State of SaaS

An Annual
Marketing Report

Table of Contents

Hey 👋 I'm Corey, the founder of Swipe Files.

As a 4x first marketing hire and a marketer who's been at both bootstrapped and funded startups large and small, I've always wanted a way to benchmark against other SaaS companies to understand how I'm doing.

Unfortunately, that's been basically impossible...

Until now.

The State of SaaS Marketing is an annual report that aggregates data from hundreds of SaaS companies to build benchmarks on every major area of marketing.

Firmographics, target markets, team dynamics, pricing, growth, channels... it's the data I've always dreamed of having my hands on.

And now you can have it too.


Section 1 - Foundational Data

Here’s some basic information about the survey respondents who provided the data in this report. This is mostly for context.
The nature of surveys like this is that it will always be biased to the nature of the pool of respondents you’re soliciting to complete the survey. In this case, it’s the lovely Swipe Files newsletter audience list.

Which best describes the time your company has been in the market?

Which best describes the total capital raised at your company?

Which best describes the total employee count at your company?

Which best describes your current MRR?

Corey Haines
Swipe Files
"Marketing looks very different depending on product maturity, funding, team size, and revenue stage. You always have to custom tailor your marketing strategy to fit your unique situation."

Section 2 - Target Market

Which best represents your target customer?

Compared to 2022, this year we split “Businesses” into “Small Businesses” and “Mid-Large Businesses.” SaaS is mainly B2B, but B2B doesn’t necessarily mean “enterprise.” Small businesses dominate the target customer profile, followed by creators/prosumers. Not shown here is a <1% representation of “Governments” as additional option.

Which best describes your primary market?

Compared to 2022, we decided to group options by region instead of selecting specific countries. Unsurprisingly, the North American market is the largest. Still ~27% of the market is outside of NA. And considering that the 2022 survey had “United States” at 81%, SaaS is definitely trending more global.

Section 3 - Marketing Team

In addition to you, how many full-time or contract employees currently work in marketing?

The vast majority of marketing teams are small, especially in comparison to other departments. What’s especially interesting is the number of “0” responses. Keep in mind that the question is asking how many in addition to the survey respondent (who is likely the founder or head of marketing). Nonetheless, there are a lot of marketing teams of one, whether that be the founder, CEO, or head of marketing.

How many contractors or freelancers do you work with?

Looking at this chart in isolation is interesting. But looking at it with context from the last question about full-time employees is really interesting. What this tells me is contractors and freelancers make up a substantial part of marketing teams — half or more.

How many marketing agencies do you work with?

Compared to 2022, the number of companies working with an agency has gone up 9%. This could be a byproduct of sample size and relatively insignificant, or an interesting leading indicator that companies are moving to outsource more of their marketing.

How many tools do you use across your marketing team?

Given how large the MarTech Lumascape is, it's surprising to see how many companies get by with just five or fewer dedicated marketing tools. Many features and product functions are being bundled into a single tool. Still, ~50% of companies are using 6 or more marketing tools, which is quite a lot and representative of how broad marketing’s responsibilities are.

Which best describes your annual spending on marketing tools?

These numbers are very close to the 2022 numbers, indicating little to no change. However, do note the addition of the 7-figure club, which is a pretty astounding number to spend on marketing tools alone.

Section 4 - Revenue and Pricing

Which best describes your monthly
Average Revenue Per Customer?

These numbers coincide with the responses about the target customer, with small businesses being the largest portion and mid-large businesses being the second largest portion. This further supports the notion that B2B ≠ enterprise.

Which best describes the pricing plan for your lowest-cost pricing tier on a monthly basis?

Nothing too surprising here given the data about ARPC. What is noteworthy is that this also indicates that for many companies, the majority of their customer base stays on their lower-cost pricing tier. As much as we’d all like a consistent, predictable path to expansion for all customers… most stay pretty stagnant.

Which best describes the pricing plan for your highest-cost pricing tier on a monthly basis?

This data highlights the range in SaaS. Most offer a plan under $100/mo and also a plan over $1,000/mo. One thing is clear from both of these questions: the threshold is $10/mo. I suspect there’s a correlation between companies targeting consumers and charging under $10/mo.

Do you offer a free trial for your product?

The majority do, and compared to 2022 (which had a slight phrasing error), this is a stark difference. I suspect the 2023 data here is much more accurate.

Do you offer a forever-free plan?

Despite all the talk about product-led growth and the hype of freemium over the years, forever-free seems to be out of vogue. I suspect many companies have realized the pitfalls of this approach and have opted for what could be described as a usage-based trial where customers essentially always hit a paywall at some point.

Do you charge a setup fee?

Setup fees are pretty rare, with the exception of larger ARPC deals that require a lot of time from a customer success manager or solutions engineer. The 16% represented likely target mid-large businesses who need more hands-on work and have the budget spend.
Sebastian Cuervo
GM Media at 42 Agency
"Most orgs do not have a setup fee (87%), and in parallel, 84% do not have a free trial for the product. That means products are probably thought of as the ultimate marketing tool, and the value is so clear people are willing to pay for it upfront. So is the PLG frictionless playbook still ruling SaaS?"

Section 5 - Growth Metrics

Which best describes your average year over year growth rate over the past 12 months?

It may seem like every other startup is experiencing hockey stick growth, but the reality is that growth rates above 100% YoY are more the exception than the rule. Compared to 2022 data, it does seem pretty clear that growth rates have slowed in 2023.

Which best describes your average website traffic of unique visitors over the past 3 months?

It may also seem like every other startup is swimming in an abundance of traffic, but the reality is that the majority are getting less than 10,000 unique visitors per month. I’ll keep shouting this from the rooftops: B2B is all about quality, not quantity.

Which best describes your visitor to lead rate?

This data is especially useful for those of us working on conversion rate optimization. ~76% are converting less than 3% of website visitors into leads, which serves as a nice benchmark to compare against your own analytics when deciding how much effort to put into CRO efforts.

Which best describes your lead to customer rate?

In 2022, I was skeptical about the portion of 0-10%, but seeing it reinforced for 2023 gives me confidence that this is accurate. Again, you may think you’re doing horribly when it might actually be the norm.

Which best describes your total blended payback period?

2023 data is much more in line with what I would expect to see. I’m encouraged to see a healthy portion in the 3-8 month range, which is a realistic sweet spot to aim for.

Section 6 - Marketing Channels

Which channel do you believe has the biggest impact on growing revenue?

The fact that one answer dominates the rest is still a good indicator of how different it is for everyone. If there were 2 or 3 dominant answers, that would paint a much different story of what’s working for SaaS companies. Content is still king. I am surprised to see partnerships over advertising this year, which might be an indicator of just how much CPC has risen across ad platforms.
Jonathan Gandolf
CEO of The Juice
"I was encouraged to see that the respondents believed content had the greatest potential impact on revenue growth. Traditionally, content has meant many different things to many different marketers. The truth is that content flows through every marketing activity. While attribution can be tricky, a consistent approach will ensure that the right message finds the right person at the right time."

Which channels have you invested resources in the last 12 months?

The data here mirrors the last question pretty closely, although I’m surprised to see how little investment has gone into events and engineering-as-marketing.
Brett McGrath
VP of Marketing at The Juice
Host of Modern Day Marketer
"These results indicate that content can no longer be siloed by a function. Content is how brands communicate, educate, and build trust with our customers. It's critical that marketers recognize content is the fuel to more revenue and should be the responsibility of everyone in a customer facing role. Building a culture of content opens the door to individual distribution channels. Finding reach in new channels and building resonance through content is how we create fans who end up buying our products."

Which channels have your company advertised on in the last 12 months?

Compared to 2022, there has been a steep drop in all the niche advertising platforms. Essentially all advertising dollars have consolidated to the major platforms.

Does your company send an email newsletter?

Interestingly, the number of companies who don’t send an email newsletter has gone up since 2022.

Which best describes how much money you have invested in marketing in the last 12 months, including salaries?

There’s a wide spread of results across the board. This question in particular is going to depend on revenue, funding, and time in market. So it’s not a great standalone analysis. Regardless, interesting to compare against budgets.

Special thanks to...

Conversion Factory

Data Analytics:
Drake Senter
Twitter: @DrakeSenter