The Latest Updates, Trends, and Patterns in B2B SaaS Marketing for 2021 with Single Grain
CEO, Single Grain
About the speaker
Eric Siu is the CEO of digital marketing agency Single Grain. Single Grain has worked with companies such as Amazon, Uber and Salesforce to help them acquire more customers. He also hosts two podcasts: Marketing School with Neil Patel and Growth Everywhere, an entrepreneurial podcast where he dissects growth levers that help businesses scale.
Conference: SaaStr 2020
Eric opened the roundtable by saying, “The number one factor to success, with not only your ads, but your marketing, is your Creative. Because if your Creative is good, your click-through rates are going to be higher, and that's going to affect all of your down funnel metrics. So, if we take a look at ClickFunnels right here...
This is Russell Brunson. Some of you might be thinking, Oh my God, Russell Brunson? He's an internet marketer. We don't like using those tactics.
That's fine. But, I think it's important to learn from the internet marketers to see what they're doing well, and then move it over into the SaaS world. By the way, he's in SaaS too.
I'm not saying he's a dirty marketer or anything. Some people don't like him. I'm personally fine with him. I think he's great. But, Russell Brunson/ClickFunnels, they do over 150 million ARR a year, and they're approaching 200 million. They didn't raise any money at all.
The key thing I want to show you here is that when I open up Facebook Ad Library, he's got 630 results over here. (See red square above) Most SaaS companies I look at - when we open Facebook Ad Library - they might have less than five results.
By the way, the number one thing I get asked about is, Eric, I need a demand generation marketer. I need a VP of marketing. But, what are you going to do with that person? They say, We're going to hire them to run Facebook Ads and LinkedIn Ads and Google Ads. Everybody knows how to do that right now.
But, what everybody doesn't know how to do is create really good Creative. Russell is always testing new things. If you think about it, a lot of these advertising platforms are scroll based, right? So, how do you get people's attention? How do you pattern-interrupt them? How do you stop them in their tracks when they're doing something?
And the problem is… If you come up with a new pattern-interrupt, it's going to be old tomorrow. Russell has understood this over the years and he continues to test. This is just another view...
He's got a cookbook. He's got cartoons. He's got him riding a bull. He's got another video. And, he just keeps going.
So, how do you compete with that? You don't need to do 630. I'm just saying do a little better than your competitors. And, try to think about... What's a headline that's going to stop them? What's a video that's going to stop them? Then deliver on that. Your click-through rates are going to be higher.
For one of our campaigns that we're running, our click-through rate was horrendous. It was at 0.5%. And then, once we started focusing more on Creative, it jumped up to 2 ½ to 3%. And, our performance started getting better across the board.
So, if you want to affect your conversion rate, and you want to drive your CPA's lower, think of your Creative first. Not enough people think about that. One of your questions might be, Well, how do I do that?
One of the simplest things to do - especially if you're running Google Ads - is to focus on copywriting. We think Demand Generation is just running ads, right? I'm telling you, it's not hard to learn a Facebook, LinkedIn, Amazon or any platform.
What's hard is actually understanding your customer. We talk a lot about customer development in the world of SaaS. But, how about understanding messaging and then using that to attack when it comes to your marketing?
April Dunford does a good job of talking about positioning. Well, copywriting kind of goes into that a little bit, right? You’ve gotta be good at copywriting.
What I think is important is not trying to reinvent the wheel here. If you want to get good at copywriting, you want to write great headlines. Great headlines are pattern interrupters.
David Ogilvy is an advertising master. Has said, 80 cents on the dollar has been used after you'd write your headline. I'm paraphrasing here. So, if we just leverage headline formulas... you can just Google headline formulas, and there's gonna be a lot of these templates.
How can you apply it to the world of SaaS? On the very left side, you can see: 13 ways to benefit. That's the headline type. Okay. Here's the formula: 13 sure-fire ways to [benefit you offer], could be: 13 sure-fire ways to stay energized in the morning. How about: 13 surefire ways to increase your CAC? What if I wrote that as a blog post?
Or, (second on the list) Acquire a [benefit] quickly with the new method, could be: Acquire a high ARPU customer in one day with the Stepps method. That would be amazing if you can do that. I hope someone writes that blog post, because I would definitely read it.
So, we don't need to try to reinvent the wheel. Human beings, we're all kind of the same, right? We've been the same for hundreds, or thousands of years. We all have the same desires, the same needs. So how do we go find these [formulas]? Easy, we Google ‘headline formulas,’ and we can do stuff like this...
How [prospects] can achieve [desirable benefit] this year, can be: How SaaS founders can achieve exponential growth this year. That's one piece of it. The other thing is, good copywriters/good marketers understand that because they don't need to reinvent the wheel; they can have swipe files.
Zach [the General Manager for ClickFlow] comes from a copywriting background. We'll look at things that stop us and we'll often share it in our marketing Slack room. We'll talk about, Oh, This Bloomberg thing on: Everyone has a wealth number, actually stopped me in my tracks. Or, data always gets me. Or, some of these videos about a course caught my attention. Let's save it.
Facebook allows you to save ads. Instagram allows you to save ads. What you want to do is make a swipe file. In the marketing world, if you have a bunch of these headlines that you like, or a bunch of ads that you like, you keep them there. So, when you're ready to come up with new creative, you just look at that for inspiration. You don't have to start from scratch.
Let’s move on to the next piece. So, if I'm writing copy - let's say I'm writing a long form post on LinkedIn trying to get engagement there. Or let's say I'm writing a long form Facebook Ad - I want to get a general Sentiment Analysis.
You can use Grammarly for this because Grammarly will give you a little happy face or a sad face when you're writing. In general, most of the time you want your sentiment to be positive, right? That way, you're creating positive emotions and you might get more engagement on the ad.
What I do is just plug in my texts into a Sentiment Analysis tool - and you can Google that -
and I want to make sure that it's positive. This is just like another check before I go and hit publish.”
Eric changed gears and said, “If I were to recommend one top book when it comes to copywriting - we're talking about marketing psychology here or human psychology - it's this book over here on the very left, called Breakthrough Advertising.
I paid $600 for that book a couple of years ago because it was out of print. It's actually back in print now. Someone bought the rights to it, so you can pay a hundred bucks or 125 bucks for it now.
It was written in the ‘20’s. This book passes what is known as the Lindy effect; which means it passes the test of time. Same thing with the book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. So, Breakthrough Advertising is timeless. You'll understand human psychology. You'll understand the process of taking someone from ‘unaware of the solution to problem’ ... wherever your solution is. Give them a deal.
I’ve got other books here that are really great: 16 Word Sales Letter is written by a guy that writes for a company that does over a billion [dollars] a year. It's mainly a financial newsletter called Agora. Boron Letters is great. Gary Halbert Letters is great. And then, Ben Settle Newsletter.
When I think about the world of internet marketers versus tech marketers, they're very much at odds against each other. I've been fortunate enough to look at and hang out in both worlds. I understand that there are some elements that I like from the internet marketing world and there are elements I like from the tech world. I'm just going to combine them and see what we can get. We're going to remix it and see what magic we can get from that. There doesn't need to be an internet marketer versus a tech marketer type of thing going on.
This is another thing I want to take from the world of copywriting. And this comes from a guy named Dean Jackson. He used to be in real estate. He has this concept called The Nine Word Email. He comes from a copywriting background and the way the nine word email works is like this… Hey Tammy, were you still interested in growing your SEO traffic?
So, let's say you opt into our list and you initially indicated interest in SEO services - but you weren't quite ready at the time - every 90 days we'll hit you up with an email like this. Hey, were you still interested in SEO traffic? One of his clients closed a nine figure deal. We're talking about a yacht [that was] a hundred million dollars, or something like that.
Whenever you signal interest for a big purchase like that, you're probably not going to take action quickly, but lo and behold, 69 days later, Hey, Zach, are you still interested in that yacht? Transaction gets done.
And, I've done this more than a couple of times. Our open rate is pretty decent at 50%, but the response rate is phenomenal, 20%! In the world of SaaS, if you're looking at your SDRs, you're looking for about a 10% response rate. 20% is phenomenal, at least from what I know. And we've closed multiple six and seven figure deals, just using this nine word email concept.
My point is, you don't have to try to reinvent the wheel again. A lot of stuff has been done already. Human psychology remains mostly the same.
I do want to talk about this concept of going Omnichannel, because you see a lot of YouTube creators doing this. You see MrBeast, he's got 56 million subscribers on YouTube, but he's also got big channels elsewhere. You can look at these other creators - I might be just mentioning random people that you don't know - CaseyNeistat is a big YouTuber. You’ve got Logan Paul, who started from Vine, and now he's got a big Instagram and YouTube following. And now he's going to box [with] Floyd Mayweather. How does it even happen?
For us, we have the podcast marketing school and we average about 1.5 million downloads a month right now. So, we have a great podcast audience, but the time I spend with my partner doing this is... a lot.
Every couple of weeks we're going to be recording and it's a daily podcast, so we gotta be on top of it. If we're going to be putting this much effort to meet - he's got his businesses to operate, I’ve got mine - how do we keep that going?
Let's go back to the YouTube example... we actually start with video, because when I started doing the podcasts, we’d go into Zoom, we record. Let's say we go for 60 minutes and we can record 10 episodes. Each one's about five minutes. So, each video can be chopped into audio podcasts.
You can then have a writer expand on them because audio is more or less 40 to 60% of a blog post. And then the blog can be a lot more detailed. I would just go to a site like ProBlogger to hire great writers.
And then, what you would do is promote it, and then you focus on monetization. Basically, we call this Content Sprouting, and you start with one ‘seed’ piece of content. So, if Tammy likes to write, [she starts with] a blog post. If Zach likes to do audio, it starts with audio. If I like to do video, I start with video.
The idea here is that one piece can become 50 or 60 pieces a day. And that seems overwhelming, but I'm telling you, people like GaryVee are out there doing that - and yes, he has a team, but he also started with nothing. So, you can slowly get stronger and stronger.
The idea here is, Wait Eric, what about conversions? I need more free trials, right? But, if you're doing social, the goal here is Reach. This is more of a top of the funnel type of play for me. As long as you keep adding value on the top of the funnel, people are going to come down to work with you. So, we've got Seed, Sprout, Sprout, Pollinate, Harvest.
We have our YouTube channel and it's called Leveling up - because I've got a book coming out called Leveling up - and we put all our videos here. Joe Rogan does this really well. He takes his video - because he goes for like two to three hours per interview - he chops it up. He has a JRE clips channel that has about 5 million subscribers and then he's got his own stuff.
We put most of our stuff here and then we put it on the podcast and then we will put it onto IGTV, and we'll put on Instagram. Honestly, it's not like we have a massive team doing it. We have two people that work really hard on it. I wouldn't say they ‘focus on it’ because they do other things, but that's how we make it work.
Do we want to expand it? Absolutely. I just talked to one of the guys that used to work at my company. He works for Gary Vee now on his brand team. They’ve got 30 people on that team and I was like, Okay, how do you make it easy for people?
[He said] All you really need is a brand manager and someone to kind of repurpose the content; if you want to make it bare bones. If you want to make it crazier, you'll have a specialist for each channel. And then, you'll have a brand manager at the top.
You see these videos? The idea here is we go to YouTube - because IGTV or even Instagram feeds only allows for 10 minutes; and then a feed video can only be 60 seconds. So, our team will chop it up. You might say, Oh my God, Eric it’s so much work. Of course it's a lot of work. But, it's better that you make the most of the car that you buy, versus drive it for two weeks and you're done with it.
Here's a bonus... we've realized that by doing carousels on LinkedIn or Instagram, you get a lot more engagement. When I do a carousel on LinkedIn, I'll get six times more engagement than a typical post. We learned that from a guy named Christo. He actually grew his Instagram to 500,000 or so followers, but we learned that that actually carries over really well into the world of LinkedIn. So, take advantage of LinkedIn’s organic reach while you can right now, because Microsoft is going to start to push really hard on monetization whenever they get the chance. Don't write the Broetry stories, actually try to add value.
You've got a lot of great people, like Gaetano from Nextiva. You've got Dave Gerhardt at Privy. So, you've got a lot of great people that are putting themselves out there and they're showing you how it's done on LinkedIn.
We just had a post recently - we have a Slack group for content team leads - that one got over a thousand comments and over 120,000 people viewed it. So, that's our ‘claim to fame.’ That's the best one we've had. Something simple like that can do well.
Talking about the output... it's important that you measure, or you can't manage it. For our Slack group we'll have these reports... Hey, LinkedIn was one time leveling, up with seven times yesterday. Here's our daily output breakdown. And eventually we want to go for 25 to 50, to 75, to a hundred a day. Again, it's a frantic pace, but if the goal is Reach, give your team a target to aim for.
Okay. Final thing I'm going to talk about... there are a lot more experts than myself in this, but I think about mergers and acquisitions from a marketing perspective. So, from a growth perspective, let's say I'm spending 500 grand a month on ads, why don't I just go buy a website for a million dollars? The website gets 5 million visits a month. So, instead of paying for all those clicks on Google or Facebook, I now have bought the attention by buying the media company.
I think most people here love Naval Ravikant. So, I'll tell you something he says... 4 points of leverage: code, capital, media, and labor. Most people lack on the media point.
The reason our podcast continues to compound is because both Neil and myself - he's my podcast cohost - we just love learning about marketing and learning about operating businesses. And, we love talking about it. People learn that way. So, if you build in public, that's a very easy way to build an audience. There's a guy named Paul, he runs a company called copy.ai on Twitter. He's building in public. He's revealing his MRR number, what he needs, and things like that.
If you think about growing through acquisitions, you can actually do a couple of things here. At least in America, you can locate a company, do seller financing. You can do a deferred down payment. You can have milestones, you could do a carveout... I'm just giving you a couple of tools in the tool belt. Because, when you think about mergers and acquisitions, there's over 200 types of tactics that you can use. And, this comes from one of my friends, Roland Frasier. He actually has an entire program on this.
Let's say you're a pet SaaS business, and you're at 3 million ARR and you spend a lot on ads. You're looking to buy some pet media sites that get over 500K visits a month. So, let's say you find a site that's doing 1 million in annual revenue and 200K in profit. You're not going to pay a million dollars for it. You're gonna pay less.
Let's say the multiple on that website is three X. So, you pay 600K. In America, what you can do is you can put 10% down on the business. You can get the rest financed by the seller. I'm just giving you an example of something that you might do. So, I put 60K down and then, Oh, and we'll give you a note for that. Maybe some type of interest rate.
What you can also do is a deferred down payment; where you say, Hey, let's hold off on the 60 K. I'm going to pay it to you in 30 to 45 days. You can use that time to find a way to get that money.
So, there's a lot of different ways to play this game. I'm just trying to get you to think of it from a point of acquiring media assets, so you can grow faster. A lot of people think this is out of reach, but it's actually not. You don't need to be a fancy or big investor to do these types of deals. You're not gonna get on TechCrunch. But, you can do a deal for a couple of hundred grand or so, and it's good enough to make a difference in your business.”
Single Grain is a digital marketing agency that specializes in search engine optimization and social media marketing for businesses. Their services include Search engine marketing, PPC advertising, podcast advertising, video production, marketing funnels, content marketing and much more...