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All The Ways To Attract Customers

This is my intro text
Corey Haines
Previous Chapter
Content Is King
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Finding the right strategies and channels to gain traction and get customers.

I’m going to be talking about strategies and channels in this chapter and want to make sure that terms are clear, so to define each: A channel is a particular way you reach your customers and a strategy is the specifics of how you use a channel to reach your customers.

Now, you’d be making a mistake if you skipped down below, went down this list of tactics, and just jotted down the ones that you think would be easy to do.

Test and validate the channels that cater to your customers, not the ones that are easy, affordable, or conventional for the industry.

The end goal is to help your customers along their journey. These channels need to do one of two things for you:

  1. Make people aware of your product
  2. Provide a way to keep in touch with them

If a channel doesn’t make people aware of your product or provide a way to keep in touch with them, forget it. Move on.

But it’s also a matter of what you’re able to do. If you really hate going to events and events are a key strategy for marketing to your customers, either find someone else to do it for you or find another way you can be just as effective.

Choose the marketing channels that:

  • You can get behind because you’re interested and passionate about it
  • You can provide unique value to your customers in some way
  • You can reach your customers and their influencers


A great way to do this is to use the ICE scoring method for giving each channel a unique score for picking the right channels to go after.

A channel’s score is broken down into three parts: Impact, Confidence, and Ease.

  • Impact tells you about the magnitude of the results you can expect from that channel.
  • Confidence reflects how sure you are that the channel will work.
  • Ease displays how simple it will be for you and your team to implement that strategy.

Give each channel a score between 1-10 (10 being the perfect score, 1 being the worst score) in each of the three categories and then add them up at the end to get a final score for the channel as a whole.

A high-Impact channel or campaign is one that will bring results quickly. The Confidence score will tell you how risky that channel or campaign might be. The Ease of a channel indicates how difficult it would be for you to implement that campaign, given the resources you already have. A channel is considered easy to implement if you don’t need to acquire new skills, team members, or materials first.

After you go through this list, sort them by score and identify the 10 highest channels. These should be the ones you focus on.

Pareto’s Law

Remember that with Pareto’s 80/20 Law, 80% of the effects you want will come from 20% of the causes you employ.

There are many great strategies, but you want to find the couple channels that will produce 80% of the results for you and then double down in those channels.

Not all these strategies will work for you. In fact, you better hope not, because that would get expensive, fast. So find the ones you can reasonably invest in and effectively test. What follows is likely overwhelming or stuff you already know, so remember this one thing:

You don’t have to do them all. You just have to find the ones that get you the most customers at the lowest cost and effort.


I have a hard time using the phrase “content marketing” because it’s misleading. “Content Marketing” is a hack to writing words that are clever enough to get someone’s contact information. It’s marketing in the the disguise of content.

In reality, content is the center of every marketing strategy and every channel is just a way to get your content in front of people.

So you’ll see the following all under the section titled “Content” because content is the key to using each of these channels.


Did you think that because you’re a B2B SaaS company that no one would be interested in your blog? Well, that’s not true.

You can use your blog to build awareness of your brand as a thought leader and expert in your field or industry. This creates trust in your products and services.

You can also market to your blog followers later down the line – in a relevant, tasteful way, of course.

Your blog will help build trust with your customers. 82% of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading custom content, and 90% find custom content useful (CMI). No one likes being pitched and sold to. Your blog is your best opportunity to sell yourself before you sell your services.

Essentially, your blog is an opportunity to make your company a resource for knowledge. One of the biggest issues internet businesses face today is credibility. No one knows the people behind the website.

Your blog acts like a paper trail back to your product.

If you’re creating popular and shareable content, you’re guaranteed to get more traffic back to your website. And once people get to your website, guess what you can offer them once they’re there? More content!

Annual growth in unique site traffic is 7.8x higher for content marketing leaders compared to followers (19.7% vs 2.5%). (Kapost)

As we’ll get into more, your blog will be the cornerstone for many other tactics to get more customers, such as SEO, your newsletter, and social media.


  • Free to create
  • Easily educate potential customers
  • Can be easily repurposed
  • Helps SEO


  • Virtually everyone blogs
  • Takes time and commitment
  • Not everyone is a natural writer

When To Use:

- You’re looking for a low barrier-to-entry marketing channel

- Your potential customers have high search intent

- You have the time and resources to write

- You want to build long-term organic traffic growth

Customer Journey Stage: Awareness


Audio content has absolutely exploded with the rise of podcasting technology.

I heard podcasting described as “the ad your customers actually want to listen to.”

What’s ironic about this statement is podcasts rarely ever advertise the companies or services that the podcasters represent.

Podcasting has become, and will continue to be, a huge part of companies’ content strategy. Podcasting right now is where blogging was 10-20 years ago.

Podcasting essentially IS a blog, just in audio format. There is a huge demand for podcast content right now and therefore a huge opportunity for companies to take advantage of the lack of supply.

One of the biggest advantages podcasting has over every other form of content is that it only requires one of your senses: hearing. Reading a blog often requires you to be still, in a relatively quiet environment, and constant attention from your eyes. Watching video is even more demanding, requiring your eyes and ears.

With podcasting, however, you could be driving, walking, gardening, or even working while listening to a podcast. It requires almost no attention from your eyes.

This is one of the main reasons I have fallen in love with podcasting. I can consume content while I do some of the really boring things in life, like commuting, doing data entry, waiting around for something, exercising, or doing chores.

Another great advantage podcasting has over other forms is that it’s highly personal. Reading someone’s writing is not very engaging and only tells you so much about who they are and what their personality is like. Hearing someone’s voice takes everything to a whole new level. Getting to hear someone’s voice and listen to them give you advice, tactics, strategies, etc is an amazing thing.

Podcasts are also relatively easy to create. Blogging requires a lot of writing, copy editing, and wordsmithing. Video requires a lot of equipment, public speaking skills, practice, and editing. Podcasting requires very little: a mic, some bullet points about what you want to cover, and a platform to upload your audio file.

Podcasts are also on-demand, which greatly caters to our fleeting attention spans. If I want to binge-listen to all the podcast episodes, I can. If I want to listen to a podcast episode from 5 years ago, just press play.

With podcasting, Quality + Quantity = Ears, but the principle stays the same: you must produce quality, engaging content. Too much rambling, bad audio quality, or a monotone voice can quickly kill your audience’s motivation to listen to you.

Some things to keep in mind about podcasts:

It’s not radio:

You don’t need to have a cheesy intro, “radio voice,” or be constantly thanking your listeners, or even tell them the next time you’re going to record. In my experience, 99% of the podcast episodes I listen to were not released the day I was listening to them.

Don’t read:

There’s nothing more obvious than someone trying to sound like they’re talking, when in reality they’re reading. In my experience, it’s totally fine to have a script, an outline, or whatever content you want to use in front of you. Just don’t try to fool anyone that you’re reading. Use the content as a baseline and then just talk.

You have to grab attention quick:

The episode title and the first 3 minutes of the episode are the most crucial parts to getting and keeping someone’s attention. You may be tempted to name your podcast episode something like “Thoughts on Facebook ads and more.” Podcast episode titles are the only acceptable place for clickbait. Okay, not really. But seriously, get descriptive and interesting with your titles. The title should describe the content and why someone should listen to it.


  • First mover advantage. Podcast marketing is still a novel and relatively unexplored medium, offering a competitive advantage to any company willing to be the first in their industry to take it on.
  • Low setup costs. Much like blogging, podcast marketing has next-to-no setup costs: requiring little more than a decent microphone, free recording software, Skype (for interviews), and a hosting account.


  • There's no playbook. There are few documented case studies, and proven industry-specific processes are virtually non-existent.
  • For some organisations, that's a competitive advantage and a chance to experiment; for others, it's a big risk.

When To Use:

- You have a network you can tap for interviews and guest appearances

- Your potential customers are podcast listeners

- You have content that can easily be repurposed for audio

Customer Journey Stage: Awareness


Kissmetrics, a SaaS company founded by Hiten Shah and Neil Patel, is one of the most successful SaaS companies to do content marketing well. They consistently rank high in google, often in the #1 spot in search results with their content.

In Hiten Shah’s ebook on content marketing, he tells of how the most successful piece of Kissmetrics content ever was an infographic. Yes, a company that gets millions in traffic to their blog crowned an infographic as their most successful piece of content.

Keep in mind that this was in 2010 when google had a couple different rules, but nonetheless, infographics can’t be ignored for their potential. At the time he wrote it, Hiten shared that the infographic represented 38% of total root domains linking to the blog, around 15-16% of total backlinks, and got 39k shares.

There are two main reasons to use infographics: backlinks and branding.


Infographics are inherently sharable and are likely to be picked up by many other content creators who are looking to augment their content with a pretty infographic like yours. Infographics are a great way to share data, tell a story, and still be very visually interesting. Infographics will help your SEO later on, which I’ll explain further down.


Having your logo on an infographic is powerful for brand awareness. While your blog posts will live on your company blog, you can’t exactly slap your logo on every blog post the way you can with an infographic. Infographics are a great way to get your logo seen and searched.


  • Easy to create with repurposed content.
  • Viral in nature.
  • Great for building backlinks and improving SEO.


  • Hit or miss. Infographics and images will probably either be a dud or a viral hit. This can be discouraging or hard to sustain over time with mixed results.

When To Use:

- You have content that can be repurposed into an infographic

- You have content with potential for virality

- You have the design resources to cost effectively produce good work

Customer Journey Stage: Awareness


As I mentioned before, video is the most demanding type of content. I used that as a disadvantage, but it’s demanding nature is also a huge advantage. Grabbing someone’s full attention is a hard thing to do, and video is the most effective at doing this.

There are a couple different types of videos you should consider.

The vlog

No, I don’t mean carry a camera with you and film yourself talking as you go do random stuff. I mean set up a camera somewhere and just talk to the camera for a couple minutes. This is essentially acting like a podcast episode, but it can be more engaging watching someone’s face and where they’re at as well as being much more social media friendly.

Podcasting is great when your audience wants to dedicate some time to learning. But when they’re scrolling through Facebook or Linkedin, they’re not going to stop to click on a link to listen to your podcast episode. Video is a great way to just grab someone’s attention and share with them what you would in a blog post, podcast episode, or interview.

Some of the best vlogs are 30 seconds long and just tell a quick story.

Screen share.

In SaaS, there is a unique element to everything being on the screen. And many times, people just want to know and see what you’re doing on yours.

One great example of this is to screen share and film yourself building something. You could be coding, building a website, writing a blog post, or reviewing landing pages. It doesn’t even have to be that interesting. What’s appealing is that it’s real, raw, unedited footage of what you’re doing.

The pitch.

Many of the best performing Facebook Ads all have something in common: it’s a video of a person explaining something, pitching something, or telling a story. I believe every company needs at least one video of the founder grabbing a camera and explaining why they started their company.

Use it for ads, pin it to your social media profiles, throw it up on YouTube, and re-share it every once in a while. There’s nothing more compelling than the founder of a company pitching their company in a raw video.

The commercial.

These are the videos that you probably think of when you hear “video marketing.” Dollar Shave Club,, and HP have amazing examples of well-produced videos that get mass exposure.

Here’s a trick to creating a great commercial, pick a budget, and then just create something within that budget. If you’re doing $10m+ ARR, invest a decent amount to get something iconic that you can use for a couple years. If you’re just a startup, go grab a film student from a university nearby and film something in or around your office.

These commercials are also great for using in ads, social media, and more. But keep in mind, it HAS to be quality. Get some professional advice about how to storyboard and creating something fun. In this case Quality + Quality = Eyeballs.


  • Highly engaging.
  • Evergreen.
  • Highly shareable.


  • Time and resource intensive. Shooting a video may take many “takes” and can easily suck up a large amount of time.
  • Expensive to outsource. If you need to outsource to a filmmaker or editor, the labor hours will add up quickly.

When To Use:

- Your product has mass appeal

- You have a visually stimulating product or process of creating the product

- You have the time to script and record video

Customer Journey Stage: Awareness, Acquisition


Out-teaching your competition is one of the best ways to build your brand, especially in the SaaS world. If you teach people how to run their businesses more effectively, they’ll look to you first as they search for software solutions.

And creating guides and ebooks are the best way to out-teach everyone.

One of the most effective ways to create guides and ebooks is to take existing blog post content and stitch it all together. Add to those blog posts, refine the content so there’s good flow, and reorder it so it’s structured properly.

Another effective way is to create “kits” that include templates, a guide, PDFs, checklists, etc. These are high value packages that are sure to generate leads.

Another great strategy is to create a guide or ebook that covers your domain of expertise. You’ll want it to be highly exclusive to what your product does, extensive enough to be unmatched by any other content, and tactical enough to be immediately actionable.


  • If writing in-house, it’s free!
  • Establish brand and credibility.
  • Effective for improving SEO.


  • Time intensive. Writing is not a fast process, especially when creating longer form content. It could take weeks or even months to write, edit, and produce a piece of content ready to be shared.

When To Use:

- You have blog content that can be repurposed and combined

- There is high search volume for guides, ebooks, or cheat sheets for your product category

- You need a lead magnet to acquire an email address

Customer Journey Stage: Acquisition, Awareness, Nurture


SEO is always appealing because of the potential for $0 CAC and high intent to purchase. SEO, at its core, is anything that helps you get more organic traffic through search engines like Google and YouTube. This could mean ranking for keywords, ranking for your own branded terms, or having your content rank high.

We’ve been programmed to look to google with almost all of our questions or internet related queries. Google is often the first place that people go to when searching for a solution and often the very first brand touch point on the customer journey.

SEO can be tricky because it encompasses both the technical and creative elements required to improve rankings, drive traffic, and increase awareness in search engines. There are many aspects to SEO, from the words on your page to the way other sites link to you on the web.

Sometimes SEO is simply a matter of making sure your site is structured in a way that search engines understand.

Many will try to hack SEO with “black hat” tactics that rely solely on manipulative technical tactics. Do not do this. It never works for the long-term, and will only hurt you later on.

The best SEO practices are a combination of producing great keyword focused content and making sure those pages are technically optimized for the search engines.

SEO is determined by a number of factors. No one knows the exact weights given to each factor by the Google algorithm, but generally these factors are:

  1. Content popularity (traffic, clicks, shares)
  2. Keywords and key phrases
  3. Viewability (mobile-friendly, text size, website responsiveness)
  4. Backlinks

Number of backlinks is the fourth most important factor of top-ranking websites, with number of new backlinks in the top 15 important factors (Search Metrics).

Link building involves obtaining links back to your site which make your site appear more useful to the search bots. These can be obtained by carrying out guest posts, on social media, in commenting systems etc., but it’s safest to do this organically and let your content be the link bait.

Content that’s useful will attract links, but you also have to make sure that these links are good ones and don’t point to sites that are:

  • Spammy
  • Have been blacklisted
  • Not in your industry niche

Site structure and performance are essential to SEO, as is the Meta information contained on the site. The site should have:

  • Logical architecture, with good navigation
  • Site maps for users and search engines
  • Understandable URLs (links)
  • Meta titles and descriptions that accurately describe the content
  • Internal linking
  • A search facility
  • A useful 404 (page not found) page that directs users easily to where they want to go
  • A good user interface (UI)
  • Load quickly
  • Contain landing pages containing calls-to-action

Also, internal links are highly useful and do have SEO value, so create content that you can link internally to other content on your site. If we’re talking blogs and articles here, then think about what’s known as evergreen content, which is content that remains useful for a long time.

This could also be content that you update, such as guides and tips that you refresh to make more relevant and then link to later.

Linking out to other sites can also be effective if linking to industry relevant sites.

Using links in your blogs to reliable sources not only ensures that your content is even more useful, but it also attracts reads from those blogs that track where their own backlinks have come from and helps to build relationships.

You can also use video and image embed codes to create backlinks so if you create these, it’s definitely something you should be doing, ensuring that the content has the necessary keywords, descriptions, titles and ALT tags are added to make the content discoverable.

Lots of marketers make the mistake of seeing SEO only as a source of free traffic. It’s true, free traffic is the end result, but it’s not how SEO works.

The real purpose of SEO is to help people who are looking for you find you. To do that, you have to match the content on your website to what people are trying to find.

How to Find the Right Keywords

Sure, research is a little tedious, but it’s an indispensable part of finding the right keywords. You want to uncover keywords that:

Have a high search volume (people are looking for the keywords)

Have low competition (smaller amount of results will mean your chances of ranking higher improve)

Are supported by your content (the keywords are relevant to your site).

There are lots of tools to aid you in finding the right keywords, the most popular being Google’s Search-Based Keyword Tool. It provides results based on actual Google searches, and if you are logged into an AdWords account, it will also give you a list of keyword ideas customized to the site on the account.

Before you get too far though, let’s discuss an important concept for deciding how broad or narrow you want your keywords to be. It’s called, "The Long Tail."

Popularized by Chris Anderson, the Long Tail describes a phenomenon where lots of low traffic keywords can collectively send you more visitors than a few high-traffic keywords.

Optimizing Your Code

Search engine bots don’t just read your website’s text. They also read your website’s code.

With that in mind, there are eight different sections of your code you need to optimize.

Title Tags

Title tags encase the title of your site. To demonstrate, this is the code from my website:

<title>Corey Haines — SaaS Marketer & Maker</title>

I put an emphasis on my name, as well as the keywords “Saas” and “Marketer” so that I can make it clear to google that these are keywords I should be associated with.

Meta Tags

The main meta tag you should be concerned with is called the, "meta description tag." It doesn’t have a huge impact on SEO but it does have an impact nonetheless, and it tells visitors what your site is about, so it can have a big impact on whether they decide to click through or not.

When creating meta tag descriptions, make sure your keywords are in your description, using full sentences. Don’t make the description too long, though, or it might get cut off. If possible, also try to make each page have a unique meta description.


These are very similar to headings in a book, but these come in a specific order. H1, H2, H3, H4, and so on, with H1 starting the page as the main heading. H1 is usually reserved for the Title Tag of each specific page so we’ll focus on the others. The remaining heading codes descend to lower level headings on the site.

Generally, there should only be one H1 tag on each page, and you can have as many H2s, H3s, and H4s as needed. Also, make sure your headings contain keywords and are relevant to the content on your website.

Each heading should get more specific as the heading number gets larger. H2s should be pretty broad, H3s will expound on the H2 more specifically, and H4s expound on the H3s even more specifically. I use this strategy for this ebook, in fact. Take note.


Sitemaps are like a roadmap for search engines. They give bots directions to all of the different pages on your website, making sure they find everything.

There are two types of sitemaps you can create: HTML sitemaps and XML sitemaps. The main difference is XML sitemaps are coded specifically for search engines to read, while HTML sitemaps are easy for people to read too. You can link to them, giving the visitor an overview of everywhere they go.

If you have less than a few hundred pages, you should place a link to each page in your HTML sitemap. If your web site has a few thousand pages or more, just link to the most important pages.

XML sitemaps, on the other hand, contain every page of your web site, even if your web site has a million pages. You can use tools like the XML Sitemap Creator to automatically create a sitemap for you. Once your XML sitemap is created, you then want to submit it to Google Webmaster Central and Bing so that the major search engines can crawl and index your website.

URL Structure

URLs are another important but often overlooked part of SEO.

If your URLs are messy, search engines will have a hard time crawling them, and if search engines have a hard time crawling them, they will not be able to index your site, which means you will not rank in the search engines.

Keep these factors in mind to make your URLs more search engine friendly:

  • URLs should not contain extraneous characters ( $ @ ! * % = ? )
  • Shorter URLS typically rank better than longer ones, as they’re easier to read and more focused.
  • Numbers and letters should only be used in URLs.
  • Do not use underscores. Search engines prefer dashes.

Site Structure

The way you link web pages together will make a big impact on your rankings. Here are some tips when cross-linking your web site:

  • Links within your content tend to carry more weight than links within a sidebar or footer.
  • Try to keep the number of links on each page under 100.
  • No-follow outgoing links that are not relevant (do not have quality content). For example, links to a Feedburner page.
  • Other SEOs also talk about no-following internal links, such as to their terms of service, but pagerank sculpting does not work anymore. If you want to block pages such as your terms of service, the best way to do this is to exclude it in your robots.txt file.

Alt Tags

For search engine bots to properly index images, alt tags need to be added to each image, adding a brief description. For example, if there was an image of a “analytics dashboard”, I would tell the search engine that the image is an analytics dashboard by using an alt tag. It would look something like this:

<img src=”” alt=“analytics dashboard” />

In addition, make sure your image names are relevant to the image. The picture of the analytics dashboard would be called analytics_dashboard.jpg instead of image3_final_FINAL.jpg.

The 80/20

Rand Fishkin recently gave a great answer to a member on Indie Hackers about what the 20% of SEO is that will get you 80% of the results for a relatively new bootstrapped startup.

According to Rand:

“The 20%:

1. Make sure Google can crawl and index all your pages and content easily, and that you're not using any tech, awkward (or missing) internal link structures, or content practices (e.g. video/animations with no parse-able text, interactive content w/ no parse-able text, etc) that stops Googlebot from accessing your work.

2. Create content that...
a) addresses real problems that people are searching Google for
b) truly solves the searcher's problem, and takes them all the way through the solution (i.e. it can't just be "marketing" for your product)
c) intelligently employs the words and phrases searchers actually type into Google (so do your keyword research and match your topics + headlines to the words + phrases they use)
d) doesn't annoy or piss off users such that they click the back button and choose someone else's link instead of yours
e) earns links and amplification (see #3 below)

3. Have a great answer to the question: "Who will help amplify/link to this and WHY?" If you can nail that, and then get what you create in front of those right people/organizations, your ability to earn amplification, engagement, and links will be vastly better than simply trying to make stuff, then put it in front of likely linkers. Craft content the way Amazon crafts products - write the press release first. List the people who will want to share it/tweet it/post about it/write about it/link to it/etc. and then explain their motivations. Now you've got content that has the potential to earn the ranking signals you need.”

Rand also has a great free course on Skillshare that I highly recommend.


  • Customer-centric. SEO aims to get the right people to your website, at the right time. This means that all your content is very customer-focused, rather than product-focused.
  • Long-term growth. Organic traffic compounds over time, so committing to an inbound marketing strategy can create predictable month-on-month growth of visitors, leads and customers.


  • Takes time. Inbound marketing is a long-term strategy, not a 'quick fix' for your marketing struggles. You can expect it to take at least six months to generate a significant return on investment.

When To Use:

- You can wait for long-term results

- Your keywords have high search volume

- Your keywords aren’t too difficult or competitive

- You’re trying to coin a term or name

Customer Journey Stage: Awareness


All successful advertising is predicated on two factors:

  1. Math
  2. Cash

At a fundamental level across all advertising channels and goals, you’ll need to be able to work out the math to achieve results at a reasonable price. The two main math variables you’ll be working with are CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost) and CPL (Cost Per Lead).

You’ll need your CPL to be a reasonable amount to acquire enough leads to make the leads that you convert into customers worth it. Once you figure out how many of those leads from ads turn into customers, you’ll be able to figure out your CAC.

You’ll need your CAC to be a reasonable amount to profitably acquire customers so you’re not spending more money than they’re worth.

Now, if you can work out the math in your favor so you can acquire a customer without draining your whole bank account, advertising may work for you.

This is why cash is essential for advertising. Especially in SaaS, remember that recurring revenue puts marketers in a predicament because a customer’s lifetime value is paid out over time. Meaning you might have to wait a few months for those customers you just acquired to become profitable for you.

Starting with a pile of cash is essential because your acquired customers likely won’t become profitable for you for a few months, so you need that pile of cash to hedge against completely running out of money.

Most ad channels share a similar campaign structure:

Campaign → Ad set → Ad


Create one campaign per product or per product category you’re advertising.

- For example, you'd have one campaign for your free plan, one campaign for your middle tier plan, and one campaign for your enterprise plan.

Ad set

If, for example, you're selling email marketing software, you may have two valuable audience segments: email marketers and founders. For each, you may pitch distinct or overlapping value props, such as “easy to use“, “affordable,” or “smart.”

You then create one ad set per combination of value prop and audience segment. This keeps your targeting and messaging controlled so the set's ads can find the best wording and imagery for pitching the value prop to the audience segment.


Within an ad set, create one ad per combination of unique copy and imagery.

How to advertise day to day:

Setup conversion pixel

Working with an ad channel always begins by setting up the channel’s conversion pixel. This is the JavaScript code snippet that reports conversions occurring on your site back to the channel.

This is how the channel knows which ads are ultimately performing best — since cost-per-click is just an intermediary metric that isn't necessarily correlated with conversion.

Determine budget

Set your budgets for each set high enough for your ads to individually reach 3,000-5,000 impressions. You need a significant sample size like this for your cost-per-click (CPC) to stabilize. CPC is how you determine in the short term which ads perform best.

Unless you've used a channel before and you know how much your audience costs to target, you can't predict this budget upfront. So start with a few hundred dollars per campaign, watch your metrics daily, and scale the budget as needed to reach 3,000-5,000 impressions for ads showing high click through rates relative to your others.

As you see consistent CPC or CPA numbers that are financially viable (we'll talk more about this), incrementally increase your budget as high as you're comfortable with.

Create initial ad sets and their ads

For each audience segment (email marketers, founders, developers, customer support, etc.), create an ad set for every value prop you want to individually pitch them.

For each ad set, create ads presenting the same value prop in distinct ways — through differing copy and imagery.

The more distinct ads you have, the less frequently users on profile-targeted channels see the same ads on repeat, so the longer it takes for them to tire of your product.


Check the channel's dashboard once daily to see which ad set audiences, ad set value props, and ad copy/imagery combinations perform best.

If you've reached a significant sample size of 3,000-5,000 impressions, turn off the ads with much lower click-through-rates (CTRs) and/or cost-per-customer-acquisitions (CPAs) relative to the others in its ad set.

If some ads perform much worse than their siblings, you can turn those off too instead of wasting money on them.


Begin tweaking your highest-performing ads with changes to their copy and creative. Similarly, tweak your ad sets' targeting settings.

When you do this, duplicate your ad sets and ads and keep the old ones running. You want to see how your tweaks simultaneously compare to their originals. Build the habit of archiving all your work so you can look back at your costly-to-acquire advertising data when setting up new channels in the future.

When tweaking, you're ultimately looking to lower your CPA numbers and to increase total conversion volume.

Depending on your total audience size, as your ads continue running for weeks and beyond, audiences will tire of seeing your ads and will increasingly turn a blind eye to them. Your CTRs will steadily drop.

At this point, your realistic goal may not be to drastically improve CPA's through minor tweaks, but to prolong your current CPA: keep your ads fresh by switching them up and running at least 4 or 5 per ad set.

If your ongoing optimizations cannot prolong your CPAs at financially acceptable levels, it’s time to pause your campaign. Best practice is that they should be below one third the average amount you earn from a customer's lifetime engagement with you.

In a few weeks' time, you can resume the campaign. Audiences will be less tired of you. Like unplugging a router and plugging it back in, this often actually works.

Run ongoing experiments

As you're optimizing the campaigns that already work, you must also test brand new targeting, value prop, copy, and imagery combinations. Your work never ends.

If you don't continually experiment, I guarantee you're leaving better CPAs and conversion volume on the table. And your audiences will sooner fatigue of your ads.

Setting aside 10% of your budget for weekly or bi-weekly experiments is a good way to budget for it while still having enough to play with to get actual results.


Segment people who visited your site but didn’t convert into a separate audience. (Using conversion pixels, every major channel allows you to easily do this. These are called "custom audiences.")

When retargeting your custom audience, you can hit them with a unique set of ads that appeal to their newfound awareness of your product and its benefits. Retargeting will vary per platform, so more on this later.


Google’s Adwords is still the largest advertising network online. These are the ads that you see above and alongside search results, suggesting certain sites related to the keywords you plugged in that might not be the top ranked sites.

Google users enter keywords to search for pages that satisfy their educational and technological queries. Essentially, you target users by what they're currently searching for.

There is no more direct way to target an ideal customer for your email marketing company than to show ads to people searching for “email marketing technology.”

It's why AdWords performs so well: People are already expressing interest in your product, and it's up to you not to drop the ball pitching yourself to them. It’s also why it’s so widely used, competitive, and potentially expensive.

This is especially useful if there are keywords you want to be associated with, but that you don’t have the clout to show up for. Buying ads on search engines allows you to show up for those keywords now instead of having to wait until you’ve developed the SEO and credibility.

PPC is not for those that are not familiar with it, as it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to effectively set it up.

It involves:

  • Keyword research based on your industry and the keywords on your site
  • Studying competitors and what keywords they are using in order to come up with a strategy to gain placement above them in search results
  • Creating Ad Groups to appear to the side and at the top of search results
  • Setting a budget for individual keywords to outperform competitors
  • Constant tweaking and reporting to determine ROI

First, you need to identify keywords that are relevant to your business and that prospective customers are likely to use when searching for your products.

Thorough keyword research can also help you identify negative keywords – search terms that you should exclude from your campaigns.

Negative keywords aren’t terms with negative connotations, but rather irrelevant terms that are highly unlikely to result in conversions. Maybe your business or product name is the same or similar to a name of a place, food, or animal. Or maybe there are keywords that are irrelevant to what your product does but are still in the same category.

For example, if you sell email marketing templates, you might want to exclude the keyword “email marketing software”, as users searching for email marketing software are likely looking for something different and may end up costing you a lot of money in clicks without ever converting into leads or customers.

This concept is known as search intent, or the likelihood that a prospect will complete a purchase or other desired action after searching for a given term. Some keywords are considered to have high commercial intent, or a strong indication that the searcher wants to buy something.


  • Rapid. When short-term results are required, there's no better tool than PPC, allowing you to rapidly reach large audiences and start promoting your company.
  • Easily scalable. If you find a PPC channel that works, it's quick and easy to double-down on it, upping your ad spend and boosting your impressions and clicks.
  • Clear attribution. It's relatively easy to track impressions, clicks, conversions and eventual customers, providing accurate ROI without any hassle.


  • Competitive. The most lucrative ad channels are usually the most popular, leading to bidding wars that can rapidly drive prices up.
  • Diminishing returns. Ad channels have a limited audience of relevant people, and at some point, you'll start to see diminished returns from your pay per click marketing, as your adverts saturate the network.

When To Use:

- Your product is priced high enough to be able to profitably acquire leads

- You can affordably bid on high volume keywords

- You can grab low-hanging fruit keywords with no competition

Customer Journey Stage: Awareness, Acquisition

Social Advertising

Social media advertising is somewhat easier to perform than search engine marketing, as it allows you to target according to location, industry, hobbies and so on, but doesn’t require such a large amount of work in keyword planning and maintenance as an Adwords campaign.

You might find that a channel drives positive ROI customers — but at too low of a volume to warrant the time investment.

Let's compare the major channels' audience volume:

  • Facebook: ~2 billion
  • Youtube: ~1 billion
  • Instagram: ~600 million
  • Twitter: ~300 million
  • Pinterest: ~150 million
  • Linkedin: ~100 million

The smaller a channel's audience, the quicker you'll saturate it. Saturation is when the channel's target audience gets tired of seeing your ads on repeat so your click through rates plummet and your cost per user acquisition rises.

Keep in mind that social advertising is “interruption marketing” at its core. Users are not coming to the social network to see and find ads.

So in order to be successful, you have to provide a lot of value upfront and be very diligent to watch what’s working, so you’re not wasting money on spammy clicks or leads.


  • Quick access to a large audience.
  • Highly scalable
  • Amplify content and lead generation.
  • If you have a lot of capital, it’s any easy way to get short-term results.


  • Expensive. Costs are going to vary per platform, but in general, advertising on social media platforms is very costly. Expect to pay multiple dollars for each lead.
  • Interruptive in nature.

When To Use:

- You can profitably acquire a lead with the channel of choice

- Your potential customers are on the channel of choice

- You have popular blog content that can be used to drive traffic to your website to be pixeled and retargeted

- You have lead magnets that convert well

Customer Journey Stage: Acquisition, Awareness

Facebook Ads

On Facebook, consider how users share articles and like businesses, products, activities, and people.

Naturally, Facebook permits advertisers to target people with such interests.

The task of a skilled Facebook advertiser is to find which of these infinite interests is most closely associated with their ideal customers.

For example, people who like email marketing may like a well-known email marketing blog or technology provider on Facebook.

With Facebook Ads, unless a Facebook Page has a huge membership, you can't even target its users.

The other issue with B2B targeting on Facebook is that its users don't consistently update their work details, so B2B targeting is limited in volume and less accurate.

Facebook Ads are ideal for companies who have a large, broad audience, can afford a high cost per lead (CPL), and have high traffic volume to their website.

When bidding, it’s best to start with manual CPC bidding. For starting bids, use the target CPL and multiply it by the expected conversion rate. This will ensure that your bids are set based on revenue as well as on the efficiency of the campaign. From there, adjust as needed to work towards the CPL target for the ad set in question.

How to calculate target CPL:

  1. Divide average LTV by desired LTV-to-CAC ratio to get target CAC
  2. Subtract sales, marketing, & other costs (other than ad spend) from target CAC to get target CPA
  3. Multiply target CPA by lead-to-customer conversion rate to get target CPL

After an ad set has proven conversion volume of at least 15-25 conversions over the last week, it’s a good idea to switch to oCPM bidding using your CPL target, which typically performs better than manual CPC bidding once the minimum conversion volume threshold has been met.

oCPM optimizes bid towards your target CPL automatically. You will likely need to adjust your oCPM bids beyond simply setting your bid equal to your CPL goal as Facebook’s ad auction dynamics change rapidly so be sure to monitor performance closely.

Trying to reach a new audience right out of the gate with a targeted audience is likely going to be difficult, considering that many of the criteria you would use may be irrelevant. For example, someone could “like” a company but unfollow them.

Also, many people don’t update their profile to only have their most up to date job. Some people might have their entire work history on Facebook except their most recent one, so it’s important to remember that it may not be accurate.

A better strategy is to use an existing audience and reach them on Facebook, through Lookalike Audiences and Retargeting.

Facebook Lookalike Audiences

The Facebook Lookalike algorithm can almost be described as magical, both because it does its job extraordinarily well and because how it works is something of a mystery. Lookalike Audiences allow you to reach a large audience that Facebook determines to be similar to a smaller source audience that you provide.

The source audience Facebook uses to build a Lookalike is simply a Facebook Custom Audience built using personal information that you have available about your customers and can be matched to Facebook user profiles. This information could include names, email addresses, phone numbers, and more.

You can also create an audience using events that you’ve setup within your website funnel using the Facebook Pixel. The quality of the source audience will determine how successful your Lookalike Audience will be.

Lookalike Audiences are typically the best performing prospecting audiences on Facebook when the right source audience is chosen. Building an effective Lookalike Audience relies on choosing the right balance of quality and size for the source audience. Too small a list can skew results, but too large a list could be low-quality.

In general, the best way to create an optimal source audience for a B2B SaaS company is a CRM list of paying customers. Going a step further, using only the highest LTV customers will give Facebook more data to work with to find the best profiles possible.

It’s important to use an optimal source audience size in order to generate a qualified Lookalike Audience.

You need a minimum seed audience of 100 members to create a Lookalike, but in our experience the optimal range to aim for is 2,000 – 5,000 of the best audience members possible.

Outside of this range, the Facebook algorithm can have too many or too few data points to build a strong enough pattern to create a highly qualified Lookalike Audience.

Note that for source audiences based on non-Facebook Pixel data such as email addresses or phone numbers, the likelihood of Facebook being able to match the data you have to a Facebook profile is relatively low for B2B SaaS companies.

Most B2B SaaS companies have work email address and phone numbers, which people don’t commonly add to their Facebook profile. For this reason, you will need to use a larger source audience to achieve the 2,000 – 5,000 range of matched audience members.


Retargeting audiences are likely to be the most qualified audiences. As with Lookalikes, retargeting audiences are built from custom audiences based on either online pixeled conversion events or offline conversion events reported in a CRM.

For a B2B SaaS company it usually doesn’t make sense to build a retargeting audience of customers who have already converted. In fact, you’ll likely want to exclude them if you have a large enough number of them.

However, it does makes sense to target people who have entered your website funnel – and possibly even become a qualified lead – to help move them through the funnel.

By definition, these audiences are very low-funnel and thus are more likely to convert than a higher-funnel prospecting audience. You could include email subscribers, your CRM database, and your free trialers to start.

You could comprise your retargeting audience of blog site visitors, current leads, or visitors of a certain page on your website.

In both cases, you’ll want to effectively be able to track conversions so you know what’s working. This can be done using Facebook’s Pixel.

Setting Up The Facebook Pixel

The first thing you’ll need to do when setting up conversion tracking for Facebook ads is to install your pixel code. You can do this with a third-party integration/tag manager or by manually inserting the pixel code snippets on your website.

Facebook will walk you through the pixel installation process. Note that the pixel base code will track URL-based conversions.

A technical note on URL tracking: anything after a ‘#” within a URL cannot be tracked or used for audience building by the Facebook pixel. Facebook can’t see beyond a hashtag in a URL. For example, will only register as “” for Facebook.

For event-based conversions, there are 9 standard conversion events you can track using Facebook’s event codes, in addition to custom event codes that you define yourself. You can also add parameters to standard events to further customize.

After you’ve pasted the event code on your site, you’ll want to make sure and check that it’s properly installed using the Facebook Pixel Helper.

Once you’ve installed the pixel code snippets on your site and verified that they’re working, you’ll be able to use the pixel to create a custom audience for remarketing or to use as a source for a lookalike audience.

You’ll also be able to track performance against the pixel-tracked events back to the campaigns, ad sets, and ads that generated a given conversion. This reporting will let you optimize against on-site conversions, which may be necessary while you wait for a given campaign to generate down-funnel conversions.


  • Razor sharp targeting: Go after users based on location, demographics (age, gender and education), interests and pages they like, and behaviours (spot early adopters, or specific phone users). You can even target based on connections – such as people who are connected to your page, as well as their friends.
  • Tracking conversions accurately: Use Facebook’s own native pixel tracker, or enterprise technology like Kenshoo, TagMan or Google Tags Manager to let you understand whether conversions came from paid or organic channels.
  • Pinpointing the journey to conversion: Spot exactly where someone who converted first saw your ad (mobile or desktop) – and where they ended up converting. This gives a truer picture of mobile ad spend ROI (which can otherwise look unfairly low) – and means you can see and attribute every touch point on the journey to conversion, across any platform.
  • Low barriers, low risk: Get started from just £1 per day and see what works without risking lots of money. You can also either set a daily or a lifetime budget, and pay by impressions or clicks. A free bonus: when users engage with an ad their friends may see it, amplifying the message.


  • Limited copy space: Using Ad Manager for page post ads? The 90 characters allowed is even meaner than a tweet, so choose your words wisely (and don’t forget to clearly signpost what a user will get if they click through). Images have a huge effect on engagement rates, so make sure yours fits your goals. Include more text by promoting existing posts – these are great for engagement, but remember other ad formats drive greater levels of traffic. Pro tip: use Power Editor or a platform like Kenshoo to build link posts with more text.
  • Complex setups: Ad formats, targeting options and accounts… we know it can get pretty complicated. With so many options to choose from, where do you start – and how do you interpret all the information available in the reporting area?

When To Use:

Customer Journey Stage: Awareness

Instagram Ads

Instagram has more users than Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest combined, which means if you get Instagram Ads to work for your business, they'll likely work for much longer than your Twitter ads will.

There's a sizable young audience that's engaged with Instagram but not Facebook. So if your product targets a younger audience, running just Facebook ads would mean missing out on your total addressable audience.

Handily, Instagram ads are launched through the Facebook Ad Manager, as Facebook owns Instagram. So you can deploy to both platforms simultaneously.

One key differentiator with Instagram is its mobile-only experience. So while it's suitable for advertising mobile apps, it may be a poor fit for desktop-based SaaS software.

Instagram Ads should probably be reserved for brand awareness and product launch campaigns that you can capture a lot of eyeballs and don’t have to worry about trying to capture emails or product sign ups.

By nature, Instagram is an image-heavy experience and that’s what users come to expect. Anything you put on Instagram needs to be well-designed or visually stimulating or users will quickly scroll right over you heartlessly.


  • Visually appealing. Pictures are much easier for the brain to process.
  • Low Negativity. Since posts are mainly pictures it’s easy to skip negative comments.
  • Highly engaging on mobile devices.


  • Essentially mobile-only.
  • Low conversion rate.

When To Use:

Customer Journey Stage: Awareness

Twitter Ads

On Twitter, there's a healthy split among desktop and mobile. So whether you're selling a mobile app or desktop software, Twitter is worth testing.

Whereas Facebook considers you someone who's interested in Elon Musk if you once liked his Facebook Page, Twitter instead considers you someone who's interested in Elon Musk because you follow him.

Twitter's methodology leads to more relevant and up-to-date targeting. If you don't care about Elon Musk anymore, you unfollow him on Twitter.

But, on Facebook, many people just mute or unfollow pages instead of unliking them. And because this means you still Elon Musk, Facebook still considers you interested in him for advertisement targeting purposes.

Further, niche companies, organizations, and individuals more commonly have Twitter handles than Facebook Pages. So if you're targeting very niche audiences, Twitter is almost always a more precise platform for capturing them. 

As with Facebook Newsfeed ads, Twitter users can socially engage with your ad by favoriting, retweeting, or replying to it. The more such activity you have, the more socially validated your ad appear. This increases your click through rate and decreases your cost per click.

Unfortunately, Twitter is still not actually a performant ad channel for most companies.

Twitter is much less popular than Facebook. And its audience isn't growing as quickly as Instagram's.

Combine that with the fact that people don’t check their twitter as often as Facebook or Instagram and that there’s a lot more noise on Twitter for your content to get lost in.

Your total addressable audience is most likely relatively small, which means you're going to saturate it quickly, and your cost-per-click will rise sooner.


  • Relevant audience interests.
  • Engaging ads
  • Large tech community
  • Desktop and mobile friendly


  • Smaller audience, which means faster saturation.
  • Busy newsfeeds make it easy for an add to easily get skipped or glossed over.
  • Spam accounts and trolls can hurt ads performance and cost.

When To Use:

Customer Journey Stage: Awareness, Acquisition

LinkedIn Ads

The web's best B2B targeting. 

If you're a B2B company whose ideal audience has a clear set of job title or company industries in common, nothing compares to LinkedIn Ads' business targeting criteria.

Not only does LinkedIn have an enormous, exclusive inventory of job and company data you can target, it's also the most appropriate channel for pitching business services: Consider how, unlike Facebook, you visit LinkedIn for business-related consumption. B2B's find their most engaged audiences here — ones that convert.

One of LinkedIn's ad units, Sponsored Content, can achieve similar or better clickthrough rates than Facebook Ads (so long as you're targeting the appropriate audiences). But, you're paying ~4x more per click (so, ~$6 instead of, say, $1.50) when targeting the exact same job titles.

The increased cost is generally immaterial, however, because the average B2B business earns much more per customer than a B2C business. This means they can afford costlier clicks so long as they're from more relevant audiences.

LinkedIn offers multiple well-differentiated ad units so you can experiment until you find the perfect ad unit match for your business:

  1. LinkedIn's right-hand-side Text Ads are garbage: clicks on these are expensive and the conversion is terrible. These ads only allow a few words of text, so people clicking them have little context before they land on your page. Skip these.
  2. LinkedIn's Sponsored Content ads are great. They appear in users' feeds just like a Facebook Newsfeed or Twitter ad. They also similarly consist of a big image complemented with surrounding text. I've seen great performance out of them. Linkedin finally introduced native video content, which will help create a better experience for users as well as give advertisers more options.
  3. LinkedIn also offers Lead Gen Forms, for which users willingly opt into giving you their demographic and contact data so you can follow up directly with a sales demo. Lead Gen Forms are fantastic at reducing the friction toward getting someone's email address. (Consider how this normally entails getting them to your site, read it, scroll down to your CTA, then submit their email.)
  4. LinkedIn also offers direct message ads.These ads are harder to nail: offering audiences a good reason to spend time chatting with you is not foolproof. Nowadays, InMail is the digital equivalent to the spam you get in your mailbox, only worse. InMail only works on chumps, aka don’t bother.


  • Unique, up to date, and relevant audience targeting.
  • Caters specifically to B2B SaaS products.
  • Straightforward ad units


  • Most expensive of the social platforms.
  • Inflexible
  • Only sponsored content and lead gen forms are effective. The other forms are spammy.

When To Use:

Customer Journey Stage: Acquisition

Reddit Ads

Here's the one no-brainer use case for reddit ads: If you're targeting an extremely niche audience, you can probably find a subreddit or two for it. Even for topics so niche you couldn't find a way to target them on every other ad channel.

Reddit Ads are still largely a black box to marketers because they’re making so many changes and improvements that’s it's very difficult to test and tell the results.

Most recently, Reddit Ads were static at the top of a page and resembled a native ad. Even more recently, Reddit Ads had images, a call to action, and looked more like an ad, even being dynamically offered in multiple places on the page.

Reddit has yet to be proven, but keep an eye on it as they improve the ad product and algorithm.


  • Making large strides to improve the advertising experience on both the user and advertiser sides.
  • Active audience with interest-based targeting.


  • Hard to target the right audience. You have to find the topically correct subreddit, the subreddit has to have enough pageviews to meet the minimum spend, and the subreddit has to be small enough to be relevant.
  • Reddit users are tech savvy and often very critical of marketing tactics.

When To Use:

Customer Journey Stage: Awareness, Acquisition

Account Based Marketing

All marketing should technically be account based marketing. What I’m talking about here is specifically using platforms and strategies that ONLY market to a set list of accounts.

AdRoll’s new RollWorks platform, Integrate, Sendbloom, and Terminus are  great tools to start implementing ABM.


  • Potential for huge returns. Account based marketing is a perfect fit for SaaS startups looking to sell into the enterprise. Huge contract sizes mean that this highly-targeted approach can contribute to deals worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.


  • Expensive. Account based marketing (ABM) is a long-term, highly involved strategy - a fact reflected in its high costs. Most ABM platforms have long-term contracts with high price tags, so it isn't always viable for early-stage startups.
  • Requires close collaboration between sales and marketing. Effective account based marketing relies on hand-in-glove collaboration - a potential challenge for SaaS companies of any size.

When To Use: High-touch sales models selling a product with a four-digit average contract value.

Customer Journey Stage: Acquisition

Content sponsorship

Newsletter sponsorship:

Sponsoring a newsletter is actually quite simple: ignore all inbound requests and only sponsor newsletters that have highly engaged communities which you share an audience with. Don’t worry about CPM, structure, or any of the other corporate stuff. The only time you should sponsor a newsletter is if you can find a curated or personal newsletter that shares your audience. Approach them and ask them what their price is, then pay it.

Podcast sponsorship:

Podcasting is a different story. Podcasts are HUGE right now. 67 million Americans listen to podcasts monthly and 42 million Americans listen to podcasts weekly. Podcasts are highly personal and can reach a huge audience.

The best podcast sponsorships give audiences a special offer and don’t sound too salesy.

When it comes to sponsoring existing podcasts, you’re looking at a CPM of anywhere from $25–100 for a slot on a top 50 podcast with high conversion rates. There are some pros and cons of sponsoring an existing podcast.


  • Requires less setup work and time on your part.
  • Comes with a guaranteed, existing audience.
  • Should give you baseline expectations for conversion rates on successful shows.


  • Often pricey. Could be more cost-effective to launch your own professionally produced podcast. A premium show with 500,000 regular downloads can cost you $50,000 just for a few minutes of airtime.
  • You don’t get to control what it is mentioned by. The episode you sponsor could be totally unrelated to, or totally run against, what you want mentioned.
  • Could have a waitlist. Successful podcasts are going to have a waitlist of other sponsors knocking down the doors to get in.

When To Use:

Customer Journey Stage: Awareness, Acquisition

Display Ads

Display ads generally convert terribly.

People don't click banners anymore. They haven't for years. What display ads are still good for, however, is cheap brand marketing. In other words, ads that aren't first and foremost designed to get clicked.

The only real use case for display ads are for retargeting.

Retargeting is when you follow a visitor around the web with your ads after they've visited your site.  Retargeted impressions tend to convert significantly better than prospecting (first) impressions. So, using display ads for this purpose may be positive ROI.


  • Wide-reaching audience
  • Less competition. Now that display is not very popular, it may open up opportunity to take advantage of again.


  • Lack of reputation management. You can select to exclude your ads from certain types of websites, but there’s still a concerning risk that you advertise on a site that would not be good for brand association.
  • Mostly ignored. Display ads are one of the oldest ad formats, and most internet users have been conditioned to ignore them. They’re widely seen as spammy and irrelevant.

When To Use:

  • Don’t. Use the money for something better. Unless you have a boatload of money and need another channel for exposure only.

Customer Journey Stage: Awareness

Offline ads

Billboards can still be an effective way to reach potential customers. Thanks to the rise in online marketing, billboards can be bought for a fraction of the price they used to go for and still offer similar numbers in exposure.

One of the keys to using billboards is to make it memorable. If you’re going to invest in a billboard, keep these two things in mind:


This is the most important factor. Billboards in target cities, along key trafficked highways, on the way to or from an airport are the most attractive. There’s no point in buying a billboard out in the middle of Nebraska when most of your potential customers may live in downtown San Francisco.


Thinking outside the box is key here because this isn’t any other ad. If there was ever a time to be edgy, funny, colorful, or challenging, now is the time. Don’t invest in a billboard if you’re just going to slap your slogan and logo on some stock imagery.

Another outside-the-box tactic that’s rising to popularity is a service called Wrapify, which “wraps” cars in your ad or branding. You can employ cars that travel certain highways or proximities, call on cars to “swarm” a location, and choose different levels of branding.

This tactic in particular is interesting for companies looking very specifically for brand exposure or to support some sort of industry conference or event.


  • Lack of competition. When everyone is online, it opens up opportunity offline.
  • Can be cost-effective. In a highly trafficked location, the right offline ad can get mass exposure for a fraction of the cost as it would online.
  • Creative. You can be much more creative with an offline ad than you can with an online ad. Stand out, be different, and present something truly unique.


  • Difficult to measure. You’d have to run a special campaign with a unique call to action to be able to track results.
  • Only useful at a certain company scale. It doesn’t make sense for a young startup to invest in offline ads that are difficult to measure and may not produce results fast enough.

When To Use:

  • Use your “experiment” budget (No more than 5% of your annual budget) on this to do something crazy, outstanding, or twitter-worthy.

Customer Journey Stage: Awareness

Direct mail

Most forms of modern marketing take a relatively indirect approach to increasing sales, identifying, educating and nurturing prospects until they're ready to take action.

By contrast, direct response marketing is designed to elicit a direct and immediate response, allowing marketers to clearly tally-up sales generated by a specific marketing action - typically through mechanisms like infomercials, radio advertisements or emails.

Sending personalized notes either for follow up, introduction, or to announce something is also an effective way to use direct mail. With the rise of digital marketing, more traditional forms of marketing like direct mail have taken a back seat.

Sending an email to a CEO you’d like to talk to will likely never get read because everyone is trying to get into his inbox. Send a piece of direct mail to a CEO you’d like to talk to may actually get seen because no one else is trying to get to him that way.

It’s all about saturation. When the market moves one way, the leave opportunity behind. The more saturated a channel is, the harder it is to get through. is an amazing service if used right and cost effectively to send follow up cards to prospects. You can choose the hand-writing style you want it to emulate and the robots write away! It’s almost indistinguishable.

Lock boxes are another great way to engage your potential customers. I remember receiving an unbranded locked wooden box in our office one time. The whole office gathered around to see what it was. After a series of riddle and puzzles, we managed to crack it open and got some snacks along with a card that pointed us to a landing page for a special offer on their product.

Had we not already been customers of theirs, we might have bought!

Keep it fun and light.

Always make the link a customized landing page.


  • Crystal clear attribution. Run 10 direct response campaigns, and you'll be able to quickly work out how much revenue each generated.


  • Unpopular and ineffective. Most forms of direct response marketing are invasive, and laden with false urgency, rendering them (with a few exceptions) increasingly ineffective.
  • Heavily legislated. Many forms of traditional direct response marketing were heavily restricted in the wake of the CAN-SPAM act, and direct response marketers need to be carefully to avoid stepping into illegal territory with their marketing.

When To Use:

Customer Journey Stage: Acquisition, Nurture

Email Marketing

Some quick keys to email marketing:

Subject Lines:

DO NOT write in title case with every word having the first letter capitalized! Write like you would to your friend. Title case triggers a subconscious SPAM filter in your audience’s heads that will tell them that the email is just another automated boring email.

Ignore everything about the perfect subject line length. Just don’t be spammy, misleading, or clickbait.


Using images, gifs, and videos are a great way to provide value to your audience. A product screenshot, funny gif, or video of you welcoming someone to the list are great ways to spice up your emails.

Calls to action:

Every email needs to have one goal. Trying to pack in multiple links and buttons to serve several purposes is a great way to condition your audience to not open your emails.

Trying to serve multiple purposes in a single email is a side effect of having bad segmentation or email marketing strategy in general.

Stick to a single CTA and single purpose for each email you send.


Newsletters are a rather outdated way of describing sending your subscribers emails of your most recent blog content. Traditionally, newsletters were a recurring piece of mail that outlined the latest happenings of a company, group, or topic. Today, digital newsletters are your key to the email inbox.

Some common formats of the newsletter are:

  1. As-it-happens blog content
  2. Monthly round-up of blog content, events, webinars, or other content
  3. Curated content
  4. Exclusive email-only content

The most common form of the newsletter is what I call the “As-it-happens” update, usually notifying subscribers of new blog content and a link straight to the post. These emails can event be automated using some nifty logic and integrations with your CMS.

Another common form is what I call the monthly round-up. This could include multiple new blog posts, upcoming events, upcoming webinars, or product announcements. This is a great excuse to squeeze in content other than blog posts, like events and webinars, even though it’s marketed as a newsletter.

The curated newsletter is another great way to start building a following or brand. It’s not ideal to push your readers to content that’s not your own, but it can be a good starting point or additional newsletter that leads can subscribe to. I don’t recommend this as the main newsletter that you send out, but it can be a good supporting strategy. Some of the most popular curated newsletters in SaaS have hundreds of thousands of subscribers.


  • Cost effective. You can cost-effectively engage and re-engage with leads, and nurture them towards a sales conversation.
  • Direct communication. Marketers have relatively few opportunities for one-on-one interaction with prospects, making email marketing an extremely valuable communication channel.


  • Harder to stand-out. Our email inboxes are more crowded than ever, and it's a real challenge to dodge the junk filter and stand out from other email marketing.
  • Tightly regulated. It's easier than ever to fall foul of anti-spam legislation.

When To Use:

Customer Journey Stage: Awareness, Acquisition

Automated and Drip

The first prerequisite is to have your lead’s email, AND to have permission to market to them. A lead becomes available for drip email marketing when they have downloaded a piece of content online or given consent in another form online to be marketed to.

Introductory welcome series

The welcome series is one of the most foundation pieces to every marketing strategy, especially in SaaS.

Sadly, marketers often skimp out on their welcome email but it’s a box to check and doesn’t push people to “convert.” The welcome series, however, is one of your best opportunities to build brand.

Many times, someone will land on your page and download a piece of content will no regard for who you are, what company you are, or even what your product is. The introductory welcome series is a critical part to slowly and personally introduce yourself to a lead, just like you would in person.

For some, this could be as simple as one email that goes out and introduces your brand and product. In this case, you’ll want to efficiently pack all the info you’ll need in an email that isn’t too long, as well as still being focused on a single CTA.

For some, this could be 3-5 emails that introduce your brand, your most popular content, case studies, or invites to webinars and seminars. In this case, you’ll want each email to serve a specific purpose and be focused on driving a single CTA. Emails that seem redundant or aren’t focused on a single CTA will not perform well.


Segmenting is one of the best way to make sure that your drip emails will be effective. If your product is used by several different types of companies or personas, some content may not be relevant to them and that will hurt your chances of converting them into a free trial, demo, or paying user.

For example, if your product is used by founders and marketers, you’ll want to segment them early on so that you can frame all the subsequent emails in the language and use cases that’s most relevant to that persona.

Or, more commonly, if your product is used by different industries, you’ll want to use messaging and case studies according to which industry they’re in. Talking about how much money your product will make an ecommerce store like Nike will be completely irrelevant to a media publishing company like BuzzFeed.

Using some simple logic in a tool like Drip, you can easily send an email soon after someone gives permission to market to them and ask them to click on a link that best describes them. When they click on the link or the button, Drip will record that event and you can then use it to send them a different set of subsequent emails after that.

Lead scoring

Another intuitive strategy to implement automated emails are in using lead scoring to identify highly engaged leads and offer them more content. Once someone downloads a piece of content, they’re likely going to come back to the blog again, download more content, register for webinars or deminars, or view key pages on the website like the pricing page.

Using certain tools, like Drip, you can assign weighted scores to actions that a lead can take to determine a lead score. For example, reading a blog post could be worth 1 point, downloading a piece of content could be worth 5 points, and viewing a pricing page could be worth 10 points. This will start establishing a way to identify leads who are highly engaged with your content and website, making them prime targets to make offers to.

Some examples of this strategy could be to send out an email introducing an offer for a product after a user has visited the product page 5 times, reached a lead score of 50 or higher, or downloaded all 3 pieces of gated content you have available.

Free trial activation

If you have a free trial, this is perhaps the most important automated drip sequences of emails that you can send.

There are four key components to the free trial activation emails:

  1. Initial account activation
  2. Product education
  3. Paid plan upsell
  4. Expiration

The initial account activation emails should all be about pushing users to achieve certain initial milestones in the product. You want to break it down for them in easy-to-do steps. Point users to the knowledge base, how to reach out for help, and where to upgrade.

The product education emails are about educating the user on how to most effectively use the product. You want to showcase the product use cases that are most appealing and easy to achieve. Include examples of what others are doing and testimonials from happy customers to encourage users to keep going. Keep selling the benefits of the product and remind users why they started their free trial in the first place.

The paid plan upsell emails are entirely focused on “what’s next.” About half-way through the trial, you need to remind users that their free trial will in fact end and that they should upgrade their account to a paid plan. These include general emails about what the paid plan can do, as well as reminder emails leading up to the free trial expiration. This is where an offer for a discount to do an annual billing period comes in handy. Don’t be afraid to really sell the product. Users need to be pushed in free trials.

Paid plan activation

Have you ever bought something only to instantly regret it? If so, you’re not alone. Buyer’s remorse is a real concern for marketers. In fact, many take preventative measures against it.

Years ago, direct response marketers found a clever way to ease customers into their new purchase. Here’s how it worked: When a product a customer bought arrived and they opened the box, inside, right at the top, was a letter thanking them for their purchase. But, for marketers, it had a very specific purpose: to resell the customer on why they bought the product, to begin with.

Sadly, this practice has quietly disappeared. Granted, many companies thank new customers with their onboarding email, but few take the time to ease post-purchase buyer anxiety.

Take the time to remind them why they bought and all the benefits they will receive from using your product.

Marketers make the mistake of using benefit-driven messaging when getting a lead to convert to a customer, and then as soon as they become a customer, it goes back to feature-based messaging. This disconnect can cause unnecessary churn. Always keep selling the benefits of your product to your customers.


Upsells are a great opportunity to create what David Skok calls negative churn. “Negative churn happens when the expansions/upsells/cross-sells to your current customer base exceed the revenue that you are losing because of churn.”

According to InsightSquared, it can cost you anywhere from 5-25 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an existing one.

So not only will automated upsell emails reduce churn it will also save you money acquiring new customers and increase revenue.

One simple way to do this is to make a simple offer to switch to annual billing at a discounted rate. I personally prefer only offering annual billing discounts to current customers because it anchors the monthly price in the customers head and makes the annual price much more appealing. Upselling a customer from monthly billing to annual billing is a much easier sell than getting a user from no account to annual billing.

Simple language such as “I hope you’ve been enjoying your account with <your product>. There’s a simple way you could save <annual billing discount> a year by switching to an annual billing cycle.”

The annual billing upsell is also very effective in free trials, as mentioned before in the pricing and packaging chapter. At a certain point in the free trial, a user is going to subconsciously or consciously decide whether or not they are going to pay for a subscription to the product. When they’ve decided that they’re going to pay, this is the perfect time to offer the discounted billing option.

Upgrade upsells are also a must for marketers to implement. The trickiest part to upgrade upsets is figuring out who it should go to. You don’t want these emails going to unhappy customers or customers who just started using the product.

I recommend sending upgrade upsells to customers who are 4-6 months old or who have given you an Net Promoter Score of a 9 or 10. Unhappy or unfit customers will likely churn before 4-6 months, leaving you with your best customers. The customers who give a Net Promoter Score of 9 or 10 are your best candidates for an early upgrade upsell and the most likely to take the offer.

Another strategy is to work in logic based on product usage. If users are maxing out their number of users, storage, sends, or whatever you use to tier pricing, you can trigger an upgrade upsell email when a customer reaches a milestone that indicates they may be close to outgrowing their current plan tier.

Churn prevention

Automated emails are going to be one of your best weapons against churn, including fighting it off before it even starts happening.

One strategy is to remind customers of the benefits they receive in every invoice email.

When customers neglect your product/service, they’re likely to forget they’re paying for it. When do, chances are they’ll cancel when they receive their monthly invoice.

Another strategy is to create logic based onboarding emails to push users to reach certain in-app milestones that you deem important to creating sticky users. You want to use in-app events to inform your emails and trigger based on what they are or aren’t doing.

For example, if your product is a social network, and you’ve figured out that uploading a profile picture is a crucial step in getting someone to use and find value in the product, send automated emails to remind and push users to upload their profile picture.

Another strategy is to send an email or series of emails after a user has “gone dark,” or ceased an activity in the app. Again, your users will likely churn if they aren’t using the app. You’ll want to immediately send an email going out to remind or incentivize the user to get back in the app and start using it again.

Involuntary churn prevention

Sometimes, users churn because of payment issues. According to research by Recurly, an average of 13% of recurring revenue transactions are declined each month. Not because customers aren’t enjoying their subscription, but because their card expires.

While it’s tempting to believe only disengaged customers will forget to update their details, it’s important to remember even the loyalist of brand advocates need the occasional reminding. With that in mind, managing decline by preventing cards failure is a high priority for any SaaS marketer.

Notify users who’s card has just been declined immediately after it happens. You could even go one step further and send an email a month or two in advance that their card is going to expire and to update the account with an updated payment method.


Automated feedback emails are an amazing way to address early signs of churn as well as identifying users with the most potential to spread the word about your product.

Sending a very simple email to gauge their Net Promoter Score 30 or 60 days after they’ve activated their paid account can help you segment them into users who need attention before they churn, users who may not be realizing the full potential of the product, and users who may be willing to share your product on social media or even use an incentivized referral code for a free month or entry to a giveaway.

Another great automated feedback email is to send an email asking them to review your product’s public roadmap and to enter any feedback about the features that are most important to them. There are many public roadmap products that allow users to vote on features, enter in text feedback, or rate it.


Users churn. But it doesn’t mean that they’ll never come back to you.

Send an email six months or a year after they’ve cancelled their account asking how things are going, if they’re satisfied with their current solution, or telling them how you’ve improved. This is a great opportunity to incorporate the reason why they left (if they gave it) into the messaging of the email and convince them that you’ve since fixed the gaps in your product that they were experiencing problems with and that now your product will be much better for them.

Some users churn because a feature they needed wasn’t available at the times. Others, churn because they weren’t at a place when they could fully leverage your features.


  • Stay top-of-mind. Many company-consumer interactions are one-off, so drip marketing makes it easy to continually engage with potential customers over several weeks and months.
  • Low cost and easy to automate. Low-cost automation tools mean it's easier than ever to bolster your email or social media marketing with timely, relevant content - without having to personally micromanage every message.


  • It's a non-dynamic marketing strategy. The world changes quickly, and without oversight, automated marketing messages run the risk of ending up outdated.
  • It can be alienating. As drip marketing grows in popularity, our tolerance for obviously pre-written marketing communication decreases, and anything that screams "automated email sequence" runs a risk of relegation to the Junk bin.

When to use:

Customer journey stage: Nurture, Decision, Conversion, Referral, Upgrade

Email course

An email course sounds like a complex, content-rich system but in reality it’s just a simple autoresponder with text-heavy emails that are sent out over a period of time.

The easiest way to come up with a great email course idea is to reverse engineer the outcome you want. For example, if you want someone to come away at the end wanting to do webinars, focus your email course on why webinars will help them grow their business. For another example, if you want someone feeling better using content marketing for their business, focus your email course on how to create a content marketing plan.

Your product or service should be the bridge that links the problem with a solution. Your course should be entirely devoid of any self-promotional sales copy at first. You want to provide a surplus of value and not expect anything in return. Again, this value will be largely in recognizing the problem (the why) and then treating it (the how). It’s OK to casually mention your product early on, but don’t make any attempt to actually sell.

Only use the last 1-2 emails in your course to introduce your products or services and use all the other emails to educate and help.


  • Fast and easy to get started
  • Essentially free to use with an email marketing platform
  • Repurpose existing content
  • Highly measurable.


  • Spammy. Many email courses traditionally aren’t very valuable. Potential customers may be skeptical.

When To Use:

  • When you need to get something out quick. It’s so incredibly easy and quick to set up, if you can show the value of the content inside, it’s so easy to start generating leads through it.

Customer Journey Stage: Acquisition, Nurture

Social Media

Unless you’re a lifestyle brand (e.g. fashion, beauty, extreme sports), you'll have a particularly hard time building an audience on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or any other social network.

The truth is, SaaS isn’t very sexy on social media, and your following is going to be very niche.

Social media for SaaS is simply another distribution channel, like your newsletter. Post to your twitter, check back for any comments, and then move on.

There’s no point in trying to build a massive following or trying to improve engagement by getting more likes, shares, or retweets.

The best strategy is to organically build a following without any boosted posts, page promotion, or outside incentive to like or follow your company profile because that way, you’re left with an audience who is very intentionally following you.

One of the main use cases for even doing social media is literally just to HAVE a profile so people know you’re real.

I find that the most useful thing a company profile can do for you is to have a company post for you to share or retweet to your personal profile.

In fact, I believe that personal social profiles are much more effective and a much better strategy to invest in than a company profile. Every social network will, by default, favor an individual over a company organically because people interact with people.

Company social profiles can be very impersonal and robotic. Personal social profiles are extremely personal and you will have a much easier time building a following, getting engagement, and actually seeing results.


For SaaS, Facebook is almost useless. I know for myself, if I actually want to see something from a company, I’ll follow them on Twitter. If I’m interested in working there someday, I’ll follow them on LinkedIn. But rarely do I follow anything on Facebook.

Organic reach for Facebook is at an all-time low, and I don’t see Facebook pushing to make it a better experience for small companies to be on Facebook.

The only useful part of Facebook for a business is Facebook Groups. If you can find a couple, or even one, to be a part of that’s active and doesn’t spam all the time, just be helpful and you’ll find it rewarding.

Again, this is the advantage of the personal profile over the company profile: you can’t participate in a group as a company (and no one would want that either).


Instagram is catching up to Twitter in terms of company usability. Instagram has made great strides in making it more business friendly, starting with the unpopular decision to remove the chronological order of the feed in favor of an algorithm based feed.

This allowed Instagram to start serving ads to their audience. And as of very recently, Instagram has finally made it possible for 3rd party software to post on a user’s behalf, making scheduling posts and post management in general more business friendly. One of the major downfalls of business use of Instagram is still the inability to post a link anywhere except the profile bio. This means posts by default get 0% CTR and you have to point everyone back to your bio.

Despite all this, I’m seeing more and more brands use Instagram, and believe that Instagram is going to continue to make large strides in making it more business friendly. It’s the second largest social network, so keep an eye out and keep distributing content.

Start building your personal brand on instagram and make it known who you are, what your company is, and how you can help people. Instagram gets crazy good engagement compared to all the other networks and you would be foolish to not building your brand on Instagram.


Twitter is my favorite for actually keeping up with companies, but it’s near impossible to get any results from anything you share on Twitter. Because of the nature of Twitter, sending out bite size pieces of content throughout the day, you have to constantly be posting or already have a large following to get any engagement at all.

The only useful part of twitter is using hashtags, which have fled all the other social networks. Many founders and company profiles will put hashtags in their bio to make them more discoverable, and this is a great way to find potential customers, influencers, and partners.

In addition to that, many conferences and trade shows will have a hashtag that they publicize on huge screens for conference attendees to interact and debate keynotes and panels. Engaging with conference hashtags, whether you’re physically there or not, can be a worthwhile way to make connections and earn brand awareness.

But again, you will find yourself much more successful engaging in hashtag chats and reaching out to potential customers through your personal profile, not your company profile.


LinkedIn is the only social network even worth a look at for having a company strategy due to its professional audience. I’ve found that when sharing links to blog posts, webinars, events, or really anything on a company profile, LinkedIn drives 90% of the results. And when I say 90% of the results, I mean 90% of the very small, very minuscule results.

And again, this is specific to SaaS, where you have qualified buyers and professional people engaging with you.

Even then, building personal brand on LinkedIn is much more effective than the company brand. It’s not uncommon for LinkedIn posts to go viral. A lot of it is clickbait and groupthink behavior, but a lot of it is really genuine as well. Especially, sharing blog posts directly in your personal updates will get you great results.

In all these channels, video and GIFs dominate as the preferred media.

Now, we get to some of the more niche social networks.


Similar to Reddit Ads, Reddit in general is a mixed bag. The social network has a very highly engaged user base and is not subject to clickbait. Also, due to the nature of highly moderated subreddits, any spammy behavior is not tolerated whatsoever.

Reddit is good for two things:

  1. Posting appropriate blog posts and product announcements to appropriate subreddits
  2. Engaging in highly active subreddits

“It's also a hive mind. That means if a few people hate it, everyone quickly jumps on and follows. But if some love it, it'll be the best site in the world for a day. According to them.”

Pick the right subreddit to launch your product, share a blog post, or make a product announcement. Don’t post anywhere that you question if they’ll like it.

Some subreddits to look into for initial exposure for SaaS apps are:







Type in some of your keywords and look for subreddits that are relevant to you, have at least a few thousand subscribers, and are active.


Pinterest for SaaS is good for two things and two things only: infographics and product shots.

Don’t even bother with trying to share any other type of content. Think about how people use Pinterest: users save a piece of content for later by pinning it to a board. Rarely do users actually click through. It’s also very brand agnostic. Users look at what the content is, not where it came from.

Infographic will perform well because they will easily be pinned, and product shots (if good) will be pinned to boards for web design ideas and inspiration. These links will help you slightly with SEO in the long-run, but it’s nothing to get too excited about.


Quora was and is a great strategy for content marketing, but it’s effectiveness is declining as it has become more and more saturated. Quora is interesting because when a user types in a question, Quora first checks if the question has already been asked and shows the user if it has.

So over time, less and less questions are being asked, and more and more answers are given. This puts you in a predicament because that means that over time, your answer may be seen less and less, with less new questions to answer.

Nonetheless, take a look at Quora and see what kinds of questions are being asked that you could answer. If you have an email marketing product, all the questions have likely already been answered a hundred times. But you have a more niche product, you could find that you have an opportunity to give a thoughtful answer that will give you traffic for years to come.


  • No barriers to entry. Any business can create a social media presence with no costs - great for creating an affordable online presence.
  • New opportunities. As commercially-driven, competitive companies, social media networks are constantly innovating to outdo their competitors and grow their reach - opening up a wealth of new marketing channels in the process.


  • Organic reach is dying. Most social media sites have made high-profile decisions to reduce the organic reach of their networks, in favor of promoting paid advertising channels.

When To Use:

- You’re regularly producing content and can use social media as a distribution channel

- You have extra time to participate in communities and interact with people

- Your potential customers are highly engaged somewhere.

Customer Journey Stage: Awareness, Acquisition


Webinars are an amazing tool that every SaaS company should employ in their toolkit.

“Webinars? Really?” Yes, they’re not just a fad from the early 2000s. Webinars are a highly effective way to serve multiple purposes for marketing.

One of the great things about webinars is that they serve both low-touch and high-touch sales models. They’re sales model agnostic, because while you’re selling, you’re doing it at scale.

Webinars can be very effective for a few reasons:

Low CAC on acquisition channels:

Webinars perform well when advertised on social channels and generally won’t cost much to get a decent amount of registrations. In fact, webinars can also perform well organically on social media. They’re great to use as a pop up on a website, or even promote through an email blast.

Scaled reach:

It doesn’t matter if you have 10 people registered or 1,000 the way you run the webinar and the time it takes to manage it will be exactly the same.

Highly personal:

While many marketers still don’t do it, turning on the web cam while presenting alongside your powerpoint-esque presentation is an easy way to make the webinar much more personal, engaging, and memorable for attendees. Webinars are an exclusive chance to get real face time with your leads, something that’s both rare and effective.

Low commitment:

Webinars require very low commitment from leads and you will find that you’ll have relatively high conversion rates compared to other lead generation tactics.

Short conversion cycle:

Whereas a downloadable guide or ebook may take several more touches and weeks or even months between touches before a lead decides to start a free trial or request a demo, webinars are very effective at pushing leads through the funnel and shortening that sales cycle down to several days, or even the same day.

Easy to create content for:

Written pieces may take weeks of brainstorming, research, and copyediting before it’s ready for public sight, but webinars allow people to do what they do best — talk. It doesn’t take much to prepare an outstanding webinar. Repurpose written content into a speaking outline, spin up a presentation, and you’ve got yourself all the content you need

Establish authority:

With so many websites, blogs, courses, coaches, and more to choose from, many of your prospective customers don’t care who you are – at least, not yet. With even a single well-produced webinar, however, you can prove your expertise and establish authority with your audience.


With amazing technology these days, you can record a webinar once and have it play on demand for anyone, at any time. And even if you’re giving it live, you can give the same live webinar content over and over and over again for new leads.

Some best practices for webinars can be broken down to pre-webinar, during the webinar, and post-webinar.


You’ll want to employ all the usual channels for acquiring leads including free sources like your email list, social media, and website pop-ups. An effective way to essentially double your reach is to partner up and bring on a co-presenter or guest to the webinar who can help you promote. When just starting out, I recommend not spending any advertising budget on webinars because you want to make sure that you have your process down first. Also, any leads who attended the last webinar and haven’t converted into a customer can be reached out to again with another webinar.

A great way to build hype around the webinar is to do video “sneak peaks” of what you’ll be talking about, questions you’ll answer, and what attendees can expect to get out of it.

I’ve also seen brands offer exclusive content to webinar attendees, which can be used to promote the webinar itself because it’s one more piece of value that you can deliver.

I recommend only sending one email out to your list about three weeks before the webinar, and then just one more one or two days beforehand. This ensures you’re not fatiguing your list or bugging them too much.

Once someone registers, always always always set up automated reminder emails to go out the day before, the hour before, and about 5-10 minutes before.

During the webinar

No one wants to listen to, let alone watch, someone who is not excited about what they’re talking about. Have enthusiasm for the webinar. Get lively. Use your hands. Make sure you’re looking into the camera and have a good angle on your face.

One of the coolest features of webinars is the ability to run live polls. This will really engage the audience while also allowing you to capture valuable insight into your leads. Try to ask questions that get your leads in your mindset, to see things like you do. Asking simple “yes” or “no” questions won’t do much for you or your audience, but asking specific questions about what they feel, experience, or do will give you invaluable data.

Answer questions that come through the chat in middle or at the end of the webinar, or designate someone to answer them in the chat for you while you present.

One of the powerful questions you can ask your audience at the end is a simple, yet effective, “Do you want to learn more about <your product?” If attendees say yes, you can now follow up with them with product focused content and push for a free trial or demo. If attendees say no, no big deal.


Immediately after the webinar is over, you’ll want to push them to a landing page with a special offer to try your product.

For those who didn’t attend, webinars can surprisingly be just as effective to leads who didn’t attend than to those who did attend.

Sending a simple “Here’s your replay of <your webinar name>” with a link to watch the replay can have the same effect on leads and push them down the funnel.

And if they did attend, many leads will want to be able to watch the replay again to reference or go back to. Send a replay copy to those who attended as well.

For all those that didn’t convert on either occasion, now is the perfect time to follow up with them to convert into a free trial or demo request.

Thanks to amazing webinar software like Demio and Livestorm, you can host a variety of different kinds of webinars for your marketing mix.


Live webinars are an amazing way to build hype, include partners, and present fresh new content. This is also a great use case for product focused content including product updates and announcements, case studies, and how to use your product with another product.


Using webinar replays, you can set up a recurring webinar that plays a replay of an “old” webinar that's already been recorded. This is a great way to do passive lead generation and automate your systems so you can get more done with less work. One great use case for the automated webinar is a weekly or biweekly “deminar” that showcases your product and how to use it. Doing the same demo over and over again live can be tedious and a time-suck.


On-demand webinars are similar to automated except instead of running the webinar at a set time or day in the week, the webinar is made available immediately to view. These are a great way to deliver value right away and get someone into the funnel as soon as possible.


  • Appeal to All Learning Styles
  • Content Recycling
  • Scalable selling.
  • Webinars are an interactive medium, and the more interactive the medium, the better the satisfaction and the higher the increase in repeat customer rates, which can often translate to more revenue for your company.


  • Traditionally spammy.
  • Can be time intensive to produce.
  • Rehearsal time is critical.
  • A polished presenter or speaker is a must.

When To Use:

  • Always. Use it.

Customer Journey Stage: Acquisition, Nurture


The key to PR is being able to tell a compelling story. No tech journalist is going to care about your product unless you can give it a unique angle. It’s all about the story.

Tech journalists will generally favor the venture backed startups because they can talk about millions of dollars and how the technology is going to “disrupt” the industry and change people’s lives. But that PR only goes so far.

The best times to use PR are when you actually DO have something compelling to share, usually in the form of a product launch, a big partnership, a round of funding, or a ground-breaking technology.

The odds of any of those things happening to your startup are slim — but don’t worry, because it’s mostly vanity.

People are there for the craze, the hype, and the allure of something new and exciting. But rarely are these people your customers.

That’s why the best way you can use PR is for your initial launch.

Ryan Holiday has a great strategy to work yourself up to the most prestigious tech blogs in a strategy he calls “laddering up.”

Pitch some small blogs that are related to your niche, who will be most likely to write about you. Then you can take those stories, post them to popular sharing sites like Reddit or Hacker News, and if they perform there then they’ll be likely to be picked up by larger blogs and media outlets who will contact you for more information.

Every blog looks “down.” So you just have to work yourself up.


  • Boost brand awareness. KPIs aside, landing a high-profile slot in the national press can be a huge help with hiring, team morale, and convincing skeptical customers.
  • Connect to influential people. Good PR firms will have valuable connections to journalists, high-profile founders and investors.


  • Good PR isn't cheap. Budget PR firms will likely provide budget results, and big opportunities are most likely if you hire a premium PR partner.
  • Waste of time if not used correctly. Be sure to only focus your time on high-value opportunities.

When To Use:

Customer Journey Stage: Awareness

Guest blogging

Guest blogging consists of pitching another blog to post your article and link back to your blog at the bottom of it.

This gets you exposure to new audiences. And it increases your overall SEO presence — since you're getting linked to.

Contacting blogs

When proposing a guest post to another blog's editor, don't ask for their permission upfront.

They'll often say no (or ignore the email) because saying yes means committing to spending time rewriting your post when it turns out you can't write well.

Instead, write the post upfront then send it to them. This is like handing them candy: You just did their job for them today.

Ensure you send them appropriate content. Mimic their own posts:

  • Copy their editorial style. Are their posts breezy and casual or clinical and dense?
  • Do they use clickbait titles, listicles, or really technical titles?
  • Do they embed a lot of imagery?

Mimic all of it.

A foolproof post topic to send an editor is a modern update on an old post of theirs that was very popular on social media.


  • Access someone else’s audience.
  • Easy distribution
  • Credibility. When you guest blog, you earn credibility just by being introduced or associated with the person who’s audience you’re writing for.
  • Backlinks help SEO.


  • Hard to measure.
  • Low conversion rates

When To Use:

  • When you’re looking to build backlinks
  • When you want to tap into that blog’s audience

Customer Journey Stage: Awareness

Unconventional PR

I’m not going to spend too much time here but essentially unconventional PR is getting attention for something shocking, ridiculous, or entertaining — usually in the form of video.

Unconventional PR could be doing street interviews, experiments, or a funny skit.

I’ll keep it short, don’t waste your time here unless you really have something creative to share that you can get out fast and cost effectively.


  • Virality potential
  • Highly creative


  • Hit or miss
  • Potentially expensive

When To Use:

- When you have extra time or resources to do something outside the box.

- When you’ve already milked other PR sources.

- When you have the bandwidth to create something time and cost effectively.

Customer Journey Stage: Awareness

Business Development

Direct outreach

Direct outreach, AKA sales, is still one of the most effective way to generate customers for your business.

It is however, important to point out again the low-touch and high-touch sales models. If your product is is a low-touch model, sales can be used to find your first 100 customers, and should only be used after that if it is the founder doing it themselves.

Hiring someone to do sales in a low-touch sales model will not be profitable. If your product is a high-touch sales model, sales will be the primary way you convert customers.

Even though there is MUCH more to share on B2B sales and the many areas it functions in, this section is going to focus on the acquisition stage and how you can use direct outreach to get leads.

There are three primary ways to find prospects:

Warm intros

  • Ask your investors, coworkers, friends, and family for intros to anyone who may be in the market for your product. Pay these people a bonus if you close anyone they refer.
  • Be sociable in the right circles: Make an effort to go to dinners with people in your space. It's much easier to close people you've met face-to-face.


  • Going to the right conferences are by far the most efficient way to make meaningful relationships within your industry.
  • Trust plays a huge part in sales. And you trust the people you've actually met more than those you haven't. In fact, you'd do business with them even if their product is worse than its competitors.
  • Focus on conferences that allow you to be in small, intimate groups with high quality attendees (who have purchasing power) relevant to your space.
  • If you don't know who will be attending, urge the conference organizers to publish the guestlist. Don't risk wasting your time traveling across the country.
  • Email the people you want to meet before the event. They'll be less overwhelmed.
  • Explain what your product does and why their business seems like a good fit for it. Then mention that a 5 minute in-person demo on the first day of the event could be educational and useful for them.
  • Be early and mingle with the other people who are awkwardly early. They'll be looking for something to do and won't yet be exhausted from the hustle.

Outbound lead generation

  • List generation is an automated approach to prospecting.
  • Building quality lead lists is the second most important element in any outbound sales strategy focusing on cold emails. (First is writing email copy they care to respond to.)
  • Shoot for quality, not quantity.
  • The process boils down to using Clearbit's Discovery and Prospector tools, which are the most up-to-date sources of employee contact data.
  • When trying to identify the right companies to reach out to, you can use tools like Builtwith, SimilarTech, eTail Insights, and Discoverorg for example to find companies who use complimentary technology, competitors, or certain platforms.

Email copy

Keep in mind people don’t know about you or your company yet. So, start by building your credibility. Otherwise you get reflexively sent to the spam folder.

Credibility is one of your objectives.

And your second objective is to show them that you genuinely care. People generally don’t care about how great your product or your company is. So, show the prospect you know about their world and that you’ve done your homework on them.

Mention something they care about: a pain point, a priority, or something they’re motivated by.

Use a variation of this email template for your first outreach:

“Hi Dean,

I was looking into <their company> and noticed <observation related to priority or pain point>. I know this is hard to get right.

Companies like <similar companies> have turned to us to <priority or pain point> and have seen <results>. Based on my initial research on <company_name>, I have good data to support that you could see similar, if not better, results.

I have a few ideas and pieces of data to share that I think will help. Would 15 minutes tomorrow work?

<your name>”

A message like this shows that you’ve done your homework and it’s not a mass email, uses social proof with similar companies, and asks to deliver value to them before even pitching your product.

Follow ups

After sending your first message, make sure you have at least two additional touchpoints scheduled.

Data has shown that the most effective sales teams generally have a half dozen touchpoints over several weeks.This is a lot and you don’t want to be a pest, but the bottom line is data shows persistence wins.

You just need to do it right.

People often don’t respond to your first communication. Your follow-ups give you an opportunity to build more credibility. So don’t just “bump” or “check in” multiple times. That’s a meaningless nudge. It’s annoying.

Instead, build on top your original value. Share relevant content. Provide demos customized to the prospect. Provide unique value with each follow-up.

Steli Efti of once said that he keeps following up until they respond, no matter how long or how many emails it takes. That’s persistence!

And here’s the beauty of sales: just do whatever it takes. Call them, screen share, show them the same demo five times until they understand, but just make it work.

Ultimately, sales is about hustle and story.

Great storytelling + constant hustle = sales.


  • Highly personal
  • Free
  • Potential for quick results


  • Spammy
  • Time intensive
  • Hard to get right

When To Use:

Customer Journey Stage: Awareness, Acquisition

Partnerships & Integrations

Many SaaS companies share the same target audience, while offering non-competing products (like note-taking app Evernote, "to do" tool Wunderlist, and password manager LastPass).

By joining forces, it becomes possible to pool resources and create marketing campaigns greater than the sum of their individual parts, allowing the co-marketing companies to share in the results.

Co-marketing with three other companies doesn’t necessarily translate to three times the results, but it’s definitely always more than what you could do alone.

For more high-touch sales models, partnerships can be a key component in winning up-market deals. Mid-market and enterprise companies will have a very rigorous process and strict set of requirements for new technology that they adopt.

Partnering with complimentary solutions can help you win business by:

  1. Having a stronger story together than you would apart.
  2. Leveraging each other’s strengths and making a stronger case against some of the “all-in-one” solutions that may not be particularly strong in any one area.
  3. Lessening the amount of decisions they have to make.

Working on new integrations can be costly and take time, but in the long run, integrations are a key part of most SaaS strategies. Building integrations can not only open up new business opportunities, they can also open up new markets.

Integrations can become a key differentiating factor amongst competitors, can attract many people who use the products you integrate with, and ultimately can help you expand your product/market fit.

For example, customers of a CRM product may be looking for a new email marketing product. One of the most important requirements they might have is an integration with their current CRM, so they may google something like “email marketing integration with <CRM>.” This has very high search intent and could lead to grabbing low-hanging fruit.


  • Powerful social proof. Partnering with established SaaS companies can offer a much-needed profile-boost for an up-and-coming startup.
  • Works well in SaaS. Some of the most successful SaaS marketing strategies of recent years have leveraged co-marketing, like Pocket's "Productivity" bundle, or AppSumo's "Briefcase" package.


  • Complex execution. Co-marketing requires smooth, seamless cooperation between multiple marketing departments, and any miscommunication can cause a real headache for everyone involved.

When To Use:

  • Do you have partners that have much larger audiences than you?
  • Is there an integration that brings tangible value to your product?

Customer Journey Stage: Acquisition


First, there are a number of platforms that have aggregated influencers that are interested in being reached out to by companies that would like to do a deal with them. Intellifluence is one such company, but there really are a lot of them.

Second, you can reach out directly to these people. If you think about influencers, and how they run their business, they need sponsors of some sort to monetize their influence. In that regard, it's in their best interest to be willing to work with companies.

The best way to reach out directly to influencers will vary based on the platform. If it's something like Instagram, sending a DM can usually work, or even @mentioning the person in the comments. Just be sure to be explicit that you would like to engage in a business transaction with this person. It’s important to be direct and avoid any ambiguity about your intentions.

YouTube channels have an about page, and there is usually an email on those pages for business inquiries. Many influencers will also put an email address in the description on whatever social platform they are largest on for business inquiries.

When working with influencers, it's also important to think about what might constitute an influencer in your niche. If your product isn't a product with mass appeal, someone with 5k or 10k followers could be considered a very large influencer for you. You don't always need people with millions of followers, or even hundreds of thousands.

Working with influencers is almost always going to involve affiliate marketing. Another great option for influencers is just offering your product for free in exchange for their promotion.


  • Powerful social proof. Endorsement from a big-name industry player or celebrity is hugely powerful, especially if their audience is a fit for your target demographic.
  • Exposure to huge audiences. Influencers are influencers because, well, they have influence, usually over audiences in the tens or even hundreds of thousands.


  • Risky. Many clandestine influencer marketing campaigns have incurred the wrath of an outraged public when evidence of sponsorship came to light; and a close association with a spokesperson that's fallen from grace can cause lingering damage to your brand.

When To Use:

  • Use when free. Make valuable, authentic relationships and the results will follow. Play the long game.

Customer Journey Stage: Awareness, Acquisition

App marketplaces

Using app marketplaces can be a great way to get the word out about your product. An app marketplace or App Store is a listing of apps compatible with whichever app the marketplace is for. For example, many apps have an “Apps” tab that allows users to go in and start using another app for additional functionality.

Slack, Shopify, Salesforce, and the Apple App Store are great examples of this.


Slack has hundreds of “apps” in its marketplace. Most notably, slack bots have risen to popularity and have created hundreds of developers into entrepreneurs. Slack bots have given their marketplace great brand exposure and reputation among users as a place to go to discover great new apps to use.


Shopify is very similar, with many companies now solely dedicated to building apps for Shopify Store owners. But again, the app marketplace has built a reputation among users for being a great place to go to discover great new apps to use.

This strategy is especially great because it’s free traffic. It’s very similar to SEO in that there is high search intent, only with an app marketplace, there’s a much shorter distance to signing up. It may take several touches and an extended period of time for someone to convert into a paying customer from SEO, while it may only take one touchpoint and a same day conversion for an app marketplace.


  • Highly relevant audience. If you’re in their marketplace or directory, you have access to all their customers, with a good portion being highly qualified.
  • High intent searches. Users who come to your profile on the marketplace or director are very likely to be looking for a solution like yours.


  • No control over reviews
  • No control over free promotion

When To Use:

  • If your SaaS can be listed in an app marketplace, get it listed as soon as you can. It’ll be free traffic and a long-term growth strategy for you.

Customer Journey Stage: Awareness, Acquisition


Many marketing strategies focus on a direct route to market, with the company selling direct to customers. Channel marketing instead focuses on connecting with companies that can re-sell your product or service (great example: the HubSpot Partner program, Drift Partner Program).

Whether VARs (value added resellers), distributors or collaborative companies, channel marketing allows specialised sales-partners to handle sales, in exchange for a commission or incentive scheme.

Especially for high-touch sales models, channel sales can be a great way to get early traction. You may find it to be much easier to find early adopters in the reseller market than going directly to a client.

Plus, if a client ever parts ways with the reseller, they may want to still use your product and provide low-hanging fruit for you to take advantage of.

Depending on your market and competitive landscape, it may make sense for you to ask for exclusivity. When a reseller exclusively sells your product, you have an opportunity to really get buy-in from them as well as get more traction early on.

For a low-touch sales model, using something like Appsumo to bundle your app with others at a discounted rate can be a great way to gain initial users and spread the word for your product.


  • Access to a new marketing channel. HubSpot's Partner program started out as an experiment, but quickly grew into one of their most profitable marketing channels.


  • Misaligned incentives. No company will ever be as committed to your company as you are, and there's no guarantee partnerships will offer fair and reciprocal benefit.
  • Limited control. Channel marketing requires you to relinquish control over your brand, and your public perception will be as much determined by your partners as your own marketing efforts.

When To Use:

  • When you’ve exhausted other revenue channels or need to diversify other channels. There are some resellers that have clients that you wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise, so you can use resellers to gain revenue you wouldn’t have otherwise.

Customer Journey Stage: Acquisition


For hundreds of years now, businesses have been giving potential customers “an experience to remember.”

Big meals, golf trips, suited drivers, nice cars, champagne – all the stuff in the movies. While they feel good for those in it for the ride, they have raised an eyebrow for those on the sidelines, hitting budgets hard and producing ambiguous business results.

Well-executed events can attract, convert, educate, nurture and delight your audience, depending on how strategic and thorough you’re willing to get.

No matter what stage your business is in, events are hard to justify. They cost a lot when money is tight and they’re difficult to measure even when money is readily available.

While they’re near impossible to measure ROI, it doesn’t mean they’re not worth doing.

Similarly to blogging, the ROI may not be clear at first, but it’s critical to building brand and gaining traction long-term.

Your business relies on having customers that are going to last, so relationships matter. And the strongest relationships are made in person. Being able to create and control an entire experience for potential customers is both an incredible opportunity and a delicate risk.

Talking to, entertaining, and facilitating the activities for your event-goers is immeasurably harder than writing blog posts in your cozy office. So of course it’s going to be hard, uncomfortable, and even scary.

But you can’t outsource this to some agency. Events might be a lot harder than some other tactics, but nobody said marketing was easy.

It’s never too early to build events and it’s never too early to meet and conquer.

But make sure you’re in control of the experience. Events are a success or a failure before they ever happen.

As the folks at Intercom say, “Events are 50% idea, 30% promotion and 20% execution. Any company’s first events team member will need to be a curator, then a promoter and lastly a producer.”


  • Great for industry awareness. A high-profile presence at a big-name event is a powerful signal that your company is on the way up.
  • Super-targeted lead generation. If your SaaS product is targeted at, say, startup entrepreneurs, attending a conference exclusively geared towards that demographic means that near enough every lead generated should be a great fit for your product.
  • Build brand with 100% control over what people see, hear, feel, and experience for a period of time.


  • Expensive. A booth at a high-profile event can easily rack-up costs in the tens of thousands of dollars. Unless you have a big marketing budget to play with, that can be prohibitively expensive, and makes it harder for smaller startups to generate a meaningful return on investment.

When To Use:

  • When not many competitors are doing this.
  • When you can establish many genuine relationships with customers.
  • When you can’t get in front of a prospect or lead digitally.
  • When you need a chance to talk to someone face to face.

Customer Journey Stage: Awareness, Acquisition

Trade Shows

Trade shows are a mixed bag. In general, trade shows are losing intrigue with a decline in content quality, experience, and networking opportunities.

With the wrong mindset or context, a conference will take your money and leave you hungry.

It’s not a conference’s job to do a good job for you. It’s your job to buy their audience and do something with it.

Don’t spend your precious early dollars on them and don’t spend your last ­— you won’t get them back.

Start spending big money on conferences only when they allow you to be specific, aggressive or competitive. That’s impossible when you’re small.

If you’re going to have an impact at trade shows, you have to go big — host your own mini-events, be the biggest sponsor, buy the speaking slots, break the rules.

Otherwise, attend and network.


  • Face time with potential customers
  • New to a particular market?  Trade shows and conferences are a quick way to get noticed and build a database of new prospects.


  • Expensive. Let’s face it—exhibiting at trade shows isn’t cheap. In fact, trade shows are usually the largest budget expense for marketing.
  • Leads aren’t always qualified. Many companies have scaled back on participating because the quality of leads aren't happening. Companies don’t always send key decision makers to regional trade shows.
  • Unless you’re in the top four or five competing companies within your industry, chances are you may have a smaller booth. If this is the case, it becomes increasingly harder to get people to notice you.  It is important to identify your differentiating value and get creative with the distribution of your message in this ocean of over stimulation.

When To Use:

  • When you have a huge budget and large brand awareness.

Customer Journey Stage: Awareness, Acquisition


Hosting your own events can be the best way to get started.

The more you own, the more you control the success or failure of it.

The easiest way to ensure success is to partner up and get more companies involved. Share the effort, the creative and the expense with another company or meetup group that you respect and want to be seen with.

Use tools you already have. Your office can be your venue, your team can be your thought leaders and your customers your first audience.

Creating your own events gives you a tremendous opportunity to create a truly different experience and wow your potential customers. Think about what you respect, what’s missing, the things you don’t like and what you can do that no one else can.

There’s so much out there waiting for somebody to grab it.

And most importantly, spend time with the people that matter: your audience, your opportunities. Sit with them, talk with them, eat with them, have fun with them.

A great example of a well-executed owned event is Drift’s Hypergrowth. Only a couple years in business, Drift decided to take on hosting their very own event.

Everything about Hypergrowth was unconventional: Non-business speakers, no badges or exhibitors, a fun and loose atmosphere, and innovative networking experiences. It was the un-conference.

1,000 people packed the venue, shattering previous records for first-year company events. Hypergrowth was fun, motivational, and personal. It was real — human. 100% unconventional.

And Dave Gerhardt and David Cancel will openly talk about how there was no tangible ROI from the event.

It’s not about the data, it’s about the experience. It’s about the brand.


  • Complete control over the experience
  • Lead quality


  • Expensive.
  • Difficult to pull off
  • Hard to promote

When To Use:

  • When you have momentum doing other types of events like meetups or co-sponsored events.
  • When you have thought-leadership or expert employees.

Customer Journey Stage: Awareness, Acquisition


Meetups are another great way to connect with your prospects, customers, partners, and influencers.

The platform is very straightforward to use and I’ve found that there’s a lot of organic traffic that comes just through the website itself.

Like Google, users often have a very high search intent when using the platform. Users will often join a group, subscribe for updates, and RSVP for an event without hesitation.

Meetups could range from 5 people to 50, or even past 100. But the beauty in a meetup is in sharing common interests. Most meetups are organized categorically by interests, like someone’s job, industry, love of pets, hobbies, political affiliation, or even fanbase.

For SaaS, meetups are a very attractive option because it’s a great way to break into owned events without investing in a ton of infrastructure, time, commitment, or even branding.

Try to structure your meetups around your target audience, using the demographic, firmographic, and customer intel you have to create something magical for them, and only them.

Meetups can be a great way to get started in events because you don’t even necessarily have to have any content. It could be as simple as “Meet other <job title> like you!” Go to a bar, a wine tasting, or even a co-working space.


  • Location-based targeting
  • Target based on interest
  • Quick and easy to start
  • Can be free or (very) low cost


  • Attendee quality
  • Hard to attract more senior level audience.

When To Use:

  • Definitely do this. There’s nothing like getting face to face with customers.

Customer Journey Stage: Awareness, Acquisition

Speaking engagements

“Do any event, get on stage, where you can speak to 50+ high quality folks.  This always pays off, at least for me.” Jason Lemkin, entrepreneur, investor, and founder of SaaStr

If you’re recognized as an expert in what you do, you might get invited to speak at other people’s events or you can pitch yourself as a speaker once you hear about an event being put together.

If you don’t have a reputation, then you can start by speaking at events for free and then putting recordings of the talk online. Over time, your reputation from small events can move you up to local events, and then to regional events, and then to the large national premiere events where you’ll get the most publicity.

When you’re speaking, it’s critical to not pitch your company or products. Mentioning it is fine, but it should never be about your product.

In my experience, the most effective speeches focus on what your customers are doing or what your customers can do, and then end with “if you’re interested in learning more about how they’re doing this, come talk to me afterwards or email me at <your email>.”

But that should be the extent of your pitch for your company.

This can be especially useful for enterprise software companies who are looking for a few big sales. Some of your best prospects might be in the room.


  • Control over the message and story you tell
  • Great for thought-leadership and brand awareness


  • Hard to measure ROI
  • Time intensive
  • Expensive to travel

When To Use:

  • When you have large personal brand.

Customer Journey Stage: Awareness


Referral marketing is when a person buys a product or service based on someone else's opinions, recommendations or influence. For example:

  • Recommendations from friends and family
  • Testimonials
  • Case studies
  • Reviews

Using review platforms

70% of Americans say they read product reviews before making a purchase, according to a Google report. It’s not hard to imagine these buyers start their product discovery research in review sites, third-party websites that collate and review various products by category.

Instead of visiting numerous sites, buyers can shortlist their preference on a review site by having all competing products in one location and compare them feature by feature.

Again, potential customers today are more educated and skeptical than ever before. Most people have already made up their mind before having any contact with a company.

If you want to take advantage of review sites, make sure to engage them by sending the sites’ editorial team your software specifications and value proposition. This ensures all your product advantages are mentioned.

Likewise, you can opt for the review sites’ paid marketing tools to boost your product in search results, capture lead information, or get highlighted in their social media posts or email newsletter.

Most Popular SaaS Review Platforms

  • FinancesOnline: One of the leading SaaS review sites out there with a large variety of products.
  • Capterra: Another popular review platform that collects thousands of reviews and offers a reliable place to display your product.
  • G2Crowd: A site focused mostly on reviews generated by the users with a solid base of reviews and visitors.


  • Increased reach. On average, every referring customer invites 2.68 friends. Referral marketing is a fantastic way to spread the word about your product and service.
  • Easy sell. People are 4x more likely to buy something when recommended by a friend.


  • Doesn't invent demand - only amplifies it. For a referral program to be successful, you first need to attract some customers, and for them to get value from your service or product. While referral marketing has the potential to accelerate your growth, you need to lay the foundations first, and put in the hard work to attract and convert your initial customers.

When To Use:

  • Do it.

Customer Journey Stage: Awareness, Acquisition


The idea behind affiliate marketing is that you earn commission by promoting companies' products or services.

For SaaS companies, this offers two opportunities:

  1. Work with affiliate marketers, enlisting their services to bring your product to a wider audience.
  2. Partner with other SaaS companies that offer complimentary services to your own, and act as the affiliate merchants, earning commission for referring new customers to them.

Affiliate marketing is generally reserved for low-touch sales models, because an affiliate link needs to convert based someone following the link and creating an account or becoming a paying customer. This would be very hard to track in a high-touch sales model that may have many offline touches such as phone calls, in-person events, or video calls.

As mentioned before, affiliate marketing is a great opportunity for your influencers. Many SaaS companies will even give affiliates a percentage of the monthly revenue generated by the customer.

The co-founders of Demio used affiliate marketing early on as a part of their launch strategy to get an influx of paying customers.

“We were offering extremely discounted prices for Demio during this grand opening launch period, and we were giving 50% commissions to any affiliate that promoted. These discounted prices allowed the affiliates to use extreme scarcity with their audience, since the prices were going up by more than 300% after the 7-day launch window. It was a huge success. When it was all said and done, we had 500+ new customers on annual packages of Demio, and we had enough cash in the bank to last us at least six months.” - Wyatt Jozwowski, co-founder of Demio.


  • Additional revenue stream. If you're earning commission from promoting other, complementary SaaS products or services, this can help diversify your income, so new customers aren't your sole source of income.
  • Let others do the marketing for you. Incentivizing customers and influencers to promote you can get you traction early on.


  • Not guaranteed income. You have little control over the success of your affiliate programs - you may invest a ton of time and effort into setting them up, only to find there's no demand for your service.
  • Sharing a percentage of revenue from customers can eat into your profit and end up being a high cost of acquisition.

When To Use:

  • Early-stage
  • When your customers are well-networked
  • When your customers wouldn’t naturally share with others unless incentivized.

Customer Journey Stage: Awareness, Acquisition


There are two types of virality: Pull Product Virality and Distribution Product Virality.

Pull Product Virality (PPV):

Existing users require people in their network to join to gain value out of a feature.

You can see that type of virality on an app like Splitwise where you need friends on the product to input money owing and money lent. Or, with Whatsapp where you should have your friends and family in to communicate.

Snapchat also works the same way because need friends in Snapchat to see snaps and be seen.

Distribution Product Virality (DPV):

Existing users spread awareness of a product to their network.

Instagram’s cross-posting was a game changer for them; You can share your photos on Facebook and Twitter and even non-users will get in.

The same thing happened in Facebook’s early days.

If a tagged friend wasn’t on Facebook, she would receive an email prompting her to create an account.

DPV can also take the form of incentivized sharing. Earn an extra life, get one month free, or enter a giveaway by sharing the product with someone.

It’s important to call out that both of these strategies, and virality in general, require customers or users to start. You can’t rely on virality to start. The sweet spot is when you have product/market fit and enough happy customers to create an exponential effect.

How to measure Virality

Virality is measured through the calculation of the viral coefficient, aka the k-factor.

The k-factor is the total number of registrations per unique inviting user.

So, if 1 in 5 of your users recruit a new user in their first month, your viral factor is 1/5 = 0.2, and your initial 5,000 users will recruit another 5,000 * 0.2 = 1,000 users in month one.

For a consumer internet product, a sustainable viral factor of 0.15 to 0.25 is good, 0.4 is great,  and around 0.7 is outstanding. A business internet product will usually be much lower, with about .10 being good, .2 great, and .35 outstanding.

But here’s the problem:

When your viral factor is less than 1, you acquire users at a decreasing rate until you grow no more. The solution is to factor in all the other channels that you acquire customers like PR, direct traffic, paid ads, and organic traffic for example.

Getting to a viral factor of more than 1 is truly rare.

However, the viral factor is just an indicator, and not the whole truth.

In order to see how virality affects your overall growth, you have to take into consideration your amplification factor. The number of users acquired through non-viral channels by your amplification factor will reveal the real growth of your user base.

You can calculate the amplification factor by dividing 1 by the result of subtracting of your viral factor from 1.

Essentially it’s 1 / (1 - viral factor)

Here’s a basic anatomy of a viral funnel:

  1. The top of the funnel is the step where the user becomes aware that she can invite someone.
  2. Then the second step is where the users submit the invite form.
  3. The third step includes them sending the actual invitation.
  4. Then the fourth step is where the invitee gets the invitation
  5. The fifth and last step is when the invitee accepts the invitation and registers.


  • Excellent ROI. Viral marketing campaigns can reach truly staggering audience sizes, with very little expenditure to get the ball rolling.


  • Wildly unpredictable. There's simply no way to guarantee viral marketing success. Trial and error is crucial, and in some instances, companies even end up suffering the wrath of their target audiences for attempted manipulation.

When To Use:

  • When your SaaS is dependant on networks.

Customer Journey Stage: Awareness, Acquisition

Word of mouth

Word of mouth is not something that you can go out and do, like every other marketing channel. While you can’t control it or even cause it, you can put yourself in the best position.

Word of mouth just requires a few key ingredients:

Have a great product: Solve a problem even for a small niche and actually deliver on what it’s supposed to do.

Keep your customer support in high priority:

Humans love being treated well.

Build communities:

The big bang of the internet happened not because of products but because it offered the ability to people to gather and belong somewhere.

Love your customers:

Help them in any way that you are able to. Write a case study about them, support them by buying something they sell, do a webinar with them, visit them, and send them gifts of appreciation.

Admit your mistakes:

Your mistakes offer a unique opportunity for generating word of mouth. You could be honest and do your best to fix it (which is rare) or you could blame someone else or just flat out ignore it (which is common and infuriating).


  • The most natural form of marketing.


  • No direct control over what people are saying about you.

When To Use:

- This is the one channel that you cannot control. The only thing that you can try to control is how people describe your product or what’s remarkable about you. Give people the language to use.

Customer Journey Stage: Awareness

Side projects

Mikael, founder of Crew, explained how side projects saved their business: “We had no money. We changed our business model and had 3 months worth of cash left to turn things around. If we didn’t we were toast. Done. We needed to find customers. But no one knew who we were. A marketing budget? Please. We were just trying to keep the lights on.”

They decided to give away for free all the extra photos they didn’t use that they had shot for their website redesign.

A Tumblr theme and three hours later, they launched Unsplash. Unsplash not only saved their startup, but turned into a standalone product that generates over 11 million unique visitors a month.

The key to side project marketing success goes back to the core of great marketing today: give before you get.

The truth is that it doesn’t matter what form your marketing takes as long as your potential customers are finding value in it.

It’s important to note that side project marketing isn’t a sneaky way of trying to trick people into using your product. It’s to create value for others by creating tools, apps, websites, or a software — a value that is related to your core business that you build on the side without losing your main focus.

In return, some of those people who like what you create on the side end up wanting to learn more about you.

It’s not a surprise that Unsplash is the number-one referral source to Crew with just a simple link back to their website on their header menu.

Buffer created Pablo, an easy way to create beautiful social media images. Moz created Open Site Explorer. Hubspot made a website grading calculator. Google created Gmail.

The best side projects aim to be useful and valuable; Aim to solve a real problem for free.

When you’re generous, your audience will be too. Don’t get link-happy back to your main website. You genuinely want to be generous, not manipulative.

Side projects are easier to pull off with partners. Find other companies who you share target customers with and find something to collaborate on.

Side projects can be refreshing and exciting for your team — a breath of fresh air away from blog posts and ads, which can get monotonous.

Keep it small and low maintenance. Make sure it’s not too complicated or time consuming. The last you want is to have a free product that is costing you more than it brings in return.

Some great examples of side project marketing are:


Use or a similar service to create simple logic-based calculators to help your potential customers.

Free tools:

Make a part of your product free or create a complimentary free product that potential customers may also enjoy. It’s important that your side projects are still appealing to your target customers for your actual products.

Mini sites:

Some of the best examples of side project marketing are creating mini sites that curate content, perform a simple task, or standalone content like a book or ebook.


Using Google Sheets or Airtable, you could easily create a directory or list of helpful resources, links, companies, or other useful information.


  • Like launching a new product, it’s a great way to make some serious noise.
  • Strong association back to your brand as being useful and helpful


  • Potentially expensive
  • Potentially time intensive.

When To Use:

  • When you can create a free resource that will get you mass exposure for your product.

Customer Journey Stage: Awareness


Community marketing is absolutely the hardest to master, yet one of the most rewarding strategies for SaaS companies.

Essentially, community marketing is creating brand awareness through managing or participating in an online community. The most popular forms of online communities are Slack groups, Facebook groups, dedicated website forums, and Reddit.

Creating your own community is obviously the most challenging type of community marketing, because there is a fine line you have to walk between promotion and facilitation. You will immediately lose the trust of your members and discourage any more growth if you pitch your community members. It all must be indirect.

The main advantage that community marketing gives you is the ability to own your audience, direct the conversation, and have direct contact with potential customers in an open environment.

One of the other great advantages of community marketing is that members will often ask for recommendations for new products or services, in which case you can make your pitch or hope that someone else in the community recommends your product.

One of the best examples of community marketing is is an online community for people interested in or who do inbound marketing. is owned by Moz, an SEO tool, which is critical to executing inbound marketing.

Slack groups are also a great way to connect with potential customers. Slack groups could be either free or paid, and are often pretty exclusive.

Mobilize, Disqus, and Mighty Networks are a great way to create your own communities.

Some of the keys to great community marketing are:


Comment on posts, ask questions, and voice your opinions.


Share links to articles, events, or helpful content. Share your own content and always give helpful advice.


Pull in useful content from other blogs or publications. You could share a “blog post of the day” or pull a company from a database to talk about every week.

Be accessible:

Make sure that your email is on your profile page, be responsive to messages, and don’t ignore people when they’re trying to get ahold of you.

Involve influencers:

Influencers can attract new users, help retain current users, and create buzz around the community. Influencers generally make communities more “sticky” and offer great content.


Set aside time every day. If you’re planning on sharing something on a regular basis, don’t let it fall off your radar. Going MIA from your community for a while can seriously hurt it — even if it’s just you going on vacation. Make sure you’re giving others responsibility and having people consistently contribute and participate.


  • Directly talk to potential customers
  • Build friendly relationships with potential customers


  • Difficult to manage
  • Hard to get traction

When To Use:

  • Absolutely use.

Customer Journey Stage: Awareness

In summary

There are many, many strategies and channels to choose from. It all comes down to two things: Which channels are the most cost-effective and which channels are most customer-effective? You don’t have to do them all, you just have to find the ones that allow you to acquire the most amount of customers for the least amount of money.

In the next chapter, we’ll explore launching and how to use these strategies and channels to your advantage in that crucial time.