SaaS advertising is the method of constructing consciousness, rising curiosity, and buying extra clients for a software-as-a-service (SaaS) product.

As a SaaS firm ourselves, we’re no strangers to the method. The truth is, we’d prefer to assume we’re greater than respectable at it. Not solely have we reached an eight-figure ARR, however entrepreneurs additionally incessantly analyze our advertising technique on Twitter:

Now, you don’t must dissect our advertising to make use of in your personal SaaS enterprise as a result of I’m going to share these techniques with you.

Right here they are:

  1. Search engine optimization-driven content material advertising
  2. Knowledge research
  3. Free instruments
  4. Group
  5. Content material repurposing
  6. Be a visitor on podcasts
  7. Paid advertisements
  8. Conferences

1. Search engine optimization-driven content material advertising

Like many different SaaS firms, we often create content material on each our weblog and YouTube channel. However in a crowded world, merely producing content material isn’t sufficient. It must be found.

The “discovery engine” behind our content material is SEO (Search engine optimization). That is how our weblog will get ~300K month-to-month guests from Google alone:

Data on Ahrefs blog's monthly organic traffic

Search engine optimization-driven content material advertising is the core of our advertising technique. It drives each our enterprise and different advertising channels.

Right here’s how we do it.

A. Discover matters with search site visitors potential

For a chunk of content material to get search site visitors, it must be a couple of subject that persons are actively trying to find on Google. Is smart, proper?

Right here’s the right way to discover these matters:

  1. Go to Ahrefs’ Key phrases Explorer
  2. Enter a key phrase associated to your trade (e.g., “design”)
  3. Go to the Matching phrases report
  4. Toggle the Questions tab

You’ll see tons of key phrase concepts and their estimated month-to-month search volumes.

Matching terms report of monthly search volumes

If you happen to’re in search of matters to rank for on YouTube, then merely change the search engine from Google to YouTube.

The word "Youtube" added in the search box in Keyword Explorer

Look by these matters and word down these which are related to your SaaS.

Really helpful studying: Key phrase Analysis: The Newbie’s Information by Ahrefs

B. Give attention to excessive “enterprise potential” matters

One distinctive factor we do at Ahrefs is to pitch our product in each piece of content material we create. We would like you to learn to clear up an issue and understand how our toolset helps to resolve it too.

Sadly, many SaaS firms keep away from doing this as a result of worry of being too gross sales‑y. However we’d prefer to assume we straddle the road fairly effectively.

One key motive why we’ve managed to do that efficiently is because of a rating we’ve created known as “enterprise potential”:

Table with scores 3 to 0. And explanation of criteria to meet each score.

Writing about matters with a excessive “enterprise potential” rating permits us to advertise our product naturally.

For instance, the subject “hyperlink constructing” is a “3” in our books. That’s as a result of it’s virtually unattainable to do hyperlink constructing effectively and not using a backlink analysis software—one thing we provide. So, in our hyperlink constructing information, we are able to naturally discuss our product:

Blog post talking about value of Keyword Explorer

We do that in our YouTube movies too.

C. Create content material that ranks

To rank on the prime of Google, you’ll have to create content material that deserves to rank. Watch this video to find out how. Or this video if you wish to rank on YouTube.

Not each piece of content material we create is designed to rank in Google. The truth is, we now have loads of articles like this that get virtually no natural site visitors.

Data of Ahrefs article that gets very little organic traffic

Why will we nonetheless create them?

These articles are largely information research, and there are three important explanation why we create them:

  1. Thought management These research educate, inform, and enlighten folks in our trade on how issues are (or the place they’re heading). They lend numbers and credibility for what entrepreneurs wish to do—persuade their bosses to spend money on Search engine optimization, present stakeholders the place to direct assets, and many others. This, in flip, makes us prime of thoughts.
  2. Exhibit our information  The core of our product is information. These research assist “flex” our information muscle groups.
  3. Linkbait – These research often appeal to tons of hyperlinks as different publications quote them.

Right here’s how you are able to do it:

A. Discover an fascinating subject

You’ll be able to’t simply create any information examine and anticipate publicity. It must be fascinating—or at the very least fascinating to individuals who might cite them (e.g., journalists).

One solution to discover fascinating information is to search out matters that persons are already speaking about subjectively and create goal information to handle them.

For instance, a well-liked query within the Search engine optimization trade is, “How lengthy does it take to rank in Google?” And virtually each weblog put up that attempted to reply this query based mostly the reply on subjective expertise.

Excerpt from blog post giving a subjective answer

So, in 2017, we performed a examine utilizing our information to reply the query. It stays one in all our hottest information research and has since generated a complete of three,200 backlinks from ~1,500 distinctive web sites:

Data showing Ahrefs' study getting tons of backlinks and referring domains

One other tactic is reconducting standard however outdated research. Right here’s how you will discover these research:

  1. Go to Ahrefs’ Content material Explorer
  2. Enter a search time period like [industry] + “examine,” [industry] + “survey,” [industry] + “analysis,” or [industry] + “information”
  3. Set the filter to an “intitle” search
  4. Set the Revealed filter to an older date vary (e.g., 2010–2015)
  5. Type the outcomes by referring domains

For instance, doing this for the Search engine optimization trade surfaces a couple of research we are able to recreate that have already got hundreds of hyperlinks:

List of studies that have thousands of links

B. Promote your content material to events

The fantastic thing about the 2 techniques above is that you just already know who’s writing about these matters. All that’s left is to achieve out and introduce your examine to them. They might determine to hyperlink to your analysis or characteristic your analysis in an upcoming put up.

Observe our full information to blogger outreach to learn to do this.

At Ahrefs, we provide loads of free Search engine optimization instruments:

Ahrefs webpage featuring free tools

Collectively, they generate a mixed 300K month-to-month natural visits:

Data showing pages of free tools have lots of traffic

Not solely are the customers getting a taster of how our product works, however our model can also be prime of thoughts. In the event that they want an improve, Ahrefs is the primary they’ll flip to. (In spite of everything, they already know the way it works!)

Not surprisingly, they generate tons of recent sign-ups for us:

Person's reply on a registration form that they learned about Ahrefs through a free tool

Right here’s how one can replicate it in your SaaS enterprise:

A. Discover related instruments that persons are trying to find

Like content material, instruments must be found. So the best means is to create one thing that already has search demand.

Right here’s the right way to do it:

  1. Go to Key phrases Explorer
  2. Enter a number of key phrases associated to your area of interest
  3. Go to the Matching phrases report
  4. Click on the Embrace filter
  5. Toggle Any phrase
  6. Enter phrases like “calculator,” “checker,” or “software” (separated by commas)

It’s best to then see key phrases that signify instruments persons are trying to find:

List of keywords like "bitcoin calculator," "btc calculator," etc

B. Create a free software

Fairly seemingly, all it’s worthwhile to do is to take one in all your current functionalities and create a restricted model of it. That is precisely what we do for all of our free instruments. For instance, our free backlink checker is just a restricted model of Web site Explorer’s Backlinks report:

Backlink profile for Ahrefs blog

C. Construct hyperlinks

To your free software to rank effectively, you’ll have to amass hyperlinks to it. Discover ways to do it in our newbie’s information to hyperlink constructing.

4. Construct a neighborhood of followers

Ahrefs Insider is our customers-only Fb group. On the time of writing, it has ~16,500 members:

Header of Ahrefs' Fb page showing 16.5k members

Within the group, we incessantly put up product updates, reply members’ support-related questions, and provides tips about the right way to higher use our toolset. However that’s not all we do. Members of the group are welcome to ask questions on Search engine optimization or give suggestions on what they like/dislike about our product.

The outcome: We have now an engaged neighborhood desirous to share their data, reply questions, and supply enter on our toolset.

For all of the trade discuss how entrepreneurs ought to discuss and take heed to clients, a neighborhood is your greatest guess. We solely enable paying clients within the group, so all suggestions is certified and priceless.

Tim Soulo, our chief advertising officer (CMO), shares how we’ve constructed a neighborhood of ardent followers on this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48C-KNdzDeU

If you happen to’re spending a lot of assets creating content material, it will likely be a waste simply to publish and neglect. As a substitute, make each piece go the additional mile. Flip it into a number of codecs.

We do that on a regular basis at Ahrefs. Listed here are a couple of examples:

Consider it as a pyramid. Begin with one important model, then splinter it into smaller variations for different channels.

Pyramid with 3 levels. Top level is "video content," then "written content," then "social media content"

6. Be a visitor on podcasts

Podcasting has exploded in recognition. There are a whole bunch, if not hundreds, of podcasts in any trade. And many want friends to come back on and share their data.

This presents an important alternative for any SaaS enterprise to advertise itself and faucet into the podcast’s viewers.

How do you discover these alternatives? Right here’s what to do:

A. Discover podcasts to seem on

The simplest solution to discover podcast alternatives is to go looking Google for “greatest [industry] podcasts.”

Google search results of "best ux products"

Alternatively, you will discover a prolific podcaster in your trade and search for podcasts the place they’ve been a visitor. Right here’s the right way to do it:

  1. Search for somebody in your trade who’s been on many podcasts (e.g., Ahrefs’ Patrick Stox)
  2. Paste that individual’s area into Web site Explorer
  3. Go to the Backlinks report
  4. Filter for backlinks with their title within the Ref. web page title
Backlinks report showing podcasts Patrick has been on

B. Attain out to the host of the podcast

Discover the e-mail tackle of the podcast host, then pitch your self as a visitor.

Paid promoting is comparatively easy: pay a platform (Fb, Twitter, and many others.) and drive site visitors to your web site. Loads of SaaS firms do that as a result of it’s direct, measurable, and straightforward to scale.

Likewise, we use paid advertisements at Ahrefs too. However with a twist. We use paid promoting to promote our content material.

Why? Effectively, a couple of causes:

  • Most individuals don’t join software program after seeing an advert. That’s simply not how the client’s journey works, and we’re conscious of that.
  • We pitch our product in all of the content material we produce (tactic #1). So every article principally acts as a gross sales web page. Seen from that lens, we’re truly driving site visitors to an “instructional gross sales web page.”
  • Content material must be found to ensure that any subsequent step to happen. If nobody’s studying your content material, then they can’t be educated, hyperlink to you, or eat your “gross sales pitch.”

That isn’t to say we don’t use paid promoting to get sign-ups. We do. However we solely use it for our free instruments like Ahrefs Webmaster Instruments. It’s a a lot simpler “promote” than making an attempt to persuade somebody to purchase software program based mostly on simply the primary impression.

Learn our information to PPC advertising if you wish to study extra about utilizing Google Advertisements to drive site visitors and leads.

Yearly, we communicate at quite a few conferences. And so they get us sign-ups:

Written reply of someone who learned about Ahrefs through an event in Bali

Occasions, like podcasts, are aplenty. You’ll be able to all the time discover one to share your experience at. They don’t must be a 10K-person occasion; small, native meetups work effectively too.

If in-person occasions should not potential, you may all the time look out for digital conferences and summits. The truth is, Tim did one earlier within the yr for the AdWorld on-line convention.

https://twitter.com/timsoulo/standing/1389456795920338951

Which techniques do you have to use?

Ahrefs is a SaaS. So is your corporation. However that doesn’t imply you may merely “copy-paste” our techniques and obtain in a single day success.

In spite of everything, your goal clients, trade, pricing, and many others., are all totally different from us.

So how do you determine which techniques you need to use in your SaaS?

Assuming you already know who your goal clients are (most essential step!), I feel you’ll like this psychological mannequin from David Fallame, advertising director at On Deck:

Mental model of five animals and the corresponding acquisition strategy

On this metaphor, it’s worthwhile to know:

  1. Which “animal” you’re going after.
  2. Which “searching software” you need to use.

The first step is to establish your corporation mannequin. What sort of clients (“animal”) does your SaaS want?

  • Elephants  Value a whole bunch of hundreds of {dollars} per yr
  • Antelopes – Value tens of hundreds of {dollars} per yr
  • Rabbits – Value hundreds of {dollars} per yr
  • Mice  Value a whole bunch of {dollars} per yr
  • Flies  Value a couple of {dollars} per yr

Subsequent, establish the proper “searching software,” aka your acquisition technique. There are three important varieties:

  1. Spears – Require a lot of direct human ability and involvement, like gross sales and enterprise improvement. For SaaS companies that focus on enterprise clients.
  2. Nets – Pull in numerous potential targets without delay, like content material advertising. For SaaS companies that focus on small companies.
  3. Seeds – Your buyer base grows by itself. Examples are phrase of mouth and virality. For SaaS companies that focus on small companies or customers.

For us, our buyer base is especially between the $1K-$10K zone. That’s the reason our content material advertising technique works wonders—it’s the proper software for the proper group.

Last ideas

Working in SaaS means listening to the quote “good artists copy, nice artists steal” usually.

I’ll admit: It’s respectable recommendation. In spite of everything, most artwork is just a remix of what got here earlier than. However I feel this recommendation is taken too far at occasions. For instance, check out the homepages of many SaaS firms. They give the impression of being practically the identical.

https://twitter.com/timsoulo/standing/1149600136932184064

Advertising and marketing is about differentiating your self out of your rivals. However mockingly, by copying one another, everybody finally ends up wanting the identical.

For my part, there may be nothing incorrect with copying or following greatest practices. However all the time add your personal twist. That is how we’ve all the time executed our advertising at Ahrefs. Not one of the techniques we’ve used are actually “distinctive,” however we’ve all the time tried to be totally different.

Simply check out our homepage and our versus web page. And even our convention banner:

Photo of Ahrefs team and banner with rough sketches on it

Chances are you’ll be impressed by the techniques we’ve executed. However keep in mind: Don’t copy wholesale.

Any questions or feedback? Ping me on Twitter.

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