6 Things to Look for in Your SaaS Marketing Platform
Marketing has changed dramatically in the past 20 years. The internet has continued its explosive growth, mobile web access has become almost universal, and social media has rapidly been integrated into both everyday life and the business world. And for Software as a Service (SaaS) companies, marketing presents an additional layer of challenges.
A major difference for SaaS is the speed of purchase decisions. A prospect can sit down, start searching the web for solutions, find a SaaS company’s website or Facebook page, try a free sample of its product, and complete a purchase, becoming a customer in a single sitting. Of course, not every customer will do this. But the potential speed of the transaction affects how you market your product.
It also makes a good SaaS marketing platform extremely valuable. You need a system in place that’s reliable, time-saving, intelligent, and comprehensive, covering all the bases to put your product in the customer’s line of sight and help keep it there.
Marketing platforms can do a lot of things to make your strategy sing. Here are some things to look for:
1. Email Marketing
Let’s start with the most obvious. Despite everything else that has come along in the past couple of decades, email remains the top method B2B marketers use to generate demand because of the high return on investment it provides. A good platform starts with a smart approach to managing this hugely important part of the job.
Strong targeting is the crucial element in an effective email campaign. One useful approach to smart email marketing is creating personas that represent your primary customers and then developing detailed email conversion plans for each one.
Your marketing platform can be a big help in doing this, segmenting your email lists by persona or by the point recipients have reached in the buying process – leads, new customers, longtime customers, etc. HubSpot, for example, is designed to facilitate this approach, offering easy ways to personalize emails to individual prospects or customers. It has automated workflows for email campaigns, lead capture and lead scoring features, and tracking data. And it allows emails to be scheduled as long as a year in advance.
2. Social Media Management
If used correctly, social media can do a lot to enhance your presence and reputation in the marketplace. However, you can’t simply create a Facebook page for your company and expect people to come and hang out there. Building relationships on social media takes time and effort. A coordinated strategy is needed, and a good marketing platform can help with the heavy lifting.
Social media is a great way to increase traffic to your company’s website. Managed properly, it can also help build your company’s reputation for customer service and customer engagement.
Good demographic data will help guide the choices you make to maximize your impact on social media, including selecting the right social media platforms for your brand. However, many B2B companies will find that Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and perhaps Instagram are good options for their business. Depending on the type of customer you’re trying to connect with, maintaining a presence on every single network may be a waste of resources. If you do find several of them to be useful venues, your marketing platform can make it easier to achieve across-the-board effectiveness.
Reviewing the data your platform supplies will enable you to see easily which social networks are working for you and what posting times produce the biggest impact. The information you need will be at your fingertips. The platform also will simplify scheduling your posts.
3. Website Management
A significant part of marketing these days is concentrated on bringing potential customers to your company’s website. But that effort is wasted if they don’t feel welcomed, intrigued and rewarded when they visit.
Content is key – we’ll get to that in a minute – but to make the experience as helpful as possible for the people you want as customers, it’s important to have the right combination of elements, an intuitive and inviting design, and a solid strategy for maintenance, evaluation and revision. Your marketing platform should enable you to track visits with a useful degree of detail so you can pinpoint what’s working and what isn’t.
Some platforms have templates that will help you build your website, if that’s what you want. But even if you prefer to handle that by yourself, the platform should help you keep your site in tiptop shape. Most of us know what’s it’s like to pull up a website and feel as if you’ve opened the door to a musty room that has been closed for years. Web pages and landing pages have to be updated constantly to stay fresh and to keep up with the rapid evolution of SEO. A good marketing platform makes that easy. HubSpot keeps all the website elements together and well-integrated.
4. Content Strategy and Blog Management
Vibrant content on your website, smartly promoted in emails and on social media, can be a huge asset in building customer relationships. Customers should feel like the content was written with them in mind, and, with the right information, it can be. This is where a strong marketing platform can be a huge asset, drilling deep into data to help you craft your content with a clear idea of your audience. Your goal is to provide information that your visitors will find valuable and interesting.
A system that keeps track of customer questions and requests can help you spot subjects to address at length on your web and social media pages. Content that anticipates customers’ concerns will keep them coming back and aid in customer retention, which of course is a crucial issue for SaaS companies.
Finally, your marketing platform can help you stay on schedule with your posting, whatever frequency you decide is right for your company. It can keep all the elements you might need for your posts – assets such as images or content offer PDFs -- together for quick, easy deployment onto multiple marketing avenues. And it can easily optimize your content for desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone.
5. SEO Optimization
Search engine optimization has evolved over the past few years. A company’s specific marketing needs can affect its SEO strategy considerably, and your marketing platform can assist you in getting it right.
One valuable feature is the ability to isolate visitor data into segmented groups. So if a post was aimed at a particular audience, you can see how well your SEO strategy worked in drawing attention within that target group, as well as how it worked overall.
HubSpot has a content strategy tool that helps companies organize their blogs with SEO in mind. The company can choose a topic that’s central to its products and services, then craft a series of blog posts on related subtopics that can be used to create a pillar page with the individual posts functioning as chapters. The content strategy tool helps ensure that the posts are SEO-friendly and have sufficient similarities to function as a cluster.
These days, the most successful sites in terms of SEO are tending toward long-form content. HubSpot’s content strategy tool helps companies develop such content and track its performance. Proper attention to SEO is necessary to make sure you’re bringing the kind of visitors you need to your site.
6. Contact Management
Keeping track of your company’s contacts can be a complex and time-consuming endeavor. The right marketing platform can make it quick and easy. All the relevant information about each contact stays close at hand. And you can track the history and success of your company’s interactions with its contacts thoroughly and automatically.
Information on some of your contacts may be limited to a few pieces of data. But if someone at your company has had a more detailed encounter with the contact, or if the person has filled out a form on your website, more information becomes available, such as employment and demographic data.
Other information may include responses to emails, number of visits to your website and clicks on Facebook posts. All of these things allow your marketing platform to segment your contacts into prioritized lists. Entering the criteria of the greatest value or obtaining it through forms enables the automated platform to generate scores for each contact that help identify the best leads.
A Basic Toolbox
In addition to having a marketing platform that allows you to organize all of your content and effectively manage your strategy, there are a number of tools you can use to supplement your platform to make the most of SaaS marketing:
- HubSpot – Unless your budget demands it, you don’t have to restrict your marketing arsenal to one super weapon. But if you’re going to do that, HubSpot is a good one to consider. Its array of services is comprehensive, hitting many of the bases described above with strong analytics and well-integrated features. Email? Check. Website? Check. Social media? Check. Contacts? Check. SEO? Check. HubSpot offers tiered packages and add-ons depending on a company’s needs, including a solid freemium starter version. In its most elaborate form it’s expensive, but not necessarily more expensive than building a comparable marketing package a la carte. And it’s a lot easier.
- SEMRush -- This is a truly sophisticated SEO tool that’s ideal for keyword tracking but goes far beyond it. Even if you have HubSpot, SEMRush is a valuable addition to the toolkit that provides useful insight into your marketing performance on multiple levels and shows where your SEO efforts rank compared with those of your competitors.
- Seventh Sense -- As important as email can be to your overall marketing success, it can’t hurt to have an extra tool for fine-tuning your approach to email. Timing is an important part of email effectiveness, and Seventh Sense helps determine the right time and frequency for emails, making them less likely to go straight to the recipient’s Spam folder. Another plus: It works well with HubSpot.
- Wistia -- If video is important to your marketing plan, Wistia makes it easy to create and deploy professional videos and then evaluate their impact. It’s designed specifically to meet the needs of businesses and has a reputation for outstanding customer support.
- Grammarly -- The consensus seems to be that, on average, the internet has helped erode the general population’s sensitivity to proper grammar, accurate spelling, and refined writing. Perhaps some of the people you expect to provide messaging for your company are less-than-flawless wordsmiths. While this may not matter to some customers, those who are attuned to grammar are quickly repelled by misspellings and subject-verb disagreements. In addition to spell-checking, Grammarly scans content for violations of 400 grammar rules and suggests stronger adjectives to replace weak ones. And it comes with a plagiarism detector.
For a look at some additional SaaS marketing tools you may find useful, click here.
Help is Available
The sophistication of today’s marketing platforms and high-tech tools make it easier than ever for SaaS companies to keep the bulk of their marketing work in-house. Technology can save time, sharpen analysis and help guide a company’s message straight to its intended targets.
Still, a company may need help developing an overall strategy that makes the most of the tools available. Spot On is ready to provide expert assistance in deploying today’s best marketing technology for maximum effect.