Many SaaS Companies create a category. While inbound marketing is crucial, you also need to drive awareness with people not actively looking for a...
The role of B2B SaaS inbound marketing in a digitally transformed 21st century is constantly changing.
With new technologies and access to information, marketers are kept on their toes trying to keep up with the best B2B inbound marketing tactics, trends, and practices.
The B2B buyer’s journey involves a more complex decision-making process, a larger budget, and a longer commitment, which evokes a more educational, research-filled buyer’s journey than in B2C marketing.
At Kalungi, we help B2B SaaS companies develop and implement an inbound marketing strategy to engage, educate and excite prospects. However, inbound marketing isn’t a one-size-fits-all, even for software companies.
For new B2B SaaS organizations, it’s important to implement modern B2B inbound marketing best practices. Follow this guide & you’ll be up-to-speed on everything you need to fill your inbound funnel with marketing qualified leads.
But first, let’s review the basics of inbound.
What is inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing is the practice of drawing in potential leads and prospects via strategic content tailored to their needs and interests. Methods such as blog posts, search engine optimization (SEO), social media, and more are used to attract multiple buyer personas, build brand awareness, create trust, and generate leads.
Benefits of inbound marketing
Inbound marketing allows software companies to establish brand authority and generate leads in a cost-effective and valuable way for buyers in the SaaS marketing funnel.
While traditional outbound marketing methods often prove costly, inbound marketing focuses on understanding the pain points your prospects are experiencing and actively researching. By aligning your online digital presence with what your prospects value, your business will become a trusted source on their journey towards ‘better’, creating excitement and marketing qualified leads that drive ROI.
B2B SaaS inbound marketing tactics and best practices
Before establishing and executing a B2B inbound marketing plan for your software-as-a-service company, consider how these marketing best practices can be tailored to your B2B SaaS business model and needs.
The first step? Knowing your buyer's journey.
Understand your buyer’s journey and ICP
The B2B buyer’s journey isn’t what it used to be.
Now, with access to information and smart technologies, B2B buyers behave differently and more closely to a B2C customer because B2B buyers value their purchasing experience. In fact, about 80% of B2B buying decisions are based on a buyer’s customer experience.
Because of this, it’s important for your business to consider the buying experience of your ideal customer profile when marketing your product to present your information strategically and mindfully.
The first step is to understand the modern cycle of your buyer’s journey. The old AIDA sales funnel encouraged creating awareness to yield interest, desire, and action. Now, modern buyers are behaving differently and following this pattern:
- Awareness: recognizing a problem
- Consideration: research and discovery
- Decision: leading up to and the actual purchase
- Retention: your post-purchase customer experience
- Advocacy: loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing
The new model looks like this:
Your inbound marketing efforts should drive awareness, convert this awareness into action, and prioritize retention and loyalty that drives your marketing flywheel. These fundamental strategies will build a great customer experience and loyalty, whether that’s implementing a strong onboarding strategy to periodic health checks with your software users.
Today, old-style, outbound marketing like PPC advertising (pay-per-click) can get costly, doesn’t establish a connection with customers, and delivers short-term results. Modern B2B inbound marketing proves that organic efforts are more profitable, sustainable, and drives long-term results like customer loyalty.
To establish this industry authority and subject matter expertise, start by creating a website that truly reflects your brand identity.
Build an intuitive, user-friendly website
Without a strong online foundation, your potential customers will struggle to believe the message you’re trying to send. This is why building an intuitive, aesthetic, and informational website is crucial to modern B2B marketing, not only for the reputation of your business but the overall message of your brand.
Your landing pages are an important part of this message. Who is your ideal customer profile, and what are their pains? What are you bringing to the table, and how can you provide relief from what they’re struggling with?
Include strong headlines that will resonate with your audience, and encourage them to keep exploring with benefits, case studies, and properly attributed lead capture forms to draw prospects into your marketing funnel before they leave your website.
This should include a clear call to action (CTA) that provides value for your ideal customer profile, from signing up for webinars and learning series, to whitepapers and newsletter subscriptions. The most important part of building a successful website is to provide valuable content and messaging that resonates with your audience.
To do this for your software company’s website, implement the following:
- Make your B2B SaaS website easy to navigate. Use clear language and CTAs with engaging language, imagery and information.
- Ensure the page loading time is sufficient. Compress your graphics and images, and limit your outbound links to less than 100 to speed up the loading process.
- Ensure the design is appropriate and appealing. Use your brand’s core design elements and iconography to portray a consistent, visually appealing brand identity with plenty of white space.
- Cater to your customer’s needs. Pay attention to website traffic, on-page behaviors, and overall metrics from your website’s reporting dashboards. Make ongoing adjustments and optimizations to your website.
The content you create for your website, however, is a crucial element of modern B2B marketing as it speaks to the reader and represents your brand’s voice.
Content is king for your B2B inbound strategy
Content marketing is the process of creating engaging content such as blogs, webinars, and eBooks, largely used for modern inbound marketing to educate prospective leads and position your offerings.
Content marketing has grown increasingly popular for modern B2B businesses because it costs 62% less than traditional marketing, and yields 3x the amount of leads.
But content isn’t just writing blogs -- it’s everything your ICP will find valuable. Types of content to include in your B2B marketing strategy include:
- Pillar pages and cluster content
- User guides
- Case studies
- Slide decks
- Research reports
- ROI calculators
- Product demos
Content marketing creates funnel demand because every piece of content you distribute guides your potential buyers toward making a purchasing decision. Publishing consistent, relevant content establishes a tone of authority and helps your brand become a trusted source for prospective customers so when they’re ready to take that next step, you’re their first choice.
B2B SaaS content marketing strategy is largely driven by SEO. By creating SEO-friendly content, you're optimizing your content to rank as high as possible on the search engine results page (SERP).
And while the technical details behind SEO can get complex, B2B SaaS companies can follow these simple practices to increase SERP rankings and outshine competitors:
- Establish keyword research: Step into the shoes of your customers and research phrases or words they’d enter into a search engine themselves at various stages in the buyer’s journey.
- Research your competitors: What do your competitors rank for, and what is that content about?
- Create valuable, engaging content: What are your customers asking? Where are there gaps in content? It’s important to note that while keyword research is an important part of content marketing and SEO, black-hat SEO techniques like keyword stuffing and link farming should be avoided because it can appear ingenuine and choppy to potential clients.
- Promote your content on other platforms: Social media channels and email marketing will broaden your audience and establish more potential leads.
Once you have a solid foundation of optimized, valuable content, it’s time to promote and distribute this content to nurture contacts into leads across your communication channels.
Nurture and engage through email marketing
59% of B2B marketers claim email is the most reliable form of generating revenue with a return on investment of $44 for every $1 spent.
B2B clients already understand their needs, which is a well-crafted email marketing strategy that can be an effective mode of modern marketing if used correctly.
Similar to content marketing, experts suggest making your emails easy to skim with a clear message. Some simple rules to follow for effective B2B email marketing include:
- Write a clear, compelling header and subject line. You only have one chance to catch your reader’s attention and, in a sea of other emails, it’s important to stand out.
- Choose quality over quantity. Don’t spam your readers, or your email deliverability will fall and you’ll struggle to repair this.
- Personalize the experience. Use personalization tokens such as each recipient’s name, company, and industry to tailor your offering and messaging to their needs.
- Make it mobile-friendly. Over half of your b2b email performance will likely come from mobile devices. Make sure that your email is visible on mobile by sending yourself test emails and reviewing this from your computer and mobile device(s).
- Always include a CTA. This is the goal of your email -- whether that’s to drive traffic to a certain landing page or increase social media engagement. This should be heavily integrated with your header and subject line.
- Always be testing. To identify which times and days garner the highest engagement, send your emails across a variety of times to identify which time works with your ideal customer profiles.
Email is also a great way to stay in touch with existing clients. Utilizing email for newsletters, conducting surveys, and asking for feedback is a great way to secure a loyalty loop and give clients an intimate experience and easy access to communicating with your business.
Utilizing social media can become an integral part to grow your email lists by promoting social sharing and directing users to CTAs.
Oftentimes, B2B SaaS inbound marketing professionals overlook social media platforms because it’s a widely used marketing tools for B2C businesses. Still, inbound and outbound B2B marketing experts would argue that establishing a strong social media presence gives B2B businesses a direct communication channel to their customers in order to better understand personas and pain points.
Through a distinguished brand voice and a focus on your audience, take note that every interaction with your customers via social media is a valuable data point. By making social media about your audience rather than your business, you’ll increase organic reach and in turn, drive more users to your webpage.
Depending on your marketing goals, important social media KPIs to track include:
- Organic reach
- Follower count
- Leads from social media
While LinkedIn is an important social platform for many B2B businesses, don’t limit yourself. A variety of B2B businesses have successfully utilized other social platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, to engage their audience and establish a loyal customer base.
For example, Salesforce utilizes Twitter to establish touchpoints for their customers, consistently replying to comments, updating followers on their work, staying up-to-date with current events, and highlighting their employees.
Additionally, if you have a strong content creation machine in place, it’s easy to take valuable content and atomize that into smaller, bite-sized content that's perfect for social media. Through a well-rounded social media marketing strategy, you can build and strengthen your relationships with your customers in a human, meaningful way.
Track and optimize your B2B inbound marketing strategy
The most effective marketing strategies are data-driven and continuously optimized. At Kalungi, we incorporate dashboards across every facet of our inbound (and outbound) marketing efforts to gain transparency into what’s working and improve what’s not.
First, you must identify what you want to measure. We typically measure the following:
- Organic traffic across the site and blog
- Number of keywords in top 3 and 10
- New contacts/MQLs
- Conversion rates across forms and CTAs
- Open rates and CTR
When you’re monitoring your inbound marketing funnel and success, focus on SMART KPIs (key performance indicators):
To learn more about marketing dashboards for your B2B marketing function, check out our free marketing dashboard template. If you’re focusing specifically on content marketing and SEO, read this blog and download our free B2B SaaS marketing dashboard template!
Automate your inbound marketing function with the right tools
Every B2B inbound strategy must be scalable, or you won’t be able to keep up with the long-term results the above marketing strategies drive.
By creating SEO-optimized content and lead magnets that your ICP actually wants, you’ll eventually run out of bandwidth and the ability to connect with every lead that enters your pipeline.
Because of this, automation is key. We create automated workflows for our clients whenever possible, from sending email nurture sequences to new contacts via forms or updating contact attributes after certain actions have been taken. As your company grows and your marketing team has more demand, this is essential to keeping a clean, organized, and effective marketing pipeline and overall function.
Not all marketing automation tools are created equal and often require complex (or costly) integrations, and it proves extremely difficult to set up custom integrations between platforms like Salesforce and Hubspot. Because of this, we always recommend users stick to one platform that includes all facets of your marketing and automation.
You can learn more about commercial operating systems and marketing automation for B2B inbound marketing here.
Audit and strengthen your B2B inbound marketing strategy
Old marketing tricks work for short-term goals, but if you want to establish a long-term customer base, the “pay as you play” model can get costly and lack a stable ROI.
Modern B2B marketing does not simply mean banning all outbound marketing practices and PPC advertising altogether, but rather, getting back to marketing basics -- the foundational understanding of how to best serve your customers.
Getting back to the basics means understanding your buyer’s journey and personas to establish a plan with engaging inbound marketing practices that inspire continuing loyalty. Get to the root of what you’re trying to sell, and if it doesn’t work, step back and revise.
If you're stepping into a new leadership role at a B2B SaaS company or you'd like a comprehensive overview of your current state of marketing, contact us.