Software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers need to understand the best-kept secret of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Namely, that most of the AdWords campaign best practices you’ll read about just simply aren’t effective for SaaS. This article will tell you exactly what you need to know to optimize your Google AdWords campaigns if you are a SaaS company.
What Makes SaaS Providers So Different?
One big difference that we see when working on an Adwords campaign is the time between an ad being clicked and a conversion. That’s because SaaS providers typically have a longer sales cycle. They often have to offer a 15-day free trial, free demo or some other test opportunity for their product before the prospect buys their product/service.
So, your sales cycle is longer, but the client commitment is also longer, which means each conversion equals longer-term revenue to support your business model. All this means there are different tricks to SaaS marketing on AdWords that go beyond the typical keyword bidding.
The next section will share many of the tips we’ve learned over the years when partnering with SaaS providers to run successful Google AdWords campaigns.
SaaS Marketing Tips for AdWords
SaaS Marketing Tip #1 for AdWords- Don’t Carpet-Bomb Keywords. Use SKAG
Our first tip for SaaS marketing on AdWords is to ignore what Google tells you. Well, don’t ignore everything, but definitely discard the advice that says you should use up to 20 keywords in an ad campaign group. This carpet-bombing approach is actually the opposite of what we would recommend, which is to stick with just one keyword per ad group. While that may be controversial in marketing circles, we’ve been more effective with our SaaS clients when we focus on a single keyword group (SKAG). It works particularly well for keywords that are “rarely shown due to low quality score.”
We find that following Google’s advice on this actually benefits Google more than the client. That’s because the SaaS provider ends up overspending due to a poor message match. They ultimately pay for a lot of off-kilter clicks that aren’t converted. SKAGs will improve your quality scores and give you more qualified leads. In fact, if you keep your messaging consistent between your keyword, the ad layout and copy, and your landing page, your quality score will also improve. Everything should tie together in a thematically consistent approach that subtly reinforces your keyword at each point in the customer contact lifecycle. How can you do this if you have a dozen keywords per ad? See what we mean?
SaaS Marketing Tip #2 for AdWords – Go Negative
This is a great tip for SaaS marketing because it’s so often forgotten, but once you do your research, it’s easy to complete. Negative keywords are the words and phrases that you absolutely do not want linked to your ad. It helps inform those smart little search engine algorithms that you don’t want your ad to appear when those particular words are queried. It’s a big money saver for SaaS companies who want to cut back on showing up in irrelevant searches and potentially paying for a click from a non-qualified buyer.
For example, if a company operates a sales recruiting firm that only helps certain industries, it wouldn’t want to show up in searches outside its target market. In order to attract the right traffic to their landing page, the recruiting firm can mark keywords that don’t relate to markets as negative keywords. As shown in the image below, these could be terms like medical or pharmaceutical recruiters.
SaaS Marketing Tip #3 for AdWords – Land Hard on Your Landing Page
Don’t just “call it in” when developing your landing page – land on it with both feet. A poorly designed landing page for your AdWords efforts will stymie your efforts to convert. Treat your landing page with as much attention and care as you would give to a page on your website. Use your keyword throughout the entire AdWords process, from the ad itself, through to the landing page, and in your meta description and graphics. Also, pepper the keywords into your headers and sub headers for maximum bang for the buck.
Make sure you have a customized and visually appealing landing page for each keyword and campaign you undertake. But work smarter by personalizing each landing page with dynamic text replacement that changes the call to action (CTA) and the header to the specific keyword the user is searching for.
Also be certain the landing page loads quickly (within three seconds) and that it is very simple to navigate. A slow or confusing landing page will stop the conversion in its tracks! Make sure to add a clean, easy-to-understand CTA to the landing page, one that reinforces your keyword message. Don’t forget your company name, logo, and contact information.
SaaS Marketing Tip #4 for AdWords – Not All Ads are Created Equal
There are definitely some tricks to creating the ad itself that go hand-in-hand with the landing page. It’s important to keep in mind that not all ads are created equal. Some ad formats work better for SaaS ads than others. For example, using video to show prospects what your software looks like is one way you could set your offering apart from the competition. Studies have shown us that advertising that features video are often more effective; SaaS providers should take full advantage.
Google AdWords has a feature called Ad Customizers that automates pulling feed details directly into your ads.
You can add customizers anywhere into the ad except for the URL field. It works just like the Dynamic Keyword Insertion process by instructing Google to update your ad by inserting specific information. So, one ad can offer multiple text variations keyed off of specific search parameters. Talk about bang for the buck! You can add a countdown timer that adjusts in real time or a discount percentage that changes based on the parameters you set. Some of the parameters you can set included:
- Personalizing a line in the ad to only appear on smartphones.
- The dates/times you want the customizer to be applied.
- An end date for your ad.
There’s even an option to customize the parameter – so knock your self out. You could add a timer that counts down to a webinar, then set a parameter that adds “You still have time to sign up” 24 hours before the event.
SaaS Marketing Tip #5 for AdWords – Tailor Each Ad Based on the Lifecyce Stage
Here’s the trick that works with most businesses, but is especially helpful for SaaS companies: tailor each campaign based on where each keyword is in the buyer’s lifecycle. As you probably know, potential customers are searching for different keywords at differing times before they buy. Your content, offers, and everything else need to align with where that lead is in the buyer’s journey.
For example, the prospects at the bottom of your funnel already know your product exists and have probably compared your services to the competition. They don’t need to be convinced that they need your service – they’ve been feeling their pain for a while now. Their final step in the buying cycle is to decide which vendor to choose.
The buyers at the top of a sales funnel are quite different. They may be struggling with existing software or starting to think about streamlining operations. They probably don’t know anything about your company and have begun a general research process that includes some broad category queries.
If you were trying to capture consumers at the top of the funnel, your goal would be to choose keywords that highlight a particular pain point that your software solves.
For the leads that have made it all the way through the funnel process – and in the case of SaaS providers they may even have had a demo of your product at this point – try the more obvious keywords that use your company’s brand or name of the software. The landing page can offer white papers that include customer testimonials or blogs specific to how easy it is to install and use your products.
SaaS Marketing Tip #6 for AdWords – Get Personal
Your ads are going to be read by real human beings, so make sure to write them PPC ads are about what’s in it for the customer, so write your copy geared toward the wants, needs, and priorities of the personas you’re targeting. When we say “personas,” by the way, we mean the people that buy your products. Tailor your AdWords campaign specific to the living breathing beings on the other side of it. Think about what your service can do to improve their lives, or the business they’re representing. Then write the ad like you really care about the potential client. (We know you do – just make sure the ad shows it.) Show that your company cares by addressing the pain these potential customers must be feeling. Use words like, “We can help you” and “Our software can” (do this). Great action words to use include: Protect, optimize, streamline, and organize – to name a few.
SaaS Marketing Tip #7 for AdWords – Don’t Be Afraid of Retargeting
Some businesses are hesitant to use retargeting, however, fearing that it may seem like cyber stalking to their potetial clients. While it’s true that a poorly optimized campaign can actually have a negative effect, a well-optimized campaign can provide gentle, helpful reminders to a potential customer. An effective retargeting campaign will be careful with ad frequency and use different creatives to prevent ad fatigue.
When done propely, retargeting can drive fantastic results. Don’t take our word for it – Software Advice says prospects that retarget are 70% more likely to convert those website visitors into clients. Google and Facebook all offer retargeting services, as well as some of the other paid platforms like LinkedIn. To find out more about retargeting, click here.
Finally, a Couple of General Tips for SaaS Marketing
One of the biggest benefits of being a SaaS provider is that customers will have a chance to test drive your product before purchasing a license. Make sure you’re maximizing this demo process by giving a guided introductory tour as the first step. The sales rep should take the time to get to know the potential client and find out more about their needs.
Then, if you’re offering a free trial, do not make it 30 days long. Instead, shorten your sales cycle by reducing your trial period to about 14 days. After the first seven days, have the original sales rep from the guided tour email the prospect to check in. Or, use retargeting to reach out at the mid-way point in the trial and invite users to signup for a webinar, download a case study, or watch a how-to video.
Finally, make sure your sales reps are calling every “warmed” lead at the end of the trial to close the deal!
So, there you have it – some of our best tips for SaaS marketing with AdWords. SevenAtoms is standing by to help your team improve revenues by optimizing Google AdWords campaigns. Contact us today to get started.