How to Hire a SaaS Marketer to Match Your Business Needs

There’s no single definition of a SaaS marketer. They wear many hats and have different skills, depending on their area of expertise. Who you’re looking for, on the other hand, will depend on where you are with your SaaS product and your current team structure. In this article, we’re taking a closer look at the must-have characteristics of SaaS marketers in different capacities and how to see if your candidate is the right fit for your business.

What makes a good SaaS marketer?

A SaaS marketer is not an entirely different breed of marketer. But the job does require some skills and experience that are specific to the niche – and that’s on top of what you would look for in a marketer in general. 

Depending on who you hire (more on the specific jobs within marketing a little later on), you’ll need different types of marketing knowledge and diverse experience. But let’s look at what all good SaaS marketers have in common.

Skills

  • A good knowledge of their domain. It’s a first – and a must. Whether you’re hiring an SEO expert, a social media manager, or a content creator, each should have an excellent grasp of their field of expertise.
  • Research. A lot of marketing is about researching – the audience, the market, the competition. A good SaaS marketer will know where to look and what to look for to create a winning strategy – and that’s regardless of whether they’re creating an overall marketing strategy, researching SEO keywords, or crafting a content plan.
  • Project management. Again, regardless of whether you’re hiring for a specialist or manager role, both should have a good grasp of how to manage a project. From planning to measuring outcomes and setting marketing budgets, your candidate should feel comfortable with carrying out SaaS marketing projects.
  • Basic tech skills (or at least an understanding.) A common problem in SaaS marketing teams is marketers not understanding how the product they’re marketing actually works. And it’s a problem because SaaS marketing is often product-led – and it’s tough to create compelling marketing communication if you don’t understand the product yourself. A SaaS marketer usually doesn’t have to code or know the details of all the programming languages your platform uses. But they will be working with tech people like developers – and, of course, a tech product. A basic understanding of software is a must to define and communicate its benefits for the end customer.
  • A keen eye for design and UX. Unless you’re looking for a graphic designer or a UX designer, your candidate doesn’t have to have design skills per se. But they should be able to tell good design from bad design and understand user behavior with respect to online software. 
  • Analytical skills. A good SaaS marketer will be able to combine creativity with a data-oriented approach. They should be able to dig in the heaps of data available online and optimize the strategy to continually improve the results.
  • Knowledge of psychology and persuasion tactics, letting them create compelling communication and effective marketing funnels.
  • The ability (and willingness) to learn. Depending on where you are with your business and who you’re hiring for, you’ll need a different level of skills and experience. But in digital marketing, in general, nothing is set in stone. So whatever the level, go for someone who can learn fast. It’s a priceless skill, especially when you consider the fact that the digital space is changing all the time, with new tech coming up and new algorithms developed. You need someone who can keep up. 

Background and experience

  • A degree in marketing or communications. Though many employers will still require it, it’s slowly becoming a nice-to-have rather than a must-have. People go into marketing from different fields, and they’re changing careers, so you don’t have to make it your priority. Practical experience and a good understanding of audience behavior are bound to mean much more than a college diploma.
  • Digital marketing certifications. There are many available online and offline these days, so pay attention to their quality – they should come from renowned institutions and companies.
  • Past jobs. If you’re not looking for an intern or hiring someone right out of college, their employment history will probably tell you much more about whether they’re the right fit. Look for things like working for SaaS companies and B2B/B2C experience (depending on your target audience.) A great marketer who’s worked for a clothing brand or a restaurant chain before might not have the necessary expertise to market a B2B SaaS video conferencing platform.
  • Knowledge of online tools. A lot of SaaS marketing is about knowing how to use the right tools to plan, schedule, and measure marketing activities. Someone who’s done that before will take less time to onboard and will be able to start bringing results much quicker.

The understanding of the SaaS model

Marketers have different types of backgrounds, and whether you’re hiring someone to run your social media channels or display campaigns, look for someone who understands the sales cycle for SaaS, including things like:

  • Lead generation and customer acquisition in the subscription model.
  • Building customer loyalty and reducing churn.
  • Key SaaS marketing metrics.
  • Using inbound marketing tactics like content marketing at different stages of the funnel.
  • Using email marketing and marketing automation to onboard users or upgrade them from free trial.
  • Finding ways to optimize conversion (a.k.a. growth hacking).
  • SaaS customer service.
  • Finding ways to tie the user path inside the platform to the marketing activities outside it so that they all create a consistent journey for your customers.
  • Differentiation on the market, positioning, and messaging (especially if you’re in a crowded space).
  • A/B testing and analyzing results.

Things to ask in an interview

When you’ve found a candidate who looks promising and fulfills the above criteria, there are tons of things you can ask them about. Find the ones that make the most sense for your business.

Ask about specifics, but also look for a more general outlook your candidate has on SaaS marketing. You might ask questions like:

  • What are some past results you’ve brought for SaaS platforms before? (Ask for specific numbers, and watch our for vanity metrics.)
  • What would be your goal working for a SaaS business like ours? 
  • What are the key trends in SaaS marketing you’re seeing?
  • What are some examples of effective SaaS marketing you like?
  • Prepare a specific problem to solve (like improving the click rate on an ad campaign or boosting free trial to paid conversions) and ask them how they would tackle it.

You’ll find more questions to ask a digital marketer during a job interview in this article

SaaS marketer: strategist or doer?

A common dilemma in SaaS marketing is whether to hire someone who can strategize and manage processes or actually go and do things. A combination of the two exists but is rare – and is usually counterproductive in the long run, as one person only has limited hours in a day (as we all do.)

Below’s a quick list that might help determine who to go for, if you can hire just one person.

SaaS CMO/marketing lead

In this case, obviously strategy and management come first, assuming you have a team for the person to lead. 

Look for someone who knows how to manage marketing and sales processes and people (something a lot of SaaS business owners forget about.) It’s especially important now that many SaaS marketing teams are distributed and work online, which poses new challenges for the person in charge.

Go for someone with a vision, but who’s not afraid to get their hands dirty if necessary. Anyone who’s ever worked on a SaaS marketing team will know it’s rarely one or the other – and you often will engage in operational activities even if you manage a team.

Full-stack SaaS marketer/T-shaped marketer

If you’re only just starting out and hiring your first marketing person, you’ll probably need to find someone who can get you started with the strategic side but also get the execution going. 

Good full-stack marketers are hard to come by, mostly because it’s simply impossible to be equally good at all areas of digital marketing. That’s why it’s a good idea to look for a T-shaped marketer – someone specializing in one area of marketing but with knowledge of the related areas (which they can quickly go deeper into if necessary.)

T-shaped digital marketer according to Moz.

As you grow, you’ll probably quickly see you’ll need to expand your team with people who are experts in their individual fields (like copywriters, SEO experts, or analysts.)

SaaS content marketer

There are at least two types of SaaS content marketers:

  • a content marketing strategist who can build an entire content marketing strategy, align it with the customer journey and SEO strategy, set KPIs and ways to measure them.
  • a content creator who can create the actual content based on the strategy, do research, come up with topics, and include SEO keywords in their work.

Even if you can find one person who can do all of those things, it might (and probably will) be hard for them to actually do all of them efficiently in the long run.

And since entire SaaS marketing strategies are built around content, it’s certainly an area of marketing you should pay close attention to. 

Consider your needs and find someone that matches them. For example, you can go for a strategist who will work with external authors on the execution. Or a creator who will work closely with your marketing lead on the strategy and content promotion. 

But don’t forget about either of the two – strategy won’t go a long way if you don’t have anyone to execute it, and execution without a strategy will only go so far.

SaaS growth hacker/CRO & analytics expert

A conversion rate optimization expert in SaaS is usually someone who has hands-on experience analyzing marketing performance and improving the metrics. 

In this case, you’re looking for a doer with an ability to look strategically at things. Someone who can take data, analyze it, come up with creative solutions (executed with the help of other marketers, copywriters, and designers) and test them to improve conversions.

SaaS social media marketer

Like in the case of content marketing, you can have two types of SaaS social media marketers:

  • an expert creating content, scheduling it, moderating discussions, and building communities.
  • a strategist who can set goals and KPIs and tie social media to the overall marketing strategy.

Again, you can find someone who can do both – but realistically, this depends on the number of channels they’ll work on daily. If there’s too much day-to-day operational work (like replying to upset customers on Facebook Messenger,) there’s hardly any room for strategic thinking.

SaaS PPC specialist 

A pay-per-click expert should be able to complement your marketing strategy with paid ad campaigns on Facebook or Google. If you have a small team, look for someone who can strategize and advise on budgets, run the campaigns, optimize their performance, then report on the results.

A lot to do for one person, but of course, a lot depends on the number of campaigns to run. If you want to be effective, adjust your hiring plans to your marketing plans.
And if you’re looking to outsource PPC, take a look at this article about hiring a PPC agency.

Summing up

Before hiring a SaaS marketer for your team, do your share of the work: look closely at your needs, goals, and priorities. A SaaS marketing team can be as small as a couple of people, and as big as a few dozens of experts specialized in narrow areas of marketing. 

So assess your budget, and define where you want to be in a year or two. Then find someone who will take you there.

And if you’re looking for expert freelance SaaS marketers with a proven track record, let us know.

FAQ

What are the best skills for a SaaS marketer?

Most required skills contain a good knowledge of their domain, research ability, project management, basic tech skills, analytical skills and an eye for design

What to ask a SaaS marketer?

Ask about specifics, but also look for a more general outlook your candidate has on SaaS marketing. You might ask questions about past results, key trends or prepare a specific problem to solve.

Is SaaS marketer a stragist or a doer?

It depends on a position and the team you have. If you look for a CMO, obviously a strategy and management come first, if you have a small team - you look for a T-shaped marketer, if you look for a specialist then a doer will be the best choice.