SaaS marketing plan in 6 steps

Developing a SaaS marketing plan is one of the conditions for effectively implementing a company’s SaaS strategy. Searching for software-as-a-service solutions often requires a balanced and reasonable approach to developing and promoting a dynamically developing digital product. Today’s guide will be interesting and useful for beginner digital marketers and professionals just stepping on the winding path of the SaaS business. With the guidance below, you can move freely through the stages of your marketing plan, focusing on market and competitor research, marketing channel formation, promotional content production, and more. We invite you to join today’s topic and plunge into SaaS digital marketing planning.

SaaS marketing planning: basics and features

At its core, the SaaS business model is distinguished by the principles and rules of the game in the market. Consequently, marketing efforts aimed at the implementation of a specific virtual product have their own distinctive features. In this case, SaaS marketing planning focuses on solving problems in the plane of high competition and customer retention. In addition, the presence of a large number of players in the Internet market stimulates and pushes SaaS marketers to create near-perfect plans and strategies.

SaaS marketing planning aims to create an actionable plan that considers the specifics of the SaaS brand and is designed following the existing demand for such a product.

As far as the direct practice of SaaS planning is concerned, selling a digital product is much more difficult than selling any other tangible product. In the case of the implementation of a physical object, the client clearly sees the product attributes and makes a purchase decision based on the objective characteristics of the product. For SaaS, everything is much more complicated since a potential subscriber may not yet know about your existence or does not seriously think about using the product. Therefore, he must be informed or motivated to sign up or renew a subscription. So now marketer has a new challenge to plan and implement in a specific niche for software applications and tools.

The basis of a marketing plan for a SaaS company is the strategic structuring of the management process. Thus, the company’s mission and overall goal become the head of the formation of long-term and short-term goals prescribed in your plan. In addition, it is important to analyse the situation using modern strategic management tools – the SWOT method, SPACE matrix, Fishbone diagrams, etc. And in this, the SaaS marketing plan is no different from classical marketing.

The sales cycle separates a SaaS marketing plan from its offline counterpart. And if the classic sales funnel, in most cases, has three stages in its dynamics (acquisition of leads, monetisation and retention). On the other hand, the SaaS business is focused on its extended version, adapted to the customer’s life cycle and actions after the initial conversion. Therefore, a metric such as retention rate in a marketing plan for SaaS is an indicator that reflects the effectiveness of efforts to transform a demo version user into a premium account subscriber. Takeaway: It doesn’t matter if the lead is actually generated; what matters is how we monetise these leads after the initial purchase process and what the return on investment will be weeks or even months after the conversion.

SaaS digital marketing strategy

Based on the main features of SaaS marketing planning outlined above, there are a number of advantages in the formation and use of a SaaS digital marketing strategy:

  • The right strategy is a tool for attracting leads and driving dynamics in the sales funnel;
  • User loyalty and subscription renewal are not isolated phenomena but a system. And its self-development in market conditions ensures the arrival of new customers;
  • an integrated approach to promoting a digital brand causes positive associations in the mind of the buyer with the use of your product;
  • a digital strategy thought out to the smallest detail can turn an ordinary browser into a progressive SEO tool;
  • the simultaneous combination of contextual advertising, e-mail and other channels according to the principle of priority as part of the strategy has a powerful synergistic effect.

The TOP SaaS digital marketing strategies, according to experts, include the following strategies, taking into account the target market:

  • Free trial versions of the product with full or limited functionality activate the process of registering on the site and using the service, gently pushing the client to purchase/renew the subscription, thanks to familiarisation with the interface, built-in functions and capabilities.
  • PPC and SEO optimisation make the content relevant and one that will have the maximum effectiveness for the target audience. Improving positions in the TOP of search engines with the synchronous implementation of contextual advertising and unique author’s content will maximise the number of site visitors and attract organic traffic.
  • Differentiated SaaS pricing targeting a subscriber with different income levels and consumer demands allows the company to increase the LTV / CAC percentage several times. Because the price is often the deciding factor in purchasing a product, a SaaS marketing plan should consider this conversion lever and develop the optimal pricing package. Three or four options will be enough for the user to choose and not get confused about the alternatives. The duration of the proposed tariff plans should also be taken into account: the longer the package is valid and, accordingly, the more expensive the cost of subscribing to it, the more likely it is that customers will prefer a competitor’s cheaper price offer, even if it is not so long and functional. Therefore, focus the subscriber’s attention not on the cost of the package but on his benefit from purchasing the latter!
  • The most accessible and simplified registration procedure on the site increases the number of transitions by almost a third. If the client wants to try out the SaaS functionality, don’t frighten him away with your importunity and detailing of the registration form. Let him immerse himself in the product with enthusiasm, and then it’s a matter of technology – build-up actions as you move through the sales funnel stages.
  • Lead generation based on referral marketing is the main source of building a software-as-a-service client base. Affiliate programs can work wonders in the direct and reverse sense of the word. On the one hand, when forming a marketing plan for a SaaS company, it is necessary to take into account referral incentives and prescribe the main points of the loyalty program; on the other hand, such entities can harm the image of a digital brand by their incompetence in a SaaS solution. Conclusion: choose partners carefully and carefully based on their business reputation and current experience.
  • The success of a SaaS digital marketing strategy lies not only in the right combination of the previous elements but also in providing a high-quality customer experience. For SaaS, the speed of response to a user’s request online is simply vital since this parameter influences the formation of an opinion about the product and its viability, combined with the cost and comfort of working with it. Offer personalisation, support for a chatbot or an online call centre manager, timely informing about current offers as soon as possible or close to the date of the promotion, make your SaaS of high quality and increase its consumer value.
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Stages of creating a marketing plan for SaaS companies

So, what is a solid SaaS marketing plan? We offer the following main components as a guide to a successful SaaS marketing plan for your business.

Definition of the target audience

The marketing perception of the ideal customer is pretty utopian. The idea of ​​how your ideal client will behave is just a conditional characteristic. Therefore, it is important to thoroughly study the target audience before rushing into the battle to increase conversions. Understanding and sharing the interests of the target audience is a guide to improving interaction and making decisions about the implementation and development of a SaaS project. Identifying the target audience and searching for its pain points allows you to develop unique content, target advertising efforts, provide customer support, and much more. The main questions that interest the target audience are: “How can your product or service solve their problem?”, “How does this fit into the concept of their life?”, “How can this improve their life in any way?”. It is logical to consider this rather than trying to idealise the client. Deep resonance with the user is achievable at the same time, thanks to the use of analytics and marketing research tools in their classical form. Do not try to embrace the immensity – choose a benchmark among existing subscribers and scale your efforts towards creating an optimal interaction model.

Definition of marketing goals in the short and long term and key performance indicators

The main goal of any marketing plan for a SaaS company is to attract customers and increase conversions, so make sure that your goals are specific and achievable, whether they are put forward for what period – short or long term. The use of time scaling in the formulation of goals is an integral element of the planning workflow. The hourly scale allows you to invest in the project deadlines and monitor the situation.

Decide for yourself what the goals of planning are and who, in fact, is responsible for achieving them. The team must understand and be aware of the responsibility for the results of their work. At the same time, the instruments for achieving such goals and their return in the short and long term will differ. For example, if contextual advertising directly leads the client to the site, then the results of marketing investments in SEO will be visible on average only after six months. Therefore, it is also necessary to consider the sales cycle and the value of the key performance indicators of the SaaS business plan for implementation. The main ones in the context of the time factor and their qualitative and quantitative measurement are:

  • customer lifetime value;
  • SaaS SEO ROI
  • customer acquisition cost;
  • growth in the market share of a SaaS company;
  • churn rate (customers and revenue);
  • monthly recurring income;
  • annual income growth;
  • user engagement;
  • brand recognition;
  • contacts that generated numerical “buyer signals”;
  • availability and capacity of new markets for penetration;
  • long-term customer value ratio;
  • Cost-to-Service, and so on.

The delimitation of these metrics in the short and long term is the starting point in implementing the following stages of the SaaS marketing plan.

Studying the market, competitors, and content distribution channels

Now we know who the user of our product is and what the main goals of the marketing plan are. Therefore, you can move on to researching the market, the main competitors and content distribution channels.

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Market monitoring includes tracking consumer behaviour, the effectiveness of advertising efforts, and the return on investment from major digital marketing activities. In this situation, it is logical to resort to SEO analytics, correctly conducted and offering a real, meaningful summary of what actions will be taken to improve the effectiveness of key indicators or optimise them.

In addition, such analysis requires tracking the activity of the main competitors in the market to take countermeasures in the fight for the subscriber’s attention. The following indicators can influence the state of competitive positions: the volume of organic traffic, properly planned advertising campaigns, the number of referral links, user activity in social networks, and the like. To conduct a competitive analysis procedure, you can use the template of digital marketing agencies or do it yourself if you have the necessary skills and knowledge.

By researching your current competitors and creating accurate buyer personas, you’ll know ​​the channels your potential subscribers are using. This information will help prioritise channels in your SaaS marketing plan and improve overall channel performance. In particular, such channels include e-mail newsletters, blogs, podcasts, social media posts, YouTube reviews, PPC, and the like. The main thing is that such channels bring organic traffic as much as possible, forming a strong community of like-minded SaaS users. Therefore, it is logical to start forming channels with surveys of the target audience, which would contain a question about the source of information that brought the client to the site. An experienced group of members of the target audience can provide you with the necessary basis of knowledge on which channels will work best for your specific marketing conditions and your specific SaaS product promotion budget.

Development of an advertising strategy

A potential client for SaaS will be a B2B or B2C company. Therefore, the advertising strategy of SaaS should be aimed at those who make decisions in them. Furthermore, since the SaaS sales cycle is longer than a conventional product or service, the lead will move through the sales funnel with more stages. At the same time, efforts are directed to implement a certain optimal combination of components of the advertising strategy.

Among the main ways to implement the elements of such a strategy, experts in the field of SaaS digital marketing strategy distinguish:

  • Use of content marketing;
  • SEO promotion and optimisation;
  • e-mail distribution;
  • referral marketing;
  • contextual advertising.

And if contextual advertising is effective for companies in the B2C segment, then referral and e-mail marketing, as well as SEO, will find their wide application in the B2B market.

Advertising content production

Advertising content is the next stage of SaaS marketing planning, which involves building an effective model for attracting and retaining subscribers. Its goal is to increase traffic and generate high-quality leads. The content of content directly depends on the goals and channels of the advertising strategy, fixed at the previous stage of the plan. Unique authors’ content can get viral status and reach the target audience as much as possible, according to their interests and needs.

So, for example, if you had a blog on a SaaS product site, then you could structure the following directions for generating advertising content:

  • TOP best SaaS marketing strategy;
  • SaaS marketing for B2B / B2C;
  • The cost of marketing SaaS companies;
  • How to use SaaS marketing for your startup;
  • Using referral programs in your SaaS marketing plan and so on.

Such a list can be continued indefinitely, based on the ever-increasing and dynamic needs of the SaaS market. But to start generating the content, start by searching for relevant topics for its development by keywords in the search engine.

Monitoring the effectiveness of campaigns and timely adjustment

The planning is completed by monitoring the effectiveness of campaigns and making appropriate, timely adjustments in case of deviation from the planned indicators. Since the marketing return on investment (ROI) effect is not seen in action until a few weeks/months after the fact of subscription, it becomes necessary to track the performance of the intermediate stages of the SaaS marketing plan against the key metrics given earlier in our list. So, for example, if the goal was to increase brand awareness, then the number of website visits or new subscribers in social networks that came as a result of the campaign should be monitored. In the case when the goal was lead generation, it is necessary to control the conversion rate, price, and amount of traffic received through a particular channel.

In any case, whether it is the successful implementation of the plan and the achievement of targets or a deviation from the planned indicators, the looping of the planning algorithm and its linkage with the stage of forming short-term and long-term goals will eventually work. The infinity of the planning process is its main characteristic. The campaign performance monitoring phase allows you to identify gaps that need to be addressed in your SaaS product marketing plan. Start adjusting or developing your SaaS marketing plan again!

Summing up, I would like to note that the marketing plan for a SaaS company is mobile and dynamic. It must consider many factors and resources, and its development is a process that requires the performer to use the potential to the maximum. So what are they, and what resources do you need to implement your plan and make it successful? The Around Web digital agency specialists will help you figure this out.

Checked by marketer Victoria Fedchenko

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