The B2B SaaS Marketing Guide
B2B SaaS marketing has its own rules and requirements for success. This article will help you understand key B2B SaaS marketing tactics, including positioning, inbound marketing, content, sponsorships, and event marketing.
Marketing a B2B business is one thing. Marketing a SaaS is quite another. Putting them together creates a complicated minefield of false synergies and mismatched tech stacks.
B2B SaaS has one of the lowest overheads in the business world. It’s also considered the most complicated business to advertise. If you’re stuck in the same failing patterns, it’s time to look for marketing tactics that really move the needle.
B2B marketing is an enormous field, which is why we’re going to cover the initiatives, movements, and formats that actually make a difference. This guide will look at:
- What is B2B SaaS marketing?
- The types of B2B Saas marketing
- Why content is an effective B2B SaaS marketing tactic
- Bringing it all together
What Is B2B SaaS Marketing?
Unlike brick and mortar shops, SaaS businesses have no physical presence. They are constantly changing to meet the needs of their customers and users. As new technology becomes accessible, companies must quickly pivot to adapt to new solutions. This could be a line of code, a new UX, or a combination of both. In any case, B2B SaaS businesses must be prepared for change and the adaptation process that comes with it.
The average B2B SaaS requires extreme customization, as well as agile pricing, flexibility, and innovation. Sliding scale subscription offers and changing software needs have the ability to significantly affect your bottom line.
Unlike traditional customers, B2Bs often market toward high-level decision-makers in SMEs and enterprises, usually with technical knowledge in the field. This unique positioning could take a while for traditional marketers to learn.
Most B2B companies deal with high customer values and package complexity, but this is not always the rule. Because of this enterprise angle and pricing structure, they can handle fewer customers with access to more personalization options. Personalization includes highly customizable price plans, interfaces, and tech add-ons. Larger enterprise clients sometimes prefer to customize their software rather than purchase a standardized plan, and this is a huge differentiating feature from other SaaS or B2B models, including B2C.
B2B SaaS is a fundamental shift from B2C SaaS, which relies on simple pricing structures with fewer customization features. A few examples of B2C SaaS are Netflix, Duolingo, and Canva. These software-as-a-service platforms offer programs for customers rather than businesses and have tiered price programs that are not customizable.
B2B SaaS conversion paths are increasingly complicated and cluttered due to the way consumers view the marketplace. Dealing with industry professionals with a deep knowledge of your industry requires high accuracy within all your technical content, and your marketing will require a thorough understanding of your audience, great positioning, and quality content.
Your average B2B SaaS service will be niche, hard to market, and often technical in nature. Getting the word out about your service and your USP will not be easy. Consider Mailchimp as an example. When the business rolled out, nobody knew what the company did or what it even meant. It took 17 years to grow into an email marketing giant, and that was after years of explaining their USP. The good news is even if your company is very technical and niche, there are ways to bring it into public view.
The B2B SaaS model is not new. It has the power to disrupt industries all over the world and create new niches and opportunities. Now that this business model is firmly established, new arrivals have the luxury of standing on those who came before. This includes mapping out an effective marketing guide for your industry.
The Types Of B2B SaaS Marketing
B2B SaaS marketing has space to be experimental. A/B testing is necessary for optimizing your communication for your audience, and what works for one model won’t always work for another so you need the patience to discover what works for your audience.
There are five primary marketing strategies for B2B SaaS companies:
- inbound marketing
- content syndication
- event marketing
Marketing a B2B SaaS starts with positioning. This is your company’s space in the market, and how people think about you and your services.
Positioning includes a few different factors, namely market size, growth rate, company culture, and perception. Consider Apple and Dell. Apple offers more than a product; it’s a lifestyle tech company rooted in innovation and creativity. On the other hand, Dell is considered to be a competitively-priced business with a user-centric USP. It’s important to understand how clients think about your brand and, in some instances, what using your services says about them.
Understanding positioning comes from outside research, internal audits, or persona profile creation. All this to say: you need to understand where you’re at before you choose where to go.
Most B2B SaaS businesses fall into one of three categories:
- Pure B2B SaaS businesses have no physical presence, a fully online product, and a low friction signup process. Productivity app Trello is an example of this.
- Enterprise or tech B2B SaaS businesses have longer, more involved conversion and signup processes due to their enterprise customer types. Salesforce is an example of this.
- Hybrid B2B SaaS businesses serve an SME audience. They are referred to as ‘hybrids’ due to their SaaS software combined with on-premise applications. Using a mainly online platform, they rely on bigger enterprise customers to succeed. This includes large brands like Shopify.
Although B2B is synonymous with long waits and slow turnarounds, SaaS platforms still need steady growth to survive. Inbound marketing is the perfect way to bridge the gap.
Inbound marketing is an umbrella term invented by marketing giant and B2B SaaS HubSpot. Under this form of marketing, customers will find their own way to your product rather than the other way around. B2B businesses can use inbound marketing to create genuinely valuable information about their service. Next, they promote this content to solve the problems of leads and close out sales with customers who really need their services.
Unlike advertisements, inbound marketing can be more cost-effective, reach consumers in more places, and create lead lists for remarketing campaigns. While both are important, inbound marketing offers an edge with organic searches and online content. The key is to create high value and high quality work for audiences to enjoy. Ultimately, you could combine your inbound marketing with a well-driven ad campaign.
Inbound marketing involves three elements: value, curation, and SEO. Value means providing real information to readers. Curation refers to sharing content that someone else wrote. SEO involves research to include search terms and topic clusters that will help your content rank well in search results. Today, inbound marketing is considered to be the most popular B2B SaaS marketing tactic. Note that inbound marketing is not the same as content, which we’ll cover next.
The biggest difference between inbound marketing and content is intent. Inbound marketing deals with the setup and delivery of material, while content deals with the creation of said material.
Before we talk about content syndication, let’s quickly define content.
Content involves many different formats. Blogging is an obvious choice, but there are others you might choose from:
Content syndication is the process of republishing an exact copy of your content onto a third party website. This primarily consists of research articles, blog posts, and other valuable written material. Syndication has a number of benefits, from email traffic and referral links to brand awareness.
The most important factor of content syndication is that it goes to credible locations. Few people will see content that is posted on a smaller website. The more credible the location is, the more impactful the results will be.
To start, identify the types of content that your B2B SaaS could use to reach clients in your niche. Pick a few relevant content types to start and, as your business grows, you can add new categories. Seek out relevant third party publications in your niche, and look for hosting opportunities for your best pieces of content. Syndicate publishers are widely available online and can be paid or unpaid depending on their business model. Take time to choose a source that fits your content well.
There are three main options for creating content to syndicate: in-house staff, hiring a freelancer, or working with an agency. Unless you have a dedicated resource, relying on existing in-house staff could stretch teams a little thin. Freelancers can keep the costs down, but may not always have the capacity to meet your deadlines. Agency-based content creation typically costs more than freelancers but allows you to manage content and content syndication very effectively.
Sponsorships can have a huge effect on your company’s visibility in the market. Previously confined to physical events only, there is a much wider variety of choices and formats today.
Sponsorships can be one of the most effective forms of marketing for a B2B SaaS, but also a legally challenging one. Be sure to craft a message that grants the right kind of exposure and be very explicit about what you want to gain from the sponsorship. Brand awareness, outreach, and lead generation are just a few of the goals marketers have for sponsored programs.
Physical events, online seminars, training webinars, emails, and other forms of content are all acceptable forms of B2B SaaS sponsorship. Not only are they beneficial for your company, but they should help you to develop a meaningful partnership with another business. If you have the money to spare, sponsorships could be an excellent later-stage marketing tactic for raising awareness. As an additional note, event sponsors could use their position to offer exclusive coupon codes to select participants. Not only does it generate good PR, but it takes advantage of marketplace positioning.
Similar to sponsorships, event marketing is a great way to boost brand awareness, leads, and demo requests. In this format, you are not sponsoring someone else’s event; you are creating your own.
The effect of events on customer acquisition can be staggering. At least 95% of marketers believe that event marketing provides attendees with valuable connections and insights for a digital world.
Below are just a couple of suggestions for events you could consider for your business:
- Virtual Q&As
- Training Modules
- Visiting Conferences
- Joining Trade Shows
Online events make the most sense for a B2B SaaS because of its nonphysical business environment. If you have a multi-national team, or if you’re unable to meet in person due to various regulations (such as COVID-19), virtual webinars may be your best initial option.
Ultimately, it’s important not to stretch your marketing team too thin. Choose just one or two events to start, then slowly branch into new fields according to attendance and conversion results.
Why Content Is An Effective B2B SaaS Marketing Tactic
Content syndication is an effective and highly popular form of B2B SaaS marketing. Ten years ago, content creation and curation was only occasionally leveraged by businesses. Today, it is an absolutely critical part of the marketing schema and can benefit all industries and company types. More than 78% of companies have between one and three content specialists.
There are many reasons why content is an effective B2B SaaS marketing tactic, and the first and most obvious of these is ROI:
- Marketers that create blog content make 13-times the ROI of businesses that don’t blog.
- The average ROI of email content marketing is a whopping 4,200%.
- According to one study, content could generate up to $984,000 of ROI for B2B SaaS businesses.
With statistics like these, it’s easy to see why hundreds of B2B SaaS businesses choose to implement some form of content syndication into the marketing process. Since content marketing can be easily scaled, businesses have the option to grow or shrink output to match evolving needs. Even better, they can shift to new forms of content and hop on new trends whenever they become available.
B2B companies love content generation for their organic reach. Written work, social media posts, and infographics are easily shared by an audience and spread through new audiences even while you sleep. What’s more, content is highly measurable. While you may not always be able to gauge the success of sponsorships or events, you can directly track metrics associated with email opens, blog engagement, and bounce rates.
Another reason why content marketing is favored by B2Bs is that it is evergreen. Advertisements and events come and go, and sponsorships only last so long, but creating and disseminating content online lasts forever. If you’re willing to go the extra mile by updating and improving older content, you could net even greater results.
Creating value-driven content for your B2B SaaS marketing strategy may be easier than you think. Once you have KPIs in place, you can write, film, post, and otherwise create really interesting freebies for an audience to enjoy. Below are some examples of some great B2B SaaS marketing content used by real businesses:
- HubSpot’s posts are designed to capture an enormous amount of traffic with pillar pages. They funnel millions of monthly searches through a maze of value, which includes downloadable content, certification courses, and keyword-driven blog posts.
- Privy’s Ecommerce Marketing Show uses podcasts to interview leading figures in the B2B SaaS fields. This allows them to market their services while simultaneously tapping into new or very receptive audiences.
- HootSuite’s ebooks about marketing statistics create a one-stop shop for researchers. These ebooks provide a meaningful link between customer search intent and future needs.
Bringing It All Together
B2B SaaS marketing takes a special person to implement. It is a field that is ever-changing in terms of tools and technique, yet is static in both terminology and form. At the end of the day, it can be used as a powerful tool to drive business exposure, leads, and retention. However, it’s important to play your cards right if you want to see any lasting results from your efforts.
Understand your business model correctly by identifying its marketplace positioning. Use inbound marketing to generate leads that matter. Pay attention to content syndication, which will improve retention and customer satisfaction. Finally, create a system of sponsorships and events that capture the attention of niche markets, guiding them towards your service with valuable material.
The right place to start for your B2B SaaS marketing could land in any one of the strategies in this article. If your business is just getting off the ground, you may want to begin with positioning and inbound marketing. If your startup has an established, mature foundation, branching into sponsorships and event marketing could provide a substantial boost to awareness programs. And no matter how long your business has been around, you will need solid, valuable content to improve your SEO and drive leads.
It takes time to establish solid content marketing programs, and scaling up internally might not be feasible for your company. If you’re looking to create content that reaches a technical audience, book a call with Draft.dev to see if we can help.
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