You’ve got traffic coming to your website. Awesome, that’s half the battle.
Now you need to develop a relationship with these strangers and turn them into best friends. Friends who want to give you money every month. It’s going to be hard work.
This guide will teach you how to engage prospects quickly by utilizing effective inbound marketing tactics for SaaS companies. You’ll learn how to build recognition and trust by slowly getting to know your prospects, just like I’m doing with you now.
Then, when you’ve built up some trust, you can convert those prospects into customers. And importantly, use inbound marketing to retain those customers.
Let’s skip the fluff and get straight to the good part.
1. Create a Reason for People to Return
Around 95% of people who come to your website will never return. Of the 5% who do return, only a small percentage will ever become customers.
Not a nice thing to say, but you’ll have to accept this fact.
You can do two things to try and boost those visitor return rates. You can:
- Run retargeting campaigns. We’ll cover this SaaS inbound marketing strategy in-depth later.
- Develop an awesome content strategy. This will force people to come back to your site.
Let’s focus on that second point with a SaaS case study.
We started supporting the SEO efforts of Aura, a SaaS intelligence data safety tool, at the start of 2022. You can see from the screenshot below that the company blog has grown like crazy.
Pure hockey stick fun time. Those results are the stuff search engine optimization managers dream about (get in touch if you need a SaaS marketing agency to generate these results).
One smart thing Aura did was double down on logical keywords for the blog. They created awesome content for a whole set of terms around keywords like “scam”, “phishing attacks”, etc.
That focus on longtail keywords creates content depth.
People doing a Google search, including the keyword scam, are likely to encounter valuable content produced by Aura. If they do a few searches, they’ll come across Aura’s helpful content several times.
Each time they visit the Aura blog is a touchpoint. Those touchpoints create familiarity. People who recognize your brand are more likely to visit your sales page and check out what you offer.
The approach makes sense from an SEO standpoint too. Google can track if people love the content you’ve already got ranking by measuring metrics like bounce rate. Sites that produce great educational content find it easier to rank organically on Google.
So you get this kind of snowball effect.
Alongside creating content depth, consider the content value. Let me give you an example.
Here’s the SaaS tool Project Manager.
They created a project template resource hub. They created templates for all the types of documents project managers might need. It’s a great source of information
That template hub gets around 184,000 visitors a month.
Again, you’ll notice the hockey-shaped curve.
If you are looking for project templates, you might well come across their content. And once you find the first few templates useful, you’ll naturally keep going back for more.
Your SaaS inbound marketing strategy should generate that stickiness.
2. Focus On Your Email List
Brand recognition will have a significant impact on your conversion rates. A person familiar with your brand will be more likely to convert than someone who has never encountered your business.
You’ll share more information with your best friend than with a stranger.
Generating that bond with your audience is a critical part of inbound marketing for SaaS. Email marketing is one of the best ways to keep in contact with your audience and generate a bond.
I wrote a comprehensive guide that covers SaaS email marketing. Set aside some time to read the guide. It has plenty of actionable insights.
I’ll summarize some of the key points below.
First, you need to get people onto your email list. Providing a discount or allowing people to try your service for free is probably one of the best ways to grow your email list. Here’s a simple example of an offer used by Optinmonster to try and generate an instant conversion.
People love saving money.
This approach only works if you’re willing to offer a discount.
Keep in mind that you’re also targeting a small percentage of users with the offer. If you saw this popup and you hadn’t heard of Optinmonster before and didn’t think you needed an opt-in form, you’d ignore the popup.
Content upgrades are a logical alternative to money-saving offers.
List posts make great content upgrades.
That covers two ways to get people onto your email list. There are plenty more. For example, running SaaS retargeting campaigns where you send people to a landing page with an opt-in form.
Next, you need to create your emails.
There are two types of emails you’ll be creating. They are:
- Email newsletters you send to subscribers
- Automated email sequences
Start by creating your email sequences. You’ll want a welcome email sequence, onboarding sequence, sales sequence, and re-engagement sequence at a minimum.
You can create a sequence of three to six emails. And, of course, you want those emails to build upon each other. Ideally, the final few emails should be dedicated to making the user convert.
Here’s a nice example of an onboarding email sequence from Grammarly. It’s sent to new users that have signed up for the tool but aren’t paying customers.
It’s a nice email template. There’s an obvious CTA, fun graphics, and an engaging subject line.
Alongside these automated emails, you have your newsletters.
Newsletters are great for keeping your audience engaged. You might send an email once a week, once a fortnight, or once a month. The frequency of the emails is less important than the value.
You need to send emails that your audience wants to receive. Figuring out what type of content delivers value is tough. However, if you get it right, you’ll create that bond with your target audience.
As you do all of this, you should be testing and tracking your results. A/B testing will help you craft subject lines, copies, and CTAs that B2B buyers respond to. Analytics will show you the best days and times to send emails. These insights will improve your email open rates.
Email may be the oldest digital marketing tool, but it’s still powerful. You should include this channel in your SaaS marketing efforts.
3. Implement a Multi-Channel Marketing Strategy
Content is the life and breath of inbound marketing for SaaS. Your content guides potential buyers through the sales funnel. So, when prospective customers are ready to buy, you are their first choice.
There are different types of marketing content you should add to your marketing plan. We’ll go over the basic ones.
Blogs. Blog content is effective for educating visitors on your SaaS solutions. They keep your website active with new material. They’re great for SaaS demand generation as they’ll give you a chance to educate users and create an interest for your software solution. Optimized blog posts also boost your ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs).
SaaS Genius’ blog helps readers find software solutions with how-to and software comparison posts.
Videos. Video content is a popular and effective marketing medium. Up to 82% of internet traffic comes from videos. You can create a bond with your audience faster with video content than with written blog content. Especially if you have an engaging presenter.
One secret to successful SaaS content marketing is relevance. Your content marketing strategy must produce relevant content for your target audience.
You can create a nice mixture of guides and walk-throughs.
Sendinblue, for instance, walks viewers step-by-step through how to set up an A/B test on the platform.
Webinars. Webinars are a powerful marketing tool for interacting with customers. They help establish brand authority and increase brand awareness. The other benefit of webinars is you get to position yourself as the teacher. That gives you an opportunity to showcase your expertise and authority.
In this Pipeline webinar, attendees learn how to get the most out of the brand’s advanced plan.
Podcasts. As a marketing tool, podcasts target niche audiences. They’re an inclusive communication channel. Like videos, podcasts are a great way to create a personal connection with your audience.
But to have the best SaaS podcast, you’ll need settle on a format that works. In her bi-weekly podcast, Drift CMO, Tricia Gellman, meets with different CMOs to discuss their experience.
E-books & white papers. White papers and E-books are an effective way to share in-depth content. You can use white papers and E-books as lead magnets. They’re also good resources for digital PR campaigns.
Above is a nice example of an E-book by SaaStr, one of the largest SaaS communities out there. They also host one of the most popular SaaS conferences. The resource they created had answers to 100 common start-up questions.
Demo or free trial. What’s the best way for customers to understand a product? Experience it. Product demos give your sales team a chance to connect directly with leads, show the value of a product and answer questions.
A free trial, on the other hand, gives prospective customers the chance to try the product.
Social media management platform, Buffer, allows customers to use the software risk-free with its free basic plan. The free plan is a solid foundation for building your inbound marketing content strategy.
4. Run Retargeting Ads
Getting people to your site is an important first step. However, as I mentioned at the beginning, most people who visit your site won’t sign up for your service. Instead, they’ll leave your site, never to return.
Retargeting ads provide a way to re-engage people who visited your site, consumed some content, and left.
The types of retargeting ads will depend on the channels where your audience is most active and your marketing budget. One interesting approach you might want to try is creating the Everywhere Effect.
The Everywhere Effect is the digital equivalent of stalking a prospect. You’ll turn up on a person’s Facebook feed, on YouTube, adverts on their favorite sites, and more.
Turning up everywhere a person look is a quick way to generate familiarity. The goal of your retargeting ads should be to get people to sign up for your email list. Don’t try to convince them to sign up for your product offering directly.
5. Collaborate With Niche Influencers
Inbound marketing for SaaS is about getting discovered by the right audience. When influencers share your content, your brand reaches its followers. If their audience mirrors your ideal customers, then you’ve just exposed your brand to a pool of potential customers.
It is best to partner with influencers that use your service. That adds authenticity to the campaign.
Skillshare, for instance, partnered with YouTuber Alex Apollonov, aka I did a thing, to promote a Skillshare course on indoor gardening.
Canva is another example of a SaaS company that leveraged influencer marketing by partnering with Guy Kawasaki. You can check out the details of this and other similar campaigns in my guide on influencer marketing for SaaS.
Influencers give you more than access to targeted audiences. Bloggers improve your online presence with valuable backlinks. Backlinks are like references or citations in a research paper. They tell search engines that your website is a relevant authority on a given search topic.
That boosts your rankings, allowing you to drive more qualified traffic to your SaaS website. More traffic helps you generate more inbound leads. This ensures consistent growth, helping you achieve the coveted rule of 40 for SaaS.
6. Study Customer Data
As you increase the size of your customer base, you’ll naturally gather more user data. You can use the user data to create ideal customer profiles or customer personas. The customer persona is a representation of your ideal customer.
You can have more than one persona. This is especially the case if you’re targeting enterprise B2B customers. B2B SaaS has a long sales cycle involving multiple stakeholders. As such, B2B marketers have to develop multiple personas to target each stakeholder effectively.
For instance, customers for a customer service chatbot are business owners, CFOs, or customer service managers. CEOs or CFOs make money decisions. Managers grasp the value of your service. Your marketing and sales process will need a unique strategy for each of those stakeholders.
Below is an example of a buyer persona for a manager:
The persona above shows data on the customer’s pain points, goals, and purchasing power. Create marketing content for the personas you’re targeting.
7. Optimize Your Website
The user experience of your website influences their perception of your SaaS brand. A disappointing web experience will turn prospective buyers off.
Showcase your brand identity with eye-catching designs. Your headings should be accurate and resonate with your audience. There should be no doubt about what it is you are offering.
Make it easy for visitors to find the information they need, too. Arrange the menu strategically and use descriptive labels.
Don’t forget to optimize navigation for mobile users. More people access the internet with mobile devices than desktops. According to Statista, the number is 54.4%. Failing to optimize excludes a large part of your target market.
Optimizing your website includes increasing loading speeds. The ideal loading speed is one to four seconds. Bounce rates increase to 90% after five seconds. Check your site’s performance with tools like Google’s PageSpeed and Test My Site.
Professional-looking and well-organized websites create the right impression of your brand. Check out this example from Afterpay. The website is clean and well-structured. The headline states its value proposition. The navigation is also easy.
8. Create Content for the Buyer’s Journey
Inbound marketing for SaaS doesn’t end when potential leads land on your website. According to Invesp, 80% of new leads don’t make purchases. That makes lead nurturing important. Lead nurturing develops buyer relationships at every stage of the buyer journey.
There are four key stages in the buyer’s cycle:
- Awareness – the prospect becomes aware of their problem.
- Consideration – the prospect researches market solutions to their problem.
- Decision – the lead purchases the solution to the problem.
- Delight – the satisfied customer refers the software to their peers.
With an inbound strategy, you engage buyers at every stage of their purchasing journey.
Say you’re a sales acceleration SaaS firm. During the awareness stage, provide content on how sales acceleration improves business processes. During the consideration stage, create content on sales acceleration software features. The goal at these points is to gain customer trust. So you need to educate more than promote.
During the decision stage, share content to convince prospects to buy. At the delight stage, deliver content on how to get the most out of your software. At these points, you are free to promote your solutions. Be sure to keep educating prospects on the features and benefits of your service. You can also leverage customer testimonials, case studies, and other forms of social proof at this stage. This helps you convert leads into happy customers.
Follow your customer journey. That way, you create a personalized customer experience. That, in turn, drives customer loyalty and sales.
9. Track and Optimize For Conversions
Measuring your SaaS inbound marketing efforts is crucial to achieving your marketing goals and overall business objectives. If you don’t, it’ll be hard to determine whether your campaigns are working and the ROI you’re getting. Monitoring your conversions also allows you to manage your marketing budget. You can then divide funds according to your business needs.
First, identify the KPIs (key performance indicators) to track. Your marketing team should track the following key metrics:
- Qualified leads – measures how many qualified leads you are getting.
- Organic traffic – measures how many qualified leads your content has attracted.
- Time-on-site – calculates how long customers engage with your content.
- Conversion rates – quantifies how many leads progress through your sales funnel.
- Cost of acquisition – details how much it costs to get a customer.
- Return on investment – compares how much you’re making to how much you’re spending.
Besides tracking your inbound marketing success, your strategy should be scalable. Automation makes this possible.
Marketing automation software streamlines your pipeline activity. Leads get content based on their location in the sales funnel thanks to automated workflows. For example, when prospects sign up for a free trial, the software moves them to a new email list. They then begin to receive lead nurturing content.
SaaS Inbound Marketing FAQ
What is SaaS Inbound Marketing?
SaaS inbound marketing is a marketing strategy that uses valuable content to attract and push prospects down the funnel, turning them into customers and improving retention. That’s unlike outbound marketing which reaches out to prospects. Effective inbound marketing fuels business growth.
What Are the Three Main Inbound Marketing Channels?
The three main inbound marketing channels for most companies are SEO, social media, and PPC. Our SaaS SEO Agency can help boost your rankings and fill up your marketing funnel.
These days a splashy campaign isn’t enough to attract customers. Modern buyers are more discerning. Inbound marketing allows you to attract customers with engaging content.
Inbound marketing for SaaS brands can seem overwhelming. But the rewards outweigh the effort.
Creative and relevant content drive conversions. Optimize this content for SEO for added success. Successful inbound marketing campaigns rely on you knowing your target customers. Don’t forget to track and optimize your content’s performance to see what’s working.
All your engaging and informative content will count for nothing if customers don’t know it’s there. So, promote your content through SEO, social media channels, etc. You can also leverage paid campaigns like paid social media advertising to get your content noticed faster. Practice personalized email marketing strategies. And, collaborate with influencers in your SaaS niche.
Today’s customers are discerning and well-informed. Following these inbound marketing strategies will put your Saas company in a good position.
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.