How SaaS Companies Can Implement Multi-Channel Strategies
Much of the business world is going multi-channel because the alternative is increasingly untenable. Sticking to just one channel might allow you to keep the quality extremely high and build up a lot of momentum with certain followers, but it greatly limits your options for reaching a significantly-fragmented audience.
Now consider the thriving SaaS industry, barreling towards saturation with countless services (many offering similar features). There are so many choices that customers can suffer from analysis paralysis, and while the subscription-based pricing and prevalence of free trials make it easier to try new things, the main barrier is the time required. It takes a while to truly test a new tool and, even then, it’s tough to know if it’s worth making a commitment.
Is multi-channel marketing the key to promoting a SaaS business in a challenging market with optimal efficiency? Possibly, but you need to know how to do it properly. Here are some suggestions for SaaS companies looking to adopt multi-channel approaches.
Configure Comprehensive Analytics Tracking
Before you do anything else, you need to ensure that you have all the important metrics ready to be tracked. SaaS marketing is a complex process and making it multi-channel only adds to that complexity. So, if you don’t know how to reliably gauge performance, you won’t be able to make any meaningful improvements.
Google Analytics has native support for multi-channel funnels, so spend some time reading through everything and tying all your channels together in meaningful ways. Much of this will need to be done after you’ve built your strategy, so don’t simply check your tracking code and tick this step as done — come back to it when you’re ready to launch, and keep coming back to ensure that you don’t run into any issues preventing analytics data from coming through.
Use Channels Together in a Drip-feed Process
As noted, SaaS is a tough sell, particularly since it’s often geared towards businesses (B2B selling is a drawn-out process of steadily overcoming objections). The main appeal of multi-channel marketing, then, isn’t so much reaching different people as it is reaching the same people numerous times from different angles.
The goal is to incrementally push people towards your service, giving them a little bit more information with each brand touchpoint until they eventually resolve to take action. You can’t predict what route someone will take, but you can ensure that every platform points the searcher in the right direction to continue their journey.
For instance, if someone searches for your brand on Twitter and finds your profile, they should be met with a stickied post explaining what exactly your service offers — perhaps in the form of an embedded video. Both that post and the profile description should push them towards your website to find out more.
And if someone searches for SaaS solutions in your field in Google, they should find roundup posts featuring your brand (with social media and homepage links), and possibly even your featured snippets and/or PPC ads. The important thing is to ensure that there’s never a dead end. The searcher should always know where to go to find out more.
Carefully Cater Content to Searcher Intent
The drip-feed process we just looked at is only possible if you have variable content designed to suit people in different stages of the buying process. It isn’t just the content that you need to vary: it’s the vocabulary, the presentation and even the tone of voice (though you still need to stick with your brand identity — it’s a delicate balance).
Look at it this way: if you need to create a full SaaS platform breakdown (running through everything from uptime to detailed performance guarantees), it won’t be for the use of the average customer. It’ll be specifically for enterprise clients with legal obligations and a lot of revenue on the line. Accordingly, it should be no-nonsense: all about the facts, with no filler.
You can make that breakdown accessible through every channel you have a presence on, but don’t go beyond linking out to it. Making content native to each channel is a nice idea, but it isn’t practical: segmenting a massive piece into an enormous collection of tweet fragments isn’t going to accomplish anything but making your brand look ridiculous.
What you ultimately want is a battery of materials aimed at every type of prospect. Someone with no idea about your brand, someone with some concept of what you do, someone who knows a good amount about what you do but needs more convincing, etc. You should open with low-level copy, concentrating on a simple message and bold visuals, and increase the detail with each step. This helps build up a strong case piece by piece.
Make Multi-channel Compatibility a Selling Point
Adopting a comprehensive multi-channel approach as a SaaS business is about more than just targeting distinct channels with your marketing. You also need to consider the extent to which your prospective clients will want to engage in their own multi-channel marketing, and provide suitable levels of integration through your software service.
This is worth doing because it’s a big selling point. Plenty of people search specifically for software suited to multi-channel marketing and selling, and smart SaaS businesses make a point of highlighting compatibility. For instance, e-commerce giant Shopify has a page dedicated to promoting multi-channel e-commerce functionality, understanding that a strong range of channel integrations can give one SaaS system the edge over another.
If you have yet to release a wide-ranging API for your SaaS system, you should strongly consider moving in that direction, as well as offering a robust range of natively-supported channels and social sharing options. Collect a lot of in-depth feedback from your existing customers to find out what integrations they’d like to see.
Provide Committed Cross-channel Support
The SaaS industry has major issues with trust, and you can’t blame customers for being exceedingly wary. Data leaks and the fallout from the rollout of GDPR have made people keenly aware of how vulnerable their private data can be, and committing to store much or all of your data with a particular company can be a big leap of faith.
To deal with this doubt and skepticism, SaaS providers must deal with the trust pyramid, slowly demonstrating trustworthiness and reliability until prospective clients are ready to take action. This is a big part of the marketing process, yes, but I’d say it’s even more relevant when it comes to post-sales support. SaaS is about ongoing relationships rather than one-off purchases. Customers must be earned and periodically retained.
Because of this, the use of multiple channels is likely most important in the support stage. A great SaaS company will be aware of customer complaints and issues throughout Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, assorted forums, review sites and any other viable places — and be ready to reach out to find solutions. More than anything else, that will display how much you care about your customers having positive experiences.
Share Powerfully Emotive Success Stories
What’s the use in dazzling your customers if you don’t let anyone know about it? SaaS is heavily driven by personal recommendations, especially in business, so a story from an impressed client (ideally with some industry clout) will go a long way to improve your reputation and motivate people to reach out to you for some information.
When you get a particularly powerful success story (perhaps you help your client triple its revenue in a year), you should squeeze as much juice from it as possible. Tell the story in text form, infographics, animated videos or image sequences, varying the format to suit the channel you’re in. It’s important to not go overboard, but there’s nothing wrong about making a big deal of your successes.
To use multi-channel methods most effectively, a great SaaS company must use catered content and retargeting to drive people through its marketing funnel, embrace cross-channel compatibility as part of its feature set and use all avenues within its reach to support customers and keep them happy. Relatively simple, yes, but far from easy.