April 4, 2019

I reverse-engineered the website traffic of the 50 biggest public SaaS companies

Mike Sonders @mikesonders

…mostly because I had the same question keep popping up with SaaS clients. Basically some variation of, "What are the channels we should focus on to generate leads?" (Spoiler: organic social won’t be the main lead generator for a B2B. 🤪)

Instead of asking them to take my word for it, I decided to answer the question with data. Figured the results might be useful to folks on IndieHackers who are trying to figure out digital marketing!

Here are some of the highlights of what I found:

  • Organic search (i.e., Google) is consistently the biggest source of traffic, new visitors, and often leads for these SaaS businesses, driving up to 68% of all traffic.
  • Referrals: The companies getting the highest share of traffic from referrals (up to 48% of traffic) have baked referrals into the core workflows of their products.
  • Email accounts for less than 5% of traffic, on average, but has an incredibly high ROI, upwards of 3,800%.
  • Social media: In terms of sending social traffic, YouTube is second only to Facebook for most of these SaaS companies.
  • Digital advertising: 94% of companies have run paid search campaigns in the past year, but only 72% of the companies run display ads–making it the least-adopted source of traffic in the dataset. For the majority of companies who do run display ads, Google Display Network is the top driver of ad traffic, by a long shot.

Going into this, I hadn't realized that big B2B SaaS companies had been leveraging YouTube so successfully. Are any of the results surprising to you?

Regardless, I hope this is useful to someone!

If you're interested, I've shared the detailed results here:

  1. 2

    You sir are a legend.

  2. 2

    Brilliant write up. Sums up everything I'd intuited throughout the years. Thanks for taking the time to put it all together in a digestible manner.

    1. 1

      Really appreciate you taking a moment to share the kind words! Glad to hear you got something out of it.

  3. 1

    Great observation and consolidation. Thanks for curating these.

    I’m curious how would you measure the success of referral traffic/ sales/ marketing for B2B SaaS companies?

  4. 1

    Great post! In addition to SimilarWeb, can you share more details about the tools and process of doing the competitive analysis?

    1. 2

      Glad you liked it! My process is a whole 'nother post, but one of the other tools I used was iSpionage to see how many paid search terms the companies were bidding on.

  5. 1

    Great article! Love the data-driven approach. I can tell a lot of research went into this. (And as a huge fan of content marketing and SEO I totally agree with what you’re saying.)

    1. 1

      Thank you! If you liked the data-driven approach and are into SEO, I think you'll enjoy the next posts I'm working on...

      1. 1

        Sounds good! 👍

  6. 1

    Great stuff! Keep up the good work. As seen recently organic traffic is not so easy unless you really invest in content and SEO.

    Keep up stuff!

    1. 2

      Yup, as I mentioned in the post, SEO (i.e., increasing organic traffic from Google) requires consistent and long-term practice to see those big, compounding returns. The sooner you start, the better. It's so worth the effort... but it requires taking a long-term view!

  7. 1

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