We aren't going to start this article with some big explanation of Social media or even why you should be on it. Those arguments have been made - but let's just say it's not a flippant trend so ignoring it is at your own risk.
Now, that being said, thinking of social media channels as your SaaS content distribution tool is not effective either.
What we are going to explore are real bonafide methods to use social media to drive MRR for a B2B SaaS business. No cheesy, watered down ideas on how to improve your posts or what the right time is to send a post.
So, if you are ready to dig into social strategies that will work, read on.
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We've found this tactic to be massively successful for SaaS companies and its a simple concept -- leverage someone with a huge following of a niche audience and get them to sell your product for you.
For some reason, if you do not know what an affiliate program is, its when you create a system to provide people outside your organization a commission for a paid user. There are tons of systems out there to make this turn key or you can build it into your platform. Basically it's giving them a link with a unique identifier to them and when a visitor comes, signs up and ultimately purchases, they get credit - and some cash from you.
In many cases with SaaS, the affiliate can earn a monthly commission on subscriptions. For affiliates, this is their dream life of having a lot of small recurring revenue streams.
Now, what is in it for your B2B SaaS? Access to targeted audiences. There are "influencers" ( we hate that word ) out there that have built huge focused audiences. Think of these couple examples:
And this list could go on and on of the types of folks out there that have built and audience of some sort. Depending on your niche and target audience, that could be micro communities of a couple thousand people or huge communities of hundreds of thousands.
The key here is that these audience pay attention to and trust the person they follow. So, why not tap into that trust and focused expertise with a target audience and exploit it.
For concrete proof, we have seen several B2B SaaS companies that have seen hockey stick growth from finding the right affiliate to sell their product for them. One mention a month to a 500,000 person audience that turns into 100 to 200 monthly trials. And since the audience is so niche, a high percentage of those trials become paid subscriptions.
There are a number of reasons that we consider this part of Social Media as well as its own strategy.
First, typically these affiliates are leveraging Social Media to build and communicate with their audiences. The right affiliates will have larger numbers of followers or members of groups on Social channels. Therefore, one of the key ways to find and evaluate good potential affiliates is to research social channels for people that not only have large communities but have engaged communities.
Second, if you are going to leverage an affiliate that has a large social community, you should have a strong social presence as well. Why? A lot of these referrals will find their way to your social channels and evaluate your business on the frequency, quality of content and engagement.
There are countless brands that have been able to leverage the reach and trust of social media creators or trusted industry personalities to work on their behalf. Affiliate marketing is a significant source of branding and lead generation for brands in industries ranging from consumer goods to SaaS.
One example of a SaaS brand that used the reach and established reputation of industry experts to boost their social strategy is Monday.com. Following the start of the pandemic, Monday.com saw the opportunity remote work could provide their project management application. They knew it was an important moment to try and increase their market penetration.
Monday.com set out to recruit top industry experts to promote their brand, and use the platform of the affiliates on their behalf. Monday.com used organic social posts, blog content, and virtual panels that included these well-known industry figures to spread their brand. While details on the payment structure Monday.com reached with the experts wasn’t released, information on the results were.
Monday.com drew more than 300,000 organic impressions on social media and had more than 3,000 unique viewers on their live stream featuring these experts within the first week. The combination of Monday.com’s great product with industry leaders led to massive results, pushing Monday.com closer to their goal of becoming a leading project management software.
76% of buyers are ready to have sales conversations on social media.
81% of buyers are more likely to engage with brands that have a strong, cohesive, professional social media presence.
92% of B2B customers are willing to engage with sales reps who have positioned themselves as an industry thought leader. This credibility is often attained by posting regularly to social media.
We primarily use this strategy with LinkedIn but it is also possible on other social platforms as well. The great thing about LinkedIn is that if you know how, there are ways to automate the outreach process.
The number one tactic within this Social strategy is that you have to be hyper targeted and highly personalized.
Hyper-targeted means you are segmenting who you reach out to. On LinkedIn you can use a number of factors from company, title, industry, company size, and lots more to search for contacts.
Personalization is just that you are ensuring that your message is hyper focused to that target audience.
Lazy marketers will have wider audiences and more generic messaging while better marketers will have very narrow targeting and hyper personalized messages that resonate. The difference in conversion will be huge. Sending out generic messaging is just asking to be ignored or blocked.
Now, you may be saying that you hate this idea as you get spammed all the time. I agree and it sucks, but don't let the bad eggs ruin your social party.
The key is to think of it as a long-term game and be willing to give first. In a long-term game, you are not trying to get someone to do something right away and you don't hound them a bunch. We're talking years and not days. This can be hard to swallow at times because we want revenue now, but the reality is you are lining up next years revenue today.
We want to give - when we give to others they often feel more compelled to give something back. What can we give? Education, a free resource, a referral ... get creative but make sure you are giving.
We've used webinars, free tickets to industry events, a referral to a contact we thought could help them, and many other unique tactics. But this approach actually creates a connection and then puts you in a positive light with them.
This long-term strategy requires several things from a business. First, it will take significant audience targeting work. Finding the right people to reach out to is a must. Then, businesses will need to consider what they have to offer prospective customers. But if a business can figure out both these things, they’ll find they can make strong connections with a large number of prospects.
An example of a SaaS business that used direct social media outreach to grow their brand is Autopilot. Autopilot is a marketing automation software that was looking to strategically increase their growth in a budget conscious way. They wanted to cost-effectively connect with their desired audience and boost their sales, and turned to a LinkedIn lead generation strategy.
Autopilot’s solution was to use LinkedIn’s top-notch audience targeting features to narrow their outreach to people with a senior role in marketing and communication companies in Australia, the US, and the U.K. Their value add was marketing automation templates they provided for their leads. They delivered this through video ads and direct outreach.
Autopilot managed to connect with 545 qualified leads in a three-month span, with a cost-per-lead that was 4x lower than they had targeted. They used the audience targeting features of LinkedIn with direct outreach and a valuable free offer that strengthened their relationship with prospective leads.
Data of Advertising Age shows that 86% of consumers buying IT products use social media to help them decide on a purchase.
A study by Dell found that more than 70% of B2B purchase decision makers use influencers’ posts on social media to make decisions.
Nearly half of Gen Z is using TikTok and Instagram for search instead of Google, according to Google's own data.
If you read our content, you will know that we believe that SEO and top search ranking is one of the #1 strategies for user acquisition. As an agency focused on SaaS SEO, we know that people search for something when they have a pain or need which means when they find an answer, they are ready to act.
Youtube is the second largest search engine after google and a key tactic to being found as a company is having video content on youtube and your site.
What the article above as well as other trends tells us is that shorter videos are most popular. We would argue with statistical data to back it up, that all video consumers prefer shorter videos. Even things like explainer videos and B2B commercials should often max out at a minute and a half.
Micro videos can be used in so many ways to capture people's attention. Let's look at just a few:
The amazing thing that is different from 10 years ago is that there is not an expectation that video has to be over produced and created by a film crew.
Jump on your phone. Film an imperfect, but authentic video. Post it.
There are a lot of platforms designed to support micro-video, with TikTok, YouTube, YouTube Shorts, and Instagram Reels all popular social channels centered around this content format. Many businesses have managed to build significant audiences and grow their brand using these platforms.
Short-form video is meant to be punchy and fast-paced, and should be an efficient form of communication. Shopify stands out as a brand that is using short-form video to expand their profile and connect with their audience. Shopify is the e-commerce giant that partners with businesses to enable online shopping, and their social short-form video is a good example of how to use the content.
Shopify has built a following of more than 110,000 people on TikTok, where they share feature updates, success stories, and small business-based content. They have short but valuable videos, with titles like “7 new Shopify features I’m excited about.”
Spotify has really honed in on their audience with TikTok by centering much of their content on the start-up/small business owner experience.
They have real business owners talk about their daily difficulties and share motivational videos. They are also smart about using TikTok the way it was meant to be used, consistently hopping on new trends with popular sounds that tend to increase engagement. They do all this while still managing to tie everything back to their brand, all within short videos.
Yes, we have a SaaS Founder Interview show where we have interviewed over 100 founders and more coming each week.
There are a number of reasons that we do it and it's successful:
An interview show that happens two to four times a month produces a massive amount of benefit.
Your opportunity is the same. To pull in clients or prospects and develop a show or podcast that can not just create valuable content but also build your network.
There are a lot of benefits that come from sharing interviews and panel conversation with industry experts. Beyond getting to learn and hear from other people in the industry, audiences love it.
These interviews provide high-quality video or audio content that can be shared across social media or embedded in websites. Longform conversations are highly popular forms of content right now, with podcasts and video interviews attracting large numbers of listeners and viewers.
These conversations open up opportunities for brands to carve out reputations as thought leaders within certain spaces. While these interviews might not appeal to the average consumer, what is important is that they have an established audience. For example, our SaaS founder show is geared specifically towards people interested in the start-up and SaaS space, who want to learn more about founders’ journeys and insights.
Interviews can cover a huge range of topics, from highly niche, technical conversations to more broad and accessible chats. The value is significant in both situations, as it is an effective way to expand a network, reach a niche audience on social media, and gain re-purposable content.
An example of a software company that has leveraged these ideas in a successful way is ebay. Ebay is one of the most important e-commerce platforms in the world, a business that has found massive success on a global scale. They partnered with Gimlet Company to produce the Open for Business podcast.
This podcast is centered on entrepreneurship, with the host interviewing several entrepreneurs every week on a range of topics. Episode topics include “The Future of Work,” which is centered on the gig economy, and “How to Reinvent Your Business.” For each topic, they speak to relevant business leaders.
This is all relevant to eBay's history as a start-up that became a multi-billion-dollar giant. It is a way for eBay to attract interest from entrepreneurs and young business people that may be utilizing other e-commerce platforms, and draw them in with interesting content.
Advertising is tough to master, but can work in the right circumstances. But a subset of advertising is remarketing where you show an ad to someone who has already visited your site.
Now, if configured correctly to show to the right visitors that have been to your site ( visitors with strong buying indicators ), then showing them lead generation ads or brand awareness ads is a sure fire win.
Not everyone converts or buys on the first visit. Statistically it is rare for someone to buy on the first visit at all.
But of all those visitors who don't buy or convert on the first visit, there are a mass amount of people that may need to buy a solution like yours either in the near-term or long-term.
Remarketing helps ensure that you stay in front of them.
We typically group remarketing strategies into two different types -- first lead generation where we are trying o get someone to convert; and second brand awareness to keep your name in front of them.
Remarketing can be done on the Google network of sites and many social media sites. We like utilizing remarketing on social sites because it can be built into their feed and with the right type of ad, actually get results.
For SaaS companies, offers of trials or education for their target audience can be really powerful ways to re-engage with these visitors who have left your site without converting.
It sometimes just takes that extra step to convert a lead. Oftentimes, the first time a prospect sees your content serves as an introduction, where you make that initial impression, and they move on. Remarketing with an additional incentive of a free offering can reignite the relationship and perhaps move them closer to a sale.
The more someone sees your brand, and the more familiar they are with your message, the likelier it is that they will make a purchase. Don’t give up on a lead just because they have gone cold after an initial social media encounter. Remarketing helps businesses stay at the front of consumers' minds, whether for branding purposes or conversions.
One company that has become known for the success of their remarketing strategy is Airbnb. Airbnb is one of the more innovative tech companies of the past several decades, completely transforming how people travel. One of the key marketing strategies they’ve used to carve out a big slice of the market is Facebook retargeting.
Airbnb is persistent with their remarketing strategy. If you are looking for a dream vacation home on their website, and exit the page, chances are you’ll see an ad that looks like this one of the next times you’re scrolling through Facebook. These ads will show a home from the destination you were searching, and emphasize the free cancellation Airbnb provides.
Booking a vacation stay is a big decision, and Airbnb understands that persistence pays off. The more people see that dream getaway, the more willing they might be to turn it from a dream to a reality.
If there isn’t an established community in place that fits your ideal audience, create one. Building your own community that matches your target audience is an extremely powerful way to build a long-term funnel of frictionless opportunities.
Niche groups are incredibly popular on platforms like Reddit and LinkedIn, places where people can talk to like minded individuals and share insights and advice. Establishing a group like this that encompasses your target audience is a high-impact way to promote your business and glean helpful insights.
There aren’t many better market research opportunities than hearing firsthand from the group of consumers you are trying to target. You can hear about these people's’ pain points, their goals, and wants in a SaaS product. Using the insights you glean from a niche community to drive your decision-making can lead to a more targeted product that resonates with your core audience.
These groups can inform a marketing strategy and they can also help brands promote a pre-established one. A group of qualified leads in a group where you share updates and content is a dream for many brands. While Reddit has stringent rules for advertising, as long as you are transparent on both platforms, there is no problem.
Building a community centered around a common interest is a high-impact way to develop your audience. You can learn more about the people you are targeting while still promoting your SaaS product. This is a strategy that many businesses have employed.
One business that has leveraged groups in a significant way is Connect 365.io. This social media marketing firm, while not in the SaaS space, is a prime example of the power of community development. They’ve managed to leverage their market expertise to create a branded LinkedIn group called “Social Media Marketing Group by Connect 365.io.”
This group has managed to attract more than 1.95 million members, people interested in swapping information on digital marketing and social media strategy. Many of these people are searching for information and looking to grow their expertise, making them the exact client that Connect 365 would be hoping to attract.
Every time one of the 1.9 million members of the group uses the page, the Connect 365’s name is front and center. There is no way to put a price on value of the branding and market research Connect 365 has received from this group. It is one of the most popular groups on the entire platform, and is the product of a smart decision by Connect 365 to build their own community.
Look, even if your are a B2B SaaS, you are selling to other humans and consumers that get excited by consumer brands. People don't want to work with unemotional robotos, they want to feel good. Yes, results and solving problems comes first, but it takes it to a whole new level when you add authenticity to it.
So, don't be afraid to let a little of your freak fly.
Show who your brand is beyond just the surface level product. While the product is what will ultimately convince people to make a purchase, the personality behind it can be a big part of getting people interested enough to engage with you.
People don’t want to feel like they are buying from some robotic corporate entity. They want to know you, your employees, and your culture. According to Adobe, 89% of people are more loyal to brands that share their values. So don’t be afraid to let prospective customers know what those values are.
There are a lot of different ways to show off who you are on social media. If there’s one format that supports company culture content the most, it is video. We’ve mentioned how impactful micro-video can be, and it is the ideal way to showcase who you are in a personable, impactful way.
Some ways to show off your company culture include lighthearted meet the team videos, where employees can share who they are, what drew them to your business, and fun or interesting facts about themselves. Other brands create mission and value videos that highlight why they do what they do. The general idea is to keep it fun, fast, and light, and to put the people behind the product into the spotlight.
One example of a brand that hasn’t been afraid to show off their personality is MailChimp. MailChimp’s marketing automation platform is one of the most widely circulated small business tools around, and their advertising has always been light-hearted, fun, and informative.
With their social media video, they create funny, frenetic content that highlights the struggles of their target audience. These videos resonate with their ideal customer while still being lighthearted and funny. This is the tone that brands need to take: informative, fun, and personable.
Establishing your brand voice takes time and practice, but when you find that right tone like MailChimp, it can lead to social media content that is infinitely more appealing.
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