SaaS B2C marketing is one of those things that you don’t even try your hand at unless you really are in the IT space. It sounds so intimidating, so daunting, even for the people who actually have to do it day after day.
But the truth is that SaaS can be quite approachable, even in a B2C setting where the marketing is notoriously more difficult than the alternative (B2B).
Much like with everything else in life, all it takes is a little strategy. Knowing what to focus on, which tools to use, and why, is of the utmost importance to any marketer, especially when it comes to software solutions, something which could potentially change how people complete daily tasks as we all know it.
This guide will focus on everything relating to the subject, from detailed definitions and must-haves, to pro tips to swear by.
Let’s get started.
Defining SaaS Marketing
Software as a service, better known as SaaS, is a common acronym thrown around the digital marketing space. It involves providing software solutions online, rather than having people download anything onto their computers, phones, or other devices, essentially making it easier for the customers.
Putting it into perspective, just 20 years ago, back in the 1990s, people had to purchase physical versions of software in order to solve what we would consider pretty basic hurdles today. And now, we have new PC models with no optical drive, because CDs and DVDs are almost obsolete, with the rare hipster and collector exceptions, of course.
So, SaaS is what we have to thank for many quality of life changes we take for granted these days, and it’s only possible because of the internet. It allows us to log into accounts and stay logged in, rather than having to sign back in every time. It’s made it possible to connect with clients and customers at any point in time, without having to use more ancient methods, like email.
And the pay-per-use model that so many businesses use? That’s SaaS, and it means companies have lower initial investments, because they don’t have a giant software package purchase to make.
B2C vs. B2B Differences
That’s all well and good, but now you’re wondering what the difference between B2C and B2B is in terms of SaaS marketing. Well, there are quite a few:
B2B is always easier, as you’re a company selling a business solution to another company. You understand their needs, because you likely have many similar ones yourself. With B2C, you’re having to be more persuasive, because although you probably understand their needs at your core, oftentimes you’ll find that people need help realizing those needs.
Impulse buys are basically non-existent in B2B. No one ever buys an iPad, or a professional camera, a new computer, or software solutions on a whim when they’re running a business. But there are plenty of impulse purchases on a B2C scale, which means the sales cycles look different.
In B2B, budgets for SaaS are usually set aside as essentials. But in B2C, most people don’t want to pay upfront for things that they might end up disliking, hence why so much of that marketing is based on trials and free versions. B2C is all about increasing repeat purchases, an indication of customer loyalty. Community building is of the utmost importance.
The marketing goals are completely different for the two. B2B goals tend to be all about increasing the list of qualified potential buyers. The focus is quality. Because the goals are different, so is the content marketing. B2B takes on an educational tone, while B2C is about entertainment and brand representation.
Because all of these factors are different, it should come as no surprise that B2B and B2C have completely different sales funnel styles. In B2B there’s product demos and contract proposals, where as in B2C there’s an online shopping cart and product reviews.
Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more differences to be had, but the point here is this: when you’re doing B2C marketing, you have to make sure you stay focused on your audience, your objectives, and your product. As long as those three are consistently aligned, your messaging can’t get muddled along the way.
It sounds simpler than it is though, so take this point to heart. After weeks, months, or even years of marketing, it’s all too easy to lose sight of the big picture.
SaaS Marketing Must-Haves
The thing about SaaS marketing, as we established in the very beginning, is that knowing what to focus on, and which tools to use, is critical. Knowing what to use, when and why, can make the difference between terrible marketing, and a smooth ride.
First thing’s first, one of the major aspects of B2C marketing is that social media plays a major role. That means Twitter, Instagram and Facebook should be your go-to tools.
This is because these platforms are consumer-driven. Unlike LinkedIn, where everyone is looking for professional leads, career networking, and potentially job hunting, platforms like Twitter are filled with entertaining tweets and jokes about the news.
This audience, your core audience, will be much more receptive to learning about your software solution when their guard is down, they’re having fun online, and they see an ad that pulls them in with a clear cut solution to a common problem they’re currently struggling with.
And although your product may not have an audience just yet, the company behind it should be focusing on building a presence online to set that stage. Eventually, the goal is to have recognition on both fronts.
Here are some tips to help along the way:
Give away free trials on social media, where your customer base hangs out. The free trial strategy is great for acquisition.
Understand that the sales cycle will be super short. Once people see your software, and how it works, they’ll either buy it or uninstall.
That’s why it’s important to offer really good customer support. In fact, if you focus on anything outside of your product, let it be customer support and social media. The two can even go hand in hand, with your account being a means of contact, or linking to the customer support page.
Partnering with relevant influencers, hopefully ones who genuinely love your product after they use it, would be a great way to tap into a pretty wide audience. Relevant influencers would be promoting and reviewing other software as well, maybe even some areas of tech. That means their YouTube audience would be interested in what you have to offer, provided it’s honestly reviewed and liked by the influencer.
The more visual your content is the better, since it’s software. People want to see it being used, see how it works. This tells them whether it’s easy to use, and whether it’s something they can imagine themselves using day after day. In other words, Twitter is useful, but focus your efforts more so on Instagram and Facebook.
Speaking of Facebook, use retargeting. Facebook Ads makes it so easy to re-engage people who have already displayed potential interest in your product. So, do something with those potential leads. Clarify your standing with them.
Since we pointed out Facebook Ads, let’s highlight the use of advertising. Yes, it’s a valuable tool. Along with a great product and customer service, you pretty much can’t go wrong…
But advertising for a massive audience really depends on two things:
How long it takes you to recover your investment cost…
And how loyal your customers truly are.
For example, suppose you’re selling a cloud storage solution, much like Google Drive or Dropbox. Say it takes you a million dollars to create it, set it up and polish it for customer use. Obviously, the initial cost is inaccurate for something as large as a cloud storage solution, but it’s just an example. Hang in there.
Now, you’re focusing on marketing and customer service, making sure that everything is ready to go. You finally get it to a point where things are running smoothly…
But it still takes you 2-3 years to recoup your initial investment.
That means your main focus during that time is to grow your audience and recover costs faster, as well as retain that audience.
If you can prove you have high customer retention, then you’ll have a much easier ride.
But how does all of this relate on advertising?
Well, until you recoup your initial investment, you’re not likely to have a very big budget for ad campaigns. And that means you have to get a little creative for the first 2-3 years of your business venture.
And yes, that’s a bit of a dilemma. After all, you’re supposed to get people’s attention, but you can’t overspend on ads.
So here’s the best course of action:
Do a little math and figure out how much your customers are worth to you on average. It’s a surprisingly easy math problem, simply divide your annual revenue by your customer base. So, if you made $900,000 and you have 7k users, then your average customer is worth $128.60.
Then look at your social media following, your product downloads and installs, anything indicative of is likability and popularity. Are the numbers increasing, or declining? Because if the numbers show you’re losing your customer base, you need to rethink your marketing, or implement changes to your product. Unbiased customer reviews are a great way to get insight on this. If many people echo the same sentiment, it may be time to listen.
From there, be realistic. Are you in a position where your customer base is stable, and your average customer worth is at least halfway decent? If so, it’s time to look at ad campaigns. And you don’t need to spend a ton of money to do it. You just need to analyze the effect of ad spend on sales.
The rule of thumb here is if you spend X amount on advertising on a platform, the influence from other channels could bring that cost down significantly. To highlight this point, sometimes spending more on advertising on platforms where you perform the best will lead to a significant increase in the amount of traffic and sales you get. Just make sure you don’t overspend. You still want that extra boosted increase to count for something, afterall.
If this seems too difficult, if there’s too much data for you to sift through realistically, outsource someone to do it. Digital marketing consultants are well-known for analyzing a company’s resources in an effort to craft a goal guideline.
As previously mentioned, B2C Saas content marketing is entertaining and on brand. Unlike B2B, which is more educational in nature, your content marketing on the B2C side of things needs to play up your objective, which is likely something along the lines of solving a common problem that your customer base suffers from on a weekly, maybe even daily basis.
Maybe you’re trying to simplify something that currently takes up way too much time to accomplish. By streamlining the process, by offering your product, you’re hoping to change how people complete this goal, effectively rendering the old method archaic, much like what happened with optical drives once people discovered the glory of downloading what they needed without having to leave the house.
So, start by visualizing what that looks like. Does it involve sitting on a stool at a coffee shop, and smiling at the thought of all the time you’re saving? Is it something anyone can do without having to leave the comfort of their bed? How about completing this task on a phone, while walking down the sidewalk?
Whatever it looks like, make sure to visualize it, and make it happen. After all, Instagram and Facebook Ads, even Google Ads, are built on visual content.
Whatever you decide to do as content marketing, do it with the aim of showing people how your product can benefit them, and simplify their life (the objective).
Here’s a small example:
Evernote helps people digitize their piles of papers, junk, recipes, photos, notes, journals, planners, etc. All of those clean, neat office spaces and homes are perfect results of Evernote, probably.
And looking through their content marketing, it becomes clear that their main objective is to help everyone feel organized, wherever they may be.
Their blog is a collection of posts that highlight their templates (purchase trackers, weekly planners, monthly calendars), show people that it’s possible to organize an extensive book collection using Evernote, encourage families to plan their vacations with the tool, etc. Across the board, there’s a post or two for just about everyone’s life, proving that the tool can help make daily living, working and planning a seamless, easy process.
Of course, once your content marketing is underway, you still need to rank―the faster the better. And lucky for all B2C SaaS creators and marketers, customer support is the Ace up the sleeve.
When you have a product that no one can really see or understand until they try it themselves, marketing gets tougher than it is generally. But see, using all the tips discussed already, we can drive people to try the product. Things like beautiful social media feeds, smart blog copy, and free trials or versions can really drive that traffic…
But it’s the customer service that keeps them there. The minute that there’s something too complicated, it begins to seem like more hassle than it’s worth. Remember, the objective is to simplify people’s lives here.
And there are many ways to incorporate customer service into content. For instance, you can link to the customer service page from within your copy. If you have an app, or website, you can make customer service contact a breeze. You can even use landing pages to get people to “learn more” about your product. Talk about crafting a high-converting CTA!
Then there’s of course the act of writing blog posts that explain the solutions to common user problems. How-to articles are usually associated with B2B SaaS marketing, but when it relates to customer service, B2C can use blogging as a way of answering questions well beyond their live support chat, FAQ page, or chatbot.
As an added bonus, you can always link to certain key content within your emails, releases, or other communications with the press. It can help them when preparing for interviews with you, or even as they write news pieces. They may even be inclined to link to it within their stories, hence making you rank higher.
Word of Mouth
The final must-have for B2C SaaS marketing is word of mouth, which encompasses everything from product recommendations, to reviews and testimonials.
Assuming they’re unpaid and unbiased, reviews can shed light on people’s personal experiences with your product, for better or worse. And if they’re leaning toward the worse, and the same complaints keep getting repeated, you can take that as a cue to revamp your product with some much-needed fixes and tweaks that make people sing a different tune. Consider it a tool for both feedback and marketing itself.
If you want good reviews, don’t offer to pay, just change the things people don’t like about your product. Do that, and you’ll have an honestly good product that meets its aim: simplifying lives.
Get enough positive reviews, and you can start incorporating them as part of your marketing. Add them to landing pages, to your home page, or a store page, for instance.
If people like your product enough, start an affiliate program. These people will promote your product for you, in your branding style, in exchange for small rewards and free gear or merchandise.
And let’s not leave out the influencers, whom are still ever so popular and useful. Providing free copies to them will ensure they have time to tinker around with your product and learn the ins and outs before sharing it with their related audience.
In layman terms, sure, the world has become this network of digital communication through several avenues, but word of mouth and human interaction are still just as important. People are inclined to try out the things they hear the most about. Just because the way we communicate has changed, it doesn’t mean human opinion is any less important.
Saas Pro Tips
Now, hopefully by now you understand that marketing in general can be pretty difficult. A lot of it is a guessing game, experimentation, and the act of hoping that people care enough about what it is you’re offering.
Well, B2C SaaS marketing is harder, largely because you’re having to convince people that they will benefit from what it is you’re offering. It’s always easier in a B2B setting where a business has specific needs, and a want to meet those needs with the aid of tools the relevant staff can use easily.
So, every pro tip available should be treated like a gold mine, because it basically is. If you can keep these tips in mind moving forward, in every step of your marketing, then you’ll be just fine with your B2C SaaS marketing.
You have 3 sentences - Ideally, you should be able to explain your product in no more than 3 sentences. This is because anything that is meant to simplify people’s lives tends to be simple to explain. If it requires extensive explanation, then it’s probably not very streamlined or user friendly.
There are several decision makers, usually - For example, maybe a woman wants to use Google Drive as a tool for home project organization. But chances are, she’d have to talk about it with her husband, who really has his heart set on a B2B tool, like Trello, because he knows there’s going to be many contractors involved in the process. Meanwhile, the contractors themselves might have their own ideas for project management that don’t even involve the home owners with the exception of design decisions.
The decision always gets made without engagement from the vendor - Continuing on with the example described, no representative (vendor) from Google Drive, nor Trello, will be involved in the project management tool selection. It’s purely between the homeowners, contractors, and possible designers.
The more recognition your brand has, the better your odds are - It goes without saying that people stick to what they know. Anything unknown has yet to be proven, and requires a certain level of trust, willingness to gamble, and time consumption on behalf of the user. When a user is looking for a quick, effective solution, they will focus on the brands that come to mind, all recognizable. So, if you want to be one of those solutions, you need to boost your visibility, your content marketing, social media presence, everything.
The Product Marketer Is Everything
As an entrepreneur with a new business venture, you might be itching to get your product into as many hands as possible. And yes, things like paid marketing, content marketing, SEO, keyword research, marketing trends and social media are all critical in that process.
As pointed out, they’re absolute must-haves.
But before you do anything, you absolutely must hire someone who will specifically champion your product, better known as a product marketer.
This is the person that will come in and learn your product inside and out, in an effort to understand it and its potential uses. They will think outside the box and translate the tool into real life, and all of its prospects. You may be creating a product that’s geared toward home organization, but the product marketer will tack on all the other ways that your product can be used, ways you didn’t even imagine before.
To add to this, the product marketer will have a strong background in just about everything marketing related. Think copywriting, handling Google Analytics, A/B testing, understanding CTAs and business growth, increasing conversion numbers, SEO, etc. They know what it takes to create viral content by emphasizing the best aspects of a product or service.
As a result, this is the marketer you will be setting your marketing stage with. Together, you’ll plan out a strategy that caters to your target audience as well as related audiences, and then map out the step-by-step marketing process that everyone you hire on will adhere to. Consider it a road map for your marketing.
Hypothetically, if you were to skip hiring the product marketer, there would be a massive hole in your business. You’d go about your marketing with everyone else, but you would be the person in charge of all of the marketing strategy design, which means you either need to be well educated in the subject, or you’re going to aimlessly fumble in the dark. Everyone you hire on to do your content marketing or social media marketing will be following your jumbled orders, and so the end result would probably be a collection of muddled attempts at proper marketing.
Nothing says amateur like marketing that’s all over the place. Marketing should connect on all sides, everything working together to achieve the same goal―increasing conversions and retention.
So, how do you know when someone is right for the product marketing position? Simply ask the right questions and don’t settle for anything less than the right answers. Here are some interview questions you should consider asking:
How will advertising and marketing change in the next 3-5 years? - If they have a pretty detailed, or at the very least clear answer for you right away, then they’re good candidates. Good marketers are always thinking of what’s next, and are preparing to change course to meet those requirements head on.
Can you create a list of actions you’d take to see this SaaS product to market? - If this person already has a gameplan in mind, a way to potentially complete the task at hand, then they’re serious about the position. If not, then you’re just one of many applications submitted.
Which campaign last caught your eye and why? - You want a marketer who stays up-to-date on campaigns floating around. Do they notice the branding, do they notice the results or the feedback people give these campaigns? The more detail you get from this answer, the better.
Was there ever a product launch that didn’t go well? How did you handle that? - Sometimes things just don’t go well, regardless of the planning and time spent. It happens to everyone at some point, so the best thing to do is to focus on how people handle when that happens. If they can keep it together in a stressful situation, salvage anything, and turn things around for the better, you’re in good hands.
What makes up a product that gets users, including yourself, excited? - This will provide insight on what the product manager considers a noteworthy tool. If they vouch for something, chances are the public will have a similar reaction.
What is one thing you’d change about my product and why? - This one is assuming you’ve let the product marketer tinker around with your product for a good 24 hours in advance to the interview, which you definitely should do. It’s an insightful way to establish both clarity and openness with the candidate, so they know what they’d be pushing. As a bonus, they’d be able to pinpoint something that you may want to change in the future.
B2C SaaS marketing isn’t exactly easy, but knowing what to do, when, and which tools to use can really make a difference between wasted time and successful marketing. Steps like knowing where to find your audience, what to post, what to blog about and why are not to be overlooked.
The more time you spend looking at similar campaigns, and learning from their mistakes and successes, the better off you’ll be at making the right choices for you. It will also give you more of an idea of what to expect along the way.
And if you’re overwhelmed with the amount of effort involved, remember that your product marketer will guide you through the process of finding the things that make you stand out above your competition. Anyone you hire on, whether they’re content marketers or social media managers, should be able to point out any flaws as well.
And as always, consider a digital marketing consultant. These marketers work with businesses to define goals, asses the tactics and resources used, and then craft a step-by-step guide to help meet those goals. They can even work in tandem with product marketers to establish the best courses of action.
So, which lesson from this guide stood out to you the most, and why?
Let me know in the comments below, I love hearing from you all!