So you’ve got a SaaS platform that you want to promote. Your innovative tool stands to serve a pocket of your industry, and you need to figure out how to put it in front of people.
There are a variety of marketing methods you can employ to promote your SaaS product, but today, we’re going to hone in on one in particular: PPC for SaaS.
In this post, we’ll explore 9 great ways to use PPC for SaaS platforms when attempting to drive users to sign up for your software.
Without further ado, let’s dive in!
We can count on them to bring new ideas to the table consistently
Why PPC Is Important for SaaS
PPC is a powerful digital marketing strategy that is particularly important for Software as a Service products. SaaS companies rely on online channels to reach their target audience, and pay-per-click advertising provides an effective way to drive traffic to their website or dedicated landing page and convert prospects into customers.
One of the key advantages of PPC for SaaS companies is the ability to target specific keywords and demographics. SaaS companies can bid on keywords related to their product or service, which allows them to show their ads to users who are actively searching for solutions. Additionally, they can target specific demographics, such as location, age and interests, to ensure that their ads are reaching the right audience.
While PPC can be a valuable marketing strategy for both SaaS and traditional companies, there are some key differences in the way it is approached and implemented:
- Sales Cycle: One major difference between PPC for SaaS and traditional companies is the length of the sales cycle. Traditional companies often sell physical products or services that can be purchased quickly, whereas SaaS companies sell software products that typically require a longer evaluation process before purchase. This means that SaaS companies need to focus on different types of keywords and ad messaging that will appeal to prospects who are early in the buying process and may not yet be ready to make a purchase.
- Keyword Strategy: SaaS companies often have more complex products and services with a specific set of features, which means they need to focus on specific long-tail keywords to target their ideal customers. Traditional companies may be able to target broader keywords since their products and services are often more straightforward.
- Ad Copy: The messaging in PPC ads for SaaS companies needs to focus on the value proposition of their software, highlighting the benefits and how it can solve their prospects’ pain points. Traditional companies may focus more on features or discounts to entice prospects.
- Landing Pages: SaaS companies need to create landing pages that provide more detailed information about their products and services to support their longer sales cycle. Traditional companies may have simpler landing pages that focus more on the product or service being sold.
- Target Audience: SaaS companies often target specific industries or business types that are more likely to benefit from their software. Traditional companies may have a broader target audience.
PPC also provides SaaS companies with a way to measure the success of their marketing efforts. By tracking metrics such as click-through rates, conversion rates and cost-per-acquisition, SaaS brands can determine which campaigns are most effective and make adjustments accordingly. This allows them to optimize their ad spend and make sure they are getting the most out of their marketing budget.
Overall, PPC is an essential tool for SaaS companies looking to drive traffic and generate leads.
9 Best Ways to Leverage PPC for SaaS Companies
As you craft your interpretation of your audience, it will help you think like they do, equipping you to formulate the ideal ad copy that your audience would want to hear – something that resonates with them and the issue they’re trying to solve.
1) Determine Your Target Audience with a Buyer Persona
As a first step, it’s paramount to determine the persona to whom you’re trying to offer your service. Try getting into the head of who could stand to benefit from your platform and ask yourself the following two questions, as they would likely ask themselves:
- What is my problem? This pain point should be present in the ad copy for your digital ads as well as present on the landing page. The ad should contain language that acknowledges the problem. For example, it might read something like:
“Managing Talent Is Hard | This Powerful Tool Can Help | Try *Brand Name* for Free Today”
In the first section, we see a direct callout to the issue – that talent management can be difficult. The second portion presents the remedy for the problem with a robust tool. Finally, the third headline invites the user to try out the software for free.
- How does “X” product or service solve my problem? – Addressing your audience’s pain points and then presenting how your SaaS product solves the solution is a natural step in the buyer’s journey. It should weave into your PPC value proposition.
As you craft your target audience, it will help you think like they do, equipping you to formulate the ideal ad copy that your audience would want to hear.
A crucial part of defining your audience is understanding the buyer persona of your customers. A buyer persona is an in-depth description of your customer. It will include their goals, fears, interests, and demographics. You will use this buyer persona to dictate the necessary information that you include in your landing pages and ad copy, all focused on appealing to the needs and wants of your ideal buyer.
Below is an example template of the components that make up a well-thought-out buyer persona profile:
Identifying the buyer persona of your audience is important for crafting the right messaging in your ad copy. You need to have a reliable understanding of who would want to buy your product in order to effectively communicate how it is useful to them.
2) Perform Keyword Research with Long-Tail Keywords
A good list of keywords is like the bone structure of any well-operating PPC campaign. It’s crucial to harness the right keywords to access the correct intent of your audience.
Performing keyword research will accomplish many things in your strategic planning journey, such as:
- It will help you identify the volume of phrases related to your software.
- It will help you craft landing page copy and messaging for your ads.
- It will cue you in on the actual psyche of your audience (i.e., what they’re thinking when they’re looking for a solution to their problem)
- It can help you understand consumer needs and therefore prioritize what future features to include in your product.
The discovery of the buyer persona should help unveil keyword phrases that you can use to conduct your research. One of the best tools to this day remains Google’s Keyword Planner. This tool is a great place to discover actual Google user behavior because it is all first-party data:
As you delve into keywords and phrases describing your service offering, it’s important to identify longer-tailed keywords with very explicit intent. The longer a keyword phrase is, the better the signal that the searcher is further along in the consideration process and, therefore, a more qualified prospect:
Your goal with PPC for SaaS products is to identify those long-tail keywords and implement them into your campaign. It’s customary to expect low search volume surrounding those long-tail keywords. This is natural as the more tailored the query, the less frequently it will be searched, in most cases.
It’s also worth noting that the longer-tailed the keyword, the average bids to appear top of page with that keyword are usually cheaper since the term is likely less competitive.
It’s difficult to state a blanket range of costs that long-tail keywords can have, as it varies tremendously based on the industry of the terms. But tools like Google’s Keyword Planner will help you see estimated ranges for costs-per-click (CPC) that can help you decide which terms are most appropriate to bid on:
A healthy keyword list will include a variety of short-tail and long-tail keywords. From the onset, you may find that short-tail keywords are best as you discover the search terms that users are clicking on that are tied to your brand. You can begin targeting more niche, long-tail keywords associated with your platform from that data.
Let’s say that we have an applicant tracking system (ATS) SaaS company that wants to break into the Google search rankings with a paid search campaign. In the ad campaign’s infancy, it will likely take time for you to discover the true search intent of the audience from the data.
In the scenario of an ATS SaaS company, a good starting point would be targeting terms like “applicant tracking system software” or “best ATS software.” These terms are less narrowed and will allow the campaign to attract more varied searches related to ATS software. From there, the advertiser can review the search terms and adjust the keywords to use phrases that produced the best results.
These broader terms will no doubt be more expensive than long-tailed terms, which have less competition. Over the course of a few weeks, there should be enough data to learn that a sizable number of users that clicked through to the landing page searched for “applicant tracking system with boolean data.” This more intentional and thought-out phrase qualifies the user since they’re clearly searching for a solution with more focused intent.
3) Try Using Competitor Keywords
Competitor keyword campaigns do exist, and they can be effective. Although targeting competitor terms may seem controversial, it is perfectly permissible and a valid strategy. It can gain attention to your brand when users aren’t looking for it in the first place.
Gaining a long-standing SaaS customer can be a lengthy process. Since it can take customers a while to settle on a more permanent SaaS solution, the window of opportunity for software service companies usually remains open for a longer duration.
As your potential prospects discover competitors’ brands, they will likely shop around and compare those products with other services, like your own. It’s for this reason that your SaaS brand can benefit from targeting competitor terms. You can essentially “butt in” as they’re searching for comparable products and present your brand in the place of competition.
Assess the digital landscape around your company. By now, you should have an idea of who your direct competitors are, but for the purposes of a competitor PPC campaign, it’s worth diving further into. Taking a look into Google’s Keyword Planner can reveal competitors related to your keywords that you might not have been aware of before:
Many SaaS advertisers find success in targeting keywords that include their competitors’ names. Although this will produce low keyword quality scores, it may attract users away from the competition to check out your brand instead.
4) Lead Generation: Defining, Qualifying and Scoring Your Leads
Part of how we can justify PPC as a viable strategy to generate leads is by having a clear understanding of what makes a lead qualified for PPC to begin with.
It’s important to figure out what needs to happen from a user to count them as a meaningful conversion; you need to maintain a frame of mind bent on making every customer a long-standing one. The goal should not be gobbling up as many leads as possible and just settling for quick wins that don’t result in subscription renewals.
You may opt to count a conversion as valuable if the user signs up for a product demo or free trial.
It’s up to you to decide how to define a conversion, but whatever it is, it must tie back to a calculable ROI metric.
A large part of the lead qualification process for SaaS prospects comes from proper keyword targeting. This will ensure that only the most applicable users are landing on your site, already knowing what they need.
Remember that a big step in qualifying your leads for a SaaS platform is getting them to try out the product. After that, they will qualify themselves by determining if the service is worth continuing.
Check your inbound leads by scoring them accordingly. You should assign a total point value to each lead based on factors affecting their growth potential and the likelihood that they will subscribe to the service. The point values can be up to you, but they must reflect the importance of each component that goes into deciding whether a lead is good or bad:
5) Determine Your CLV
Working together with your PPC’s ROI is Customer Lifetime Value, which is important for measuring the validity of continued PPC efforts.
Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) is a calculation of the net amount of money a customer spends during the entirety of a relationship with your business:
When the temptation for many SaaS companies is to generate massive quantities of leads, it’s crucial to determine your CLV. You need to keep your finger on the pulse with the cost per acquisition (CPA) associated with PPC and see how it measures up with your CLV. The CLV associated with customers brought in from PPC should align with the company’s ROI goals.
You can calculate your CLV from this formula:
Customer Lifetime Value = (Customer Value X Average Customer Lifespan)
It’s important to compare your CLV against the acquisition cost it takes you to win a new customer. You’ll know your PPC efforts are paying off if the average CPA is lower than your average CLV.
6) Dedicated Landing Pages
Optimizing keyword-specific landing pages for PPC is important for a variety of reasons:
- It can add context to the user’s query when they land on your site from an ad.
- It can boost quality scores for keywords tied to that landing page in Google Ads, which will grant you a more affordable cost per click (CPC).
But not everyone has the budget to build custom landing pages containing targeted terms.
In that case, it’s important to refine a single dedicated landing page that is direct and to the point. Keep the content on the page minimal. Feature the offer in the top navigation of the landing page, below the fold in the body, and at the bottom.
Here’s an example of how LinkedIn Premium structures the pathway for users to follow, guiding them with product information spread amongst deliberately placed CTAs:
It’s not uncommon for a SaaS company’s homepage to be the strongest stage for PPC lead generation if it’s clean. The best way to determine which method is most successful is to A/B test a combination of ads pointing to both your home page and any PPC-optimized landing pages.
These are the most important elements on your landing page that you should A/B test:
- The headline
- The CTA
- Images vs. video
- Form fields
- Overall layout
7) Optimize Ad Copy for SaaS Audiences
Google Ads lets advertisers compare the performance of ad copy to see how different variations stand up against each other.
It’s vital to maintain consistent messaging anywhere you have a presence, from inside your SaaS product, to your landing pages, and to the copy in the ads.
Additionally, try incorporating phrases that emphasize a very low barrier to entry for your SaaS product. Users want to know that what they’re about to invest their time into is going to be easy and effective for them. People looking for a SaaS solution usually aren’t interested in lengthy tutorials or overwrought setups.
Consider how the following ads offer value in the SaaS tool. They illustrate how using their tool will save the user time, optimize their process, and feature a free demo of the software:
The platform needs to be easy to learn and you should communicate it as such. Coupled with the ease of use, you should express the low cost of entry to the service. If you offer a free product trial, ensure that it appears in the ad copy for the ads and on the landing page.
8) Multichannel Advertising
There are other effective channels for advertising SaaS platforms beyond just Google Ads. Below are a few ideas:
- Programmatic advertising. Programmatic advertising is a series of algorithmic exchanges in prescribed placements across the web. Think of it like Display Ads. The difference is that they are automatic via AI as opposed to manual bids with Google and Microsoft Ads. They can be useful for SaaS platforms due to their nature of being automatically placed display ads based on conditions that you set.
- Native advertising. Native advertisements are less invasive than display advertising as they are more subtle. They’re usually placed on topical sites related to the promoted service. These are great for SaaS companies because these types of ads can be targeted to appear on relevant sites that your audience might frequent.
- Microsoft Ads. Microsoft Ads function very similarly to Google Ads and can be worth exploring depending on the demographic of users for the SaaS platform. It can also yield more affordable CPCs since the usage of the search engine is smaller and, therefore, less competitive.
- Paid social media ads. LinkedIn Ads and Facebook Ads are strong social media channels for SaaS products. You can narrow targeting for these platforms to specific categories of users that would be most inclined to use your SaaS tool.
- Software aggregator sites. SaaS review sites, like Software Advice, Capterra, G2, and GetApp, curate the best SaaS solutions into groups based on certain parameters. It’s worth considering how placement on one of these sites can benefit your brand. One sign that it might be an ideal place to position your brand is whether your competitors have a presence on any of them.
9) Use Retargeting
You should take full advantage of retargeting ads once your PPC campaign has accrued some data.
Begin following up with site visitors who might have expressed interest in your product, but haven’t yet followed through. Perhaps they weren’t ready to commit at the time they found your ad. Retargeting ads can give them a light nudge to remind them that you still exist.
Maybe they opted to try a competitor’s platform and, after some time of using their product, discovered it was not the right fit for what they needed. These are opportunities for a second chance offer that can leverage people’s memory of your product and compel them to try it out.
The beauty of retargeting campaigns is that:
For SaaS companies, it’s important to maintain an ever-growing relationship with a prospect. Remember that SaaS retargeting plays into the rule of seven, which suggests that a user will need to see your ad at least seven times before taking action with your offer.
The decision-making time it takes for users to settle on a SaaS solution can often take weeks or even months, as opposed to traditional companies where decisions can be more immediate. It’s why a periodic stream of retargeting ads can serve well in the long run for SaaS companies.
Last Word on PPC for SaaS
The growth opportunity of PPC for SaaS products is brimming with potential. The lead-nurturing process is different for SaaS companies than for other industries, and with the proper application of paid search, it can yield results worth the investment.
Remember to test content, landing page design, messaging, keywords and targeting. Use these refinements to narrow in on the best-qualified leads through the use of PPC.