SaaS businesses are constantly hunting for effective methods to improve their customer acquisition process with the help of advertising. As a consequence, tons of how-to guides and case studies from the most reliable marketers promise you quick and sure results.
But in reality, not every advertising strategy will be profitable for your SaaS company. In SaaS, you need unique, first-hand approaches to different ad techniques that work in this industry.
Being a SaaS startup, here at Chanty we’ve tried lots of different user acquisition methods such as search engine optimization, content marketing, guest blogging, social networking, etc. Eventually, the day when we decided to try out Facebook Ads arrived.
Initially, we weren’t sure if Facebook was a good channel for SaaS advertising. Moreover, we had no idea what the best methods were to market our messenger product. But our marketing team was keen to give it a try.
The majority of people think that Facebook is where they can connect with friends and relatives, find interesting news and, of course, check out cute cat pictures. Therefore, most SaaS companies share a common thought that advertising on Facebook is useless for their businesses. This network is generally believed to be a great tool for B2C businesses, where advertisers can offer discounts, promote sales and showcase new sweatshirts. Naturally, these tactics are not suitable for the SaaS crowd.
On the other hand, the companies you’d like to sell your software to are made of people who are decision-makers in your business field. And people are on Facebook! Facebook Ads, with their robust targeting options, are a great way to reach them via the industry they work in or by their job titles.
Generally speaking, there is simply no reason not to promote a business product on Facebook. And that’s exactly what this article’s about: our experience of marketing our SaaS product online using a basic Google Form survey. This simple yet effective strategy helped us understand who our potential customers were, craft laser-targeted Facebook targeting, and triple our Facebook CTR.
Why your SaaS Facebook ad campaign may fail at first (like ours did)
When it comes to improving your ad campaign’s results and decreasing its price, you should thoroughly research your audience. The more you invest in poorly targeted ads, the more money and time you lose. Start by making sure that you’re reaching your ideal customers.
You likely know the basics here (age, gender, location, etc.). Using this demographic data will help you filter out all of the people who aren’t your potential customers. After that, your audience will still be too large. Probably you will add a few interests to your targeting process, like brands your prospects follow. Nevertheless, your targeted audience will still be too broad. That’s the way we advertised on Facebook. Not the smartest way, let’s be honest.
Audience segmentation is a key to success when it comes to Facebook ads. In fact, poorly targeted promotions are the ultimate reason SaaS Facebook campaigns deliver low CTR. The real value of advertising on Facebook comes with laser-targeting a very granular audience. You can do this by creating unique buyer personas and pushing your ad copy specifically to them. However, it’s easier said than done.
Finally, we came up with probably the most evident and no-brainer idea – literally asking our target audience what value they’d like to get using our app. Following this, we were able to adjust the targeting options according to the answers we received and triple our CTR.
How exactly did we carry it out? All that we needed was a Google Form.
An example from the “before” version of our Facebook campaign
Cost Per Click (CPC) - $2.50
Click Through Rate (CTR) - 0.05%
You are looking at a perfect example of an unperfect and low-performing Facebook ad. It was our first attempt at crafting SaaS promotions on Facebook. Make sure you are not falling victim to frequent Facebook ad mistakes which we did:
1) Vague value message - the headline fails to stand out and the ad copy is dull.
2) An unmemorable stock image that has nothing in common with the product we’re trying to market.
3) Broad targeting. Being a Slack competitor, we decided to choose the following targeting options: Interests > Additional Interests > Slack (software).
The results speak for themselves: CPC was slightly more than $2.50, while CTR was far from what we expected (0.05%).
Continue reading this article to learn how we have managed to significantly improve these results!
Creating a survey, or where a SaaS business should start from
Like most businesses, we already had our SWOT competitor analysis. Nevertheless, this data did not give answers to more complex questions like:
- Who is more likely to initiate using a team messenger within a company?
- How big is a company where people use a team messenger?
- Which team messenger features are the most desired among the users?
- What is the industry where team messengers are most widely used?
- What kind of companies are actually paying to use team messengers?
Long story short, we put together our questions in a Google Form. Then we decided to focus on LinkedIn as a survey distribution channel. Our process had the following stages:
1. Inviting for connection those LinkedIn members who might become our customers.
2. Asking people who have added us to their network if our product seemed interesting for them.
3. Inviting those who expressed an interest to take a short survey.
4. Sending the link to the survey with an explanation of why this survey is so important to us.
5. Last, but not least – sincerely thanking them for their assistance and assuring them that we won’t reveal any personal information we received.
Eventually we achieved more than 500 completed surveys and, as a result—sometimes unexpected yet very valuable insights into our prospects’ pain points and needs. In fact, these results influenced many aspects of our product’s development to a certain extent: pricing, onboarding process, features, etc.
Moreover, thanks to this survey we figured out what questions our site should answer to assist conversions, so we adjusted our content marketing strategy and increased on-page conversions up to 30 percent. Not bad added value out of a simple Google Form survey!
Ad optimization: How to benefit from all the data you collect
After analyzing the survey answers, we were able to paint a clear picture of our prospects and their real-life needs that we could meet with our product. We got answers to these key questions:
- What customers of the X team messenger hate the most about it.
- The users of the Y team messenger would love to switch to another communication tool if this alternative would have Feature1 and Feature2.
- The non-paying users of the Z messenger would never pay for this set of tools.
- People who made a decision about choosing team communication tools usually took a position of…
Generally speaking, we got a ton of valuable information to help us craft a perfect Facebook campaign. Сheck out the following steps you can take today to boost performance of your SaaS Facebook campaign performance.
Adjust your targeting by …
“Interests” is a powerful targeting option inn Facebook. It will reach users based on the pages they’ve already liked, things they’ve shared, ads they’ve clicked on, etc.
Tip: Use your competitors’ brand names as an interest to reach users who are likely to be interested in your offer. To avoid your competitors’ employees viewing your ads, exclude users indicated as their employees.
Target users who are likely to be small business owners according to their digital activities.
If you already know which specific companies you want to target, then this is a great tool to reach out to employees of these companies.
The majority of people fill in the job title field proudly so you are sure to get a great pull for each ad. It is easy to create tailored ads for groups with different job titles. You can choose specific job titles, such as CEO, if they are decision-makers for your business industry.
Find users by the size of the company they own or work at.
Adjust copy and creative
Start with a compelling headline, which is the first thing people see after the image. Following this, explain your offer in the text, which is the sub-header you see above the image. Finally, add in more details in the description, which is the small text under the headline.
Your messaging should be consistent across all three parts.
Focus on specific product and service benefits according to your target audience segmentation
In your headline try to test the benefits your product or service has to offer for different buyer personas, based on your survey answers.
Moving forward, here are a few more suggestions:
1) Separate mobile and desktop ad campaigns
Use different ad sets for mobile and desktop so you can track CTR based on the device (probably, it will differ).
2) Test bidding strategies
Examine various bidding methods to find out which one decreases the CPC but still gets enough capacity.
3) Experiment with scheduling
Timing сan potentially affect your ads’ performance. The biggest difference is commonly between weekdays and weekends. However, the ad performance may fluctuate within the day as well.
To be honest, we can’t give you a one-size-fits-all strategy on what exactly you should write in your Facebook ad copy or what image you should use. Neither can we say what demographics you should target or what bid will be the most profitable for you. The answers to these questions come with A/B testing and tweaking.
The only helpful thing that we’d like to share with you is our first-hand experience. Now you can see what changes took place after we refined our Facebook ads with the help of the Google Form survey…
Cost Per Click - $1.40
Click Through Rate - 1.5%
The survey showed that there are many Slack users who admit that this messenger is getting quite complicated. Therefore, we inserted a bold statement about Chanty’s simplicity and convenience in our ad copy (in fact, it is true).
Moreover, the survey participants expressed their need for video calls and a screen sharing feature (at that time Slack didn’t have that). As a result, we prioritized the development of these features in future Chanty updates and mentioned them in the ad copy.
For this experiment, we added many sophisticated targeting preferences based on the survey results. In particular, they included:
- Behaviors > Digital Activities > Small business owners
- Demographics > Work > Job Titles > CEO, Founder, Owner, Chairman, Director etc.
As you can see, this time the ad performance was MUCH better than our previous experiment. And we decided to move on.
Cost per Click - $1.10
Click through Rate - 2.2%
In this case we targeted Asana users. The ad copy was based on pains they revealed in the survey.
On the whole, it is usually believed that an appropriate Newsfeed CTR varies between 0.5% and 2% depending on what industry you are in. For example, e-commerce receives a much higher CTR (1.5-2%) than games/mobile apps (about 1%).
The majority of marketers tend to think that a normal CTR for SaaS ads is 0.78%. Furthermore, the average Cost per Click for SaaS is $2.52.
It is easy to see that using the Google Form survey has ramped up our SaaS ad campaigns, tripled the CTR and decreased the CPC.
How you can use the survey-based approach for marketing a SaaS product on Facebook
1) Activating new users
A powerful strategy to grow your SaaS business is to use Facebook ads for your recent free signups. Set up a retargeting campaign that activates after someone visits a thank you page after signing up to your product. This type of ad campaign should educate new users about the benefits of your software.
2) Promoting paid plans and upgrades
Facebook retargeted advertising can also be a great tool for converting free trial users to paying customers. The only advice here is reaching out those current free users who are actively using your software.
Once you dig into SaaS paid advertising, you’ll uncover a world with perks, challenges and specific execution strategies. And who knows, maybe you’ll be able to defeat your business rivals trying out fresh and uncommon methods of refining your Facebook ads.
One of these methods is using a Google form survey. It resulted in several gains for our SaaS business: in-depth market investigation, increased CTR and a better understanding of how to scale our promotion efforts on Facebook.
Remember that CTR isn't the ultimate metric of your SaaS business success. It is rather the most evident method to compare two ads and discover which is the most beneficial.
CTR, to be exact, still doesn't tell you how your Facebook paid promotion performs in terms of return on investment (ROI). With ROI being one of the most crucial metrics for SaaS marketing activities, it often takes time before you have enough data to measure it. That's why you should think of increasing CTR and ad positions first, so you can gather enough data to really see how your campaigns are working.
About the Author
Julia Samoilenko is a Marketing Manager at Chanty, a simple AI-powered business messenger and a single notification center aimed to increase team productivity and improve communication at work. Julia is responsible for Chanty’s online social media presence and public relations. Follow Julia on Twitter @juliasam111 or feel free to connect on LinkedIn.