Have you ever felt like, despite intensive marketing efforts, it’s difficult to get traction for your SaaS?
You’re producing content, ramping up paid marketing efforts and finding opportunities to get in front of people who should be a good match for your target audience, but you’re not seeing the results you were hoping for.
If this sounds familiar and you’re certain that you’ve done the right things to identify your target customer and what their pain points are, it could be a case of “right thing at the wrong time.”
What do we mean by that? Every customer is at a different stage of the “buyer’s journey.” Some things will resonate better with them depending on the stage they are at.
Here’s what that might look like.
The buyer’s journey
The buyer’s journey is a description of the process that prospects go through to become aware of, evaluate and compare, and finally make a purchase decision for a product. It is rarely a linear journey – they might stumble across your brand while looking for something else, then find you again a couple of weeks later as they read some of your content.
It would be quite unusual for someone to simply see, then buy a product or service – they want more information and to understand that it’s really something for them. In fact, a Forrester study uncovered that 74% of B2B buyers conduct more than half of their research online before making an offline purchase. We can reasonably assume that this figure is going to be higher for online purchases.
HubSpot breaks the buyer’s journey down into three distinct stages:
- Awareness. This is when the buyer realizes that they have a problem. They may go from sensing that they have a problem, to figuring out what that problem is at this stage.
- Consideration. This is where the buyer starts researching their options for getting help to solve the problem.
- Decision. The buyer is ready to choose a solution to their problem.
When you devise a marketing plan, it’s important to be aware that you’ll need to cater to buyers who fall within every stage of the journey. The idea is that they should be able to find something that meets their needs and answers their critical questions at any stage. Remember that 74% statistic? Buyers actively choose to research for themselves, so if you’re not going to provide the answers then it’s virtually guaranteed your competitors will and that’s where buyers will turn.
Marketing for the buyer’s journey
The question for SaaS or other app owners now becomes, “how can I map my marketing activities to fit with the buyer’s journey?”
First of all, we would point out that there is no substitute for conducting actual research and testing of your own customer base. This should involve having very clearly defined buyer personas and reaching out to current or prospective customers. You’ve got to have an intimate understanding of what makes them tick so that you can more accurately map out what they will need at each stage of the journey with your company.
There’s really no cookie-cutter approach that you can neatly pick up from another business and apply to yours – the best results come from customizing to the needs of your own clientele. What are the unique problems, interests or concerns your customers have at each stage? In what format do they prefer to find information on those?
Let’s break down what this might look like at each stage for a SaaS.
It’s worth noting here that not every company will have the same level of need to focus on the awareness stage, especially if they sell products that are commonly understood as solutions to a particular problem. If I have snow all over my front porch, I’m probably already aware that I need a shovel to get out there and clear it.
A SaaS, however, may have created a product that is completely revolutionary as a solution. When Dropbox was founded, did people commonly have an understanding of “the Cloud” and what Cloud storage could do for them? In this kind of situation, the SaaS is going to have to put heavier effort into the “awareness” stage of the journey because people might not even be conscious of having the problem that they solve.
Any content created for the awareness stage should avoid coming across as a “hard sell.” This stage is about educating – defining a problem for a customer and highlighting any issues around it. Jumping in with the sell too early can put the customer off, but this can be a good time to offer educational lead magnets or “content upgrades,” where you give them away in return for an email address.
As you plan your “awareness” stage marketing, it’s a good thing to consider:
- What questions do people ask themselves when they’re at this stage?
- How do they describe their problems or challenges?
- How do they look for information on these problems?
- Are there any common myths or misconceptions that they might hold?
- What problems are a priority for them?
Remember that when you consider how people describe their problems and how they search for information, keyword research is important here. 72% of buyers will turn to Google for answers once they realize they have a problem, they’ll also tend to use more open-ended search terms. This might include using words like “improve,” “prevent,” or “optimize.”
A good strategy at this stage is to produce “how-to” content which addresses the problems they are searching for, using their likely search terms to improve your odds of being found.
People in the consideration stage are now already aware of what their problem is and are actively looking for solutions. They’re thinking about things like the core problem/s that need solving and they may even be considering any “nice to have” features that would sit alongside it.
The customer is probably exploring different avenues and options, trying to figure out what will be a fit for them. This is a time to figure out how buyers weigh up the relative pros and cons of each solution and what leads them to make a decision.
Your job at this stage is to convince customers why your particular solution will be the best fit for them.
Think about the sorts of things they will be searching for at this stage, terms like:
- Best solution for (problem).
- (Problem) solutions for (type of business).
- Best tools for (problem).
This isn’t a stage to be overly “salesy”, but more to highlight the benefits of your product. Your aim is to provide answers to the key questions that people would have as they search for a solution. They’re not set on what you have to offer yet so don’t be pushy.
At this stage, the buyer has probably created a short list. They have a fairly firm idea of what their must-haves are in terms of a solution and are looking for validation of their short list. “Best product” and “best deal” will both be key to their final decision.
As a SaaS, there’s a good chance you work in a B2B space, in which case ROI will be of high concern to the customer. They might have other criteria such as how well your solution matches up against their must-haves and how simple it will be to implement your solution. This can be a real point of difference if it is to be rolled out across a team, for example. Companies would prefer to have less time required for training and implementation.
Think about things like:
- The criteria buyers use to evaluate solutions.
- Anything that buyers like about your solution which makes you different to others.
- The requirements buyers need met in order to make a decision, for example, do they need a demo?
Your content should provide proof (for example, testimonials) of the efficacy of your solution and should highlight how your product or service will help them get positive results.
The buyer’s journey is an important consideration for any marketing plan. If you don’t seem to be gaining enough traction from your marketing efforts, there’s a chance that you’re not targeting the right information to the right people, at the right moment in their journey.
While marketers love to have frameworks and solutions that can be replicated, it’s important to remember that the buyer’s journey is rarely linear, nor does it look the same from one business to the next. You need to do your own research to define what yours looks like.
Once you’ve defined your buyer’s journey, think about their questions, goals and desires at each stage. Create content and marketing campaigns which address those key points and help to draw the customer closer to a decision.
Koombea helps SaaS to build beautiful apps. Talk to us today about how we can help you.