If you run marketing for a Software as a Service (SaaS) company, then you’ve probably thought about running Facebook ads to grow users for your product.
In fact, I would argue that a SaaS businesses are one of the most effective business models that you can promote with Facebook ads. But keep in mind that all business are different so you need to test everything.
Here are some of the strategies that I’ve used to generate over 500,000 new user signups for my clients while reducing their cost per new signup by as much as 44%.
1) Create a Lookalike Audience From Your Conversion Pixel
In my experience, the most effective audience for promoting SaaS companies is a Lookalike audience based on people who have hit the conversion tracking pixel at the end of the signup process for your product. Basically, this means that Facebook is going to help you target the people that their algorithms determine are the most similar to the people who have already signed up and converted on your site.
An alternative way to build a lookalike audience based on your users or customer is to upload a custom audience based on your existing users’ emails (but I’ve found the Conversion Pixel to be more effective at driving lower price signups).
Not only are lookalike audiences an effective source of new signups for a low CPA, but they usually will scale well to to generate high volume of new signups as well.
Pro Tip: Facebook can track user profiles of people who signup from other marketing channels (not just Facebook ads) as long as you have the Conversion pixel on your page. So get your Facebook conversion pixel on your site long before you decide to set up your first ads so that Facebook will have enough data to build a good audience.
2) Optimize for Website Conversions
One thing a lot of people don’t realize is that Facebook ads are smart and they do a lot of optimization for you. When creating your campaign, set your objective as “Website Conversion” (i.e. new signups on your site rather than simply clicks to your website.
When you set up your Ad Sets, you will have the opportunity to tell Facebook exactly which conversion event you want to optimize for. This is done based on the conversion pixels you have set up (probably either your free trial signup conversion tracking pixel or your upgrade pixel).
I highly recommend that you optimize your Ad Sets for “Website Conversion” and set pricing to “Get the most website conversions at the best price.” But keep in mind that if Facebook hasn’t tracked many conversions with your pixel yet, then they won’t be able to optimize well. In that case, you might want to start with optimizing for clicks and switching to Website Conversion once there is a bit more data.
With the set up described above, you are giving Facebook a lot of space to optimize and get you the most conversions (SaaS signups) at the best price possible. I know it can be hard to trust Facebook’s algorithms with everything from building your audience to bidding and spending your money, but trust me, I have seen this setup generate great results for many of my clients. Although it does often require testing and refinement to get it to peak performance.
[Case Study] How We Reduced InVision’s Cost Per New User Signup by 44%
Learn how InVision reduced their cost per signup with Facebook ads by 44% and increased their volume of new signups by more than 11X.
You probably already know that retargeting is one of the best ROI campaigns that you can run. What you might not know is that you can run retargeting campaigns on Facebook via their native ad platform (Power Editor). There isn’t much advantage in 3rd party FBX platforms like AdRoll anymore.
I usually set up my Retargeting as unique campaigns (rather than simply separate Ad Sets) so that I can easily track the retargeting results compared to other top of funnel campaigns. As discussed below, I generally set up retargeting lists as an excluded audience from my other campaigns.
4) New User Activation
Another powerful strategy to grow your SaaS company is to use Facebook ads to help activate your recent free signups and to get them to use your product.
Just set up a retargeting campaign that triggers after someone visits a specific URL that can only be accessed after signup for the product (i.e. your signup success page).
The ads in your User Activation campaign should focus on educating new users about the benefits and features of your product. You can also consider using a short video ad for this purpose.
5) Promote Upgrades and Paid Plans
Facebook can also be a great tool for encouraging free trial users to upgrade their accounts. All you need to do is set up a campaign that targets the following two audiences:
- Custom audiences based on emails of your current free users (you may want to segment out only users who are actively using your product)
- Retargeting list of people who have recently signed in to their accounts on your site.
For these audiences you may want to run ad creatives that promote the benefits and features of your paid product. You should also consider promoting special deals and coupons.
6) Excluded Audiences
A lot of people know about using Custom audiences and Lookalike audiences to target the most relevant potential customers. But what most people don’t know is that Facebook lets you exclude audiences as well.
This is particularly valuable so that you don’t advertise to your existing users. So for example, if I’m running a campaign to promote a free trial signup for a a SaaS product, I would exclude my custom audiences of existing users as well as my retargeting list of people who visited the thank you page after signing up (exclude a segment of your retargeting list based on people who visited a specific URL).
Pro Tip: For most of my campaigns I will actually exclude everybody who has already been cookied by my retargeting pixel. This way I know that my primary campaigns are only reaching new potential users who haven’t visited the site yet. Then I will run an additional campaign retargeting all past visitors to the site separately.
7) Content Promotion
Most SaaS companies know the value of content marketing (aka inbound marketing). But most companies don’t realize that Facebook can be a great tool for growing your brand and promoting your best blog content.
If done right, your blogs posts can serve as native ads to help bring in more email leads and free trial signups.
Read More: 7 Ways to Boost Your Content Marketing with Facebook Ads
Try promoting your content to the following audiences:
- Your Facebook fans
- Lookalike audiences
- Fans of your competitors
Time To Grow Your Business?
Have you had good results promoting your business with Facebook ads? What strategies have worked best for you?
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8 thoughts on “7 Proven Ways to Grow SaaS Users with Facebook Ads”
Great article Aaron! You hit the nail on the head.
Some great tips there. We are just starting our marketing for our saas and will look to implement some of your ideas. Facebooks custom audience is one we haven’t looked at yet but defo on the way
Awesome post! Is there a way to trigger a pixel behind a login page? Like triggering users after they make the first payment inside my webapp.
Hey Stephen, Great question. Yes, you can put a pixel on a page behind a long in. I often do that to create an audience that I exclude from other user acquisition campaigns.
Helpful indeed Aaron! A lot of people do not know how to maximize the role of Facebook Ads for the benefit of their SaaS and this article of yours just nailed it! Glad you shared this for everybody! Heard of http://lirik.io/? Well, they really do wonders with cloud SaaS services and solutions. Give it a peek!
At the beginning of this post you said, “I would argue that a SaaS businesses are one of the most effective business models that you can promote with Facebook ads.” Very briefly, could you explain why you think this to be true over other businesses? Thanks a lot! Loved the post.
The reason that I like SaaS businesses with Facebook ads is because the typical “Free Trial” offer does very well with Facebook ads. Unlike ecommerce business which usually go directly for the sale to cold traffic, offering a free trial on FB doesn’t require visitors to pull out a credit card or make a major commitment. SaaS free trial are basically offering great value for free with no commitment.
Not only that, but because most SaaS companies only have one major offer or CTA, the ads don’t need to be updated as frequently because once you find something that works, you can let it run for as long as it continues to perform well. When I’ve worked on ecomm clients, we constantly needed to change offers to promote different products in the catalog.
Of course, ecommerce and other businesses can still do very well with FB ads. But it does usually take a lot more work to manage and update content.
Hope this helped to answer your question.
Great post Aaron.
I have a small question. I have created custom audience with official email ids of my clients, but my Facebook is not targeting it.
Means only Gmail/yahoo/etc email ids targeting works in FB? It also says Fb ads for b2b is waste of time.