There’s not really a template for good marketing.
Bear with me – I know that I’ve started this article with a sentence that directly contradicts its title. But here’s what I’m getting at:
When most people hear the word “template,” they think of something they can pretty much copy and paste. But a good marketing “template” is actually a solid framework for thinking about marketing, not a bulleted list of tactics to copy and paste.
Generally, the broader a discipline is, the harder it is to create a copy-paste template for. For example, there isn’t a copy-paste template for being a good leader. Or for having a good marriage. Or for creating a good product. But there certainly are frameworks for thinking about those things that, if followed, will lead to better results.
That’s what I’m presenting with this B2B SaaS marketing template.
Marketing is a broad discipline. This article will outline a way of thinking about it that will give you a better chance at success. It will offer examples of tactics, but it won’t offer a prescribed to-do list.
With that said, one final point of clarification before we jump in:
I’m assuming you already have big-picture business goals set.
If you’ve been looking at other B2B SaaS marketing plan templates, you’ll have seen that most of the resources out there tell you to that the first step in marketing is to set goals for your business.
Well, they’re right – you should absolutely set goals for your business. But setting business goals isn’t a marketing activity. Let’s say you want 100% year-over-year growth in annual recurring revenue. Or you want to be acquired within three years. Those are higher-level conversations; marketing should inform and support these goals, but marketing shouldn’t be creating the big picture.
Take the time to clarify your business goals, then move into marketing to reach them. When you’re ready for that, here’s the framework you should use.
1. Identify your constraints.
Okay – so you have your business goals clarified and you know what you’re marketing toward. From there, the first step to creating a viable marketing plan is to identify the constraints you’ll be facing.
There are usually three key constraints to identify:
The first constraint, and maybe the most obvious, is the marketing budget you’ll have to work with. Most marketing activities carry inherent costs – you need to know what you’ll be able to spend to know what activities you can do.
The second constraint you should identify is the timeline you have in which to accomplish your objectives. If you’re shooting for steady progress over a three-year period, your strategy and tactics will take that into account. If you’re trying to hit a target in three months, things will look a lot different.
You can’t just know that you need to get to 30,000 feet – you also need to know how long of a runway you have.
Finally, you should also identify the resources you’ll have to get the job done. This means taking stock both of personnel (internal team and external contractors) and technical tools (tracking software, CRM, etc.). You may find that, without certain people or without certain tools, some initiatives are simply off the table.
2. Create sub-goals for each customer lifecycle stage.
Once you’ve identified the restraints your plan will account for, the next step is to break your big-picture goal down into actionable chunks.
Now, there are a variety of approaches to planning, and the approach I’m going to outline below may not work (or even be necessary) for your situation. But we’ve found that in most cases, it’s the most helpful way to ensure that you create a comprehensive SaaS marketing plan.
The key is to break things up by customer lifecycle stage. This is the linchpin to our B2B SaaS marketing plan template.
This approach means that you should identify marketing goals for your funnel, all the way from your unaware audience down to your evangelist users. When you do this, you’ll usually find that there will be 1-3 areas that are closely aligned with your business goals. These will then get the majority of your tactical focus.
Here’s what that might look like.
Goals for unaware audience
Your unaware audience includes people and companies who could benefit from your SaaS offering but don’t know about it yet. This may be a focus area if you’re a challenger in a mature market, or if you’re bringing an innovative product to an immature market.
Goals for this stage center around presenting your offering and its value to prospects who haven’t heard of those things. This often takes the form of impressions – the number of times your brand is put in front of the audience.
Example: Generate 1M impressions by end-of-year.
Goals for aware users
Your aware users are people who have heard of your product but haven’t submitted any information to you yet. Goals for this stage center around getting these people to become contacts. Typically, this means that you’re looking at conversion rates.
Example: Increase the conversion rate on our website to 3% over the upcoming quarter.
Goals for contacts
Your contacts are people who have submitted information – usually their name and email address – to you. Usually, they’ve done this to receive something in return, like a free trial of your software or an ebook. Goals for this stage center around getting these people to become customers.
Example: Drive $50K in additional AAR from existing contact list by end of year.
Goals for customers
This one’s obvious – your customers are people who’ve bought from you in the past. But your goals for customers can vary depending on your context and your business objectives. Usually, they take one of three forms: Either you seek to increase customer retention, or to increase average spend, or to drive more referrals.
Example: Drive 35 new sales from referrals over the coming quarter.
Goals for churned customers
Churned customers are users who bought your software and then cancelled their subscription. Almost always, your goal for this lifecycle stage is to win back these users. Occasionally, you might simply set a goal to gather information about churned users in the hopes of reducing churn in the future.
Example: Increase our customer win-back rate to 5% over the upcoming quarter.
3. Implement tactics to hit your sub-goals.
This is the part of the marketing plan that most people think of when they think of a “template.”
At the risk of wearing out the message, you shouldn’t copy and paste these tactics, and you certainly shouldn’t skip right to tactical planning without identifying your constraints and goals.
Once you’ve completed the first two steps, you can finally start to plan out the tactics you’ll use.
Here are some examples of what these might include.
Tactics for unaware audience
Again, you’re usually seeking to drive impressions. Some of the best ways to do that include:
- Pay-per-click advertising (search, social, video)
- Traditional advertising (TV, billboards, partnered promotions, event sponsorships)
- Search engine optimization
To win at this stage, you have to understand where your unaware audience spends time – and especially where they spend time when looking for solutions like yours.
Tactics for aware users
Usually, you’re seeking to increase your conversion rate. Some of the best ways to do that include:
- USP and messaging refinement
- Conversion optimization
- Lead magnet development
- Email marketing
To win at this stage, you have to understand your audience’s desires and pain points. Then you have to get crystal clear in communicating how your SaaS offering can meet their desires or solve their pain.
Tactics for contacts
When you market to your existing contacts, you’re usually seeking to convert them into paying customers. Some of the best ways to do that:
- Email marketing
- Remarketing (on search networks and on social media)
- Educational content that shows the value of your product (webinars, videos, events)
To win at this stage, you need to consistently get in front of your contacts with compelling value. The game is similar to the game being played in the previous stage, but the stakes are higher.
Tactics for customers
When you market to your customers, you’re usually seeking to build engagement and excitement. Some of the best ways to do that:
- Email marketing
- Educational content (webinars, videos, events)
Depending on your business model, you may be supporting the initiatives of account representatives at this stage in the funnel. If that’s the case, you’ll need to integrate your marketing tactics with your accounts team.
Tactics for churned customers
When you market to churned customers, you’re usually seeking to gather feedback and draw them back in. (Sad as it seems, you should keep in mind that most people who churn are gone for good – it helps to have a thick skin during this stage.)
Some of the best tactics for this stage include:
- Email marketing
- Educational content (webinars, videos, events)
For a drop-dead tactical look at how we’ve approached this in the past, check out our article on the anatomy of a win-back email.
4. Analyze your results and optimize for next time.
The fourth and final step in this framework will position you for continued success.
As we noted at the outset in step one (identify your constraints), part of your marketing plan should include clarification of your timeline. When you’ve carried out your tactics over the given timeline, the next step is to evaluate your results.
For each stage of the marketing funnel and for every tactic, you should first identify whether your stated goals were hit. From there, you should dig deeper to uncover the “why” behind what happened.
There are many ways to unpack the data, but we’ve found that these two (debatably four) questions are a good starting point:
- What worked? Why?
- What didn’t? Why?
From there, you should begin to chart out what you’ll do going forward. We’ve found that these three questions are helpful toward that end:
- What will we keep?
- What will we cut?
- What will we change?
The answers – and the patterns you uncover in your data – will help you shape your next B2B SaaS marketing plan.
Ready to move beyond the marketing plan template and start putting strategy into action?
Hopefully, you’ve found the framework presented above helpful as you work toward crafting your own B2B SaaS marketing plan. One last time: There is no catch-all template. But there is a strategic approach that tends to lead to better results – and here’s hoping that you see those results for yourself.
If you’re ready to go beyond a template, get in touch with us.
At New North, we’re one of the top B2B SaaS marketing agencies in the US. We’ve built and sold our own SaaS offering. And for the last decade-plus, we’ve helped B2B SaaS firms to build user bases, drive more sales, and grow using the right marketing channels.
The bottom line is that we can help you to create a marketing plan that’s tailored to your unique needs and designed to make the maximum impact on your funnel.