SaaS Advertising That Works: 5 Important Tips

The overwhelming number of advertising choices for SaaS companies can leave your head spinning. But if you take a calculated reading of where you’re trying to lead your campaign, you can nail down a trusted ally and move forward with confidence. Take heed of these SaaS advertising strategies as a prerequisite to success.

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1: Laser Focus on the Best Approach

Instead of throwing everything available to you in digital advertising at the wall to see what sticks, figure out what your end result is, and work backward — then curate your content, because it matters a lot. Digital advertising is unavoidable for most SaaS companies, and it’s best to try different approaches to a degree, but really try to narrow down your prospects so that you’re not spinning your wheels without forward propulsion. 

The days of unpaid advertising through social media are waning as the “wild west” of the internet becomes more tamed. Organically reaching an audience through regular social media posts is continually diminishing. Search rankings and audience engagement are becoming much more competitive, and most marketers see the writing on the wall and have increased digital ad spending year over year. That’s why it's extremely important to have a clear target. 

For example: You’re wanting to try to increase free users to your platform quickly. Questions you need to ask are:

  • Who is your audience?
    • What are their job titles?
    • What pain points do they have?
  • What keywords are they using in their research?
  • What social channels do they use regularly?

Knowing these things will help you determine what advertising channels you need to focus on. For instance, maybe your audience isn’t on Facebook, but it is on LinkedIn, so there's no sense in wasting your money on Facebook ads if you know you’re going to have a hard time finding the right customers. Or conversely, maybe you find out that the cost per conversion on LinkedIn is just too high, but the targeting options available to you on Facebook instead turn out to work great for cost-effectively reaching your audience there.

2: Look Out for Click Fraud

If you assume that only humans are clicking on your pages, you’d better take another look. Click fraud is on the rise, in some cases by 25% according to some sources and it is used to send your SaaS marketing campaign down the drain. 

Click fraud is a type of fraud that occurs in pay-per-click online advertising. Fraudulent operators using robots to impersonate people clicking on digital ads robbed the advertising industry of $6.3 billion, according to a Pixalate report. The automated clicks account for nearly one-quarter of the views on video ads and more than one in 10 on display ads across the Internet, according to the study, which was conducted by the Association of National Advertisers and White Ops, an online security company.

What This Means for You

Protect your ad budget and all of the work you’ve put into your campaign by stopping click fraud in its tracks. Click-fraud prevention tools like ClickCease can detect and block fraudulent clicks on your Google ads before they wipe out your ad budget. The last thing you want is to waste your advertising budget on fakes.

3: Don’t Leave the Brand Behind

The SaaS universe is brutally competitive, especially within the last 5 years, with a recent explosion of tools and apps available. Brand awareness is sometimes left on the back burner as you churn out the sales conversion growth numbers. But don’t fall into this trap! Branding should be pushed to the forefront and here’s why.

A user is unlikely to sign up for your product the first time they hear about it. Instead, advertising and retargeting can build brand awareness strategically. 

Use brand awareness campaigns to build further relationships and familiarity over time with people getting to know your product. People are still generally loyal to the software they use, so you’ll need a long-term strategy to alter that relationship and win them over.

Think about what would get you to change your product choice if you were in their shoes. What would it take for you to make the move to another company? Think about how many times you’ve contemplated changing services like a cable company or changing a financial institution such as a bank and then realizing, oh forget it, it’s too much trouble to jump through all of the hoops to get it done. Maybe streamline the process for your potential customer and make it as easy as possible to make the change while waving the brand loud and proud during the entire process.

Take your time wowing your audience with awareness-focused content around educational topics. Remember that most of these people are still too high up in the funnel to respond well to sales pitch messaging, especially if they’re currently happy using your competitor’s product. 

4: What is Your Audience Really Saying?

Don’t ignore why a user might be looking for a tool. Context and intent are truly important; without it, you might end up paying through the nose with incorrect messaging and targeting the wrong audience. You could lose lifers, high-paying customers, or simply have poor sales conversions in the first place.

For example, Google Ad campaigns targeting anyone searching for free software can be a mistake that’s costly in the long run. Many SaaS experts believe that people prioritizing a free price over benefits or features likely won’t be a segment with the highest lifetime value.

Each campaign you do should have specific messaging that speaks to the audience you’re reaching. Take this into account with every ad. Listen to your audience; research your database if you don’t know.

5: Creating Lead Nurturing for Ad Groups

So you’ve got a prospect that has clicked on an ad, but then they drop off. What do you do? I think a lot of the time when companies are focused on digital advertising, they’re focused on their short-term goals. But it’s important to note that the majority of prospects aren’t going to commit on the first touch. This is where ad funnels come into play. By setting up ad funnels, you’re able to increase conversion opportunities by sending targeted messaging to guide them to the next step. Don’t ignore those that have engaged; the likelihood of them converting is higher than the first touch.

Here are a couple of examples of email funnels you can do to optimize your advertising efforts.

Automated Email Funnels

It would be naïve to think that a single ad can convince a prospect to buy. Customers tend to have very complex buyer journeys that consist of researching and evaluation before even thinking about purchasing your product. That’s why automated email funnels allow you to set up multiple checkpoints along the way to help your potential customer in their research and evaluation. Studies have shown that it takes potential customers 7-13+ touches before they are ready to buy. That’s why it’s extremely important to target your contacts after they have shown interest in your product by clicking on an ad. The setup of your automated emails will depend on your initial “trigger” offer. The key is to nurture them and qualify them to sales-qualified leads. If someone clicked on your ad to download an ebook, send an email every 2-4 days with a content hook or angle in each that aligns with the initial offer they downloaded. For example, you can send additional blog posts, tips, how-tos, case studies, and more. However, each email you send contains a more sales-ready offer. 

Ad Retargeting Funnels

The offers for retargeting ads will be very similar to the automated emails above, however, you would be delivering them through Facebook Ads, Google Ads, or through tools like AdRoll or PerfectAudience rather than via emails. After the first initial ad you send out, you’d retarget those contacts that may have clicked on your ad, but never converted by offering them another piece of content that may resonate more with them. This allows you to have continuous touch points with them and hopefully bring them in as a lead to start your nurturing campaigns from there.

Today, many of your potential customers are using multiple platforms, on different days, to research before making a purchase. Using a marketing automation software allows you to set up automated emails in the most effective way. The best way to start is by looking at your historical data, see where you can improve and supercharge your marketing. There is no sense in wasting ad budget on leads that fall through the cracks.

The Bottom Line

We know it can be tempting to dive into your marketing efforts by trying a little of everything while simultaneously being very overwhelming and leaving you feeling like you don't know where to start. With planning and a little extra thought about your end goals and ways to get there, you'll get started on the right foot.

This post was originally published June 2020 and has been updated in August 2021.