Multi-channel marketing methods are really becoming the norm for any company wanting to promote themselves today.
For SaaS, it’s about encouraging people through the lifecycle; from trial to paid to a paid upgrade. If you’re not making use of multiple channels to reach your customers, there’s a high chance you are missing out somewhere.
This is where an integrated marketing approach with a modern perspective is important. What does that look like for SaaS? Let’s check it out:
What Is “Integrated Marketing?”
The term integrated marketing has been around at least since the 1980s. It originally referred to achieving marketing objectives by coordinating use of different promotional methods, with the idea being that they reinforce each other.
This is still true, but as Don Peppers proposes, this definition really needs expanding to better account for the twenty-first century environment. Technology is melding functions like customer service, marketing and sales together like never before, so Peppers argues the true unifying view is that of the customer.
Here is his updated definition of integrated marketing:
“Integrated marketing incorporates an individual customer’s own perspective into all customer-facing functions at a company, including marketing, sales, and service.”
What might integrated marketing look like?
A SaaS-related example might be a lead who responds to a specific campaign you are running, where you are aiming to generate more sign-ups. Rather than that lead being sent to a one-size-fits-all sales approach, they are presented with a specific selling strategy which has been tailored to preferences they have expressed or actions they have taken which have helped you to segment them and create a profile.
So, Just Do More Stuff?
Well no, not really. You’ve got to have decent strategy behind using the channels you do. John Jantsch wrote a piece for Duct Tape Marketing where he discusses the general lack of understanding around integrated marketing. It’s one of those terms that is elevated to “buzzword” status, which as a result, means there are some common misconceptions.
For example, the basic interpretation which many consider is “we need to do more kinds of stuff.” As Jantsch points out: “The problem with more stuff is that stuff without a central strategy can actually cause one stuff to combat and conflict with some other stuff.”
As one commentator on Jantsch’s article points out, while customers might get slightly different messages from different channels back in the day, social media is now here shining a light on any disparities in strategy. Consistency across tactics is the key to ensure your messaging is not confusing to customers.
So as a SaaS, there are some common issues which you may be able to relate to:
- You want to keep acquisition costs down.
- You want to attract more of the “right customer”, the one who your product is really suited to and who is likely to hang around.
- You want to reduce churn.
First of all, many newer SaaS look at the array of possible marketing channels available with a sense of bewilderment. Is that print ad worth it? Should we be on X, Y and Z social media channels?
A truly effective integrated marketing approach begins with a strong central strategy, just as John Jantsch stated. Where does that central strategy start? Always, it should begin and end with your target customer.
To pull this off, you need to be very clear on who that target customer is and where to find them. How will you speak to them directly and make them feel that your product is definitely for them?
It seems like such an elementary concept, yet one reason many businesses (including SaaS) are no longer around is because they were afraid to narrow down their audience. They think they may be “missing opportunities” if they don’t cast a wide net.
The thing is, if you try to be all things to everyone you risk confusing people and limiting the number you actually bring onboard.
Targeting the channels where your ideal customer is likely to be found helps you to reduce acquisition costs by focusing your spend. You can stay on-message and clearly communicate with those who need your product the most. (Hey, you’re a cloud-based solution, we suggest those appropriate channels are found online too. Here’s an article we wrote on channels SaaS are using to get found).
A key part of integrated marketing is consistency. The mode of delivery may look different, but the key overall message has been consciously decided and deliberately applied across channels.
One strategy which can help you to deliver consistent messaging is to develop a unique brand story which is central to your communications. Your story helps you cement a unique position and build a real connection with customers.
If you look at a SaaS such as HubSpot as an example, you can find them across multiple channels, and promoting more than one product. However, their messaging remains consistent no matter where you see them. It’s clear who they are there for, what their values are and what they deliver for customers. Their vision of an “inbound world” is the consistent story wherever you find them online.
Another reason integrated marketing strategy is important for SaaS is because you need to clearly set expectations with your customers. Lincoln Murphy points out that many SaaS fail miserably at managing customer expectations, yet this seems to be such a simple idea.
Whether those expectations involve limits to free trials or even simply explaining that they will be offered an upgrade for which they’ll need to pay if they’d like to take it, make sure those expectations are managed and that there is a consistent approach across all marketing channels.
Look at things from the point of view of that customer you want to sign up with you. As Lincoln Murphy says, if everything appears to be self-service to sign up but they then receive a sales call from your team out of the blue, they may not be too happy about that. If you’re going to do or require anything else, be upfront about that from the beginning.
While your marketing messages should be consistent and align with your overall goals, that doesn’t mean all your messaging should be exactly the same.
Contextual marketing means delivering the right message to the right person in the right moment. You can use marketing software (such as Hubspot) which helps you to do that quite effectively, or you can go relatively low-tech by triggering emails based on certain activities.
Most SaaS will have more than one segment and often each segment has slightly different priorities and reasons why they need the software. The beauty of a multi-channel environment is that you can use those to provide the best messaging, timed to be relevant to the customer and on a channel of their preference. Driving engagement in this way is an important strategy for reducing churn.
Need an example? Google Adwords is one of the most obvious, delivering up advertisements to people depending on the keywords they have searched. With mobile technology, apps with enabled push notifications which can be activated depending on customer location are another example. Dunkin Donuts has used this to let users know when a nearby fresh donut batch is coming out of the oven.
What could your SaaS do? Messaging based on milestones reached or usage might be a good place to start…
Integrated marketing for SaaS is about presenting the customer with consistent messaging across the multiple channels which you may choose to use.
The customer is at the center for every marketing call you make and their perspective should be the lens through which your messaging is viewed.
Start by having a very good description of what your target customers look like and where to find them. Be choosy about the channels you use so that you are more likely to reach the right people and reduce that marketing spend.
Lastly, don’t leave retention to chance once you have onboarded the customer. Use your marketing channels to deliver contextual messages which keep your customers engaged.
Kill your churn. Keep more of your customers. Get an invite to Retained.