How to grow a SaaS company with SEO and online marketing to $100k MRR (from a non-SEO/marketer founder) This blog is written by our Community Partner Lee Gladish from Airbornapp.
Growing a SaaS can seem overwhelming. There are so many tasks that you need to keep on top of, with no shortage of different suggestions about the ‘best’ way to grow, that it can seem impossible to know where you should focus your efforts. I know the feeling. I’ve now been involved in several SaaS companies, and knowing exactly what you should be doing to grow your SaaS company can seem overwhelming.
However, deciding what you should be working on gets easier when you know what steps reliably get the biggest results. SEO and online marketing have both had a significant impact on Airborne’s success. Importantly, you don’t need to spend years mastering those skills before you start seeing the benefits.
Here’s how you can use SEO and online marketing to grow your SaaS business to 100k MRR, even if, like me, you’re a non-SEO/marketer founder.
Don’t wait for perfection
When you’re first starting your business and creating your product, I can’t stress enough how important it is to get started on your marketing as early as possible. Rather than waiting until you have big budgets or a dedicated marketing person, start now.
Waiting to get started is a common mistake, one I’ve previously made myself. As a non-marketer, I used to believe that if the website had the perfect design or the perfect copy, then it would convert into lots of leads.
That’s a huge misconception.
There is no perfect design, no perfect copy, and no perfect time to get started. There’s no one magical line that’ll change everything. In the beginning, nobody knows about you. No one cares about what you’re building. So start writing content as early as you can, and get it out there. Write about what you’re building, who you’re building it for and the problems you’re solving in the market.
You don’t have to be a writer to start marketing your product
I get it. Most people didn’t start a SaaS business just to write about it all day. If you don’t know how to write a compelling blog post, or you simply don’t have the time, there are plenty of people out there who’ll write for you. Once you find a good writer who you can work with, book a time to get on a call with them, talk about the problem you’re solving, and have them write it up for you.
Always remember that it’s not just about the content though. Distribution is critical, especially when you’re only just starting and people don’t know who you are. You can start by leveraging your existing network to find opportunities to share your story. Guest post for other sites. Invite others to contribute to your site.
Don’t forget about places where it’s easier to share your thoughts. Comment on LinkedIn. Answer questions on Quora. Take the opportunity to network with other people and engage in communities on Facebook, Discord, Slack, and anywhere else people hang out online.
One avenue that I’ve personally found effective is podcasts. There are over a million different podcasts on Apple alone, and more are starting every day. Many of those podcasts are looking for new guests, and are happy to interview people who are just starting out but have a unique product or idea. They get fresh content, you get distribution. Everyone wins.
Bonus point: When you reach out to pitch a guest post or podcast interview, reference some of the other posts/guests they’ve recently featured, then explain how you can offer different insights. Not only will this show that you’ve actually checked their content (and aren’t just blindly pitching anyone with a pulse), but also give them a compelling reason to share your content.
Finding good backlink opportunities and content ideas
When you’re trying to come up with ideas for content or places to distribute that content, it shouldn’t be a guessing game. Use a tool like Ahrefs or Semrush and take a look at your competitors. What backlinks are they getting? What kind of topics are they writing about?
Even if you know nothing about SEO, spend ten minutes watching one of Ahrefs’ or Semrush’s videos on Youtube and you’ll see what you need to do. For under $100/mo, these tools are a worthwhile investment. You can then reach out to the site where competitors are getting backlinks and offer a different perspective. Not all backlinks are equal; Rather than going for every backlink possible, look for sites with higher domain rankings that are growing over time. By getting your ideas out on sites that are getting plenty of traffic, you can drive some of that traffic to your site, all free of charge.
Also take a look at what kind of topics your competitors are writing about. Look for relevant keywords with high traffic and low competition, and use that knowledge to start informing your content creation.
For non-SEO experts, I’d still recommend learning the basics. Again, you don’t have to be an expert, but you should take the time to understand some of the factors that affect your ranking in the search results. Using a suitable platform that’s optimized for SEO is also essential. I personally recommend Unstack, which helps minimize any technical SEO issues without having to install 50 plugins that tank your site loading times.
Standing out from the competition when you have no budget
As helpful as it is to see what’s working for your competitors, it’s equally important to see what they’re not doing. Is there a channel that they’re not using that you could potentially take advantage of? For example, comparatively few businesses are taking advantage of YouTube, even though it’s an incredibly popular platform. If you can execute well there, you can stand out from the competition.
Sites such as Product Hunt and BetaList are another opportunity to spread the word about your SaaS product. There are thousands of directory and listing sites that want to hear about new and exciting products like yours, and they can be a great source of free traffic for your site. Hire a VA and give them a list of different directories and marketplaces, give them your company details, and have them upload your information to those sites.
Download our list of over X directories and marketplaces
When you don’t have a big marketing budget, you might feel like you have to do everything yourself. However, there is another way. If you find a good marketer, if you believe in them and they believe in the product you’re building, why not bring them on as an advisor? A lot of founders think they have to hire a big-time marketer to take care of everything, but while you’re still in the early stages, consider bringing someone on board in exchange for some equity in the company, and get them to do some of this work for you.
All marketing takes time, especially content marketing and SEO. However, the sooner you start investing even just a little bit of time and effort into those areas, the sooner you’ll start to see the benefits.
Start writing about the problems you’re solving in the market, or pay someone else to write for you. Leverage your network to distribute your content. Learn the basics of SEO and look for backlinking opportunities. By starting as early as possible and regularly spending just a little time each week, your SaaS will grow and your MRR will increase.