Marketing

Competitive Attack Campaigns for B2B SaaS - Complete Guide 2021

Competitive Attack campaigns are a great way for B2B SaaS startups to gain market share at the expense of entrenched competitors. Smart software buyers realize there has been a proliferation of software tools and there likely exists many great alternative solutions to their current SaaS solution. Reaching prospects when they are evaluating alternatives or would consider switching from their current vendor is a great sales and marketing strategy in general. For bootstrapped or startup SaaS companies, this can make even more strategic sense when legacy vendors have continued to raise their prices, stopped innovating on product, or have gaps in their feature sets that your SaaS can exploit.

What's Included in this Guide:

Five Steps to Running a B2B SaaS Competitive Attack Campaign
Example B2B SaaS Competitive Attack Program - LiveWebinar
Lead Mining Software Evaluation - Criteria, Pricing, Implementation
How to Operationalize Competitor List Data
Build Product Comparison pages
Product Comparison Page Examples
Competitive Attack Cold Email Outreach Programs
Competitive Attack ABM Programs
Add in B2B Intent Data and Social Listening
Results, Next Steps, Get Started Yourself

Five Steps to Running a B2B SaaS Competitive Attack Campaign

  1. Identify Competitor Company Lists. We'll look at Lead Mining Software to build these lists.
  2. Build Competitor Product Comparison Pages - why and how to build competitor specific "alternative to" pages with some well done examples.
  3. Run a Cold Email Outreach program targeting a competitor list. We'll need to gather the right contacts at our target companies and then launch via a cold email outreach/marketing automation tool.
  4. Run ABM (Account Based Marketing) programs - company targeted ads with tailored messaging driving prospects to our product comparison pages.
  5. Optional - Layer in Intent Data for another level of targeting. Intent Data providers can help further identify companies that are 'in market' and increase results.

Example B2B SaaS Competitive Attack Program - LiveWebinar

This program is for LiveWebinar, a full featured, customizable and embeddable webinar platform that competes with Zoom, ON24 and other big webinar platforms. This is an ideal time for a competitive attack campaign. Companies are moving from in person conferences to online/hybrid events and their needs are webinar needs are changing.  Lots of marketers, conference organizes, and event agencies are re-evaluating their existing providers that may not have all of the features and customizations they now need.

Using a Lead Mining Software provider, I'm expecting to get company lists. From there will run through LinkedIN/Snov.io to get the correct contacts and add to cold outreach programs (via Woodpecker.co) and later may add to ABM programs.  Will run targeted messaging for each competitor and look to build product comparison pages of LiveWebinar vs. ON24, LiveWebinar vs. Zoom, etc.

Criteria for the Lead Mining Software Evaluation:

  • Freemium (see sample reports for free), then reasonable pricing
  • Detailed, up to date, accurate data on which companies/domains have specific web technologies installed. In this case I'm looking at webinar platform providers (i.e. Zoom, ON24, etc.).
  • Easy to cancel - pay for one month to gather all the data/reports I need and then cancel/pause the subscription.
  • Not looking for integrations into CRM, Marketing automation, ABM or ad platforms right now.

The Lead Mining Software Market:

There are 53 vendors listed in G2's Lead Mining Software category; 12 are for SMB and 10 with listed pricing. This doesn't seem like a well defined category.  Really what I'm looking for is niche here of companies that scrape front end web facing technologies and provide those customer lists.

Vendors considered, verdict:

BuiltWith scrapes the web to understand build installed technology reports.  They track all front end technologies installed by domains/companies and then compile those into reports. They are also a bootstrapped software company (at one point one employee ran this) based in Australia that has been around for years. They have a great solution at a fair price. These are the types of companies I like to support.

Pricing:

They do have a free sample report which is helpful to understand the granularity of the data and how it can be used. For instance I can get ON24's customer list and see by geography, estimated tech spend, website traffic, B2B vs. B2C, when the tech was installed, etc. Lots of ways to slice and dice the data to use in sales outreach and ABM programs.

Chose the Pro Plan. One thing that is startup friendly is that you can download an unlimited amount of reports over one month (likely within reason) and then cancel the plan and only pay for one month.

BuiltWith Pricing

Results:

The data seems great - very detailed, thorough and up to date.

That's a lot of columns...keep scrolling to the right

One example of a clever way to focus a larger report is the "B2B focus". In this case it takes the full list of ON24 installed customers and filters it by companies with CRM installed, and excludes companies in eCommerce.

They also have an API so this can all be automated and the data integrated to various CRM and marketing automation tools.

There are no limits on the number of reports or limits on downloading the data (probably within reason, so at least that I have encountered).

How to Operationalize Competitor List Data:

1. Build Product Comparison Pages

Product Comparison pages are a great marketing and sales strategy for SaaS startups that are looking to unseat or grab market share from larger, entrenched competitors.

  • Buyers want choices and alternatives, or may be searching for missing feature combinations. When they are at the evaluation and consideration stage of the B2B SaaS buying journey, this type of product comparison content can be very helpful.
  • Product Comparison pages are good for long tail SEO (your company vs. X competitor, your company vs. Y competitor, etc.)
  • Arm your sales reps with the competitive info they need and help them differentiate to prospects.

One downside to these pages is you do have to keep them up to date (or at least note when the information was pulled as new features are added, etc.).

Product Comparison Page Examples:

SavvyCal is an early stage SaaS that competes with Calendly, the dominant player in the calendar and scheduling software market. They've made a comparison software page for each of their main competitors.

Product Comparison Menu
Product Comparison Grid
Savvy Competitive Marketing

It's also nice here that SavvyCal is not bashing any competitors but just focusing on the differentiators and the unique strengths of their software (and company). This is a great type of landing page to use for competitive attack campaigns using outbound cold email or ABM programs targeting a competitor's installed base.

2. Competitive Attack Cold Email Outreach Programs

It's pretty straightforward to run cold outreach sales email programs and using the competitor information to personalize the messaging ("Alternative to Zoom") and point prospects to product comparison landing pages.

There are a ton of Sales Engagement platforms on the market to help with this. Personally I currently like and use Woodpecker.co. Feature rich and right now $50/mo for the Team Pro plan.

3. Competitive Attack ABM Programs

Use the target competitor account lists as a targeting filter across LinkedIN, Twitter, and the broader web or with ABM specific platforms like DemandBase. Run segmented programs by competitor to match up competitive messaging and drive buyers to the product comparison landing pages you've built.

4. Layer in B2B Intent Data for further targeting and increased response rates

Buyer Intent Data and tools (42 listed with G2) from companies like Bombora can help identify which companies are in market for your specific solution and may be considering alternatives right now.  These are companies to prioritize in email and ABM programs. Combine this intent data and personalizing the message by knowing what vendor the prospect currently has installed can be a powerful combination.

Intent Data is an especially good fit for your B2B SaaS if:
  • You have a high Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
  • Your product has longer sales cycles (3-6 months+) -
  • Is purchased by a buying team with multiple stakeholders (often 5-7+ people in B2B)  vs. one person

Intent Data can ensure you are focusing on the right accounts to target and also accelerating those deals/shortening the sales cycle by surrounding those buying teams.

5. Layer in a Social Listening Tool to identify users looking to switch

A social listening tool can be a good way to identify discussions on Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, HackerNews, and other niche forums where prospects are searching for and discussing alternatives to your competitors.

Tools like Syften, F5bot and PMAlerts go way beyond Google Alerts (nearly useless at this point) and have startup friendly pricing. Add keywords like "alternative to X" for each of your competitors.

This tactic is difficult to scale since every community is different and a straight sales approach can backfire. Try to educate, add value and then at some point pick your spot to get a product mention included. Follow up is definitely tricky - don't go into Reddit and start pitching product. That's a quick way to get banned (or even ridiculed). But, done right this can absolutely work. The best resource on how to do social selling right is is the 14 day free email course "Social Selling for Startups" from Syften.

Results, Next Steps, Get Started Yourself

Like any marketing or sales outreach program, the key is to test, measure, experiment, and keep iterating over time.

Want a Competitive Attack Campaign like this done for you as a service?  SaaSBoost.io can help - fill out the form and we can start a conversation about growing your SaaS.

This short SaaS sales contractor evaluation form is meant as a beginning guide to determine if your part-time saas sales hire qualifies as a contractor. Refer to a tax attorney and the IRS definition and test to determine if a hire qualifies as an independent contractor (self-employed) or an employee.
January 12, 2021
by 
Jeremy Hurley
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