Think of your marketing team as pillars that support the weight of your SaaS business.
While each pillar uniquely adheres to its tasks, all work towards the common goal of holding your business model together. One pillar falls, and the entire structure can collapse.
Your content cannot dictate your organic growth without assistance from the SEO team. Your lead generation marketer cannot generate ad leads without the help of a performance marketer.
It shows that having the perfect marketing mix that works well together is essential for your marketing success.
The keyword here is perfect.
And that’s the burning question that most SaaS founders have, isn’t it? How do I build the perfect SaaS marketing team?
Well, it really depends. As marketing advisor Holly Chen mentions,
“The stage of the company, type of product, growth and sales motion, and audience are all factors that impact the SaaS marketing team structure, so there’s no one optimum structure that would work for every SaaS company. It’s important to balance the resource and impact of each function to make sure you’re focusing on the highest leverage functions first before building out a big team.”
You need to consider priority roles at each stage and build a team where each role drives your bigger objectives. Without further ado, let’s find out what those roles are and examine each of them in detail.
#1 The Content Marketer
If content marketing is not part of your marketing strategy, then you are already a step behind your competition. 92% of marketers view content marketing as an important business asset. It is the fastest-growing strategy used today by businesses. As the growth leadership expert, Baxter Denney suggests,
“I think you always have to have someone focused on the content side. Someone who’s really understanding the needs and what kind of content is necessary to deliver to your audience how are you directly responding to trends in the marketplace and really creating deep, engaging stuff that’s a fit for your audience. Obviously, it evolves over time.”
Podcasts, videos, blog posts, and social media content are all aspects of this strategy, so an effective content marketeer is essential as the creative force in your marketing team.
Strong writing skills are fundamental for this position, as well as the ability to combine creative elements with effective business strategies. This content also needs to be strategic, engaging various audiences along the buying cycle, from awareness to final purchase.
For Small Businesses
Start early on with content. Because it gradually grows your online traffic and is a great source to build an audience. So even if you’re looking to build a small SaaS marketing team, a content marketer will play a pivotal role in guiding the brand awareness with immersive content.
It is they who will communicate with the right audience on the right channels and create consistent and high-quality content that engages with them. Starting early on also means you can start building a sense of trust and loyalty with your audience through content.
The role of a content marketer will be much broader in enterprise business. Since the awareness has also been established, the focus is on the bottom of the funnel content. It will also involve a lot of cross-departmental communication with graphic designers and video editors.
The content marketer will also have to think from a thought leadership angle, incorporate personal case studies, and build credibility for the viewer through showcasing previous experiences and highlighting customer reviews.
For example, sites like HubSpot provide excellent examples of how to engage with your audience with thought leadership content. While its site sells CRM and marketing software, they also are one of the leading sources of valuable information in the marketing world. It sets the perfect example of having an exemplifying content marketing strategy in an enterprise setup.
#2 The Lead Generation Marketer
In its latest study, HubSpot mentions that 61% of marketers feel lead generation is their biggest challenge. Hence, as a central problem for many marketers, a dedicated lead gen marketer is a must for any SaaS business.
As Dan Martell rightly reflects, “Not everybody is ready to start a trial or buy what you have to sell. What you can do instead is swap their contact information for some value you might have. Marketing is meant to take care of your market until they’re ready to buy. If your audience is coming to your website, you need to give them a bribe to get their email address so you can continue the conversation.”
The customer lifecycle for SaaS businesses follows a fairly straightforward pattern: acquire, engage, retain. However, the customer journey is not usually so direct these days. Therefore, a lead gen marketer can keep track of customers’ positions along the way and implement strategies to improve statistics for every step.
Ensure that your lead gen marketer is an automation expert. Your team will have to create an automation plan for multiple solutions to be thorough and successful. Keep in mind that customers will be quick to unsubscribe or mark you as spam if they get too many emails. So your lead gen marketer will need to find an effective balance without being overwhelming.
For Small Businesses
The lead gen marketer will have to build strategies from the ground up. They will have to set things in motion with marketing automation, set KPIs to track the performance, categorize them depending on their sales-readiness, and nurture them. They will themselves have to manage and execute PPC, paid social, remarketing, and other ad spending activities.
As a SaaS enterprise, the focus will be on demand generation, where the lead gen marketer identifies growth opportunities and moves toward them with the right balance of long and short-term initiatives. The role will require creating and executing lead generation plans that deliver significant leads and working closely with SEO, email marketing, PPC, social media, and other channels.
#3 The Product Marketer
Product Marketing has its special place in SaaS marketing. Ultimately it’s your product that keeps your subscriptions afloat and your product that decides the user experience.
According to Bożena Pieniazek, Director of Marketing at Maze, “I would say that product marketing is a critical function, and I think especially in the early days, product marketers can be a Swiss Army knife working on launches, messaging, landing pages, onboarding content, customer research.”
Most Product Marketing Managers consider product positioning and messaging as the main responsibility of a product marketer. The product marketer needs to understand the in and out of the product and its value proposition so that they can communicate the same to the prospects. Product marketers are responsible for building engaging onboarding experiences, product newsletters, and designing the in-app experience.
For example, take a look at how Asana designed its onboarding experience. The product marketer has highlighted the functionality of the product. It has also facilitated a walkthrough where the company collects relevant information on its user persona through personalized questions.
For Small Business
Have a product marketer that will act as a connecting point between your marketing team with your development team. Someone who can regularly communicate with software teams on product features. They can translate them into benefits and work closely with content, sales, and customer success on messaging around the product. They also need to work with the product manager to develop pricing strategies and structures.
The role will be more or less the same, except they’ll have to work with larger teams and take into account multiple products and manage the cross-functional implementation of the launch plans. They will have to maintain customer personas and use a product roadmap to dictate future marketing decisions.
#4 The SEO Specialist
The SEO specialist is a core marketing team member who’ll be responsible for ensuring the visibility and organic positioning of your SaaS content. If you look at the top SaaS companies like MailChimp and SurveyMonkey, you’ll realize that they are where they are because they took the time in investing in content-driven growth and SEO.
So a SaaS SEO has to understand the nuances of content, execute recommendations for content development and also provide technical SEO support such as crawling, indexing, XML sitemap generation, implementation, etc. It’s always a combined effort.
As the SEO expert John Murch mentions, “SEO combines the creativity of online marketing with various technical engineering requirements and recommendations. I love how SEO is always changing, best game of cat/mouse ever!”
If done right, an SEO specialist can reduce the cost of customer acquisition by 87.41% and also increase the business value of a blog visit by 429%.
For Small Business
When you’re small and just starting out, an SEO specialist needs to increase your visibility across channels. However, they will have to make do with limited resources and rely on organic tactics to do. They need to collaborate with the other team members, such as digital marketing managers, social media specialists, and digital marketing analysts to draft a winning SEO strategy for brand awareness.
The SEO Specialist has to maintain the brand positioning and create a repeatable and organic growth strategy for the business. They will also need to balance the PPC campaigns along with organic efforts and build backlinks from high-authority websites. They’ll also have to continuously track, report, and analyze key SEO metrics for the overall SEO improvements in the long term.
#5 The Social Media Marketer
Don’t write off social media as a “necessary but fruitless” form of marketing for SaaS startups. A lot of referral traffic is now coming from social media, beating out organic and paid search in many cases. In fact, 95% of B2B marketers utilize social media content in some form, making it the most widely-used content type
According to Pooja Sriram, Head of Brand Growth at Chargebee, “Social Media is a great platform to experiment with positioning your brand as you could change things in minutes on social media. You can use it as a community engagement platform, a research platform, a customer advocacy platform, or even an employee advocacy platform. See what your customers are interested in by directly getting in touch with them through your content.”
For Small Businesses
A Social Media Marketer needs to know where you should build your presence and increase your following. They should know how to tell a story, be quick to adapt to the ever-changing social media landscape, and can pull metrics to prove success. A social media specialist in small SaaS businesses will likely have to wear many hats. They need to be a creative designer when it comes to content, an effective copywriter, a strategist, advertiser, and customer service rep.
The Social Media Marketers in enterprise SaaS will need to handle the day-to-day management and growth by building the corporate social media presence across Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and potential new social media channels. Ensure that they have the experience and the passion for building communities of business owners online and for creating both quality video and static content.
It’s obvious that a marketing team grows as it scales. An SMB SaaS with revenue below an ARR of $5 million will have a very different marketing structure from a company with an ARR of $50 million. While an SMB will just have a single person in each of the above-mentioned titles, an enterprise will have full-fledged teams along with a few extra roles that wouldn’t be a necessity for an SMB. Let’s check out those extra roles below.
6. The Conversion Optimizer
Getting your audience to your website isn’t enough.
As Bryan Eisenberg rightly points out, “Trying to increase sales simply by driving more traffic to the website with a poor customer conversion rate is trying to keep a leaky bucket full by adding water instead of plugging the holes”
Your conversion optimizing team will solely focus on converting traffic and making this transition as effortless as possible for prospects. In order to accomplish this, your team first needs to optimize your website. A poor web page can mean certain death for your business when most customers judge a business by its website design. If your site has low-quality images, slow loading pages, or lacks a user-friendly format, customers will leave.
Your demand generation team can only generate the leads if they understand the psychology of website navigation. And that’s where the expertise of a conversion optimizer comes in. They know the secret sauce of website engagement and are responsible for executing optimization efforts to improve user experience and maximize conversion rates. Rely on them to understand the mechanics of navigation and CTAs that enhance your signups.
On an enterprise level, they’ll identify key findings and take decisions based on testing results to positively impact the conversion rates. They will also have to execute A/B tests that drive these improvements to the website performance and highlight the company’s success so far.
Real stories resonate well with future customers, and customer reviews influence nearly every customer’s purchase decision. Another strong strategy to include is adding in a live chat customer service. This greatly improves customer satisfaction rates, and most, importantly, it increases conversion rates.
Finding the best design and layout for your website may require some trial and error, so it is vital to have a conversion team that has foundational knowledge of coding and web design. They will be better able to experiment with various strategies until they find the mix that results in the highest conversion rates.
7. The Performance Marketer
Out of all your marketing team segments, paid product marketing is probably the type that you are the most familiar with, as it includes ads, both digital and print.
When a business is scaling, paid marketing becomes an integral part of your marketing strategy and for this very reason, GetAccept’s CMO, Frida Ahrenby hired a performance marketer. “What I really needed was to scale paid acquisition. We were ranking poorly so one of the first hires I made was a performance marketer to kick off all kinds of paid acquisitions”
You must be wondering that you have a social media marketer and a lead generator, why do you need a performance marketer?
Glad you asked. A performance marketer is aware of how PPC works in conjunction with organic search, and user intent on search engines, and knows the importance of keyword research. Understanding which keywords draw in the most qualified customers and utilize those words in the campaigns is key to cracking AdWords campaigns.
Performance marketing isn’t just limited to advertising with Google AdWords or advertising on social media. Sure, they’re some prominent methods of advertisements. But when you’re an enterprise, you need to consider all forms of paid advertisements that require their set of expertise.
A dedicated performance marketing team can work towards improving the ROI of all marketing channels, such as social media, email, and content. You don’t want to drain your cash flow too quickly. So make sure that your team knows the ins and outs of each paid channel and can leverage effective audience targeting on those channels. Find someone with excellent analytical skills and someone who’s confident working with numbers to derive valuable business insights.
8. The Data-Driven Marketer
If you have an extensive customer base, you have tons of data — data that can dictate your future marketing efforts. No matter how much advertising and marketing your other teams create, it is essentially useless unless you know if they are effective or not. Your Data Scientist – the fancy new way of saying data analysts – can track all your marketing campaign and determines whether the results are in line with your strategy or not.
The point isn’t just to extract data but to also determine the right metrics that help marketers review their performance.
Hiten Shah of Crazyegg and Kissmetrics mentions, “If you pick the right metrics for success, you will be able to significantly improve the focus of the whole team and thus improve your business. Developing these metrics should be done first by making hypotheses about your business and validating/invalidating these hypotheses. From there you will have a good base understanding that will allow you to determine what metrics to focus on and how to define success for your business.”
This part of the marketing effort is data-driven; your analysts should be well organized and able to use multiple software programs to track information. Of course, understanding Google Analytics is a fundamental skill. Knowledge of other analytical systems, such as Kissmetrics, is highly beneficial and recommended.
Your data analyst team tracks traffic numbers and the behavior of your leads that helps you create funnel visualizations in order to determine which marketing strategies are working and which need improvement. The team translates reports from advertisement campaigns into measurable results. Then, it is up to your decision-makers to connect the dots and make appropriate changes to your strategy and direction.
9. The PR Specialist
In his article for Prowly, Custify CEO Philipp Wolf wrote, “SaaS companies must take a different approach than traditional marketing to reach their core audience and effectively engage their customers to renew their subscriptions. An effective PR strategy relies on capturing the consumer’s interest at the top of the sales funnel with your product and enticing them down the path to purchase. What’s more, focusing on creating a valuable PR strategy for your company maximizes ROI by getting the most out of your content to drive success.”
At an enterprise-level, you need to focus on executing a communication strategy that grows an audience in the SaaS community. And that’s exactly why you need a PR specialist. Someone who will lead the PR strategy to accelerate your market position and product awareness amongst the press and prospects. Take Ganttic, for example. It got featured in top magazines because it released the PR team worked intensely to celebrate and garner attention for its company milestone.
Hiring a PR Specialist isn’t an option. They would make every effort to increase engagement and create excitement about the company and brand. They also have a strategy, process, and execution for crisis communications. Your PR specialist should be well-versed in building brand reputation and ensuring compliance with the brand tone, voice, and overall standards.
Putting together an effective marketing team requires you to find members that are not just qualified and skilled for their own position, but are also willing and able to work together with other teams. Each team overlaps and helps the other, and leaves you to steer the ship. Building a marketing team for your company is by no means a small feat, but it is essential for building the foundation of a strong and successful business.
Pratik Dholakiya is the Founder of Growfusely, a SaaS content marketing agency specializing in content and data-driven SEO.