Organic Marketing vs Paid Marketing in SaaS: Which is Better?

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Is Organic Marketing Really Better Than Paid Advertising?


When you’re cultivating the growth of your SaaS startup, you’ll eventually come across a common question. Is organic marketing better than paid marketing in SaaS?

That one question alone is a lot to unpack. You have your pros and cons, as well as the strategies needed to mitigate the risks and amplify the benefits.

But before we get into that, let’s first look at some of the stats about organic SEO and paid marketing.

Organic marketing:

  • 53% of all trackable website traffic originated from organic search.
  • 67.60% of all the clicks on the first page are dominated by the top five organic results.
  • 90.63% of pages receive no organic search traffic from Google.
  • 49% of marketers say organic search is their most lucrative marketing channel.

Paid marketing:

  • 15% of all trackable traffic comes from paid search.
  • 5% of all trackable traffic comes from paid social.
  • 79% of marketers say PPC (pay-per-click) provides a significant boost to their business.
  • 45% of small businesses allocate their budget on PPC.

Now you may be thinking: both of those channels are beneficial for my SaaS sale tactics. Which is exactly right.

While both have their pros and cons, it can be extremely powerful to merge them for your marketing campaigns. But you’d have to know these advantages and disadvantages before you even begin outlining your digital marketing strategy.

But first, let’s quickly define the difference between paid marketing and organic marketing.


Definition Organic Marketing and Paid Marketing


Organic marketing in SaaS, as the name suggests, is a marketing strategy that generates traffic to your site without relying on ads and paid media. This type of marketing includes different elements.

They are:

  • SEO (search engine optimization)
  • Blog posts
  • Guest posts
  • Email newsletters
  • Unpaid social media posts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok)

Meanwhile, paid marketing in SaaS involves, well, financial expense. It includes:

  • PPC (pay-per-click)
  • Social media ads
  • Banner Ads
  • Ad retargeting
  • Influencer marketing


Organic Marketing Vs Paid Marketing in SaaS: Pros and Cons


Pros of Organic marketing in SaaS


1. Cost-effective with high ROI


First of all, don’t think for a second that organic marketing is free. You’ll need tools like Ahrefs and Moz to find the right keywords for your particular digital marketing campaign. And that’s just for the keywords alone.

There are other tools out there you’ll need to truly benefit from organic marketing. Having said that, organic marketing is quite cost-effective and has a high ROI to boot.

Both of these come from the fact that once you properly execute your organic marketing strategy, it will keep on giving. For instance, if you create evergreen content and it hits page one of the SERP (search engine result page), it will keep on generating traffic for your site.

A good example is content discussing SaaS lifetime deals (LTDs). Since LTDs are extremely lucrative when done right, every SaaS startup will want to read up on them.


2. Boosts credibility


If your site is repeatedly appearing on the first page whenever a user is searching for a certain keyword, that will increase your credibility. After all, your site is outperforming your competitors.

That’s Google’s way of saying what you have is valuable. And since Google trusts your site, users will too.


3. Increase and solidify brand awareness


Similar to credibility, SaaS organic marketing will also boost your brand awareness. Think about it.

Whenever a user asks a question about your niche, you’re there to deliver valuable answers. By doing so, you’re ingraining your brand to their psyche. You’re becoming an authority in your industry.

And when it’s time for them to seek a professional, they’ll more likely contact you. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re into. SaaS, psychology, e-commerce, gaming – if you’re continuously providing value to the user, they’ll most likely reward you in the future.

That’s how SaaS companies approach lead generation. And from there, it’s a matter of nurturing that lead and eventually converting them into paying clients.

Hopefully, that answers some of your questions about why organic marketing is important. But there are, however, some drawbacks regarding this digital marketing strategy.


Cons of organic marketing


1. Results are slow


Deciding to organically grow your SaaS company will take time. How long that would be will depend on several elements.

However, it will generally take you at least three months to see the result. And that’s staying on the optimistic side.

Realistically, results might not manifest themselves until six, nine, 12, or even 18 months after you’ve started. That’s due to other sites competing in the space, among other things.

And since the SaaS industry is saturated enough as it is, the competition is as fierce as ever. It’s why we mentioned earlier that you’ll need tools like Moz and Ahrefs if you want to go down this route.

Both these tools are extremely useful in finding keywords. And speaking of which, always go for long-tail keywords for your SEO and content strategy. Why?

Long-tail keywords are more specific. Thus, you’re honing in on the user’s search intent.

So let’s say that a potential customer is looking for the best marketing channel for their business. That’s the keyword they’re going to enter on the search bar.

But “marketing channel” could be anything. It could be about:

  • SaaS companies
  • E-commerce business
  • Digital marketing agencies
  • Health
  • Pets

The list just goes on. But when you use long-tail keywords, you’re specifically targeting that particular topic. As such, “marketing channel” becomes “what is the best marketing channels for SaaS startups?”

Do you see that? It’s more specific. What’s more, it’s less competitive as fewer sites are ranking for that question.

And to drive that point home, 70% of search queries are made up of long-tail keywords. Always remember that.


2. Competition is fierce


As of 2021, there are around 15,000 SaaS companies out there. And that’s just in the United States alone. The United Kingdom follows suit with 2,000, while Canada and Germany hold 1,000 each.

All of these SaaS companies use organic marketing, which is why results are slow, and climbing the SERP is an arduous journey.

The good news is that it’s still achievable. We mentioned the importance of long-tail keywords already. Another factor is backlinks.

Now, there are a lot of strategies to earn backlinks to increase your site’s ranking. These includes:

  • Writing guest posts and linking back to your site.
  • Report broken links of other sites and offer your related published content.
  • Reaching out to your network and ask for links.

Analyze your competitor’s link-building strategies using tools like Monitor Backlinks. While all of these are effective, there’s a relatively simple way of earning backlinks. And that’s to create content filled with relevant data.

Publishing this type of content will encourage other writers to link to your site whenever they’re covering a related topic. You could also publish content about your site’s journey.

Mix data with storytelling so your content is informative and entertaining. That way, visitors and Google will love your site.


3. Volatile


Organic marketing is affected by volatile elements. Worse still, you can’t control some of these elements as they are outside factors.

This includes:

  • Competitor strategies
  • Algorithm changes

While you can track the former to monitor and prepare for countermeasures, the latter is far more difficult. True, Google announces whenever there’s an impending minor and major algorithm will take place.

However, you can’t truly determine the impact it will cost. One such example is the Medic Update that’s been rolled out a few years back.

While the sites that have been heavily affected are those in the health, medical, and financial sectors, others have been hit as well. For some, the change was so drastic that it completely pulled down their rankings, effectively erasing months of hard work.


Pros of Paid Marketing


1. Targeted Ads


Paid marketing enables you to laser-focus who are seeing your ads. You can customize this by adjusting:

  • Interests
  • Demographics
  • Geography
  • Time of day

For instance, let’s say your solution is merging keyword research with content creation. As such, you’re targeting B2B clients who are trying to get their SaaS company off the ground through organic traffic.

Specifically, you’ll want to hone in on end-users who can streamline their workflow using your solution. Doing so will lead to product-led growth, which can significantly boost your MRR and ARR.


2. Immediate Results


Where organic marketing will take months before it yields results, paid marketing can do so within 24 hours. Of course, this will be affected by:

  • Your budget
  • Keyword competition
  • Ad message and structure

When done right, your ad can immediately take the first hit on the SERP. The more people interact with your ad; the more Google will promote it to your target audience.

That means increased visibility, increased brand awareness, and higher chances of conversions.


3. Granular Budget Control


Paid advertising will cost you money, yes. But it also gives you a lot of freedom to control that budget and spend it wisely.

This means even with limited cash, you can still promote your SaaS company to your target audience. Maybe you’re targeting a particular keyword that’s low in competition but has a high potential for conversion rate.

Or maybe you’re trying to promote specific content that could help you with your social media marketing campaign. The idea here is that you have plenty of room for flexibility when it comes to paid marketing.

You can even take advantage of influencer marketing that has a community filled with your target audience. Of course, you’ll need to take the time to organize your PPC campaign so it does what it’s supposed to do.


Cons of Paid Marketing


1. It Costs Money


If you’re a fledging SaaS company, chances are you’re strapped for cash. And if you are, then there might be no room to allocate for paid marketing.

Sure, you can still customize your small budget. But what if more pressing expenses are needed for that cash?
And even if you have some money to spare for a PPC campaign, once that runs out, your ads are no longer visible. On top of that, you’ll need to carefully construct your ad to maximize its effectiveness.

Otherwise, you’re just throwing money into the wind.


2. SaaS Ads are Non-Visual


Unlike e-commerce, SaaS ads are mostly – if not purely – text-based. That means visual elements are not an option.

Of course, SaaS Facebook ads are a different ball game. The same can be said with Instagram, Twitter, and other popular social platforms out there.

But the point remains: if you’re going to use paid advertising in Google, you’ll be confined to a text-based format. However, it’s not all doom and gloom as long as your message is clear and precise.

That circles back to our point earlier that you need to allocate a lot of time and energy to create your ads. You’ll need:

  • Power words (use this awesome list here)
  • A compelling call to action
  • A clear message about your SaaS product or service


3. Requires Some Experience


Running PPC campaigns won’t need a lot of experience to get the ball rolling. However, if you want to optimize your ads and budget for higher conversions, it does help to have a bit of background with this method.

Yes, there’s a bit of a catch-22 here.

You need some experience to run an effective PPC campaign. But you’ll need to launch PPC campaigns to gain experience.

Thus, you’re going to have to dive right in even if you aren’t too confident about your ability. This isn’t to say, however, that you should blindly swing at the fences.

Just read up on PPC campaigns as much as you can. You can start here.


Merging Paid Marketing and Organic Marketing


As you may have deduced by now, you shouldn’t be forcing organic marketing vs paid marketing in SaaS to go against each other. Instead, both elements should be used in tandem to complement their strengths and cover their weaknesses.

That way, you aren’t confining yourself in a single SaaS marketing effort alone. You’re ensuring that you’re covering all the necessary channels to increase your lead generation and boost your bottom line.

Here’s an example.

We know that paid advertising is best for the short term as you’ll need consistent cash to keep your business on top of the SERP. We also know that organic SEO will not bear fruit until months later.

As such, we need to combine both to cover their deficiencies. However, for a SaaS company at its infancy stage, you’d want to focus on organic traffic first.

Build some credibility by publishing valuable blogs for your target audience. And as you slowly take in traffic, you can accelerate it by pushing out paid advertising.

This should only last for a few days to a couple of weeks at most. Moreover, you need to time it properly to get the most out of your short PPC campaigns. On top of that, your paid advertising should reflect the specific results you want.

Are you willing to launch your PPC campaign on hectic timeframes like a Black Friday sale or Cyber Monday events? Or do you want those to blow over before you start making noise for your lead generation endeavors?

Well, that will be up to you. Again, conduct your research, analyze the data you’ve collected, then push the button at the right time.

Meanwhile, you should keep on working on your organic SEO strategy to increase visibility and brand awareness.


Organic Marketing vs Paid Marketing in SaaS: A Two-Hit Combo


At the end of the day, you shouldn’t restrict yourself to a single marketing channel. Paid and organic marketing strategies are two-hit combos you should take advantage of to cultivate your growth.

But similar to most things, it needs planning and precision to maximize the results. And even then, you’ll still come up short, especially if you’re just starting out.

So continue to improve your skills in both these aspects. After that, track everything so you have an idea what’s working and what needs improvement.

If you’re interested in reading more tips and strategies on SaaS marketing, you can visit the our blog here.


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Ken Moo