Think of the SaaS world like a rollercoaster ride - exciting, fast, and full of surprises. As we wrap up 2023 and move forward, the demand generation for SaaS is expected to keep going up, with some twists along the way. Businesses estimate that 70% of their business applications are currently reliant on SaaS, projected to reach 85% by 2025.
Amidst this growing demand, if SaaS companies still lack a consistent sales pipeline, it can pose a significant challenge leading to unpredictable revenue streams and hindering effective long-term planning. This instability can impede sales teams from meeting targets, impacting overall business growth and scalability.
Whether you're a budding startup or a seasoned scaleup, it's crucial to have a reliable "SaaS Demand Generation Strategy" in place to navigate this ever-changing landscape, regardless of market conditions. Join us for an insightful journey toward establishing a dependable pipeline B2B demand generation strategy as we aim to make your path smoother and more manageable.
Foundation to Inbound Marketing: Unpack Your Unique Marketing Puzzle
1.1 Define your Marketing Starting Point
Let's talk marketing journeys - they're like puzzles, right? Every company starts with different pieces and constraints, but we're all trying to create a winning picture. To comprehend this and devise a unique marketing strategy for your startup or scaleup, you must first identify which stage in the marketing puzzle game your company fits in.
1.1.1 New GTM (Pre-revenue) Stage
Envision this initial phase as the "Startup 101" period. You might be in the process of launching your Minimum Viable Product (MVP), and your marketing approach is a do-it-yourself endeavour or led by a small team. Outbound sales take centre stage, and your marketing investment is minimal.
1.1.2 Outbound Led (Early Adopters)
In this stage, it's akin to having marketing play the role of Robin to the sales department's Batman. One-on-one sales and outbound strategies are the primary revenue drivers, with marketing serving as a valuable support function, contributing less than 10% to the overall revenue.
1.1.3 Fundamental Marketing (Post–PMF)
Once you discover the elusive sweet spot in the market, known as Product-Market Fit (PMF), you begin to invest in marketing. Operating with a budget of less than $300k, you assemble a modest team of 3-4 marketers. The influence of marketing on revenue gradually grows, accounting for approximately 10-15%.
1.1.4 Some Marketing Impact (Predictable GTM)
As your company expands, so does your marketing team, now comprising 5-8 professionals. Marketing contributes to around 30% of the revenue pie at this stage.
1.1.5 Sophisticated Marketing (Rapid Scaling & Efficiency)
In the advanced stage, marketing becomes the Most Valuable Player (MVP), making a substantial 40-60% contribution to your revenue pipeline. Your marketing team has expanded into double digits.
It's quite likely that your B2B company falls within the categories of "Outbound Led," "Fundamental Marketing," or "Some Marketing Impact," each presenting its unique opportunities and challenges on the growth journey.
1.2 Craft a Demand-Driven Brand Strategy
As a B2B SaaS company, your marketing focus should go beyond just establishing a strong brand strategy. It should also harness that brand power to fuel demand for your products or services. Here connecting your brand identity with generating customer interest and demand is key.
Take a look at our approach to crack a demand-driven brand strategy for your business with these seven steps and equip yourself with the tools to bolster your brand and ensure a steady stream of consumer demand.
1.2.1 Step 1: Building a Rock-Solid Foundation
This initial stage is vital for a successful marketing strategy, requiring a profound grasp of your business, target market, and competitors.
Understanding your unique value proposition, customer needs, and differentiation from competitors is crucial.
With this knowledge, you can create a well-defined sales funnel, mapping the customer journey from awareness to purchase. Identifying each stage and implementing strategies to nurture leads and guide them toward a purchase decision is crucial.
1.2.2 Step 2: Data-Driven Infrastructure
In the digital age, data reigns supreme for successful marketing.
Establish a robust data infrastructure by collecting data from diverse sources like your website, social media, and email campaigns.
Analyze this data for valuable insights to understand your customers, spot market trends, and gauge your campaign performance. Utilize this data to optimize your strategies and enhance ROI.
1.2.3 Step 3: Winning hearts with Thought-leadership
Positioning yourself as a thought leader is a top method to gain expertise and draw new customers.
It entails crafting and sharing informative content that educates your audience. You can achieve this by writing blogs, creating e-books, hosting webinars, and engaging in industry events. Social media can also be a platform to share insights and interact with your audience.
1.2.4 Step 4: Keeping the engagement fires burning
After attracting an audience, maintain engagement with relevant, informative, and entertaining content tailored to the buyer's journey stages.
Create top-of-the-funnel content for brand introduction and education. Develop middle-of-the-funnel content for deeper solution understanding. Lastly, create bottom-of-the-funnel content to drive purchase decisions followed by brand advocacy.
1.2.5 Step 5: Snatching high-intent leads
High-intent leads are those primed for purchase at the funnel's bottom. Your objective is to recognize and nurture them into customers.
Identify high-intent leads by monitoring online behaviour and employing lead-generation tools for contact details. Subsequently, nurture them with tailored marketing campaigns.
1.2.6 Step 6: Superfans in the making
After converting a lead into a customer, aim to transform them into brand advocates who enthusiastically endorse your offerings to their network.
Cultivate advocates through top-notch customer service, loyalty programs, and platforms for customers to share their experiences.
With a robust advocate base, harness their influence to attract new customers and expand your business.
1.2.7 Step 7: Dive into the Nitty-Gritty with Data
The last step in your marketing strategy is ongoing campaign optimization through data analysis. Track campaign results and pinpoint areas for enhancement.
Leverage data to fine-tune your website, landing pages, email marketing, and social media ads and enhance lead generation and sales processes.
1.3 Construct your marketing pyramid
To drive both pipeline expansion and revenue growth, it is imperative to create your marketing strategy in a structured manner consisting of the following key layers:
This initial phase involves delving into the intricate details of your business context, streamlining your sales funnel, and conducting comprehensive market and customer analyses.
The subsequent layer entails substantial investments in revenue operations, establishing a sophisticated technology stack, optimizing your website for peak performance, and enhancing product marketing strategies.
At this stage, the focus shifts to formulating a comprehensive marketing strategy. This encompasses demand generation for SaaS, content creation, and developing a robust plan to engage and captivate your target audience.
As your business expands, this layer necessitates the assembly of a highly proficient marketing team and allocating a budget that empowers your strategic initiatives.
Representing the apex of your marketing pyramid, this top layer signifies the culmination of your efforts. The objective is for your marketing endeavours to translate into an increase in revenue figures that can only be described as a harmonious dance.
Building the RIGHT Marketing Team
Transitioning from the intricacies of building your marketing foundation, we now move on to the equally crucial task of assembling the RIGHT marketing team in your SaaS journey. While it may seem daunting, fear not, for we're here to guide you through it.
2.1 Early stages
2.1.1 Find your product-market fit
When you're starting out, finding the sweet spot where your product meets the market is a game-changer. Here's what's on the menu:
What & Who: This is all about defining who you are and who you're talking to. Crafting your brand's personality and your messaging.
How: Plant the seeds for growth. You're laying the groundwork for what comes next.
Before your grand launch, you've got a to-do list that looks like this:
- User research – get to know your audience inside and out.
- Market research – what's happening out there in the wild.
- Weave your brand story – this is the heart and soul of your business.
- Define your audience and Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) – who's your dream customer?
- Nail down your positioning and messaging – what makes you unique?
- Get a minimal website up and running – you've got to have a digital presence.
- Plan your launch – how are you going to make a splash?
Post-launch, you'll be:
- Fine-tuning and optimizing your pre-launch tasks.
- Focusing on user acquisition – it's all about growth now.
- Diving into content marketing and SEO.
- Making your website shine even brighter.
- Setting up email and CRM systems.
- Getting experimental – trying out new things.
- Measuring and reporting on your efforts – what's working and what needs a tweak.
2.1.2 Make your first marketing hire
Now, when it comes to that early-stage marketing hire, you've got choices:
Product Marketing Manager: This person is usually a mid-career (about 5 years of experience), a manager or senior manager, has experience in a similar business model or audience, and a little early-stage experience is a nice bonus. Oh, and they should be able to write well.
Growth Marketing Manager: Similar to the Product Marketing Manager but with a special knack for websites and SEO. They're all about experimenting and setting up systems. Plus, they're happy to lend a hand with other parts of your business.
Head of Marketing: This role is a bit more senior, with 7-10 years of experience. They're still ready to roll up their sleeves, and they've worked somewhere a couple of years ahead of your current stage. Like, going from seed to Series A or Series A to C.
2.2 Growth Stages
2.2.1 Know your team’s key Functions
When you're in the growth stage, there are several key functions to consider:
Brands & Comms: This covers things like PR, internal comms, being the creative director, brand and design, social media, community management, brand marketing, content creation, and copywriting.
Product Marketing: It's all about positioning and messaging, launching your products, understanding the competition, enabling your sales team, pricing and packaging, customer marketing, and all the core product marketing tasks.
Growth Marketing: Think SEO, website and conversion rate optimization (CRO), paid marketing, lifecycle marketing (email, anyone?), integrated marketing, making sure everything runs smoothly (marketing operations), account-based marketing (ABM), partner marketing, and Sales Development Representatives (SDR).
For a deep dive into these functions, take a look at this.
Predictable Pipeline Demand Generation Tactics for 2023 and Beyond
3.1 Predictable Pipeline Demand Generation for SaaS - Matrix
In today's dynamic marketing landscape, we're presented with a versatile toolkit of strategies to engage our target audience. From time-tested methods to engaging newcomers and from professional platforms to immersive experiences, a rich tapestry of tactics awaits your exploration. These diverse approaches are best understood when viewed in the comprehensive Pipeline B2B Demand Generation Matrix context.
To uncover the full breadth of information and how each tactic fits into your marketing strategy, we invite you to explore the matrix. It will serve as your guide to navigate this intricate terrain. Within this matrix, you'll find the insights needed to master the art of combining these strategies effectively for impactful marketing.
Check it out:
3.2 Channel Selection based on Annual Contract Value (ACV)
Your choice of marketing channels depends on your company's Annual Contract Value (ACV). For companies with a lower ACV, a focus on scalable, low-touch tactics is recommended. Tactics like Paid Marketing, SEO, Peer Reviews, Referrals, and Community engagement take centre stage.
Conversely, a different approach is suggested for companies with a higher ACV, where the market may be smaller, but the buying committee is substantial. Emphasis is placed on relationship building, complex sales processes, and influencer involvement for companies with higher ACV. Tactics such as Outbound, Events, Account-Based Marketing (ABX), Partner Collaborations, and Analyst Reviews become the key players.
Chart your budget spend % against each channel and identify the median number of channel tactics to employ based on your company's ACV bracket.
3.3 Some Rules for B2B Marketers in 2023
Navigating the ever-evolving world of B2B marketing in 2023 and beyond calls for adherence to principles. Here are the guiding tenets to remember:
Understand & Accept B2B Buying Behavior Has Changed: How businesses make purchasing decisions has evolved. Acknowledging and adapting to this change is vital.
Get Brand Marketing Right: Effective brand marketing is pivotal in creating a strong market presence.
Stop Relying on Outdated Tactics: Traditional methods may no longer yield the same results. It's time to embrace fresh, innovative approaches.
Find the Right Places to Create Demand, Think Like a B2C Brand: B2B marketers can take a page from the B2C playbook, focusing on where to generate demand effectively.
Only 5% of Your Audience Is In-Market: A mere fraction of your audience actively seeks a solution. Understanding this allows for more targeted efforts.
Performance SEO for Sustainable and Predictable Revenue Growth: Harnessing the power of performance SEO ensures steady and reliable revenue growth.
3.4 Marketing strategy Present Vs. Future: A comparison
To provide context for the changing landscape in 2023 and beyond, let's briefly compare the path you've traversed so far with what lies ahead:
In reflecting on our journey so far and the path that awaits in 2023 and beyond, we witness a significant shift.
While the past was marked by meticulous tracking of paid campaigns and an emphasis on sales-driven strategies, the future promises automation and predictive analytics, enabling demand capture on autopilot.
Social media's role transforms from audience engagement to fueling SaaS demand generation. Personalization takes centre stage in Account-Based Marketing (ABM), while the focus broadens from technical SEO to topical authority and content quality. Optimization extends its scope from leads to holistic insights, placing equal emphasis on both marketing and sales across the entire funnel.
Process for an All-Weather Pipeline Generation Engine
As a marketer, you know that the key to success is to have a steady pipeline of leads and opportunities. But what happens when the market takes a downturn or your competitors become more aggressive?
That's where an all-weather pipeline comes in. This pipeline is a system for generating leads and opportunities that are designed to withstand even the most challenging market conditions.
To construct this, we've laid out a comprehensive five-step framework that meticulously guides your path to success.
4.1 Define Funnel Efficiency & Unit Economics
The initial step in shaping a robust SaaS demand generation strategy involves understanding your sales funnel's efficiency and your product's unit economics.
Begin by establishing your unit economics using a top-down approach, forming informed assumptions based on industry benchmarks, and fine-tuning these assumptions as you gather real-world insights.
Over six months, methodically track critical metrics in numbers and percentages across various marketing channels, encompassing Leads, MQLs, SQLs, Opportunities, Customers, Pipeline, and ARR (Closed). These metrics will serve as the foundation for your decision-making process, providing insights into your operational economics.
After at least six months of tracking, you can identify areas for improving funnel efficiency and unit economics.
For example, if your Lead-to-Customer Rate (LCR) is low, focus on generating more qualified leads. If your Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) is high, work on reducing marketing costs. This process will pinpoint where enhancements are mandatory in your marketing and sales efforts to cost-effectively generate more leads and opportunities.
Also, there are vital considerations to address before delving into PPC budget allocation. Clearly define your objectives, understand your Lifetime Value (LTV), and assess MQL to SQL conversion rates.
A top-down approach for traffic generation involves calculating the number of new customers needed, and factoring in your conversion rate.
Calculate this twice, considering both high and low sales conversion rate ranges.
4.2 Build a Buyer Journey Framework
With your financial roadmap in place, you can now craft a buyer journey framework. This framework becomes the guiding map for understanding your audience's path to conversion, allowing you to pinpoint critical touchpoints and ensure a seamless experience for potential customers.
A buyer journey framework is a visual representation of the steps buyers take when considering a purchase. It helps you to understand how your buyers are interacting with your brand at each stage of the sales funnel so that you can create targeted content and campaigns.
Once you have created a buyer journey framework, you can develop targeted content and campaigns for each stage of the funnel. This will help you understand how your buyers interact with your brand at each stage of the sales funnel so that you can create targeted content and campaigns for each stage.
4.3 Create a 30-60-90-Day Plan & Experiment
In the next stage, you'll create a 30-60-90-day plan and launch experiments, covering foundational tasks and immediate B2B demand generation efforts. For the foundation, you'll focus on conversion tracking, reporting cadence, marketing templates, and tech stack setup. Meanwhile, your marketing programs will include search and display ads, LinkedIn advertising, SEO, and website content production.
Structure is key in the early stages of building a robust B2B demand generation engine.
The first month involves understanding your competitive landscape, streamlining processes, and self-assessment. Months two and three focus on expansion and consistency, with targeted experiments covering conversion rate optimization, messaging, campaigns, and more. Beyond these initial three months, the emphasis shifts to refining and streamlining operations while planning for the year ahead. This sequence of gradual yet deliberate steps underpins a strong foundation for demand generation for SaaS, ensuring ongoing optimization for sustainable growth.
4.4 Review After 90 Days & Determine Winning Experiments
After 90 days of diligent effort, it's time to review and reflect. Record your observations and implications, and conduct a SWOT analysis to identify the most successful channels and tactics. This critical assessment forms the basis for your future strategies and long-term planning.
Your winning experiments are the tactics that generate the most leads, MQLs, SQLs, and opportunities. Once you have identified your winning experiments, you can scale them up and turn them into long-term programs.
For a sample review & SWOT Analysis, check out the following images:
4.5 Turn the best into Long-term programs
Finally, you'll take your winning experiments and elevate them into long-term, sustainable programs.
This encompasses a variety of advertising and events, both online and physical, along with a close examination of costs, conversion rates, and net differences.
With a clear view of the performance of these programs, you can make informed recommendations on scaling, maintaining, or adjusting them to ensure the most efficient use of your resources.
This involves investing more money in your winning tactics and hiring more people to support them. You should also track your cost per lead and actual cost per lead to identify areas where you can reduce costs.
By following these 5 steps, you can create an all-weather pipeline that will help you to generate leads and opportunities even in the most challenging market conditions.
In conclusion, as we venture into 2024, it becomes abundantly clear that having an all-weather strategy is not just a luxury but a necessity. The challenges and uncertainties of the digital marketplace have only intensified in recent years, and relying on a one-size-fits-all approach is no longer viable.
To ensure predictable B2B demand generation, SaaS companies must embrace a holistic and adaptable approach that incorporates a blend of tactics. From content marketing and SEO to social media engagement and account-based marketing, the key is diversity. By diversifying your lead generation efforts, you can weather the storms of shifting algorithms, emerging technologies, and changing buyer behaviour.
Furthermore, data-driven decision-making is the lighthouse guiding your ship through the foggy waters of SaaS demand generation. Utilizing analytics and AI-powered tools can empower your team to fine-tune strategies, optimize campaigns, and identify trends that might otherwise go unnoticed.
It's also imperative to stay abreast of industry trends and emerging technologies. The SaaS space is dynamic, and staying ahead of the curve can give you a competitive edge.
Ultimately, an all-weather SaaS demand generation strategy is not about rigidity but adaptability. It's about being proactive, agile, and ready to pivot when necessary. By combining diverse tactics, data insights, and a forward-thinking mindset, your SaaS company can build a foundation for predictable pipeline generation in 2023 and beyond, ensuring sustainable growth and success in the years to come.