Brand awareness. It is more crucial to a service-as-a-software (SaaS) company’s success than, well, any other factor. Even a lackluster product will be used (if priced competitively) if the public is made abundantly aware that it exists. In the same breath, if you have developed a superb SaaS product, that thwarts all of the competition in performance, not a single potential customer will consider using your product, if they simply do not know about it.
For the past several years, the SaaS industry market has been exploding, and will continue to outpace the usage of old fashioned, on-premise software services:
Today, we are going to address how to increase your SaaS brand’s public awareness, and whether you have a startup or have been in the SaaS game for years, your company will benefit from this advice. Or, ignore this article, and enjoy your failure (please don’t, we like you, we really do).
SaaS is a big deal, and as the competition grows, it becomes increasingly vital for your brand name to get out into the public arena and carry value. See how in Germany, over the course of three short years, SaaS usage among companies had increased by over 20%:
So, how to increase your brand awareness in such a booming market? How to get customers aware of, and excited to use your company for their SaaS needs?
Engaging content production
First and foremost, the primary method for increasing brand awareness is basic content production. According to Moz CEO Rand Fishkin, original content production is the most valuable tool for SEO and online brand awareness. They key for original content production to be successful is for it to engage customers.
Engaged customers are 4.6X more likely to purchase a SaaS product from your company instead of than that of a competitor more so than those that are unengaged. Of course, you are asking yourself now, “How in the heck do I engage my customers?” There are several ways that your SaaS company can do so:
- Creation and consistent use of a company blog
- Creation and display of infographics
- Audiovisual media, i.e. YouTube videos, webinars, SlideShares, etc.
- Interactive tools, i.e. calculators, surveys, etc.
- Updates on industry news, especially developing trends
Blogging is a fantastic way to increase web traffic to your company’s website. It may be time intensive, but the return on your time investment will pay off in the long run. The brand awareness benefits to blogging are multi-faceted. SEO is enhanced via blogging, because every time your company makes a blog post, there is another search-engine-indexed page on your website.
Blog posts can also be integrated into your social media accounts. Every online service should be active on social media, at the very least with a Facebook page and Twitter account. Blog posts are a great excuse to post on Facebook or share a new tweet, boosting your brand’s visibility, without saying “buy from me, buy from me!” in an irritating fashion.
Blog posts, if made consistently (erratic blogging not only appears confusing, but is also plainly less content you have produced), lend the to the public perception that not only is your company informed, but also dedicated to the sector for which you provide a service. Your blog posts should be varied to address each step of the buyer’s journey, and should not be direct advertisements for your service, but instead be helpful, informative guidance for your target audience, covering every possible step they could be at during their purchasing process.
The value of a blog also is reaffirmed by its long-term results in building brand awareness. At HubSpot, 90% of the blog leads they receive are from blogged articles that are over one month old, even years old in some cases. When you post, topic content can be found in search results until the end of time (but forget about the end of time...we are optimists at Incredo).
Who doesn’t like a pretty picture? If you do not, fine, but we guarantee your customers do. KISSmetrics grew their blog readership to +2.5 million visitors by generating 47 infographics over the course of two years. Infographics have a profound impact on SEO and thus your brand awareness.
Your company can use infographics to make boring or obtuse information exciting for your customers. By design, an infographic should have the minimum possible amount of text, and should also combine a variety of graphics. After all, it would be pretty boring if you had 12 pie charts or only bar graphs.
Not to get too meta right now (but to definitely get a little meta), but here is an example of an effective infographic on how effective infographics are. Notice how the varied displays snatch up your interest, and how easy it is to retain the information. Our brains are wired to process information visually, and in the same way that a picture speaks a thousand words, infographics tell the story of your brand succinctly, and visual information sticks in one’s head at greater length than plain words do.
Further, keep in mind that B2B marketing is increasingly being conducted using mobile devices. Infographics use less text, allowing for larger font sizes, which are easily readable on mobile devices than paragraph after paragraph of text.
In the same way that infographics communicate information visually, so does audiovisual media content. Consider making a 30 second YouTube video of how your service solves a problem for your customers, and share it on your website and social media outlets. Also, consider hosting a webinar once a week (frequency is at your own discretion) on industry sector developments, and how your company provides valuable services to fix industry specific problems.
The greatest element of audiovisual media is that it gives you a chance to literally speak to your customers without ever needing to meet them. In the SaaS industry, companies rarely get the opportunity to meet their customers face-to-face. However, interpersonal communication in business cannot be underscored enough for its impact on selling.
People don’t buy from companies as much as they make their buying decisions based on interpersonal experiences during the buying process. Audiovisual media gives you the opportunity to get as close to directly speaking to your potential customers as a SaaS company can get.
Another fabulous element of how audiovisuals can increase your brand awareness is that videos can easily be shared between a customer’s peers. Customers that value your services can easily embed and share videos with their friends and family, which, you guessed it, enhances your brand awareness.
An engaged lead is much more likely to convert to a customer, and engaged customers are likely to renew their SaaS subscriptions. Interactive tools on your website directly engage your leads in the buying process.
You do not need to include your own version of Angry Birds on your site (though, when you think about it…); it can be as simple as a calculator for how much your SaaS can save customers money. Even a design as simple as a flip-book engages your leads. Look here for inspiration, and here for tips and advice on making your website interactive and engaging.
Put yourself in the customer’s shoes: would you rather purchase a product from a company that just says that their product is great, or a company that demonstrates knowledge of the industry, and provides updates on market trends and news?
Easy answer, right? People like to purchase from leaders, and demonstrating your company’s industry knowledge creates the perception of authority. By showcasing industry news on your SaaS website, you are engaging the customer, and increasing the amount of repeat visits to your website from leads. As of this year, 71% of B2B customers reported that they are not engaged, so use this to your advantage. Showcase industry news on your website, and customers will keep coming back.
Yes, users also generate content but what's your SaaS company's benefit and how you can trigger them to produce content in your favor? First of all, you announce a contest or launch a campaign and clearly define your CTA for your audience: share your post with a comment or create a post mentioning your SaaS brand's signature hashtag. This form is immensely popular on social media channels where that type of content becomes visible to the friends and followers of those users. If the shared post is public, all the social media users to visit that particular person's page, will become aware of your product/company.
Get in touch
There are three primary methods for getting in touch with your target audience and increasing brand awareness:
- Social media monitoring
- Guest blogging
- Referral programs
If you have a SaaS company, you either made social media accounts before or during your launch. If you have not, do it now. Seriously, stop reading this informative article and get your company on social media. We’ll be waiting right here…
In this day and age, nearly every single internet user has a social media account, and people love to share what is important to them with others.
By monitoring social media, you can discover what interests your target audience. There are myriad online social monitoring tools, and many of them are free to use.
It is essential to market your brand efficiently, and B2B marketing professionals advise that companies should focus on 20% of what drives 80% - 90% of the business when it comes to social media marketing. How should you know what that 20% is? Easy: listen to what your customers are saying about your services on social media. What do they want? What did they like about your company? What did they dislike (hopefully, not much) about your services? By monitoring what is being said about your company, you can tailor your marketing efforts to your target audience.
If you are not already guest blogging on behalf of your SaaS company, you are missing out on one of the key components for increasing brand awareness. We have already told you how important it is to regularly keep up with your own blog, and the same applies here. You may think that you don’t have enough time to do double the blogging.
You certainly do have time to guest blog, because the time ROI is enormous for guest blogging. Guest blogging builds what eventually becomes a feedback loop of brand awareness. Look at Incredo’s own blog and how many articles come from guests. When you post as a guest on an industry relevant blog, your own blog will get love from others, and the more relevant content your site hosts, the greater your SEO will grow.
In both directions, you need to ensure that content and links you provide are appropriate, functional, and pertinent to your sector, and that the content provided on your blog by a guest is as well. Appoint a member of your team to be in charge of running your blog and, if you have the resources, another member to post on industry blogs as a guest, and set a weekly post quota for each.
Guest blogging is overwhelmingly done for free, but paid guest blogging can be done as well, and yields greater value than an unpaid post. On average, a paid post is $125, so look into whether your SaaS has the resources to participate and further funnel traffic to your company.
Customer referral programs are one of the oldest, most tried and true techniques for getting your brand in touch with customers. Word-of-mouth has proven to increase brand awareness, as 92% of customers highly value the recommendation of a friend or family member.
To effectively generate referrals, your company needs to incentivize customers into taking the time (albeit, it is really not that much time...) to inform their contacts of how valuable your service is to them. Here is an example from Yesware’s customer referral program, one of the most successful in recent SaaS history:
Notice how the first text you read incentivizes the customer. Also, they have provided enticing text for the subject line, which users can edit, but would you if you were in their shoes? Probably not, as you would want to save time and effort.
Depending on your service, find an appropriate value to introduce to your customers to do your marketing job for you. Some companies, such as Dropbox, have barely spent a penny on traditional marketing, and have used their referral program instead to boost their brand awareness. While this may not be the best strategy for every SaaS company, it underlines the effectiveness of customer referral programs.
Keep in touch
After you have already followed the above steps, it is vital to stay relevant and communicate your brand to your target market. There are two methods that have consistently proved their worth in building SaaS brand awareness, and marketing in general:
- Paid Advertising
SEO is becoming increasingly more competitive, as SaaS is a multibillion dollar industry, and is forecasted to continue to increase even further.
While you should absolutely be exploiting the value of a referral program, doing so will afford your company increased revenue to invest in paid ads. PPC advertising is a valuable method to get your company at the top of Google search results. Even if a potential customer does not click on your ad, seeing your company at the top of their search results establishes credibility, and reinforces your relevance in the market.
Facebook and Twitter ads are also worthy investments. Think of how much time you personally spend on social media each day yourself.
Remarketing is the process of getting ads to display on Google to leads that have already visited your website, watched a video of yours on YouTube, used your app, etc. Using Google AdWords is a smart investment for building brand awareness through remarketing in the increasingly competitive SaaS landscape.
If a lead has hopped on your website, it is likely that they have been checking out your competition, too. Using remarketing fortifies your exposure to your target audience after they have already shown interest in your brand.
So, you have already grabbed some customers and received positive feedback on your SaaS. However, what else can you do to increase your salience in the market, and get your users to renew their subscriptions? Many SaaS companies engage their customers by using giveaways and/or special offers to retain business to further reinforce their brand as the most valuable choice for the service they provide.
Ask yourself, what creative ways can you increase your market spread? Are you using your social media outlets to promote your giveaways and such? Brainstorm with your marketing team, and craft a plan to heighten awareness of your SaaS. Much in the same way as a referral program, incentivize your customers to become engaged with your company.
Take it from us…
As SaaS continues to grow, and is rapidly outpacing on-premise software as an industry, the market is flooding with competitors. Given our skills and industry experience, we have seen both blunders and success stories from dozens of SaaS companies in their brand awareness endeavors.
After reading this article, you now possess a comprehensive tool-kit of industry insights into how to get your name out there, keep it out there, and grow your brand until you are ubiquitous in the industry for your services.