Marketing is marketing, right? It all ends up being the same thing in the end. Anyone can do it.
True if you have infinite time to reach your marketing goals. But if you are like most of us – time-constrained & goal bound, read on about how digital marketing, and SaaS marketing, in particular, has become so specialized.
Working with those who are experts in their field is the best way to guarantee your business’ success. Just like a trial lawyer is a right choice for mounting a legal defense, a corporate lawyer is educated and equipped to handle the legalities of doing business in ways a trial lawyer just won’t be. In the same way, your SaaS business needs not only a competent marketing strategy but also the services of a SaaS marketing agency that knows how to execute on that strategy for your specific vertical.
Let’s take a closer look at digital marketing in general, and then at SaaS marketing in particular to establish the differences and nuances of types of digital marketing agencies.
What are the different types of marketing agencies?
The marketing industry is full of “boutique” or “niche” agencies that focus on doing one type of marketing very well. Types of digital agencies include the following specialties.
Social Media Agency
A social media marketing agency specializes in establishing and maintaining your business’ social media presence. They post social content that drives traffic to your existing site content such as blog posts, videos, and events. They maintain an active presence on behalf of your brand by responding to comments, helping with customer service, and finding other ways to engage with followers. They also use the reports and analytics from your social media channels to build and fine-tune your business’ social strategy.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, refers to all the activities done both in your content and behind the scenes to increase the traffic flow on your website. An SEO agency improves your online visibility by making updates to your website design as well as your site content in order to make your site more attractive on search engines.
Web design is the process of creating websites according to your company style, structure, branding, and purpose. A website design agency will fine-tune all aspects of your site, including page layout, content production, and graphic design, to better achieve your company goals. It’s also important that they ensure your site is fully responsive – which means your site looks and functions the same way no matter what device it appears on.
Branding & PR
Establishing a product or company “branding” entails promotion through all available channels. Public relations (PR) involves promotion through unpaid channels, usually the media, with the goal of influencing the public. A branding & PR agency creates, produces, and manages both paid and unpaid messaging on behalf of your company through a judicious mix of the channels most likely to catch your audience.
General Digital Marketing
Digital marketing is simply any form of marketing that exists on an electronic device or the internet. All of the above niches may be handled by a generalist digital agency, which will also emphasize tactics like SaaS marketing analytics to monitor the success and ROI of all campaigns. A generalist digital agency is typically good at one thing – website design, social media, SEO, PPC, or one particular channel. Everything else they do is built around this single strength. Their team will include a mix of channel experts who may work on your account based on the mix of channels being managed for you.
As you’ve read these summaries, you’ve probably noticed areas where your ideas about effective SaaS marketing are both broader and narrower than the niches these agencies serve. So what should you expect from a dedicated SaaS marketing agency?
What is a SaaS marketing agency?
A SaaS marketing agency specializes in generating qualified leads for SaaS companies using a variety of demand generation and lead generation strategies. Their effort continues into nurture, sales qualification, and subscription signup. What makes these agencies stand apart is that the SaaS they market is often highly specialized to solve a unique need. For pre-PMF companies, the need for the SaaS is often not well understood, hence requiring a major marketing effort to drive problem awareness. Let’s get into more specifics.
Learning how to leverage individual channels such as SEO, PPC or social media are merely table stakes. A SaaS marketing agency will be good at generating and converting traffic from at least three channels such as these, all working together. These integrated campaigns outperform single-channel campaigns because they target specific audiences for multiple touches based on the stage the person is in the buyer’s journey.
Focus on Acquisitions
SaaS marketing begins and ends with customer acquisition. Successfully gaining customers requires multiple transitions — from visitor, to lead, to marketing qualified lead (MQL), to sales qualified lead (SQL), to opportunity, and then finally to customer (who will require additional efforts to retain and to develop into a brand advocate – but that’s another conversation). A SaaS agency is actively involved in this conversion process until the hand-off of SQLs to your sales team.
As mentioned above, a SaaS content marketing agency will develop purpose-driven content for users at every level of the buyer’s journey. For example, content at the top of the sales funnel is created to introduce visitors to the problem being solved by your SaaS and to build awareness. It could take several visits through multiple channels before a visitor turns into a lead; however, as these users are acquired as leads, a SaaS agency will create workflows to nurture them and move them to the next step within the funnel.
Leaning on SaaS Marketing Analytics
Attribution plays a key role in measuring the efficiency of marketing efforts and allocating marketing budgets. Without a comprehensive analytics program, it is impossible to gauge marketing efficiency for SaaS businesses. A SaaS marketing agency will measure marketing performance from the micro level to the macro level using metrics around traffic, conversion, quality and cost.
Here are two layers of metrics that really start to create separation between SaaS agencies and the efforts of other digital agencies:
- Heavy focus on acquisition metrics. A SaaS marketing agency will refer often to metrics such as cost per lead (CPL), cost per marketing qualified lead (CPMQL), keeping CPL less than 1/3 of customer acquisition cost (CAC), etc. It will employ these metrics to measure the quality of leads and the rate at which leads convert to MQLs and to SQLs.
- Goal-driven strategies. SaaS agencies start with your business’ end goal and figure out how to use a variety of techniques to achieve that goal. For example, if you have a revenue goal, your agency will use their experience and knowledge to convert that revenue goal into a leads goal by channel, and even traffic goals by channel. They will then figure out how to bring the marketing strategy to life and measure its effectiveness at every stage.
Using SaaS Stage-based Strategy
Perhaps most importantly, a marketing agency will design your SaaS marketing strategy from experience-based models. For example, if you are a SaaS business at the pre-product/market fit (PMF) stage, then the marketing strategy should be flexible and very specific to driving brand and problem awareness. In order to learn more about the market for your solution, any assumptions should be tested and analyzed for results. This is how your agency will help you validate your PMF so you can then narrow down your verticals for scaling up.
On the other hand, if you are an emerging SaaS, you have already established your PMF with solid indicators that the market can support your business and that your solution does solve a viable problem. At that point, a SaaS marketing agency will take what you have learned and scale it up to achieve market penetration.
Finally, for those businesses that are transitioning into SaaS solutions, a SaaS marketing agency will use their experience in SaaS transformation to provide a custom SaaS marketing strategy that fits the needs of your business model.
What is a SaaS agency?
A SaaS agency does everything a SaaS marketing agency does and then some. The unique thing about SaaS is that there is more to success beyond the sale. The cost of customer acquisition is typically much higher than that of customer retention. Not surprisingly, customer success is a specialized practice at SaaS companies. In addition to marketing, a SaaS agency manages customer engagement and customer success programs for SaaS companies. These agencies specialize in developing methods and strategies to help customers maximize the value of their SaaS subscription.
Get the expert help you need
In closing, yes, there are some overlaps between what a SaaS marketing agency does and what other marketing agencies do. However, the former can provide the experience you need for your specialized business model to succeed in your vertical and will continuously work with the data to expand your success.
Are you looking for a SaaS marketing agency to take your marketing to the next level? See how Bay Leaf Digital can help.