SaaS marketing is tough.
Apart from the mammoth task of marketing something that has no physical presence, you must constantly keep up with the changing market trends and developments.
While crafting a SaaS marketing strategy might take a lot of your time, the possible returns are mind-blowing. Take Chanty, for example. They drew in 70% of their first 10,000 users with SaaS content marketing.
As a link-building and full-service SaaS SEO agency, we help SaaS businesses blast past their targets. So, we’d love to share some of the marketing strategies that work.
What we’ll cover:
What is a SaaS Marketing Strategy?
A SaaS (Software as a Service) marketing strategy focuses on building awareness of your SaaS product, generating leads, and acquiring and retaining customers.
The three key factors that make a SaaS marketing strategy unique:
- The SaaS customer journey is complex
- The focus is on long-term customers
- Creating a catchy and simple yet informative strategy.
Most SaaS businesses pick multiple strategies as their focus areas instead of sticking to just one. For example, Slack makes use of content marketing along with social media marketing and email marketing.
How do I create a SaaS marketing plan?
To create a SaaS marketing plan, you must first cover the basics.
For example, you might want to do competitor research to understand what the audience in your niche is expecting, what SaaS marketing strategies competitors are making use of, and on which platforms they live.
You can even choose to evaluate your existing plans and make them better. For example, if you’re already making use of email marketing campaigns, you might want to add a newsletter to it or send out your latest content pieces to your existing customers.
We’ll take you through the detailed steps in the following sections.
Understand your ideal SaaS customer
How do you create a laser-focused SaaS marketing strategy? By knowing your ideal customer in and out. Here are two ways to do that:
Use customer personas
A customer persona is a representation of the type of people who will benefit most from your SaaS product. It is a guide to your actual target audience and covers different things like customer behavioral patterns, demographics, goals, attitudes, skills, etc.
Here are some starter questions for preparing your customer persona:
You can also refer to this guide for more details on the same.
Create a simple customer journey
A customer journey map helps you create strategies for different stages in the journey. For example, let’s suppose you have created a map like the one given below.
At the awareness stage, you may want to use SaaS marketing strategies such as influencer marketing and content marketing. On the other hand, you might want to deploy improvisation strategies for retaining customers.
If you’re yet to create a customer journey for your SaaS business, here’s a guide by Hotjar you can take a look at.
Give your audience free stuff
Most SaaS products make use of the word “free” a lot of times. There’s a strategic reason behind it. With so much competition in every SaaS niche, it’s difficult to encourage a customer to buy your product on the first go. So, what do you do? You tell them that they can use your product’s free trial before they commit to it.
Once they avail of that offer, you are in a better position to convert them into paying customers.
The world’s leading SaaS companies, like Shopify, advertise their free trial on their homepage.
Your free model could have dozens of iterations like a free trial, trial with no credit card, freemium model, limited version free, free forever, and so on. When it comes to SaaS, giving away your product for free as long as you have a strategy behind it could be a great customer acquisition approach.
Top 19 SaaS marketing strategies
The following SaaS marketing strategies will help you generate more targeted leads, scale customer acquisition, streamline customer onboarding, and reduce customer churn. We’ll also provide you with real-life examples and case studies so you can take inspiration from them. Let’s delve in!
1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
A well-defined SEO strategy can help you drive leads organically without having to rely on paid ads. SEO’s main goal is to position your business in the top-ranking search results for relevant keywords. For example, you’d want your project management tool to rank in the top 3 results of Google when someone searches for “best project management tools.”
To do that, you need to focus on two separate yet complementary parts of SEO:
On-page SEO focuses on optimizing your web pages to earn organic traffic and search engine rankings. Here are some on-page SEO techniques you should adopt:
- Create a keyword strategy and make sure your content is always optimized for relevant keywords.
- Optimize your URLs, meta descriptions, and title tags
- Don’t miss out on internal linking.
- Boost your page speed
- Make use of unique images than stock photos.
Want to know how effective off-page SEO can be? Here’s one success story: Link-building helped Backlinko increase search traffic by a whopping 110% in just 14 days.
While getting backlinks is one of the most important factors among 200 known Google ranking factors, the number of backlinks you get is as important as the quality of backlinks.
For example, getting high-quality links from trusted and authoritative sites or getting shares and links from influential social media accounts will do more for your business than just increasing the number of backlinks.
2. Content Marketing
Some of the best SaaS companies in the world are making it big with content marketing. For example, if I tell you to name one SaaS tool doing great in the “sales” niche, how many of you remember HubSpot?
HubSpot’s blog itself attracts over 4.5 million visitors every month. This traffic doesn’t just lead to conversions, but it also positions HubSpot as an authority leader when it comes to its niche.
Here are 5 different avenues you can cover in content marketing:
One of the best blogs out there in the SaaS field is Ahrefs. They don’t just talk. They show how to do it. For example, look at the first blog on their page.
They don’t just give you tips on Twitter marketing, they walk you through the strategy they use.
They also share helpful tips on things you can do with their SEO tools.
Did you know that having 10-12 landing pages can increase your leads by up to 55%?
You can do a lot of things through landing pages, like collect important demographic information about your prospects, talk about your deals and offers, and link to your PPC ads.
A webinar is an online seminar that turns your presentation into a real-time conversation with people from anywhere in the world.
You can conduct these webinars to create hype in your niche and give valuable information that draws more prospects to your brand.
Sharing video content in SaaS is as important as sharing blog content.
As SaaS tools generally involve a lot of complexities, you can make use of videos created with an online video creator to help your customers better understand the tool, its features, and its benefits.
Many people have started listening to podcasts in the last few years. One reason is that people can easily listen to them while commuting or taking care of small errands.
Here’s how Mailchimp has a separate section on its website for inspiring podcasts:
3. Content Upgrade Strategy
A content upgrade is a piece of content that you offer for free to your readers in exchange for their email addresses.
These content upgrades could be in the form of PDF guides, videos, podcasts, ebooks, checklists, lists of resources, case studies, and templates.
For example, let’s say you wrote a valuable post on “social media marketing”. At the end of the article, you leave a CTA that talks about giving free social media templates that your readers can make use of. You can then ask for their email address to deliver the same.
This also allows you to find out those readers that are interested in your content or specific features of your tool. You can personalize your sales pitch to them moving forward.
Hootsuite, a social media marketing tool, smartly places content upgrades at the very top of their blogs that take readers to a landing page where the user gets a free resource in exchange for their email address and important details. Here’s one such landing page:
4. Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is no longer limited to D2C brands or apparel brands. SaaS companies are jumping on this bandwagon, and rightly so.
With the right set of influencers, you can get your brand in front of your target audience and even compel them to purchase from you.
For example, Buffer, famous for its youthful image and blog posts, did not start out great. Their blog posts weren’t reaching a lot of people. So, they started writing content that would appeal to influencers. These influencers then helped spread the word on Buffer’s behalf.
Combined with guest blogging, this strategy helped Buffer increase their blog numbers and subscriber base to the count of 100,000 users in just one year.
5. Behavioral Retargeting
With the advent of technology, you get multiple chances to convert a lead. Behavioral retargeting helps you do that.
Behavioral retargeting looks at people who came to your website and showed a strong interest in your product or services but didn’t convert.
This is possible with the help of cookies — a small piece of identifying data that lets the site identify the visitors and even track the pages they visit and the products they buy.
The various types of behavioral retargeting strategies you can use are:
- Display Ads: Once your visitor leaves your website, your display ad starts getting featured on applicable websites the visitor visits. You may have seen this happening with many ecommerce products you browse.
- Social media retargeting: Your potential customers start seeing your brand, ad, or page on the platforms they use, like Facebook or Instagram.
- Email retargeting: If the visitor has left their email address on any of your forms or created an account, you can use that email to create a personal connection and encourage them to buy.
6. Video Marketing
Video marketers get 66% more qualified leads per year. It doesn’t stop there. 8 out of 10 people purchased a SaaS tool or an app after watching a brand’s video.
With bite-sized videos doing the rounds on Instagram and TikTok, you can leverage that to create awareness and increase engagement for your brand.
For example, if you have a social media management tool, you could create informational videos (how to create a social media strategy as a beginner), share product updates (what’s new on our platform), and share trending news in your niche (what does the arrival of this new Twitter update mean for your business)
Here’s how Canva shares tips and product updates with Instagram reels:
Other than that, you can create product demo videos, answer FAQs in video format, and share infographics with video features.
Make sure that you don’t stop at building great videos. They won’t help you unless you distribute them. You can fit these videos into your email campaigns, sales funnels, PPC landing pages, and platforms such as YouTube that also help you rank on Google.
7. Email Marketing
Email marketing generates an incredible ROI of 4200%, which makes it one of the best SaaS marketing strategies.
You can create email automations like:
- Welcome emails
- Promotional emails
- Milestone emails
- Onboarding emails
- Newsletter emails
- Reactivation emails
- Product update email
Here are some best practices for SaaS email marketing:
- Make use of engaging visuals to capture attention and break the monotony of all-text emails.
- Try to make it more personalized. For example, instead of using “Dear subscriber,” address the email by their name.
- Work around with multiple subject lines. Starting with a question can be a great idea to get your reader hooked and encourage them to open your email.
- Keep it short and simple. Nobody wants to read 5 long paragraphs when they could have gotten the message in just a few lines.
- Always include a CTA.
Here’s an email by Hootsuite that starts off with a powerful subject line motivating business marketers to read the entire email - “58% of people are motivated to buy from Instagram stories”
8. Google Ads, Paid Search & PPC
Relying on organic marketing to get leads is great. But millions of people still click on search engine ads every day. A reason why you should never give up on PPC.
If you have just started out, paid search helps you get results in no time. It also gives your company the much-needed awareness it needs to keep growing.
While creating these ads, make sure you use proper keywords, focus on landing page design, bid on competitor names, and so on.
For example, look at the ad results for the keyword “Zapier alternative”
9. Social Media Marketing
It’s normal to think that social media is for brands like Starbucks and Sephora. But with 4.6 billion social media users worldwide, SaaS companies realize being on social media is a tremendous opportunity.
Social media marketing is not just to garner leads. It can be used for a lot of other things, such as showing social proof, creating awareness, sharing success stories, creating informative content, showing off your company culture, and understanding audience reactions.
Here are three major social media platforms you can create a community on:
You can make use of this platform to share product updates, educate users about your different features, and share case studies.
LinkedIn is a great platform for connecting with business leaders and managers. Make sure that the content you create for this platform matches the tone and requirements of the target audience.
Many SaaS companies make use of Twitter to engage with their audience. For example, you may ask niche-relevant questions and garner audience reactions and retweets.
Other Social Media
You can use social media platforms like Instagram to share user-generated content (UGC) and establish brand loyalty.
Here’s how Adobe shares a colorful picture made by one of its users.
Co-marketing is when you run a marketing campaign with another company that complements your product offering or shares a similar view or approach to your business.
For example, suppose you’re in the niche of social media scheduling. You partner with a “social media analyzer” tool to publish an ebook on social media strategy for 2022. In this way, you reach the same target audience and leverage each other’s following to generate leads.
However, make sure that all the expectations are cleared from the start, including who will work on what, how you will divide the costs, what will be the timeline, and so on.
Here’s a co-marketing example in the form of an ebook by LinkedIn and HubSpot:
11. Referral Marketing
Referral leads have a 30% better chance at conversion than leads generated from other marketing channels. That’s not all! High-quality referrals will also lower your customer acquisition cost and increase lifetime value.
You can incentivize these referrals by giving discounts, a free month of service, or free premium features.
To make sure that the referrals you get are valuable, define what makes a quality referral. This definition could include the size of the company, the industry it is in, the person’s job title, and more.
You can either make use of software that powers your referral program from start to finish or just have a landing page on your website for people to make referrals.
Dropbox was one of the first SaaS companies that started making use of referral programs. They started with a simple and direct message - “For every person who joins and installs Dropbox with your referral, we’ll give you 16 GB of bonus space.”
The numbers they received were nothing short of extraordinary:
- 23 million referrals were sent out in just 1 month
- Dropbox doubled its growth every three months
- 3,900% total growth in 15 months
12. SaaS Pricing
Your SaaS pricing strategy is one of the most important parts of SaaS marketing.
Not having a clear pricing structure can frustrate your visitors and lead to poor conversions.
Look at how Moosend has adopted a clear pricing structure.
They also show a comparison section below the pricing where you can see the features you’ll get in each plan.
If you’re offering your users free trials, make sure you also display that on your pricing page and website. The more free trial users you can onboard, the more the chances of conversions.
Many SaaS businesses also offer a freemium pricing structure where they offer the basic features for free and charge a premium price for advanced features. Before going for it, make sure you have done adequate market research and competitor research to know which pricing structure and approach will get you the best results.
13. Account-Based Marketing
Account-based marketing (ABM) is a growth strategy that focuses on creating personalized buying experiences for a set of high-value accounts.
To execute an effective ABM campaign, you need a lot of preparation and coordination from multiple departments, like marketing and sales.
Here are some steps to get started with ABM:
- Build your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)
- Research on them. What challenges are they facing? How can your SaaS product help them?
- Develop personalized content and messages to drive awareness, consideration, & conversion.
- Make use of a multi-channel approach to reach your target accounts
14. Testimonials & Customer Reviews
We don’t just buy products or subscribe to SaaS tools. We often read reviews and customer testimonials before making a decision. Statistics prove the same. 93% of consumers say that reviews influence their purchasing decisions.
Here are 4 avenues to leverage for testimonials & customer reviews:
People want unbiased reviews. A reason why they hop on to SaaS review sites such as G2, Capterra, and Product Hunt. Having a presence across these sites provides social proof and increases the visibility of your business.
You can get testimonials from your esteemed customers and embed them on your website to demonstrate social proof. Here’s how Trello’s home page shows these testimonials right before the CTA to encourage users to take action.
Video testimonials just seem more authentic and real as it features a person in action talking about your company. You can put these videos right on your homepage, customer page, or your product/service page. Whichever place you choose, make sure that you put in strategic CTAs around those videos.
Take a look at how Slack shares a video testimonial on their “Customer stories” page.
Customer success stories
The end goal of any customer is to achieve success with your product. Whether it is to improve productivity, gain efficiency, or boost revenue, your audience needs to know how your tool can help them achieve results. Sharing the success stories of your existing customers is how you build trust in your brand.
Here’s how Zapier does it:
15. Improve User Experience
At the end of the day, the success of your SaaS business depends on your user. Is your user satisfied with your product to continue using it? Do they love the product enough to recommend it? Or would they easily switch to another tool?
Improving your user experience is the best way to retain your existing users. This improvement could be in the form of new product feature addition, improvising the navigation, or solving the current pain problems of users while using the tool.
Many businesses fail to take note of another aspect of user experience - customer service. Make sure that your team is readily available to solve customer issues and problems. You can even offer helpful content to your customers so that they know how to best use your product.
16. Sign Up Flows & CTA’s
A long and complicated sign-up means people will abandon it, even if they had a strong intention of using your tool.
Here are some best practices for sign-up flows:
- Keep the information required to a minimum. You don’t want to have your user type in too much. Have options wherever possible that the user can easily tick.
- Make use of progressive profiling. This means breaking the registration process into multiple stages. This makes your form seem shorter.
- Allow for one-click registration through a third-party social media platform or Google.
- Avoid complex password rules.
This brings us to the next part of our CTA strategy. CTAs are the lifeblood of any SaaS business. A reason why they should be prominently placed and written in such a manner is that they evoke the action you want from the user. Here’s a guide you can use to design your CTAs.
17. Limit Customer Choice
You don’t want customers to have only one option. At the same time, you don’t want to overwhelm them with too many choices.
The key here is to find a middle way. For example, look at Miro. While it offers a plethora of features to interest its users, they limit its paid plans to just three with clear value propositions. Prospects can see which plan fits them the best and make a quick choice.
18. Deals & Discounts
Everyone likes getting a great deal. Deals & discounts, especially limited-time offers, can be a great way to motivate prospects to take the leap. This can also make them think that they are getting higher value from you.
But make sure that you run these offers on occasion only. If you’re constantly giving discounts, the users will stop taking them as special offers and instead think of the discounted price as the regular price.
You can even offer these deals to encourage upselling. Here’s how Grammarly did the same by praising its user of a great year and then subtly giving a discount offer to nudge the user to upgrade their plan.
19. Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)
Let’s say you get 100 visitors to your website every day. Out of these 100, 10 converts. This means a conversion rate of 10%. What if you want to increase these conversions to 20 per day?
One way is to increase your website visitors to 200 daily visits. But that would mean additional marketing, acquisition, and traffic-driving costs.
Another approach is using conversion rate optimization. It means understanding what users want when they visit your website, studying how they engage with different web pages, and systematically converting more visitors into buyers. This way, you increase your conversion rate to 20% without any additional cost.
Disclaimer: These numbers are here for the sake of simplicity. The industry benchmark rate is close to 2.4%, according to FirstPageSage.
Ready to improve your SaaS Marketing Strategy?
Marketing a SaaS business is a complex and never-ending process. The 19 strategies mentioned above will help you craft a marketing strategy that attracts, converts, and retains customers.
Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to SaaS marketing which is why you’ll have to spend time understanding your target market and their behaviors.
If you’re short on time and require expert guidance, get in touch with MADX. We have numerous years of experience working for SaaS clients and getting them extraordinary results.
Check some of those success stories below:
- How Good Annotations secured 300 new backlinks in 90 days?
- How we 28x’d Postalytics organic traffic in a year?
- How Longvadon grew organic site traffic by 277% in a few short months?