A blueprint for SaaS marketing – from awareness to acquisition
If you’re a SaaS marketer, you’re always on the lookout for the next big way to make a killer campaign that connects with a wide audience. Whatever creative campaign you might be working on, you’ll want to run it through an effective strategy and process.
This article gives you the tools needed to turn your idea into a successful one.
What is SaaS marketing?
SaaS marketing, or Software as a Service marketing, is B2B, or business to business marketing for actively obtaining SaaS product and service leads. It’s a marketing model where a company can promote and sell their services in a cloud setting, typically allowing for additional upgrades to improve performance continually.
5 SaaS marketing tips
1. Learn your customers inside and out
You’ve got a product or service you’re certain will help companies accomplish their goals quickly and efficiently, but they might not even realize it. Even if they’ve heard of your company/product/service, they still might not know that you’re the answer to their business prayers.
The problem usually isn’t that they’re unaware you exist, it is that you haven’t taken the time to understand exactly who they are and what they want, so that you can market to them optimally.
Once you’ve identified the types of customers you’ll be marketing to, it’s time to dig deeper. There are a few proven methods to do so, starting with analysis and data research.
Undergo thorough customer analysis
If you’re not already supplementing your customer-learning process with a customer data platform (CDP) such as Segment, Tealium, or others, there is a wide range of analysis you’re missing out on.
A CDP offers unique insights into customer behavior within a company website, creating sortable filters to help you identify which customer traits are prevalent. This allows you to define your customers, as well as their behavioral patterns and software needs.
Build more precise buyer personas
Buyer personas help companies guide their efforts in giving customers what they want. They are representations of different customer types, developed through extensive analysis of buyers. Accurate buyer personas are so helpful because they allow you to market to the right people in an optimal way.
The key to effective buyer personas is following all the data and analysis you’ve done to pinpoint a target audience and dive deeper into how they might like to be contacted, what they like, don’t like, etc.
You’ll want to nail down:
What drives the person
What are they looking for specifically in a product or service? How does your product or service fill that need?
What’s the best way to communicate with them
2. Optimize and simplify the onboarding experience
Signing up for a service plays a huge part in SaaS marketing, as it’s a lot easier to promote a service that doesn’t stop potential customers in their tracks during the onboarding process. Of course, we don’t always have full control over the complete onboarding experience, but we can work interdepartmentally to improve things, and do as much as we can on our own end.
One thing to consider is the signup form. Putting yourself into the customer’s shoes is a great way to determine what will work here. If you would abandon a lengthy form, consider shortening it. If you’d ditch after being confronted with a TMI question, tighten up your required responses on the form.
This way, you’ll create a seamless process between reaching the customers with your campaigns and getting them onto the platform.
3. Create content customers want to consume
When it comes to building content, it’s important to approach the process from a whole new angle. SaaS companies and their marketing teams are understandably focused on promoting the services they offer to the customers who need them.
However, creating content that customers actually want to read requires a different approach.
The premise is vital, yet simple to remember: If you make ‘Sales’ content, you won’t make sales. Please embrace this philosophy, because it’s one of the most important things you can do to pull ahead of the competition.
When done correctly, good content has a chance to reach a wide audience, much wider than consumers of your specific products and services. The key is to break free from how everyone else is building their content and put something unique and creative out into the world.
Once you see content-building from this perspective, the possibilities are endless.
4. Tweak your ‘free trial’ period to perfection
Here are some things to consider:
A free trial isn’t a commitment to anything (and shouldn’t feel like it). This is a way for users to test out a system, and though you might gather some further information about them as a result, they’re not hoping to be bombarded with obligations before or after the period is over.
A free trial should hit the right balance between testing and learning. There are different prospects for a SaaS software: ones who want to test how a program operates, and ones who want to learn how it works through content. Regardless of how technically-competent the user is, the free trial should fit their needs.
The free trial needs to be promoted effectively as well. Too many times a user reports wanting to instantly start a free trial but is unable to find the right place to try it on a website. Make sure the button is front and center, such as on the main site’s navigation menu.
Another option to maximize the efficacy of your free trial offer is, when applicable, allowing users to download/access your system’s basic features indefinitely, with the option to upgrade to a paying service if they like the tool and want to become a regular user.
5. Put demand generation center stage
It’s not enough to have a good service in comparison to the market anymore. Even the best products and services drown in the sea of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) competitiveness if they’re not up to the task.
The key to SEO is of course two-pronged, partly on the technical side and the content side. It may be helpful to hire a dedicated Technical SEO expert to handle things like domain performance and other factors that could be affecting your rankings. This could be a consultant or a developer in your team who has experience with SEO.
On the content side – if you’re already creating great content – that’s a good start. Now it’s time to integrate it with an effective, well-mapped out SEO strategy. This involves bigger picture visualization of how the content you create fits together, where it links to and why, and how to improve upon its current makeup.
If you’re interested in hearing more about SEO in detail, check out my book, Brand Primacy.
Bonus tip! - ensure effective integration
If someone’s zigging while everyone else is zagging, things aren’t going to go right. This applies not only to products and services, but also marketing teams and campaigns.
It’s easy to show off the things your service brings to the table, but it’s frustrating when it doesn’t do absolutely everything under the sun. However, there are ways of making the dots connect. There are, for example, marketing partnerships that allow teams to close customer gaps and reach wider audiences.
Remember that integration is more than just software working within current martech stacks, it is a comprehensive part of marketing.
SaaS marketing examples
Here are some great SaaS marketing examples to inspire your next campaign.
Hootsuite took content marketing to the next level when they created an homage YouTube video to the popular TV show ‘Game of Thrones’.
With this campaign, Hootsuite connected with a larger audience than usual, while also building brand loyalty by showing their human side. Not only that, but the viral effect of the video fueled an already-spreading fire of word-of-mouth buzz about Hootsuite that was already in the works before this campaign came to be.
What can we learn from this campaign? First, quality definitely matters. Hootsuite went all out to make sure they didn’t half-ass the video they created. The level of detail makes everyone who watches it know that the company behind it is professional. Secondly, understanding audiences is super important, and failed campaigns seem to always not get this part right.
Understanding how many people mispronounced their brand name, Mailchimp ran a campaign around this concept, making a few different “movies”, posting them on YouTube along with professionally-made movie posters corresponding to each video.
In the above video, a mail room employee is eating a shrimp sandwich. ‘MailShrimp’ is the name of the video.
What are some key takeaways from this campaign? We see a brand willing to connect with its audience through humor, but also a willingness to poke fun of itself, which lowers a lot of defenses in audiences.
How can a service succeed if nobody knows it exists? How can it thrive if people don’t understand the value it could bring to their lives?
Bungalow, a SaaS company that brings together renters into housing without the hassle of having to find your own roommates, realized that they needed to sell their service by helping consumers understand why living with roommates is so valuable. Their marketing efforts include powerful images and quotes that show happier, better lives from human connection.
Turning your next idea into a monster
Now that you have a list of the most important things to consider when building a SaaS marketing campaign, it’s time to take whatever ideas your team has and craft them into something special.