SaaS Startup Marketing — Year 1 Strategy

As marketers, we need to read the market and always be ready to adjust.

In the first year of go to market strategy a tactical marketing plan should outline the marketing mix to succeed in a new market or with a new customer. It should be simple and appropriately considered for the size of the team.

Generally, in year one the marketing function is small and under resourced. To support this it is important to provide a static state on which the marketing lead can deliver.

Go-to-market planning is often overlooked

Planning Stage


Before you can decide what specific marketing strategies you want to implement to achieve your goals, you need to examine your financial information and come up with a marketing budget.

Your marketing budget refers to all costs for marketing, advertising, public relations, promotions and anything else you might blanket under that very wide-cast net called ‘marketing’ on a day-to-day basis

The ideal budget depends on your current marketing foundations. BUT, as a general rule you should spend 2–5% of your sales revenue on marketing.

Market Entry Goals

In short, the market entry plan serves as a road map to help you achieve your marketing goals.

A year one market entry strategy may focus on short-term, medium-term or long-term goals, for example, and may include objectives for growth, brand development, market leadership, product differentiation or infrastructure development.

Setting specific, measurable, actionable and time-bound goals for entering new markets around the world is a key to gaining a solid foothold in the a selected marketplace.


When establishing the right KPIs for this year they should be aligned to and indicative of:

  • Marketing goals you’re trying to reach
  • Marketing challenges you’re trying to overcome
  • Business goals

When creating your annual plan, because you are looking at a relatively long period of time, your priority KPIs may change a bit as you reach certain benchmarks and move on to other parts of your strategy.

The Marketing Playbook

Google Ads

Google describe the tool as a great method of growing your business with
and getting in front of millions of customers. The tool uses keywords to show your ads to prospects when they’re searching for a businesses solution on it’s network channels i.e. Google Search, Youtube, Maps and more.

Brand awareness will be low in year one and a common tactic is to buy traffic in the form of Google Ads keywords.

Get started today with this Google Ads Step-by-Step Tutorial. Watch it Now


Producing high quality content on a regular basis is one good low cost strategy to generate leads. Execution is everything and most startups do not have a good strategy here. Mainly falling into the common pitfall of producing content but without a keyword strategy behind it (SEO) or a promotion strategy it is hard to get traction.

An impactful strategy would be:

  • Obtain clarity as to the key pains your key target personas have
  • Write long form content that helps address their pains ensuring these incl relevant keywords
  • Think about the USP and ask, “why we are different?”
  • Add link to Google Search Console

Promote through a mix of medium including:

1. Newsletter
2. Twitter
3. Email select clients / prospects
4. Publish on Linkedin page
5. Publish on own LinkedIn profile
6. All employees to share on LinkedIn
7. Promote in relevant LinkedIn Groups

It is often useful to create a simple editorial calendar outlining what content will be produced when. It should include:

1. Blogs
2. Guest blogs to appear on 3rd party sites
3. Case Studies
4. White Papers
5. Guides or helpdocs

Note: One challenge is content takes a long time to payoff and most startups are starting from a standing start when it comes to a content strategy based on clearly defined keywords.


If you’re looking for a platform to promote your SaaS platform, attract prospects, make new contacts and network with those in your industry, then finding a suitable SaaS conference is well worth investigating. Some have an industry-wide focus while others focus on a specific area or niche.

It’s been a strange year for events, for obvious reasons. Some events have gone online or virtual, while others are due to go ahead later this year or have been postponed completely til next year. It may not be top priority for your marketing function in Covid-19 but lots of events are running online currently and are worth checking out.

Cyclr have compiled a list of 14 of the best SaaS conferences for your diary in 2021.


LinkedIn is a social media platform filled with companies and professionals. And the right connection can mean business for your startup — think, B2B lead generation and pipeline maintenance. For starters you can:

  1. Join industry-related LinkedIn groups

Aside from positioning yourself a as a reliable expert, the goal is to connect with potential people who can benefit from your products or services. It’s also a great avenue for determining areas for optimization. Get your social listening skills into full gear and observe your groups for a couple of days. This will give you an idea of what type of content to share, and how frequent other group members post content and comments.

Tip: Whatever you do, no hard selling — self-promotion sounds spammy. If you want to directly promote your products or services, opt for a LinkedIn ad campaign.

2. Optimise your Company Page

Get your company page in shape. A lot of early stage startups neglect this. Many lack logos, descriptions, offer no links to a website which can push scare potential leads away.

An strong company page should have complete & compelling content. Aside from telling people exactly what your business is, don’t shy away from customer reviews and testimonials. Presenting case studies, market research results in short clips works best.

3. Talk to decision makers

Figure out who leads the pack and connect with them. Knowing the people that are capable of disrupting your industry can let you in on current trends and issues, which can help you decide on what your next move would be.

Note: To get the most out of LinkedIn, I suggest you go Premium using the free trial being offered to LinkedIn users. If you like it, keep it. If you don’t, just cancel your subscription before your 30 days are up at no charge.

Marketing Site

When selling software as a service (SaaS), a website is a critical piece for attracting new leads and educating them about the software itself. For many B2B SaaS firms, communicating how the software works and the value it provides is difficult to do without overwhelming the target audience.

Neil Patel outlines 8 elements of a great SaaS marketing site in this article.

Get your website optimised.


Outbound marketing refers to any kind of marketing where a company initiates the conversation and sends its message out to an audience.

Here are nine highly effective outbound marketing tips to help you close more deals.

  • Social media advertising
  • Boost successful social media posts
  • PPC advertising
  • Cold calling
  • Email newsletters
  • Print and radio ads
  • Video Ads
  • Tradeshows and other industry events


While PR is very worthwhile it is expensive. It also works best when there is a steady stream of news be that product releases, signing of marquee clients or investment announcements .

Review Sites

(Get App, Capterra, G2 Crowd, Software Advice)

As markets mature and categories emerge, review sites become an important player when prospects are evaluating options. These sites often compete with you on your PPC keywords and are primarily “paid for models”. Start by searching all of these to see which ones feature your category as evidenced by competitor listings. The next move would be to should secure profiles on these platforms and then source a number of reviews.

Another point worth noting is these sites offer a good source of data as to what features of competitive products are liked or disliked. This is useful in planning future product roadmap decisions.

Word of Mouth Referral

“Word of Mouth” is the most powerful lead generating tool and relies on happy customers telling others.

Final Words

Every SaaS Startup needs a documented marketing plan which makes everyone’s job a lot easier. Think of this plan as a roadmap, guiding you in a constantly changing landscape. As you continually keep an eye on market research and your KPIs, you may need to ‘evolve’ your year one marketing plan mid-year to make sure the strategies and tactics you use are driving the results your marketing should see.

About Daniel

Daniel is a Marketing specialist working currently in SaaS in Dublin City, Ireland.

A 3 time graduate of National University of Ireland, Galway. Daniel is passionate about marketing strategy, tech, SaaS & eCommerce & all sport.

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Daniel is a Senior Marketing Professional working in the SaaS B2B industry. Based in Ireland. Passionate about Sport, Marketing, and Remote Work.