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In this piece, we will explore 15 of the most common mistakes beginners make with SaaS Marketing, and how to avoid them, so you can save time and energy lost by following ineffective methods.
SaaS does not sell by word of mouth alone – but you probably already know this.
So what is the best way to scale up your SaaS marketing strategy efficiently?
Put simply: avoid the pitfalls that plague many other SaaS startups.
See, while SaaS marketing strategies may “walk and talk” like other B2B marketing tactics, SaaS Marketing is unique in that:
· it has a shorter sales cycle
· it aims to create a lifetime customer
· it sells a service, not a product
In this piece, we will explore 15 of the most common mistakes beginners make with SaaS Marketing, and how to avoid them, so you can save time and energy lost by following ineffective methods. These 15 mistakes can be broken down into three distinct segments of your overall strategy:
· How you start your plan
· How you execute your strategy
· How you serve the customer
Here are a few pitfalls that happen right out of the starting gate, that can be avoided or tweaked to be more effective.
In SaaS marketing, you need to do the research.
If you haven’t researched your competition to the point that you can recite your USP by rote, you haven’t done enough. You need to clearly define where you are in the market to your business stakeholders before you can hope to do an effective job marketing.
You do this by creating buyer profiles that depict, in a snapshot, who your ideal customer is.
Creating customer profiles is one of those tasks that doesn’t seem to produce a lot, given the time it takes, but if it’s not done, your entire strategy could unravel.
At the end of the day, sending an email or putting together a witty social media campaign is not that complicated, but if you have no plan to back it up, it could bleed valuable prospects from your funnel. Spraying media with your USP may work in the short-term, to drive attention, but it is NOT a long-term strategy.
Here is another case where putting in the work is not fun, but it is necessary. You need to plan out your strategy as a whole, with all components, inbound and outbound, working in unison. This benefits your potential customers since they can be easily led through your funnel without a whole lot of prodding, and your business, since your marketing spend and ROI have been clearly defined.
Speaking of marketing spend, this is one of the areas fraught with the most pitfalls. Many startup SaaS companies spend till it hurts in the beginning, stretching their budget to the max to get new users. But when the money starts to roll in, funds are shifted to operations, and marketing spend becomes second priority. This is a critical failure.
Losing sight of acquisition leaves the remaining market share open to competitors, and since SaaS products are more of a lifetime product, when you return to that well, it may have already dried up. Now you are faced with trying to poach customers from other services, which requires a lot more sales efforts than keeping your funnel consistently full with new customers. Work on a consistent, but affordable way to make your customer acquisition a long-term strategy and you will never run out of leads.
The execution of your strategy is already a complicated process, made more complicated with these mistakes.
Nothing can kill a sale, or disenchant a potential customer faster than pushing a conversion before you’ve built trust. We’ve all experienced those bullying sales tactics that are constantly in your face trying to close the deal, and we aren’t even sure what they offer.
You can’t chase down every lead like that in SaaS marketing. It’s all about the long-term customer. If your sales tactics are too aggressive and you offer no value along the way, you’ll lose a prospect for life! You just can’t afford that with SaaS marketing.
You will continue spinning your wheels, to no avail, if you do not begin building trust in your brand now. Step back, and see how consumers are consuming your content. Analyze your funnel for leaks. Add key pieces that develop trust and eliminate sales pieces that are over pushy and you will begin to see a positive outcome.
Event marketing for SaaS is a powerful tool to get customers talking about your platform, but using it as an all-in-one strategy is negligent. We get it, there’s nothing like the face-to-face impact of a good product, but it’s a lot like “shooting fish in a barrel,” – one barrel. Yes, there is a great response and everyone comes home on a high, but what now. You’ve collected leads, yes, but in a narrow pool – those that attended the event.
Not only is it limited, but it is also costly. By limiting your marketing strategy to events, you are now banking your entire ROI on chasing down those leads. It just makes for unnecessary stress in sales.
If you gained valuable leads at an event, you’re better off creating a separate buyer profile of those that were interested. This can provide a framework for targeting like customers via other methods of marketing and help save your ROI.
Speaking of other marketing methods, inbound marketing is in its heyday, and for good reason. Inbound marketing is a reliable method for gaining traction, especially if your business has a smaller budget, but if consumers don’t know what your company provides, how can your service even enter their search?
A good mix of inbound and outbound is ideally what you’re looking for. Outbound marketing provides a human touch in your outreach, which is valuable, especially for SaaS businesses.
Remember, you’re trying to make a customer for life, not trick them into trying you out. A good mix of the two can lead your prospects down your sales funnel, helping to establish a solid long-term relationship.
Here is another area where it is easy to be misled. Other B2B businesses can do very well with the spray and pray marketing approach. It generates a lot of interest and shows exciting attention toward the product as a whole. But once again, we’re talking apples and oranges with this approach.
SaaS businesses are selling a service, not just a product. This service meets a specific need, of a specific audience of people. Treating your SaaS marketing as anything more traditional from a marketing sense, and you’ve missed the boat.
The age-old adage, “if you try to please everyone, you’ll end up pleasing no one,” can be tailored for this exact situation. If you try and reach everyone, you’ll end up reaching no one. Why? Because SaaS is a service that requires a more personal approach.
A big mistake, one that can mean a serious drain on capital, is hiring more reps than you have leads to chase down. A, too many fishermen, not enough fish problem.
To avoid this, start small and pay attention to the conversion rates of your sales team. In the beginning, it is easy for them to become burnt out and at this point, you may think adding another salesperson will help, but this is not always the answer. You could just have a capacity issue. You could have individuals on the sales team that can easily handle 15 leads a month but are only given 10, whereas another individual is maxed-out at 8 and they are given 10. By understanding the capacity of your current sales team, you can better determine whether more on the team would help, or whether a simple reallocation of leads could solve the problem.
Metrics is a topic that is discussed at length, but still many misunderstand it in practice. A focus on vanity metrics or pretty creatives feels good, don’t get us wrong, but they don’t give you insight into your business's actual performance. There are no measurable KPIs that matter.
Let’s take a look at some examples of these vanity metrics and the coinciding metric you should be looking at.
· Vanity Metric: Number of Free Trial Users
Insightful Metric: Converting Users
Takeaway: Yes, sign-ups are a great measure of interest, but the real value to your business is users that convert to paying customers.
· Vanity Metric: Traffic Volume
Insightful Metric: Bounce Rate and Returning Visitors
Takeaway: You may have plenty of visitors to your website every month, but if they are bouncing away quickly it indicates you’re attracting the wrong kind of attention. Lower bounce rates and returning visitors indicate that your content is engaging and relevant and can lead to better conversions.
· Vanity Metric: “Likes” on Social Media
Insightful Metric: Number of Engagements on Social Media
Takeaway: It’s great to see a large number of “likes” for your page, but if that’s all that’s happening, you’re not going to see a value. Seeing a high volume of engagement, however, shows you are serving up content that will lead to better conversions.
If you are new to the market, chances are good that many of your visitors come organically, through search. If you aren’t taking time to tweak how you appear on searches, your competitors will be happy to gobble up those leads.
Not only is SEO a valuable tactic to bring in customers, but it is also one of the most cost-effective. Trust and believe if you have little or no strategy for SEO optimization, you are losing prospects to competitors daily.
There are hundreds of SEO strategy tips on the internet to educate you if you don’t know much about it, but three key ways to improve your ranking instantly include:
· Check your competitor sites for keywords and implement some of the same on your site
· Create engaging visuals, these rank higher on search engines
· Include internal and external links that are valuable
· Add videos, these also help higher rankings
One of the biggest pitfalls for companies just starting is forgetting to track where their sales are coming from. An attribution strategy is also important in aligning your sales and marketing teams. If you have no tracking in place, you:
· won’t be able to answer those tough ROI questions from stakeholders
· won’t have a gauge on what is working and what is not
· won’t know which tactic will help you scale up
Getting a handle on this sooner rather than later can help save thousands of dollars in marketing and hundreds of hours in sales team efforts.
Even when you have users, you are not done. User-facing components of your SaaS platform must be retention-worthy. Avoid these mistakes that lead to customer burnout.
Did you know that, when a user clicks on your media, whether email, landing page, or website, you have a max of 15 seconds to grab their attention? This is a clear example of how important your UX, or user experience is.
Add to this the rise of mobile phone usage, and you have a tremendous stage on which to captivate or alienate. The ease of use and ease of navigation on your page could make or break a sale, but many companies are too focused on lead generation. This is a critical error.
You are wasting marketing dollars on demand generation if all you’re getting is bounced users. Not only do you have a lost sale, but you have a customer who already knows about your business, and has chosen not to pursue the purchase. This is much worse than an uneducated consumer. This is too easy a problem to fix for it to be ignored.
In the SaaS model, pricing can get a little complicated. If a customer has a problem understanding your pricing model, but your competitor has it spelled out plainly, you could lose sales. The more transparent you are on your pricing; outlining all the details included and excluded, the more trust you garner from a potential customer.
Equally as risky is pricing yourself out of the market. Your SaaS should be based on how large an audience you have for the product as well as how unique your USP is. Make sure you stay competitive within your portion of the market.
Do you have silos in your business? Traditional marketing methods with attribution of sales going to the sales team, cause what’s referred to as “the Silo Effect.” It leads to highly compartmentalized teams and ineffective processes.
If left unchecked, silos can lead to:
· inconsistencies with customer experience
· lost time and money in rework
· in-house friction
· wasted opportunities
Sales and marketing should be working towards the same goal, conversion. To separate those functions is a mistake and is not a long-term model for success.
Work on implementing an attribution model that doesn’t incentivize competitive behaviors between marketing and sales, and you have a model for future scalability.
And last but not least, automate, automate, automate,
It goes without saying that the more you automate those processes that can be automated,
· the more time your sales team has to actually sell
· the more money is saved
· the easier you can scale
Don’t spend all your time and money on lead generation tactics that will lay by the wayside from lack of follow-up. Free up some time in your processes and you’ll see conversions come easier.
By learning from others’ mistakes, you can easily and efficiently scale up your SaaS marketing and earn long-term valuable customers at the same time.
Explore must-attend conferences in 2024, including the renowned SaaStr Annual. Follow SaaSMQL for insights into SaaS events 2024.
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