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SaaS Marketing

SaaS Marketing: The Complete Guide for Beginners

Toni Koraza
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November 3, 2023
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SaaS Marketing: The Complete Guide for Beginners

 The global SaaS market soared by a whopping 500% over the past seven years and is expected to reach a mammoth $700 billion by 2028

The demand for SaaS has increased. However, so has the competition of available SaaS solutions on the market. How can your business succeed despite such fierce competition? 

The answer is simple — build an effective SaaS marketing strategy. 

As a full-service SaaS SEO company, we have helped many SaaS clients build their marketing strategies. In this guide, we’ll take you through all the basics to help you create one for your SaaS business. 

What We'll Cover:

What is SaaS Marketing? 

SaaS marketing refers to the unique marketing strategies, campaigns and tactics used to sell your subscription-based products to new customers and retain existing ones. 

The end goal of these strategies is increasing traffic, building awareness, generating leads, and acquiring and retaining customers for your SaaS product/service. 

With the number of SaaS apps used per organization growing by over 1,275% since 2015, it’s a hyper-competitive sector that requires various marketing strategies, including content marketing, SEO, email marketing, social media marketing, PPC and ads. 

Why is SaaS Marketing Different? 

Though SaaS marketing overlaps with a lot of other industries, here are the factors that make it unique: 

an comparison table of saas marketing vs traditional marketing (all text field)

Unique product lines 

The differentiating factor with SaaS products is that they are intangible. They don’t have a physical presence or shelf life. On top of that, SaaS products are generally more complex and feature-intensive. For example, you wouldn’t market a project management tool like you would market any physical product. You might focus on the features of the PM tool, but for the physical product, you might focus on how the product feels and looks. 

SaaS marketing needs to be engaging but also informative. 

Lengthy and complex customer journey 

It takes anywhere between 6 and 18 months to close an enterprise deal in SaaS. A reason behind this is that the SaaS sales cycle is complex.  

Let’s say you’re selling a financial management tool. First, you need to create awareness of what financial management is. But you also might have customers who know what financial management is. They are in the latter stages of the buyer's journey, comparing different financial management tools. 

This means creating a lot of different content and marketing strategies. 

Here’s what it would look like: 

a funnel diagram of saas customer journey

Unique pricing structure 

SaaS companies generally offer a tiered pricing structure or plans. 

trello pricing web page

Image source 

Some may opt for a feature-based pricing plan, whereas some may set usage limits for different pricing plans. 

Understanding consumer psychology, researching competitor pricing plans, and then developing a pricing structure is recommended. Making your pricing structure clear and providing clear information on what the customer gets in each tier can lead to more conversions.

The focus is on long-term customers 

Unlike traditional models, you’re not selling a one-time subscription product. Your customer will rethink subscribing to your tool every month or six months. In the SaaS industry, churn is inevitable. Reducing this churn rate is the key to retaining your customers and growing your business. 

You need to continue your marketing efforts to focus on long-term retention once someone subscribes to your tool or watches your demo.  

Top Marketing Strategies for 2023 

Now that you’re done with the basic preparation, here’s a list of top SaaS marketing strategies you can implement into your SaaS marketing plan. We’ll also share the hacks we leverage for our clients and some real-life examples to inspire you. 

SaaS Pricing Strategies 

Many SaaS companies think, “But it’s only a pricing page. Should we really strategize for it?” 

But that’s not a great approach. When Groove HQ simplified its pricing structure and added a pricing comparison page, conversions increased by 358%.

Look at how Postalytics shows a detailed pricing plan where the users know exactly what they are getting in each plan: 

postalytics pricing web page

Image source 

That’s not it! They also show a breakdown of each plan below, offering different volume discounts. 

Below are three pricing strategies you can adopt: 

Free trials 

Buyers no longer trust testimonials and branded content that much. They want to use the product first-hand and then make a purchasing decision. That’s why free trials are so prevalent in SaaS and are a great product-led acquisition strategy for your business. 

As a general rule of thumb, the trial period should be anywhere between 7 and 30 days. 

bar graph of how long is your free trial offer

Image source 

At the end of the trial period, you can use reminder emails to encourage paid conversions from free trials. Here’s how Basecamp does it. 

Basecamp notification banner of free trial ending in few days and reminder to subscribe

Image source 

Freemium 

Freemium, a combination of free and premium, has become a go-to pricing strategy for many SaaS businesses. It aims to give users basic features at no cost with an option to access more extensive functionality for a premium subscription fee. 

This model works great as it allows users to try basic features, and once they get hooked to your tool, you can attract them to paid plans with upselling campaigns. 

But which features should you give away for free? As freemium aims to attract new users, the free features should be compelling enough to drive them in. At the same time, if you see lots of freemium traffic but minimal upgrades, your free offerings are probably too rich, and you need to cut back. 

Demos  

If you don’t offer a free trial or a freemium model, having an accessible demo video is a must. It can help visitors see your product in action and give them the necessary information they need to hit that “Subscribe” button. 

An ideal demo video should be of less than 5 minutes. If you need a larger demo video for a complex product, break it into different phases so visitors can jump to the section they want. 

If you’re opting for a live demo, here are some tips you can follow: 

a list of steps on how long is free trial offer

SaaS Inbound Marketing Strategies 

SaaS inbound marketing is an approach that attracts customers through the creation of valuable content and other marketing experiences. It brings customers to you instead of the other way around. Here are four strategies you can adopt: 

SEO 

SEO has undoubtedly been a game-changer for many SaaS businesses. Successful SEO strategies can put businesses in a growth loop: 

Great SEO strategies > Higher rankings > More traffic > More leads > More conversions 

Here’s an SEO framework you can implement. 

a diagram of seo framework for saas

Look how HubSpot has capitalized on SEO techniques like keyword research, metadata, and on-site SEO to become one of the fastest-growing tech companies in the world. 

Content marketing 

If there’s one SaaS business that has made it big with content marketing, it’s Zapier. Zapier is an “automation platform.” This category and phrase don’t have that much demand. Specifically, it gets about 200 monthly searches in the U.S. and 1100 globally. 

Yet Zapier’s blog alone gets 1.6 million organic visits every month. That makes 67.5% of its overall organic traffic, and that traffic is worth about $3.7 million. 

They do this with the help of a single SaaS marketing strategy - content marketing backed by SEO.  

Here are six simple steps to create a content marketing strategy: 

an illustration cycle of 6 steps to develop powerful saas content marketing strategy

Email marketing 

Email has become one of the most preferred communication channels between brands and customers. 

SaaS companies can use email marketing to engage both prospects and active customers. As retention is equally important in the SaaS industry, many companies regularly send product update emails, newsletters, and product how-to’s. 

Other kinds of email campaigns commonly run are welcome, reengagement, onboarding, and promotions. 

Here’s how Litmus, an email marketing tool, sends an eye-catching promotional email with separate sections so the reader can quickly glance through the most important bits. 

They have also used well-crafted CTAs to lead visitors toward taking action. 

litmus email campaign sample

Image source 

Social media marketing 

While social media marketing is used majorly by D2C brands and non-tech brands, it can be a great SaaS marketing strategy for SaaS companies. 

For example, with the popularity of short-form video content growing in the form of reels and TikToks, many companies have used this format to educate users and engage them. 

Take Canva, for example. 

It capitalizes on recent trends and important events to bring unique social media content to its audience, making them want to subscribe to Canva and start designing. 

canva instagram post of creating father's day post, and a thread of conversation on the right

Image source 

SaaS Outbound Marketing Strategies 

SaaS outbound marketing strategies allow you to target only the audience you select, making it quite an effective way of marketing. Here are three strategies you can adopt: 

Search engine PPC 

Pay-per-click advertising allows you to get visibility for your business and appear on top for relevant yet difficult keywords. 

The main advantage of PPC is that you don’t have to play the waiting game; you can start getting results immediately. The downside is that it can be expensive, especially if you’re targeting competitive, high-traffic keywords. The search results exposure also stops as soon as you stop paying. 

project management tool keyword search in google

Image caption description: The different PPC ads for the term “project management tool.” / Source: Google Ads

The best way to get success with these ads is to test them repeatedly. You can research different keywords, create various options for ad copies, and analyze the metrics to get the best ROI. 

Print advertising  

There’s no denying that digital is the way for SaaS marketing. But print advertising can give you an edge if you want to reach an audience that doesn’t actively engage with campaigns on the internet. 

For example, you can get featured in leading industry publications or partner with notable influencers to build brand credibility and expand your reach. You can also run print ads in newspapers, magazines, and even journals. 

Here’s how Mailchimp grabbed attention with an advertisement in a well-known magazine: 

Mailchimp advertisement magazine

Image source 

They created curiosity with the first headline and referenced a prominent company that uses Mailchimp to create trust in its brand. 

Social media ads 

Did you know that 67% of users purchase a product after seeing an ad on social media? 

More and more people are flocking to social media to discover more brands and engage with their communities. You can boost your content or create brand awareness by running social media ads on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter platforms.

Unlike organic, social media ads let you target specific locations or even demographics, so you can devise ads that look personalized and hit the nail right on target. 

Here’s how Slack came up with a social ad that grabbed users’ attention with its eye-catching visual and simple yet effective copy. 

slack shared link showing a post with a banner and a photo of a girl hugging a cat and smiling

Source: Facebook ads 

SaaS Marketing Metrics to Track 

What you can’t track, you can’t optimize. Your SaaS marketing campaigns may be getting great results, but there’s no way to know if you haven’t set relevant metrics and KPIs. These metrics help you determine the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, calculate ROI, and make changes if needed. 

Below are some important marketing metrics you should track regularly. 

Traffic  

One way to increase the number of leads and conversion rate is to get more traffic to your blogs, landing pages and overall website.  

You should measure the overall traffic and the different traffic sources. For example, if you see that most of the traffic is coming from your blog, but you’re spending a lot of time on social media, you need to rethink your strategy. 

You can also check how much traffic is coming organically and how you can improvise on that number.  

Conversions  

The conversion rate signifies the percentage of website visitors that click on your CTAs (Calls To Action) and convert. 

conversation rate formula

This conversion rate doesn’t just signify your free trial sign-ups or paid subscribers. It could be a multitude of actions like signing up for an ebook, downloading a template, getting access to a new feature or functionality, or scheduling a demo with you. 

You can derive many insights when you track conversions along with other metrics. For example, if a landing page is getting good traffic and engagement but fewer conversions, this could be because your CTA isn’t proper. Changing the position, copy, and style of your CTA could bring in good results. 

Cost per acquisition 

Cost per Acquisition measures all the various costs it takes to acquire one customer. It is one of the most popular SaaS marketing and demand generation metrics. 

cost per acquisition formula

Include every cost in this total to determine how to optimize your budget for different activities. 

For example, if you’re spending $100 to get one customer and those customers are paying you just $40, you need to find out where you can afford to spend a little less and get the same results. 

Customer churn rate 

Acquiring more customers and keeping your growth stable is difficult if your churn rate is high. This metric gives you an idea of how good your customer retention is and if you need to improvise on the same. 

customer churn rate formula

A good annual churn rate for a SaaS business is 5-7%, whereas the monthly average churn rate is less than 1%. 

If your numbers are highly skewed, set up a meeting with different teams and find the reason why users are flocking to your competitors. 

Activation rate 

You want customers to get value from your product. Only when they reach this stage will they continue their association with you. Activation refers to the first time someone uses your product in a way that shows they are getting value from it. 

activation rate formula

If your activation rate is low, it shows that while people are getting attracted to your tool, they’re not finding the experience meaningful or understanding how to move forward. 

In such a case, improve the onboarding experience or provide content in the form of real case studies and how-to articles for getting started with your product. 

Lifetime value 

The lifetime value shows how much an average paying customer provides your business throughout its user lifespan. This metric shows you three main aspects of your business: 

  1. What a customer is worth on average
  2. How often a customer purchases
  3. The amount an average customer spends 
customer lifetime value formula

Measuring customer lifetime value along with customer acquisition cost can give you a better idea of how your business is growing. 

How Do I Start Marketing My SaaS? 

Ready to start developing your own SEO strategies? Creating a SaaS marketing plan requires a lot of steps, so to help you, we’ll show you how we do it for our clients. 

Define your target audience 

You need to know your customers well to create strategies that target them effectively. This means figuring out the answers to questions like: 

  • What are their demographics?
  • What drives their purchasing decisions?
  • Where do they spend time online?
  • What types of content do they respond to?
  • What features/functions would likely attract them to your tool?
  • What requirements would they have?

After finding these answers, you can create detailed buyer personas. These are fictional representations of your ideal customers, and as a SaaS company, you’ll have multiple buyer personas as your tool likely appeals to multiple niches. 

Craft a compelling value proposition 

A value proposition is the overall value your product provides to the customers. 

To make your prospects choose your tool over others, you need to have a compelling value proposition that is clear, concise, and easily understandable.

Many SaaS companies also focus on creating a USP to differentiate themselves from their competitors. This USP could be in the form of novel features, superior customer support, focus on customer success, etc. 

You should also portray this proposition on your website by highlighting important features and functions so you can convert prospects faster. 

Leverage SEO tactics 

To get your website the organic visibility it requires, you need to leverage various SEO tactics. 

seo strategy list

This includes conducting keyword research, focusing on on-page and technical SEO optimizations, getting high-quality backlinks, leveraging the power of internal links, refreshing 

Before you start with these tactics, you can refer to a detailed guide on SEO for SaaS. 

While implementing these tactics, ensure you’re complementing them with one another. For example, while refreshing old content, optimize it for keywords. Once the changes are made, you can reach out to publications that have linked to similar guides and offer them solid reasons why they should link to your optimized guide instead. 

Build a user-friendly website 

Website navigation and user-friendliness can be important reasons you’re not getting conversions and engagement despite publishing great content. 

Here are some best practices you can adopt to build a user-friendly website: 

  • Choose a website design that is simple and minimalistic.
  • Choose colors that reflect your brand and evoke great emotions.
  • Break large chunks of information and use white space. Make the content easily scannable.
  • Improve your site’s layout and make important pages easily navigable.
  • Optimize for mobile-friendliness.
  • Improve the site speed.
  • Keep your website pages consistent.
  • Use images wisely, and don’t overcrowd things.

Todoist is one SaaS website that gets it right on all the above points. 

todoist website home page

Image source 

Content strategy is key 

With different content formats becoming more popular, creating a well-rounded content strategy that includes multiple content types is important. 

Look at all the top SaaS brands like HubSpot, Canva, Zapier, and Trello. All these brands create long-form articles, but they also focus on creating ebooks, videos for YouTube or Instagram, visuals in the form of infographics, and even podcasts. 

This helps you attract a wider audience, get more traffic, and find new ways to build engagement. 

Here’s how we created a content strategy for Longvadon that helped them grow organic site traffic by 277%

organic traffic report of MADX in years

Image source 

Harness the power of social media 

With social media entering almost everyone’s phones these days, it’s a great platform to build and engage your community. 

The types of platforms you choose to be active on will depend from niche to niche. For example, if you’re looking to sell to individuals, Instagram and Facebook would be great choices. LinkedIn would be ideal if you’re looking to target business founders.

If you’re just starting your social media journey, you can create engaging content by repurposing your best articles or videos.  

Embrace email marketing 

Emails are still an effective method for connecting with your prospects and users. You just need to put on your creative hat and develop unique ideas that help increase conversions. 

One tactic SaaS businesses often deploy is segmenting. As your tool may appeal to different sets of customers, creating segmented campaigns can make your emails more personalized and relevant. 

You can even use email automation to schedule targeted messages, create drip campaigns, personalize email content, etc. 

Stay updated with industry trends 

In the digital age, you’ll see a lot of trends coming and going. And you’ll need to be prepared for the same. You can’t keep using the same strategies and hoping that leads will keep coming. 

For example, when reels first appeared, many thought, “This is just a fad.” But did you know that over 200 billion reels are played on Facebook and Instagram daily? 

The businesses that first started adopting this format would have gained a lot of advantages. They could test and adapt things much more quickly than brands that have just started experimenting. 

You can also stay updated with the recent marketing trends through webinars, industry publications, and conferences. 

Monitor and analyze results 

You need to keep optimizing your SaaS marketing strategies regularly. To do so, set KPIs and SaaS metrics for each campaign and track them at certain intervals. 

You can assign these tasks to your team members so you don’t miss out. Based on the results, you can analyze and refine your strategies. 

Useful SaaS Marketing Tools 

It’s a lot of work brainstorming SaaS marketing strategies and keeping track of all the different metrics and KPIs. That’s where SaaS marketing tools can make the job easy for you. Here are the top 4 SaaS marketing tools we have tried and tested ourselves. 

#1 Google Analytics 

google analytics website home page

Image source 

This tool analyzes performance factors like mobile responsiveness and load time, measures all kinds of traffic metrics, and gives you valuable audience insights. This helps you determine the content you should create, the pages you need to revise, and which channels you should focus on. 

#2 HotJar 

hot jar article with title Understand how users behave

Image source 

HotJar shows you how users are experiencing your website without overwhelming you with too many numbers. You can see minute details like where users click, move, and scroll through your website. You can also get recordings of this to map the full user journey. With these insights, you’re better equipped to test different on-site marketing strategies to see what gets results. 

#3 Google Tag Manager 

google tag manager illustration of how it works between internet and analytics, tracking, marketing

Image source 

With Google Tag Manager, you can know which marketing initiatives are successful and which are not by tracking and measuring them. You can add small snippets of code to your site that help connect with various channels and platforms. You can then quickly deploy analytics and measurement tag configurations. 

#4 MixPanel 

mixpanel website home page

Image source 

MixPanel helps you convert, engage, and retain users. This is one of the best tools to uncover hidden insights and use them to shape your marketing strategies. You can find out how conversion rates vary by segment, surface conversion trends, measure active usage, identify opportunities to drive retention, etc. 

Ready to Start Marketing Your SaaS? 

With this guide, you know all you need to start marketing your SaaS product. 

With research and some experimentation, you’re all set to build a great SaaS marketing strategy for your business.  

You also have a lot of examples to take inspiration from here, be it to conduct your next email marketing campaign or devise a social media marketing strategy.  

If you’re just starting or still not clear on how to take things forward, MADX is here for you. With years of experience and some feel-good client success stories, we’d love to hear you out and provide exclusive insights into marketing possibilities. 

Get in touch with us today 

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