How Should SEO Fit Into Your B2B SaaS Marketing Strategy?

by Grady Neff - SEO Consultant at Demandwell

Just out of college, I moved out to the east coast trying to find a job. I had dreams of one day opening a deli while young, broke, and couch surfing. We didn’t have too many back in Indiana, but I loved the concept of local neighborhood eats with personalized and local flair. 

I never did become a sandwich savant, but like opening a deli, marketing requires finding the right mix of ingredients to make something successful. Understanding your audience and their tastes are the keys to making a winning marketing stack. Most marketing professionals consider SEO to be just another ingredient in the marketing mix ecosystem. That’s not the case at Demandwell. We believe it is the primary flavor component that enables all other marketing efforts. 

Your website is the 24hr salesperson for your business, and is the best opportunity you have to showcase your product or service to prospective buyers. Whether it’s sales materials or top of funnel assets, you can cover the full range with the right content on your site. The question is: do you have the right material people are looking for? And if they’re looking, can they even find you?

In a deli, people walking in want something delicious. Some may want a savory taste, others might want something spicy. Some might come into the deli ready to buy a sandwich, others might want to learn more about the different options before they buy one. But all of them ultimately want a sandwich that they can hold and eat on a park bench – no one is there for a three course meal that requires multiple forks. 

Marketing is no different. It requires a dedicated mix of tactics and messaging across various platforms to meet prospects’ needs in the purchase funnel. If your business is too dependent on a single marketing tactic, or focuses on just one area of the funnel, some of your audience will scoff at the taste and conversion rates will fall. Like parts of a sandwich, certain channels and tactics are more fundamental than others, and people want different combinations. So how do you cook up a winning combo? Allow for me to make you a sandwich. 

Your Product = Meat

The primary concern for your audience is your product. Prospects are hungry with a problem that needs solving, and you have something to offer that fills their needs. The rest of your marketing strategy is built off of the problem that you solve in some way or another.

The right material here validates why a user would purchase you vs. a competitor. These assets should be created and published on the website for someone to explore 24/7 (sometimes the hunger strikes at midnight!) whenever they need an answer. Whether a visitor wants to learn more about your industry, or is ready to explore pricing, having live content without needing to talk to sales will expedite the B2B research process leading to purchase.  

Brand & Messaging = Sauce

Your brand provides the character to your business. It’s a manifestation of your principles and shows how you separate yourself from other players. It provides the intense flavor that people identify with, but requires distribution from other marketing tactics to be successful. Can you imagine eating a sandwich made only of sauce? Grab a spoon. 

Paid, Email & Outbound = Veggies & Cheese

These tactics are great to take marketing to the next level, but are required in very different doses depending on your business model. They have ROI potential and are highly trackable, but they’re the most expensive to scale. These are the channels that should amplify your other marketing activities and they can help you reach new users to move them through the funnel. But if they dominate too much, you might have an unsustainable growth model.  

SEO & Organic Performance = Bread

SEO is the bread in every marketer’s sandwich. It’s the critical element that book-ends the rest of your marketing strategy.

Keyword research is audience research. When you do keyword or competitive analysis for SEO, you’re enabling all marketing messaging and tactics. If certain keywords perform well for driving revenue, that’s insight into what matters to customers.  

Compared to the other digital marketing tactics, the inbound nature of organic search makes it highly effective. It’s entirely driven by the user, not interruption-based or out of context. People already searching for your exact solution will be the best prospects for your business and the most stable customers. 

SEO through content production is a time intensive marketing play, requiring research and a lot of hard work for it to perform well. However, once published and live, it continues to gain momentum and increase the overall keyword portfolio of your website. So long as it’s crawlable and meets SEO criteria, it can drive qualified traffic for years to come. The return on SEO efforts is immense, and customer acquisition cost continually decreases as time goes by. Clients we work with have organic traffic account for over 40% of their revenue while spending just a fraction of their marketing budget on SEO.  

SEO optimization connects the dots between your website and people looking for answers. It makes both your brand and product discoverable at a time when people are interested in discovering them and supports all other marketing activities. A cold email or paid ad is a good first touch. If your downloadable market report is the first search result, it will be more trustworthy than if it’s shared by your sales team. 

So which marketing tactic is most important?

The most important thing is to have a balanced marketing plan that addresses all aspects of the funnel. Your audience is unique and has varying tastes, some may get excited about the cheese while others focus on the meat. Some may be curious about your display ads, others may prefer seeing information coming through their inboxes. Having it all together will provide the best opportunity for driving marketing success. 

Paid media is an excellent tactic to reach new users and retarget existing visitors. You get immediate actionable data, but it has diminishing returns over time.

Email is an excellent medium to keep known contacts informed. But it requires dedicated content on a regular basis, a standout brand that resonates with prospects, and a solid plan to move people through the funnel.

Brand is a necessity for any marketing campaign, but it alone will never drive results without significant amplification from all other channels.

All sandwiches require bread to be called a sandwich, and all of these digital marketing efforts hinge on an effective website which, if created with SEO in mind, can be a compounding long term driver for sales and marketing success. It needs to be planned, considered from your initial website build, and woven into your content strategy to target the right people, topics, and funnel stages. 

Websites and content are created without SEO in mind all too often, and upon publication they’re immediately lost in the sea of online content. Don’t let that tasty sandwich go stale, make SEO a priority.