Key Challenges in B2B SaaS MarketingBefore we can properly plan a B2B SaaS marketing strategy, we should first discuss the common—yet sometimes unique—challenges in the B2B SaaS space.
- Communicating product benefits and overall value
- User retention
- The short sales cycle
- The “service” in Software as a Service
- The art of giving freebies
Key Principles Effective B2B SaaS Marketing TacticsWith those points being said, we can see that marketing for B2B SaaS businesses is relatively unique due to the unique challenges. However, marketing strategies for B2B SaaS can also be very nimble and versatile, and here are some key principles we should consider:
1. Understanding Your Ideal AudienceEvery marketing plan should be rooted in the proper understanding of your audience. However, we can’t understand our audience without first identifying our ideal customers. In a B2B SaaS space, this can be complicated because remember, we are targeting companies/organizations. There can be several different roles in a single organization that are involved in the purchase decision; each of them with different behaviors, preferences, and needs. Meaning, we should create different buyer personas for each of these roles. We should especially ask these questions:
- What is the job desc of this person/role?
- How can they be involved in the purchase decision? (a key decision maker or someone who suggested a product to his/her bosses, etc.)
- What is the typical problems this role face?
- Any specific needs for this role?
- Conducting surveys, both online and offline
- Interviewing existing customers and prospects
- Brainstorming with your team members, especially those with experiences in companies similar to your target
- Analyze available data in your CRM, past purchases data, and so on
- Analyze user reviews, social mentions, feedbacks, frequently asked questions, etc.
- Competitive analysis: by analyzing how your competitors are approaching their audience, you can either learn from them or imitate their approach
2. The Importance of Lead GenerationAbove, we have mentioned that the sales cycle for B2B SaaS companies is typically shorter than other B2B industries. Meaning, the better we can generate leads, the better we can take advantage of this short sales cycle. Most B2B SaaS companies generate leads mainly from their website traffic. Meaning, again, the more traffic we can generate, the more leads—and customers— we can get. There are a lot of channels available to help you generate traffic, but some of the most common—and effective— ones are:
- Inbound/content marketing: attracting website visitors with our content, mainly by regularly publishing blog posts, podcasts, or using videos to direct traffic
- Paid advertising: driving traffic using various paid advertising options from Google AdWords, AdSense, Search Ads to social media advertising (Facebook Ads, etc.)
- Remarketing: a relatively new feature for paid advertising. You might want to check our previous guide to remarketing here (link)
- B2B SEO: related to content marketing. If you can rank for relevant keywords/queries on the search engine result pages, you can get more traffic
- Offering valuable content: you can offer in-depth ebooks, white papers, research reports, or other valuable content pieces in exchange of their contact information
- Free-trial registration: obviously a very effective lead magnet tactic for the SaaS niche. Free-trial registrants are generally your most qualified prospects
- Comparison content: being transparent about how your software fares against competitor’s is actually a pretty common practice in the B2B SaaS niche. You can publish a buyer’s guide as your lead magnet
3. Content/Inbound Marketing As Your CoreIt’s no secret that for SaaS businesses, your content is just as important as your software product. We can see key industry leaders from HubSpot to Marketo to Moz are similar in one thing: a strong inbound marketing game. Above, we have discussed that lead generation is a very important aspect of any SaaS businesses, and inbound marketing is one of, if not the most effective way to get more traffic. There are two key aspects of inbound marketing: first, you have to regularly publish relevant, valuable content. With these content pieces, your focus shouldn’t be selling your products, but offering valuable information according to your niche. The idea here is to establish your position as the expert/thought leader of your niche: people/organization only purchase products from brands they can trust. However, your content won’t bring any value to your business if no one is consuming it. Hence comes the second part: promoting your content. You can promote your content pieces through various channels such as:
- Social media channels
- Email marketing
- Paid advertising
- Using influencers through influencer marketing
- Content development: your content should target the keywords that are relevant to your niche, as well as bringing value for your audience.
- Content promotion: promoting your content to get more organic traffic and backlinks.
- Technical optimization: treating each of your content pieces as a landing page, and optimizing it according to SEO best practices.
4. Optimizing The Service Aspect of SaaSAs we have mentioned further above, we shouldn’t neglect the importance of the “service” aspect of SaaS. First, before we go further, let us discuss the definition of “service” within the SaaS scope. In general, there are three main ways where your SaaS business can perform its service:
- Providing continuous, ongoing service as a software solution provider: improving your software with patches and updates, introducing new features to stay relevant, and so on
- Addressing customers’ questions efficiently: providing technical supports, fast troubleshootings, and great customer service in general
- Probably the most important, providing valuable information consistently for the benefit of your audience. Content marketing is a part of your position as a service provider, and you should establish your position as the expert of your niche.
- Listing the frequently-asked questions that are asked via live chat, email, or phone calls. You can create a dedicated F.A.Q. section on your site to address these questions, or even develop a content based on a question
- Using keyword analytics tools like SEMRush, Ahrefs, or others to figure out relevant keywords in your industry that are frequently searched for. Chances are, your ideal prospects are the ones searching these queries
- Conducting interviews and surveys of existing customers to better figure out their needs and common issues
5. Optimizing for ConversionsThere are three main stages of conversions you should aim for:
- The conversion of a website visitor into actual prospects, mainly by capturing their contact information
- The conversion from prospects into free-trial registrants
- The conversion from free-trial participants into actual customers, or from prospects directly into customers
- Many people, even in the B2B space, are now browsing and purchasing exclusively from their mobile devices. Make sure your site is mobile-responsive: your forms should be optimized for mobile devices without too many fields, and all buttons should be clickable on mobile
- Optimize your homepage for conversions: show your best offer whether it’s a free-trial, a valuable content, or other offers on your homepage, as soon as they visit the site
- Each of your marketing efforts should have an optimized landing page
- Include CTAs in your content. For example, you can present a CTA at the conclusion of a blog post, as well as using internal links within the content
6. Leveraging Social ProofsRecent studies have suggested that people are more likely to purchase things recommended by their peers (including online reviews) and are more resistant to advertisements. This is even more true in the B2B SaaS space, where organizations are more likely to purchase a software that are used by their competitors; recommended by trustworthy partners or colleagues; or those with positive reviews. So, encouraging positive reviews is very important to establish your credibility as a brand, and here are some common practices you can implement:
- You can display a showcase of existing clients’ logos on your home page. Make sure it’s well-designed and optimized according to your branding.
- Maintain Online Reputation Management (ORM) best practices at all costs (link). Maintain social media mentions, answer complaints politely and engage your audience
- Encourage existing clients to leave a positive reviews, probably by offering an incentive. For example, if you have a well-known organization as your client, you can ask them to leave a review or even write a guest post about your brand in exchange for a discount
- Build relationships with the influencers of your niche and ask them to promote your product. This can be a very expensive asset for your brand.