World-famous marketer and entrepreneur, Neil Patel warns that SaaS marketing is a different beast, and suggests that a great product and amazing customer service are the pillars of SaaS success. He’s right, and in the B2B space, SaaS marketing gets even more specific. Let’s explore the most important nuances and get you on the right track for B2B SaaS marketing.
Understand the Expectations of the B2B SaaS Market
These days, every potential SaaS customer will expect some sort of free trial, and that’s a great way of demonstrating value, building trust, and working toward long term subscription. Beyond the ubiquitous free trial, however, there are a few other unique expectations for software solutions made for businesses.
One interesting specificity for B2B SaaS marketers is to be aware that the quick sales cycle for SaaS may be unfamiliar to most B2B types. Because of this, it’s a good idea to reassure your potential customers with clear information about what your solution does and doesn’t do, and how, exactly, it benefits their business. In B2B SaaS marketing, it’s best to Include lots of previews of what your solution looks like and how it works. Try short video clips, or even still screen grabs from inside the technology. It helps B2B folks to see what they’re purchasing and exactly how it works, because you’re clearly sharing value, even though there’s not the familiar dance of working with a direct salesperson.
In addition to making sure you have an amazing free trial and being cognizant of the quick and possibly unfamiliar sales cycle, it’s very important to be aware of the features that businesses commonly need in order to successfully adopt a SaaS solution. Features like multiple users, team collaboration, and customization are key to enticing your business customers into lifelong membership at your highest tiers. Larger businesses will likely also want single sign-on (SSO) capabilities. You have to get that product right first, or your marketing will make little long term difference.
Identify and Target the Decision Makers
One key difference between consumer-focused SaaS marketing and selling your solution to other businesses is that the end-user is not necessarily the decision-maker. This necessitates a slightly different approach to marketing, wherein the end-user as well as that person’s supervisor, purchasing department or executive suite are all considered in your sales approach. Many B2B SaaS companies create marketing programs that appeal to the end-user, they make the business case for adoption, and, they make it easy to pass the solution up the command chain.
The bottom line is, end-users need to love your solution. Once again, making UX and product functionality top-notch is the first priority. And, once they love it, they will advocate for it, but your marketing must provide them with the tools they need to sell the solution up the ladder. Pricing and packages must be impeccably clear and easy to share. The benefits of the solution must go beyond just making the end user’s own job easier. That’s a key part of your job, but just as important is to make the benefits to the business very clear.
Focus on Business Benefits
It can be tempting to tout all the features of your solution and how fun they are to use, however, one of the important nuances of B2B SaaS marketing is to focus on the business benefits of your product. Making internal processes more efficient, or creating opportunities for increased profit are great things to focus on in your marketing efforts.
Dive deeply into the business benefits your SaaS solution provides, and create content and campaigns around them. Your intended decision-makers need a reason to green-light the purchase of your highest subscription level. Talk about process efficiencies, ease of work for employees, top-line revenue impacts, or cost savings for the companies considering your SaaS solution. Use case studies and testimonials to show not only that your solution has impacted businesses, but why. In B2B SaaS marketing, don’t forget to pay attention to the other B!
Market to Your Customers
Retention is the ultimate key to success in SaaS marketing. That’s why it’s so crucial to continue nurturing relationships with your existing customers, not just your leads. If you're familiar with the flywheel model, this is the delight stage. The most successful SaaS companies - think HubSpot, Salesforce, or Atlassian - have entire programs dedicated to engaging and educating its users, partners, and customers.
Marketing to your customers means continuing to provide value with content that enriches their experience of your technology and brand. In the case of HubSpot, for example, there are entire education and certification programs such as HubSpot Academy that move users deeper into the platform. The business result is brand affinity, and, eventually reliance on the tool. Building and maintaining a relationship with customers is an invaluable piece of marketing in the software and technology verticals, and moving them deeper means gains in membership levels and length of membership. Say hello to lifetime value.
Don’t Forget Customer Support
It would seem to go without saying that your SaaS product needs a great knowledge base and an easy, effective ticketing system to take bug reports and provide fixes. However, many startups, unfortunately, fall into the trap of overlooking customer service and tech support, and then take too long to iterate based on client feedback. So, set up feedback channels, and create a service process. Your future self will thank you, and gain an opportunity to communicate with your customers and trial subscribers.
Service emails can be seen as an opportunity to draw the prospect or customer back into your funnel with quick links to resources like a get started guide or feature announcements. It’s all connected.
Get Help with B2B SaaS Marketing
Looking for help with B2B marketing for SaaS? We’ve got you covered. Our staff has over 20 years of combined experience, and we’re a Platinum-tier Partner Agency with HubSpot. That means we see SaaS as users, resellers, service providers, and marketers. That’s a win-win for companies like yours, because sometimes explaining the technology, what it does, and figuring out how to market it effectively can be overwhelming for smaller internal teams. With ClearPivot, you’re already at the end of the runway. Contact us and we’ll get started on this flight together.
This post was originally published May 2020 and has been updated for accuracy and completeness.