Most people think that promotional activities, such as paid ads, are the focal point of marketing. However, this is just a tiny part of the concept. Companies use marketing to lay the groundwork for their brand long before they consider paying for billboards, TV, and radio commercials.
As the name implies, marketing refers to all activities that help us market a product or a service. It’s a series of steps that involves setting the prices, using the best promotional channel, and finding a suitable market.
Based on that, marketing is crucial during the ideation phase. Offering the wrong SaaS product or selling it in a saturated market can doom your business.
“If you wish to succeed as an entrepreneur, you need to offer consumers something they want at a price that won’t break their marketing budget.”
In this article, we’ll specifically focus on the SaaS marketing mix and how it affects your overall SaaS marketing strategy and marketing plan. But before we do so, let’s talk about common business goals that most companies try to achieve!
What Are the Common SaaS Marketing Goals?
When discussing SaaS business plans or strategies, every company tries to accomplish something with its marketing. Of course, organizations’ focus is on making as much money as possible, but marketers usually segment this larger goal into smaller bits:
- Driving traffic to the website and social media
- Boosting brand awareness
- Decreasing churn rate
- Increasing the number of free trials
- Increasing the number of conversions
- Retaining customers and increasing their lifetime value
- Generating interest in new products
- Selling extra features, etc.
Each one of these goals has direct and indirect benefits, boosting your profitability in the short or long run. You can analyze potential customer and existing customer data with Google Analytics but also other marketing programs.
Many SaaS brands make the mistake of focusing too much on profitability. Although every business has expenses, you still need to consider long-term brand development. Sometimes, investing in approaches that will increase brand awareness is more profitable than generating quick SaaS sales.
What’s an ideal SaaS Marketing Mix?
Before we share a few tips to help you develop a perfect marketing plan, let’s first explain a SaaS marketing mix.
This concept analyzes different factors to help you find the best method of penetrating a specific market. The marketing mix hinges on four Ps: product, pricing, place, and promotion. When making a SaaS business plan, you’re trying to maximize the value of each of these.
Keep in mind that these marketing elements are interdependent. If you have a bad product, it doesn’t matter what kind of price you put. Similarly, a fantastic product sold on an unsaturated market can still flop if you don’t choose the proper SaaS marketing channel.
Here’s a breakdown of the four Ps that make the marketing mix:
Product or service is at the front and center of any brand. In theory, selling excellent software can overcome all other marketing disadvantages and barriers. Just think what kind of impact Tesla cars had when they first appeared on the market. They were so revolutionary that everyone wanted to buy them.
We can break down the product into numerous subcategories: quality, features, warranties, packaging, and branding.
Mastering each can give you a smaller or bigger advantage on the market. For example, you’ll likely turn some heads if your software has more features than the competitor’s platform.
Make sure your SaaS is market ready before rolling it out. Given the number of online review sites, you can get criticized into oblivion if your software isn’t up to snuff. This is especially true if the software is expensive but underperforms compared to competitors.
Pricing is a much more complex category than you might’ve imagined. You can adjust it based on numerous factors, such as positioning, payment methods, and credit.
Your ability to modify the price is affected by your competition and the customers’ perception of the product. As previously mentioned, people are willing to spend just about any amount of money on something they’ve never seen before.
Like all other businesses, SaaS brands target pain points when promoting software. Your marketing strategy can vary significantly, whether this is primarily a B2C or B2B product. Always remember that most companies focus on other business clients instead of regular users.
“The thing specific to the SaaS industry is that you can pursue various business models. Free trials and freemium models are very common among these brands. You can also consider charging for separate features.”
This customer-friendly approach allows the target audience to buy what they need when needed.
Keep in mind that each SaaS customer has a different perception of price. Some people are willing to buy a more expensive option because they believe that the price reflects the value they’re getting.
Regarding SaaS, the place is one of the least relevant factors. All companies mainly focus on internet sales and don’t have to worry about logistics or inventory.
Still, it’s worth mentioning that SaaS brands in developed countries have an advantage regarding the accessible market. They can promote their software “on the streets” by using billboards and local TV commercials, which allows access to major local brands. For example, traditional marketing in Los Angeles should yield much better results than advertising in a small third-world country.
The even playing field simplifies your business planning but can harm you in the long run. You’re vying against all the international brands on the web, some of which have a much better offer. So, you’ll likely go under rather quickly unless you’re confident you can beat them with other factors (price, product, and promotion).
Lastly, we have the promotion. As we’ve mentioned in the introduction, this is the first thing the target audience thinks of when discussing marketing. Promotion is a set of processes that helps B2C and B2B SaaS marketing efforts by putting software in front of prospective customers.
In the digital marketing B2B SaaS world, the most popular promotional methods are SEO, PPC, SMM, email outreach, and influencer marketing. SaaS companies rely on organic traffic from Google, paid ads in search engines and social media, and emailing to reach their target audiences.
We should also address a common misconception. Many people think that Google, Facebook, and Instagram are promotional processes, but this isn’t true. They’re just marketing channels, and as such, they belong to the “place” category.
On the other hand,
“promotion” would refer to previously mentioned SEO and SMM, but also direct sales, advertising, and public relations.”
The promotional method is a much larger category than the marketing channel. For example, you can execute an SEO strategy through Bing, Google, or Yandex platforms. Aside from promotional methods, this category also tackles budgeting.
You can’t analyze one of these elements in a vacuum. Instead, to get a better picture, you’ll have to combine them to establish your SaaS market viability (which is why it’s a “marketing mix”).
You can also tell they’re related based on the overlapping in terminology. We’ve previously discussed the differences between marketing channels and marketing promotions. We use these terms interchangeably, and when we say “SEO,” we’re referring to “search engine optimization for Google.”
Every company would like perfect market conditions allowing them to dominate a market. This is hard to achieve in practice, so companies usually focus on finding a well-balanced marketing mix. You can develop a winning SaaS strategy by combining it with other processes.
How Does Traditional Marketing Strategy Work?
The traditional marketing strategy is a set of goals to maximize a company’s potential. Brands develop a process not just by combining marketing mix elements and taking a few other steps.
Creating a marketing strategy is the most comprehensive business process that requires careful planning, budgeting, and execution. Although different authors have different understandings of what strategy entails, here’s the most common explanation:
Everything starts with a product. During the initial planning phases, you need a clear idea of what you want to sell while having some leeway for alterations. Your first iteration of software might ultimately differ from what you roll out on the market. This is where user intent comes into play.
Designing Your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)
Before building your go-to-market software, it’s necessary to perform a thorough customer analysis. This would help you understand how your SaaS platform could scale compared to alternatives and determine what you will need to fix. Understanding target customers can also help you find the right price, packaging, shipping, and warranties.
Analyzing the TAM Market
During market analysis, you need to check all similar programs on the web. See how your SaaS tech scales in comparison and whether or not you can beat them. This is one of the crucial steps for determining whether or not you even have a future with a specific product.
Creating a Marketing Mix
At this point, it’s time to create your marketing mix. Fine-tune software features and find the right marketing channel and promotional method. Most importantly, during this step, you’ll need to figure out subscription plans, whether to give free trials or go with a freemium model.
Before creating a marketing mix, we suggest performing a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats). Given that you should understand the market by now, this would allow you to tweak your SaaS marketing mix, making it easier to position yourself.
Create a Marketing Budget
Although companies perform budgeting when creating a marketing mix, some SaaS companies prefer doing it after this step. When creating a budget, you shouldn’t only focus on promotional expenses but on all financial aspects of the business. It’s crucial to determine how much financial leeway you have and whether you can finance the project from external sources (banks).
Create a Marketing Plan
Marketing is the executive part of the process, and it helps you get to where you want to go. Unlike marketing strategy, which is a long-term process, a SaaS marketing plan is focused on short-term goals. For example, you want to invest $10,000 in the new three months on paid ads to increase website traffic by 3,000 per month.
What Are the Best B2B SaaS Marketing Strategies?
Based on everything we’ve said so far, it’s evident that having a clear marketing strategy is crucial for your business. However, your approach can vary based on your specific niche. Selling a complex marketing suite differs from advertising a simple video downloader.
There are lots of ways to tackle the topic. Here are a few ideas that might help you create a winning strategy for your B2B SaaS business:
- Create a unique product (obviously, the hardest of them all).
- Dominate the competition by offering more features than them.
- Focus on speed and ease of use. This is especially important for large SaaS platforms that have numerous functionalities.
- Explore marketing channels that other SaaS companies don’t like investing in.
- Utilize various traditional and digital marketing platforms, or pour your entire budget into a single channel.
- Provide fantastic customer support or have a customer-friendly return policy.
- Generate buzz with unique advertising.
Unlike the traditional method, which you can apply to any industry, the SaaS marketing strategy is a more focused approach. Without further ado, here are a few best strategies for software brands:
Account-based marketing is a perfect solution when pursuing large organizations. This, among others, makes it the optimal promotional method for just about any B2B SaaS.
During account-marketing campaigns, a SaaS company profiles a limited number of large potential clients. The software brand creates a customized approach for each one of them. Unlike traditional marketing, where you spray and pray, account-based marketing suggests a more focused promotion.
- A small number of highly-targeted leads.
- On average, a company can make more money per account.
- A primary focus is on ICP fitting.
- It has much higher conversion rates.
- Much more layered approach to sales.
- The success of a campaign hinges on your ability to build relationships.
Among other things, account-based marketing requires much more research. Every client is a case for itself, and you need time to close to each one. Some main characteristics of account-based marketing are high inertia, high fit, gap selling, and slow conversion.
Unfortunately, despite the fact this is such an excellent approach for SaaS companies, many of them fail to implement this strategy. For example, even a company with a fantastic sales team might struggle with marketing. Or even worse, they might give up too early.
You should always prioritize digital marketing channels for promoting SaaS. Traditional outbound marketing solutions are usually less efficient, so focus on inbound advertising. This is especially important during the initial phases when a lead is still acquainted with their problem.
“you should increase potential customers’ awareness through SEO and paid search.”
As they’re trying to get educated about specific SaaS topics, they will land on your site, where you can convert them.
Inbound marketing isn’t as efficient as account-based marketing, given that you’re reaching out to many people. However, it does provide some other benefits:
- Inbound marketing isn’t that intrusive, allowing leads to decide for themselves.
- The strategy is especially great for building brand awareness among many users.
- Usually much better than traditional marketing approaches.
- You don’t have to spend that much time building relationships. Clients come to you and not vice versa.
Most notably, inbound marketing might be a better solution for smaller B2B clients. With this method, you can close some leads you didn’t expect to close.
SEO, in particular, can also serve other marketing processes. It provides much more visibility, which isn’t always true with account-based marketing. As such, search engine optimization can be a vehicle for other marketing efforts.
Marketing Through Technology
To execute all these strategies, companies are heavily dependent on various software.
Nowadays, software brands use various platforms to find ICPs. The machine learning concept allows you to track organizations that can benefit from your product. Using these tools can significantly improve customer analysis and subsequent onboarding.
By relying on software, you can optimize your website, track user engagement on social media, create videos, and perform other tasks.
SaaS brands use 6Sense, Google Marketing Platform, and Demandbase to execute their account-based marketing. In particular, these tools allow brands to create personalized ads that speak to ICPs.
Google’s Marketing Platform is especially popular. Most companies use this search engine as their preferred ad channel, so you can get data directly from the provider. Not only can GMT help with paid traffic, but it can also provide lots of remarkable insights regarding your organic visitors.
Speaking about organic, SaaS brands use various search engine optimization platforms. These tools can tell you more about visitor volume and engagement. They are essential for inbound marketing, but you can also draw insights for account-based marketing.
You can also benefit from SMM tools such as Buffer and Hootsuite. Companies nowadays use social media for just about anything, and the software can help any marketing approach.
SMM tools are fabulous if you have a multi-platform approach. They allow you to track data from several social media simultaneously and to engage users across the board.
SaaS Marketing Strategy Example
Unfortunately, even though we tried to explain the concept, it might still sound vague.
Don’t worry; we got you covered! We’ll use Spotify’s example to show you how a SaaS marketing strategy looks in the real world.
“Nowadays, this company is a poster child for online audio streaming. “
People use it to post, listen, and download their favorite music, podcasts, and other types of content. And while we consider this brand untouchable within its respective niche, it wasn’t always the case.
Spotify owes its success to brilliant SaaS strategizing. When promoting the SaaS, the brand doesn’t necessarily focus on what the platform can do but on how easy it is. In other words, its main marketing priority is creating a great user experience.
The company follows five simple marketing rules daily:
- Create an interface that is suitable for beginners.
- Allow users to see immediate value.
- Add extra information about artists to entice the biggest fans.
- Provide numerous customization options.
- Simplify the customer journey.
All of these rules allowed the company to increase its user base. The SaaS was good enough to create the initial traction. As soon as you landed on the platform, you could clearly see its value. There weren’t any trials or paywalls that would prevent you from enjoying the music.
When the word spread among music fans, Spotify managed to scale the process with an intuitive interface. This was especially important for people who aren’t tech-savvy and who wouldn’t otherwise bother learning the ins and outs of audio software.
What Is SaaS Marketing Plan?
We’ve briefly touched on the SaaS marketing plan, but given its relation to marketing mix and strategy, we feel it’s important to dive deeper into this concept. Explaining the term is especially important because there’s a lot of overlapping, and it’s easy to get lost in all this terminology.
A SaaS marketing strategy is a large outline that helps govern a company. For example, you’re trying to sell a B2B SaaS to large manufacturing businesses operating in Arizona.
With a SaaS marketing plan, you’re trying to execute this goal. For example, you use LinkedIn as the best way to reach local business owners. You offer a three-month free trial and sell features separately to differentiate yourself from the competition. Here’s how to create SaaS marketing plans:
Start From Value Proposition
Marketing strategy helps you create and modify a product according to users’ desires. Now, it’s time to show potential customers how the software can solve their problems.
The value proposition is crucial for the success of your marketing plan and the marketing strategy as a whole. In a nutshell, this is your sales pitch. You’re trying to persuade leads to purchase from you instead of competitors.
You can sell a SaaS product by claiming it has more features, is faster, simpler, or scales better. Most companies use free trials to demonstrate the value. This makes the SaaS industry less dependent on advertising. In other words, since users can easily test and compare alternatives, they can quickly figure out the best option.
Identify Your Ideal Market
Although a SaaS marketing strategy helps you discover your ideal customer persona and target market, planning takes it a step further. For example, you might have to slightly tweak your focus audience based on the marketing plan specifics.
You’re also trying to figure out the best way to advertise during this stage. Some companies will go with Google organic traffic, while others will focus on Pay-Per-Click. Generally speaking, most brands within this field use a combination of digital marketing approaches, but some rely on traditional media.
Create the Marketing Campaign(s)
Now that you know how to present the product and who to target, you’re ready to create a marketing message. You share the ad with a wider audience during a marketing campaign.
Your choice of messaging depends on the advertising platform you’re using. Going with video content is entirely different from writing blog posts. But given that most SaaS use various digital marketing channels, you should ideally create a message that can be transferred to other mediums.
Marketing campaigns are usually short-lived, lasting for several weeks up to a few months.
Use the Right Metrics
SaaS metrics allow you to measure the success of your campaigns. In the end, we don’t know if a process was any good if we don’t have any data.
Aside from the obvious ones, which are revenues and profits, there are lots of different metrics you can measure during and after the campaign. For example, a SaaS brand can analyze the following:
- The number of new website visitors,
- Direct vs. organic and paid traffic
- Leads, MQLs vs. SQls, and Revenue
- improvements to conversion rate,
- churn rate,
- CAC:LTV ratio
Keep in mind that your choice of optimal metrics will vary depending on your goals.
“Some companies use B2C and B2B marketing campaigns to increase the number of paying clients, while others are just looking to improve brand awareness. And while SaaS businesses analyze their metrics on a weekly basis, the analysis is especially important after wide-scale campaigns”
The SaaS marketing plan is basically our approach to selling software. Its planning process is less extensive than when creating a marketing strategy. With a marketing plan, we’re looking to execute specific company goals and, if possible, improve different aspects of our daily operations.
Based on that, a marketing plan is much more focused. It’s also a shorter-lived method as opposed to a B2B SaaS marketing strategy. Putting things in action is called the creation of a marketing campaign, whose success is measured with various SaaS metrics.
How to Promote SaaS Products?
Now that we’ve talked about the nitty gritty, it’s time to talk about the optimal promotional channels for your SaaS product!
SaaS SEO, or search engine optimization, is excellent for increasing awareness but also for long-term brand sustainability. Sales teams usually praise this digital marketing strategy as something that can significantly shorten the traditional sales cycle. Visitors who reach your product pages through organic search are likely to become loyal customers.
In many ways, the success of a campaign hinges on a great SaaS content marketing strategy and your ability to create high-quality content. Like with email marketing and social media posts, your ability to connect with users has a direct impact on your conversions.
“Aside from having an actionable content strategy, optimization also depends on off-page SEO and your ability to acquire links.”
You also need to have a good understanding of best practices such as effective keyword research, mobile-friendliness, sitemaps, site speed, etc.
For SEO to be an effective strategy, you’ll eventually need to make sales. Having that in mind, marketing teams should provide social proof on the site, pursue relevant keywords, and create a sales funnel. Even if you manage to drive lots of traffic to your website, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve reached the ideal customer profile.
Driving traffic to a site gives a SaaS marketer more leeway to execute certain strategies. For example, you can use the platform to share customer success stories, gather visitors’ emails, gain more insights about buyer persona, start referral marketing campaigns, etc.
Social media marketing is one of the customer acquisition strategies that are becoming more popular with each passing year. The biggest benefit of social media platforms is that they allow you to connect with prospective customers in a less intrusive way.
Whether we’re talking about B2B buyers or regular B2C users, most of these guys spend their days on Facebook and Instagram. As such,
“they’re more likely to interact with your brand through these platforms than via web chat or email.”
Aside from the fact it can significantly increase your customer base, businesses also love social media for its high customer retention rates. It’s one of the more scalable promotional methods that can also provide an excellent user experience.
Lastly, viral social media posts are generally considered the most profitable type of marketing.
Marketing teams and sales reps usually think of Google ads when they mention PPC (Pay-Per-Click). However, this phrase can also refer to social media ads and a few other methods of advertising.
The amazing thing about PPC is that it can almost completely eliminate the traditional marketing funnel. The entire sales process is much more straightforward, with a person being sent directly to your product pages. As you can presume, this can reduce new customer acquisition costs.
“With PPC, it’s much easier to target competitive keywords than with organic search engine traffic”
Simply put, no matter how good your SEO is, there’s a solid chance you’ll never rank number one for specific search terms.
Among others, PPC is fantastic for reaching different customer segments. Google Ad, in particular, is one of the best examples of inbound marketing.
Unlike other marketing activities, pay-per-click isn’t as good for building long-term brand awareness.
Some people use email outreach as an effective marketing strategy. In many ways, it resembles the old cold calling where you’re trying to directly contact potential users. However, the method also works for current customers, specifically for sharing new marketing materials.
To start using this outbound marketing method, a B2B SaaS company needs to acquire potential clients’ emails and send promotional messages afterward. They try to entice the audience and convert them to trial users.
“Keep in mind that email outreach has low conversion rates, so don’t expect overnight miracles.”
You can use email outreach to gain valuable insights about your product and buyer personas. Marketing agencies also use SaaS email marketing to improve customer experience, thus increasing customer lifetime value.
What are the 4 Ps of marketing SaaS?
The four Ps of marketing SaaS is a product, pricing, place, and promotion. They are the basis of any marketing mix and are used for building an actionable SaaS marketing strategy.
What is the SaaS marketing strategy?
A SaaS marketing strategy is a process that helps a SaaS company differentiate itself in the market.
Which KPIs are most important for a SaaS?
SaaS companies use various metrics for measuring success, such as lead velocity rate, net promoter score, response time, CAC:LTV ratio, etc.
What is a SaaS marketing mix?
A marketing mix is a combination of different elements that allow SaaS brands to promote and sell their software.