Inbound marketing, as a concept and a marketing philosophy, has spread rapidly in the last few years, promising higher conversion and customer. Its core tenets can be used for nearly any business or industry, including and especially SaaS. The SaaS industry faces many unique challenges that can be more adequately addressed through inbound marketing than almost any other marketing strategy. Keep reading to find out how leveraging inbound marketing can increase your SaaS sales.
As a philosophy, inbound marketing is built on the belief that traditional “push” strategies, in which marketers simply advertise their service via aggressive/interruption based efforts, are no longer that effective.
That alternative is a “pull” strategy. The aim is to draw visitors from your target audience not with interruption based strategies, but with helpful, relevant content Tweet, the centerpiece of a successful inbound marketing strategy. Sophisticated marketers also go the extra mile and adapt their marketing strategy both inbound and outbound based on where the customer is in their buying journey. Also, at each buying stage there are channels/marketing strategies that perform better than others, the key is to test and see what works best for your audience.
Certainly at the centerpiece of a strong inbound marketing strategy is an even stronger content, social and SEO strategy.
Inbound marketers experience a significantly higher ROI than their outward-focused counterparts, while exceedingly fewer marketers rely on outbound methods alone. The inbound methodology has swept over the SaaS industry as well, with 44% of leads in the industry now originating from these marketing initiatives. SaaS marketers can take advantage of inbound marketing in a variety of ways.
Inbound marketing and SaaS are a natural fit, because most SaaS providers market on a relatively rational level. Because their solutions are often targeted toward business audiences and can require a significant commitment, they attract audiences that don’t just become subscribers on a whim; instead, they make the buying decision only after a time of thoughtful consideration.
Inbound marketing plays perfectly into that time of thoughtful consideration. Because it focuses on relevant, high-quality content that aims to be helpful rather than promotional, it will attract an audience looking to educate themselves about the industry and the benefits of the service. That audience will be more likely to become leads if they see that the service is solving a problem they have rather than simply promoting their own software.
To leverage this fact, it’s important to target your content to keywords that your potential customers are searching while doing research before they buy Tweet. For instance, say your product is a marketing dashboard. At some point, someone looking for a better way to track the success of their marketing efforts will probably search for something like “best marketing metrics”. If you have a few blog posts that use that keyword, or some variation on it (“5 Traits of the Best Marketing Metrics Dashboards,” “The Most Important Marketing Metrics for Startups”, etc.), you can end up ranking for those keywords and bringing organic traffic to your site or blog. Once visitors are there, they’ll see all your relevant content and decide you’re a company that really knows what you’re talking about.
Also, don’t forget to adapt your strategy to the buying stage as well. If a visitor is in an early/awareness stage he will most probably search for keywords like “how to…” while if he is in a mid/consideration stage he will search for keywords like “top marketing dasboards”/”compare marketing dashboards”. You will have to be ready to build relevant content and strategies for each buying stage to be able to best serve the visitor based on his needs/intent Tweet.
Same goes for social media. You should definitely share relevant content from outside sources, but the foundation of your social media strategy should be sharing your own content. Research the most important hashtags in your industry, and use them often. And make sure to keep track of which network is generating the most traffic to your site, so you can focus your efforts in the right markets.
Once a customer is impressed by your content, one of the next steps is also a free trial. As you probably know, free trials are and should be one of your core marketing efforts to get potential subscribers interested in your software. But just because someone has clicked on a link to one of your blog posts doesn’t mean they’re ready to sign up for a free trial. The vast majority of visitors to your site aren’t ready for that. And if you offer a free trial too early – before they’re even in your sales funnel – you probably won’t have a great trial conversion rate.
The first step toward increasing trial conversions is making sure you’re offering a trail to visitors that passed the “consideration stage” and you engage the right trial users. Someone who simply reads one of your blog posts after a Google search of a related term isn’t likely to be a great target, but if that person that person has a stronger engagement and also downloads a white paper or attends a webinar, they’re a much better qualified lead. The option to sign up for a trial should be offered prominently within those more advanced types of content (each type of content should have Call To Actions towards the same level of content and/or higher), so that you can be sure you’re getting the most engaged leads to give you a try.
Once they sign up for a trial, though, your work is not done—you can’t rely on your software alone to impress them enough to make them sign up.
The free trial period is the best time you have to show prospects all of the value they can get out of your solution, which they may not discover on their own. Keeping them as engaged as possible during the trial will not only increase the likelihood that they’ll sign up as paying customers, but also that they’ll be better users (and therefore more likely to keep renewing) than they would be if simply left to figure your software out on their own. Keep in regular touch with trial users and offer content specifically targeted at solving problems they may be having. The same kinds of content you used to attract them to your product in the first place can play a crucial role in keeping them engaged.
Essentially, inbound marketing is about proactively demonstrating value to prospects—a goal that should be central to your overall marketing strategy anyway. An inbound marketing mindset won’t just increase sales leads; it will increase the quality of those leads, making users more engaged and more informed from the get-go. Engaged, informed users are far more likely to renew and upgrade, meaning that your investment in showing customers value will pay off in the form of higher-value customers.
Want more tips on customer acquisition tactics beyond just inbound marketing? I recommend having a look at this Acquisition eBook, chock full of ideas for strategies on acquisition for digital goods and services companies.
And don’t forget to comment here on your inbound challenges, breakthroughs or simply new ideas for increasing SaaS sales.