Marketing B2B SaaS is a very different beast to other B2B propositions. At its simplest, we can take Neil Patel’s advice to “build your marketing strategy on the foundation of a strong product and an embedded commitment to amazing customer service”.
But with marketing teams already spinning so many plates, it’s difficult to pin down which strategies are going to result in growth.
Here, we’re going to look at five solid, evergreen strategies upon which B2B SaaS marketers can build the rest of their efforts.
1. Content marketing
Content marketing is the cornerstone of many marketing strategies, yet few companies are really nailing it. In fact, research by the Content Marketing Institute revealed that just 39% of B2B marketers are working without a documented content plan. This has led to a shot-gun approach of firing out blog post after blog post with no real strategy in place.
Rand Fishkin, Founder of Moz and general all-round SaaS god, has some great advice for those putting all of their eggs in the content marketing basket. ‘You have to ask yourself, whenever you are producing any kind of content . . . who will amplify this and why? If you can’t answer that question, don’t make it, it’s not worthwhile.’
So: are you producing content for the sake of it? If you’re looking for great examples of useful, well-thought-out content, then you’d be hard pushed to find much better than Moz. They specialise in taking a technical subject like SEO and creating actionable content for marketers and SEO specialists. They split their content by sector or issue. One of Moz’s most successful content strategies is their Whiteboard Friday sessions on YouTube.
You can read all about Moz’s market-leading content marketing campaign in this great article on Digital Uncovered.
Another content marketing giant we can learn from is Mailchimp. It’s easy to put their success down to having huge teams and budgets to match, but that wouldn’t really be doing them justice. They were a bootstrap operation too when they launched too, they got the basics right, and built up from there.
Starting as a small email marketing platform way back in 2001, Mailchimp is now offering a full-stack experience for marketing teams. To do this, Mailchimp changed its model for paid for freemium and went in hard with their content marketing. They knew their product would attract small businesses and solo marketers, so they built a friendly, quirky – but above all helpful – library of content. Today, their style guide is held up as the gold standard for marketing and branding.
Mailchimp’s content is always informative and usually eccentric. They’ve managed to perfect the art of being both quirky and knowledgeable and they now have 11 million active customers.
So, the moral to this strategy? Go for quality rather than quantity. If your content marketing isn’t aligned with your overall business strategy and goals, then focus your efforts on something else.
2. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
The perfect partner to content marketing. SEO and content work hand in hand to build engagement and get your company seen. More than almost any other field, SaaS needs SEO to be successful. Getting your product and content in front of as many people as possible is the essence of SEO. Generating organic traffic and converting it.
As important as it is, many companies are inconsistent in their SEO efforts. Stoney deGeyter put it best when he said “you can’t just “SEO” your website and be done. It’s a forever moving goal post.”
Specialist SEO agency SureOak worked with mapping software company Maptive to boost their SEO. Maptive was experiencing decreasing organic traffic and a poor conversion rate from free trials.
After an extensive SEO audit and strategy that included advanced keyword research, on-site SEO, content planning and link building, the results were impressive. Organic traffic increased by 15%, but more importantly, the total number of free trial sign-ups increased by 50% and conversions to paying clients rose by 55%. (Source: SureOak)
3. Marketing automation
It’s almost impossible to scale a multichannel marketing campaign without implementing some kind of automation. Otherwise, you’re going to collapse under the sheer weight of all the data.
Automation enables companies to streamline their marketing, automate their marketing, and measure results. One Demand Generation report showed that automation can boost sales by as much as 15%. Some have achieved even more impressive results.
One company who implemented a successful marketing automation platform is SmartBear Software, a cloud mobile software. They increased their lead generation figures by 200%.
With their internal marketing team backed up by a specialist automation consultant, they were able to dramatically cut the usual rollout time to just over a week. Once in place, they began with email marketing and subsequent lead nurturing.
In addition to upping their leads by 200%, they also generated 80% of lead gen growth through trial downloads, which then generated 85% of their revenue (Source: AeroLeads)
Another great case study from Hubspot shows how Honeycommb, a white label social platform provider, achieved amazing results using Hubspot’s FREE tools. By automating their content marketing, CRM, and email systems, they were able to increase their leads by 160%, improve closing rates by 100%, and achieve 300% in reporting time saved.
Take a few minutes to read or watch the full case study here. It’s a great example of how a company of any size can automate and scale effectively.
4. Influencer Marketing
Potential B2B clients prefer to make their buying decisions based on the views of others, rather than directly from you. In fact, in a survey by the Influencer Marketing Hub, 82% found that influencer marketing attracted higher-quality customers. Hearing good things about you or your product should be obvious in growing your business.
Collaborating with those who are influential in your particular sector will not only give your product credibility, it gives it a wider potential audience.
Social Media management company Buffer used influencer marketing creatively. When their other channels weren’t getting them the results they needed. They approached well-known bloggers and marketing professionals to write guest blogs for their site. They then promoted these heavily, with the guest bloggers not only bringing validation to the platform but also promoting the platform to their own audience.
As a result, Buffer saw a huge increase in blog traffic and almost 100,000 new users in less than 12 months.
Marketing software creator DivvyHQ used influencer marketing to great effect. They began by surveying marketers about the biggest challenges surrounding content marketing. They then used the results to put together a campaign that focused on future-proofing the role of content marketing.
To do this, they used high-level marketing influencers like Oli Gardener from Unbounce. Through blog posts, eBooks, and video content with these influencers, they managed to beat their reported download goals by over 300% and develop relationships with marketing influencers they continue to leverage today.
Watch their Back To The Future microsite for the campaign here.
If you’re not retargeting your site visitors, you’re missing a huge opportunity. Retargeted display ads can increase website conversion by up to 70%.
Many marketers avoid retargeting, seeing it as being overly complex, but it’s simpler (relatively speaking) than they seem to think. When someone visits your site and leaves without converting, a tracker retargets them across a number of different websites and social media to entice them back.
Retargeting can clearly be a powerful tool for SaaS companies. According to Digital World “, the click-through rate (CTR) of a retargeting ad is 10 times higher than the CTR of a typical display ad.”
The networks typically used in retargeting are the Google Display Network (GDN) and Facebook. Between these two platforms, Facebook has over 1.4 billion users and the GDN can target 90% of all internet users in the world.
Now, for as basic as it sounds, retargeting can be difficult to get right. You have to think about retargeting different stages of the funnel, which will change your strategy, depending on whether the potential customers are pre- or post-free trial.
Perfect Audience is a great example of clever retargeting. This is a platform aimed at marketers. Their retargeting is designed to bring website visitors back by offering an even better incentive.
If you visit the Perfect Audience website, you’ll find a free trial offer that also includes $100 dollars of free ad credit. However, the retargeting ads offer up to $5,000 free ad credit. They aren’t simply following website visitors around with the same offer, but making it so much more attractive to come back and sign up.
The take away
B2B SaaS is still a growing business model. With the growing number of players and the growing number of channels, marketing teams can find themselves all too easily spread thin and not really able to focus their efforts effectively. In the words of a client of mine, the smartest way around that is to make sure you do the simple things well.
And that’s what I aimed to help you with here: 5 foundational strategies – Content Marketing, SEO, Influencer Marketing, marketing automation, and retargeting – that can get you started in the right direction.