Interview: Emily King on SaaS marketing strategies

Interview: Emily King on SaaS marketing strategies

Software as a Service (SaaS) has taken over the business world, with the market doubling in size as companies across different verticals discover the benefits of cloud-based tools that offer convenient access to advanced capabilities. Emily King, Commercial Director at digital performance marketing agency, Tug, discusses how SaaS companies can overcome marketing complexity.

The expectation for such a thriving space is easy marketing, but the reality is that campaigns in this area are highly complicated.

In this interview, Emily discusses how SaaS companies can improve their digital marketing strategies to become more competitive, as well as the work Tug is doing to boost SaaS performance.

In today’s climate, can SaaS providers rely on the lure of their products alone?

The short answer is no. While the global SaaS space is thriving – and has even doubled in scale over the last decade – this growth has intensified competition. Businesses can now take their pick of tools and services, which means SaaS players must work harder to win attention.

Rather than focusing solely on impressive product features, companies must utilise smart marketing strategies that centre on how their offering actually solves business problems and fuels success — especially amid pandemic challenges. An essential part of achieving this is effective tailoring.

Firstly, SaaS firms must understand and cater for their real audience, not outdated profiles. Where procurement was once dominated by older men in corner offices, an increasing number of today’s decision-makers are tech-savvy younger demographics who have different needs and nurture flows, particularly millennials.

Secondly, campaigns need to fit their environment. For instance, social media newsfeeds require messages that align with rapid scrolling and use creative ways of seizing interest quickly: including video or elements that spark emotion, such as images of people. As a prime example of how successful this can be, see Bluebeam; a construction software provider that recently tapped into solution-focused and emotional marketing to fuel a 312.5% uplift in conversation rates.

How can SaaS companies overcome marketing complexity?

Gaining the attention of numerous stakeholders, particularly amid fierce market rivalry and diverse media considerations, is a significant challenge for SaaS companies. Addressing marketing complexities, however, is possible with the right multi-faceted approach.

From an acquisitions perspective, a combination of display, social and pay-per-click (PPC) ads will boost online reach, while content following search engine optimisation (SEO) best practices will increase site rankings for specific keywords and organic traffic. It almost goes without saying that users arriving on company sites must be greeted by relevant and easily navigable information that bolsters the chances of conversion, but it’s also critical to recognise the importance of making sure the cost of securing them is manageable.

Although marketing wisdom often dictates that all gains are good, this isn’t necessarily true  if the cost-per-lead or new customer outweighs the rewards they bring. This makes granular attribution vital to determine the price of each conversion and direct efforts towards the most profitable opportunities. Similarly, measurement also plays a vital role in retention – partly in terms of tracking customer behaviour to find the best recipe for forging lasting relationships, but also when it comes to identifying and keeping high-value customers.

How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected marketing efforts for SaaS companies?

By accelerating the pace of digital transformation, COVID-19 has significantly enhanced the scope for SaaS evolution and expansion. Across sectors, there is higher demand than ever for cloud-based technologies that provide sophisticated capabilities with minimal strain on budgets and internal systems. Yet for marketing teams, the same key issue remains: finding the means to stand out from the crowd.

Decision-makers are becoming overwhelmed, and find the task of wading through the abundance of SaaS technology providers an increasingly difficult task. In fact, the latest Tug research reveals that one in 10 don’t feel confident in their ability to select the ideal payments solution for their business, with almost a third (31%) citing the time this takes as the biggest adoption barrier. Moreover, nearly as many say they are confused by the sheer quantity of available options.

Clearly, there is an urgent need for SaaS providers to offer greater education about their services and applications for specific verticals. Both marketing and wider communications must aim to provide useful information that helps steer company actions, in addition to ensuring solutions are discoverable across online channels.

How can SaaS companies boost their digital visibility?

SaaS companies should first invest in upper funnel channels – like social, video, display, and influencers – where creative can be used to grab user attention. Search marketing can then be used to convert those users, but only if firms get their keyword usage right.

When planning SEO and PPC campaigns, there is a common tendency to select keywords that are too broad or closely related to products, instead of using the terms consumers are actually searching for. Frequently, this leaves companies not only running into high costs and competing with major digital forces who hold prime position for certain keywords, but also failing to cut through the noise and optimise engagement.

The simplest fix for this issue is developing comprehensive audience insight. With a refined understanding of unique behaviours, habits, and challenges, companies can pinpoint which keywords are most likely to resonate with target audiences at all stages of their journey, even when they haven’t started looking for SaaS solutions. When blended with assessment of search rankings, competitor performance, and products areas, this collective knowledge can help organisations uncover the best opportunities for their specific business and audience. Or in short, they can identify how to boost their digital visibility where it counts.

Emily King is Commercial Director at Tug