Marketing Strategies to GrowYour SaaS Company - Part 2 of Series
While there is no single strategy that will guarantee success, we share those strategies that collectively have created success.
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This is part two of our four-part series on SaaS marketing. Part one describes the SaaS formula and how marketing SaaS may differ from marketing for traditional products. In parts two, three, and four, we will share the marketing programs that have proven to create success for our SaaS clients. In part five, we will address the metrics you need to be tracking that are unique to SaaS products.
There is no silver bullet, or secret strategy, that will deliver you marketing/sales success. It is all about doing a lot of activity, right? Occasionally you will hit a walk-off grand slam home run and see hundreds of opportunities result from a single initiative. The reality is a lot of SaaS marketing is a game of inches, where incremental improvements and optimizations will result in a percentage increase in demos. Those seemingly small incidental increases add up, and at the end of the day, can have more impact than your grand slam victory.
Today, we are going to examine some of the programs that we have utilized in successful SaaS marketing programs. None of these are meant to be stand-alone initiatives but are done at various stages of the marketing program, often in concert with each other.
Buyer Personas - Every marketing program needs to begin with a deep discovery of who your buyer personas are. You need to establish what their pain points and concerns are, and where they go for information, education, and entertainment. Remember that the buyer personas you need to target and engage are not just the decision-makers. Often, it will be internal influencers or gatekeepers you will need to win over just to have the chance of a conversation with the person who can decide.
Your buyer personas should never be just who the CEO or Sales think are the right people. You need to have a formal process where you interview newly won customers and lost opportunities. For more details on how to develop buyer personas, see our blog, How to Create Buyer Personas.
Optimize UX/UI and On-Page SEO - Before you start scaling up any marketing program, make sure you first take care of the fundamentals. Too many anxious business owners launch a full-scaled marketing initiative only to find when they can attract prospects, they bounce, due to a poor user experience.
If you want to have a low-cost-per-lead (CPL), you will need to generate organic traffic. This means making sure your on-page SEO is locked in, so Google will reward your performance SEO efforts. There are countless resources that will tell you what elements of your on-page SEO are not properly optimized. A few that Prevail Marketing uses are: SEMRush, Seobility, Google Pagespeed, RankMath, and SEO Site Checkup, to name a few. We recommend analyzing your website with several different analytic tools, as often we find they will identify different issues.
Content Marketing - Every good marketing program begins with GREAT content. There is a lot of content that needs to be created for any effective marketing program. You not only need to create compelling content for each buyer persona at each stage of their buyers' journey but also all the collateral that is part of their nurturing campaigns.
There may be a half-dozen primary pieces of content to cover each stage of that persona's buyer's journey. This content may be presented in a variety of formats (e.g. ebooks, videos, webinars), so that we can be certain that it will resonate with the target audience. Each piece of primary content will spawn a second tier of collateral that can be used for nurturing.
This is done for each unique buyer persona. It may seem that this is a lot of work, but it is absolutely necessary if you want to see momentous growth.
Nurturing Programs - Just because the prospect downloads or engages with a piece of primary content, does not mean they will proceed any further down that sales funnel. To accomplish this, you need to have a compelling nurturing program that convinces them to investigate further. We typically have an eight-step email campaign for each marketing stage. Once they become sales-qualified leads (SQLs), this becomes a combined phone/text/email campaign.
To ensure that the buyer persona is getting the right messaging, at the exact moment it will have an impact, we recommend that you use a marketing automation program (e.g. HubSpot) that will automatically transition the prospect from one workflow to another, based on their behavior and engagement.
To accomplish this, you will need to have a contact (lead) scoring system that will track five major areas: engagement, behavior, persona, bottom-of-the-funnel activity, and velocity of their engagement. There may be a dozen different scoring elements for each of these categories. Once a prospect reaches a predetermined score, they will be assigned a new advanced status in the buyers' journey.
Growth Hacking - SaaS marketing is perfect for growth hacking. Growth hacking is where the entire organization is focused on one thing - growth. Every activity is measured against one question, will this increase our growth? If not, it is not done.
Every element of your program is continuously A/B tested and optimized. If you increase the performance of an element today, it just means that you try and improve it tomorrow. This is where that game of inches translates to feet and yards very quickly.
Growth hacking is not just about incremental improvements. It is an opportunity to be truly bold in your marketing efforts to try and secure that walk-off grand slam home run. The key component is that there needs to be buy-in, adoption, and participation from every element of the company starting with the CEO.
Everything from the product roadmap and optimization to client support must focus on if the activity they are engaging in helps to increase growth.
Contextualized Marketing - Contextualized story-telling means making sure that each buyer persona only sees information that pertains to them and what stage they are at in the buyers' journey. If you have buyer personas from different industries, it is hard to write website content that will resonate with each. If a prospect believes that your SaaS product was built specifically for their industry, it is more likely they will value it more.
Contextualized marketing means that your product, website, and demos need to morph to reflect the information that is unique to them or their industry. For example, if you have a project management tool that has feature sets for engineers and lawyers, you cannot use the same terms to describe your product. Each industry has its own jargon and processes.
Once you identify their industry, by where the lead originated or their behavior, they will only see content that is relevant to them. While this takes a lot of time and effort to develop, the uplift that you will see, because they see your product is designed for their industry, is worth it.
There are a lot of content management systems that can allow a website to morph based on the persona/industry, but HubSpot is one of the easier platforms to use.
Note: We did not mention using contextualized marketing for the content and nurturing campaigns, because you should already be doing this.
Influencer Marketing - One of the best use cases for influencer marketing is for a SaaS company. Every industry has its share of experts and influencers who have a large degree of influence and social reach. By cultivating those relationships, you can get them to engage their audience to look at you.
Influencer marketing embodies the principle that people will trust what others say about you more than what you say about yourself. It incorporates a number of the Laws of Influence, as described by Dr. Robert B. Cialdini, in “Influence: The Power of Persuasion.” Specifically, it incorporates the Laws of Liking, Authority, and Unity.
We have found that many Subject Matter Influencers can be empowered and engaged by providing them with branded content that elevates their stature within their community.
Webinars - Webinars can be extremely impactful in attracting new prospects, converting current market-qualified leads (MQLs), and ensuring the retention of current customers. The key is in the execution of the programs.
It is absolutely critical that webinars, for the top and middle-of-the-funnel leads, be educational in nature and not a sales effort. This means that the topic must be about a concern, interest, or problem that these personas have to collectively deal with in their industry. The event should be co-hosted by an influencer who also invites their community.
Eighty percent of the conversation must be about the issue/problem and 20% can be about how your SaaS product works with the solution you are offering. The mention of your product should be seamless in the demonstration.
Near the end of the webinar (before the Q&A), the influencer first speaks of the attributes of your SaaS solution and then asks everyone to answer a survey that will help direct the Q&A. One of the questions will be, "Would you like to learn more about how the SaaS solution can work for you?"
If properly executed, about 20% of the MQLs will raise their hand, ask for more information, and convert to an SQL. This process has proven effective time and again.
For client retention, the formula is different. Every month, you should have a "private" webinar for current clients where you share tips and tricks that will optimize their use and results using your SaaS solution. Find a client who has successfully implemented one of the talking points and invite them to be a co-presenter. He will resonate more with the audience and will develop much closer ties to the company.
Also, be sure to offer product update webinars each time there is a new product release. Many SaaS companies have a new product release every four to six weeks. Schedule a new feature webinar before the release is made live, and with enough time, they can consult with product support about any concerns or issues it may present. If you do this and regularly share your product roadmap, you are less likely to have churn, because a customer change took place that disrupted how he does business.
To keep these blogs at a respectable length, that is easy to digest, we will conclude the marketing strategies in part three of this series. We will discuss in length the following:
Referral Website Optimization
Speed to Lead
Obviously, the 16 topics that we are sharing are not an all-inclusive list of the strategies or campaigns that can be used to create a successful SaaS outcome. We would love to hear from you about your successes or how we can help implement a program for you.