As a SaaS business, you likely have multiple revenue segments from which you gain customers and growth. Depending on your product and market, some may have performed better for you than others. While certain businesses may not be ready for your platform, what’s important is that you find out. To do that, it’s important that you understand the SaaS marketing channels available to you and test to understand what works best for one customer type versus another. Let’s dig in.
SaaS Marketing Channel 1: Outbound Marketing
Outbound marketing is a more traditional method of marketing which emphasizes outward messaging to attract and win customers. Marketing tactics used in outbound marketing include many forms of traditional advertising, email blasts, cold calling, and media buys. Outbound marketing can often reach a significant audience, but it requires a strong, captivating message and reason for people to make the decision to buy in.
For SaaS companies, cold calling, trade show marketing, ads in industry publications, and listserv emails are common forms of outbound marketing. If your market consists of multiple small to midsize businesses (SMBs) that are in a specific association or group, outbound marketing can be one method for reaching them. Trade shows are also surprisingly powerful lead generators as SaaS companies can make connections and capture contact information easily.
The same can be said for mid-market and enterprise organizations, though if your platform has not reached a level mature enough to support larger entities, you may experience difficulty acquiring customers, and those that you do will have an astoundingly high acquisition cost and payback time frame.
How Venture Debt Helps: Outbound marketing is expensive. For growing SaaS companies looking to scale up an existing revenue segment or enter another, expect to make a substantial investment. If resources are tied up in other areas, venture debt provides a non-dilutive method to propel your organization forward through outbound marketing.
SaaS Marketing Channel 2: Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing takes a reverse approach to customer acquisition. Whereas outbound marketing pushes messages out to the universe in hopes of a response, inbound marketing places messages and conversion opportunities where people are already looking — specifically via search marketing, paid social media, and opt-in email marketing.
Depending on your platform, the problem it solves, and how it solves that problem, inbound marketing can provide a more cost-effective solution for reaching new customers. In a previous post, we offered an example of a SaaS company whose platform solved a compliance problem for small and independent medical facilities.
While it started off with outbound marketing to kickstart growth, over time, inbound marketing opened up a new revenue segment for them. This was because more and more companies (larger ones, too) were looking for a solution to the compliance problem. SMBs were sprier and able to adopt a solution right away, hence that company’s emphasis on SMBs. As larger companies started to focus on the problem, their search for a solution led them to the SaaS provider.
How Venture Debt Helps: Inbound marketing doesn’t require the vast spend that outbound marketing does, but resources are still needed to keep messages where people are looking. An example is Google Ads. Depending on the keywords around your solution, you may have to bid against competitors to maintain that position. You may also need a more search-optimized site to attract prospects. Venture debt provides capital faster than many other sources to help you start, complete, and launch them sooner.
SaaS Marketing Channel 3: Partners
Partner marketing is a unique way to grow any business. By utilizing your contacts and existing relationships, you can become a solution to those individuals’ respective contacts who may be in need of a solution. Channel partners are great sources of new opportunities, as they require little effort on your end apart from a) maintaining a strong relationship with the channel partner and b) maintaining a good relationship with the channel partner’s referred contact.
Of course, there are other types of partnerships that can lead to new opportunities, but channel partners are productive with far less financial and administrative effort. A solid relationship will produce greater reward than many other marketing efforts, as you have proven yourself to that partner, and they are able to confidently refer you to those in their circles. It’s a win-win-win — you win new business, your partner looks good to the client, and your client gets a solution that solves a problem.
How Venture Debt Helps: For SaaS companies, partnerships don’t typically require a financial investment. At least not in order to establish that relationship. You may choose to co-invest in a marketing opportunity together to drive business for both parties, but that isn’t where venture debt can support you.
Your venture debt lender can serve as a channel partner with you — recommending your services to other organizations it supports and works with. Equity investors will certainly be able to do the same, offering additional connections, introductions and support to help you grow your business. While venture debt doesn’t take an ownership position in your company, equity investors will, though this can translate into greater involvement in your organization through more guidance, recommendations and assistance.
In all that you do, be sure to experiment with different SaaS marketing channels as appropriate to ensure you’re maximizing revenue from different business types and sizes to discover the best revenue segments for your business and platform.