3 Ways SaaS Companies Can Maximize the ROI of Paid Media

July 12, 2023
Contributor: Caroline Hogan

Explore how smart investments in paid media fuel growth during economic uncertainty.

In today's turbulent economic climate, marketing leaders are faced with the dilemma of how to drive profitable growth with limited resources. 

With budgets getting tighter, the burning question is: how can you generate more quality leads for less? 

The trick lies in orchestrating a lead generation strategy that maximizes the impact of paid media—which accounts for more than 60% of total digital spend. 

Here are three powerful tips to drive efficient paid media strategies and do more with less: Use intent data to align marketing and sales outcomes, segment your audience effectively with ICPs, and optimize your channel mix.

1. Use intent data to align marketing and sales outcomes

Before you can start developing your acquisition strategy, it is important to be realistic about your budget. For marketers taking a more conservative approach to spending during this time of uncertainty, paid media may be a difficult strategy to maintain, as it can quickly drain your funds. 

However, there are some creative solutions to budget planning. Strategic collaboration with the sales department can help marketers overcome constraints. By aligning processes and goals, both teams can optimize resource allocation and ensure cohesive prioritization. It's crucial to agree on where budget investments can be mutually beneficial.

One effective strategy is co-investing in buyer intent data. Intent data can give you the insights you need to optimize campaigns, uncover which accounts to target with paid media, and prioritize for sales prospecting. A win-win solution for marketing and sales. 

Using behavioral signals from intent data for lead scoring can help marketing and sales close gaps in what they perceive to be “high-quality leads” and help ensure a smooth transition from a marketing-qualified lead (MQL) to a sales-accepted lead (SAL). Intent signals provide buyer behavior insight, such as level of engagement, and indicate readiness to purchase.

Using intent data in lead scoring can streamline the lead nurture process by assigning priority and strategy to lead follow-up. By identifying and nurturing MQLs, you can move them down the funnel and convert them into SALs.

2. Create ideal customer profiles

Many tech marketers cast a wide net in search of qualified prospects, resulting in broad audience segments with ineffective messaging across too many channels.

To improve the effectiveness of lead generation, it’s important to narrow your target market beyond high-level demographic criteria and consider other attributes such as psychographic, technographic, and operating characteristics.

Also, you should assess your existing customers to identify the traits of your best accounts and determine who else shares those same characteristics. Then, you can use all these attributes to define and create ideal customer profiles (ICPs). 

ICPs help you identify those in your market who would be a "best fit" for your solution and will enable you to narrow down a targeted list that focuses on the accounts most likely to convert into valuable customers. By refining your list, you can allocate your paid media budget, such as retargeting efforts, to the right channels while avoiding those that wouldn't be a good fit.

Companies that invest in well-defined ICPs benefit from faster sales cycles, higher conversion rates, and greater customer lifetime value. And customers who fit your ICP are the most likely to be repeat buyers and loyal fans of your brand.

3. Test channels often and fail fast

To optimize customer engagement and conversion rates, it’s important to diversify your channel strategy. According to Gartner, the number of marketing channels continues to grow, with an average of 13 channels—up from 10 in 2021. Paid digital channels, such as pay-per-click (PPC) and paid social, are seeing the highest usage and investment from tech marketers.

But with limited budgets and resources, software marketers must make critical decisions about their cross-channel plan. To avoid wasted spend, make small investments to test the waters and discover whether investing in a specific channel is worth it or not. If a channel is not generating enough return, move on quickly and test new ones until you find the right fit.

As you test new channels, make sure you’re able to adjust your channel mix across the marketing funnel by tracking the right metrics.

For example, at the awareness stage of the funnel you need to measure impressions, brand mentions, and engagements on social media ads or display ads. During the consideration stage, cost-per-lead (CPL) is a key metric when promoting your product listing on software comparison sites or Google paid search. At the bottom of the funnel, it’s important to track cost-per-acquisition (CPA), conversion rates and MQLs from retargeting campaigns.

Optimize your paid media strategy

In economic downturns, companies that invest in growth emerge stronger than their competitors when markets rebound. Therefore, it's critical to optimize your lead generation strategies and prioritize revenue margins.

Successful SaaS leaders spend more time and resources on identifying their best-fit customers and channels so they can maximize conversions, but it’s also important to diversify your strategy and test new channels. Just remember to fail fast when optimizing your paid media strategy, so you can generate the leads you need to accelerate profitability.

The Software Marketer's Guide to Paid Media

How to generate more high-quality leads with less budget

Caroline Hogan

Caroline Hogan is the Senior Director of Vendor Marketing at Gartner Digital Markets, where she is responsible for helping software providers get the social proof they need to best market their products and accelerate sales. She has more than 20 years of marketing experience leading initiatives from brand strategy and demand generation to customer retention and advocacy. Connect with Caroline on Linkedin.

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