SaaS advertising and marketing is the method of constructing consciousness, rising curiosity, and buying extra prospects for a software-as-a-service (SaaS) product.

As a SaaS firm ourselves, we’re no strangers to the method. Actually, we’d prefer to assume we’re greater than respectable at it. Not solely have we reached an eight-figure ARR, however entrepreneurs additionally continuously analyze our advertising and marketing technique on Twitter:

Now, you don’t need to dissect our advertising and marketing to make use of on your personal SaaS enterprise as a result of I’m going to share these ways with you.

Right here they are:

  1. Search engine marketing-driven content material advertising and marketing
  2. Information research
  3. Free instruments
  4. Neighborhood
  5. Content material repurposing
  6. Be a visitor on podcasts
  7. Paid adverts
  8. Conferences

Like many different SaaS corporations, we frequently create content material on each our weblog and YouTube channel. However in a crowded world, merely producing content material isn’t sufficient. It must be found.

The “discovery engine” behind our content material is search engine marketing (Search engine marketing). This is how our weblog will get ~300K month-to-month guests from Google alone:

Data on Ahrefs blog's monthly organic traffic

Search engine marketing-driven content material advertising and marketing is the core of our advertising and marketing technique. It drives each our enterprise and different advertising and marketing channels.

Right here’s how we do it.

A. Discover matters with search visitors potential

For a bit of content material to get search visitors, it must be a few subject that individuals are actively trying to find on Google. Is sensible, proper?

Right here’s the right way to discover these matters:

  1. Go to Ahrefs’ Key phrases Explorer
  2. Enter a key phrase associated to your business (e.g., “design”)
  3. Go to the Matching phrases report
  4. Toggle the Questions tab

You’ll see tons of key phrase concepts and their estimated month-to-month search volumes.

Matching terms report of monthly search volumes

In the event you’re searching for matters to rank for on YouTube, then merely change the search engine from Google to YouTube.

The word "Youtube" added in the search box in Keyword Explorer

Look by way of these matters and word down these which can be related to your SaaS.

Really helpful studying: Key phrase Analysis: The Newbie’s Information by Ahrefs

B. Give attention to excessive “business potential” matters

One distinctive factor we do at Ahrefs is to pitch our product in each piece of content material we create. We need you to discover ways to resolve an issue and know the way our toolset helps to resolve it too.

Sadly, many SaaS corporations keep away from doing this as a result of concern of being too gross sales‑y. However we’d prefer to assume we straddle the road fairly properly.

One key purpose why we’ve managed to do that efficiently is due to a rating we’ve created known as “business potential”:

Table with scores 3 to 0. And explanation of criteria to meet each score.

Writing about matters with a excessive “business potential” rating permits us to advertise our product naturally.

For instance, the subject “link building” is a “3” in our books. That’s as a result of it’s virtually inconceivable to do hyperlink constructing properly with no backlink analysis software—one thing we provide. So, in our hyperlink constructing information, we will naturally discuss our product:

Blog post talking about value of Keyword Explorer

We do that in our YouTube movies too.

C. Create content material that ranks

To rank at the highest of Google, you’ll have to create content material that deserves to rank. Watch this video to find out how. Or this video if you wish to rank on YouTube.

Additional studying
  • What is Search engine marketing Content material? Easy methods to Write Content material that Ranks
  • YouTube Search engine marketing: Easy methods to Rank Your Movies From Begin to End 

Not each piece of content material we create is designed to rank in Google. Actually, we have now loads of articles like this that get virtually no natural visitors.

Data of Ahrefs article that gets very little organic traffic

Why can we nonetheless create them?

These articles are principally knowledge research, and there are three foremost the reason why we create them:

  1. Thought management These research educate, inform, and enlighten individuals in our business on how issues are (or the place they’re heading). They lend numbers and credibility for what entrepreneurs need to do—persuade their bosses to spend money on Search engine marketing, present stakeholders the place to direct assets, and many others. This, in flip, makes us prime of thoughts.
  2. Exhibit our knowledge  The core of our product is knowledge. These research assist “flex” our knowledge muscle tissues.
  3. Linkbait – These research often appeal to tons of hyperlinks as different publications quote them.

Right here’s how you are able to do it:

A. Discover an fascinating subject

You’ll be able to’t simply create any knowledge research and count on publicity. It must be fascinating—or at least fascinating to individuals who could cite them (e.g., journalists).

One strategy to discover fascinating knowledge is to search out matters that individuals are already speaking about subjectively and create goal knowledge to handle them.

For instance, a well-liked query within the Search engine marketing business is, “How long does it take to rank in Google?” And virtually each weblog put up that attempted to reply this query primarily based the reply on subjective expertise.

Excerpt from blog post giving a subjective answer

No goal knowledge to assist the creator’s declare.

So, in 2017, we carried out a research utilizing our knowledge to reply the query. It stays considered one of our hottest knowledge research and has since generated a complete of three,200 backlinks from ~1,500 distinctive web sites:

Data showing Ahrefs' study getting tons of backlinks and referring domains

One other tactic is reconducting in style however outdated research. Right here’s how you’ll find these research:

  1. Go to Ahrefs’ Content material Explorer
  2. Enter a search time period like [industry] + “study,” [industry] + “survey,” [industry] + “research,” or [industry] + “data”
  3. Set the filter to an “intitle” search
  4. Set the Printed filter to an older date vary (e.g., 2010–2015)
  5. Type the outcomes by referring domains

For instance, doing this for the Search engine marketing business surfaces a number of research we will recreate that have already got hundreds of hyperlinks:

List of studies that have thousands of links

B. Promote your content material to events

The great thing about the 2 ways above is that you just already know who’s writing about these matters. All that’s left is to achieve out and introduce your research to them. They might resolve to hyperlink to your analysis or function your analysis in an upcoming put up.

Observe our full information to blogger outreach to discover ways to do this.

Additional studying
  • 6 Linkable Asset Varieties (And EXACTLY Easy methods to Earn Hyperlinks With Them) 
  • Deconstructing Linkbait: Easy methods to Create Content material That Attracts Backlinks

At Ahrefs, we provide loads of free Search engine marketing instruments:

Ahrefs webpage featuring free tools

Collectively, they generate a mixed 300K month-to-month natural visits:

Data showing pages of free tools have lots of traffic

Not solely are the customers getting a taster of how our product works, however our model is additionally prime of thoughts. In the event that they want an improve, Ahrefs is the primary they’ll flip to. (In spite of everything, they already know the way it works!)

Not surprisingly, they generate tons of recent sign-ups for us:

Person's reply on a registration form that they learned about Ahrefs through a free tool

Right here’s how one can replicate it on your SaaS enterprise:

A. Discover related instruments that individuals are trying to find

Like content material, instruments must be found. So the simplest manner is to create one thing that already has search demand.

Right here’s the right way to do it:

  1. Go to Key phrases Explorer
  2. Enter a number of key phrases associated to your area of interest
  3. Go to the Matching phrases report
  4. Click on the Embody filter
  5. Toggle Any phrase
  6. Enter phrases like “calculator,” “checker,” or “tool” (separated by commas)

You need to then see key phrases that characterize instruments individuals are trying to find:

List of keywords like "bitcoin calculator," "btc calculator," etc

B. Create a free software

Fairly possible, all you might want to do is to take considered one of your current functionalities and create a restricted model of it. This is precisely what we do for all of our free instruments. For instance, our free backlink checker is merely a restricted model of Web site Explorer’s Backlinks report:

Backlink profile for Ahrefs blog

C. Construct hyperlinks

On your free software to rank properly, you’ll have to amass hyperlinks to it. Discover ways to do it in our newbie’s information to hyperlink constructing.

Ahrefs Insider is our customers-only Fb group. On the time of writing, it has ~16,500 members:

Header of Ahrefs' Fb page showing 16.5k members

Within the group, we continuously put up product updates, reply members’ support-related questions, and provides recommendations on the right way to higher use our toolset. However that’s not all we do. Members of the group are welcome to ask questions on Search engine marketing or give suggestions on what they like/dislike about our product.

The end result: We have an engaged group wanting to share their data, reply questions, and supply enter on our toolset.

For all of the business discuss how entrepreneurs ought to discuss and hearken to prospects, a group is your greatest wager. We solely permit paying prospects within the group, so all suggestions is certified and worthwhile.

Tim Soulo, our chief advertising and marketing officer (CMO), shares how we’ve constructed a group of ardent followers on this video:

In the event you’re spending numerous assets creating content material, will probably be a waste simply to publish and neglect. As an alternative, make each piece go the additional mile. Flip it into a number of codecs.

We do that on a regular basis at Ahrefs. Listed here are a number of examples:

  • My colleague, Michal Pecánek, turned his weblog put up on bounce fee right into a popular Twitter thread.
  • The Search engine marketing guidelines picture from our put up went viral on each Twitter and LinkedIn.
  • We repurposed our video on content material republishing into an article (and each now rank #1 on their respective platforms).

Consider it as a pyramid. Begin with one foremost model, then splinter it into smaller variations for different channels.

Pyramid with 3 levels. Top level is "video content," then "written content," then "social media content"

Podcasting has exploded in recognition. There are a whole lot, if not hundreds, of podcasts in any business. And lots want visitors to come back on and share their data.

This presents an amazing alternative for any SaaS enterprise to advertise itself and faucet into the podcast’s viewers.

How do you discover these alternatives? Right here’s what to do:

A. Discover podcasts to look on

The best strategy to discover podcast alternatives is to look Google for “best [industry] podcasts.”

Google search results of "best ux products"

Alternatively, you’ll find a prolific podcaster in your business and search for podcasts the place they’ve been a visitor. Right here’s the right way to do it:

  1. Search for somebody in your business who’s been on many podcasts (e.g., Ahrefs’ Patrick Stox)
  2. Paste that individual’s area into Web site Explorer
  3. Go to the Backlinks report
  4. Filter for backlinks with their title within the Ref. web page title
Backlinks report showing podcasts Patrick has been on

B. Attain out to the host of the podcast

Discover the e-mail tackle of the podcast host, then pitch your self as a visitor.

Paid promoting is comparatively easy: pay a platform (Fb, Twitter, and many others.) and drive visitors to your web site. Loads of SaaS corporations do that as a result of it is direct, measurable, and straightforward to scale.

Likewise, we use paid adverts at Ahrefs too. However with a twist. We use paid promoting to promote our content material.

Why? Effectively, a number of causes:

  • Most individuals don’t join software program after seeing an advert. That’s simply not how the client’s journey works, and we’re conscious of that.
  • We pitch our product in all of the content material we produce (tactic #1). So every article mainly acts as a gross sales web page. Seen from that lens, we’re really driving visitors to an “educational sales page.”
  • Content material must be found to ensure that any subsequent step to happen. If nobody’s studying your content material, then they can’t be educated, hyperlink to you, or devour your “sales pitch.”

That is to not say we don’t use paid promoting to get sign-ups. We do. However we solely use it for our free instruments like Ahrefs Webmaster Instruments. It’s a a lot simpler “sell” than attempting to persuade somebody to purchase software program primarily based on simply the primary impression.

Learn our information to PPC advertising and marketing if you wish to be taught extra about utilizing Google Adverts to drive visitors and leads.

Yearly, we communicate at plenty of conferences. They usually get us sign-ups:

Written reply of someone who learned about Ahrefs through an event in Bali

Occasions, like podcasts, are aplenty. You’ll be able to at all times discover one to share your experience at. They don’t need to be a 10K-person occasion; small, native meetups work properly too.

If in-person occasions should not potential, you possibly can at all times look out for digital conferences and summits. Actually, Tim did one earlier within the 12 months for the AdWorld on-line convention.

Which ways do you have to use?

Ahrefs is a SaaS. So is your corporation. However that doesn’t imply you possibly can merely “copy-paste” our ways and obtain in a single day success.

In spite of everything, your goal prospects, business, pricing, and many others., are all totally different from us.

So how do you resolve which ways you must use on your SaaS?

Assuming you already know who your goal prospects are (most essential step!), I feel you’ll like this psychological mannequin from David Fallame, advertising and marketing director at Be On Deck:

Mental model of five animals and the corresponding acquisition strategy

Easy psychological mannequin utilizing animals as metaphors by way of The Advertising and marketing Scholar.

On this metaphor, you might want to know:

  1. Which “animal” you’re going after.
  2. Which “hunting tool” you must use.

The first step is to establish your corporation mannequin. What sort of prospects (“animal”) does your SaaS want?

  • Elephants  value a whole lot of hundreds of {dollars} per 12 months
  • Antelopes – value tens of hundreds of {dollars} per 12 months
  • Rabbits – value hundreds of {dollars} per 12 months
  • Mice  value a whole lot of {dollars} per 12 months
  • Flies  value a number of {dollars} per 12 months

Subsequent, establish the precise “hunting tool,” aka your acquisition technique. There are three foremost varieties:

  1. Spears – Require numerous direct human ability and involvement, like gross sales and enterprise growth. For SaaS companies that focus on enterprise prospects.
  2. Nets – Pull in a lot of potential targets at as soon as, like content material advertising and marketing. For SaaS companies that focus on small companies.
  3. Seeds – Your buyer base grows by itself. Examples are phrase of mouth and virality. For SaaS companies that focus on small companies or shoppers.

For us, our buyer base is primarily between the $1K-$10K zone. That is why our content material advertising and marketing technique works wonders—it is the precise software for the precise group.

Remaining ideas

Working in SaaS means listening to the quote “good artists copy, great artists steal” usually.

I’ll admit: It’s respectable recommendation. In spite of everything, most artwork is merely a remix of what got here earlier than. However I feel this recommendation is taken too far at occasions. For instance, have a look at the homepages of many SaaS corporations. They give the impression of being practically the identical.

Advertising and marketing is about differentiating your self out of your opponents. However mockingly, by copying one another, everybody finally ends up wanting the identical.

In my view, there is nothing fallacious with copying or following greatest practices. However at all times add your individual twist. This is how we’ve at all times finished our advertising and marketing at Ahrefs. Not one of the ways we’ve used are actually “unique,” however we’ve at all times tried to be totally different.

Simply have a look at our homepage and our versus web page. And even our convention banner:

Photo of Ahrefs team and banner with rough sketches on it

It’s possible you’ll be impressed by the ways we’ve executed. However keep in mind: Don’t copy wholesale.

Any questions or feedback? Ping me on Twitter.