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Written by Sam Yadegar on Nov 4

5 strategies to lower CPA for SaaS companies while keeping sales high

Here, you’ll find:

  • Why PPC isn’t the only way to keep CPA low
  • How content, SEO, and landing pages can help lower CPA
  • Why audience targeting is crucial (and not just on Google)
  • Reasons why you should also measure LTV

Sure, a productive tech company’s office needs things like pens, paper, and sticky notes. (Oh, and snacks — don’t forget the snacks). But at the end of the day, digital rules all. It’s what lives at the core of these businesses — and that includes software as a service (SaaS). 

Whatever their market and target audience, SaaS brands create software to solve a problem. Because of this, it’s likely that digital marketing and paid search have been part of your core business from the start. But, no spoiler alert here: as your business changes, so should your digital marketing strategies.

One metric you’re likely familiar with in your SaaS paid search strategy is the cost per acquisition (CPA). Also called cost per action, CPA is defined as an online advertising payment model in which payment is based solely on qualifying actions such as sales or registrations. 

Many SaaS companies only associate PPC or paid search with improving cost per acquisition (CPA). And while you’ll find a wealth of information linking the two, it’s worth noting that these things are not mutually inclusive. 

If you’re a SaaS company focused on CPA over cost per lead (CPL), you’re already ahead of the game. Many businesses get too hung up on low CPL. But even if an ad doesn’t bring in a ton of leads, if the conversion rate is high, you know you’re doing something right.

Lowering your CPA is a broad-based task. PPC is just one tool available to help you accomplish this. As you’ll see, there are other digital marketing strategies that you can also leverage that’ll help you bring in new business without breaking the bank.

HawkSEM blog: Digital Marketing Strategies to Lower SaaS Cost-per-Acquisition (CPA)

You don’t need to overhaul your content in order to make it a solid tactic for attracting new, high-quality leads. (Image via Unsplash)

1. Leverage good ‘ole SEO

With new online marketing trends cropping up nearly every day, it can be easy to overlook the effectiveness of good old-fashioned search engine optimization (SEO). 

This isn’t meant to downplay the complexity of this style of marketing. Rather, it’s to remind you that you don’t need to overhaul your content in order to make it a solid tactic for attracting new, high-quality leads.  

By simply understanding search engine algorithms and how to mold your SaaS content to better accommodate them, you eliminate the need to rely solely on developing new advertising campaigns. By learning to master the intricacies of SEO, you can enjoy benefits such as:

  • ‘Evergreen’ sustainability
  • Greater ROI
  • More leads and sign-ups
  • Free or inexpensive traffic increases
  • Increased authority in your industry or field

For SaaS companies, in particular, gating content is a great way to generate leads. However, it doesn’t do a whole lot for your SEO since the content isn’t publicly available without filling out a form. Content marketing can still be a big boon for your biz, though (we’ll get to that in the next section), whether or not it’s indexed for SEO.

2. Focus on quality content marketing

In the world of internet marketing, if SEO is what brings them in, then good content is what keeps them around. Rather than understanding how the search engine ranking system works and manipulating it to work in your favor, content marketing is about understanding your customer base and tailoring your content to them. 

However, knowing your customers entails a lot more than just having their names and email addresses on file. You need to understand what really makes them tick when it comes to doing business, such as their:

  • Buyer personas and backgrounds
  • Intent
  • Problems and pain points
  • Expectations
  • Values

What makes SaaS content marketing such a cost-effective method at improving your CPA is that you already possess most of the information needed to improve your content. A thorough analysis of your sales history and the feedback provided by customers will give you a wealth of information on what content and topics really hook customers. 

It’s also worth taking the time to see how your competition stacks up in the content marketing department. Which topics are they outranking you on, and how are they doing it? Identify content gaps and see how you can leverage them for your own brand’s benefit.

By highlighting new trends and innovating ways to help your audience, you can start building the relationship and brand trust. See what you can learn from your competitors in the SaaS space, then determine how you can beat them at their own game. (In your own voice and without plagiarizing, of course.)

Add into that a detailed analysis of keyword trends and their conversion rates, and content marketing allows you a virtual sneak peek inside of customers’ heads without them even knowing it.

Understanding just how to use SEO and content marketing to bring new visitors to your site is key if you hope to see high conversion rates from your organic traffic.

3. Optimize your landing pages

In case it wasn’t already apparent, we’re big fans of landing pages around here. That’s because we know it’s a solid way to take a user from an organic search result, paid search ad, or marketing promotion straight to a specific page on your website with a clear call to action.

An optimized landing page can be a major key to your digital marketing success, particularly when the competition is stiff and the cost-per-click (CPC) is high. A few ways to ensure yours are optimized include:

  • A killer headline
  • A consistent message
  • A mobile-friendly experience
  • A thoughtful design

Experts know that designing your landing pages to have a specific purpose and drive a particular action will help boost your conversion rate.

Plus, a lot of SaaS lead capture campaigns represent just the starting point. Once they’re in, you can work your lead through an email drip campaign or additional display remarketing that serves up something like a free whitepaper download. These follow-up efforts are natural areas to iterate on and optimize.

HawkSEM blog: Digital Marketing Strategies to Lower SaaS Cost-per-Acquisition (CPA)

Demographic targeting and ads on social media platforms are great methods for meeting your prospects where they are. (Image via Unsplash)

4. Find your audience

Google’s audience tools are great for targeting users in the consideration stage. You want to get your SaaS product in front of people who are looking to buy what you’re selling, are similar to an existing audience you have or are researching one of your competitors. 

Using Google Ads audience targeting to pinpoint or even just “observe” these users can be highly valuable and help you lower your CPA. Just don’t forget to perform regular testing so you can be sure you’re aiming in the right places. 

But this doesn’t just apply to Google. Demographic targeting and ads on the main social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn) are great methods for meeting your prospects where they are.

Connect with these users through offering high-value content that shows you’re a thought leader and leads them right to (you guessed it) an eye-catching landing page.

5. Don’t forget about lifetime value (LTV)

CPA is no doubt a crucial metric for SaaS companies. But to get a full picture of your digital marketing ROI, you should also be looking at LTV. 

Many SaaS companies operate on a subscription or annual contract level, meaning the transaction isn’t a one-and-done deal. Looking beyond the initial CPA can tell you much more about the actual value and ROI of your efforts. 

For example, if your customer refers two other businesses who end up purchasing your product, you’ve just saved money by not having to use marketing to gain that business. The LTV can also be affected if your customer re-ups their contract for 2 years at once. 

The Balance Small Business explains that a simple way to break down this number is through the following formula:

LTV = Lifetime Customer Revenue – Lifetime Customer Costs

The takeaway

For SaaS companies, there’s no shortage of data — the key lies in translating all of that noise into a cohesive and useful narrative. 

Combine these marketing strategies with a successful PPC campaign, and you can immediately see your site quickly transform into a powerful (and efficient) sales tool. 

We’ve helped plenty of clients strengthen their online presence and achieve a greater ROI from their marketing dollars. Looking to join the ranks? Let’s chat.

This post was originally published in September 2014 and was updated in November 2019.

 

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Jane Serra on Aug 14

Check off these boxes to ensure your paid search marketing strategies are on the right track.

Whether B2B or B2C, software as a service (SaaS) products and platforms play a huge role across many industries, from finance to event planning and everything in between.

As your SaaS company plans its marketing strategies, there are a few key areas to focus on to make your strategy more effective. To get the best results, it’s wise to leave things to the experts by hiring a professional SEM company for your SaaS marketing.

Using an agency with a proven track record of success both in your industry and with SaaS, in particular, can help you be successful.

1. Increase the right type of lead volume

There’s a drastic difference between increasing your lead count and increasing quality SaaS lead generation. If more people are clicking on your ad but there’s no increase in on-site conversions — or, ultimately, sales — you know something is wrong. This is especially crucial because you’re paying for each click.

Sometimes, aligning yourself with well-known clients or customers can encourage higher caliber prospects to jump on board. Use recognizable industry names from your portfolio or any Fortune 500 companies you’ve worked for (with their permission if it’s for an ad) as a hook to clients considering a purchase. In some industries, listing elite certifications can also be a good SaaS marketing strategy.

2. Book sales demos that close deals

As a SaaS company, sales can rely on how effectively you demonstrate the value of your product — and how it stands out from the crowd. When you know the challenges faced by your prospective clients, you can cater to the product features that will be most relevant to their needs.

Showing metrics can also be very convincing. It’s one thing to say you can save a company money. It’s a game-changer to say you can potentially save them at least $100,000, and have the data to back it up. With that in mind, you need to be booking sales demos with the right type of clients so your demos will be more effective. That’s where an SEM or B2B agency can come in handy.

3. Know how to properly use LTV

Lifetime value (LTV) can be used to make critical decisions, such as how much you pay for user acquisition and how losing users impacts your bottom line. Because of this, it’s crucial to be certain it’s calculated correctly.

Hubspot explains you can determine lifetime value by calculating the average purchase value, average purchase frequency rate, customer value, and average customer lifespan. Ultimately, multiplying customer value by the average customer lifespan should give you your LTV. Once you have an accurate number, compare that with your customer acquisition cost (CAC) to make sure you’re getting at least three dollars out of every single dollar you put in.

4. Understand what constitutes quality conversions

Your goal should always be to create clients for life. Because it costs money to acquire new clients, the more clients you keep, the less it’ll cost you (spoiler alert, right?). Plus, an increase in client volume coupled with a decrease in cost per acquisition can save you serious money.

Understanding this can help you market with the long game in mind. Big players and key clients will sometimes visit your website or contact you with questions many times before deciding to make a purchase, but that type of client can be more lucrative in the long run.

10 Tips SaaS Companies Need to Know About Paid Search Marketing

Using charts, diagrams and grids can allow you to more clearly display how you’re different from your competition. (Image via Unsplash)

5. Consider your landing page your lifeline

A landing page is where a user ends up after clicking an SEO search result, marketing promo or email, or an online ad. This page needs to present the purpose and products of your company clearly and convincingly. It should give viewers a reason to browse the rest of your website and make them want to look into what you offer — and plenty of companies fall short.

It typically helps to use impressive numbers and statistics on landing pages that offer a wow factor. For example, stating that you can save clients up to 50% or cut their customer service calls in half is more convincing than saying your product “utilizes the latest technology.”

Along with potentially incorporating metrics, visual aids can also be hugely effective. Using charts, diagrams and grids can allow you to more clearly display how you’re different from your competition in terms of:

  • Cost
  • Features and benefits
  • Contract or subscription type

You can also mention specifics, like cost per user and “freemium” models to attract clients’ attention.

6. Study your ideal client and your current clients

If your search marketing strategy isn’t working as well as you’d hoped, you may have misread what matters to your target audience. For example, as a technical or IT company, keyword targeting is crucial.

Due to the technical nature of the lingo in that industry, one keyword may have multiple meanings and can prevent your strategy from being effective. It can be helpful to go back through and make some of the following changes:

  • Adjust display times
  • Switch up keywords
  • Use more compelling ad copy
  • Tailor by language and location

Sometimes all you need is a display campaign targeted to a very narrow audience to start attracting the right kind of clients. When you choose to go this route, however, it’s extremely important to pick your placements carefully and make sure they’re on relevant sites.

7. Strategize based on your ROI

While we know it’s easier said than done, you don’t want to let emotions or personal preferences get in the way of profitability. You might love the emojis on your website or social media posts, for example, but anything that doesn’t appeal to the majority of your clients needs to be changed.

Focus on the areas most attractive to clients and spend money in the right places to see the best results.

8. Avoid tunnel vision

While you are certainly aware of the benefits your products and services offer, you have to assume prospective clients aren’t. Especially if your company offers a niche product or cutting-edge service, educating people is key. In these cases, it might take more convincing evidence like:

  • Demos
  • Video tutorials
  • White papers
  • Case studies

It’s a good idea to keep a thorough portfolio of the assets that make your company marketable handy, for both your team and visitors to your website.

9. Stay true to your brand

Using a variety of simultaneous campaigns is usually the ideal approach since most viewers don’t become clients after one touchpoint or interaction. But even though you’re using different ad channels, your message and mission should be consistent across all of them.

Studying typical user patterns lets you focus your efforts on the best channels to increase ad effectiveness. When you know your standard user goes from an ad click to remarketing to white paper to a YouTube video before converting, you can budget better.

10. Take the guesswork out of campaigns

Knowing your audience helps make your paid search marketing more strategic. If your demographic is millennials, a social advertising campaign might make more sense than an intense search engine marketing campaign. If your audience is primarily ballet dancers, you would use a different strategy than if your audience was mainly construction workers. This is especially true for products that aren’t deemed necessities.

Instead of focusing solely on a Google search campaign, including Bing or other more specialized marketing channels that may produce better results. For example, if you’re targeting marketing execs, you might consider a campaign on LinkedIn where you can take advantage of keywords for specific job titles.

As you talk through your marketing goals and strategies with a professional SaaS marketing agency, be prepared to hear suggestions you might not have thought of before. They may tell you, for example, that you can sometimes achieve a lower CPC when you push content downloads and assets and then follow up with an email or retargeting instead of focusing solely on free trials and demos. Take the advice of professionals — you may be surprised by the results you see.

At HawkSEM, we provide a customized approach based on your particular needs. Our passion for results and drive to meet goals ensure we do right by you, generating a higher ROI. Contact us today to learn how we can help dramatically improve your digital marketing results.

Jane Serra

Jane Serra

Jane Serra is the VP of Marketing at HawkSEM. She's an accomplished marketing executive with more than 12 years of experience leading digital marketing teams across demand generation, branding, events, content, and communications. When she's not strategizing, networking, and honing her craft, she enjoys traveling and scrolling Yelp for new restaurants to try.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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