Marketing has changed! If you want to grow your SaaS in 2019 you need a growth hacking mindset.
Traditional methods like newspaper ads, radio ads, and even television ads no longer reach the desired audience or produce enough ROI to justify their cost – at least, when compared with digital marketing.
If you are using traditional advertising methods for your SaaS business and they seem to be working, continue them.
However, if you want to boost profitability, reach more members of your target audience, engage with them on a more personal level, and streamline most of your advertising campaigns, then you are going to have to market your brand online.
Digital marketing can help your business reach a younger audience, which is essential for future growth.
More time is being spent on digital devices such as mobiles & desktops every year.
In fact, the time spent watching TV, which is what most people spend their leisure time doing, is now being done more and more through digital devices than with traditional television sets.
Want to learn more about how online marketing can benefit your small to medium-size software business?
1. Targeting & Segmentation
No other advertising medium allows businesses of all shapes and sizes to target and segment their customers and prospects like the Internet.
Simply put, online advertising will allow you to talk “directly” to your target audience which brings a more personalized feel to your advertising message.
Targeting a large group of prospects who might resonate with your brand’s product or service and segmenting (i.e. putting that large group of people into smaller segments and categories) gives you the ability to communicate with each segment more congruently – you can tailor make different ads to different segments.
Some of the most common characteristics (segments) of a target audience include the following:
- Demographics (age, gender, marital status, etc…)
- Geographics (country, city, region, etc…)
- Psychographics (values, beliefs, interests, etc…)
- Business (industry, niche, or vertical)
The more targeted and segmented your audience is, the more brand loyalty, quality leads, and separation from your competition you will garner.
Social media platforms like Facebook make targeting and segmenting a breeze through their Ad’s Manager and Audience Insights tools, which actually allows you to type in a relevant key phrase (could even be the name of your competition) to see what their specific audience’s interests are, as well as information regarding their age, gender, spending habits, and other relevant data you could use to customize your advertising message.
Once you know each and every segment of your target audience, you can then tailor your content, ads, and email promotions specifically to each segment’s needs instead of just sending one piece of content or message to an entire group of people and hoping that some of them will resonate with it, engage with it, opt-in, and buy.
2. Search traffic with SEO & PPC
Without traffic (website visitors) you will never get sales.
Of course, converting that traffic is just as important but if your content and advertisements are in line with your target audience, as was previously discussed, the conversion should take care of themselves.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is a set of practices that increase both the quality and quantity of your website traffic to your site.
The main aim of SEO is to get your content ranked on the first page of Google as 95% of web traffic comes from this search engine giant.
You should leverage multiple channels to grow your SaaS. In the end, your growth hacking mindset will find a way! But to go really really big like Uber, Airbnb there are only two channels that are truly scalable. Referrals and SEO.
The entire search engine is designed to provide both users and advertisers with an automatic “search intent” feature, meaning when a search query is entered the user will get the most relevant content which answers their particular question.
The user knows what they are looking for and the business or advertiser knows exactly what to provide them with to answer their query.
Some of the more common ways to improve your site’s rankings on the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs) are as follows:
- Create more relevant content related to your target audience to improve engagement.
- Create longer posts on your page (minimum 1,500 words).
- Create YouTube videos around your products or services – videos are easier to rank on Google than traditional blog posts.
- Tailor your content more on topics (the topics your target audience wants to consume) than on just keywords and keyphrases.
- Obtain backlinks from authoritative sites in your industry.
- Measure your site’s existing SEO quality with free tools located on sites like Quick Sprout. Make necessary changes were applicable.
PPC (Paid Advertising)
SEO is great and for the most part free unless your hire someone or an agency to do this work for you, but it takes time and effort to get your site and content ranked in the SERPS.
PPC is the solution for this time problem.
Although it costs money, you can pay to put your ad, your content, and your products, your services, and basically your brand right on the first page of Google without having to wait 6 to 12 months or more to see if it will actually convert into leads and sales.
Some of the benefits of PPC for small to mid-size businesses are as follows;
- It is scalable: Once you find a keyword and ad that brings in high-converting traffic you can simply put more money into them to get more converting leads and customers.
- It’s fast: It is perhaps the quickest way on the Internet to get targeted visitors to your site or offer. Once the campaign starts, the traffic comes pouring in.
- Makes it easy to test products: As was stated earlier, with PPC there is no need to wait for months for your product page to get ranked in order to measure its conversion rate. With PPC, you can test it out almost immediately once the campaign begins.
PPC users have access to Google’s advanced targeting features like “retargeting” which allows you to continue sending messages at a lower cost to people who visited your site but did not convert the first time around – you will have more chances to convert your site’s traffic.
While both PPC & SEO both have their strengths and drawbacks, when used in tandem you get a short-term increase in visitors, leads, and sales (PPC), as well as a longer-term automated stream of visitors which will keep pouring in for years to come (SEO).
3. Social Media
What can having a social media presence do for your SaaS?
It can bring in more brand awareness, more traffic, and a group of loyal followers who are willing to advertise on your behalf, most of the times free of charge.
With more traditional marketing and advertising channels, you do not have a lot of time, space, and opportunity to let them get to know you or you to know them.
With social media, however, you have an entire platform in which to not only tell your following about your products and services but more importantly tell them your story (i.e. create a brand personality).
People don’t buy your products or services, they buy your story.
The best ways to use social media for brand awareness are as follows:
- Act naturally (be yourself)
- Post regularly
- Answer your customers’ and followers’ questions
While SEO and PPC are perhaps the best ways to bring a flood of traffic to your site and offers, do not underestimate the power of social media to drive targeted traffic.
72% of small businesses say that having a social media presence increases their website traffic!
What is more, this traffic has already had a chance to engage in one way or the other with your brand, so it is not like “cold” traffic coming to your site (i.e. you don’t have to work hard to convince them or sell them).
Social media traffic tends to convert better because a relationship has already been established before the visitor takes a look at your product or service.
Having a loyal following on social media is like having a whole group of brand ambassadors who are willing to share your posts, products, and content with the entire world.
The key, however, is gaining that following which takes some time and effort.
As with all online marketing endeavors, gaining followers on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest involves offering value first.
Whoever follows your brand is doing so because you have provided them with interesting content through your Posts, Tweets, or Pins.
How do I find what type of content they like?
There are 2 prime ways in which you can figure out who your audience is and what they want in order to grow a following (all of them can be performed on Facebook & then applied to other social media mediums).
- Membership (Groups): The easiest way to do this is to run a simple Facebook Ad campaign where you target the demographics that fit your ideal customer profile (age, gender, and interests). Once you have this information, create a group around your business or simply send this audience to your business page and ask them directly what type of content they would like to receive and share.
- Participation/Polls/Surveys: You can reach out to your followers, once you have obtained them, and ask them to participate in polls or surveys around specific topics to get to know what they like and don’t like. You can also ask them to recommend these polls, surveys, and questionnaires to their friends to their friends and families as well to gain more interested followers.
Another excellent way in which you can use social media is to use it for your business products Research & Development (RD) before, during or after a product launch.
For example, you could offer coupons, discounts, or even free giveaways to try one of your products in exchange for feedback.
There are other interesting ways to conduct product R&D on social media as well.
The following are some examples by big brands like Kraft, Starbucks, & Panera in this regard.
#1 Starbucks (posted on their Facebook page during a discussion in one of their forums): “Your feedback is always welcome. Join the discussion to let us know what you think about Starbucks Around the World.”
#2 Panera Bread: (after a product launch): “Last week, we introduced some new products like our …. Have you tried them? If so, what do you think?”
#3 Kraft Foods (during Easter – a direct question posed on their Facebook Fans): “There are so many ways to decorate Easter eggs! What is your family’s tradition?” Based on the responses, Kraft Foods can innovate products or develop messages that evoke memories of family traditions.
Follow up with your brand community to learn whether customers like a new product you have launched.
Customers might have ideas to tweak it, or you might find out that they don’t like it at all.
Also, mentioning the product might encourage trial among those who have not tried it.
4. Email Marketing
The original online marketing method, email marketing has not fallen out of fashion.
According to the most recent Radical Group Email Statistics Report, this year people have sent & received over 281 billion emails per day!
More importantly for businesses marketing online…
The open email rates for small to midsize business email lists during 2018 was between 20-30% across all sectors.
Simply stated, a dedicated email list still responds!
The thing about email is that it requires what is called a “micro-commitment” on the part of the subscriber. It has been proven that each little micro-commitment leads to a successively bigger commitment which ultimately ends up in a sale – the ultimate commitment!
This is why online marketers always suggest sending any visitor to a lead capture page (email collection page) before a sales page so that a small micro-commitment can be established and if the visitor does not buy on the first go, they can be marketed to free of cost in the future via email.
Here is how email marketing works:
- You get someone to opt-in to your email list via a lead magnet (free report, newsletter, coupon, discount, or another ethical bribe in exchange for their email address).
- You update them of any new posts to your blog, social media account, or Youtube channel as well as any new information regarding product deals, product specials, and other related topics regarding the products or services you offer via email.
- Sometimes your email subscribers will forward your email messages to their contacts if they feel the offer or content you have sent them is of value and so you gain more leads and customers in the process.
How many emails is too much, you wonder?
Figuring out the right frequency of emails is really up to your list.
You should test how much your list can take by constantly measuring the open-rates and resulting sales of each week’s email campaigns.
If 3 times per week get you the most open rates and sales, then that is your sweet spot, so stick to that.
If you are spending way too many emails you will soon see your un-subscriber stats increasing, so slow it down.
This can also give you a good measurement of how much content you should be posting on your blog as well.
After all, your email list is comprised of both your customers and prospects and they will dictate to you how much content and products they wish to consume.
Speaking of blogs, let’s now take a look at…
Once you know who your audience is and what they want, it is time to provide them with it.
Actually, content marketing can be used for both acquiring new customers as well as keeping present customers happy, which is why it is an all-purpose online marketing strategy.
In fact, both Google and Facebook prize quality content over everything else, so if you are sending your Google & Facebook traffic to a relevant and useful blog post, video or article, you are more likely to engage and convert that traffic.
Also, you will be less likely to upset Google or Facebook who don’t like it when a businesses or online marketer send their users to sales pages or even lead capture pages.
Large brands like Uber, Nike, Apple, Airbnb & IBM use quality content to engage, convince, and convert their visitors on a regular basis, so why shouldn’t your small business also benefit from this online marketing method?
The fact is that almost 70% of all online customers would rather learn about a company along with their products and services through an article than by any other means.
SaaS companies are killing it with content marketing. If you are not using this strategy to grow your company, you are limiting your growth options.
This comes as no surprise as content marketing is one of the oldest and most widely used of all online marketing methods.
Blogging, in particular, has shown successful engagement and conversion rates for years and it seems to show no sign of stopping.
Big brands have found that their company blogs are excellent avenues in which to not only offer valuable content but enlighten their readers and allow them to share their comments and questions in the comments section under each post.
Yet, blog articles are not the only form of content companies use to attract, engage, and convert their visitors with as downloadable PDFs, eBooks, videos, reports, tutorials, guides, and whitepapers also serve as a form of content which visitors can consume.
Most companies who use these other versions of content do so as a lead magnet or ethical bribe to obtain the visitor’s email address allowing the company to implement the email marketing strategies discussed earlier.
Content marketing & email marketing go hand in hand!
If done correctly, meaning offering your visitors the content they want and need on a regular basis, this form of marketing can bring your business new prospects and customers, as well as keep your current visitors and customers happy and coming back for more.
Content marketing establishes your business as a leader in your industry and visitors will return to your site as the go-to source of information related to your given niche.
#6 Mobile Optimization
The last couple of years have seen a shift in how Internet users access the Internet.
More and more people are using smartphones to access the internet and so businesses have had to adapt to these changes to provide for a more mobile-friendly environment.
- Half (50%) of the world’s population owns a mobile phone.
- Two-thirds (65%) of Americans own smartphones.
- 75% of all mobile searches end up with some kind of action being taken.
For the sake of brevity here, if you do not want to lose out on half of your potential visitors, you should optimize your website and other online properties for mobile devices.
This also means tailoring some of your content around voice search capabilities.
Even though traditional search still dominates the total number of online searches, businesses & online marketers are adjusting their sites and content to stay in sync with audio searches.
Here are some basic steps on how to make your businesses online presence mobile-friendly:
- Make sure that your site’s menu bar and content displays properly on mobile devices (Hint: if you have not done so already, try to use mobile-friendly themes for your website).
- Make your content mobile-friendly as well by using fewer links & attractive, shorter headlines.
- Create content that is geared more towards long queries (long-tail keywords) rather than shorter ones as most people who use mobiles are speaking into their phone and using longer questions.
As for optimizing your content for voice search, it should be more conversational as people speak their questions more than they write them and so your content should answer back in a similar speaking tone.
Here are some more tips in this regard:
If your company is local, provide content designed to answer local queries regarding your business.
Design content to provide personal assistance as most voice-searches performed nowadays are geared towards this specific issue.
Contact details should be readily available and voice-searchable on your site as well as on Google’s Business Listings.
Get a Google My Business Listing if you don’t already have one.
Another widely-used voice-search function is to find data on a particular business or industry, so if your business is relevant to the query it will appear on the front page of Google.
So what did you learn from this article?
Basically, your SaaS business needs to have an online presence and you need to take advantage of the above online marketing methods to popularize your brand, build a loyal customer base, and continue marketing to them in a way they enjoy to keep them coming back to your content and products on a regular basis.
If you have not done so already, build a mobile-friendly website.
Second, build an email list and social media following.
Third, continue to optimize your site for the search engines and run a few paid ads on both Facebook & Google to attract more visitors.
Last but not least, continue to provide useful, valuable, relevant, and engaging content to your current and future audience.
Follow these steps and you and your business will do just fine online!