The SaaS Marketing Bible [41+ Strategies & Case-Studies]

Want to discover new ways to market your SaaS company?

You’ve come to the right place!

In this guide, we’re going to cover 41+ different SaaS marketing strategies.

Everything from SEO to PR, we’ve got it all!

Now, before we dive into the guide, let’s make a couple of things clear.

By “SaaS marketing strategy” we don’t mean basic marketing theory. We’re not going to teach you how to validate your product or create a customer persona.

This guide isn’t a digital marketing 101 either. We're going to assume that you know some of the basics (what's PPC, what's a backlink, and so on).

What we ARE going to do, though, is cover the following for each strategy:

  • Theory. How and why you should use this strategy
  • Actionable instructions on how to implement the strategy
  • A practical example or a case study
  • Links to further readings

We're not gonna lie, this guide's pretty long! So, depending on what you're looking for, you can use the filters below to get a list of strategies that are actionable for YOUR business!

I want SaaS marketing strategies that can be done on a:


Growth Impact:


Marketing Channels:


Content Marketing

Strategy #1 - Create Authority Content

There’s no doubt about it, even in 2020, content IS king.

According to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2018 research, over 91% of B2B marketers, and 86% of B2C marketers use content marketing to reach their customers.

As such, it's also a must-try SaaS marketing strategy.

Which, of course, makes sense. Content marketing comes with a ton of benefits…

  • Lead generation
  • Strengthening your brand
  • Establishing your company as an authority
  • It doesn’t cost a ton of money (we’re looking at you, PPC!)

And as a cherry on top, anyone can do content marketing, as long as they have the right writing chops (or can hire someone that does).

Every content marketing initiative is split into 2 parts...

  1. Content Creation
  2. Content Promotion

The general idea is as follows:

You create amazing content and make sure that the right audience gets to see it.

Let’s say, for example, you’re a digital marketing agency and want to reach SaaS companies that need your services.

You decide to create a guide on SaaS marketing (meta, right?) since it’s something that your audience would like to read.

The first thing you’d do is read what other people have written on the topic. After a couple of Google searches...

Saas marketing google search results

You’ll see the answer is:

Not much.

Sure, there are a couple of articles, but they’re either not too practical (too much bullshit), or not comprehensive enough (listicles with less than 2,000 words).

So, you decide to create a super-comprehensive guide on the topic. You scour the depths of the internet, gather up all the best bits of info, and compile it into one article.

Now, the next step is to promote your content.

Here’s what our average outreach process looks like…

  • Share on all social media
  • Reach out to relevant friends/connections and ask them to share the content
  • Submit to relevant subreddits. I.e. /r/ entrepreneurship, /r/startups if you’re writing about business or marketing
  • Submit it to relevant online communities. I.e. Hacker News, Inbound, GrowthHackers, etc.
  • Run ads for your audience. We’d recommend using the following ad platforms:
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Quora
  • Submit on Quuu Promote
  • Reach out to all sources you’ve mentioned in the article & ask them for a share
  • Reach out to people who wrote about a similar topic. I.e. since we wrote about SaaS marketing, we reached out to anyone that covered tech marketing, user acquisition, etc.
  • Reach out to anyone that linked to similar articles. I.e. anyone that linked to articles on SaaS marketing, user acquisition, and so on.
  • Answer relevant questions on Quora + link to the article

Want to see what, exactly, we did to promote this article? Here's the checklist we used...

saas marketing checklist

Case Study: Content Mavericks

Ever heard of Chris Von Wilpert?

That’s the guy who made over $100,000 from a single blog post.

Here’s how he did it.

First, he created some epic content:

SaaS marketing Hubspot case study

A case study analyzing HubSpot’s growth strategy.

He covered all the interesting bits and pieces of HubSpot’s biggest traffic-winners, including:

  • SEO Strategy
  • HubSpot’s Micro-Sites (Inbound.org, Website Grader, ThinkGrowth)
  • Landing page breakdowns

And a lot more.

Writing good content, though, was only one part of the strategy.

After all, even if your blog post is the best thing since sliced bread, no one’s going to read it unless you promote the hell out of it.

Chris’s promotion strategy included…

  • Creating a dream-list of 100 clients & reaching out to them to check out the blog post
  • Promotion in different Facebook groups
  • $335 ad spend on Facebook
  • $353 ad spend on Twitter

And the results were insane.

The blog post was shared by several influencers, including HubSpot’s CTO, Dharmesh Shah, and Noah Kagan himself!

Noah kagan reach out message

Over time, this resulted in a TON of new clients, traffic, and revenue.

Want to learn more about how Chris does his content marketing? Here are some of his best content pieces:

Strategy #2 - Write a Round-Up Post

Round-up posts are an easy way to help you get some initial traction.

So, what’s a round-up post?

Well, you’ve probably already seen a ton of them. They’re the “Top X [Niche] Influencers in 2019” type of articles.

The general idea behind a round-up post is to tug on people’s egos.

You mention them as one of the top-top influencers of their field, and what are they gonna do? NOT share your article?

Best case scenario, from each round-up campaign, you can expect shares, shoutouts, reports, and backlinks.

Now, to give you a more practical example, here’s what the Search Engine Journal did with their Top SEO experts post…

SEO experts article

The article is done super professionally - they define the criteria on how they judged the experts…

SEO expert judgement criterias

And then list them out.

And as you can see, the post had amazing results - over 6.3k shares and 42k reads.

2019 top SEO experts

Strategy #3 - Create an Infographic

Everyone loves infographics.

They’re easy to read, are jam-packed with interesting information.

And the best part - they’re super useful for any marketing initiative, not just for SaaS marketing.

Now, we’re not going to cover HOW to make good infographics. That’s a completely different topic. For more info on that, though, you can check out HubSpot’s guide to creating infographics.

What we’re going to talk about, though, is what kind of marketing results you can achieve with infographics.

Here are some of the best tactics you could try...

Link-Building With Infographics - The cool part about infographics is that you can have them guest-posted on as many websites as you want, since it doesn’t count as duplicated content.

For the best results, you can transform your highest priority articles into infographics.

Then, you attach the infographic at the end of the article as “Bonus Content.”

Finally, you start doing guest post outreach with your infographic:

“As part of our mega-guide to [Topic] , we created an infographic about [Title] . You can check the guide here [Link] , and the infographic here: [Link] "

This way, the blogs that publish your infographic are going to link back to the post, landing you some quality backlinks!

Virality Infographics - You can also use infographics to get featured on news media.

For example, most resume builder SaaS companies used to create resume-infographics of famous people…

Elon Musk resume

And pitch big media outlets to feature them...

Elon Musks's one page resume

Or, for another example, Adioma, an infographic building software, used to create life-story infographics of famous entrepreneurs…

life inforgraphic

And get them featured online

Elin Musk's life infographic

Infographics for Community-Building - Your infographic doesn’t have to go super-mega-ultra viral for it to be a success.

You can just use them for building brand awareness by sharing it with the right audience. Here’s how you could do that...

  • Submit it on relevant subreddits
  • Submit it on Pinterest, Tumblr
  • Share it through Facebook groups
  • Pitch it to influencers
  • Use paid ads to promote it

Mint used this SaaS marketing tactic strategy to promote their own infographics.

They submitted them on Digg and Reddit, gaining hundreds of upvotes and raising their brand awareness…

mint on reddit

Overpriced HDMI cables

credit card verification TIL

Strategy #4 - Publish a Case Study

Case studies are a must-have for any B2B SaaS company.

They can help improve your brand image and reputation, as well as show your readers how your SaaS can help solve their specific problems.

While this doesn’t drive traffic on its own, it sure as hell will improve your conversion rates. And it will make your overall SaaS marketing efforts more efficient.

Want to get started with case studies? Start approaching your happiest clients, and ask them for a detailed run-down on how they use your software, and what kind of benefits they get from it.

If they’re reluctant or busy, you can also offer a discount or freebies to sweeten the deal.

Want to see a good example? HubSpot has some of the best CRM case studies we’ve seen...

HubSpot CRM

Strategy #5 - Write a Guest Post

Guest posts, while nothing ground-breaking, are part of every SaaS marketing strategy.

The main benefits of guest posting are…

  1. Qualified traffic. If you get the guest post published on the right website, you could generate highly qualified leads for your software.
  2. Backlinks. You can use guest posting to support your SEO strategy. On average, you can get around 2-3 backlinks out of each guest post. Most websites that accept guest posts are more than happy to let you include a handful of links per post.

The “how” part of guest posting is pretty straightforward…

First, you find blogs that a) have the same audience as you, and b) accept guest posts.

For this step, we’d recommend Googling what are the best blogs in your niche. For example, ‘top marketing blogs’:

top marketing blogs google search results

You could also directly look up blogs accepting guest posts...…

marketing blogs accepting guest posts google search results

The next step is to check their guest posting requirements.

Just about any blog you’ll find, will have a set of instructions on how to write guest posts that they’re going to accept. If they don’t have a dedicated page for guest posts, you can just drop them a line and ask for their requirements.

HubSpot Guest Post invite

Finally, you reach out to the blog, and pitch a couple of ideas. Here are some tips on how to do that right…

  1. Do proper research on the blog you’re pitching to. Get a good understanding of what kind of content they publish
  2. Tailor the ideas you’ll pitch to the blog. Don’t just pitch the same ideas to everyone
  3. Whatever you do, don’t submit duplicate content. If you submit the same post on 2+ blogs, they’ll find out, remove both posts, AND never talk to you again
  4. Stick to the guidelines. If your writing doesn’t reflect your pitch, the blog might not accept the guest post

Strategy #6 - Create Webcomics

If you’re wondering, “what do webcomics have to do with SaaS marketing,” you definitely haven’t seen Toggl’s comic series.

Comic

The comics are based around startups, programming, and work-life in general.

And they’re pretty damn hilarious and popular.

startup-zoo-comic-togglImage Source: https://blog.toggl.com/startup-zoo-comic/

Webcomics can’t be the heart of your SaaS marketing strategy - but done right, they can make your brand pretty famous.

Strategy #7 - Host an AMA

AMAs are a great way to communicate directly with your audience.

For those of you who don’t internet often, AMA stands for ask-me-anything, and are threads on popular social media where you sit around for an hour, and answer your audience’s questions. For example

Trent Lapinski short bio

An AMA can help raise awareness about your SaaS, or at least get you some feedback from potential users. This isn't as high-growth as all the other SaaS marketing tactics we've mentioned, but it can be super helpful if you're trying to get some feedback on your product.

Depending on your niche, you’d pick a different social media (or forum) to host your AMA on. For example, if your target audience is marketers, you could create an AMA on Inbound.org

Given, you need some reputation and brand-awareness if you want your AMA to succeed. It can’t be just “Oh hey, I’m the CEO of this startup I started yesterday! Ask me anything!”

Here are a couple of communities you could host an AMA on...

  • Reddit. There are a bunch of relevant subreddits that allow for AMA sessions depending on your niche. For example, personal finance, career advice, entrepreneurship, and so on. You can use RedditLists to find some of the most popular subreddits.
  • Inbound & Growth Hackers. Both extremely popular online marketing communities.
  • And pretty much wherever else your audience hangs out online.

Strategy #8 - Create a Micro-Site

A micro-site can be a great addition to your SaaS marketing efforts.

The gist of this is, you develop a web-based tool that solves a very specific need that your potential customers might have.

Then, you market this tool, and upsell your main product when possible.

For example, HubSpot’s website grader is a separate website/tool that helps you understand how well your website is optimized in terms of…

  • General performance
  • Mobile optimization
  • SEO
  • Security

Website Grader powered by HubSpot

It’s safe to assume that anyone that cares about how well their website performs could end up using one of HubSpot’s gazillion tools.

And then, of course, when you land on their tool, you get an upsell for giving HubSpot a try…

Free Marketing Tools

According to the book Traction, the website grader was used by over 3 million websites since it’s launch, and HubSpot gets a very decent number of leads from it every month.

Similar Web - traffic overview

Or to give you another example, if you dabble in SEO, you’ve probably heard of UberSuggest.

In 2017, Neil Patel acquired it for $120,000, completely revamped the old design from this...

ubersuggest

To this…

neilpatel keyword ideas

And now he’s using it to generate leads for his own digital marketing agency.

Sure, the tool is 100% free, but if you want to get the most out of it, you have to sign up...

neilpatel content ideas

And once you do, you’ll start receiving emails from Neil upselling his services or products.

Neil Patel email

Strategy #9 - Answer Questions on Quora

Quora, if you haven’t heard of it yet, is a matured Yahoo Answers (i.e. more serious questions, less memes).

Users can ask questions on just about anything - from personal finance to rocket science - and experts on the topic chime in with the answers.

Quora’s been growing pretty fast over the past few years, reaching 200+ million unique monthly visits sometime in 2017.

So, it’s time to include it in your SaaS marketing strategy!

Some ways you can use Quora are:

  • Answer software-related questions. E.g. “What’s the best CRM software?”
  • Answer brand-related questions. E.g. “is [Your Software] any good?” or “is [Your Software] good for [X Use-Case]?”
  • Topics surrounding your niche. E.g. Does your software help users create legal contracts? You’d look up questions like: “How do you make an official legal contract?”

So, how do you get started?

It’s relatively straightforward. Just create an account, follow relevant topics, and give good answers.

As of November 2018, you can also use Quora Spaces to promote your content.

Quora Spaces are pretty much the same thing as Subreddits but with a professional twist. If you already have a Quora account, you can check out Spaces here.

All you have to do is submit your content to the relevant space and the users that follow it can upvote, downvote or comment on it.

PRO TIP

Keep in mind that the key to succeeding on Quora is to be helpful. Don’t just shamelessly promote your product all over the place.

First, give the users the best answer to the question and THEN explain how your product can help them.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Strategy #10 - Create SEO Content

SEO content is another must-try SaaS marketing tactic.

The gist of it is, you create content with the intention of ranking on Google.

seo tips google search results

The top-down strategy here is that you want to rank for topics centered around the problem your SaaS solves.

E.g. Let’s say that your software is a CRM. You’d want to write about sales best practices, software tools that help you with sales, and etc.

You could, for example, create a guide to “sales tools” and get it to rank. The keyword has around 15,000 searches per month, and anyone that’s looking for sales tools is definitely a potential customer for your CRM!

keyword overview sales tools

Imagine that - 15,000 qualified leads reading your article every month. That’s growth on autopilot right there!

Keep in mind, though, that SEO content is not exactly the same as content marketing (even though SEO content DOES fall into content marketing).

The difference between the two is…

Content - You sit down and come up with ideas for articles, guides, or any other type of content that could be useful to your audience. You then create the content and promote it to make sure that your target audience gets to see it.

SEO Content - YOU don’t come up with the ideas. Instead, you do it the other way around.

You do keyword research to find keywords that your target audience is Googling.

Then, you figure out what, exactly, they’re trying to learn from the search.

And THEN you create the content - based on the search intent behind the keyword.

As with content marketing, you’d also want to promote your SEO content. More often than not, though, you’d focus more on getting links to improve your rankings, instead of aiming for shares or direct conversions.

If you were to create content based on your gut feeling and THEN optimized it for a keyword, there’s a huge chance it would NOT rank.

Want to learn more? Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to create content that ranks on Google...

Step #1 - Decide on the keyword. Let’s say, for example, you’re a process management software provider. You might want to rank for “process improvement.” Anyone looking to improve their processes could be interested in using process management software.

Step #2 - Now, look up what currently ranks for the keyword.

process improvement google search results

Then, open the top 5 ranking articles, skim through them and see what they’re all about. For example, we found that for “process improvement,” the top-ranking articles included info on…

  1. Definition of process improvement
  2. Process improvement techniques
  3. Step-by-step guide on improving a process
  4. Benefits of process improvement
  5. How is process improvement related to business process management
  6. Process improvement jobs
  7. Process improvement training

Now, borrow all the ideas that are (reasonably) related to the keyword. For the process improvement example above, you’d want to “steal” points #1 through #5 and put it into a Doc.

You’d want to drop #6 and #7, though. The people Googling this are looking for jobs or training in process improvement, not your software solution.

Here’s what your article skeleton would look like at this point…

  1. Introduction
    • Talk about the importance of continuously improving one’s processes
    • Mention a statistic that strengthens your argument
  2. What’s Process Improvement?
    • Explain what’s process improvement
  3. Benefits of Process Improvement
    • Define the top benefits for process improvement, including cutting down expenses, improving company output, better employee engagement, etc.
  4. How to Improve Processes in 5 Steps
    • Explain the general steps in process improvement
      1. Map the process
      2. Analyze it
      3. Redesign it
      4. Implement the new process
      5. Measure and benchmark results
  5. X+ Process Improvement Techniques
    • List out all the common process improvement techniques:
      1. Kaizen
      2. PDCA
      3. 5S
      4. Six Sigma
      5. PDCA
  6. Process Improvement and BPM
    • Explain how process improvement is an essential part of BPM (BPM is the methodology is managing and improving processes constantly)
  7. Conclusion
    • Go over the importance of process improvement. Link to further readings

Now, you can either fill this in yourself, or send it over to a professional writer, and ask them to do it for it.

As long as you (or your writer) follow the outline to the T, you’re bound to get good results.

Finally, you’d want to optimize the content for SEO. For this, you can follow YoastSEO‘s guidelines if you’re using WordPress…

yoast analysis results

Or the Content Analysis tool if you’re not…

google search saas marketing bible

Psst… There’s a LOT more to SEO - what we just discussed is just the tip of the iceberg. If you want to learn more, check out our comprehensive guide to SEO content

Case Study: HubSpot

Heard of HubSpot?

Of course you have - they’re THE king of SaaS marketing, and one of their biggest bread-winners is their SEO strategy.

hubspot results

They have over 4.5 million monthly organic traffic and counting!

Most of their blog posts are long-form, insightful, and jam-packed with CTAs.

hubspot ctas

And the quality of their content is reflected with their results...

semrush marketing results

The interesting part about HubSpot’s strategy is that they’ve already covered most marketing-related topics.

Now, they’re trying to be literally ALL OVER THE PLACE. For example, if you Google “shrug emoji,” you’ll see this…

shrug emoji search results

Now, you’re probably wondering.

“Literally, why?”

While we don’t have a concrete answer, here’s what we’re thinking...

  1. By being all over the place, they end up getting a LOT more links (which contributes to their insane Domain Authority of 91).
  2. They’re EVENTUALLY going to monetize this traffic. At this point, everyone and their pet dog knows or has heard about HubSpot. Even if 90% of the traffic will never convert immediately, they’ll still know about the brand.

Strategy #11 - Create Brand-Jacking Content

Do you have a bunch of famous competitors? Want to piggyback on their traffic?

Create some comparison articles!

Let’s say you’re in the project management software niche. You could create content comparing some of your top competitors. I.e.

  • Asana VS Basecamp
  • Bitrix24 VS Trello
  • Monday VS Asana

…And so on.

You could also do this for supplementary software products. For example, a messaging tool and a project management software go hand-in-hand.

Someone that uses one is very likely to use the other. So, if your product is a communication tool like Slack, you could benefit even from ranking on:

“Asana VS Basecamp”

Chanty, a team chat app, does something like this…

Asana vs Trello article

At the end of the introduction, they include an upsell for their product…

Asana vs Trello article content

On the other hand, if your brand or product is already famous, you can also create content to defend YOUR product. E.g

  • Your Product VS Asana
  • Your Product VS Monday

If you Google “asana vs basecamp,” you’ll see that Asana is already doing this…

Asana vs Basecamp

Strategy #12 - Create and Rank Use-case Landing Pages

Unless you just invented something insanely ground-breaking or innovative, chances are, your customers already know about your type of software (and they’re already looking for it!).

For example, if you run “crm software” through SEMrush, you’ll see that the keyword has 22,000+ searches every month.

If you managed to rank on page one for this, you’d be getting qualified leads every day on auto-pilot (that’s if you sell CRM software, of course).

So, how do you do that?

The first step is to create a list of use-cases for your product. In other words, what can your software be used for, aside from its cornerstone use-case?

In the case of CRM software, some of the variations would be…

  • Sales management software
  • Lead management software
  • Pipeline management software
  • Sales automation tool

If you can’t really come up with anything, check what your top 5 competitors are doing. Most of these pages are linked to in the footer…

HubSpot website footer

 

PRO TIP

You’d also want to link your pages in the footer.

After all, the more links you have for any given page, the more important it is in the eyes of Google.

The next step is to create the landing pages and optimize them for the right keyword.For some examples on effective SEO landing pages, check out some of Asana’s here...

Asana landing page - saas marketing

Once you’ve got the pages up and running, you need to get some backlinks.

Now this, is going to be the hard part. This is usually the deciding factor on which landing pages rank, and which one’s don’t.

After all, just about anyone can create a landing page. The real competition here is the number and quality of the backlinks…

CMR software google search results

To even stand a chance, you’ll need to get backlinks somewhere in the range of your competitors.

I.e. if the top pages have 50 - 300 backlinks, you’re probably not going to rank with 5.

New to SEO? Here’s a complete list of link-building strategies.

Strategy #13 - Create Editable Templates for Your Users

This is super niche-specific, but if it’s relevant for YOUR company, you can really get a TON of results from it.

The general idea behind this SaaS marketing tactic is, you need to create a bunch of templates associated with your product, and get them to rank on Google.

To make this a bit more practical, let’s cover a real-life example of templates-done-right.

PandaDoc is a software for creating, sending, and tracking sales documents (mainly related to business proposals).

Say, you’re a software development company, and are looking to create a business proposal document for your client.

You pick one of PandaDocs templates, and edit it to your needs.

To generate a TON of qualified traffic, PandaDoc created a bunch of templates tied to their platform.

PandaDoc software templates

Some of these templates rank for their respective keywords….

software development proposal template google search results

You click the article...

software development proposal template letter

And you can download the PDF, or use PandaDoc to edit it directly online.

Awesome, right?

From the top of my head, this could also work if your company does…

SoftwareTemplate Use-Case
Legal TechLegal templates, contract templates
Graphic Design Tool (e.g. Canva)Flyer templates, Facebook post template, etc.
Presentation DesignerPresentation templates, Powerpoint templates.
Business Card DesignerBusiness card templates
Website BuilderWebsite templates, professional website templates, ecommerce website template
Resume BuilderResume templates

Strategy #14 - YouTube SEO

YouTube SEO can be as effective as content SEO. Heck, in some cases, you can even get significantly better results.

So, let’s say you’re selling a Yoga workout app.

Your content could rank on YouTube...

how to do yoga youtube search results

AND on Google at the same time…

how to do yoga google search results

Which, well, isn’t surprising - people are looking for video content both on YouTube and on Google.

But how do you “do” YouTube SEO?

This is a completely different ball-game than ranking on Google.

What REALLY determines rankings here are your engagement rankings

  • Audience retention
  • # of comments on the video
  • # of shares
  • Thumbs up / down ratio

So let’s say you want to rank for “yoga poses…”

yoga poses youtube search results

You’ll see that ALL the top-ranking videos have 200k to MILLIONS of views, thousands of shares, hundreds of thousands of subscribers, etc.

You can’t just create a fresh YouTube channel, upload a video with 0 views, and expect to rank

So, how do you tie in Youtube SEO with your SaaS marketing?

Here’s what we’d recommend:

Use YouTube SEO as an extension of your overall SEO content strategy.

Now, what do we mean by that? Let’s say your product is a resume builder. Your SEO content strategy would involve ranking for keywords like…

  • How to make a resume
  • How to ace an interview
  • Top resume tips

...and so on.

For each piece of content you published, you could also create a corresponding video and put it up top in your introduction.

Chances are, your user-base will watch the video, and THEN read the article. This way, you kill 2 birds with 1 stone:

You rank on Google, AND increase your subscribers + audience on Youtube.

Eventually, this will lead to you getting more rankings on Youtube, and if your videos have shout-outs to your website, this will generate you leads on an on-going basis.

Want to learn more about YouTube SEO? Backlinko has THE guide on it!

PPC & Advertising

Strategy #15 - Google Search Ads

Search ads are the fastest ways to generate qualified leads for your SaaS business.

Pretty much anyone looking for software solutions such as yours on Google is a qualified lead.

The main issue with search ads, though, is that it ain’t cheap. For the keyword email marketing software, for example…

google analytics keyword overview: email marketing software

The cost per click is around 55 USD. For a single click.

For most SaaS companies, this would deplete their marketing budget in a week (or less).

The thing is, if you’re in a hyper competitive industry, the top players will be willing to bid way more than what you can handle (sometimes even running ads at a loss). So, chances of breaking even or actually making money from search ads are pretty small.

If you’re not in a competitive niche, though, you might actually end up profiting from search ads.

We’d recommend starting off with a small to medium sized budget (the exact numbers depend on your capital and niche). Your initial ad account set up should focus on testing different keywords, ad types, and ad copies for at least 2-3 months.

At the end, you’ll get one of these 3 outcomes...

  1. Profiting Directly - You end up earning more money than you spend (on a daily or weekly basis). This is as good as it gets, and if you end up in this situation, all you have to do is scale up your ads. Congrats!
  2. Profiting from CLTV (Customer LifeTime Value) - You lose money from search initially, but over time, the recurring revenue you get from your customers nets you a profit.
  3. Running at a Loss - In hyper-competitive industries, it’s common for companies to run at a loss just to drive up the CPC (and make sure their competitors can’t even bid).

PRO TIP

Even if you can’t really profit from search ads, you can use them to test your MVP at a low cost.

Strategy #16 - Run Brand-Jacking Ads

Brand-jacking means running ads for your competitor’s brand keywords.

To give you a practical example, you can just Google “SalesForce…”

salesforce google search results

And you’ll see that some of their top competitors (Zoho and OnPipeline) are bidding on their brand keyword.

Setting this up is pretty straightforward - just go to Google Ads and pick your competitor’s brand name as target keywords.

Keep in mind, though, that this isn’t the most efficient way to gain new users.

When advertising for your competitor keywords, you can’t use their brand name in your ad (if the name is trademarked).

That’s why the search results above don’t have the term “SalesForce” mentioned at all.

salesforce google search results

If you’ve run search ads before, you probably know what’s the problem with this: not including the keyword lowers your Ad Quality Score, which makes your ads show less frequently.

Even if that wasn’t the case, people Googling for your competitor are less likely to click on YOUR brand anyway.

So what we’re getting at here is that brand-jacking isn’t the best SaaS marketing strategy to acquire new users.

There is, however, SOME merit to running brand-jacking ads: if you have the budget to spare, and if you are mainly doing it for brand awareness.

Even if someone looking for Salesforce doesn’t immediately convert to your product, it could be useful to get your name out there.

Strategy #17 - Run Retargeting Ads

Have you ever visited this one website, and then for 2 weeks, kept seeing their ads EVERYWHERE you go? That's called retargeting.

You can use most online advertising platforms to run ads to specific audiences. Think, people who visited your website, customers who bought from you in the past, etc.

Retargeting ads are pretty popular - just about every SaaS company uses them.

After all, they're cheap AND at the same time, deliver some pretty noteworthy results.

You can use just about any online advertising platform for retargeting. To give you a general idea on how it's done, though, we'll explain how to use Facebook ads for retargeting.

The first step here is to install Facebook Pixel. Here's how.

Then, go to ad manager and pick "Audiences" from the drop-down menu...

facebook audience menu

Pick "Custom Audience..."

custom audience screenshot

And click "Website."

website audience screenshot

Now, you can decide on what kind of website visitors you want to target. We'd recommend going for users who visited your website in the past 15 - 30 days.

create website traffic audience

Finally, click "Create Audience." Now, you can go to Facebook ad manager and run ads to this audience...

all site traffic remarketing screenshot ad set level

Other than Facebook, we'd also recommend running retargeting ads on...

  • Google Display - While not as impactful as Facebook ads, Display is a must-try. Learn more with this guide to Display Retargeting.
  • LinkedIn - LinkedIn retargeting is significantly more expensive than, well, literally any other type of retargeting. There is, however, some merit in running LinkedIn remarketing ads if you’re an enterprise business, and your audience hangs out a lot more on LI than Facebook. Learn more about LinkedIn Retargeting..

5+ Retargeting Strategies

Want to get better results with your retargeting? Here are several strategies we like to use…


Target no-signups.

There’s no point running ads to people who have already signed up on your platform. So as not to waste money, we’d recommend excluding them from your audience list.


Run upgrade ads for freemium products.

If your product is freemium, you can run 2 separate retargeting ads: first, you retarget anyone that didn’t sign up, and then you retarget anyone that didn’t upgrade to your paid version. We’d recommend retargeting them to a landing page specifically created for pitching the upgrade.


Targeting high-intent audiences.

If you’re driving a LOT of traffic to your website, to save money, you might not want to retarget ALL of them. You can run ads to people that expressed interest in your product. I.e. looked at your pricing page, read 75% or more of your landing page, etc.


Target low-intent audiences (and move them up the funnel)

If you have a complex or enterprise product, your users probably won’t convert straight away if you remarket your pricing page. Instead, you can first remarket some informational resources (i.e. how and why to use the product) as a webinar or an article, and then retarget anyone that engages with the previous ad with ads upselling your product.


Running specific ads to specific audiences

In some cases, you might want to be more creative than the usual “sign up for our product” ad. Here are several strategies you can try…

  • Targeting: anyone that checked out your features pages.
    • Ad/Offer: sign up for a free demo of the product.
  • Targeting: freemium users.
    • Ad/Offer: attend our webinar to learn how you can use Premium to reach your goals.
  • Targeting: anyone that looked at your product 2-3 weeks ago, but hasn’t signed up.
    • Ad/ Offer: Special offer - free trial for the product for 1 month! Offer valid until [date].]

Strategy #18 - LinkedIn Ads

LinkedIn ads are famous for being extremely expensive, and totally not worth it.

We only agree with one part of that sentence. Sure, they’re expensive, but for specific niches, they’re totally worth it.

The main benefit of LinkedIn ads is that you can target by…

  • Job title
  • Years of experience
  • Skills
  • Industry

So, if that’s something important for your niche, LinkedIn ads can be invaluable.

For example, here are 2 popular use-cases for LI ads:

  • You sell B2B software. You can target decision-makers in companies who’d be interested in your product.
  • Recruitment tech. You can target job-seekers based on their field/profession.

Several use-cases for LinkedIn ads are…


You’re a recruitment startup, targeting people with specific skill-sets or professions

Example Targeting:

  • Job Title: Senior Java Developer, Java Developer, Software Engineer
  • Location: Boston
  • Years of Experience: 5+
  • Skills: Scala, Node.JS, Sprint

You’re a B2B enterprise software provider, targeting CXOs and decision-makers in big companies

Example Targeting:

  • Job Title: CEO, CMO, COO
  • Location: Palo Alto
  • Company Size: 500+ Employees
  • Company Industry: Software & IT Services

Your software has something to do with work management (marketing software, CRM, project management) and you’re targeting team leads. I.e. selling CRM software to a sales lead

Example Targeting:

  • Job Title: Head of Marketing, CMO, VP Marketing, Head of Sales, Sales Lead
  • Location: United States
  • Company Size: 11 - 500 Employees
  • Company Industry: Software & IT Services

For every LinkedIn ad campaign, we’d recommend using the following 3 ad types:

Single Image / Carousel / Video Ad - This is the bread and butter of your campaign. Visual ads are the most impactful ones, and they have the possibility to reach large audiences.

Linkedin Marketing Solutions

Text Ads - Text ads get a TON of impressions, but they’re not that likely to actually be noticed/clicked. You can look at these as a bonus to your visual ads.

linkedin Ads FinFalcon

InMail Ads - In addition to the ads above (or instead of), you can send targeted InMails. They look and feel exactly like standard LinkedIn messages, but with a “Sponsored” tag.

LinkedIn inmail ads

Strategy #19 - Target the Right Users with Facebook Look-Alike Audiences

If you’re already driving qualified leads to your website, or you have a decent user-base (300 minimum and 1,000+ for best results), you can try using look-alike audiences.

The way look-alike audiences work is, you give Facebook an audience set (i.e. people who visited your website, your user-base, etc.).

Then, Facebook finds similar traits between people in this audience, and creates a new audience base consisting of other individuals with the same characteristics.

More often than not, running ads to these audiences yields good results.

To use look-alike audiences, the first step is installing Facebook Pixel.

Once you’ve done that, go to ad manager and open the “Audiences” page…

facebook pixel audience

Before you create a look-alike audience, you need to first create a “root” audience.

So, click “create audience,” and then “custom audience.”

facebook pixel create audience

Now, you need to decide what kind of audience you want to work with.

You could, for example, create a look-alike for…

  • All website visitors
  • Users with high buyer intent. e.g. Users who looked at your pricing page
  • Your entire user-base. All you need here is to export their names/emails / whatever other information you have on them, and upload it on Facebook.
  • Your paid users. In case you have a freemium SaaS, you might want to create look-alikes for your PAID audiences.

From our experience, we’d recommend testing all 4 audiences, and seeing which one yields you better results.

Once you’ve created the custom audience, you need to create the look-alike.

Hit “Look Alike Audience” in “Create Audience…”

facebook pixel lookalike audience

Pick the audience you want to work with and target by audience location…

facebook pixel creating lookalike audience

And finally, pick the audience size.

facebook pixel selecting audience size

The way this works is, the lower percentage you pick, the better look-alikes you’re going to get.

In most cases, you’re going to get the best results with 0% to 1% range. HOWEVER, there are exceptions. We always recommend trying different percentage ranges, and looking at how they hold up.

 

PRO TIP

We’d recommend creating the following ranges…

  • 0% to 1%
  • 1% to 2%
  • 2% to 3%
  • 3% to 4%
  • 4% to 5%

And seeing how they perform. In most cases, you’ll end up sticking to 0 - 1 or 1 - 2 ranges, but sometimes, you might also end up getting results from higher ranges.]

Strategy #20 - Target LinkedIn Audiences with Facebook Ads*

*This is against GDPR. Proceed at your own peril.

This is more of a growth hack rather than a marketing strategy, but we thought we’d still mention it.

Want to target LinkedIn audiences through Facebook at 1/10th the price?

Well, you can!

The general principle here is…

  1. You find your audience on LinkedIn through queries
  2. You extract their personal emails using a free tool
  3. You create a custom audience with all the emails on Facebook, and run the ads!

Now, here’s how to do all of this step-by-step…

First, decide on your audience. Let’s say you’re an email marketing software, and you want to advertise directly to CMOs.

You search for your audience on LinkedIn by title and location. So for example…

linkedIn CMO search results

Then, you look up each individual profile, and you grab their personal email through SalesQL.

SalesQL email

Then, you keep going through each of the contacts one by one and extracting their emails.

More often than not, SalesQL will get you the right email.

When you’re done, all you have to do is upload these emails on Facebook as a custom audience, and you’re all good!

Head over to Audiences in the FB ad manager…

facebook pixel audience

Hit “Create Audience > Custom Audience > “Customer List…”

facebook pixel creat a custom audience

Once you’re done with setting up the audience, just head over to ad manager and create the ads!

Strategy #21 - Advertise on Software Review Websites

There are a ton of B2B software review websites that allow advertising. To name a few…

All of these websites have their own business model, but most of them still offer a free company profile creation.

For example, let’s take Capterra.

They let you create a profile for free, and you can start accumulating reviews. listing type

However, if you want your software to be on top of its category, you’ll have to pay on a PPC basis (which starts at 2 USD per click).

At the same time, paying for traffic also lets you include a link to your website (which is not possible with a free account).

Sure, it’s not the cheapest, but in most cases, you’re going to be paying less than what you’d be spending on Search Ads, and you’ll be getting a lot more qualified leads.

Strategy #22 - Reddit Ads

Reddit ads are a mixed bag.

On one hand, Reddit is the 3rd most popular destination on the internet.

On the other hand, though...

  1. Redditors HATE advertisers with a passion.
  2. Reddit ads are still more or less new, so the advertising features are not as advanced as on Facebook

If you get past these 2 issues, though, Reddit ads have a LOT of potential.

In terms of targeting, you have 2 options:

  • Interest-Based - You can pick between general interest groups. For example…

interest based

  • Community-Based - You can also target specific subreddits (i.e. communities based around a specific topic). For example, if you’re advertising some B2B software, you could target /r/Entrepreneur, /r/Startups, and /r/marketing…

community based

And as for the ad layouts, you can advertise using either a Card Image ad…

example card image

Or a Thumbnail image ad…

example thumbnail image

Now, as for “how” to advertise on Reddit, there aren’t that many best practices out there.

After all, it’s not the most popular advertising platform in the world.

That doesn’t mean YOU can’t make it work, though. As with most ad platforms, you won’t know until you try!

PRO TIP

One thing you should keep in mind, though, is that on Reddit, you should be super authentic.

As we mentioned before, Redditors HATE advertisers with a passion. So the key here is to be authentic, and not push your product actively.

Strategy #23 - Quora Ads

Over the past few years, Quora has been really developing as an advertising platform.

Now, the question is, will running ads on Quora help with your SaaS marketing?

Our answer is a “maybe.”

Most companies who’ve tried running ads on Quora have gotten OK results - nothing too game-changing, but not bad either.

We’d recommend giving it a go and seeing how it works out for you. Who knows, maybe it’s going to be your secret weapon?

Quora ads are structured just like Facebook ads.

You create a campaign where you decide on the budget and objective.

quora ads manager

Then, on ad-set level, you decide on your audience.

You have 4 different targeting options…

primary targeting

  • Contextual. This shows ads on questions around a specific topic. For example, if you pick the topic as “investment,” your ad will appear on questions related to investments.
  • Audience Targeting. This is for custom audiences. I.e. targeting your user-base, lookalike audiences or remarketing to your website traffic.
  • Behavioral. Targeting users based on their previous question browsing history. I.e. if you pick “investing” as a topic, users who looked up information on investments in the past will get targeted.
  • Broad Targeting. Getting as many users to see your ad as possible.

Let’s say you’re a CRM SaaS looking to drive qualified leads to your website. Your targeting could look like this…

question history

By targeting people asking very specific questions about CRM software, you’re reaching a very relevant audience.

Now, as a given, you shouldn’t just try one audience and call it a day. You should test different targeting options and see what kind of results you’ll get from each.

For example, you might discover that contextual targeting works much better than behavioral, or that interest-based targeting generates more leads than using question history.

You can’t ever really know for sure until you run some tests!

Once you’ve decided on the ad targeting, you can finally create your ad sets.

You get to decide between image ads, text ads, and Promote an Answer ads.

The first 2 are pretty standard stuff…

quora hiring product designer question

“The Promote an Answer” is a bit more unique.

You get to promote an answer you gave on Quora (which makes your ad look a lot less like an ad!).

quora privacy law question

Finally, once you’ve created your ads, you can launch your campaign and start tracking results.

Want to learn more about Quora ads? WordStream wrote a very interesting guide with a case-study included.

Strategy #24 - YouTube Ads

Advertising on YouTube isn't the most common SaaS marketing strategy out there.

It does, however, have one very interesting use-case:

You can target YouTube ads by channel or video.

So, if someone is watching a video that’s relevant to your product, you can run ads to them directly on that video (and get a pretty good shot at converting them, too!).

Here’s an example to make this clearer. Let’s say your product is a dating app.

You could place your ads on videos or channels about dating or Tinder...

create your campaign

Or maybe you sell a personal finance software? You can target personal finance gurus’ YouTube channels, as well as specific videos on how to save up.

placement targeting

Product Marketing

Strategy #25 - Start a Referral Program

Referral programs are pretty much a must-have for any SaaS company.

In fact, we’d recommend having this set up BEFORE you even start with any of your other SaaS marketing initiatives.

A working referral program acts as a boost for pretty much any of your marketing initiatives. After all, for each satisfied user you acquire, you stand a chance of getting 1 - 10+ more through referrals.

Depending on what your product is, you could reward referrals based on…

  • Referral Signup - Both the referee and the referrer are rewarded when the referee signs up on your platform.
  • Referral Purchase - Both the referee and referrer are rewarded when the referee buys something on your platform.

As for how to reward your referrers, here are several popular models...

Gift Cash - For each successful sign-up, you can gift one or both parties cash. PayPal is famous for using this strategy to fuel their insane growth. PayPal was literally paying users users cash for each referral signup.

paypal referrals

Offer Discounts - For each sign-up, you can gift both parties a discount for your product. I.e. “For each friend you invite, we’re going to give you a 20% off your next purchase/upgrade / monthly charge!”

Fiverr, for example, gives you a 20% cut of whatever your friend spends on their first purchase/order (up to $100).

And, on the other hand, your friend gets 20% off their first purchase.

So, it’s a win-win!

Offer Product Credit - Give away product credit for each successful referral. Uber does this with their referral program - for each friend that signs up, both parties get free ride credit.

uber message

DropBox is another famous example of this. They offered 500 MB of bonus space for every friend you invited to their platform...

dropbox free 16GB

Want more referral program examples? Referral candy has the most comprehensive list we’ve ever seen!

Strategy #26 - Offer Discounts

Want to convert more users?

Offer a discount!

You can either do a user-specific discount (applies only to specific users) or site-wide (applies to literally anyone).

Here are some of our favorite types of discount campaigns you could try…

Seasonal discount. “To celebrate Halloween / winter / Black Friday / Wednesday, we’re offering an X% discount for Y days!”

For a real-life example, here’s an email we got from Grammarly a while back…

grammarly deal unbeleafable

Triggered discount. If new users sign up but they don’t upgrade to your premium plan, you can run a special discount, just for them.

Drop-off discount. Did someone subscribe, use your product, and then churned? You can incentivize them to give you another try with a discount.

Partnerships & Biz Dev

Strategy #27 - Launch an Affiliate Program

Affiliate programs are a great way to generate leads for (technically) free.

Your affiliates do the marketing FOR you, and all you have to do is split your revenue with them.

Affiliate programs are super common in specific niches, while non-existent in others. For example, most online hosting providers have a very lucrative affiliate program.

SiteGround offers 40-75+ Euros for each sign-up you get them…

high commissions with weekly payouts

Or as another example, VPN providers like NordVPN offer a big chunk of their earnings to affiliates…

commission payout models

Offering a generous affiliate program incentivizes review websites to…

  1. Feature you
  2. Promote your product

For example, if you google “best VPN…”

best vpn google search results

And hit just about any of the results, you’re bound to find NordVPN somewhere in the top of the review…

NordVPN

Cool, right?

Now, how do you start an affiliate program?

The first step is to decide on your rates. How much are you willing to pay for each user acquired?

The answer will vary depending on your business and on your funding.

Regardless of what you decide, you’ll then need to pick a technical solution for your affiliate program. You have 2 options here…

  • Build your own affiliate solution. If you’re going to base a big chunk of your marketing on affiliates, you’d want to opt for this option.
  • Use an affiliate marketing provider. There are a bunch of tools on the market that help you set up affiliate programs, including PostAffiliatePro, InviteReferrals, and more.

Once you have the program up and running, you can put the link up on the header or footer of your website.

Finally, you launch an email to all your users, letting them know about the program.

SiteGround web hosting

 

PRO TIP

To get the best results out of your affiliate program, you should also proactively promote it.

What does that mean? You can reach out to potential affiliate partners, and strike up a deal.

Some affiliate partners you could contact are...

  • Influencers in your niche - For example, if you have software that helps with digital marketing, you could strike a deal with Neil Patel or some other guru in the niche. As a given, this is usually easier said than done, but if you have a good product + deal, it’s definitely possible.
  • Bloggers with relevant traffic - Let’s say you have a personal finance app. You can reach out to finance bloggers, personal development bloggers, and so on.
  • Affiliate blogs - These are blogs specifically created to make money from affiliate programs. For example, if you Google “top VPN,” you’ll see a bunch of listicles comparing different VPNs. Well, all of these are built with affiliate links.
  • Relevant agencies/contractors - For specific B2B industries, you can get agencies and contractors to help with your growth. For example, if you have a BPM software, you could partner with process improvement experts. Whenever they end up working with a client, they’re incentivized to upsell your software for extra revenue.

Strategy #28 - Join an Affiliate Marketplace

If you want to get all the benefits of an affiliate program, without having to do too much of the promotion yourself, you can register on an affiliate marketplace.

This is pretty much what the name suggests - a marketplace where you get access to potential affiliate partners.

All you have to do is sign up, upload your affiliate program specifications and the website users will be able to find your product.

As a given, you’re going to have to pay a % of your revenue to the marketplace itself (or a monthly subscription, depending on the marketplace).

Some SaaS providers use marketplaces as a big part of their overall marketing. LongTailPro, for example, has been on ClickBank for ages now…

clickbank long tail pro

Some of the most popular affiliate marketplaces (that offer SaaS products) you can try are…

Strategy #29 - Launch a Lifetime Deal

If you’ve been in tech for a while, you’ve probably already heard about how lifetime deals work.

For those of you that haven’t, though, here’s a brief rundown…

Companies like AppSumo are marketplaces for SaaS lifetime deals.

Appsumo current offers

The gist of it is, if you want to offer a lifetime deal, they’re going to promote your product to their entire user base in exchange for a cut of your total revenue from the initiative.

A lifetime deal is a good way for tech startups to…

  1. Get a ton of new users real quick with 0 effort
  2. Generate an influx of revenue
  3. Get feedback on your product from the new users

Some of the most popular lifetime deal marketplaces include:

Strategy #30 - Launch Your SaaS on ProductHunt

Launching on ProductHunt is like a SaaS rite of passage.

Pretty much everyone in the SaaS community has done it at some point, and a lot of tech companies managed to get really good results from a ProductHunt launch.

For those of you that haven’t heard of the website, ProductHunt is a community based around new products in tech.

You get to submit your tech product, and the community can upvote or downvote it based on whether they like it or not.

Product Hunt

A successful launch on Product Hunt can lead to a ton of benefits, including…

  • Initial traction
  • Seasoned tech veterans giving you feedback on your product
  • Revenue spike
  • Potential media coverage

So, without further ado, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to launch on ProductHunt…

Step #1 - Make Some Techie Friends

Here’s some bad news: you can’t just launch on Product Hunt and expect to go viral.

To get some real results, you’re going to need a lot of support (upvotes) from friends and family.

It’s a harsh truth, but if you really want to go viral, you need an initial push. After all, the competition is pretty tough…

Product Hunt

Yes, it’s against Product Hunt policy to ask people to upvote your product.

But, at the end of the day, that’s exactly what everyone does.

So, 1-2 months before launching on Product Hunt, we’d recommend you make friends with people in the tech community (as they already know what PH is and will most likely have accounts to upvote you).

Here are several ways to do that:

If you want to go for a shadier option, you can join several Product Hunt Upvote brigades. Just look them up on Facebook, you can’t miss em’.

Step #2 - Prepare for the Launch

Thinking of launching yesterday?

You really shouldn’t walk into this blindly - you only get one shot at this.

If you launch, flop, and then decide to re-launch, well, here’s some bad news:

You can’t.

You only get one shot per major product update.

So, if you time your initial launch wrong, or don’t get as many upvotes as you thought you would, you’re not getting that second chance for a while.

Here’s several things you need to decide on / prepare before you hit that sweet, shiny, red “Launch!” button.

Decide on the timing - keep in mind that a new day on Product Hunt starts at midnight PST. So, you should pick a launch time that isn’t too close to the day’s end.

Also, the time you pick should be when most of your friends/acquaintances are online to give you support.

Create a supporter list - create a Google sheet with all your contacts that might have a Product Hunt account. Once you launch, you’ll want to get in touch with all of them and ask for support.

Create a launch email - on launch day, you should send out an email to all your subscribers asking them to support your launch.

So, prep that email, and make sure it includes…

  • What’s producthunt?
  • How can your users support you?
  • Link to your Product Hunt product page

Prepare a launch kit - when submitting on Product Hunt, you’re going to be prompted to provide the following info…

  • Product name (up to 60 characters)
  • Tagline (i.e. short summary of what the tool does. Up to 60 characters)
  • Topics (keywords associated to your product)
  • Product Link
  • Thumbnail image (240x240)
  • Screenshots of your product. We’d recommend using 5 - 6 screenshots that best represent the product.
  • Product description (up to 260 characters)

One thing to keep in mind - make sure to use high-quality, descriptive screenshots.

First (bad) impressions can mess up your entire launch!

(Optional #1) Contact a reputable hunter - want to give your launch an additional boost?

You can find a hunter to launch your product for you.

The benefit here is that some hunters on Product Hunt have a ton of followers and reputation. Having them “sponsor” your launch can give you social proof, upvotes from their network, and so on...

Don’t know any hunters? You can just look them up on 500 Hunters.

500 HUNTERS

(Optional #2) Create a Product Hunt special offer - Want to get the most out of your launch?

You should create a special offer just for the Product Hunt community.

This helps convert the traffic better, and wins you points for the Product Hunt users.

There are several offers you could make, including…

  • Free trial
  • Early access to the product
  • Discounts

For a real-world example, Slash, a productivity software, offered exclusive early access to their product to Product Hunt users.

slash productivity machine

Step #3 - Hit That Launch Button

Once you’re done with all the prep, you can finally launch! Here’s what a checklist of everything you need to do…

  • Double check all of your info (Remember: You can’t re-launch)
  • Submit your SaaS on Product Hunt (or get the hunter to do it for you)
  • Ask your friends to support you with upvotes
  • Email your user-base, letting them know about your launch
  • Engage with anyone that comments on your product

Strategy #31 - Establish Biz Dev Partnerships

Biz dev is the process of partnering with other companies as a means of exchanging value.

This channel is pretty generic - there’s no specific way to do biz dev partnerships, it all depends on what's your business model and growth strategy.

A common example for biz dev as marketing is using a distribution partner. In exchange for part of the revenue, a partner company can help promote your product in a specific region or country.

Since biz dev isn’t something that concrete, we can’t teach you how to do it step-by-step.

What we can do, though, is give you a real-life example...

Case Study: Ultimus

Ultimus is a BPM software provider for enterprises and large companies.

If you’re not familiar with how traditional BPM works, all you need to know is that it’s usually set up on-site on client servers by a team of specialists.

Now, if you’re a BPM software provider based in the USA, it’s probably not that cheap or efficient for you to send over your tech team to, say, Italy.

So, to cut costs, they're using a partnership program.

ULTIMUS and BPM Solutions

Interested organizations can sign up for a partnership and receive all the resources they need to help market and install Ultimus.

The partner company ends up doing all the heavy lifting, and Ultimus gets a cut.

Strategy #32 - Sponsor Youtube Influencers

If you have the budget for it, you can find the top influencers in your niche, and sponsor their content.

Let’s say you own a dating app. You could sponsor YouTubers who give dating advice, talk about relationships, or just have an audience base that fits your demographic target.

There are 3 possible ways you could do a sponsorship campaign:

  • Pay the influencer in cash. Most video ads cost from $500 to $3,000 per video sponsorship, depending on how many subscribers the influencer has.
  • Use an affiliate model. Give the influencer a discount promo code, and give them a % of all profits that they generate.
  • Mix of the two models.

Once you’ve decided which model you want to stick with, you should create a Google sheet with a list of influencers you want to reach out to.

You can find the influencers either by Googling the niche…

top youtube dating channels google search results

Or looking up relevant keywords on Youtube…

dating advice youtube search results

The sheet should have info on…

  • Channel Name
  • YouTuber Name
  • Contact Information
  • What’s the Channel About?
  • Price Per Video Sponsorship

Then, reach out to each of the influencers, and get a quote.

Add the pricing to your sheet.

For all the influencers you decide to work with, offer them a promo code for their audience base. With this, you’ll know the exact # of users you get from each influencer (so, you’ll be able to decide which ones you want to work with).

Strategy #33 - Partner with Bloggers

Are there a lot of bloggers in your niche?

They could help sell your software!

There are several ways you could work with bloggers…

Make Friends and Syndicate Content - You could get to know bloggers in your niche. Share their content, engage with their discussions, and so on. Eventually, you could share guest posts, promote each other’s posts, and so on.

Affiliate Deal - This ties into the “start an affiliate program” strategy we talked about before (strategy #28). You could offer the bloggers an affiliate deal, where you pay them for each sign-up (or per paid subscription) you get.

Sponsor Bloggers - Or, you can directly sponsor bloggers either by paying a one-time fee, or a recurring monthly “subscription.”

Case Study: Mint

Mint.com is a budget-tracking and personal finance planning software.

mint dashboard screenshot

A big chunk of Mint's marketing strategy included partnering/working with personal finance bloggers.

Before Mint even launched, they started driving demand for their software by partnering with the bloggers.

The strategy was two-fold:

First, they gave away a “I Want Mint” badge to their audience base, promising them VIP access to the first release of the product if they put the badge on their website or social media.

Then, they reached out to finance bloggers and offered them sponsorship.

Noah Kogan, their head of marketing at the time, sent out emails to bloggers with a subject line: “Can I send you $500?”

All the bloggers had to do was put the Mint badge on their website, and Noah would directly send them $500.

At the time, blogs had a hard time monetizing their traffic, so this was pretty much a done-deal. Bloggers help promote a great product to a relevant audience AND get paid for it.

Want to learn more about Mint’s marketing strategy? There’s a ton of content online on how they succeeded…

Strategy #34 - Cross-Promote with Complementary Products

Are there companies in your niche whose product compliments yours?

You can offer them a cross-promotion partnership!

What this means is, you advertise their product to your audience, and vice-versa.

Keep in mind, though, for a company to agree to cross-promotion, you should be on equal terms when it comes to user base.

If you’re a fledgling startup, you can’t just ask HubSpot to promote your startup.

There are several ways you could practically do cross-promotion:

  • Exchange Product Feature Posts - Both parties create an article featuring the partner company’s product, and advertises it to their audience.
  • Email Blast - Send an email to your entire user base pitching the product. Make it convincing, and talk about how the partner’s product compliments yours (and suits the user’s needs).
  • Advertise on Facebook - Create an ad on Facebook promoting the partner’s product and target your user-base. To do this, extract the names/emails of your users, and upload them as a custom audience on Facebook.

Case Study: Hired.com & Pocket

Pocket, if you haven’t heard of them, is an app for saving articles for offline reading. A TON of their users are techies & IT people.

Hired, on the other hand, is a reverse job-board. Companies apply to developers, and devs get to pick where they want to work.

So, the two made a deal:

  • Pocket would blast an email promoting Hired.com to their audience of 1.7+ million people
  • In exchange, Hired would let Pocket hire several developers for free

Here's what the promo email looked like...

HIRED

The deal was a win-win: Pocket saved themselves 5-6 figures for hiring costs (Hired.com charges up to $15K+ per successful dev hire), and Hired.com got 40,000+ registrations.

Public Relations & Community Building

Strategy #35 - Get Featured on Media Outlets

Getting featured on online media is what makes your tech startup LEGIT.

After all, you finally get to put those “Featured On” logos on your website. How cool is that?!

we are featured on banner

Jokes aside, there’s a ton of benefits to being featured on online media outlets:

  • Instant traffic
  • New users
  • Revenue
  • Social proof that you were featured on the internet

Now, the question is - how do you get featured? Do you fork out 5-figures to that PR agency your cousin kinda-sorta knows?

Nope - PR is a lot easier than you’d think.

Here’s a simple step-by-step on how to get featured on most online media outlets…

Step #1 - Create a list of your top competitors in your niche.

Step #2 - Start Googling their names one by one. Extract all websites that have previously featured the companies.

To make your search easier, you can specifically look up news related to your competitors…

asana software google search results

To make it even easier, you can also exclude the competitors website from the search results by using the following query…


“ [keyword] -site:[competitor’s website] “

Or, for a more practical example…


[ asana -site:asana.com ]

Step #3 - Once you have a complete list of all the websites that featured your competitors, you need to extract relevant information about each journalist/article.

Specifically…

  • Media Name. i.e. Huffington Post
  • Article Name. i.e. “Asana launches new automation features”
  • Journalist Name. i.e. MadeUp Mc Journalistson
  • Link to the Article
  • Scoop. What’s the article about? You’re going to need this for a good pitch. You can’t just say “hey, i saw you wrote about asana, write about me.” What you can say, though, is “hey, I saw that you wrote about Asana’s new automation tools. We actually have one of the most flexible rule builders in the industry, so we thought you’d be interested in covering us.”

Finally, for each journalist, you’ll need to find their email. You can use one of the gazillion different email finder tools for this. Four of our favorites include:

  1. ClearBit Connect
  2. Hunter.io
  3. Snov.io

email finder tool screenshot

Step #4 - Create a press kit.

A press-kit is a must-have for any media pitch. It’s a small file with all the must-have documents that the journalist needs to write about your company, including…

  • Background info on the company
  • Some info on the founding team
  • Previous press releases/media coverage
  • Product screenshots
  • Company logo
  • Awards and accolades
  • Your contact information

Simply create a Google Drive folder, put any relevant documents you have on your company there, and send it attached to your pitch email.

Alternatively, you can also just zip the files, and put a link on your website....

optin monster press kit screenshot

Step #5 - Send a personalized email to each of the journalists, asking them to cover your SaaS company.

Now, the key here is to NOT overcomplicate the email, and to NOT talk bullshit.

The journalist doesn’t care about your mission statement, your 5-year plan, or how you’re planning to change the world with your task management SaaS.

What they do care about is how your SaaS really stands out. What do you have that your competitors don’t?

Use that as a pitch.

Not sure how? Just use our tried-and-tested template…

Media Pitch Template

Subject: Your Article on [Topic]

Hey [Name],

I saw that you wrote about [Company They Covered]’s new [Feature / News].

Thought that you might be interested in covering [Your Software Name]. We’re like [Company They Covered], but with a different focus. What really makes us stand out is…

  • [Feature 1]
  • [Feature 2]
  • [Feature 3]

If you want to check it out, I created a special promo code that should give you free access to the software: [promo code]

Let me know your thoughts!

Best,

[You]

P.S. Press kit attached!

Simple and straightforward, right?

That’s exactly what journalists love.

PRO TIP

Are the journalists ignoring your emails? Want to know why? Here’s what you can do.

Install an email-tracking tool. We’d recommend…

(Most of these offer Free Chrome Gmail Extensions)

These tools track your email open rates and link clicks. Meaning, you’re going to receive a notification whenever someone opens an email, or clicks your link.

This way, you can always know why someone isn’t getting back to you.

  • No one opening your email? It probably got lost in their inbox, or your subject line sucked. Just send them a follow-up!
  • Did the journalist open the email, but none of the links? That means that they don’t particularly care about your story - and that’s OK! Not everyone is going to write about you.
  • Did the journalist open your email AND your links multiple times? Congrats, you’re going to get a reply very soon. If you don’t, feel free to send them a follow-up. Chances are, your story is already in their pipeline

Strategy #36 - Blast a Press Release

Do you have some news-worthy story?

  • Maybe you raised your series A, B, C, D, or Z?
  • Released a new product line?
  • Launched some game-changing features?

Chances are, some media companies would LOVE to cover it.

Here’s how to do it.

As we explained in the previous SaaS marketing strategy, the first step is to list out competitors in the same niche.

Then, look up who has covered news about these companies.

To do this, Google something like...


[keyword] “raised” -site:[competitor’s website]

Or…


[keyword] “feature” “new” -site:[competitor’s website]

And here’s what this looks like in practice...


Pipedrive “raised” -site:pipedrive.com

You’ll get a complete list of media outlets who covered your competitor's news...

pipedrive raised google search

Or, alternatively, you can also look up your competitor in Google news…

pipedrive google search results

Put all the media outlets that covered your competitors on a Google Sheet. Make sure to include…

  • Media Name
  • Article Name
  • Journalist Name
  • Journalist Email (use the technique from strategy #36)
  • Link to the Article

Once you’re done with the list, send an email just like the one we mentioned in Strategy #36, and you’re good to go…

Email Template

Hey [name],

My name’s [your name] and I’m the [your role] at [your company].

I saw that you wrote about [what they wrote about], so I thought you might be interested in [what your company did].

If you haven’t heard of us, [your company] is like [the competing company], but with some key differences…

  • Feature #1
  • Feature #2
  • Feature #3

If you’re interested in covering us, you can check out our press kit here [link to press kit].

And of course, if you want to try out the product yourself, you can use this promo code to get free access [name].

Best,

[your name]

Strategy #37 - Use HARO

HARO stands for Help a Reporter Out, and is a platform that connects journalists with relevant sources.

So, what does this mean for YOU?

You sign up, and you’ll receive a personalized feed of journalists seeking to interview professionals in the fields you picked.

For example, you could say you’re into fin-tech, and you’ll get notified when someone wants to cover a fin-tech company or founder.

As a given, HARO media mentions don’t usually result in direct user growth. In most cases, you’ll just give a quote, or at best, you’ll be interviewed.

What you do get, though, is free backlinks and social proof for your brand.

To get started with HARO, all you have to do is sign up on their website...

cision package offers

And you’ll receive media opportunities right in your inbox three times a day…

HARO Business and finance queries email

Whenever you see something interesting or relevant, all you need to do is reach out and send your pitch!

Strategy #38 - Organize Events

Event organization isn’t the most scalable way to build your company.

It is, however, a very good way to connect with your potential user-base, get some product feedback, and maybe even get some new sign-ups.

Let’s say, for example, you’re building a content marketing management tool.

You could organize a local meetup for digital marketers, and offer some freebies and swag, including…

  • Branded t-shirts and other merch
  • Promo codes to your product
  • Free access to your software

If you want to make sure that a bunch of people show up, you can throw in some free beer and pizza.

Case Study: Dribbble.com

Remember how we mentioned that event organization isn’t a scalable way to build your company?

Well, Dribbble proved us wrong (kinda).

If you haven’t heard of them, Dribbble is the biggest designer portal out there.

Designers can use it to create a portfolio page, promote their work, network with other professionals, and so on.

design jobs

And here’s the kicker - Dribbble is famous for its meetups all around the globe. Members of the Dribbble community get together, network, and organize workshops.

dribble meet designers from local community

Now, you’re probably thinking, how the heck do they manage to host meetups around the globe (without paying an arm and a leg)?

Well, here’s the thing - they don’t. Members in their community do.

Just about anyone can organize a Dribbble meetup. All they have to do is sign-up, and the team at Dribbble will send you their meetup kit...

The new Dribbble Meetup kits are here! box swag community dribbble dribbblemeetup meetups meetup

The kit consists of Dribbble merch, swag, and a guide on how to host a successful meetup.

Strategy #39 - Attend Trade Shows

If you’re selling enterprise software (or anything else that’s very B2B), you can attend trade shows.

A trade show is an event held together for members of specific industries to show off their new products or innovations.

Trade shows are a great way for you to meet potential clients, show off your software, and get some real-time feedback.

As a given, attending a trade show as an exhibitor is going to cost you. The fees can range from 4 to 6 figures, depending on the industry.

So, how do trade shows work?

The general idea is, you sign up as a sponsor or as an exhibitor. You’ll get your own booth, where you can show a demo of your product, give away some swag or freebies, and so on.

Sure, you could also go an a trade show as an attendee, but that way, you’re not going to attract that much attention.

Want to find trade shows in your industry? We’d recommend using TradeShowDates

tradefairdates

Or 10Times

10 times

Strategy #40 - Do PR Stunts

The right PR stunt can take your company from obscurity to worldwide fame.

In a single strike, you can…

  • Get featured on media outlets worldwide
  • Drive significant user-growth
  • Sky-rocket your revenue

So, how do you “do” a successful PR stunt?

Unfortunately, there’s no step-by-step guide to this. It really depends on your product, your industry, and so on.

There’s also no guarantee of success, as there’s a lot of luck involved - the media might pick up your story, but at the same time, they might not.

There are, however, some ways to maximize your chances.

Here are 2 of our favorite PR stunt strategies...

Ride the Hype - Take the latest pop culture sensation, and somehow relate it to your product.

Say, for example, Game of Thrones. EVERYONE loves it (or at least they did before the last season).

HootSuite, a social media management software, monetized on the release of a new season sometime in 2014…

The video got around 1.3 million views (and counting!), 24k+ likes, and generated a LOT of awareness.

Create a Viral Video - Now, this is way easier said than done, but the right viral video can get you famous overnight.

Ever heard of Dollar Shave Club?

Of course you have - they have the funniest ads ever.

Sure, they’re not a SaaS example, but we thought we’d still mention them (because their videos are hilarious).

For more examples of SaaS companies using PR, check out this awesome article by HubSpot.

Strategy #41 - Create Brand Loyalty

Want to transform your users into brand advocates?

You know, the type of users who can’t stop talking about your product and how amazing you are?

You can do this by showing them that you care about them.

So, how do you do this?

There’s no clear-cut formula you can follow, but here are some ideas you could implement…

  • Give gifts to your best clients
  • Send “happy birthday!” emails
  • Send a (hand-written) note
  • Organize a giveaway
  • Start a loyalty program (and reward loyal users)
  • Send treats to their office
  • Invite your best customers to special events

For more ideas on how to “WOW!” your customers, check out this article by HelpScout.

Case Study: Hired.com

Hired is famous for its customer loyalty program. They send an awesome gift box to each person that gets hired through their platform…

HIRED gift box

The kit consists of some chocolate, a thank-you card, some company swag, and a fancy bottle of Dom Perignon.

Now that’s what we call a VIP treatment!

And Hired.com users love the company for it.

There are a ton of unboxing videos on YouTube, blog posts, and countless posts on social media with the Hired.com gift boxes.

twitter tweet unboxing Hired gift box

Strategy #42 - Offline Advertising

Offline ads are not the most popular SaaS marketing technique.

In 99% of cases, you're just better of running online ads: they're cheaper, have better targeting options, and you know exactly what results you're getting the moment you launch an ad campaign.

There are, however, 2 cases where offline ads can get you results:

One - You're a mass-market product. Spotify or Netflix, for example. Both companies are benefiting from offline ads because their target audience is, well, pretty much everyone.

Two - You're trying to get critical mass in a specific location. For example, if you're a marketplace (E.g. dating app, job board, etc.), you probably want to grow region-by-region. you'd want to grow region-by-region. Offline ads can help with that.

tinder ad campaign

The “how?” of offline advertising is pretty straightforward: you contact local ad agencies and ask for a quote.

Some offline ad channels include:

  • Billboards
  • Newspapers
  • TV
  • Radio ads
  • Local magazines
  • Metro ads

PRO TIP

The biggest problem with offline ads is that you can’t track your results.

You can’t know whether that traffic spike was because your offline ads went up, or because someone featured you on their blog.

At the same time, you can’t tell if the traffic coming from offline ads is converting or not.

There is, however, a way to hack this and differentiate your offline ad traffic from all other sources.

In your offline ads, you can use a new domain. For example, if you’re MadeUpCompany.com, you could advertise MadeUpCo.com.

All you have to do is redirect all traffic from the new domain to the old one, and then you can differentiate your offline traffic from other sources.

Conclusion

Oh hey, you made it!

We hope you enjoyed reading our mega-guide to SaaS marketing as much as we enjoyed writing it.

Now, back to you: reflect on your existing marketing strategy, and see if you can improve it using some of the strategies we covered in this guide.

And of course, if you think we missed something important, let us know in the comments below.

Defining a strategy is one thing. Executing it is something completely different. Do you need help putting what we just taught you to practice? Get in touch with us for a free consultation!

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