Looking for digital solutions that cater to your needs for organic web traffic that you can turn into customers in perpetuity?
I have seen it time and time again... SaaS businesses looking to grow, spending all of their expansion resources on outbound marketing strategies in favor of immediate results. - Immediate results that are expensive (see why HERE) and inseparably dependent on your level of monetary investment AND your abilities to speak the language of your buying markets.
It is a vicious cycle, because it does yield some immediately gratifying results found in your traffic reports and possibly even sales if your copy is up to scratch and you have an app that needs very little explanation, but it's not creating natural momentum no matter how you spin it, and it's likely missing major opportunities to convert more clients through marketing automation (see how we do it at Orange Pegs).
That's a big deal when you're looking for the best bang for your buck and have long-term, big-picture objectives in mind. So, I've compiled an extensive list of marketing tips that will help you increase your SaaS' sales for years to come with marketing you own.
First off, get over your preconceived notions about marketing. Things are changing.
The bad thing about marketing, historically speaking, is that you are required to take a pretty extraordinary leap of faith when it comes to calculating your ROI, and for software engineers and and those who prefer to base decisions on logic and objectivity, that kind of investment option can be crippling.
Well, that's okay, because what I'm about to share with you doesn't actually require embracing any theories or untested concepts, but rather, cold, hard, quantifiable data telling you what to do, how to do it better, and where to get it done.
If you follow these steps, and execute them gracefully, you WILL see positive results.
Proof that the inbound marketing methodology adopted by Orange Pegs Media works!
1. Create buyer personas
Persona development is about as important to marketing success as it is to anything else you'll be doing to reach out to your buyers.
And even though you may already feel like you have this segment pinned, going through a persona development exercise will actually reveal a lot more useful information about your buyers than you probably realize.
Everything your marketers develop will be based on their understanding of who is making the decision to buy your software services, and nobody should know that better than you. If you're not sure, just send out a few surveys (free on www.surveymonkey.com), and hear what they have to say.
Now, there is very likely to be multiple personas worth targeting, so if you're just getting started with this, work with your most important one first, then add two or three after that. (get the buyer persona template by Orange Pegs Media)
2. Discover your "oh, shit" moment
Your app may be revolutionary, but that doesn't mean you don't have competition. What you have is a saturated market because we're all a little on app overload, but also a wide-open market because there are still so many untapped junctures for SaaS. That means the game is worth playing, but it's going to be important to stand out and be able to convey that "oh, shit" moment people have when they realize what a devastation it would be if they DIDN'T buy your subscription.
For those expanding upon existing concepts, such as analytics programs, organizational apps, and industry-niche business management apps, convincing others that yours is revolutionary may be a difficult hill to climb, but it's still important, because people don't switch horses for "a little better" any more.
Knowing what makes you different will make all of the difference in the world.
For my agency, we have been holding regular meetings with every one of our team members, so we can cross-pollinate our ideas and skills. We brainstorm, troubleshoot, and even get hands-on training on highly-specialized marketing tactics. So far, the response has been great, and people on my teams are telling me that this type of treatment is totally unheard of.
That was a little strange for me to hear, because investing in our talent is the best way to deliver top results... right?
So, this was definitely an "oh, shit" moment for me, because it's not like inbound marketing is a methodology held under lock and key, so any kind of easily defined differentiator is a blessing. It ends up being good for recruiting, and great for client delivery.
3. It's nice to be niche
Okay, so your niche is already pretty obvious. You know who is using your SaaS in terms of industries and departments, but do you know who is looking for you and who is ultimately buying? Sometimes they are different people and positions with different levels of authority and interest, and our marketing should attempt to speak to them accordingly.
Niche doesn't just refer to the markets you're targeting, but also the individuals involved in your sales process.
4. Develop strong marketing objectives
You have your personas, your "oh, shit" moment(s), and target niches... now, let's build out marketing goals that mean something when you attain them.
I'm talking about revenue and all of the milestones prospective buyers will step through before pulling the trigger. Spell it out in black and white, so we can always go back and refer to our main objectives.
Traffic > Contacts/Leads > Qualified leads > Paying Customers > Evangelists
If you're not sure how to do that, check out this free Marketing ROI Calculator
5. Make your website do this
Pretty websites are good. Yes, I get that and wholeheartedly agree that yours should be pretty too.
But let's take it a step further and turn it into a source of lead generation. How, you ask? Simple - with an inbound marketing mindset.
Get the inbound playbook by Orange Pegs
With inbound we attract visitors to your website through optimized and compelling copy, social media marketing, and building strong strategic relationships with influencers and existing customers. We convert them into leads through content downloads, and we nurture them through the buyer's journey with email.
And we automate it.
6. Attract people with SEO
Having your site wired to capture leads is great, but it's all for nothing if you have no visitors, so I suggest either hiring a professional SEO service provider to help get those visitors to your front door, or dedicate a little portion of your day to it, and watch them grow yourself!
Knowing your target buyer personas is really going to help you understand the language they are using to find answers to the problems you solve.
A one-time broad stroke with new "keywords" on your website is a great start, but it's just a start, because it won't provide long-term growth in traffic or help you keep your messaging fresh for your visitors. This is an ongoing investment, because in parallel to the continuously evolving requirements of the major search engines, your customers are constantly evolving, which means the answers they seek are too.
Ongoing would include:
- Keyword monitoring
- Expanding website size
- Continuously blogging
- Building inbound leads
- Continuous SaaS blog writing
- Marketing through social media and garnering shares and likes
7. Blog about this
Your app serves a very specific purpose and solves a very specific pain or sets of pains. That PAIN is what you should blog about... that, of course, in addition to solutions for treating that pain.
It's not always a straight line between what ails somebody and the internalized need to purchase your software subscription, but by blogging, you help people explore and process things they are experiencing.
Your blog posts should be educational and help people reach the conclusion that they need you or that they can handle solving them on their own.
8. DON'T blog about that
I would to my best to steer clear of the less bloggy things people tend to mistakenly do, such as the article bait-n-switch that leads to ads and conversion forms.
Look, I'm eager to convert visitors into traffic as well, but blogs aren't meant to be crowded out by all of that other stuff. If and when people like your post, you'll have plenty of opportunities to create paths toward your ads and other propaganda for those who actually have conversion potential.
9. Give something away
Already you're probably thinking, "we're giving away free trials," which, in a way, fits our profile for free giveaways, because it's something of value for your prospect in exchange for something of value for you (their contact information).
However, your trial is not enough. And neither is your case study... not even the combination of the two.
You have to be thinking about this in many layers - one, we have your different buyer personas. Remember, we want niche marketing here, so that means we're likely going to be targeted people with a variety of demographics, needs, and buying habits.
Two, we have the different stages of the buyer's journey to consider, because not everybody is going to enter the picture at the same phase:
- TOFU - Top of Funnel. With Inbound, this is the Awareness Stage
- MOFU - Middle of Funnel. With inbound, this is the Consideration Stage
- BOFU - Bottom of Funnel. With inbound, this is the decision-making stage
If you have 3 different buyer personas, that's 9 content offers at minimum, so as you can see, it starts to add up, and it's probably a good idea to release them one-by-one, so you can learn about your prospects and use that information in your next offer.
At my agency, we have give away a ton of free marketing resources that help people understand more about how inbound marketing can help their businesses grow. I even have industry-specific content, such as the Orange Pegs inbound marketing overview and playbook we developed for SaaS!
10. Play on Quora
Quora.com is one of my favorite social sites these days.
The whole premise is to ask questions for SMEs to answer. And anybody can be an SME - even you!
Don't worry though, that doesn't mean the forum is diluted with spam, because there are stringent guidelines about posting, and they are not shy about silencing those who break the rules. They also do a pretty good job of showcasing the best answers at the top of the pile.
The big secret? If you can answer questions and reference links to materials and resources that support your points of view (again, no ads), you'll get a lot of exposure with folks actively seeking answers. The big, big secret? If that educational content is published on your website, then you're driving highly-engaged traffic to your most important marketing asset. Of course, if that content is gated, you just solved the biggest inbound marketing "secret" of them all! (aka the "big, big, big" secret)
11. Buy some SaaS subscriptions
Think of the immeasurable value that your app provides its users. Now, just imagine that those same apps exist to help you in your marketing efforts.
My agency uses Hubspot, which delivers just about everything in relation to our digital marketing strategy - from social media post scheduling to blogging, email marketing, landing pages, website, and SEO.
It also shows me what's working, and allows me to quickly analyze what isn't and how to alter course.
Buying the right SaaS subscriptions is an important step in managing your marketing strategy, so do it early. It doesn't have to be Hubspot, but whatever you choose, obviously consider its ability to scale with your growth.
12. Integrate your CRM
Integrating your CRM is critical, so your app can communicate usage statistics back into your marketing software, and help trigger events that will increase engagement and trial-to-customer conversions.
It's also important for giving limited control of your marketing mechanisms to your salespeople, so they aren't emailing and calling on top of automated communication. And why not go ahead and give them insights to online behaviors, which should aide in demo conversions and other sales-related interactions.
13. Get social like this
When I start a new project, I go in with a very basic formula that we deploy, analyze, learn from, and evolve. It's the rule of 10/4/1.
For every 15 posts:
- 10 are from 3rd parties (blogs, videos, images, etc)
- 4 are blog posts of your own
- 1 is an advertisement
We're getting social in other ways as well, but we have a formulaic approach to what we're doing in regards to posting on the big four platforms, and that's it. Depending on the industry we're representing, you'll also find us on Quora, Pinterest, Instagram, or other specialized forums.
14. Don't get social like that
Always be social. ABS.
Similarly to the abuse I see with blogging (ads and bait-n-switch conversion paths), social media marketing is often steered in the wrong direction - with ad after ad after ad... and when they don't do it that way, and choose the more informative route, they dump traffic into web pages or blogs that have no potential to convert whatsoever.
There has to be a balance.
Otherwise, it's not social. Not even close. And your followers will see rigt through it and either tune you out or stop following you altogether.
As an example, I've seen some great tweets that take me to highly engaging blog posts, but they're success is marred because wasn't a single link inward, and no CTA at the end that I could click to take myself further into their buyer's journey.
What a wasted opportunity!
15. Reel it in from your rainmakers
Something I see way too often are start-up SaaS companies leaning on sales advice from 15 years ago. Purchasing lists... spamming... mailers... convention booths... I mean, the list goes on and on, but does it make one shred of sense to be using archaic outreach tactics for your revolutionary app in any logical way?
Inbound is likely to make those types of rainmakers a little uncomfortable, because it's not about pumping out the highest volume of dials possible, something most salespeople are accustomed to. Instead, it's permission-based, and it allows buyers to travel at their own pace.
This means that you'll probably need to reel them in when they start suggesting spamming 20,000 cold email addresses purchased from some company in India.
MORE LIKE THIS: I Wouldn't Buy From You In a Million Years!
16. Update your sales process
As I already eluded to, your salespeople are going to need to be a little rewired when you start giving them leads generated through your website.
Think about the journey... Your visitors came to your site and converted because they were seeking answers to problems you solve, and you happen to have educational content at your disposal that helped you serve as a consultant before ever making actual live contact.
You helped them diagnose a problem and find a path to resolution, but you didn't lecture or shove anything into their brains that they didn't want there in the first place.
So, the consultative process should continue with your sales people. If you follow the inbound methodology (more by Orange Pegs), and you have a good reporting software to tell you the results, you'll already know a lot about what is motivating them to explore your service when they become a lead in the first place. However, you and I both know that are are MANY layers to it, and in order for them to focus on the right features of your app during the demo call, you'll need to continue learning about their pain during that first contact.
Don't be afraid to have a meeting before you demo, so you aren't wasting their time when you do.
17. Create an automated hand-off
Knowing when and how to hand off your leads to sales is important. For this, I suggest developing an automated lead scoring system with sales alerts, and other tools that help transition them from marketing to sales, and back to marketing again (customers need to be marketed to as well! That's how we increase retention and usage!).
What I do is create lists in Hubspot based on certain criteria, such as their lead score (based on downloads, email clicks, website visits, etc), and when people enter, they trigger work flows inward to notify somebody in sales with a profile view of the individual, and/or outward to provide more opportunities for conversion.
Now that you have your digital marketing engine running, you're attracting organic traffic, and converting some of that traffic into leads and (hopefully) customers... I suggest taking a step back, putting your ear to the ground, and listening to what people are saying. What are your customers saying? What about non-customers?
You can send out surveys, monitor public conversations in social media, read other people's answers in Quora...
And what about listening to your analytics? Are certain blog topics doing better than others? Are people commenting or sharing them?
There is so much information out there for you that wasn't there 10 years ago, and that's great news when you take advantage of it.
19. Growth hack
Next, of course, you want to take all of that listening and put it to good use. Don't be afraid to scrap an idea that you thought would work... I've tossed many ebooks and content offers that cluttered the shelves and distracted visitors from seeing the good ones.
Sometimes your articles and downloads become irrelevant over time, so don't be afraid to retire or replace something that isn't moving the needle anymore.
20. Get on a schedule
As I mentioned before, this is an ongoing investment, so there will be a lot of rinsing and just as much repeating for it to work. I suggest 2-week sprint cycles rather than the typical content calendar. This is the true essence of growth hacking.
Interested in learning more about how your SaaS can benefit from inbound marketing? Download the free playbook by Orange Pegs: