Ben Young
Ben Young
November 7, 2022

Software as a service (SAAS) marketing is a rich topic as firms compete for attention. Whilst software as a service companies exist in the cloud, traditional marketing principles still apply. But they benefit from the squishing of the sales & marketing funnel, whereby prospective customers and act and go from uninformed to educated very quickly. Which is what makes SAAS marketing such a competitive space.

SAAS startups have to fight to be efficient, they can’t grow being less efficient than their competitors, who are all bigger and more well resourced. So they have to be smart in finding pockets of performance that they can exploit. Analytics helps uncover these types of opportunities which may have been missed by their competitors.

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How to do SAAS marketing

A great place to get started, is to sit down and describe the customer, who they are, where they work, what they’re facing. And how you product helps solve their problem. The more descriptive the better. Then you should simulate their purchasing journey, when they face the problem, what would they do next, what would they Google, who would they ask? And then seek to align your marketing strategy with that purchasing journey.

Content marketing is often a first stop for SAAS brands ramping up their marketing. It is something they can create easily, they know the customer, and when prospective customers engage, they are close to the purchase.


Why is SAAS marketing different?

SAAS marketing is different because the product itself is available with little to no barriers to entry. You don’t need to go to an obscure store, or leave your desk to buy it. You can buy it right now. You can also quickly compare it to the competition. The digital delivery means SAAS companies have direct access to their customers. In the past, before SAAS, you wouldn’t have direct access to your customers at all and it could take a long time for feedback to trickle back.

The other benefit is that SAAS companies can iterate their product much more frequently. Which means marketing can provide a tighter feedback loop based off customer usage.

The other neat thing, is that SAAS companies have full view through the funnel. From upper funnel activity, to mid-funnel, to buying the product. But then also the other side, how different cohorts use the product, and how long the use it etc. This gives a greater view of the customer for marketers. Whereas marketers in other industries often have to deal with a much more disorganized view of the customer.


Example of the Nudge analytics dashboard


What are the best SAAS marketing strategies?


  1. Content Marketing

Content marketing is an effective marketing strategy for SAAS to consider. Many consider it the best, because it forces the company to write and create content that will attract their prospective customers.

As well as delivering on immediate business needs, it also helps build intelligence on what will engage customers and where to invest resources. Even better it can give feedback on the product. All very helpful in the formative stages of a SAAS company.

Another big benefit is you have direct access to the customer. When you engage in other environments, you have to work with the constraints they have. Content also works 24/7 to attract customers, the SAAS dream, so customers can find you, and sign up all hours of the day. The ongoing investment also is very low, so works for capital constrained companies.

Your aim should be to get to your first 100 pieces of content, that help the customer on their journey. Articulating the problem, educating about the problem, and the solution. Finding other ways to position your product against alternatives.

Whilst it is easy to get started, it takes work to do it well and at scale. Which is where analytics can really help, providing a feedback loop on what is engaging customers. Enabling SAAS companies to fine tune their content to meet the customer where they are.


2. Social Media

Social media marketing has become an essential component of any modern marketing strategy. For SAAS companies, social media provides a platform to connect with potential customers, build brand awareness, and share valuable content. Social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook allow companies to engage with their audience and create a community of loyal users. Successful social media marketing campaigns involve creating shareable content, actively engaging with followers, and leveraging social media advertising to reach new audiences.


3. Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) is critical for SAAS companies to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) and attract potential customers. SEO involves optimizing the website’s content and structure to make it more search engine-friendly. This includes creating keyword-rich content, building high-quality backlinks, and improving website loading speed. SEO is a long-term strategy that requires consistent effort to see results, but it can drive a steady stream of organic traffic to the website and increase brand visibility.


4. Email Marketing

Email marketing is an effective way for SAAS companies to nurture leads and retain customers. Email campaigns can be personalized and targeted to specific audiences, making it a highly efficient marketing channel. Successful email campaigns involve creating engaging content, segmenting the audience, and using marketing automation tools to send timely and relevant emails. Email marketing can help build brand loyalty and drive conversions, making it an essential tool for SAAS companies.


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Formulating a SAAS Marketing Budget

A high level place to start, is to go and explore the recent financials of SAAS companies that are public. You can extrapolate from their spend and rate of growth, a few examples that can inform how much you should spend on marketing.

This then should be your starting point. Then step back and look at your marketing objectives, your acquisition costs and LTV. And work backwards to see if this is going to drive the results you need.

If it isn’t, then you need to make some adjustments. Whether it’s more budget, or other investments to help improve your acquisition cost.

This process will help you get to a tailored level of investment for your own objectives, informed by what the market is spending.

Depending on the stage of growth, this can range from 15-40% of revenue.


Common SAAS Marketing Metrics

The best analytics keep the customer front and centre. At the end of the day it’s all about what resonating with the customer.

So a good place to start, would be to consider these metrics:

  • Reach, how many people are we getting in front of
  • Attention, how long people are engaging for each click.
  • Average Scroll, how are customers consuming the page and content.
  • Engagement rate, what customers do on the page, and if they click out, to make a purchase, or sign up to webinar etc.
  • Conversion rate, rate at which people take the desired action.
  • Bounce rate, are people staying, but use a bounce rate that captures if people leave even without clicking a link. Like Nudge does.

These will help you see how effective your marketing efforts are being and if they’re working for you.


User experience and customer retention

User experience (UX) and customer retention are critical factors in the success of SAAS companies. Providing a seamless and intuitive user experience can help increase customer satisfaction and reduce churn. This involves understanding the user’s needs, designing a user-friendly interface, and continuously improving the product based on user feedback. Customer retention strategies involve building a strong relationship with the customer, providing excellent customer support, and offering incentives and rewards for loyal customers. By prioritizing UX and customer retention, SAAS companies can build a loyal customer base and increase revenue.


If you are new to SAAS marketing, these related articles might be helpful: