The SaaS market is booming right now, and competition is getting heavy. Spending on SaaS reached $8 billion in 2015. The growth and competition aren’t going to slow down, with spending expected to reach as high as $55 billion by 2026. It’s going to take some unconventional marketing strategies and clever growth hacking to stand out as the competition increases.
Here are some tactics that will give your SaaS an edge over the growing competition.
You need to have your marketing plans right to attract the right customers and stay in the competition. To do so, you can take help of apps to advertise about your company. But, you should follow some strategies to create an app:
- You have to get your marketing right or massive distribution of your message won’t help and could actually hurt by attracting the wrong audience.
- You need a good call to action (CTA), and the ability to capitalize on that CTA on the back-end
- Where possible, get to know the people behind the directories and see if there are ways to make your app stand-out from the noise.
- This is not a replacement for a marketing strategy of any kind.
But, while this isn’t a complete marketing strategy, why not make sure you’re in every horizontal App directory and recommendation engine as well as going after more specific promotional opportunities within your market.
Once you’ve done all of that, then you need to go figure out where the real money is, and that is where people aren’t just looking for “Apps” in a horizontal directory somewhere, but where they’re looking for immediate solutions to their very real and specific business problems! Below are some basic listing sites, and some places you might not have thought about. Or, if you have a LinkedIn or CrunchBase profile, consider whether it is used to its fullest.
Setup a “local” listing for your physical location or mailing address even if you’re a ‘virtual’ company; more data in the search engines can’t be a bad thing!
Relevant read: How to validate your SaaS idea before building an MVP?
Must read: Email writing for Engagement stage
Highlight your Product on B2B Software Review Platforms
B2B products can offer you three content types that will help their readers assess your product: an in-house review, user-generated reviews, and paid listing. Although the first two types are usually beyond your reach, you can control the third type.
A paid listing highlights your software or gives it a priority in a specific category listing and in-site search results. Furthermore, many reviews platforms include valuable add-ons in their marketing packages. For instance, Finances Online has a marketing package that includes an in-site article about your product, a press release campaign and a verified quality certificate awarded to your product. They also provide very efficient lead generation campaigns for SaaS vendors.
Software review platforms are becoming a major lead channel for SaaS marketers as prospects use review sites as their first base to product discovery. What other users say on review sites influences prospects’ opinions, and by the time your sales team get in touch with these prospects, they already have an opinion about your software.
Likewise, B2B software review sites are becoming a necessity in software purchase. A company’s buying unit–an ad hoc team composed of the CMO, executives, managers and end-users–can easily get bogged down by a deluge of options and information on hundreds of solutions. Review sites are resolving this dilemma. They help companies focus on the key aspects to compare and shortlist at once the top choices.
Things can move fast because the buying unit has clear visibility on product options, essential features, pricing terms and call-to-actions. That’s why you need to have a solid presence in these review sites, which is ground zero for product research.
Use an Ad Network Company
An ad network company works like a conventional ad agency. It identifies ad placements and sells these digital locations to advertisers. There are two main types of these: either your ad shows in search results or it shows in content on a website. For both types you can set a target based on keywords, location, IP address, and demographics. Your target is then matched with search results or a website’s content. You can select text ads, rich media, or a mixture of both.
There are two popular ad models: pay-per-click (PPC) and cost-per-mile (CPM). Ad networks also use a bid process, where advertisers set a price per click (PPC) or per thousand views (CPM). The ad which bids higher is selected first for display.
When targeting your ad, you should have a clear picture of your audience. Utilize keywords that these prospects use while searching for content or a product. Do not limit yourself to a niche when ad targeting. For example, an accounting software product can also be promoted in other business aspects such as online business, small business, project management, marketing, etc.
The top ad networks for B2B and SaaS are likely to be preferred by publishers and they can leverage your reach and content scope. Some of the best display ad networks for publishers includes: Google AdSense, Clicksor, Adblade, Conversant, BuySellAds, and Media.net. You can also explore other ad networks and compare the main factors outlined above.
Sponsored Social Media for B2B Marketing
Source: 2017 Social Media Marketing Industry Report
Facebook advertising takes your business beyond your followers. Moreover, you get to qualify your audience down to details. The social network has demographic-specific options, such as, based on the user’s listed job; employees of specific companies; and a life event like a new job. Most B2B marketers use Facebook for brand awareness, lead nurturing and reach out to the personal accounts of the client’s decision-makers. Interestingly, since most Facebook users have their email address for user account, you mailing list is likely to be a treasure of Facebook accounts and the social network permits you to leverage this bonus. Go to Custom Audiences then Campaigns and select Custom List. Your mailing list, which should be in CSV, can now be uploaded and included in your Facebook ad campaign.
On the other hand, LinkedIn is always an excellent channel for B2B promotions, where users are mostly professionals and where your software ad can be more focused. You can target ads by professional titles, positions, and company; thus, niching your target down to the core users of your B2B software. Moreover, people on LinkedIn are more conducive to B2B relationships, where they network to further their career. As a SaaS vendor or marketer, you can be seen as an important connector or expert in your software category.
Important read: Bootstrapping SaaS Startups
Use Paid Content Distribution Networks
These networks promote content instead of ads, and therefore they are ideal for marketing articles, case studies and webinar topics. They focus on engaging prospects with topics of interest rather than with product pitches. In fact, the “ads” look like they are part of the publisher’s content, usually as a bottom filler with subheadings like, “You Might Also Like” or “Stories Across the Web”. Paid content can complement your ad network placements as these content networks create a top-of-funnel traffic that can provide conversion at a much later date.
Taboola, Outbrain, and nRelate are three popular paid content distribution networks utilized by high-ranking publishers such as USA Today, ESPN, CNN, The Huffington Post, and Time. These networks use different algorithms to match your content ads with the publishers’ content to engage readers’ interest.
Show how it Works
When you really want to grab attention, it pays to put your platform to work and show them how it’s done. That’s what Promoter.io did when it launched its service. As a way to tap into current events, the site developed a tool that used its technology (Net Promoter Score measurement) in an unconventional way – predicting the presidential election.
With just a few months under its belt, Promoter.io has been featured in a number of publications with more than 12,000 votes driven by its platform as leads roll in daily. Showcasing the features and benefits of a system is a great way to connect your audience with your value proposition.
Engage with Reddit
Marketing on Reddit has the potential to generate a lot of traffic. The community is segmented into hyper-focused subreddits that put your target audience in one place. Unfortunately, Reddit has some pretty strong guidelines about self-promotion.
SumoMe understood the need to provide value in the Reddit community. It created high-value long-form content within the subreddit, rather than Spam content links. It then sent information and links via private message to Redditors who requested more information. According to Wilson Hung of App Sumo, the efforts generated a lot of up votes and discussion with up to 1,000 unique visits per Reddit post.
Create urgency through exclusivity
Creating an exclusive gated or invite-only platform is a great way to generate buzz, because people tend to want what they can’t have. Targeting a younger audience, specifically college students, Tinder mobilizes local reps on college campuses across the U.S. to host exclusive parties for people between the ages of 18-24, which make up about 68% of its audience base. The company has been using this same tactic to grow since it first launched. If you wanted in, you had to download the Tinder app on your smartphone.
Facebook deployed this same kind of exclusivity as far back as 2004 when an edu email address was required in order to target and attract a very specific demographic – college students. That exclusivity lasted more than two years before Facebook finally opened the platform to the public.
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Press Release Sites
For standard press releases you have a slew of paid and free PR distribution services, each one with its pros and cons. Free press release sites often do not let you post images or videos, greatly diminishing the impact of your announcement. The advantage of course is there’s no cost involved. On the other hand, paid PR can include a service that distributes your content or tweets it to a press group, but for a cost.
Although press releases are written to announce something, they’re mostly used for SEO, either to gain an extra backlink to your website or get a search boost by riding on the press release site’s PageRank. Likewise, even as your competitors focus on social media and content marketing, that leaves your brand alone in the PR site space, which is a significant advantage worth your attention. Free press releases are also often included in premium marketing packages on B2B review sites.
Make it All About the customer
With so many companies focused on growth hacking, gaming the search engines, leveraging optimization, and pushing the best services, you have to wonder when people are going to start caring about the customer. If your goal is to grow your customer base, then you should stop focusing on tricks to get their attention. Be direct. Ask them, quite literally, what they want from you.
Help Scout gets it, as it developed a help desk platform designed to create a delightful customer experience. Yes, it’s a SaaS product, but it’s customer-focused. The site has built and marketed its platform in a way that helps companies provide a human touch.
Paid channels can be the difference to your organic campaign especially when readers today are being overwhelmed by re-purposed content churned out by companies. When planning your SaaS ad campaign, make sure to cover a wide ground by including the basic but essential paid streams we’ve talked about.
Let us know in the comments section about the different advertising strategies that you applied to bring your SaaS in limelight.