To help you answer these questions, we’ll take a look at seven key strategies that will help you maximize your marketing return on investment (ROI). These strategies are based on our experience working with hundreds of startups like yours. We’ll also provide insights on which channels work best for specific types of products and services.
#1 The Power of the Demo
It goes without saying that allowing potential clients to try before they buy is probably the most effective way to create awareness for your product. That being said, it won’t guarantee that you’ll get a customer automatically––you still have to nurture them.
This is where SaaS companies sometimes get it wrong: they think just because I gave a demo out means I’ll ultimately get a sale.
But a demo without education is a massive missed opportunity. Creating educational resources for every part of your software solution is key. Explaining why that feature holds value and how potential customers can use it effectively should be a part of your sales strategy.
Implementing user-based triggers
User-based triggers are technologies that are connected to your content marketing engine, so that when individuals enegage with certain parts of your SaaS solution, your marketing engine can send out an email to them talking about that specific feature.
The inverse scenario could also happen: if a user is ignoring a certain part of your Saas solution, your content marketing engine can send them an email highlighting the features, benefits, and use cases for that particular function that they are currently ignoring.
After they’re a client, we use similar triggers to measure engagement with the product, because knowing what they’re engaging with and what they’re ignoring will essentially be a temperature check for client retention.
Smarketing is when sales and marketing are seamlessly integrated and working in unison. Demos have to work in lockstep with sales. If it’s day 3 or 4 and potential demo customers arent coming back, you need to use lead nurturing to offer them an extension on their demo or more educational resources to better understand if it’s a fit for them.
The key here is not to let a potential customer who is demoing your product off the hook. The worse care scenario is that if you don’t have triggers that are connected to email marketing automation that can be sent to a “cooling” potential client, your product may leave their radar and they may never get back to it again.
These demo lapses can kill your dreams of high retention and would be the equivalent of the water flowing out of the bottom of the cup.
#2 Webinars for SaaS Companies
Webinars are a great way to educate potential customers from a thought leadership position. They should always be about an Industry Topic or Trend, and not about your Product itself. You want to think like a white paper – you want to educate, not sell. Selling happens automatically. And while setting up a webinar can be challenging, it’s worth it because there are many benefits to hosting one. Here are some tips on how to make sure yours goes smoothly:
- Make sure you know what you’re talking about. If you don’t, find out. Research the topic thoroughly. Look at trends and statistics. Find out what people are asking questions about. This will help you come across as credible and knowledgeable.
- Know your audience. Who are you trying to reach? What do they care about? How can you use your expertise to connect with them? Try to anticipate their needs and concerns. Are they looking for general information, or something specific? Is there a problem they need solved? Do they already know what you’re offering?
- Practice makes perfect. Have someone else record a short version of your presentation, just to see how well you sound. Then practice again. And again. After each round of practice, ask yourself “What did I say wrong?” and try to correct it.
- Be prepared. Don’t wing it. Write down key points ahead of time. Plan out exactly where you’ll go next. Read over your notes beforehand. If you’re speaking live, prepare several versions of your script. Some people prefer reading their scripts aloud, others write them themselves. Either way, be ready to change things up if needed.
- Set realistic expectations. People won’t necessarily sign up for every single webinar you offer. But if you provide value, and give them enough information to decide whether or not to attend, you’ll likely gain new leads.
- Use technology wisely. Video conferencing tools such as GoToMeeting allow you to hold a meeting online without having to host it physically. This saves money and helps you avoid travel expenses. Other tools include screen sharing, audio recording, and even text chat.
#3 SaaS Organic Search (SEO)
Organic SEO is a crucial part of every SaaS company’s marketing strategy. If you want to rank higher in Google searches, then you should consider implementing organic SEO strategies into your SaaS marketing plan. Here are three ways you can optimize your SEO for SaaS websites.
- Create an Inbound Content Strategy
Your content strategy should include both written and visual content. Written content includes blog posts, case studies, white papers, eBooks, etc. Visual content includes infographics, videos, presentations, etc. The goal of this type of content is to attract new leads and convert existing ones.
- Optimize Your Pages For Search Engines
As a subject matter expert, writing really good content to inform your audience is essential, but if that content isn’t optimized for Google to find it or index it correctly, you’ll only get a fraction of the results you want out of that great content. While the list of things to do to optimize your pages is exhaustive, these four things are non-negotiable in our view:
- Optimize: your pages to include your critical keywords/key phrases, title tags, page slugs, and heading tags.
- Structured content: Make sure that your website has an organized site architecture. Modern SEO approaches understand that subject matter experts can get ranked for clusters of content and content themes rather than individualized keywords. If your website isn’t set up for structured content, your results will fail to compound.
- Technical SEO: Make sure you’re set up correctly. This includes having a fast web host (because page speed matters), and that schema markup and robots.txt is all accounted for. Pro tip: the temptation is to spend more time and energy on technical SEO at the expense of others. In my experience, technical SEO is the cherry on top, not the sundae.
- Backlinking: Links from outside websites that point to your website are probably the #1 ranking factor for search engines. Unfortunately, they’re also the most difficult to acquire. Creating link-worthy content and building relationships with publishers in your industry is part of the long-game but there’s no greater reward when it really works.
#4 Paid Advertising for SaaS
Let’s be transparent: paid advertising is the most expensive approach, but it is the most targeted. Understanding how paid ads work in conjunction with SEO to reduce costs in the long term is highly advised. However, when you’re talking about targeting and speed, paid ads is second to none. The problem is, in our experience, so many companies underestimate how difficult it is to think through and set up these ads effectively. It’s an art and a science. In this section, we’ll give you the broad strokes of what it takes to do paid ads effectively.
Note to reader: social media and programmatic advertising are very effective approaches, but for our purposes here, we’ll focus on Google paid ads.
Paid search advertising is a powerful tool for driving traffic to your site. Remember, it requires careful planning and execution. Here are some tips to make sure you’re getting the best results possible:
Keywords are the words and phrases that users type into Google when searching for something specific. They’re also the first things that advertisers bid on in AdWords. So, before you spend money on ads, make sure you’ve identified the keywords that are relevant to your product or service.
Long tail keywords are longer versions of common keywords. For example, instead of typing “accounting software,” you’d enter “accounting software reviews.” These keywords typically command higher ad costs but bring in much more qualified leads.
- Target Specific Geographic Locations
You’ll likely find that certain locations tend to attract different kinds of customers. For example, businesses located near universities may be more interested in recruiting college students. Or, a restaurant catering to tourists may target local residents looking for dining options.
- Include Negative Keywords
Negative keywords are terms that you don’t want to show up in your ads. For example, if you sell accounting software, you wouldn’t want to advertise for “bookkeeping software.” Instead, you’d specify “accounting software,” “accounting bookkeeper,” etc.
Landing pages are webpages that lead visitors to another page on your site. They’re usually used to direct visitors to a particular section of your site, like a blog post or a sales page. To optimize landing pages, focus on making them clear and concise. Also, consider adding calls to action so that visitors can easily click through to the next step in your conversion funnel.
Different formats of ads perform differently depending on the device being used. For instance, mobile devices tend to display text ads rather than images, and desktop computers tend to display image ads. Experiment with different formats until you find the ones that convert best.
- Track Results Using Analytics
Once you launch your ads, track performance over time. Look at the number of clicks, conversions, and cost per click. Adjust your bids accordingly.
- Understanding Your Budget
The obvious goal is to get your ads at the lowest price while improving impressions, clicks, and CTR (click-through-rate). However, understanding the art of paying just a bit more for certain keywords/keyphrases takes trial and effort––but this is where the war is won with paid ads.
Google Display Network for SaaS Companies
Google Display Network (GDN) is a powerful tool for driving traffic to websites. GDN allows businesses to display ads on third-party sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc. These ads are called “sponsored links” and they allow advertisers to reach audiences beyond their own site.
Setting up a GDN ad unit for your SaaS company may involve the following steps:
- Create a Custom Domain Name for Your Ad Unit
Before creating your first ad unit, make sure you’ve created a custom domain name for your ad unit. This will ensure that your ad units are properly attributed to your brand.
- Set Up the Right Targeting Criteria
Next, you’ll need to decide on the targeting criteria for your ad unit. For example, you may choose to target users based on location, device type, gender, language, or interests.
- Choose the Best Bid Amount
After choosing your targeting criteria, you’ll need to select the bid amount for your ad unit. There are several different options here including CPC, CPM, CPA, CPI, and CPL.
- Add the Ads Code to Your Website
Once you’re ready to launch your ad unit, simply add the code to your website.
You can monitor performance for your ad unit by viewing reports within the Google Analytics dashboard.
Just in case you aren’t familiar with what remarketing and retargeting are, here’s an example: Do you ever go on Amazon to search for shoes, and find that those ads for shoes follow you wherever you go afterward? Why do they do this? It’s because not everyone is in a position to buy right away.
Remarketing is a subtle lead nurturing method that, while sometimes creepy, is effective because it keeps potential customers familiar with your brand, products, and services. Not everybody is in a position to buy, therefore people coming to your website and leaving is okay, but you still want them to keep your company top of mind when they are ready.
Remarketing is one of the most effective forms of digital marketing, and usually makes sense for us to use on Google Display Network, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
Remarketing ads should be run first if your B2B SaaS website already generates decent traffic, . You should at least tag your visitors across your different advertising channels so they can accumulate cookies. Afterwards, you could display ads to them sometime later. With Facebook you can do this up to 180 days; with Google it’s 540 days.
#5 Social Media Advertising
There are a lot of social media platforms, all of which are separate tools to reach different audiences. For example, the rule of thumb is if you’re selling your products B2B, you’ll spend more time and investment in LinkedIn versus other platforms. If you’re B2C, you might spend more time on Facebook and Instagram.
Effective approaches for social media include:
- Using email lists
- Phone numbers
- Demographic tools
Depending on the platform, embracing lookalike technologies to target a similar demographic of those who have already shown interest, can help you find other targets who match those same demographics, characteristics, and behaviors. The reason this is so vital is that these audiences may not even know your products or services exist.
Some other ways to use social media ads to your advantage as a SaaS company include:
- Using it to connect with customers
- Sharing content that will help them solve their problems
- Creating events where you can share information about new features
- Post updates on how your product is doing
- Posting updates about changes in pricing
- Sharing content that’s relevant to your customers
- Promoting events you’re hosting
- Creating a community-based groups
It’s been said that LinkedIn is essentially the world’s largest Rolodex. This means rich and meaningful access to your target audience, including who they might know from your network, and which sandboxes they’re playing in so that you have all the information you need to formulate a conversation with a cold target on LinkedIn.
According to HubSpot, over half of B2B buyers say that they prefer buying products and services from businesses they know and trust. So, if you’re looking to grow your SaaS business through social media, here are some tips for leveraging LinkedIn:
Groups are a great way to find potential leads and clients. They’re also a good place to network with people who have similar goals and objectives.
Follow influencers on LinkedIn to see what they post and what topics they talk about. This gives you insight into what types of things they’re interested in.
- Create Content That People Want To Share
If you want to build credibility and increase traffic to your site, start creating content that people want to share. You can do this through blog posts, videos, infographics, etc.
- Connect With Other SaaS Professionals
Once you’ve built a solid reputation online, you’ll want to connect with other professionals in your space. By connecting with these individuals, you can learn from them and gain access to resources that you wouldn’t otherwise have.
You can use LinkedIn Ads to get the word out about your company. These ads allow you to target specific audiences based on location, job title, or even age group.
You can optimize your page for search using keywords and phrases. When optimizing for search, be sure to include long-tail keywords. Long tail keywords are those that aren’t commonly searched but provide better results than short-term keywords.
Here is something that’s been widely ignored. We’ve been doing this for 21 years, and people are always trying to figure out the secret sauce on LinkedIn. What’s the angle? Above all, you’re probably overthinking it.
You should be going on LinkedIn, finding the target you’re trying to access, finding out who they know in your same network, and seeing if you can reach out to those adjacent individuals for an introduction.
Essentially, you should be using LinkedIn as it was originally designed––a powerful Rolodex and networking platform. Nike had it right: Just Do It. Make those connections.
Retention is paramount.
We spent a lot of time in this guide talking about lead generation. But as I promised in the beginning, your company will not reach its growth goals without retaining your current customers. Developing an editorial calendar to proactively communicate not only to potential new clients but also to your existing clients is essential.
If you don’t know what content is going out in the next 30, 60, 90 days or even through the year, you’ll be doing what we classically call RAM or Random Acts of Marketing.
To illustrate the point: compare one guy who goes to the gym for 1 day a week and just does squats for 8 hours versus a guy who goes to the gym every day for 20 minutes a day and exercises every key muscle group. The latter guy who is consistent and has a plan always wins in the long run. It’s the same with marketing and maximizing retention.