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Why Your Saas Marketing Sucks (and how to fix it)

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Rand's presentation from RECUR 2018 on how to address many of the core issues that cause SaaS marketing to go off the rails.

Published in: Marketing
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Why Your Saas Marketing Sucks (and how to fix it)

  1. Why your SaaS Marketing Sucks Rand Fishkin | Founder & CEO (and some smart things you can do about it)
  2. Many SaaS Companies Plateau or Die Because… They Cannot Affordably Acquire New Customers Above Their Churn Rate
  3. ViaChaoticFlow “You must not only acquire new customers, but you must acquire them at an increasing rate that outpaces your increasing churn.” - Joel York
  4. Why Does Marketing Hold Back So Many SaaS Companies’Growth? (and what can we do to overcome that?)
  5. #1 Your Customers Have No Incentive to Amplify
  6. Being a high- quality, useful product isn’t enough.
  7. Having a lovely, effective, minimalist design isn’t enough.
  8. Social proof and smart CTAs may help convert visitors, but won’t help you earn visitors.
  9. 7 Sharing is inherent to the product’s value proposition Your site/product provides a high-value customer community Content on your site consistently fires emotional triggers that encourage amplification Users financially benefit from sharing (but not in sleezy/inauthentic ways) Your company regularly engages in press-worthy activities The product makes your customers look good to their own audience Your product or content targets a highly-likely-to-share group #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 #7 Ways SaaS Products Earn Amplification from Customers & Users
  10. #2 Your Marketing Overvalues First Exposure
  11. SaaS Marketing Mythology Step 1: Build a Great Product Step 2: Get on PH/HN, or run ads Step 3: Customers! $$$! Funding!
  12. This is a long process, with many steps
  13. Yay! You made it to the top of PH & received 15,000 visits + 500 email signups But, only ~0.01% of people are looking for email verification APIs that day 
  14. Every day, a few dozen people search for this (and don’t find you)
  15. Loads of searches for your service, but none of these people can find you 
  16. They visit lists like this (but you’re not here)
  17. They ask friends + colleagues (who’ve never heard of you)
  18. They rely on existing providers
  19. They lean on social proof from their networks
  20. Via Wordstream New to a market? This happens. Known & loved? Welcome to Profitville.
  21. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, & display ads all work the same way Via Resolution Media
  22. How to Win at Digital Advertising Step 1: Earn brand exposure w/ your target audience Step 2: Get >1 organic visit (or social engagement) Step 3:Advertise to those who already know + like you
  23. If you only play here (first exposure) Or here (decision time) You’re gonna have a bad time 
  24. SaaS Marketing Reality Step 1: Get known + trusted by your audience Step 2: Grow a presence across the channels they use to find solutions your product solves Step 3: Be visible throughout their discovery, consideration, and decision processes
  25. #3 You’ve Been Sold on Chasing Growth Hacks
  26. Hack-Chasing Usually Leads to Death Before Success Via ProStart Hack Hack Hack Hack Crap.
  27. You’re Fighting the “Law of Shitty Clickthrough Rates” Via Andrew Chen A lot of exploitable, short-term “growth hacks” start here And end here
  28. Great Marketers Focus on Flywheels (systems that scale w/ decreasing friction)
  29. Content Marketing Flywheel KW Research + Industry Intuition Publish Content Promote via Social Channels Push to email + RSS subscribers Earn Links + Amplification Grow social, email, RSS, & WoM channels Grow Domain Authority Earn Search & Referral Traffic Rank for More Competitive KWs
  30. PR+Ads Flywheel ID Sources of Customer Influence Craft Stories to Draw Coverage Earn Press Coverage Pitch Media Amplify + Promote Run Ads Targeting Cookied Visitors Expand Social Following Slowly Convert Fans + Followers Refine Ad+CRO Processes
  31. Events + Sponsorship Flywheel ID Events w/ Customer Targets Sponsor + Pitch to Present Capture Visitor Info Host Booths, Dinners, Parties Reach Out w/ Direct+Indirect Emails Cookie Site Visitors & Email Opens Run Hyper- Personalized Ads Improve CRO + Sales Process Uncover Customer Connections & Affinities
  32. Hard at first, but gets easier (& more profitable) with scale Find Find Create Create Amplify Amplify Convert Convert Learn & Apply
  33. Growth Hacks Can Accelerate a Flywheel
  34. KW Research + Industry Intuition Publish Content Promote via Social Channels Push to email + RSS subscribers Earn Links + Amplification Grow social, email, RSS, & WoM channels Grow Domain Authority Earn Search & Referral Traffic Rank for More Competitive KWs If lack of social promotion is causing friction in your flywheel, HACK away!
  35. Hacks aren’t necessarily evil, spammy, or without value. They can be useful when applied to a sound marketing strategy.
  36. Find a Balance Between Long-Term Investments & Short-Term Hacks High upfront costs Pay (in time/$$) as you go Long-Term Investments Slow to show ROI Earn customers while you sleep Low Risk (PR/legal/etc) Can Show Fast ROI Effort In = Links Out Often High Risk Short-Term Hacks
  37. The Formula for Marketing that Will Work for Years to Come: Strategic Roadmap Scalable Flywheel Long-Term Investments Hacks to Remove Friction + + +
  38. #4 You’re Ignoring Your Easiest-to-Reach Audience
  39. easier toreach harder toreach Know you personally (& would happily meet for coffee) Know of you, like you, &follow your work closely Are already connected to you via email Already follow you on social media channels Have visited your website at least once Have heard of your company (and can recall it) Are in your target audience and reachable via FB/GG ads
  40. It’s Foolish to…
  41. easier toreach harder toreach Know you personally (& would happily meet for coffee) Know of you, like you, &follow your work closely Are already connected to you via email Already follow you on social media channels Have visited your website at least once Have heard of your company (and can recall it) Are in your target audience and reachable via FB/GG ads 1) Lack any strategy to increase the size of these groups
  42. easier toreach harder toreach Know you personally (& would happily meet for coffee) Know of you, like you, &follow your work closely Are already connected to you via email Already follow you on social media channels Have visited your website at least once Have heard of your company (and can recall it) Are in your target audience and reachable via FB/GG ads 2) Not targeting these people first
  43. easier toreach harder toreach Know you personally (& would happily meet for coffee) Know of you, like you, &follow your work closely Are already connected to you via email Already follow you on social media channels Have visited your website at least once Have heard of your company (and can recall it) Are in your target audience and reachable via FB/GG ads 3) Aiming 100% of your tactics at only these groups
  44. But Rand…
  45. Ben & Dan didn’t start MailChimp with… Oh dang… They totally did.
  46. Alex & Max didn’t start Grammarly with… Oh dang… They totally did.
  47. Jeremy didn’t start Yelp with… Oh dang… He totally did.
  48. Dharmesh & Brian Didn’t Start Hubspot with… Oh dang… They totally did.
  49. NOT THE ONLY WAY!
  50. easier toreach harder toreach Know you personally (& would happily meet for coffee) Know of you, like you, &follow your work closely Are already connected to you via email Already follow you on social media channels Have visited your website at least once Have heard of your company (and can recall it) Are in your target audience and reachable via FB/GG ads Pro Tip: Having a lot of target customers in your personal network makes EVERY PART of marketing + sales easier.
  51. #5 Your CRO Process Misses the Big Picture
  52. Incremental testing of headlines, colors, layout, pricing, etc. Local Maxima Uncovering why most qualified customers who visit don’t buy & addressing their core issues Global Maxima
  53. Early Stage: Build a community & recruit folks excited about your product.
  54. Later Stages: Once you have real people signing up for your product, you can learn more about them
  55. A few dozen emails & names give you a treasure trove of info about your customer targets Now we can find more people like this!
  56. Interview or survey this audience to ID their clones.
  57. Then we can identify traits that separate right prospects (who’ll use & love our product) from wrong (those who won’t).
  58. Ideally You Want to: A: Identify right customers B: Find what/who influences them C: Clone, expand, & repeat
  59. My Favorite Process: From Conversion Rate Experts’ case study Boom. And Shakalaka.
  60. Didn’t try the product Tried, but didn’t love it Tried & loved the product What do you think the product does? What made you try it? What made you try it? What would make you more likely to try it? What are your biggest objections to signup? What objections did you have and how did you overcome them? What caused you to stop using the product? What would have made you stay a customer? What objections did you have and how did you overcome them? What’s been most valuable to you? If you’ve loved it, can we share your story?
  61. #6 You’ve Ignored Brand Marketing
  62. Brand is… Apromise. i.e. when you see “Brand X” it means “YAttributes” Amemory trigger. i.e. when you experience problem Z, you think of “Brand X” as the potential solution
  63. Brand Marketing is… Acoded message. Reminding you of the brand’s existence Reinforcing the brand’s colors, shapes, sounds, experiences, & feelings Nudging you to use the brand at the right time
  64. What do you think of when you see this brand?
  65. Brand marketing reinforces that:
  66. What do you think of when you see this brand?
  67. Brand marketing reinforces that:
  68. What do you think of when you see this brand?
  69. Brand marketing reinforces that:
  70. Before you can brand, you need a Brand Promise We provide… We evoke feelings… We remind you of… We share the values of… product/ service that solves a problem you have that make our customers most anxious about whether our solution is right for them Memories that our target demographics & psychographics will have ++ associations with People who are statistically most likely to be our best customers
  71. Everything Should (Subtly) Reinforce the Message SEO Snippets PPC Ads Big Content CommentsTweets Photos Landing Pages UI & UX Brand Name Facebook Posts Emails Product Names Videos Visual Branding Outreach Onboarding Press & PR The Brand Promise
  72. Cost of paid acquisition drop b/c people prefer to click on your ads Retention increases, as does customer lifetime value You earn more free coverage, amplifying your reach, your SEO rankings, and reinforcing your brand It feels difficult, even impossible to reverse engineer your success Switching costs feel higher (even if your competitors make it easy) People want to take your calls, open your emails, and respond to you with a “yes,” making all your bizdev activities easier #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 The Awesome Powers of Brand
  73. Rand Fishkin | Founder & CEO Thank You! Curious about what we’re building?

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