When you attempt to develop or revise your marketing strategy, you are faced with a huge range of possible approaches, tactics, tones, media, and audiences. Though each company will need to find a unique strategy that works for them, simply knowing the space you’re in is a great way to narrow these choices.
Knowing that you’re selling a SaaS product tells you a great deal about what an effective marketing approach for your company will look like. Knowing you are selling to businesses tells you even more.
What makes B2B SaaS marketing unique? What general strategic points will make up at least some part of the strongest B2B SaaS marketing strategies?
In this blog, we’ll take a look at a few of the key distinctions that set B2B SaaS marketing apart, from a penchant for the free to a focus on thought leadership to an exceptional emphasis on content and hopefully give you a better idea of how to effectively market B2B SaaS.
What makes the B2B SaaS market landscape unique?
A used car salesman selling lemons might make out alright. Put up a flashy ad, promise low, low prices, and make sure they don’t get a refund when their car dies a half-mile down the road.
Luckily for their customers, SaaS companies don’t have that same luxury. Marketing for SaaS companies doesn’t end with a purchase. In fact, it never ends.
Your customers choose to buy your product again and again and again, but their next purchase is never guaranteed. This means that delighting your customers is just as, if not more, crucial than getting them to subscribe to your service in the first place.
B2B marketers also must adopt unique tactics in their approach. At their cores, B2B and B2C marketers are operating with the same, basic framework:
However, when businesses operate as customers, they are differentiated by the relative scale of their purchases and they often expect a greater standard of professionalism, reliability, and knowledgeability.
A big billboard might bring in some new customers for our car salesman, but the car rental place looking to buy a selection for their fleet will want a lot of proof that those cars run smoothly before buying the lot.
In SaaS, no one is a customer just once
Your customers make a choice, whether it is an active or passive one, to stick with you or move to a competitor each time they pay for your service. Because of this, they are in a state of constant decision-making and will keep a close eye on competitors, regularly checking for who has the best product. (And if you haven't looked into what your competitors are offering recently, try using our template to guide your own competitor research)
If moving services proves to be an easy feat and another brand is establishing itself as a thought and market leader, your customer has a compelling reason to make the jump and churn out. In short, marketing for SaaS companies is an eternal process. Never stop pointing your efforts towards a customer simply because they’ve given you their credit card number.
Staying ahead of the curve to stay relevant
When choosing between B2B SaaS products, potential customers expect the business they choose to be a thought leader: a company that is not only up-to-date on the latest technological trends and features but is leading the pack and driving development.
In an industry tied to technology, it’s assumed that SaaS companies stay at the cutting edge, and so your company image must reflect this. It’s crucial for you to stay updated with modern designs and visuals, content on relevant and timely subjects, and a clearly displayed knowledge of your industry in order to establish yourself as a leader in your field.
You must take great care to update your site and any other marketing materials regularly. Establish a calendar both for new content and for content updates, setting aside time each month to determine which site pages need attention. A perfect website is only perfect for a day; by the next someone will have found a way to make theirs better.
Free trials, free content, freemium services
Don’t fear the trial! Especially if your customers will be committing a large amount of time and money when adopting your SaaS product. Offering customers a free trial or freemium version of your service is a great way of giving your customers a firsthand experience of the value your product provides and ultimately getting them hooked.
When selecting a SaaS product, businesses may be committing thousands of dollars upfront, but they will be unwilling to do so if they don’t have a good concept of how your product functions.
Consider the length of your trial. A week, a month, two months? If someone is able to come in, get the information or service they need, and drop out, you’ll of course want to keep it quite short. If the time to value (TTV) for your product is longer, you’ll need to offer them a longer trial. This also applies if you’re confident that the more time someone spends with your service, the more likely they are to ‘stick.’
Many businesses may find themselves attached to a product simply because of the time they’ve spent onboarding to the system and integrating it into their business. If you’ve gotten them to build your product into their business in the time they’ve spent with your free trial or freemium version, congratulations! You’ve earned a long-term customer.
Freemium services are likewise a great way to build trust and get customers ‘stuck.’ Finding the balance between delighting customers and leaving them wanting more is difficult, however, and will often require a great deal more consideration than offering a trial.
These free versions are an important component of many SaaS companies’ value-based pricing strategies, in which people are offered pricing options that match the value they find in the service.
Once your potential customer is trying your product out, you have a short and crucial window to prove its worth and make them an excited, paying customer. This means you’ll need to make it count. During this time, nurture these free users with the content, support, and information they need to find value in your product. Video and written tutorials as well as demos and walkthroughs can be great ways to help guide your users toward a successful experience with your product.
Content reigns supreme
This need for free extends to a SaaS company’s production of content. Educating prospects and leads and proving yourself as a thought leader requires providing lots and lots of relevant, valuable content. This means doing a lot of work for no immediate returns.
Committing to regularly producing free content, webinars, whitepapers, ebooks, video tutorials, or anything else that might help leads make the best purchasing decision for them is not an easy feat, but it’s an essential part of a successful B2B SaaS marketing strategy.
Content is king for SaaS companies, and you should take full advantage of it to not only pull in new visitors to your site but to get them to see you as an expert in your field. Generating large quantities of topic clusters, keyword-focused blogs, and downloadables is great for your SEO and encourages search engines to recommend your site. However, if the content you’re providing isn’t valuable to your site visitors, then you’ll have tarnished your reputation and failed to educate them about your product and industry.
If your leads and customers cannot view your company as trustworthy, they ultimately won’t be able to fully trust your product and will turn to other sources for information. Keeping up and ahead of the curve is an important part of not only being your audience’s choice for the present but their choice for the future.
For more on creating a strong, sustainable B2B SaaS content marketing strategy, download our complete guide below!
Keep showing your customers what makes you great
Having a great product that provides a recommendation-worthy customer experience is key to keeping your customers around, but you also need to consider marketing efforts.
Whether it be through social media, direct outreach, frequent promotions, or another format, SaaS marketers should want their customers to think of them often and think of them fondly. Not only will customers be more likely to stick around, but there is also an increased likelihood they’ll be willing to recommend and evangelize to others.
SaaS marketing—to infinity and beyond
What makes B2B SaaS marketing different? What additional responsibilities do SaaS marketers have compared to their counterparts in other industries?
Ultimately the largest distinction between B2B SaaS marketing and other forms is the need for consistent maintenance and neverending marketing efforts.
Beyond winning over your customers, you need to devote efforts to make sure they select you, over and over again. After establishing effective campaigns and content, you need to constantly update and revise to align with new trends and shifts. Once you provide a great product and customer service, you need to continue to provide your customers with valuable information, prove your thought leadership, and remind them why they chose you in the first place.
Interested in learning how NOT to market B2B SaaS? Check out our blog on SaaS Marketing Best Practices: 4 Red Flags. If you’re looking for more on getting customers to pay and stay, look at this blog on How to Lower Customer Churn and Improve Retention.