Marketing Strategy

Matthew Carpenter-Arevalo

Here’s A Sample Framework for SaaS Marketing Strategy

Are you a SaaS marketing manager trying to navigate the abundance of information and tips regarding how to develop a winning strategy? It may help if we take a step away from the complexity and move back towards simplicity. 

Having spent the better part of the past 6 years advising SaaS marketers, we at Centrico Digital have come up with a sample framework to help us think about how we organize SaaS marketing strategies. The framework goes like this: 

  • We need a strategy to build our brand. 
  • We need a strategy to acquire, nurture, and convert leads. 
  • We need a strategy to retain clients. 

Each of these components requires different activities and KPIs, but all of them work together. Indeed, your overall strategy doesn’t work if you don’t plan for each. Let’s start with branding. 

Why is branding important to Saas Marketing? 

When Centrico Digital started back in 2013, a lot of CMOs coming from the traditional marketing world only understood branding. As a result, they often wanted to take what worked for them on billboards and television and move that onto Facebook. They didn’t understand conversion. 

Nowadays, the branding focused CMO has been replaced by the conversion-focused CMO who doesn’t understand branding. 

So why is branding important for SaaS companies? 

As we’ve discussed at length in our b2b digital marketing white paper, your brand is a promise. The stronger your brand, the stronger your promise. 

The old phrase, “no-one got fired for hiring IBM” not only speaks to the strength of the IBM brand but of the value of a strong promise. Inherent in the statement is the idea that people are willing to overpay for IBM because they have complete faith that the company will deliver on what they offer. 

In the same way that on-page optimization increases conversions across all traffic sources, building a strong brand increases conversion, decreases sales cycles, and generates referral clients. Like dark matter, even if it’s hard for you to see, that doesn’t mean your brand isn’t holding the universe together. 

With branding, we want for our promise to be known. The key question here is, known by whom? When we get into the question of whom we want to know our brand, we can begin talking about account-based marketing, about reach and engagement of our social media content and email marketing campaigns, etc. 

As we also mentioned in our whitepaper, our brand must be strong so that, when the prospect moves from pain aware to purchase ready, they need to think of it. Great SaaS CMOs invest in strengthening their brand in front of the right audience, even when it’s hard to quantify. 

How does a SaaS company acquire, nurture, and convert prospects? 

If your company is bringing a new SaaS solution to the market, you have to understand that your primary competitor is inertia. You may be offering the best product since the bread slicer and still get ignored. CTOs and CIOs have a lot on their mind. They don’t owe you their time, and your email may be more of an annoyance that does more damage than good. 

To begin to acquire leads then, we need to ask ourselves: how do we add value to the people we seek to engage with? Inbound marketers will often say, “you need to do content marketing! Let’s start with keyword research.” That response is not incorrect per se, but if your client acquisition strategy is SEO and your company is brand new, you’re going to have the “open” sign on the store for a long time before anyone comes in. Rewriting other people’s content and hiring people to do link building may ultimately prove unfruitful. 

We, therefore, have to ask ourselves, what unique content can we create that no-one else has? Maybe you have to invest in doing some market research that answers questions your audience might have. Maybe you interview thought leaders in the space and put together unique, multi-format content. The most important thing is, unless your content is unique and essential, it will likely get ignored. 

If we want to acquire leads, we have to earn our audience’s attention. Most of your competitors won’t have the patience or creativity to put together really high-quality content. Great marketing is hard. In many ways, it’s a war of attrition in which the winners are the marketers who do the best content over the longest period of time. 

What’s the ambitious marketing strategy that you’re willing to invest your time and energy into, and why will people care? If you can answer that, you can begin to find your way to building a community of individuals whose interest in your content will eventually lead to the opportunity to present your solution. 

What is the role of retention in SaaS Marketing? 

As you’ll have noticed in the graph above, and as is common in many inbound methodologies, the last step of any customer journey is not only that they purchase from us: the last step is that they become evangelists for our brand. 

Humans love to share information. Networks are groups of humans in which information travels at an accelerated pace. If you provide clients with a sense of wow if you re-invent common experiences if you do things differently if you shine even when you fall, people will tell each other. You can and should put in place formal referral programs, but before that, you should ensure that what you’re offering is truly unique. 

Uniqueness isn’t only found in what we do, but how we do it. Innovating in the how is the easiest way to create virality. We all have expectations we take into any interaction. Sometimes those expectations cause us to be apprehensive or indifferent. The second I sense a new experience, you have my attention and my interest. Retaining clients is therefore constantly innovating in the how, even when the changes seem insignificant and mundane. The how makes our service remarkable, and as Seth Godin has documented, remarkable is the source of all virality. 


If your only focus is conversion, you’re a fly expending your last energy pushing against a window without realizing that it’s already open. Like a soccer team whose defensive strategy begins with its attackers, great marketing is a team-wide effort. Breaking down your strategy into branding, acquisition, and retention is a helpful way to organize your tactics, activities, and KPIs. 


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