What is SaaS Marketing?

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what is saas marketing

I know that SaaS marketing is challenging… Why? Because it is pretty difficult to sell something that can’t be seen, that is continuously changing day-by-day, that is interesting only for people (or companies) with specific knowledge. This is why I try to clarify in this article what is SaaS marketing.

Well then, what is SaaS marketing?

As Neil Patel stated (an awesome guy at Kissmetrics) you should have only two things at your disposal:

  1. Awesome products
  2. Killer support

Well, I agree completely – if you don’t have great stuff, nobody will buy from you. And if you don’t help them use it, they will leave you. Sounds logical. Although it is a little bit superficial and I really don’t agree with the statement: if you have these two elements, you will succeed. There is NO product that sells itself.

You may disagree, but before I tell you my arguments, I will explain what is saas marketing.

The sales cycle is relatively short

As you may experience, the sales cycles are very short – compared to an average, 12 months long selling procedure that is usual for example in B2B.  You do almost everything online, even you bind your contracts there. There are exceptions of course but the real advantage of a SaaS business is this. Because your software is cloud-based, so you everyone can reach it and pay for it monthly or annually automatically.

I really don’t want to go into the details of SaaS business models (you can read it in this article if you are interested in it). But you should know that there are 3 working models that really works:

  • Self-Service
  • Transactional
  • Enterprise

The more your SaaS company goes toward self-service, the sales velocity will be higher, the more you go toward transactional, the more the profit will increase per client and the more you go toward enterprise, the higher the value of each sale will become.

content for saas marketing

SaaS companies’ information is their weapon

I’m surprised that lots of companies don’t care about the information they own. As you are a marketer or business owner, you gather your knowledge from different blog pages. Don’t be surprised that these blog contents are usually crafted by other marketers. So if you ask me “what is SaaS marketing content creation”, I will answer that it’s part of it.

There are lots of companies out there who firstly want you to try their product, secondly, want you to read their contents that are written based on the topics you prefer. It’s naturaly that they do this: if you are waiting to their next article – even if you haven’t been converted yet – you will much likely to become a client when you reach the next decision stage.

A great example is HubSpot:

hubspot - what is saas marketing

Saas businesses have long-term clients

Most of your profit comes from the clients you actually own – that means you can reach a stage when you don’t have to focus much on lead generation.

This is why client retention metrics are one of the most important rates you have to track. (I really suggest you to read Lincoln Murphy’s insanely good article about the Dollar Revenue Retention that gives you a very good overview of the calculations for the 3 working business model for SaaS companies).

But all in all, it’s true that there will be a (or you already reached that) stage when you’ll focus on retention and not acquisition.

Giving services for free

Only SaaS companies are choosing the marketing strategy when you give your product for free. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an X-day free trial, a freemium model, limited version free, etc. What matters: it’s free.

So this is the process you make your prospects go through:

  1. You attract them
  2. Nurture them
  3. Lead them to your trial
  4. Give them onboarding
  5. Make them pay
  6. Increase their value by upselling, cross-selling
  7. Make them suggest you to others

But as you can see, giving away free trials are part of a strategy, not standalone things.

trial buffer

So is that all?

No. And this is where I disagree with Neil Patel for example. Because he thinks only about running businesses that proved and reached product/market fit and acquired enough customers.

But what about the companies who are at the stage of acquiring new leads, new trial users, and new clients? What is SaaS marketing for them? Well, as you may know, growing rapidly is very important! 

At this stage, retention is not as important as lead generation. How could you get statistical data on your trial users if you don’t have enough? How could you develop your product if you don’t have enough feedback?

Now. What is SaaS marketing then?

SaaS marketing has different stages. And I’m sure you will agree that acquiring new clients IS very important and if you don’t have enough promoters and you couldn’t start your viral growing engine, you have to go with a well-working marketing strategy!

So here are the steps you should follow if you are a SaaS marketer:

  1. Create specific contents (articles, ebooks, infographics, videos, etc.) related to the pain points your product intents to solve
  2. Put your ebooks, case studies (etc.) on landing pages
  3. Advertise these landing pages on social media, on adwords, on your (or influencers’) blog page
  4. Ask for the contact information of your visitors if they want your free content
  5. Nurture them with well-established lead nurturing campaigns that can consist of automated email workflows, email marketing, social media communication, phone call
  6. If a lead knows enough about you, you can offer him to register to your trial
  7. Convert them to paying customers with onboarding (automated emails, in-app messages, etc.)