The SaaS industry is growing at a steady rate. Gartner estimates end-user spending on public cloud services to grow 21.7% to reach $482 billion in 2022.
SaaS solutions have generated greater demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has necessitated remote work and adoption of cloud-based products.
They also offer flexibility and cost-effectiveness besides having a subscription model that eliminates long-term commitments.
SaaS companies aim to stand out in a crowded marketplace by educating prospects about their products and how they can address niche pain points.
That’s precisely where content marketing helps: to attract, engage, and convert visitors into leads and customers.
Thus, SaaS companies are increasingly relying on content marketing tactics to generate sales and build brand authority.
And for most SaaS brands, like yours, going the agency route makes a lot of sense as opposed to going the DIY route with little expertise and experience.
But there are hundreds of SaaS marketing agencies claiming to be able to deliver the results you’re looking for.
How can you verify these claims? How do you determine fit?
Take a look at these 33 considerations when hiring a SaaS marketing agency:
1. Start with your inner circle
The first place to inquire about good SaaS marketing agency recommendations is your inner circle of industry leaders and SaaS founders.
Find out which agencies they have hired and what their experience has been.
2. Attend seminars and industry gatherings and ask other SaaS founders for recommendations
SaaS conferences are a good place to meet SaaS founders, entrepreneurs, and enthusiasts from around the world.
For example, SaaStr Annual 2021, INBOUND 2021, ProductCon 2021, Adobe Summit. In a pandemic-hit world, these conferences are also held online.
You can understand the SaaS industry better by hearing about the customer journey of these people.
Speakers at these conferences talk about their vision, insights, and learnings that can help you determine which strategies are a good fit for you.
You can also solicit recommendations for reliable SaaS marketing agencies from founders who have hired one.
3. Check their organic search presence
The organic presence of a SaaS marketing agency will tell you how well they have optimized their own website.
Also check their social media content, hashtag use, and posting frequency.
When an agency has a good organic presence, it’s a solid sign that they know their stuff. If the agency has a newsletter, sign up for it and view the quality of their emails.
4. Check their portfolio
Scrutinize the company portfolio carefully. Unless they’re very new, they will have a list of projects they’ve worked on. Compare their former projects with your brand and needs.
See what kind of industries they are in and what were the results of their campaigns.
5. Evaluate the team’s competence
A SaaS marketing agency should ideally have a marketing team with the following skills, experience, and background:
- Domain knowledge
- Research skills for audience, market, competitive analysis
- Project management and analytical skills
- Knowledge of persuasion tactics and psychology
- A feel for design and UX
- A degree in marketing or communications is a plus
- Knowledge of SaaS marketing tools such as Ahrefs
- Digital marketing certifications
6. Check the company culture
When you hire a SaaS marketing agency, treat the process in the same way as you do when hiring a potential employee.
Check if the agency will be a good fit culture-wise. If you and the agency do not share the same values, you may find it difficult to work together over the long term.
Look for phrases the agency uses to describe its business practices. Note how it communicates when it corresponds with you. It will give you clues about the agency’s values and culture.
7. Social proof is a must
Look at the reviews of the agency you’re considering. Check sites like G2 and HubSpot Partner Directory (if you’re looking for a HubSpot partner).
See what people have to say about:
- Working with the agency
- Results generated
8. Look at their website design
As a SaaS marketing agency, you’d expect the agency to have a website with exceptional UI/UX. The website design will give you a good idea of the type of work you can expect from the agency.
If they take their own website seriously, you can be sure they’re serious about their work.
A few attributes of a good website are:
- Refined, eye-catching design
- Informative, actionable content
- Easy to use to quickly find what you’re looking for
- Search-friendly design
- Information on the agency’s goals, values, and contact details
- Information on why one should hire the agency
9. Check if they are easily approachable
If the agency is evasive about your questions, chances are they’re hiding a lack of expertise and/or experience. Note how they communicate with you in their correspondence and how they talk about themselves.
Agencies may claim to have experience across industries, but you may have to ask for specific examples to see whether the results were satisfactory.
Check their previous work to determine if the agency really is a SaaS marketing agency or has only worked with non-SaaS clients.
10. Avoid companies with bold and unclear claims
If the agency is making bold claims like catapulting your company website to the #1 spot on Google search quickly, know that this is not realistic.
You will do better to stay away from agencies making vague or impractical claims because they probably think clients will not sign on the dotted line otherwise.
Work with an agency that has a clear and concise strategy to increase customer acquisition to sustain growth and revenue generation.
11. Verify how long they have been doing marketing for SaaS brands
It is a great sign if the agency has been doing marketing specifically for SaaS brands for some time.
They’ll likely have the experience required to execute SaaS-specific campaigns successfully. They have also had the time to refine their processes and systems.
The main thing is to ensure that the agency you’re considering has the specific skill sets to cater to your exact marketing goals.
12. Ask them to share a case study
The most reliable way to determine if a SaaS marketing agency is good is to check the case studies published on their website.
You may not find many listed because they contain proprietary customer data that has to be shared diligently. You can request case studies specific to your industry.
A case study provides an in-depth report on a successful project with a previous or current customer.
The typical format of a case study is:
- Problem statement
- Proposed solution
- Outcomes achieved
Case studies will not only tell you whether the agency can solve problems similar to yours, but it will also tell you how and how competently the agency can do it.
13. Check if the company has any brand mentions
Brand mentions can be found in customer reviews, news articles, and social media platforms. It will give you a true picture of how the agency works and if it will be a good fit.
Three ways in which you can check if the agency has brand mentions are:
- Use Google Search strategically to find brand mentions. Include agency name within quotation marks, search within authoritative sites with the search string site:forbes “name of agency,” or narrow your search with the string inurl: (type of site) (agency name)
- Use Buzzsumo to find media mentions.
- Use Google Alerts to find unlinked mentions
14. Ask about content marketers and writers
If your SaaS content marketing agency is willing to invest in a dedicated team of in-house content marketers and writers, you can assume they’re serious about their work.
Inquire about the background and experience of the team members.
However, it may be a red flag if the agency depends entirely on freelancers in a bid to cut costs.
15. Ask which channels they use for SaaS content marketing
Choosing the right content marketing channel increases your chances of getting greater ROI.
The channels you use depend on the preferences of your target audience and your resource availability to reach that audience.
Ask the SaaS marketing agency which of the three content distribution channels they use:
- Owned content marketing channel e.g. blog, website, social media, email newsletter
- Earned/Shared content marketing channel eg. guest posting, organic ranking, social mentions, public relations
- Paid content marketing channel e.g. PPC ads, paid influencer content, paid social ads
16. Ascertain if they’re using outdated marketing strategies
When you’re considering a SaaS marketing agency, ensure that they understand the sales cycle for SaaS that includes the following:
- Generating leads and acquiring customers in the subscription model
- Building customer loyalty and decreasing churn
- Important SaaS marketing metrics
- Using inbound marketing tactics across the sales funnel
- Using email marketing and marketing automation to onboard users or upgrade them from free trials
- Determining methods to optimize conversions
- SaaS customer service
- A/B testing and analyzing results
- Differentiation on the market, positioning and messaging
In addition, marketing platforms constantly roll out updates so the agency should be updated on the latest trends.
Ask questions to establish which methodologies are used by the agency and whether they’re aware of recent changes.
17. Ask if they have a set process for execution
Ask the SaaS marketing agency if they have an established process to execute their strategy. They must also be able to easily explain their process to you and be willing to tailor it to your processes.
18. Get on a call with the CEO of the SaaS marketing agency
One of the best ways to gain confidence in the capabilities of a SaaS marketing agency is to have a face-to-face conversation with the CEO.
Ask questions to establish if the agency has the necessary expertise and experience to help you meet your marketing goals.
A good agency will actively try to understand your audience and business as much as they can.
19. Request a sample content piece
Ask to see samples of the marketing agency’s content to determine if it’s in line with what your SaaS company needs. It will also give you an idea of the quality of content you can expect.
20. Ask them to define which content marketing KPIs they track and why
When hiring a marketing agency for your SaaS business, ensure that they are able to define the content marketing KPIs that are needed to meet your goal(s). “All of them” is not an acceptable answer.
Some important content marketing KPIs are:
- Inbound links
- Click-through rate (CTR)
- Cost per lead (CPL)
- Lead generation
- Annual contract value (ACV)
- Conversion rates
21. Ask smart questions
When you’ve shortlisted a SaaS marketing agency, dig deeper with smart questions like:
- What are the important trends in SaaS marketing you’re seeing?
- What is your goal when working for a SaaS company like ours?
- What are some former results you’ve achieved for SaaS platforms before?
(Beware of vanity metrics or engagement metrics that don’t contribute to ROI or CLTV.)
- What are some examples of effective SaaS marketing?
- How do you convince clients to adopt your marketing strategy?
(A good agency is not dictated by the client’s whims and fancies. It uses its expertise and experience to devise the best strategy for your specific needs and tells you where you’re going wrong.)
22. Determine if they can see your challenges from your point of view as a SaaS owner
Only a SaaS marketing agency with experience in your industry will have the ability to understand the challenges you’re facing as a SaaS owner.
Agencies may tout experience across industries but you’ll need to dig deeper to determine if they have the requisite skills to generate results for you.
You’ll also want to ensure that the agency’s marketing philosophy aligns with yours.
23. Check how they market their own business
When you look for a SaaS content marketing agency, you naturally want to hire one that can market itself effectively.
They should be able to describe their services and processes clearly, with success stories to demonstrate skills and expertise.
You can check an agency’s marketing activities in terms of organic search engine performance (backlinks, traffic, rankings, etc.) using tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs.
24. Sign a term-wise contract if required
If you’re unable to commit for the long term or want more proof, offer to sign a term-wise contract for around 3-6 months.
If the agency does not perform as per your expectations, you can choose not to renew the contract.
This gives agencies a predictable period of time to manage resources and hiring and gives you a chance to test your fit.
25. Request a detailed service level agreement
Service-level agreements (SLAs) are baseline commitments that have defined consequences if they are not met.
Ask the agency to draw up a detailed SLA, which should have the following components:
A. Service elements
- Specifics of services provided
- Conditions of service availability
- The period of time for each service level
- Responsibilities of each party
- Escalation procedures
- Cost/service trade offs
B. Management elements
- Definitions of measurement standards and methods
- Reporting processes
- Dispute resolution process
- An indemnification clause
26. Gain clarity of their reporting structure
It requires time and coordination to create and launch marketing campaigns that work. Many different areas of work (and typically departments) are involved in writing, editing, design, development, and reporting.
Thus, it’s important to understand how the team works internally and who are the key points of contact with accountability.
27. Size of the agency matters, but isn’t everything
It is not a given that a small SaaS marketing agency with 8-10 members will not be as good as a bigger agency.
However, if an agency has separate departments for SEO, design, writing, web development, and so on, it is likely to have enough manpower to scale your campaign in the future.
Ultimately, what matters is the fit between your company and the agency. Your goal should not be to sign up with the biggest agency. You should aim to find the best fit for your company.
28. Talk to the former employees of the company
Former employees of an agency can provide deeper insights into its way of working and the overall company culture. Sites like Glassdoor and CareerBuilder feature anonymous reviews by former and current employees.
You can also locate ex-employees on LinkedIn and request information about the agency.
29. Ask how they plan their content
A good marketing agency for SaaS should be able to produce compelling content consistently. A single video or an occasional blog post on their website might indicate they aren’t consistent in their work.
Ask about their creative process to understand their approach to content.
30. Scout agencies who have won awards or recognitions
In your search for the right SaaS marketing agency, shortlist those that have won awards or recognitions. It indicates that they have a good company culture and are more likely to deliver top results.
See if you can find any press releases or news articles about award-winning agencies. But dig deeper to ensure the authenticity of these posts.
31. Try to get in touch with past clients for a review
Try to get in touch with some of the agency’s clients to find out how their experience has been. If the agency is genuine, it will have no problem connecting you to a past client.
Also, try to find out why that client is no longer working with the agency.
32. Ask for a creative brief
A creative brief describes the overall strategy of a creative project. It lays out the creative and brand requirements for different deliverables like landing page copy, blog posts, graphics, video production, and/or social media copy.
Ask your SaaS content marketing agency for a creative brief to understand the purpose, goals, and workflow of their marketing team.
33. Gain transparency about pricing with respect to deliverables
You need to clearly understand the investment required from your side. A cheap proposal does not mean that it’s right for your business. It could end up being much more expensive in the long run.
On the other hand, an expensive proposal doesn’t guarantee good-quality work either.
Ask for detailed pricing information with respect to the deliverables. Consider going for a performance-based agency that only charges for the results they deliver, not the tasks.
A part of the decision about choosing the marketing agency for SaaS will depend on your judgment of how good the agency-business fit will be.
But more importantly, you should focus on whether the agency is walking the talk. It is safe to assume that the quality of their content is indicative of the quality of work you can expect from them.
By keeping in mind the considerations outlined in this article, we hope that you will find the right SaaS marketing agency for your brand.
When should I start looking for a SaaS marketing agency?
You should start looking for a SaaS marketing agency when you want to automate and scale your marketing results.
SaaS marketing agencies help you save time, are cost-effective, and have expertise that you cannot develop overnight.
Thus, you should consider hiring a SaaS marketing agency when:
- You don’t have the required skill sets
- You don’t have the necessary time or in-house resources
- You’re exploring new marketing channels
- You’re at the cusp of a critical change, such as expanding the business or moving into eCommerce
- Your growth is limited
How can I verify the credibility of their claims?
You can verify the credibility of the claims of SaaS marketing agencies by:
- Consider Yelp or Google reviews or discovery tools like G2, UpCity, and Clutch.
- Look closely at case studies provided on the agency’s website. Or ask for case studies specific to your niche.
- Perform a background check using country-specific company directories or sites like Glassdoor.
- Look at their portfolio to see if it matches your needs.
- Speak to past clients about their experience with the agency.
What is the approximate budget to start SaaS content marketing for my brand?
Most marketers recommend allocating 25%-30% of your marketing budget to content marketing.
A SaaS startup can start with 20%-25% of the marketing budget and increase spending as it continues testing and discovers what works best for the brand.
A recent survey showed that 47% of B2B companies had a content marketing budget below $100,000 and 19% of B2B companies had a budget between $100,000 and less than $500,000.
How can I define the ROI of my content marketing strategy?
Content marketing ROI is measured as the revenue your business earns as compared to your spending on content marketing efforts.
You need to estimate the projected costs involved in creating, distributing, and promoting content.
It should include average production costs (copywriting, design, marketing tools, and technology), team overhead costs, and administrative costs.
Content marketing ROI is challenging to measure and track because there isn’t a direct path from content to revenue. It is easier to calculate per-campaign ROI using this formula:
|ROI = (Revenue – Expenses)/ Expenses|
Where, revenue = marketing dollars out and expenses = marketing dollars in.
Where should I start?
Instead of trusting “Top 10 SaaS marketing agencies” lists, consider using discovery and review tools created specifically for agencies. E.g. Clutch.co, G2.com, Agency Vista, Sortlist, CrowdReviews.
How can I make a content marketing strategy by myself?
The steps to build a content marketing strategy are:
- Define your content goal(s)
- Define your audience segments and create buyer personas
- Conduct a content audit and gap analysis
- Perform customer journey mapping
- Conduct keyword research
- Use keywords to come up with new content ideas
- Choose a content management system
- Establish a content development process
- Publish and manage content
Pratik Dholakiya is the Founder of Growfusely, a SaaS content marketing agency specializing in content and data-driven SEO.