The SaaS (software-as-a-service) field is gigantic, as there are currently more than 32,000 SaaS companies – and the industry is predicted to be worth approximately $195 billion in 2023.
However, the steep competition doesn’t mean there’s a lack of demand. On average, companies use 130 SaaS apps in their day-to-day processes.
Everything from designing websites (WordPress) to chatting with your in-house staff (Slack) uses some type of SaaS subscription.
That’s not to mention CRMs like Salesforce, web conferencing software (Zoom), and countless other types of SaaS apps that many organizations use.
While SaaS applications are undoubtedly useful, the oversaturation of apps & content makes marketing these services quite the challenge.
In particular, SaaS marketing strategies involve long & complex sales cycles, rigorous brand-building, and a healthy amount of lead generation. In fact, it can take anywhere from 6 to 18 months to acquire a new customer for your service.
As a result, SaaS marketing is very much its own thing, so you’ll need to learn its best practices if you want to get the word out about your app.
You can’t expect to mimic the marketing tactics used for eCommerce, real estate, healthcare, or any other type of marketing and find success in the SaaS space.
That’s why we’ve put together this guide containing 10 real-world SaaS marketing examples that are effective, successful, and, most of all, fun.
Read on to discover how you can mimic the success of these examples with your SaaS product.
What Makes SaaS Marketing Unique?
The very nature of offering software-as-a-service makes SaaS companies different from other types of businesses.
Why is that?
It’s because you’re not selling a service; you’re selling a subscription to a service. In other words, your transactions aren’t ‘one-and-done’ as most purchases are with companies selling goods and services.
For instance, once you buy a hat from Amazon, you’ve converted into a customer. They receive the revenue from your purchase, and they hope that you choose them again whenever you need something else.
To rack up revenue, eCommerce stores focus on customer acquisition. The more paying customers they can acquire, the more money they make. Repeat business is definitely important, but it’s not their main focus.
SaaS is completely different because the name of the game is customer retention.
Once a customer subscribes to your service, the goal is to hold onto them as long as possible. That way, they’ll continue paying their monthly fee, and you’ll continue to earn revenue. It’s for this reason that you’ll also place a lot of emphasis on customer lifetime value than other types of companies.
If the customer finds a different app that they feel better suits their needs, they may cancel your subscription and go with one of your competitors, which is referred to as churn.
Once a customer churns, they disappear from your funnel, and the revenue they’ve been providing follows suit.
As such, SaaS marketing is not only about attracting new subscribers but also keeping your existing subscribers happy so they don’t abandon ship.
The ‘freemium’ SaaS business model
To attract subscribers, many SaaS companies use the ‘freemium’ business model, where they provide a free demo or free version to reel in users.
Once a user downloads the demo or free version, the goal then becomes nurturing them into becoming a paying customer.
The idea is that once the customer sees the true value in your SaaS product by trying it out, they’ll want to commit to one of your paid plans. After that, you’ll have to take measures to ensure they stick with your product for as long as possible.
Most SaaS companies try to retain subscribers for years at a time. This keeps churn rates low and revenue high, which is the perfect balance that you want to achieve.
The freemium model is also an excellent way to compile many qualified leads without lifting a finger. Once your demo is live (and has been promoted properly), interested users will flock to it to try it out.
You’ll know that they’re qualified because they have a vested interest in the service you provide; otherwise, they wouldn’t bother downloading the free version. If they aren’t a qualified lead and don’t show interest in the demo, they’ll simply go away, and you won’t have wasted any of your precious time on them.
Yet, the prospects that are qualified leads will stick around and will opt for one of your paid plans if the demo is able to meet their needs.
Countless competitors within the SaaS industry
Another factor that makes SaaS marketing plans unique is the vast amount of competition in the industry.
It doesn’t help that SaaS is an umbrella term that encompasses a great number of software types. For instance, let’s just take a look at CMS (content management systems).
The most popular CMS platforms are WordPress, Wix, & Squarespace.
Does that mean there are only a handful of CMS platforms out there?
Not at all; try 1,000 – 2,000, and the number is still growing every day. That’s A LOT of other programs that all have SaaS marketing campaigns of their own.
It’s not just CMS platforms that have this type of oversaturation, either.
Whether your SaaS product is a CRM, CMS, project management tool, ERP (enterprise resource planning), or another type of application, there will be hundreds or thousands of direct competitors.
That reinforces the need for staunch product marketing techniques to differentiate your service from all the others.
Building brand awareness is a gigantic part of this, as the more trusted & recognizable you can make your brand, the easier it will be to make your SaaS products stand out from the rest.
The good news?
Despite the sheer number of SaaS companies in existence, there’s no shortage of demand for them. Companies now heavily rely on SaaS products for their daily operations, from startups to enterprise-level businesses.
Going with the CMS example, while there may be 2,000 services available, 64 million active websites use CMS platforms. Granted, WordPress accounts for 44% of it, but there’s still 38% that use other platforms, so there’s plenty of business to go around.
Another unique feature of SaaS marketing is the way companies structure their pricing.
SaaS companies rely on subscriptions with tier-based pricing models for their users.
It’s common for a SaaS company to have at least 3 pricing tiers, including basic, advanced, and premium options.
Sometimes companies will correlate each pricing tier to company size. For example, their basic plan is for startups, the advanced plan is for mid-sized companies, and the advanced plan is for enterprise-level organizations.
To boost conversion rates, pricing tiers need to be clearly defined. It shouldn’t take a user more than a few seconds to understand your pricing structure. Beyond that, you need to list the perks users receive with each tier.
For instance, the basic tier may only include a few features or limitations of some sort (such as only being able to start 3 projects on the basic plan), whereas higher plans get more robust and freeing (unlimited projects & advanced features).
If you offer a free version, make sure to list it alongside your paid plans while not forgetting to highlight all its limitations. If a prospect is still using the free version, seeing all the attractive features your other plans have may convince them to start a paid subscription.
It’s also common for higher tiers to boast prioritized customer support & advanced security features to entice users into opting for a more premium plan.
Complicated sales cycles
The sales funnel for a SaaS company is very complex, and it requires creating a boatload of content for various funnel stages.
As an example, let’s say you sell an SEO tool as your SaaS product.
Well, visitors at the top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) likely don’t even know what SEO is yet, which means you’ll need to create educational content defining SEO and outlining its best practices.
Conversely, visitors at the middle and bottom of the funnel (MOFU and BOFU) will already know about SEO and will actively compare your product to others. For them, you’ll need to create content that differentiates your product from your competitors.
The challenge comes not only from creating all this content but also from not oversaturating your target audience with it all.
For instance, the prospects comparing your SEO product to others won’t want to waste their time reading your educational blogs covering the SEO basics. In the same vein, total SEO newbies won’t be able to make heads or tails of your more complicated articles comparing your services to others.
To avoid drowning your audience in content, you’ll need to strike a balance between the content you produce for the different funnel stages.
The best way to do that is through targeted keyword research for each funnel stage.
Your keyword research is what will save you from displaying content to the wrong audience. If you do it properly, your prospects will only ever see the articles that answer their questions and solve their pain points.
It all has to do with the types of queries prospects use at different stages of the funnel.
By aligning the content you create with the appropriate funnel stage for each query, your users will always find the articles most relevant to them.
For example, if a user searches for what SEO is on Google, that’s a top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) keyword.
What makes it TOFU?
It is because the user is making educational inquiries. They don’t know what SEO is yet, so they can’t possibly know if they need an SEO SaaS tool.
If you create educational content defining SEO for the keyword ‘what is SEO,’ you’ll have perfectly matched the search intent. Conversely, creating content comparing your services to others for the same query wouldn’t work.
Instead, you’d want to create that content for a query like ‘best SEO tools online.’
Keywords at each stage of the sales funnel
Here’s a brief breakdown of each funnel stage and its corresponding keywords:
- Top-of-the-funnel (TOFU). At the top of the funnel, the goal is to build awareness for your SaaS products. Users at this funnel stage are looking for educational information about your type of service, so the keywords you use and the content you create should center around that.
- Middle-of-the-funnel (MOFU). At this stage, potential customers know they need a service like yours, and they’re evaluating all their options. Keywords & content for this funnel stage should reflect why your SaaS product rises head and heels over the competition.
- Bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU). By now, your prospects are on the verge of committing to a SaaS service provider. They’ve met with key decision-makers at their company, and they’ve narrowed it down to about two or three options. Here, your keywords & marketing efforts should focus on converting prospects into new customers.
If you align proper keywords & content with each stage of the sales funnel, your target audience will always find what they’re looking for on search engines.
That means TOFU prospects will get directed to your informational/educational content, and BOFU potential customers will see your most convincing product & service pages.
The Bread & Butter of SaaS Marketing Strategies
Now that you know what makes SaaS marketing so unique, let’s look at the most common marketing channels and tactics.
SaaS marketers make use of tried and true digital marketing techniques like SEO, email marketing, PPC, influencer marketing, social media, paid ad campaigns, and more – so let’s find out which are the most effective.
SEO (search engine optimization)
SEO should not be ignored by SaaS companies, as generating targeted organic traffic to your website is one of the best things you can do.
In fact, digital marketing consultant Mike Snoders discovered that organic traffic was the leading source of leads and conversions for SaaS companies – as it accounted for 68% of them.
That means you’re missing out on a ton of potential business if you don’t incorporate SEO into your SaaS marketing strategy.
A reason why SEO is so big for SaaS is that lots of key decision-makers at companies are doing their own research into providers. That means they’re using search engines to learn more about SaaS companies and products, which is where SEO strategies come into play.
If you structure your keyword research around your sales funnel stages (see above), you’ll be able to guide these decision-makers through each funnel stage with targeted content.
SEO & content marketing
It’s also crucial to note that SEO and a content marketing strategy go hand-in-hand.
Educational content like blogs, podcasts, and videos for TOFU leads is the way to go. For BOFU prospects, you’ll want to transition into live demos, case studies, product comparison sheets, and webinars.
Blogging can and should account for a large part of your SEO strategy as long as you remember to use the right funnel-stage keywords.
Blogs are inexpensive to create and can serve a multitude of different purposes. For instance, you can blog about educational and informative topics(TOFU), but you can also write blogs comparing your products to others (BOFU) and format them as relevant quizzes or surveys (MOFU).
Videos provide a high level of engagement with users, and they can also be inexpensive to create (i.e., using a smartphone and free editing software).
You can also create video content for each stage of your sales funnel, so don’t be afraid to get creative. Instead of blogging about a topic like ‘What is SEO,’ you can make a video for it to share on your YouTube channel – which can help with your brand-building efforts.
Another powerful form of SEO content is the infographic.
If you use an in-house or freelance graphic designer, you can get them to create fun infographics to educate, inform, and convert your audience. Infographics can teach your audience something new, compare your products to others, and more.
Posts with images boast a 650% higher engagement rate than those without, so even if you aren’t using infographics, include high-resolution images in your blogs.
Emails play a significant role in marketing SaaS products, especially for B2B SaaS marketing. Primarily, emails help fill the gaps in contact during the lengthy SaaS sales cycle.
As an example, say you attract a prospect with one of your TOFU blogs that introduces them to the world of SEO & your products. As business owners, the prospect of gaining more traffic catches their eye, so they enter their email addresses to sign up for your mailing list.
They’ve now become a lead for you to nurture through various types of emails, such as:
- Onboarding emails (introducing a demo or new product)
- Quizzes and surveys (that you can use to gain insights into your target audience/buyer personas)
- Discounts and special offers
- Upcoming webinars & new blog releases
- Announcing new features or add-ons
- Check-ins (seeing how your prospects are doing and if they require your services)
As you can see, there are many ways to use emails to entice prospects into becoming full-fledged SaaS customers.
It’s also essential to use emails to keep your existing subscriber base happy. Remember, the goal is to retain your users for as long as possible because once they churn, the monthly revenue they are providing is gone forever.
That’s why check-in emails are so useful. They allow you to see how your customers are feeling/enjoying your product and convey that you care about your subscribers.
Emails & user feedback
Accepting and responding to user feedback via email is another piece of the puzzle. Nothing will make your churn rates rise faster than if you don’t listen to the wants and needs of your existing customers.
That’s why you need to pay attention to the customer service emails your team receives.
Are there any noticeable recurring issues? Do subscribers keep bringing up the same pain points? Is there any confusion around one of your new features?
These are all essential questions to ask yourself when evaluating customer feedback.
If you’re able to address and solve the most pressing issues with your platform, you’ll make strides toward gaining long-term loyalty from your current customers.
PPC (pay-per-click) ads
Besides SEO, PPC ads are another way to market your SaaS products. This is especially true for startups that haven’t had the chance to gain traction with their SEO strategies.
One of the main appeals of PPC ads is that they start providing immediate results.
Where SEO takes several months of grinding before gaining traction, you’ll start generating traffic and leads from PPC ads on day one.
How do you conduct a SaaS PPC strategy?
To start, you can use our free Google keyword planner tool to conduct some keyword research. It will provide you with two essential metrics for PPC keywords; CPC (cost-per-click) and Comp. (competition).
The CPC refers to how much you’ll have to pay each time someone clicks on your ad. You’ll need to determine your budget first to know how much you can allocate to the CPC of each keyword.
Next is the Comp. statistic, which refers to how much competition exists for that keyword in the PPC space. Ideally, you want to find keywords with high search volume, moderate to low CPC, and not much competition.
Since you’re paying for the ads, it’s best to focus entirely on BOFU keywords & content. That’s because TOFU keywords are often informative in nature and don’t lead to sales, which would be a total waste of money. If you pay for a BOFU keyword that links to one of your product pages, you’ll have a much greater chance of landing a conversion.
Last but not least, webinars are extremely effective for generating SaaS leads and conversions. In fact, a quarter of all webinars are put on by SaaS companies – according to GoToWebinar.
That’s because a webinar is a perfect environment to show off demos, conduct live tutorials, and announce/show off new product features.
To generate hype for your webinar, advertise it on your social media & send an email out to your subscriber base letting them know about your event. That way, you can accrue a considerable live audience for your webinar.
What’s even better is you can record your webinars and upload them to your website, social media accounts, and YouTube channel. As a result, your webinars will continue to generate leads for you well beyond the moment you switch off your webcam.
10 Fun Examples of SaaS Marketing
By now, you know what goes into a winning SaaS marketing strategy. Yet, one of the best ways to truly grasp a concept is to witness it in action.
Here are 10 real-world examples of clever SaaS marketing campaigns that will get your creative juices flowing.
SaaS company Zapier put together a brilliant SEO campaign to market their business, generating 7.3 million organic visitors per month to their website.
How did they do it?
First, their marketing team had the idea to rebrand their automated workflows as ‘Zaps,’ which is catchy and memorable. In all their content, they referred to automating a task as ‘Zapping’ something.
Next, they created 25,000 unique landing pages that ranked within the top 100 on Google. To achieve this feat, they leveraged resources from their partnerships to create individual landing pages for each app, workflow, and integration.
They also conducted rigorous keyword research and made use of high-quality images and videos to outdo the competition. Zapier’s campaign is a testament to the power of SEO for SaaS companies.
Slack stands as a shining example of how well the freemium model can work if you have a truly outstanding product.
The company provides an unparalleled user experience, and the app has some genuinely appealing features in its paid versions.
Another genius marketing tactic Slack employed was enabling so many 3rd party apps to integrate with their software. This allowed them to gain lots of new customers who had only heard about them through another program, like the project management platform Asana.
The team at Hubspot is the king of inbound marketing techniques. Hubspot continuously tops the Google SERPs with its educational & informative guides, tutorials, and videos.
In other words, they have many methods for drawing their audience to them instead of the other way around. Their internal Hubspot Academy also provides many valuable educational resources to anyone interested, which generates even more traffic.
Business management software company Holded went all-out with a genius Black Friday campaign where they offered a 50% discount for six months to anyone that signed up.
They were able to create over 6% MRR growth from the Black Friday campaign alone.
It was so successful because of how bold they were with their discount. Most companies will offer a discount code or a limited-time offer that only lasts a few days. By daring to offer such a significant discount for such a lengthy period, Holded was able to acquire loads of new paying customers.
Pitch creates presentation software, and they wanted to find a way to raise awareness for their brand.
They started a brand-building campaign to let prospects know what they do after closing a funding deal.
They created videos starring their CEO where they described the new features coming due to the funding. The CEO directly addressing the audience gave the campaign a human touch, and it was amazingly successful as a result.
eCommerce giant Shopify does several things remarkably well with its SaaS marketing campaigns.
Like Hubspot, they’ve mastered inbound content marketing by providing podcasts, videos, blogs, and case studies. If you Google eCommerce-related topics, Shopify is bound to show up with various pieces of content.
Besides being a lead-generating machine, their content’s prevalence works wonders for building brand awareness.
Next, they’ve embraced their bustling community of users and third-party app creators. Shopify design experts, theme creators, and gurus are ready to advise new customers. These communities provide word-of-mouth referrals and raise more brand awareness, so it’s a win-win for Shopify.
Buffer provides a social media scheduling software that automates posts so influencers can write them in advance and automatically release them during peak engagement times.
They found incredible marketing success through blogging, but in a slightly unconventional way.
While they create blog content that’s relevant to their users, they also blog about very general topics – like psychology, life hacks, creativity, and multitasking. This has led them to build a fanbase consisting of social media users with large followings.
#8: Apple Music
To compete with Spotify, Apple Music had to shake things up. This led to them adopting the SaaS subscription model instead of sticking with the iTunes Store.
To generate buzz for the new move, Apple made brilliant use of celebrity influencer marketing. In particular, their Taylor Swift treadmill video drew in 20 million viewers worldwide.
Email marketing company MailModo put their flagship service to fantastic use. They started a brilliant campaign showcasing how effective their email marketing features are – through email.
In other words, they used their own platform to market their services.
They sent out lead generation emails with interactive elements, which served as a mini product demo for recipients.
In addition to that, they also made use of social media marketing by posting clever Tweets that linked to their product pages.
A noticeable issue the folks at MailChimp noticed was that many users would misspell their brand name.
Instead of letting it annoy them, they decided to use the issue in a humorous way for a new ad campaign.
In it, they purposely misspelled their brand name, with variations like ‘MailShrimp,’ ‘JailBlimp,’ and ‘’KaleLimp.’ What’s even funnier is they didn’t include their true brand name anywhere on the image, just a link to a video ad.
They generated over 67 million organic searches and $3.52 million in revenue – which proves the power humor can have in marketing campaigns.
Final Thoughts: SaaS Marketing
Hopefully, these examples will inspire innovative SaaS marketing campaigns of your own.
As long as you take into account the long sales cycle, proper funnel stage keywords, and structure your pricing in a way that’s fair – you’ll have the perfect foundation for a successful campaign.
Do you need top-tier SaaS marketing services from a trusted & reliable marketing agency?
Then don’t wait for another second to check out our white-label marketing services at The HOTH. Our team of experts has what it takes to take your SaaS company to the next level, so don’t wait to get in touch today.