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9 “Must Try” Marketing Tactics Used by the Biggest SaaS Companies

I’m fascinated by marketing and by SaaS — two of the main things I spend my time on. Both SaaS and digital marketing are always changing, developing, and surprising me.

What I’ve observed in some of the biggest SaaS companies is a lack of willingness to innovate their marketing. But at the same time, I’ve watched how their reliance on tried-and-true marketing techniques has helped them succeed.

You’ve probably heard of the techniques in the list below. You may even be using some of them yourself. It’s worth taking a look and trying them out. What works for the giants may work for you too.

1. Salesforce

salesforce

  • Value: $25.5 billion
  • What they do: Salesforce basically invented SaaS, and they still dominate it. Their CRM software is the world’s most widely used.
  • Tactic: Prove it with numbers.

There are plenty of things I can both praise and criticize regarding Salesforce’s marketing. They dominate the paid search listings. They publish a ton of content. They get talked about in virtually every business publication. But here’s something a bit more granular, yet still strategic.

Look at their landing page. It is mind-numbingly bland. But it speaks directly to their bean-counting target audience. And it works! There are precious few persuasion techniques at play, but what they do have is perfect:

grow faster salesforce

Those four bulleted numbers say everything that they need to say. People who buy CRM care about little else than revenue, conversions, customer satisfaction, and speedy deployment. That’s exactly what Salesforce promises to do for you.

What you can do

First, you need to know your audience. Not everyone is persuaded by the promise of percentage upticks. If you do have a data-driven audience who loves proof by numbers, then this is a move that you probably want to copy. Prove success with the numbers.

2. Concur

concur logo

  • Value: $4.7 billion
  • What they do: Concur Technologies has developed business travel and expense management software.
  • Tactic: Go where people do business (like Starbucks).

Concur’s biggest marketing strategy is getting bought by SAP, but since that’s not a strategy that you can try, here’s something a bit more tactical.

lets meet at starbucks

Concur has partnered with Starbucks. Sort of. The relationship seems complicated, but it’s also jumped up on caffeine. What’s more, it seems to be working.

They help users connect their Concur and Starbucks accounts. Then, they draw expenses from the Starbucks and Concur cards. Brilliant.

Their strategy is documented in this infographic:

business is brewing

What you can do.

Find the swimming pool that your customers are playing in. Get a running start, and jump in with a cannonball. You will make a splash.

To put it non-metaphorically, seek out places, physical or digital, where your customers gather. Ideally, this will be a place where your customers are discussing the very activity or service that your SaaS provides. It could be Quora. It could be LinkedIn. It might be Dunkin Donuts. (Looks like Starbucks is taken.)

3. Netsuite

netsuite logo

  • Value: $7 billion
  • What they do: Business management software
  • Tactic: Customer testimonials matter.

Netsuite has some kickass customers. And they know it. And they brag about it.

netsuite landing page

While most companies are content with dropping a few client logos on their homepage, Netsuite takes this a step further. They have full-on whitepapers on how their SaaS has made companies more profitable.

Even the way they structure these customer features is smart: 1) Customer Success, 2) Challenges, 3) Solution.

When you can brag about helping a company grow by 300% YoY, saving over a quarter of a million on IT development, and look cool while doing it — that’s the recipe for a winning testimonial model.

What you can do

Brag on yourself by boasting about your customers’ success. Use testimonials as a major component of your content marketing.

4. Jive

jive logo

  • Value: $1.2 billion
  • What they do: Collaboration solutions.
  • Tactic: Keep things simple.

Enterprise level CRMs are famous for making things needlessly complicated.

Except Jive.

Everything about Jive is intended to keep it simple. Even though the company is a gargantuan presence in the collaboration software space, they are also strikingly minimalist in their design, approach, and solution menu.

Look. Even their homepage is simple.

jive homepage

Jive knows that human interaction can be complex. Their goal is to simplify it. This intent leads their design style, their products, and even the product’s user interface.

They have only three products, and you can understand what each of them does by simply glancing at the website.

jive our products

What you can do

Simplicity wins. Simple websites. Simple design. Simple marketing. To make it better, make it simple.

5. Demandware

demandware logo

  • Value: $1.4 billion
  • What they do: Ecommerce platform
  • Tactic: Visual motion

DemandWare’s website puts aesthetics at the forefront. Their website uses innovative methods to create an interactive feel. Moving parts make the information engaging and experiential.

demandware arch

unleash your potential

It’s a pretty basic idea, but it’s also very engaging.

I’ve used a similar technique — animated infographics, or “gifographics” — to make my marketing more appealing.

What you can do

Add visual panache to your marketing. Even better, make moving parts where possible. It makes things a whole lot more engaging. You’ll improve user’s dwell time and their memories of your page.

6. Fleetmatics

fleetmatics logo

  • Value: $1.4 billion
  • What they do: Vehicle GPS tracking for corporate fleets
  • Tactic: Speaking their customer’s language.

GPS tracking for fleets is a pretty complicated thing. When you decide to equip your corporate fleet with GPS tracking capabilities, you have to think about enterprise grouping, auto geofencing, GIS, RFID, WLAN, PSAP, CTIA, ANI, and other things that you don’t know about.

Fleetmatics demystifies the entire universe of GPS tracking. Their target audience isn’t expected to unearth the mysteries of GPS technology, and they shouldn’t have to. That’s why they’re buying Fleetmatics.

The content marketing on Fleetmatics’ evergreen pages is drop-dead straightforward, plain, and simple.

No jargon. Just solutions.

fleetmatics landing page

I find pages like this very easy to understand, even if I know nothing about the technology that backs the system.

fleetmatics page 2

A delivery professional knows what he’s supposed to do, and he doesn’t want to concern himself with the technical definition of “geofencing.”

What you can do

First, know your target audience. Then speak their language in your content marketing.

7. Dealertrack

dealertrack tech logo

  • Value: 1.7 billion
  • What they do: Auto industry software
  • Tactic: Free eBook and other content marketing resources

It’s an old trick, but still a good one. DealerTrack provides free resources that their audience is interested in.

get the ebook

Obviously, it’s gated content. You give your email address; they give the book.

please provide email

DealerTrack understands the importance of harvesting email addresses, and leverages their content marketing approach to do exactly that.

What you can do

This is not a hard technique to imitate. Create your own downloadable resource, and offer it for free on your website. Potential customers come. You get email addresses.

8. Ultimate Software Group

ultimate software logo

  • Value: $3.7 billion
  • What they do: HR management solutions
  • Tactic: Short landing page forms

Look at the powerful landing page below. In order to funnel customers into a product demo, Ultimate gives you four options: A radio button, a drop down menu, an email field, and another drop down. This requires very little brainpower, low cognitive load, and a powerful method of providing more product demonstrations.

ultimate software landing page

The power of this landing page is in its few form options.

The highest converting websites have short forms. The longer the form, the less likely people are to fill it out. When one company, Image Scape reduced their form fields from 11 to 4, they boosted their conversion rate by 120%.

This is what happens when you reduce forms:

reducing number of contact fields

Image source

What you can do

Fewer fields in your forms will likely improve your conversion rates.

9. Workday

workday logo

  • Value: $11.9 billion
  • What they do: Enterprise HR and financial management SaaS
  • Tactic: Videocasts bring in customers

Workday knows that their audience — VPs of HR and their ilk — want the best information for advancing their workforce and companies. That’s why they bring together a force of industry leaders to share information.

workday landing page

Their target audience respects these figures, and are willing to invest the time to hear what they have to say. What does this mean for Workforce? Qualified leads.

The crowded content marketing field needs less cheap content and more leadership in stuff that matters. Workday delivers just that level of content.

What you can do

It has become increasingly difficult to set yourself apart as a content marketing leader. The challenge is figuring out exactly what your customers want, and then giving it to them. Determine what it is your audience is craving, and then over deliver. And, to borrow from Workday’s playbook, videocasts are a pretty smart idea.

Conclusion

If you’re a small and agile SaaS, you can probably pull a few smart growth hacks that the big companies can’t or won’t.

That being said, it’s often a great idea to see what how the big boys play the game. Stealing a few good marketing tactics is never a bad idea.

What are your favorite SaaS marketing tricks?

About the Author: is a lifelong evangelist of Kissmetrics and blogs at Quick Sprout.

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