What is SaaS Marketing? Definitive Guide for 2023

January 12, 2023
Ammar Mazhar
What is SaaS Marketing? Definitive Guide for 2023

Table of contents

First came online transactions, then the marketplaces and cloud. To cater to businesses' growing everyday digital needs, application service providers (ASPs) came into existence to provide services over the internet, much like SaaS. But instead of being self-service, the suppliers would manually create logins and environments individually for their clients.

This was the norm until the launch of the most talked about CRM in 1999, Salesforce. It was the first ever SaaS solution built that survived against all odds, including the Great Recession and negative assumptions like their non-viability and instability. But today, 99% of companies worldwide are using one or more SaaS solutions to achieve their goals.

Their ubiquity, ease of use, and deployment have contributed to the tremendous growth the SaaS industry has achieved over the last decade. It is now valued at $186.6 billion and is expected to reach $700 billion by 2030.

While growth is a positive sign, it also brings in more competition which means it gets harder to market and stands out among the target audience. This is why we have curated this definitive guide to SaaS marketing for marketers like you. We will explore strategies, execution plans, and metrics to track, dissect & learn from some real-life marketing examples and more. 

But before we get into the nuances of SaaS marketing, let us first take a quick look at what SaaS marketing is and how it differs from other marketing types.

What is SaaS marketing?

As the name suggests, SaaS marketing refers to the marketing efforts focused on promoting and selling a SaaS product/platform, i.e., software delivered and accessed over the internet rather than installed on a local computer or server. 

From identifying the target audience for the software to crafting messaging that speaks to their needs and pain points and using various marketing channels to reach and engage with them, SaaS marketing involves various targeted marketing activities.

For a better and deeper understanding, let’s take an example of how a company that offers a cloud-based project management tool for small businesses would market themselves and their product. 

The company might use a variety of marketing tactics to reach its target audience, such as:

  • Creating content for its website that speaks to the benefits of the tool
  • Using social media to engage with potential customers and showcase the tool's features
  • Using email marketing to send targeted messages to prospects
  • Using digital paid advertising to reach a wider audience, drive traffic to the website, and more.

Michael Brooks, Founder and CEO of goLance, explains, “The reason why SaaS marketing exists and is being widely used and appreciated is that marketing a physical product or a one-time purchase product is completely different from marketing an intangible product/platform like SaaS wherein its usefulness needs to be proven every month to the current as well as potential customers. They must be convinced it's worth their money every month.”

Apart from this significant difference, many other nuances set SaaS marketing apart from different types of marketing. 

How is SaaS marketing different from every other type of marketing?

Since SaaS products have a unique set of characteristics and cater to target audiences that follow a specific way of assessing and buying the products, they require a different approach to marketing.

Here are a few key ways in which SaaS marketing is different from every other type of marketing:

  1. Subscription-based pricing model: SaaS products are sold on a subscription basis. SaaS marketing often focuses on acquiring and retaining customers over an extended period rather than just making one-time sales.
  2. Software delivery: As mentioned before, SaaS products are delivered and accessed over the internet, which means the marketing efforts are tailored for their unique positioning among the potential customers as well as a demonstration of the features and abilities of the product.
  3. Customer acquisition and retention: Since SaaS products rely on recurring revenue from subscriptions, it becomes essential for SaaS companies to focus on acquiring new customers and retaining them equally. This means their primary focus is on creating content and messaging that highlights the product's benefits over the long term and implementing customer success and retention programs.

While the same marketing activities are carried out and implemented through various channels to market SaaS products, the strategies and tactics in the marketing plan are unique to SaaS products.

Let’s explore a few tried and tested SaaS marketing strategies that can help you get started with your marketing plan.

What is a SaaS marketing strategy?

Generally, a marketing strategy refers to an approach to achieving goals and objectives and is often accompanied by various tactics describing action items to achieve those goals. Similarly, a SaaS marketing strategy contains multiple marketing strategies to achieve marketing goals.

There are many different types of SaaS marketing strategies that you can use, depending on your goals, target audience, resources, and growth stage. Following are various strategies along with tactics that can be utilized in different combinations to achieve your marketing goals:

1. Content marketing

Create and share informative, valuable, and relevant content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience and drive profitable customer action. For example, creating a series of informative blogs to educate potential customers on the product's benefits, how it can solve specific problems, and address certain pain points within the industry.

2. Search engine optimization (SEO)

Optimize your website and online presence to rank higher in search engine results for relevant keywords to attract more qualified traffic from organic search. Start with keyword research using tools like AnswerThePublic, Ahrefs, & Keyword Planner. Then take care of all the technical aspects of SEO like mobile friendliness, SSL certificate, loading speed, and more. And considering how the world is moving towards mobiles and watches, having a mobile-first website would also boost your SEO. 

One of the most popular SEO strategies, or rather an activity, is to build links to your website through guest blogging, participating in online communities, and reaching out to other relevant sites with a similar target audience to request a connection. This will increase your website's visibility in search engine results.

3. Social media marketing

Use social media platforms (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) to connect with potential customers and promote your SaaS product and remember to educate and create value for your audience. Also, make sure to have channel-wise strategies to realize the potential of various social media platforms. 

For instance, you can create infotainment content for Instagram, quick-bite-sized content for Twitter, and informative, actionable content for LinkedIn showcasing your expertise. When creating an overall social media marketing plan, ensure the overarching strategies align with your comprehensive marketing plan.

4.Email marketing

Send targeted and personalized emails to your subscribers to promote your SaaS product and nurture leads. Create various segments based on demographics, interests, or behavior to make your emails more effective. Sending personalized emails based on segments can help convert and nurture your leads. And it’s always a good idea to have an email tracking tool in place to track and analyze the performance of your email marketing campaigns.

For instance, if your product is a project management software, you can create a campaign targeted at companies in the construction industry and another targeted at companies in the technology industry. By tailoring the emails' messaging and content to address each industry's specific pain points and challenges, you can increase the relevance and effectiveness of the campaign for each group.

Pro Tip: Always A/B test your emails for different segments to identify the most effective ones.

5. Partnerships and collaborations

When it comes to SaaS products, more often than not, businesses use at least 3-4 complementary products at the same time for more efficiency and effectiveness. Hence, partnering with other companies or organizations having similar target audiences can help you cross-promote your SaaS product to each other's audiences.

For instance, if your product is project management software, you can collaborate with a company that offers time-tracking software. Together, you could create a joint marketing campaign that promotes the benefits of using both products in tandem, highlighting how the integration of the two can help your target audience streamline their workflow and improve productivity.

6. Referral marketing

Incentivize your current customers to refer their friends and colleagues to your SaaS product to acquire new customers. Word of mouth travels faster and more impactful than any other form of marketing or advertising. And when you incentivize word of mouth for your customers, they turn into your brand ambassadors, creating a positive brand association in their networking circles.

For instance, if your product is cloud storage software, you can offer incentives to your current customers for referring new business to the company. In return, you can provide special pricing for the referred customers, making it more attractive for them to sign up and for the current customers to refer their friends.

7. Event marketing

Offline marketing is coming back in this post-covid world, and companies are jumping at every chance they get to interact with their peers and industry leaders. Hence, attending or sponsoring industry events, conferences, and trade shows to promote your SaaS product and connect with potential customers can be very beneficial, especially in the current situation, says Gene Fitzgerald, Head of Marketing at BOS.

One example of event marketing is hosting a conference or a user event specifically for the product. This event could target current customers, potential customers, industry experts, and thought leaders. The conference can serve as a platform for the company to showcase its product, share knowledge about the product and industry, and to network with other professionals in the field.

While this section gives us an overview of how various marketing strategies and tactics can be tweaked to market a SaaS product impactfully, we want to explore why every SaaS company must have an actionable marketing strategy in place.

Why is having a marketing strategy important for SaaS companies?

In general, having a well-defined marketing strategy is essential as it can help achieve business goals, reach their target audience, and generate revenue more effectively and efficiently. Apart from that, there are a few nuanced ways that having a marketing strategy can help a SaaS company grow.

Infographic: Importance of SaaS marketing

1. Provides a clearer picture of the target market

A marketing strategy can help you define your target audience, understand their needs and interests, and create content and messaging that speaks to them.

2. Helps to prioritize resources

A marketing strategy enables you to prioritize your marketing efforts and allocate your resources (e.g., time, money, staff) in a way that is most likely to achieve your goals faster and more efficiently.

3. Helps identify ways to improve customer relationships

Having a plan in motion to market your SaaS product makes it easy to track, analyze and improve your customer’s experience with your product and thereby improve your relationship with them. In today’s day and age, above everything, it is essential to maintain a relationship and rapport with your customers -- it’s more impactful if you have resources to cater to them at a personal level.

4. Creates a better product

Customer feedback is one of the most critical aspects of building a SaaS product or company. When you have a solid SaaS marketing plan, you ensure constant efforts to be in touch with your customers and potential customers, which helps build an impactful feedback loop for your product team.

5. Helps to adapt to changes

A strategy helps you stay agile, adapt to your industry, market, or target audience changes, and pivot your marketing efforts as needed.

6. Lastly, it helps you track and measure progress

A good marketing strategy always includes metrics and benchmarks to track your progress and measure the effectiveness of marketing efforts.

Now that we have covered all our bases, including various marketing strategies, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how you should go about creating a result-driven marketing strategy for your SaaS product/company.

10 Steps to create a result-driven SaaS marketing strategy

One of the worst mistakes you can make as a marketer is creating a marketing plan without research. Creating a marketing plan is a process that encompasses various steps, like creating user personas, understanding competitors, and more.

Here are ten universal steps you need to follow to create a result-driven SaaS marketing strategy for your company:

Infographic: Creating a SaaS marketing strategy

1. Create user personas

Start by identifying your ideal customers, including their demographics, needs, interests, and pain points. This will help you create targeted and relevant marketing messages. If you sell to enterprises, you must generate buyer and user personas and market them uniquely.

2. Do competitor analysis

Get an idea of your good market and overall industry by conducting a thorough competitor analysis. By researching your competitors, you can understand their strengths and weaknesses and the opportunities and threats in your market. This will help you differentiate your SaaS product and identify your competitive advantage, which can be the central theme for your marketing plans.

3. Define goals and OKRs

Creating a marketing plan without goals and OKRs (objectives & key results) is like roaming around as a headless chicken. By clearly defining your business goals, such as increasing revenue, acquiring new customers, or retaining existing ones, you can focus your marketing efforts on the most critical priorities, thereby driving better results more efficiently.

4. Choose marketing channels

Based on your defined target audience and their behavior, you will need to choose marketing channels that are most effective for reaching your target audience and achieving your business goals, such as email marketing, social media, paid advertising, partnerships, etc.

5. Allocate budget to each channel

After finalizing the marketing channels and their importance, you need to allocate a budget to each channel based on the forecasted results and their impact on achieving your business goals.

6. Develop a content strategy

Create a plan for creating and sharing valuable, informative, and relevant content that addresses the needs and interests of your target audience. As mentioned above, this could include blog posts, articles, videos, podcasts, etc.

7. Start the execution engine

Execute all the different aspects based on the content and overall marketing strategy. Once you start the execution process, keep analyzing to deploy automation to optimize various processes. For instance, instead of manually sending personalized emails in email marketing, use tools like AppFlows to create behavior-driven automation to send customized emails at scale.

8. Create a timeline and action plan

Develop a timeline and action plan that outlines the specific tasks and milestones you need to achieve to execute your marketing strategy.

9. Monitor progress and analyze results

It’s always a good idea to go back to your milestones and forecasted results and compare them with the achieved results and goals to measure the effectiveness of your processes and overall marketing plan. It is also essential to monitor progress to ensure the timely execution of all the tasks.

10. Conduct A/B testing

Always conduct A/B testing to understand what resonates most with your target audience, especially if you are in the launch or growth stage of your business cycle.

Next, we will explore, in-depth, the metrics you need to track to ensure the effectiveness of your marketing strategy and stay ahead of your competitors.

7 Metrics to Focus on in Your SaaS Marketing Strategy

While there are many metrics you can focus on in your SaaS marketing strategy, your metrics should depend on your business goals and objectives.

Here are some standard metrics that SaaS companies might focus on include:

Infographic: Metrics to focus on in SaaS marketing strategies

1. Monthly recurring revenue (MRR)

This is a measure of the predictable and recurring revenue your SaaS product generates each month and is a crucial indicator of the health and growth of your business.

2. Unique visitors

As a result-driven marketer, always track unique visitors instead of just visitors, which is considered a vanity metric in the world of SaaS marketing. Tracking unique visitors will help you gauge the effectiveness of your content and SEO strategies. 

3. Lead generation

Track the number of leads you generate from different marketing channels. You can also use this metric to gauge the effectiveness of your marketing activities as well as channel effectiveness which will help you create more targeted marketing plans in the future.

4. Conversion rate

This is the percentage of visitors to your website or landing page who take the desired action (e.g., sign up for a trial, or make a purchase). Improving your conversion rates can help you generate more revenue from your marketing efforts.

5. Activation

Activation refers to turning a free trial user into a paying customer. You can increase the number of activations by providing a seamless SaaS onboarding process, educating users about the full range of features & benefits, engaging users regularly, and providing excellent customer support.

6. Churn rate

This is the percentage of customers that cancel their subscription or stop using your SaaS product within a given period. A high churn rate can signal customer dissatisfaction, which you should aim to minimize.

7. CLV: CAC ratio

CLV estimates the total value a customer will bring to your business throughout their relationship with you. And CAC is the cost of acquiring a new customer, including all marketing and sales expenses. CLV: CAC ratio determines if you are making a profit or occurring losses. Ideally, you want to increase CLV and optimize CAC as much as possible to drive higher profits. 

Now that you know how to create a SaaS marketing strategy and the metrics to track to maximize return on your marketing budget, let’s dive into the niche marketing strategies you can implement for your SaaS company.

 6 Simple Yet Powerful SaaS marketing strategies for 2023

1. Utilize SaaS content marketing

Content marketing is a strategic approach to creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

Here are some examples of content marketing for SaaS products include:

  • Blog posts: Write educational and informative blog posts that address common questions, problems, or challenges faced by your target audience, and show how your SaaS product can help solve them.
  • Videos: Create instructional or explainer videos demonstrating how your SaaS product works, its features and benefits, and how it can help your audience solve their problems.
  • Webinars: Host live or recorded webinars that provide insights, tips, and best practices related to your SaaS product, and offer a Q&A session for attendees to ask questions.
  • Case studies: Share real-life examples of how your SaaS product has helped your customers solve specific problems or achieve their goals.
  • Infographics: Infographics are a visual way to present information and can be a great way to communicate complex ideas in a simple and easy-to-understand format.
  • Ebooks: Ebooks are a more in-depth form of content that can be used to dive deeper into a specific topic. You can use ebooks to provide more detailed information on your product or industry or a comprehensive guide on a particular topic.

2. Scale up email marketing

Email marketing is a powerful tool for promoting a SaaS product. Here are a few tips for using email marketing effectively:

  • Segment your email list: It's essential to segment your email list based on user behavior, interests, and demographics. This will allow you to send targeted and relevant emails to specific groups of users.
  • Personalize your emails: Personalized emails have higher open and click-through rates. Use your email marketing software to include personalized greetings and recommendations based on the user's behavior and interests. You can always use innovative email marketing tools like AppFlows that allow you to hyper-personalize your emails at scale and send them in real-time.
  • Optimize for mobile: More and more people are accessing their emails on mobile devices. Make sure to optimize your emails for mobile to ensure that they are easy to read and interact with on a small screen.
  • Use A/B testing: Use A/B testing to test different elements of your emails, such as subject lines, headlines, and call-to-action buttons. This will help you determine what works best for your audience, suggests Tom Miller, Director of Marketing at FitnessVolt

3. Offer a free trial

A free trial is a common marketing strategy that SaaS companies use to allow potential customers to try out their product before committing to a paid subscription. Here are a few tips for offering a successful free trial:

  • Clearly define the terms: Make sure to explain the terms of the free trial, including how long it will last, what features are included, and any limitations. This will help set the right expectations with your users.
  • Make it easy to sign up: Make the sign-up process as easy as possible. Requiring too much information or creating unnecessary barriers can discourage users from signing up for the free trial.
  • Provide onboarding and support: To help users get the most out of the free trial, provide onboarding and support. This can include in-app tutorials, live training sessions, or email support. For example, sending a series of customer activation and onboarding emails that can help your customers understand the proper usage of product features. Here’s an example from Harvest that helps in understanding the concept:
SaaS marketing: onboarding email example
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  • Make it easy to upgrade: Make it easy for users to upgrade to a paid subscription once the free trial ends. This can include providing clear pricing information and a simple upgrade process.
  • Offer incentives: Consider offering incentives, such as discounts or free months of service, to encourage users to upgrade to a paid subscription. Using positive and actionable phrases like find a plan built for you or enjoy 20% off on all plans today. An example from Zoom can help you understand.
SaaS marketing: offering incentives in emails
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  • Analyze and optimize: Use analytics tools to track the performance of your free trial and identify areas for improvement. This will help you optimize the free trial experience and increase conversion rates.

4. SaaS SEO Strategy

SEO can help you gain organic traffic. Here are a few tips for developing an SEO strategy for a SaaS company:

  • Research keywords: Use keyword research tools to identify the keywords and phrases your target audience uses to search for products like yours. This will help you optimize your website and content for those keywords.
  • Optimize your website: Make sure to optimize your website for both search engines and users. This includes optimizing page titles and descriptions, using header tags, and ensuring that your website is mobile-friendly.
  • Create high-quality content: Create relevant content that provides value to your target audience. This will help attract and retain visitors and improve your search engine rankings.
  • Build backlinks: Backlinks are linked from other websites to your website. Having high-quality backlinks from authoritative websites can improve your search engine rankings.

Pro Tip: Regarding SEO, ‘beating the competition’ is not a strategy. In today’s digital-first world, where customers are also aware of marketing strategies, such a strategy would never generate results for you. Even with SEO, your primary focus should be creating a seamless customer experience which can be achieved by being present at all the customer touchpoints and for all their queries.

5. SaaS PPC campaign

PPC advertising is a way to drive traffic to your website by placing ads on search engines or other websites and paying a fee each time someone clicks on your ad. Here are a few tips for developing a PPC strategy for a SaaS product:

  • Identify your target audience: Clearly define who your target audience is and where they are likely to be found online. This will help you target your ads to the right people.
  • Research keywords: Use keyword research tools to identify the keywords and phrases your target audience uses to search for products like yours. This will help you create relevant and targeted ads.
  • Set clear goals: What do you want to achieve with your PPC campaigns? Do you want to drive traffic to your website, generate leads, or increase sales? Setting clear goals will help you measure the effectiveness of your PPC campaigns.
  • Use ad extensions: Ad extensions are additional information you can add to your ads, such as location, phone number, or product ratings. These can help improve the visibility and performance of your ads.
  • Use negative keywords: Negative keywords are words or phrases for which you don't want your ads to appear. Adding negative keywords can help you target your ads more effectively and reduce costs.
  • Use A/B testing: Use A/B testing to test different elements of your PPC ads, such as headlines, ad copy, and call-to-action buttons. This will help you determine what works best for your audience.

6. Make use of SaaS review sites

SaaS review sites are a great way to get exposure to your product and gather user feedback. Here are a few tips for making the most of SaaS review sites:

  • Set up profiles on multiple review sites: There are many different SaaS review sites, so it's a good idea to set up profiles on various sites to get as much exposure as possible. Here are a few: G2, Software Suggest, SaaSGenius, GetApp, etc.
  • Encourage customers to leave reviews: You can send follow-up emails after a purchase or by including a link to the review site in your email signature.
  • Respond to reviews: Both positive and negative reviews are critical. Take the time to respond to all reviews and address any issues or concerns. This shows that you value customer feedback and helps to build trust with potential customers.
  • Use review sites as a source of feedback: Review sites can be a great source of feedback and ideas for improving your product. Keep an eye on the reviews and use them to identify areas for improvement.
  • Leverage positive reviews: Share positive thoughts on your website and social media to showcase the value of your product and build credibility.
  • Monitor your ratings: Keep track of your ratings on review sites and take steps to improve them if necessary. This will help to ensure that you are presenting a solid image to potential customers, explains Pat Ahern, Partner at Intergrowth.

3 Real-life SaaS marketing examples

Here are three real-life examples of SaaS marketing to help you understand the nuances of SaaS marketing.

1. Hubspot

SaaS marketing example: Hubspot
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Hubspot is a marketing and sales software company that uses various SaaS marketing techniques to attract and retain customers. These include:

  • content marketing (HubSpot is the go-to option for marketers and salespeople who want to understand their industry and skills better)
  • email marketing
  • social media marketing
  • and inbound marketing

For example, the company regularly produces blog posts, ebooks, and webinars that provide valuable information and tips to its target audience of marketers and sales professionals. It also uses social media platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn to engage with its audience and promote its products.

2. Salesforce

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Salesforce is a customer relationship management (CRM) software company that uses various SaaS marketing techniques to promote its products. These include

  • content marketing, 
  • email marketing, 
  • social media marketing, 
  • and paid to advertise.

For example, the company uses its blog and social media channels to share industry news, best practices, and other relevant information with its target audience of business professionals. It also uses email marketing to communicate with customers and promote new product releases and updZoom

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Zoom is a video conferencing software company that uses various SaaS marketing techniques to promote its products. These include 

  • content marketing, 
  • social media marketing, 
  • and paid to advertise.

For example, the company regularly produces blog posts, ebooks, and other types of content that provide valuable information and tips to its target audience of business professionals. It also uses social media platforms, such as Twitter and LinkedIn, to engage with its audience and promote its products. In addition, the company uses paid advertising, such as Google AdWords, to reach potential customers and drive traffic to its website.

Take Your SaaS Marketing Strategies to the Next Level with AppFlows

Marketing SaaS products require a completely different approach to marketing, as discussed. In addition to the approach, SaaS marketing requires a different set of created products, keeping SaaS marketers like you in mind.

Jonathan Merry, CEO of Moneyzine, explains it with an example “One such product is AppFlows. It is a low-code tool to create behavior-driven email flows in a matter of minutes with the help of their drag-and-drop automation builder, which comes with its pre-built flows crafted by email marketing experts based on their experience and gathered data on behavior and performance.”

AppFlows can be used at various customer touch points:

  • User onboarding: You can use AppFlows to trigger helpful, informative emails at the time of onboarding, drastically reducing the time it takes new users to understand your SaaS product.
  • Reduce churn rate: With the help of AppFlows pre-built flows, you can re-engage and nurture inactive customers and convert them into paying customers.
  • Increase CLV: By using AppFlows email automation features and pre-built flows, you can use it to build deeper and value-driven relationships with your customers at a personal level, increasing CLV.

Additionally, you can do more with AppFlows, like understanding your audiences’ behavior to enhance your SaaS marketing and take it to the next level.

Frequently Asked Questions - SaaS Marketing

1. What is B2B SaaS Marketing?

B2B SaaS marketing refers to marketing software products and services to other businesses. B2B SaaS marketing is often focused on providing solutions to specific business problems or needs and typically involves a longer sales cycle than B2C (Business-to-Consumer) marketing.

2. What are SaaS marketing channels?

Many different marketing channels can be effective for promoting a SaaS product. Here is a list of some common SaaS marketing channels:

  • Website
  • Content marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Social media
  • Referrals, and more.

3. How is SaaS Marketing different from Digital Marketing?

SaaS marketing is a specific type of digital marketing that focuses on promoting software products and services to businesses and organizations. While SaaS marketing is a form of digital marketing, it has some unique characteristics that differentiate it from other types of digital marketing, including product type, sales cycle, channels, and customer success cycle.

Author Bio

Ammar Mazhar

Ammar Mazhar

Content writer by day and a book nerd by night, Ammar Mazhar has been writing for 3 years for B2B and B2C businesses. As a wordsmith, Ammar knows how to write SEO-optimized content that your users will find insightful, igniting results for your business.

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