“What’s the NO.1 SaaS marketing strategy that you swear by?”
This was the question I posed to SaaS founders and marketers two weeks ago.
In the end, I received 15+ powerful strategies that will leave you inspired and potentially accelerate your revenue.
Some of the SaaS marketing tips here are simple yet underrated.
Others are unconventional with a unique twist. For instance, one real-world example in #9 shows a fresh and bold take with free trials. (I promise, you’ll never look at free trials in the same way again.)
Before we begin, a disclosure: Not all companies featured are SaaS startups, but I included them anyway as the strategies apply, and they were way too good to pass up.
Alright, let’s get started!
SaaS Marketing Strategy #1: Customer Research
1. Re-Examine Your Buyer Persona
Customer research is the lifeblood of your business.
Without customer insights, it’s impossible to create content that drives acquisitions, identify your best leads (let alone close them), and build a product that customers really want.
In fact, companies that develop an extensive customer research strategy and utilize it throughout their departments enjoy a 55% higher retention rate.
Since implementing the improved buyer personas, United World Telecom
- Increased business accounts by 40% monthly
- Reduced advertising expenses by nearly 50%
- Boosted annual contract values for new customers by more than 55% in less than a year
Here’s how to create your buyer persona(s): Talk to your customer-facing teams. Better yet, interview your customers.
Luke and his content team approached the upper management, sales, customer support, and customer success departments with one question (“What are the characteristics of a great customer?”) and drilled down for more specificity.
Here’s what they discovered:
“Upper management is most concerned about customers’ lifetime values and profitability. Sales prefers customers with larger initial deal sizes and shorter lead cycles. Customer support values customers with the fewest number of trouble tickets, and customer success evaluates customers based on their churn rates and net promoter scores (NPS).”Luke Genoyer, head of demand generation at United World Telecom
Next, Luke and his team pulled data on their existing customers and looked for patterns based on the criteria. Using these new insights, they fine-tuned their buyer personas and got to work.
As you start noticing these attributes of your best customers, assign them each a percentage of importance out of the total (100%).
Here’s how it looks like:
1. Connect your data sources (e.g., HubSpot) to Breadcrumbs
2. Create your Fit model and assign a percentage for each attribute (e.g., job role covers 30%)
3. Configure your Activity model and assign a percentage for each activity (e.g., a download of a whitepaper covers 15%, a visit to a pricing page covers 35%)
4. Sync your lead’s Breadcrumbs score to your data source (e.g., HubSpot)
With this approach, your marketing and sales teams will have access to your leads data. #NoMoreSilos
Your buyer persona is the backbone of your product, marketing, sales, and more. Focus on building (or refining) it before tackling other SaaS marketing strategies.
SaaS Marketing Strategy #2: Content Marketing
2. Compare Your SaaS Tool With Competitors
Should a newly-minted startup with an 11 domain authority (DA) score try to rank for high-volume keywords?
If you answer ‘no,’ you’re right. The SERPs are flooded with high-authority websites, and it’s unlikely for the new kid on the block to outrank them.
Luckily, there’s a way to take on the big boys. Instead of going after popular keywords at the top of the funnel (ToFu), focus on lower-volume keywords with higher buying intent (e.g., keywords like “[software] alternatives” and “[software A] vs. [software B]”).
Josh Brown, marketing manager at Helpjuice, agrees.
He says, “These types of comparison posts are successful because searchers are already at the evaluation stage. They understand what their pain point is and are now actively looking for a tool to solve it.”
|What are comparison posts? |
Comparison posts explore alternatives of a competing product, either a direct competitor or indirect competitor (i.e., offers a related product aligned with the audience you’re looking to attract).
In your comparison posts, discuss what the alternate products have to offer (e.g., show pros and cons, display industry reviews). The trick here is to position your SaaS tool and prove why it’s the better alternative.
One more reminder before we end this tip: Be objective when discussing competitors and your product. You don’t want to diss them!
3. Create a Content “Moat”
Essentially, what you want to do is build a glossary, according to Brendan Hufford, founder of SEO for the Rest of Us.
“When you start owning all of the ‘What is…’ searches in your industry, not only do you build traffic and backlinks, but you also start to own the entire conversation around every topic. This is especially helpful with topics that don’t have a huge search volume but show high levels of qualification in the search.”Brendan Hufford, founder of SEO for the Rest of Us
Brendan built a glossary for a DevOps SaaS startup that successfully IPO recently. Note the huge traffic spike:
With traffic spike comes backlinks. Here are the referring domains that the DevOps content moat generated:
If you’re in an incredibly niched market, give it a try!
4. Write Content That Acquires AND Retains
Increasing customer retention rates by 5% boosts profits by 25% to 95%, and yet, when you look at posts dominating the SERPs, a big chunk of them seem only to target potential users and not existing customers.
Shahrukh Zuda, a digital marketing executive at PureVPN, recommends writing for customer retention and not just acquisition.
Say, you’re a B2B sales tech startup. Instead of writing only basic how-to guides and comparison posts, mix it up!
Create high-value content that shows existing users how to get more value out of your product—take a beat from Ahrefs, the pioneer in creating what we call “product-led content.”
This product-led content marketing strategy has helped Ahrefs attract 3,200+ new leads every week (as of July 2020) and over $50M in annual recurring revenue.
Brilliant, right? As a smart content strategist once said, creating acquisition and retention-focused content is like baking two pizzas in the same oven. Get on it!
5. Get Your Clients to Write for You
As a SaaS tool that revolves around digital marketing, DashThis naturally has explored multiple SEO strategies for the past ten years.
According to content marketing specialist Marie Lamonde, their best SEO strategy is this:
“We asked our clients to write some guest articles for us. As a SaaS startup, our clients really are the experts. They are agencies and marketers, so it was only natural for us to create user-generated content.”
Following that, DashThis would combine these guest posts with keyword research, ultimately ranking on search.
“It really was a win-win situation,” adds Marie.
“For our clients, it was a great way to showcase their expertise and get free exposure and publicity. For us, it was relevant content that brought other similar professionals to our SaaS.”
6. Create Conversion-Driven Case Studies
Case studies create ongoing value in your marketing and sales efforts—so much so that they helped Surfer increase its Russian user base by 55%.
Kelly Newcomb, marketing manager at Plume, advocates using case studies in a SaaS marketing strategy.
“It doesn’t matter if the client’s a household brand or not, a case study demonstrates your expertise and the value you bring.”Kelly Newcomb, marketing manager at Plume
Using their Career Masterclass case study as an example, Kelly shares it’s brought many high-quality enquiries in just two weeks of publication.
She explains, “Not only did we showcase our design work, but we also captured leads from the SERPs looking for Masterclass alternatives or a Masterclass-style LMS.”
There’s a lot that goes into creating conversion-driven case studies. We recommend reading these two guides:
- 14 Best Case Study Questions to Ask Your Top Customers
- 8 Case Study Examples To Be Inspired By
- How To Write A Case Study And Increase Revenue By 108.3%
7. Run “Pain Point” Webinars
According to 73% of B2B marketers and sales leaders, webinars are the best way to generate high-quality leads.
Active & Thriving found it to be accurate.
The workplace well-being platform uses virtual webinars as lead generation magnets for potential clients. Targeting HR professionals, Active & Thriving would promote these webinars on LinkedIn and its email newsletters.
Co-founder and wellbeing director Josh Marsden shares:
“We run these webinars on Zoom roughly once every two months. Each webinar focuses on a different pain point HR professionals struggle with, such as securing funding for wellbeing programs and tips for early prevention and intervention of mental health issues in the workplace.”
The results: 60-120 attendees with a chunk converting to high-quality leads.
SaaS Marketing Strategy #3: Partnerships
8. Partner With Non-Competing Companies
When everyone is on the same side, leads come pourin’ in, says Matt Barnett, founder and CEO of Bonjoro.
Bonjoro, a SaaS tool that sends personalized video, partnered with ActiveCampaign for its first native integration. Both startups ran a co-marketing campaign consisting of webinars and blog posts.
Thanks to the collective effort, Bonjoro 3X-ed its ActiveCampaign users.
Matt adds, “Partnering with others helps you both thrive, as you’re exposing your startup to a different audience who might enjoy what you offer.”
SaaS Marketing Strategy #4: Product
9. Offer a Free Trial That Prospects Won’t Refuse
It’s an industry-known fact that free trials raise conversions. SaaS companies that implemented them saw 62.4% of conversions.
When SERPWizz noticed a high bounce rate during launch, it utilized free trials to sweeten the pot for users.
Founder Deepak Shukla explains, “If people weren’t clicking, they weren’t buying. This free trial will get people to take action before leaving.”
“Offering a free trial is a low investment for potential customers—it makes them more likely to click.”Deepak Shukla, founder of SERPWizz
The low risk works for SERPWizz as well since it offers a service and not a product. “It’s also a fairly low investment for us because we’re not sending a physical product that we could have sold somewhere else,” explains Deepak.
“Our bounce rate has reduced 21% since introducing this strategy, and our sales have increased three-fold.”
Likewise, Force by Mojio, too, advocates using free trials as a SaaS marketing strategy. The GPS fleet tracking startup even goes as far as offering an all-access free trialfor 60 days. But wait. There’s more. Not only does it offer unlimited access to its software and hardware, it even ships them—for free!
Daivat Dholakia, the director of operations, says, “If users decide not to stick with our service, we pay for them to ship the devices back.”
Unsurprisingly, Force by Mojio’s generous free trial offer resulted in a conversion rate of 80%, making it its top SaaS marketing strategy for turning its prospects into long-term customers.
Do you want to replicate Force by Mojio’s success in your pricing model? We recommend these three posts for further reading:
- 18 Stunning Pricing Page Examples To Boost Your Revenue
- Freemium vs. Free Trial: How 5 Startups Found Their Best Model
- Pricing Analysis: The Process Of 7 Successful SaaS Startups
SaaS Marketing Strategy #5: Email Marketing
10. Mix it Up with AMP Emails
AMP emails add interactive elements (e.g., forms, buy buttons) without requiring recipients to open a new tab.
According to Zeeshan Akthar, the head of marketing at Mailmodo, AMP emails provide three times more conversions than typical email outreach.
When Razorpay implemented Mailmodo’s AMP technology to collect customer feedback, it saw a 257% increase in email conversions.
SaaS Marketing Strategy #6: Customer Support
11. Deploy Awareness-Focused Live Chat
Targeted live chat works well when you use it together with marketing, sales, and customer service. Imagine landing on a website of a product, and this chat pops up.
All three options target users at different stages of awareness:
Since using its tool for live support, giosg nurtured and converted 50% of its demo users.
Here are a few reasons why using live chat works, according to Nea Bjorkqvist, giosg’s marketing manager:
(i) Flexibility: Awareness-focused live chat adds flexibility to lead generation, especially when you’re selling more complex products or solutions.
(ii) Low risk: Web visitors can ask questions anonymously, which allows the sales teams to start conversations with visitors early in the sales process and speed up the sales cycle.
(iii) Great user experience: Web visitors receive only relevant and timely interactions, creating an all-around positive experience.
If you’d like to learn more about using chatbots in live chat, hop on over to our guide on customer retention strategies.
SaaS Marketing Strategy #7: Referral Marketing & Giveaways
12. Add a Booster Pack in Referral Marketing Programs
Offer personalized deals to thought leaders in your industry.
Dimitris Tsapis, head of growth at Plan M8, shares, “We think this is the best approach at this early stage of product development.”
The yacht maintenance SaaS startup recently released its working product to market. Currently, the team is offering personalized deals to authoritative people in the yachting niche.
The higher the number of yachts they bring on, the more premium the deals get.
These personalized deals—or “a booster pack,” as Dimitris coined it—provides a limited-time loyalty program rewards package.
Dimitris cautions, “The reward cannot be ordinary or basic, since you have to give customers something worth their time.”
For example, if your loyalty program already includes free one-month access to premium features, add a booster pack like free two-month access with extra benefits.
“Remember to include time-based scarcity,” reminds Dimitris.
“Also, if your company has a freemium model in place, don’t just offer full access to your product. It needs to be something that goes up and beyond. If you have a customer who referred five users for a premium plan, offer backstage passes for a popular global event.”
13. Reward Everyone
SuperOps.ai went all-in in its inaugural giveaway.
Sriram Palaniappan, the growth marketer at the PSA-RMM platform, shares, “Most referral campaigns offer ‘one reward to someone.’ We made it ‘a reward for everyone’ and proactively rewarded everyone the moment they were eligible to get our coffee vouchers.”
The SuperOps.ai team launched a coffee campaign on LinkedIn where people in the managed service provider (MSP) space could tag their MSP buddy in the comments and win a $10 coffee voucher.
To get the ball rolling, the team at SuperOps.ai tagged a few prominent people in the MSP industry they had a good relationship.
“There was silence at the very first hour, but things quickly changed for good. People started tagging MSP folks, and the snowballing effect became unstoppable. We DMed the coffee vouchers as and when people tagged and were tagged. This got a lot more people excited who came back to tag more people.”Sriram Palaniappan, growth marketer at SuperOps.ai
SuperOps.ai’s giveaway-slash-branding-slash-referral-slash-lead-generation campaign (it’s a mouthful, I know) was a huge success. In the end, it:
- Attracted 105 post comments and 150 people in the MSP space (before the giveaway, more than 100 people had not heard of SuperOps.ai)
- Boosted website visits and leads by 385%
- Increased new users by 591% (when compared to the previous day)
The returns far exceeded the expenses by a mile. Sriram shares with Breadcrumbs, “We spent only $1500. A traditional ads campaign would have cost us a lot more.”
SaaS Marketing Strategy #8: Sales
14. Hijack Conversations (Go Straight to the Customers!)
Intuitix, an innovation project portfolio platform, went old school.
Due to the Covid-19 crisis, a popular industry event it’d planned on attending was shifted online.
“We used vFairs’ chat room as our marketing strategy,” shares Evan Davies, Intuitix’s managing director. “We prepared a conversation strategy and script for each prospect we spoke to.”
Here’s a peek at the script they used:
It turned out to be a productive event. Intuitix spoke to over 20 relevant decision-makers in its target organizations. The company even managed to take one of the leads through to the negotiation stage of its sales pipeline.
Evan advises, “If you’re operating in a particular niche, sometimes it’s worth going straight to your customers rather than waiting for them to come to you.”
15. Gate Your Demo Video
Bet this got your attention.
Back in August 2019, Carly Chalmers, a marketing manager at HigherMe, launched a five-minute demo video to showcase the product’s unique features.
“I was a marketing team of one, and I wanted to do something that would attract qualified leads, something that I could create just once and prospects could access over and over again.”Carly Chalmers, marketing manager at HigherMe
Did the gated demo video create a barrier to entry? For sure. But there’s another way of looking at it: Users who submitted their contact information were more engaged during live demos.
They were even asking better questions.
Carly reveals, “Customers who watch the video are more informed about HigherMe before their live demo with sales.”
In the first year of releasing the demo video, the length of the sales cycle at HigherMe was shortened by seven days. In 2020, leads who watched HigherMe’s demo video had a 92% win rate.
Putting It All Together (A Recap on These 15 Timeless SaaS Marketing Strategies)
We’ve covered a lot in this SaaS marketing guide. To save you the extra step of scrolling back to the top, here’s a summary of the strategies you’ve learned today:
- SaaS Marketing Strategy #1: Customer Research
- Re-examine your buyer persona (start with this first!) Using Breadcrumbs, list common attributes of your best customers, and assign them each a percentage of importance out of the total (100%). Sign up for your Breadcrumbs account today, for free.
- SaaS Marketing Strategy #2: Content Marketing
- Compare your SaaS tools with competitors using comparison-style posts. You can either make a side-by-side feature comparison or take a leaf out of Ahrefs’ book: Showcase your unique features.
- Create a content “moat”—build a glossary of industry terms (e.g., What is SEO?)
- Write content for acquisition and retention. Teach potential customers what makes your SaaS product unique and existing customers how to get more value out of it.
- Get your clients to guest post on your website. They get free exposure, you get user-generated content that attracts similar customers.
- Create conversion-driven case studies to demonstrate the priceless value you bring to the table.
- Run “pain-point” webinars to acquire leads.
- SaaS Marketing Strategy #3: Partnerships
- Partner with non-competing companies and run a co-marketing campaign to attract more eyeballs to your SaaS product.
- SaaS Marketing Strategy #4: Product
- Offer a free trial that prospects find impossible to refuse. Borrow an idea or two from Force by Mojio—give prospects complete access to your SaaS product.
- SaaS Marketing Strategy #5: Email Marketing
- Mix it up with AMP emails—make it insanely simple for customers to complete an action, preferably without leaving their inbox.
- SaaS Marketing Strategy #6: Customer Support
- Deploy awareness-focused live chat to acquire and close leads and support customers.
- SaaS Marketing Strategy #7: Referral Marketing and Giveaways
- Add a “booster pack” in your referral marketing program and invite thought leaders to spread the word. The more customers they bring in, the more premium their deals get.
- Do a massive giveaway campaign for branding, publicity, and lead generation. Let this be your new mantra: Reward for everyone.
- SaaS Marketing Strategy #8: Sales
- Hijack conversations in virtual chat rooms. Analyze insights before pitching.
- Gate your demo video for higher engagement and win rates.
So, which SaaS marketing strategy will you try today?