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Posted on March 14, 2019

The following is a guest post by Sara Carter, Co-Founder of Enlightened-Digital.

In the crowded SaaS marketplace, branding is everything. When it comes to web-based proprietary software, the competition for market share is fierce. As a result, marketing teams have to build out comprehensive B2B strategies that target and nurture leads, raise brand visibility and drive sales. 

This post takes a closer look at some of the ways savvy marketers position their product to sell in the B2B market, as well as some key metrics to track.

How is this different than other SaaS marketing models?

Different buyer personas mean a different marketing strategy. Although traditional forms of media like content marketing, SEO and Google Adwords campaigns still impact brand awareness and help generate leads, the marketing material is largely more informational. Because the product is being marketed to other businesses, marketers can leverage industry vocabulary that would be lost on a consumer audience. 

Additionally, brand loyalty among B2B clients is surprisingly high versus B2C consumers. According to a study by the Corporate Executive Board, B2B purchases make up more of a personal risk for stakeholders, who feel that job security, credibility, and time and energy depend upon choosing a software provider who eliminates risk and provides obvious value. Thus, a stakeholder is more likely to choose a branded platform they closely correlate with positive results. It can be difficult to break that emotional tie, so it’s important for challenger brands to seed positive sentiment for their proprietary platforms, and focus on revenue-driving metrics that put them in a position to compete with the Oracles and Ciscos of the world.

What should the KPIs be for a B2B software marketing campaign? Let’s take a look at some metrics to measure. 

Lead Conversions

Not all conversions are created equal. Xander Marketing suggests that someone who starts a free trial or books an online demo is a more qualified lead than someone who downloads a whitepaper. Although both count as conversions, focusing sales and marketing efforts on the stakeholders that take the extra step towards the end of the funnel can result in more qualified leads. 

That said, normal website conversion rates for SaaS companies can range between 5 to 10 percent, with 7 being the widely agreed upon average. Designing a website to help steer visitors towards these desired conversion activities is key, alongside making them the targets for paid keyword and ad campaigns. 

Churn

Churn is the amount of business a company loses over time. It’s one of the most integral metrics to the SaaS business model. Poor or misdirected marketing efforts have a direct impact on churn, because, as Hubspot puts it, “there is not a more sure-fire way to increase your churn rate than to market and sell your product to people who don’t truly need it.”

Focus on developing an airtight buyer persona that directs marketing strategy. Additionally, keeping an eye on the churn rate on a monthly basis will ensure all stakeholders are informed and can adjust as necessary. 

Customer Acquisition Cost

Customer acquisition cost, or CAC, divides the total sales and marketing spend by the number of new customers added in a given time period. In addition to paid marketing, media, and event costs, the figure also accounts for associated payroll expenses like salary and benefits for sales and marketing staff. 

Hubspot recommends newer companies fold all marketing costs into this calculation since scaling for growth requires a hefty investment in branding, marketing and sales strategy. It’s normal for the CAC to be considerably higher during this period, with more established companies filtering out extraneous marketing costs during the growth period. 

Event ROI

One major revenue outlet for B2B companies is via events such as webinars, trade shows, and keynote speaking events. It’s a valuable opportunity to network, generate leads, and garner earned publicity for a product. Marketers can use overall attendance, engagement surveys and total qualified leads as indicators of an event’s success. 

It’s also important to focus the content of an event through a problem-solution lens, given the B2B audience. Research, testimonials and sales figures that can address the emotional barrier to entry mentioned earlier are all vital components of event presentations that can win over stakeholders. 

Most B2B software companies spend years on customer acquisition and marketing in order to reach a period of sustained growth, so it’s normal to see some fluctuation in ROI. If negative patterns start to emerge; however, it’s a sign that the core marketing strategy needs to change. 

Marketing and sales metrics provide the roadmap for SaaS success. In order to remain competitive, software brands have to take a critical look at their marketing strategies and adjust accordingly. It’s a crowded market out there for software vendors, and standing out requires a commitment to analyzing hard data for smarter, swifter decision-making.

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