The collaboration software sector is getting crowded as more collaborative apps enter the market, not to mention other business solutions like CRMs crossing over to this software category. Having the best features and customer service today is not enough to guarantee market penetration. You also need to be on top of your online marketing game plan. In this article we’ll share some insights into how you can make your collaboration software marketing strategy more effective.
1. Maximize your exposure on B2B review sites
The buyer’s product purchase journey starts with a generic search according to the latest Google findings. If you potential clients are looking for a collaboration software, they are most likely to simply type “top collaboration software” or its derivative keyphrases in the Google search box. The first thing you’ll notice with the SERPs for similar B2B related keywords is that they are dominated by B2B review platforms like FinancesOnline. Although we can’t say how the Google algorithm works exactly, it’s easy to conclude that the search engine favors sites that are user-focused instead of product-centric.
That means if you want to capture buyers during their initial product research journey, you need to be present on those B2B review sites. That’s where the real action of comparing software happens.
If your collaboration app has been in the market for a few months now, chances are it’s already listed in many of the top B2B review sites. These sites are constantly looking for new business solutions that they can add to their databases so buyers have the most comprehensive list to compare. Make sure your product is listed on all popular review sites out there. It’s usually very simple to do. For example, on FinancesOnline you can easily add your product review here.
However, don’t stop at having a free listing on such review sites. Your competitors are most likely also listed there and are already vying for buyer’s attention. To get the upperhand, use the B2B review sites’ marketing offers (most of these have some form of marketing plan for vendors). These are services that give your software more exposure and help your software stand out from your competitors with premium listing positions, highlights and quality awards. To illustrate how this works, take a look at one of the fastest-growing B2B review platforms today, FinancesOnline.
The site has a huge number of collaboration apps in its listing. Without that extra exposure, your software can easily be buried in the database because buyers are likely to compare only the first ten apps they encounter during their research. To stand out, FinancesOnline has several marketing offers, including a detailed review of your software, like this one they did for Wrike. Buyers are expected to be drawn more to in-depth reviews than standard reviews since they provide a much more thorough overview of the software that can really bring out the unique features and benefits you offer. What is more, with premium listing your software is given priority in your category and will most likely appear on the first page and possibly in the top 10 list. It is also highlighted as a suggested alternative on other product pages, so even if users compare your competitors’ products your software is still presented as a viable option to them. Premium listing also allows product to be considered for a wide range of industry awards that can give you an additional edge over the competiton and sway the potential clients your way.
Almost all review platforms offers some form of lead-generation program that sends potential clients interested in your product to your landing page. In most cases using a premium marketing plan for you product has a very positive effect on your ROI. For example, FinancesOnline estimatest that their premium clients enjoy an average increase in conversion rates of 14%. If you’d like to learn more about different ways to promote your product you can ask for more info here.
2. Give your blogging more focus
Having a corporate blog is not enough. You need to know the right tactics to get inbound goodies from your blog. HubSpot reported that 82% of marketers who blog daily acquired a new buyer through the blog compared to only 52% who blog monthly. That means you should aim to upload content every day. That’s a tall order for a SaaS startup, but you can always outsource this non-core task to a writing team that focuses on your industry.
When blogging, it’s a good idea to focus on issues that relate to specific industries. For instance, instead of writing a general article about collaboration, you can talk about unique collaboration topics in industries that you’re targeting, say, events marketing, construction, or software development. Each industry has its own collaboration challenges. Promote the content to the targeted audience and you have a better chance to attract decision-makers to your blog.
For this task, you need to think like a journalist. Interview industry experts or invite them to write in your blog and use their insights. You might also get some insights from your CRM by interviewing customers who cited specific problems about their workflows. You can repurpose the interview to create various content, such as articles, whitepapers, case studies, and ebooks.
You can also use the same strategy to focus content on specific professional groups (e.g., event organizers, software development teams, construction teams) or regions if you’re selling globally (North America, UK and its affiliated commonwealth countries, India, etc.).
If all these seem hard, remember, blog marketing is integral to the success of your SaaS business, so better allot a budget for blogging.
3. Join communities
We hope you already have a clear picture of your ideal customers. If not, don’t worry. Here’s a great guide on how to create an image of that ideal customer to get you started. This notion is critical, as it lets you where to follow your customers online and join their communities. When joining a community, you’re goal is not to sell, but to discuss topics that relate to your software (soft sell). This means you’ll be wearing the hat of an executive, not a marketer. Let your credentials and expertise sell your software indirectly.
LinkedIn, the top social network for B2B marketers (acccodring to B2B Content Marketing 2015 Benchmarks), has numerous professional and discussion groups about collaboration that you can join. However, it’s better to use your professional LinkedIn account rather than your software company account to get accepted in these groups. Many of these communities shun sales pitches. However, as a CEO or top executive of your company, your credentials may be a welcome addition to enrich group discussions, which in turn, generate trust that can rub off onto your product.
4. Build your own communities
You should also invest in building your own communities on your website and social media networks. For your website, communities can take the form of wikis, blogs, self-help portals, and forums. Invite your users to these internal communities to find best practices, FAQs, discussions, tips and tutorials, case studies, and more. You should also encourage users to contribute their insights or tips, while you moderate content to ensure its quality and consistency. Some vendors even offer freebies or rewards to the most active users to encourage others to participate. A good CRM software can help you put up a knowledge base or communities like wikis and forums based on customer queries.
Similarly, you can build your own communities externally around brand ambassadors. If you have customers who praise your software in social media and they have a large following, invite these high-value customers into your online marketing campaign with a more formal setup. That means giving them some freebies or a fee in exchange for their positive shoutouts. Sometimes brand ambassadors don’t need to be talking about your software, but your product is incidental to their theme. For example, a MICE organizer can talk about the challenges and events leading to a major business conference, while occasionally mentioning your collaboration app to iron out a few kinks.
5. Sell to old customers
Selling to customers you have a relationship with is much easier than selling to strangers. Besides, selling to your existing customers costs less–often an email marketing campaign suffices–whereas getting new customers entails costly paid advertising and large-scale outreach marketing efforts. It doesn’t mean you should ignore growing your market share; rather, don’t ignore your customer base to increase sales margins.
For a SaaS product, you can upsell or cross-sell in four ways:
- Sell an updated version or feature of the software
- Request the customer to upgrade to a premium plan
- Sell add-ons to customers with specific needs (use CRM to sort these needs)
- Sell complementary products
The beauty of selling to old customers is that you can automate the whole upsell/cross-sell pipeline, while you focus on getting new clients. You can make use of a CRM software service to help you automate the process. A customer didn’t bite a premium plan? Then send him a limited deal for the plan. If he ignores it, you can send an email about an add-on a week after or bundle the plan with another product. Keep upselling and cross-selling your customers with different offers, but pace the campaign period to avoid being an annoyance.
6. Humanize your benefits
Many SaaS vendors pitch their software’s benefits as either faster, better, or cheaper. The problem with this approach is the vendors focus the attention on their product, not the customer. So what if your software is more robust? The customer wants to know how that can help his problem or improve his work. In short, you should focus the benefits on the perspective of the user. For example, instead of simply talking about how your software’s collaborative features can keep everyone in the loop, show how it can cut the entire idea-to-product launching process. Instead of just bragging about your 24/7 support, cite scenarios how that has benefited real customers in the past.
But don’t stop at focusing the attention along your customer’s perspective. You should humanize the benefit, too. B2B marketing may appear cold compared to consumer marketing, but the former can also use some personalized approach. Talk about the software’s benefits not only from the customer’s point-of-view, but from his personal point-of-view. In our example, think of the personal values when a manager is able to cut the idea-to-product launching process. Impressing the big bosses? Diminishing level of stress? Increasing your customer’s reputation as a project manager? When a B2B buyer sees himself in the picture, he is likely to connect better with your software.
All the tips above have already been tested by successful B2B marketers, so you shouldn’t hesitate try them to grow your business. If you look at the tips close enough, it’s all about engaging buyers and customers to like your product. Hard selling customers still work, but the vendor that engages buyers, not just to sell, but to talk with them about their issues, problems, or stories, will have a better crack at winning customers’ hearts.