Host Anya Razina spoke with Dylan Hey for this edition of Friday Lives. Dylan is the co-founder and CEO of Hey Digital, a pay-per-click (PPC) marketing agency for SaaS and B2B companies. Dylan is also host of the podcast SaaS Marketing Show and the live stream SaaS Stream.

Anya and Dylan talked about live streaming as a marketing tool for SaaS companies and what role PPC advertising plays. Dylan shared his insights on podcasting and live streaming, as well as where he thinks LinkedIn Live is headed.

😷 First steps in live streaming during the COVID-19 pandemic

Dylan has been a podcaster for a while, and he considered live streaming for a long time. But it wasn’t until his company, Hey Digital, brought on a few more team members that he had more time to spend on marketing and content creation.

The huge jump in the number of entrepreneurs live streaming during the pandemic also inspired Dylan to start live streaming. In fact, viewing an interview with one of Restream’s founders, Alex Khuda, was what finally pushed him to do his own live streaming, using Restream’s multistreaming platform.

🤔 What can SaaS companies realistically expect from a hired PPC agent?

When SaaS companies decide to hire a PPC agency like Hey Digital, sometimes reality and expectations don’t match up. Since PPC is a paid advertising channel, they might expect a clear gauge on ROI. But Dylan says that marketing with SaaS companies isn't so clear-cut.

For starters, sales cycles for SaaS companies tend to be longer than, say, eCommerce businesses. It takes a lot of different touchpoints across different marketing channels to convert customers — PPC ads, blog posts, and getting leads to revisit the company are all part of the strategy.

At Hey Digital, they like to look at marketing goals as a whole picture, rather than focusing on minute details. The PPC strategy should inform SEO, and the community engagement strategy should inform PPC. Dylan and his team like to look at CRM data and analytics journeys, aiming to piece everything together.

Very rarely do people see an ad on Facebook or Google, click on the ad, and then sign up to your SaaS company immediately.

👀 Which marketing channels are underrated by SaaS companies?

Dylan believes there are tools available that SaaS companies aren’t taking full advantage of. For PPC-related channels, he points to Facebook and Instagram. SaaS companies usually aren’t interested in doing PPC on social media platforms, but Dylan and his team have leveraged paid social ads for their clients’ benefit.

Another underused marketing channel in Dylan’s opinion is LinkedIn. LinkedIn has evolved from a CV website into a content creation platform, where professionals are sharing high-quality content. There’s an opening for creating a personal brand that will help generate leads. According to Dylan, companies should always encourage employees to cultivate a brand on LinkedIn because it maintains long-term relationships and brings in referrals.

We [Hey Digital] get business from my own personal content that I share on LinkedIn, the podcasts that we do, and the live streams that we do. We don't do any other marketing whatsoever at the moment.

🧑‍💻 Should software CEOs be on LinkedIn?

While it’s not necessary for SaaS CEOs to be active on LinkedIn, Dylan definitely considers it an advantage. Leaders who share content offer insights into their businesses and help establish branding. Millennial and Gen Z customers respond to this kind of branding more than previous generations, and they’ll look for that kind of presence when evaluating SaaS products.

😇 Should you build a personal brand connected to your company?

It’s important to build a LinkedIn brand, but what if you’re skeptical about mixing your personal brand with your company brand? How do you do so without getting yourself in trouble? Dylan has a good workaround for this potential problem: don’t connect your personal branding to your company at all.

You don’t have to create content on LinkedIn that’s explicitly related to your company. Instead, share your thoughts, ideas, and opinions. If people are interested, they’ll navigate to your profile and see the company you work for anyway. You can check out Dylan’s LinkedIn for a great example on how to do this.

As an individual, if you are sharing your thoughts and opinions, you're sharing your knowledge and that doesn't have to be tied into the company that you work at.

🤝 The benefits of live streaming for SaaS sales and marketing

SaaS companies have been doing live events for years, in the webinar format. The COVID-19 pandemic has given businesses a chance to revamp their live streaming strategies, however.

Dylan mentions one of his clients, an SaaS company that provides communications software to large businesses. Instead of doing the typical webinar, where they describe their product and go over FAQs, this SaaS company hosts a debate. They bring industry experts on, along with moderators and other participants, and discuss topics pertinent to their niche.

This live streaming format works much better for SaaS marketing because it’s more engaging. By speaking directly with customers and answering their questions live, companies help build a community. Dylan also mentions how multistreaming with Restream can help businesses spread their reach further, by live streaming to multiple platforms at once.

A live stream doesn't have to be related to your product whatsoever. The main thing is getting a group of people who match your target buyer persona, to be engaging, and finding something helpful.

🤓 Lessons from live streaming and podcasting

In addition to insights on live streaming and SaaS marketing, Dylan shared his advice on podcasting and live streaming, and how to switch between the two.

The biggest piece of advice Dylan has for new live streamers is to plan. If you go into a stream without a plan first, it won’t be engaging.

How to handle failure

Dylan also tries not to stress over things that go wrong on a live stream. With streaming, it’s inevitable that you’ll have problems. The best you can do is not dwell on it and not let it overcome your plan. Even though consistency is the key to engagement with live streaming, it’s okay to step back every now and then when you need it. Just don’t let your mistakes keep you from trying again.

Go-to reaction when things go wrong

To illustrate his point about accepting mistakes and keeping your cool, Dylan gave an example. He tried to live stream during a thunderstorm, even though his WiFi connection was spotty. He saw that the stream was jittery and that the audio wasn’t properly synced, and his engagement was practically nonexistent. So instead of panicking, he took the issues in stride and decided to end the stream early and try again later.

Although it wasn’t a fun moment, Dylan didn’t let that mishap keep him from live streaming and kept moving forward with creating his content. His go-to reaction when something’s not working is to address it head-on. He’ll talk about what’s going wrong and add comments to the chat to let his viewers know.

I would say the benefits massively outweigh the fact that sometimes something might go wrong.

🙌 What’s the future of LinkedIn Live?

Dylan admitted LinkedIn Live is still a bit of a mystery to him, but he doesn’t let that stop him from streaming on the platform! Although it’s a new feature and it’s still evolving, there’s usually only benefits to trying out a platform’s new feature early, according to Dylan. He says that since LinkedIn is now a platform for content creators, and since most SaaS and B2B companies’ audiences are on LinkedIn, avoiding LinkedIn Live would be a marketing mistake.

🎙 Dylan’s basic podcasting and live streaming gear

As a regular podcaster and live streamer, Dylan shared his thoughts on gear. He stressed that you don’t need fancy equipment to get started. The only thing you should buy just starting out is a good microphone, since podcasting and live streaming are both audio-heavy mediums. For going a bit further, Dylan suggests a superior-quality microphone, a podcasting deck, and a good webcam.

Wrapping Up

As a PPC specialist, Dylan’s insights about live streaming can be helpful to SaaS and B2B companies. The key takeaways from his conversation with Anya are:

  • ROI isn’t always the best way to measure advertising success for software companies.
  • LinkedIn presents a great opportunity to build a personal brand to generate leads — but it doesn’t have to be explicitly connected to your company.
  • Live streaming gives SaaS companies the chance to create more engaging content that helps build communities.
  • Anticipate that your live stream or podcast will have issues, and don’t let it throw you off course.
  • Multistreaming with Restream is an excellent way for SaaS companies to spread their reach with live streaming.

Huge thanks to Dylan for appearing on Friday Lives! Hopefully you took away some great insights for your SaaS marketing and live streaming strategy.