When you hear about influencer marketing, it’s pretty easy to think about e-commerce stores and physical products. But influencer marketing can also be an effective way to promote SaaS products and services.
Partnering with the right influencers who have a strong following and credibility exposes your product to their audience, increasing your brand awareness. It also fosters your credibility and ultimately brings you more sales.
In this guide, I’ll cover everything you need to know about getting started with influencer marketing for SaaS.
B2B Vs B2C Influencer Marketing
While both B2B (Business-to-Business) and B2C (Business-to-Consumer) influencer marketing aim to drive brand awareness, generate leads and drive sales, they differ in terms of the target audience.
First, B2B influencer marketing targets businesses that need your products or services. B2B influencer marketing targets decision-makers, executives, and professionals interested in business solutions. As you can imagine, B2B influencer marketing requires the use of equally sophisticated influencers.
In contrast, B2C influencer marketing targets a larger audience interested in consumer products.
Overall, B2C and B2B SaaS businesses may adopt different influencer marketing strategies, as you’re going to see in this article. When developing an influencer marketing campaign for your SaaS brand, you must carefully consider your target audience and business goals.
What Are the Best Channels for SaaS Influencer Marketing?
When it comes to influencer marketing for SaaS, the best channels depend on your specific target audience and goals.
For B2C SaaS brands, social media platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube are typically the go-to channels for influencer marketing. According to the Small Business Blog, Instagram is the most popular platform for influencer marketing, followed by YouTube and TikTok.
However, for B2B SaaS brands, social media stars may not always be the best fit. Instead, companies should focus on channels where they can reach their B2B audience, such as podcasts, events, and blogs.
According to World Business Research, 68% of B2B buyers prefer researching vendors by reading blogs, and 80% of decision-makers prefer getting information from articles rather than advertising.
In addition to blogs, podcasts have become a popular B2B influencer marketing channel. For example, back in 2016, LinkedIn was delighted to discover that 44% of department heads, VPs, Owners, and C-suites listened to their Sophisticated Marketers podcast series.
Events can also be a powerful channel for B2B SaaS influencer marketing. So, targeting keynote speakers and attending and sponsoring industry events where your target audience is likely to be can help you connect with potential customers.
Attending events also presents an excellent opportunity to build relationships with industry influencers.
One social media channel also stands out for B2B influencer marketing campaigns. That’s LinkedIn. Partnering with LinkedIn influencers can help you reach C-suite executives.
Average Influencer Marketing Budget
Before planning an influencer marketing campaign, it’s important to plan a comprehensive budget.
Your budget will typically be determined by the type of audience you want to reach and the size of the campaign you intend to run. The type of influencer you want to work with is also an important consideration.
According to a study by Influencer Marketing Hub, 43% of brands spend less than $10,000 on influencer marketing. 22% spend between $10,000 and $50,000. 14% spend $50,000 to $100,000, and 11% spend more than $500,000.
In another study, the Influencer marketing hub found that micro-influencers receive $100-$500 per post on Instagram. See the other influencer rates in the image below for some context:
Note that the above rates are for Instagram influencers. As mentioned earlier, podcasts, events, and blogs can also be effective channels for SaaS influencer marketing campaigns. In these cases, the cost may vary depending on the content type and the audience size.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that B2B brands are likely to spend more than B2C brands on influencer marketing due to the higher cost of acquiring B2B influencers and attracting enterprise-level customers.
In general, starting small and gradually increasing your budget is recommended. But ultimately, your budget should be tailored to your specific campaign goals and the needs of your SaaS brand.
Finding Relevant Influencers
When seeking ideal influencers to market your SaaS product, it’s important to consider several factors.
- Relevance – You want to find influencers with an audience that matches your target customer base.
- Level of engagement – Work with influencers with high engagement rates, meaning their followers actively interact with their content.
It’s also advisable to work with influencers who understand your brand and are knowledgeable about the industry you’re in.
But, finding the right B2B SaaS influencers may be more challenging than finding influencers for physical products. Therefore, investing time and resources in finding and vetting influencers is crucial to ensure a successful influencer marketing campaign.
There are several ways to find relevant influencers for your SaaS brand. One way is to use influencer marketing platforms like Upfluence and Captiv8. These platforms allow you to search for influencers based on your specific niche or industry.
They also provide important metrics like the influencer’s engagement rate and follower count across social platforms.
You should also consider influencers who talk about specific topics relevant to your products or services. Tools like Hootsuite or Buzzsumo allow you to search for relevant keywords or hashtags related to your industry and identify the influencers posting about those topics.
Finally, for B2B influencer campaigns, consider podcasters, keynote speakers, bloggers, entrepreneurs, and authors as influencers. These individuals should have a strong following in their respective industries and can be effective at reaching your target market.
Additionally, B2B SaaS companies often rely on professional channels like LinkedIn, so you might want to narrow your search to LinkedIn influencers instead of Instagram or Pinterest influencers.
Creating a Content and Distribution Plan
Another major consideration with influencer marketing for SaaS is your content creation and distribution plan. The plan aims to ensure the content used in your campaign resonates with the target audience and is distributed in a way that enhances its effectiveness.
To create an effective content distribution plan for your SaaS company, consider what type of content you are going to be producing with your influencers. Here are some examples.
- Sponsored posts on influencer’s social network or website
- Guest blog posts on influencer’s website
- Video content – Youtube, Instagram Reels, Stories, and so on
- Podcasts – brand mentions, discussion sessions, etc.
You can use more than one approach here as long as it contributes to your marketing objectives and ROI. For example, you can distribute the content through the influencers’ social media channels as well as your marketing channels.
Finally, you need to clarify if the content will be created solely by the influencer or if it’ll be a collaboration between you and the influencer. Keep in mind that the content you create should match the platform you intend to share it on. For example, an Instagram video may be more entertaining or relaxed than what you’d share on LinkedIn.
You can also choose to create your content and have the influencer share it with their audience. If you choose to do this, ensure your content will resonate with your influencer’s follower base.
Monitoring Campaign Results
Monitoring the results of your SaaS influencer marketing campaigns means you had already set clearly defined KPIs in the planning stage. So, this is where you find out if your campaign was productive. Typically, some important performance indicators you’d want to track include website traffic, brand mentions, engagement rate, and conversions.
The KPIs you set and the metrics you track should be relevant to your campaign goal. For example, if your campaign goal is to boost sales, giving influencers unique links/codes (affiliate marketing style) can help track performance.
Other techniques for tracking performance may include:
- Using social listening tools like Sprout Social to monitor mentions and sentiment around your brand.
- Analyzing website analytics to track branded traffic.
- Conducting surveys or focus groups to gather feedback from your target audience.
Ultimately, the purpose of monitoring campaign results is to regularly evaluate your KPIs and adjust your strategy as needed to optimize performance and achieve your goals.
Best Practices for Influencer Marketing for SaaS Products
Here are three crucial things to do when running influencer campaigns for your SaaS products:
1. Build Long-Term Relationships with Influencers
Building long-term relationships with influencers creates a pool of influencers that know and understand your product.
Eventually, they become more effective at promoting your products. This is particularly helpful when introducing new features to your platform or creating new products.
Moreover, long-term relationships can lead to more authentic content creation and allow for better collaborations in the future.
2. Set Realistic Expectations for Influencer Marketing
Avoid setting unrealistic expectations for your influencers as much as possible. Doing this may discourage them from working with you in the first place. For instance, expecting immediate results from an influencer marketing campaign is unrealistic.
Similarly, expecting a single influencer to increase your sales by 100% is unrealistic. A better approach would be to set specific goals and fair timelines that align with your business objectives.
Also, it’s vital to ensure that the influencers understand your expectations before you proceed with further arrangements. It’s best if there is a written contract that clearly outlines what you expect.
3. Be Transparent with Your Influencers
Lastly, transparency is key to building trust with your influencers. Before starting a campaign, be clear about the compensation your influencer will receive and provide sufficient information to help them create content that’ll hit your goals. If you have specific brand guidelines or restrictions, your influencers should know.
Clearly state how you want them to portray your brand where necessary. By being transparent, you’ll establish the foundation for a successful partnership and avoid misunderstandings or miscommunications down the line.
Examples of Successful SaaS Influencer Marketing Campaigns
You now understand what goes into running a successful SaaS influencer marketing campaign. Let’s look at three examples to draw additional inspiration from:
Canva’s partnership with Guy Kawasaki is a great example of successful SaaS influencer marketing. Kawasaki is a well-known author, entrepreneur, and social media influencer with a significant following.
In 2014, he was welcomed as Canva’s Chief Evangelist— and, according to Melanie Perkins, the CEO of Canva, 1.5 million designs were created within six months of his onboarding.
Kawasaki’s role in this partnership was to promote the brand and encourage his followers to try the graphic design tool. One way Kawasaki pulled this off was by sharing tutorials about how to use Canva with his audience. He advocated for Canva while making appearances on Podcasts and other shows.
Being an early Canva adopter, it was easy for Kawasaki to understand how Canva works and give a firsthand testimonial of the tool’s effectiveness. This also made his recommendation more authentic. This also shows the importance of building long-term relationships.
Like Canva, consider working with influencers who have become familiar with your SaaS product so they can provide a good representation of your brand.
Another remarkable SaaS influencer marketing campaign was executed by Monday.com in 2020 when businesses had to get more comfortable with teams working from home.
Monday.com partnered with marketing professionals like Ann Handley of MarketingProfs to spread the word about their product. They collaborated with these professionals by creating informational content about work-from-home transition, which was featured on Monday.com’s website.
The professionals also shared the content with their audiences. Additionally, Monday.com had live panel sessions on LinkedIn with marketing professionals.
The obvious impact of this collaboration was the buzz their project management tool received at the time—-for better context, the campaign produced a 17.9 Million potential reach from influencer posts and over 300,000 organic social media impressions.
Monday.com was intentional about choosing marketing thought leaders in the B2B space instead of working with random influencers. They knew who they wanted to reach and went all out for it. You should do the same.
We’ll take a different direction with the SAP example and see how they choose influencers for their campaigns.
In an interview with the Association of National Advertisers, the Head of Global Influencer Marketing for SAP, Ursula Ringham, shed light on this. She revealed that SAP uses an IRM Tool (Influencer Relationship Management ) to identify potential influencers.
They run searches based on specific criteria like topics, demographics, and so on. Based on the results, they then analyze each prospect by putting them on a watch list. Eventually, they slowly engage with influencers whose content interests them and aligns with SAP’s brand. Then reach out to them when the need arises.
SAP looks out for traditional B2B influencers and thought leaders in a particular line of business. They also emphasize the quality of content and engagement as opposed to the number of followers an influencer has. Now, that’s a sound strategy!
In an older interview, SAP’s former Head of Global Influencer Marketing, Amisha Gandhi, mentioned that building long-term relationships was crucial to SAP’s influencer marketing strategy. And that’s still a standard you’d want to emulate as a SaaS business owner.
Influencer Marketing for SaaS FAQ
SaaS influencer marketing is a strategy that involves identifying, engaging, and working with online influencers to promote your software product among a specific target audience. It aims to generate leads and build awareness for your SaaS product.
SaaS influencer marketing is a powerful tool for promoting your SaaS product and services. B2B and B2C SaaS brands can take various approaches to this. Either way, choosing the right influencer is important. Let’s go over some crucial learnings from this guide.
Suitable platforms to run your influencer marketing campaigns include social media platforms like Instagram and B2B networks like LinkedIn. You may also want to consider podcasts, events, and blogs.
Additionally, setting a budget for your Influencer marketing campaign will often require careful consideration of your business size, marketing goals, and the type of influencers you want to work with.
Finally, it’s best practice to work with influencers who are relevant to your industry. These influencers should also be knowledgeable about your brand.
If you’re looking to up your influencer marketing game, adopt the tips above and pay keen attention to the examples we discussed. Good luck!
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.