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Written by Laura Jean Holton
on March 23, 2017

Central to the success of SaaS companies is a strong long-term relationship with customers, but to drive profitability you also need a good-sized user base. In part, these both depend on the scalability of your idea, the reliability of your software, and the appeal of your service to potential customers. However, equally important is acquiring and retaining customers. After all, every SaaS business begins with no clients and must work from the ground up.

All these aspects make the SaaS business model unique. This means the perfect SaaS marketing strategy is specific to SaaS and different in many ways from strategies for other types of companies.

SAAS MARKETING BEST PRACTICES

1. Goal Setting

Any online marketing strategy for a SaaS business is made up of a number of goals, and each element of the strategy can address just one or multiple goals. The best way to think about your goals is in relation to the Buyer’s Journey.

To begin, you need to develop brand awareness. This is particularly important if you are just starting out, but it remains important as your grow your audience. Tying into this is building a brand reputation. With the right marketing strategy, this is also in your hands. The next stages are attracting visitors to your site and then converting these visitors into customers. Finally, you need to use your marketing to retain these customers.

2. Budget

To use your marketing strategy to its full potential, you must allow for enough budget. At the same time, it is essential to avoid spending more than a client is worth. Calculate the average lifetime value of your client and ensure you are spending less per lead and retainer.

3. Develop Your SaaS Pricing Model

When your pricing model becomes part of your marketing strategy, you can maximize the value of each customer. For instance, if you begin with a free trial, you can create almost immediate conversions to significantly shorten the sales cycle. To achieve this, you will need to use your marketing effectively to ensure leads take you up on the trial offer.

Once you have created a prospect, you need to continue with your marketing to push the user to become a paying customer. However, it does not end there — you can gain even more from a customer by encouraging an upgrade. Use your marketing strategy to show the advantages of moving to a premium subscription.

Read: 10 Ways to Convert Free Trial Users into Customers

4. Intelligent SaaS Customer Acquisition

Most important when marketing is remembering that only a select number of users will ever want or benefit from your service. Trying to market to everyone will give you no chance of success. Although this will lead any type of business to failure, it is particularly useless for SaaS companies, as it is less necessary for you to expand your customer base. Once you have obtained high-quality customers, you can use them as a constant source of revenue.

For this reason, it is key you acquire the right customers from the start. This is where intelligent customer acquisition comes in. You need to know exactly who makes up your target audience by thinking about why someone would need or want your service. Once you have defined these reasons, you can determine how to reach such users with your marketing efforts.

5. Driven Web Design

Although a well-designed website is key to appearing professional for any business, it is extra important for SaaS businesses. Customers see your website as a reflection of the quality of the technology you offer.

A great SaaS website is one optimized for user experience, including intuitive navigation and an attractive layout. However, perhaps the most essential element is originality — you need to show your users that you are unique. When all these features come together, your site encourages conversions.

6. Lead Generation Strategy

Once you have considered these basics, you need to start looking at the details to create an effective lead generation strategy. Key to any strategy should be inbound marketing. Your lead generation strategy will define how inbound marketing, along with other tactics, will move users through the sales funnel to turn them into long-term customers.

Inbound marketing methodology splits lead generation into three stages. First, you need to attract users to your website. Next, you will convert them into prospects and then customers using premium content. Finally, you continue with marketing tactics to retain customers.

Read: 5 Ways to Get the Best ROI from Your Lead Generation Strategy

7. CRM

Most SaaS businesses benefit from a CRM, but for some companies it is even more critical than for others. For instance, if you are a B2B brand offering a higher priced service, you will most likely be communicating with prospects offline on occasion. A CRM will help you keep track of every step of the sales process. Other brands that can benefit from a CRM are those with users paying through a subscription. In this case, the CRM will allow you to manage renewals and lower your churn rate.

The best option for many companies is to become a HubSpot Partner. HubSpot offers support at every stage, from bringing higher-quality traffic to your website to nurturing leads into customers through content and free trials. They also offer fairly comprehensive platform integrations, making it easier to tie all your platforms together. Best of all HubSpot is available to SaaS businesses of all sizes, helping them personalize experiences and shorten sales cycles.

8. Buyer Personas Development

Creating accurate buyer personas requires an involvement from both marketing and sales. The two departments have unique insights as to what makes an ideal customer, and you can use such information to describe a few different types of customers. Each of these personas will require different content and nurturing to convert.

9. Content Offer

Content is the most crucial aspect of your marketing strategy, as it plays a role at every stage of the customer journey. At the awareness stage leading up to a purchase, for example, you can use content to discuss the problems your customers face and show how your service resolves these issues.

Content can also help retain customers. You can maintain contact by offering news updates about your industry, presenting your brand as a good source of information. Other content can cover case studies, such as about people using your technology or projects your brand has been involved with.

10. SEO-Focused Content

Once you have created content, you need to be sure the right users will find it. Using SEO tactics is the only way to ensure your content ends up in the top results in Google for the search terms you want. In addition to optimizing each piece of content you publish, you need to optimize your website to help search engines crawl it and understand what it contains. For the best results, seek help from an SEO expert company.

Read: Why You Should Drive SEO with an Inbound Marketing Strategy

11. Social Media

Social media is another area that complements content, as it offers additional distribution channels. Choosing the right platforms gives you access to your audience in great numbers. By posting interesting content, you can encourage users to share links that will reach their contacts, many of whom may be potential customers.

12. Paid Advertising

Although paid advertising is a key aspect of online marketing for most businesses, SaaS companies should stick to PPC only when they are starting out. As a long-term strategy, it is unlikely to lead to success due to two reasons: high competition, which creates steep costs, and the need to continuously invest to see returns.

13. Nurturing Through Automation

Automation can ensure you nurture your leads correctly. Although it initially requires some time to set up, automation reduces tasks for your marketing team in the long run and makes sure you are using the right triggers. One more advantage of automation is its ability to reveal bottlenecks in your sales funnel. You can determine the cause and then improve the process to keep leads converting.

Read: How to Nurture Our Customers When the Free Trial Is Over

14. Aligning Sales and Marketing

It is common in SaaS companies for sales to handle some tasks and marketing others. For example, when a lead is ready to become a customer, marketing hands it over to the sales team. However, this causes problems at every stage of the buyer journey, as each department uses different definitions and has a distinct understanding of customers. By aligning your efforts, you can ensure that everyone is on the same page. This leads to more, and faster, conversions and even eliminates unnecessary tasks.

15. Analytics

Predictive marketing allows you to use data to determine what your prospects and customers are likely to do in the future. This enables you to use your marketing efforts to have the greatest impact. The best way to make accurate forecasts it to use math marketing. By taking data from a number of metrics, you can track patterns and predict behaviors.

Although SaaS business vary widely in terms of offerings and business models, they face mainly the same issues and concerns. This means they need to use many of the same marketing practices to find success. To be effective with your marketing strategy, smart inbound optimization is essential. By aligning every aspect of inbound marketing with math marketing, you can create a strategy based on data, which takes into account the current best practices.

Read: Math Marketing - A New Strategic Approach to Inbound

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