For software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies at every level, understanding how to reach your target audience and generate leads is key to success. In fact, it’s so important that SaaS companies tend to spend between 80% and 120% of their total revenue in the first five years on customer acquisition alone. So, what’s the solution?
Enter inbound marketing—the missing ingredient for honing any SaaS company’s content marketing output. It can potentially provide a reliable, inexpensive way of increasing conversions and becoming an authority in your niche.
In this article, we will take an in-depth look at how to create inbound marketing strategies for SaaS companies, and most importantly, how to make sure they actually work.
Likewise, we’ll delve into what inbound marketing is, how to develop an inbound marketing strategy, and everything else your company needs to start its inbound journey.
What is Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing, in general terms, is a marketing strategy that draws audiences “in” to your company. Here, the focus is on attracting customers and site visitors through enticing experiences, opportunities, and content—anything that provides value right away. As such, inbound marketing should be a key part of any SaaS company’s B2B marketing strategy.
In addition, it addresses the specific needs of your customers and establishes the foundation of long-lasting client or customer relationships. It’s no wonder marketers consider it one of the best ways to achieve personalization.
Inbound marketing also provides solutions to potential customer problems, solves challenges, and answers questions—sometimes even before they are asked.
Companies can achieve this through the following content forms:
- Blogs: Written articles sharing insights, information, or opinions on specific topics relevant to the audience.
- How-to videos: Visual content demonstrating step-by-step instructions on how to do something or accomplish a task.
- Infographics: Visual representations of data, information, or knowledge designed to make complex concepts easily understandable.
- Charts: Visual representations of data or information in graphical formats for easy interpretation and analysis.
- E-books: Longer-form content usually offered as downloadable PDFs or digital books covering in-depth information on a particular subject or topic.
- Webinars: Online seminars or workshops conducted live or recorded, often interactive, to educate, engage, or discuss specific subjects.
- Podcast series: Audio content available in episodes, discussing various topics, interviews, or narratives catering to specific interests or industries.
- Whitepapers: Detailed reports or guides that delve deep into a specific issue, offering comprehensive analysis, insights, and solutions.
- Newsletters: Regularly distributed content via email, sharing updates, news, articles, or promotions with subscribers.
- Special events: Unique or exclusive gatherings, conferences, or activities designed to engage and connect with the audience.
- Email campaigns: Strategic series of targeted emails aiming to inform, engage, or persuade recipients for specific purposes like promotions or nurturing leads.
Benefits of Inbound Marketing for SaaS
Inbound marketing is a critical asset for SaaS businesses aiming to achieve scalable growth. By leveraging platforms like your company website, third-party blogs, and various social media channels. This strategy can help your SaaS brand meet prospective clients where they already are. Here are some of the key benefits of this approach:
- Lead generation: Inbound marketing methods, such as SEO-driven blog posts or targeted social media ads, efficiently capture high-quality leads. These are individuals already seeking solutions that your software provides.
- Customer retention: Through consistent value provision via content like webinars, eBooks, and newsletters, you not only attract but also retain customers. Retained customers often turn into brand advocates, further amplifying your reach.
- Brand authority: Publishing insightful content positions your SaaS company as an industry expert. This builds trust, making it more likely that businesses will choose your software when making purchasing decisions.
- Cost-effectiveness: Compared to traditional outbound tactics, inbound marketing often results in a lower cost per acquisition, offering a higher ROI.
- Data-driven: Using analytics tools, you can measure the effectiveness of each content piece or campaign, allowing for real-time adjustments to optimise performance or adjust to algorithm updates.
One of the key aspects of inbound marketing for SaaS is its traceability. By tracing the customer journey and accelerating it with content at every stage of the purchasing path, you can subtly lead customers toward the final stage of the buyer’s journey.
Here’s how the process works for any company with a SaaS business model:
Stage #1: Attract
The first stage of the sales funnel is perhaps the most important when it comes to inbound marketing. In this stage, prospective customers and clients are first exposed to the company through engaging content and digital materials.
By harnessing the power of blogs, social media content, SEO results, and other forms of inbound marketing, you can use this opportunity to leave a good first impression. This is accomplished by:
- Providing value for free
- Establishing yourself as an authority in your respective niche(s)
- Noticing problems
- Providing solutions
In this stage of the sales funnel, the focus is all about generating leads and showing you can provide value through solutions.
Perhaps a potential customer has a problem that they don’t even know needs solving. Potential customer might also have some business processes that could be better optimized by using your software. Your clever content can illustrate both the challenges and solutions, increasing potential customers’ curiosity and concerns.
Stage #2: Convert
Now that you have gained some interest and engagement from customers, your brand will need to bring them in closer, converting leads to sales. You have gotten their attention with your savvy inbound marketing content, so how are you going to convince them to press the ‘purchase’ button?
By showcasing the quality of your site, software, and business offerings, of course. An attractive landing page with instructions and helpful information is key here, but don’t forget to link to other top-of-funnel content (ToFu) to keep the readers engaged.
Ease, convenience, and clarity are key at this stage, as you will not want to lose customers based on a difficult navigation system, unclear website, or overly complicated purchase options and processes.
This is why perfectly optimized landing pages contain no menu or other unnecessary elements that might divert visitors’ attention from conversion.
Stage #3: Close
In this stage, leads turn to customers. They have found your inbound marketing content engaging and enticing, attracting them to investigate your company further. But most importantly, you’ve tracked the entire customer journey and have the data needed to repeat it over and over again.
Stage #4: Delight
Once your leads have become customers, the sales journey is not quite over yet. At this stage, you will want to focus all your resources on ensuring that customers are satisfied with their software purchase, and that they feel supported and heard.
The focus of your SaaS inbound marketing strategy should switch from “how to attract them” to “how to retain them.”
Creating inbound marketing content for SaaS companies relies on a few specific factors. The content your brand puts out there, regardless of the media and location, should be three things:
- Provide value or direct solutions
- Be personalized to fit your target audience
This is, of course, easier said than done. So let’s take a look at how to give your content the necessary firepower to keep your customers hooked throughout the funnel.
First and foremost, you will want to figure out what your goals are. Define your key metrics and objectives so that you can track the performance of your SaaS content marketing campaign as it progresses.
We know it seems like a lot of work to do, but doing that work early will let you edit and improve the campaigns as they evolve without going back to the drawing board every single time.
Define your key performance indicators (KPIs) to make clear how to measure success in your SaaS marketing campaigns. Most companies consider the following three KPIs the pillars of their strategies:
- CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost): It’s calculated by dividing total marketing expenses by the number of new customers acquired. In particular, companies find CAC useful for assessing the cost-effectiveness of SaaS inbound marketing strategies.
- LCR (Lead Conversion Rate): Measures the percentage of leads that take a specific intended action (e.g., signing up for a newsletter or making a purchase). Helpful for evaluating the effectiveness of inbound marketing campaigns.
- CR (Conversion Rate): Similar to LCR but broader, this metric can include any desirable action taken on your website or app, such as page views, click-through rates, or social shares. It’s key for understanding overall engagement and effectiveness
The more closely you define your target audience, the more effectively you will be able to reach them. After determining the KPIs, you should then define the target audience you are attempting to reach with your B2B SaaS marketing campaign. The deeper your understanding of your audience, the more effectively you can craft content that connects with them. This is why it is advisable to create a buyer persona before conducting inbound marketing.
When defining your buying persona, consider focusing on these top aspects:
- Pain Points and Needs
- Buying Behavior and Decision-Making Process
- Goals and Motivations
Since you are presenting your software as the solution to a problem that your customer has, you will first need to figure out who that customer is, and what sort of problem it is that leads them to purchase your software. Then, make your content clearly address this need in a way that appeals to that ideal customer.
You can try crafting a number of different customer personas in order to anticipate the needs of different types of ideal customers. If your software solves a number of different issues, it may be a good idea to create content with different target audiences in mind. That way, you’ll be able to tailor mini-campaigns for specific subgroups.
Now that you have an in-depth portrait of your niche target audience in mind, it is time to dive deeper into the customer journey from the customer’s perspective.
Why Customers Buy Your Product
Start by putting yourself in the customer’s shoes. Ask what would compel you to purchase from your own company. What would make you sign up or buy? Your objective here is to uncover the primary triggers that make your offerings irresistible to your target audience. Once you understand them, think about how to replicate them.
Identifying Pain Points and Customer Drives
The next step involves drilling down to understand your customers’ specific pain points—what challenges or frustrations can your product alleviate? Recognizing these can help you craft content that speaks directly to these needs, making your SaaS inbound marketing strategy more effective. If, for example, you’re selling identity theft software, why not write about the devastating effects of having your identity stolen?
The Test Customer Experience
To get genuine insights into the customer experience, pick a test customer. Have this individual engage with your brand from start to finish. It could be a colleague, a friend, or a family member who is willing to navigate through your website, use your free or paid products, and provide real-time feedback. But before fully onboarding them, emphasize that you need their unbiased feedback.
Have the test customer interact with your brand at each stage of your sales funnel—awareness, consideration, action, and loyalty. Assess their motivations and pain points at each stage. This will not only give you valuable first-hand insights but will also allow you to understand what nudges a customer from one stage to the next.
Analyzing and Adapting Through Feedback
Lastly, third-party feedback can provide a well-rounded understanding of your customers’ journey. Learn why and how your product connects—or doesn’t—with your target audience. Once you find out what’s your main obstacle, alter your approach to SaaS inbound content and monitor for changes.
Reaching your target audience is not just a matter of crafting great content and understanding their motivations. In order for prospective customers to connect with your content—and therefore with your brand—you will need your audience to find your content in the first place. Ranking high for specific keywords is the solution, but it’s not as easy as it sounds.
The right keywords will help customers to find your content. Since they are already searching for certain things, hoping to find answers to their questions, they will be primed to engage with your content if it provides those answers.
You can use a number of online tools to try to find out which specific keywords your ideal potential customers may be using. Digital SEO tools such as Moz, SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Google Keyword Planner can provide helpful databases of relevant keywords for each of the terms and KWs associated with your SaaS brand.
Once you know which terms to base your SaaS inbound marketing strategy around, you’ll be able to source inspiration for topics much more easily. And most importantly, people will find you since you’ll be able to game the algorithms in your favor.
As a consequence, audiences who encounter your content in answer to their search query may have their curiosity piqued by the information you provide, and then investigate your brand and products further, eventually becoming customers.
To truly make an impact with your online content, it will be worthwhile to gather as much relevant information as possible. That’s where content audits come into play.
They’re a great way to identify strengths and weaknesses, areas for improvement, and specific content that is already effective on your site. A content audit is also a good precursor to beginning your inbound marketing campaign, so you know where you stand before you begin.
As part of your content audit, you should analyze your site’s keyword rankings and SEO presence. Take a look at similar content on your competitors’ websites to gain a better understanding of where you are situated within the broader landscape of your field.
Likewise, you should do a backlink analysis of competing sites, as well as focus on their top-ranking keywords, all in order to find content gaps—opportunities for your site to stand out from the crowd with unique material.
Now that you have taken the time to define your targets and objectives, measure your key metrics, get to know your ideal audience, and figure out how your site measures up against the competition, it is time to actually enact your plan.
But how do you actually create content that’ll propel your SaaS inbound marketing strategy? Well, it’s harder than opening ChatGPT and calling it a day:
Setting Up Your Foundation
Before diving into content creation, lay the groundwork by creating a database of relevant topics and keywords that align with your audience’s customer journey. This will serve as your content roadmap and keep you on track as your campaigns progress.
Content Calendar and Timing
Formulate a calendar that outlines the timeline for writing, editing, and publishing your content. Consider the optimal days and times for publishing to maximize visibility and engagement. If you want to generate maximum engagement—use social media teasers or collaborate with other sites.
Assembling Your Content Team
If you lack an in-house content specialist, it’s time to put up a job posting or contract an SEO content expert on a project-to-project basis. The writer doesn’t have to be an expert in your SaaS niche, but they must be able to grasp the product and provide content that ranks accordingly.
Crafting Your Content
With your team, topics, and timelines ready, you can begin to produce high-quality, compelling content. This is where the real creativity kicks in, and it’s essential to focus this time on tailoring your content to your audience’s specific preferences and needs.
Experimenting with Formats
Use your metrics and objectives to test different content formats and styles. If your audience is made up of front-end developers, maybe going visual is a good way to go. But whatever you do, make sure the format and channel are appropriate for your audience.
Deep Dives vs. Unique Angles
You can opt for deeply researched, long-form articles for a more intellectual audience or seek to produce content that stands out as truly unique. Although other sites may copy your unique angle, the originality will make you memorable and keep readers returning for more.
As you continue creating content and measure the impact it has on attracting potential customers, remember to create a diverse array of content that utilizes a number of different mediums.
Inbound marketing content for your site is not limited to just written articles, but can also include podcasts, videos, infographics, webinars, ebooks and more.
Try mixing and matching different forms of content within one source, such as filling a blog post with well-researched text and original charts, infographics, and illustrations.
You can measure the success of this type of content against diverse outputs spread across various sources and modes of engagement.
And last but not least, try re-structuring your written content as short videos or image posts on social media, and see which approaches hit home the most consistently with your intended audiences.
Link Building for SaaS
Link building is an essential aspect of any digital marketing plan, and adding it to your overall SaaS company inbound marketing strategy is a no-brainer. A robust portfolio of backlinks can heighten your SaaS company’s online reputation, drive organic traffic, boost leads and sales, get your company higher search engine rankings and keyword ratings, and lead to more requests for demos and information.
Reciprocal links, also known as link exchanges, can provide you with valuable opportunities to highlight other brands you respect while gaining some extra momentum in your own backlink portfolio.
As you pursue link exchanges with other companies, make sure that you are following white hat link building methods. The ‘white hat’ part refers to link exchanges that follow ethical standards and won’t put you at risk of incurring a Google penalty.
You will want to avoid any link exchanges that are purely promotional, spammy, or low quality. These kinds of link exchanges, if discovered, can actually damage your brand’s online reputation.
But as long as you do your due diligence and make sure that you’re not engaging in link farming, then engaging in reciprocal link building can be a helpful addition to your overall approach to inbound marketing for SaaS.
Since your software company is already providing a valuable service to customers (in the form of your unique software), you have something truly helpful to contribute to the content of a relevant blog.
So blogger outreach is a smart way to help boost awareness and drive inbound traffic to your site. First, scour the internet to find relevant blogs that cover subjects related to your area of expertise. Try to find pre-existing articles where a link to your content would be a natural fit.
Then reach out to bloggers with an enticing, polite, and respectful offer to contribute a valuable resource that they can add to one of their pre-existing articles. Or propose to write a guest post for their website, which will include a valuable link to your SaaS product page or website content.
Connecting with the right blog can also help boost awareness and amplify your audience reach. This allows you to maximize your SaaS company’s inbound marketing strategies.
If the thought of spending so much time and effort reaching out to individual blogs is overwhelming for you, you can also try hiring a team of professionals.
When it comes to building up your SaaS company’s backlink portfolio, digital PR link building is a great strategy for amplifying your audience reach and landing some valuable high-authority backlinks.
Digital PR link building consists of a multi-step process: first, create high quality content that is highly shareable and provides a valuable resource for a wide variety of sites. This can be a new product release, an in-depth report, a news update relevant to your field, or an infographic or how-to video.
Then, do your research. Assemble a network of relevant digital media contacts. Reach out to each contact with a personalized pitch and try to position your content as a valuable resource to your contacts’ readers.
Although rejections are a part of the process, digital PR link building can eventually land links to your brand’s content on some high profile sites, such as news media outlets or widely distributed blogs, which can give your SaaS company great exposure.
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) for your SaaS company involves tracking, measuring, and assessing your brand’s ability to convert leads and generate more customers, sign-ups, and purchases.
You can achieve CRO by identifying places where your website and content can improve, and how you can increase engagement with your ideal customers. Focusing on relevant keywords and link building strategies is a good start, and will help you identify other gaps more quickly.
Analyzing the keywords present on your site can provide a straightforward strategy for adapting to your client’s needs and optimizing your site’s conversion rates. If potential customers are searching for specific keywords, why not focus on those specific keywords and emerge as the top result?
Since people are already searching for solutions based on these keywords, they are primed to become customers, thus boosting your conversion rates.
Pursuing a variety of link building strategies will gain your website more high authority backlinks and is perhaps the safest approach to inbound marketing for SaaS. If you rely on guest posts, link exchanges and posting organic content, something is bound to work.
Instead of focusing on just one strategy, using the full power of your link building gives you much more options to maneuver. This can potentially result in a stronger CRO, since you’ll be getting conversions from multiple sources
Delight Your Customers
The bottom of the SaaS sales funnel focuses on maintaining the emotion and impact you caused at the top of the funnel.
Ensuring the ongoing delight of your customers means providing a superb customer experience. Make sure your site offers excellent customer support through a number of different channels: phone, email, online chat rooms, and via video call, where possible.
Round-the-clock access to customer support means customers will see your entire SaaS brand as reliable and accessible.
This amount of dedication to the well-being of your customer relationships will keep customers returning again and again- and will naturally result in a boost on the word-of-mouth front when customers share your software brand with their friends, family, colleagues, and acquaintances.
Continue to build relationships with your customers by reaching out on social media, crafting clever content, and offering special discounts and benefits for return customers.
When they feel that their patronage is respected, they will continue to return again and again, becoming loyal proponents of your brand and resulting in your retention rates spiking.
Inbound marketing for Saas means attracting, engaging, and retaining the interest of the right customers throughout the sales funnel. Using inbound marketing to structure your content marketing strategies, you can draw in loyal customers, optimize your site’s conversion rates, and expand your online presence.
Research competitor websites, develop in-depth customer personas, craft content, and disperse it through a wide variety of channels to provide effective ways for prospective leads to engage with your brand.
Most importantly—craft high-quality, original content that provides a unique perspective. Make sure you incorporate keywords that will draw in customers seeking solutions to challenges and answers to questions. And develop link building strategies that will allow you to engage at the top level of digital marketing.
With a robust SaaS inbound marketing strategy, your site will eventually rise in the search rankings to become one of the top SaaS brands in its niche. If you want to have one crafted by professionals, reach out to BlueTree and get placements in some of the world’s top SaaS sites and publications.