16 Organic B2B Growth Channels for your B2B SaaS startup
Linkedin, Twitter, Podcast, Marketplaces, Walk-ins and many more.
Today's blog will share an overview of 16 organic B2B growth channels that can generate traction for your startup.
Organic Channels vs. Paid Channels
Paid marketing channels (e.g. Google Ads, Facebook Ads..) rely on spending money to reach and engage with your potential customer. Organic marketing channels focus on generating traffic to your site over time without any marketing spending.
Paid marketing is great for driving immediate growth for your startup. Paid ads can give you a quick and powerful boost in traffic volume and conversions (e.g. sign-ups).
But it has also some problems and disadvantages:
costs for ads (CPC) are getting more expensive (because of higher competition & saturation)
your growth relies on always adding more marketing spend (once you stop paying for ads your growth will stop (no new sign-ups or demos).
if your growth only relies on paid advertising it’s rather easy to copy
Organic (non-paid) marketing channels normally take longer to show first results, but the advantage is that you do not rely on constantly increasing your marketing spending and can build a growth engine that is hard to copy (& compete against).
Why test different marketing strategies?
For every (early-stage) startup it’s important to start testing and experimenting with new traction channels and hopefully find new sources of customers. You have to spend your energy and resources only on the marketing channels that impact traction for your business (and stop the ones that don‘t) and those will vary for every startup.
But how do you find the right marketing channels and balance your resources and budget?
The answer is testing new strategies and channels fast and only with a small amount of money or time allocated. The goal is to quickly find out if those channels could return good results for your business. Based on that test either invest more in those channels or move on. Make sure you are tracking the results of each of those tests.
Take the time to think about creative ways how you could test the following 16 organic B2B growth marketing channels for your business.
16 organic B2B growth marketing channels
Inbound marketing means that potential customers get in touch with you (and not that you’re outreaching to them). They discover your product or content (that is valuable for them) and want to get in touch with you. Depending on your growth strategy (product-led vs. sales-led vs. hybrid growth), they either sign up for your free trial or book a demo with your sales team.
#1 Content on LinkedIn
If you’re building a B2B SaaS product you should definitely consider posting content on LinkedIn. Sharing relevant information for your target audience on LinkedIn helps you to:
build authority and trust
be seen as an industry expert
increase brand awareness
engage with your ideal customers
drive demand for your product
It’s important that you share content that is relevant to your ideal customer profile (ICP). Don’t just post about how great your product is and what amazing features you offer, rather talk about problems, challenges, and opportunities of your ICP and share interesting facts, strategies, or news for them. So think about the following content types for Linkedin:
How-tos & Guides
Tips & tricks
Updates about the product/company (—>check out build in public)
#2 Content on Twitter
Similar to LinkedIn, Twitter can work really well to drive demand for your product. Don't spam your followers, be selective on the content you share, and always aim for high-value content. If your published content is valuable to your potential customers, they are more willing to click your CTA, get in touch with you and try your product and even share your content with others.
As a CEO and founder of your startup, you should consider building your own audience on Linkedin and Twitter (in parallel to the company’s account) and leveraging it to drive growth for your business.
#3 Facebook Groups (& Slack and Discord Channels)
Facebook is probably not the first channel you should consider when you run a B2B SaaS venture, but there are pretty interesting and niche groups on Facebook. Especially if you target the prosumer and SMB market, it’s worth checking out.
The beautiful part about those groups is that it’s easier for you to target your ideal customer profile.
There are 2 ways to leverage Facebook groups, either start your own Facebook group (if there aren’t high-quality groups) and join existing ones. Here are some examples of how to use Facebook groups:
You’re building CRM Software for Youtube Creators? —> Join/Create a Facebook group for youtube creators and share relevant content with them (e.g. How to create high-quality thumbnails)
You’re helping software companies to hire remote talents? —> Join/Create a Facebook group for HR managers in software companies
#4 Start a Podcast
Starting your own podcast takes a bit more effort. But if you know how to do it, it really helps you to build a high level of authority (and differentiate yourself from potential competitors). A great way for startups to launch a podcast is by inviting customers and industry experts as podcast guests. In the podcast, don't be too sales-driven and only talk about your product. Instead, talk about big topics, challenges, or problems of your customers. The content needs to be highly valuable for them.
Tip: Ask your podcast guests to share the podcast also with their audience (cross-promotion).
Also, start to outreach to other Podcast hosts that your ICP is listening to. Ask them to invite you for a guest podcast episode.
#5 Run a Youtube Channel
Youtube is the second largest search engine in the world (after Google). Youtube is mostly used for search queries around things you don't know (e.g. How to build a website, How to get more inbounds...). That's a great opportunity for you to start a channel and create content that educates/helps your ideal customers with their problems/challenges/questions.
#6 Start publishing articles on Medium
Medium is a great platform to publish your content and grow your audience. It has over 60 million active users. It’s an open platform where readers find articles and can follow authors. Similar to the other platforms, focus on your target audience (your niche) and share relevant content with them. (Follow me on Medium)
#7 Start your own Newsletter (e.g. via Substack)
Starting your own newsletter and #8 (your own blog) often comes hand in hand. Whenever you publish a new article on your blog, send out a newsletter to your subscribers to check out the new piece.
Of course, you can also run different newsletters at the same time (e.g. Weekly tips vs. Monthly In-depth analysis)
#8 SEO (Blog Posts on your own Website)
Compared to the other inbound marketing channels SEO takes way longer to show results (mostly 12 to 18 months). But in the long run, SEO can be really beneficial for your marketing growth (e.g. ranking on search page one on Google for relevant keywords).
#9 Find your niche on Product Hunt, Reddit & Indiehackers
Think about platforms and existing communities where your ideal target customer already hangs out. Especially if you target prosumer and SMB businesses, building a community (or sharing relevant content) on Product Hunt, Reddit or Indiehackers can work quite well.
Start early with building a community and sharing relevant content. I see more and more startups building a community first, and then building the product for this specific community.
For all content-related marketing channels, I would suggest you repurpose your content (Check out Hubspot's article on Repurposing Content). This means that you are covering a specific topic (e.g. every week or biweekly) and producing different kinds of content formats for it. For instance, you can write a blog post on your website (for SEO reasons) and repurpose the content for other inbound marketing channels like LinkedIn and Twitter. On top of that, you could create a new Youtube Video and Podcast talking about the information you’ve covered in the blog post. Vice versa can also work, e.g. repurpose your Youtube and podcast content for your blog articles.
#10 Referral Program
A referral program is a super powerful growth channel. Not asking your existing customers for referrals is one of the most common mistakes in B2B SaaS Growth. This is especially bad because growing with referrals is cheaper and more effective than acquiring completely new customers. When your existing customers refer others to you (for free or for a small referral bonus) they mostly refer peers to you, which means they fit your ideal customer profile. Referred leads normally have a higher trust in your business, belong to your ICP, and therefore also show higher conversion rates.
So make sure you frequently ask your customers for referrals and even incentivize them to do so.
What’s important about a referral marketing program:
customer segmentation: Track your customers’ NPS score and product usage and only target your happy customers
timing & frequency: ask your customers for referrals at the right time (not straight after the signup, give them some time to experience your product and become a happy customers). Think about triggers in your customer journey where customers are happy with your product and willing to refer your product.
referral incentive: What is the referral bonus (cash vs. free product usage vs. other perks) and who gets the bonus when? Make sure it’s transparent and use a two-sided referral program and incentivize both parties (the referrer and referred) - check out some referral program examples
communication & messaging: Figure out the right messaging and best channels (in-product, email, phone...) to ask for referrals; create rules on when (triggers) and how often you ask for referrals
technical implementation & tools: referral tracking and referral bonus payout
Check out growsurf, reditus or partnerstack to run your referral program.
Compared to Inbound marketing, Outbound marketing means that you’re outreaching your potential customer. It can be highly efficient for B2B companies. The higher your ACL (average contract value) the more important it is. Especially if you’re following a traditional sales-led growth strategy, outbound channels are key for your growth.
#11 Cold Email (personalize)
Yes, cold emails still work. Make sure that you personalize your email and don't spam your prospects. There are great tools that help you to write personalized cold emails and even automate the process later on (Email marketing automation). If you don't have the email addresses of your potential customers, think about purchasing emails, hire a freelancer on Fiverr or Upwork to scrap leads for you, or use lead scraper tools like Phantombuster.
#12 Sales letter (in envelopes) for large deal sizes
If you are selling products with a high ACV (average contract value), sending personalized letters can work. The advantages of physical old school letters are:
most companies don't use them (so you are special)
they have an almost 100% open rate
you can be creative and design nice envelopes
#13 Cold Calling
Similar to cold email, cold calling still works. Especially if it's hard for you to target your ideal customer online, phone calls can be a very powerful strategy.
As for most strategies, make sure you have a great sales pitch in place. This means, engaging with your customer, asking questions, talking about pain points, and presenting values (and not features). It makes sense to do some training for cold calling.
With Walk-ins I mean to visit a potential client in their office or store. This is not a strategy for everyone, but it can work quite well for specific industries and target audiences. If you know who your target customer is (e.g. hairdresser, restaurant, or gyms) it is easy for you to find their address and just do a walk-in without an appointment. I saw this strategy works really well in the POS Software market for restaurants, online booking software for hairdressers, or business management software for sports venues.
Marketplaces & Partnerships
Another great way to grow your startup is to leverage existing large marketplaces, where your ideal customers already are. Think about other marketplaces for your specific industry.
#15 Marketplaces like Chrome Extensions, Salesforce Appexchange, Hubspot Ecosystem, Shopify Appstore, or Zoom Marketplace and Review Sites
If you're building a SaaS product, the chances are high that integrations and APIs to other market-dominant players can help you with your own growth. Even if your core product would not require integrations to Salesforce, Hubspot, Shopify, or Zoom, or an extension for Google Chrome, it still could make sense to build it (or create a simple chrome extension), leverage the power of their marketplaces to generate sign ups, and later upsell your core product.
Have a look at other new and upcoming marketplaces in your industry? Who are the dominant players in your space and do they offer any kind of integrations of marketplaces? How can you leverage them for your own growth?
More and more software companies launching their own marketplaces and APIs - e.g. Personio’s marketplace, Miro’s marketplace, or Mailchimp’s marketplace
Software Review Sites
Being present on popular Software review sites like G2 Crowd, Capterra, Getapp helps you to increase traffic. Potential customers use software review sites to find the best-rated tools for their specific use case. Make sure to get reviews as this is key to being successful on those review sites.
#16 Partnership & Co-marketing
Find a potential partner who is targeting the same ideal customer (just with another product). You can do co-promotions and help each other to grow. E.g. if you're selling email marketing software for digital freelancers, partner up with a company that sells accounting software for digital freelancers or a job platform for freelancers. You can co-promote each other in newsletters, run a co-hosted webinar, or be guest speakers in each other's podcasts.
If you are selling software, make sure that you still control most of the customer journey and only outsource the distribution part to the reseller.
I saw this strategy works quite well for employee benefits software (resellers are accounting companies who already work with lots of companies, that are the ICP of the employee benefits software) and also for sports booking software (resellers are sports brands who already worked together with sports venues).
Learn more about co-selling and reseller growth channels.
Grow your business with a powerful strategy
Don’t forget to download your FREE copy of the SaaS Growth Strategy Worksheet.
References: This article is inspired by Bruce Harpham (SaaS Marketing Channels: The Only 9 Growth Channels You Need In 2021), Kyriaki Raouna (Top 15 SaaS Growth Strategies to Try in 2022) & TK Kader (Creating a Go-To-Market Channel Strategy).
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