If you build the best piece of software in the world, but nobody uses it, what have you accomplished?
It’s like that old Buddhist proverb: If a tree falls in the forest, and nobody is around to hear it, did it really happen?
Well, we can’t speak about Buddhist philosophy – but we CAN speak about B2B SaaS marketing.
And the harsh reality is that your company will live and die according to how many people use your SaaS (and how many stick around).
With that in mind, our goal with this piece is to give you a highly-actionable toolkit you can adopt to promote your B2B SaaS company.
Let’s get into it.
#1: Content Marketing Through Long-Form Blog Posts
Come on, you knew this was coming.
Here at Gingerbread Marketing, we pride ourselves on providing super-high-quality long-form blog posts as a content marketing solution for B2B SaaS companies.
(How’s that for a shameless plug?)
Seriously, though, you are falling behind your competition if you aren’t investing in high-quality blog posts to inform and serve your current and potential customers.
Don’t just take it from us. As Neil Patel says on the Kissmetrics blog:
“SaaS marketing depends on information.
It’s amazing how foundational this is, yet how often overlooked…
Take, for example, Buffer. Their world-famous blog is actually an information product to support their social media service. Yes, they want you to read their blog. But more importantly, they want you to try their product.”
A few rules of thumb for blog posts:
- Early on, if you don’t have much of an audience, follow Dan Norris’s 70/30 rule of content marketing from his book Content Machine: Publish 70% of your blog posts on other, bigger platforms, and publish 30% of your posts on your own site.
Later on, you can switch this ratio.
- At Gingerbread, we shoot for meaty articles – around 1500-2000 words in length. B2B customers will want plenty of information, but don’t make your articles fluffy just to make them longer.
Remember the golden rule of content marketing: It’s NOT about you or your company. It’s about your customers and their needs and how you can help solve their problems.
#2: Get Email Signups Through Content Upgrades
A content upgrade is a relevant, actionable and useful addition to a blog post you offer to your blog readers in exchange for an email signup.
As Brian Dean from Backlinko says,
“Traditional bribes like free reports and email courses don’t have nearly the same juice that they used to.
What CAN you offer that gets people to fork over their email address?
The Content Upgrade.
It’s a simple strategy that instantly increased my conversion rate from .54%. to 4.82%.”
Here’s an example of one of Brian’s content upgrades “in the wild”:
As you can see, Brian didn’t just stick a random piece of content into the blog post and ask for an email address in return.
The meat of Brian’s post is a lengthy infographic about on-page SEO, and the content upgrade is a short and sweet action-oriented guide to help readers use that info.
This content upgrade is the definition of “relevant, actionable and useful.”
Also note that the content upgrade box nicely contrasts with the rest of the post, making it impossible to miss even for a scrolling reader.
Finally, make sure your content upgrades are “two-click” opt-ins, as it’s been shown that these types of opt-ins perform significantly better than having the email box immediately visible.
We don’t know why this is, but it’s probably because a two-click opt-in is less intrusive to the reader.
#3: Social Media Promotion Using Buffer
This strategy is easy. Sign up for a Buffer account if you don’t already have one and write a few short, snappy pieces of copy to generate interested in your company.
A bit of advice:
- If your blog content is high-quality, you should be citing industry influencers for credibility. When you post your content, use social media to “shout-out” these influencers and let them know you quoted them in your article.
For example, for this article we’ll give props to Brian Dean and share something like this: [email protected], we love your idea of the content upgrade and we use it in all our posts (including this new one on B2B SaaS promotion).”
- You can also use notable quotes from the blog post itself.
- Be sure to include a picture for each social media blast – you’ll see a significant amount of engagement.
- Aim for AT LEAST 3 pieces of social media copy per platform and you can do much more.
However, this is only the tip of the content promotion iceberg. We go more in-depth in our post on B2B SaaS content promotion.
#4: Make a Customer Avatar (or Revisit Your Old One)
Yes, this strategy is a basic one. But, these are called foundational strategies for a reason: They’re basic, but they are oh so important.
If you don’t know why your potential customers would use your SaaS or if you don’t know what role in their company they tend to have – your marketing is flying blind.
Luckily for you, we have an in-depth post about how you can create such an amazing customer avatar that you’ll feel like you can read your customers’ minds.
#5: Make Your Product and User Experience Amazing
If your software is painful for your customers to use, all the marketing in the world won’t help you.
If users feel your software is too complicated, not intuitive enough, etc., you’ll lose free trial members and paying customers that you could have kept otherwise.
On the flip side, if your solution is GRADE A and it’s really easy to use, your company will promote itself. To do this, you need to put yourself in your customer’s shoes.
To put you in the right frame of mind, here’s a quote from Slack co-founder Stewart Butterfield that he sent out in an internal company memo:
“Putting yourself in the mind of someone who is coming to Slack for the first time —
especially a real someone, who is being made to try this thing by their boss, who is already a bit ‘hangry’ because they didn’t have time for breakfast and who is anxious about finishing off a project before they take off for the long weekend —
putting yourself in their mind means looking at Slack the way you look at some random piece of software in which you have no investment and no special interest.
Look at it hard, and find the things that do not work. Be harsh, in the interest of being excellent.”
#6: Treat Your Existing Customers As Well As Humanly Possible
Treating your customers well isn’t about “feel good vibes” or “being a good person.”
Treating your customers as well as possible is THE best way to succeed as a B2B SaaS company. Take it from our buddy Neil Patel at Kissmetrics:
“Most of your revenue comes from your existing SaaS customers … a full 80% of all future revenue will come from just a fraction (20%) of your current customers.
If you increase your customer retention by only 5%, you can increase your business’s profitability by 75%, say researchers at Bain & Co.
Customer retention is critical to the SaaS industry, more so than all other industries.”
Think about it this way – the better you treat your current customers, the more likely it is that they will:
- Stick around
- Refer other people
In either of these cases, you aren’t paying to get a new customer. That’s just good business sense.
#7: Go to Industry Trade Shows and Conferences
Just because your company does all of its business on the web doesn’t mean you can afford to bypass shaking a few hands at events.
Maybe it’s due to our primitive primate brains, but we humans seem to trust someone MUCH more after we have met them in person.
And if you want to have other people talking your company up, sharing your company’s blog posts and USING YOUR SOFTWARE, you need them to trust you.
One good conference to attend would be SaaStock, a conference in Dublin designed for founders, VCs and executives of B2B SaaS companies who want to grow their businesses.
If you work at a B2B SaaS business, you could alter the trajectory of your company simply by going to this event and having a few good conversations.
Tim Ferriss has an excellent podcast episode that goes in-depth on how to handle conferences like a pro, but here’s the “Cliff’s Notes” version:
- Don’t “network.” Just have normal conversations with people.
- Listen more than you talk. This is the secret to being a good conversationalist.
- It’s better to have a few in-depth conversations than to have a pocketful of business cards.
#8: Offer a Free Trial
Almost every SaaS out there is using a free trial to attract more customers, and you should be doing so as well.
If you’ve built a really great solution to your customers’ problems, many of them will sign up for your paid service based on the strength of your software alone.
You’ll want to experiment with the length of your free trial if you offer a full-service option for a limited period of time. You can also use the “freemium” model where a base model of your solution is free, but users can pay for more advanced features.
For further reading on how to successfully use free trials to engage more customers, check out our post on free trial churn and what you can do about it.
#9: Give Rewards for Referrals (and Include the Referral Process in Onboarding)
Rewards alone won’t generate referrals, but they will incentivize users to provide you more referrals than they would otherwise.
Dropbox, a cloud storage company, has a vigorous referral machine in place. With their “freemium” business model, you receive a certain amount of free storage, and you can pay for more.
However, if you refer other users to Dropbox, you receive additional storage without paying a dime. Your friends also obtain more storage via your referral than they would if they signed up on their own.
Dropbox also makes it incredibly easy for users to refer their friends or coworkers: They give you the option of email, sending a link and putting the “refer a friend” message everywhere on the Dropbox website.
The CEO of Dropbox says their referral strategy permanently increased signups by 60% after implementation. Now THAT is some ROI.
#10: Integrate Your SaaS With Existing Platforms
Depending on your specific SaaS, there are numerous large platforms you can link up with to attain more customers and provide additional convenience for your existing customers.
As Lars Lofgren writes on the Kissmetrics blog:
“When you integrate with a successful product that already has a substantial user base, you tap into that market and get your product in front of them. That’s a huge audience you’ll gain access to.
Here are some great examples of platforms you can integrate with:
Shopify: 30,000+ businesses
Salesforce: 100,000+ businesses
Box: 120,000+ businesses
37signals: 150,000+ businesses
Yammer: 200,000+ businesses
Constant Contact: 400,000+ businesses
MailChimp: 2,000,000+ people
FreshBooks: 4,500,000+ people”
When performing an integration, be sure it makes sense for you and your users. In other words, don’t integrate just to integrate.
Several of these platforms utilize “partner pages” to showcase your integration with the platform – make sure you put work into this page’s design and copy so it provides a fantastic first impression for your potential customers.
You can also take advantage of the tool If This, Then That (IFTT) which allows you to create numerous other useful integrations for your customers.
#11: Create an Insanely Useful Email Magnet
Yes, the days of getting emails by asking users to “signup for our newsletter” are over.
Generic newsletter signups don’t work anymore because EVERYONE and their brother is doing them, and they don’t give the reader a big incentive to add yet another sender to their bulging email inbox.
However, a really juicy lead magnet will absolutely get you email signups.
HubSpot nails the lead magnet with their “State of Inbound” yearly report.
The “State of Inbound” report analyzes data Hubspot receives from surveying thousands of marketing professionals worldwide on their best practices and the emerging trends in marketing and sales.
Now THAT is useful information for a marketing professional.
In exchange for such a valuable report, HubSpot requires you to give them your name, email address, company URL, company size, your role in the company and a few other pieces of info.
They can afford to have this high-friction signup because of the substance of their report.
In our next blog post, we’ll be going over 14 strategies you can use to promote your B2B SaaS company’s content marketing.