Greg Walthour

CO-CEO, Intero Digital

Greg Walthour, CO-CEO of Intero Digital, is a pioneer to the digital marketing space. He began his career as a commercial real estate broker and in 1996 took on the challenge of getting this website to rank higher in search engines. Greg has over 20 years of experience in digital marketing and enjoys camping, ATVing, traveling, and coaching football. Greg also has a passion for photography.

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Scaling Your SaaS Brand: Organic SEO and Why Your Messaging Matters

Scaling Your SaaS Brand: Organic SEO Strategy and Why Your Messaging Matters

Scaling Your SaaS Brand: Organic SEO Strategy and Why Your Messaging Matters

Greg Walthour, CO-CEO • Intero Digital • December 16, 2022

Scaling Your SaaS Brand: Organic SEO and Why Your Messaging Matters

Gone are the days of the shotgun pattern approach to digital marketing. Now more than ever, granularity and targeting are critical, especially in search engine optimization (SEO) for SaaS brands, where lead engagement and customer acquisition are paramount in an increasingly competitive market.

Software, and especially SaaS, are uber-competitive, ever-evolving, fast-paced industries. If it isn’t already challenging enough to develop a SaaS SEO strategy in a very competitive market, Google’s continuous updates often keep brands on their toes.

Because modern-day consumers expect authenticity, Google’s “by the people, for the people” update is its way of driving user-based results while keeping up with the evolving trends of AI-generated content. This is especially useful to safeguard against users that get answers from social media or other apps over search engines.

Although Google’s revenue comes from brands paying for advertising, the model only works if it provides user value to maintain its 92% search market share. The search giant’s “helpful content update” filters out low-value rewrites, unchecked AI-generated content, fake reviews, and other junk content to give people exactly what they want in the context of why they’re looking. This update reinforces the importance of intimately knowing your ideal client/customer profile (ICP) and creating content that is helpful and engaging for your audience.

The “helpful content” update reinforces what brands should have already been doing and what Google has been preaching for a long time: You must connect with your target audience.

How Google's Update Affects SaaS SEO

With the advent of video-based social media like YouTube and TikTok, brands are more in touch with audiences than ever. Those already creating EAT (Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness) content may get a lift thanks to Google’s newest updates. But all is not lost to those new to the game. Rather, user-centric content should be at the top of every SaaS SEO checklist.

It’s not unusual to see considerable financial backing in the software industry, and additional rounds of funding and overall viability depend on fast, scalable growth. Because the business model relies on customer acquisition cost (CAC) first and secondly on customer lifetime value (LTV), these metrics are essential to digital marketing, planning, and benchmarking.

If it costs more to obtain a new customer than they can generate in lifetime value, then the writing is on the wall. Luckily, enterprise SaaS SEO is a cost-effective way to acquire customers and gain profit. Yet knowing goals is only part of the strategy. Success takes careful planning and execution on the right mix of digital channels, like pay-per-click (PPC) and organic blog and video content.

Budgets should include cost per acquisition (CPA) targets and leverage multiple bidding strategies, and if it’s scalable, SaaS and software companies can essentially pay for leads right out the gate.

In addition, a longer-term SaaS SEO strategy gains search engine market share and creates exponential organic growth over time. These strategies, combined with content marketing, good web development, and social media, create the ultimate marketing mix for more visibility and success.

Is your site ready for Google’s ‘Helpful Content’ update?

The Importance of SEO for SaaS

SEO for SaaS is no longer a “nice to have;” it’s a must-have. If your target audience isn’t finding you on search engines, they’re finding your competitors instead. And because software is tech-related, who are you if you don’t exist on the internet?

Coupled with the additional challenge of acquiring customers both cost-effectively and quickly, this presents extra pressure for SaaS and software companies to be digitally focused. Most leaders understand what’s at stake if they don’t develop a SaaS SEO strategy, but they don’t know what will be an effective strategy.

Developing a digital marketing strategy is different from engaging in an effective digital marketing strategy. SaaS and software companies stand to lose even more on ineffective strategies than if they hadn’t engaged at all. Wasted time, investment, and even potential market share and traffic loss (or worse—blacklisting) are high opportunity costs in an industry and economy where every dollar and second counts.

SaaS Requires Unique Strategizing

SaaS and software have unique goals, and developing strategies like lead acquisition and CAC influence the digital agency’s decisions to develop, monitor, and evolve that strategy. Any company should tailor its digital marketing strategy to its unique product offering, which varies even among other SaaS companies.

However, SaaS is a B2B play talking to the c-suite and other key decision-makers, and that requires an enterprise SaaS SEO strategy.

It’s important to showcase a product’s key differentiators in a competitive market where the end-buyer is a savvy (and busy) professional. Densely competitive markets take more time, effort, and investment to capture market share, especially when the audience is increasingly desensitized and harder to reach.

An effective digital marketing plan considers these challenges and carefully chooses a marketing mix. It then gets intimate with ICP and messaging, develops out-the-box marketing levers and lead magnets, and carefully considers keyword and targeting strategies. Without these steps, you may face significant risks, such as:

  1. Shotgun blasting content, messaging, and emails out to a broad audience that gets lost in the shuffle.
  2. Significant budget waste on ad campaigns with undialed targeting, demographics, geographics, and devices.
  3. Significant budget waste on inaccurate conversions setup without conversion rate optimization (SEO).
  4. Targeting the most competitive SEO terms without considering your (and your competitors’) authority.
  5. Lacking clarity on tangible goals to inform the overall strategy.

The risks of not creating an effective plan with a defined ICP boil down to wasting resources and losing ground to competitors. So, what are the essential elements to build that plan?

Building an Effective SaaS SEO Strategy

I can’t overstate the importance of being at the top of search results. The first result is 10x more likely to be clicked than any other search listing, and the first three organic positions capture 54% of all clicks. And Google’s Knowledge Panel feeds a lot of instant answers that organically rank above everything except paid ads.

That’s why Arcadia Data focused on increasing their first-page rankings (and did by 510%) in the first six months of partnering with us to make their site more visible. Blackbaud went even further, driving a 1398% increase in front-page rankings and increasing revenue by $22 million.

Without organic search and paid media strategies working in tangent, you’re missing viable opportunities and leaving money on the table. But the answer isn’t just pouring more money into advertising; it takes time, patience, and effort to stand out in a saturated market.

Google’s update makes it clear that only well-crafted, meaningful content will rank and that it takes time to create and promote such content to climb the ranks. Unfortunately, some brands are not in the position to play the waiting game, which is why longer-term SaaS SEO tools need to be combined with a short-term PPC strategy where the sky’s the limit if the CPA and return on advertising spend (ROAS) are favorable.

If your CAC is more than your customer’s LTV, your company isn’t viable. This presents two main challenges for your SaaS SEO strategy to address: lowering your CAC and retaining customers. Despite these challenges, our team of experts can help.

As your market share grows over time, organic SEO is the most cost-effective method of customer acquisition because it produces exponential long-term growth. Additionally, an effective paid media team uses CAC as the goal to set targeting parameters for your target price. Different marketing channels may have a different CAC, but you can work to maintain or beat these goals as soon as you benchmark what’s typical.

Knowing your CAC, working with a digital agency that understands your CAC goals, and creating plans to work towards those goals are the foundational steps for a successful SaaS SEO strategy.

Are you satisfied with your customer acquisition costs?

Here are four items to add to your SaaS SEO Checklist:

1. Define your ICP.

An ICP defines who your most valuable customers are. It’s a clear description of what they do, their demographics, interests, and reasoning. Essentially, an ICP in SaaS defines the demographics of your ideal firm or firmographics. You can find them by looking at your previous and current high-value customers, those of your competitors, and who is engaging with your website.

How do you locate your best customers? You can start by looking at your past and current customer portfolio to determine the highest LTV industries and customers. Determine if a larger percent of your portfolio is made up of a certain industry, and then who is the POC you are closing.

Once you establish your high-value customers, you need to sort by three things:

a. Company-level data includes business demographics like the industry, location, structure, and size of the company, along with its revenue and other financials. Performing due diligence requires searching the brand online and reaching out to previous/current partners, employees, and clients. This will help you zero in on what’s important to the company, its goals, and other potential talking points. It also helps find the key decision makers and navigate the corporate structure.

b. Employee-level data includes a makeup of employee gender, age, race, job titles, roles, pain points, and interests. Much of this can be found through online sources like LinkedIn. It’s important to understand where somebody is in their career and life so you can relate to them as people. Prior research also helps pinpoint where they are in the buying process and what questions and objectives they may have.

c. Technology-level data includes a company’s web URL and structure (Built With is a great tool to see a domain’s tech stack), CRM, analytics, spend, and more. There are a lot of emerging technologies, like automation/AI, IoT, and blockchain, and you need to understand where they are to help them build.

2. Establish your benchmarks and goals.

Do you already know your current traffic, lead flow, close rate, time to close, CAC, and LTV? If not, establishing effective reporting is crucial to getting you back in line. Once you know where your business stands, you can set goals for where you want to be. Make sure you set realistic goals for both short-term and long-term forecasting. This will provide motivation for the entire team to work hard to meet and exceed them.

Do you know your benchmarks and goals?

3. Design a goal-oriented digital marketing plan.

Once you’ve defined your goals, you need to structure a marketing plan with those goals in mind. Begin by defining the right marketing mix to reach the right audiences in the right place and time. Are you hoping to reach web3 startups? Along with organic market share and SEM, discord, Reddit, Telegram, and Twitter are the places to be. If you’re looking for more traditional business leaders, you’ll have better luck at outlets like Forbes, newsletters like The Information, and social platforms like LinkedIn.

Each channel requires a unique strategy with unique goals the business should achieve. And defining these goals helps define the budget, as well as how much should be allocated to each channel. Also, be sure your budget is scalable if you hit those goals, so you don’t waste money having it sit around doing nothing when it’s better used attracting more customers.

4. Tailor campaigns to your ICP.

Since you know your ideal customer, it’s time to start targeting them. Get as specific as possible with your unique ICP to help you stand out in a crowded market by delivering the right message on the right channel at the right time. It’s easier said than done, but PPC, SEO, content marketing, PR, and every other related strategy should be focused on your ICP and provide unified messaging.

Create specific content that addresses these keywords within the context of why your ideal customer is searching for them. And pay to promote that content until it ranks well on its own merit. Also, set up keyword targeting to find a mix of keywords based on user intent, competition, and volume. Coupled with a good negative keyword list to avoid wasting money, this will drive both your organic and paid keyword targeting.

Perfecting the Right Message

Average conversion rates in ecommerce are slowly falling. In May 2022, average ecommerce conversions were at 1.78%, a drop of 0.06% from the previous month and 0.05% from the same time last year. They further dropped to 1.62% by August. SaaS brands don’t have time to waste on non-converters when every second and dollar counts.

Make sure your messaging and targeting are on point to make the most of your digital marketing strategy and get more qualified leads in the pipeline. Once you know your ICP, you can tailor your marketing message and content to those individuals. This gives you a higher chance of connecting with (and converting) that audience.

Carefully executed keyword research and strategy can help inform the content creation process. A middle-of-the-road (not super aggressive nor conservative) SEO strategy typically consists of a mix of keywords to target. This includes higher-volume, more competitive terms and longer-tail striking distance (quick win) terms.

Content and digital marketing go hand in hand. A good content strategy is the foundation of every digital marketing initiative, from ad copy to on-site content, email marketing, guest blogging, marketing collateral, and everything else. Content messaging should be cohesive and purposeful across all of these channels.

Finding the Right Partner

Even if you know everything about digital marketing, SEO, and PPC, creating quality content that’s meaningful and engaging is no easy task. Placing it in front of the right audience is arguably even harder. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone.

Intero Digital is an award-winning digital marketing agency that has been in the industry for nearly two decades. Our team of experts, along with our patented technology, InteroBOT, have helped countless SaaS software companies grow their market share and achieve their goals.

If you’re a SaaS brand looking to scale, chat with our digital marketing experts and uncover opportunities to improve your traffic, leads, and market share.

When every dollar counts, find the team you can count on to take you to the next level.

Are you a SaaS brand looking to scale?

Greg Walthour

CO-CEO, Intero Digital

Greg Walthour, CO-CEO of Intero Digital, is a pioneer to the digital marketing space. He began his career as a commercial real estate broker and in 1996 took on the challenge of getting this website to rank higher in search engines. Greg has over 20 years of experience in digital marketing and enjoys camping, ATVing, traveling, and coaching football. Greg also has a passion for photography.

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