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11 B2B SaaS Marketing Strategies to Help You Scale Up in 2021July 18, 2021
According to a 2020 study, companies spend 50% more now on SaaS products than they did the year before. Also, the number of unique apps that SaaS companies are using has increased by about 30%.
The data shows that the demand is increasing, which is excellent news, but the market is becoming more and more competitive as well. Buyers have more options than ever, and B2B SaaS companies need to put in more effort to stand out.
This article will take you through eleven fundamental marketing tactics that any B2B SaaS company should consider in 2021.
But first, let’s quickly have a look at the definition of B2B SaaS marketing.
What Is B2B SaaS Marketing?
Taking into account that SaaS stands for “software as a service,” it means that SaaS marketing involves promoting software based on subscriptions.
A strong B2B SaaS marketing strategy brings the product in front of the right audience at the right time and emphasizes how the product brings value to the customer.
In this crowded market, buyers explore and evaluate many options before making a purchasing decision. Google calls this stage in the buyer’s journey the messy middle. That’s where you want to focus your B2B SaaS marketing efforts.
If your organization can take the time to consider this new way people buy SaaS products, you’ll have a better grip on your marketing tactics as a whole.
How Do SaaS Companies Stand Out From the Competition?
Every market is full of cut-throat competition, and SaaS is no different. Companies still make it to the top tier level and bag customers and profits alike with just the right tactics and strategies.
So, let’s cover what SaaS companies do to make the potential prospects notice them and turn them into customers.
1. Come up With a UI/UX Strategy
One of the key strategies globally successful businesses use is influencing consumer behavior in your favor. One way to do this is to prepare effective user experience (UX) strategies with an intuitive and interactive user interface (UI).
Providing user satisfaction involves creating a seamless and positive experience for your customers/users from using your website, mobile app, to software products.
You need to ensure that the user interface of not just your website or mobile app but your software product is efficient. Thus, developing these well-defined strategies will help you focus on these main points.
One way to go about it is pop-up surveys. UX designers can use surveys to gather in-context feedback from website visitors or users and put a finger on what needs improvement.
They can place surveys in prototypes or any specific pages of a website to minimize usability issues by asking users about their experience and what they think is working or not.
Bonus Read: Guide to Surveying Users
Here are some examples of survey questions that you can ask to gather contextual feedback:
- “What were you hoping to find on this page?”
- “Did this page meet your expectations?”
- “Is there anything on this site that doesn’t work the way you expected it to?”
- “Does this page contain the information you were looking for?”
- “What could we do to make this site more useful?”
There are just a few examples to give you an idea and get you started. For more ideas, check out this survey question library.
2. Find What Makes You Unique
Generally, products are the main components that set a company apart from the competition. The better the product, the better your business will perform compared to the competitors.
To create robust products and undefeatable strategies, many companies use on-site surveys to collect user feedback and gauge what features/updates customers want to add/remove from the product to create a customer-centric experience and boost satisfaction for your products. Here is an example:
Besides this parameter, other factors can make your SaaS unique and stand out from the competition. Some pointers which you should consider to stand out are:
- Offer better customer-centric services and support
- Focus on different and diverse audiences and segments
- Ensure seamless UI and UX across all channels, platforms, and departments
- Create less frictional flows in the user journey
3. Plan a Long-Term Business Model
There are many “standard” business models out there for SaaS startups to try. One of the popular ones is venture capital. Many startups from the onset rely on venture capital, while others start slowly, both keeping the long-term benefits in mind. These are the two options that create a base for the business model.
To further ensure you build a long-term business model, you need to keep improving your conversion rate and bringing in more business. You can use the customer feedback you collect to identify areas of improvement and re-evaluate your value proposition, pricing, and other crucial elements.
You can also use the feedback to:
Run A/B testing for your website ⇒ Check the Net Promoter Score (NPS as shown below) using the feedback surveys ⇒ Redefine your marketing strategies.
All in all, a long-term business model is only possible as long as you stay relevant and focused on your customers’ needs.
Bonus Read: Best NPS Software
4. Focus on Value Instead of Cost in Competition
One of the most common and rookie mistakes SaaS startups make is to think of the cost as their competitive advantage. Well, sure, it is in e-commerce or other industries, but SaaS is different. Here, the customers’ primary goal is to find a product that works, lower costs, and discounts.
If your product does not have value for customers, it will never become a hit, no matter how competitive your prices are. But, if it performs well and has value for customers, then they will pay reasonably.
Additionally, price is not a stable competitive advantage, as you only have the upper hand until some else comes with even lower prices. It results in pricing wars, where your margins get sliver to the point; it’s not sustainable for your business in the longer run.
Now, let’s dive into the fundamental tactics any B2B SaaS company should consider to growth hack the business.
B2B SaaS Marketing Strategies
Here are 11 of the most effective B2B SaaS marketing tactics you should consider in 2021:
- Optimize your site for high-intent keywords
- Optimize your listings on review websites
- Curate reviews and customer feedback along with success stories
- Use Ads to reach new audiences
- Drive more organic traffic to your blog
- Start an affiliate program
- Create engaging and educational content that stands out
- Give in-app product tours
- Provide demos for prospects to familiarize them with the product
- Freemium Model
- Use Customer Feedback to Increase Subscription Renewal
1. Optimize Your Site for High-Intent Keywords
If you want to grow your user base consistently, you need to be one of the first companies that potential users see when they’re searching for products and services like yours. One of the best ways to do that is to optimize your content for high-intent keywords.
What Are High-Intent Keywords?
High-intent keywords are keywords that show that a searcher intends to buy something. Jumping on top of these kinds of keywords is essential for bringing in customers who are already convinced that they want a certain type of product or service, similar to what you’re offering.
For example, a searcher may type in “what is CRM,” in which case their intent is not yet to purchase a CRM. They might want to learn what a CRM is or what are some examples of CRM companies.
At the same time, another searcher may type in “best CRM software for small businesses.” In this case, the searcher shows an intent to buy a specific kind of CRM. Therefore, we consider “best CRM software for small businesses” to be a high-intent keyword.
In this example, HubSpot’s best CRMs list appears as one of the top pages that searchers see when looking for the best CRM for small businesses.
Another example of a high-intent keyword is one that describes certain features that the user is looking for. In the case of HubSpot’s products, someone might be looking for a free form maker or free scheduling software. Instead of being sure that they want a certain product, the customer may be sure that they want a product that has a certain capability (or it’s free).
It’s essential for any B2B SaaS to create a list of their most critical high-intent keywords and start optimizing their content so that they show up for these queries.
2. Optimize Your Listings on Review Websites
If you haven’t been taking the time to optimize your review listings and websites, you’re missing out on one of the most treasured B2B SaaS marketing tactics.
How to Optimize Review Websites and Listings
Such optimization involves claiming your company profile on review websites like G2, Capterra, or TrustRadius. After claiming your company, fill in your description, add products, pictures, and videos to your company’s profile.
- Show potential customers what your SaaS is about. Most review websites are free to use if you just want to get your product listed, but if you’re looking for a more visible position, you often need to consider a paid plan.
- Next, you need to make sure you gather fresh, constant reviews from your users. The number and kind of reviews that your company has matters a lot for a user that’s exploring their options. In fact, 93% of consumers agree that online reviews influence their purchasing decisions.
- This means that all of these consumers are looking at what all of your past customers have said about you to determine if they’re going to give your product a shot.
- Don’t forget to engage in conversation or respond to questions whenever necessary. A prompt response will stay public and help potential users as they research your product. Plus, it is a good indicator that you care and you’re reliable post-sale.
3. Curate Reviews and Customer Feedback Along with Success Stories
Irrespective of how intuitive the UI of your product is or how feature-rich it is, users would never know about it before trying, which is only possible when they purchase subscription plans or sign up for a trial. But there is another way – customer reviews and testimonials.
How Can a Company Motivate Its Potential Users to Try Their Product?
For starters, you need to develop trust in them towards your products, and the best way to do this is to show them what other customers think and experience with your product. Now, acquiring honest and detailed reviews and testimonials is easier said than done.
So, for this purpose, many companies deploy survey tools like Qualaroo and ProProfs Survey Maker to gather customer feedback about their products and services and extract reviews and testimonials worthy information.
And the best part?
You can get contextual feedback that is richer and meaningful than just a general survey. You can strategically place surveys with specific triggers to collect in-context feedback and gain an in-depth view of user experience.
Features like sentiment analysis in such survey tools help you skim through tons of feedback and select the most helpful information to use as success stories and reviews for potential clients as proof.
Such survey and analytics tools use the “word cloud” feature to access the verbatim responses of users and highlight the frequently used vocabulary in the feedback. You can select any word from the word cloud and select the reviews best representing your business as powerful testimonials
Besides Sentiment Analysis, you can also collect contextual insights from existing customers using exit-intent survey pop-ups. There are tools that let you place exit-intent surveys which appear right when the visitors are leaving the website to ask them what went wrong and how you can improve their experience.
4. Use Ads (Paid Search) to Reach New Customers
Pay-per-click advertising, or PPC advertising, is one of the most popular B2B SaaS marketing tactics. Even for companies that do well on the SEO front, PPC is still something they invest in because of the level of control it gives you. Plus, paid search costs less than half of the amount spent on a traditional ad published elsewhere.
That being said, some of the best performing paid ads have a few things in common:
- They start with a general benefit but also make a specific promise
- They address a pain point
- They show you the way you’ll benefit from their product, in a nutshell
Brands like Noom create very effective Paid ads. If you’d like to learn more about how they do it, check out the super-in-depth studies created by Peter Boyle from GrowthModels.co (Paywall). I need to say that this isn’t free content, and I don’t get any referral “bonus” for recommending it. It’s just a resource I found exceptionally well documented and helpful.
5. Drive More Organic Traffic to Your Blog with a Search Insights Report
At HubSpot, we use a cross between a keyword report and a content calendar to plan our blog content. We call this our Search Insights Report. That’s because we take insights from SEO like keyword search volume and difficulty to come up with content ideas that our audience wants.
How Does This Help?
By adopting an SEO-driven approach to content, you’ll be able to grow your business’ website organically. For HubSpot, the approach paid off, as you can see in the screenshot below, and we saw a significant increase in our blog’s SEO performance after a year of working with a Search Insights Report.
6. Start an Affiliate Program
An affiliate program is something B2C brands have been using for a long time to boost their sales. More and more B2B SaaS brands adopt this channel to reach new audiences using bloggers and social media influencers.
How to Search Online for Companies That Run Affiliate Programs
If you’re looking to see examples of companies that run Affiliate programs, use advanced search operators like these to spot dedicated pages:
- intitle:”affiliate program”
- Intitle:”referral commissions”
Affise, Impact, and Voluum are just a few examples of affiliate tracking software that you might consider if you’re just starting with an affiliate program.
7. Create Engaging and Educational Content That Stands Out
It’s important to optimize your content for search engines and create engaging series to generate more traffic to your website. But traffic doesn’t pay the bills. What you need is to make sure your readers take the next step and convert somehow, either downloading a piece of content or using your software.
That’s why every piece of content your company puts out should contain a strong call-to-action (CTA). Without a call-to-action, you’re wasting a great conclusion to whatever knowledge you just gave the reader or listener. The catch is to make sure you align each offer (CTA) with the reader’s intent.
When it comes to entertaining your audience, you need to do more than write your typical blog posts and sell your standard products and services. Captivating today’s audience means launching a podcast, creating videos on platforms like YouTube, engaging with your audience on social media, and more.
B2B SaaS brands like HubSpot, Qualaroo, or ProProfs have been jumping onto these trends for years and finding favor in these new audiences. There is one question you need to ask yourself before you plan your content is the content type you want to produce for your audience and business.
If you want to learn more about how to optimize your blog content to conversions, check out How the HubSpot Blog Generates Leads.
What type of content should you create?
What makes a content strategy successful for any business is its uniqueness and relevancy to the audience and the business alike. You should create content depending on the nature of your business and the audience.
The most convenient way to determine what kind of content your users want is to simply ask them. With the help of a feedback survey tool, you can ask your website visitors, mobile app users, or prospects their preferences and what they would like to see from you.
Your success in gauging users’ and prospects’ interests depends heavily on how you ask them. So, what are the questions you need to ask to get them to convert?
- “What topics would you like to see us write about next?”
- “Was this help section useful?”
- “Did this article answer your question?”
- “What other information would you like to see on this page?”
As you’re creating the content, stick to a content calendar and stay consistent with everything you’re providing for your audience. The more consistent, quality content that you provide, the more customers you’ll be able to bring in and wow with your software.
8. Give in-App Product Tours
SaaS customer acquisition and retention are tightly related to the perceived value of the product. If customers manage to make the most out of the tools you provide, they’ll likely convert more, stay longer and even recommend your product to their peers.
One of the best ways to make sure your product is well understood is to give product tours. According to Invisionapp, a product tour can help improve sales conversions by at least 20%.
When should I give a product tour?
Ideally, give the product tour as soon as possible when users sign up and first interact with your product. You can also engage existing customers with short tours of new features.
For example, Teamwork shows new users their progress with the features available, how many features they used, and how many are still to be discovered. Every feature comes with a short video tutorial and links to a knowledge base to help you learn more.
9. Make It Easy for Prospects to Book Calls & Demos
If you’re looking to convert your content leads into actual MQLs, then make it easy for them to either book a call or a demo with your team. For that, it’s important to pay attention to the way you design your landing page:
- Reduce the number of form fields
- Include social proof such as video testimonials or quotes for customers
- Consider adding a short video demo
For example, Qualaroo makes it easy for prospects to book a demo call whenever it suits their calendar:
10. Opt for a Freemium Model
Among SaaS businesses, one particular monetization model that quickly gained attention is the Freemium model. It is where you allow your users to try your product or service for free with limited and basic features. It helps them get acquainted with what the product offers, how it works, and how it can help them.
Why does the freemium model work?
Having a freemium model improves customer acquisition and protects a SaaS company’s market share. Companies with a large addressable market benefit from the freemium model because it helps them capture new customers at a relatively low cost. And even if some users keep their freemium plan for long before they convert, they are still using the product and not going to the competitors.
Moreover, the freemium model reduces uncertainty in the sales process. Since the freemium product is a scaled-down version of the paid product, satisfied users have more confidence in opting for a paid plan.
11. Use Customer Feedback to Increase Subscription Renewals
The onset of COVID-19 left all the industries with uncertainty. It still hasn’t changed much in 2021. Many companies are still skeptical towards capital investments and many even pulled back. During such turbulent times, companies are re-thinking their priorities and redefining their “must-haves” and “nice to haves”.
At this point, it’s difficult to say which category SaaS products will be a part of. While for some businesses, your SaaS product may be a priority, the majority are finding ways to cut down on SaaS subscriptions for the time being until the situation improves.
So what can be done in this scenario?
Take the proactive approach to retain subscribers.
A proactive strategy which many businesses are practicing now is to approach the clients days before the end of their subscription. The service teams can talk to the customers about the current situation of their business and gauge what features of your SaaS product are most useful for them.
By understanding the most valuable features for each of your customers, you can customize their subscriptions to keep their business.
Many SaaS companies are going the extra mile and offering a few months of free subscription and coming up with equally innovative ways to make the customers stay.
Taking on all of these B2B SaaS marketing tactics is essential to ensure that you’re making the most of all that the digital marketing world has to offer. The more you reach out to the customers and interact, the more your company will grow.
Your SaaS business can flourish by acting on the user insights using the customer feedback collected with the right and competent survey feedback tool. If you give what customers want, they will give you regular business.
Author bio: This post was written and contributed by Irina Nica. Irina is a marketer and international keynote speaker based in Dublin, Ireland. She’s currently working at HubSpot, on a program called “Surround Sound”, where she is focused on building awareness for the company’s freemium products. Irina is also one of the Head Judges for the 2021 EU Search Awards.
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