Digital Marketing Template for B2B SaaS Startups in India

With brands and customers aggressively rushing towards digital adoption driven by pan-India 4G connectivity at dirt-cheap data rates, government driven digitization initiatives and compelled by the pandemic, the SaaS market in India witnessed a staggering 5x growth in the last 5 years leading to $5.3Bn valuation in 2020. At the current growth rate, the market will grow 8x over the next 5 years reaching $42Bn in 2025. On an aggressive growth path, it can grow at a whopping 14x to reach $75 Bn by 2025. (Source: Zinnov, SaasBoomi). Incredible, right?

B2B SaaS would play a key role in this growth, as millions of small & medium sized businesses in India are coming online and connecting into the digital ecosystem from ecommerce to payments to fulfillment.

In this article, we will discuss growth marketing strategies for B2B SaaS providers adapted to different lifecycle stages for a customer/ user.

But before we jump to the digital marketing strategies for B2B SaaS, let’s take a few to understand:

  1. Sales cycle for B2B SaaS
  2. Marketing goals and constraints

B2B SaaS Sales Cycle

B2B SaaS covers a wide spectrum of product complexity and scale, and accordingly the length of sales consideration and closure cycle. It can range from – on one end – relatively cheap one-point solutions (call it DIY SaaS) with much shorter sales cycles and hence a much simpler marketing strategy and channel mix – to the other end – large scale enterprise SaaS products which can be as involved as B2B sales can be, with multiple stages of consideration before purchase and hence need more complex multi-touch marketing strategies.

Enterprise B2B SaaS: high price point, complex features, long chain of decision makers/stakeholders, multiple user groups, longer sales cycle. Examples of such companies are Salesforce, Zendesk, Adobe etc. 

Typical Sales Funnel for Enterprise B2B

DIY B2B SaaS: cheaper, easy to use, single/isolated user groups, self guided. The digital marketing campaigns targeted directly to the prime user can lead these decision makers to your tools/ free trials/ demo and enough information coupled with guidance on platform can lead to conversion.

Typical Sales Funnel for DIY B2B

Marketing goals and constraints

Digital marketing mix is an optimization problem, with variables and constraints to reach the optimal solution:

  1. Business Goals as variables: Having clear business goals is crucial for building a good digital marketing strategy. Segregate these goals into different objectives and tailor a marketing plan for each of these objectives. These sub-goals can be
    1. Lead Generation goals: Understand where your ideal target audience spends their time looking for products like yours and covers each of those places
    2. Lead Conversion goals: Target users with more evolved and informational content to clearly convey how your brand can help them solve their problems
    3. Customer Retention goals: Communicating how your brand has helped them improve and achieve their goals
    4. Growth/ Upsell/cross-sell goals: New product features, higher subscription plans, ancillary services
    5. Customer reactivation goals etc
  2. Business/ Marketing constraints: constraints can be budget, timelines and resources available. These resources can be manpower/ skills, tools/ platforms available for marketing execution and analysis.

Once you understand these aspects, you can then proceed towards crafting a digital marketing strategy.

Digital Marketing Strategies:

Due to SaaS being a highly diversified market with multiple industries and categories, there is no one-size-fits-all approach for marketing SaaS products. We’ll discuss some commonly used marketing strategies and their suitability for different customer lifecycle stages. 

  1. Inbound Marketing: Content is key to stand out from the crowd. Since your end customers are businesses themselves, they will love it if you come across as an authority on the problem domain, and can guide them with high quality, informational and easy to digest content with original ideas and unique perspectives. It can be in terms of your product features and functionality or even blogs that align with the interest of your end users. High quality content will bring high quality traffic to your website.
    1. This is not limited to text/ blogs format but also use of images, infographics, interactive videos, AR/VR, surveys etc. Basically any format that gasps the attention of your customer/prospect.
    2. Good content strategy is not only applicable to your website but also to all of your channels like Social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Quora etc.)  and marketplaces where your product is listed. Think of any interaction point with your customers/ prospects, it needs to be rich in content.
    3. What a lot of small businesses don’t know is having high quality content has a cascading impact on your digital footprint as it improves your overall SEO performance leading to increase in your website traffic.

To ensure high conversion, you need to understand your audience and their maturity level regarding the topic and tailor the complexity of content accordingly.

Ideal for: Acquisition, Retention

  1. SEO: Optimize your keywords. It’s the most important way to capture the attention of people who are searching for products/services which are offered by you. Few tips on improving the SEO:
    1. Best SEO strategy always uses a mix of branded and non-branded keywords. This also includes tapping on some of your competitors keywords
    2. Having content (text/headlines/images/videos etc.) on website with keywords which are most relevant to your business
    3. Promote your content on multiple platforms/ portals to get as many backlinks as possible (Google appreciates it and rewards you with higher ranking on search results)

Ideal for: Acquisition

  1. Directory Listings/Aggregators: There are multiple SaaS review portals that list SaaS products by Industry/ Category. These portals list your product and its key features along with customer testimonials and reviews. Listing your product on these sites gives your brand visibility and credibility. Also, it exposes you to the audience that might be interested in your product but was unable to discover it through unaided search. Few examples of such portals are G2, Capterra etc.

Ideal for: Acquisition

  1. Paid Advertising: PPC marketing is one of the core components of your digital marketing strategy. It’s highly effective yet complicated. However, it has done wonders for businesses just like SEO. Paid ads allow you to do targeted marketing and show specific content to specific audiences. Different ad formats:
    1. Search Ads – Target a mix of branded and non-branded keywords
    2. Display & Video Ads – Deploy high quality creatives on web pages and videos with high contextual relevance and interest to your audiences
    3. Social Media Ads – Create ads for your audience on different social channels like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter etc.

These ads can have different objectives like brand awareness, lead generation, sales etc. You can target new audiences as well as run campaigns for people who have already engaged with your brand in the past. The content and messaging should be different depending on these audiences, for e.g. for new audiences, you would want to keep your content easy and catchy, whereas when it comes to re-targeted users, your messaging should be more bold, evolved and informational.

The key to a successful paid campaign is having content that catches the user’s attention in split seconds, be it copy, creatives, colours and tone of your ad. Your Call to Action messaging depends on the sales funnel your business follows i.e. sign-in for your free trial, request-a-demo, call-us etc.

In order to come up with the perfect paid ad strategy for your brand, you will have to test different types of channel and ad formats.

Ideal for: Acquisition

  1. Email Marketing: Regular engagement through emails regarding product feature updates, new content on your website, industry watch etc. help you stay in regular touch with your leads and customers.

Email can be a great tool for direct engagement with personalised messages, but it must be used with caution as unsolicited reach outs if poorly timed and poorly crafted can get you blocked even before consideration. Several automation tools exist that let you setup well crafted drip campaigns for well-spaced check-ins until the contact responds.

Ideal for: Acquisition, Retention, Reactivation

  1. Interactive Sessions (Webinars, Newsletters, Copyright content, Polls/ Surveys): Having on-going interactive sessions with your customers helps you with an in-person touch and strengthens your bond with your customers.

Ideal for: Retention, Reactivation

We at Markey have already simplified this process for you. We have coupled our extensive industry research with AI powered algorithms that understand your business, industry, customer personas, competition and constraints to craft a tailor-made digital marketing mix for your business.

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