OKRs are critical to performance transparency and accountability within a marketing team. Here's what we use for our marketing OKR tools.
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As a SaaS company looking into ways to scale and grow, marketing is likely at the top of your list. How do you make your product or service offering stand out? How do you reach the right people at the right time?
The truth is, your audience is out there. You just need the right best practices and a solid B2B SaaS marketing strategy to not only reach and engage them, but convert.
First, before you dive into and pour money into marketing, it’s important to understand the value of your SaaS company. By understanding the true worth of your company, you can confidently implement best practices to make better-informed strategies and decisions that will impact long-term success.
Nonetheless, as a SaaS company at any stage of growth, some marketing can go a long way. In this post, we’ll go over everything you need to know about SaaS marketing best practices –including what you should do –and shouldn’t.
B2B SaaS Marketing Don’ts
After years of experience in the industry, we’ve found four common “don’ts” when it comes to your SaaS marketing efforts so you can try to avoid these mistakes –and ensure you're staying on the path towards growth with only the “best” best practices.
Too many claims, not enough gains
Now that you have paved a path for your SaaS offering, how do you come across to your prospects? It’s important to not only talk about yourself and your product but to translate all of your features into direct benefits for the user. Make it clear to your prospects so they know what they will gain by buying your product.
Here’s an example of the language you should and shouldn’t be using:
No: We offer a sophisticated communication and collaborative solution. (claim)
Yes: Empower your workforce to communicate and collaborate better. (gain)
You can see that the gain language focuses on clear benefits and the value, not just what we can offer. See the messaging section below for more tips.
Spraying and praying
Stop targeting people who aren’t worth your time and start finding leads that convert. Your best customers are out there waiting for you, and it can be tempting to waste resources going after large markets. This is why it’s extremely important to pinpoint your Total Addressable Market, Serviceable Addressable Market, Serviceable Obtainable Market (TAM/SAM/SOM). From there you’ll develop a solid Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and then use it to build your personas so you know who you’re targeting –including their pains, fears, and dreams. See more on defining ICP and personas below.
Not leveraging content
Many marketers tend to underestimate the power of good content. But that’s because so many do it wrong. Today’s buyers want richer content experiences. That means you should always strive to consistently provide valuable content that educates, informs, and directly addresses your prospects’ pains at all stages of the funnel. See more on aligning your funnel below.
Marketing to companies, not humans
Sure, managing your marketing processes and multifunctional campaigns across various channels using automation tools has its benefits, but remember: you can’t automate authentic relationships. B2B SaaS marketing isn’t only about marketing to businesses. You need to take a more thoughtful approach and market to humans. Refer back to your personas and remember that you’re targeting the decision-makers who work for these businesses; you’re marketing to humans. See more on understanding your channels below.
7 B2B SaaS Marketing Best Practices
Don’t waste your time, money, or resources on any of the “marketing don’ts” above. Instead, leverage the following best practices for your SaaS marketing to ensure a healthy pipeline and a good return. Here are our top 7.
1. Define ICP and personas
It may seem incredibly straightforward and often touched on lightly, but you should never discount the importance of truly nailing your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and personas. Without them, you’ll be shooting in the dark –you won’t know who to target, or how. We also call this “spraying and praying.”
Creating an ICP and personas will allow you to create more targeted messaging and campaigns that actually drive your demand generation and fill your pipeline. Specifically, it allows you to focus your time on the campaigns and strategies that are most likely to get you customers.
Note: Even if you are pre-product-market-fit, marketing is all about testing your audience –so pick your best possible ICP to start with and you can pivot from there as you begin to learn from your campaign results.
2. Messaging & positioning –pain, claim, gain
Once you’ve understood who you are marketing to, you now need to know what to say, and how to say it. How do you position and talk about yourself so you stand out? What’s your brand voice? What are your value propositions?
After you’ve built your personas, you should have a good idea of what their pains, fears, and dreams are so you can craft messaging that resonates with their needs. When you’re communicating with your audience, you should make sure you’re balancing the way you talk about yourself (claim) vs. your customers’ pains and what they stand to gain with your services.
Try thinking of and presenting your features in terms of benefits so your prospects can really understand what they’re getting out of your offering. We recommend using “you” language and relating to their pains.
See how Kalungi founder Stijn Hendrikse breaks down the pain, claim, gain framework in terms of three essential questions: Why change? Why you? Why now?
3. Use the How/Why Ladder framework
For each persona you are addressing in your messaging, you may need to speak to a different set of features or benefits of your offering. The How/Why Ladder is a great way to think about this and organize your messaging.
The How/Why ladder sorts your positioning on a scale from abstract benefits to granular features and functionality. For example, while your day-to-day user persona may care greatly about how your product works, what unique features it offers, etc., the supervisor and executive personas care more about why that's important, ie. what benefits it offers.
When creating your core value propositions, try walking "up" and "down" the ladder (by asking "how" or "why") with each to explore the different levels at which you could express their value to your personas. For a thorough overview of the framework and how to implement it in your messaging, watch this video:
4. Understand your channels
Before you start building your GTM strategy, you need to understand your current channels. Try to answer the following questions to “audit” what’s been done, what’s working, and what’s not so you can build an effective strategy.
- Where are your customers?
- What are the existing channels that are bringing in leads?
- How are your paid channels performing?
- What are your unexplored channels?
- Where are your opportunities?
- What channels need to be optimized?
- How do you balance short-term vs. long-term growth?
- Do you choose to go inbound only, outbound only, or both?
- Will you need to take on a sales-led or product-led approach?
- Are you targeting the right audience through the right channels?
Tip: You can also break this into a “strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities” exercise to analyze your marketing efforts and the channels you’re using.
There are so many channels to explore and an endless amount of campaigns you can run to target your ideal customers. Your job is to make sure you’re executing the best strategy possible to drive prospective customers down the funnel. As soon as you understand your current channels, you can decide where you want to go and how you want to get there.
5. Be growth-driven
Regardless of wherever you are in your SaaS journey, you should always have a growth-driven mindset –so that every action you take is with your larger strategy and company goals in mind. This is why establishing a strong GTM strategy is important. Luckily, there are ways you can achieve T2D3 growth, and there are so many things for you to do to get there.
The important thing is, it’s no longer enough for marketing to just create pretty and engaging graphics and web pages. That’s why modern SaaS marketing leaders need to stay laser-focused on MQLs and how to get there. And not only the quantity –but the quality.
6. Define OKRs
In order to be growth-driven, you need to define your objectives and key results (OKRs). Without them, you and your team won’t have the goals they need to hit your growth targets.
It’s important to hone in on a few objectives with SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) goals and key results.
With this system, you can align your goals with your GTM strategy, get your team to focus on what matters, and provide transparency and accountability across the board. OKRs allow you to easily set and outline what your priorities are, and they’re a great measurement of success.
7. Align your funnel
If you’re not aligned with sales, your marketing efforts will go to waste.
How do you align your funnel?
Start by getting your sales and marketing teams together to make sure you’re defining your funnel stages with common terms so everyone has an understanding of the lifecycle and what they need to do. Next, define goals and then structure your team. The three most important things to remember are to: align your goals, align your roles, and align your systems.
Next, when building your marketing strategies, it’s important to identify gaps in your current efforts and make sure you’ve covered every stage of the funnel so you can start passing your leads onto sales.
Note: Make sure you’re aligning your personas to your marketing and sales funnel to ensure the best quality leads & opportunities so you can turn your prospects into customers.
8. Track weekly
Make sure you measure your marketing efforts so you know what’s working, and what’s not. We recommend tracking weekly so you can see changes over time, and how that affects your monthly, quarterly, and yearly goals.
Using a SaaS marketing dashboard will help you here. And it’s not just a reporting tool –it will help you focus on your marketing campaigns and overall strategy –which allows you to be more successful over time.
Not sure what to track? A good place to start is MQLs (per source), lifecycle stage (contact, subscriber, lead, MQL, SQL, customer, evangelist) –(per source), sessions (per source), number of high-ranking high-volume keywords, revenue, and cost per lead or CAC.
Hire a SaaS marketing agency to help
SaaS marketing agencies are focused on supporting software companies during all stages of growth. And the best part is, most agency services can be tailored to your company depending on your marketing needs and goals.
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With 4 years of experience in both B2B and B2C marketing, Jordan always makes an effort to become an expert in any topic she is given so she can produce high-quality content for Kalungi and our clients.