But given the complexity of SaaS marketing, what can growing brands do to stand out?
In this article, I explore three key strategies used by some of the highest-performing brands in their categories - and help you decide which one will most benefit your business.
Before that though, let’s explore what makes SaaS marketing so different…
3 Reasons SaaS Marketing is so Complex
1. Subscription-based pricing
SaaS brands usually sell subscriptions, not products. This means their marketing must not only convince buyers to choose their solution but stick with it. SaaS brands are easy to replace, and marketing strategies need to be “always-on” in a way that most other B2B categories do not.
2. Market saturation
The market for SaaS has boomed in recent years, but such growth presents individual brands with a problem: how do you stand out in a heavily saturated market? Worse still, most SaaS categories feature a handful of dominant players, which makes it harder for less established brands to get a foothold.
3. Vendor consolidation
The average organization uses 130 different pieces of software, leading to increased complexity for IT leaders and end-users. Some sources claim companies use as few as 10% of the tools they pay for.3 Companies are therefore more interested in saving budget and consolidating their software stack than investing in new solutions.
3 Key SaaS Marketing Strategies
1. Brand Building
What is brand building?
Brand building is all about generating wider awareness and positive sentiment towards your company. Rather than selling your software or pushing a particular offer, marketing is geared towards developing a wider audience - based on the assumption that wider fame will help you build authority and domain dominance.
One extensive piece of research concluded that B2B brands should spend 46% of their budget on “brand building” activities. But what does an effective brand building campaign look like?
Case study: MailChimp
Today, MailChimp is one of the world’s most popular marketing automation platforms. But in the company’s early days, its name was frequently mispronounced - a pretty big barrier to widespread fame!
The brand decided to lean into this with a playful brand-building campaign that deployed numerous different mispronunciations of the brand’s name - from “JailBlimp” to “KaleLimp”. They even registered the domain “MailKimp.com”.
Not only did the campaign show off the brand’s unique sense of humor; it generated a huge amount of organic buzz due to its sheer weirdness - helping cement the brand in the public’s minds.
Brand building works best…
When you have a sizable budget and enough funding to take a long-term approach to marketing. Brand building takes time to produce tangible returns, and is often difficult to measure - which is why so many SaaS brands focus on other strategies…
2. Thought leadership
What is thought leadership?
Thought leadership is a form of content marketing that focuses on building authority. It could be original ideas; it could be proprietary research. The point is simply to provide the audience with high-quality information that distinguishes you from competitors and gives them a reason to see you in a different light.
65% of buyers say thought leadership significantly changed their perception of a brand. This is why some of the most innovative SaaS brands have focused so heavily on it…
Case study: Salesforce
Salesforce is among the world’s biggest B2B brands, with a market cap of nearly $200 billion.4 Marketing has been the central engine of the brand’s growth, as it invested 45% of its revenue into marketing between 2015-21 - leading the brand to grow 400% in that period.
Much of this investment was focused on building through leadership. Through annual state-of-the-industry reports that speak to 10,000s of professionals, the brand has become a definitive source of data-driven insights into modern sales.
Today, these reports are a gold standard of trust-worthy information. Every time another sales-focused organization cites Salesforce, the brand gains further authority - all of which translates to an increased market share.
Thought leadership works best…
When you have something original to offer buyers. Many SaaS brands launch “thought leadership” which is little more than parroting competitors. Instead, you need to invest the time and resources in developing genuinely authoritative, insightful content that a buyer would real by choice.
What is ROI-focused marketing?
An ROI-focused strategy prioritizes measurable returns above more intangible qualities like brand recognition or authority. It could involve any combination of paid media, social media marketing or content marketing; the point is simply to optimize your spend to maximize growth…
Case study: DeskDirector
DeskDirector a service automation software and client portal for IT MSPs that was creating a steady stream of leads. But their actual marketing ROI was poor, driven by limited sales pipeline visibility, low conversion rates and a lack of clear differentiation.
They enlisted ProperExpression to build an ROI-focused strategy that would fix these problems. We focused on cleaning up their data to enable a clearer sales pipeline and better audience segmentation. This provided the engine for a powerful lead nurturing campaign, driven by high-quality content production, a detailed SEO strategy and new brand positioning.
The result? A 65% increase in average monthly revenue that saw them dramatically improve the overall ROI of their marketing spend.
ROI-focused marketing works best…
When you are under pressure to achieve profitability. While some brands have enough funding to prioritize customer acquisition over ROI, the majority of growing brands need to demonstrate that their marketing is actually helping the business make money.
Find the Right Strategy for Your SaaS Brand with ProperExpression
Choosing the right marketing strategy is essential, but you know what’s more important? Finding the right growth marketing agency to help you put it into practice.
Whether you want to build your brand, generate thought leadership, or deliver exceptional ROI, ProperExpression has the experience and in-house expertise to plan and execute campaigns that will deliver both short and long-term returns - and help you outthink the competition.
Want to hear our thoughts on your unique marketing challenges?