In a way, sure. But SaaS is a whole different ball game.
Like in any industry, SaaS marketing is focussed on building awareness around your brand to sell your software. The marketing is used to go to market, to position yourself, to reposition if needed and to build overall awareness.
Why SaaS marketing isn’t your regular B2B marketing
While that all might sound familiar, SaaS is different from regular B2B sales. When thinking of a classic B2B sales cycle, you know it could take months to go from lead to customer. SaaS providers don’t have that kind of time.
SaaS conversions are quicker. People spot the need for a specific solution, they’ll compare a few, and they’ll go buy it, so they can get back to work. One of the benefits of SaaS is that it can be implemented quickly, so the buying process should match that.
How to win at SaaS marketing
Oftentimes, people in SaaS startups are incredibly focused on fine-tuning the product. Marketing can become quite messy when there’s a new feature or update every few days.
That’s understandable. But that is also why you need a great marketing strategy. We’re going to dive into seven great tips that will help you build that. Are you ready?
1. Have a plan
For many companies—not just in SaaS—marketing is simply something they ‘do’. Every day, sure. They have sales KPIs, buyers journeys and sales funnels. They know what needs to happen there. But a similar roadmap for marketing is nowhere to be found.
The first tip is to create that roadmap, and stick to it. Determine how marketing needs to contribute to your bigger goals, and start creating plans and then campaigns from there.
These long-term plans will help you make decisions about your short-term plans, all the way down to campaign level. It provides focus and will enable you to see what works and what doesn’t, because you’re not randomly trying everything at once.
2. Hire the right people—and show them off
Let’s face it. A lot of people have some experience in marketing. But when it comes to SaaS marketing, or any industry you really want to grow in, you’ll need no less than absolute experts. Someone who hasn’t just worked with SEO, but knows it inside-out. Someone who hasn’t done email marketing, but who has results to show for it. Impressive ones.
Talent’s worth investing in. Even the best marketing strategy won’t work if it’s only strong on paper. In the end, it’s the people executing it that will make it a success.
Let these people play, connect and discover their field. Better yet, make it part of their job. The more they talk to other experts in the field, the more they learn. If they do it openly under your brand, that’s some great visibility and branding on LinkedIn and Clubhouse rooms. Ultimately, those will also be the places where new customers will see your name for the first time.
3. Let your users do the talking
Nobody is as good at marketing as a happy customer. Reviews and feedback should be at the center of your marketing and communication. So, talk to your users.
First of all, because it will be a great way to convince people just like them to also try your software. But also because in talking to them, you will learn what words and language they are using when it comes to your solution.
In their own words, what does your product do for them? What was their struggle? By using those exact words in your messaging, you’ll become much more relatable and relevant to your target audience.
4. Build special content worlds for your target groups
Say what now?
Is your blog a mix-and-match of topics? Do you have plenty of categories, for all kinds of users, which they can ‘easily’ browse? That’s no longer going to cut it. People will want to see the content that was written for them, and only that.
With so-called ‘’microsatellite content hubs’’—in whichever shape or form you want to create them, you present your target audience with hyper-focussed content. No distractions, no blur—they will get sucked right into the part of the solution that matters to them most.
If this all still sounds vague to you, think about magazines. The offline ones, yeah. They are hyper specific. There’s a magazine for girls in high school who don’t own a horse, but would love to. There’s something similar for middle-aged men who have the same thing, just with expensive cars.
Now, create magazines like that—well, not exactly like that—about your SaaS solution, and put them on your website. They’re much more focused than blogs, for you and for your readers. This will help you create better content, and give you hi9gher conversion rates.
5. Use video
Even in 2021 we have to keep saying this. You (almost) can’t go wrong with video. The power of video for SaaS products is especially remarkable: nearly eight out of ten people have bought software from a SaaS company or an app after watching a brand’s video.
Don’t stress: those videos don’t have to be Hollywood productions. A simple product video, a Loom where an expert walks you through the UI, or simple video interviews on Instagram or LinkedIn already do the trick.
6. Customer retention and community go hand in hand
Don’t just ‘have’ a community—nurture it. Communities are incredibly powerful for marketing and brand loyalty—if it’s done right.
Thanks to a strong community and engaged users, people will learn to use your SaaS in the way it was intended. That way, they’ll understand and ultimately love it more, recommending even the smallest of solutions you offer as soon as someone brings it up.
This means you have to not just enable, but encourage users of your product to connect. Let them ask questions, share their findings, projects—all in an easily accessible place. This will take devoted community managers to keep the commu8nity alive and kicking, but it’s surely an investment worth making.
Because community is a long-term strategy. The longer they exist, the less they will cost. But, the more they will earn you. After seven years, the ROI of investing in your community can be as high as 4,782%
What’s crucial in SaaS marketing, is that it’s not about getting new customers, but also keeping the existing ones on board. After all, most solutions are subscription-based, so you don’t benefit from making the sale once, but having people leave after a month.
Community is great for keeping people on board. Research shows that one of the top three business outcomes of a community is improved customer loyalty.
It’s good to know that for SaaS companies, most revenue comes from their existing customers. About 80% of their future revenue stream will come from 20% of their current users. Imagine what investing in those relationships could do.
7. Make your product easy to understand
Ultimately, SaaS is supposed to make our lives easier, not harder. To convince anyone to use your software, don’t just focus on what it does. Also show them how easy it is to use. Here are three tips to do that:
- The videos we mentioned earlier are a great start, but let’s keep on going. What types of questions is your support team answering over and over? By upgrading your content, you take away the majority of doubts about your product. One less hurdle future users have to jump over.
- How great are your tutorials—and does someone need to read an entire manual or watch a complete video before they find a specific thing? Make sure your tutorials and how-tos are specific and easy to find.
- Free trials. The easiest way to let people discover how pleasant your software to work with is, is to let them work with it.
What convinced you to try a SaaS product?
To wrap things up, ask yourself this question. Apart from the need for the solution, what did you find impressive enough in a SaaS company to commit to them? Try using a little bit of that magic in your marketing, and you’re off to a great start.