January 26, 2024
I have worked with early stage B2B software companies for years now and the most common objection I hear is, "we don't have enough budget to do marketing."
Inexperienced founders may watch YouTube videos or talk to their ecommerce buddies and hear that Google ads campaigns need $10K a month to even be remotely profitable.
Or that Facebook ads campaigns need thousands to get off the ground.
But that's just not true.
You can't grow and increase revenue without marketing, but you can't do marketing without capital.
Although there is some truth to the statement above - it is generally not true when you work with experienced and cost conscious marketer.
My name is Ian Binek, and I am a battle tested growth marketer with a venture capital background. During my time working as the growth lead at Rule 1 Ventures, I increased inbound marketing revenue 300% YoY.
Having worked with B2B SaaS companies for the past few years, I have learned a thing or two that bootstrapped startups can do to see success from early stage marketing campaigns.
In this blog I am going to cover 3 low cost B2B SaaS marketing tactics that I have gotten to work for many pre seed or seed stage startups with limited capital to spend on marketing.
These tactics are intended to work fast and are not the long term strategies that most other blogs reference.
There is a time and place for those strategies - believe me, I use them - but when I start working with a B2B software client, I like to demonstrate quick wins and immediate value.
So with that in mind, let's begin!
Starting out, the first opportunity to market your SaaS to your ICP is through Google Search ads.
Otherwise known as pay per click (PPC) ads, these ads are great early investments because referenced in the name, you only have to pay when someone clicks your ad.
So how do I make the most of these ads with limited budget?
There are two ways to refine the targeting of search ads in Google.
Let's start with keyword intent since it is the first step in creating a Google Search ads campaign.
Not all searches in Google mean the same thing.
Some people are searching for more information while others are already educated and searching for solutions.
I choose keywords that identify with the latter. Generally this means the keywords are more longtail.
For example, keywords that represent intent to find a solution usually are structured like...
Some real life examples of this for a penetration testing company, like Red Sentry (a previous client of mine), could be: penetration testing software, automated vulnerability testing software, penetration testing vendors, etc.
I use tools like Semrush and the Google Keyword Planner to find these keywords and compile a list for my Google Ads campaigns.
The more your ad shows, the more likely someone is to click it.
However, this isn't always what's best.
I don't want a lot of people to see your ad and click it.
Instead I want the RIGHT people to see your ads and click them.
So I can greatly limit the number of semantically related keywords Google shows your ads for by constraining them with match types.
PPC match types I like to use are phrase match and exact match terms.
This means that your terms only show up if someone types the longtail keyword I researched above in a phrase or in an exact search.
For example, for phrase match keywords to trigger from your keywords researched above, then someone would need to search "what are some good penetration testing softwares".
Notice how the term, "penetration testing software" is used in a phrase typed by someone.
In the case of an exact match keyword to trigger, someone would need to type "penetration testing software" in the search.
In this case, someone typed EXACTLY what I researched.
I stay away from the broad match keyword match types for early Google Ads campaigns because there would be a chance the ads would show for "what is a penetration testing software" doesn't have the same intent.
I use proper keyword research and match types to build Google Search campaigns for my B2B SaaS clients.
They roughly see 2-3x return on investment from these "simple", yet highly effective campaigns.
Before I dive in, I want to address a common problem founders often run into when setting up campaigns on their own.
In fact, you, the reader, may have done this exact thing.
"LinkedIn ads didn't work for us. We don't want to try them."
Yes, it may be objectively true that when you tried LinkedIn ads in the past, that your campaigns didn't drive a positive ROI.
However, there are numerous reasons why your campaign may have not been successful.
I will list just a few possible reasons why:
I can keep going - but I think you get the point.
So how would I create a low cost, high ROI LinkedIn ads campaign?
Assuming I have a narrowed ICP to work with, I would set up a campaign that targets an extremely defined group of people.
My go to campaign is to start with a list of your ICP.
Export those guys and upload them into your LinkedIn Ads manager.
And then I layer on firmographic, demographic and potentially psychographic targeting layers to really refine my audience.
I know I am doing this right when LinkedIn gives me warnings that my audience is too narrow.
That's okay because we only want to show ads to the RIGHT people - not consistently spend money and waste it on people that fall out of our ICP.
The best way to drive leads on LinkedIn is by sharing a piece of content in exchange for a prospects email address.
Most B2B software companies I audit accounts for go straight for the jugular and ask for a demo in their cold level ads.
That's a big no no.
That's like asking someone to marry you before you have had your first date.
So with a small budget, it's crucial you need to provide value to your audience - otherwise you might as well burn your money because no one signs up for a demo for a company that they just met or heard of.
I create content in the form of a really informative blog (like this one lol), or a pdf/ebook/whitepaper.
Being realistic - a blog turned into a pdf is probably the best play because it turns something of value into something tangible and downloadable.
People like tangible things - or at least there is a perceived higher value with a PDF guide than with a blog.
Even if they are the same content.
With amazing content and awesome targeting - the last step is to create a plan to iteratively test both my audiences and my content for my ads.
There are a bunch of levers you can pull within LinkedIn ads - however my favorite AB Test is to show your ads to people of specific groups - while also layering on those we mentioned earlier.
If I don't see traction from my control in the first 2-4 weeks of running it, then this test is almost always a winner.
LinkedIn is one of the fastest growing B2B social media channels and if you're selling B2B software - then why not take advantage of this?
Now this is one that I am almost certain you haven't tried.
In fact, it's probably one you haven't even heard of.
Which is a good thing!
Have you ever been on Yelp, and seen the "top 10 restaurants" lists?
Have you noticed that Yelp has a list for nearly every possible city in the US?
Yes, that is PSEO and it is an incredibly efficient and scalable way to increase clicks to your site for longtail keywords.
Some of the initial campaigns that I run for every one of my PSEO SaaS clients are:
By using these two easy campaigns structures, I create anywhere from 50-500 new pages for my B2B SaaS clients.
Now the process is a lot to go over in this blog, but if you subscribe to our YouTube, we will be releasing walkthroughs of the process there in the future!
I will caution you however, that if done incorrectly, all of your work could be negated by Google if you don't find a way to distinguish your pages from each other.
That's why I recommend you work with me so that doesn't happen ;)
You can expect big increases in impressions and clicks within 30 days.
Traditional SEO takes months to see significant progress - however with PSEO, you can see similar results in days to weeks.
And did I mention that this process is pretty inexpensive? Out of the three tactics, this is the lowest cost.
Want to see an example of a client who benefitted greatly from PSEO? Check out TruckerCloud's use case of PSEO. It was awesome!
What's the difference between...
Showing up #1 for a keyword that drives 1000 monthly searches to your website
Ranking #1 for 100 keywords that each bring 10 monthly searches to your website?
I will let you know think on it...
Times up - nothing. You get the same traffic either way.
It's just easier to rank for longtail keywords than it is for 1 "big boy" keyword.
Alright, if you made it this far then you are joining a few special folks who are actively interested in growing their B2B SaaS.
So I have a special offer for you.
I want to give you 1 free quarter of growth marketing services to prove out that these work.
No catch. I really just want to provide a ton of value for my clients.
I am looking to grow Optimize this year and the only way I can efficiently do that is to build up my case studies and bring amazing value.
It doesn't get much more valuable than this.
Find some time with me on my calendar here to discuss: https://meetings.hubspot.com/ian-binek/intro-call
Oh and act fast - I am going to only let the next 2 B2B Software companies who reach out about this get a free quarter of services.
Don't get caught lacking!