Scaling a B2B SaaS with a Facebook Ads Strategy

A 6-month progress report after spending $14,464 on Facebook Ads to acquire 161 trial users for a B2B SaaS, ZenMaid, that serves residential cleaning companies.


This case study was written by Bunty SomRoy

If you own a B2B SaaS, this case study is specifically for you to address the challenges that lie in the intersection between a SaaS company and the B2B landscape.

In this breakdown, I detail how we developed a strategy to acquire paying users with a comprehensive Facebook Ads formula that targeted B2B professionals on Facebook, led them to a free trial, and then converted them into a user that pays on average between $49-$100/month, based per user pricing.

NUMBERS AT A GLANCE

DATE RANGE: March 1st, 2019 to August 31st, 2019
ADSPEND: $14,464.02

LEADS: 3,612

FREE TRIALS: 161
COST OF ACQUIRING A FREE TRIAL: $89.84

NOTE: You may have noticed the # of paying users / cost of acquisition is left out.


We have been tracking them, but not accurately enough to publish in a case study. We were tracking paying users everytime they paid via Stripe and so sometimes it counted 2x the # of payments.


We will be updating this when we have a more clear picture of trials that converted to paying users.


What is ZenMaid?

ZenMaid is the first and only software specifically for cleaning business owners to help them manage, run, and grow their cleaning company.


While other competitors offer generic software for a variety of home services, ZenMaid is specific to residential maid services with premium scheduling features and automated systems that allow maid service owners to focus on higher-impact projects.


Amar Ghose and Arun Devabhaktuni co-founded this project in 2013 from their home in Palo Alto, CA after Amar found this gap from his experience running his own cleaning company, Fast Friendly Spotless, in Orange County.


Fast forward to today.


ZenMaid is the market leader in the maid service space, collaborating with dozens of cleaning industry professionals on a regular basis, and had recently launched the 1st Annual Maid Service Success Summit, a virtual summit for cleaning companies.

What’s Worked So Far

In its early days, Amar was personally getting on calls with maid service owners not just to get his initial customer base but to get crucial product feedback to help his product development. 


One of the strategies ZenMaid used was LinkedIn marketing, specifically, doing targeted outreach to other maid service owners through Amar’s personal profile in order to get on a call.


This was so successful that Amar had even written a book on LinkedIn marketing.


Another low-hanging fruit was paid advertising, but not just one of the mega-platforms but one specifically for people looking for a software solution - Capterra.


Anyone on Capterra who is searching for “maid service software” would then be directed to start a free trial of ZenMaid.


What really worked well was ZenMaid's content marketing efforts.


They regularly released high-quality blog posts that helped their target demographic with key business problems, often partnering with well-known industry consultants for a joint-venture campaign.


ZenMaid also started a free, public Facebook group that was not exclusive to their users but in fact for any maid service owner that wanted to have a community of peers to talk about their cleaning business problems.

A screenshot of a person asking a question in "The ZenMaid MasterMind" Facebook Group asking how to tell a client that they don't pick up pet poop

As of August 2019, this group has 4,000+ members that are inside ZenMaid’s ecosystem.


This was by far one of ZenMaid’s best moves considering they have an army of brand evangelists who act as their sales team for them whenever someone asks for a scheduling tool recommendation.


Please enjoy the thread below of snarky comments to the original poster who asked for said scheduling app recommendations for not trying out the software in a Facebook group hosted by ZenMaid...

A thread in ZenMaid's Facebook group from someone asking to recommend a scheduling software.

For anyone that did not find the Facebook group first, and say, were googling for problems, they would find a helpful article by ZenMaid that helps them solve a specific problem - anything from marketing a cleaning business to training and hiring staff.

These pieces of content would also drive prospects into a lead generation funnel that captured their name and email with lead magnets or free, downloadable resources.

These lead generation campaigns are especially crucial to ZenMaid, being not just a SaaS but a B2B SaaS, which means sales cycles are much longer than your average B2C sales cycle.


Like many similar B2B products purchased, a B2B purchase is taken only after careful consideration and research. It is almost never an impulse buy.


In this case, the software a cleaning company starts with is the foundation in which the rest of the business is built on, “locking” them in for the life of the business.


This lead generation campaign would nurture prospects, staying top of mind until they were ready to invest in this foundational piece of their business.


ZenMaid had incredible foresight to invest in this lead nurture campaign, considering that it would be a prerequisite part of their future campaigns.


More recently, ZenMaid had begun small Facebook retargeting campaigns that drove anyone that visited the ZenMaid website back to a piece of content in order to sign up for trials.


More on the effectiveness in the next section...



Roadblocks

While ZenMaid was growing steadily, there were a number of factors that limited them from breaking through their glass ceiling.


Investing in content marketing and Capterra ads, they were capitalizing on the warmest segment of their market with intent, ready to buy, ready to make a decision.


But new maid services pop up every day who aren’t problem-aware or solution-aware, which are much bigger market segments.


In order to get in front of their entire audience, not just the people searching for them, ZenMaid would need to experiment with getting in front of a completely cold audience who was not actively searching for this solution.


When ZenMaid began using Facebook Ads, finding B2B professionals on Facebook that never heard of ZenMaid was a challenge.


They continued to use Facebook just to retarget the traffic driven by Capterra, LinkedIn, and their other marketing channels.


It was around this time that ZenMaid had brought me up to both manage the retargeting campaign, and eventually scale to cold audiences.


But before I could present a roadmap, I provided an in-depth funnel audit that identified a number of problems to fix first.



Problem 1 - Goal tracking was not in place

This is the #1 problem I see in almost every single advertising account I’ve come across.


ZenMaid only was tracking free trials on Google & Capterra at the time.

And on Facebook, only email leads were being tracked.


It was not a big deal at the time because only small remarketing campaigns were being done.


But if we were to scale, we need to get the entire picture.


That means we need to know all the following KPIs:

  • Leads / Cost per Lead
  • Trials / Cost per Trial
  • Paying User / Cost per Paying User
  • Paying User Conversion Value
  • Return on adspend


Problem 2 - No system to test, learn, and implement new campaign experiments

Aside from the tracking, there wasn’t a clear methodology with the paid advertising efforts.


All of the campaigns previously were driving people back to the website and relying on the website to convert them into a free trial or a lead, which meant there were a lot of holes to plug first.


I want to take this moment to commend ZenMaid on getting to this point in the first place using a Ready, Fire, Aim approach for the FB advertising.


The team was fairly busy managing their operations and improving their product, especially as they went through a massive redesign in 2017 when the first advertising tests were launched.


The fact that ZenMaid was actively working on the marketing alongside their product ensured a strong foundation to build atop of.


But if we were to scale up, we needed to make sure that we had a methodological roadmap to get us there.



Problem 3 - Cashflow & Time before rebills kicked in

Let’s get real. Facebook Ads are not cheap.


The number of advertisers doubles every year and the reality is most businesses will get left in the dust and bullied by larger accounts moving forward.


The companies that can afford the most to acquire a user will win at this game, and not the ones who are looking to lower their costs.


Any business that is dependent on the ROI from Facebook Advertising to pay for their operating costs is setting themselves up for failure.


This makes it tough for many SaaS companies who have a free trial period before they see any revenue from their advertising efforts.


To put it simply, a $100/mo SaaS company may need to wait anywhere from 2-4 months before they recoup the cost of adspend to acquire a paying user.


This runway needs to be longer with a higher churn rate.


By the time ZenMaid had an advertising budget to invest in this channel, they had a healthy base of paying members that ensured they could afford to cashflow this operation - not to mention, they had an effective high-converting funnel.


The next section details exactly what campaigns we used to start, what positive feedback indicators we were looking for, and our numbers from this time period.



What We Did Together


Phase 1 - The setup and onboarding

Our official engagement started in January 2019.


Before launching any ads we always start with an in-depth marketing funnel audit.


This audit wasn't just for ads but took stock of all their landing pages, all their lead generation pages, every marketing asset at our disposal, and took note of what tracking needs to be in place before we spend any money.


A lot of our insights were not even covered in the scope of the service that we offer but was relevant to the overall success of the business.

Amar commenting how much the audit shined a light on weak points to improve

After the audit, we worked with their head developer to implement the best way to accurately track all the KPIs that we mentioned before.


With his help, we were not just tracking opt-in leads, but also... 

  • who registered an account with username/password
  • who added a valid credit card
  • who started a free trial
  • and then who got billed for the first time at the end of the trial.


Phase 2 - Launch ads with the lowest hanging fruit

Only after all the right tracking in place, we started with the most very basic Facebook retargeting campaigns.


“Facebook retargeting campaigns” are campaigns that specifically only show ads to people who have already been to the ZenMaid.com website and have not signed up for a trial.


Given that ZenMaid was driving qualified traffic with Capterra ads and LinkedIn, this was an easy low-hanging fruit to start with.


The ZenMaid marketing team had created a few basic campaigns for these website visitors to go back to the website either to sign up for a free trial or to digest various pieces of content.

ZenMaid's funnel diagram for Facebook Ads

Since those campaigns were already working to get some leads which turned into trial users, we started doing more targeted campaigns driving warm audiences to lead magnets, or opt-in pages, in order to get emails instead of asking for a free trial directly.


And since we were tracking both free trials and rebills, we were able to see measure the effectiveness of these lead generation campaigns that converted leads into free trials and paying users.

Facebook Ads Manager screenshot of trials and paid subscriptions

NOTE 1: There are 150 “Subscription” events in February because we manually fired the pixel for all current users retroactively.


NOTE 2: “Subscriptions” track the # of rebills and does not accurately reflect the # of unique users attributed to ads.


In these retargeting campaigns, we were acquiring free trial users at about $50 on average. 


I’m hypothesizing that their trial-to-paid conversion rate is mostly attributed to ZenMaid’s awesome onboarding process where they invited a free trial user to a demo walking them through all the benefits.

Facebook Ad to increase the trial to paid conversion rate by getting a free trial user on a demo

And yes, we put ads in front of our free trial users to get them on this demo to help increase the trial-to-paid conversion rate.



Phase 3 - Scaling to cold traffic

Once we saw that the warm audiences were converting from the lead generation campaigns, we started to target cold audiences, or people that have never heard of ZenMaid, to the same funnel we were using.


Boom!


We started acquiring leads between $4 to $7 initially (this is bound to increase with volume).


Since these audiences were not searching for a solution when an ad appeared, the intent was not as high. 


Those leads converted to trials at $120 per person, which gave us an indicator to keep growing cold traffic on Facebook.


We ramped the advertising spend to $100/day - half going to retarget warm audiences and the other half bringing in new leads.


That means by month 3, we are profitable, factoring trial cancellations and their ever-reducing churn of 4% (!!!). 


Despite these wins, the front-loaded adspend required did create a cashflow strain.


The next section dives into what we’re doing to offset the front-end cost of acquiring users by achieving the “holy grail” of marketing...



Overcoming Obstacles

ZenMaid was not expecting Facebook ads to work for cold traffic, just as most B2B companies believe.


As a result, there wasn’t an adequate budget set aside initially for cold traffic on Facebook. Once ZenMaid re-allocated funds to pour into this platform, we had the issue of available cashflow on our hands.


Amar and I started brainstorming about what we can do to recoup some of our advertising costs on the front end. We considered the “front end” as the lead generation campaigns. 


Our solution was to offer a low-ticket info-product that was extremely valuable to anyone in the maid service industry, regardless if they had an existing software solution or not.


ZenMaid already had this product available so it was a matter of creating a new funnel to send traffic to it for validation.


We took a “Ready, Fire, Aim” approach to put together this offer, which was presented on the opt-in thank you page allowing us to piggyback off of both the organic and paid traffic lead gen campaigns.


The funnel diagram of a B2B SaaS info-product

This was implemented in early July 2019 and have gotten our first few sales on day 1, recouping at least 30% of the adspend.


In addition to this new info-product, ZenMaid had recently hosted the first annual virtual summit for cleaning companies that featured over 40 industry experts sharing their secrets about how they grew their cleaning businesses to 6, 7 figures and beyond.


Aside from the hundreds of leads the virtual summit brought in, this online event also gave us another opportunity to recoup our advertising costs by selling lifetime access to the virtual summit talks.


My team took ZenMaid’s raw speaker videos to cut together this highlight reel that we used to drive ads to.


(no sound)

SHAMELESS PLUG: As an advertiser, I equip you with video production process that ensures your videos are formatted specifically for Facebook Ads.


It’s still too early to say confidently whether this new funnel is going to be a success or not.


In previous months, we have done smaller advertising experiments where we test different audiences, creatives, and messaging. These experiments could only yield so much conversion lift or impact on our advertising.


But testing a drastically different funnel like this is what is necessary to stay ahead of the changing landscape of Facebook advertising.


While this powerful platform can be highly leveraged, it also takes an extraordinary amount of testing and strategic insight to make work.


Plainly spoken, it is not a “set it and forget it” platform.


This case study will be updated in the future after we have received data from this new funnel.



Conclusion

The only reason Facebook advertising worked for ZenMaid is because ZenMaid’s marketing strategy was being developed in tangent to the development of their software product.


At no point did ZenMaid relinquish responsibility of the company’s marketing to an outside provider but rather worked closely with various vendors to drive the strategies forward.


Their software may not have always been the best one for maid service owners as they grew.


However, they did manage to stay competitive through their marketing initiatives to eventually claim market dominance.

NUMBERS AT A GLANCE

DATE RANGE: March 1st, 2019 to August 31st, 2019
ADSPEND: $14,464.02

LEADS: 3,612

FREE TRIALS: 161
COST OF ACQUIRING A FREE TRIAL: $89.84

NOTE: You may have noticed the # of paying users / cost of acquisition is left out.


We have been tracking them, but not accurately enough to publish in a case study. We were tracking paying users everytime they paid via Stripe and so sometimes it counted 2x the # of payments.


We will be updating this when we have a more clear picture of trials that converted to paying users.

(Bonus) How To Set Up Your SaaS's Marketing Foundation For Scale

For many of you reading this, you may have realized that Facebook advertising may not be a viable option for you. I hope that realization will save you a ton of wasted adspend and hours.


If you’re a new SaaS, then this is way past the realm of what you should be thinking about spending your marketing dollars into.



Content Is King

If your SaaS is past the validation stage and you have some users, then it is time for you to create content that will set the foundation for future marketing efforts.


The Facebook Ads strategy that we used for ZenMaid relied heavily on the content used and would not have been possible without it.


How do you create content when you’re so busy?


You make time for it and get help by outsourcing pieces of it.


There is no magic bullet here. You can’t outsource the responsibility.


If you’re in your early stages, that means you, the owner, has to be the face of the company. 


Commit to a content creation calendar. Choose 1 platform and 1 medium based on where your audience is hanging out.


Video marketing is trending upwards and publishing on YouTube can serve as pillar content that can be redistributed to other channels later.


But if you are not comfortable on camera, don't force it. Start by simply writing high-quality blog posts on the company blog.


Once you have the content out there, you can start to distribute it across all social channels.



Create A Lead Magnet, Build An Email List & Nurture Your Prospects

Once you start getting traffic, create a free resource that you can provide your audience for an exchange of their email address to begin generating leads.


Start creating a nurture sequence, by emailing them once a week or whatever frequency you can commit to. This will help keep your prospects top of mind until they are ready to do business with you.


This is the foundation to your funnel. Once you start tweaking these elements and refining them, then you can start to think about advertising.



How To Start Paid Advertising


If you’re reading this and your SaaS already has…

  • check
    An ARR above $300k
  • check
    A healthy, decreasing churn rate
  • A bank of engaging content OR a content pipeline
  • check
    A list that is already converting leads into paying users

Then you are prime for paid advertising.


You may be tempted to “start small” and hire a freelancer or have your in-house marketing manager begin this initiative.


This almost always creates more issues down the road by spending resources undoing mistakes and figuring out what has been done already than starting fresh, the right way.


Regardless of the provider, I recommend finding a solution where someone works alongside you as a marketing partner and not just another vendor looking for short-term success.


If you resonate with that perspective, please schedule a strategy call with me below.


After choosing a time, you’ll be prompted to answer a short questionnaire that helps me prep for the call.


Why do I need to prep for the call?


I research your business FIRST before I can reliably ensure I can help you get you to where you’re going.


Every single person that has received this initial strategy session found invaluable clarity that saved them lots of money in both advertising spend and time that they would have spent learning what would work for their business.


Lastly, if I can’t help you, I’ll tell you straight up and give you personalized insight to help you bridge the gap.

Are You Ready To Scale?

Obligatory scarcity:

I work mostly as a solo operator with a few team members that help me create amazing Facebook Ad campaigns and funnels for my clients.


And since I don’t have a product, like your SaaS, that scales well, I only accept 5 clients at a time to ensure you get consistent quality.


As of September 2019, I only have room for one more B2B SaaS until 2020.

Recognize any of the brands we've worked with?

About Me

Hi, I'm Bunty SomRoy, 29 years old, American based in Bali.


I've been a computer nerd since I was a kid, building computers and creating websites by the age of 10.


I moved away from the digital world by the age of 16 when I became a bike mechanic that cultivated a love for outdoor adventure.


Biking down mountains (literally) a few hundred times and living at ski resorts to snowboard 24/7 was my life for my early 20s, which I thought was my passion.


But that only got me as far as my life was pretty perfect until I was forced to deal with some personal  tragedy that led to my life spiral out of control..


It wasn't until a 10-day silent retreat (Vipassana) gave me the clarity I needed to pursue the path of entrepreneurship in order to get the next level of life.


I read "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" a while back, and while I romanticized about the idea of entrepreneurship, I didn't have enough motivation to move away from a life of outdoor adventure until I faced hardship.


I dove into inspirational podcasts.


One in particular, Tropical MBA, was about the lifestyle of location-independent businesses.


I was hooked.


When I found out more, I discovered the podcast had a community of successful, location-independent business owners that were already living the lifestyle I could only dream of back then.


Eventually, I bought a one-way ticket to Bangkok, Thailand, where this community held their flagship annual conference.


From there, I connected with a member of this community who ran a business accelerator in Chiang Mai, a town in the northern mountains of Thailand, and volunteered for his program.


That was in October 2016.


By this time, I had already started freelance web design, acting upon my previous knowledge of building websites with basic HTML/CSS.


I used that skillset to immerse myself into this community in order to create opportunities.


One of those opportunities was an apprenticeship to learn Facebook Ads so I could run traffic for an eCommerce shop that only used Google Ads previously.


Once I dove in, we immediately started getting sales.


And then I started pitching this service, making a huge difference in the people I helped by bringing more customers to them.


Now I've been managing Facebook Ads for 2+ years full-time.


Upon the journey, I had to learn a metric crap ton about funnels considering that was a bigger lever than the ads themselves in several campaigns.


Looking back, I noticed a pattern that the most successful campaigns were B2B Lead Gen campaigns.


And that's when I decided to specialize here. No e-commerce, no B2C, just B2B lead generation.


More specifically, I've now had experience in several B2B subscription sites that ultimately led you here.


I hope that this article was helpful to you and that you enjoyed reading about my backstory as well.


If you want to connect, come find me on LinkedIn or YouTube where I regularly share free marketing & advertising strategies.

headshot of Bunty SomRoy

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