Maybe it’s easy to believe, but B2B marketing is easier for different types of products. Some make creative or interesting marketing campaigns manageable, while other industries and products are almost impossible to advertise. This can be for a variety of factors: niche, the product itself, or how the products are used.
Luckily, for SaaS (software as a service) products, B2B digital marketing has a lot of benefits. Creative campaigns might be easier to create and the ability to produce revenue completely online (often without having to go through a salesperson first) definitely makes digital marketing more appealing.
Plus, it can be easier to scale growth because the checkout process can be done 24/7 without the requirement of employees to prepare contracts or walk customers through the sales process.
Here are some other areas where virtual products or SaaS marketing has perks:
When you have a virtual product, it’s much easier to do online demos or walk-throughs for clients because the product itself is online, so users can actually experience it in real time, instead of imagining what it’s like physically (like you would for a virtual tour of an office building, for example). It is easier for customers to see themselves and their employees using the product because they are viewing the actual platform.
For many B2B companies, demos are a good compromise between the traditional sales cycle that some still go through (of meeting the prospect and building a relationship before purchase) and the online aspect, where buyers can get the information they are looking for quickly.
A personalized demo can be scheduled online automatically with a calendar scheduling app that chooses the salesperson based on availability or turn. This makes setting up live demos easy and painless on both ends.
What’s more, you can even do on-demand demos so prospects can instantly view a demo without having to wait to schedule one.
If 1-on-1 demos won’t work with your business model, another option is a landing page walk-through with screenshots instead of a video format. This “product walk-through” is useful if there is too much to explain in a 1-on-1 demo or your product is too detailed. It gives users more time to review the information and visuals. Like an on-demand demo, it can also be done on a customer’s own time, so they can review it as many times as possible.
Before your organization starts promoting or scheduling demos of any format, make sure to do practice runs with colleagues to ensure all main points are being covered. Some organizations even record the first few sessions with real customers to get feedback and adjust accordingly.
Scheduling or using an on-demand online demo can be a great lead generation tool. Prospects that have gotten that far in the buying cycle are likely to be extremely interested in the product and want to see how it can work for them specifically.
Many SaaS products have CTAs for lead generation demos at the end of blog posts, in sidebars, and on product pages. Because many B2B organizations are buying SaaS product licenses for several employees at once, online demos are a more hands-on approach that can help marketers and the sales team demonstrate the product’s value.
Another common content marketing tactic that works well with SaaS is offering online training to current and potential prospects. Offering continuing education has a few benefits: it really does offer value to others, and it gives your organization a chance to be a thought leader in the industry. It can also cut down on customer support inquiries if users are able to find out information on their own.
Online Training Formats
There are lots of training formats B2B companies can offer. They include:
- Training Libraries: Articles, ebooks, white papers, and other content for people to become more educated about industry topics.
- Interviews: These can be done through video or written formats, and are often appealing to prospects because it gives them access to experts that they may not have otherwise. No matter the industry, getting experts to share their insight is enticing to potential buyers because it offers them insights they can implement in their own processes.
- Certifications: Many larger SaaS companies, like Salesforce and Hubspot, offer certifications for their own products. Users like getting certified in different areas because it increases their own expertise. In addition, it gives SaaS companies the opportunity to get users more invested in their products and to make sure they are taking advantage of all the features they are paying for.
- Classes: Several organizations offer industry classes as well that give users a certificate of completion. These classes aren’t specific to the software, so users can take what they learn to other jobs or while using other software. Social media scheduling and listening tool Hootsuite uses a hybrid of these last two options: They offer Hootsuite certification and social media courses.
- Webinars: These live presentations are usually about an hour and are a great way to engage current and potential users in real-time online. Some organizations make webinars available to paid users only as a perk for existing customers, whereas others want non-users to sign up, as they can be a valuable lead generation tool. Many companies offer webinars weekly because they consistently generate good sources of leads for their product.
Online training, in whatever format, is useful for driving additional upselling from existing users. According to Cobloom, SaaS companies make, on average, four times more ROI (return on investment) than what they would spend acquiring new users. That being said, it makes sense to continue to develop content and training for existing customers to keep their interest. This can lead to additional profit.
For instance, Hootsuite sells their industry courses for an additional cost, thus making more revenue per user. When companies offer a lot of value in their paid services, businesses don’t mind paying if it’s going to make a difference in their own bottom line.
Easier to Upsell With Marketing
Upselling is more involved in B2B marketing than simply offering higher ROI. Using specific arms of marketing, like community building and social media, upselling to existing customers is easier when customers feel loyalty and camaraderie with a brand.
When users depend on a SaaS product to help them with a significant part of their workload, they quickly buy into what it offers. This is because of the frequency of use and the fact that they want the product to work. It is a complete hassle to decide to switch to a new project management platform or a data research platform and then have it not work like you want.
This means they are more emotionally invested, something that can be embraced with online communities and through social media. WordPress is a good example of this. Their support forums are robust and active with regular non-employee users who help one another solve problems. The world’s most popular CMS has also spurned dozens of non-affiliated websites that share information and tutorials with other users, like WPBeginner, as well as theme and plugin marketplaces.
This love for the product can help marketers offer better customer service, engagement, and listening to users on a variety of platforms, from Facebook to Quora. When users are passionate about a product, they are not only much more likely to create user-generated content about the software platform, but may also recommend and mention it multiple places online. Marketers can monitor these mentions to respond to questions, offer gratitude to existing customers, or simply be active in the conversation.
Having such passionate online users also can make for better product development. Because users are online using a SaaS product, they can instantly provide feedback as to how it works. This can help B2B SaaS companies be more nimble and responsive to what users want.
When users give direct feedback (through support requests, social media, instant chat, or survey popups), there are several departments involved. Customer support can help solve any issues, and the digital marketers can use the information to write new blog posts, create more training to answer frequently asked questions, or serve as the first line of interaction when feedback comes in through social media or community forums.
Any customer feedback is extremely valuable to marketers, as it gives them an actual glimpse into their target audience’s expectations and needs. This can help create better-optimized campaigns that address more of what users are looking for.
Another way to gain insight into users’ needs is through anonymous usage data. Many SaaS platforms let users know they monitor the way they use the software anonymously, and this data is invaluable to developers and others to learn how users are actually using the product.
This data can be used to improve features, remove what’s not working, and clear up any confusion that is preventing users from not utilizing the entire platform. This is a unique aspect of SaaS that isn’t usually available to tangible products (unless they are connected to the internet).
Takeaways from this usage data are also helpful for marketers: they can see the features that users enjoy the most and elaborate on it in their landing pages, email campaigns, and other promotions. For instance, statistics from anonymous usage data can prove a compelling case: “75% of customers use our software daily” or “Only 5% of all customers subscribe to our service for less than 12 months.”
By pivoting quickly, SaaS companies can continue to stay competitive with others in the industry and learn when to fix something quickly. For physical products, it may take months or years to realize and change the same types of issues.
Challenges to SaaS Marketing
Of course, SaaS marketing isn’t the perfect industry to be a B2B marketer in. There are still issues with marketing a non-tangible product. Some of these include:
- Users feeling like they aren’t getting their money’s worth: It can be difficult to “prove” that a SaaS product is worth its ongoing cost if it’s not something users can hold. This can be remedied by offering case studies and testimonials that show how the software helps an organization be better, instead of simply stating what they offer.
- Faster cancellations: The benefits that SaaS companies get for being nimble when it comes to marketing and product development can also work in the opposite manner. Often, unless there’s a long-term contract, it can take an existing user less than a minute to go through their account and click the “cancel subscription” button. This can be difficult for newer software companies that need to build a long-term user base in order to grow effectively.
- Advanced online platforms and servers: An e-commerce website for a commercial paint company is likely going to be less complicated than an entire online interface that must run online software seamlessly for thousands or millions of users at once. This need for reliable online connectivity can be a major cost and factor that affects every department within the organization.
- More competition: This is highly dependent on the industry, but some fields are already so cluttered with existing SaaS products, it can be extremely difficult to be successful. While this doesn’t mean the same competition doesn’t exist in non-tangible products, SaaS organizations take a risk every time they enter a competitive niche.
Because physical products have their own challenges with manufacturing and development, it isn’t really equal to compare SaaS and tangible products. However, from a marketing standpoint, it may be more pertinent to do so since a marketer may be deciding to work in-house at one company versus another (or which clients to focus on).
Either way, B2B digital marketing brings about its own set of challenges and benefits for every client, which is part of what makes it interesting. However, SaaS marketing campaigns have a lot to work with: instant feedback, anonymous user data, and engaging customer acquisition opportunities, like webinars and certifications.