Software as a Service (SaaS) is a booming industry that rakes in more than $100 billion per year. And according to Statista, SaaS will only continue to grow and is projected to reach $132 billion by 2020. There’s no better time to get into software distribution via cloud computing.
For those who are just now arriving to the SaaS party, it is also the right time to craft a winning marketing strategy. But what does a successful ad plan look like in a niche B2B sector such as SaaS? For starters, it needs to appeal to audiences at each stage of the customer journey.
If we were to look at the SaaS buyer’s journey as a traditional sales funnel, it would look like this:
To break it down, a well-rounded, comprehensive SaaS marketing plan will not only help nurture prospects and leads, but also facilitate conversion by educating them on the service at hand. It will be effective at retaining those customers and turning them into brand advocates. That’s what a fully fleshed out, winning strategy looks like.
Marketers are lucky in that there are a number of tactics and tools readily available to help develop such a plan. We look at some of the most important below.
Look at key metrics
The first step is to know what metrics to look at to ensure the tactics you use in your marketing strategy are effective. There are three crucial metrics SaaS companies need to focus on to measure success:
- CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost)
- LTV (Lifetime Value of Customer)
- ROI (Return on Investment)
Knowing how much it costs to acquire a customer will inform your marketing strategies. Being able to predict the net profits of the future relationship with that customer will tell you how to engage with the customer going forward. And being able to quantify return on investment will tell you what you need to do to increase overall profits.
Perform competitor research
How your organization utilizes metrics in your marketing is one thing; knowing how the competition does it is equally vital. Proper competitive research means analyzing everything you can about all your competitors. What marketing strategies are they using? What’s their organic ranking? Do they have a strong presence on social media? How many backlinks do they have? Are they running PPC ads?
Sounds like a painstaking, research-intensive process, doesn’t it? Luckily there are many competitor analysis tools out there to make this step a breeze. These tools will tell you, among other things:
- Why your keywords aren’t profitable when compared to the competition
- How to outrank websites similar to yours
- How many unique visitors your competitors generate per month
- How to compare traffic statistics
- Who is sharing your competitors’ content
- What kind of social mentions and shares your competitors are getting
And, make no mistake, developing a good SEO strategy utilizing common keywords is crucial to marketing success. More on this below.
Generate organic leads through SEO
Knowing what keywords your target audience is searching for on the internet is the essence of search engine optimization. To this end, no marketing strategy is complete without a good SEO game. And with the Alexa keyword tool, this type of research has never been easier. You can search audience keywords, competitor keywords, find best-ranking keywords, identify gaps in your keyword strategy and much more.
In general, though, the strategy to targeting prospects through their search behaviors should be a simple one. Say you are a SaaS company that has produced a workplace collaboration and chat tool. Your audience will likely be performing searches using words like “workflow,” “productivity,” “video chat,” etc.
Knowing what your audience is searching for will also help SaaS companies create buyer personas based on the specific interests of their niche audience.
However, there are also ways in which SEO for SaaS companies can be more difficult, particularly if your company doesn’t have much in the way of website or other content. It’s that last part that leads us to our next point.
Focus on content marketing
Even in an age where new technologies such as augmented reality, machine learning and Internet of Things are making big headlines, content remains king. Audiences still crave eye-catching content that raises awareness, offers education and removes pain points during the purchase cycle.
There are tried and true types of content that still generate interest. Take blogging for example. According to Rightmix Marketing, first-time visitors account for 80 percent of all blog visits. Moreover, those who produce new blogs daily generate five times more visits.
But that’s not all. A solid content strategy is going to incorporate authoritative content like e-books and white papers as well as video content like webcasts, webinars and vlogs. Then there’s podcasting, which has risen to become a popular medium in its own right and one SaaS companies are finding success with.
Always remember that to maximize the reach and potential of your content, you should tailor it to your potential customers based on their job positions, purchase habits, locations—any bit of data that can help you segment an audience down to the individual.
The above tips are a good starting point to crafting the perfect marketing strategy for your SaaS company. Once you’ve got an idea of how you can augment it with other tactics such as investing in PPC ads and crafting an effective email strategy, the sky really is the limit.