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With SaaS taking off as a business model, competition is fierce. SaaS marketers need a way to stand out from the crowd and drive customers into, and through, their funnels. Doing so requires taking a look at your marketing strategies and ensuring that you are using each to its maximum potential. In this post, we'll take a look at some of the most effective strategies so your SaaS business can differentiate itself.
Content marketing is vital to growing your organic reach. Every piece of content you put out gives the search engines another result to show to their users. It’s important to understand what content marketing is and what it isn't though. The primary goal of content marketing is to bring people to your site and build trust in your brand, it’s not there to be a direct sales pitch.
If your blog posts are useful, educational and relevant to the industries your product serves, you build trust and authority, and prospects will be more inclined to approach you when the time is right for them to invest in the type of SaaS product you sell. Furthermore, educational content will allow the page to rank higher in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) and your traffic will be boosted. Search engines no longer value keyword-stuffed pages — Google’s algorithms favour useful information — so make sure that your content informs the reader and addresses their pain points.
As you create content, remember that this is not your sales pitch. Your content marketing should not come across as though you are trying to sell something. That will scare potential customers off. Instead, address common pain points in that industry that your software is designed for. As you discuss how to solve these common industry problems, be subtle when (and if) you bring up your own software — it’s usually better to use calls to action rather than talk about your product outright, which we will cover later.
Putting content out there for the search engines to find is important, but it will all be for nothing if the search engines don't rank the pages highly. Without appearing high in the search results that your potential customers receive, it will be a struggle for you to get leads in the long-term. SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is an ever-changing field that could span a whole series of blog posts, but there are a few key points that will always be relevant:
A CTA (Call to Action) is a time-proven method of lead generation. They can appear at many different places on your site. They are equally at home on sales-oriented pages as they are on your blog posts. When used within your content, they create the perfect avenue to get the user to take the next natural step within your funnel, without disrupting the authority and tone of the content.
Although they can be at home almost anywhere, it is vital that your call to action matches up with the content of the page. The CTA itself should address the pain points that the rest of the page has discussed. Phrasing part of the CTA as a question that gets the potential customer to acknowledge the need for your product or service is a helpful way of reinforcing that you are the solution to those pain points.
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Finally, think of what you want the customer to do. Shall they download an ebook or sign up for a software demo? Whatever it is, it should be meaningfully related to the rest of the page, and always centred around solving their pain points — after all, it’s what your product does, not what it is that matters.
Email marketing is an old method that has improved greatly over the years. Companies no longer rely on sending mass emails to unsuspecting people that they have no existing relationship with. Instead, they use email to nurture existing relationships, and we have previously written about how to nurture leads using email, but here we will focus on using it with current customers. This is especially important to SaaS companies where you want your customers to continue to perceive value in your product and stick around as long as possible.One great way to keep existing customers around is to send them regular educational topics via email. Keep the reader engaged by increasing the level of information being taught to match their experience level with your product, it can be centred around features they may not have tried and can even include video demos.
You can also use them as a notification system of sorts, to let users know when they have completed a certain action or as an achievement system to let them know when they've reached some milestone. The key is to keep your product in people's minds so they remember the value of it, while not sending them so many emails that you annoy them and make them want to cancel their subscription.
So far we've only talked about inbound marketing. This is great at building some organic growth and then nurturing those leads through a sales funnel, but outbound marketing plays a huge role in lead generation. When you combine the lead generation capabilities of a good outbound marketing campaign with the lead nurturing abilities of a good inbound marketing strategy, you create a winning combination that will help your SaaS business grow. You can use this relationship to your advantage.Highly competitive keywords on platforms such as Google Ads are expensive to get advertising space for. If you have a good inbound system that converts well, then you can reduce the amount you spend on Google Ads, which is predominantly a platform for sales conversions. However if you are in the early stages of your inbound strategy, Google Ads works very well as a supplement for sales-ready leads while your inbound engine grows.
Google Ads isn’t the only channel that is effective for paid media though. Facebook is making a comeback for B2B and LinkedIn is a great converter for the top of the funnel where you can promote premium content such as eBooks, and generate leads that can be nurtured down the funnel.
As we discussed at length in a previous blog post, many SaaS businesses think it is a good idea to keep your prices hidden from the public. The logic goes that doing so will keep your competitors from undercutting your pricing, copying your pricing model, or force customers to talk to your sales staff who will convince them to make a purchase. In reality, none of these is true.
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In the digital age, it’s easy for any dedicated person to find your prices. If your competitors want to undercut you, then they are going to be more dedicated than a potential customer who has other choices to choose from. By trusting in the power of your sales funnel to convert customers, you free up your sales staff from wasting their time dealing with customers who turn out not to be willing to pay your prices.
A SaaS product that offers a free tier of some sort is more likely to convert customers than one who doesn't. With many products, you know exactly what you are getting when you make a purchase, but SaaS products often leave a customer unsure of whether it will fit their needs or whether they will get real value out of it. Therefore, SaaS customers are going to be wary of paying for a product that they haven't had a chance to test out yet.
Time-limited free trials are a great way to offer the anxious customer a way to try the product before they buy it. Another option is to adopt the freemium business model. Under this model, a tier with a limited feature set is permanently free and you rely on people paying to upgrade to more features as their requirements increase. The key here is finding the right balance between giving them enough to get them hooked but not so much that the upgrade isn't attractive.
For more information on whether a free trial or a freemium model is the right choice for your SaaS product, see our previous post on the subject.
General search engines aren't the only places that potential customers look for SaaS products. There are a large number of review sites that specialise in SaaS listings. Adding your product to these sites will not only make it easier for your buyers to find you, but will make it easier for them to compare you with the competition. This step will lessen the B2B buyer's journey, build trust and reduce buyer fear.
To get you started, we've listed 10 of the most popular SaaS software review sites below. They are presented in alphabetical order.
Marketing, now more than ever, requires a multi-pronged approach — buyers are more informed and as such require an increasing number of touchpoints until they are even at a point where they are considering options, nevermind deciding which one to purchase. Using the strategies outlined above, you can build trust, value and authority in your brand, and ensure your SaaS product is front of mind not only throughout the B2B buyer’s journey, but also during your customer’s lifetime.