SaaS marketing pains got you down?
You’re not alone. Time and time again, growing SaaS companies decide to take the marketing reigns and have a crack at making it big time.
Nine times out of ten, they fall flat on their face.
Because SaaS marketing is a big fish to fry, and a lot of business owners don’t realize it until they’ve got the fish on the boat. Or, in the pan.
The point is, it really takes someone with a boatload of experience to tick all the right marketing boxes and scale a SaaS company quickly.
So, where do you find these people?
Well, judging by this drawn-out metaphor, probably at some form of annual nautical convention. But if you don’t have any luck there, maybe try a SaaS marketing agency.
And if you are on the hunt for a decent SaaS marketing agency to help your company reach new heights, then there are a few things you should consider. Well, 16 actually.
But first, the basics!
What is SaaS Marketing?
SaaS marketing is the strategies and activities implemented to promote and sell SaaS products or services. Let's face it, creating an incredible SaaS product is only half the battle. Even the most remarkable software can languish in obscurity without the right marketing magic. That's where SaaS marketing swoops in to save the day.
SaaS marketing aims to attract, engage, and convert potential customers, primarily businesses or organizations, into paying subscribers of the SaaS product. It involves a combination of digital marketing, content marketing, branding, and sales tactics tailored specifically for the SaaS industry.
What is a SaaS Marketing Agency?
A SaaS marketing agency is an organization that specializes in assisting SaaS businesses with their marketing efforts. It's the magic wand that sprinkles marketing expertise, creativity, and strategic thinking to make your SaaS business stand out in a sea of competitors.
But what are the responsibilities of a SaaS marketing company, and more importantly, how does a SaaS marketing company differ from a regular marketing agency? Here are a few key distinctions:
A SaaS marketing agency understands the intricacies of the SaaS industry, including the subscription-based business model, recurring revenue, customer lifetime value, and retention. They are familiar with the nuances of marketing software products and services.
SaaS marketing agencies deeply understand the technical aspects of SaaS platforms and tools. They can effectively communicate the benefits and features of complex software solutions to potential customers and tailor marketing strategies accordingly.
Customer acquisition and retention
SaaS marketing companies excel in devising strategies to acquire and retain customers in the highly competitive SaaS landscape. They are skilled in generating leads, optimizing conversion funnels, implementing effective pricing models, and implementing customer retention strategies to increase revenue and reduce churn.
Targeted messaging and positioning
A B2B SaaS marketing agency knows how to craft compelling messaging and effectively position a SaaS product or service. They understand the target audience's pain points and create marketing campaigns that resonate with potential customers, showcasing the unique value proposition of the software.
B2B SaaS marketing agencies emphasize data-driven decision-making and performance metrics. They leverage analytics tools to measure the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, track KPIs, and optimize strategies based on the results.
Inbound and content marketing expertise
SaaS marketing agencies excel in creating engaging and informative content. They understand the importance of inbound marketing methodologies to generate and nurture leads throughout the buyer's journey.
How an Agency Helps with Marketing for SaaS Companies
Moving along, we now know what a SaaS marketing agency does, but why would you need one in the first place? Let's dive into some key areas where such an agency can make a significant impact:
1. Acquire and Retain Customers
Attracting and retaining customers is the lifeblood of any SaaS business. A skilled SaaS marketing agency understands the intricacies of your industry and can develop tailored strategies to help you acquire new customers while maximizing customer retention.
Through targeted campaigns, optimized lead generation, and effective customer nurturing, they can help you build a loyal and growing user base.
2. Increase Brand Awareness
In the competitive world of SaaS, standing out from the crowd is crucial. A reputable SaaS marketing agency can help boost your brand awareness by crafting compelling messaging and developing creative marketing campaigns.
By leveraging various channels such as social media, content marketing, and paid advertising, they can ensure that your brand reaches the right audience at the right time, creating a lasting impression.
3. Drive Revenue Growth
Ultimately, a successful SaaS marketing strategy should translate into revenue growth for your SaaS business. A specialized agency understands the unique dynamics of the SaaS market and can develop effective strategies to drive conversions and increase revenue.
From optimizing your pricing model and implementing upselling techniques to running targeted promotional campaigns, their expertise can help you unlock the full revenue potential of your SaaS business.
4. Optimize Website
Your website is the virtual storefront of your SaaS business, and a SaaS marketing agency can help you optimize your website for maximum impact. They can improve its design and user experience, ensuring seamless navigation and a clear call-to-action. Additionally, they can assist with search engine optimization (SEO) to improve your website's visibility in search engine results, driving organic traffic and increasing conversions.
Partnering with a SaaS marketing agency empowers you to focus on your core business while benefiting from the specialized skills and knowledge of experts who promote SaaS companies.
16 Tips for Choosing a SaaS Marketing Agency
Now that you know the benefits of hiring a SaaS marketing agency, let's consider some tips when choosing one.
1. Determine Focus: B2B or B2C
If your SaaS product caters to businesses, a B2B-focused marketing agency will have a deeper understanding of the B2B sales cycle, lead generation strategies, account-based marketing (ABM) techniques, and the importance of building strong relationships with decision-makers.
On the other hand, if your SaaS product targets individual consumers, a B2C-focused agency will be adept at crafting persuasive messaging, driving user engagement, and utilizing social media and influencer marketing to reach the desired audience.
For example, consider a SaaS marketing agency that specializes in B2B campaigns. It's possible that they have a lot of experience in creating content for lead nurturing and email marketing automation. Additionally, they may be skilled at making landing pages that can turn important leads into customers.
They can develop plans to increase high-quality traffic to your website through search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Their expertise in B2B marketing channels and tactics can generate high-quality leads and convert them into paying customers.
2. Industry or Subject Matter Expertise
Different SaaS products cater to various industries, such as healthcare, finance, e-commerce, and project management, each with unique challenges and target audiences. Partnering with an agency with industry experience can provide valuable insights, shortcuts, and proven strategies to market your SaaS product effectively.
An agency with industry expertise understands your target customer's pain points, motivations, and buying behaviour within a specific industry. They are more likely to deeply understand industry-specific terminology, compliance requirements, and competitive landscape. This knowledge allows them to develop compelling marketing messages that resonate with your audience and differentiate your product from competitors.
For instance, imagine you have a SaaS product designed for healthcare providers. Choosing a SaaS marketing agency with expertise in the healthcare industry can bring immense value. They might be familiar with regulatory constraints, privacy concerns, and healthcare professionals' specific challenges.
This understanding enables them to craft targeted campaigns, leverage relevant case studies and success stories, and effectively utilize appropriate channels to reach healthcare decision-makers.
3. Goal Setting
Setting goals is a fundamental process in crafting any marketing strategy and is just as important for SaaS marketers.
It goes without saying that you’re trying to achieve something, but clearly setting goals helps everyone define success.
You need to be able to look back over the last 12 months of work and assess whether you achieved everything you hoped for. That’s what goals are for.
Your SaaS marketing agency’s processes should always start with goal setting, so you should ask about how they actually go about this.
The SMART goal framework is usually a pretty good approach:
States exactly what you’ll do
Has a numerical value, or some way of evaluating when the goal is achieved
The goal is within your scope of accomplishment
The goal makes sense to your business
There’s a timeframe for achieving the goal
Using a goal-setting framework like this ensures that you’re not simply setting arbitrary targets that don’t make sense, or aren’t achievable.
But, you also don’t want the goals to be too easily achievable, and your SaaS marketing agency should be able to help you with that.
They should also be able to measure whether you’re on track to achieving those goals, which is where metrics come in.
4. Marketing Metrics & KPIs
In the marketing world, there are a tonne of metrics that you can track. But not all of them are metrics that you should track.
Vanity metrics are ones that you can track, but that don’t really matter or don’t have a direct impact on your results. More importantly, they don’t have anything to do with your goals.
Everyone has a different opinion on which metrics are just vain and which actually have an impact, and it kind of depends on your specific goals, but the important thing to consider when deciding on SaaS marketing metrics is this:
Does this metric align with my goals?
Once you’ve got your metrics in place, your marketing SaaS marketing agency should work with you to set some KPIs.
KPIs (key performance indicators) are measurable on a regular basis, usually monthly, and tell you at a glance whether you’re on track or not. This is where reporting comes in…
Though you’ll probably be working quite closely with your SaaS marketing agency, you still need to be able to review a report each month to understand exactly what’s gone on in the last 30 days.
Well, because you’re spending a lot of money with them! So, you should be keeping track of your return on investment (ROI).
A monthly report from your SaaS marketing agency should include:
- Activity from the last month
- Results from the last month
- Results measured against KPIs
- Any changes or updates to your strategy
- Key improvements to implement next month
6. Rock-Solid Marketing Processes
Aside from formal processes and systems for goal setting, metric tracking, and reporting, your SaaS marketing agency should have a strong set of procedures for each of the activities they are going to engage in.
For example, one of the first things your SaaS marketing agency is going to recommend is that you form a solid blogging strategy.
But a blog strategy isn’t just about deciding on a few post topics and then getting to writing. That’s not a strategy, it’s barely even a plan.
Your SaaS marketing agency will know this, and if they’re worth their salt, then they’ll have a well-documented process for creating this strategy, which probably follows steps like:
- Perform keyword research
- Content audit
- Content gap analysis
- Topic planning
- Content calendar
When you’re assessing different SaaS marketing companies, you should enquire about their processes. Don’t expect them to spill all the beans, especially if you haven’t hired them yet, but it’s worth asking the question as it gives you an opportunity to judge their reaction.
If they seem evasive, that’s a good sign that they don’t have any…
Once you’ve assessed their processes and systems, it’s time to evaluate their specific experience.
That means checking out their previous work, and determining whether they can help you achieve the goals you have in mind.
This will also help you evaluate whether they are even a ‘SaaS marketing agency,’ or if they only have experience with non-SaaS customers. This is an all-too-important decider, because if they don’t have SaaS experience, then you could well be right back where you started.
7. Client History
Case studies are the perfect starting point for evaluating a SaaS marketing company’s experience.
A case study is an in-depth report on an agency’s previous success with a past or current customer. They tend to follow a format something like this:
- The problem their client was facing
- The solution that was proposed (and followed)
- The outcomes they achieved
By reviewing case studies, you can not only determine if the agency has solved problems that are similar to yours, but you can also find out just how successful they were in solving them.
Sometimes, you’ll find these available on their website. You’ll often have to request access to them, as they contain sensitive customer information that must be shared diligently.
So, don’t freak out if your SaaS marketing agency doesn’t have a huge list of case studies on their site, and just ask them the question or check out their profile on industry websites.
8. Brands They Work With
Many SaaS marketing agencies will display somewhere on their website the companies that they currently work with, and those they’ve worked with in the past.
Whether that’s in a logo section at the bottom of their home page, or in the form of client testimonials, you should be able to identify one or two customers they work with.
If you can, then you should dive into the websites and marketing activities of each of those companies, and do a little assessment of their work. This will help you to determine whether their style and feel align with what you’re trying to achieve.
Like with case studies, some SaaS marketing agencies may be unable to display or highlight certain customers due to non-disclosure agreements, so it is worth keeping in mind that if they don’t have logos on their site, it doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t have any clients!
In the absence of this, you should check out review sites like UpCity and Clutch, which will give you a feel for what their previous clients have to say about them.
These are authoritative websites that allow clients to post detailed reviews about their experiences with the agencies they have engaged and are great places to learn about a) the types of clients an agency is working with, and b) the results they are generating.
9. Time In The Game
This is one of those “take it or leave it” kind of factors.
You see, it may or may not matter to you how long the agency has been operating. Some of us like to work with companies that have been around for several years, whereas others don’t mind working with new companies, provided the fit feels good (we’ll talk about fit soon).
Either way, it’s generally a good sign if they’ve been around for a while. Of course, it means they have a wealth of experience, but more than that, it means that their systems and processes have been refined over the long term and over the course of a number of small industry changes that require procedural edits.
But it’s not just an agency’s experience that matters. In fact, in many cases, expertise is more important than experience, per se.
That’s because not all SaaS marketing experts are specialized in the same tactics and methods.
Think about assessing a SaaS marketing agency’s expertise like this:
Whatever line of business you’re in, whether your SaaS is a B2B sales CRM or a consumer-focused photo-sharing app, there’s someone else out there doing something similar.
But your SaaS is different, you cater to a slightly different market, you have different features that cater to different pain points… You get the gist.
SaaS marketing agencies are exactly the same. You might have a big old list of agencies that you’re considering, and they probably all have a decent amount of expertise to back them up. The thing is though, they’ll all have specific expertise in different areas, so you’ll want to make sure their individual skill sets cater to your overall business and marketing goals.
Let’s outline a few common marketing methods and tactics that your SaaS company may (or may not) have specific expertise in.
10. SaaS Web Design and Development
Your website is at the heart of your SaaS marketing plan, and there are an endless number of strategies that web designers implement to create high-converting SaaS sites.
This should be your first consideration when judging the expertise of a SaaS marketing agency - do they have a good background in SaaS web design and development?
Now I know you might be thinking “I don’t need a new website, I only just had one built.”
Okay, that might be true, but don’t rule out the possibilities of:
- Needing a new website down the track
- Important changes to your site to support your marketing strategy (like building landing pages)
- Needing significant UX and content edits to maximize conversion and support SaaS lead generation
Even though you might not be in need of a full website development right now (don’t rule this out though), your SaaS marketing agency will still need to be able to access your site and make regular changes, update links, and publish new blogs posts.
So, you should find out what platform or platforms a given agency is familiar with. If they only work within a certain platform and that doesn’t align with how your website has been developed, this may cause issues. Or, it may mean your new website will need to migrate to a new platform!
Landing page design is one of the biggest factors for consideration here, as it’s what will drive your lead generation. A decent SaaS marketing agency should know just how to create landing pages that convert and will have endless experience when it comes to SaaS website design inspiration.
11. Content Marketing
Content marketing is basically the backbone of any SaaS marketing strategy. It’s pretty rare to find a SaaS company that doesn’t have a blog (only 15% of the world’s biggest don’t), podcast, or downloadable eBook.
Because content marketing is basically the king of inbound lead-generation methods.
When you’re seeking to grow your SaaS, the biggest issue is actually being found. This is especially true for early-stage companies that have a solution that people don’t even know exists.
If customers don’t know a solution exists, then they aren’t going to be searching for it, are they?
That’s why you need to dive deep into a blog strategy that utilizes content that is:
With a well-formed content calendar that is grounded in accurate keyword research and topic ideation, you’ll slowly but surely start to see your written content rise through the search results. But it’s a competitive space, whatever vertical you’re working in, and it takes some significant expertise and experience to make it work - that’s where your SaaS marketing agency comes in.
Content marketing isn’t just about blogging, either.
Some would say there are over 100 different kinds of content marketing, though you’ll probably find a fair bit of overlap in these. The major point to investigate is whether a SaaS marketing agency creates and manages content across the entire customer journey.
If they only focus on blog writing, then you’re likely only hitting top-of-funnel opportunities. If you’re nurturing leads with email marketing campaigns, and mid-funnel content like whitepapers and eBooks, and have a well-automated and monitored process for doing this, then you’re far better placed to convert those leads into customers.
Lastly, you should ask about their approach with regard to writers. They may have in-house writers, or they may use contractors for certain projects.
The latter approach tends to work better for SaaS companies, as it means you’ll have people creating your content that have specific industry expertise, rather than a jack-of-all-trades writer.
12. Inbound vs. Outbound Focus
Have you considered whether an inbound or outbound marketing methodology suits your business better?
If this is all news to you, here’s a quick summary of the inbound vs. outbound debate:
The goal of inbound marketing is to educate customers about their challenges (and your solution)
The goal of outbound marketing is to persuade prospects to buy
Inbound is permission-based (the power of decision is the customers)
Outbound is interruptive
Attention is earned (best content wins)
Attention is bought (biggest budget wins)
Growth opportunity is exponential
Growth opportunity is linear (you get out based on what you put in)
Inbound marketing is about the customer
Outbound marketing is about your company
Generally two-way communication between the company and prospects
Generally one-way communication (talking at prospects rather than with them)
Of course, there are times where either method may be appropriate, and many marketers take a hybrid approach, implementing both inbound and outbound tactics depending on requirements.
Regardless, you should investigate a SaaS marketing firm’s opinions on the whole debate to ensure that their vision for marketing aligns with yours, and importantly, your company’s.
13. Other Marketing Specialities
Aside from the outbound vs inbound marketing paradigm, there’s one more thing you should consider:
Does this SaaS marketing have any specific marketing specialties?
That is to say, are they particularly good at any particular channel, tactic, or method? Website design and development and content marketing are two “gotta haves”, but you also might be in need of an expert in a given field.
For example, if you’re a B2C SaaS with a target audience of 18-20-somethings, you’ll probably have a strong need to advertise on Instagram. A SaaS marketing agency with a hefty focus on social media marketing channels might be a good place to start, then.
Specialties to consider include:
- Social media marketing
- Search engine optimization
- SaaS sales
- Email marketing
- Influencer marketing
- HubSpot certified partner
- Referral marketing
- B2B or B2C focus
- Google Ads (AdWords)
14. Marketing Personas
Read any resource that talks about creating a marketing strategy, and the first step is always to develop customer personas.
That’s because using personas increases the effectiveness of a website by up to 5x, and the same goes for the rest of your marketing activities.
It’s often not a task that is as simple, straightforward, or speedy as you would like, which is why it’s important that your SaaS marketing agency has a good handle on how to create effective marketing personas.
Ask about their process for creating personas, and see if you can take a look at their own ones! This could give you a good indication as to whether you fit with their ideal customer persona.
That might seem like a bit of a laugh, but wouldn’t you want to know whether you’re their ideal customer? It’s kind of like dating, and finding out what the other person is looking for in a relationship. If what you’re looking for doesn’t align with what they’re after, then it probably isn’t going to work out in the long run.
Speaking of digging into their own marketing…
15. Their Own Marketing
Perhaps the greatest indicator of a SaaS marketing agency’s abilities, expertise, and fit for your company is the marketing activities they are engaging in themselves!
Consider how you came across the agency in the first place. Did you stumble across a blog post of theirs? (hint, hint).
Perhaps you found them in a Google search for “marketing agencies near me”.
Whichever avenue it might have been, it gives you an indication as to how well they can pull off individual marketing tactics for themselves.
Dig deep and ask the questions. If they are SaaS website and development experts, how does their website reflect this? Are they backing themselves as content marketing experts? Then check out the content they are creating, and make sure they’re walking the talk!
16. Their People
So they’ve got the experience, their processes seem sound, and their specific niche expertise aligns nicely with what you’re trying to achieve as a company.
But what about their people?
This is something that’s often overlooked in guides and checklists for choosing a SaaS marketing agency, but it’s way more important than it seems.
There are three key questions you need to be asking of every SaaS marketing company you’re considering working with:
- Do I get along with these people?
- Do I trust them?
- Do they get me (and my company)?
You see, there’s nothing more tiring than working with someone you don’t get along with. That doesn’t mean they have to be your best friend, by any means, but you should consider the fact that you’ll be working quite closely together (hopefully).
If you get along with them on a personality level, you’re going to have a much easier time doing business together, and there’s a better chance you’ll be aligned on the most important decisions.
As you go through the process of deciding on an agency to work with you’ll be asking a lot of questions. Pay attention not only to the information and answers you get in response but to how they respond. Trust your first impressions, and walk away if you don’t feel like you can trust them.
Finally, make sure you assess and determine whether they really get you, your brand, and your company’s mission. Literally, ask them to explain it back to you - that will give you a feel for how deeply they understand what you’re trying to achieve.
If there isn’t a deep alignment there, then it’s going to be tough to achieve your goals.
Conclusion - Choosing a B2B SaaS Marketing Agency
Now you know exactly how to assess a SaaS marketing agency, it’s time to rule out some options, narrow it down, and make a decision.
Here’s a summary of what to look out for:
- Determine focus: B2B or B2C
- Industry or subject matter expertise
- Goal setting processes
- Metrics and KPIs that will be tracked
- Reporting and analytics
- Rock-solid marketing processes
- Client history
- Brands they work with currently
- How long they’ve been around for
- SaaS web design and development experience
- Content marketing expertise
- Whether they focus on inbound or outbound methods
- Any other marketing specialist (such as Google Ads)
- Marketing persona creation
- Their own marketing
- Their people (if you get along if you trust them, and if they really understand your business)
Tick these 14 boxes, and you’ll be seeing massive growth in no time.Need some more help deciding, or looking for a SaaS marketing guide to navigate those treacherous waters? Roketto is an inbound marketing agency that helps ambitious SaaS companies achieve their growth goals. Let’s talk.