In the world of software as a service, where innovation is the foundation and competition is fierce, the ability to craft and execute impactful marketing campaigns is a key differentiator.
SaaS companies have had to get extremely creative with their marketing software and strategies to acquire new customers and stand out from rivals. From educational content marketing to entertaining demonstration videos, leading companies like MailChimp, Slack, and Canva have developed some of the most memorable and effective marketing campaigns in recent years.
In this article, I highlight 15 of the top SaaS marketing campaigns and break down what makes them so effective so you can turn inspiration into action.
What Makes SaaS Marketing Different?
The SaaS industry has a unique position within the marketing world, as it presents distinctive challenges and opportunities that set it apart from other industries when speaking to potential customers. Some key factors include:
Long, Complex Sales Cycles
The SaaS sales cycle is notoriously longer due to the technical nature of the products. There are often multiple stakeholders (the standard B2B buying group involves six to 10 decision-makers) involved in SaaS purchase decisions, extending the buyer journey process. Oftentimes complicated pricing models, customization options, and long trial periods also tend to lengthen this cycle.
Less Visually Engaging
Unlike physical consumer products, software lacks visual appeal making it harder for SaaS brands to capture buyer interest quickly. The products themselves are not as inherently eye-catching, thus creative visuals and messaging are crucial to make an emotional connection with potential users.
Technical Product Marketing
Explaining and demonstrating complex, technical products presents a big SaaS marketing challenge. Marketers need to translate software capabilities into clear benefits and messaging that resonate with their audience.
Proving Value and ROI
SaaS marketers often have the challenge of having to convey the ongoing and long-term value of adopting their solutions. Quantifying ROI and impact on business metrics can help to justify the pricing and build brand loyalty.
Humanizing Brand and Offerings
SaaS companies struggle to humanize software and build rapport with their users when the products themselves are not very tangible. That is why brand storytelling, company culture, and emotional connection are so important.
How I Selected the Top 15 Campaigns
To compile this list of best marketing campaigns in SaaS, those that had unique or innovative marketing strategies with creative execution were favored over more traditional campaigns. Only campaigns from the last five years were considered to focus on current and relevant trends.
The goal is to highlight campaigns that delivered impressive results and provided models of marketing best practices for the SaaS industry.
The 15 Best SaaS Marketing Campaign Examples
1. Canva: What Will You Design Today?
Looking to solidify its position as the top design platform for all types of businesses, Canva launched a global brand awareness campaign focused on storytelling. The campaign strategically highlighted inspirational stories of real Canva users across diverse industries, company sizes, and use cases.
The tagline "What will you design today?" paired with the client success stories emphasized Canva's versatility for any design need. The campaign was brought to life through an emotional yet upbeat TV spot showcasing the breadth of the Canva community, throughout Canada, the U.K, and Australia.
2. Mailchimp: Turn Clustomers into Customers
Mailchimp launched the eye-catching "Clustomer" campaign to promote their advanced segmentation and personalization capabilities to fellow marketers. The strategy was to create a high-quality, memorable and relatable concept to visualize the common problem of generic messaging to broad demographics. The "Clustomer" represented an amalgamated cluster of customers that have not been properly differentiated.
The campaign brought the Clustomer to life through whimsical visuals, pairing it with Mailchimp's suite of AI-powered personalization tools as the solution. It was executed on Mailchimp’s own channels, through a social media campaign and via programmatic ads, which helped to successfully communicate Mailchimp's personalization value prop in a creative way. What made it so successful and memorable however it due to the fact it was stemmed from target market research and audience pain points.
3. AirTable: This is How
Airtable launched its first national campaign "This is How" to highlight how teams flexibly use its platform to collaborate and achieve goals. The strategy was showing real-world use cases of Airtable powering innovation across industries like media, design, and production.
The campaign brought this to life through a series of video spots emphasizing teams creatively using Airtable in high-energy workplace environments. It was on TV, digital, social media, and OOH (billboards) channels. The campaign successfully positioned Airtable's flexibility and usefulness for diverse teams adapting to new working styles.
4. HubSpot: Grow Better
HubSpot launched its first global brand campaign with actress Kathryn Hahn portraying a Western outlaw CEO who uses HubSpot CRM to grow her business. The strategy was aimed at positioning HubSpot as an enabler of success even for unconventional companies with its comprehensive yet human-centric tools.
The campaign brought the concept to life through entertaining narrative ads with Hahn in cowboy garb seamlessly using HubSpot. It was executed through YouTube, TV, and social media ads. By featuring an eccentric protagonist, HubSpot injects humor and personality into showcasing the value of its CRM.
5. Salesforce: Ask More of AI
Salesforce launched a campaign focused on AI ethics, starring Matthew McConaughey as an "AI Sheriff" in a Wild West setting. The strategy was framing Salesforce as a responsible leader in advancing trustworthy AI adoption.
The concept was brought to life in a YouTube pre-roll ad with McConaughey questioning who oversees AI as the new frontier. It coordinated with Salesforce's LinkedIn newsletter addressing AI concerns like skills gaps and data privacy where Salesforce positioned themselves advising businesses.
Eventually a series of videos were also published, providing more thought-provoking questions around AI, while building brand recognition. The striking campaign effectively conveyed Salesforce's stance on prioritizing AI safety, setting them apart as forward-thinking.
6. Shopify: Let’s Make You a Business
Shopify launched an integrated campaign focused on aspiring entrepreneurs starting their own businesses using Shopify. The strategy highlighted Shopify's end-to-end solutions for getting independent businesses off the ground and scaling.
The campaign brought this to life through inspirational video spots and unique out-of-home store displays depicting business launch journeys. It was executed across TV ads, print ads, digital marketing, social media, and radio in the US and Canada.
7. Dropbox: For All Things Worth Saving
Dropbox launched a nostalgic and sentimental campaign highlighting real users' meaningful files stored on Dropbox. The strategy aimed at humanizing Dropbox as the place for users' most treasured digital content across work, memories, and passion projects.
The campaign brought this strategy to life through print and digital ads evoking sentimentality as well as Instagram posts delving into users' intimate backstories behind cherished Dropbox files. It was executed across major US cities on OOH, TV, and social media.
8. Adobe: Create Forward
Adobe launched a social media marketing campaign focused on creating digital art inspired by fellow artists to highlight creative talent. The strategy involved starting chains where artists pass on the concept from one to another while promoting each other's work, ultimately prompting user-generated content.
The #AdobeCreateForward hashtag campaign brought this to life by having Adobe kick off artist inspiration chains on Instagram that users were encouraged to continue. It relied solely on organic, user-generated social content. Early adoption indicates the campaign successfully sparked creative collaboration and community engagement, positioning Adobe tools as integral in powering the digital arts.
9. Slack: House of Slack
Slack launched an experiential "Slack HQ" activation at SXSW, essentially taking over a city block to showcase Slack's product and culture. The campaign strategy was to provide an interactive journey for attendees to engage with Slack's capabilities in an organic, fun way.
The IRL execution turned an event space into a vibrant hub with different rooms highlighting Slack's key features. It incorporated things like channel poetry magnets and user video testimonials. The immersive experience successfully attracted over 13,000 visitors, establishing Slack as an innovative yet approachable platform.
10. Zoom: Brand Partnerships with Formula 1 and Good American
This past year, Zoom has focused heavily on partnerships and sponsorships to expand awareness and highlight Zoom's features beyond video conferencing. They formed strategic brand alliances with Oracle Red Bull Racing and Good American to tap into niche audiences while positioning Zoom’s new products and features.
Bringing this strategy to life, Zoom sponsored a Formula 1 race putting the brand literally on the global stage. Meanwhile, the fashion brand partnership integrated Zoom Events for remote castings.
11. Quickbooks: Small Business Spotting
QuickBooks launched a timely campaign leveraging the Oscars buzz to spotlight small businesses appearing in nominated films. The strategy aims to tap into surging interest in movie tourism while finally giving these overlooked cameos the recognition they deserve.
Spotlighted via TikTok, the campaign calls out real small businesses in movie clips shared on social media. Additionally, a Small Business Movie Guide map on Google was created to track the locations of film-featured companies. Launching during awards season with contextual movie tie-ins allows QuickBooks to creatively insert itself into the cultural conversation.
12. Grammarly: Write the Future
Grammarly launched a brand storytelling campaign bringing Grammarly's seamless integration into achieving life goals to the forefront. The strategy involves spotlighting inspirational characters, representing users, reaching breakthrough moments with Grammarly's writing assistance.
Vignettes brought this positioning to life - like a student courageously pursuing journalism or a best man giving a touching speech. Airing on YouTube and social media, the campaign shifts focus to the people empowered by Grammarly.
13. SurveyMonkey: Ask, listen, and act
SurveyMonkey launched a memorable campaign with Breaking Bad's Giancarlo Esposito advocating for the power of simplicity in market research - ask, listen, act. The strategy was to step away from traditional marketing and cut through the noise by spotlighting SurveyMonkey's core value prop: providing a platform to gain customer insights via social media marketing and influencer marketing.
The campaign brought this to life with Esposito soulfully conveying the message across landing pages, social media and programmatic ads. The simplicity of the ask, listen, act concept clicked with B2B audiences overwhelmed by complexity.
14. Dropbox: Refer a Friend Program
Dropbox executed a highly successful referral program offering free incentives to potential customers: storage space for referrals. The strategy leveraged people's want for more storage to trigger organic sharing and exponential user growth.
Bringing this to life, the "Get More Space" call-to-action incentivized referrals while catering to customers' primary need. This enabled a 3900% growth in 15 months largely driven by referrals. 35% of daily signups came from member invites. The execution modeled after PayPal's tactics applied to Dropbox's product. Overall the campaign dramatically accelerated adoption thanks to want-based viral sharing, becoming a legendary case study for referral marketing glory.
15. Hootsuite: Uplift
Hootsuite launched "Uplift - A Week for Social Good," a free virtual webinar conference for nonprofits to improve their social media skills. The campaign strategy was leveraging Hootsuite's expertise to educate the nonprofit community, which helps strengthen their business customer base.
They brought this to life by partnering with renowned nonprofit organizations to host presentations and live Q&As tailored to overcoming top social media challenges that 2,000 surveyed nonprofits expressed. Executing the campaign by addressing nonprofits' needs allowed Hootsuite to position itself as a valuable partner.
Taking inspiration From The best
These types of marketing campaigns showcase the SaaS industry's ability to innovate, captivate audiences, and drive tangible results. From inbound marketing and email marketing campaigns to referral programs and thought leadership initiatives, each campaign reflects the diverse strategies employed by SaaS companies to stay ahead in an ever-evolving market.
As the industry continues to grow, these successful marketing campaigns serve as inspiration for anyone looking to make a lasting impact in the SaaS space.
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