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How the heck did they do it?
As marketers, that’s the question
we often ask ourselves after seeing
companies like Slack (or Stripe, or
Dropbox, or DocuSign) go from
zero to millions of users in just a
few years…or months.
2 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies

(source: Inc. Magazine)
While interviews and company blog posts offer hints
as to how these companies were able to achieve
such extraordinary growth, we wanted to dig deeper.
Instead of simply listening to the marketing tips and
tricks that high-growth companies were sharing, we
wanted to analyze what tools and tactics their
marketing teams were actually using day-to-day.
3 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies
4 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies

That’s when it hit us:
Every year, Forbes puts together
their Cloud 100 list -- a list of “the
hottest private tech companies in
cloud computing.” So we decided
to analyze the marketing tools
and tactics used by every single
company on that list.
Our goal was to see if we could uncover any patterns
that help explain why some companies achieve
hypergrowth, while others fizzle out.
Keep reading to see what we found…
5 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies
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25

30

37

48

50
01. Demographics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

02. Tech Stack . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

03. Content . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

04. Buying Experience . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

05. The Two Megatrends: Messaging & Video . . . . . . . . . . . .
06. Key Takeaways . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

07. Report Methodology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

6 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies

Table of Contents
7 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies

0101
01
01 01
01
01
01
01
01
01
DEMOGRAPHICS
01
Before we dig into the marketing tools and tactics
Cloud 100 companies are using, let’s first explore
what those companies — and their marketing teams
— actually look like.
8 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies
9 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies

Total # of
Employees
# of
Marketing
Employees
%
Smallest 105 6 5.7%
Median 500 21 4.2%
Average 643 29 4.5%
Largest 5,322 245 4.6%
The companies in the Cloud 100 range
in size from 105 employees to 5,322
employees.
The median company size is 500, while
the average company size is 643.
When we drill down into marketing
specifically, we find that marketing
teams for Cloud 100 companies range
in size from 6 marketers to 245
marketers.
The median marketing team size across
the Cloud 100 is 21 marketers, while the
average team size is 29 marketers
Company Size vs.
Marketing Team Size
10 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies

Marketing Team Size
6 marketers
21 marketers
29 marketers
Company Size
smallest 105 employees
median 500 employees
average 643 employees
largest
5,322
employees
245 marketers
11 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies

Here’s what the relationship between marketing team size (y-axis)
and company size (x-axis) looks like. There’s a tight range (with
the exception of a few outliers), with 5% being the typical value.
Total Employees
Marketers
12 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies

On average, 4.8% of a Cloud 100
company’s workforce are
marketers.
Overall, there are approximately
3,000 marketers working in the
Cloud 100.
0202
02
02 02
02
02
02 02
02
02
TECH STACK
02
13 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies
Ever wish you could magically peer behind a
company’s website and get a snapshot of what
tools are running in the background?
That’s (basically) what we did with all the companies
in the Cloud 100 -- with some help from Clearbit.
14 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies
What did we find? Well, it might not come as a huge
surprise that Google Analytics was by far the most
widely used tool among the Cloud 100, with 64% of
companies using it.
The second most popular tool was also from Google,
Tag Manager, which had 54% of companies using it.
15 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies

64%
54%
#1 Google Analytics 64%
#2 Google Tag Manager 54%
#3 Marketo 48%
#4 Google Apps 46%
#5 Facebook Ads 36%
16 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies

Here’s a list of the top 25 tools used by Cloud 100 companies,
plus the percentages of companies using those tools:
(continued on next page)
#6 WordPress 31%
#7 Optimizely 30%
#8 AdRoll 27%
#9 AWS Route 53 27%
#10 Office 365 27%
17 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies

(continued on next page)

% using the toolThe Top 25 Tools Used by Cloud 100 companies
#11 Amazon EC2 25%
#12 Mailgun 24%
#13 Zendesk 22%
#14 Bing Ads 20%
#15 YouTube 19%
18 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies

(continued on next page)

% using the toolThe Top 25 Tools Used by Cloud 100 companies
#16 Exchange Online 19%
#17 DYN DNS 18%
#18 Crazy Egg 17%
#19 Vimeo 17%
#20 Double Click 16%
19 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies

(continued on next page)

% using the toolThe Top 25 Tools Used by Cloud 100 companies
#21 Facebook Connect 16%
#22 Salesforce 14%
#23 Twitter Button 14%
#24 Wistia 14%
#25 SendGrid 13%
20 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies

% using the toolThe Top 25 Tools Used by Cloud 100 companies
21 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies

The top 25 tools and technologies used by the Cloud 100 come
from a few different categories:
Analytics/Optimization Video/ContentAd Tech
Customer Relationships
Marketing Automation/Email CollaborationInfrastructure
Social
22 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies

After compiling this list, we
decided to take the analysis
one step further by comparing
adoption rates of tools among
the Cloud 100 to adoption rates
of those same tools among
non-Cloud 100 companies.
On the right, you can see a
heat map that highlights the
differences in adoption rates
between the two groups.
Cloud 100 Everyone else
23 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies

We discovered that Cloud
100 companies are much
more likely to use automation
tools (like Marketo, Mailgun,
and SendGrid), ad tech (like
Bing Ads and Facebook Ads),
and tracking/optimization
tools (like Tag Manager and
Optimizely) compared to
companies outside of the
Cloud 100.
Cloud 100 vs. Non-Cloud 100 Tool Adoption
Biggest Relative Differences
Based on our analysis of Cloud 100 tech stacks, it’s
clear that marketing teams at these companies care
about (and are investing in) the following:
1. Driving traffic
2. Re-engaging visitors via email
3. Conversion rate optimization
However, as you’ll learn more about in the upcoming
sections, there’s one area that Cloud 100 companies
are not investing in as heavily: Talking to their best
leads while they’re live on their websites.
24 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies
0303
03
03 03
03
03
03 03
03
03
CONTENT
03
25 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies
Creating branded content for attracting website
visitors has become ubiquitous among the Cloud 100.
Case in point: 99% of Cloud 100 marketing teams
maintain a blog where they share ideas and best
practices.
(Note: the one company that didn’t have a blog did have a “newsroom”
that they updated regularly, but they used it for sharing press coverage,
not educational content.)
26 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies
27 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies

However, less than half (45%)
of Cloud 100 marketing teams
offer downloadable content,
like ebooks or whitepapers.
Of those 45 companies that
do offer downloadable
content, 14 let you download
it form-free, while 31 make
you fill out a lead capture
form first.

45%
Offer Downloadable Content (e.g. Ebooks)
Gated vs. Ungated Content
14
31
form fill
required

(gated)no forms

(ungated)
28 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies

Of the 31 companies using gated
content to generate leads, the
number of form fields those
companies require you to fill out
range from one (just an email
address) all the way up to 10.
Across all 31 of those Cloud 100
marketing teams that gate
content, 6 is the average (and
median) number of required form
fields.
# of Form Fields
fewest
average/
median
most
While 6 required fields might sound like a
lot, it’s actually lower than the 11 form fields
that non-Cloud 100 marketing teams make
leads fill out (on average).
Overall, with less than a third of Cloud 100
marketing teams using gated content to
generate leads, it’s clear that today’s
marketers are looking beyond the content
marketing and inbound marketing
strategies of old, which were powered by
lead capture forms.
29 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies
040404
04 04
04
04
04 04
04
04
BUYING EXPERIENCE
04
30 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies
31 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies

Stewart Butterfield
Co-Founder & CEO, Slack
Even the best slogans, ads,
landing pages, PR
campaigns, etc., will fall
down if they are not
supported by the experience
people have when they hit
our site, when they sign up
for an account, when they
first begin using the product
and when they start using it
day in, day out.
“ One of the key reasons why Slack was
able to achieve such extraordinary
growth: They didn’t just focus on
making their marketing as engaging
and as memorable as possible -- they
focused on making the entire buying
experience that way.
And one the ways they did that was
through offering a free version of their
product. It allowed potential customers
to see first-hand what the product was
like, without the restrictions that come
with a guided demo or limited trial.
From a marketing perspective, we call those people who start using
a free version of a product a product-qualified lead, or PQL. It’s an
alternative to the marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) that teams
typically generate using lead capture forms and “nurturing”
sequences.
In the Cloud 100, 36% of companies (which includes Slack, of course)
offer a free or freemium* version of their product and generate PQLs.
*Freemium = there are additional features/functionality you have to pay for
(e.g. extra storage space or extra seats to accommodate more users)
36%
32 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies

freemium
business model
In addition to MQLs and PQLs, companies in the
Cloud 100 are also going after SQLs, or sales-
qualified leads. SQLs are essentially MQLs that have
been given the thumbs up by Sales -- it’s an added
layer of qualification that ensures sales reps are only
talking to people who are interested in and serious
about buying.
One of the most popular tactics companies in the
Cloud 100 are using to generate SQLs is…wait for it...
asking website visitors if they want to talk to sales.
Sounds simple, but considering that 69% of Cloud
100 companies have a call-to-action on their
website that prompts people to get in touch with
sales, it’s definitely worth investigating.
69%
33 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies

prompt people
to talk to Sales
#1 “Contact Us” 14
#2 “Request Demo” / “Request a Demo” 13
#3 “Contact Sales” 11
#4 “Schedule a Demo” 4
#5 “Get a Demo” 3
34 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies

Of those 69 companies that prompt website visitors to get in
touch with sales (e.g. to schedule a demo, or to learn more about
the product and/or pricing), the 5 most popular CTAs are:
# of companies using it
Nearly all of those companies with sales-
focused CTAs — 67 out of 69, actually —
have those CTAs link either to a lead
capture form or to a landing page that
instructs you to call in or email.
Only two companies in the Cloud 100 give
you the opportunity to chat with someone
live after clicking their “Contact Us” or
“Contact Sales” CTA.
35 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies
36 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies

At Drift, we see this as a huge missed opportunity for generating a
new type of lead:
The conversation-qualified lead, or CQL.
A CQL is someone who has expressed intent to buy during a one-to-
one conversation with either A) an employee at your company, or B)
an intelligent sales assistant (bot).
Unlike MQLs, SQLs, and PQLs, CQLs match how people actually
prefer to buy today (in real-time), and they make it it easier for you,
as a marketing and sales organization, to sell faster.
050505
05 05
05
05
05 05
05
05
THE 2 MEGATRENDS
05
37 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies
The world’s top four messaging apps (WhatsApp,
Facebook Messenger, WeChat, and Viber) now have
a combined total of nearly 4 billion monthly active
users -- more than the combined total for the top four
social networks.
It’s predicted that by the end of this year, more than
three-quarters (76.3%) of the world’s smartphone
users will be regularly using messaging apps.
38 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies

Consider These Statistics:
82%
Meanwhile, 10 billion videos are now being watched
on Snapchat every single day. And 100 million hours
of video are being watched on Facebook per day.
It’s predicted that by 2021, video traffic will account
for 82% of all internet traffic.
39 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies

Consider These Statistics:
non-video 

internet traffic
video 

internet traffic
These are just some of the reasons why, at Drift, we
consider messaging and video to be megatrends.
They’re not just popular marketing channels, they’re
gateways for reaching billions of people around the
world.
When we looked at the Cloud 100, however, we found
that messaging and video haven’t really reached
critical mass among marketing teams. Given the
numbers involved, there’s still a lot of untapped
potential.
40 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies
41 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies

Megatrend #1: Messaging
15% of Cloud 100 companies
are using messaging on their
websites.
Of the 15 companies with
messaging on their sites, nine
display it on every page of their
site, while the other six target
specific pages/types of pages.
15%
1
1
2
2
9
every page
pricing 

page
% Using Messaging/Live Chat
Where They Display It
product

pages
homepage
support page
42 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies

Megatrend #1: Messaging
Of those 15 companies using
messaging, 10 use welcome
messages to greet visitors.

Of those 10 companies using
welcome messages, two are
using a virtual assistant
(chatbot) to engage with leads.
Ultimately, the approach these companies
take with messaging depends on how
much traffic they’re getting, and how they
want to balance the quantity and quality
of the conversations they’re having with
visitors.
For example, it makes sense that
Dropbox, which has the 86th most-visited
website in the world, would only display
messaging on their business site. That
way they can filter out some of the “noise”
of website visitors who have no intention
of paying for a business plan.
43 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies

Megatrend #1: Messaging
44 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies

Megatrend #1: Messaging
Two companies in the Cloud 100 have
taken the next step of using a virtual
assistant (chatbot) to engage with
leads in real-time.
A virtual assistant can ask all of the
same qualifying questions a sales rep
or business development rep (BDR)
would ask. But unlike an actual BDR,
it can qualify leads and book sales
meetings 24/7, 365, since it never
has to take a day off or go to sleep.
Megatrend #2: Video
45 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies

34% of Cloud 100 companies
are producing video content
on a regular basis.
Of those 34 companies
producing videos regularly, all
of them upload their videos to
YouTube, 20 upload their
videos to Facebook, and five
upload their videos to Vimeo.

34%
% Producing Video Content
Where They Upload Video
YouTube
Facebook
Vimeo
10 20 30 4
5
20
34
Sheryl Sandberg
COO, Facebook
Megatrend #2: Video
46 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies

Overall, adoption of video is more
widespread among the Cloud 100
compared to messaging adoption, with
just over one-third of companies
producing video content on a regular
basis.
While Youtube is clearly the most
popular channel for uploading video
content, it’s noteworthy that one-fifth
of Cloud 100 companies are regularly
uploading video directly to Facebook
(and not just sharing links to video
content uploaded to YouTube).
This aligns with something Facebook
COO Sheryl Sandberg said earlier this
year: “Consumer video is exploding on
our platform.”
Consumer video is
exploding on our platform.“
Megatrend #2: Video
47 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies

One quick note about Vimeo:
While just five Cloud 100 companies
have uploaded video content there in
the past month, 17 companies use the
service overall.
The difference is that instead of using
Vimeo as a social network for sharing
new videos regularly, most use it as a
way to host their “evergreen” videos
(like product walkthrough videos) on
their websites.
060606
06 06
06
06
06 06
06
06
KEY TAKEWAYS
06
48 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies
1) Cloud 100 companies tend to be more sophisticated in the
technologies they use, relying more heavily on optimization
tools and ad tech/automation platforms.
2) Less than a third of Cloud 100 companies are using gated
content to generate leads. The lead form and follow-up
approach to marketing is giving way to new models.
3) Messaging and virtual assistants are finally giving marketers
a real-time line to their best leads. Now they can engage at
the right time — while leads are live on their websites.
49 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies
Companies were chosen for analysis based on the 2017 Forbes Cloud 100 list.
Company/marketing team demographic data was sourced from LinkedIn.
Tech stack data was gathered using Clearbit.
Content, Buying Experience, Messaging, and Video data was collected via website
analysis and analysis of companies’ public social and video networks.
50 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies

Methodology
Click here to learn how Drift can help you
turn your website traffic into qualified
sales meetings.
Drift is a conversation-driven
marketing and sales platform.
Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies

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Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies

  • 1.
  • 2. How the heck did they do it? As marketers, that’s the question we often ask ourselves after seeing companies like Slack (or Stripe, or Dropbox, or DocuSign) go from zero to millions of users in just a few years…or months. 2 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies (source: Inc. Magazine)
  • 3. While interviews and company blog posts offer hints as to how these companies were able to achieve such extraordinary growth, we wanted to dig deeper. Instead of simply listening to the marketing tips and tricks that high-growth companies were sharing, we wanted to analyze what tools and tactics their marketing teams were actually using day-to-day. 3 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies
  • 4. 4 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies That’s when it hit us: Every year, Forbes puts together their Cloud 100 list -- a list of “the hottest private tech companies in cloud computing.” So we decided to analyze the marketing tools and tactics used by every single company on that list.
  • 5. Our goal was to see if we could uncover any patterns that help explain why some companies achieve hypergrowth, while others fizzle out. Keep reading to see what we found… 5 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies
  • 6. 7 13 25 30 37 48 50 01. Demographics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
 02. Tech Stack . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
 03. Content . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
 04. Buying Experience . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
 05. The Two Megatrends: Messaging & Video . . . . . . . . . . . . 06. Key Takeaways . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
 07. Report Methodology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
 6 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies Table of Contents
  • 7. 7 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies 0101 01 01 01 01 01 01 01 01 01 DEMOGRAPHICS 01
  • 8. Before we dig into the marketing tools and tactics Cloud 100 companies are using, let’s first explore what those companies — and their marketing teams — actually look like. 8 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies
  • 9. 9 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies Total # of Employees # of Marketing Employees % Smallest 105 6 5.7% Median 500 21 4.2% Average 643 29 4.5% Largest 5,322 245 4.6% The companies in the Cloud 100 range in size from 105 employees to 5,322 employees. The median company size is 500, while the average company size is 643. When we drill down into marketing specifically, we find that marketing teams for Cloud 100 companies range in size from 6 marketers to 245 marketers. The median marketing team size across the Cloud 100 is 21 marketers, while the average team size is 29 marketers Company Size vs. Marketing Team Size
  • 10. 10 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies Marketing Team Size 6 marketers 21 marketers 29 marketers Company Size smallest 105 employees median 500 employees average 643 employees largest 5,322 employees 245 marketers
  • 11. 11 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies Here’s what the relationship between marketing team size (y-axis) and company size (x-axis) looks like. There’s a tight range (with the exception of a few outliers), with 5% being the typical value. Total Employees Marketers
  • 12. 12 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies On average, 4.8% of a Cloud 100 company’s workforce are marketers. Overall, there are approximately 3,000 marketers working in the Cloud 100.
  • 13. 0202 02 02 02 02 02 02 02 02 02 TECH STACK 02 13 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies
  • 14. Ever wish you could magically peer behind a company’s website and get a snapshot of what tools are running in the background? That’s (basically) what we did with all the companies in the Cloud 100 -- with some help from Clearbit. 14 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies
  • 15. What did we find? Well, it might not come as a huge surprise that Google Analytics was by far the most widely used tool among the Cloud 100, with 64% of companies using it. The second most popular tool was also from Google, Tag Manager, which had 54% of companies using it. 15 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies 64% 54%
  • 16. #1 Google Analytics 64% #2 Google Tag Manager 54% #3 Marketo 48% #4 Google Apps 46% #5 Facebook Ads 36% 16 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies Here’s a list of the top 25 tools used by Cloud 100 companies, plus the percentages of companies using those tools: (continued on next page)
  • 17. #6 WordPress 31% #7 Optimizely 30% #8 AdRoll 27% #9 AWS Route 53 27% #10 Office 365 27% 17 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies (continued on next page) % using the toolThe Top 25 Tools Used by Cloud 100 companies
  • 18. #11 Amazon EC2 25% #12 Mailgun 24% #13 Zendesk 22% #14 Bing Ads 20% #15 YouTube 19% 18 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies (continued on next page) % using the toolThe Top 25 Tools Used by Cloud 100 companies
  • 19. #16 Exchange Online 19% #17 DYN DNS 18% #18 Crazy Egg 17% #19 Vimeo 17% #20 Double Click 16% 19 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies (continued on next page) % using the toolThe Top 25 Tools Used by Cloud 100 companies
  • 20. #21 Facebook Connect 16% #22 Salesforce 14% #23 Twitter Button 14% #24 Wistia 14% #25 SendGrid 13% 20 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies % using the toolThe Top 25 Tools Used by Cloud 100 companies
  • 21. 21 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies The top 25 tools and technologies used by the Cloud 100 come from a few different categories: Analytics/Optimization Video/ContentAd Tech Customer Relationships Marketing Automation/Email CollaborationInfrastructure Social
  • 22. 22 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies After compiling this list, we decided to take the analysis one step further by comparing adoption rates of tools among the Cloud 100 to adoption rates of those same tools among non-Cloud 100 companies. On the right, you can see a heat map that highlights the differences in adoption rates between the two groups. Cloud 100 Everyone else
  • 23. 23 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies We discovered that Cloud 100 companies are much more likely to use automation tools (like Marketo, Mailgun, and SendGrid), ad tech (like Bing Ads and Facebook Ads), and tracking/optimization tools (like Tag Manager and Optimizely) compared to companies outside of the Cloud 100. Cloud 100 vs. Non-Cloud 100 Tool Adoption Biggest Relative Differences
  • 24. Based on our analysis of Cloud 100 tech stacks, it’s clear that marketing teams at these companies care about (and are investing in) the following: 1. Driving traffic 2. Re-engaging visitors via email 3. Conversion rate optimization However, as you’ll learn more about in the upcoming sections, there’s one area that Cloud 100 companies are not investing in as heavily: Talking to their best leads while they’re live on their websites. 24 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies
  • 25. 0303 03 03 03 03 03 03 03 03 03 CONTENT 03 25 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies
  • 26. Creating branded content for attracting website visitors has become ubiquitous among the Cloud 100. Case in point: 99% of Cloud 100 marketing teams maintain a blog where they share ideas and best practices. (Note: the one company that didn’t have a blog did have a “newsroom” that they updated regularly, but they used it for sharing press coverage, not educational content.) 26 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies
  • 27. 27 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies However, less than half (45%) of Cloud 100 marketing teams offer downloadable content, like ebooks or whitepapers. Of those 45 companies that do offer downloadable content, 14 let you download it form-free, while 31 make you fill out a lead capture form first.
 45% Offer Downloadable Content (e.g. Ebooks) Gated vs. Ungated Content 14 31 form fill required (gated)no forms (ungated)
  • 28. 28 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies Of the 31 companies using gated content to generate leads, the number of form fields those companies require you to fill out range from one (just an email address) all the way up to 10. Across all 31 of those Cloud 100 marketing teams that gate content, 6 is the average (and median) number of required form fields. # of Form Fields fewest average/ median most
  • 29. While 6 required fields might sound like a lot, it’s actually lower than the 11 form fields that non-Cloud 100 marketing teams make leads fill out (on average). Overall, with less than a third of Cloud 100 marketing teams using gated content to generate leads, it’s clear that today’s marketers are looking beyond the content marketing and inbound marketing strategies of old, which were powered by lead capture forms. 29 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies
  • 30. 040404 04 04 04 04 04 04 04 04 BUYING EXPERIENCE 04 30 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies
  • 31. 31 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies Stewart Butterfield Co-Founder & CEO, Slack Even the best slogans, ads, landing pages, PR campaigns, etc., will fall down if they are not supported by the experience people have when they hit our site, when they sign up for an account, when they first begin using the product and when they start using it day in, day out. “ One of the key reasons why Slack was able to achieve such extraordinary growth: They didn’t just focus on making their marketing as engaging and as memorable as possible -- they focused on making the entire buying experience that way. And one the ways they did that was through offering a free version of their product. It allowed potential customers to see first-hand what the product was like, without the restrictions that come with a guided demo or limited trial.
  • 32. From a marketing perspective, we call those people who start using a free version of a product a product-qualified lead, or PQL. It’s an alternative to the marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) that teams typically generate using lead capture forms and “nurturing” sequences. In the Cloud 100, 36% of companies (which includes Slack, of course) offer a free or freemium* version of their product and generate PQLs. *Freemium = there are additional features/functionality you have to pay for (e.g. extra storage space or extra seats to accommodate more users) 36% 32 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies freemium business model
  • 33. In addition to MQLs and PQLs, companies in the Cloud 100 are also going after SQLs, or sales- qualified leads. SQLs are essentially MQLs that have been given the thumbs up by Sales -- it’s an added layer of qualification that ensures sales reps are only talking to people who are interested in and serious about buying. One of the most popular tactics companies in the Cloud 100 are using to generate SQLs is…wait for it... asking website visitors if they want to talk to sales. Sounds simple, but considering that 69% of Cloud 100 companies have a call-to-action on their website that prompts people to get in touch with sales, it’s definitely worth investigating. 69% 33 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies prompt people to talk to Sales
  • 34. #1 “Contact Us” 14 #2 “Request Demo” / “Request a Demo” 13 #3 “Contact Sales” 11 #4 “Schedule a Demo” 4 #5 “Get a Demo” 3 34 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies Of those 69 companies that prompt website visitors to get in touch with sales (e.g. to schedule a demo, or to learn more about the product and/or pricing), the 5 most popular CTAs are: # of companies using it
  • 35. Nearly all of those companies with sales- focused CTAs — 67 out of 69, actually — have those CTAs link either to a lead capture form or to a landing page that instructs you to call in or email. Only two companies in the Cloud 100 give you the opportunity to chat with someone live after clicking their “Contact Us” or “Contact Sales” CTA. 35 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies
  • 36. 36 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies At Drift, we see this as a huge missed opportunity for generating a new type of lead: The conversation-qualified lead, or CQL. A CQL is someone who has expressed intent to buy during a one-to- one conversation with either A) an employee at your company, or B) an intelligent sales assistant (bot). Unlike MQLs, SQLs, and PQLs, CQLs match how people actually prefer to buy today (in real-time), and they make it it easier for you, as a marketing and sales organization, to sell faster.
  • 37. 050505 05 05 05 05 05 05 05 05 THE 2 MEGATRENDS 05 37 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies
  • 38. The world’s top four messaging apps (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, and Viber) now have a combined total of nearly 4 billion monthly active users -- more than the combined total for the top four social networks. It’s predicted that by the end of this year, more than three-quarters (76.3%) of the world’s smartphone users will be regularly using messaging apps. 38 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies Consider These Statistics:
  • 39. 82% Meanwhile, 10 billion videos are now being watched on Snapchat every single day. And 100 million hours of video are being watched on Facebook per day. It’s predicted that by 2021, video traffic will account for 82% of all internet traffic. 39 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies Consider These Statistics: non-video internet traffic video internet traffic
  • 40. These are just some of the reasons why, at Drift, we consider messaging and video to be megatrends. They’re not just popular marketing channels, they’re gateways for reaching billions of people around the world. When we looked at the Cloud 100, however, we found that messaging and video haven’t really reached critical mass among marketing teams. Given the numbers involved, there’s still a lot of untapped potential. 40 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies
  • 41. 41 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies Megatrend #1: Messaging 15% of Cloud 100 companies are using messaging on their websites. Of the 15 companies with messaging on their sites, nine display it on every page of their site, while the other six target specific pages/types of pages. 15% 1 1 2 2 9 every page pricing page % Using Messaging/Live Chat Where They Display It product pages homepage support page
  • 42. 42 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies Megatrend #1: Messaging Of those 15 companies using messaging, 10 use welcome messages to greet visitors.
 Of those 10 companies using welcome messages, two are using a virtual assistant (chatbot) to engage with leads.
  • 43. Ultimately, the approach these companies take with messaging depends on how much traffic they’re getting, and how they want to balance the quantity and quality of the conversations they’re having with visitors. For example, it makes sense that Dropbox, which has the 86th most-visited website in the world, would only display messaging on their business site. That way they can filter out some of the “noise” of website visitors who have no intention of paying for a business plan. 43 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies Megatrend #1: Messaging
  • 44. 44 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies Megatrend #1: Messaging Two companies in the Cloud 100 have taken the next step of using a virtual assistant (chatbot) to engage with leads in real-time. A virtual assistant can ask all of the same qualifying questions a sales rep or business development rep (BDR) would ask. But unlike an actual BDR, it can qualify leads and book sales meetings 24/7, 365, since it never has to take a day off or go to sleep.
  • 45. Megatrend #2: Video 45 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies 34% of Cloud 100 companies are producing video content on a regular basis. Of those 34 companies producing videos regularly, all of them upload their videos to YouTube, 20 upload their videos to Facebook, and five upload their videos to Vimeo.
 34% % Producing Video Content Where They Upload Video YouTube Facebook Vimeo 10 20 30 4 5 20 34
  • 46. Sheryl Sandberg COO, Facebook Megatrend #2: Video 46 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies Overall, adoption of video is more widespread among the Cloud 100 compared to messaging adoption, with just over one-third of companies producing video content on a regular basis. While Youtube is clearly the most popular channel for uploading video content, it’s noteworthy that one-fifth of Cloud 100 companies are regularly uploading video directly to Facebook (and not just sharing links to video content uploaded to YouTube). This aligns with something Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said earlier this year: “Consumer video is exploding on our platform.” Consumer video is exploding on our platform.“
  • 47. Megatrend #2: Video 47 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies One quick note about Vimeo: While just five Cloud 100 companies have uploaded video content there in the past month, 17 companies use the service overall. The difference is that instead of using Vimeo as a social network for sharing new videos regularly, most use it as a way to host their “evergreen” videos (like product walkthrough videos) on their websites.
  • 48. 060606 06 06 06 06 06 06 06 06 KEY TAKEWAYS 06 48 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies
  • 49. 1) Cloud 100 companies tend to be more sophisticated in the technologies they use, relying more heavily on optimization tools and ad tech/automation platforms. 2) Less than a third of Cloud 100 companies are using gated content to generate leads. The lead form and follow-up approach to marketing is giving way to new models. 3) Messaging and virtual assistants are finally giving marketers a real-time line to their best leads. Now they can engage at the right time — while leads are live on their websites. 49 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies
  • 50. Companies were chosen for analysis based on the 2017 Forbes Cloud 100 list. Company/marketing team demographic data was sourced from LinkedIn. Tech stack data was gathered using Clearbit. Content, Buying Experience, Messaging, and Video data was collected via website analysis and analysis of companies’ public social and video networks. 50 • Marketing Lessons From the Top 100 SaaS Companies Methodology
  • 51. Click here to learn how Drift can help you turn your website traffic into qualified sales meetings. Drift is a conversation-driven marketing and sales platform.