Effective B2B SaaS Marketing for Growing Brands – 2021 Guide

B2B marketing is unique in that it requires brands to reach key decision makers who have the power to make choices on behalf of their company. Stark competition and high distrust of “spammy” brands make marketing to this audience often difficult, time-consuming, and expensive.

Fortunately, B2B marketing for SaaS companies is made easier by having the right marketing playbook in place. This means going beyond “lead generation” and instead implementing a holistic strategy that builds tangible demand and yields lucrative results.

So, how do you create a winning B2B SaaS marketing strategy? We’ll teach you how - with 20 components every B2B business should have to see marketing success. 

What is B2B SaaS Marketing?

B2B SaaS marketing is marketing that’s unique to software as a service companies that target businesses rather than your average consumer. This means that the target audience is decisions makers who have the buying power and authority to make purchases on behalf of the company.

B2B SaaS marketing is often nuanced, complicated, and highly competitive. This is because many B2B businesses are vying for companies’ attention and dollars. B2B companies need to know how to stand out, reach the right decision makers, and optimize their marketing efforts for efficiency and effectiveness. 

Marketing Myths That Stunt B2B SaaS Growth

There are a variety of myths that circulate in the B2B SaaS marketing space. Many of them relate to outdated tactics or “strategies” by gurus looking to make a quick buck. 

These myths are worth covering here because we don’t want you to make common mistakes that could hinder your marketing and stunt your success. 

Myth #1: Lead Generation is the goal. 

Leads leads leads. This is most of what you’ll ever hear about when it comes to B2B marketing. But the truth is that the end goal of your marketing is rarely (if ever) leads… it’s revenue. 

Successful B2B SaaS marketing involves generating real demand in your brand and attracting paying customers that drive revenue. Forget leads and take on a Buyer-Led Growth strategy instead (more on that later). 

Myth #2: Focus on customer pain points.

Another common myth is that you should focus on customer pain points, particularly when it comes to content creation. The idea here is that you need to understand what your potential customers struggle with so you can appeal to their pain. But what if they aren’t even aware of their pain?

Instead, you should create content that speaks to where your customers are now and then guide them to discovering their pain. Only then can you present possible solutions (i.e. your offer) and explain how there is an end to all their woes. 

Myth #3: SEO creates demand.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a type of marketing that harnesses the power of search engines to drive users to your website. But SEO doesn’t create demand – it simply captures it. 

While SEO can be an important traffic source for your business, you will need to adopt a growth-oriented approach in order to generate real demand and tangible results. SEO is just one piece of a larger marketing pie in terms of attracting new customers across channels.

Myth #4: Tactics make all the difference.

Many B2B SaaS companies get stuck on tactics when they discover that their marketing has plateaued. They think, “We need better landing pages” or “Let’s write better ad copy” or “We need to A/B test these taglines”, but these do very little to actually move the needle.

Tactics will only get you so far. You need to revamp your entire marketing philosophy. This involves thoroughly understanding your audience, cultivating a strong brand narrative, and creating content that resonates with your target buyers. This philosophy applies to all of your marketing and goes far beyond a few “tweaks” or “hacks”.

Myth #5: Brand marketing creates demand.

There’s currently lots of claims that brand marketing drives better demand over performance marketing. I see it all over LinkedIn: “Brand creates demand”.

This is one of the biggest marketing myths right now. Brand does not create demand.

If growth occurred because you're ungating content, creating content in the name of brand, and turning off your intent we would all be doing it.

At the end of 202,1 B2B companies that have started running branded ads are going to struggle justifying their ad spend and quantifying their brand impact.

Claiming you’re going to measure brand differently is not going to fly.

The reality is you're stuck in a false struggle.

If you want brand marketing to work, you first need to build a brand deserving of growth.

Brand does not begin with awareness, it begins with building a brand narrative – the cornerstone of the Buyer-Led Growth approach.

B2B SaaS Marketing Strategy

Before I started Elevate Demand, I worked with a stream of businesses and agencies that took a lead generation approach to marketing. Inevitably, these campaigns would plateau and we’d be left “back to the drawing board” – focusing on tactics in hopes of reviving our growth.

Since then, I’ve learned more. Now, I take a Buyer-Led Growth approach, which involved creating real demand for B2B SaaS companies. 

Here I share the 20 components we use to market effectively, win over buyers, and drive revenue growth - the right way!

1. Brand Positioning

Brand positioning involves carving out your own unique space in the market and shaping how your customers see your brand. Your brand’s positioning plays a significant role in shaping the size of your target market and determining your potential for growth. 

Your goal when it comes to brand positioning is to reach the right audience with the right message at the right time. 

2. Brand Narrative

Your brand narrative a result of your brand positioning strategy and any market research you’ve conducted to understand your target market. It’s essentially a story that takes your customers from where they are now to where you want them to be. 

More than simply explaining who you are, you want your audience to discover their own pain points, why they matter, and how your offer is an effective solution to their problems. 

3. Demand Generation

B2B Demand generation is a subset of growth marketing that involves creating demand for your offer or product. Adopting a growth-oriented strategy is the preferred approach compared to simply lead generation. You not only want to capture existing demand but create new demand. This is how you facilitate continuous and sustainable growth.

4. Content Creation

Content creation is a necessary component of any effective B2B SaaS marketing strategy. However, many brands do content creation wrong by focusing on pain points and “branding” rather than speaking to the unique needs of their target audience.

Your brand narrative is one piece of content for your brand, but this entire story should be woven into all of your content going forward. You’ll want ungated content that informs your audience and provides value without a hard sell. Building trust is key. 

5. Changing Sales Roles

It used to be that marketing's job consisted of building awareness and acquiring customers through forms and passing the lead onto sales.

In the old model, eventually sales starts complaining that these marketing leads suck! Then marketing would blame sales for not being able to effectively sell right-fit leads. 

This dynamic has changed. Buyers no longer reach out to sales to learn about your product. To have urgency and demand created –and for a seller to shift their beliefs – you have to rethink your entire B2B marketing approach.

If you suffer from low lead-to-win rate or sales complains about lead quality, it’s because marketing didn’t do its job of shifting the beliefs of their buyers to create urgency and demand. 

In the new Buyer-Led Growth marketing model, marketing is no longer about getting awareness and acquiring customers.

B2B marketing is about shifting the beliefs into your narrative, creating urgency, and crafting a compelling offer. Then, buyers will be reaching out to sales ready to buy.

6. Go-to-Market Strategy

A go-to-market (GTM) strategy involves identifying your target marketing, creating an effective marketing plan, and outlining a sales strategy to convert passive users into happy customers. In presenting a new offer or product to the market, you’ll need to identify a problem (or several) that your audience has and then position your product as the solution.

Your sales funnel is at the foundation of your GTM strategy – moving potential customers along the buyer’s journey. In B2B SaaS marketing, this includes your traffic generation channels, content, and final sales process. 

7. Customer Personas

Your company may have one or more target audiences you are trying to reach. Rather than casting a wide net with your marketing and hoping for the best, it’s better to research and solidify your target customer personas in order to make your marketing even more effective.

You’ll want to answer demographic questions as well as identify the key issues your audience is facing. Each persona relates to a different segment you are trying to target and, likely, will be the focus of unique campaigns. 

8. Competitive Analysis

Every brand has to work to understand their competitive landscape and determine how they will carve out their own unique space in the market. The question you need to answer is: How will we differentiate our brand from competitors – whether in terms of branding, price, benefits, or all of the above?

This starts with a deep competitive analysis of what other solutions already exist in the market. Then you will have to identify the weaknesses these solutions have and how/why your brand is the best option for your particular customers.

9. Pricing

Pricing is another core element of how you position your brand. Your prices are more than just a number, but a consideration of how much value you bring to the market, what your audience can afford, and how much your competitors are charging.

Fortunately, effective B2B SaaS marketing can help you increase your ROI and create room to adjust your prices for even better market positioning. Adopting a Buyer-Led Growth model makes it easier to reach more customers with a lower marketing spend. 

10. Market Research

We’ve talked a lot about target audiences at this point, but how do you get to KNOW your audience to begin with? This is where market research comes in, and it involves a data-driven approach to understanding what your audience wants and needs. 

It’s your goal to understand the relationship between your customer and your product. To do this, you should be running a variety of research projects that provide valuable insight into what makes your audience tick and, ultimately, buy from you. 

We love this in-depth guide from Hubspot on how to do market research for your brand. 

11. Inbound marketing

Inbound marketing and demand generation go hand in hand. Inbound marketing works to attract customers through valuable content tailored uniquely to them. Demand generation (specifically, Buyer-Led Growth) works to create demand for your product and drive those users to your offer. 

While outbound marketing, comparatively, interrupts your audience with content they don't always want/aren’t looking for. Inbound marketing instead provides information related to topics your audience is already searching for and provides value that builds trust in your brand. 

12. Outbound Marketing

Outbound marketing methods include tactics like outreach, cold messaging, and email marketing (in some cases). This is where you essentially “interrupt” your audience’s natural experience with content that intends to sell.

There is a time and a place for this type of content. With growth marketing, your goal is to provide value first and slowly nurture your cold leads into buyers. This involves a less invasive approach that breeds trust and customer loyalty. 

13. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization is a fantastic method for driving organic traffic to your website and landing pages. During the content creation process, you can optimize your content for the specific keywords your audience is using to find brands and products like yours.

Remember, SEO is simply a source of traffic and not responsible for necessarily creating demand. By adopting a Buyer-Led Growth framework, you can use SEO to your advantage AND generate demand, which leads to tangible, measurable growth. 

14. Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is something a lot of B2B SaaS companies get right, as social media is familiar to most business owners and consumers alike. Even so, taking a data-driven approach will help your marketing be even more effective.

You’ll want to analyze user behavior and engagement metrics to measure the success of your marketing. Share your buyer-focused content across channels to generate inbound demand, build trust, and get customers raving about your products. 

15. Website Management

Your website is one of the most valuable marketing assets you have for your business. It’s where users go to learn about your products and can work as a significant traffic-generating tool (through SEO).

Make your website count by optimizing for search engines, showcasing your brand narrative, and publishing user-focused content. You can then tap into your analytics to gain valuable insight into how users interact with your site and how your content’s working to influence their buying decisions. 

16. B2B Growth

There’s a hot debate between B2B Saas marketing and B2B SaaS growth. We believe the latter is what most growing brands need. 

When you look at B2B SaaS marketing, it’s focused on influencing two areas of the funnel: Awareness and Acquisition. Compare this to growth teams; they focus on looking at the entire funnel: awareness, acquisition, retention, revenue, and referral. Then they pick a north star metric and figure out how to influence it across the entire funnel. 

This north star metric could be monthly recurring revenue, annual recurring revenue, monthly active users, or trial accounts with 10+ active users.

You can then attack this metric across the funnel to figure out how you can generate GROWTH with your marketing.

17. Lead Generation

Remember, lead generation is NOT the end goal for your B2B SaaS marketing strategy, but it is important. You want to present your sales team with viable leads so they have the best chance of converting them into paying customers.

This is where having an effective sales playbook comes in handy. At Elevate Demand, we help brands streamline this entire process so they not only build a consistent source of leads but a constant stream of revenue. We do this by overhauling the brand’s marketing philosophy, not just tinkering with ad copy and taglines. 

18. Paid Growth (PPC)

We’ve touched on organic marketing and social media marketing, and now it’s time to mention paid growth. This involves paying for ads that reach users across platforms. Pay per click (PPC) can include Facebook Ads, Google Ads, Instagram Ads, LinkedIn Ads, and more.

We recommend working with a trusted PPC experience that can identify your target audience, apply the appropriate segmentation, write user-focused sales copy, and optimize your ads for conversion. This is the best way to maximize your ROI and open up another source of traffic for your business. 

19. Email Marketing

Email marketing is yet another content marketing channel you can use to reach potential and existing customers. Again, every piece of content you put out should align with your brand narrative in order to move users from A (problem unaware) to Z (solution aware).

Email marketing includes copywriting, segmentation, analytics, and conversion optimization. Again, it may help to work with a professional who can optimize your campaigns and write targeted copy that speaks to the unique needs and interests of your audience. 

20. Results & Analytics (KPIs)

Last but not least, a successful B2B SaaS marketing strategy includes measuring the results of your marketing efforts and analyzing the data to inform your future campaigns. You can measure a variety of key performance indicators (KPIs) to determine the success of your marketing.  

Our focus is on 3 typical KPIs:

  1. Marketing performance, including pipeline and revenue.
  2. Sales effectiveness with marketing leads (win rate and sales cycle length).
  3. Growth of your north star metric such as monthly recurring revenue or weekly active trials with 11+ users.

It’s not enough to simply run your campaigns and hope for the best; ongoing optimization is the key to maximizing your results and landing big wins. 

Build Demand & Facilitate B2B SaaS Growth

Above, we listed 20 components that every brand needs in order to create an effective B2B SaaS marketing plan. But how do all of these elements come together?

At Elevate Demand, we help brands make all the pieces fit together by developing a Buyer-Led Growth mindset. This involves CREATING demand, capturing customer interest, and converting users into buyers. 

The only way to make B2B marketing work for the long-term is to facilitate sustainable growth. That’s why we’ve published a guide on how to create an effective B2B marketing strategy so you can see success with your brand’s marketing plan. 

B2B SaaS Marketing with Elevate Demand

At Elevate Demand, we do things differently. Instead of focusing on tactics, we help brands understand what truly matters when it comes to their marketing: the buyer. We’ve developed a Buye- Led Growth formula that does just that – and it’s woven into the framework of every B2B SaaS marketing campaign we run for our clients.

Want to learn more about how Buyer-Led Growth works? Start here to discover why the old methods no longer work and how Buyer-Led Growth is paving the way to success for growth-oriented brands.