B2B marketing for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) products might just be one of the most competitive and demanding domains to work on.
What is B2B SaaS Marketing?
Compared to single-purchase products that hardware tech firms are marketing, SaaS companies are often seen pushing for subscription-based packages, with constant updates and renewals. What this means for your B2B SaaS business, is that you’re probably constantly kept on your toes, consistently having to prove your worth to new, and even existing, customers.
SaaS Industry Today
For good or bad, the SaaS market is predicted to reach a valuation of $307 billion by 2026. While this means more business for you, everyone wants a slice of the pie as well. The B2B SaaS industry is expected to see further growth, with an increasing number of competitors keen to carve a space for themselves in this lucrative tech industry.
Even in the height of the pandemic, companies like B2B SaaS companies such as Salesforce, was still seen to have grown from $161 billion in January 2020 to $251 billion in September 2021.
With large players in the industry, coupled with the rapidly growing number of competitors to satisfy growing IT needs, it is admittedly increasingly difficult to clock high search volumes or traffic for business content.
Not all is lost! We have 8 winning SaaS B2B marketing strategies for your software company that can help your business stay ahead of the game.
SaaS B2B Marketing Strategies for Your Software Company
Focus on Branding
To better distinguish yourself from the sea of competitors in this SaaS market, branding is important. More than just an image, branding creates greater coherence for your business, and better promotes what your business stands for.
With good branding, companies can establish themselves as a top-of-mind business in a particular area of expertise. Some of the biggest tech companies we know today have become synonymous with the services they offer. You now hear people using brand names like “Skype” and “Zoom” as verbs in their daily sentences, and everyone can instantly associate them with what they do – web conferencing.
Beyond creating top-of-mind awareness, a good brand establishes greater trust and customer recall for your business. When customers recognise your brand, you generate interest in what you do. Perhaps they don’t require your services now. However, a good brand remains in the minds of many, and they are likely to recall your brand when they require your services.
Begin by identifying the problem or gap that your SaaS business solution solves. Slack tackles communication between teams virtually. Asana tackles complex project management. Hubspot tackles the complex challenges of marketing, sales and service software. What does your business do?
Apart from identifying a compelling value proposition, brand personality is just as important. To create your brand personality, think about how you want to be seen.
A clear visual is the first step to being recognised.
B2B marketing is more than just about information and prices. You can begin by creating a brand guide, with fonts, styles and colours that you want to associate with your brand.
Think Shopify – Green, Bag, Commerce.
Think Dropbox – Blue, Box, Documents.
Think Mailchimp – Yellow, Monkey, Mail.
Maybe you don’t know what exactly it is these companies do yet. However, with clear visuals from their logo, to their website graphics and social media posts, we recognise and remember these brands.
Indeed, visuals are an important step in creating a compelling brand concept. Decide if a minimalistic and sleek look might suit your brand, or if you want to go for a fun and vibrant palette. From there, stick to your brand guide and create a unique brand story.
Do you want to be viewed as an all-serious, professional brand with a formal tone, or do you want to adopt a casual tone that is more accessible to many? Based on your brand positioning, you should adopt a voice that resonates with the audience you are reaching out to. If establishing your credibility and experience is the priority, perhaps a more serious and data-driven content marketing strategy might be more appropriate. In contrast, if your business is marketing its solution as one that is far from complex, easy-to-use, and appealing to the layman office worker, you may decide on a copy tone that is slightly more laid-back and fun.
Create Buyer Personas
Marketing is all about context. It is imperative to think about who you are selling your business solutions to. For every piece of content that you prepare to put out, you need to ensure that it is written and designed for the particular audience in mind.
In a competitive space like the B2B SaaS market, casting a wide net and hoping that your content appeals to someone might not be the wisest thing. Identify the pain points of your target buyer, their needs, purchasing habits, and create the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) for your business solution.
If you have multiple ICPs, you can always segment your audience lists. For instance, you could send different email marketing content to different contact lists. Or, you could have a separate tab on your website for the different customer profiles. This way, your buyers know exactly what they should be looking at. This reduces resistance to explore your site in search of what they need to know, reducing drop-offs.
Use Marketing Automation
B2B SaaS Marketing can be a lot to handle with constant software updates, free trial expiration notifications, and enhanced features. Take your mind off some of these marketing tasks with automation.
With the right marketing automation software, you could automate tasks including email marketing, social media scheduling and even your customer relationship management workflows.
Marketing automation could be particularly beneficial for smaller companies without large teams dedicated to personal marketing.
Pick the Right Platform for Paid Ads
There are many platforms available for your paid ads. In deciding which platform would be best for your business, some factors to consider include – budget, target customer profile, and the solution you are offering. We’ll be talking about 3 popular paid advertising platforms for your consideration.
Google Search Ads
Google Search Ads enable your business to pay to appear at the top of the search engine result pages for various search terms. With proper keyword targeting and a good site, Google advertising can enable your business to have a larger reach compared to LinkedIn and Facebook ads.
However, one limitation is that there is limited ad space on Google search results. Hence, in a competitive SaaS industry where every business might be looking to pay to earn a space on the SERP, you might have to be prepared to pay more for each click.
Facebook Advertising is slightly less common in B2B SaaS marketing. However, Facebook still has comprehensive features for good audience targeting. You may target individuals based on their location, age, gender, education, job titles, industry and even interests based on pages they follow. If your business has a relatively large customer base on Facebook, this platform might be suited for you. Furthermore, Facebook traditionally has a lower average cost-per-click (CPC). In 2021, the average cost of CPC on Facebook was just about $0.97.
However, keep in mind that since Facebook is also a social media platform for leisure use, your ads are likely to be competing with posts about family celebrations, status updates, or just leisure memes on the Web.
Hence, Facebook Ads might be better suited to promote top of the funnel content such as organic blog content, product guides or driving traffic to your website, instead of generating direct conversions.
LinkedIn is one of the most popular platforms for B2B marketing. While Facebook and LinkedIn similarly enable B2B targeting by location, age, gender, education, job titles and industry, one distinguishing factor is that information of individual’s job titles, employers, and industry are more likely to be populated and updated on LinkedIn. Since LinkedIn enables businesses to target staff of specific companies and job functions, B2B targeting becomes significantly more relevant and scoped, and it might be easier for you to accurately target specific employee profiles.
One downside to this popular B2B platform is that LinkedIn advertising is expensive. Since businesses often opt for a pay-per-click scheme, remember to set appropriate budgets whenever you review your marketing process. In 2021, the average cost of CPC on LinkedIn amounted to $5.26. While it is easy to clock high impression rates on LinkedIn, click-throughs might be slightly tougher.
Embrace Content Marketing
Develop a clear content strategy, and consistently product content catered to your customer profile. While content marketing can include content promoting your product solution, it doesn’t always have to be so.
A comprehensive content marketing plan should also include thought leadership posts, insights or commentary about industry trends. While such content may not directly generate your leads, they are critical in building credibility for your brand and facilitates in fostering trust with your audience. You could also present educational content that could help your prospects understand more about the industry, which can facilitate their future purchasing decisions.
There are many channels you could adopt for content marketing. Apart from the usual social media and email marketing content that you might already be familiar with, one increasingly popular type of content you could put up is Case Studies.
A 2022 SaaS Case Studies Report by Uplift revealed that SaaS marketers ranked case studies as the top most effective marketing tactic to increase sales, with 47% of them agreeing. This is followed by SEO at 2nd with 29%, which we will be discussing later in this article.
Case studies are an effective method in sharing what worked and what didn’t work so well for other companies. They are great in providing reassurance for business buyers who may be new to your company, and want to ensure that your company’s solutions have been proven to be helpful. These case studies can be part of your social media content, evergreen website content, or even your monthly email newsletters.
Design your SEO Strategy
As mentioned earlier, SEO marketing comes hand-in-hand with content marketing. To effectively leverage content marketing, you’ll need to ensure the reach of your content – in comes SEO.
In the B2B SaaS industry that is so competitive, you need to rely on a good SEO strategy to ensure your content reaches your target audience. With good SEO, you can dominate search engine result pages (with good content, of course), at an affordable cost without having to spend on ad space.
Hence, begin by conducting your research to understand your audience, and what they are looking to know on the Web. In support of your SEO strategy, remember that backlinks are also crucial. With backlinks to your website, the credibility of your site is boosted, and more likely to be identified as helpful content. Your site is then likely to see improvement in ranking positions and attain higher search visibility.
Here are some top SEO trends that might affect your strategy that we have summarised.
Explore Account-Based Marketing
In a hyper-personalised digital space today, mass marketing may no longer be as effective as it used to be. Every buyer has a different pain point, a different need, and a different budget that they bring to the table. Hence, it is no surprise that B2B buyers today appreciate easy information that aligns with what they are looking for.
According to Hubspot, 70% of marketers report using ABM in 2021, compared to only 15% in 2020. This growing trend is of no wonder. With account-based marketing, you can promote targeted content to various customer profiles with better intent. By first identifying your customer profile, you minimise shouting into the void by personalising the content that you’re putting out for the relevant stakeholders. The ABM Leadership Alliance have also found that 76% of B2B marketers agree that ABM delivers a higher ROI than other marketing activities.
To begin, you can build your own lists of contacts, segmented according to various customer needs. Based on this, streamline the content that you are marketing to these contacts including product-specific pages, tailored email and landing page contents.
Once you have engaged them, you can connect with your audience through messaging platforms such as Email, Calls or LinkedIn InMail functions, further bridging the connection you have with your prospects. For effective ABM messaging, ensure that you personalise your message by reaching out to them individually – understand what it is that the individual wants, his/her job function, seniority, and of course, his/her needs.
Develop a Lead Nurturing Strategy
Well, gaining search traffic is not the be-all and end-all. Once you have gotten your leads, lead nurturing is crucial in ensuring successful conversions.
Lead nurturing involves building relationships with your prospects, whether or not they have committed to purchasing your company’s business solution. Truth is, most prospects don’t decide to buy your product instantly. When buying for businesses, buyers tend to conduct thorough research, product comparisons and analysis before committing to a software solution. Others may even conduct research even when they are not looking to purchase a software solution just yet.
Regardless, all of these leads need to be kept warm and nurtured. To do so, ensure frequent customer touchpoints. On your sites, this could involve inducing them to sign up for your company’s newsletters, a clickthrough to your company’s socials, or a CTA to contact your sales team.
Customers may also require more information to aid their purchase decision. Hence, educating your customers is key. You can share insightful content through your email marketing channels or social media pages. However, remember to avoid overwhelming your prospects with excessive information – adopt a drip marketing strategy where you slowly increase the depth of the insights you are providing. Begin with welcome emails, followed by product feature introductions, and product recommendations.
Which B2B SaaS marketing strategies would work for me?
With the rise in remote work, coupled with the rapidly expanding IT industry, it is no doubt that we will continue to see growth in the B2B SaaS industry. While this means endless opportunities and expansion for businesses in this software space, marketers must stay ahead of the competition to ensure your business can keep pace with the crowd.
This list of 8 best B2B software marketing strategies can help your business to eliminate potential challenges in your 2023 marketing plan. If you are looking for help to streamline and optimise your B2B SaaS company’s marketing strategy, feel free to reach out to us.