Growth marketing is all the rage right now.
In fact, the importance of marketing in SaaS is the rage right now.
Because the barrier for entry in building a half-decent tech solution is so low, the market has quickly become oversaturated in almost every category.
You only need to look at a G2 matrix showing ALL of the customer feedback providers on the market.
As a result, the industry has found itself craving a new ‘type’ of marketer.
One that even seems to supersede a CMO (it doesn’t by the way, but most CROs or CEOs who saw a GaryVee post and now understand marketing better than you will say otherwise).
Anyway, back to growth marketing…
A growth marketer finds and focuses their time on the activities that optimise the business for the highest growth. That means identifying growth levers across customer acquisition, customer experience and customer retention.
Naturally, it requires a range of multidisciplinary skills.
The individual must understand how to conduct research, run growth experiments, track KPIs, understand data and channel-specific strategies – tying all of this back to the growth of the business.
I believe the role has become prominent for two main reasons:
- Vendors have taught everyone how to do marketing badly
- Many marketers never learned real marketing (for instance, when did you entrust marketing with your pricing strategy?)
I’ve been helping a number of SaaS clients with growth-led tactics and I want to share some of the most powerful ones with you here.
Growth marketing requires someone creative and curious… yet able to analyse data and conduct A/B testing. They need to know how to break down the customer journey – from initial awareness through to making a buying decision. A strong growth marketer will have a clear understanding of how each marketing effort fits into the customer journey and the impact on driving faster growth.
Before moving forward, it’s important to clarify that this article focuses on B2B growth, not B2C. Whilst there are similarities in the buyer journey, i.e. entertaining content from either side of the spectrum will engage the buyer, the differences ultimately lie in how B2B and B2C buyers typically purchase. The risks and rewards are also very different. They both however have emotions, the same impulses and logical reasoning happening underneath.
15 ways to spark that super SaaS growth
If you’re serious about crafting an effective growth marketing strategy, you should be distributing micro-content to your buyers on their primary social media platform.
The key is to create success in one channel and then shift into distributing across others, finding new watering holes where your buyers are consuming content. In 2021, this means small bitesize posts and videos that engage quickly and stop buyers mid scroll.
Building your brand or creating your category is fueled further by sparking conversations on social and generating buzz among your target audience. Platforms like LinkedIn still offer tremendous organic reach but this won’t last forever.
For SaaS startups trying to determine where to focus their energy, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook are a safe bet. You can reach most buyers on these platforms with the right strategies. I won’t be covering Twitter in this article, despite the opportunity, it holds I feel that SaaS founders would be best focusing on other channels and simply use Twitter as an extra for repurposing content or sharing their thoughts.
Create an offer your buyer can’t refuse
This all starts by giving away something valuable that your buyer wants.
When you combine this with the sheer potential of LinkedIn’s organic reach, you can achieve massive results. This example from Stronger Teams here provides perfect context.
To stand out on LinkedIn, you should craft an irresistible offer – and the components are always the same:
- The offer builds a sense of urgency.
- The offer immediately adds value.
- The offer overcomes objectives.
- The offer makes guarantees.
Case in point, Nick Jordan:
When you’re creating a LinkedIn post around an irresistible offer, you should aim to utilise storytelling techniques to build a compelling narrative.
Find a way to obtain comments (that feels natural and not desperate) and do NOT push people away from LinkedIn, which means whack the link in the comments (the same goes for all social platforms).
To begin the post, you must focus on sparking curiosity and posing a central question. This should relate to a struggle faced by a narrowly defined group of people.
You can then position your SaaS solution as the answer to this struggle with an irresistible offer.
Look out for an article soon where I explain how I helped one B2B SaaS company generate 15 new opportunities (equating to £7.5k MRR) through a single offer.
Building community through Facebook Groups
With the right strategy, growing a community on Facebook is more achievable than you might think.
Before you launch a Facebook group, you should craft a plan for what content you’ll post and how you’ll spark natural engagement within the community.
Do not create a community that people enter, take a peek and realise nothing is happening. It will simply die.
Get friendlies in the group whether that’s subject matter experts or customers and have them actively post and support each other. Notify them via Slack if you want to be smart.
Become an active member of other groups yourself. By interacting with people in these groups, you will inevitably create connections and see what’s working for your buyers.
You will also create relationships that will naturally migrate if you continue to add value.
Typically, two things make these types of groups special:
- Information that can’t be found elsewhere.
- Industry connections and a community that can’t be found elsewhere.
When it comes to interacting with other groups, you need to focus on delivering value to people. Rather than simply liking posts, you should offer thoughtful comments that add value to the conversation or provide resources that are ACTUALLY useful.
If a group member is asking a question about a topic, do your best to answer it. These exchanges will help to establish you as an authority.
Prioritise social conversations over cold outreach
Platforms like LinkedIn give you the ability to converse with buyers that just doesn’t feel so… intrusive.
99% of the time, cold outreach doesn’t land.
It only works when it’s timely and relevant (plus there has to be a great copywriter behind the keyboard).
Everything else is just a waste of time.
You’re not building a brand, you’re not delivering value and your chances of finding a real opportunity (not just someone who you pushed into a demo call) are low.
Instead, why don’t you engage where your buyers are communicating.
Let’s take LinkedIn as an example.
Buyers are commenting, posting about what they care about, what they’re struggling with, what they’re experiencing all the time.
Then you’ve got all of the lurkers – not engaging, commenting or liking but they are watching.
That’s a huge audience not to be underestimated.
When you rally the rest of your team together in this, you can all be piggybacking each other’s conversations and comments, really driving value to the market whilst supporting your key messages.
My wish is that there was a tool to actively monitor LinkedIn conversations, especially with key prospects, opportunities and customers (in a way that’s easy, not SalesNavigator style).
Better content = better SEO
The concept is simple. So simple that you may pass over it.
One of the best ways to win on SEO is to simply produce a better piece of content than what already exists in the SERP (Search Engine Results Page).
Remember, Google is only interested in serving users in the best way possible, so if you produce something inherently better, it’ll rank.
Domain authority and backlinks were once everything, this isn’t the case today.
Think about the quality and intent behind the search – and be better.
The process looks like this:
Identify a problem your buyer has and zero in on what this piece of content is about and what value it’ll provide. Conduct searches to see what exists and how strong the content is. If you know you can 100% create more value, then do it.
If you want to maximise your opportunity here, do this at scale. Get a team of supporting writers and produce quality at high velocity.
The key is keeping that quality is by ensuring your voice and your knowledge is fed to the writer. This is where most companies fail. They pass it to a writer who has no subject matter expertise.
The solution is simple.
You record a voice note or get interviewed by the writer on a call and they take your words of wisdom and turn them into a great piece of content.
Capture existing demand via high intent SEO
This isn’t an option for every industry as it depends on awareness around your category.
It still deserves attention though.
When it comes to quickly identifying opportunities, you will need a tool like Ahrefs or SEMRush to identify high-buying intent searches or long-tail keyphrases that are currently being ignored.
High-buying intent searches are essentially anyone in your market who’s already actively looking for solutions and in some form committed to purchasing.
The best example would be someone searching for pricing, reviews, comparisons or being extremely explicit by looking for ‘solutions’.
For example, I’m searching for a new marketing automation solution for my business. I’m about to hit 500k ARR and I know who the main players are but am unsure about which is right and is going to set me up for future success over the next few years. Here’s the types of searches I’ll be conducting:
‘best marketing automation and CRM solutions’
‘hubSpot vs activecampaign’
‘active campaign reviews’
I would recommend looking for long-tail keyphrases that come in the form of questions too. Ranking for questions will enable you to position your SaaS solution as the answer.
Why long-tail keyphrases? They’re typically easier to rank for.
Ahrefs has become my go-to tool for keyword research. As I’m scrolling through potential opportunities, I’m looking for long-tail keyphrases with high search volume and low difficulty ratings.
With the right optimisation techniques, it’s easier to rank for keyphrases with low difficulty ratings because there’s simply less competition surrounding them.
Even with a low domain rating and minimal backlink profile, it’s relatively easy to rank for long-tail keyphrases with high search volume.
To start appearing in the search rankings for keyphrases with low difficulty ratings, you should aim to write simply enough to be better and deliver value. The higher the difficulty rating on Ahrefs, the more words and value you will need to provide.
Google’s algorithm prioritises high-value content. If you want to drive search traffic you simply have to prove to the algorithm that you’re an authoritative source. When ranking content, Google considers up to 100 different factors. While many of these are a mystery, we all know that Google is looking for high-value content.
You may also want to explore tools like ClusterAI to automate keyword research to vet opportunities quicker.
Growth marketing really takes into consideration the entire buyer journey and identifying where friction exists.
Friction will come in many forms.
For instance, you may create friction around your ICPs buying process, i.e. you’re not providing pricing to the buyer which means you’re impeding their ability to get information that could help them engage internal stakeholders.
You also risk the buyer opting for a potential competitor, in the case where they’ve provided pricing or have established a degree of historical trust, these elements meant they ascertained budget, engaged the internal team and walked into a sales conversion knowing where they stood. Whereas with you, they didn’t feel that way.
Another friction point is more behavioural, for instance, your buyers will have existing habits that keep them locked into solving their current problem with some existing method or get around. Your job is to unpick and understand this in so much detail that you’re able to minimise the risk of switching to you and pull them towards your offering.
Demand generation is all about a series of forces:
Push & Pull vs Habits & Anxieties.
The former being forces that compel the buyer to take action whereas the latter keep them stationary.
Your goal is to identify friction points and reduce them wherever you can.
Exclusivity with the content you create
Content can be a true competitive advantage.
I don’t need to sell this to you, we all know it.
For many brands, it’s their bread and butter for customer acquisition. The higher the value proposition of your content, the better – as this will cement you as an industry leader, owner of your category and build the audience you need.
Today, I recommend you focus on frameworks, assessments, resources and videos. Things they can use and they work. Secondly, you can think about blog posts, infographics and e-books, these still work but they’ve also be rinsed heavily.
It’s important to remember that people like to consume content in different ways – scrolling on LinkedIn is different to scrolling on your website.
The PERFECT situation to be in is one where your own content is surfacing up immediate challenges your buyers are facing. You can then use these for your posts, resources and future content with complete confidence.
Bring in the subject matter experts
I believe that you should be a subject matter expert yourself when it comes to the solution you’re selling.
Founders who sell solutions to audiences they know nothing about will always have a momentos uphill struggle.
When you combine your subject matter expertise with another, you get fantastic results.
For instance, you’ve started a podcast that’s all about how product managers can better manage remote teams and projects. You should reach out to leading voices in the product industry and speak about a variety of topics. You access their audience, build your own and can showcase your knowledge in the process.
Always avoid selling and always focus on delivering value over and over.
If you are not a subject matter expert of your industry, I seriously recommend you get someone in the business who is and supports you here because this is instrumental to so much across the content you create.
Build the brand of the founder
People buy from people, nothing has changed here.
That means as a founder you need (and should) have meaningful things to say.
You should start building your audience as early as possible. Many argue this should happen ahead of building the product too, ensuring that you’re truly connected to the market and I’d agree with this sentiment.
Building the brand of the company’s founder is going to be a huge competitive advantage moving forward. It’s so real that I’ve seen professionals hired into some of the fastest-growing tech companies purely because of their online influence.
Every SaaS startup needs a face and a story.
If there’s a compelling story behind the creation of your SaaS product, tell it. You need something that people can get emotionally invested in.
A distinct personality and character should shine through all the content. That said, if personality isn’t your strong suit, don’t worry, just focus on creating value. You can still win.
Create social proof that ends up in the feed
Building a community around your SaaS business is powerful.
Imagine a lovely little army of online advocates, who are singing your praises on LinkedIn when you post or comment on posts.
With the support of various online platforms, building an ever-expanding community of brand advocates has never been easier.
This style of word of mouth marketing is a strong referral driver.
Social proof is a key driver at several stages of a marketing funnel. I’ve recently seen SaaS startups leverage video testimonials to inspire consumer confidence and get prospects over the finish line.
The passive voices of your customers can play a pivotal role in your growth strategies so don’t ignore them.
Activating your team on social
This works SO much easier when the founder has a strong social profile.
In essence, every person in your startup will have a unique perspective and insights to offer to your buyers. It might not be that they can directly offer your buyers the same amount of value that others can, they simply may not be subject matter experts.
However, they can still build a following and engage their own unique audience. They can also be active participants in engaging with your existing customers.
There is ZERO downside to having your team actively engage on social with you.
You should also be piggybacking on each other’s posts to drive more impressions, engagement and awareness.
Your goal is to squeeze as much as you can out of everything.
Push strong organic into paid
A safe yet strong paid marketing growth tactic can be explained in two lines:
Identify your best performing organic content (whether that’s video, resources, etc).
Then run ads to everyone who’s not following you, using this content as the push.
This is excellent at creating demand and educating the market.
In terms of cost, you will need to measure what cost per video view you’re willing to spend and determine if it’s worth it. My personal opinion is that $3-4 per view is a pretty good investment.
Retargeting (but done right)
Retargeting should be done with content or customer stories. You can try everything else afterwards.
It’s all about increasing the likelihood that those familiar with your brand will convert.
Just be smart about it.
Retargeting to a Facebook Group that’s full of 15,000 of your buyers is smart.
Retargeting that’s not segmented or strategic will end up in wasted budget.
Remember the basics, i.e cookies on your website can ensure recent visitors see your ads on platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn.
The average click-through rate for retargeting ads is 10 times higher than regular display ads.
Reposition IF necessary
Okay… this is more than just a tactic, it’s a fucking rewrite.
This is the one to consider when you’ve done everything, it’s not landing and you’re not achieving your growth ambitions.
This also doesn’t mean after 3 months because you’re not seeing huge engagement you should completely throw everything out. That’s not useful.
This advice is for those who’ve been hitting it hard with their message in the market for a solid 6-12 months and the engagement and reception have been poor.
Whether your positioning is working or not, change is an unavoidable and inevitable part of any marketing strategy so embrace it.
But when things aren’t working, you need to move on
Repositioning your offering is all about acknowledging what isn’t working and leaning into what is.
It’s about understanding what about the framing of your solution isn’t working and why you need to tell a different story.
You need to understand your competitors, unpick the narrative they’re telling and how will you set yourself apart.
It’s about eliminating options and focusing on specifics.
IF this is where you are, this could be your biggest barrier to growth.
Challenge objections and minimise risk
Your SaaS pricing model must be well considered.
When this is nailed down, it can be leveraged very effectively in your marketing campaigns. For instance, if you’re offering a free trial, it’s essential to make this clear but you need to go a step further…
Address their objections. For example, tell them ‘no credit card’ required or ‘get started within minutes’. You need to address that barrier with micro copy that nudges them forward.
Even at the brand awareness stage, prospective customers should know there’s a risk-free way to take your solution for a test drive.
Pricing is tremendously powerful.
Offer a freebie (in the right way)
That does not mean offering a £200 gift card to get a decision-maker to jump on a demo call.
It might make sales giddy but it literally translates to zero value. Why?
Because you have no idea if the organisation is experiencing the type of pain required for them to be motivated to purchase your solution. You know nothing in essence.
A freebie should be of instant value.
For instance, with particular SaaS businesses we’ve crafted an offer that got one of the senior consultants within the business delivering a talk on a specific area of struggle.
The business could simply walk away after the session.
But 90% of the time they don’t.
Because they’ve seen what type of value you bring and you’ve already done it without the cost o a penny.
B2B companies have to think harder than just a free trial or demo.
Revisit pricing (again, oh FFS)
Pricing, pricing, pricing…
We’re all sick of revisiting pricing to the point where we might just end up turning into another one of Nicolas Cage’s demented characters.
It’s so crucial though.
Your pricing strategy has a big impact on the success of sales and marketing.
If you get it wrong, you’ll push away your ICP.
Understand and measure its perception with the target audience by capturing information on closed lost deals, any prospect who ghosted you, existing customer insights and run market research to understand more.
Growth won’t happen everywhere
You need to find the channels that are your competitive advantage.
You can’t win everywhere.
For many founders, there’s a drive to go at everything but this creates a real danger of spreading yourself too thin.
Rather than trying to master every channel, you should instead double down on 1 or 2 marketing channels where you KNOW your buyer is.
By focusing your efforts on the channels where you have the greatest strategic edge, you’re setting yourself up for success.
Be consistent in those channels and evaluate.
While you may want to use all of these tactics, it might be better to master a handful of them. Ultimately, it all comes down to where you have the most edge. For instance, if you’ve already built a strong community, you should lean into this and double down on your efforts.
There’s no point in dropping the ball in an area you’re succeeding in, however, if you can keep everything ticking along and invest time into a new growth lever, go for it.
If you can effectively implement just a few of these tactics, you will fuel SaaS growth that can meaningfully impact the trajectory of your business.
After implementing many of these growth marketing tactics into a variety of SaaS businesses, I’m super excited to see what they do for you.
As always, if you have any questions please reach out to me and ask or learn more on my podcast just here.
Are you tired of reliving the same SaaS growth problems over and over? If you’re beginning to feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, you should book a free strategy call with me.