When you first begin thinking about how to market a software company, it seems like a gargantuan task. Where do you begin? You may have some creative ideas, but how do you connect those ideas to the SaaS digital marketing strategies? And how do you build a strong inbound SaaS marketing strategy with content that reaches all buyers in your present and potential market?
All the best, biggest and brightest of creations begin with an idea that is inspired by the need to show the world what you can do, how you can solve a problem, or how great your product is. The Eiffel Tower was constructed to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution and to demonstrate France's industrial prowess to the world. The Taj Mahal was designed to show the great love Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan had for his favorite wife. The CN Tower was built to demonstrate the strength of Canadian industry, and position Canada as a major player on the world stage.
All of these world-famous buildings began with an idea, a dream, a need that had to be expressed.
But, they wouldn’t exist without a blueprint.
A blueprint helps you understand how the nuts and bolts fit into the big picture, why you need them and where they should go. It helps you build a strong foundation for all components and grow your great idea from thought to reality.
A marketing plan for a SaaS company is equally important, so let’s take a closer look at what you should build into your SaaS marketing plan.
Define Your SaaS Marketing Goals
You’ve got to have a dream, but you also need a goal. Setting goals is crucial to achieving them. Makes sense, right? Leonardo da Vinci had a dream about a flying machine, but his goal was to make that dream a reality, and he needed to develop a blueprint to figure out how the pieces would work together to achieve that goal.
So the first step in any plan is to determine the goal(s). Is it to increase awareness? Is it to align marketing and sales? Is it to increase conversions? Most likely your plan will include all of those elements and more, which makes it even more important to develop a detailed blueprint to ensure you understand how all of your marketing assets and team work together to achieve all goals.
And while it is good to have big, audacious goals, you must make sure that your goals are attainable. In short, they must be SMART goals that are specific, measurable, agreed upon and achievable, realistic and time-based.
The goals of marketing teams for SaaS are lead generation, sales-pipeline contribution and revenue generation, more commonly known as pipeline marketing.
But it’s not enough to say that you want to increase the numbers, that’s too vague and abstract, goals must be defined to be achieved. You have to determine a number you want to reach.
it’s not enough to say that you want to increase the numbers, that’s too vague and abstract...
When they were planning the CN Tower, they didn’t just say they wanted to build the biggest tower in the world (at the time), and they couldn’t just build until the budget ran out, they had to calculate what they would need to reach a certain height.
To calculate the numerical goal for the marketing team, you must identify what your revenue-growth goals are, and the percentage of those goals that the marketing department is expected to find. Then you take a look at the historical data of your funnel conversion-rate metrics to determine how many leads need to be generated from each step of the funnel to reach the revenue goal, and from this, you will also be able to determine how much website traffic will need to be generated to reach these goals.
If you want it - you’ve got to put a number on it.
Determine Your SaaS Marketing Plan Budget
Now that you’ve set your goals, you need to work out your budget and decide how much you can afford to spend to reach those goals. Typically, a marketing budget ranges from 10 to 40 percent of the forecasted annual recurring revenue; however, successful SaaS companies often invest between 80 and 120 percent of their revenue in sales and marketing. This may sound like a lot, but when you consider that these investments often return $2.20 for every $1.00 spent over the long term, it’s a worthwhile investment.
When working out your budget, you will have to determine how much individual tactics will cost and which ones to target first, depending on expected returns. It is also important to determine which strategies you will use to structure and prioritize costs before you begin. You should also take note of what kind of decisions can affect final costs, and who is playing a role in the decision making process, to mitigate the potential of unforeseen costs.
Developing SaaS Marketing Tactics
Congratulations, you’ve established your goals and have secured the budget, now for the fun part - tactics.
Before you develop the creative ideas for your marketing tactics, it is absolutely vital that you know who your are talking to. You must refer to your buyer personas to get a good idea of what your customer(s) want, why they want it and what demographic they fit, to develop content that engages and builds trust.
You also need to identify any specific components of your communication strategy that need to be developed, and which, if any, can be repurposed.
Inbound marketing for SaaS companies is particularly valuable because it can develop content that answers specific questions and requirements your market may have, and it can reach potential customers at every stage of the funnel. And when thinking about your marketing budget, inbound marketing tactics, such as blogging, can provide low-cost evergreen content, making it one of the most cost-effective tactics in your marketing blueprint.
Blogs, ebooks, infographics, informative pdfs, email marketing and social media marketing are all efficient and cost-effective inbound tactics. The key is to be consistent with the content flow, but it’s worth it.
Decode the SaaS Marketing Metrics
Ok, so you’ve heard the saying “Build it and they will come”, but did they? And if they did, what did they think? Are they coming back, are they telling their friends, did they buy it, or is it likely they will buy it in the future? How many were bought?
The answers to all of these questions are crucial to determining the success or failure of your marketing plan, and they would be impossible to answer without tracking and analyzing the metrics. In addition to the usual metrics you should monitor (churn, revenue per customer, and customer lifetime value) two more focused metrics that will reveal pertinent insights are:
Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) velocity is considered one of the most important metrics to measure...
The Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) velocity is considered one of the most important metrics to measure because it provides forward-looking insights, which helps determine a forecast of future sales and growth.
The Opportunities Sourced by Marketing is another key metric to watch. This gives you an indication of how the marketing initiatives are working. These down-funnel metrics can give you a better insight into potential sales than the low hanging fruit.
And of course, with all things sales and marketing, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on changing times and trends to monitor what meets your customer needs and what works with the zeitgeist of the times.
As you can see, developing a software company marketing plan takes a lot of thought, time and creative construction to be effective. If you want to discuss a plan for your company, give us a call, as marketers, we can’t build the world’s biggest tower, or even a medium-sized one, but we are pretty handy at building blueprints.