Should you run paid ads as an early-stage SaaS company?

Many early-stage (or even mid-stage) SaaS companies fall into the trap of burning money with paid ads. Here's an alternative solution that will also drive customers quickly (if not even more customers)

Should you run paid ads as an early-stage SaaS company?

I get asked a lot of times: Ugi, should we run paid ads early on?

And here’s my answer to that.

First of all, it’s essential to understand that paid ads might be a great way of growing your MRR.

However, they work only while you put money into them. So once you stop putting money in them, naturally, they’ll stop bringing you new leads.

On the other hand, we have other strategies, such as content marketing.

Unlike paid ads, content marketing doesn’t bring results immediately, but over time, it becomes a well-oiled machine that compounds and gets more and more new SQLs each month.

PPC vs CM.png

But again, content marketing doesn’t bring leads as fast as PPC or Paid Media.

And you, as a SaaS founder (especially early to mid-stage one), need more customers. Now.

I feel that. I understand that.

So to help you get the most results as soon as possible while also playing the long-term game, we’ve developed one framework we call ROI-led content marketing.

The ROI-led content marketing framework

The overall framework is based on five different pillars, but for now, I’m going to talk only about 2 of them:

This strategy is essentially based on:

  • using content marketing to inspire potential customers and convert them
  • using PPC and Paid Media to get traction and results faster

So SaaS brands that have the budget for paid ads, instead of investing in just paid ads or just content marketing, should invest in a mix of them.

So write compelling and converting copy, and then distribute it to your audience with the help of Paid Media.

What kind of ROI-led content should you create to get more leads?

I went more in-depth on this topic in our article on choosing the perfect content types depending on your current stage, but in general, you want to start experimenting with the Bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) content.

This content type might be alternatives, comparisons, and product review articles.

They speak to people ready to buy solutions like yours right now, so it makes sense to focus on them.

For example, this article we wrote three years ago generated $500k in ARR for Userpilot (that’s the compounding power of content over the time I’m speaking about)

How do we distribute these articles after we publish them?

It doesn’t make sense to distribute them on social media because people who might see your ads or posts are not necessarily looking for solutions like yours right now.

So we need to go to a place with the right intent.

There are two leading platforms for this:

  • Google Search/SEO
  • Quora

Here’s a playbook we at Contenthorse like to use for our clients:

  1. Run Google PPC ads for our focused keywords
  2. Put Facebook pixel on our blog post
  3. Retarget everyone who read the article but didn’t convert on Facebook with case studies or success stories.

By combining these two strategies (content + paid media for distribution), we’re able to unlock explosive growth (if your article converts, of course).

That’s how we get the most results as soon as possible while also optimizing for the long-term play.