7 marketing lessons learned from building successful SaaS startups
VP of Marketing, Happeo
About the speaker
Lidia Lüttin is the VP of Marketing at Happeo, a B2B SaaS startup, providing a digital workplace platform that brings together intranet, collaboration, and social networking into one unified solution. At Happeo Lidia is scaling marketing and driving the international expansion. Prior to Happeo, Lidia was CMO at Bynder, where she grew the marketing team from 0 to 23 people, and built up an inbound demand generation engine that sourced 80% of revenue and helped growing ARR to 8-digits.
Conference: SaaStock 2018
Lidia Lüttin talks in this session about the lessons she wishes she knew when she first started in Marketing. She introduced herself as one of the lucky ones who got a lucky chance to build up marketing in a start-up. They went early on for inbound driven strategy and over the course of 5 years, sourced 80% of total revenue via inbound marketing. She recently joined Happeo - a 6th stage start-up developing a social intranet platform for internal communication to communicate company update's better in an organisation and create a top-notch employee experience) to start-up marketing from scratch.
Below she talks about which steps lead to success, what to repeat and what not to repeat.
7 lessons to be learned
SAAS MARKETING LESSON #1:
Craft your messaging inspired by your best customers
Many of the start-ups have hopefully already found Product Market Fit. The product solves a pain point of your clients. Next you need to find Messaging Customer Fit - Finding the right words to explain the value your product delivers to your clients. Everybody in your organisation should speak the same language (Marketing on the website, sales speaking the same language in sales conversations and the CEO should be all on the same page) else this can slow down your growth.
When you start marketing in your organisation start with creating a value messaging map.
A Value Messaging Map is a basic overview of who is your buyer persona? Who are the stakeholders in the buying process? And who is the decision maker? Also, it specifies who is and isn't your target client. (What company size to focus on? Which industry?, etc). It also contains Value propositions for each of these buyer personae, stakeholders in the process
- Main Buyer persona - 'Internal communications'
- 'IT' is a stakeholder in the process
- 'Leadership' is the ultimate economic buyer and decision-maker.
Talk to your clients rather than making up this data in a room with your team. First thing Lidia did was to schedule interviews with 5 different clients and asking each of them more than 30 questions. Half of the questions were about their jobs, career path, challenges faced, daily tasks. The other half was about the product. How was life before and after Happeo? What is the biggest benefit we bring you and so on.
Recording and transcribing those conversations gave the added benefit of knowing the exact words used by the clients, to express the value the product was bringing them because the ultimate goal is to speak the language of the clients so we speak to them like their peers and not just any vendor trying to sell them something.
SAAS MARKETING LESSON #2:
Grab the low hanging leads first
So, once you found Messaging Customer fit and found the right language to communicate with the client, you should get started with Demand Generation. But not all leads are created equally. Below find an image for the marketing funnel.
This is how we map an individual buying process into a funnel. The first stage is Awareness stage - A potential buyer has a specific problem and starts doing educational research to find a solution to their problem. Ex: For Happeo - Main target persona is Internal communications, so the person starts googling how do I ensure everybody in the organisation is reading my updates.
The middle of the Funnel is the Consideration Stage - the person has now found possible solutions to her problem. Ex: A social intranet tool like Happeo might be a possible solution for her problem.
In the last Decision Stage - the person is actually shortlisting different vendors - signing up for Trials & Demos.
So when you get started with Demand generation, you must focus as you have only limited resources.
- Don't try to target the whole funnel - Moving people through the funnel costs a lot of time, effort and money. So, at the beginning focus on the decision stage only.
- Focus on the high intent buyer - Make sure people who are currently looking for a tool like yours are finding you.
How to do that - Demand Generation?
Starting up demand generation is not very difficult, some basic steps are required
Get your website ready - Add some basic call to action to website that ideally provide some value to your client in the end stage of the funnel. Ex- a Trail, a demo, basic content download.
Talk only to your main buyer persona - You will confuse messaging and not be appealing to anyone. The main person who does the research, has the problem and will be going in the end to your website to sign-up.
Produce one evergreen piece of content that's helpful to your buyer persona at the end stage of the funnel. Ex - a feature overview that helps them compare different features of different tools.
Advertise your company and your content on platforms like Google advert's and Capterra. Although expensive - these are high intent leads and higher probability to buy than all those other leads in the funnel.
Call to Action's and channel's and conversion rates achieved for benchmarking
SAAS MARKETING LESSON #3:
Nobody cares about your blog posts
If you are not part of the 1% Start-ups who actually manages to pull up a good blog that drives traffic, drives leads & actual revenue. Then it might not be worth at the beginning to spend too much time setting yourself a target - of 2 blog posts a week. Don't publish for the sake of publishing.
You do need a content marketing strategy
There is a split of the three main pillars. The closer these activities are to revenue, the more time you spend on it and different goals for each of them.
Demand Generation - Goal is to push organic to the second strongest lead channel - so create a lot of SEO content which you are then promoting so you can have links back to your website and increase your organic rankings.
Sales enablement - Goal is to help sales close deals and increase new business win rates so you are creating content that helps them to prove value to other people in the buying cycle. Ex - security white paper.
Thought Leadership - You want to position your product as a category thought leader, so work together with industry thought leaders to produce podcast or get articles placed in industry relevant publications.
SAAS MARKETING LESSON #4:
Make your marketing measurable
Lidia Says: A lot of founders don't believe in marketing. But that's not true, Marketing can be one of the main drivers of growth in your company if you don't let it be a black box.
This is about setting up your CRM in a way you gain visibility into each of the step's in the buying process. This image below is the lead & sales process and you can see which qualification is necessary, how those were met, which data is gathered and so on. If you manage to map this correctly into the CRM, you can actually obtain a lot of data.
Marketing & Reporting Template
If you are setting up your CRM in the right way, you can obtain this data whenever you need it and it actually helps you to answer business critical questions for your organisation.
SAAS MARKETING LESSON #5:
Leads ≠ Sales
Why is this important
If you are setting a marketing target - increasing leads by 10% each month. This is not very difficult for them to do - but not all leads are created equally, not all leads generated are converted at the same rate into sales.
10% more on leads 10% in sales
Practically 'Revenue Driven Marketing' means measuring the ROI of different channels and prioritising of those channels, putting the resources and money into those that actually drive revenue.
How do you convert your Marketing organisation into a Revenue Driven one?
- Target Setting - Have marketing share targets with sales
- Revenue - Have a marketing source as % of revenue
SAAS MARKETING LESSON #6:
Your first marketing hire should know it all
A lot of companies ask the same question "For my first Marketing Hire - Who is the perfect person? What the qualities my first hire should have? and how do i know if that's the right person?"
Your first marketing hire is neither the 20-year-old graduate with growth hacking career nor the marketing manager at Microsoft with 20 years' experience. The answer is somewhere in between. Your first marketing hire ideally knows everything explained so far. You are looking for something with a T shaped skill set - someone with a broad set of skills as below
- Able to get all the marketing started.
- Knowledge about SEO
- Setup adverts & campaigns & CRM
To take it to the next level you will need to hire a specialist. But they will have enough knowledge in the topic's, so they know whom to recruit and find out if they can do a good job or not.
Another popular Question - "How does the Team look like?"
After joining, Lidia did the first two hires who were specialist's in their own field. Knowing that they could support her in achieving her vision. Lastly, she took on a content writer once she had her content strategy in place and few interns who would help them localise their English speaking content into their respective languages to help them grow into new regions.
SAAS MARKETING LESSON #7:
Brand is the most powerful marketing tool and IT’S FREE
Everything explained so far are the basics and not unique, any of your competitors can copy that. It will take no longer than a few months for competitors to copy it.
Don't forget about your brand and Don't think Branding is expensive.
The most important thing in Branding is be clear about who you are? What are you standing for? Be authentic and let your target audience know who you are and what you stand for. You can run internal workshops and talk to the client to know what your vision should be.