Harnessing the power of influencers may sound like the latest social media fad. But done right, it’s a scalable, cost-efficient strategy for fueling SaaS growth.
SaaS influencer marketing isn’t about begging macro-influencers with high pricing to hawk your platform to audiences who couldn’t care less. The key is identifying and recruiting true niche software experts (micro-influencers) who already command the ears (and wallets) of your ideal customers. Imagine an army of genuine influencers equipped to authentically explain your solution, actively engage prospects, and drive real sales for your software company in ways your marketing team never could alone.
This guide will show you how to make that vision a reality. We’ll cover:
- Why influencers are tipped to dominate SaaS marketing
- How to identify influencers with real expertise and influence in your niche
- Creative ways to leverage influencers across the customer journey
- Optimizing partnerships for maximum ROI
- Tracking results and continually improving your influencer program
Sound enticing? Let’s dive in and unlock the secrets to building a SaaS influencer marketing machine.
What is SaaS influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing involves partnering with influencers to promote your brand and products. SaaS influencer marketing refers to collaborating specifically with software experts and thought leaders to promote your software-as-a-service offerings. Rather than solely relying on your own branded channels, you strategically work with niche influencers who have authority, credibility, and engaged audiences in your space.
Influencers create custom content like blog posts, videos, and social media posts on various social media platforms that highlight your SaaS brand and educate their followers on your solution. You provide guidance, assets, and compensation.
Compared to content marketing influencers in other niches, ideal SaaS influencers possess specialized knowledge of business software. They can clearly explain and demonstrate how your SaaS works and articulate the tangible user benefits. The goal is leveraging their expertise to build trust and generate interest in your software within their audiences.
Why is SaaS influencer marketing beneficial?
There are several compelling reasons why partnering with influencers can benefit SaaS brands:
Power of trust: Influencers are trusted voices that their niche audiences see as subject matter experts. Recommendations from industry influencers often hold far more weight than direct messaging from unknown brands.
Targeted reach: Influencers provide access to qualified, engaged audiences in your niche that they have already built. You don’t need to spend extensive time and money building your own following.
Influencers market your SaaS for you: While you provide direction, assets, and compensation, they create and distribute branded content on their own platforms. This amplifies your marketing efforts.
More sales and leads: Influencer marketing is proven to directly increase site traffic, generate more high-intent leads, and drive conversions. Partnerships expand your reach.
Brand awareness: Even if some people exposed to influencer content don’t convert immediately, it builds familiarity and trust in your SaaS for future sales.
Diversifies your content mix: When incorporated into the content marketing mix, influencer campaigns can become a significant driver of SaaS growth. Whether your SaaS company serves B2B SaaS problems or any other SaaS product, you can leverage influencer marketing to meet your marketing goals.
How SaaS influencers differ from typical influencers
It’s crucial to understand that SaaS influencers have distinct qualities compared to influencers in other realms, like lifestyle and fashion:
- SaaS influencers create educational, technical content, not just pretty photos. They are true subject matter experts.
- Popular platforms include LinkedIn, software blogs/sites, YouTube, forums, and SaaS communities. There’s a lot less emphasis on Instagram and TikTok.
- In-depth expertise is mandatory. Influencers must possess specific knowledge of software tools and how they benefit users.
- Content focuses on driving leads and conversions rather than vanity metrics like followers and likes.
- Longer-term partnerships align better with lengthy, complex B2B sales cycles. One-off campaigns are less common.
These differences mean SaaS brands must use a targeted influencer marketing approach, not generic strategies.
SaaS influencer marketing best practices
Influencer marketing won’t automatically equal success. You need to execute campaigns strategically tailored to your SaaS business. The good news is that by following proven best practices, you can optimize your influencer efforts to deliver impressive ROI.
This step-by-step guide covers tangible tips and strategies to maximize the impact of your SaaS influencer initiatives.
1. Set strategic goals for SaaS influencer marketing campaigns
Be clear on what you want to achieve with influencer marketing campaigns. Some potential goals include:
- Revenue: e.g., generate $50k in revenue attributable to influencers each quarter.
- Lead generation: e.g., gain 150 marketing-qualified leads per month from influencer content.
- Brand awareness: e.g., reach 250k relevant people with influencer content this year.
- Engagement: e.g., achieve 30k clicks and shares of influencer posts.
- Conversions: e.g., 10% conversion rate from influencer content to sales.
Setting clear key performance indicators (KPIs) allows you to track performance and make data-driven decisions about your influencer marketing strategy over time.
2. Recruit influencers as affiliates to track ROI
All SaaS marketing campaigns need a way to measure real results. Normally, with influencer campaigns, you can only measure reach and awareness, and it’s tough to measure the sales influencers bring in.
But by giving influencers unique affiliate links, you’ll be able to track the leads and sales they drive, and know the true impact of your influencer campaign. Thus, the most effective way to run SaaS influencer marketing campaigns is to bring influencers on board as affiliates, and award them commissions based on the leads and sales they drive for you.
Affiliate recruitment gives you several key advantages:
- Trackable attribution: Provide unique affiliate links and promo codes to definitively tie leads and sales to each influencer.
- Performance incentives: Commissions motivate influencers to actively and repeatedly promote your software, in order to earn more. This creates long-term promoters of your brand rather than one-off campaigns.
- Scalability: Easily grow your influencer program by recruiting more affiliates over time.
- Cost efficiency: You only pay affiliates when they generate concrete leads and sales. This makes influencer affiliate marketing low-risk for your brand, and less expensive than other marketing methods.
Since you’ll be using an affiliate model, you’ll need affiliate software (not your typical influencer software) to run the program and track links and commissions. Affiliate software makes tracking referrals and automating commission payouts simple.
Check out this guide on SaaS Affiliate Marketing 101 for tips on designing an effective affiliate program tailored for SaaS.
3. Decide what you want in an influencer
Take the time upfront to precisely define your ideal influencer partner profiles:
- Niche authority: Seek out true experts who create technical, educational pieces of content in your space.
- Content focus: Consider the formats and platforms each influencer uses and ensure alignment with campaign goals. For instance, would you like to recruit bloggers, social media influencers, website owners, or other types of creators?
- Audience fit: Guarantee that an influencer’s audience closely matches your target market’s demographics, interests, and pain points.
- Engagement: Prioritize influencers with highly engaged followers who actively like, share, and comment on content.
- Audience size: Sheer size is not the priority – a niche yet engaged audience often performs best for SaaS.
Vetting potential influencers thoroughly before recruitment ensures you choose the right influencers positioned to drive results. Do not compromise.
4. Find the right influencers that fit your needs
Where do you find these ideal software influencers? You can use various approaches to uncover relevant influencer prospects:
- Run a LinkedIn search using relevant keywords to identify industry experts with an audience.
- Use social listening (with brand mention software) to find experts already mentioning your brand or category, or using relevant hashtags for your niche.
- Participate in software forums and communities where you can connect with influencers.
- Browse competitors’ affiliate programs for influencers who also may be a fit.
- Survey your users – you may have customers who create content and who have a trusted voice in the niche you occupy.
- Open and promote an application that anyone can fill out. But screen those potential influencers who apply with the same rigorous standards as you use for influencers you reach out to.
Take time to thoroughly research and identify the very best influencers for your brand and goals.
You can check out this guide on how to find affiliate marketers for 10 effective tactics for recruiting the right partners.
5. Initiate outreach in a personalized, non-salesy way
When contacting prospective influencers:
- Start by engaging with their content and profiles organically. Like, share, and comment.
- Warm up the relationship before pitching. Build credibility.
- Then, reach out in a warm way and invite them to be your influencer (via email or DM).
- Personalize your pitch. Flattery gets you everywhere. C