Cost-effective marketing tactics for SaaS Startups
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The early stages of many SaaS startups are filled with excitement and optimism — but, unfortunately, not with cash. During these initial stages, SaaS startups really need to stretch those dollars in every imaginable way in order to get the word out about their product. To help direct these limited funds down the right channels, CMSWire spoke to marketing and business practitioners to help identify the most cost-effective marketing strategies for SaaS companies.

1. Look at Alternative PR Resources

Hiring the services of a fully-fledged PR agency can be a costly affair, but we can’t deny the advantages of what a good PR campaign can bring to a brand. Instead of turning to a PR agency, Ketan Kapoor, CEO and co-founder of Mettl, suggested opting for web-based resources to assist with your PR activities. “Web resources such as Muck Rack and Just Reach Out not only contain a fat database of journalists, but [they] also educate you [on] the techniques to reach out to the right journalists and give your business the right exposure [during] its teething phase.”

Kapoor also added that having this initial contact with journalists during the early stages of your business venture can help you “bolster your PR strategy at a later stage.”

2. Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing usually involves asking an individual, who has a large social media following in a specific niche, to promote your product or service in exchange for a commission. For startups, established influencers will command a high fee, according to Amy Fisher, vice president of Padilla. She suggests brands start small — perhaps through micro-influencer marketing.

“I recommend identifying one or two individuals and [engage] with them organically. For example, include them in a focus group or research study, ask them to co-present at a conference or have them write a blog post for your website,” Fisher explained. Fisher then went on to say that as your business grows, you can then expand your reach via a “larger base of influencers.”

Related Article: 5 Marketing Automation Trends in the Forefront of 2018

3. SEO

Marie Lamonde, content marketing specialist at DashThis, explained that while Facebook and LinkedIn ads are “great,” it is imperative for bootstrapped companies to remain “frugal.” She shared that spending too much on Facebook and LinkedIn ads could end up becoming a “gamble” you can't afford.

As an alternative, Lamonde suggested investing time on improving your SEO ranking by focusing on “creating quality content” and organically generating backlinks. While an SEO campaign does not have any short-term gains, it will “tremendously” help in the long run, she added. “At DashThis, we didn’t start investing in ads before we were already well established and had a good number of clients. The wonderful thing about having an SEO optimized website with great content is that it stays, and [it also] helps with all your other strategies. It’ll help you increase your traffic, get more shares, better ad performances, and of course, increase your sales,” Lamonde said.

In addition, she said SEO is “the perfect way to increase your SaaS bootstrapped startup revenues, without spending money on ads.”

Related Article: Personalized Marketing: Where We Are in 2018

4. Retargeting Campaigns

Louisa McGrath, content manager at Rebrandly, has suggested that bootstrapped brands can conduct a retargeting campaign during the initial stages of their venture. Retargeting is a form of online marketing that keeps your brand in front of bounced traffic after they leave your site. As stated by Adroll, only 2 percent of web traffic is converted on the first visit.

“Retargeting ads have more conversions and better ROI than other social ads. But if you don't have a lot of website visitors yet, you can still target relevant prospects and increase your TOFU traffic quickly through link retargeting. It's great for startups who have limited resources to create original content,” McGrath said.

5. Syndicated and Promoted Content

And finally, Fisher recommended bootstrapped brands make use of syndicated and promoted content channels. While this tactic, as noted by Fisher, isn’t “necessarily cheap,” it will help you get your content out to the right buyers. “As a startup, I recommend using syndicated content and promoted content as part of your strategy. You can do this by creating engaging, educational content and then working with syndication engines to push that content out to your specific prospect,” Fisher said.

Fisher then went on to say that while syndicated and promoted content is similar to advertising, brands “need to invest in a repeatable communications program that gets in front of buyers on a regular basis.

6. Go Narrow

The five strategies above are all cost-effective — but not if you attempt them simultaneously. Instead of adopting a broad, gung-ho strategy, Fisher advised brands to spend time “creating a strategic and focused plan.” For Fisher, having a solid plan in place is important because it will help you maximize your budget and target your activities toward the buyers. “Unlike larger brands, startups can't afford to throw the net wide, they need to be hyper-focused [so they can engage] with the right audience," Fisher said.

With that advice in mind, it would be wise to invest more time into one or two cost-effective marketing strategies, rather than attempting four or five at the same time.

Are you a bootstrapped company? Tell us what you’ve got in mind for your marketing strategy for 2019.