A Guide to Inbound Marketing for SaaS

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Revisiting your inbound marketing for SaaS strategy and looking to see some real results? At this point, your SaaS company’s goals are outlined, your buyer persona is defined, and lastly, the KPIs determining success are clear to your team. So, let’s review some key areas for inbound marketing success.

There are few things more exciting than receiving a message from a prospect interested in your SaaS business. After weeks of sending cold emails or using website popups to try and generate leads, having someone actually reach out to you for a change can be a breath of fresh air.

That’s why so many SaaS brands are beginning to invest more heavily in inbound marketing campaigns. With the right inbound SaaS marketing strategy, your customers consistently come to you, instead of you constantly looking for new ways to connect with them.

Not only does this make life easier for your marketing and sales team, but it also means you can collect more valuable leads. After all, if someone is actively getting in touch to ask you about your SaaS product, you know they’re already interested in whatever you have to sell.

Outbound vs Inbound Marketing: Why You Need Both

Before we dive into an exploration of how you can use inbound marketing to grow your SaaS brand, it’s worth taking a closer look at how inbound marketing fits within your larger promotional strategy.
All forms of marketing generally fall into one of two categories: efforts which push your branding and messaging to your target audience (outbound marketing), and strategies which pull your customers to you (inbound marketing). Let’s look at how the two options differ.

What is Outbound Marketing?

Outbound marketing is one of the most common forms of advertising used by businesses around the world to seek out new leads. It’s a method which involves reaching out to prospects you believe might be interested in trying your product or service.

Types of outbound marketing include cold calling customers, publishing television and radio ads, or sending flyers to customers through direct mail. While this might seem old-fashioned, around 82% of buyers still accept meetings with sellers who proactively reach out to them. The biggest problem with outbound marketing is how time-consuming and expensive it can be. Thousands of cold calls could generate only a handful of qualified leads.

What is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing takes the opposite approach to connecting with customers. The focus is on “pulling” prospects to you, by finding ways to capture their interest and attention. 63% of customers start their purchasing journey online, looking for information. Inbound marketing strategies appeal to these consumers, by providing them with useful insights to support each stage of the purchasing journey, from awareness to comparison and beyond.

Present your company to the people who are already actively looking for solutions to problems you solve, and allow them to make the decision of contacting you. Methods include SEO strategies, content marketing, and social media marketing.

The Four Pillars of Inbound Marketing:

While the exact nature of your SaaS inbound marketing strategy can vary depending on numerous factors, your campaigns will often revolve around four specific pillars:

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Your website: This is where you attract your customers and provide them with information about your software, its benefits, and the services you can provide. Your website is where you can control your “owned media” – the content you create yourself. It’s where you publish blogs by your own people, and share content crafted to send a specific message. To see an increase in your organic traffic, a strong SaaS content marketing strategy is vital.

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Third party platforms: Third-party platforms are the tools you’ll use to expand your brand reach and connect with new customers. Often, the goal is to educate, entertain, and inform, while encouraging customers to come back to your website. Common third-party marketing platforms include YouTube, Spotify for podcasts, and anywhere else your content can be published, such as other industry websites.

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Google and Search Engines: 89% of customers start their purchasing journey with a search engine. There are numerous ways you can position your brand to attract customers through search engines. SEO-focused content can improve your ranking potential. It’s also possible to purchase search engine ads, though this is considered a more “outbound” form of marketing.

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Social media platforms: Platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook are where you develop relationships with your target audience, answer their questions, and demonstrate thought leadership. They boost the credibility and reach of your brand, while strengthening connections with potential leads.

The SaaS Marketing Funnel and Inbound Marketing

To fully optimize your inbound marketing efforts, you’ll need a clear knowledge of how the “marketing funnel” works. A marketing or sales funnel is the series of steps a customer takes throughout the buyer journey, starting from the moment they first start looking for a solution to their issues, and ending in a purchase, or after-sales service.

For the SaaS industry, there are a series of crucial stages in the marketing funnel, each of which requires its own inbound marketing strategy:

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Awareness: This is when the prospect first becomes aware of a problem they need to solve, and a product or service that may be able to fix their issue. You can boost awareness by sharing thought-leadership and insightful content across third-party channels, in your blog posts, and on social media.

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Research and consideration: This is when your SaaS consumer will be comparing the different options for their needs, and assessing your competitors. Your inbound marketing tactics here will focus on demonstrating how your service or solution can offer something your competition can’t. It’s an important time to show your USP.

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Decision: The decision stage is when your customers decide on a solution. Here, it’s helpful to use inbound marketing methods to demonstrate why your customers should pick you. Case studies highlighting the previous successes of your brand can be particularly useful in giving your clients peace of mind that your service works. You can also offer demos and free trials of your software so customers can test the solution.

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Delight: Perhaps the most important stage in the buyer funnel for SaaS companies, delight is how you focus on keeping your customers subscribed to your software. It’s all about answering customer questions through FAQs and how-to guides, delivering excellent customer service, and converting customers into advocates.

A Closer Look at Inbound Marketing

Most SaaS companies need a combination of both outbound and inbound marketing to generate the best results. By combining the two options, you can generate a higher number of leads, boosting your chances of rapid conversions. However, inbound marketing is beginning to consume more of the average company’s marketing budget, for various reasons.

For instance, companies with inbound marketing strategies generate up to 126% more leads than brands with no inbound strategies.

What’s more, the cost of lead acquisition for inbound marketing efforts is up to 67% lower than that of outbound marketing. So, what exactly does inbound marketing look like?

1. SEO Campaigns

75% of marketers believe their search engine optimization (SEO) strategies are extremely effective at helping them to achieve their marketing goals. Many consumers in search of SaaS solutions start their journey by visiting Google in search of answers to specific questions, or solutions to their problems.

With SEO-based content, you can create articles which target the keywords your customers are looking for in each stage of their purchasing journey. The better your optimization is, the more likely you are to be the first thing your customers see on the search results when they’re looking for the software you can provide.

A solid SaaS SEO strategy positions you in front of your customers at the most important moments in their purchasing journey, presenting your business as a credible, innovative, and reliable solution to their problems. In most cases, creating a SEO-based inbound marketing campaign will include:

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Researching and using the right keywords

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Creating internal and external links to boost page authority

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Developing regular content for the full sales cycle

2. Paid Search

SEO campaigns bring “organic” inbound traffic to your website. In other words, they encourage customers to come to you, without you having to pay for a way to capture their attention. While this strategy can generate fantastic long-term results, it often takes a while, and some expertise to learn how to master the search engines.

This is why many SaaS brands also use paid search, to help with their position in the Google landscape. Paid search involves paying for specific pages from your website to show up when a customer searches for a specific phrase. You can use the Google Ads environment to bid for the keywords you want to rank for, and target a specific audience.

Paid search is excellent for grabbing the attention of your customers straight away, while you’re waiting for your SEO campaigns to generate results. However, it does require the creation of careful marketing strategies and landing pages which match your search result listings.

3. Social Media Campaigns

People don’t just interact with SaaS companies on their websites anymore. Increasingly, new generations of customers are beginning to use their favorite social media channels to search for the tools they need instead. In fact, Generation Z prefers to use social media over Google!

Social media strategies give you another way to connect with customers looking for specific software solutions in your industry. It can be a fantastic way to not only expand your brand reach, but also improve your chances of developing lucrative relationships with the right customers.

You can create content for social media that demonstrates your thought leadership in your SaaS space, and improves your company’s credibility. It’s also possible to engage with your audience through live videos, conversations, and comments. Plus, you can use social media to guide your customers back to your website with links to your product pages and posts.

Why is Inbound Marketing So Important?

Though there’s still a place for outbound marketing in the SaaS landscape, inbound marketing could be the best way to boost your chances of success in this competitive world. Inbound marketing is less disruptive and frustrating to an audience that’s growing increasingly tired of traditional advertising techniques. Inbound marketing can deliver:

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Better ROI: Not only is inbound marketing less expensive than outbound marketing, but it requires less time and effort too. This means the cost per acquisition for each customer you collect through inbound marketing is much lower. The return on investment from your inbound marketing efforts can be a lot higher too, because customers are more likely to convert when they don’t feel pressured by outbound efforts.

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Improved conversion rates: Inbound marketing focuses on drawing the attention of people who are already looking for software solutions like yours. Rather than reaching out to customers and trying to convince them they have a problem you can solve, you position yourself as the ideal solution to an existing issue. According to research, leads gained through inbound marketing methods like SEO have a conversion rate of around 14.6%, compared to just 1.7% with outbound methods.

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Better trust and authority: When you engage in inbound marketing strategies like SEO, social media, and content marketing, you give your customers the freedom to do their own research, and conclude that you have the best service for them. Using thought leadership content and valuable posts, you generate more credibility for your brand. Strategies like SEO can also improve your chances of appearing trustworthy, by placing you higher on the search results. Customers often associate high visibility with a more credible company.

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Stronger long term relationships: With inbound marketing, you don’t just tell your customers to buy from you, or try to convince them to make a purchase with a quick offer. You work on actively building a relationship through content and campaigns which demonstrate your value, and increase buy-in from your target audience. Your customer gets a better sense of your brand, so they’re more likely to stick with you for the long-term.

Optimizing Your Inbound Marketing Strategy

Optimizing an inbound marketing campaign for your SaaS company revolves heavily around getting to know your customers and their needs. Start with in-depth research into your target audience, or “Ideal Customer Profile”. You can assess your existing customers, or evaluate the customers targeted by your competitors for deeper insights into who you need to focus on.

Think about:

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What kind of problems your SaaS solution can solve, and who might have these issues

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Which consumers will derive the most benefits from your products.

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How you can demonstrate your value to each segment you identify.

Once you have a deeper knowledge of your target audience, you can build your inbound marketing strategy around answering the questions your customers have, and helping them navigate each stage in the marketing funnel mentioned above.

During the “Awareness” stage, the focus will be on highlighting your knowledge of the problems your customers face, and showing them why your service or solution has the answers. Producing blogs about common issues related to your industry will demonstrate your expertise.

As your customers research solutions to their issues, think about what kind of points they’re likely to prioritize, based on your knowledge of your customer personas. Are your clients more likely to be interested in saving money, saving time, or simply achieving specific results?

During the decision stage, use your inbound marketing efforts to appeal to your audience’s emotions, and demonstrate credibility. Show how your SaaS tool can save your customers from encountering specific problems, and use evidence in the form of case studies, testimonials, and reports to back up your claims. Remember, throughout your inbound marketing journey, you should be:

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Examining and revisiting your customer personas: Keeping a close eye on your customer profiles will help you to create content and marketing strategies specific to their needs. Keep in mind the needs of your audience may change over time, so you may need to update your profiles with new data as your business evolves.

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Using various methods of promotion: While SEO and content marketing might be the core focus of your inbound marketing methods, it’s worth experimenting with other platforms. Sharing content on other sites and in various locations can help you to reach a wider audience. Implementing social media and email marketing campaigns will help you to nurture the customers who approach your brand, but might not be ready to buy.

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Building relationships: Use various forms of inbound marketing to not only attract customers, but demonstrate your understanding of their needs, your excellence in the SaaS space, and what you can achieve. Focus on building trust with thought leadership content, answering customer questions, and guiding them towards success with educational pieces. This will lead to a longer-lasting connection with each client.

Mastering Inbound Marketing for SaaS

The right inbound marketing strategy can be a powerful tool for SaaS companies. Not only does it help you to attract more of the right target audience to your software, but it also assists in strengthening the relationships you’ll need to develop with long-term clients.

Creating inbound marketing strategies for each stage of the buyer funnel, responding to the changing needs of your audience, and experimenting with different advertising methods will boost your chances of both gaining, and retaining clients. Make the most of your marketing efforts – start winning with your inbound marketing for SaaS today.