It’s the beginning of the new year and that means it’s the perfect time to start reevaluating your marketing and lead generation efforts. If you had a tough time scaling up your lead gen campaigns last year, forget about it!
Last year is last year. Put it in your rearview and get ready to sink your teeth into these 15 tried and true marketing tactics for 2018 that are sure to boost your bottom line. No need for a lengthy intro here, let’s dive right in!
1. Increase Adwords spend for desktop searches
Yes, you read that correctly. No, I’m not foolish enough to think that mobile traffic isn’t valuable. However, when it comes to B2B SaaS marketing there is still a great case to make for putting a lot of stock in desktop traffic.
According to a 2017 survey done by Brafton of 181 B2B websites, an average of 70% of traffic came from desktops.
Upon further reflection, it makes perfect sense. Think about how you shop for software that you need to run your business. Often times, you’ll start doing your initial research during your workday while you’re sitting in front of your computer when you realize you have a particular need…not at home on the couch using your mobile device.
But just assuming that the example above holds water isn’t good enough for me, so I decided to check one of our accounts here at SaaS Hero to see if the data matched up to Brafton’s report. It did!
Take a look at the screenshot below from the Google Analytics account of Trip Master software. Over 72% of their traffic came from desktops over the past 3 months.
It’s also worth noting that bounce rate, pages per session and average session duration on desktop outperformed mobile and tablet traffic as well.
But the real question is “what is the difference in conversions between desktop and mobile?”. Glad you asked. Nearly 78% of conversions came from desktop over the last 30 days for the same client.
There you have it. Make sure the bid adjustments in your Adwords campaigns are set accordingly for desktop and take advantage of this awesome opportunity.
2. Build your screencast library
Since it’s much easier to sell your product to a prospect by showing it to them via a live demo, take that as a hint and start sharing bits and pieces of your product to as many of the prospects you haven’t closed yet in as many places as possible.
I wrote a comprehensive guide on the 5 secrets to creating the most captivating & powerful screencast strategy for your B2B product, which you should definitely read when you have a few minutes, but we’ll go over some of the basics here.
If you’re a Google Chrome user, then try using Loom to record your screencasts. It has lots of great features, including a dedicated library to save all of your screencasts, but most importantly, it’s free.
Break down your product into as many 1-2 minute long screencasts as you can and publish them on all of your social channels and also add them to your email drip campaigns that get sent to new leads in order to warm them up as much as possible.
Get some feedback from your team and customers on which are your “showstopper” features and then focus on those first. Like you do when you build software, you should be prioritizing this activity.
Once you’ve completed recording your screencasts, don’t only upload them to your Facebook & YouTube accounts, use your screencasts as ad creative for retargeting campaigns!
If you’re generating traffic via paid search, retargeting your site visitors who haven’t converted into a lead with your most powerful product feature screencasts is a phenomenal way to generate lots of interest without having to spend a dime on creative. As always, test different screencast video ads against each other in your retargeting campaigns to see which features are driving the highest conversion rates.
3. Offer a free trial of your product
Offering a free trial of your product is one of the most powerful ways to gain interest and new users, simultaneously. So, if you don’t have a free trial in place now is the time to get it set up – especially if you’re spending money on driving traffic to your landing pages.
Getting a user to sign up for a free trial should be step 1 in your conversion funnel. After all, you’re confident that your prospects will love your product after they get their hands on it, so increase the probability of them using it and give it away for free for a defined period of time.
This is particularly important if your main competitors aren’t doing free trials. Think about it, if you’re a prospect deciding on which company to try out, wouldn’t you go for the one who’s offering you a test drive of the platform first? The answer is an obvious “yes” and therefore can be a significant competitive advantage for you.
If your competitors are already offering free trials, then try offering a slightly longer trial than they do (e.g. 30 days vs 14, etc.).
Here’s a tip, when you’re promoting your free trial through ad creative and emails, create two different headlines to test against one another. One of them should have the word “free” and one shouldn’t. Maybe use something like “Try it before you buy it”.
Reason being, a study by Vieo Design showed that the word “free” actually decreased click-through-rates for ads and email headlines. Sounds counterintuitive, but hey, data is data and its hard to argue with it. My advice – test it for yourself and see if it holds true.
4. Customer testimonial videos
Having customers leave positive feedback on various 3rd party review sites (re: Capterra in the next section) is always important, but it’s time to start thinking about the significant impact video testimonials can have for your business.
Social proof is perhaps the most important selling tool SaaS companies have at their disposal and video is the best medium for content consumption. Combine the two and you have a supercharged marketing tactic.
Ask a few of your best, longest standing customers to record a short video explaining why they love you, your business, your customer support, your product, etc. It can be all of those things or just 1 – either way, the result will be an extremely powerful marketing message that can be repurposed in multiple channels (email, Facebook retargeting, YouTube ads, website content, etc.).
The best part about this tactic is that, like screencasts, these videos don’t have to be shot by a professional production company. In fact, having your customer shoot the video using their computer or cell phone camera is probably best for a few reasons.
One, it appears to be much more authentic and real, which is the key for these videos to produce results. Your prospects should have zero doubt as to whether these are videos of your actual customers.
Two, these videos will have a super quick turnaround time. When it comes to marketing, having the ability to move fast is key.
Finally, you guessed it, they’re free! Free is good. Very good.
5. Get your company listed on Capterra
For those of you not familiar with Capterra, it’s the number 1 software review site in the world and can be a ridiculously valuable asset for your company if utilized properly.
However, just because Capterra is taking the software review industry by storm, that doesn’t necessarily mean that all of your competitors are using it yet. It’s free to sign up and create a company profile and, for some niches, getting just 4 or 5 reviews can push you to the top of the first page for your software category.
If you operate in a space where lots of your competitors are hip to the Capterra game (which is more than likely), they do offer a PPC model that will help level the playing field.
Their paid search model is predictable and typically inexpensive, especially compared to click costs on Google. Also, unlike Google, who has ever changing bids in order to achieve top positioning, Capterra gives advertisers the ability to pay an even, set rate for a specific position on the page (e.g. $2 CPC for position #2).
This way, you know exactly where you’ll show up on the page and exactly how much you’ll be paying for each click. Definitely a nice change of pace for you PPC veterans out there.
Most of your prospects will look for reviews on your company before making the decision to purchase your product. Capterra is a trusted review source with amazing organic rankings which should prove to be convincing enough to your prospects that your company and product are legit if they’re listed there.
6. Write content comparing your product to your competitors
Sticking with a similar theme to our previous section on using Capterra, we know that your prospects are almost certainly looking for reviews on your product. The other thing you can basically bet the farm on is that they’re also shopping you against your closest competition.
Websites like Capterra or g2Crowd are great places to be listed, but there’s a fundamental problem with them…you don’t own those properties and therefore have little control over what is said about your product and what isn’t.
For example, if a customer leaves a neutral review about your product and happens to mention your competitor by name in that review, it can end up being a serious detriment. Moreso than if they just left a negative review without mentioning your competitor.
The good news is that there is an easy way to hedge off this risk…start writing articles comparing your product to that of your biggest competitors and post them on your blog.
This way, you can gently, but convincingly point out all of the flaws your competition has and how much better your product is than theirs.
Title it something like “<Your Company Name>, the new alternative to <Competitor Name>” or “<Your Company Name> vs <Competitor Name>: what’s the best value?”. That should help you rank organically for searches like “alternatives to <Competitor Name>” and other comparative search phrases your prospects may be entering into Google when conducting their due diligence.
7. Write press releases on new features / offerings & put them on the press wire, then promote them
There’s nothing better than having positive information to promote your business that comes from a 3rd party – even if you were the one who wrote it.
When you have a new release of your platform or add a new killer feature, write a press release and pay to have it distributed on the newswire via PRnewswire.com.
It will only take a few minutes to get your account set up and your release published. Once it’s done, sit back and wait for the results to start coming in.
There are dozens of blogs and industry-specific news sites out there who will repurpose your PR and publish it on their own website once they catch wind of it on the newswire. Most will be smaller blogs with a limited amount of traffic, but it’s absolutely possible that it will get picked up by a couple more well-known publications (a startup I was with had success with this approach putting out a release announcing a funding event that was picked up by Yahoo Finance).
If you do get lucky enough to have a credible, well-known media outlet pick your press release up, promote it everywhere! Advertising an article from TechCrunch about your latest product offering (suuuuuper wishful thinking 🙃 ) on Facebook or LinkedIn should have insanely high engagement with your audience.
8. Start a private, online user community
This technique is particularly effective after you’ve already established a significant user base. If you’re in that boat, create a private Facebook group exclusively for your customers or create a group that is a combination of active users and prospects who are still on the fence about buying your product.
The “combination group” is definitely the preferred method since the group will serve as a living, breathing opportunity for your prospects to get an insane amount of social proof on why they should work with you.
Every time an existing customer in the group posts something positive about your product or service, the prospects in the group will be able to see it, and, depending on their notification settings, may actually be notified by Facebook instantly.
Furthermore, your customers will have a chance to connect with each other in order to bounce ideas off each other, troubleshoot problems, network and more.
Besides just being a great sales and community building platform for your business, you’ll also be able to leverage the ability to quickly collect user feedback, invite users to webinars to discuss new features and platform enhancements, and offer upsells and cross-sells.
9. Share relevant articles in relevant online communities
Depending on the industry you operate in, there’s a high probability of easily finding various online communities available for you to join.
Head over to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Reddit for starters and start searching for groups in your niche. The more members there are in the group, the better.
Keep in mind that most of the group members won’t be active regularly, so if you join a group that only has 500 members or less, chances are there will be a pretty low engagement on the content shared there.
Here’s a quick example of how easy it is to find large SaaS related groups on LinkedIn.
Once you’ve identified the right groups to join (or request to join if it’s a private group) start thinking about how you can be an active participant and really add value to the group.
DO NOT just start posting articles / links expecting to get quality traffic and engagement. Like everything you do with your marketing, you need to be authentic.
Build trust with the group first by showing them that you’re an asset, then start sharing your content with them. It will go a long way to proving your worth and then the traffic will come.
10. Start a podcast
One of the hottest new content marketing strategies is podcasting. It’s pretty rare these days to meet someone who isn’t listenting to a few different podcasts, and the number of people tuning in to various podcasts is on the rise.
As far as the technical implementation required to start a podcast goes, there’s a pretty low barrier to entry. From a production standpoint, the most important thing to ensure you’ve taken care of is having high audio quality.
You can pick up a portable microphone that plugs into your computer for as low as around $50 from Amazon that should do the trick.
The next step is to come up with some content designed to captivate and engage your listeners. Really take your time with this and always ask yourself these two very important questions before you decide on a topic to discuss…”Would I want to listen to this podcast?” and “Is the content I’m sharing with my listeners actionable?”.
If you’ve answered “Yes” to both, then you’re on to something. By the way, this should be the same process you use for creating blog content as well. Always provide value in the content you produce. It may not generate cash today, but it will serve you far better in the long run.
Interview style podcasts are a great way to produce engaging content that is easy to listen to and also doesn’t sound salesy. The goal here is to establish yourself as a thought leader and industry expert – not a salesperson. Invite guests to your podcasts that you think your audience can learn from and give them a reason to keep coming back.
The first place you should tap into for guests is your existing customer base. Skim through your client list and take some time to learn about the people who have been buying your product. I guarantee you you’ll find some of your users have impressive backgrounds and are quite interesting people. And since they’re already buying from you, being invited to share their story should be a well-received message.
Frame the invitation as an exclusive opportunity…not all of your customers are going to be invited on the podcast, just the most interesting ones. It will help make them feel “special” and should lead to higher conversion rates.
Don’t forget – just because they’re a customer doesn’t mean you need to have them come on your podcast to help you push your product. Think thought leadership here.
Finally, use the podcast as a marketing message to your prospects who haven’t converted into paying customers yet. If they’re still in the information gathering stage of the buying funnel, establishing yourself as an expert will go a long way in helping them make a decision to purchase your product over a competitors.
11. Share content on 3rd party blogging platforms
Your blog may not get tons of traffic (most likely, it doesn’t) but websites like Medium do.
Figuring out different ways to distribute your content is critical and it’s quite common for bloggers to add edited or even identical versions of their own blog content to these sites as an alternative distribution channel.
Once you’ve uploaded your content (on Medium it’s literally as easy as copy and pasting it from your own blog, which will include any images, too), you can tag multiple categories that are relevant to your article or niche which give it a higher probability of your target audience seeing it.
Be sure to promote those articles and ask your audience to “applaud” it (applauding is the Medium equivalent to upvoting on Reddit) in order to gain more visibility.
As a bonus, your content may also appear to be more authoritative to your readers if they see that it’s published on a well-known site like Medium (even thought it’s free to post there).
12. Answer questions on Quora
As I’ve now mentioned multiple times, being viewed as an authority figure in your industry is a key component to creating effective marketing campaigns and Quora is one of the best ways to jumpstart that path to credibility.
For those of you unfamiliar, Quora is a crowd-sourced website for answers to basically any question on earth. If there’s a topic you’re interested in, chances are you’ll find several related questions about it on Quora.
Start answering as many existing questions that pertain to your industry as possible. Quora also allows you to add links to your website & although they’ll provide little SEO benefit (links on Quora have a no follow tag), they can still help drive extremely relevant traffic that can be converted into new users, email subscribers and prospects that can be retargeted on Google, Facebook and YouTube.
Over time, as you answer more questions and get more upvotes, your visibility will grow and give you a great opportunity to establish yourself, and your company, as an expert resource in your field.
Here’s a tip, follow the categories that are most important to you and set up email notifications to trigger when someone asks a question within them that you can answer. This way, you won’t have to spend your time digging through Quora trying to find places to add value, they’ll just tell you when your expertise is needed.
Once you’ve answered enough questions (re: added enough value to Quora users), your profile will begin to populate under the headline of questions related to your field and users will actually have the ability to request an answer specifically from you!
Here’s what it will look like when you achieve this level of thought leader bliss…
13. Advertise your content on Facebook using engagement campaigns then retarget
This is more of an indirect lead generation strategy but the good news is that it definitely works.
Initially, it will require a good bit of testing, but once you find the right audience on Facebook, you can get your content in front of them rather inexpensively. The objective of the initial campaign is engagement…not clicks or conversions. I’ll explain why.
The Engagement objective on Facebook is designed to get your ad in front of the people who are most likely to react, comment, share or click on it for the cheapest possible cost. Depending on your target audience, engagement can be pretty cheap.
Here’s an example of a campaign I ran that was getting engagements for $.07.
If you have your targeting honed in properly (using custom audiences and lookalikes are the preferred methods, but this works with cold traffic as well), then the people engaging with your content that you’re advertising are most likely good prospects for you. The goal at this stage is not to generate the most traffic, rather, to gather the most data on the people who are interacting with your content.
The next step is to build a retargeting campaign aimed at the people who engaged with your ads. You’ll create a custom audience by going to the “Audiences” tab in your Business Manager account, clicking “Custom Audience” then “Engagement”.
The next step will be to opt to choose to build your audience specifically with people who “engaged with any post or ad”. Take a look at the screenshots below for guidance.
Be sure to make your retargeting offer one that is designed to convert a user into a lead.
The freebies are over. You’ve already promoted free content to them so there’s some brand recognition and they’ve hopefully gained some value from your original ad(s). Time to go for the kill and, at the very minimum, collect an email.
14. Run webinars
2017 was a banner year for webinars and for good reason. Services like WebinarJam are packed with awesome features like live streaming, polling, online whiteboarding and more that are designed to make your presentation super fun, engaging and, you guessed it, valuable to your attendees.
We know that selling your product via a one-on-one demo is usually the most successful way to close more deals, but what if you had 100 or 200 people attend your demo? If your average presentation takes around an hour, then running a webinar with 100 viewers will save you 99 hours of your time.
Scaling your sales efforts with webinars is the way to go. Pretty powerful stuff.
Webinars also give you a chance to get creative with your presentations. Think of all the different things you can offer your prospects. Remember way back in section 2 of this post about building your screencast library? Well, guess what? You can use that same process for outlining your webinar strategy.
Invite your prospects to learn about your showstopper features one at a time through specific webinar sessions and keep moving them closer and closer to making a purchase.
15. Share the first paragraph of your blog on LinkedIn with a “Read More” link
As it stands today, LinkedIn is a huge social network, but nothing close to the size of, say, Facebook. Facebook is notorious for giving a very minimal organic reach for standard posts, which, in turn, requires companies to spend money advertising their content.
If you have 10k followers on Facebook, it’s likely only a 100 or so will actually see your posts if you don’t pay for them.
The opposite, however, is true for LinkedIn.
Even if you have just 500 connections, you’ll get about 5x the reach from a post on LinkedIn as you would if you had 10k followers on Facebook and you posted the same content from your business page.
And, since your business is operating in the B2B space, LinkedIn becomes that much more of a valuable channel for you to take advantage of.
Try writing a couple sentences from your blog in a post in order to garner some interest from your connections, along with a link to the full article. Make sure to use a tracking link to monitor its’ effectiveness and see if you can’t pick up an extra 100 or so visits to your website every week.
2018 is your year to scale up your lead generation efforts. The marketing woes of 2017 are over. Leave them in the past. Be thankful that you learned something, keep a positive mentality about achieving your goals and keep pushing forward.
The lead gen strategies I outlined here 100% work if executed on properly. In order to be successful with them, you don’t have to use all of them or only 1 of them. The key is to identify those that you believe will have the biggest impact and test them vigorously.
Running these marketing strategies all in parallel is the best case scenario, but may prove to be quite time-consuming.
If that’s the case, let’s set up a quick discovery call to see how we may be able to help you scale your campaigns up as quickly and effectively as possible. Click here and we’ll get the ball rolling.