SaaS marketing, or software as a service marketing, involves promoting, selling and building backlinks for software as service products.
The software as a service industry has been on the rise for several years now, but it really exploded in popularity during the 2020 pandemic, when much of the corporate world went fully remote and there was a strong demand for all kinds of SaaS products–from HR to finance to marketing.
An SaaS marketing strategy, while similar in many ways to marketing strategies across industries, involves some special considerations given the unique customer base, the intangible and impermanent nature of the product and the business model.
At dofollow, we specialize in building links for SaaS companies. We understand what kind of SaaS marketing strategies work, how they are buttressed by good SaaS link building tactics and search engine optimization and how to make an impact on both a SaaS' target audience and existing customers.
Throughout the following article, we’re going to showcase that expertise and help you better understand and make decisions with regards to SaaS marketing.
What makes SaaS marketing different from your average digital marketing?
The primary difference between traditional digital marketing and marketing for SaaS companies is that, with SaaS marketing, the sales funnel doesn’t end once the customer has been acquired.
The idea is to build a lasting customer relationship with each customer so that you continue to sell them the same service month after month, extending the customer lifetime value and generating revenue for the business.
Your marketing is not designed to sell something once. When you sell through a subscription-based model (which most SaaS companies use), you need to be constantly justifying to your customer base that you are worth the monthly investment.
This involves a lot of contact and interaction, but it also involves constant marketing to showcase new features, testimonials and comparisons of your product versus the competitors.
What this all implies is a very different mindset in order to find, attract, sell to and, most importantly, retain your target market for the long haul.
SaaS Marketing Strategies
Hopefully we’ve emphasized the fact that SaaS marketing is all about marketing products to clients and having them agree to a long term business relationship. In order to do this successfully, there are three main steps involved in marketing a SaaS product.
They are (in this order):
- To find customers who are open to and want to pay for a monthly service. There are a number of effective marketing tactics you can use to find and entice these people.
- Marketing your product in a way that provides people with enough information so that they can make an informed purchase. Marketing occurs both on your website as you walk your customers and visitors through the different stages of the buyer’s journey and off-site using a range of marketing methods–from content marketing to paid advertising.
- The final step in the process is customer retention. This would include doing things like providing content and regular product updates via email marketing
A marketing-savvy SaaS company will make use of different SaaS marketing strategies at various stages of the marketing funnel.
What follows will be a breakdown of each step in detail, as well as their corresponding marketing tactics.
A couple of important pre-marketing consideration for SaaS companies
Before we get into the strategies, we think it’s important to spend a few paragraphs on the following.
One, regardless of marketing strategy, you have to ensure your platform has enough information for visitors to be able to accurately conclude what makes your software as a service unique. There is so much competition in this space and, let’s admit, a lot of software that does nearly identical things.
Your site, and ideally your homepage, should clearly and succinctly state your unique value proposition.
This is the best and fastest way to turn leads into customers. All the SaaS link building and content marketing in the world isn’t going to help you if people have no idea what they are ultimately purchasing.
The second thing is: you need to make sure your website is optimized for conversions. This means, in addition to being easy to navigate on both desktop and mobile, you need to do a good job with your calls to action.
There should be a CTA on every page of your site. Induce visitors to check out free trials, sign up for newsletters, follow you on social media, schedule a free consultation, etcetera.
Use buttons, forms, and popups, there are a lot of different methods at your disposal.
Don’t overdo it. Keep CTA best practices in mind and make sure you are tantalizing your customers rather than irritating them.
Once you are confident that your website a) accurately and succinctly makes your value proposition clear and b) makes navigating, purchasing and moving through the sales funnel as easy as possible, then you can start to get into the actual lead generation part of marketing for SaaS companies.
Lead generation for SaaS 101
One of the most basic things to understand about lead generation in the SaaS industry is that your customers are almost always going to be people who are already aware of your service.
Depending on the stage of the sales funnel they are at, they may or may not know about your SaaS per se, but may be looking to switch from their current service provider to another one. They might be unsatisfied or looking for something slightly different from what they are currently using.
There is a different SaaS marketing strategy for each kind of customer.
The first lead–those people who are interested in your SaaS–are the easiest to target. You can make use of standard digital marketing methods to target your ideal customer. Things like paid ads and inbound marketing (e.g., free trials or free demos) are commonly used tactics.
The second group (those who are using a similar SaaS already) are more difficult because they are already using your competitors. If you are able to find these people, who are already further down the sales funnel (i.e., less education necessary), onboarding is usually a lot simpler.
The best way to reach these customers is not via things like email marketing and paid ads. Content marketing is usually your best bet here. Things like blog articles and other engaging content (visual and video) are your main attention grabbers here.
If you are able to convey to people in your content why they should use your SaaS instead of the competition, you should see some nice conversions.
The third group (the dissatisfied customers) is the customer segment that is most ignored by a lot of SaaS businesses and SaaS marketers. It makes sense, given that this is the hardest target audience to go after.
This comes down to the fact that these people are not happy with their current service and, in all likelihood, you are offering something quite similar. It can be a big uphill battle making inroads with these customers–especially if they’ve had a history of bad customer service, bad luck and let downs.
Trust is key with this demographic and there are three proven ways for SaaS companies to garner trust with a flighty demographic: influencer marketing, user generated content and testimonials.
Here’s an example of how we at dofollow utilize testimonials (aka social proof) on our own site:
Have this sort of social proof spread throughout your site and landing pages:
SaaS marketing strategies
By this point, you already understand what makes marketing a SaaS company different from other B2B, or indeed, B2C companies.
Businesses that focus on monthly recurring revenue, in industries with a lot of competition, need to use everything at their disposal to attract and retain paying customers.
Now let’s jump into some of the more popular SaaS marketing campaigns and strategies used by SaaS companies.
Pay per click advertising
Pay per click advertising can be tricky because ROI is heavily dependent on your ability to write good ad copy, structure ads and use the Google Ads platform.
All of these things require technical know-how and experience, so not only do you need to pay for that if you don’t have it yourself, but there is no guarantee your ads will work.
If you do get it right, however, PPC can be a fantastic way to really hone in on your ideal target market. Sponsored ads (the ones that appear at the top of the search engine results page) can drive a lot of traffic and if you’ve structured your landing pages well, there’s a high chance you’re going to convert (whether that means getting a visitor to email you, sign up for a free trial, etc.).
As a link building company, our bread and butter is, of course, search engine optimization, but SEO is very often better at:
- Building brand authority
- Building more stable search traffic
- Targeting different stages of the sales funnel
It’s also, for the most part, cheaper. If you’re not working with a big marketing budget, or are on a very tight marketing budget, paid ads are much riskier.
Hubspot has put together a good article on deciding when to use paid vs SEO.
One of the biggest complaints that SaaS customers tend to have about the SaaS industry is that pricing plans obfuscate important details.
Believe it or not, there was actually debate, at one point, over when and if a SaaS business should be transparent with its pricing.
We are of the opinion that a good SaaS marketing plan is one in which potential customers are shown transparent pricing that reflects a) how much they are going to be paying and b) what they are going to be paying for.
Transparency engenders trust and that is something paying customers want to see regardless of the industry. This is something a good SaaS marketing team understands. It is also something we value at dofollow.
Referral marketing and affiliate marketing
First, let’s address the key distinction between these two related SaaS marketing strategies.
Referral marketing is a marketing strategy that rewards existing customers who recommend or invite their friends and network to try a product.
Affiliate marketing is where you incentivize third parties to market your product to potential customers in exchange for a share of the sale (a flat fee).
Both have a relatively low customer acquisition cost (depending on the commission structure) because both are results-based. You only pay when you convert another paying customer, not for the marketing efforts themselves.
Both are also great ways to appeal to new customers.
Referral marketing leverages the trust that people place in the recommendations of friends and people in their social networks. Affiliate marketing can work wonders for SaaS marketers because the content possibilities are basically endless.
YouTube is an especially popular way for affiliate marketers to advertise the SaaS products they are associated with.
The influencer above has 372 thousand subscribers to her channel and, in this instance, has created a comparison video evaluating three of the most popular social media management tools (all SaaS) on the market.
In the comments you can see her affiliate link to metricool. If someone clicks on that link and pays for Metricool, she will get a percentage of the sale.
Metricool benefits from having someone doing a hands on demo of the tool, rather than simply talking about it, which is more likely to end up with a click through and conversion.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing has emerged as a potent strategy for Software as a Service (SaaS) companies, providing an effective platform to enhance brand visibility and engage with the target audience.
Platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook offer avenues to connect with businesses and professionals, facilitating the promotion of SaaS solutions.
The interactive nature of social media allows companies to build a community, share valuable content, and address customer queries promptly. Leveraging these platforms enables SaaS companies to establish thought leadership, drive traffic to their websites, and foster a loyal user base.
Content marketing strategies
Content marketing serves as a cornerstone for SaaS companies by offering a means to educate potential users about the value and functionality of their solutions.
Creating high-quality blog posts, whitepapers, case studies, and videos not only showcases the expertise of the SaaS firm but also addresses the pain points of the target audience. Effective content establishes trust and positions the company as an industry authority.
Moreover, content marketing is instrumental in the lead nurturing process, guiding prospects through the sales funnel and converting them into loyal customers.
By providing valuable insights and solutions, you can significantly boost your credibility and user acquisition–in a way that doesn’t break the bank and produces sustainable long term results.
SaaS Marketing and Link Building
We’re link builders and we have seen first hand, many times over, with B2B SaaS clients of different sizes and at different stages of business growth and development, how link building impacts marketing and revenue for these companies.
Via increases in organic traffic from link building, we have taken clients from 0 demos booked a month to more than 50.
You can read that whole case study here if you would like to see more information.
Link Building as an SEO Pillar for SaaS Companies
For SaaS companies, conquering the online landscape begins with search engine optimization (SEO), and link building stands as a foundational pillar.
Quality backlinks contribute significantly to improved organic search rankings, a critical factor in ensuring a SaaS product visibility in an increasingly competitive market.
By strategically acquiring authoritative links, SaaS brands can navigate the complex SEO terrain and elevate their online presence.
Building Authority and Credibility
Online, trust is paramount. Quality backlinks act as a vote of confidence, signaling authority and credibility.
SaaS companies can leverage link building to build domain authority and establish their brand as a trusted industry leader. This credibility not only attracts potential customers but also positively influences their decision-making process, fostering long-term customer relationships.
These are the kinds of sites we regularly build links on for our clients:
Link Building and SaaS Content Marketing Integration
A successful marketing strategy for SaaS companies goes beyond mere link acquisition; it seamlessly integrates with content marketing efforts.
By creating shareable and valuable content, SaaS brands attract natural backlinks, further solidifying their online presence. We'll delve into real-world examples of SaaS content marketing campaigns that effectively leverage link building, showcasing the symbiotic relationship between the two strategies.
The mutually reinforcing nature of these strategies ensures that SaaS companies not only improve their search rankings and visibility but also build authority, credibility, and lasting connections with their target audience.
Wrapping up: marketing and the SaaS company
The surge in demand during the 2020 pandemic propelled SaaS into the spotlight, underscoring its vital role in the remote business landscape.
At dofollow, we specialize in crafting effective link-building strategies for SaaS companies, recognizing the symbiotic relationship between robust marketing tactics and impactful link acquisition.
Key SaaS marketing strategies, from pay-per-click advertising to transparent pricing models, offer a spectrum of tools to engage distinct customer groups effectively.
Referral and affiliate marketing leverage trust and content to attract new users, while social media emerges as a potent avenue for brand visibility and community building. Of these strategies, content marketing emerges as the linchpin, educating users and guiding them through the sales funnel.
Link building, as a fundamental SEO pillar, is the backbone of SaaS marketing, contributing to improved organic search rankings and establishing domain authority. The synergy between link building and content marketing amplifies the impact, solidifying a brand's online presence and fostering lasting connections.
Get in touch with dofollow today and let’s chat more about how we can help turn your website into an organic lead generation machine.
Why Trust Us On SEO
Eric Carrell & Sebastian Schaffer have been working in SEO for over a decade, building their own projects - understanding and testing SEO strategy, along with building hundreds of white hat links per month for our projects. They take their learnings and experience and apply them to the strategy that drives our link building strategy for our clients.
Eric & Seb have always believed in quality over quantity, doing things the right way so we future proof our client’s websites against future Google updates and the evolving industry of search.
While Seb handles the company strategy around culture, processes and structure, Eric is constantly working to improve our service offering, customer experience, and following the industry in parallel with Google’s Quality Guidelines so that we are always one step ahead of our competition and aligned with what Google wants to see for your site to rank higher.