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The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Your SaaS
What is SaaS Marketing? How Does it Differ From Other Forms of Marketing?
If you own software that offers subscription-based services, then the process of promoting that product is called SaaS marketing.A Software as a Service business owner can get prospects to use their platform and generate revenue through targeted marketing techniques.
SaaS marketing is different from marketing traditional products and services. Since a cloud-based application isn’t as tangible as a product like coffee, getting customers to use it every day can be tricky. Marketing also gets tough in a dynamic technological environment—you need to continually update your product and communicate about those updates to your existing and potential customers.
Common SaaS Marketing Pitfalls
When you’re a new business starting to promote your SaaS product, you may be tempted to emulate the likes of HubSpot, Moz, and Vidyard. That’s a big mistake because these companies took a while before they could scale their marketing to current levels.
The ones that you see as successful SaaS businesses have done a great deal of groundwork before scaling up their marketing strategies—be it SEO, content or PR. You can’t possibly get there without having a clear roadmap that helps reach a specific scale. This guide will help you learn about the nuts and bolts of SaaS marketing and how you can get to a point where you can compete with the big players in your niche.
SaaS Content Marketing—Building an Audience
The challenge in getting the results from SaaS content marketing isn’t about creating informational content assets. It’s in building a loyal audience that trusts your content and believes that it will be useful. Making content valuable to a prospect is about studying searcher intent and the stage of their buyer journey. Because each prospect has different informational needs, being accurate about fulfilling those needs is the key to building a connection with them. Here are the typical buyer-journey stages you need to be aware of before creating audience-centric content for your SaaS platform.
It’s the stage when a prospective customer is a stranger to your business. At this stage of the journey, a buyer is looking to learn how to solve her persisting problems.
Take a look at some of the following online search queries from one such online searcher:
- how to generate leads from a website
- how to get started with email marketing
These are queries where your potential customer’s needs are informational. They’re not looking for a CRM or a marketing automation solution at this stage. But as someone marketing a CRM tool, you need to see the opportunity to meet the prospect’s need for informational content. Create in-depth blog posts, Ebooks, and videos, and you’ll become a prospective problem solver for them.
After consuming a content piece from your business, users might get interested in a CRM tool or an email marketing tool.
In this phase, a potential buyer knows that a CRM tool or an email marketing software would help her business. She starts researching the various SaaS tools available online.
Here are the typical search queries she types in the Google search bar:
- email marketing tool
- crm tool
- best crm software
The searcher’s intent is still informational, but now she’s looking to know about the various tool options. Content pieces that rank for such queries are mostly listicles and pages from product review platforms.
Reaching buyers in this stage of their life cycle is about creating power-packed list posts or finding a place in those produced by other sites.
When a prospect is past the primary research phase, she’s ready to make a purchase. It’s that stage when a potential buyer wants to get her hands on the specifics of different product candidates: features, pricing, and record.
Let’s take a look at some keywords at this stage of a potential buyer’s journey:
- hubspot features
- hubspot pricing
- hubspot vs salesforce
Observe these queries closely, and you’ll realize their transactional nature. To attract a potential software buyer in this stage, you need to communicate about product USPs—highlight features that stand out from the competition.
Publish and promote extensive case studies to prove your worth to the buyer. Talk about additional features and the exceptional customer support the product has to offer.
You don’t just do content marketing to acquire new customers; content offers you a powerful medium to retain existing customers. Customer retention is an integral part of your SaaS survival and growth kit. In this phase of the buyer journey, your existing customers would be looking for solutions related to your SaaS product— they’ll type search queries related to help topics, guides, and customer support.
Here are common search-queries in this stage of the customer lifecycle.
- hubspot help videos
- hubspot tutorial for beginners pdf
- hubspot tutorial 2020
Focus on creating content that makes it easy for customers to use the product. Again, as you see, the content for this stage of the buyer-journey is informational. But it’s also true that such content is different from awareness stage content.
Come to think of it; you aim to create an impact by educating your customers throughout different lifecycle stages. The key idea behind identifying customer journey stages is to tailor content according to audience needs and aspirations.
Match Content with Purpose and Persona
Every content is either targeted at a potential customer or an existing one. Most of the time, there will be an audience overlap. But you want to establish clear-cut personas while creating each piece of content. Writing detailed audience personas and mapping their journey and touch-points is the best way to start developing a distinct content marketing voice.
Take a look at this example of a sample persona of a digital marketing manager:
Visualizing prospects, their challenges, and preferences give your content team the necessary clues to converse with them through content. Plus, it makes your audience start resonating with your content and your brand. The content and SEO team should be well-versed with product functionality and industry trends—such knowledge is essential for maintaining content integrity and value.
Don’t Aim to Rank for Everything
The number of keywords that you aim to rank for in the SaaS niche is much less than other niches, let’s say eCommerce. Most of the search terms that you’ll typically target are either transactional or educational. Trying to rank for everything, especially in the initial phases of your SEO/content marketing process, is futile. For instance, focusing effort on ranking product pages for ‘software’ related commercial intent terms is not worth it. Before reaching that level, a SaaS business needs to build a certain level of authority in its niche.
When you’re still in the nascent stages of marketing, it makes more sense to acquire product page and home page links on the relevant software list posts and review sites.
- Start with low competition keywords with low to medium competition.
- Target high-competition and medium-high traffic keywords once you start ranking for the easier keywords.
- The third category consists of key-phrases that are broader but easier to get.
Gain the edge over the local competition by practicing proper and effective local SEO techniques. Capture the local market and get leads on customers nearest to you. Talk to the My SEO Sucks now to know how local SEO works.
Establish Content Quality Guidelines
Besides understanding user-persona and user-intent, a content team needs a set of content creation guidelines.
Did you know?
69% of B2B marketers have a documented content strategy.
Develop a Brand Voice
The first step is giving them a sense of your brand’s personality. Highlight some core emotional values make-up the backbone of your brand. Is it light-hearted, fun, and quirky, or is it formal, authoritative, and straightforward?
Creating a brand voice helps the content team to establish a distinct content tone. The tone usually becomes the distinguishing factor for your SaaS brand.
Pen Down the Writer’s Guidelinesc
Next, you need to create a set of writer guidelines along with visual content guidelines. These are a set of dos and don’ts for the content team. For instance, you need to guide them about the length of paragraphs and sentences. Tell them to include valuable statistics, graphs, and visuals to add weight to their argument.
Include details about not using filler words, adverbs, and passive voice. MailChimp’s content style guide is a good example:
Create a Reckoner for Visual Content
Visual content guidelines focus on creating consistency in the use of your brand logo and brand colours. A separate guideline helps the design team to create visuals that are in sync with your brand.
Have you observed Hubspot’s brand colour and logo usage across its web properties?
Make Blog Content Readable and User-Friendly
The company blog is a vital piece in your SaaS marketing puzzle. Most thought leaders and successful SaaS businesses have used informative and engaging blog posts to climb up the growth ladder.
Studies reveal that 73% of B2B marketers think that blog posts and articles are the most effective content types for demand generation in the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey, or the top of the sales funnel.
If the audience embraces your blog content, the search engines notice it and push your site higher on search results. Let’s look at some useful tips to make blog content more reader-friendly:
a. Keep it Simple
Make the language approachable and conversational. Well, sounding technical is the last thing that will help you display niche expertise. The use of jargon and complicated phrases tend to alienate the audience. A human approach to blog content is about decoding stuff that’s hard to understand; educating the audience is about simplification and not the other way round.
b. Use Visuals
One thing you should remember is that nobody wants to read a wall of text. Adding visuals in the form of graphs, charts, tables, videos, and even memes is an excellent way to hook the audience.
You can use bullet points and small paragraphs to add breathing space to your content.
Imbibe Storytelling Techniques
Creating content isn’t about selling a product or appeasing the search engines. It’s a zone where you build an emotional connection with the audience.
- Start by empathizing with the audience and defining the industry problem.
- Induce the right emotions. Feel the anxiety and fear that the audience faces while going through a set of challenges.
- Create a sense of hope while informing them about the best possible solutions.
- Make use of inspiring examples, statistics, and quotes to get your point across.
- Close your content with a powerful call-to-action.
- Tell stories of your business: the idea, successes, failures, and behind the scenes.
Storytelling is a powerful way to hook the audience, and it gets them to convert into customers.
Create Pillar Content
Pillar content is simply a blog post that offers users all the information about a specific topic.
Did you know?
B2B marketers who put their audience’s informational needs first make up 88% of the top performers in content marketing.
- Pillar content is unique from other content pieces on a given subject.
- It’s a comprehensive and exciting guide in the form of a series of blog posts.
Let’s take a look at some of the key benefits of pillar content for SaaS businesses:
- Pillar content improves the dwell time of your site and reduces its bounce rate.
- Such content pieces are more shareable. Creating pillar content can help fetch more backlinks and social media shares.
- Due to its high popularity, pillar content tends to get higher search rankings.
- Since pillar pages enjoy higher page-authority, you can link all posts under the topic to the pillar page.
Here’s an example of a pillar page from Typeform.
The pillar page offers an in-depth understanding of brand awareness to marketing professionals and business owners.
Generate Leads with Gated Content
Gating premium content is one of the popular ways for SaaS companies to generate qualified leads. Gated content is a content type that isn’t accessible to everyone; it’s only available to those users who share their contact details by filling up a contact form. They also agree to sign-up for the company newsletter. Let’s look at some gated content types that you can use for growing your sales pipeline:
E-Books and White papers
This type of downloadable content is of tremendous value to prospective customers. A well-designed Ebook is an excellent content format to educate the audience and build a relationship with them.
Autoklose got 2000 leads, 54 demos, and 29 new clients from this content asset in a single week.
Becoming an authority in your industry needs to make a lot more effort than you imagine. A way in which SaaS companies help their potential buyers is through in-depth niche video courses. It’s a gated content format and a terrific tool for generating quality leads.
Many prospects will enjoy a more human way of learning. That’s when a live webinar with Q&A becomes a useful content format. It’s another gated content type that helps display niche authority and works well for SaaS lead generation.
73% of B2B marketers say a webinar is the best way to generate high-quality leads.
Tools and Templates
If you wish to go the extra mile to help the audience, try creating free tools and templates. Use a landing page to promote such giveaways and collect email addresses of potential customers.
Offering a free product trial is ideal for getting prospective customers to get a sneak peek of your product. You can limit the trail by features or by time. Collect a user’s email address lieu of the trial.
Most big SaaS companies have used the power of expert gated content to build up a robust database of prospective customers.
Scaling up Content Marketing Efforts
When you go out there to start publishing content, it may seem daunting and even disheartening to see established players occupying the coveted search engine real estate. A SaaS business’s journey to becoming a content authority can be an uphill climb. But here is the thing, if you’re disciplined about creating and publishing value-driven content, your online brand could eventually find the top-spot. Focus on building the best content pieces out there; don’t run after publishing too many of them.
Can you publish two epic blog posts every month? If yes, then that’s how you should start. Here are some of the essential strategies that will help you sail through:
Build a Team of Expert Writers
When creating SaaS content, two things matter most: quality and niche expertise. Make sure you’re hiring and training to build a team of creative rock stars who are also niche experts.
Create a Content Calendar
One of the things that differentiate SaaS successes from the failures is persistence. To maintain a consistent workflow, you need to put everything into a content calendar.
- Start with a bucket list of keywords and topics.
- Brainstorm story ideas and angles that will appeal to the audience.
- Put them in an excel sheet and add deadlines.
- Assign responsibilities within the excel sheet: writing, editing, designing images, SEO, and promotion.
A monthly content calendar will help your team to work towards a clear-cut action plan.
As soon as you have a bunch of quality content assets, you can start building partnerships to get links and mentions. Connect with easy-to-get media outlets, complementary businesses, and influencers. Co-promotions and link-building should be a parallel exercise. Once you create a foundation for your content workflow, you’ll have a better idea of how you can move to the next level. Let’s now understand how you can fire-up your content game with some kickass SEO push.
Cracking the SaaS SEO Code
Search engine optimization remains a vital spoke of the SaaS marketing wheel. Google now processes over 40,000 search queries every second on average.
But you can’t rely on technical fixes to get site rankings. A typical SaaS website is tiny when you compare it with E-commerce and other B2C business websites. To get to the top of the search results, you’d instead focus energies on the non-technical aspects of search engine optimization. With further ado, let’s learn about the strategies that will help you get there:
Basic on-page optimization is an essential SaaS SEO strategy. Here’s a quick checklist:
- At least one keyword-optimized H1 on every page of the website.
- Use of H2s and H3s in descending order of priority.
- Optimized page titles and descriptions.
- Keyword optimized page URLs.
- Easy to navigate and intuitive website structure.
- Keyword optimized content but no keyword stuffing.
- Implemented Schema Markup on key website pages.
One of the things that add to your content’s search relevance is creating links on your website’s pages. Internal linking can take different forms:
- Linking blog posts that are related to each other.
- Promoting product and service pages to the relevant blog posts.
- Ongoing linking between new and old pages.
One of the key benefits of an internal linking strategy is that it adds structure to your site and its content. A sound internal linking strategy helps the audience find information with ease and adds to their overall site experience. Let’s understand this with the help of an example: Suppose you’re creating content pieces around the following related topics:
‘lead generation strategies’
‘building an email list’
‘optimizing a landing page for lead generation’
‘implementing live chat on a website’
Inter-linking these posts helps the audience get in-depth insights into the broader subject here: lead generation. Similarly, you can include a link to the most relevant product page, say, a ‘landing page creation tool’. A quarterly or a half-yearly internal-linking audit is a worthy technique to figure out if you have already linked all the relevant posts and pages.
Acquiring Quality Backlinks
With a string of Google Algorithm updates, it makes a lot of sense to build backlinks through quality content. Earn links through authentic relationships with authority niche websites. The process demands SaaS marketers to be a lot more creative and patient in the link-building approach.
a. Write Guest Posts
Writing high-quality guest posts is still the most effective way to acquire quality links. You can start with the low hanging fruit first. Pitch to and write for lower DR websites and slowly move up the ladder. As you move forward, aim to write for top tier niche sites. One of the things to note is that you need to understand each site you’re targeting. Read through their contributor guidelines and learn about their content-style.
b. Tip Journalists on Platforms like HARO
A brilliant strategy to earn quality links is to connect with journalists in your niche. You can sign-up for a free platform like HARO and browse through relevant queries. Reach out with case studies and tips to get featured on the best of niche publications. For every ten queries, you’re likely to earn at least one link or brand mention.
c. Co-Promote Complementary Businesses
This is a relatively new link-building technique, but it works quite well for some SaaS businesses. You can tie up with complementary businesses and exchange mentions. Try and make this as natural as possible. For instance, you can link to a guide published by another non-competing niche business in exchange for a similar link to one of your content pieces.
d. Publish Original Research
You must have come across B2B companies like HubSpot and Moz publishing original studies based on primary research. Such content pieces are aimed at understanding the current state of an industry or stuff like consumption patterns.
9 out of 10 companies who do original research found that it’s successful.
When you publish original research, you’re diving deep into an industry’s problems and producing valuable data. Take a look at this example of a piece of original research from Redfin, a real estate platform:
Such data has the potential to create news and get featured in the best of publications. Do you get the drift? Original research does not come easy. You need to have a specialized team to produce one. Plus, you need a dedicated outreach team to ensure the right amount of visibility for it. Original research is a content type that can truly make you an authority in your niche.
e. Become a Guest on Niche Podcasts
Imagine yourself appearing in one of your favourite podcasts and sharing expert tips! Now, beyond the celebrity feel, this strategy is an excellent way to get quality links for your SaaS business. Podcasting is a trending content format, quite popular among today’s time-pressed audience.
55% (155 million) of the US population has listened to a podcast – up from 51% in 2019.
Podcast guesting is a cool way to display your niche expertise and acquire links for your site. To start building links through this channel, you can hire a podcast booking agency to get you on top of industry podcasts.
Audit Content Regularly
Getting SaaS content to rank on search engines is no piece of cake. The first obvious step is to keyword optimize whatever you publish.
Did you know?
Thirty percent of Microsoft’s content had never been visited. And they wouldn’t have known until a content strategist conducted an audit.
To understand its worth, you’ve got to re-check branded content regularly. Here’s the stuff that you need to track while performing an audit:
- Content pieces that do not need the searcher-intent for the targeted key-phrase.
- Content pieces that aren’t educational.
You need to make a list of content pieces that won’t work so that the team can rewrite or edit them. Keep track of blog posts that are ranking or slowly moving up the organic search results. These are the best of the lot. Also, look for ways to upgrade existing pieces. Maybe you can replace outdated information and stats with the latest ones. Try including new examples and case studies to make old posts more valuable.
Content Amplification and Digital PR
One of the core strategies for reaching a SaaS audience is to promote and amplify your content. When every SaaS business is producing content, being aggressive about online promotions is vital to making your SaaS content stand out.
Let’s take a look at some proven content promotion techniques:
You’ll find that there’s already enough noise on most social platforms. Many B2B SaaS companies choose to focus on one or two key social media platforms. LinkedIn is an incredible platform for promoting SaaS content. 75 percent of all registered LinkedIn users have incomes over $50,000, and 44 percent have incomes over $75,000.
Here’s how you use LinkedIn to promote expert content:
- Use personal profiles and the business page to share existing content assets.
- Publish native videos and articles.
- Share personal anecdotes, case studies, and educational content to get new followers.
For instance, Autopilot, a marketing automation tool, used LinkedIn to generate over 575 marketing qualified leads in just three months. The SaaS product got these leads at 4X lower cost as compared with industry standards.
LinkedIn is a treasure-trove of precious SaaS leads. You need to focus on publishing thought-leadership content and building new connections. The platform also allows you to run paid campaigns and reach your audience in no time.
Repurpose Existing Content
One of the things that make SaaS content scaling effortless is content repurposing. According to a survey by Curata, only a third of leading marketers said they have a systematic process to reuse or repurpose content. 56% said repurposing was sporadic, with 2% not repurposing content at all.
The beauty of repurposing is that you can turn an existing piece of content into numerous content pieces and reach a bigger audience. Plus, content repurposing is a terrific way to earn more search real estate. Here are some exciting examples:
- Convert blog posts into slideshow videos and publish them on YouTube.
- Re-publish existing blog posts on Medium.
- Convert an Ebook into a series of blog posts or the other way round.
- Convert a popular blog post into a PowerPoint presentation.
- Convert a knowledge base article into a tutorial video.
- Turn blog posts into bite-sized LinkedIn updates or in-depth Quora answers.
- Turn a popular webinar into a video series.
- Use your original results and create an infographic.
Content repurposing is the magic wand you need for scaling up SaaS content marketing.
Create a Newsletter
Approximately 40% of B2B marketers say that email newsletters are an integral part of their content marketing strategy. It would not be an overstatement to say that many SaaS businesses succeed because they have a robust newsletter strategy.
- A newsletter helps to stay connected with prospects.
- Share existing content assets and make it easy for potential customers to consume your content.
- Create segmented email lists based on the buyer journey. Share relevant content with each segment.
- Work on your newsletter’s user-experience and get more conversions.
- Make use of email marketing software to manage the email database and to automate your campaigns.
A newsletter makes SaaS marketing more human. It’s that essential way to deliver personalized content to your audience—something to make them feel special.
Run Paid Ad Campaigns
If you’re looking for quick lead generation for your SaaS business, running a paid ad campaign is probably the best route you can take. Some of the top platforms to run such campaigns include LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, and Google.
The ideal way is to create a landing page for one of your gated content pieces. Run ad campaigns to promote such landing pages. The technique helps generate paid traffic to premium content assets—it’s the right way to connect with a specific audience and generate leads.
Embrace PR Outreach
The recent Google Algorithm updates have meant the SEO can PR have merged. So the ideal way to build links and get visibility for your brand or branded content is to acquire value-driven editorial coverage. Let’s take a look at some PR tips that can work for your SaaS business:
1. Focus on Building Relationships
Whether it is niche influencers, podcast hosts, or blog editors, you need to show how you can bring value to the table. You cannot afford to be desperate for links. Go out there and share valuable content and tips with those who matter in your industry. Be proactive about building strong relationships. For instance, you can quote an influencer in your content or mention her in your social media update.
2. Do Something Newsworthy
Is there a product feature that is unique to your software? Are you using trending technology? Have you published a piece of original research or training material? Have you recently received funding for your product? Are you sponsoring a business conference?
There could be numerous reasons to get featured in the news. You can find out yours and then reach out to the relevant media outlet for coverage.
3. Personalize Your Outreach
When building personal relationships with journalists, you must remember that a bulk outreach is a big no. Make the interaction personal and honest. Journalists are busy working on many stories, so you need to follow up a few times before starting a conversation. Remember, one successful collaboration opens doors for many more to come. You can use media pitch templates to customize your outreach campaign and optimize the results from it. Here is a sample email pitch template:
A focused outreach strategy targeting niche media outlets is a tremendous content promotion strategy. Earned media helps you move beyond owned content assets like a company blog or a YouTube channel, an excellent way to expand your footprint and achieve higher search rankings.
The core strategy behind promoting a SaaS product is to attract relevant customers through persistent content marketing efforts. Publish quality content and be aggressive about your link-building efforts.
Have a clear-cut intent of building and growing an audience; start thinking like a media company. Generate leads and nurture your prospects to create a sales pipeline that converts into dollars. Replicate your successes to move to the next level. That’s your roadmap to becoming an authority in your niche. Are you ready to market your SaaS business?
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