If you’re looking to scale up your SaaS business, you may have considered hiring a marketing agency.
Rather than hiring a bunch of marketing people in-house and figuring out a process from scratch, it can sometimes be more cost-efficient to hire an agency, plug your business model into their existing systems, and press play.
This is especially true if none of your founding team members have any deep marketing strategy expertise.
But how do you go about selecting a marketing agency for your SaaS business? What should you look for? Who should you turn to?
Luckily that’s what we’ll be covering today!
- SaaS marketing normally consists of a mix of SEO, content, linkbuilding, paid ads, social media and event marketing.
- Rather than drain yourself by doing too many things at once, it’s strongly advisable to focus on one channel and find an agency that specializes in that.
- Look for an agency with expertise in your chosen channel, a solid productized services model, excellent customer service and reasonable prices.
- If you’re looking for support in content marketing, consider Grow and Convert or Quoleady.
- If you’re looking for support in linkbuilding, consider Heroic Search or Digital Olympus.
- For social media consulting, consider Siarza Social Digital.
- For web design and conversion optimization, consider NB Communication.
The key elements of SaaS marketing
Marketing activities in a SaaS business can generally be broken down into the following 6 categories.
From the perspective of hiring an agency, you’d expect the agency you go with to be a specialist in one of these areas, and have decent competence in most of the others.
SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization.” You can think of this as the process by which you ensure that your SaaS business can be found on search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo.
It’s an incredibly scalable strategy, as the gains from posting and optimizing content compound over time. The downside is that it can sometimes take a year or two before you see any kind of commercially significant results.
Classically, SEO is broken down into the following sub-areas:
- Technical SEO: includes ensuring pages are indexed, creating site maps, Knowledge Graph optimization and improving site speed.
- On-page SEO: includes creating quality content (see below), image alt tags, responsive design, internal links and title tags.
- Off-page SEO: includes backlinking (see below), guest posting, PR, and listings on directories such as Yelp.
Examples of content that your SaaS business might want to create include:
Pretty much all of these require some kind of writing skills to produce, and normally a good content team will include a designer as well.
It’s worth noting that the rest of your marketing will often fall flat in the absence of quality content.
I like to think of the content process as broken down into 3 parts:
- Content ideation: deciding what to write and which keywords to target for SEO purposes.
- Content creation: the act of creating the content from scratch, often involving a research process.
- Content promotion: marketing the content to ensure that it gets read or otherwise consumed by the right people. This part is the one most often neglected.
Expect an agency specializing in content to understand all 3 areas deeply.
Linkbuilding is the process of building links on third party sites that link back to your website or blog.
The page that you link back to is referred to as a “linkable asset” to denote the fact that it’s a high-quality asset that people should want to link to. The linkable asset should be built by your content team, and then the linkbuilding team is the marketing muscle that makes sure the asset gets found.
When linkbuilding first started around 20 years ago, it was easy to just write to a webmaster and ask them to link to you. In 2021, linkbuilding has become much more competitive as website owners now know that their web properties are valuable, and often demand something in return for linking to you.
Common linkbuilding tactics include:
- Guest posting
- Paid links
- Unlinked mentions
- Directory linkbuilding
- Broken links
- Infographic linkbuilding
4. Paid ads
With this strategy, you can pay to place ads for your SaaS on massive platforms that already have millions of users.
Generally, the amount you pay will be determined on the basis of how many people have seen your ad (CPM) or how many people have clicked on it (CPC).
The most popular sites to put ads on for SaaS businesses are Google and Facebook. It’s common to bid for ads that cover your competitor’s search terms, so you might see Microsoft bidding on the search term “Apple,” for example.
But the paid ad space is getting larger each year and it’s also possible to put ads on:
- And more!
One downside as a SaaS business in hiring an agency to pursue paid ads is that you have to pay for both the agency AND the ads, so costs can mount up quickly.
5. Social media
We’re finding that this marketing strategy is less important for SaaS businesses than it used to be, but it’s still worthwhile to create a profile for your business on major social platforms such as:
Social media is perhaps best used as a way to distribute your content and build a sense of community. Userpilot has had success with building its own Facebook group, for example.
Expect a good social media agency to come equipped with tools for automating social posts, and a separate strategy for each major network.
6. Event marketing
As the world starts to open up again after the coronavirus lockdowns, it will become increasingly important to promote your SaaS business at events and conferences.
Even in the present, largely digital economy, SaaS businesses can get a lot out of digital events. Userpilot has put on the Product Drive summit, for example, and this has both increased our profile in the SaaS world and driven leads.
An event marketing agency can help you with the planning and execution of your own event, or with creating a strategy for attending the events that are most relevant to your brand.
What is important when choosing a SaaS marketing agency?
Consider the following factors when you’re interviewing agencies to work with:
1. Expertise in what you want
Don’t go for a generalist marketing agency that does a bit of everything. Marketing is a very complex discipline and it pays to go with an expert in one area, so that you can access specialist knowledge.
If this means neglecting multiple areas of marketing in order to focus on one or two, then that’s definitely a cost worth bearing. Ultimately, if you spread your marketing budget over 20 different channels, it will be almost impossible to see what’s working unless you have enterprise-level funding.
2. Customer service
A good agency will talk to you frequently: at least once a month, and more often if you have questions or concerns.
It’s a big red flag if they start marketing for you, switch on their systems, and then leave you alone until it’s time to send an invoice.
Bonus points if they make an effort to connect to your sales team, so that sales and marketing can share insights about positioning and customer needs.
3. Healthy boundaries
Expect a good agency to have productized its marketing services. This means that, instead of charging you by the hour ad infinitum, there is a set package of services that you and the agency have agreed on before the work even starts.
This package should be codified by both parties in a written contact, signed before work begins.
Agreeing on the scope of work in advance prevents “scope creep.” This is a very common problem in the agency world in which the customer frequently asks for more and more work from the agency for the same price.
Scope creep creates stress for you as a SaaS business because projects go on forever and you’re never satisfied.
Expect a good agency to say “no” if you ask for services that go beyond the scope you agreed.
Obviously, you’ll want to find an agency that works within your budget. Avoiding scope creep will also ensure you stay on budget, incidentally.
Budget depends on the type of SaaS company you’re in. The larger your company, the higher your budget will be most of the time.
Check your budget with your CEO or CFO before reaching out to an agency.
Best SaaS Marketing Agencies
Here are our top recommendations for marketing agencies to partner with as a SaaS business:
1. Grow and Convert
Grow and Convert is a world-renowned agency that specializes in content marketing.
It takes its name from combining the skill sets of Benji Hyam, a content marketer (”Grow”), and Devesh Khanal, a conversion rate expert (”Convert”).
It’s intelligent to merge these two skill sets together, since it’s notoriously difficult to track conversions that come from content. Most content marketers have no idea about how to quantify the value of their work to their clients in terms of leads generated.
Grow and Convert package their services as a fully done-for-you, end-to-end deal covering the following areas:
- Content strategy
- Content ideation
- Content creation
- Content promotion through paid ads and SEO
- Linkbuilding to the content they write
- Conversion rate optimization
I’ve personally spoken to both Benji and Devesh and they are both incredibly smart, friendly and professional. Benji in particular is often willing to share valuable advice for free.
The one potential downside for new SaaS businesses here is the cost. Working with Grow and Convert costs $10k per month, all-inclusive. This is quite a bit of money, but you can argue it ends up as cheaper than hiring lots of content marketers in-house.
If this is too expensive for you, Grow and Convert also offer a popular content marketing course where they give a lot of their knowledge away for $699. I’ve taken this course myself and learned a huge amount from it.
So a cheaper way for you to work with this agency might be to purchase the course and use it to train your marketing team.
2. Heroic Search
Heroic Search is an agency that specializes in linkbuilding.
Founded by Jared Carrizales in 2013, Heroic Search started off life as an SEO agency, before pivoting towards linkbuilding in 2017 due to the scale of market demand.
It’s rare enough for an agency to specialize in linkbuilding, but what really sets Heroic Search apart is its commitment to quality. Most SEOs are obsessed with link quotas, in other words with link quantity as opposed to link quality.
Heroic Search will only deliver you links that actually move the needle on metrics that matter to your SaaS business. The company has even been known to refund links that don’t fall into this category in the past.
Heroic Search has a dedicated package for SaaS companies, which has been used by industry leaders such as Elementor.
When most people think of linkbuilding, they tend to confine their tactics to guest posting. Heroic Search further distinguishes itself from the competition through the sheer diversity of linkbuilding tactics that it uses.
The Heroic Search team is also known for being personable and easy to get along with. If you have an issue with your SEO, Jared will personally get on the phone with you and sort it out.
Pricing is very reasonable, starting from $300 per link.
3. Digital Olympus
If you want an alternative to Heroic Search, it might be worth taking a look at Digital Olympus.
This company was founded in 2016 by former SEMrush Marketing Director Alexandra Tachalova. Digital Olympus started out life as a marketing conference (which still runs to this day, also highly recommended) and gradually evolved into an agency that specializes in linkbuilding.
Something impressive about Digital Olympus is that all their links are organic; they’ve never paid for a link. In an age of cash-hungry webmasters, this is quite the feat.
Instead, the companies relies on a massive network of 1000+ partners that it’s built over time, which allows it to place contextual links and guest posts quickly and efficiently.
This relational approach ensures that the links you pay for are highly relevant to your SaaS company, and actually gain in value over time.
Digital Olympus does not disclose its pricing online, but you can pay for packages of between 7-20 links per month, with additional enterprise-level services like custom-tailored linkbuilding as an optional add-on.
Founded in 2020, Quoleady is the new kid on the block when it comes to marketing agencies, but it’s already making waves in the SaaS world.
Quoleady specializes in content marketing for SaaS businesses specifically. Its biggest-name client is Monday.com, and you may also have heard of Chanty.
In a comparatively short period of time, founder and former CMO Olga Mykhoparkina has put together a team of remote content experts that provide the following services:
- Content Strategy
- Content Writing
- Content Promotion
- And consulting
I’ve spoken briefly to Olga in the past and can confirm that she is extremely friendly and professional. She’s also an accomplished speaker and networker, having appeared on Entrepreneur.com, Hubspot and GoDaddy, among others.
Quoleady’s pricing is bespoke and not publicly available on its website.
5. Siarza Social Digital
If you need an agency to market your SaaS on social media, look no further than Siarza Social Digital.
The brainchild of founder Kristelle Siarza, SSD specializes in creating and executing social media strategies across multiple channels.
I have personally participated in consulting calls with their senior executives and can confirm that they know their stuff. The strategic roadmaps they produce are extremely detailed and they think long-term, which is rare in the instant gratification-prone world of social media.
Beyond social media, Siarza also offers:
- Integrated Marketing
- Web Design & SEO
- Content Marketing
Something I particularly appreciate about Siarza is how embedded they are in their local community. Kristelle is constantly giving back to the Asian American diaspora, speaking at events, and helping young marketers start their careers.
If community is a strong value of your business, this could well be the agency for you.
6. NB Communication
Last but not least, NB Communication is a Scottish agency that specializes in web design that converts.
As we discussed earlier, it’s rare for an agency to care so much about conversions and how to attribute leads to content. Most marketers are happy to just execute their process and then send you an invoice.
In a world of unreliable marketers, founder David Nicol is probably the most honest and trustworthy marketer I have ever spoken to. You can always count on him to be a man of his word.
NB Communication might be a good choice for you if you need to build a website that is conversion-focused, but don’t know where to start. As a bonus, if you want to build a mobile version of your product, they can help you code that app as well.
Beyond design and development, NB Communication offers the following services:
- Strategy consulting
- Email marketing (an underrated resource for SaaS companies)
- Social media
Choosing The Right SaaS Marketing Agency For You
We hope that you have got something out of this exploration of SaaS marketing and the agencies that can help you.
If you take one thing away from this article, let it be this: focus your attention on one channel, and find an agency that specializes in that one channel.
Ignoring all the other noise in the marketing world (and there’s lots of it) will save you a lot of time and stress. Take it from me after 6 years in marketing!
If you’d like to explore Userpilot as a way to improve your product marketing, please consider booking a demo and clicking on the banner below.