Marketing a B2B SaaS product is hard. Many of the rules and tricks used to sell physical products can’t be easily translated into a B2B marketing strategy.
Despite this hurdle, the SaaS industry is rapidly growing. This sector is expected to break $147bn in market size by 2026.
How do you approach B2B SaaS marketing? How does this approach differ from other, traditional forms of marketing? What are the most important channels and elements of a great SaaS marketing strategy?
In this article, Founderpath will introduce you to some important principles of B2B SaaS marketing and discuss some important best practices for nailing this approach.
What is B2B SaaS marketing?
B2B SaaS Marketing refers to a marketing strategy that is specifically tailored towards helping SaaS (software-as-a-service) products grow.
SaaS startups have very specific requirements that make traditional marketing techniques difficult to execute.
Compared to selling physical products, SaaS businesses often struggle to demonstrate the value of their product. There’s usually never any pre-existing awareness for your product category.
Software is inherently intangible. Marketers must educate potential leads far more and demonstrate how their product will save customers time and money.
Many SaaS products experience a short sales cycle. When prospects are looking for solutions, they want them now. This makes hooking leads in and getting them signed up incredibly important.
Remember, most SaaS products are subscription-based, whereas other businesses tend to look for one-off or irregular but repeating sales. SaaS products should be able to demonstrate why their product is worth paying for every month.
What are the different elements of SaaS Marketing?
What channels and strategies are most important when marketing a SaaS product?
Any SaaS marketing strategy should include these four elements:
Free Trials, Freemium Tiers & Demos
A free trial of your SaaS product is the best way to convince prospects your product is useful to them and demonstrate its key features. The idea here is to break down a barrier to entry and make your SaaS product seem less risky.
If they’re not paying to use it just yet, what’s the harm in signing up?
There are three methods you can use to offer a free version of your product:
- Free Trial: This involves offering access to your product for a limited length of time (often 7, 14 or 30 days) to try it out. This allows prospects to get a taste of what you offer and may even begin to rely on your service for a key business function.
- Freemium Tiers: If there is an aspect of your product that you can sustainably make free, do it. Free tiers can act as loss leaders to convince people to sign up. A freemium offer should give customers a taste of what your service can do, and encourage them to upgrade after they see how much they enjoy using it.
- Product Demos: If your product’s use cases are quite specific, you can offer 1-to-1 demonstration calls where a sales rep shows off the product to a lead.
For example, the video editor VEED lets users start editing videos for free. This gives customers a chance to try out the product’s features and begin adding subtitles to their videos. To export videos without a watermark, customers have to upgrade to a paid plan.
Inbound marketing is particularly important for promoting SaaS products. The idea here is to attract your target audience and improve your overall brand recognition.
It involves creating and promoting content, implementing an SEO strategy and partnering with influencers to generate awareness surrounding your product.
Why is inbound marketing so important for SaaS businesses?
Decision makers turn to the Internet to find new solutions to their business needs. We find that educating your target audience on how to solve their pain points and problems is a brilliant way of attracting qualified leads.
Blogging is an awesome way to execute a content marketing strategy.
ZenCast does a great job at this – providing podcast creators with actionable tips and cool ideas on how to grow podcasts.
Even though SaaS businesses should prioritize inbound marketing channels, a successful marketing strategy should still include some outbound techniques.
Outbound marketing simply refers to any techniques where your brand pushes out messaging to your potential audience. It’s categorised by sending out messages to a huge amount of people, instead of focusing on generating specific leads.
- Paid advertising
- Cold calling/cold email
- Radio & TV ads
Digital companies do tend to neglect some “traditional” outbound marketing channels. But, there is still some merit in techniques such as buying physical advertising space.
For example, many B2B SaaS companies targeting London-based buyers use TfL, and specifically the Tube, to attract new leads.
An infamous example is Monday.com’s “Build a Bridge” Tube campaign. This made a not-so-subtle dig at then-Mayor Boris Johnson’s cancelled Garden Bridge project.
It’s a hilarious ad that generated lots of conversation in London offices. Nice move, Monday.com!
In practice, the most popular outbound marketing channel for SaaS businesses is paid search and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Paid advertising is a great way to generate traffic and find new customers quickly.
Platforms like Google Ads, Meta and LinkedIn B2B give marketers plenty of tools to define their target audience and improve the cost-effectiveness of these ads.
However, we’d warn against relying entirely on paid advertising to drum up leads. It can take a while to see results with inbound channels like SEO & content, but they provide longer-lasting returns. By contrast, as soon as you stop paying for ads, you’ll stop getting new leads.
Social Media Marketing
A common misconception among B2B marketers is that social media is useless for finding business leads. Social media is primarily seen as a way to reach consumers, not businesses.
In reality, many decision-makers use social media platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn, and these platforms offer somewhat untapped potential to find new customers.
Social media is a brilliant place to interact with customers and increase brand awareness. Posting content on social media is an excellent way to engage leads and encourage them to learn more about your products. These platforms help you tap into useful communities and audience bases to market to.
For instance, Twitter has a strong & tight-knit SaaS founder community – where business owners share their experience and “build in public”. Why not leverage this and develop some content to provide value to founders?
That’s exactly the approach Tweet Hunter took to become a million-dollar juggernaut in a year.
You can also use social media platforms for product support, posting release notes, and interacting with partners.
Best practices for nailing your B2B SaaS marketing
Pick and analyze your key metrics
How do you judge the success of your SaaS marketing strategy? It’s important to set out some metrics and KPIs before you start. These help focus your goals and give you a reference point on how well your campaigns are performing.
What are some useful key metrics to target?
- Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
- Customer Lifetime Value (LTV)
- Activation Rate
- Monthly or Annual Recurring Revenue (MRR/ARR)
- Marketing Sourced Revenue
Conversions are pretty straightforward to analyze. What percentage of total impressions lead to a successful sale/sign-up?
But, more involved metrics help paint a picture of how effective bringing on new customers is. How long do these leads tend to stay subscribed? If this isn’t long, there may be an issue with the client profile you’re targeting.
How many free trial members turn into paying customers? Do these conversions use the product – i.e. activation rate? What percentage of your monthly revenue is created through your marketing efforts?
These KPIs can help you determine how well your marketing is reaching key business goals. Get started tracking your business metrics with Founderpath! It’s free!
Quickly work on building social proof – fast
Social proof – such as testimonials, reviews, endorsements, and case studies – help mitigate a significant barrier to buying a SaaS product: lack of trust and confidence in the product.
Early-stage startups often struggle to gather enough reviews and testimonials to demonstrate their product’s quality to potential leads. You should focus on building a bank of positive social proof as quickly as possible.
How can you do this?
- Offer your product for free if needed to customers that are likely to provide positive reviews.
- Consider turning to influencers to endorse your product
- Add the logos of significant customers to your website. It’s the classic “Trusted by…” panel!
- Offer incentives to customers for providing testimonials or rating your product on platforms like Trustpilot and ProductHunt.
Pushing this social proof in your marketing materials can help you stick out in a saturated market.
For example, Affilimate displays testimonials on their site for potential clients to see how others use the product. Note how they’ve highlighted where these reviews mention key features. This is a great way to explicitly demonstrate your product’s value.
Use the right platforms to automate and scale your marketing
Automating key marketing functions helps speed up your campaigns, optimize your budgets and help you reach your goals faster.
Here are some useful platforms for automating marketing functions:
- An email marketing tool like Mailjet can streamline your email process.
- Ahrefs takes the hassle out of keyword research, analyzing your site’s SEO performance and researching competitors.
- Use Google Analytics to track your site’s traffic and search performance.
- Collect important revenue data through Stripe’s useful reporting features.
Perform competition marketing research
Researching your competitors can help you find gaps in your marketing strategy and find new ideas to execute.
We recommend regularly keeping tabs on what your direct competitors do. What campaigns are they running? What sort of content are they putting out? What results are they seeing?
You can use platforms like Ahrefs to see how well their content is performing and which keywords they’re targeting.
We also recommend researching the strategy of SaaS businesses that you want to emulate. Is there a company in the field that has impressed you? Are you trying to replicate their success?
Find out how they approached B2B SaaS marketing. For instance, VEED’s content strategy – specifically regarding templates and blogging – provides a great reference point for any content marketing strategy.
Fund your B2B SaaS Marketing with Founderpath!
A great marketing strategy is the backbone of a growing SaaS product. Many bootstrapped founders fall into the trap of neglecting getting the word out about their product.
Inbound marketing channels such as SEO and content marketing offer a unique opportunity to educate your target audience and help them solve their pain points. We find this approach particularly useful for demonstrating the value of your product.
B2B SaaS marketing isn’t cheap. But developing and executing a great strategy can provide some serious returns.
How can you get the capital to fund your marketing efforts?
Founderpath is where bootstrapped SaaS founders get capital. By turning your monthly subscriptions into upfront cash, you can leverage your predictable future revenue to gain funds to fuel your growth.
- Pro Edition – $250 per month
- Enterprise edition – $2,500 per month
However, even the paid versions come with free trials! This means you can get a taste of what either of these editions offers before deciding whether or not to commit financially.Get started turning your monthly subscribers into cash today! Use this capital to fuel your marketing efforts, build new features or even invest in new projects.