Inbound marketing is essential for Software-as-a-Service companies (SaaS companies). The influx of competition has made it difficult to stand out, plus SaaS buyers often don’t know they need a product until the pain point it solves is spelled out for them.
Long gone are the days of aggressively advertising in newspapers and print publications. Instead, consumers would rather do their own research and come to their own conclusions via platforms they’re already familiar with. As a result, SaaS brands are tasked with reaching people where they’re already hanging out—namely, social media and Google. To appear high in Google search results and get traction on social channels, you have to be publishing eye-catching, SEO-optimized content. This is where inbound marketing comes into play.
What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing is essentially the act of creating content your audience wants to read to attract them to your website via search results, social media and other platforms. Understanding how inbound marketing works means having a tight grasp on who your customers are, what their biggest pain points and questions are, and how they move through the sales cycle to make a purchase. SaaS companies that implement inbound marketing see 30% higher growth rates, 5-10% higher retention rates, and up to a 647% increase in ROI.
Here’s our guide to inbound marketing for SaaS companies.
1. Identify Your Customers
The first step in a successful inbound marketing campaign is to know who you’re targeting. Fail to do this, and your content won’t reach the right people—or, it will, but it won’t resonate with them in the way you want it to. This is why researching your customers is the first and most crucial step in your inbound marketing efforts. Start by learning who your customers are through:
- Google Analytics – find out a rough idea of the demographics of your audience
- Surveys – ask customers more about themselves and their biggest struggles
- Interviews – handpick a few of your best customers and dive deeper into their wants and needs through interviews
- Social listening – see who follows you on social media and learn more about them by seeing what they share and who else they follow
Once you have a better understanding of who your audience is, you can create customer personas that will help you keep your content on track for success. A customer persona highlights one specific type of customer in great detail and goes beyond simple information like age and location. It includes specific professional information and psychographic tendencies, such as:
- Pain points
- Biggest challenges and fears
- Preferred sources of information
- What drives the decisions they make?
- Who is in their decision-making ecosystem
2. Keyword Research
Once you know exactly who your customer base comprises, you can move on to researching topics that these people might find useful. The first step in this process is running keyword research. Use a keyword research tool to plug in keywords relevant to your industry and get ideas for topics that are associated with those keywords. When you’ve compiled a list of relevant keywords, you can dig deeper to find common questions your audience has around these topics. Remember, the majority of customers will find you by running searches on Google, so you want to create content that answers the questions they’re typing in. Find relevant questions by:
- Plugging your keywords into forums like Quora and Reddit
- Using a tool like AnswerThePublic to find real-life questions your audience is asking
- Checking Google’s “People Also Asked” section in the search results
If you have a product that helps developers save time, head to Quora to find out the most popular questions people have around this topic. Here’s an example:
4. Create Content for All Stages of the SaaS Sales Funnel
Although the buyer’s journey can be quite complex in B2B, the SaaS sales funnel is, at its most basic, similar to other types of sales funnels and includes three main stages:
- Top of the Funnel (ToFu) – Where people are just becoming aware they have a problem and are looking for answers, education and resources
- Middle of the Funnel (MoFu) – The decision-making stages, where people are researching whether your product is a good fit and running comparisons with similar products
- Bottom of the Funnel (BoFu) – The purchase stages, where people are set on becoming a customer and are looking for resources to validate their decision
Inbound marketing is most successful when you create content that fits into all of these stages. Keep in mind, too, that customers will enter the funnel at different points, so it’s important that you have content to match their needs at any given time.
But what does that look like in action?
It looks like a variety of different types of content, each of which is designed to meet a different need. Customers at the top of the funnel will be looking for blog posts, videos and guides on the topic they’re researching. Bite-sized content is also useful, such as infographics. E-books straddle the line between the top and middle of the funnel depending on how the content is structured and the level of technical knowledge assumed.
Intercom’s blog is full of articles aimed at top-of-the-funnel customers.
Customers at the middle of the funnel will be looking for e-books, use cases, product walkthroughs, checklists and comparison posts to help them decide whether your product is the best fit for them. Whitepapers, which go into depth on a product or service, can be useful at this stage and during the purchase stage.
Customers at the bottom of the funnel will be looking for customer success stories, demos, and lists of benefits to validate their decision to buy and tackle any last-minute concerns they might have.
Podia has a range of comparison posts that compare similar products.
Okendo has a whole host of customer success stories for potential buyers to browse through.
Creating various types of content will drive customers through the sales cycle until they reach the purchase stage. For example, a buyer might land on your site after searching Google to find an answer to a question about a challenge they’re having or an opportunity they’re considering. They might read a couple of blog posts and discover you offer a product or service that matches their needs. From there, they might go on to read about the different use cases for your product before booking a demo and reading several customer success stories. When you look at it this way, it’s easy to see how each stage flows into the next and how content can gently nudge customers in the right direction. This is inbound marketing at its finest.
Get Started With Inbound Marketing for Your SaaS Brand and Product/Service Offerings
If you haven’t started implementing an inbound marketing strategy—that is, you haven’t created customer personas and run extensive keyword research—now’s the time to do so. Once you start populating your site with relevant content that matches the needs of customers at various stages of the buying cycle, you’ll start increasing your conversions and get more buyers.
Need help creating your inbound marketing strategy? Let the experts at Elevation help!