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What is SaaS Marketing? 8 Tactics We Use at Ahrefs

SaaS advertising and marketing is the method of constructing consciousness, growing curiosity, and buying extra prospects for a software-as-a-service (SaaS) product.

As a SaaS firm ourselves, we’re no strangers to the method. In truth, we’d wish to suppose we’re greater than respectable at it. Not solely have we reached an eight-figure ARR, however entrepreneurs additionally continuously analyze our advertising and marketing technique on Twitter:

IMO, @ahrefs is the GOAT 🐐 in terms of product-led content material advertising and marketing.

🧵Listed below are the 4 pillars to their success (from my perspective):

— Hiring Content material Advertising and marketing Writers & Strategists (@TylerHakes) August 31, 2021

Now, you don’t must dissect our advertising and marketing to make use of to your personal SaaS enterprise as a result of I’m going to share these ways with you.

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Right here they are:

  • SEO-driven content marketing
  • Data studies
  • Free tools
  • Community
  • Content repurposing
  • Be a guest on podcasts
  • Paid ads
  • Conferences
  • 1. Website positioning-driven content material advertising and marketing

    Like many different SaaS firms, we commonly create content material on each our weblog and YouTube channel. However in a crowded world, merely producing content material isn’t sufficient. It must be found.

    The “discovery engine” behind our content material is SEO (Website positioning). This is how our weblog will get ~300K month-to-month guests from Google alone:

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    Website positioning-driven content material advertising and marketing is the core of our advertising and marketing technique. It drives each our enterprise and different advertising and marketing channels.

    Right here’s how we do it.

    A. Discover subjects with search site visitors potential

    For a bit of content material to get search site visitors, it needs to be a couple of matter that individuals are actively looking for on Google. Is smart, proper?

    Right here’s find out how to discover these subjects:

  • Go to Ahrefs’ Key phrases Explorer
  • Enter a key phrase associated to your business (e.g., “design”)
  • Go to the Matching phrases report
  • Toggle the Questions tab
  • You’ll see tons of key phrase concepts and their estimated month-to-month search volumes.

    Matching terms report of monthly search volumes

    In the event you’re on the lookout for subjects to rank for on YouTube, then merely change the search engine from Google to YouTube.

    The word

    Look by means of these subjects and be aware down these which can be related to your SaaS.

    Beneficial studying: Key phrase Analysis: The Newbie’s Information by Ahrefs

    B. Deal with excessive “enterprise potential” subjects

    One distinctive factor we do at Ahrefs is to pitch our product in each piece of content material we create. We need you to discover ways to clear up an issue and understand how our toolset helps to resolve it too.

    Sadly, many SaaS firms keep away from doing this because of the worry of being too gross sales‑y. However we’d wish to suppose we straddle the road fairly properly.

    One key motive why we’ve managed to do that efficiently is due to a rating we’ve created known as “enterprise potential”:

    (*8*)

    Writing about subjects with a excessive “enterprise potential” rating permits us to advertise our product naturally.

    For instance, the subject “hyperlink constructing” is a “3” in our books. That’s as a result of it’s nearly unattainable to do hyperlink constructing properly with out a backlink analysis device—one thing we provide. So, in our hyperlink constructing information, we will naturally speak about our product:

    Blog post talking about value of Keyword Explorer

    We do that in our YouTube videos too.

    C. Create content material that ranks

    To rank at the highest of Google, you’ll must create content material that deserves to rank. Watch this video to find out how. Or this video if you wish to rank on YouTube.

    Not each piece of content material we create is designed to rank in Google. In truth, we now have loads of articles like this that get nearly no natural site visitors.

    Data of Ahrefs article that gets very little organic traffic

    Why can we nonetheless create them?

    These articles are largely knowledge research, and there are three major the reason why we create them:

  • Thought management – These research educate, inform, and enlighten folks in our business on how issues are (or the place they’re heading). They lend numbers and credibility for what entrepreneurs need to do—persuade their bosses to spend money on Website positioning, present stakeholders the place to direct assets, and many others. This, in flip, makes us high of thoughts.
  • Showcase our knowledge – The core of our product is knowledge. These research assist “flex” our knowledge muscle groups.
  • Linkbait – These research normally entice tons of hyperlinks as different publications quote them.
  • Right here’s how you are able to do it:

    A. Discover an attention-grabbing matter

    You possibly can’t simply create any knowledge research and count on publicity. It must be attention-grabbing—or at least attention-grabbing to individuals who might cite them (e.g., journalists).

    One option to discover attention-grabbing knowledge is to search out subjects that individuals are already speaking about subjectively and create goal knowledge to handle them.

    For instance, a well-liked query within the Website positioning business is, “How lengthy does it take to rank in Google?” And nearly each weblog submit that attempted to reply this query based mostly the reply on subjective expertise.

    Excerpt from blog post giving a subjective answer

    So, in 2017, we performed a research utilizing our knowledge to reply the query. It stays certainly one of our hottest knowledge research and has since generated a complete of three,200 backlinks from ~1,500 distinctive web sites:

    Data showing Ahrefs' study getting tons of backlinks and referring domains

    One other tactic is reconducting fashionable however outdated research. Right here’s how you’ll find these research:

  • Go to Ahrefs’ Content material Explorer
  • Enter a search time period like [industry] + “research,” [industry] + “survey,” [industry] + “analysis,” or [industry] + “knowledge”
  • Set the filter to an “intitle” search
  • Set the Revealed filter to an older date vary (e.g., 2010–2015)
  • Kind the outcomes by referring domains
  • For instance, doing this for the Website positioning business surfaces a couple of research we will recreate that have already got 1000’s of hyperlinks:

    List of studies that have thousands of links

    B. Promote your content material to events

    The great thing about the 2 ways above is that you just already know who’s writing about these subjects. All that’s left is to achieve out and introduce your research to them. They could resolve to hyperlink to your analysis or function your analysis in an upcoming submit.

    Observe our full information to blogger outreach to discover ways to do this.

    At Ahrefs, we provide loads of free Website positioning instruments:

    Ahrefs webpage featuring free tools

    Collectively, they generate a mixed 300K month-to-month natural visits:

    Data showing pages of free tools have lots of traffic

    Not solely are the customers getting a taster of how our product works, however our model is additionally high of thoughts. In the event that they want an improve, Ahrefs is the primary they’ll flip to. (In any case, they already know the way it works!)

    Not surprisingly, they generate tons of latest sign-ups for us:

    Person's reply on a registration form that they learned about Ahrefs through a free tool

    Right here’s how one can replicate it to your SaaS enterprise:

    A. Discover related instruments that individuals are looking for

    Like content material, instruments must be found. So the best means is to create one thing that already has search demand.

    Right here’s find out how to do it:

  • Go to Key phrases Explorer
  • Enter a number of key phrases associated to your area of interest
  • Go to the Matching phrases report
  • Click on the Embody filter
  • Toggle Any phrase
  • Enter phrases like “calculator,” “checker,” or “device” (separated by commas)
  • You must then see key phrases that symbolize instruments individuals are looking for:

    List of keywords like

    B. Create a free device

    Fairly doubtless, all that you must do is to take certainly one of your present functionalities and create a restricted model of it. This is precisely what we do for all of our free instruments. For instance, our free backlink checker is merely a restricted model of Web site Explorer’s Backlinks report:

    Backlink profile for Ahrefs blog

    C. Construct hyperlinks

    In your free device to rank properly, you’ll have to accumulate hyperlinks to it. Discover ways to do it in our newbie’s information to hyperlink constructing.

    4. Construct a group of followers

    Ahrefs Insider is our customers-only Fb group. On the time of writing, it has ~16,500 members:

    Header of Ahrefs' Fb page showing 16.5k members

    Within the group, we continuously submit product updates, reply members’ support-related questions, and provides recommendations on find out how to higher use our toolset. However that’s not all we do. Members of the group are welcome to ask questions on Website positioning or give suggestions on what they like/dislike about our product.

    The outcome: We have an engaged group desperate to share their data, reply questions, and supply enter on our toolset.

    For all of the business speak about how entrepreneurs ought to discuss and take heed to prospects, a group is your finest wager. We solely permit paying prospects within the group, so all suggestions is certified and priceless.

    Tim Soulo, our chief advertising and marketing officer (CMO), shares how we’ve constructed a group of ardent followers on this video:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48C-KNdzDeU

    In the event you’re spending numerous assets creating content material, will probably be a waste simply to publish and overlook. As an alternative, make each piece go the additional mile. Flip it into a number of codecs.

    We do that on a regular basis at Ahrefs. Listed below are a couple of examples:

    Consider it as a pyramid. Begin with one major model, then splinter it into smaller variations for different channels.

    Pyramid with 3 levels. Top level is

    6. Be a visitor on podcasts

    Podcasting has exploded in reputation. There are a whole bunch, if not 1000’s, of podcasts in any business. And lots want company to return on and share their data.

    This presents an awesome alternative for any SaaS enterprise to advertise itself and faucet into the podcast’s viewers.

    How do you discover these alternatives? Right here’s what to do:

    A. Discover podcasts to seem on

    The simplest option to discover podcast alternatives is to go looking Google for “finest [industry] podcasts.”

    Google search results of

    Alternatively, you’ll find a prolific podcaster in your business and search for podcasts the place they’ve been a visitor. Right here’s find out how to do it:

  • Search for somebody in your business who’s been on many podcasts (e.g., Ahrefs’ Patrick Stox)
  • Paste that particular person’s area into Web site Explorer
  • Go to the Backlinks report
  • Filter for backlinks with their identify within the Ref. web page title
  • Backlinks report showing podcasts Patrick has been on

    B. Attain out to the host of the podcast

    Discover the e-mail deal with of the podcast host, then pitch your self as a visitor.

    Paid promoting is comparatively easy: pay a platform (Fb, Twitter, and many others.) and drive site visitors to your web site. Loads of SaaS firms do that as a result of it is direct, measurable, and simple to scale.

    Likewise, we use paid adverts at Ahrefs too. However with a twist. We use paid promoting to advertise our content material.

    Why? Nicely, a couple of causes:

    • Most individuals don’t join software program after seeing an advert. That’s simply not how the client’s journey works, and we’re conscious of that.
    • We pitch our product in all of the content material we produce (tactic #1). So every article principally acts as a gross sales web page. Seen from that lens, we’re truly driving site visitors to an “academic gross sales web page.”
    • Content material must be found to ensure that any subsequent step to happen. If nobody’s studying your content material, then they can’t be educated, hyperlink to you, or devour your “gross sales pitch.”

    That is to not say we don’t use paid promoting to get sign-ups. We do. However we solely use it for our free instruments like Ahrefs Webmaster Instruments. It’s a a lot simpler “promote” than making an attempt to persuade somebody to purchase software program based mostly on simply the primary impression.

    Learn our information to PPC advertising and marketing if you wish to study extra about utilizing Google Advertisements to drive site visitors and leads.

    Yearly, we converse at a variety of conferences. And so they get us sign-ups:

    Written reply of someone who learned about Ahrefs through an event in Bali

    Occasions, like podcasts, are aplenty. You possibly can at all times discover one to share your experience at. They don’t must be a 10K-person occasion; small, native meetups work properly too.

    If in-person occasions aren’t attainable, you may at all times look out for digital conferences and summits. In truth, Tim did one earlier within the yr for the AdWorld on-line convention.

    Wow!

    I didn’t count on to finish up being the #1 trending speaker of the day at @AdWorldOfficial 😮

    HUGE THANKS to everybody who supported my discuss!
    🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏 pic.twitter.com/QbOAxTNOCZ

    — Tim Soulo (@timsoulo) May 4, 2021

    Which ways do you have to use?

    Ahrefs is a SaaS. So is your online business. However that doesn’t imply you may merely “copy-paste” our ways and obtain in a single day success.

    In any case, your goal prospects, business, pricing, and many others., are all totally different from us.

    So how do you resolve which ways it is best to use to your SaaS?

    Assuming you already know who your goal prospects are (most essential step!), I believe you’ll like this mental model from David Fallame, advertising and marketing director at On Deck:

    Mental model of five animals and the corresponding acquisition strategy

    On this metaphor, that you must know:

  • Which “animal” you’re going after.
  • Which “looking device” it is best to use.
  • Step one is to determine your online business mannequin. What form of prospects (“animal”) does your SaaS want?

    • Elephants – price a whole bunch of 1000’s of {dollars} per yr
    • Antelopes – price tens of 1000’s of {dollars} per yr
    • Rabbits – price 1000’s of {dollars} per yr
    • Mice – price a whole bunch of {dollars} per yr
    • Flies – price a couple of {dollars} per yr

    Subsequent, determine the appropriate “looking device,” aka your acquisition technique. There are three major varieties:

  • Spears – Require numerous direct human ability and involvement, like gross sales and enterprise improvement. For SaaS companies that concentrate on enterprise prospects.
  • Nets – Pull in numerous potential targets at as soon as, like content material advertising and marketing. For SaaS companies that concentrate on small companies.
  • Seeds – Your buyer base grows by itself. Examples are phrase of mouth and virality. For SaaS companies that concentrate on small companies or customers.
  • For us, our buyer base is primarily between the $1K-$10K zone. That is why our content material advertising and marketing technique works wonders—it is the appropriate device for the appropriate group.

    Remaining ideas

    Working in SaaS means listening to the quote “good artists copy, nice artists steal” usually.

    I’ll admit: It’s respectable recommendation. In any case, most artwork is merely a remix of what got here earlier than. However I believe this recommendation is taken too far at occasions. For instance, have a look at the homepages of many SaaS firms. They give the impression of being practically the similar.

    I assume there’s a brand new pattern in SaaS homepage design 😆 pic.twitter.com/5qhQOCVBi5

    — Tim Soulo (@timsoulo) July 12, 2019

    Advertising and marketing is about differentiating your self out of your rivals. However paradoxically, by copying one another, everybody finally ends up wanting the similar.

    In my view, there is nothing improper with copying or following finest practices. However at all times add your personal twist. This is how we’ve at all times executed our advertising and marketing at Ahrefs. Not one of the ways we’ve used are actually “distinctive,” however we’ve at all times tried to be totally different.

    Simply have a look at our homepage and our versus web page. And even our convention banner:

    Photo of Ahrefs team and banner with rough sketches on it

    Chances are you’ll be impressed by the ways we’ve executed. However keep in mind: Don’t copy wholesale.

    Any questions or feedback? Ping me on Twitter.

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