TL;DR – Unlike other agencies, Powered by Search brings deep B2B SaaS marketing knowledge combined with an understanding of the strategic levers for business and revenue growth. This enables us to deliver on our Predictable Growth Framework and scale trials and demos at will for our clients.
B2B SaaS companies who have grown through outbound sales or referrals often get to a point where they ask themselves: ‘We did well in getting here. But how do we scale the business?’
At that point, they’ll usually do one of a few different things to scale.
For example, they might look to try to build out marketing campaigns or test out a few channels themselves. After all, if the founders and early hires were good enough to run lead generation in outbound sales, shouldn’t they be able to switch and do demand generation through search engine optimization (SEO), paid media, or executing on a content strategy.
They might also have considered hiring a marketing executive or marketing team internally. This usually follows the thinking that a marketing exec has a lot of experience and can generate qualified leads because they did so at a different company. Or a marketing team should be able to solve the problem of winning enough leads to more than pay their salaries back to the company.
The final option that a lot of SaaS companies will look at is hiring a B2B SaaS marketing agency or even multiple SaaS marketing agencies to try to scale demand. Usually, people who do this assume that it will be cheaper and efficient to work with someone to try to increase demos or trials before they hire internally and replace their agency.
We have worked with many companies who have been through all of these options only to find that in the end, each had problems that they hadn’t foreseen.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- The classic pitfalls that B2B SaaS companies fall into when they reach a scaling point in their businesses
- Why hiring an agency isn’t always the right choice for scaling trials and demos
- Why Powered By Search is considered to be a world leading B2B SaaS marketing agency
By the end of the article, you’ll have a clear idea of how to avoid the common pitfalls that SaaS companies fall into when they think about choosing the right agency.
The classic pitfalls that B2B SaaS companies fall into when they reach a scaling point in their businesses
Software companies often find that they are able to get to $400K MRR ($4.8M) without thinking about adding marketing and demand generation to their business at all.
And frankly, this is incredibly impressive. Seeing sustainable growth without any marketing is no mean feat.
But once a company gets to that point, they commonly hit a scaling problem: In order to maintain this growth, they need to significantly scale demand if they’re going to keep up the recurring revenue and business growth they’ve seen to date.
The most common solution at this point is for the founders or executives to think about solving the problem themselves. This happens because people who have grown businesses tend to default to action.
Unfortunately, this rarely pays off in the way that they expect it to.
While they may have been brilliant at scaling a sales model, building a marketing for a SaaS company is really hard to learn. There’s a lot of space for error. When you’re using SEO and content, the cost of error can be setbacks of months while you wait to see if your marketing efforts are succeeding. And if you’re trying to grow through PPC, you can burn a lot of cash before you realise it’s time to bring in some experts.
It’s usually at that point that they’ll consider hiring a team of marketers internally.
This can be problematic for a few reasons:
- It takes time for a marketer to be onboarded into the company – marketing hires are joining the company cold. They take time to work out the internal dynamics of the company, need to take part in cultural training and this hampers their ability to deliver results within the first 6 months of their new job
- Mishires happen all the time – Even when a marketer is onboarded, SaaS companies frequently find that they’ve hired the wrong person. Maybe the job they hired for isn’t the one that’s actually moving the needle. Maybe the new hire sold themselves well at interview but failed to deliver strategic results or even qualified leads
- The market for marketing talent is fiercely competitive – SaaS businesses are currently struggling to hire full time employees because the market for contractors is just so lucrative for marketing experts
The final solution that a lot of people consider when trying to scale their SaaS company is to hire an outside agency.
And while this is almost always the best approach, there are some really common problems that companies come across when finding the right SaaS marketing agency for them.
Let’s dedicate a little time diving into those now.
Why hiring an agency isn’t always the right choice for building an effective SaaS marketing strategy
When hiring an agency, there are a number of significant errors that can cost clients their hard earned marketing spend, lead to stalled growth because they’re unable to reliably attract quality leads and ultimately good-fit customers.
No specific SaaS expertise
You probably found this page on Google and if you did, you’ll know that when you type in ‘saas marketing agency’ you get a lot of people claiming that they’re the top agency.
You even likely saw a page where there was a big list of ’13 top SaaS marketing agencies to look out for.’
But here’s the thing: the biggest failure of agencies on these lists is that they are unable to connect the SaaS business model with their tactical approach to demand generation.
Many digital marketing agencies have pages on their site that explain the services that they offer to SaaS companies.
Some common indicators of non specialist marketing agencies:
- Using the term ‘digital marketing agency’ to describe themselves
- Bulk of content about non SaaS related terms on their blog
- Their homepage doesn’t mention the specifics of the SaaS business model
- They have a lot of non SaaS client logos on their site
- They use the term ‘growth hacks’ a lot
There would be no problem with this if the SaaS business model didn’t require a specific understanding of what works and what doesn’t. After all, marketing a SaaS company is not the same as e-commerce or service businesses.
Getting more leads for a B2B SaaS business requires specific expertise that just isn’t available within horizontally integrated agencies (i.e. agencies with little to no specific SaaS marketing expertise) and often SaaS companies are sold advice that an agency has picked up by reading ‘SaaS marketing trends’ or ‘SaaS growth’ style articles versus drawing from real, lived experience of what works and what doesn’t.
This is made worse when you factor in the non-marketing related aspects of growing a SaaS: the economics of customer acquisition, understanding how monthly recurring revenue or annual recurring revenue businesses work with payback periods.
Unfortunately, this means that many tech companies are sold the same services and tactics as their marketing agency is providing to mom and pop restaurants. This leads to huge amounts of wasted spend – not just on ineffective PPC campaigns, but also in time, effort and energy.
Offering tactical execution without strategic insight
The second area where SaaS companies go wrong with hiring an agency is hiring for tactical execution without strategic insight.
It is extremely common for an agency to specialise in PPC, search engine optimization or content marketing. While it may be great to finally have someone executing on a channel you think will grow the business, the reality is: unless your marketing agency can align tactical actions to business goals, you’re going to continue wasting resource.
Tactics without strategy is like throwing darts blindfolded: you might hit the bullseye once in a while but you’re also going to miss the board entirely with a relatively high frequency.
No proven methodology for converting new customers
This tends to lead to the final area of failure for most marketing agencies: there is no proven methodology for growth.
While some executives will be lucky enough to find a SaaS marketing agency who understands the business model and can also deliver on paid media, content and SEO as well as demand generation, there are so few agencies with a coherent methodology that they can point to and say: “This is how you’re going to grow if you hire us.”
Without that methodology, every project starts from ground zero. This is most commonly noticeable when:
- The contractors or staff who the agency hires bring their own ideas about how to do the work
- There is no structured approach to onboarding – (we’ve found the first 100 days of a client engagement to be crucial to the success or failure)
- Scattergun approach to which marketing efforts to prioritize and which to de-prioritize.
Unfortunately, this happens far too often and many clients who hire Powered by Search to help them grow have been burned by other ‘saas marketing agencies’ in the past.
Why Powered By Search is considered to be a world leading SaaS marketing agency
Now that we’ve established where founders and executives go wrong in finding SaaS marketing services, we’re going to look at how Powered by Search avoids the common pitfalls and why broadly considered to be one of the top SaaS marketing agencies in the world.
Deep, nuanced understanding of SaaS marketing
Unlike other marketing agencies, we exclusively work with B2B SaaS clients. That means that over the years we’ve been doing this, we’ve developed a deep and nuanced understanding of how SaaS businesses grow.
One way that we demonstrate this is by openly sharing our entire methodology and extensive knowledge on our blog (like you’re reading now).
This isn’t just content marketing for the sake of winning inbound leads. We believe that our knowledge and insight is one of the most significant products we have and we’re happy to share it to help SaaS founders grow their companies.
Some good examples to prove our expertise:
- How to create pain point content that converts for B2B SaaS
- The Anatomy of the Ideal SaaS Website: Best Practices from Our Authority Architecture Framework
- How to build a B2B SaaS Demand Generation Flywheel
Any marketing agency that you work with should be able to help you think about the economics of your business. For us, calculating payback periods on ad spend is second nature. Thinking about conversion rate optimization is not just academic – we know exactly what impact a bump in conversion will have on your bottom line. We know how to run content marketing in a way that is attributable and ROI-positive.
Strategy vs Tactics
A second area where we differ from many other agencies is that we put a huge emphasis on strategic versus tactical thinking.
Many agencies will treat each channel that they’re working on as a separate and distinct project.
But this is not how SaaS growth actually happens. In fact, when you’re thinking about content marketing, you should also be planning for how to run paid social ads to that content in a way that helps you drive revenue.
In a recent article on how to create better lead magnet thank you pages, we shared an example of how different our approach to other marketing agencies is.
For our client Snap Projections, we created a lead magnet that speaks to an acute pain point of their customers (financial planners who are struggling to grow their assets under management).
Many agencies would see this as a completed project use it as the basis of a demand generation campaign by just running paid ads to it.
But the goal of a SaaS marketing agency shouldn’t be vanity metrics like generating MQLs alone – that’s why we make tactical moves within the framework of a strategic goal.
In this case, we took two actions that helped Snap Projections hit their strategic goal:
- Drove traffic to the lead magnet with paid media to attract middle of funnel (MOFU) prospects
- Designed a post-download thank you page that encourages people who downloaded the lead magnet to move further down the funnel to demo
By using this strategic approach, we’ve helped our clients achieve brilliant conversion rates between leads to trial or demo signups of 5% to 10%.
Thinking about the entire customer journey and executing on the strategy with joined up tactics is one of the reasons that we are able to consistently generate strong results for our clients.
We have scaled free trials and demos for dozens of clients like Reltio, Phoneburner, Clio, MyCase, PatientPop and Rainforest QA with our predictable growth methodology. For more wins and client examples, you can check out our client and results page here.
The Predictable Growth Methodology
Perhaps the main reason that we are one of the most well respected SaaS marketing agencies around is that we’re able to forecast growth and deliver on driving SaaS leads with our Predictable Growth Methodology.
While every single client is unique, every SaaS product has a similar set of needs: generate more leads that will turn into high lifetime value (LTV) customers
Using this methodology, we work through eight stages in order to drive… you guessed it… predictable growth:
- Evaluating Your MRR Accelerators (so you know exactly what to optimize for growth)
- Understanding your Customer’s Intent and Pain Points
- Pinpointing Why Your Visitors Aren’t Converting
- Educating and Motivating Ideal Prospects
- Driving Right Fit Traffic through Paid and Organic Channels
- Creating a Proof of Concept Pilot Project
- Measuring Results, Generating Insights and Compounding Results
- Creating your MRR acceleration roadmap (assigning what will happen when, and who will be responsible for results)
This means that we don’t ever have to start from scratch on a client project – we already know how to sequence our work and all of our team are able to think within the broader strategic needs of a client’s business as well as delivering on their tactical work.
Many SaaS companies will fall into the trap of hiring a SaaS marketing agency that:
- Doesn’t understand the SaaS business model
- Isn’t able to connect tactical and strategic work
- Has no proven methodology for SaaS growth
Powered by Search is a world leading B2B SaaS marketing agency with a proven methodology for growing trials and demos for our clients through PPC, SEO and demand generation work.
If you’re ready to commit minimum $7500 a month on marketing for a minimum of 1 year, have strong product market fit and want to make building demand a priority, we can help you scale MRR at record-breaking speeds. Book a Free SaaS Scale Session today.