Over the past few years, SaaS companies have been transitioning their marketing efforts from lead-generation tactics to brand awareness strategies. But now, this shift is more important than ever. Businesses are continuing to rely on SaaS products to stay connected during remote work—turning first to well-known, household names.
Of course, some of the usual (and most successful) SaaS suspects like Slack, HubSpot, and Mailchimp were the first-movers; maturing from lead-gen marketing into brand awareness marketing. These brands increased their top-of-the-funnel activities to nurture new users, and eventually, drive brand affinity.
Admittedly, lead-gen is just as important in the early days as brand building. Optimally, lead-gen and brand-building efforts would work in tandem to build a consumer base.
But, there is a ceiling to lead-gen efforts.
Most SaaS companies aren’t willing to play the long game, and instead resort to sole lead-gen marketing, building their initial user base by bringing on ‘easy converters’. These consumers are interested in the product and service features alone, which keeps cost per acquisition affordable in the early growth stages.
What many companies haven’t realized is that once those ‘easy converters’ have dried up, they have to pivot to attract new customers from bottom-up to top-down brand marketing.
We know that the branding approach doesn’t feel novel, but other industries dip into brand-building at much earlier stages, well before the bottom drops out on direct customer acquisition methods. We get the appeal of a bottom-up approach—you get the customers who are ready for your product, now. Why be a first-mover when you can sell a product or service with a single click? The answer is simple; you’re missing an entire, possibly very large customer segment.
SaaS companies are tasked with shifting consumer behavior, and consumers have a difficult time understanding the benefits software can provide until they experience it. That’s the challenge and the opportunity—communicating positive outcomes in a way that resonates with your ‘not so easy’ potential consumers.
Emma, Campaign Monitor, Slack, and others have all taken a brand marketing, which has paved the road for other SaaS companies to follow. We helped them do it.
Bill Macaitis, former CMO at Slack noted, “Your brand is every single touchpoint your customer has with you during their journey.” Slack, the first-mover and pioneer in the space recently took on a major branding campaign, which is undoubtedly paying off.
This SaaS industry sea-change will continue to build, and the companies who don’t know how to market themselves efficiently will fall behind. If your SaaS company finds itself asking “what about the holdouts, the crowd who needs our service but isn’t signing up?”, here’s your answer:
They don’t need another lead-gen tactic. They need to buy in. They need to see themselves using your brand and it improving their lives. They need branding.