Discover three tactics that can help your SaaS brand become more discoverable and exponentially grow qualified lead volume.

Many SaaS marketers are working diligently but they are just not seeing the marketing qualified lead (MQL) growth they’re striving for.

On August 12, I moderated a sponsored Search Engine Journal webinar presented by Garrett Mehrguth, CEO, Directive.

Mehrguth explored:

  • Actionable ways to make SaaS brands more discoverable on search engines.
  • Strategic methods to build brand impressions.
  • The actual math behind why the current marketing funnel is financially broken.

Here’s a recap of the webinar presentation.

SaaS Marketing: A Differentiated Approach

Have you ever felt helpless to grow your pipeline?

Are you working hard, but not getting results?

You aren’t alone.

Many marketers are experiencing the same things – for a plethora of reasons.

But one of the biggest reasons is that things have changed with the funnel.

In the old funnel, marketers needed to do top of funnel awareness campaigns because consumers can’t
discover the brand without them.

The Old Funnel vs. The New Funnel

But then websites like Amazon and Yelp started to grow by aggregating people’s opinions of a product.

And now, people are able to get their own interest in something, evaluate their options, then become aware of what exists, and so on.

In this new funnel, what’s so so important is understanding the reality you’re playing.

So how do we adapt to this new reality as SaaS marketers?

The Big Idea: Your Brand Is Better Than Your Website

The big idea that we need to embrace here is that your brand is now more important than your website.

This isn’t to say your website doesn’t matter – it’s just that it matters less compared to your brand.

Bottom of Funnel: Websites Are No Longer Ranking

If you look at the B2C query [best day trading software], you’ll find four ads above the fold:

B2C query

Here, your click-through rate doesn’t widely vary from the fourth spot to the first spot.

Mostly your CPC does OK.

Down below, there are SERP features and then different third-party review sites.

What’s really interesting about this is that individual websites and their core pages are no longer ranking – and that’s for a B2C query.

Now, if you look at a B2B query for [best accounting software], you’ll see SERP features at the top, four ads, and then PCMag.com, Capterra, and other review sites.

B2B query

QuickBooks, one of the most popular software companies among business owners for accounting have a very strong market share, yet you won’t see their website anywhere in the organic listings for this query.

It’s not that QuickBooks has bad SEO.

It’s that the search engine results pages have changed.

If consumers have expressed that they want to hear what other people are saying before they buy a $5
burrito, then they will surely want information before they buy a $20,000 software.

And so what Google decided to do here was put their searcher first.

They realized that these searchers want unbiased information.

So if you aren’t showing up on these queries, you’re missing out on up to 30% of your market share.

SEO is no longer about trying to get your website to rank for bottom of the funnel queries because it can’t – Google won’t allow it.

Another thing is that some third-party and review sites are starting to bid.

This is driving up the cost per click, decreasing the profitability, and it’s cutting competition.

This new reality is happening and we need to be aware of it.

Organic CTR

Almost all SaaS marketers still universally default to advertising at Google Ads.

The truth is, that’s not necessarily the best option.

If you advertise on Google Ads, you’re going to average a 2-4% click-through rate.

Let’s say 100 people are searching for that accounting software query.

If our plan to advertise the people with purchase intent on a search engine is G0ogle Ads, we’re only capturing 4% of the total addressable market.

While the number one organic result is now a listing on a third-party website.

This means you can be a start-up accounting software company, build a great product, and get some raving fans (i.e. 10-15 users compared to the millions on QuickBooks).

Immediately, you’ll look like a true competitor to QuickBooks by simply paying to be X, Y or Z on a review site.

When you change your fundamental and understand how you can position your brand in a strong spot, you’ll have the chance to capture the number one spot and get up to 32%  of market share.

organic ctr

With this, you almost have complete discoverability and that is an important part of being able to drive marketing qualified leads (MQLs).

Across millions of dollars of spend across multiple SaaS clients, Mehrguth’s team is averaging a 4% CTR.

CTR and conversion rate

You don’t necessarily want too high of a click-through rate because ideally, you want to use your ad copy to pre-qualify your clicks.

In other words, if you are required to do X amount of seats or X amount of price, a really great way especially if you’re a mid-market or enterprise organization who doesn’t win on price but instead on quality, you can include
base fundamental pricing in your ads.

Then you’ll essentially be able to disqualify the wrong clicks, qualify the right ones, and lower your cost per
acquisition (CPA).

Many SaaS companies have been brainwashed that the lower your CPA, the better.

What they do is they take your most expensive terms and they stop bidding.

Unfortunately, sometimes your most expensive terms are also your most valuable.

data for advertising - best accounting software

Even though third-party sites, such as Capterra and Software Advice, have much higher CPCs, they have much better close rates and cost per opportunity.

This means you are getting more qualified leads.

Financial Model

How SaaS owners decide to allocate capital is the most important part of marketing.

Simply reallocating where you spend your money can help grow your business significantly.

LTV - CACjpg

To do this, you can follow what’s called LTV:CAC modelling where you are going to understand the actual lifetime value versus the customer acquisition cost of all of your marketing channels.

There are two ways to proceed with this.

LTV:CAC SaaS Non-Trial

If you have a SaaS firm and you don’t do a free trial, here’s the spreadsheet you can use.

LTV - CAC - SaaS Non-Trial

You also have a budget template where you can model out different scenarios and then look at each of your channels in real time.

It also allows you to put in all your numbers (i.e., at the product level) and calculate it.

You can run through any type of scenario and see what’s most efficient.

This is helpful because the second you start modelling this out, driving budget, and working on these types of elements, you’ll get much better alignment from your CFO and build trust with the CMO.

LTV:CAC SaaS Free Trial

If your SaaS offers free trial, you can use a simple but awesome model where you can see how much your team costing,  software costing, ad spend, how many customers you want, etc.

And then it’ll compute your LTV:CAC ratio, as well as months to recover.

You can start to use it as a log to get better at forecasting budgeting.

Validated Tactics

If you’re the CMO of a mid-market to enterprise SaaS firm, here are a few validated tactics to consider if you want to increase your marketing qualified leads.

Paid tactics

  • Google Ads
  • Podcasts
  • LinkedIn
  • Review Sites
  • Terminus
  • Sponsored Webinars

Organic tactics

  • SEO
  • Content
  • Partner Marketing
  • PR

One thing you need to have in place before you get too deep in your tactics is to make sure you have the foundation right.

You may have all sorts of templates or tools to use, but that’s codependent on how people move through your funnel.

Ideally, anyone on your team should be able to go into your marketing platform, get the data they need, and be effective.

Nothing is more powerful than your team having the information they need when they need it – and being
able to actually do it themselves.

So now that you have your spreadsheet right, you’ll also need your data.

What’s next?

With revenue being such a big gap, you should also be thinking about OCT, or offline conversion tracking.

That would entail integrating SalesForce into your Google Ads.

The reason this is so important is because Google has come a long way and you can now trust Google Smart

Directive’s paid search team rebuilt all their accounts in Q2 and migrated away from the old-school way of thinking of single keyword ad groups and started bringing their clients into target CPA.

Now the issue with target CPA is how do you determine it if you don’t know your LTV:CAC ratio?

So this is why using the budget modeling template is really helpful.

1. Smart Broad Campaigns

The way Smart Broad campaigns work is that you’re going to “trust” Google’s engine.

You’ll want to integrate it with Salesforce using offline conversion tracking and then run broad keywords.

You can’t just let your account run wild so negatives are super critical.

Daily management is also extremely important.

Smart Broad Campaigns

2. Conversation Ads

One of the issues with SEO and PPC in the traditional sense is that you can’t control firmographic data.

Google has rolled out some white-label reports with industries and employee size, but the data’s not there yet.

But LinkedIn always had this phenomenal ability to give firmographic data.

For instance, you can target demand gen marketers with x amount of employees in these industries.

You can use “single persona ad groups or campaigns”, write essential one asset, and advertise to a specific target audience.

Now that conversation ads are here, it gets even better.

Conversation ads allow advertisers to “start conversations with professionals and business decision-makers via LinkedIn Messaging.”

You can use this to book a discovery call, leverage gift-giving as an offer, and so much more.

Mehrguth’s team has been working on this and saw exceptional results across the board.

3. Content Marketing with Partners

Content marketing is tough especially for SaaS companies that don’t have a brand.

Producing content is useless if you don’t have a distribution plan in place.

This is why your content marketing needs its promotion buit in.

PR is tough because you are trying to be the guest. Let’s simply reverse the roles.

Consider these ideas to boost your content marketing campaigns:

  • Sour interviews.
  • SaaS marketing competition.
  • Friday roundtables.

Empowering People

Marketing starts with your team and needs to bubble up into your vision at a boil.

Create a culture where your team can submit new ideas and has their own model.

Share this Financial Model for Submitting New Content Ideas to your team members to encourage them to make a business case.

All of a sudden, you’ve just given your team rocket fuel.

They can now drive strategy, have complete alignment, know if a campaign’s going to be successful, and be fully empowered.


Here are just some of the attendee questions answered by Garrett Mehrguth.

Q: You talked about branding. I often find it difficult to justify ROI for spend done behind branding. Have you ever come across such a dilemma?

Garrett Mehrguth (GH): A lot of times, people think about how much money they need to spend to grow.

What I’ve found is that in B2B, we have really long sales cycles.

It’s always challenging to get funding from finance to spend at the top of the funnel. We often get money for the bottom of the funnel because it’s easy to prove ROI quickly.

However, we know that the bottom of the funnel is co-dependent on brand, but it seems like the “results” come just from the bottom of the funnel.

However, time goes by, and you start to wonder why you haven’t built a brand.

So when you think about brand advertising, try to set your budget up to spend just enough, so you never stop, so that eventually you can prove it out.

From there, start to grow that budget slowly.

A small budget used strategically, that you let run its course, with incremental growth is a wise way to change your financial modelling and get more approval.

Q: Our SaaS is dipping our toes into marketing. What are the 1-3 tactics or channels I should focus my attention on so I can get some immediate wins and maximize my small budget?

GM: Review sites, Google ads, and case studies.


Managing Partner at Search Engine Journal and a Digital Marketing Consultant, providing consulting, training, and coaching services at an hourly … [Read full bio]

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I’m sure you’ve heard the famous phrase, you don’t get a second chance to make a great first impression.

It’s true about life… and it’s definitely true about business.

A well-crafted personal brand speaks FOR you even before you say a word. It helps you attract ideal customers and clients who are inspired and motivated by who you are and how you show up in the world.

And it demonstrates to your clients and customers that you can do what you say you can do and that they can rely on you to deliver on the promises…

And when that happens, you’ll easily make an awesome first impression in any situation.

From working the room at networking events, to connecting with random website visitors and people watching your FB Lives and reading your blog posts, a powerful personal brand will do pretty much all the hard work of grabbing attention in all the right ways.

But there’s more to a successful personal brand than creating a great first impression.

Personal branding is also about consistency.

It’s about making an awesome “first impression” again and again and again.

I’ve helped countless clients and students build out powerful brands using my Personal Brand Power Framework (I share exactly how to do this in my Ultimate Guide to a Powerful Personal Brand).

And not to be overly dramatic, but a personal brand is a sink or swim kind of deal.

Create a great brand that works for you and it quickly leads to lucrative business connections, steady growth, lots of sales and happy customers.

But get it wrong and you could damage your reputation and demolish your bottom line.

And so many gifted entrepreneurs get it wrong (and don’t even know it).

So,  I’m sharing hidden traps to avoid if you want to create a personal brand that powerfully and consistently establishes your reputation and your expertise.

Brand Trap #1: Being a Jack of All Trades

When you want to build a personal brand that seals your reputation, grows your client base and your income, it’s about lasering in on who you are and what you want to be known for.

But that’s not what most entrepreneurs do.

They try to be all things to all people and this mindset often shows up in their title or designation.

I’ve seen it happen and you probably have too…

I’m talking about people who call themselves a “speaker-coach-author-designer” or something to that effect!

Then there are those who focus on a bunch of different niches and areas of expertise…

I’ve seen super talented designers offering copywriting services and business coaches selling crystals.

They do this thinking that it’s a great idea to get  their “name out there” or they just want to make a quick buck any way possible.

But the result is a confused, uncertain audience and a damaged reputation and credibility because nobody is going to believe that one person can be truly great at so many different things!

When it comes to your personal brand you don’t want to be a “Jack of all trades, master of none.”

You want to laser in on one or two products or services that will establish your expertise so you can get to the top of the charts in specific industry or niche… especially if you’re a new entrepreneur. 

For instance, 2 of the most successful online entrepreneurs around — Jeff Walker and Ryan Levesque — did exactly that…

They focused on a single area of expertise from day one and they’ve stuck to that one thing for years.

Jeff is known as the “launch expert” and he’s built his entire business around the Product Launch Formula while Ryan is known for his wildly successful marketing funnel methodology and software called the Ask Method.

So trying to be an “expert” in a whole bunch of niches right out of the gate — this is one of the biggest personal branding traps entrepreneurs fall into.

Brand Trap #2: Drowning Your Audience 

If you want a powerful personal brand start by focusing on just one thing… your reputation.

A powerful personal brand is built on a rock-solid reputation but it’s where lots of entrepreneurs go wrong…

They think a great reputation is about “overdelivering.”

They want customers and clients to feel like they received a TON of value and got their money’s worth… and then some.

So, they go out there and build massive A to Z, 12-week courses or programs in their area of expertise… maybe for you that’s web design or internet marketing or copywriting or whatever it happens to be.


When you teach people everything you know — when you overshare or “overdeliver”  — what you’re really doing is creating anxiety, overwhelm and confusion for your clients and customers… hit ‘em with everything you’ve got and they won’t know what hit ‘em!

Instead, you need to hone in on one specific thing inside your zone of genius that helps people complete a project or achieve a goal.

If you’re a designer, for example, you could teach your customers how to create a gorgeous logo for their business.

If you’re a copywriter you could show them how to write an effective sales page.

If you’re an internet marketer or business mentor, you could teach them how to create kicka$$ courses that sell (that’s exactly what we did with Experience Product Masterclass and it’s one of our most popular courses of all time!).

And if you’re a transformational life coach, you could teach them how to laser in on and overcome their limiting beliefs around achieving success in business or finding true love.

Whatever you do, don’t drown your customers in value.

The trick is to keep things simple so that they get the results they’re looking for — this is the path to building trust, creating transformation, establishing that awesome reputation and  building a powerful personal brand that works for you.

Brand Trap #3: Focusing on the What 

Most entrepreneurs believe customers and clients want to work with them and buy from them based on what they know

But the most successful personal brands in the world — think Michelle Obama or Oprah or Gary Vaynerchuk — are built on how they make people feel.

The internet changed the world and how it works. Knowledge is SO cheap right now, it’s literally free.

Anything and everything you want to know is at your fingertips and available to you faster than you can say “Google.”

But your energy, your essence, your values and how you share and teach that’s unique because YOU’RE unique.

And that’s what people want…

They want what they can’t find on the internet and that’s who you are and how you make them feel NOT what you know.

So, give yourself permission to be yourself… focus on being vulnerable, authentic and real.

At different touch points in your business — your content, your website, your products and services — ask yourself…

How do you make them feel? 

That’s the #1 thing to think about in personal branding and we’ve helped clients and students build multi-million dollar brands starting with that one question.

So, powerful personal branding starts with focusing on becoming a hit-maker versus throwing a bunch of products and services at your audience to see what sticks…

It’s about creating results over drowning them in value…

It’s about becoming more YOU and how you want people to feel when they connect with you and your business.

That’s how you build a  personal brand that works for you and your business, a brand that projects who you are and how you want to show up in the world, a brand that matters, and creates the income and impact you want.

Feature Image Credit: pixabay


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