There are over 11,000 SaaS companies operating worldwide. New customer acquisition is the top priority for 89% of SaaS marketers. And all these people are doing their best to win their audiences’ attention online.
Regardless of the niche of your SaaS business, it takes hard work and time to build a strong online presence. Running paid advertising campaigns is the fastest way to drive traffic to your website and boost conversions.
However, paid advertising isn’t a silver bullet. Here also come problems such as intense competition, banner blindness, poor quality traffic, and others.
How do you build strategic advertising campaigns for a SaaS brand that hit the targets?
Whether you’re just about to start your first SaaS ad campaigns or you’re looking to revamp your existing strategy, you’ll find tons of actionable tips and useful examples below.
Set clear goals
Everything starts with the goal-setting process. Without clear goals, you won’t be able to choose the right platform for promotion, allocate budgets, and measure the effectiveness of your campaigns.
While there’s a wide variety of objectives you can choose from, they all fit one of the following categories:
- Brand awareness goals, e.g. a certain number of impressions, clicks, site traffic, etc.
- Lead generation goals, e.g. app downloads, newsletter subscriptions, etc.
- Sales goals, e.g. demo requests, direct conversions, etc.
Typically, SaaS marketers choose between traffic & engagement and sales goals. However, brand awareness campaigns are no less important.
Since it takes multiple touchpoints before a prospect decides on purchasing specific software, warming up your audience with a brand awareness campaign will boost conversion rates of subsequent campaigns significantly.
So, before you launch the next sales promotion, think of whether the audience you’re going to target is ready for seeing your product landing page yet. Maybe, it’s better to drive them to a blog article or a webinar landing page?
Another common mistake is not being specific enough about what you want to achieve.
‘Increasing the number of conversions’ or ‘boosting website traffic’ doesn’t sound like the right objective for a paid advertising campaign. It’s important to set measurable goals, which address the following questions:
- How many?
- By when?
- What are the criteria of the campaign’s effectiveness?
For example, if you want to launch a paid campaign to drive sales, your goal will be something like ‘reach 200 conversions in 20 days with the average CPA of $20.’ And here comes the question. How do you define a goal CPA for a SaaS company?
Estimate your budget
The ultimate goal of any campaign is that the invested budget pays off.
What ROAS (return on ad spend) are you expecting to see?
There’s a great calculator built by HubSpot that allows you to estimate ROAS. While playing around with the numbers, you’ll better understand what budget and performance metrics (sales conversion rate, lead to customer rate, etc.) make sense for your campaign to deliver positive results.
In case you haven’t been running paid campaigns yet, you’ll need to have a look at performance benchmarks by industry, ad format, and channel. By starting with these approximate numbers, you’ll be able to set KPIs close to real ones and adjust them slightly when getting the first pieces of historical data.
Where’s your audience?
There’s no one right channel for SaaS advertising. You need to consider different platforms before you go all-in with good old Facebook Ads.
It seems obvious that SaaS companies should reach their audiences on Facebook and LinkedIn. But these channels are so overused for paid advertising that exploring less popular alternatives might appear to be the most cost-effective option for you.
Here are just a few channels worth your consideration:
- Tech websites
Let’s look at each option separately.
Advertising on Quora
Quora is a favourite channel for some SaaS marketers. If you manage to find your audience there, you can reach your prospects when they’re in the active research stage, which makes Quora Ads closer to search ads than any other ad platform.
On Quora, you can promote landing pages as well as your answers to similar questions – the latter allows you to make your ads blend in organic content.
Advertising on Twitter
Twitter Ads are massively overlooked by SaaS marketers.
In fact, Twitter advertising is an excellent opportunity to diversify your advertising strategy.
What’s most interesting about Twitter is that it enables you to target followers of any user and their look-alikes.
Unfortunately, Twitter has a serious drawback – a very limited conversion tracking functionality. The platform will work best for brand awareness campaigns promoting top-of-funnel content, like educational videos, gripping visuals, and opinion articles.
Advertising on Reddit
The 6th most visited site in the United States, Reddit is another untapped opportunity for SaaS marketers.
On Reddit, you can find genuine communities of people grouped by interests, like marketing, tech, entrepreneurship,
Since Redditors are very protective of their communities, building organic traction on Reddit will take much time and effort. Any undisclosed promotions get revealed and downvoted immediately. By running Reddit Ads, you can offer your content to a highly engaged audience while being honest with them about your motives.
Advertising on Pinterest
Pinterest is a place where users go for inspiration. You should definitely consider Pinterest advertising if your service is related to design, art, productivity, or education.
Advertising on Pinterest brings in an opportunity to reach your audiences where your competitors haven’t built their presence yet.
On Pinterest, it’s important that your ads match the look and format of surrounding content so that users don’t get scared away by overly salesy creatives.
Advertising on news & tech websites
Paid advertising channels go beyond social media networks. Advertising on news outlets and online magazines is no less effective.
Undoubtedly, SaaS brands will particularly benefit from putting their content in front of readers of news and tech sites.
The process of displaying your ads to audiences of publishers’ websites is called native advertising. Your ads are placed within content recommendation widgets hosted by a native ad platform of your choice. These widgets fit seamlessly into the editorial content giving your ads the highest possible exposure.
Each platform has its own network of publishers who offer their sites for ad placements. For instance, Outbrain partners with top-notch web publishers, like CNN, MSN, BBC, and others.
Moreover, native advertising is probably the most affordable paid promotion option on the list. The average CPC for a lead generation campaign run across top-notch websites starts at $0.2 and doesn’t exceed $1, which isn’t the case for most of the above-mentioned advertising platforms.
You don’t think we’ll leave you without an overview of Facebook and LinkedIn Ads, do you?
Advertising on Facebook
When advertising on Facebook, you face serious competition from companies in your niche and outside of it. To stand out and catch your audience’s attention, you need to be constantly testing new approaches, use multiple creatives within your ad matrix, and never wait for your audience to get exhausted.
The main benefit of Facebook is its advanced targeting functionality. But you shouldn’t go too narrow in your targeting. Start with targeting a few generic interests per campaign and narrow down if necessary.
Advertising on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the largest professional network on the web. It’s just the right fit for almost any SaaS company… with a decent advertising budget.
When you launch paid campaigns on LinkedIn, be ready to pay around $7 to $11 per click and invest at least $5,000 in initial tests. Without it, you aren’t likely to see positive results from advertising on the platform and will just waste your budget.
So, why run ads on LinkedIn at all? As a SaaS marketer, you won’t find a more relevant audience on any other platform. That’s it.
Align your campaigns with the buyer’s journey
When you pick an advertising platform, it’s time to work on your campaign content.
Most users won’t be ready to buy from you if they see your ad for the first time. That’s why it’s crucial that your campaigns are aligned with your goals and the respective buyer’s journey stage.
If you target new audiences, you should aim at building brand awareness and moving users to the consideration stage. Meanwhile, retargeting campaigns are best for driving prospects to purchase decisions or boosting customer loyalty.
Use different content formats within promotion campaigns
What content formats work the best for your audience? You don’t know until you do A/B testing.
Depending on the goal you set, there will be different content formats that fit the best. However, it doesn’t mean you should limit your brand awareness campaigns to ‘how-to’ guides and use nothing but product landing pages in sales campaigns.
We love the method of creating multi-step landing pages where you warm up new audiences with some informative content first and then drive them to the next stage of the funnel in the next step.
Instead of displaying product landing pages first thing, try using the following content types as the first step landing page:
- Blog articles
- Use cases
- Video guides
- User-generated content
- Case studies
This approach will allow you to drive more informed and qualified leads without creating multiple campaigns targeting the same audiences.
Keep tracking and optimizing your campaigns
When your advertising campaigns are up and running, keep track of the performance on a daily basis. Avoid jumping to conclusions in the first days after the launch. Wait for 2-3 days before making adjustments if you notice performance issues – it’s likely that your ad platform needs time to gather all the data and optimize your campaigns accordingly.