These numbers won’t surprise you.
Unfortunately, despite this high level of investment, a large portion of B2B SaaS marketing campaigns underperform. It is an issue you will face when operating in a saturated market.
To get the best return on investment, you must use proven strategies. This guide will walk you through proven B2B SaaS marketing strategies you can try. Remember that these strategies are not a one-size-fits-all thing. Pick and mix the options that feel right for you.
1. Invest In SEO
SEO is an essential B2B SaaS marketing strategy because it helps your software solution become more visible to businesses actively searching for your services. High search rankings increase traffic and generate qualified leads.
Effective search engine optimization helps develop leads across all stages of the sales funnel. Here are the basic building blocks of a good SaaS SEO campaign:
- Figure out the keywords you want to rank for based on your target audience. Focus on one theme.
- Create a topical map that covers relevant keywords. You need to cover your niche in depth to acquire expertise, which is the E in Google’s EAT (Expertise, Authority, and Trust).
- Group the keywords together into content hubs. That will help you figure out the best way to link between resources.
- Start writing high-quality content. The content needs to be better than any of the other content out there. Be sure to add original insights to your content to make it stand out.
- Build authority links to these articles. That will show Google that your content deserves to rank.
SEO is a key SaaS marketing channel.
Our client, Writer, is a great example of a company that’s utilized this inbound marketing channel to scale. We partnered with them shortly after they had completed the seed funding round, where they’d secured $5 million in funding.
They’ve recently gone through a $21 million series A round.
Initially, Writer targeted high-volume top-of-the-funnel search terms. This included terms like grammar checker and punctuation checker, which get 450,000 and 18,100 searches in the US each month, respectively.
We helped Writer to rank for these terms through SaaS link building.
Writer has pivoted from a B2C to focus on enterprise SaaS SEO strategy.
The company now creates comprehensive guides and other middle-of-the-funnel resources that have better conversion rates for B2B buyers. Essentially, it’s a pivot to thought leadership.
Get in touch by the way, if you’re looking for support from a SaaS SEO agency. Happy to schedule a chat.
2. Invest in a Moonshot Project
A moonshot project is an important B2B SaaS marketing strategy because it offers the potential for a groundbreaking shift that could significantly elevate your standing in the business-to-business market. A successful moonshot will help raise brand visibility and generate media attention.
Buffer’s annual State of Remote Work Report is a nice case in point. It gets a fair amount of press attention. The 2021 report was referenced on Inc, Techcrunch, Atlassian, and a bunch of other sites. The 2021 report generated links from 1,112 domains.
Hats off to the Buffer team for generating those results.
However, I can almost guarantee this project started as a moonshot. They came up with an idea for the campaign, figured, “heck, let’s give it a shot,” and ran with it.
Because they did something original, it got a lot of attention, and they came away with a big win.
The Zendesk Alternative is another fun campaign.
Essentially, Zendesk bought the URL zendeskalternative.com and halfheartedly tried to make it rank for the branded keyword that competitors are targeting. It’s kind of working.
Here’s a screenshot of the homepage.
It’s a tongue-in-cheek indy band.
This SaaS content marketing campaign would have taken at least a thousand dollars to launch. That’s a relatively cheap campaign.
Growth hacking involves setting aside part of your budget for digital marketing experiments that might well fail but could have big upsides. Swing for the fences. If you have the budget, don’t be afraid to experiment with content strategies. Sure, it won’t always work out. When a market strategy works out, as the State of Remote Work report did for Buffer, it can deliver outsized results.
Set aside part of your B2B marketing budget for moonshot projects.
3. Offer Eye-Catching Deals
Running a special offer is an effective B2B SaaS marketing strategy because it can be a powerful incentive to accelerate decision-making among business clients. By offering time-limited discounts or exclusive features, you create a sense of urgency that can push prospective customers to take action.
Many B2B businesses run deals on popular event days like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or festive periods to see a boost in sales. These deals don’t necessarily mean a discount but could be an upsell for increased sales.
There are two ways to go about this.
For scale-ups and startups, you might want to experiment with a lifetime deal.
Offering a lifetime deal on a site like AppSumo is a great way to grow your user base, get feedback on your product, and gather customer testimonials. You also get an injection of cash, which is handy if you’re bootstrapped.
The negative side of the equation is the long-term customer cost. After all, you need to keep delivering a service for free to current customers.
That can cause problems for your SaaS company.
If your company fails to grow fast, this will put a strain on your customer service. It can also impact customer loyalty making it harder to attract potential customers.
There are plenty of positive and negative reviews on the web from SaaS founders about running lifetime deals. You’ll need to decide if a lifetime deal is right for your business.
If you go down the lifetime deal route on AppSumo, check out this guide. There are some nice tips here from Arto Minasyan, who went through an AppSumo launch with Krisp. There are plenty of tips for your internal team to go through.
You don’t have to run a lifetime deal.
You can offer timely discounts to boost those conversions. For instance, LambdaTest, a cross-browser compatibility tool, offered a 20 percent discount on live testing annual plans on holidays.
If you run a deal, set an end to the promotion to make your deals more effective. The start and the end of the offer are where you’ll generate the most sales. I wrote this guide ages ago that covers a $500,000+ launch I was involved in. It has some handy insights.
You can also offer discounts and promotions for your first-time buyers through an email marketing campaign. Send an email within 48 hours to people who didn’t sign up on your payment page. It’s the same abandoned cart email sequence used in eCommerce.
Keep in mind all these discounts and other offers do lower the perceived value of your service and impact profit margins. So make sure to consider if this type of thing makes sense for your SaaS.
4. Paid Search Ads
Paid search ads are a key component of a B2B SaaS marketing strategy because they offer immediate visibility at the exact moment potential clients are looking for solutions. You can target specific keywords related to your SaaS offering that are likely to result in qualified leads.
If you can generate a Return On Ad Spend (ROAS), paid advertising lets you scale your SaaS fast.
Search is by far the easiest paid channel. There are three main variables you’ll need to master for Google Ads; the creative, landing page experience, and target keywords.
Start by focusing on obvious transactional keywords. That means that leads that come to you are already pre-qualified by searching for relevant queries related to your B2B SaaS offerings.
Check your Google Analytics to see what terms are turning leads into customers.
If you’re unable to generate conversions with paid ads, you either don’t have a good product market fit, or you’re having problems explaining the value of your service. You might need to do a bit of internal brainstorming and hire a good copywriter to get things on track.
Talking about ads, make sure to set up a retargeting campaign.
Two logical SaaS retargeting campaigns you should set up for a Google PPC campaign are:
- Approximately 40-50% of trial users never convert.
- People who visit the pricing page are generally thinking about investing in a tool.
Retargeting campaigns need to be monitored closely to ensure you’re getting that ROAS.
5. Paid Social Ads
Paid social ads are a valuable element in a B2B SaaS marketing strategy because they allow for highly targeted outreach to potential business clients. Platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter offer robust targeting options, enabling you to reach decision-makers based on industry, job title, company size, and more.
Paid social ads are harder to run than search ads because there are more variables. You have the visual creative to deal with alongside the written copy.
Nonetheless, social media marketing ads can be highly effective.
For small to medium-sized businesses, channels like Facebook are great. For example, Touch Bistro generated 200% more leads through Facebook by running retargeting ads and ads to custom audiences.
When creating ads, make sure to address your marketing messages to a specific buyer persona. That will help you grab their attention.
You can use top-of-the-funnel content upgrades to help brand awareness and build a loyal audience. The lead magnet must be relevant and persuasive, whether a guide, report, or ebook.
Experiment with video marketing ads as well.
YouTube is one of the cheapest channels for paid ads because the production costs of video are so high. Scribe, for example, uses YouTube retargeting ads on blog posts.
Interestingly, they discovered that self-reported attribution for YouTube was high. That means visitors forgot they visited the Scribe blog. Instead, they remembered the company because of the YouTube ads.
One of the kings of YouTube SaaS ads is Monday. They’ve saturated YouTube with ads. I’m assuming they did this because they found YouTube to be such an effective marketing channel.
6. Drive Leads By Answering the Right Quora Questions
Quora is overlooked by many marketers. This is partly because professional networking channels like LinkedIn take precedence for many marketing departments. However, there are some things you can do to grow a presence on Quora and utilize the platform to get content ranking.
One proven way to get traction on Quora is by establishing a presence as a thought leader in your niche. Follow these steps to generate wins:
- Bookmark the topics relevant to your niche
- Identify questions with a minimum of seven followers for every answer
- You get the best results by improving the quality of the answers
Let me give you an example.
The question, “What are some growth hacks for B2B SaaS companies” has 530 followers and 71 answers. That has the magic 7:1 ratio (actually, it’s 1:7.46, to be precise).
It’s the right type of question for me to answer. It covers the same stuff I’m writing about in this article.
There are a few other hoops you’ll need to jump through to get the most from Quora. For example, optimizing your bio for your niche and sending leads to a relevant landing page.
7. Account-Based Marketing
One of the most effective B2B SaaS marketing strategies for engaging with SaaS enterprise clients with a long sales cycle is Account Based Marketing (ABM). It is a sales strategy that puts prospects first. You focus your marketing efforts on specific high-value accounts and decision-makers within those accounts. That increases the chance of a positive outcome.
It’s the same idea as taking the time to get to know a person before asking them for a date.
Your chances of success improve the more time you put into things.
Start your ABM efforts by creating an ideal customer profile.
Follow this up by building a list of B2C and B2B companies to target. Then find the best people within the company to connect with. Gather all the information you can about the prospects.
Here is an example LinkedIn list our marketing agency pulled together for an ABM campaign.
The type of data we collected included:
- LinkedIn URL
- Job Title
- Company Name
We connect with more than one person at a company via LinkedIn. That creates a first touchpoint.
Don’t pitch your software products directly. Instead, engage with comments, share interesting content, and add value.
While platforms like LinkedIn are great, the most effective way to start a conversation is cold calls. So if you’re targeting enterprise clients, build out a sales team that’s happy to pick up the phone and start calling people.
If you’re serious about growing your sales pipelines, check out our guide to SaaS account-based marketing. The guide has some great sales enablement tips.
8. Invest In Referral Marketing
Referral marketing is a potent element in a B2B SaaS marketing strategy because it leverages the credibility and networks of your existing customers to acquire new ones. In the business-to-business world, trust and reliability are paramount.
According to Philipp Schmitt’s report, people are four times more likely to buy when referred by friends. Your loyal customers are ambassadors of your product. Some great examples of companies that use SaaS referral marketing strategies are Trello, Paypal, and Evernote.
- Paypal used referrals to grow its user base to 100 million members.
- Trello used referrals as its primary marketing strategy.
- Evernote secured 13 million users through its referral campaign.
With Evernote’s referral program, users earned points that they could convert to a three-month premium subscription. Check out the offer below.
A good referral marketing strategy starts with a superb product.
Choose the right incentives, too. The incentive may be money, access to an exclusive feature, or extended product usage. Just ensure that it is enticing and aligns with the product.
To grow your referrals, ensure an easy referral process. Also, use a good referral program for implementation.
9. Leverage SaaS Review Sites
SaaS review sites are an integral part of a B2B SaaS marketing strategy because they offer third-party validation for your product or service. In the B2B space, decision-makers often turn to review sites to gather opinions and experiences from other businesses before making a purchasing decision.
Review sites usually rank well in search engine results for product-related queries, giving you extra visibility among potential customers actively researching solutions. Therefore, having a strong presence on SaaS review sites can significantly boost your credibility and contribute to the overall effectiveness of a B2B SaaS marketing strategy.
Here’s an example from a Trello user review on G2:
Keep in mind that reviews on sites like these are unpaid. You can promote your SaaS products on G2, Capterra, GetApp, Software Advice, SaaSGenius, etc., to get more exposure, social proof, and authority.
10. Invest in Event Marketing
Event marketing is a dynamic component of a B2B SaaS marketing strategy because it provides a platform for direct, face-to-face interactions with potential clients and industry stakeholders. Whether these events are virtual or physical, they offer an invaluable opportunity to showcase your product, gain immediate feedback, and build relationships.
The graphic from Marketing Charts, which is based on a survey of 1,000 mid to senior-level B2B marketers, shows that events are a more effective marketing channel than content marketing.
There are some different tactics you can try to get the most from in-person events.
For example, Writer is investing heavily in events. They get clients to do product demos. This is a nice way to promote a product at an event.
The best position to be in at an event is to either be a speaker or host the conference.
Hosting a SaaS conference is a great piece of positioning. Inbound, which is hosted by Hubspot, is a great case in point. Hubspot gets over 60,000 people attending its conference each year.
That’s a huge win for branding and positioning.
You can also invest in influencer marketing at events. This is an effective approach to marketing to engage a larger audience.
11. Offer Free SaaS Trials
A free trial is one of the best ways to let potential customers learn about the benefits of your products. The tactic works best towards the end of the customer journey when prospects are just about to make a purchase. You can increase your prospects’ sign-up rates with free trials and convert them into paid users with a free trial.
For instance, Moz’s free trial gives the user 30-day free access:
If your main aim is to collect names and emails, consider a free trial strategy without collecting credit card information. Conversely, if your company prioritizes conversions, requesting credit card information upon sign-ups is okay.
Monitor key marketing metrics like bounce rates, customer acquisition costs, and demo requests for your B2B products. Your primary goal should be optimizing the conversion rate from prospect to free trial user and onboarding. Get these two things right, and your SaaS B2B company will grow fast.
Podcasting is an increasingly relevant part of a B2B SaaS marketing strategy because it offers a platform for in-depth discussion and thought leadership in your industry. Unlike shorter-form content, podcasts provide the time and space to delve deeply into topics that matter to your target audience. You can use this opportunity to establish your brand as a valuable source of expertise.
Podcasts are also a great way to promote your SaaS business and build a relationship with your customer base. It’s probably more important than blogging to generate a memorable touch point.
There are plenty of examples of SaaS companies that run great podcasts. For example, Buffer hosts The Science of Social Media podcast, and CoSchedule has the Actionable Marketing podcast.
Before starting your SaaS podcast, define your podcast strategy, purpose, and value to share.
Also, identify your target audience and their motivations for keying in. That’ll give you ideas on relevant topics, increasing your chances of attracting an ideal audience. Your B2B SaaS podcast must be relatable to a group of people; otherwise, it defeats the purpose.
As more B2B SaaS businesses leverage podcasts as a marketing strategy, you must stand out. Brainstorm engaging ideas that attract listeners and supplement your podcasting goals.
Your content has to take on a unique perspective from the norm. If you don’t have everything figured out, invite subject experts to the podcast and have your listeners ask them questions on a particular topic you’re discussing. That will improve engagement and provide value.
13. Build a YouTube Channel
YouTube is a significant component of a B2B SaaS marketing strategy because it allows you to showcase your product and expertise in a highly engaging format. Video content is incredibly versatile and can include tutorials, product demonstrations, customer testimonials, and thought leadership pieces.
A YouTube channel is an invaluable asset for educating B2B prospects, building brand awareness, and—most importantly—generating quality leads. Creating a successful YouTube channel is a large investment of time and money.
You can grow your YouTube presence through strategic partnerships.
Kapwing, a SaaS company, stumbled on this approach.
In a blog post detailing how Kapwing grew its YouTube channel, an unexpected event dramatically boosted the company’s brand exposure. GaMemeNeer, a YouTuber with a following of over one million subscribers, released a video criticizing Kapwing because free memes produced using the software have a watermark.
The video got more than 200,000 views in just the first week of its release.
Kapwing got in touch explaining they were releasing a feature to remove watermarks. Two weeks after his first video, GaMemeNeer made a follow-up video highlighting Kapwing’s new feature to remove the watermark. He told his viewers to start using Kapwing again, and the video quickly gained another 200,000 views.
Creating videos that solve customer problems helps grow a YouTube channel because it shows you understand and can help your audience. This builds trust and makes people more likely to share your videos, helping you reach more viewers.
For example, Ahrefs uses this approach on their YouTube channel by making easy-to-understand videos about SEO topics. This helps them attract viewers who want to learn about SEO, effectively growing their channel and building their brand. The videos also reveal how to use Ahrefs when doing things like keyword research.
14. Invest In Webinars
Webinars are a pivotal tool in a B2B SaaS marketing strategy and a B2C SaaS marketing strategy because they facilitate direct engagement with a targeted audience. They can be a powerful tool for B2B SaaS marketing for several reasons.
First, they help you show off your expertise, building trust with your audience. Second, they’re great for collecting high-quality leads. People have to sign up to attend, which means you get the contact details of folks already interested in what you have to say or offer.
Webinars are also interactive, letting you engage with your audience in real time through Q&A sessions and polls. You can record the webinar and use it later as a blog post, a shorter video, or even a podcast, giving you more value for your effort.
You can also partner with other businesses to co-host a webinar, helping you both reach a wider audience. After the webinar, you can send attendees special offers or free trials, making it easier to turn them into customers. Overall, webinars can serve many goals, from building your brand to directly increasing sales.
Here’s a proven structure you can use for your B2B webinars:
- Introduction (5 minutes): In the introduction, answer the question, “What will attendees gain from this webinar?” You should also show why you’re in a position to take the role of a teacher using metrics, partnerships, or social proof.
- Body (20-25 minutes): Focus on teaching a new skill, offering a better approach, or highlighting pain points that your solution addresses. This should be where the majority of speaking time is spent, and it should cover the key learning points and takeaways.
- Q&A Portion (10-15 minutes): Engage and interact with the audience to clarify any doubts and reinforce key messages.
- Call to Action (2-3 minutes): Conclude with a clear and compelling CTA, designed to drive specific behavior from the audience. The CTA could be subscribing to a blog, booking a demo, signing up for a trial, or writing a review.
This is a simple structure you can follow when running a webinar. It works well for large groups.
15. Integrate With Tools in Your Clients Technology Stack
Integrating with other tools in your clients’ technology stack is a particularly effective B2B SaaS marketing strategy for several compelling reasons:
- Immediate Value: When your software integrates smoothly with tools your clients are already using, it provides immediate utility. This speeds up the decision-making process for potential customers evaluating your product.
- Reduced Onboarding Time: Clients don’t have to spend time and resources adapting to a completely new ecosystem; they can just plug your software into their existing workflow. This ease of adoption is a strong selling point.
- Client Retention: Integration tightens the bonds between your software and the client’s daily operations. The more embedded you are in their tech stack, the less likely they’ll switch to a competitor.
- Enhanced Trust: By integrating with tools that your clients already trust and use, your software inherits a level of credibility. This can be a deciding factor for companies on the fence about adopting a new software solution.
- Cross-Promotional Opportunities: Being a part of your client’s existing technology stack opens the door for joint marketing efforts with other SaaS companies, providing both parties a chance to expand their customer base.
- Data Consistency: Integration ensures that data flows seamlessly between platforms. This can be a key factor for clients who depend on accurate, real-time data for decision-making.
- Customer Experience: An integrated tech stack often translates to a more cohesive user experience, a factor that can significantly contribute to customer satisfaction and long-term loyalty.
By aligning your software closely with the existing technology infrastructure of your potential and current clients, you make your product more appealing and sticky, thereby boosting both acquisition and retention rates.
How to Execute An Effective B2B SaaS Marketing Strategy
This covers some of the effective B2B SaaS marketing strategies you should be trying. Here’s a loose framework you can use to figure out which strategies make the most sense for your SaaS business.
1. Get to Know Your B2B Customers
Your target audience refers to people willing to pay for your SaaS products. I won’t talk about buyer personas. You know what buyer personas are.
Instead of focusing on buyer personas, think about what B2B buyers or clients you’re targeting.
You’ll need to decide if you want to go for enterprise clients or that SME long tail.
There are markedly different approaches to engaging these clients.
Marketing strategies like SEO, content marketing, and social ads are particularly effective in the long-tail market. After all, they have shorter buying cycles, and the buying process is shorter.
Account-based marketing and in-person events are more effective for enterprises. You’ll get the most success here by building out a sales and marketing team that connects with prospects and delivers more personalized content. Building topical authority and creating thought-leadership content can also be effective enterprise SaaS SEO strategies.
2. Discover What Features Your Customer Needs
Figuring out your product market fit is critical for the overall success of your SaaS business. However, there are specific feature sets that different customer segments will expect.
For example, enterprise clients will probably have a set of criteria they need to consider your product. If you don’t have these features, they can’t even consider your product offering. This is a problem Sujan Patel experienced as he tried to move Mailshake upstream to target enterprise clients.
Check out this episode of the Cash & Burn podcast for some interesting insights: Moving Upmarket From SMBs to Enterprise with Sujan Patel
Well worth a listen.
The information you gather about your customer’s wants and needs will inform your marketing strategy and the channels you decide to use.
3. Formulate an Action Plan
A marketing plan makes execution easier and takes prospects on a journey to becoming paying customers.
The SaaS marketing funnel is complex and designed to accommodate long-term wins rather than quick wins. With this in mind, your action plan must be adaptable and built for long-term market fit, goals, and demand.
Consider these factors as you formulate an action plan for B2B SaaS marketing;
- Your long and short-term marketing goals. Do you want to increase annual revenue growth? Increase market share?
- Marketing budget. Using the assigned figures, do ballpark math for your campaign. A successful SaaS marketing initiative must generate a positive ROI.
- Buyer personas and their most preferred channels. Consider social channels.
Using a survey, ask existing customers where they heard about your business. With the correct information, you can maximize your SaaS marketing efforts fully.
After considering the above factors, set a goal, and timeline and define your resources. Then share the plan with your SaaS marketing team. The action plan must account for budget, human resources, and tools.
Ensure the framework is accessible to everyone, including external stakeholders, so no department slacks. When your plan kicks off, test, tweak, and re-prioritize as necessary.
Now the stage is set with other groundwork SaaS marketing strategies, let’s take a deep dive into strategizing with inbound marketing for lead generation.
4. Execute and Monitor Your KPIs
Simply watching your revenue increase or decrease won’t help you improve and adapt your landing pages, content, or paid marketing campaigns. Without a marketing analytics tool like Google Analytics, it’s impossible to monitor campaign performance.
Marketing analytics tracks KPIs and provides feedback on your SaaS marketing efforts. By doing this, you find the leading cause of changes in performance and make improvements.
Your company reaches the right customers faster and spends less time and money tracking results. That makes marketing analytics an essential channel for B2B SaaS marketing.
B2B SaaS Marketing Strategies FAQ
The most effective B2B SaaS marketing strategies for your business depend on your customer demographic. Companies targeting enterprise customers will generate the most success from channels like Account Based Marketing and events. Companies targeting SMEs will generate success from channels like SEO, content marketing, and PPC.
Smaller B2B SaaS companies need to be conservative when running marketing campaigns. You need to choose the channels that provide the highest ROI. As the company grows, the number of channels you use should increase. Read on to discover some little-used strategies that help you scale your efforts over time.
Effective SaaS marketing strategies depend on your target market, product/service offerings, and overall business goals. Establish a solid online presence, and develop a clear, compelling content marketing strategy to attract your ideal audience. Also, optimize your site for SEO to complement other B2B marketing strategies you’ve set in place and maximize returns.
Along with organic SaaS marketing, adopt paid marketing techniques too to boost lead and customer acquisition. Incorporate these tips into your B2B SaaS marketing strategy to be on your way to success. If you need support, our inbound marketing agency can help you execute an effective content marketing and SEO strategy.
Nico is the founder of Crunch Marketing, a SaaS marketing agency. He works with enterprise SaaS clients like Writer, Right Inbox, and Surfer SEO, helping them scale lead generation globally across EMEA, APAC, and other regions.