Growth February 19, 2020

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

Mike Sonders @mikesonders

I started this project early last year when I first deconstructed the website traffic of the 50 biggest public SaaS companies.

I recently refreshed my data with the most recent numbers to see what's changed over the last year.

  • Organic search (i.e., Google) is consistently the biggest source of traffic, new visitors, and often leads for these SaaS businesses, driving up to 77% of 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: Over the past year, YouTube surpassed Facebook to become the social channel sending the most traffic to the top SaaS companies.
  • Digital advertising: 98% of companies have run paid search campaigns in the past year, and 96% were running display ads in December, 2019. That’s up a whopping 24 percentage points from the 72% of companies running display campaigns in the beginning of 2019.

So, what should SaaS marketers trying to drive more leads take away from these findings?

The data indicate that there are a few channels of traffic every SaaS startup should be cultivating:

  • Organic search: It’s a highly scalable driver of SaaS traffic and leads, but takes some time to work. The sooner you start, the better.

  • Referrals: Earning mentions and backlinks not only improves your brand awareness and traffic, but also your website’s authority--which makes it easier to rank for important keywords in organic search results. (Conversely, more of your content ranking in search results leads to more links and traffic from other sites. It’s a symbiotic relationship.)

  • Email: Warm emails have incredible ROI; methodically work your way through the customer journey and figure out how to add value with automated emails at every stage.

Not all SaaS companies conduct cold email outreach, but more probably should. Outbound marketing works, and email makes outbound scalable.

Meanwhile, paid channels can be a very effective growth accelerator, especially when you’re just getting started with the “bigger” channels like organic search and referrals. Just don’t expect paid channels to form the long-term foundation of your marketing strategy.

If you're interested, you can check out the detailed results of my findings: https://www.mikesonders.com/traffic-sources-saas/

I hope this is helpful! Were there any surprises in the data for you?

  1. 2

    Good stuff. Thanks for compiling this and sharing.

  2. 1

    What ARE the 50 biggest SaaS companies?

      1. 1

        Really interesting list. I would never put WorldPay as a SaaS company yet they are there. Also I would definitely consider Netflix to be SaaS and yet they are not.

        1. 1

          Netflix is a subscription-based service, but providing movies and TV shows, not software.

  3. 1

    Interesting, thanks!

  4. 1

    This comment was deleted 6 months ago.

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