Clients are reluctant to commit to SaaS contracts when every week feels more uncertain than the last. A few strategic shifts in marketing for SaaS companies can help your brand compensate for these lost sales. Stop talking about a long-term solution, and start talking about right now. And cut costs while you’re at it! The ideas below will get you started.
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is only one of many industries that have experienced sales setbacks during the global pandemic. However, as an industry that relies on a continuous payment stream rather than one-time purchases, it’s been especially vulnerable.
Some clients struggling with their own financials will have churned and ended relationships with your company to save on costs—cutting into your revenue streams. At the same time, signing a new client to any sort of long-term commitment in an uncertain environment is tough. Few folks are willing to make commitments when there’s no telling what the next month will bring.
Your sales team will continue to do their best, remain empathetic, and position your service as worthwhile. But marketing for SaaS companies can do just as much to compensate for lost sales opportunities. You can get prospects talking to your salesforce with the right marketing techniques for their present pain points. With focused effort, SaaS marketing can start to build up your sales pipeline and restore momentum. Here’s how.
Eliminate Unnecessary Expenses: Go Digital With Ad Spend
If sales are down, so is revenue. It makes sense to tighten the belt just a bit on your budget. This way, you’ve compensated (at least in part) for lost sales revenue until business gets back to normal.
But reducing expenses doesn’t necessarily equal less total marketing for SaaS companies. It just means shifting budget towards more efficient, less costly channels. Fortunately, your business already lives in a digital space—which contains the most cost-effective marketing channels of all. This is where your users operate, so take advantage.
Expensive traditional marketing and advertising channels like TV, radio, and print ads (perhaps in tech magazines) cost exorbitant sums and make it notoriously difficult to track ROI. Consider trading for digital alternatives, such as Google ads, search banners, promoted content on social media, and email newsletter ads from industry publications.
A typical e-newsletter ad might charge $25-50 CPM (cost per “mille,” or per 1000 impressions) for a daily edition. A magazine ad, by comparison, could cost $500 to $20,000. The inside front cover of some national publications would even cost as much as $500,000! Digital publications are much easier to target and more cost-efficient.
As a side benefit, banner ads are clickable, and thus trackable. You can precisely measure how many leads came from the industry source, which nails down your ROI. And even if you got 10,000 impressions, you’d still only pay $250-$500. Try contacting industry publications to request pricing for web banner ads or e-newsletter sponsorships. Make sure to ask about the traffic they receive and the size of their distribution lists to evaluate the cost-to-benefit ratio of the opportunity.
Lean Into Email and Inbound Content Marketing
These two channels are extremely cheap and known for their incredible ROI. For example:
- Content-based inbound campaigns cost 62% less per lead—at $135—than the $346 per lead that’s typical of outbound campaigns. At the same time, content marketing generates 3x as many leads.
- Email has always had a high-rated ROI—in 2018, Campaign Monitor pegged it at $44 for every $1 spent. This is higher than any other channel, including social media, direct mail, and paid search.
One reason for this is that digital marketing materials are evergreen. They’re infinitely reproducible at minimal cost, and retain value for as long as you choose to host them. A well-stocked blog can boost SEO and drive traffic to your SaaS brand website for years with periodic updates. Valuable newsletters, eBooks, or whitepapers can be gated for lead acquisition every time you pique a prospect’s interest.
Marketing for SaaS companies is even more suited to inbound content than other industries. Why? Tech buyers love to read. Research from LinkedIn has shown that tech people consume more of the online content posted through their service than professionals in any other industry:
You might try building out a robust FAQ library with short blog-style posts that answer common queries around your service. Or you could stock up a help portal that’s full to the brim with focused tutorial videos, troubleshooting guides, and general training resources. These efforts will boost SEO to drive traffic to your site and make your service easier for clients to use and keep them delighted. This is critical to client retention when sales are down.
Email is a low-cost avenue for lead nurturing and client retention campaigns. Automation platforms will drastically increase your team’s ability to do more with less. Try email best practices like these:
- Focus on Content Offers: Emails that promote your business sound salesy and are likely to be ignored unless they come with a great incentive (discounts, deals). Instead, you can build a relationship with the lead with free value offers like links to helpful blogs, videos, eBooks, or whitepapers that educate or inform. These pieces could be about using your service, industry news, or advice and solutions for audience pain points.
- List Segmentation: Create targeted workflows tailored to each segment of your contacts. These lists could be segmented by how often they interact, their job roles, the services they expressed interest in, region, company relationship history, or anything else. Segmented email nurturing campaigns can generate a 760% increase in revenue.
- Email Event Invites: Have you got a trade show, conference, webinar, or speaking engagement coming up? Emails are a great way to drive traffic to the event and nurture your relationship with a lead or existing customer beyond the inbox.
- Don’t Overdo It: An email cadence is about staying top-of-mind, but frequent updates can become an annoyance if you’re not careful. Try to keep it to no more than an email a week.
Reduce Commitment and Increase Urgency
One reason SaaS sales drop in a time of crisis is the perception of being “trapped” in a service contract. There’s a reason contracts exist—they’re good for revenue stability and ensure consistency for both you and your clients. However, this might be a good time to consider restructuring your offerings to reflect the audience’s immediate needs.
Companies and individuals are hesitant to buy in a crisis, even if your marketing messages sound professional and compelling. If your brand can introduce a workable month-to-month package, this could be the lead gen rocket fuel you need to get through tough times.
Marketing for SaaS companies typically involves messages about how much your service makes the client’s life easier. But what they really need is an easier way to justify the purchase. You’ll get a lot of mileage out of 30-day trial contracts, shorter renewal intervals, incremental billing, and other flexible, low-commitment talking points.
Urgency is the other side of the coin, here. Charles Kirkland would tell you to offer a “painkiller” instead of a “vitamin.” This is strong call-to-action advice, but urgency also means demonstrating to the client that you’ll get them going ASAP.
If onboarding, installation, implementation, and training typically take 30 days, you may be losing sales because prospects aren’t even sure if they’ll still need or want your services after 30 days. See if there’s a way to get them going faster, then market the heck out of it with messages like:
- “Fast-track onboarding for an agile COVID-19 response!”
- “We know time is of the essence right now. Our team will have you up and running in under a week.”
- “New rapid installation service to get you started immediately.”
- “Call now and we’ll get you started on the same day.”
The sense of immediate gratification is especially compelling in a stressful, shifting landscape like this pandemic. See what your team can manage and make it happen. This is one of the highest-impact tools in the box when marketing for SaaS companies in a crisis. Appealing to your audience’s urgency with a sense that there’s ‘nothing to lose’ can drive sales directly.
Now Get Started!
To sum up: expand your focus on inbound tactics (which techies love to consume), embrace the more cost-effective digital channels (to reduce spending), do everything you can to streamline onboarding (and talk about it!), and consider campaigning on lower-commitment offers (at least for now).
Together, these tactics will cut costs, reassure clients, and improve your ROI ratio—all at once. Lost sales aren’t ideal, but it’s within your SaaS company’s power to recover and come back stronger than ever.