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What SaaS marketers can learn from the big players and why it's important to adapt

SaaS
(Image credit: Image Credit: Wright Studio / Shutterstock)

The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the drive for businesses to embrace cloud-based services. With entire workforces working remotely, this new way of working has been born out of necessity. Companies almost overnight found themselves needing to find new ways to adapt their business practices to ensure their employees could work remotely, productively, and still stay connected.

Whilst the need for a communication tool is certainly a contributor for the recent success in the SaaS sector, it is not the driving factor. We recently commissioned a survey of 1,023 business professionals in the UK, USA and Canada which showed that 53 percent felt that using a SaaS system made them feel more productive and 39 percent said it made them feel more in control and allowed them to prioritize better. In comparison, 35 percent said it made them feel more connected.

It’s clear that in a remote world, people are looking for products that can help them to continue carrying out their job roles to the best of their ability. Through our survey, we also discovered that 76 percent of people are now either using more software platforms, or using their existing ones more, since lockdown began in March 2020.

So how can SaaS marketers build upon the momentum achieved so far through adapting their marketing channels to win new customers?

Why you need blockbuster content

This is certainly an area that SaaS companies tend to fail on - positioning themselves as thought leaders.

With more people online than ever before, it’s important that you stand out from your competitors in a saturated marketplace. The key is to create blockbuster content that is interesting to your audience, useful, and provides genuine actions that can be taken away. It’s far better to invest time, resources and potentially money creating one really good piece of content which will set you apart from the crowd, rather than churning out average content in volume, thinking this will get you noticed.

Consider partnering with a big name in the industry to position yourself at a more favorable light with your potential audience.

Blockbuster content isn’t a one trick pony - you don’t just use it for one advert and then that’s it. You want to gain mileage from this investment, so take aspects from it and repurpose it across every platform - Google search, Google display, Bing, Microsoft search, Microsoft display, LinkedIn, Facebook - and in your e-marketing.

The power of remarketing

Remarketing is a great tactic for SaaS companies to use, particularly at the early stage of converting clients into a sale. With lead times averaging around six months in SaaS, it allows you to stay front of mind throughout the lengthy process. Also unlike fast-moving consumer goods companies, you won’t necessarily have to remarket once a sale has been achieved.

Whether your customer is at the purchasing intent stage, near the bottom of the funnel, or at the discovery stage, you want your product to be the one that they think of. It’s about attracting potential customers through your blockbuster content, capturing all the hits as data, then remarketing through display ads and search engine platforms.

Why you shouldn’t gate your content

The question about whether to gate your content is a difficult one. The benefits are clear - people have to input their contact details, including email address, which from a sales outreach point of view holds value. But it can also have its downsides.

Just because a report or article is of interest to someone, it doesn’t mean that they are a potential customer. Therefore you may end up repeatedly targeting people who have no interest in your product or service, resulting in them getting frustrated and leaving a lasting negative impression of your company. More importantly, this is also wasting marketing budget and is not a great use of your sales team time.

HubSpot is a great example of a SaaS company that gates their content. Their content is great - certainly what we would describe as blockbuster content. They produce comprehensive free reports with clear takeaways for the reader about how they can use what they have learnt - which importantly do not come across as a sales pitch. This has made them a voice of authority, and a trusted source of content. But if they didn’t gate their content, would they be able to boost their audience levels even more?

It is still possible to remarket through Google or LinkedIn if users just visit your page and accept cookies, making gating content redundant and just another blocker for users to view your content. If they are genuinely interested in your content and are looking to use your product then why not impress them with your knowledge, your expertise, show you are a thought leader, and allow them to freely access your insight to support them. This then means your sales team isn't wasting time forcing calls on users that will never convert and your remarketing keeps you front-of-mind until they’re ready to purchase.

The last year has seen people and businesses experience tougher times than they may have done in their lifetime. They will be more inclined to buy from companies that they feel have played a supportive role and ones that they trust. So position yourself positively in their minds through useful content and across every platform that they use.

Why you need to be more savvy in your digital marketing

Digital marketing has been traditionally viewed as a performance marketing channel - so middle to bottom of the funnel. But if you want to be clever then you should be using your digital marketing to grow awareness at the top of the funnel.

If all of your customers are now online, then that’s where you need to be reaching them. Billboard and TV advertising is no longer how you will effectively raise awareness of your product, because less people will see it!

There’s a reason why Zoom became a household name at the beginning of lockdown last year. By investing in their digital marketing - using Google and YouTube to advertise their communications platform - they succeeded where the likes of Skype failed.

Zoom listened to its audience, originally you could only have four participants on the screen at any one time. They realized that to be used by businesses as a communication tool they would need to adapt to allow multiple participants all visible on the screen. They updated their platform, and clearly communicated these updates through online advertising.

So how should you market your SaaS platform to gain maximum exposure and increase sales?

  • Make your content blockbuster, so that it adds actual value to your audience, who then see you as a thought-leader.
  • Maximize your remarketing funnel to keep you front-of-mind, so that when your audience comes to purchase, your brand is the one they think of.
  • Ungate content so that you aren't wasting sales time or marketing budget on audiences that are not interested in your product, whilst you are providing support and demonstrating your value to your audience.
  • Online marketing, such as Google Ads and LinkedIn are just as effective top of funnel as they are bottom of funnel as audiences are online now more than ever.

David Cooper, Marketing Manager, Fountain Partnership