First, let me start by saying this is not another run-of-the mill “What to Do in 2019” articles. There is a legitimate reason why SaaS marketing will require a different approach going into the new year.
That said, this article will look at five SaaS marketing strategies you will want to invest in as your organization moves ahead into the new year.
Why is 2019 Different for SaaS Marketing?
There are two main SaaS marketing factors that demand careful new considerations going into 2019: (1) changes to Google’s algorithm and (2) an increase in buyer behavior in which potential clients seek product trials and freemium goods.
Google’s algorithm changes will impact SEO, content marketing and your ability to attract top-of-funnel traffic. In 2018 there were five major Google algorithm updates (there are roughly 500 to 600 every year) that had a direct impact on how the search engine ranks content by understanding the relationship between search intent and producing the best results.
Google’s primary ranking algorithm runs on machine learning and AI technology, and these updates have a direct impact on how page-level content, off-site content and links all play into one mass strategic entity to not just rank for target search terms and keywords, but for the right audiences in need of SaaS tools who are most likely to convert to leads.
As for freemium and product trails, more people vetting tools in the SaaS space flat our require one or both of these before even entertaining an investment. According to an article by ‘Entrepreneur’, more than 70 percent of businesses requested a full trial or a freemium version of software before investing in any features necessary for their growth. In order to stay competitive, SaaS players must bait the hook, but they need to leverage the freemium and trial play to help move the needle in their internal growth. This means using freemium and trials to attract tons of new users to your product, eliminate client obstacles while moving through the acquisition process, and create loyalty by generating user habits.
The best SaaS marketing agencies for year-over-year growth almost always focus on these strategies:
- Content Marketing
- Product Trials & Freemium
- Custom Growth Stacks
In the context of moving into 2019 with a focus in organic traffic generations and marketing tactics revolving around freemium and trials, this article will show how all five of these strategies can work together to help companies in the SaaS space hit their revenue targets in the new year to come and on a playing field that continues to evolve alongside technology and buyer behavior.
1. Utilize Ranking Logic Straight from a Top SaaS SEO Agency
There are two schools of thought for ranking content: one is to target keywords and terms with the highest search volume, and the other is to target keywords with contextual attributes that have significantly less search volume.
Let’s jump back to the topic of the Google algorithm updates that rolled out in 2018. The primary one, which hit search results in August, primarily targeted people in the medical space but thousands of other industries were impacted nonetheless. Remember, Google’s goal is to understand search intent when ranking results, and as we move into 2019 this process will become refined.
Continue using broad keywords, but be sure to pepper in search terms that have buyer-focused context. For example, if a company offers software that aligns customer support with sales and marketing, then you would want to uncover the pain points one would have in a position where such software would be useful, and add that context to longtail keywords and the content they are embedded in. “Single app for business management” or “customer support tools for operations” are two examples.
These keywords may not get the search volume that “marketing tools” get, but your goal is not to rank; you are investing in SaaS SEO services to acquire customers from organic traffic, and these keywords convert better because they rank for the right smaller audience as opposed to a broad, general one with fewer conversions.
Not only will this strategy result in more sales, but it will align with Google’s latest algorithm updates going into 2019.
2. Content Marketing for SaaS
Content marketing for SaaS in 2019 overlaps SEO considerations. But the two must be differentiated, as they are very different.
In 2019 the buyer will be the focus of all marketing efforts. While some brands may be tempted to talk about themselves as a strategy for positioning their company as an authoritarian in their space, this is the wrong approach to take going into the year of the buyer.
Your target audience needs to be represented in a buyer persona reflecting real living, breathing individuals that want your product. Writing for your real customers impact the approach to your content marketing strategy, and approach is everything to gaining trust, recognition, and increasing sales.
Be mindful in who you write for. Content marketing for SaaS almost always means you write for the decision makers; members of the C-Suite and senior marketing managers. Just keep in mind that your software is used by a menagerie of people. That said, your content should speak to these three groups:
Company Leaders – They define the strategic path and manage the team.
Implementor – The individuals setting up and using the SaaS tools.
Researcher – The individual responsible for learning about the tool’s capabilities and how it integrates with other tools.
When it comes to writing content for target audiences, you want to reach the C-Suite but also the implementers and researchers of the business world. In creating a strategy designed to work in 2019 that will do this, content marketing and SEO meld together in the form of the topic cluster model.
Topic clusters are segmented groups of blogs that all address a general topic, but each in its own unique way. One topic cluster could speak directly to the C-Suite or to the researcher, and contain a set number of blogs that have original titles and unique subject that touch on their needs.
SEO steps into the scene in multiple ways here. First, blogs must be written to rank for the right queries your target customers are typing into the SERPs. Then, as a topic cluster, each blog will internally link to another with a similar topic, and each blog will link to the pillar page–your homepage or primary product page. This allows “SEO juice” to circulate through the site to improve its domain authority and increase rankings, and it improves the user experience by making desired content topics more accessible (which sends signals to Google to further improve SEO results).
3. SaaS Product Trials and Freemium as a Marketing Strategy
We already mentioned that this is a core must-have for your customers going into 2019. Traditionally, SaaS companies give leads free product trials or freemium versions with the objective the person will better understand their need for the software and its paid features.
Product trials should be a major source for lead generation. Think of it as a test-drive before someone buys a car; your product trial will allow the person to experience what it’s like to be behind the wheel of your platform, and this even presents you with the opportunity to learn what they love about it, and what they don’t like–viral knowledge required to overcome their objections.
If your key conversion metric is a free trial (or even if it isn’t), people aren’t always going to take the action you want them to. Remember, 2019 is the year of the buyer, and retargeting allows you to re-engage people with a missed opportunity to attract their attention with a pain point solution that best resembles their need.
Retargeting implements a tracking code that follows your website visitors and displays your advert as they visit other sites, including your competitor’s. By offering contextual offers to draw visitors back to your site, you can recapture their interest and promote other value points of your product they may not have noticed or are aware of.
The people you are focused on in your retargeting strategy are earned visitors that came to your site, and there’s no excuse in losing potential leads you worked hard to attract. However, savvy SaaS marketing agencies can retarget people outside the circle of website visitors. As an example, you can launch event-based campaigns like attending a webinar or opening an email.
5. Growth Marketing Stacks for SaaS
All of the points we have covered, from SEO to content marketing, and from the paid media strategy of retargeting to the inbound methodology of email marketing, all are individual strategies that can be customized to work together towards achieving the same goal. This is what a Growth Stack is, and this is what it does.
Growth marketing stacks are the ideal solutions for businesses wanting to accelerate their growth in 2019 where buyer-centric content will be more heavily rewarded than ever before. Just be sure to have a consultation with a growth marketing agency to ensure the Growth Stack makes sense for your sales cycle.
If your business is an ideal fit, a powerful CRM like HubSpot will be Mission Control for your Growth Stack and to ensure the right content reaches the right people using the perfect cadence. It will also enable better results for each individual strategy used. For example, Growth Stacks improve the process of ranking content for target buyers by improving SEO-friendly audience targeting tactics, and it improves messaging in CTAs, emails, and other opportunities for conversion optimization. The technology will also track the buyer’s journey and make continuous optimizations to improve sales in an agile process.
2019 will be a heavily buyer-focused year for SaaS marketing agencies, and this is why using a Growth Stack to successfully grow your business and sell your tool will likely require a stack of specific tools and strategies to better attract, nurture, and convert web visitors into paying users.
Learn More About the Growth Marketing Stack that Will Empower SaaS Providers in 2019
Download our FREE guide on Growth Marketing, learn how it can help you achieve your growth goals in the new year ahead, and call us to setup an exploratory call where we can learn more about your business goals and products to determine an ideal solution.