SaaS Marketing: The Ultimate Guide

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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.

What is SaaS marketing?

 

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.

Why do you need to market your SaaS business?

Klood SaaS Growth Formula Explainer

 

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.

Why is marketing a SaaS company different to marketing any other company?

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.

Creating a SaaS marketing strategy

 

Saas Marketing Strategy

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.

Why do you need a SaaS marketing strategy?

  1. What gets written, gets done

  2. It stops you getting distracted

  3. You’ll identify skill gaps

  4. You can set success metrics

  5. It makes your team more efficient

  6. You’ll get buy-in from management/the board

  7. It’ll be easier to release budget

  8. You’ll get input from other people

  9. You’ll identify your target market

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.

KLOOD_SAAS_GROWTH_PLAN

What should be in my marketing strategy?

Your marketing strategy should be a written working document that outlines, at the minimum

  1. Your goals 
  2. Your buyer persona
  3. The buyer’s journey 
  4. Your content plan

Your goals

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:

  • Your average ARR (Annual Recurring Revenue) per customer
  • Your conversion rate from qualified lead/trial/demo to customer
  • Your conversion rate from website visitor to qualified lead

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.

Your Buyer Persona

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.

Download the ultimate guide to identifying buyer personas

The Buyer’s Journey 

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.

Your content plan 

men in black plan GIF by Men In Black: International

Marketing revolves around content.

Everything on your website is 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:

The complete guide to SaaS lead generation

16 SaaS lead generation tactics

The most effective SaaS lead generation channels

How to supercharge your SaaS lead generation

One of the above is a long format ‘pillar page’, while the other three are blog articles.  Each of these have call to actions for an eBook called The SaaS lead Generation blueprint

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.

Building a SaaS marketing campaign that generates leads

An effective SaaS campaign targets your buyer persona at every stage of the buyer’s journey. Whether they don’t even know the cause of their problems, or are primed to buy, you should have content that appeals to them.

Buyers_Journey_with_Explanatory_Text

How a website visitor becomes a lead

Let’s take a look at how, in simple terms, a website visitor becomes a lead.

 

STEP 1: Get them to your website

First of all, you have to get the person onto your website. 

This might be through an organic search result for a relevant keyword, a social media post or ad, or a Google ad. Regardless, the aim is to make sure they land on a webpage that matches their search intent, or the expectations set by the ad.

 

STEP 2: Encourage them to take an action

It doesn’t matter how great your website content is, you’re going to find it hard to generate leads without compelling calls-to-action (CTAs). These CTAs should must relate to the content of the webpage and offer further value.

Whether it’s a link to a landing page to download a gated content offer, newsletter sign-up or simple get in touch form, your CTAs should outline the benefit of taking that action.

Hook, Line, and Sinker: 7 Tips for a Killer Call-to-Action

(FYI, that’s a call-to-action, right there. No, there ^^^. Albeit a selfless one, as we’re linking off to a third-party. We’re nice like that.)

 

STEP 3: Convert users on a landing page (sometimes)

Unless your CTA is a lead capture in itself your CTA will need to divert visitors to a landing page.

A landing page is a web page that goes into more detail about what it is you’re offering. While the CTA is just the headline value, on the landing page you can go into as much detail as is appropriate.

The landing page is also where your lead form will live.

So, you get a user onto your website, offer clear value and provide a means for that user to give you their contact details in exchange. Sounds simple, right?

It’s not.

But don’t worry, we’re going to walk you through how to get started.

Your lead magnet

You’re not going to create leads unless you have a strong lead magnet.

A blog isn’t going to cut it. You need to be offering demonstrable value and/or insight that warrants the user providing their information.

So how do you work out what that lead magnet should be? This is where your buyer persona work from earlier comes in.

The best lead magnets address their core challenges; the biggest problems affecting them on a regular basis.

Once you’ve identified what those challenges are you can work out what they need to overcome them.

Maybe it’s an eBook going into detail around a particular subject your persona wants to understand, a working document they can use to solve a problem, or an asset they can white–label and use within their own business.

The landing page

The majority of lead magnets require a landing page of some sort; a place for the form to live, as well as a clear but concise explanation of the value on offer.

Check out these 12 great landing page examples for some inspiration.

Pro Tip #1: Add a thank you page

Don’t leave your new lead hanging on the landing page with a simple ‘Thanks for filling in the form’ message. Take the opportunity to propose a secondary action for them to take via a thank you page. A well crafted thank you page can solidify your relationship with them a little bit more.

This might be subscribing to the newsletter or downloading a related lead magnet. You can also to set their expectations in relation to the lead magnet they’ve downloaded, for example keeping an eye on their email inbox.

 

Pro Tip #2: Don’t let them leave

That sounds a little more threatening than is intended, but one thing we do with all our landing pages is remove the main website navigation. If we get a user onto a landing page, we only want them to do one thing—complete the form. Don’t let them get away!

Promoting the lead magnet

It’s not enough to build your lead magnet and hope people will come across it—you need to actively promote it.

Website CTAs are a start and will help to funnel traffic from other web pages that attract users already, but it’s only a start.

  1. Blog posts — create blog content that is related to the lead magnet. That’s step one, and you could stop there. You should include CTAs on your blog posts, but we’d recommend also retargeting these blog visitors with paid media.
    Social media and Google Display ads can be served to anyone reading a related blog that didn’t go on to download the lead magnet.
  2. Social media content — publish content to your social media channels promoting the lead magnet to your fan base. Organic social click-through rates have been in steady decline for some time, but it’s still worth doing—after all, it’s a free channel.
  3. Social ads — by identifying where your buyer personas are likely to spend their time, you will be able to select the most appropriate platform. For B2B lead generation LinkedIn will often be your best bet. It can be quite expensive in comparison to Facebook, but the job/industry-based targeting is much stronger. 

Facebook-ad

 

LinkedIn-ad

One strategy we use is to promote blog content on the lower cost Facebook, and then retargeting to a warm audience via LinkedIn.

4. Email marketing — created a shiny new lead magnet? Promote it via an email blast to your existing database. The value of this will depend on which stage of the buyer’s journey the content is pitched at. 

An Awareness stage eBook won’t do much to push your existing leads towards becoming customers, but a Decision stage tool—like our free, two-minute marketing assessment—might help to identify leads that are ready to hear from a sales rep.

5. Google Ads (Search Network) — this channel isn’t right for every type of lead magnet, but for decision stage content it can be the perfect medium.

Users searching on Google for specific solutions are at the bottom of the funnel. There’s a good chance they’re ready to buy right now, or at least at the point where they need one small, final push.

Free-trial-Google-ads

Your free trial offer is a good candidate for a Google Ads Search Network campaign, as would a free demo or consultation.

6. Google Ads (Display Network) — the Google Display Network (GDN) can be used at every stage of the buyer’s journey. Like with social ads, you target prospects based on interests, as well as specific websites that you know your personas frequent.

Google-Display-ad

What resources do I need to market my SaaS business?

 

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:

  • A CMS (content management system) that your website is built on.  This should allow you to make easy edits to your website without needing to send it to a web developer
  • A blog platform. This may be integrated in with your CMS.  Blogging plays a vital part of your content strategy and therefore you’ll need a platform to publish it on
  • Google Analytics. this allows you to measure user activity on your website and online assets
  • A landing page builder. This is where you’ll send people to download a content offer or sign up to a free trial or demo.  Again, your CMS may have this functionality, otherwise you’ll need to use a platform like Unbounce, Leadpages or HubSpot.
  • Email marketing capability.  Email marketing is going to be a core activity for communicating with your prospects.  You’ll need an intelligent email tool that has the ability to automatically email your contacts and provide reports on email performance.
  • CRM System (customer relationship management)  As you scale, keeping track of customers and prospects is going to be vital.  It’ll help you accelerate your sales by making your sales teams more efficient,

Why we recommend HubSpot as the marketing platform for SaaS businesses.

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.

Marketing v3


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.

Should I hire an agency?

This really depends upon your internal resources, budget and commitment to growing as well as your expectations.  

If you are looking for a SaaS marketing agency just to action your instructions, you’re better off hiring either a freelancer or employing someone.

employee

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.

What tactics should I do to market my SaaS business?

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:

  • A CMS (content management system) that your website is built on.  This should allow you to make easy edits to your website without needing to send it to a web developer
  • A blog platform. This may be integrated in with your CMS.  Blogging plays a vital part of your content strategy and therefore you’ll need a platform to publish it on
  • Google Analytics. this allows you to measure user activity on your website and online assets
  • A landing page builder. This is where you’ll send people to download a content offer or sign up to a free trial or demo.  Again, your CMS may have this functionality, otherwise you’ll need to use a platform like Unbounce, Leadpages or HubSpot.
  • Email marketing capability.  Email marketing is going to be a core activity for communicating with your prospects.  You’ll need an intelligent email tool that has the ability to automatically email your contacts and provide reports on email performance.
  • CRM System (customer relationship management)  As you scale, keeping track of customers and prospects is going to be vital.  It’ll help you accelerate your sales by making your sales teams more efficient,

Why we recommend HubSpot as the marketing platform for SaaS businesses.

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.

Marketing v3


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.

Should I hire an agency?

This really depends upon your internal resources, budget and commitment to growing as well as your expectations.  

If you are looking for a SaaS marketing agency just to action your instructions, you’re better off hiring either a freelancer or employing someone.

employee

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.

Now what?

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll be unsurprised that we’ve got a few options for you:

    1. Download this guide as a PDF so you can access it offline, share it with your colleagues or, if you’re feeling old school, print it out.
    2. Check out our eBook, ‘The SaaS Lead Generation Blueprint’. This free resource explains how you can generate a flood of leads for your business in three simple steps..

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    3. If you’re done reading and want to get started on growing your SaaS business, book a call with Ellie below:
 

SaaS marketing metrics

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.

What metrics should you have for your marketing campaigns?

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:

Visitor metrics

  • How many visitors did the campaign attract? 
  • What was the click-through rate of any ad?
  • What was the cost-per-click/visitor?

Leads

  • What was the conversion rate from visitor to lead?
  • What was the conversion rate from lead to qualified lead (trail/demo/meeting)?
  • What was the cost-per-lead/qualified lead

Customers

  • What was the conversion rate from qualified lead to customer
  • What was the cost-per-customer acquisition (CAC)

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.

Conclusion

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?

 

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