It’s no mystery that marketing strategies shift when moving from B2B to B2C, or from eCommerce to service providers. SaaS products are a whole different ball game as well. Each unique focus requires different skillsets and strategies and unfortunately, marketers often go with the one-size-fits-all approach. By digging into our own clients’ data over the past two years, we were able to identify some clear trends and actionable takeaways SaaS marketers can use to feed their sales funnel and ultimately bring in more cash.
As a part of our study, we analyzed data from over 40 companies in over a dozen different industries including education, business management, legal, and more. By analyzing the various campaigns they ran—including email nurtures, search engine ads, social media ads, webinars, demo request optimizations, and more—we identified the following four trends that you need to be aware of in 2016.
4 Digital Marketing SaaS Trends To Learn From
1. A Disconnect Between Top- and Bottom-Funnel Strategies
Saas companies tend to take an “either/or” approach when it comes to the marketing funnel. Either they are so focused on content marketing and top of funnel material without a way to turn interested people into SQLs; or, they take an aggressive approach to the bottom of the funnel, throwing product demos at prospects in hopes for securing a sale without taking the time or energy to educate a potential customer. There is nothing connecting the top to the bottom of the funnel as far as strategies go.
Consumers looking for SaaS products want to make sure the software will actually make their life easier. At the same time, they’re not overly excited to waste time testing product after product. They need content that is easily digestible, resonates with their needs, and draws a clear path to the solution they so desperately want.
Using boosted content and remarketing audiences can make you dollar go a lot further than just straight product ads. Of the companies included in the study, more than 80% were not taking advantage of SaaS-specific tools like webinars and nurture campaigns. These are the type of funnel tactics that can quickly move a lead to make the decision to try or buy.
2. Companies Don’t Use SaaS-Specific Ad Tools
Remember, SaaS is a different ball game and your success should be measured based on how many people are using or trying your software. All the impressions and clicks of your ads are worthless if nobody’s requesting demos or downloading your apps. When it comes to promoting software through ads, many SaaS companies simply don’t know about all the weapons they have in their arsenal.
When it comes to search engine ads, ad extensions should be on the top of your priority list. With ad extensions, you should be linking to an app download, listing prices, and including other relevant site links like ones that allow searchers to request a demo. These types of ads streamline the process for users to get what they’re looking for by giving them the opportunity to click directly to the information about the product they want to see.
In addition, there are opportunities to get ahead of the curve with underused advertising strategies. Video campaigns perform much better than other social advertising methods and allow Saas companies to put a demo of their product in front of an audience with targeted interests and behaviors. Many SaaS companies are reluctant to give out their demo “for free” or without receiving a lead in return, but the truth is customers just want answers—and fast.
Experimenting with more recent tools, like Google’s app download campaigns, may not have enough industry data to be the crux of your marketing strategy, but are at least worth A/B testing.
3. Twitter Ads Are Dead
While Facebook ads have proven to yield consistently positive click-through and conversion rates for SaaS companies, Twitter’s rates are dismal. Our findings showed Twitter click-through rates at a measly 0.4% while Facebook showed an average of above 2%—yep, Facebook’s around five times more effective than Twitter. It totally makes sense though, doesn’t it? An ad is only as good as its targeting and seeing as Twitter gathers very little data, it can’t quite compete.
Some might agree that Twitter doesn’t gather near as much explicit data (input manually by each user) but they’re quick to remind us that implicit data (taken from the engine’s observations on users’ engagement) can offer marketer’s even more actionable insight than explicit. While this is oftentimes true, Twitter isn’t gathering near enough data—explicit or implicit—to give SaaS marketers what they need…at least not yet.
4. Email Still Reigns Champion
It’s crazy that we see a new-age platform like Twitter struggling to provide results while email, the dinosaur of digital marketing, is still one of the most efficient Saas marketing tactics. Luckily, most companies are still using email, whether it be one-time email blasts or multi-step nurture campaigns.
Email is one of the easier tactics to deploy because it can be very cheap or even free. It is also the fastest way to get a message in front of people. For the most part, the best email campaigns come from a current customer list or a list of current leads.
The average open rate for the SaaS companies we surveyed ranged anywhere from 7-38%. Depending on the size of your list, a 7% open rate could be a huge success. The average click through rate was was anywhere from 1-9%. If you think of a list of 5,000 contacts, that could equate to 50-450 people clicking on your call to action in the email, giving them the opportunity to raise their hand showing they are interested.
That said, when you’re comparing email to other strategies like ads, for example, the old dinosaur destroys the ads. One client saw conversion rates of around 9% while their Facebook ad campaigns saw an average of 1.4%. We saw this same trend as we analyzed the data of our other clients.
1 Step Back, 2 Steps Forward
The majority of Saas companies have a lot of room to grow when it comes to their digital marketing strategy. Whether they have a hole in their sales funnel, are underutilizing industry-specific tools, or are spending too much time and money on ineffective platforms, Saas marketers need to take a step back and pay attention to what these stats and trends say about their current efforts. Using these findings to re-evaluate processes and strategies can help any Saas company get back on track.
Now get out there and kick some SaaS!