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Unstack Playbook

SaaS Startup Go-To-Market Strategy 🚀

You've got a product and a few customers, but people keep asking you what your "go to market strategy is." But what does that mean exactly? Is it user acquisition? Brand? Pricing? The truth is, it's a lot of things all working together to help you maximize the commercial success of your business as you really start to grow.

We had a lot of questions, so we brought in an expert. This person has played the role of VP marketing at multiple startups from bootstrapped to series B and beyond. He broke it all down for unstack in a 40+ slide deck.

We paid for this so that hopefully you don't have to. Below we've published all of the slides plus our notes in the hopes that you can take a lot of this and apply it to your business to move quicker and be more effective.

What was our Goal? 🥅

Currently, we do very little marketing. Most of our traffic comes from referrals and SEO. We knew we needed a playbook that we could use to start growing the business more seriously.

Our goal was to map out a viable path to our first 500 paying customers. That was really the only goal. We said "give us a playbook to get to a million in annual recurring revenue"

Keys to success

  • Improve messaging to focus on the value props that matter most to the core audience of SaaS Marketers
  • Continually improve website and free:paid conversion through a multi-channel approach
  • Use great, focused content to raise awareness and consideration of Unstack
  • Create an automated marketing machine to drive demand capture, activation, and conversion
  • Create monthly marketing programs/themes to rally around across channels

Important things to consider

  1. This is a very crowded market making certain channels difficult to stand out in and meaning you’re fighting against huge companies for attention.
  2. Switching is hard, making the move to Unstack or another CMS provider a considered purchase with a lot of perceived risk.
  3. Many of the problems Unstack solves are “solved-enough” for SaaS marketers, but with opportunity for improvement.
  4. The value of Unstack needs to tie directly to the pain people are feeling, so that the gains from switching feel worth it.

Recommended messaging: High level overview

What  is Unstack?

What problem does Unstack solve?

Who is it for?

Who should use it?

How do we do it?

How does Unstack solve the problem for the people who should use it?

SaaS marketers: Active pain points

  • Relying on marketing software (and templates) built for other types of businesses means re-working or compromising design elements and making functionality trade-offs
  • Creating their own tech stack by piecing together tools designed for other purposes or outdated methods of marketing
  • Making changes to design and content takes too long or never look quite right
  • Websites are too hard to update if you want to make more than copy changes
  • Reporting requires three or more systems just to attempt to answer the question “how much recurring revenue is coming through my website?”
  • There is no easy way to quickly launch and measure new pieces of content, targeted landing pages, and customer stories
  • It’s difficult demonstrate modern site design (like movement) that competitors are using or that the board or CEO are requesting
  • It’s too difficult to continually optimize for conversion because of reporting and design challenges
  • Limited budget and access to design and technical resources require too many trade-offs and affect performance
  • Switching web platforms is a hard and often long process that doesn’t’ feel worth prioritizing

Getting the word out: Paid vs Unpaid

It is important to start testing paid strategies, but unpaid tactics like content marketing, SEO, and partner marketing are more likely to drive results over time in a crowded marketing place.

  • Paid: Great for amplifying content to visitors and users. Good for capturing demand for web management software, but very expensive considering the competitive set of large, established players.
  • Unpaid: Great for creating highly targeted content and reaching potential customers through long tail search terms, engagement, and cross-promotion by customers, partners, etc.

The Marketing Funnel

Like many, it's not simply linear.

However, this maps out how we will usually find a user and drive them through to a conversion (upgrade).

Paid advertising strategy: Acquisition

Unstack needs to continually push versions of the core message in front of the target audience of SaaS marketers at small-medium sized businesses to get new users and systematically see what works.

That requires a mix of channels, messages, and offers that are aligned with their designated landing pages.

Paid advertising strategy: Messages/concepts to test

  • Finally, a web management platform for SaaS marketers.
  • A web management platform as agile as your marketing team
  • The only web management platform built for today’s SaaS marketer
  • Amazing design, powerful reporting, fully integrated CRM. Your whole tech stack is in Unstack.
  • Build powerful websites in a platform built to drive SaaS growth.
  • New web pages in minutes. Revenue reporting in seconds. It’s called Unstack.
  • Take back control of your website with Unstack.
  • All the tools you need to create new content, measure results, and drive growth with your SaaS website.
  • Your local bakery doesn't have the same needs as your SaaS business, why are you on the same web platform?
  • XXX wasn’t sure about switching to Unstack, here’s what they have to say now (social proof)

Paid advertising strategy: Acquisition channels

  • Paid Search: Capture demand from people actively searching for a new web cms or marketing tools specifically for SaaS companies. Also, use branded search terms to ensure anyone actively looking for you gets to the right place.
  • Linkedin: Use images, video, and written content inform the market about the challenges of today’s SaaS marketers and how Unstack solves them via case studies and social proof. 
  • Facebook & Instagram Ads: Use images, video, and written content to reinforce brand messages and amplify organic content, reaching people in their “non-work” time.
  • Youtube: Use pre-roll video to highlight single pain points for SaaS marketers and how Unstack solves them (w/social proof.)
  • G2Crowd & Capterra: Capture demand for people actively searching for a new web cms or marketing tools specifically for SaaS companies. Capterra has a PPC option worth exploring as well.
  • Sponsor PLG Summits, Podcasts, and other speaking opportunities: Evangelize Unstack and the new way of doing SaaS marketing by showing up on any podcast or co-presentation. Invade the product-led growth conversation and other SaaS communities that already exist through sponsorships and co-marketing opps.

Paid advertising strategy: Offers to test

Just like messages, different offers should be tested to see which drive the most interest and conversion:

  • Sign Up Free
  • Free Trial
  • Free Plan
  • Free templates
  • Social Proof
  • Content Download
  • Recorded Demo
  • Sales Demo
facebook button pins

Paid advertising strategy: Engagement

Amplifying Unstack content by putting money behind it will help bring visitors who didn’t convert back into the fold and introduce new prospects to the “why” of choosing Unstack.

  • Remarketing: Use professional looking remarketing ads to upsell free users into paying customers and bring non-converters back into the fold for SaaS focused education. Great for ROI stories, high value features, webinars, and more.
  • Promoted posts: All marketing programs should be boosted via paid social to reach people who are not already known to Unstack. Great for thought leadership, product releases, and ROI focused stories.

Content strategy: Overview

Creating and distributing great, relevant content on a regular basis is the key to growing qualified, unpaid traffic to the Unstack website.

What is the role of content?

Written, video, and audio content is designed to insert Unstack into existing SaaS marketing conversations, raise awareness among SaaS marketers and attract new visitors to the website. By speaking directly to the issues facing the core target market you’ll build credibility that gets you in the consideration set for site migrations and new sites.

How is it distributed?

Content without distribution will get very little return on your effort. Every piece you create needs to be promoted via email, social  media, in discussion groups, and in some cases the in-app experience. A blueprint for promotion should be created for each content type.

Consciously building and engaging an audience from visitors

Building an email list and (to a lesser extent) organic social audience is the key to staying top of mind for a considered purchase like Unstack. 

To that end, you should make sure there is a way to join the email list in the footer with a clear value prop. In addition, exit intent pop ups for non-users should be used to capture more people before they disappear. 

Emails should be sent weekly at a consistent time and be branded as from Unstack (e.g., Grant from Unstack), featuring existing content and related high value features.

Consciously building and engaging an audience from partners and customers

In addition to content created by the Unstack team, traffic and list growth can be improved exponentially by engaging partners and customers.

Expert roundups, co-branded webinars, and case studies are all great ways to build a strong relationship with those people who already love Unstack, generate more content, and reach a wider community of people.

In exchange for being featured and tagged, most partners and customers will agree to share the content they are featured in, amplifying it for free. As long as the ask is minimal, most SaaS marketers and agencies will be willing to participate.

Communications cadence: Example

It is important to create a consistent communications cadence to start building an audience and driving engagement, even if engagement doesn’t happen right away.

Creating moments: Content and feature releases

In addition to creating a steady flow of content and demand capture, every month should have a nexus  like a high value piece of content or significant feature release (or re-release).  

These should: 

  • Be promoted across channels, over an extended period of time: LinkedIn, Product Hunt, Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Email, in app
  • Reach the targeted audience with a specific message- why do SaaS marketers care?

Marketing programs: Asset blueprint

Every marketing event should leverage numerous assets across channels.

  • Blog posts: Each major marketing asset/feature release should have 2-3 associated blog posts. 
  • Announcement
  • Supporting story (case study if possible)
  • Best practices

Video: Each marketing event should have a teaser video for content or explainer video for a feature release that talks about why it’s important and how to use it. Videos should be on youtube, on the blog, and promoted on social media

Marketing programs: Promotional blueprint

Every marketing event should be in heavy rotation for the entire month leveraging numerous assets across channels.

  • Email: Email is your most important channel. Every significant piece of marketing should be distributed via email to users and prospects who have joined your email list first as an announcement and then as a follow up story. In addition, partners should get a dedicated email explaining why the new release is good for them and their clients.
  • In-app messaging: New features and significant pieces of content should also be promoted via targeted Appcues slideouts to ensure the most engaged audiences are benefiting from everything you offer. 
  • Organic social: Each asset should get shared multiple times on twitter and at least once on each other social channel.
  • Paid social: Each asset should be promoted to ensure it reaches SaaS marketers outside Unstack’s existing audience on Facebook, Instagram, and Linkedin.
  • Product Hunt: All significant product/feature announcements should be pushed on Product Hunt and 
  • Unstack Community: All announcements should also be put in the unstack community and encourage conversation.

Driving home page conversion

To improve website conversion, it is important to make sure that the Unstack homepage shows off the power of what can be created and speaks directly to the pain points of SaaS marketers. In addition, creating a secondary CTA can help engage people who are not yet ready to start building a website. 

For example:

  • Switch H1 message from no-code CMS (not how most marketers think about the pain) to “Finally, a web management system as agile as your marketing team” or “Finally, a web management system built for SaaS businesses.”
  • Remove icon blocks below the primary CTA because they are not as dynamic or visually impressive as the rest of the page
  • Add secondary CTA to watch a recorded demo or get a live demo. Recorded demos are a great way to show off everything the platform has to offer without forcing someone to talk to a rep - and without taking calls with low value prospects
  • Make it easy for people to join your email list. Unstack is a considered purchase, so let people say yes to content first
  • Use a pop up with exit-intent to build your audience for email and nurture

Free: paid conversion: In-app messaging

Appcues recommendations:

  • Welcome modal with Unstack tour and demo options
  • Introductory modal on key pages to highlight value
  • Hotspots in side nav for key pages tied to conversion
  • Upsell modal on landing page home page after one is published
  • Upsell modal on integrations page
  • Upsell modal on second login for site migration

Free: paid conversion: Sample email flow

Education is a make piece of the marketing flow, so throughout this email funnel, you'll see more-and-more product education and proof of the product being a good fit.

person using MacBook Pro

Free: paid conversion: Sales layer

Human-centric sales should play three roles for Unstack. 1) Reactively answering high value questions. 2) Proactively reaching out to high potential businesses. 3) Encouraging highly engaged free users to upgrade.

Recommendations:

  • Get a demo/talk to sales button in side nav
  • Proactive modal to users on 5th login
  • Secondary CTA on marketing site and drift chat
  • Schedule a demo link in content-based emails
  • Schedule page angled only to Growth & Up plans

Summary

Growing Unstack means putting a foundational, automated marketing program in place and creating momentum around monthly “moments.”

To be successful, Unstack’s tactics and messaging must focus on the core target audience of SaaS marketers at small and medium sized businesses.

Changing platforms is a significant undertaking, making Unstack is a considered purchase. That means nurture programs and consistent content is needed to stay top of mind over time.

Because Unstack is in a crowded space, organic and partner centric activities may be a more viable path forward - supported by paid content amplification and demand capture.

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