2020 Digital Marketing Insights on SaaS Product Sales
Once upon a time, software was strictly a product, just like anything else. However, about 20 years ago, Salesforce decided to try something truly radical – offer their software as a service, instead. The rest, as they say, is history.
Today, the software-as-a-service industry is booming. Globally, the industry generated $US 141 billion in 2019, with that number expected to grow significantly in 2020. However, that doesn’t mean that SaaS product developers have an easy time when it comes to sales. As profits have increased, so has competition. Today, there are hundreds of SaaS providers out there, each offering multiple applications. That makes it challenging to stand out from the crowd, educate your audience about your product offering, and build profitability.
The good news is that digital marketing can deliver the benefits you need and help improve SaaS product sales dramatically. The challenge is simply knowing how to connect the dots, determining what digital marketing tactics are most effective within the industry and for your audience, and how to bring it all together.
In this guide, we will explore the digital marketing insights that should inform your SaaS product sales efforts in 2020 and beyond, helping you chart a course for success and better profitability.
Maintain Customers Over Time: For SaaS companies, the secret to success is customer retention. Churn can make it challenging to run a profitable company, because it always costs significantly more to attract a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. So, for SaaS firms, the challenge is twofold. You must ensure that you’re reaching new customers, but you also need to ensure that you’re delivering the best possible user experience to keep your current customers engaged and happy. Digital marketing technology can allow you to do this in a number of ways, including:
- Social media polls and surveys
- Email surveys
- Direct email communication
- Digital customer support and service
- Access to digital knowledge bases and FAQs
Developing a robust content strategy, being dedicated to going the distance for each and every customer, and a commitment to delivering outstanding service and support at each touchpoint in the digital customer journey will help ensure that you’re able to attract new customers while retaining existing ones.
Lead Nurturing: For SaaS companies, few things are more critical than nurturing the leads you generate through your digital marketing efforts. Therefore, your digital marketing efforts, whether we’re talking about your website copy, your social media shares, your blogging efforts, or your PPC campaigns, must channel leads into a funnel where they receive the nurturing necessary.
For instance, when a lead clicks on a PPC ad, they should be taken not to your homepage or your product page, but to a landing page where they can take additional action, such as signing up for a newsletter, downloading a free report, or registering to access case studies. The information in this additional content would nurture the lead, educating and guiding them toward a solution to their challenge.
Support Your Audience at Every Stage of the Journey: It’s not enough to nurture cold leads. You must ensure that every member of your audience is supported throughout the entirety of their journey. This is true as much for long-time customers dealing with issues stemming from use of your SaaS product as it is for those who are just now realising that they have a problem and searching for a solution to it. To support your audience, you’ll need to know about their journeys, the problems they face, and then create content to answer questions, provide guidance, and position your SaaS product as the solution they need.
Digital Content Is King: Content remains king when it comes to digital marketing, and your SaaS firm needs to ensure that you’re harnessing it correctly. None of your other digital marketing efforts will succeed if you’re missing this key piece. Commit to creating original content that delivers value to your audience at every stage of the sales funnel and then allocate the resources and staff necessary to generate that content.
Website Copy: When it comes to content, few things are as critical as the copy on your website. You must ensure that it delivers the right mix of information on each page. Your website is unique for many reasons, but one of the most important is that it must serve as both an educational tool and a sales generator. The copy must be original and compelling, while addressing your audience’s key concerns and helping to position your brand as the solution to their pain points.
A Website That Reflects Your USP: Compelling copy is just one factor that you need to consider when it comes to your website. Your website is one of the most important tools in your digital marketing efforts, and it should reflect your unique selling proposition (USP). This includes everything from the colours used to the fonts, the position of your company’s logo, and even the page design and layout. Make sure that your website clearly communicates not just your company’s identity, but what makes you different from your competitors.
Regular Site Updates: Visibility in the SERPs is important, and one of the simplest ways to do that is to regularly update your site. Your content marketing strategy should include regular updates to the site – articles, blog posts, new reports, whitepapers, and the like. Every new addition encourages Google to re-index the site and improve your search rankings.
Responsive Website Design: You want your site to rank well in the SERPs, as well as providing a good experience for visitors. That’s impossible to do if you don’t design for mobile visitors. The days when desktop Internet access was the dominant form are long gone, even in the B2B realm. Today, over 50% of all Internet traffic to your website is from mobile devices. You need to ensure that you’re providing them with the ideal experience, and that means having a responsive website. Not only does this ensure a good visitor experience, but it’s also a critical consideration for high ranking in the SERPs.
Content Marketing: Content marketing is an essential part of digital marketing and it plays a role in a wide range of digital outlets. Creating information-rich, accurate, original content should be one of your primary goals. Without this content, you lack the means to inform, educate, and engage with your audience members. Make sure that you have a well-thought-out content marketing strategy that combines a wide range of content types. If you do not have the time or the in-house talent to create this content, or even to determine which types of content are needed, you’ll need to work with a partner who does.
Remarkable Content: It’s important to understand that your content must be more than merely relevant to your audience. It must be remarkable. From your articles to your ebooks, your audience should be delighted, educated, and enthralled by the content that you create.
Video Marketing: Video marketing falls under the broader content marketing umbrella and should be one of your primary focuses. It can serve a number of purposes, from pure advertisements to educational content. It can be used to evoke humour, to illustrate how your software outperforms competitors, as a training aid, and in numerous other ways. You can and should also use video content in myriad locations online, from your website’s homepage and knowledgebase to your social media feeds to your YouTube channel. Make sure that your video content is:
- High quality
- Well suited to the topic and audience segment in question
- Varied – don’t be afraid to mix it up
- Evocative and capable of engaging your audience
Blogging: You could be forgiven for thinking that blogging is old hat. It has admittedly been around for a very long time. It’s actually the original form of social media, but that doesn’t mean it’s without value to your business in today’s world. Blogging offers a simple, effective way to connect with your audience on a deeper level, to position your brand appropriately, to build your reputation as a thought leader, and to generate keyword-rich, original content that delivers real value to your audience.
Articles: Article content should form the foundation of your content marketing plan. It can be positioned on your website, used in guest blogging and other outreach efforts, and in numerous other areas. Articles offer guidance, education, and insight, while helping to position your brand within the SaaS industry.
Case Studies: As an SaaS software developer, you’re uniquely positioned to use case studies to your advantage. These can be as detailed or basic as you like, but they should all contain at a minimum – the challenge your client experienced, why they chose your SaaS product, their goals with the product, and the results that they were able to experience. Case studies work very well as website content, particularly when you make them a cornerstone of your broader content marketing effort, driving traffic to these pages from PPC ads, social media posts, and other off-site locations.
Customer Success Stories: Customer success stories can be seen as “case studies light” in that they offer some of the same information, but in more bite-sized portions. These can be positioned around your website, used on social media, highlighted in reports and ebooks, and in numerous other areas.
Customer Testimonials: Today, social proof is absolutely essential to your success. Customer testimonials, particularly when coupled with verifiable information like the customer’s name or business information and their location, deliver that proof. Make sure that you’re using genuine customer testimonials and strategically position them on your website’s pages. You should also consider breaking out of the text-based testimonial mould. Video testimonials are even more compelling and allow you to create both video and text content.
Whitepapers: Whitepapers allow you to drill down into core problems that affect the industry served by your SaaS product. You can then highlight the capabilities of your offering, how those capabilities benefit users in the industry, and more. Like case studies, whitepapers can be used on your website, but they can also be incorporated with other aspects of your digital marketing strategy, including email marketing.
Ebooks and Reports: Ebooks and reports offer you significant value in terms of lead generators. Use them as incentive to encourage signups for email marketing, as rewards for taking action, and in other ways. Both should be focused on delivering value to your audience, though, and they should be completely original content.
Keywords: Your digital marketing efforts, whether we’re discussing your PPC campaigns, your content marketing, your social media marketing efforts, or something else, should all be based on sound, in-depth keyword research. Keywords are nothing more than words and phrases that potential customers use to find products like yours through an online search. Once you identify the right keywords, they should be peppered throughout your website, your digital content, your ad copy, and in other places, including website meta content, image alt tags, used in your linking and navigation structure, and more.
However, you need to understand that competition for specific keywords can be quite fierce. And, even if you’re able to rank well for those keywords, you could still face a lack of traction. It’s always wise to consider less competitive keywords and phrases that are still frequently used by your audience, but that might be overlooked by competitors.
Have the Right Incentives: Your digital marketing efforts are geared to move potential leads through the sales funnel, but you can’t do that if you don’t have the right incentives in place. We’ve touched on several types already – ebooks, reports, and the like – but you need to go farther. One of the most important incentives available to you as an SaaS developer is the software that you offer in the first place. Use this to your advantage by putting your money where your mouth is, so to speak. Offer free trials, deliver videos that help your users get the most out of the software, and provide support and service to help with any issue that your users might experience.
AI Helps You Go Beyond Just Product Sales: As mentioned, you need to go the distance for your customers in as many ways as possible in order to build success. Artificial intelligence (AI) can be a powerful tool that enables you to do this in new ways. For instance, you can embed a chatbot on your website that helps convert leads into customers by answering questions, providing basic information and guidance, and more. Chatbots can also be used in other areas, such as Facebook Messenger to achieve the same goals, while supporting and serving the people who matter most to your company.
Know Your Audience: Speaking of the people who matter most to your company, it’s imperative that you know your audience. Take the knowledge and expertise that allowed you to develop your software in the first place, and turn that to your advantage in digital marketing avenues. For instance, you are no doubt intimately familiar with the pain points that drive your customers to seek out software like yours in the first place. Bake that into your website copy and content marketing efforts. Know your audience, what their challenges and needs are, and then communicate how your SaaS product addresses those issues.
Have Clearly Defined Goals: One of the most common reasons for a digital marketing strategy to fail is a lack of clearly defined goals. Make sure that your strategy is supported by clear objectives that matter to your company and your audience. Ensure that each branch of your marketing efforts is geared to achieve specific objectives. What goals might you set? Here are some common examples:
- Brand recognition
- Thought leadership
- Value delivery
Know How Each Digital Component Dovetails with Others: It’s not enough to know that you need digital marketing strategies working on your behalf. You need to know how each component dovetails with the rest. For instance, where is your content marketing driving leads? What about your social posts? How does blogging fit in with lead nurturing and authority building? Every aspect of your overall strategy should work with every other aspect, creating a cohesive whole.
PPC and Social Ads: A lot of your digital marketing efforts will be organic. However, there’s a lot to be gained by using paid ads, as well. Search ads and social ads (Google AdWords and Facebook Ads, as examples) can be powerful tools that allow you to expand your reach, engage new audience members, and generate new leads. This is particularly true for Facebook, as the social giant’s tools allow you to home in on various audience segments and deliver a personalised message that resonates with them.
Audience Segmentation: Speaking of audience segments, it is important that you’re able to break your audience into different parts. No matter what your niche is within the SaaS industry, you serve customers with dramatically varying needs. For instance, suppose you offer accounting software. You might have medium-sized businesses with hundreds of employees using your software, but you might also have solopreneurs or small businesses with a handful of employees. While they all need an accounting solution, their underlying needs and challenges are different. By segmenting your audience, you can create digital marketing collateral that speaks directly to their needs, challenges, and hurdles.
Retargeting: Ad retargeting is a powerful digital tool that allows you to reach a “warm” audience. Suppose someone visits your website. They explore your SaaS offering, but then leave the website without taking any other action. However, while they were on your site, their browser was tagged with a special cookie. That then allows you to retarget them on other sites with ads for your SaaS offering. They’re already aware of what you offer and are primed to take action. By retargeting them, you keep your offering front and centre, increasing the chances that they’ll return to your site and take action.
Measure and Change: You cannot afford to put your digital marketing efforts on autopilot. It’s essential that you continually measure your success and effectiveness so that you can make timely changes. If you do not measure your reach and how well your message is resonating with various audience segments, it’s likely that you’ll eventually find that you have become irrelevant. However, if you continually measure and focus on evolving to meet the ongoing needs of your audience, you’ll avoid that fate while fostering improved profitability and growth.
Continue reading to discover three additional digital marketing insights to help improve your success in SaaS product sales.
Use Data to Make Decisions: You will need to make a number of critical decisions over time in regard to your digital marketing efforts. It’s crucial that those decisions are as informed as possible. The only way to do that is to ensure that each choice is backed up by hard data. From blog topics to video content, everything should be predicated on actionable insights and data.
Use a CRM: A CRM provides you with the ability to automate mundane tasks, while also leveraging technology to improve your results and eliminate errors and bottlenecks. The right CRM does more than save you time and money, though. It can help you connect with your audience in deep ways, building your relevance and success.
Track Website Traffic: What pages do your website visitors linger on? Which ones see the most frequent bounces? What’s the most common flow of traffic through your site? What are your most common referral sites? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you’re not tracking website traffic correctly and you’re missing a vital key to digital marketing success.
Finding success with SaaS product sales is becoming more and more challenging. As the level of competition increases, so too does the complexity of mounting a successful digital marketing strategy. If you’re struggling in this area, we can help. Call Emarkable today at 01 808 1301 and schedule an in-depth consultation with one of our specialists.