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What is SaaS Marketing? The Ultimate Guide

What is SaaS Marketing? The Ultimate Guide

What is SaaS marketing? We’re all familiar with the basics of SaaS product marketing such as attracting users to a SaaS product with a subscription business model. That said, there are key differences between a SaaS marketing strategy and standard digital marketing.

In this guide, we’re going to highlight the nuances of SaaS marketing, walk you through its various components, and teach you how to create effective SaaS marketing strategies!

TL;DR

  • SaaS marketing is the process of launching a product, building awareness, landing customers, retaining them, and increasing their lifetime value.
  • SaaS marketing requires an effective retention strategy as the majority of a customer’s lifetime value is dependent on them renewing their subscription.
  • Your SaaS marketing plan should factor in all five stages: attracting leads, nurturing leads, retaining customers, enhancing revenue, and tracking performance.
  • Creating an effective SaaS marketing campaign will come down to identifying your audience, positioning your product, finding the right channels, using relevant KPIs, and adhering to best practices.

A few strategies you can try include:

  • Using content marketing to lower acquisition costs.
  • Increasing signups with a free trial.
  • Personalizing the user experience.
  • Offering self-service support.
  • Gamifying onboarding.
  • Leveraging video content.
  • Proactively addressing customer needs.
  • Building a community.
  • Creating a referral program to drive word-of-mouth marketing.

What is SaaS marketing?

SaaS marketing is the means through which you bring a product to market, build awareness, drive signups, and grow recurring revenue.

Having a clear SaaS marketing plan is essential to landing new users, keeping the customers you already have, and increasing their lifetime value over time.

How is SaaS marketing different from digital marketing

SaaS products are often offered on a subscription model, meaning retention is just as important as acquisition (if not more important). In addition to generating leads, a SaaS marketing strategy should also seek to educate potential customers on the value proposition of the product.

Another notable difference is that a sizeable percentage of SaaS marketing efforts occur inside the product itself while traditional digital marketing relies heavily on external channels such as organic social media or paid ad campaigns to reach customers.

What you include in your SaaS marketing playbook will depend on who your customers are. Account-based marketing is the preferred approach for enterprise solutions while software bundles often leverage email marketing to generate sales.

What are the different components of SaaS marketing?

If you talk to a SaaS marketing agency, you’ll likely see each SaaS marketing campaign broken down into five different stages:

  1. Attracting leads. Any inbound marketing campaign needs to start by attracting potential customers that align with the target audience of SaaS businesses — often through traffic from search engines or social media.
  2. Nurturing leads. Once you have the attention of a potential customer, you need to continue nurturing them along the sales process until they understand the value proposition and convert into a customer or at least sign up for a free trial.
  3. Retaining customers. Ensuring that customers stay with your SaaS service long-term is crucial since most of their lifetime value (LTV) is derived from subscription renewals rather than their first upfront payment.
  4. Enhancing revenue. Driving account expansion to increase the amount of revenue that your loyal customers generate is always a core goal for any SaaS marketer.
  5. Tracking performance. Last but not least, any type of marketing campaign needs a system for tracking performance so you can allocate your marketing budget in the most effective way possible.

How to create an effective SaaS marketing strategy

The sections below will walk you through the six steps you need to take to create a successful marketing strategy for your own SaaS products!

Identify your target audience and customer personas

First and foremost, you need to identify who your target audience is and create customer personas that reflect it.

There are multiple ways you could go about this. Some SaaS marketers prefer to look at the data from your current customers and use that as a foundation for user personas.

After all, the best way to ensure customer retention is by first understanding the needs of your current customers. You could use a user persona survey to collect customer data and figure out who your SaaS marketing should target moving forward.

To get the most accurate picture, you should combine both quantitative and qualitative data.

Examples of quantitative data include:

  • Demographics. Age, gender and/or sex, marital status, education level, location, and profession are all examples of demographic data.
  • Statistics. Statistical data from databases, journals, and other online sources also count as quantitative data.

Don’t read too deeply into quantitative data though. Knowing that your users are mostly made up of married 40-year-old teachers is nice information to have but it’s far more important to understand how they interact with your product through qualitative data.

Examples of qualitative data include:

  • Survey responses.
  • Personal interviews.
  • Focus group insights.

Define your positioning and messaging

Next, you’ll need to decide how to position your product and the messaging you want to build around it.

Positioning makes it possible to set clear expectations with prospects that leverage your product’s unique benefits and competitive advantage over alternatives.

Well-defined messaging strategies help you effectively communicate the core benefit(s) of your product to any potential customers.

Positioning and messaging often go hand in hand as they have to remain consistent with one another.

Choose marketing channels

Once SaaS marketing teams have identified the target audience and defined the positioning of the product, it’s time to select the marketing channels that will be used to drive acquisitions.

There are a few SaaS marketing you could consider:

  • In-app marketing. In-app marketing is one of the most reliable ways for your marketing team to connect with customers as their messaging will appear while users are inside the product.
  • Content marketing. The humble blog post has become a staple of the SaaS industry as Google Analytics shows that organic traffic is a highly effective way to drive qualified leads to your product.
  • Search engine optimization. SEO often goes hand-in-hand with content marketing as it ensures that SaaS companies are able to rank high in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
  • Email marketing. While outbound marketing strategies like email may not be as popular an acquisition method for SaaS companies, it has a fairly good track record in the SaaS marketing space.
  • Social media marketing. Much like physical products, most consumers look at the social media presence of SaaS products before making a purchase so making sure you’re active on these channels is quite important.
  • Google ads. Pay-per-click advertising won’t be the right fit for every SaaS company as paid ads can get rather expensive over time. That said, paid ads can be used strategically to boost new content and get your product in front of customers sooner.
  • Influencer marketing. Influencer marketing can be a great way to leverage other people’s audiences and accelerate your growth across multiple social media platforms.
  • Referral marketing. Referral programs are a very effective strategy for SaaS companies as they reward the loyalty of existing users while providing an incentive for word-of-mouth marketing.

Set SaaS marketing metrics to measure the success of your marketing efforts

Like any traditional marketing campaign, having the right metrics in place is paramount to measuring the ROI of your efforts. The exact set of product marketing KPIs you use to measure marketing outcomes will depend on the goals you’ve set for your campaigns.

A few SaaS marketing metrics to consider using include:

  • Customer acquisition cost (CAC): Monitoring your CAC will ensure that you’re not overspending (relative to customer lifetime value) and still have a high enough profit margin to actually make money from the users you’re landing.
  • Customer lifetime value (LTV): Tracking LTV growth will help you gauge the efficacy of your customer expansion strategies.
  • Trial-to-paid conversion rate: Your free trial conversion rate will be a good indicator of how streamlined your onboarding process is and whether or not improvements are needed.
  • Retention rate: Your retention rate will be the most reliable measure of how happy customers are with your product. High retention rates mean they’re getting consistent value out of the product over long periods of time.
  • Monthly recurring revenue (MRR): Not all SaaS marketing efforts will have an immediate or direct impact on revenue growth but you should still track the trajectory of your MRR over time. Sluggish MRR growth could be an indicator of poor product-market fit, high churn, or a pricing mismatch.
  • Churn rate: Reducing the churn rate should be a key priority for any SaaS business as it’s a lot cheaper to keep the customers that you already have rather than constantly trying to get new signups.
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): NPS data tells you how likely existing customers are to refer your product to friends or colleagues.
  • Customer satisfaction score (CSAT): CSAT scores are often used to track the level of satisfaction that customers have with your product.

Develop your SaaS marketing strategies

Once you’ve chosen your marketing channels and the KPIs that you’ll use to measure success, it’s time to select specific SaaS marketing tactics that you can deploy throughout your campaigns. To get the most out of these tactics, you should follow a few SaaS marketing best practices such as:

  • Using product-led growth to reduce acquisition costs.
  • Including CTAs in all published content.
  • Driving feature discovery with in-app announcements.
  • Gathering feedback from your users.
  • Providing self-service support resources.
  • Adding micro videos to onboarding flows.
  • Gamifying the onboarding experience.

Measure and improve to ensure SaaS marketing success

SaaS marketing is an ongoing process that requires constant improvement to get the best results.

In addition to the product marketing KPIs you selected earlier, you can also look at objectives and key results (OKRs) to see if your campaigns are hitting the milestones needed to achieve your goals.

Marketing strategies for SaaS companies to implement in real-life

Theoretical strategies or a list of marketing tactics is all well and good but what happens when it’s time to implement them in a real-life setting?

Here are the actionable steps you need to take to increase monthly recurring revenue, reduce customer churn, and increase the average customer retention period!

Create a content marketing strategy to drive trial signups and reduce CAC

While it can take a while for content to start ranking on Google results and driving organic traffic toward your product, there’s no question that content marketing is one of the best ways to reduce customer acquisition costs in the long run.

The benefits of a robust content marketing engine are two-fold since you’re attracting readers while simultaneously giving them a reason to try your product out.

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