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Marketing 20 min read

Marketing For SaaS Business From A To Z:
2021 Guide

marketing for saas
Michael Marchese
Michael Marchese
Software as a service (SaaS) is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, but having a great software product is just the beginning. The next step to grow your SaaS business is creating an effective marketing plan to showcase the benefits and features of your product to your key audiences. SaaS marketing shouldn't be an afterthought — it should be something for which you carefully plan and prepare. Having the right roadmap is an essential first step.
This SaaS marketing guide will provide you with key insights to create and execute your marketing plan from A to Z.

SaaS business versus service licensing

Before we discuss the specifics of marketing tactics, let's talk a little bit more about SaaS and how it compares to the more traditional software model of licensing and on-site installation.

Service licensing

In the past, most software was offered on a subscription or software licensing basis — that is, you would purchase software and get a license to download and install it, either on computers or servers physically located in your office. From a marketing perspective, this approach has drawbacks because it requires customers to:
Have the server capacity to support the software at their location.
Have IT support on the premises to troubleshoot if there is a problem that cannot be solved remotely with tech support.
Pay a higher up-front fee to purchase the software, as well as ongoing maintenance and support contracts.
Purchase upgrades and enhancements in the future, which can add to the total cost.

SaaS business

We have seen a significant swing toward "software as a service" (SaaS). This model allows businesses to use software through a cloud-based platform, meaning the software is accessible at any time from any internet-connected device. Most SaaS companies offer subscription-based services by user, product, or site. It offers several advantages for marketing:
Customers can purchase and use software from any platform, even without on-site infrastructure.
Customers can easily scale up and down as needed, adding capacity as their business grows or scaling back during slower seasons.
It has a lower barrier to entry because the costs are paid monthly rather than all upfront.
Even customers who are not tech-savvy and have no internal IT resources can take advantage of SaaS features.
SaaS vendors can provide a higher level of data security to prevent loss from theft, hacking or environmental disasters.
SEO For SaaS: The What, Why And How Behind It
This guide will help you jump-start your marketing efforts to reach more customers with your SaaS business.

Your website: the core of your marketing plan

Websites are the centerpiece of any marketing plan. They are often the first interaction your customers will have with your business — a digital "storefront" for your customers to browse your offerings and get more information. Website designs for SaaS marketing go beyond visual appeal: they need to be simple, easy to navigate, and provide reporting and information on the back end to enhance your marketing efforts.

Website design

Any website design should begin with two simple questions: who is my customer, and what do they need to know? From there, you can build effective webpages that include the right information to draw in your customers, answer their questions, and showcase the services and features your software provides. The best websites are simple, modern and easy to navigate. They include a balance of graphic elements, copy and white space. Common pages to include on your website:
Homepage
About
Services and/or products
Contact
Blog.
website footer

Homepage

Like the storefronts of brick-and-mortar establishments, a homepage is your chance to show visitors what's inside and entice them to learn more. It should be visually appealing with a clear value proposition and call to action (CTA) that your audience can easily find on the page. Use large fonts, headers, bright contrast, and visuals like charts and photographs to illustrate what you have to offer.

Most prospective clients will only spend about 15 seconds browsing your homepage. It's important to use design elements and CTAs that draw them in and encourage them to click through to other pages on your site where they can learn more by watching videos, reading testimonials or case studies, and comparing product features.
stripo homepage

Landing pages

Landing pages are another tool for SaaS marketing. These pages are different from your main website because they are specifically designed for lead generation. Landing pages should be simple and highlight a single feature or problem that your SaaS software can solve. The audience should be directed to the next step with a clear CTA. You can create multiple landing pages that have different focal points based on your marketing campaigns but keep each one simple and to the point, eliminating navigation or links to other pages.

Blog

Most of your website copy will remain the same (with some minor tweaks), so a blog is your chance to create a new copy for content marketing and SEO. Blogs should provide high-quality, keyword-driven content that is educational and informative for your audience.
serpstat blog
How To Create A Successful Digital Marketing Blog: Asking Experts

Content marketing

Content marketing is a critical tool for SaaS companies to generate leads and turn them into sales. Most SaaS platforms are for B2B (business-to-business) audiences, so the content you create will be different than it would be for a B2C (business-to-consumer) audience.

Content marketing is a broad term that covers a wide variety of tactics and includes a range of content types — in other words, it's more than just writing blogs. To be successful in your B2B content marketing:
1
Clearly define your audience. If it helps, create buyer personas or psychographic profiles of who would benefit from your products.
2
Identify your marketing goals. Different types of content can achieve different goals, so a content strategy should include all the stages of a "funnel" from the top (education, awareness) to the bottom (closing a sale).
3
Analyze resources. The type of content marketing you do often depends on the resources you have available. For example, if you want to create video content, you will need videographers and editors. If you want to create blogs, you will need to rely on experienced in-house or freelance content writers.
4
Do your research. Identify problems your customers face (and the keywords they search to find solutions), then create content targeted at solving those problems.
Next, create an overall strategy and content calendar that includes:
Type of content – blog, guest post, whitepaper, webinar, video, a downloadable PDF guide, brochure, sales comparison chart, etc.
Content stage – top, middle, or bottom of funnel.
Schedule for publishing the content.
Target audience.
Distribution channel.
Resources needed to help create and deploy the content.
Ongoing plan for updating, reposting and refreshing existing content.
9 Lead Magnet Ideas For Every Stage Of The Buyer's Journey

Social media marketing

For SaaS companies targeting a B2B audience, the tools, platforms and content you use will be different from B2C social media strategies. Social media engagement is at an all-time high, with more than 3.5 billion users worldwide. Millennials are some of the most active social media users, and also some of the most powerful consumers. Many of these people are now advancing in careers to become important decision-makers, and social media is a vital avenue for reaching them.

While widely used, Facebook and Instagram cater mostly to B2C consumers and may not be as effective for a B2B audience. The key to your SaaS social media strategy is to deploy content on platforms where your B2B audience is engaging and searching for information. Some of the most popular include:
1
LinkedIn – this professional networking site is home to more than 675 million users. It has become a hub for thought leadership in the B2B space. About 80% of leads through social media come from LinkedIn, according to the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions blog. LinkedIn is a great channel for distributing downloadable content, thought leadership pieces, and infographics relevant to your industry or audience.
2
Twitter – known for the ability to distribute information quickly, Twitter is a key resource for many B2B professionals. It's an efficient way to send important announcements about product features, new releases and quick snippets.
3
YouTube – video provides a great boost to your marketing efforts, and one of the easiest ways to distribute video (and embed it in other places, like your website or landing pages) is through YouTube. This channel works well for educational, how-to/instructional and short brand awareness videos.
4
SlideShare – Google and other search engines index every presentation posted on SlideShare, making it an ideal platform to publish content to boost your SEO. You can take other content, like blog posts and videos, and translate them into short presentations to post on SlideShare for additional exposure.
How To Create And Host A Twitter Chat: A Step-By-Step Guide [Asking Experts]

Email marketing

Despite being one of the oldest digital content distribution mediums, email remains a powerful tool for SaaS marketing. According to CMI/Marketing Prof's Benchmarking Report, 93% of B2B marketers report using it. Effective email campaigns — like the rest of your content — must be optimized and adjusted over time as your strategy and your consumers' needs and preferences evolve.

Build your list

The first part of any email marketing strategy involves building your customer list. Your database should include customers and prospects interested in your products and services. You can build this list using:
Online forms with exclusive content offers.
Landing pages or pop-ups with notifications about subscriber benefits.
Sign-up options on external pages like social media sites.

Create compelling content

Once you have subscribers on your email list, craft compelling and engaging content for them. Build a content plan based on user journeys that keeps all content simple and focused. Resist the temptation to send out too many emails, which can become annoying and usually leads your audience to hit the "unsubscribe" button.
Write, or hire professionals to write, great copy for your email messages.
Allow users to customize the type of messages they receive by topic, frequency, etc.
Have clear CTAs without coming across as too sales-y.

Segment your users for better follow-up

Email drip campaigns help you target new users and older users separately with relevant content based on their interests and past actions. Sending everyone the exact same message can become redundant for your existing subscribers while missing key information for new subscribers. Use a CRM to create drip campaigns that bring new subscribers up to speed and present relevant information to existing subscribers based on their past engagement.
eSputnik segmentation

Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing has dramatically increased in recent years and leverages large social media followings to promote products. Companies with B2B audiences can benefit from engaging influencers in SaaS marketing. Micro-influencers are regular people on social media whose followings are smaller than celebrities (usually under 10,000) who can speak with authority in niche markets. The benefits they provide for B2B SaaS marketing include:
Trust and credibility – these influencers use word-of-mouth advertising to reach a broader audience
New audiences – find new audiences through influencers' social followings.
Engagement – influencers represent a more human face than brands or corporations to engage your audience.
Incorporate influencers in your marketing efforts by:
Recruiting influencers who are brand advocates or interested in your product
Seeking out advocates with your target audience
Educating them about your products or services
Avoiding conflicts of interest that stem from the influencer's "day job" or other commitments
Collaborating with influencers in multiple ways (webinars, panel discussions, podcasts, etc.)
Asking for their ideas rather than having them just parrot your company lines
Allowing them to have fun in their promotions, as long as they retain your brand voice
If you don't already have a connection with a micro-influencer, you can reach out to them directly on social media platforms or go through an agency to find influencers who share your values and reach the right audience.

Retargeting

If you've spent time on the internet, you've seen retargeting ads showing products or services you previously viewed. Retargeting is an affordable way to reach an audience again and again. These ads are only served to people who browsed your website. Since B2B decision-makers will view an average of 10 ads or pieces of content before making a decision according to LinkedIn, getting your message in front of them more times increases the chance of a conversion.

Key vendors for B2B retargeting campaigns include:
The easiest way to set up retargeting for your SaaS marketing is through a trusted SEO agency or digital marketing partner. They can help you build quality ads and serve them to the right audiences.

Analytics

Analytics can determine which parts of your marketing campaigns are working, and will hopefully provide additional insight into why successful campaigns are doing well.

Early on, you can use metrics like total clicks from paid search ads or leads from a landing page to indicate initial interest. As you progress through the sales funnel, product guide downloads and webinar participation help you see how many people are seeking more information about your services. Finally, sales conversion metrics help you see what is working with your bottom-of-the-funnel content.

It's important to track this information at each stage of the funnel so you can properly attribute conversions to the correct sources. Your audience will engage with your brand multiple times, so if you're only assigning the "conversion" to the final touchpoint, you're missing several other important pieces of your analytics puzzle.

Several free analytics monitoring tools are available.

Google Analytics

This is the most popular analytics tool because it's completely free. Google Analytics offers a variety of features to track website traffic, how visitors got to your site and what they do when they arrive. You can also track keywords and search terms that brought people to your site.
Google Analytics 4 Overview:
To Leave Or To Stay?

Serpstat

This multi-functional SEO platform helps you plan better campaigns by researching keywords, organic search trends, backlinks, paid search results and display ad traffic. It offers a limited number of free searches per day and a subscription-based full access option.
Personal demonstration
Our specialists will contact you and discuss options for further work. These may include a personal demonstration, a trial period, comprehensive training articles, webinar recordings, and custom advice from a Serpstat specialist. It is our goal to make you feel comfortable while using Serpstat.

Social media platforms

Each social media platform also offers a suite of free tools you can use to gather information on your audience and their behavior, including which posts and content provide the highest engagement.

Take your SaaS marketing to the next level

Successful SaaS companies invest a significant amount of time and effort into marketing. To recap, here are key steps to an effective SaaS marketing campaign:
1
Build an effective and visually compelling website with good information about your products and services.
2
Define your audience for SaaS marketing.
3
Identify the resources you need to reach your audience with effective content marketing.
4
Choose social media channels where your B2B audience is engaging and researching.
5
Build an email list of current and prospective customers and use email marketing to target these groups.
6
Consider using micro-influencers to boost your reach and credibility.
7
Set up retargeting ads to keep your brand and your message in front of key audiences.
8
Use analytics to identify what's working and what is not, then tweak your campaigns accordingly.
By following these steps, you'll be well on your way to building a strong marketing campaign that drives growth.

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