Guide to SaaS Marketing: 12 Strategies for 2023
This is a guest article by Lucia Daza from Katalon
In today’s rapidly advancing digital landscape, the SaaS industry continues to revolutionize how businesses operate and engage with their customers. As a SaaS marketer, staying ahead of the curve is essential. In this article, we’ll cover the 12 most important SaaS marketing strategies for 2023.
What Is SaaS Marketing?
SaaS marketing is the strategies and tactics used to promote and sell Software as a Service (SaaS) products. There are several factors that make SaaS marketing slightly different from other industries due to the unique characteristics of the SaaS business model, but it all boils down to targeting potential customers through various channels, including search engines, social media, email, and content marketing, and guiding them through the sales funnel toward becoming paying customers.
The goal of SaaS marketing is to attract and retain customers by effectively communicating the value of the product, educating them on its features and benefits, and providing an outstanding user experience that encourages ongoing use and loyalty.
Why Is SaaS Marketing Different?
SaaS marketing is slightly different for many reasons, the most notable is because SaaS products are subscription-based, usually in the Freemium model. The dynamics of the sales process shifts from a one-time process to nurturing a long-term relationship with the customer. Revenue from established customers accounts for the majority of a SaaS company’s revenue, so the entire SaaS marketing engine must be tailored to these distinctive features.
The marketing channels that a SaaS company can leverage are still the same as other industries. The only difference is in the approach. Here are 12 top strategies you can consider in your SaaS marketing plan.
The Comprehensive Guide on SaaS Marketing
Place Critical Focus on SaaS Content Marketing
SaaS content marketing should be approached with thoughtful segmentation.
Typically, SaaS products are complex with many features, so besides a user-friendly UI, you want a Knowledge Hub to onboard your new users and teach them how to solve their pain points immediately with your SaaS solution. Work with the Product team, develop a comprehensive understanding of the product features, then design a content marketing engine based on that understanding. This content engine should include several sub-categories, each category addressing a specific feature/pain-point of the customers.
Within each of those categories, you can perform some A/B testing to see which UI/UX variations, content grid layout, or in-content CTA brings the highest conversion. This is no low-effort initiative, but it surely brings a high degree of personalization to different idea customer profiles (ICPs) with different pain points, which means higher content relevancy and better reading/learning experience.
More importantly, as many SaaS products are hosted and delivered on-cloud, SaaS marketing should also occur online, and the search engine is where customers find your product. The educational content you provide to your customers should be well optimized for SEO according to 2023 SEO best practices. For example, Google awards good website quality, so you can adopt web testing tools to test your SaaS website’s functionality or aesthetics.
After you publish your SEO-optimized content, continue to repurpose that piece of content and publish it on other channels, so you are essentially hitting plenty of birds with one stone. You can transform a text-based piece of content into image-based content and promote it in image-centric platforms to reach a new group of audience, and vice versa.
Accelerate Growth Through a SaaS Community
SaaS products solve a specific problem, and people who face that problem usually gather at a specific place, whether it be forums, online communities, or social media groups. Shared struggles bond people together.
Building a SaaS community starts with finding where your customers are and reaching out to them. Tell them that you have a solution to their problem, and you are more than willing to let them try the products at no upfront cost. Once you have a proof of concept, word-of-mouth will exponentially accelerate your SaaS growth, especially in its early stages.
When your product reaches higher levels of maturity, that SaaS community becomes a hub of user-generated content that you can leverage as testimonials. Community members are the best source of authentic, true-to-life product information that potential users always love, yet can hardly find on regular blog posts and articles. If conditions allow, you can even host community-building activities to further strengthen the bond between users, and at the same time deliver your brand messages/core values to those who resonate.
PPC Marketing on Both Social Media and Search Engines
Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing gives you the capability to laser-target your customers and quickly send only the most relevant customers to your product landing page. It’s a fast, straightforward way to get results, and PPC taps into the massive traffic sources from dominating search engines and social media platforms.
However, keep in mind that PPC is a double-edged sword. SEO-optimized SaaS content marketing should still be prioritized since it brings in evergreen organic traffic to be converted into customers, while paid traffic eats into your marketing budget. PPC is not a foolproof engine, and when Google algorithm updates hit, your paid traffic may drastically drop, impacting the bottom line. Always have your evergreen SEO strategy as a safety net for your quick-conversion PPC strategy.
Launch Data-Driven SaaS Email Marketing Campaigns
Email marketing campaigns should encompass all stages of the customer journey, and at each stage, the email subject line, email content, CTA, and target audience should be fine-tuned to serve the right purpose, whether it be demand generation, lead generation, or product onboarding. Insights from extensive data analysis will give the email marketing team direction on how to make those tweaks.
In SaaS marketing, an onboarding email sequence is critical to decrease customer churn, increase customer retention, and improve product adoption rates. Pay strong attention to this specific email sequence and involve relevant stakeholders from the product in the conversation to ensure the emails are truly relevant and hit the exact pain point of the new users.
Partnering with Influencers in Your Niche
Mega-influencers are costly with a relatively low engagement rate. Your SaaS company can get more out of your bucks by working with micro and mid-sized influencers whose engagement rate is usually better. Influencers don’t need to be an entirely new content creator. Leverage your existing user base and prominent individuals in your community to promote your SaaS products.
Scale alongside your growth. Proactively reach out to a small sample of influencers, track their performance in great detail, then double-down on what works. Brainstorm several variants for your creatives or angle to approach, and see which variants attract more interactions from your users. This gradual approach may take time but it gives your team the opportunity to observe and understand the product more deeply.
Referral Marketing to Further Increase Reach
Referral marketing is influencer marketing to a certain extent, but the best aspect of referral marketing is that you can set up a referral marketing portal right on your website where anyone can sign up, even your average user. If your SaaS product has a global presence, foreign referrers can break the cultural and language barrier and promote your products in their country for you. It allows your SaaS marketing engine to tap into a new set of influencers who you couldn’t otherwise reach.
To optimize the effectiveness of your referral marketing program, up your tracking game by creating reward tiers. Carefully track what your referrers bring to your SaaS website, and reward them accordingly. This incentivizes those referrers to optimize their promotion strategy for the specific metrics they want to achieve. For example, we at Katalon, a software quality management platform, offer a tiered, performance-based referral program that gives bonuses based on what the affiliate marketers bring to our website.
Showcase Your SaaS Product Through Strategic Video Marketing
No matter how user-friendly your SaaS products are, there should always be tutorial videos, especially for advanced features. Approach your video marketing strategically by developing a list of product features that solve the most critical problems for your users.
Videos that familiarize users to these features should be prioritized for production. Ensure that your videos are on-brand but still resonate with your users and provide the exact solution that they need. You can always repurpose your text-based content into video-based content to give users a quick learning experience.
Publish those videos on relevant platforms (either YouTube, Instagram Reels/IGTV, TikTok, or Facebook Shorts). You may also want to segment your videos by video purpose. Lead generation videos connect with users who don’t know your product. In these videos, emphasize how you solve their problems. On the other hand, Tutorial-focused videos teach registered users how to navigate around your product and perform specific tasks, so these videos should be more professional with little attention-grabbing elements.
At the same time, conduct social listening to discover new pain points from your existing users to develop new tutorials specifically tailored for them.
Engage with Leads by Adding Webinars to Your SaaS Marketing Plan
Webinars are education-focused. It is essentially a mini online event that should be properly organized. Webinars are effective since only people with either a strong interest in your products or a deep-seating pain would go all the extra length to register and set aside some time to join. This is a perfect opportunity to educate your users on your SaaS solution and listen to their inputs.
There are many webinar-hosting solutions available on the market to choose from. These tools offload the repetitive, heavy tasks that come along with webinar hosting and help you collect leads, track signups, and measure webinar effectiveness.
Podcasts are a convenient way to approach users, either through mid-podcast product advertisements, or featuring a guest speaker on the podcast. Usually the founders and C-level executives are the ones who will appear on podcasts for subject matter expertise, credibility, and authority. It creates an authentic, personal connection with the audience. You don’t look like a business trying so hard to sell products, but rather, a person who developed a product out of previous pain points.
If needed, you can even dedicate resources to creating a company podcast, where you have complete control over branding and content. Focus on providing value to your users instead of product promotion. You don’t even need to invest into a full set of hi-tech recording gadgets. A laptop with a decent microphone is already more than enough to get started. You can even reach out to influencers to feature on your podcast and ask them for a cross-promotion, which gets the word out about your podcast and product at the same time.
Podcasts are more cost-effective than traditional channels. Once traction picks up, your published podcasts gain views organically with little maintenance cost.
Adopt a Freemium Model
The Freemium model is quite popular in SaaS. Several SaaS companies adopt a Free Trial model, allowing the users to experience the full product for a short period of time. The downside is that users may abuse the system by creating extra accounts to use without having to pay anything. With the Freemium model, users can use the product for free, forever, but with limited features. It lowers the entry barrier, allows the user to experience the product across a longer timeframe, and build customer loyalty better.
Canva is a SaaS company that successfully leveraged this model. They give users almost unlimited usage, and Canva’s free version is already more than enough to solve the users’ pain point. When users need very advanced features, they will opt for the Paid/Premium version. By September 2022, Canva’s valuation had leveled at US$26 billion.
Find Opportunities for Event Marketing
Event marketing can be as simple as brief 30-min talk shows, Q&A sessions, or guest speaking. Usually only authoritative figures in the company are invited to these speaking sessions to share their insights and experiences. Such engagements position the company as a thought leader and expert in the field, which differentiates the company from other competitors.
The offline nature of event marketing provides a unique opportunity to directly engage with customers face to face. You can answer questions, get feedback, and build partnerships with other players on the market. After these conversations, you can follow up with highly qualified leads and further consolidate the newly established relationships.
Events provide a wealth of content that can be shared on social media, websites, and news channels, amplifying the message and reaching a wider audience. Once again, such events create an authentic connection with your potential customers, giving your solution a story behind it. It is more than just a “product to be sold.”
Automate Your SaaS Marketing Engine
Finally, automate. All of the activities above should be automated where necessary to improve efficiency and boost customer experience. You can even automate a part of your SaaS product to support marketing initiatives and add a new level of personalization. As your product scales, you should be able to invest more and more into automation solutions.
However, use your automation products with sensible judgment. An emerging automation solution is ChatGPT, which automatically creates content based on a short prompt. Although Google explicitly states that it doesn’t penalize AI-generated content, authentic content providing true value will still shine through. Before automating a workflow in your SaaS marketing engine, ask yourself if you need human input there, and if automation brings better ROI in the long run.
SaaS Marketing FAQs
1. What are the best SaaS marketing strategies?
It depends. The best SaaS marketing strategies depend on your specific product and target audience. As mentioned, traditional strategies are proven to still be effective for SaaS companies (content marketing, SEO, social media marketing, paid advertising, email marketing, influencer marketing, and referral marketing). It’s the approach that matters.
2. What are some success metrics of a SaaS marketing campaign?
Measuring the success of a SaaS marketing campaign can be done through a variety of metrics, including website traffic, lead generation, customer acquisition, conversion rates, and revenue growth.
Additionally, you may want to track engagement metrics such as click-through rates, email open rates, and social media engagement. It’s important to establish clear goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) before launching a marketing campaign, so you can accurately measure and evaluate its success.
3. What are the common challenges faced in SaaS marketing and how can they be overcome?
High competition, customer retention, and customer acquisition costs are all quite common challenges in SaaS marketing campaigns. Focus on building a strong brand, providing exceptional customer service, as well as implementing strategies such as referral marketing and content marketing to attract and retain customers. Additionally, optimizing your pricing strategy and offering flexible payment options can make your product more appealing to potential customers.
The 12 strategies outlined in this guide are only the first stepping stones. Value lies in the execution. Make sure that your team executes every step of the strategy with careful consideration and a detail-oriented, data-driven mindset. Never forget to track and measure the performance of your campaigns and refine accordingly. Data never lies, so fuel your marketing engine with insights and deep observations.
Lucio Daza is VP, Product Marketing at Katalon, Inc. Lucio has over 18 years of experience in the software industry in multiple roles as a solutions architect, product manager, and marketing director. At Katalon, he leads the Product Marketing team to show the value of our products to enterprises around the globe.
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