How to stretch your b2b saas marketing budget to its limit
Imagine being the marketing manager of your company and your CEO comes up to you with this goal
Your CEO: “10x our lead generation in 1 month or less!”
You: “Wow, how much marketing budget do I have?”
Your CEO: “Can you work with USD$1,000? Will be great if you can drive lead generation with less than that”
You: “insert your go-to expletive”
OK, maybe the above scenario is a huge exaggeration
But if you have been seeing posts on LinkedIn about how your connection “acquired xx number of users in xx number of days with only $xx marketing budget” you would think B2B Software as a Service (SaaS) marketing is a breeze
The reality is that these stories only show the results and do not tell the full story. I much prefer to learn from what they input into the “black box” to get the output
In this blog post, I will cover the goal of B2B SaaS marketing, how you can formulate your own B2B SaaS marketing strategy and the best ways to spend USD $1,000 if you only have a shoestring budget
Table of Contents
First, what is your main objective of B2B SaaS Marketing right now?
Before we get into the exciting topic of B2B SaaS marketing tactics, we need to define the main objective of your B2B SaaS marketing as of now
No, the goal of B2B SaaS marketing is not just to generate leads for the sales team
For example, if you have 100 leads in the pipeline but only 5 have converted from the trial then lead generation should not be your focus right now. This is especially so if the industry standard is to convert 50 customers from the trial
Or if your finance team shares with you that your lead generation campaigns cost more than the revenue brought in from these leads. That is another red flag that you should focus on
Questions you should be asking
As a general guide, these are a few questions you should be asking (in this particular order) to determine your current focus
- Are the deals in my pipeline 3 times my target revenue?
- At which part of the funnel do you see the greatest “leakage” and why?
- What is the average revenue for each lead brought in?
- What is the average cost of acquiring a customer? To divide total marketing cost and hours spent on marketing by the number of customers
- How many new customers does one customer refer to you on average? While this is more relevant for B2C marketing, it is good to find out
Decide on your main marketing objective based on your response to these questions. Most lean startups struggle with achieving a pipeline three times the target revenue
30% conversion of your pipeline is a reasonable assumption and is a good indicator of whether you are on track to hit your revenue targets. However, most lean startups have a limited marketing budget for lead generation
We will be covering some lead generation ideas with only a USD $1,000 budget. But first, you need a rock-solid B2B SaaS marketing strategy
Formulating your B2B SaaS marketing strategy
Without a crystal clear idea of your industry’s marketing landscape, your marketing will be ineffective, no matter your budget
Before you spend a single cent on marketing, firm up these important aspects of your marketing strategy
Nature of the industry
Are the companies you are targeting in an industry that has been slow with digital adoption? Or are your target companies generally tech-savvy?
For industries slow with digital adoption, more focus should be placed on the problem statement rather than “groundbreaking and innovative” features
If the target companies are very open to adopting digital solutions, more focus can be placed on how your solution is better than your competitors.
These companies are probably aware of how your solution adds value and are already considering different vendors
Touchpoints required for your software
Does your software have a high price point? Does integrating your software require time and resources from your customer?
If your answer is “yes” to these two questions, then sales should be the main revenue driver.
After all, if I am subscribing to a software solution that costs at least $1 million a year, I will expect a representative to answer my questions. Going through the FAQ section on the website is no longer enough.
In that case, the focus for marketing will be to work with sales to create engaging marketing collaterals, lead nurturing and content marketing focused on answering any questions from potential customers.
If your software has a low price point
Whereas if your software does not have a high price point and does not require a high touchpoint with a customer, then marketing should be the main revenue driver.
Focus should be placed on driving qualified traffic to your website through various channels, such as SEM, SEO, content marketing and email marketing to name a few.
In some cases, marketing campaigns should generate leads and drive conversion as well if done properly. For example, anyone who visits your website should have a clear understanding of your offering and why they should consider your solution over other vendors.
What is your sales playbook?
Lastly, before spending any marketing dollar, you need a sales playbook that is aligned with your sales team. A sales playbook outlines the plan to build your sales funnel, from lead generation to customer conversion.
What is your value proposition and competitive advantage explained in 30 seconds? What is the buyer persona of your target stakeholders? Are there keywords that will lead to buying triggers? Where do your stakeholders go to acquire industry knowledge?
By building a sales playbook you give your sales team a game plan to find and close deals. As the sales playbook deserves an article entirely on its own, we will not delve further into this topic.
Where to best spend USD $1,000 on marketing?
You have now identified the specific point in the sales funnel that requires your attention. Based on the nature of your industry, your product and customer profile you have created a winning marketing strategy
Now is the time to execute your plan! Also known as the fun part.
Remember to allocate your resources based on your business needs and timeline. Here’s how you can spend USD $1,000 on each marketing tactic.
Note that this is just a suggestion for how best to spend your marketing dollar but is not a sure-win formula. How well you do still depends on your execution efforts
Combining Content Marketing and SEO
To successfully carry out SEO for lead generation and brand awareness requires time and effort, but once you start seeing the results your marketing will start to scale
While Google has changed it’s search algorithm multiple times, three key pillars to succeed in SEO still remains
- A fast and responsive website that is secure
- Posting quality content that includes high-traffic keywords
- Building Back-links to your article from related websites with high authority
By doing these 3 components properly, you have a good chance of ranking well for keywords that bring you organic traffic.
Building a fast and responsive website requires some technical knowledge, so we will only be covering points 2 and 3, which has a stronger marketing focus
Creating quality content for search
Content is king. Only if it is read by large segments of your target audience. In today’s world where information can be found in less than a second, showing up in search results when a stakeholder searches for a relevant topic is crucial.
However, with millions of content creators globally, competition is intense to say the least, especially if you are just starting out. To stand out, you need to target keywords that bring you the most traffic but with the least competition.
In order to do that, you need to subscribe to a SEO software to do the keyword and back-link research. This is where the bulk of your USD $1,000 marketing budget needs to go towards- subscribing to a software like SEMrush and Ahrefs
After subscribing to the software, the broad steps to achieve success should look something like this
- Brainstorm with your team for keywords your target audience will search for (problems you are solving, how to select a vendor in your field etc.)
- Use your SEO tool to find the traffic and keyword difficulty of these keywords
- Rank and prioritize keywords that bring high traffic and has low keyword difficulty
- Create content to rank for these keywords and include these keywords strategically
- Generate the back-link report of each keyword to find the best performing URLs that rank for these keywords
- Find the contact details of the authors/admins of the websites (using a lead generation tool that will give you their emails)
- Share your content with them and ask for their feedback (if it is good they will link to it)
- Repeat step one
Search algorithms are constantly changing, so you need to constantly monitor your organic traffic and keyword rankings. Furthermore, as outreach for back-link building can be a manual process, you might want to consider hiring a virtual assistant to help you.
How to spend USD$1,000 on content marketing and SEO
- USD $600 for 6 months of SEMrush subscription (it costs USD$100/month)
- USD $400 to hire a virtual assistant for 20 hours of work (based on Upwork’s market rate)
Cold Outreach via LinkedIn/Email
In this day of “inbound marketing” and “thought leadership”, cold outreach seems like its a dead marketing tactic. However, that is simply not true, especially in the world of B2B marketing.
B2B marketing requires a lot of relationship building before users have the confidence in subscribing to your software. While LinkedIn and Google ads have made marketing more scalable, users are becoming increasingly numb and even annoyed by these ads
Would you respond to an ad message meant for many people or to a personalized email instead?
I am willing to bet that it is the latter.
This is why personalized cold outreach is still a viable marketing tactic and it is worthwhile putting resources into this.
Identifying contacts to reach out to
Based on your sales playbook, you would have identified companies and key stakeholders that are your target audience. While you may be tempted to reach out to C-suite level executives directly, that may not be the best tactic.
In my experience, C-suite executives in MNCs are less likely to reply to your connection request on LinkedIn or a cold email. In contrast, mid-level managers are more likely to accept my LinkedIn connection and to have an introductory call with me.
Besides the obvious fact that mid-level managers have more time, they are also looking for ways to prove themselves and climb the corporate ladder.
If you are able to demonstrate how your software solution can help them better do their job, and more importantly achieve their KPI, then you give them an incentive to convince the decision makers.
For example, if a key decision maker you are targeting is the CMO, then a mid- level manager to reach out to would be a marketing manager.
Finding your contacts
There are two methods I use to find a LinkedIn or email contact. One way would be to do a simple google search of the company name followed by the role.
For example, if you were to search for the marketing contact in my company (i.e. me) then you will search for “portcast marketing manager”
You can also try searching for the specific job title on the company’s LinkedIn page. Go to the company’s LinkedIn page, click on the “people” tab and search for the job title.
If you prefer to run an email campaign instead, use an email finder tool like Norbert. All you need is the company domain, first and last name of your prospect (which you can find on LinkedIn) and the software will generate the list of emails.
Reaching out to your prospects effectively on LinkedIn
When reaching out to your prospects, always keep in mind the end goal of getting the introductory call. To do this effectively, you need to keep in mind the best practices of prospecting while being authentic.
Prospects can sense if you copy & paste a template in your messaging, so personalize all your messages while being authentic to how you usually interact
If you are doing outreach using LinkedIn, focus your first message on how your software can solve just one KPI of that particular prospect. With the limited number of characters for the first message, you can only pitch based on one pain point.
For example, if you are reaching out to a marketing manager to pitch your email finder software then a first message would look like this
“Hi xx, I noticed that you are the [insert job title and company name] I have worked with many similar companies to generate correct emails that become qualified leads. If this is something you are working on let’s connect?”
Sending the second message after accepting your connection request
Once they have accepted your connection request, follow up with them within 24 hours. Go to their profile and click on “See all activity” to find posts that they liked, posts they have shared and posts they have pushed out
This will give you a sense of their job scope and what interests them at work. Personalize your message to each contact based on their LinkedIn activity and include a clear call to action at the end.
This may be to have a short introductory call or to check out one of your company blog post they may find interesting. The key is to go to the point on how your solution can add value to them specifically and a clear call to action for your prospect to act on.
If your prospect has not replied after reading your message, follow up with them ONCE. You don’t want your connections to find you annoying, especially if they may be a potential customer in the future.
If you found success with LinkedIn cold outreach, you might want to consider subscribing to LinkedIn sales navigator. By subscribing you have unlimited searches for leads and you can send longer first messages via InMail.
Starting an email drip campaign
Another tactic for cold outreach will be to start an email campaign. Find the email addresses of your prospects and craft 5–6 different email templates to send out.
This is because prospects are highly unlikely to reply to your first cold email or even your second email. Hence you need to follow-up 4 to 5 times after sending your first email
Similar to doing cold outreach on LinkedIn, personalizing each email is key for higher engagement. As the process of finding emails and personalizing your messaging is very manual, hiring a virtual assistant will help you to scale the outreach process.
How to spend USD$1,000 on cold outreach
- $780 for annual subscription to LinkedIn sales navigator professional tier OR $948 for annual subscription to Voila Norbert’s “Butler” tier (5,000 leads/month)
How would you spend USD$1,000 on marketing?
While having a big marketing budget makes a marketer’s job easier, it does not guarantee success. Knowing where to allocate your resources and executing to perfection is still a marketer’s job in any company
Do you agree with my take on marketing spend and execution? Or are you struggling with marketing execution despite having a marketing budget? Reach out to me for a chat! Always interested to learn more