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If you’re running a software as a service business, you need customers. To get customers, people need to be aware of your solution, and to do that, marketing has to be one of your key activities.
In this guide we’re going to take you through the key actions that you need to consider and implement.
The term SaaS means software as a service; a term that describes the distribution method of software applications.
Rather than downloading the software and running it on an individual PC or server, it is hosted by a third party and can be accessed via the internet.
Marketing is an umbrella term that means the actions that are taken in order to promote a product or service.
Therefore, SaaS marketing describes activities a business will take in order to promote a software as a service product.
Quite simply, if you do not market your SaaS business, then you are unlikely to see any success in growing the number of new customers. Unless of course you are a well known brand and people naturally come to you.
Unfortunately, not many businesses can boast that, and the ones that can have invested considerable time and money in order to get to that stage.
If you don’t market your business, people just aren’t going to be aware that your solution exists.
Neil Patel, a well respected SaaS founder and marketer has written an excellent blog in which he describes how marketing SaasS is different to marketing other products or services.
Probably the most pertinent is the fact that you’re promoting an intangible. Something that you can’t touch and feel. Something that’s in the cloud and not sitting on someone’s desk.
By definition, you are selling a service as opposed to a product. As such, it’s important to consider all aspects of the service you provide in order to market them accordingly.
Let’s face it, it’s likely your software has competitors that could help your prospect achieve the same goal. Therefore, you’ve got to go beyond marketing the features and benefits of the software itself and market the whole package. For example, your world class 24/7 customer support, your guided on-boarding and switching process and your no quibble money back guarantee.
Irrespective of what industry you are in, before you start a marketing campaign, there needs to be a strategy in place. Otherwise you’ll be doing lots of activity (tactics) but with little direction and limited results.
In our blog 9 reasons that you need a digital marketing strategy for your business, we go into further detail but they can be summarised in the following list.
In fact, we believe that having a marketing strategy in place for your SaaS business is so important that we include this as the foundation of the marketing work we do for our clients.
Take a look at the Klood growth formula which is the model that we use to grow our clients business. It consists of three phases, Strategy, Funnel and Traffic.
Your marketing strategy should be a written working document that outlines, at the minimum
Unless you know where you want to get to, you won't know how to get there?
Your goals start with a simple financial target. Then we want to break this down into metrics relating to the number of customers you need to achieve, the number of qualified leads or demos/free trials you need and then the required number of visitors to your website.
Defining your goals will take a little bit of research in finding out your current traffic levels and conversion rates.
You’ll want to know:
For example, if your target is to add in £1m of new ARR within the next 12 months, and the average ARR per customer is £10,000, then you’ll need 100 new customers.
If your conversion rate from lead to customer is 50% then you’ll need 200 leads.
If your conversion rate from visitor to lead is 1%, then you’ll need 20,000 visitors.
Knowing this information will help you direct your energy to the area that needs improving the most, and keeps you focused on activity to generate the numbers.
A buyer persona is defined as a semi fictional representation of your ideal client. It’s who you want to attract into you business. It goes way beyond job titles and target market. It focuses on the goals, fears and frustrations of the individual.
It helps you understand your customers at a much deeper level so that you can create marketing that appeals to them. These are so important that we’ve created a complete guide to creating a buyer persona.
The buyer’s journey is the thought process that people go through when they make any purchase. Depending upon the complexity of the purchase, this can take anywhere from a few seconds right the way to years to complete.
The buyer’s journey has three stages, awareness, consideration and decision - which show how close the prospect is to making a purchasing decision.
At the awareness stage, they understand that they have a problem and are looking to understand it more before they research solutions.
At the consideration stage they are looking for solutions for their problem.
At decision stage, they’ve identified a number of possible courses of action (including doing nothing) and are looking to choose the best one for them.
You can find out more about the buyer’s journey in our blog - The Buyer’s Journey Explained.
Marketing revolves around content.
Everything on your website it content.
Whether it’s a video on your home page, a blog article or a landing page, it’s all content.
By understanding your buyer persona and the questions they’re asking at the different stages of the buyer’s journey, you’re in a much better position to create content that is going to be useful for your visitor and influence their decisions and actions.
Map out the content that you’re going to produce and a timeline for when each piece will be published.
A good tip is to think about one persona at a time and focus on content that will answer one specific problem that they have.
For example, one of our personas is a marketing manager for software companies. One problem they have is that they don’t generate enough leads. So we’ve written lots of content that will help them with their lead generation. For example:
I’ve just outlined a few pieces of content surrounding the SaaS lead generation topic.
At Klood, we offer the service of producing a content strategy. We call it the Gameplan which consists of building out the buyer personas, the buyer’s journey and a full content plan which nurtures prospects from being a lead through to being a customer.
If you’d like to find out more about the Gameplan and whether it’s suitable for you, get in touch.
Inbound marketing is a methodology that has transformed the way that businesses perform their marketing. There a plenty of stats to demonstrate that inbound will improve a SaaS company's ROI.
It is a way of attracting leads into the business using valuable content (see above) that they are actively seeking out, rather than pushing out unwanted sales messages.
It can be categorised in four stages
First attracting people to your website with, you guessed it, content.
The content needs to be engaging and of value to your prospect. You can then use a well-placed call to action to offer a higher value piece of content. The content should be of high enough value that they are prepared to leave their details in order to access it. They then become a lead in your database.
Now that you have their details, you use email marketing to send them more valuable content and nurture the prospect. The aim here is to get them further engaged with your website and content.
You'll want to be monitoring their actions, for example whether they open your emails or click on links and when you determine that they are sufficiently engaged you or your sales team should reach out to them in order to start the sales process.
Once they become a customer you’ll want to delight them, ensuring that their customer experience is first class so that they come back, buy more and also refer you.
HubSpot coined the phrase inbound and they depict the methodology nicely in the inbound flywheel.
One of the questions that we ask a prospective customer prior to engaging with us it ‘what is your marketing budget?’
This isn’t simply to qualify the prospect, but to check that they have thought through the requirements and that their goals are realistic.
So how much should your marketing budget be?
We recommend that you should allocate between 10-40% of your desired new revenue growth towards marketing activity. For example, if you’re looking to add in an additional £1m in the next year, then we suggest allocating between £100,000 and £400,000.
To narrow the spread down, track your numbers in relation to historic marketing.
How much did you spend in the last 12 months on marketing activities?
How many customers did that get you?
From this, you can work out the cost per customer.
Then by multiplying the cost per customer by the number of new customers needed to hit your goal, it’ll give you a ballpark figure for your marketing budget.
You can of course go into further detail here, repeating the exercise for each marketing channel, For example: Facebook Ads & Google Ads.
Also consider whether you want to include the costs of staff and outsourced resources in the calculation. (We’d suggest if it comes out of your marketing budget, then you need to).
Once you've set your marketing budget, make sure it doesn't come under attack each year. Show that you're getting a return on your budget. Read this blog to find out how to protect your SaaS marketing budget
This really breaks down into two things, time (people) and tools.
In order to allow the growth of the business, someone has to take responsibility and be the one driving the marketing of the business forward.
Depending upon the size of the business, it may be one person, a team or even the founder. Whoever it is should be responsible and accountable for implementing the marketing strategy. It may be that they action the strategy themselves or they have a team to do it. The important thing here is to make it someone’s responsibility and to give them the time and budget in order to implement.
With regards to tools, you will need to have some software. There are 1000s of marketing technology (Martech) applications out there, a solution for every requirement, but as a minimum your tech stack should include:
Klood are a HubSpot partner. We chose HubSpot because it provides everything needed in one platform to help our clients grow.
It has tools for marketing, sales and customer services all on one platform. It provides a seamless journey that helps you take a visitor to your website to becoming a lead in your database and then onto being a customer.
On top of this, HubSpot are thought leaders in the marketing industry. They are absolutely ahead of the game with regards to what works and what doesn’t, sharing that information and innovating new strategies and tools on a consistent basis.
They provide training for all of their customers by way of the HubSpot Academy that teaches you not only the software, but the methodologies around the different disciplines of marketing, sales and service.
Here’s an image showing the marketing tools that are currently in the platform.
If you’d like to find out more about HubSpot and whether it would be a good platform for growing your business, then feel free to get in touch.
This really depends upon your internal resources, budget and commitment to growing as well as your expectations.
If you are looking for an agency just to action your instructions, you’re better off hiring either a freelancer or employing someone.
A reputable agency will add the most value by working with you to create a marketing strategy that’s going to move you towards your goals. They should then become an extension of your team to assist the implementation. They will take into account the resources that you already have and fill any gaps in time, skill and knowledge.
A big advantage of working with an agency, is that they should have a wide skill set that you couldn’t expect one or two employees to have. An agency that is going to help you grow will have expertise and experience in many different disciplines.
The activity that you take to market your business really stems from understanding your buyer persona. Where can you reach them, what type of content do they want to consume and how do they like to consume it?
In our blog, 16 SaaS lead generation tactics software businesses should use we delve into detail on a number of activities.
However, there are a number of things that tend to be universally productive.
As a digital growth company, we’ve focused on the online strategies and activities that you could do. It would be remiss of us to ignore the offline opportunities.
Again, the decision as to which offline marketing activities you should engage with goes back to understanding your buyer persona.
Could you reach them with a direct mail or telemarketing campaign?
These can work really well when used in conjunction with digital campaigns. For example, if you exhibit at an event and collect contact details, you can then put them into your email system as well as upload their details to Facebook/Google/LinkedIn etc and remarket to those people, further warming them up.
You could advertise in a magazine or trade journal where the call-to-action is for them to visit one of your landing pages which collects their details and then puts them into a nurture and remarketing campaign.
One of our favourite sayings is that you can’t manage what you don’t measure. This is so true for marketing.
As marketers, we have loads of ideas about what would be good for generating leads. But it’s speculation. The only true way to know what works is to test and measure. So whenever you put out a new marketing campaign, it’s vital that you monitor key performance indicators.
This largely depends upon the goal of the campaign (you set a goal, right?). The metrics for a lead generation campaign will be different to that of a brand awareness campaign for example.
The majority of SaaS businesses need to focus on lead generation until they are at enterprise level, but what are the metrics needed for a lead generation campaign?
The metrics can be broken down into three areas:
Once you’re measuring these high level metrics, you can then break it down per channel. Look at each of these metrics per activity, for example from your Google Ads or Facebook ad.
Getting a marketing system in place is vital for scaling your SaaS business.It takes a lot of time and effort but the dividends are huge. Getting this right means that you get a predictable scalable source of qualified leads that become customers.
If you’d like to discuss marketing for your SaaS business, why not have an initial chat with one of our growth experts?