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What is SaaS Marketing? 8 Tactics We Use at Ahrefs

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

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

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

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

— Hiring Content Marketing Writers & Strategists (@TylerHakes) August 31, 2021

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

Here they are:

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

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

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

    Data on Ahrefs blog's monthly organic traffic

    Search engine optimisation-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.

    Here’s how we do it.

    A. Find matters with search site visitors potential

    For a chunk of content material to get search site visitors, it must be a few subject that individuals are actively looking for on Google. Makes sense, proper?

    Here’s easy methods to discover these matters:

  • Go to Ahrefs’ Keywords 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

    If you’re searching for matters to rank for on YouTube, then merely change the search engine from Google to YouTube.

    The word

    Look by way of these matters and word down these which can be related to your SaaS.

    Recommended studying: Keyword Research: The Beginner’s Guide by Ahrefs

    B. Focus on excessive “business potential” matters

    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 resolve an issue and know the way our toolset helps to resolve it too.

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

    One key motive why we’ve managed to do that efficiently is because of a rating we’ve created referred to as “business potential”:

    (*8*)

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

    For instance, the subject “link building” is a “3” in our books. That’s as a result of it’s virtually inconceivable to do hyperlink constructing properly with out a backlink analysis software—one thing we provide. So, in our hyperlink constructing information, we will naturally discuss 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 learn the way. 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 reality, we now have loads of articles like this that get virtually no natural site visitors.

    Data of Ahrefs article that gets very little organic traffic

    Why can we nonetheless create them?

    These articles are principally information research, and there are three major the explanation 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 Search engine optimisation, present stakeholders the place to direct sources, and many others. This, in flip, makes us prime of thoughts.
  • Show off our information – The core of our product is information. These research assist “flex” our information muscle mass.
  • Linkbait – These research normally entice tons of hyperlinks as different publications quote them.
  • Here’s how you are able to do it:

    A. Find an attention-grabbing subject

    You can’t simply create any information examine and anticipate publicity. It must be attention-grabbing—or at least attention-grabbing to individuals who could cite them (e.g., journalists).

    One technique to discover attention-grabbing information is to seek out matters that individuals are already speaking about subjectively and create goal information to deal with them.

    For instance, a preferred query within the Search engine optimisation business is, “How long does it take to rank in Google?” And virtually each weblog publish 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 examine utilizing our information to reply the query. It stays one in every of our hottest information 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

    Another tactic is reconducting fashionable however outdated research. Here’s how you will discover these research:

  • Go to Ahrefs’ Content Explorer
  • Enter a search time period like [industry] + “study,” [industry] + “survey,” [industry] + “research,” or [industry] + “data”
  • Set the filter to an “intitle” search
  • Set the Published filter to an older date vary (e.g., 2010–2015)
  • Sort the outcomes by referring domains
  • For instance, doing this for the Search engine optimisation business surfaces just a few research we will recreate that have already got hundreds of hyperlinks:

    List of studies that have thousands of links

    B. Promote your content material to events

    The great thing about the 2 techniques above is that you simply already know who’s writing about these matters. All that’s left is to succeed in out and introduce your examine to them. They could resolve to hyperlink to your analysis or characteristic your analysis in an upcoming publish.

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

    At Ahrefs, we provide loads of free Search engine optimisation instruments:

    Ahrefs webpage featuring free tools

    Together, 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 prime of thoughts. If they want an improve, Ahrefs is the primary they’ll flip to. (After all, they already know the way it works!)

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

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

    Here’s how one can replicate it in your SaaS enterprise:

    A. Find related instruments that individuals are looking for

    Like content material, instruments have to be found. So the simplest approach is to create one thing that already has search demand.

    Here’s easy methods to do it:

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

    List of keywords like

    B. Create a free software

    Quite seemingly, all you should do is to take one in every of your current 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 Site Explorer’s Backlinks report:

    Backlink profile for Ahrefs blog

    C. Build hyperlinks

    For your free software to rank properly, you’ll have to accumulate hyperlinks to it. Learn easy methods to do it in our newbie’s information to hyperlink constructing.

    4. Build a group of followers

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

    Header of Ahrefs' Fb page showing 16.5k members

    In the group, we often publish product updates, reply members’ support-related questions, and provides recommendations on easy methods to higher use our toolset. But that’s not all we do. Members of the group are welcome to ask questions on Search engine optimisation or give suggestions on what they like/dislike about our product.

    The consequence: We have an engaged group wanting to share their information, reply questions, and supply enter on our toolset.

    For all of the business discuss how entrepreneurs ought to discuss and take heed to clients, a group is your finest guess. We solely enable paying clients within the group, so all suggestions is certified and worthwhile.

    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

    If you’re spending plenty of sources creating content material, it will likely be a waste simply to publish and neglect. Instead, make each piece go the additional mile. Turn it into a number of codecs.

    We do that on a regular basis at Ahrefs. Here are just a few examples:

    Think of it as a pyramid. Start 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 recognition. There are a whole lot, if not hundreds, of podcasts in any business. And lots want visitors to return on and share their information.

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

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

    A. Find podcasts to seem on

    The best technique to discover podcast alternatives is to look Google for “best [industry] podcasts.”

    Google search results of

    Alternatively, you will discover a prolific podcaster in your business and search for podcasts the place they’ve been a visitor. Here’s easy methods to do it:

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

    B. Reach out to the host of the podcast

    Find the e-mail tackle of the podcast host, then pitch your self as a visitor.

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

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

    Why? Well, just a few causes:

    • Most folks 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 mainly acts as a gross sales web page. Seen from that lens, we’re really driving site visitors to an “educational sales page.”
    • Content 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 eat your “sales pitch.”

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

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

    Every 12 months, we converse at a lot of conferences. And they get us sign-ups:

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

    Events, like podcasts, are aplenty. You 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 doable, you may at all times look out for digital conferences and summits. In reality, Tim did one earlier within the 12 months for the AdWorld on-line convention.

    Wow!

    I didn’t anticipate 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 techniques do you have to use?

    Ahrefs is a SaaS. So is your corporation. But that doesn’t imply you may merely “copy-paste” our techniques and obtain in a single day success.

    After all, your goal clients, business, pricing, and many others., are all completely different from us.

    So how do you resolve which techniques it’s best to use in your SaaS?

    Assuming you already know who your goal clients are (most vital step!), I feel 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

    In this metaphor, you should know:

  • Which “animal” you’re going after.
  • Which “hunting tool” it’s best to use.
  • The first step is to determine your corporation mannequin. What type of clients (“animal”) does your SaaS want?

    • Elephants – value a whole lot of hundreds of {dollars} per 12 months
    • Antelopes – value tens of hundreds of {dollars} per 12 months
    • Rabbits – value hundreds of {dollars} per 12 months
    • Mice – value a whole lot of {dollars} per 12 months
    • Flies – value just a few {dollars} per 12 months

    Next, determine the best “hunting tool,” aka your acquisition technique. There are three major sorts:

  • Spears – Require plenty of direct human talent and involvement, like gross sales and enterprise improvement. For SaaS companies that focus on enterprise clients.
  • Nets – Pull in a lot of potential targets at as soon as, like content material advertising and marketing. For SaaS companies that focus on small companies.
  • Seeds – Your buyer base grows by itself. Examples are phrase of mouth and virality. For SaaS companies that focus on small companies or shoppers.
  • 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 best software for the best group.

    Final ideas

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

    I’ll admit: It’s respectable recommendation. After all, most artwork is merely a remix of what got here earlier than. But I feel this recommendation is taken too far at instances. For instance, have a look at the homepages of many SaaS corporations. They look practically the identical.

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

    — Tim Soulo (@timsoulo) July 12, 2019

    Marketing is about differentiating your self out of your opponents. But sarcastically, by copying one another, everybody finally ends up wanting the identical.

    In my opinion, there is nothing mistaken with copying or following finest practices. But at all times add your individual twist. This is how we’ve at all times finished our advertising and marketing at Ahrefs. None of the techniques we’ve used are actually “unique,” however we’ve at all times tried to be completely different.

    Just have a look at our homepage and our versus web page. Or even our convention banner:

    Photo of Ahrefs team and banner with rough sketches on it

    You could also be impressed by the techniques we’ve executed. But bear in mind: Don’t copy wholesale.

    Any questions or feedback? Ping me on Twitter.

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