Digitalisation is a trend that's changing our lives. It has changed the way people consume content and share information. They want content that's relevant and addresses their needs. Inbound Marketing provides answers and in the SaaS industry, this is very important.
In this article, we will explore the top Inbound Marketing strategies for SaaS companies. We'll explain why customer retention is crucial and how Inbound Marketing helps with that. And we'll make sure you understand the contrast between a traditional and new marketing approach. In SaaS, this can make all the difference in the world.
So let's get into it and start with the basics!
Why do I need inbound marketing for SaaS?
The possibilities in the digital world haven't been fully explored yet. New products and services are becoming available to consumers and businesses. And they are all fueled by technological innovation.
SaaS is defined as on-demand software or cloud-based software that’s licensed to customers on a subscription basis.
The Software as a Service (SaaS) industry is no stranger to this. During the past few years, it has developed and expanded. While innovation and technology were always very important for a SaaS company of any size, the competition is now stronger than ever. Therefore, achieving a steady flow of new customers and retaining them on a long-term basis will be key for SaaS firms. For this, you have to know the market. And you also have to be able to speak to your audience.
All of this requires a modern approach to your marketing strategy, this includes comprehensive social media marketing as well as content and paid ads. No more cold calling. To generate leads and enable people to find you, you have to provide real value instead. The good news is, all of these things are the benefits of a good Inbound Marketing strategy. Continue reading to find out more!
What is SaaS?
SaaS is defined as on-demand software or cloud-based software that's licensed to customers on a subscription basis. Saas companies use many different subscription models from Freemium to Pay As You Go. And their main products are usually productivity improvement applications such as Slack or MailChimp.
Software as a Service is becoming increasingly popular not only for businesses but also for all their current and potential customers. The best example is Photoshop. This product is used by people working in graphic design. Before 2012, all you needed to do was to make a one-time purchase of any version of the application.
Now, customers pay monthly for access to the app. The biggest benefit? Their app is being continuously improved and therefore easier to use. This delivery model makes it a more affordable solution in the short term as well.
SaaS applications also include customer relationship management (CRM) tools, enterprise resource planning, and geographic information systems to name a few. And many more players including those from energy or hospitality are coming into the field.
The Biggest Challenge Is Customer Retention
While SaaS companies are trying to scale and retain newly acquired customers, it's predicted that the SaaS trend will continue. What does this mean? For SaaS firms, it's desirable to keep the customers happy for an extended period of time (customer lifetime). The longer this period, the more money they can make.
But if the customers leave quickly, the cost of acquiring them is higher than the overall profit. Therefore, customer retention is vital to the success of a SaaS company. For this, you need a strategy that targets the right people in the right way. In other words, you are looking for qualified leads. And you also need to attract customers that will keep buying your product or service. This is exactly where Inbound Marketing thrives.
Inbound Marketing for SaaS
Inbound Marketing describes the digital marketing strategy that brings all of your online channels together to one ambition. Online marketing channels are email, blogging, social media, your website, and search engine optimisation (SEO).
Over the years, it has proved to be the most effective way of doing business online. Inbound helps you to build trust and maintain long-term relationships with your customers. In SaaS, this should be your priority. So how do you do this? The creation of high-quality content is key. It should speak to people at each stage of their buyer’s journey. The aim is to provide relevant information and educate.
Tip: What is the buyer's journey? It's the buying process your customers go through. It starts with awareness and consideration. And after careful evaluation, it's decision time.
Okay, but how do you measure the results? With Inbound, that's easy. You can see how many people are viewing your content. And you also see how many leads you are acquiring and what are your sales conversions. Remember, Inbound Marketing is completely online. This makes it a very flexible strategy. You can look at the data at any time and adjust your approach if things don't work. Don't expect you'll get it right the first time!
This is the theory. But before we get practical, let's compare Inbound and Outbound Marketing.
Is Traditional Marketing No Longer Suitable?
So what does a traditional way of doing marketing really mean? We call it Outbound Marketing. This approach is interruptive. And it pushes itself without being considerate. Think about your typical TV or Radio spot. In SaaS, this could be continued advertising, cold calling, or email spam. It doesn't address the needs of your customers. And it's also more expensive with a very uncertain tracking of ROI.
Inbound Marketing stands directly against this. It pulls the customers in with engaging and relevant content. Also called Content Marketing, Inbound involves creating blog posts, social media, explainer videos and other content that people want to read. As a result, it improves your sales conversions and gives you much better results.
Tip: Content Marketing establishes your brand as a subject matter expert. It helps you to build trust and increase customer loyalty. Very important for creating long-form relationships in the SaaS industry!
Now that we explained why traditional marketing no longer works, we'll move on to the most important part - Inbound Marketing strategies for SaaS.
Top Inbound Marketing Strategies for SaaS
First of all, you have to understand where you stand today. How much traffic does your website generate? How many of these people end up on your landing pages? What are the actual sales conversions?
Tip: Remember, your website isn't your final destination! Watch our CEO, Paul Sullivan, talking about the easy mistake so many businesses make.
Analyze Data And Map Your Goals
Don't forget, Inbound is a very systematic approach. All of these questions will help you to set realistic goals. And they will also enable you to benchmark your capabilities. You want to understand the metrics such as website traffic, leads generated, or sales closed. After that, set measurable and specific goals.
Tip: Your goals should be SMART. This means they are specific and measurable. But they are also attainable and relevant. And lastly, they have a set time period in which you want to achieve them.
For example, increase the number of leads generated by 30%, from 300 to 390, between January and July this year. This gives you a basis for improvement.
Define A Buyer Persona
The success of any Inbound Marketing campaign is determined by this. First, you need to spend time gaining insights about your customers. Digital BIAS use the pillars analogy.
You want to understand the decision process of your ideal customers. Along with their needs and expectations, you also want to learn about their doubts and concerns. After that, the goal is to create content that's meaningful and resonating. Always think about your personas when creating a B2B content marketing strategy. They represent the people you want to connect with.
Tip: Not sure where to start? Check out our free eBook with templates.
Create A Content Plan
Your buyer persona is developed. Now plan and schedule your content by creating a marketing calendar. What type of content will you produce? And what channels to use? Keep in mind the buyer's journey of your customers!
- It's a good strategy to start with Blogging. First, decide on topics that you like to write about. Keep in mind the purpose of your SaaS company and stay relevant. You can talk about yourself or your industry. The goal is to build trust. You want to educate and inform your customers.
- Do Keyword Research. After you've decided on your topic, it's time to identify your main keywords. You want to use both head terms and long-tail keywords.
Head terms are short and popular. Therefore, they are harder to rank for. On the other hand, long-tail keywords are much more specific. The goal with keywords is to optimize your website for search.
- Analyze Your Competition. What topics do they write about? And what keywords do they choose? This can serve as an inspiration. Or you could identify unexplored areas. This is your chance to become an expert and show your knowledge.
- Write Case Studies and show your experience. Your past success matters. Don't be afraid to show it to the world.
- Long-Form Content offers more value than a blog post on your website. It could be anything from ebooks to explainer videos and product tutorials.
Combined with calls to action, this should drive your engagement up. Make sure it’s easy to download your content. Calls to action (CTAs) are an essential part of any Inbound Marketing campaign. You can place them anywhere from the website to a blog post. Their main role is to convert visitors to leads.
- Optimise The Content before publishing. Search Engine Optimisation is a complex topic that deserves your attention. There is no point in writing content if it doesn't reach your target audience.
Think about a concise meta description. Your subheaders should include keywords. You also want to use internal and external links. And don't forget the Image Alt Text!
Related: Looking to learn more about content optimisation and what elements of SEO to look for? We've dedicated a whole blog post to SEO for SaaS.
A Few More Words On Content
With Inbound Marketing, it's all about testing. After some time, you'll be able to assess what type of content resonates the most with your audience. A/B testing is something you will perform quite often. Variety of content builds trust. And because different people prefer different formats, it will naturally increase your engagement. Content represents your brand. Make sure to respond to the customer's needs based on what they are searching for. This increases your chances of getting qualified leads.
Social Media Marketing
Your presence on social media sites has many benefits. It's a great way to share your content and be more visible. You also get the chance to connect with your customers directly. This is something customers expect from their brands more and more. Open communication will make you stand out. Last but not least, different social media platforms offer various opportunities.
So what are the main rules of social networks you should follow? Make sure you post consistently. You don't want to disappear for days and then wonder why customers who were ready to buy went to the competition. Be available and publish your content regularly. Ideally, this will create higher engagement rates. And you'll have a chance to provide quick answers.
Tip: Besides social media, your website is a great place to initiate dialogue! Chatbots create instant communication between a customer and a company.
Make sure you post different types of content. Don't just use images and articles. Infographics, videos and quotes could be very useful too. And don't be afraid to share industry content. Many times, that's where lies a lot of good value for your prospects. Be informational. Especially at the beginning. Attract new followers by providing content that will solve their problems. Don't worry, once you have a solid fanbase, you will have plenty of time to start with promotions.
The rule of thumb on social media is to be active. Your social networking sites represent you. Use it to your advantage and create a good and realistic picture of your brand.
Where To Go From Here?
We explained what is SaaS and why is this model becoming increasingly popular. Customer Retention is one of the biggest challenges for SaaS firms. And our goal was to show how to keep your customers with Inbound.
We compared two different ways of doing marketing. And to deliver on our promise, we covered some of the top Inbound Marketing strategies for SaaS. These include Data Analysis and Buyer Persona Development. After that, we moved to the creation of a Content Plan. And we finished it off with the main rules of Social Media Marketing.
Social Media Channels
As we said in the previous article, different social media platforms offer various opportunities. But one thing is sure: it pays to be there. You get to share your content to build authority and raise brand awareness. And you also have a chance to communicate directly with your clients to show how good your customer service is.
Finally, it's a fantastic way to generate engagement. This raises your chances of getting more referrals and also boosts your website traffic.
Marketing your SaaS product on social media may not be easy and the results aren't guaranteed, especially in the beginning. Still, there are companies doing an exceptional job of being creative and educational at the same time. Let's name a few of them.
Tip: Knowing your target audience comes way before implementing a successful social media strategy. Learn more about Buyer Personas here!
Wistia is a video software company that isn't afraid to stand out. They use Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. Their content is engaging and shows what's going on behind the scenes. Wistia strives to do things differently and this marketing campaign proves it.
It's simply a great example of humanising content marketing to develop a brand personality!
InVision’s social media strategy focuses on design—providing consistently useful and educational content across all of their channels which include Twitter, LinkedIn or YouTube. Their content is easy to read and aimed at potential customers as well as the current ones.
If there is Software as a Service company that knows how to do marketing on social networks, it's MailChimp. As you will quickly realise from their catchy twitter headline, they provide a universal marketing platform for growing businesses.
Their campaigns are incredibly entertaining and colourful. And the content they share ranges from podcasts to blog posts and business promotions.
And unlike some of their industry competitors, MailChimp also has a pretty strong Instagram fanbase.
These examples speak for themselves, don't they? By now, you probably have a better idea of what social media channels are the most suitable for SaaS marketers. We'll now describe them one by one.
Best Social Media Channels For SaaS
According to the LinkedIn Sophisticated Marketer Guide 2019, LinkedIn is the most effective channel for achieving content marketing objectives for 82% B2B Marketers.
“With LinkedIn, you’re reaching a quality audience in a professional context. And, you can engage them in a very meaningful way: by sharing valuable content with products tailored to how professionals engage. By doing so, you become part of your audience’s conversations and education on the platform.”
Your goal is to approach LinkedIn more seriously and make an effort to produce professional and high-quality content. You can post not only on your brand page but also in LinkedIn groups. These groups are a great chance to find answers, post and view jobs or make contracts.
As a SaaS marketer, LinkedIn is your number one social media channel to focus on.
A very useful platform for providing excellent customer service. Many customers come here to voice their opinions about your company and services. Just remember, your content on Twitter “gets lost” much quicker than on Facebook.
What are some of the top tactics you could use to deliver a great Twitter experience?
Connect with audiences emotionally. According to the Harvard Business Review, the most effective way to maximise customer value is to move beyond mere customer satisfaction and connect with customers at an emotional level.” How can you address the deeper needs of your customers in a meaningful way?
Know your brand's story and your customers. What are the main values of your business? Where do you see your brand in the next few years? These goals are also tied to the degree you understand your target audience. Make sure you communicate this.
Join the conversation! Don't just tweet company updates. Instead, try to use polls, ask questions or respond to your followers content.
The biggest social media channel with 2.23 billion monthly active users (as of 2019). In 2018, there were 80 million business pages on Facebook. In short, it is a top platform for both B2B and B2C businesses.
Consider Facebook as the social home for your business. Customers can browse through your photos and services. And they can chat with you online to ask about anything. Make sure you are available.
As for the content, strive for a variety of different formats. Videos, images, blog posts or infographics all prove to be useful on Facebook. And don't be afraid to share industry content. Many times, that's where lies a lot of good value for your prospects.
Although Facebook should play a part in your social media strategy, it's worth noting that it usually isn't the most important platform for SaaS business.
Starting on YouTube is challenging in and of itself. And with 50 million content creators, your content has to stand out. Reaching your target audience is another challenge you will have to face early on.
Here are a few top tips to make the most out of YouTube!
Optimise your channel. Write a bio that's full of relevant keywords and use an eye-catching banner image. Provide contact information and the location of your services. And don't forget to include links to your web page and other social media accounts.
And the same applies to your content. Make sure to pick the right title, include keywords and write a compelling video description. All of this will help you to get the most value out of your videos.
Tip: Remember, your goal with Inbound Marketing is to always be helpful. Try adding a list of featured channels to give your subscribers access to other content they may find interesting.
Use analytics. The analytics tab gives you quantitative insights on your channel and your audience’s behaviour, including your view counts or average watch time. Watch time and demographics are going to be the most important metrics to gain insights about your customers. Once you know whether you are reaching your target audience, things become much easier.
Tip: Read the comments! It may not always be the most productive thing you can do, but this is the kind of qualitative metric that could be very useful.
Research your competition and learn from it. Competitive analysis is necessary if you want to get ahead. Browse your competitors' channels to know what's trending. See what type of content your audience likes to watch and read competing video descriptions. You'll get a better sense of what keywords they are using and what's their presentation like.
You hear a lot about the importance of generating high-quality leads these days. But what does Lead Generation mean in practice?
According to HubSpot, “Lead Generation is the process of attracting and converting strangers and prospects into someone who has indicated an interest in your company's product or service.”
The problem with attracting new prospects is that up to 80% of all searches are just informational queries. This means that the visitors are not even considering buying anything from you at that stage.
Bombarding people with CTA buttons or sign up forms during the first few seconds of their visit is most probably not going to result in lead capturing.
So, what to do? You have to take a different approach.
The goal is to create an experience that's positive and meaningful for you AND your customers. It uses tools that provide value for the visitors in exchange for their contact information.
We call them Lead Magnets. What are they?
Free Trials are some of the best lead magnets for SaaS firms. Why? Customers get to try your product without risking anything. Make sure they get to see the full benefit of your software during that time.
Ebooks offer extensive guides and in-depth material about what you do. And webinars can provide valuable information to many prospects at the same time.
What's the main purpose of Lead Magnets? Creating a win-win situation where you'll get visitors' contact information while promoting your software! And ideally, the prospects will be happy that they got to try something new or learned something useful and will be ready to buy soon.
This is the next step in converting visitors into leads. Landing Pages should always target a specific audience. For example, traffic coming from an email newsletter promoting your latest eBook.
How to create an effective Landing Page?
Let's talk about the must-have components of every high-converting Landing Page.
Clear Headline is the first thing your visitors get to see. It should explain what it does and what problems it tries to fix. Ideally, it creates curiosity so the visitors don't leave in the first minute, not going beyond the Landing Page.
Body Copy should be short and easy to understand. Describe the main benefits of your product and the results it brings.
Use Keywords in the page title, headlines and in the text! Basic Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is necessary if you want to get found.
Calls To Action should always be visible and focused on fixing the problem.
Design is functional, easy to use and visually attractive. Make sure your loading speed is fast and the page is optimised for mobile.
Lead Generation Strategy
In conclusion, you should think about lead generation strategy in these three simple steps:
- Capture The Lead by providing value first.
- Create Lead Magnets with content that converts visitors into leads.
- Use effective Landing Pages with Calls to Action that generate interest.
The purpose of this article is to bring light to Lead Generation as a part of your Inbound Marketing strategy. Given the complexity of the topic and the length of this post, we only covered the basics.
With that in mind, let's move on to the final part - Email Marketing.
Emails have the potential to be one of the most cost-effective marketing strategies. They increase brand awareness and traffic. And they also build credibility and boost sales. Need more reasons to invest in Email Marketing?
- Email has an ROI of £38 for every £1 spent.
- 93% of B2B Marketers use Email to distribute Content.
- Email Marketing converts better than Social Media.
When it comes to successfully executing email marketing campaigns, you always need to focus on your customers. Do it by respecting their trust. Create quality content that's targeted and personalised. But know when to stop if your efforts go unnoticed.
Here are some of the best tips to maximise the return on investment of SaaS marketing emails.
Be clear about the goal of your email. Is it to increase content engagement? Or to encourage qualified leads to try your product? Segment emails by Buyer Persona.
This helps you to address the individual needs of your customers and have several email lists. In 2019, the one-for-all strategy simply won't win you any points.
This is why you need to personalise your subject line and copy. Showing empathy and crafting a compelling story goes a long way towards making your email newsletters stand out. Tie emails with your landing pages.
They should be similar in content and overall feel. Finally, work out your ideal frequency to send emails. This allows you to fit the email strategy around the buyer’s journey of your prospects.
We went through the best examples of B2B companies that nailed their Social Media Marketing by being educational and engaging at the same time. And we showed what Social Media Channels are useful if you work in the SaaS industry.
We also talked about Lead Generation and the tools that help you to generate quality leads - Lead Magnets. We explained the main rules of creating a perfect Landing Page and why it should target a specific audience.
And we finished the article by describing the important benefits of Email Marketing and provided a few useful tips, for a deeper dive into social media marketing, check out this article on growing brand awareness through social media.
Do you work in SaaS and want to learn more? Are you interested in Inbound Marketing and the options for your business? Talk to BIAS now and book a free consultation!