07 Feb 8 Advanced HubSpot Marketing Tactics for SaaS Companies with Momentum
In 2011, Marc Andreessen famously stated that “software is eating the world.” His prophecy rings true today, maybe more than ever. Over the past decade, the SaaS space has exploded, meaning there are ample opportunity and ample competition.
Say your SaaS company is successfully competing and even has some good momentum. You’ve got product-market fit, are signing on customers, and building your annual recurring revenue (ARR). How will you uplevel your marketing?
Marketing can supercharge your business, or it can bog you down in business-as-usual distractions. It isn’t enough to keep your head down anymore; marketing teams need to build bridges between sales, product, design, and of course themselves. The bridge between Sales and Marketing is especially important in order to continue growing the top-line.
At Clutchgrowth, we’ve had the privilege of advising SaaS companies that have significantly grown their ARR. Running smarter, data-driven marketing means implementing precision. You need to understand how your marketing efforts tie into the revenue pipeline. Note: I’m using ‘revenue pipeline’ instead of ‘sales pipeline’ because, in B2B SaaS, Sales AND Marketing are the revenue team and accountable for the number.
HubSpot is one amazing tool we’ve used to ramp up marketing’s revenue effectiveness for SaaS companies. With some advanced HubSpot usage, you can align your marketing with sales and yield great insights.
Here are some advanced HubSpot marketing tactics you can employ, including small actions you can take today.
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1. Embrace persona-based marketing, and monitor success
The SaaS space continues to grow. Yesterday’s MarTech 5,000 is now the MarTech ~7,000 and counting.
At the same time, the digital marketing landscape is noisier than ever, with more companies flooding your inbox with email.
So with more competition and more noise – it’s a double whammy. You’ll go nowhere unless you embrace relevance and personalization.
Your audience wants personalization across every communication. From email to paid search, relevance is the #1 priority for any audience. Through the clutter of thousands of SaaS tools on the market, your marketing needs to be persona-driven and dialed in to be effective.
Take Action: If your company’s website doesn’t list your top personas and/or industry use cases, add it immediately.
Persona and Solutions pages (targeting a specific role or industry) are constantly getting more eyeballs. They’re your golden opportunity to personally address a specific group of prospects.
For our of our B2B clients, you can see the impact persona-specific pages can have and how well-trafficked these pages are. These pages are among the highest-value pages on your B2B website. 90+% of the website visitors didn’t enter the website on these pages but intentionally chose to go there.
If your website is simply listing 23 complicated things your product can do, guess who is going to leave immediately? Your target audience, who may not care about most of these features. So make the messaging relevant for your key personas and verticals.
While personas are all about addressing solutions, your operations and reporting also need to illustrate solutions. You can’t run persona-based marketing without understanding what’s working. So, as you create a reporting structure, aim to answer the following questions:
- Which campaigns are your new leads coming from? Which marketing channels?
- Are these new leads converting to qualified leads? Sales accepted leads? Opportunities?
- Are Sales excited about their conversations for prospects in a given industry, and role? What do Sales learn in their conversations with these prospects that they can share with marketing?
Take Action: Using HubSpot and your CRM, create dashboards and reports that will help you map your marketing efforts to your audience personas.
We created a “New Leads by Persona” dashboard in HubSpot in order to understand how many new leads fell in each of our key buyer personas. We can customize the date range and review the results every month.
You should also create Workflows that contain the contact and company firmographics behind each persona. Your new leads will automatically be tagged to those personas, as shown below:
Create Workflows to group your personas, and when you’re ready, implement persona-specific email nurture campaigns.
Take Action: Create a bi-directional sync between HubSpot and your CRM (you may be using HubSpot’s CRM and Sales Hub, Salesforce, or other).
Through this sync, you can track your leads and even marketing efforts and campaigns through the funnel and understand Opportunities Closed, Won, and Lost. This data will map back to your personas, along with campaigns and marketing channels, if you’re mapping fields and properties over from HubSpot to SFDC.
Outcome of persona-based marketing and tracking:
- Understand % of new leads that fall into each persona, and % of new leads that are outside of your target personas
- Know which marketing channels and campaigns are driving the qualified leads, pipeline, and revenue
- Understand funnel movement and success based on personas, channels, and campaigns, to figure out what’s working and drive more of those wins
- Review Opportunities Won and Lost, plus which personas you’re having success with and which you aren’t
- As a result, gain insight into whether the persona or the sales pitch to the persona is the issue, so you can refine your marketing and sales strategy
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2. Don’t just score leads; prioritize them for Sales
With some traction underway, Sales isn’t complaining about zero leads. Now they have a different conundrum for marketing: “You’re giving us junky leads, most of which are unqualified.”
They’re right. Stop wasting their time.
If 10% of your MQLs convert to SALs (sales accepted leads), your MQL scoring is off. Lead scoring is needed, but don’t rely on it alone. Sales teams will see marketing leads and think, “Well only 10% of these will result in a meeting alone, much less closed-won deals.”
Your brand has momentum now. So instead, build processes to prioritize leads for Sales. For example, if sales understands the buyer personas that convert best or the company names and roles they want to prioritize conversations with, then prioritize those leads for Sales. Feed the beast with quality, not quantity. How?
Take Action: Separate firmographics from website behavior in your lead scoring. Create firmographic rules, and flag the leads that are the right role, department, and company (have a budget). Give Sales these leads in a different SFDC View or Report and mark them as “Good Fit Leads.” And have your Operations person track this constantly and report on each Salesperson and their follow-up rate with these good-fit leads.
Outcome of prioritizing leads for Sales:
- Sales will hug you for making their lives easier and giving them insights into lead quality
- Your marketing efforts at driving the right leads will be more sophisticated
- You’ll learn what’s working well to drive leads with the right firmographics, so you can do more of it
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3. Create separate nurture tracks for good fit leads
Just as Sales will prioritize lead outreach, Marketing should also prioritize what to send, to whom and when. With persona-based marketing and lead prioritization, create separate nurture tracks for your “good fit leads.”
Lead nurturing starts with email nurturing, but B2B email open rates are ~20%. So unless you want ~80% of your leads ignoring your communications, you need to leverage retargeting and advertising.
Figure out the best content for each of your personas and good fit leads, and nurture them with:
- Webinars and gated content
- Industry and persona-specific use cases
- Case studies
- Us vs. Competitor pages
- Why Choose Us
Take Action: Build your automated email workflow in HubSpot. Then, build your retargeting sequence across whatever combination of Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora, etc., you use to advertise.
You’ll spend 15-20x less to nurture these existing leads with retargeting than you will to keep driving new leads.
Outcome of segmented nurture tracks:
- Highly relevant, personalized content that your audience will actually enjoy
- Audience-first messaging that makes you memorable. “Oh right, you guys have no-code analytics I can set up in minutes, and save a ton of time on reporting.”
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4. Leverage HubSpot’s bot to qualify prospects
Whether you think Conversational Marketing is the next big thing or overhyped, the reality is that people are interacting with chatbots. We’ve deployed them on B2B SaaS websites and gotten a healthy amount of demos booked. Add them to your arsenal.
Take Action: Use HubSpot’s chatbot, or a similar product to converse with and qualify your website visitors.
Build a playbook, and see if it works to drive sales meetings (integrate Calendly or similar tool if possible to limit the back and forth in scheduling meetings).
Outcome of leveraging bots to drive leads:
- Engage and qualify your prospects while they’re on your website, and answer their questions on the fly
- Eliminate the back-and-forth and make scheduling a meeting painless
- Leverage lead routing to the right sales rep based on the company they’re from (known by their IP address)
- Increase sales appointments by adding this new lead generation tactic to your arsenal
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5. Closely monitor funnel conversion rates
As a company with inbound leads and deals in contract, you cannot afford to take your eye off of the marketing and sales funnel. If you do, it can literally destroy your business as it has for plenty of SaaS startups. Are your leads even making it over to sales? Is sales reaching out in a timely manner, or are there lead views that reps are missing and need access to ASAP? Are both teams upholding their SLAs (service level agreements) and aligned on current activities?
Marketing has goals for how many qualified leads they give to Sales, and Sales has pipeline goals. You have to keep a close eye on your funnel conversion rates and understand what is working and not working. If monthly MQL to SAL (sales accepted leads) conversion rates start tanking, you have to understand why and what you can do to fix it.
Take Action: Have Sales and Marketing team members get together to determine:
- Are too many MQLs not converting to SALs?
- Will you make or miss your sales pipeline goal?
- Is the inbound marketing not producing enough qualified leads and not adequately contributing to sales pipeline? What marketing activities will you do to make up for this?
- Do you need to launch Account-Based Marketing and target the companies with the budget and need to buy your product?
- Are salespeople not following up with leads coming in due to any operational oversight or lack of visibility?
Creating data-driven revenue operations is hard. When I used to work in-house, we hired a big-name marketing agency to help us on this front. They weren’t familiar with HubSpot… so they literally built everything incorrectly, from marketing automation to email campaigns to processes. We had to go back and fix everything and gained expertise in HubSpot as a result of years of hard work.
Don’t hire a consultant or agency that doesn’t understand A) your marketing automation system, and B) doesn’t understand your business and goals. If you have an operations person, that’s great. If a vendor handles your operations, make sure they have industry and automation knowledge, along with the ability to suggest action items to get Marketing and Sales better aligned.
Both process and execution are needed for success. Your HubSpot consultant should be making things more clear for you every month.
Outcome of monitoring funnel conversion:
- Real-time understanding of the Marketing-to-Sales handoff
- Ensuring that SLAs are being met and leads are being touched
- A pulse on your goals vs. actuals, and proactive action items in case you’re trending lower than your sales goals
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6. Leverage integrations to centralize data
You get 1,000 names from a conference. 2,500 people take your Ecourse. 500 people sign up for your training program. 300 people opt-in on your paid advertising that leads to an Unbounce landing page and form. Where the heck does all of this data live?
If it’s not making it back to HubSpot for scoring and qualification, you can’t do much with it.
Take Action: Leverage Zapier and other tools that allow you to build integrations and workflows.
We’ve been able to nurture leads, automate an entire year’s worth of follow-up after conferences and events, follow up after webinars, and more, all because we connected Zapier to bring data into HubSpot from our other tools.
Outcome of leveraging integrations:
- Automate your marketing and make it much less manual (thus saving time)
- Bring in contact data and centralize communication and contact management (HubSpot to Salesforce / CRM sync)
- Quickly follow up with people after key events, webinars, etc.
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7. Create Marketing & Sales Alignment
Marketing should run internally like a well-oiled machine. From demand generation to content to SEO to paid advertising and beyond, marketing should ensure that every activity will add value down the road – and funnel.
You need to create avenues for communication between Marketing and Sales. That might look like a Sales/Marketing Slack channel for questions and collaboration, and a once a week demo sit-in. Marketers should get used to asking Sales questions in order to gather feedback on messaging that resonates, the ideal prospects, and how to find more of them.
If you’re a venture-funded SaaS startup, typically once you’ve received a Series B funding round, your investors will expect you to hit revenue and acquisition goals and grow fast (we’ve written an insightful article on this). You can’t afford to run marketing campaigns that aren’t driving the right prospects into the sales funnel.
Take Action: Beyond the tips above, start an Account-Based Marketing program. Sit with sales and get a diamond list of prospects, decide how Marketing and Sales will contribute to ABM, and strategize campaigns to reach and influence your key prospects and influencers at these specific companies. Create workflows to alert sales pros when new leads come in from their top target accounts.
Outcome of aligning Sales and Marketing:
- Get valuable insights from Sales on their conversations with prospects
- An understanding on which deals are promising vs. which leads marketing sent that are lower quality or not buying-ready
- A foundational alignment that’ll be useful when you launch and scale your account-based marketing efforts
- Bring in new leads from Sales’ key accounts
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8. Creating a SaaS onboarding workflow for trial users (and new customers)
Provide your users with a great experience during their free trial. A poorly-run free trial creates confusion, frustration, and turns away potential customers forever.
So before you launch any free trial campaign, define your workflow. Ask your team:
- In which order should users perform actions?
- What are you trying to accomplish, and how will you know if you nail it – conversion rates, activation rates, revenue goals, or some other metric?
- How will you surprise and delight your users during their trial?
- How will you alert users that their trial will end, so you don’t hit them with a surprise fee and alienate them?
- What do your activation nudges look like throughout the trial?
- How do you make it easy for them to convert to paying customers at the end of their trial?
Once you’ve sorted out this process, you can provide options for your trial users. Maybe you’ll create trigger-based emails based on page views, or maybe you’ll offer them more time if they need it.
ProdPad extends free trials as users engage with various product features. Brilliant!
Take Action: At the start and the end of the trial, have a real person spend a few minutes on the phone them. Your free trial users will become customers if you can solve their problems and provide value.
Outcome of creating a SaaS onboarding workflow:
- Data and feedback into your onboarding process
- A definite picture of what success looks like
- A system for nudging users from free models to paying models vs. churning
If you have momentum and are looking to uplevel your marketing efforts, don’t lose sight of these 8 tactics. Effective marketing is data-driven, pipeline-driven, and aligned with Sales. This is especially important if you are a growing startup competing against established brands.
If you’re not tracking your marketing efforts, you can’t measure success, and you can’t pinpoint what’s working and what’s not.
Looking to launch an Account-Based Marketing (ABM) program to drive qualified leads and pipeline out of your top target accounts?
Get my book, From Inbound to Account-Based Marketing. You’ll learn:
- The elements you need for a successful ABM program
- Examples of killer ABM reports you can build out in HubSpot
- Tips for optimizing an ABM program that isn’t producing the desired results
Zaki Hussain is CEO of Clutchgrowth. Zaki provides digital marketing consulting to Fortune 500, SaaS, and E-commerce companies interested in improving marketing speed, sales alignment, and driving leads and sales.