Growing a B2B SaaS business is not as rosy as it looks from the outside. The path to success is filled with an overgrown, thorny landscape, a la Sleeping Beauty. There are many challenges, one of which is generating enough leads to ensure sustainable growth and a healthy annual recurring revenue (ARR).
While the future is bright for the SaaS industry, your success is not automatic. You need to leverage B2B SaaS growth marketing strategies to help you scale quickly. Failure to do that will result in your product being one of the many in the graveyard of failed startups.
(BTW – if you’re a founder/CEO looking to work through your fear of failing, we’ve got you covered).
What Is Growth Hacking?
Growth hacking is a term bandied around a lot when discussing growing a B2B SaaS business.
But what exactly is it? (Are hackers involved!? Answer — no.)
Growth hacking is a term that digital marketing guru Sean Ellis coined. It means using resource-light yet cost-effective digital marketing strategies to help a B2B business raise brand awareness, acquire customers, and sell its products. (Check out who we think the top growth marketing agencies are.)
The main purpose of growth hacking is to help businesses scale fast while maintaining lean marketing budgets. After all, most SaaS startups are bootstrapped and while marketing is an integral part of business growth, most resources are spent on product development and ensuring a satisfactory product is shipped to the customers.
How Is Growth Hacking Different From Other Forms of B2B Marketing?
When trying to grow your SaaS business, you’ll come across two types of marketing to help you — growth hacking and traditional B2B marketing.
Is there even any difference?
Growth hacking is very different from traditional marketing methods in several ways. Here are a few prominent ones:
Traditional marketing heavily relies on traditional marketing channels, while growth hacking always looks for innovative ways of reaching the right target audience.
Most traditional marketing strategies are allocated a healthy portion of the brand’s budget. However, with growth hacking, it’s all about achieving marketing goals on a lean budget.
Tradition vs. Innovation
Growth hacking and traditional marketing are as polar as tradition and innovation. That’s because traditional marketing follows a rigid structure of how to get results. Growth hacking focuses more on new, innovative methods of driving business growth. Growth hacking is about breaking out of the box and exploring new ways of effectively and efficiently achieving results.
What To Do Before You Start
Like all marketing tactics, growth hacking also requires that you approach it strategically. You must lay a foundation for success. Here are a few foundational factors you must have in place for successful B2B SaaS growth hacking:
Know Who Your Ideal Customer Is
The first step to effective growth hacking is knowing who your ideal customer is. (Really, the first step to doing anything in business is knowing who your buyer is.) This is a crucial step as growth hacking is all about making the most of limited resources. Knowing your ideal customer will help you focus all your resources only on a target audience that is more likely to convert.
So, before you launch your growth hacking campaign, make sure to conduct in-depth research of your ideal customer. A few factors to consider here include:
- Demographic data.
- Psychographic data.
- Firmographic data.
Once you have this data, use it to build a profile of your ideal customer. This will help you better understand who you are targeting. It also helps you know how to reach them and how to craft the perfect messaging.
Define Target KPIs and Set Up Tracking
Growth hackers are data-driven. Running lean campaigns that produce phenomenal results requires laser-focused targeting. And that, in turn, hinges on you leveraging data.
That’s why, before you start implementing your B2B SaaS growth hacking strategies, you must define your target KPIs. These are data points and metrics that will help you track the performance of your strategy. The best way to do this is to align your strategy with the B2B growth hacking pirate (AAARRR) funnel:
- Awareness. Involves getting people to know your product. KPIs to track at this stage include traffic, time on page, social media interaction, and brand/product mentions.
- Acquisition: Signing up new users. Important KPIs here include signups and product downloads.
- Activation: This stage involves convincing people to use your product. Your success depends on providing them with a great first experience. Track how many users are using your product in a month, the number of features used, e.t.c.
- Retention: The growth of your SaaS business relies on your ability to keep your customers using your product. Metrics you can track here include multiple site visits, number of active users in a month.
- Revenue: This is why you’re in business — to make money. KPIs to track here include the number of paying users, monthly churn rate, the ratio of free to paid users, the number of initial transactions.
- Referral: An essential element of growth hacking is driving referrals through word of mouth. KPIs to help you track the likelihood of this happening include customer satisfaction rates, social shares, and your net promoter score (NPS).
Study Competitor Tactics and What Has Worked for Others
Successful growth hacking is about implementing marketing tactics that are (almost) guaranteed to produce results.
One way of ensuring that the strategies you’re implementing work is to study your competitors. Yes, you’re competing for the same customers, but your competitors can be your biggest help when looking for ways to growth hack your B2B SaaS business to success. A few factors to hone in on as you study your competitors include:
Use platforms like Product Hunt to gain insight into who your competitors’ customers are. You can also use source code search engines like PublicWWW to search for customers who have installed your competitor’s source on their websites.
With platforms like BuzzSumo, it’s easy to check out your competitor’s content and note:
- Top performing content This will help you focus your content creation on content formats and types that are more likely to generate leads.
- The top sharers These can be potential customers as they seem vested in the solution your competitors offer.
Replicate the top-performing content in terms of quality and SaaS SEO strategy and reach out to the top sharers.
Culture is one of the most overlooked growth hacks. But with so much competition in a crowded SaaS space, customers single out vendors by checking to see if they align in terms of vision, values, and vibe. All three, particularly vibe, play an essential role in how you design your brand culture.
Make Sure Your Website, Brand Accounts, and Sales Collateral Are Ready for Growth
Before you plan on growing your SaaS business, you need to make sure that when new customers start flowing in, you’re ready for them. You must make sure core assets like your website, brand accounts, and sales collateral (like product data sheets, sales presentations/decks, e.t.c.) are primed for growth. A few ways to do this include:
- Make sure you have enough bandwidth to accommodate an increase in traffic and transactions.
- Optimize your brand accounts and sales collateral for engagement and conversion. This includes optimized profiles (on social media platforms), copy, CTAs, and more.
Top B2B Growth Hacks
Now that we’ve laid the foundation on how you can growth hack your B2B SaaS business to success, let’s get to the growth hacks that will help you do just that.
List Your Product(s) on ProductHunt and Other SaaS Directories
One of your first go-to hacks for business growth should be listing your product(s) on platforms and directories that curate SaaS products. One great example is Product Hunt.
Product Hunt is a website that allows users to share, discover, and vote for new products. Upvoted products climb higher on the website’s curated list of products, thereby gaining more visibility.
Create a Free Version of Your Product or Helpful Tool
The freemium model has been a staple of SaaS growth strategies since the early stages of SaaS.
The reason for that is simple — it’s a great user acquisition strategy. Particularly for new products, gaining the trust of your target audience is key to success. Offering a free version of your product helps you break that barrier as your customers can take your product for a spin without the fear of commitment causing friction.
Build an Insanely Valuable Referral Program
One of the best ways to market your product without breaking the bank is through referral marketing. This is because a person who uses your product probably knows many more people like them who would also find your product useful.
And that’s why you must build a valuable referral platform that incentivizes users to promote your product to their network.
Need data to back that up?
Consider the fact that leads that come through referral marketing:
- Convert 30% better.
- Have a 37% higher retention rate.
- Are 4X more likely to refer other customers.
Building a referral program is an excellent way to raise brand awareness, drive sales, and ultimately grow your business. And all that without the need for a big budget or large marketing or sales teams.
Hyper Target Your Ideal Customer With LinkedIn Ads
To successfully growth hack your B2B SaaS business, optimal targeting is key. That’s where platforms like LinkedIn come in handy. Not only is LinkedIn a goldmine of B2B leads, but the platform allows you to create hyper-targeted ads to attract and convert them. Some targeting options available include:
- Job experience
- Interests and traits
- Group membership
With a combination of personalized ads and LinkedIn’s hyper-targeting capabilities, chances of your growth hacking strategy will be pretty high.
Make Friends With Influential Bloggers or Influencers in Your Space
Another super-easy way to growth hack your SaaS business is by building relationships with influencers. These can be bloggers or other influencers in your space. These are instrumental in:
- Helping you spread the word about your product.
- Building trust with your customers.
Make sure the influencers you partner with are relevant to your product. They should also have followership predominantly made up of your ideal customers.
Once you’ve developed these strategic partnerships, incentivize your influencers to spread the word about your product. One way you can do that is by offering them free use of your product or branded gifts. You could also partner with them in growing their followership by helping them run a contest with your product as the prize.
Speak On As Many Podcasts As Possible.
Podcasting has grown to be a powerful client attraction tool. That’s why you must leverage it as one of your growth hacking strategies. A few reasons podcasting is excellent for growth hacking include:
- Helps build authority and establish you as an expert.
- Helps you tap into a niche audience.
- An excellent way to add a human touch to your brand.
- A great way of building your network.
- Can be used to build backlinks.
So how do you get featured on relevant podcasts?
One way to do that is the traditional way — pitch podcasts you want to be featured on. An easier alternative would be signing up for podcast guest matching apps like matchmaker.fm.
Create Your Own Guest Posting Program and Let Others Build Your Content Library for You
Guest posting is another excellent way to speed up brand awareness, ramp up customer acquisition, and drive sales. That’s because it helps you tap into audiences you’d otherwise not be able to build or tap into yourself.
Besides publishing content on other sites, you can also create a guest posting program on your website. This has the advantages of:
- Building your content library fast and at no cost.
- Getting you free content promotion as the guest posters will probably share the content they publish with their network.
- Establishing you as a trusted vendor due to your ever-growing network.
With word spreading about you due to your guest posting program, you’ll soon fill your pipeline with qualified leads.
Integrate Your Product With Other More Well-Established Platforms (Especially Those Who Have Partner Directories)
With businesses relying more and more on technology, app adoption is on the rise. Of course, that’s good news as it also means the growth of SaaS.
But more importantly, you can capitalize on this “ app explosion” to skyrocket your growth.
By integrating your product with other well-established platforms.
Integrating with well-established platforms allows users to activate certain features of your product. Sure, this may mean using some of your product features for free, but it’s a great way to piggyback on the success of the platform you’re integrating with.
The best part about integrating your product with other well-established platforms is that it enables you to attract your integrated partner’s audience. It also shortens the sales cycle as they can easily install or enable your product without going through the entire user funnel.
Another factor to look for when looking for integration partners is a partner directory. This is a great way of building backlinks. It’s also a great opportunity to tap into your integration partner’s audience. Most people who browse the partner directory will be actively looking for a solution, making the sales qualified leads (SQL).
Lastly, you can leverage other tools to augment these integrations or dramatically improve your existing campaigns.
Target Competitors With Google Ads
If you’re trying to make headway into a crowded market with some well-established competitors, you’ll have to be crafty in how you drive leads and generate sales. One such tactic you can use is to target your competitors with Google ads.
Targeting competitors with Google ads involves bidding for your competitors’ branded keywords. The whole point of doing so would be to steal your competitors’ traffic, clicks, and leads.
To pull this off, you’ll have to be strategic about your ad type and copy. An excellent way would be to create a comparison post and use paid ads to bid on your competitor’s branded keywords. While this is a powerful strategy, you’ll have to be careful otherwise it may backfire. A couple of landmines to watch out for include:
- Using trademarked branded words in your ad text, especially mentioning your product as better than your competitor’s.
- Using trademarked branded words in your ad URL.
You should also make sure to prime your landing page for the traffic that comes through this type of ad. For best effect, include a comparison table that leads with your best features. This will paint you in a good light and help you win your customers’ trust.
Create a Random and Wacky Product Onboarding Easter Egg or Surprise for a Handful of Users
One mistake many B2B marketers make is thinking everything has to be formal. But remember, B2B buyers are people too, and they do appreciate a light moment once in a while, even during business transactions.
That’s why one of the growth hacking strategies you must employ is a playful one. For example, you can create a random wand wacky product onboarding easter egg for a handful of users. You can also consider sneaking in a valuable surprise during the onboarding process. Gamifying your onboarding process will reduce tension for your new customers and help create a buzz around your product.
One thing that most unicorn B2B SaaS brands have in common is that they create memorable experiences for their customers. And pulling pleasant surprises during onboarding is an excellent way of doing that. Bonus points if you can make the moment capturable and shareable. Doing so will make it easier for your new customers to share the amazing experience with their network.
5 Effective Growth Hacking Campaigns for your inspiration
Growth hacking is all about thinking out of the box. It’s all about being innovative in your customer acquisition, activation, and retention strategies — particularly on a lean budget. Here are some inspiring examples from brands that went from $0 to millions and beyond, thanks to leveraging growth hacking.
One of the best examples of B2B SaaS growth hacking success is that of Slack.
The growth hack that catapulted Slack to unicorn status?
Creating a market where there was none (improving internal communications). Granted, for this to work, you need to be sure the product you’re creating will fill a need.
Besides creating a new market, Slack also leveraged the freemium model and word-of-mouth marketing to catapult the company to success — 12 million daily active users (DAUs) and over $900 million in yearly revenue.
One of the best examples of a SaaS brand that used referral marketing to growth hack their way to success is Dropbox. When the company launched, they incentivized users to spread the word by offering 250MB of extra storage space for every user referred. It was a win-win situation that eventually led to Dropbox having 15.8 million paying users and annual revenue close to $2 billion.
Hubspot is a name that has become synonymous with marketing automation. And to get to that status, they leveraged one of the most effective growth hacking strategies ever — offering a free version of their product. Apart from offering free use of their powerful tools, Hubspot also gave away valuable information for free via their blog. These two growth hacks contributed to the company surpassing 100,000 paying users and generating over $1 billion ARR.
Unbounce is one of the most popular landing page builders on the market. And one of the reasons it has achieved that status is because it leveraged the power of integrations early on in the product’s journey. Because most users rely heavily on multiple tools to create optimized landing pages, it only made sense for Unbounce to integrate with popular tools their customers use. The result is greater visibility and growth which, in the case of Unbounce, means over 15,000 customers and counting.
Growing from $100,000 monthly revenue to over $5 million per year is the story that dreams are made of. And customer service platform, Groove did just that through content marketing. On the brink of collapse and with no marketing budget, the founders decided to give the brand one last shot by going all-in with content marketing.
By creating valuable content tailored to their target audience’s needs, Groove’s content marketing engine has helped the brand generate over 250,000 daily visitors and $500,000 MRR.
Growth Hacking Strategies FAQS
- How do I get 1000 SaaS customers? To get your first 1000 SaaS customers, you have to roll up your sleeves, design your SaaS growth hacking strategy, and put it to work.
- How do I market my B2B SaaS product? Marketing your B2B SaaS product involves a number of factors. Examples include proper positioning in the market, finding your ideal customers, and designing innovative and efficient ways to reach them.
- What are the best early-stage growth hacks for a B2B SaaS? This is largely dependent on your product. However, some of the best early-stage growth hacks include referral programs, hyper-targeted LinkedIn ads, and targeting your competitors through paid ads.
- What are some growth hacks for user retention for SaaS? Retaining users is a matter of getting them hooked on your product. A couple of ways to do this include designing exceptional onboarding experiences and customer loyalty programs.
- What should a B2B SaaS startup hire first, a content marketer or a growth hacker? One of the biggest advantages of growth hackers is that they can wear many hats, including that of a content marketer. Therefore, hiring a growth hacker first would be your best bet.
B2B Growth Hacking Strategies — Key to Winning in a Tough Market
Particularly if you’re new on the market, taking on established brands head-on is an impossible task. To make headway and succeed, you must deviate from traditional marketing methods and employ growth hacking strategies.
So go ahead and use the strategies outlined above to scale your B2B SaaS brand. Need guidance? RevenueZen is a proven SaaS SEO agency, so contact us for a free growth consultation.