The B2B SaaS Growth Marketing Guide
Growth marketing is a niche marketing specialty that involves growing a company’s revenue through personalized marketing designed to both obtain and retain customers. The model focuses on long-term results while simultaneously cutting costs, making them particularly valuable for SaaS companies seeking to increase their margins.
An effective B2B SaaS growth marketing campaign consists of 4 parts:
- Developing customer personas
- Strategically combining marketing channels for growth
- Creating content to optimize customer conversion and retention
- Setting KPIs and measuring success
We expand on each part below, but first it’s helpful to understand the difference between Growth Marketing vs Lead Generation.
Growth Marketing vs Lead Generation
Growth marketing is often mistaken for lead generation, but the two are very different despite contributing to a similar end. The easiest path to that understanding is by visualizing your sales and marketing funnel:
The difference between growth marketing and lead generation is simply which stages of the funnel they encompass. While lead generation focuses on the marketing side of the funnel—converting visitors into leads to pass onto sales—growth marketing further encompasses nurturing those leads so that a higher percentage of them convert to customers. Furthermore, it considers how to retain those customers following their initial sale, leading to a higher LTV for the company.
This may lead some to wonder:
So why focus on lead generation at all if growth marketing covers that and more?
A helpful way to distinguish the separate use cases of lead generation versus growth marketing is to think about fishing with a net versus fishing with a spear:
|Lead generation techniques are wide-spanning and appeal to a large audience. If a few fish get out, that’s an acceptable consequence since the focus is on the majority of fish rather than any specific one.||Growth Marketing employs targeted content tailored to the needs of a specific audience. These techniques hone in on a subset consisting of higher-value, long-term customers.|
Either option brings in new leads, but of a different quality and quantity. Lead generation brings in many more leads, but with a lower average value for each. Growth marketing generates fewer leads, but ensures that those leads are significantly more valuable, both in their likelihood to become closed sales and as actual customers.
This brings us to the how of growth marketing, which begins with understanding what your potential customers—and therefore audience—value. This is best accomplished by developing detailed customer personas.
Developing Customer Personas
The best source of information for planning a growth marketing campaign is your current customers. By interviewing your best customers, you can learn the exact problems that your software solves for them, as well as what first led them to choose you over your competitors. In addition to these specifics, you should also seek to learn more general demographic information that will provide context. A complete customer persona will include each customer’s:
- Job Title & Responsibilities
- Pain Points
- Goals and objectives
- Expected LTV
From here, your team can create complete customer personas that paint a full picture of your target audience. A typical customer persona looks like this:
Jackie is a junior strategy supervisor at a small investing firm. Her main responsibilities revolve around the creation, execution, and adjustment of investment strategies on behalf of the firm’s investors as well as coordinating the firm’s financial consultants on strategy updates. She is judged by strategy performance every quarter, using quantitative metrics measuring investment growth as well as peer reviews focusing on qualitative performance.
Jackie feels successful when the firm’s strategies are outperforming popular index funds; in addition, when she believes that the firm’s consultants are on the same page concerning strategy updates. Jackie’s day is made harder when quantitative information is not readily available to do her job with; in addition, when consultants have many follow up questions on updates, for which she needs powerful online management tools.. Customers in Jackie’s position and industry tend to stay with online platforms long-term, with expected LTVs between $350,000 and $450,000.
In use this persona will allow each member of your growth marketing team to quickly gain an understanding of their target audience. For example, a content writer can use this persona to create content better suited for Jackie and similar potential customers. Her need to catalog and respond to questions about strategy updates is an opportunity to discuss the organizational and communicational features of your software. Individuals in her position will also appreciate the ability to use software to monitor markets in real-time. Highlighting these features increases the likelihood that leads in similar positions will reach your sales team, already prepared to commit to your software.
These personas will also help you identify which channels your most valuable audiences are most likely to use. You can then strategically combine these channels to optimize your campaign.
Strategically Combining Marketing Channels for Growth
Before we can discuss how best to combine channels, we must first understand the advantages and disadvantages of each. In particular, some channels are best suited to serve as primary centerpieces, while others are best used in supplemental roles. The table below shows the strengths and weaknesses of the top SaaS marketing channels, as well as their suggested role:
|Channel||Role||Long Term ROI||Rapid Results||Reusable Content||Builds Trust||Creates Personal Connection||Highly Trackable Results|
|Thought Leadership SEO||Primary||✔️||✔️||✔️||✔️|
|Account Based Marketing (ABM)||Supplemental||✔️||✔️|
You can then combine one or more primary channels with appropriate secondary channels that address the weaknesses of your primary channel, while acting as a force multiplier for its strengths. Below are two example strategies:
|Primary Channel||Supplemental Channels||Description|
|1||Thought Leadership SEO||PPC, Email Marketing,
||Thought Leadership SEO is used as the basis for creating high quality growth marketing content, that is then reused for email marketing and organic LinkedIn campaigns. PPC is employed both to test new keywords, as well as provide short-term lead generation.|
|2||Speaking Engagements, Webinars||Email Marketing, LinkedIn, ABM||Speaking engagements and webinars create a personal connection with audiences. The most high value attendees are then followed up with via ABM. LinkedIn and email campaigns are used to help promote these speaking engagements, as well as distribute content created for those webinars.|
A common feature of each of the primary channels above is that each naturally generates content that can be reused in supplemental channels. This content is a cornerstone of growth marketing, optimizing both customer conversion and retention.
Creating Content to Optimize Customer Conversion and Retention
Developing a customer persona focuses on understanding your audience’s needs, and selecting the right marketing channel focuses on understanding how best to reach your audience. Creating growth marketing content focuses on producing blog articles, white papers, emails, and any other content that your current and prospective customers want to read, thereby building trust with them while establishing yourself as the top software company in your niche.
This is the same core concept as thought leadership, making the principles of thought leadership an excellent fit for growth marketing. Content must be:
- Direct: Focus on value-driven conversations that speak directly to the needs of your audience. Avoid using boiler-plate figures of speech that lose reader interest, using metaphor and anecdotes only where they are important to reader understanding.
- Insightful: Rather than repeating the same information found everywhere else on the internet, provide expert insights that are unique to your company. Each piece of content should feel like it’s written by someone who knows the subject matter completely, distilling complex concepts into a simple-to-understand format.
- Industry-specific: Match tone and vocabulary to the industry standard for your audience. For example, an investing piece describing a stock value as “gapping down” rather than simply “dropping” signals knowledgeable readers of your familiarity with investing, building trust with customers and leads in the financial services sector.
Building the trust that comes with high quality content results in your customers and clients seeing your website as a valuable resource, translating into higher customer satisfaction and warmer leads. This in turn, increasing your win rates and lowering churn.
Setting KPIs and Measuring Success
Upon contact with the real world, every marketing strategy will need adjustment. By setting tracking KPIs, you can ensure that your growth marketing program stays on track. The below table shares the most important KPIs to track and benchmarks for each.
|Customer Acquisition Cost||$728|
|Cost Per Lead||Paid: $280
|Clickthrough Rate||PPC: 2.0%
SEO: Ranking position dependent
|Organic Traffic||10% growth month-over-month|
|Visitor to Lead Conversion Rate||1.9%|
|Customer Retention Rate||95-97%|
|Upsell/Cross Sell Rate||23%|
Each of these has its own method for improvement, which we discuss in further detail in our guide to B2B SaaS marketing KPIs.
Working with a Growth Marketing Firm
Properly executing an effective B2B SaaS growth marketing strategy requires significant skill and resources to effectively juggle each element. Many SaaS companies will find that they lack an in-house team with the bandwidth to execute a full growth marketing program.
A common solution is to work with a dedicated marketing agency. We specialize in growth marketing for B2B SaaS companies that combines thought leadership, SEO, and conversion optimization. If you’re interested in discussing a partnership, reach out to us here.