Growth marketing is increasingly becoming a popular way for SaaS companies to scale their customer acquisition sustainably. Unlike traditional, large-cap companies, most SaaS don’t have the behemoth budgets to put behind their marketing activities.
They also can’t afford to apportion most of their marketing spend on upper funnel KPI’s such as brand awareness. Instead they look to use marketing methods which have direct ROI attribution.
Growth marketing achieves this, but also goes a step further. It focuses on both customer acquisition and retention. If a customer is not going to stick around for the long term, then what’s the use.
Any growth you saw when the customer came on board will be negated when they churn. Moreover, when you break it down into numbers, the importance of customer retention becomes glaringly obvious.
According to Thomas Tunguz, most SaaS companies experience customer churn of between 2-3% a month. This means to maintain their revenue they need to grow by 27-43% annually.
How do growth marketers deliver on their objectives?
Traditional marketers focus on the top of the funnel where as growth marketers focus on the entire funnel. The ideal growth marketer is someone who is a data-driven, analytical rockstar who works relentlessly to find new and innovative ways to drive user acquisition, improve customer engagement and retention, and turn customers into brand advocates.
To do this effectively growth marketers are constantly experimenting with different strategies and tactics at every stage of the funnel.
Working with a broad range of company departments including engineering, product, customer success and sales, they A/B test, measure and then iterate these growth marketing experiments until they land on a formula for success. At which point it’s a case of rinse and repeat.
Growth marketing success stories
We recently took the time to reach out to our SaaS network to find out some examples of successful growth marketing. Here are some of our favourites.
User Generated Content
After finding little success with traditional blog writing and social distribution, sales enablement company Nurturebox decided to adopt a UGC (user generated content) approach to customer acquisition. They identified question or answer platform Quora as being a suitable target platform for their 3rd party content.
Every time they came up with a blog topic they went to Quora to see if there were any questions on that particular topic. In the case that there was, they provided the most detailed and professional answer they could.
Initially they didn’t see any notable results using this approach, but after a few months people slowly began noticing their answers and clicking through to their website.
To date their biggest win has been converting a large banking and financial services company into a paying customer in about 2 months from the first time they viewed their answer on Quora. Today, Quora is one of the largest contributors to their online traffic and their second biggest lead generator.
Lead magnet retargeting
User feedback platform, Usersnap, used a clever little retargeting method to ensure they were delivering multiple touch points to leads who entered their funnel but never signed up for a trial.
They started off by creating ebooks which they used as lead magnets in an effort to drive traffic to our site. Once visitors landing on their page decided they wanted to download the ebook they were required to provide their email address. This is now a well established content hack.
Usersnap would then nurture these opted-in prospects by sharing blog content with them via a newsletter. After clicking through to a blog post some users would sign up for a free trial, but the majority never took any action on the newsletter, and some even opted out.
Usersnap needed to find a way to prevent these leads from slipping away so easily. The answer was to retarget them with Google ads in an effort to bring them back to the site and ultimately sign up for a free trial.
The ad campaigns they ran also targeted look-a-like audiences (of those prospects who downloaded their ebook) in order to expand the reach of the overall campaign. The results they saw from this campaign within 12 months was impressive.
Both their web traffic and free trial signups increased by over 150%. Moreover, they saw a 200% increase in customer conversion (from free trial to paid) which equated to 40 new customers per month. Not bad for a humble Google ad campaign.
Website personalization based on IP address
Saas HR software company, Ciphr, were looking for a way to make the copy on their site more relevant to their different customer cohorts. As they cater to a broad spectrum of industries from charity to finance, a one-copy-fits-all wasn’t going to cut the proverbial mustard.
Each sector has a unique set of HR pain points which Ciphr solves, and so being able to convey tailored solutions to these pain points is essential.
To enable a more bespoke website UI, Ciphr decided to segment their audience based on their IP address. They can fairly accurately deduce the industry of their website visitors based on their IP. Instead of then displaying generic HR software messages, they personalize the web copy so it’s relevant to a visitor’s industry.
This includes mentioning the specific features, referring to “schools” rather than “companies”, changing images and including customer logos and testimonials from the same sector. The results speak for themselves. In split tests, the average conversion rate of visitors served the personalized web copy improves by 90% compared with generic web copy.
Leveraging content trends
SaaS company Email Analytics cleverly adapted their content marketing strategy to address new topics related to Covid-19. Starting in March 2020 their team conducted research to better understand what users were searching for when it came to the impact Covid-19 was having on the business world.
Unsurprisingly, the parent topic was working from home. They then drilled down to find out the longer tail keywords related to this parent topic and wrote content which addressed those topics.
As an example, when everyone started switching to work from home, they published a few blog posts to help folks looking for tips and tricks with making the switch. As a result of this they saw a huge spike in search traffic and attracted thousands of new visitors to their website in only a few months.
A large portion of these visitors sat within their target audience – remote workers and managers looking after remote teams. Since March they’ve attracted over 38K website visitors from 3 blog posts covering working from home topics. All of these posts are not only relevant to the pandemic, but also to their SaaS tool, resulting in an above-benchmark conversion rate.
Marrying Search and CRO
Greenpal, a SaaS platform that connects homeowners with lawn care professionals, had to overhaul their growth marketing initiatives this year in the wake of the economic crisis. Over half of their customers derive from organic search, and as they felt the impact of Covid-19 they were forced to look at ways of better optimizing their search traffic.
The first thing they did was to look at how they were fulfilling all search queries. What proportion of visitors from search went on to convert or at least engage with other content on their site?
This has become ever more important as Google is now factoring in “pogo sticking” into search algorithms. Pogo sticking is when a user comes to your homepage or landing page and then bounce back to the Google search page because they didn’t find what they are looking for.
By better aligning their search traffic with conversions and on-site engagement has increased Greenpal’s sales by 48% this year. It’s also resulted in them seeing improved search results as less of their site visitors have “pogo-sticked.
Growth marketing as a field of marketing at large continues to gain salience. Although there are an infinite number of growth marketing strategies one can employ to varying degrees of success, the core principle of growth marketing remains the same – to acquire sticky customers using methods that offer seamless scalability. What’s your next growth marketing idea?