Marketing any company is the same, right? Not always. When you’re in SaaS marketing, everything seems to move faster and there’s a greater reliance on customer-focused content, approaches, and tactics.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at the basics of SaaS marketing, why it’s so valuable, and some tactics you can try to make the most of your investment.
What Is SaaS Marketing?
SaaS marketing is a lot like regular marketing — it’s just focused on companies that offer software as a service (SaaS). It’s a phrase that covers the different marketing strategies, tactics, and approaches that SaaS companies take to find and retain customers.
You’ll find a mix of both traditional marketing and digital marketing strategies inside a SaaS marketing plan, depending on what works best for the business. Many SaaS marketing companies focus heavily on content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO), while others gain their clients mostly through networking and referrals. It all depends on your goals, brand, budget, and target audience.
Why You Need to Get Your SaaS Marketing Efforts Right
SaaS is a huge industry that can be split into so many different niches. SaaS marketing can look very different for a healthcare startup than it does for a Fintech brand. No matter which approach you take, your SaaS marketing needs to be close to perfect. Here’s why:
Short Sales Cycle
If someone finds a SaaS product they love, they’re quick to become a customer. These companies often have a short sales cycle because it’s so easy to sign up as a SaaS customer and explore the product.
This means instead of investing in a marketing strategy that follows a linear pattern, you instead need to think about all the different ways people can hear about you and sign up. Look for ways to create content that appeals to customers at different stages of the funnel, and offer thoughtful service that reflects these harder to anticipate customer journeys.
Most SaaS companies offer a free plan or free trial, which means there’s no real barrier to signing up. All customers need is to create an account, supply some details, and they’re ready to go. This differs from traditional software providers, where customers often need to sit through a demo and sales pitch before they can even try the product out.
SaaS companies also benefit from a short sales cycle due to how flexible and affordable they are. Most offer an affordable rolling monthly commitment compared to a yearly fee — meaning customers don’t need to get approval for a huge cost from their budget, and they’re free to leave if it’s not right for them. While this can impact customer retention and churn, the right product and pricing can ensure your customers will stick around.
Lots of Competition
There are thousands and thousands of SaaS companies out there — especially in the startup space. If you want yours to stand out, you need to make sure your marketing hits the spot.
Your SaaS marketing strategy doesn’t just need to attract a customer — it needs to win them over moreso than the hundreds of other providers in your niche. You can’t go out there with half-baked marketing campaigns that don’t consider your target customer, what they need, and how you can communicate that you help solve their problems.
In a hugely crowded marketplace, a combination of a winning product, amazing service, and effective marketing can put you at the top of someone’s shortlist. Show up in the wrong place, in the wrong way, and to the wrong people, and it’ll be harder to make an impact.
Reputation Is Everything
In an ideal world, your SaaS product sells itself. Your customers are so happy with what you offer that they spread the word. That means you no longer need to work so hard to find those ideal customers.
But before you can switch your business model over to one that relies mostly on referrals and recommendations, you have to build a foundation on effective marketing. Figure out which tactics, techniques, tools, and platforms you need to focus on to get those initial customers signing up.
Treat them like a VIP, develop the relationship using content and email marketing, and before long, they’ll be singing your praises to more potential customers.
7 Effective SaaS Marketing Tactics to Add to Your Marketing Plan in 2021
Different brands need different SaaS marketing strategies and tactics. Think about your goals, target market, and budget before you add another to your roster. But, if you’re looking for ideas, then we’ve got you covered.
Whether you use marketing automation to centralize your marketing efforts or handle each one separately, here are seven areas to focus on in 2021:
1. Content Marketing
Done well, content marketing can be an amazing avenue for lead generation and bringing new customers right to your door. Content marketing is all about creating and distributing content in a variety of forms to educate, inform, inspire, or help your audience.
You’ll want your content marketing strategy to reflect your overall goals, so think about the type of content you want to create and how you’ll help get it seen. Content doesn’t have to mean a blog — you could also focus on webinars, podcasts, white papers, or a video series. Figure out what works for you and what serves your audience best.
2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
If you’re a startup or your search presence isn’t strong, you might want to spend some of your budget and time on search engine optimization. A strong SEO strategy can help you get noticed by potential customers in your target audience, and deliver benefits well past your initial investment.
There’s a lot that goes into search engine optimization. You’ll want to have a strong foundation and a website that’s technically optimized, and work on high-quality content and an outreach program. It’s something that takes time to deliver results too, so don’t expect overnight success.
We recently interviewed SEO expert Josh Ternyak to learn what SEO strategies he thinks SaaS companies should use to rank higher. His response was:
"Whether you're a SaaS company or any other type of company, your website must have good on-page SEO. That basically means you should produce content that's valuable for people to read, and easy for search engine robots to understand. If you make sure all of the content you publish is keyword-optimized and actually valuable for your readers, you will have a much higher chance of ranking on Google's 1st page.
Also, you'll need a lot of authority sites to link to your website in a natural way. The best way to do that is to create statistics pages, aka pages with a list of statistics on a topic that's related to your business. The result of creating statistics pages is an ongoing stream of blogs/websites in your niche linking to your site to site you as a source. In short, make sure your on-page SEO is on point, and create statistics pages to attract backlinks from journalists in your niche."
With a strategic approach to SEO, customer acquisition through organic traffic becomes easier. If your content is ranking well for search terms with a buying intent, you’ve got a valuable source of qualified leads that are ready to jump into your free trial or free plan and explore what you offer.
3. Freemium Model
Speaking of free trials, a freemium model is something SaaS customers have come to expect these days. Giving your customers a free trial or a free plan not only helps you get those valuable signups, but it gives your customers the chance to actually experience your product.
Outside of helping to bring customers on board, freemium models are also a really effective marketing channel. Offer an amazing onboarding experience alongside messaging that introduces the benefits of features of your higher paid plans, and you have a simple yet effective route to help those free customers become paid ones.
Even if you offer a high-quality product with premium pricing, a time-limited free trial can be a useful way to onboard customers — especially in the high-end B2B market. It’s easier for someone to sign up for a paid plan if they can try it out, even if it comes with limited features or there’s a cap on use. At ServiceBell, we offer a free plan.
This way, customers experience how our live video chat works with their website before unlocking extra capacity in our Startup Plan, plus additional features in our Growth Plan.
4. Email Marketing
Email marketing continues to be a great marketing channel for SaaS companies. It’s easy to scale, yet you can use personalization to create a one-on-one feel for your customers. Getting email marketing right is about more than personalizing your ‘To’ field, though.
Email marketing isn’t just about getting more subscribers on your list and seeing a bigger number in your CRM. You need to offer valuable content in your newsletter that they can’t find anywhere else. Your automated email sequences need to meet customer needs, with messaging that matches your style guide perfectly. The interactions you have with your customers through email should feel just as branded as anywhere else.
As more and more people become privacy-conscious, some must-have metrics could become less relevant. While opens, clicks, and forwards give marketers useful information, consider the other impacts your email marketing has — like brand recognition, loyalty, and the number of conversations generated.
5. Social Media Advertising
We all know that social media is a great place to build your brand and a community around it. It also offers a useful and affordable way to reach new audiences — through targeted advertising.
Social media advertising can have a huge impact if done well, sending high-quality, relevant leads your way thanks to a combination of great copy, imagery, and targeting. You’ll find advertising options with most of the big players, including Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
You can also run pay per click (PPC) campaigns that focus on awareness, conversion, or engagement on a platform that’s relevant to your audience. Make sure your ad leads to an optimized landing page, instead of your homepage, and you have a useful avenue for welcoming new customers to your SaaS product.
6. Live Video Chat
While most companies now use live chat to engage with customers and website visitors, here’s an area where you can get ahead of the competition — live video chat.
Live video chat is ideal for SaaS ecommerce companies that offer a high-quality, high-end service, where customers want to feel like they’re getting the very best experience. Think of it as the online equivalent of a personal shopping experience, where they’ve got your real-time, undivided attention.
You don't need anything complicated to get started with ServiceBell live video chat — just a webcam, your website, and a few lines of code. Start making an impression on your potential customers and continue a personalized experience for your loyal ones.
7. Case Studies
Often, your best selling point is the happiness of your existing customers. Case studies and testimonials give potential customers the chance to understand what you really offer, from someone that’s been through the process.
You can give customers this social proof with anything from a simple, few-line testimonial right up to an in-depth video case study. If you’ve already built a solid relationship with your customers, getting this feedback should be easy — especially if you already know they’re delighted with your product or service.
Great case studies come as a result of investing your marketing budget and time in some of these other activities, but they’re definitely not an area to ignore. Actively seek out case studies from your customers and transform them into the ultimate sales and marketing tool.
Create a SaaS Marketing Plan That Puts Your Customers First
Effective SaaS marketing is all about putting your customer at the heart of what you do. Attract people with your freemium model, delight them with an engaging content marketing strategy, and retain them through high-quality customer service.
If you want to make amazing service a priority for your SaaS marketing, live video chat is well worth the investment. To help you get started today, sign up for our free plan and explore how this personalized approach can help drive sales.