B2B SaaS Digital Marketing: 2023 Guide
B2B SaaS companies seeking to grow their online visibility face an uphill climb: while increasing demand for software benefits their addressable market size, it also incentivizes their competitors to invest heavily in marketing. Thus, B2B SaaS companies need to develop a better-than-average knowledge of digital marketing and demand generation in order to make the most efficient use of their marketing spend.
This guide provides a high level overview of B2B SaaS digital marketing. Below, we describe how to:
- Establish digital marketing campaign goals and strategy
- Define your audience and create customer personas
- Allocate budget strategically among marketing channels
- Establish KPIs to measure success
|NOTE: It’s important for your B2B SaaS company to have the correct marketing team structure to support the execution of your digital marketing strategy and evaluation of its success.|
Establish Your Digital Marketing Campaign Goals & Strategy
Campaign goals determine the overall course of your campaign. Taking the time to carefully define the expected outcomes of your digital marketing program at its outset, and building a strategy to support them, makes it more likely you’ll achieve those outcomes without costly course-corrections along the way.
Each of your goals should fit into one of five categories:
- Increase existing market share. The most common goal for startups and smaller SaaS companies is to simply acquire more customers in their core target markets.
- Expand to new markets. Reaching new audiences to either adapt to changing customer needs, updates in their software’s feature set, or simply due to saturation in their existing markets.
- Lower CACs. Lowering the cost of each customer increases overall profitability, and is a common goal among midsize SaaS businesses.
- Increase customer LTV. Retaining and creating upsell opportunities with existing customers is another core goal for midsized SaaS companies.
- Lower churn. A subset of increasing LTVs, lowering churn hinges on improving customer engagement and making sure they’re aware of new features.
Most B2B SaaS companies will want to achieve all of these goals, but with varying priority levels. Smaller businesses typically seek to increase their existing market share and customer LTV in order to grow, whereas larger companies focus more on expanding into new markets and reducing customer churn.
After establishing your primary marketing goals, it’s time to clearly define your audiences and create detailed customer personas.
Define Your Audience & Create Customer Personas
Understanding what your audience cares about is key to creating content that gets them engaged. This comes from a clear understanding of who they are, which is done through the creation of cogent audience personas. These personas should be tailored to the information your company specifically needs to know about your audience. However, as a rule they should include:
Customer Persona Components
|Job title and description||“CMO: Senior-ranking marketing officer who determines the course of a company’s marketing strategy.”||“Software engineer: Mid-level app developer who configures applications for a variety of devices.”|
|What makes them feel successful||Making decisions that have measurable positive impact on their company||New, creative ways to apply their skills to a project|
|KPIs used to evaluate their performance||New revenue from marketing campaigns under their leadership
Total ROI of marketing campaigns
|Day-to-day challenges||Ever-changing technical requirements to keep up with modern marketing
Need for specialized expertise across staff positions
|Required knowledge of new frameworks and platforms
Increasing technical debt in their company’s codebase
Personas help your team understand your audience by identifying the highs and lows of their jobs; as well as their pain points, responsibilities, and long-term goals. Thinking from their point of view helps one develop a much better understanding of what motivates them, which then forms the basis of your marketing strategy. The components of marketing strategy are: which channels you choose, what kinds of content you develop, and how you allocate your budget.
Allocate your Marketing Budget Strategically Among Marketing Channels
We’ve written extensively about the pros and cons of various marketing channels, and how their cost, startup time, learning curve, and ROI vary. You’ll find a summary below.
B2B SaaS Digital Marketing Channels, Compared
|Channel||Monthly Cost||Time Until Results||Learning Curve||ROI*||Used For|
|Thought Leadership SEO||$7,500 to $15,000||4-6 months||Medium||748%||Expand to new markets
Increase market share
|Webinars/Video||$15,000 to $35,000||2-4 months||Medium||430%||Expand to new markets
Increase market share
|$1,000 to $3,000||3-6 months||Easy||312%||Increase market share
|Podcasts||$5,000 to $9,500||12-18 months||Medium||307%||Lower churn
|LinkedIn Organic||$500 to $3,000||6-8 months||Easy||229%||Lower CACs
|LinkedIn Advertising||$5,000 to $20,000||3-4 months||Easy||192%||Expand to new markets
Increase market share
|PPC/SEM||$3,000 to $30,000||Immediate||Medium||36%||Increase market share|
Each of the channels above have secondary benefits as well, which can (and in some cases should) be utilized to achieve your overall goal. For example, a B2B SaaS company trying to reach a new audience could use PPC to test which keywords perform well before investing in a more expensive long-term SEO campaign.
Content can also be repurposed to fit other channels. For example, the essential insights of a thought leadership article could be boiled down into a short paragraph (including a link) for LinkedIn organic. A similar repurposing process can make additional material for a successful email campaign.
Ultimately, you’ll know if your marketing investments are on the right track through KPIs.
Establish KPIs to Measure Success
B2B SaaS companies have access to a wide array of data, but only some of that data is useful for measuring success. Here are the KPIs that are most useful at measuring marketing performance in our experience:
Top B2B SaaS Digital Marketing KPIs & Benchmarks
|Campaign ROI||SEO: 748%
|Trade Shows: 85%
LinkedIn Ads: 94%
|Lead-to-MQL Conversion Rate||39%|
|Visitor-to-Lead Conversion Rate||1.9%|
|Unique Monthly Visitors||10% growth month-over-month|
The importance of each KPI will vary depending on goals. For example, annual churn is the ultimate measure of success for a marketing effort whose goal is customer retention, while the lead-to-MQL conversion rate would be ancillary. The opposite would be true for a campaign focused on customer growth.
When evaluating the success of a marketing campaign, note that a single KPI will not offer a complete picture by itself. A low visitor-to-lead conversion rate, for example, could indicate a few potential issues: poor keyword selection, low quality content, or an unclear CTA. It’s only when taken in consideration with every other KPI on this list that you can make an accurate diagnosis. In other words, think about metrics as symptoms, which can alert you to a potential disease which has yet to be diagnosed. The combination of symptoms—or lagging KPIs—will help you determine the exact cause.
Getting Help with Your B2B SaaS Digital Marketing
Even for experienced B2B SaaS marketers, developing an effective digital marketing strategy is a complex task. For that reason, many companies choose to outsource the process to a digital marketing firm that specializes in B2B SaaS.
If you’re interested in learning more, contact us here.
Evan Bailyn is a bestselling author and award-winning speaker on the subjects of SEO and thought leadership. Contact Evan here.