Whether you’re trying to sell a glass of lemonade to passers-by or a highly-complex software-as-a-service platform to a Fortune 500 company, marketing plays a crucial role. It’s what helps the general public—including your ideal customers—become aware of what you’re selling (and why they might need it). And it’s what engages your audience, gets them thinking, and ultimately differentiates you from your competition. In other words, there is no real engagement or growth without a dedicated marketing team and strategy.
That being said, marketing SaaS products and keeping up with the latest trends and best practices can feel exhausting. This is especially true in the world of SaaS marketing, where brand awareness reigns supreme and sales cycles can be quick. To compete, you’re going to need dynamic, innovative strategies to complement each stage of the buyer’s journey.
If you’re wondering, “How do I get customers for my SaaS business, and turn them into loyal brand advocates?” then you’ve come to the perfect place. DemandJump’s here to explore some of the most important factors in developing a winning SaaS marketing strategy, so you can hit the ground running.
What Is SaaS Marketing, and How Is SaaS Marketing Different?
In simple terms, SaaS marketing refers to a software-as-a-service provider’s collective efforts to drive brand awareness and convert prospects into loyal customers. Developing a SaaS marketing strategy isn’t entirely unlike more traditional marketing forms, but there are a few distinctions worth pointing out. The biggest difference that impacts how to market a SaaS product successfully is the nature of what you’re selling.
Traditional marketing is effective for selling actual, tangible products—a glass of lemonade, for example. It’s not too difficult to identify lemonade’s main selling points and why customers might want it.
By contrast, SaaS marketers are tasked with a more challenging sell. They’re selling something less tangible—a software platform or service. Articulating a SaaS product’s benefits can be more difficult, so marketers must be inventive and persistent in how they position themselves within the buyer’s journey. They should first generate awareness for their products, and then move to find the right buyers and track them through the funnel. They also need to understand their buyers’ cues—which can sometimes be quite subtle—so they can connect with prospects at the exact right moment.
What Unique Challenges Are There When Trying to Sell a SaaS Product?
In addition to the basic nature of the product or service being sold, other unique challenges SaaS marketers face include:
- Establishing initial brand awareness, especially if you’re up against competitors who have been in business longer and/or have larger budgets—SaaS is more competitive than most industries!
- Attracting prospective customers to website content or digital resources to engage them with high-quality content and help them understand how your SaaS tools work.
- Driving prospects to consider the advantages of your unique SaaS offerings and how they compare with what your competitors are offering.
- Inspiring prospects to take key actions like filling out a contact form or scheduling a product demo to better understand your product’s capabilities.
- Tracking the marketing channels and content types that most-reliably engage and resonate with prospects/customers.
- Adjusting strategies/campaigns as objectives frequently shift, customer preferences change, and so on.
Adding to the complexity, many SaaS companies operate as business-to-business (B2B) sellers. This means B2B SaaS marketers have to tailor their approach to appeal to a diverse team of decision-makers with different and sometimes competing priorities. This can be difficult! But with the right insights and approach—and a pitch primarily centered around the tangible, provable value of what you’re selling—much of the mystery falls away.
Ultimately, you'll be positioned for success once you understand how SaaS selling is different from traditional software selling and what makes a great campaign.
What Are Qualities of the Best B2B SaaS Marketing Campaigns?
Because their marketing budgets are not unlimited, a company’s B2B SaaS marketing strategy needs to be targeted, data-driven, and adaptable.
In the context of SaaS marketing, “targeted” refers to both who the campaign is targeting and its objectives.
- Who are you targeting? Think of a traditional highway billboard as the opposite of a targeted campaign. It’s a single message, posted in one place, for any/all to notice. By contrast, a SaaS marketing campaign should target one or more specific customer segments or profiles. The best way to resonate with prospects is to demonstrate that you understand their pain points and have a uniquely useful solution that meets those needs. While a single campaign might be suitable for multiple types of customers, the more you can personalize your approach and outreach, the better. And the more you understand about the target audience, the better-positioned you’ll be to deliver the right message, to the right people, at the right time.
- What are the objectives? A SaaS marketing strategy needs well-defined objectives in order to have a substantial impact. A great way to develop effective SaaS marketing objectives is to use the SMART framework, setting goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely (hence the acronym). Make sure everyone involved understands exactly what you intend to accomplish, over what timeline, and for what purpose. In other words, go ahead and call your shot—and be specific about it.
The second characteristic of a highly-effective SaaS campaign is that it’s data-driven. There are several different types of data that benefit SaaS marketers, including those that help them better understand their ideal customers and how to craft a relatable and relevant campaign.
- How are your current marketing efforts performing? When budgets are limited, it’s important to quickly identify the specific marketing actions or channels that are performing well—or underperforming most seriously—so you can make adjustments to optimize the strategy’s ROI.
- How are your competitors’ marketing efforts performing, and how do you compare? Market share is as important in the SaaS marketing landscape as it is across non-SaaS industries. Understanding how your efforts impact your market share—and identifying the tactics that strengthen your competitive position—helps marketing teams further refine their approach.
Lastly, an effective SaaS marketing campaign is one that is adaptable.
- How adaptable is the strategy/campaign? What’s the point of understanding SaaS marketing performance metrics if the data doesn’t provide actionable insights? Effective SaaS marketers tend to be obsessed with data and highly motivated to act on that data whenever it reveals opportunities to further refine their strategies in real-time.
- What marketing channels are best-suited to the campaign’s objectives? An important component of the ideal customer profile for SaaS companies is their search preferences. This includes the channels they’re most actively interested in and the specific search terms and questions they’re using as they explore potential solutions to their pain points. Think back to the highway billboard example…that’s one message posted in one place. If your customers don’t travel on that particular, literal highway, the billboard cost would be largely wasted. Small investments in the right places often outperform large investments in less-ideal places.
So, just to recap this section:
What Are SaaS Marketing Channels?
There are three main types of SaaS marketing channels: owned media, paid media, and earned media.
- Paid media channels include traditional advertising methods, like search engine ads, paid article placement or promotion, and banner ads. These channels can be effective when used well, but as you might expect from the name, you have to pay for these opportunities.
- Earned media channels provide visibility through another website or publisher. This can include media write-ups from third-party reviewers or researchers, or outright promotion from a more-recognized brand, website, or publication.
- Owned media channels are those that a company produces—and owns—themselves. Website content is arguably the largest opportunity for success with owned media. Realizing the immense potential surrounding owned media, it’s not surprising that content marketing is experiencing continued, steady growth as a revenue-driving tool—especially among SaaS marketers.
What Is B2B SaaS Content Marketing, and What Role Does It Play in Effective SaaS Marketing?
Content marketing is a strategy component that centers around the creation and distribution of valuable and relevant digital content—website content, for example. In essence, B2B SaaS content marketing aims to provide value at each stage of the buyer’s journey in order to attract, engage, and retain new customers.
When done well, content marketing increases website traffic and demonstrates that your product or service is the best option. Effective content marketing helps companies show prospective customers that someone—ideally, your company—understands their unique needs and how to solve their pain points.
Many SaaS companies use Account-Based Marketing, or ABM, a strategy that prioritizes customers or accounts by their potential revenue. “Attract the big fish, and the little fish will follow” is a simple way to understand its aim.
There’s nothing wrong with this strategy, but it’s not necessarily the best or most modern. By contrast, DemandJump is the world’s first and only Pillar-Based Marketing (PBM) platform. Rather than setting revenue as the end-all marketing objective (like ABM), PBM practitioners instead put valuable and timely information front-and-center. Instead of “attracting the big fish”, PBM is more like fishing in the right lake and with the right bait.
Rather than putting one or more high-value prospects at the strategy’s center, PBM focuses on providing value via informative and interesting content.
What Are the Key Components of Pillar-Based Content Marketing?
There are two main components to consider when designing a PBM campaign: the content itself, and an insights-driven strategy to guide content creation.
Content marketing starts with great content, period. The central aim of PBM is to answer the types of questions your ideal prospective customers are searching for, and to answer them with useful information (rather than with outright or heavy-handed selling, which we know turns people off). Planning and developing content for this type of strategy is both an art and a science. The “art” involves writing informative and engaging content, while the “science” refers to data-backed best practices for publishing the content in a way that drives traffic and conversions.
When we say “content ecosystem,” we mean something very specific. In short, for each “pillar” of content you might produce, you’ll want to create blogs and website content of a few different types and lengths. At this point, it’s not guesswork; it’s proven.
In case you’ve been wondering, what you’re reading right now is part of a PBM campaign. Come on, wouldn’t it be disappointing if we didn’t practice what we preach?
Anyway, we’ve learned that an effective PBM campaign should consist of 16 distinct pieces of content:
One (1) 3,000-word Pillar Page
This serves as a landing page and a comprehensive resource that explores a given topic your customers are interested in. We wrote and published a 3,000-word SaaS Marketing Pillar, which offers an overview of the concept from a relatively high level.
Three (3) Sub-Pillar pages
These are 2,000 words each. Sub-pillars should provide an overview of a key topic that relates to the pillar. As mentioned above, the piece you’re reading right now (“SaaS Marketing Strategy”) falls under and links to the “SaaS Marketing” Pillar.
Twelve (12) Supporting Blogs
These are 750 to 1,000 words each. These pieces should each focus on answering one specific question your customers are searching for answers to. You should come up with three Supporting Blog topics per Sub-Pillar topic, as well as three additional blogs that link back to the Pillar topic only.
Here’s what a general Pillar Strategy looks like mapped out:
In a PBM Strategy, What Should Each Piece of Content Contain?
Whether it’s a Pillar, Sub-Pillar, or Supporting Blog, each piece of content within a pillar plan should contain a few key components:
- Specific keywords and keyword phrases, based on keyword research. We recommend using at least 20 within a Pillar Page, 15 within a Sub-Pillar, and 7-10 for a Blog. Aim for a mix of short-, mid-, and long-tail keywords.
- Unique and interesting content that answers specific questions. Unsure what questions to answer? You can always start with Google. Type in a topic that’s of interest to your customers, and then see what kinds of questions the search engine indicates people are searching for. Or, you could save a lot of time and use DemandJump’s innovative keyword research and content planning tools.
- A compelling call to action (CTA) for readers. Imagine your perfect customer happens upon your content. What is the ideal outcome? Do you want them to download a resource off of your website, schedule a product demo, or something else entirely? Well thought-out CTAs help connect the dots between compelling content and concrete action.
Ready to Get Started? Here’s How.
At DemandJump, we know how tricky digital marketing for SaaS companies can be. And that’s why we’ve developed a PBM platform that stands among the best SaaS marketing tools you can invest in to receive results that are both timely and sustainable. From intuitive keyword research and content planning tools to analytics, and more, we’ve assembled an all-in-one SaaS marketing powerhouse of a platform.
While the science behind PBM may be complex, it’s just new! With DemandJump you can hit the ground running!
- You’ll know exactly what to write about, eliminating guesswork and aligning your content strategy with the behavior of real users.
- You can perform instant SEO keyword research, saving time with automated Insights Reports and one-click Content Briefs.
- You can write better content and watch it perform, with robust data analytics surrounding high-priority SaaS marketing metrics.
The first step is the easiest! Simply start exploring the platform—and PBM—today with your free account.