I like wise words from wise people. If you’re growing a SaaS business, there’s a notable customer success evangelist you’ve probably heard of. And you’ve probably bookmarked a few of his blog posts.
Over time I’ve gathered several tenets, maybe even laws... dare I call them “Murphy’s Laws” of SaaS Marketing?
As a SaaS marketer there are several ideas that Lincoln Murphy, Customer Success Evangelist at Gainsight, has put forward that captures the mindset SaaS marketers should use when “growth-hacking.”
Or what we can call doing their job: growing a SaaS business.
Realize You’re Never Going To Have A Product / Market Fit Problem
The market doesn’t have a problem.
In SaaS you aren’t going to fail because of product / market fit. You’re going to fail if marketing fails. You’re going to fail if you don’t generate demand for your product.
In SaaS if your product “makes it easy to…” or “drives revenue for…” then you aren’t creating a new market, or doing anything truly transformative.
Instead, you’re addressing an existing problem, something the market has already demanded.
So as a SaaS marketer your product succeeds when you do.
OK, enough abstractions.
“Your job is to get those that already know about, understand the need for, and in many cases are already bought-in to the concept of — and actually use a version of — X to use your version of X.” --Lincoln Murphy
Now you might actually be creating a new market or category, and if you are then you’ll want to keep reading.
SaaS Marketing Is Customer Education
As a SaaS marketer you know exactly how to get value from your product. You know which users love which feature sets. You know every pain point.
But, your prospects don’t.
"We forget that others might not even know they have the problem that our product solves." @lincolnmurphy
Nope, we skip right to the pitch because we are thinking too far ahead of our customers.
Wise words, and I think we can take this a step farther.
You’re struggling to develop a landing page, an email headline, a white paper or even a customer success strategy.
Go back to your value propositions and personas. Take a step back. You’re an educator. Stick to your curriculum.
Generate Customers, Not Leads
I’m not on the customer success team, and I have not domain expertise in this area. Why would I be inspired by a customer success evangelist?
Because SaaS marketing is about customers. Not leads. Not web traffic. Not email open rates.
Focus down the funnel. At Bizible, we call this pipeline marketing.
Whether it’s paid search or content marketing, or whatever, you’re finding a repeatable way to generate QUALITY traffic that will convert to sales. It’s really no different than a SaaS company getting to initial traction, i.e. finding a repeatable sales process.
It starts with attracting the correct kind of audience to your site.
"...attracting the Right Audience in the form of a steady (or steadily increasing) flow of relevant traffic to your marketing website is absolutely required for the scalable and sustainable growth of your SaaS or Web App company." -- Lincoln Murphy
How do you get to this? No matter which marketing tactics you choose, you should be using as much downstream data as possible. You should know what top of funnel activities actually converted to revenue.
For paid search, this means connecting Adwords to your CRM. For content marketing this means setting up campaign tracking properly in your CRM. Both methods result in highly useful marketing/sales reports.
Pawan Deshpande, CEO of Curata, says sales ROI metrics are better than soft metrics like page views, shares, and anecdotes from the sales team when it comes to content marketing.
The graphic below visualizes how content marketers should be thinking about it. Go from left to right, picking one metric from each column.
According to Padawan here’s how you can get to content marketing’s holy grail of SaaS marketing metrics, ROI:
For each piece of content x in Campaign C, take the $ amount of Revenue generated (a sales metric) by Content x and divide it by the ($ Production Cost for x + $ Distribution Cost for x) (a production metric). If the ratio is greater than 1, then your content was profitable from a sales perspective. You can similarly compute this for a single piece of content, or all your content marketing.
For paid search tactics you can check out the ROI dashboard from Bizible.
Think Lifetime Value, Not Acquisition Cost
In Lincoln Murphy’s Growth Hacker’s Manifesto, ranking highly is a mantra that unites marketing and customer success:
The entire funnel is what SaaS marketers should be planning for. And acquisition is only the first step.
Paul Boyce, CoFounder and CEO of Popcorn Metrics, says you want to focus on the cost of getting paying customers, i.e. customer acquisition cost (CAC), not cost per lead when thinking about inbound marketing success.
The formula (over a given time period) looks like this:
Now combined with the Lifetime Value calculation and how quickly the payback period is for each customer, you get the length of time it takes for each customer to become profitable (offsetting the cost it took to acquire them).
Why does this matter to marketer?
Because according to Murphy, “Super-efficient companies with self-service, low-price offerings (and lead by marketers, not engineers typically) have a payback period of < 1 month."
To achieve this marketers need to get customers focused on value, not price.
For a deeper explanation, check out the recent guide by Paul Boyce explaining how customer acquisition costs fit within inbound marketing.
Get Customers Focused On Value, Not Price
Maybe you just aren't clearly aren't articulating your value proposition" - @lincolnmurphy
This is a dry response. But it can mean the difference between success or failure of a SaaS company.
You need to increase the willingness to pay. You could lower your prices easily, but that could hurt your long term market position, according to Murphy:
Why would you lower your price to meet their perceived value when you could improve your value proposition and therefore raise the perceived value of your offering to meet the price you have already set?
Let’s take the hypothetical example:
People – individuals within a company – will make what seem like bad economic decisions to fit a product they deem of high-value into their buying ability… i.e. they can’t pay the annual fee at a 50% discount, but are happy to pay monthly even though it results in an annual price that is 200% your paid-up-front fee (before discount)!
Not only did you avoid lowering your prices, you moved your product up market by creating an incentive to pay more for it. It all started with knowing customer’s willingness to pay based on perceived value.
Graphic by Seqoia Capital
Marketing, sales and customer success is responsible for the space between price and perceived value.
You might think a marketing evangelist will provide the answers you’re looking for. They might provide good advice and inspiration on creating awesome content, get more attention, or drive more clicks.
But unless that persons has grown a SaaS company and understands revenue streams and customer churn, you’ll be approaching SaaS marketing from the wrong angle.