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Marketing anything has never been easy. There’s a myth that goes around which insinuates that if your product is awesome and terrific, customers will come.
Of course, as a marketer, you understand that this lie will do nothing better than get you knocked out of business by your competitors. SaaS marketing is no different either, you will have to put in the work. Marketing in SaaS companies plays a big role in the growth of the company.
Therefore you will have to invest in creating a great marketing strategy that acts as a pointer to where and how your marketing activities and goals should move.
Here, I will share the marketing tips and tactics you need to be equipped with to successfully market your SaaS product
First things first! SaaS marketing secrets worth knowing!
1. Overnight success is a myth
Successful marketing is not by chance. You will need to have an in-depth understanding of your product and its landscape. It’s important to understand how your product will benefit your customer and not just its features. Remember every potential buyer will be asking: what’s in for me? Understand the value your product will be adding to the buyer’s life.
You also need to invest in understanding the market; who are your competitors? What are they doing? How do they attract their leads? In which ways are they better than you? How do they generate their traffic? With this information, you will know in what ways to improve and stay ahead of the competition.
2. Know your target audience
It’s important to understand your buyer persona. Learn all you can about your customers. Understand why they use your product. Gather data about their age, their location, their challenges, priorities and anything about them that will be relevant in helping you make better decisions in your future marketing activities.
3. Understand that SaaS marketing is unique
Let’s dive into this by first understanding what SaaS is.
What is SaaS?
SaaS stands for Software as a service. It is a software model in which a third party hosts software in their business premises and provides access to the customer via the Internet. This translates into reduced costs on the customer’s infrastructural budget and increased accessibility by users since the product is accessed via internet.
You probably already know the definition, however, many SaaS gets lost in the hay to help people solve their problem, which is key to your business. So, how do you reach your target audience and help them solve their problem? Always go back to this question and make it a foundation.
How is SaaS marketing unique from other marketing types?
1. You are selling an intangible product!
People can’t see your product and see if it’s good. What does this mean to you as a SaaS marketer? You need to hone your marketing skills and most importantly understand the value of your product and let the customer know how it will solve their problem. Benefits rule over features, segmenting niche audiences like “Is there a easier and faster way to process payments for my law firm?” would work better than “30 seconds processing payment”.
2. Giving out free samples or trials is a good idea.
Free samples? You may ask, yes, you heard it right. After all, everyone loves free stuff! Free is good for you too as a SaaS marketer. Once a customer interacts with your product and learns how to use it, converting them to a buying customer becomes easier. As a business you will decide how long the trial will run; 30 days free, 30 days limited version and so on. However, please take into account the below tips when offering your customers a trial version.
a) Keep them short
A shorter trial period gives the buyer an impression of urgency. They will therefore be compelled to walk through your product as soonest possible and make their decisions faster.
b) Do not wait till trial period is over to engage them
Call them as soon as they have signed up; preferably in the first 3 days. You can do follow up emails too whose objective is to educate the user more on your product. Engaging them will help you understand your customers better and also qualify or disqualify them early enough.
3. The sale cycle is significantly shorter
With the advent of technology, most customers will have done their research before they decide to sign up for your trial version. Together with the reduced IT costs highlighted earlier and the lifted burden of on-premise installation, decision making becomes faster making the sale cycle shorter. Ensure then that every touchpoint you have with the prospect is high quality and memorable.
4. You are selling a service more than a product.
Always remember that in as much as you are selling a product, you are not selling to a robot, but to human beings. They want a service that has a human touch, therefore, let the human element reflect in how you serve them while they consume your product. Be part of your customer’s success. Let them experience an awesome service behind the product that solves their problem. A great service markets your product and helps you achieve your goal of having the product sell itself!
5. Content is your best weapon
Your potential buyers are already looking for a solution on the internet. You therefore need to provide them information that will greatly capture their attention. Understand that to a great extent buyers will use the information you are providing to them to make a decision. Make it as candid and useful to them as possible.
6. Long term customers will be your financial backbone
In SaaS marketing, customer retention is extremely crucial, more than in other marketing areas. As often said 80% of your future revenue will come from 20% of your customers. Your customer retention strategy will play a key role in this. Therefore it’s important to think long term.
How can you improve the current relationship with your customers?
How can you improve how you serve them?
Understand your customer Lifetime value as well to be able to identify where your CAC efforts should be concentrated on. Make adjustments where possible.
You understand basic marketing secrets now. As earlier highlighted, the marketing of any product greatly affects business growth, more especially in SaaS companies. It will , therefore, be imperative to ensure you have assigned enough financial resources to your marketing strategy. Let’s further dive into this.
How much should your SaaS marketing budget be?
Due to the fact that your customer’s billing cycle is based on subscriptions, your business will be under the pressure of growing monthly recurring revenues fast enough to recover your CAC costs. You don’t want to wait till the time that churn catches up with you so as to desperately look for financial resources to stir up your marketing campaigns. The earlier you foresee this and plan, the better your results will be. So what do you need to put into consideration to know how much to spend?
a) Annual contract value (ACV)
For a growing company, experts suggest that, SaaS companies can match their sales and marketing efforts with their ACV. This implies that you can spend a significant amount of your capital on marketing on the assumption that the current year you will be making pure profits, However, this may not turn out to be. The challenge this poses is that you may burn up all your capital and disrupt your operational activities. Ensure you have enough capital to survive the first few years.
b) Creating a balanced marketing budget
Marketing budgets will differ from one company to another and there’s no magic formula that applies to all businesses. However, put into consideration how much percentage of your ACV you will allocate to your marketing budget. It can be between 80-120% in the first few years and adjust accordingly as you grow, However balance between the growth of your business and capital needed to run your operations. Otherwise, if you plan too much or too little, you may grow one area and starve the other which adversely affects the survival of your business.
c) Leverage on inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing can be used to increase leads and bring more revenue at a lower cost and at the same time boost your brand image attracting more potential buyers. If done right, you will be able to qualify or disqualify leads earlier reducing your CAC. Other strategies such as social media marketing and blogging also assist in faster lead generation, again saving you on cost of lead generation.
Now that you have the basic tips on how to plan on your SaaS marketing budget, let’s move to the actual work: how do you market SaaS successfully?
Let’s look into a few marketing tactics and strategies.
1. Leverage content marketing.
This is one of the most cost-effective strategies of SaaS marketing as it leads to faster leads generation hence lowering your CAC. In addition, the more useful and valuable information you share, you will be establishing your brand as a thought leader and boost your reputation.
Content marketing is also an essential component of increasing interactions with your existing customers.
If done well, it keeps them engaged with your brand and will choose to stay with you for longer; hence boosting customer retention. Last but not least, use content marketing to increase the Life time Value of your customer. Keep providing useful information about your product, what has been improved and ‘how-to’ tips to help them keep learning about your product.
2. Use of explainer videos
Do you want to keep your audience focused and minimize distractions as you explain your product to them? Use explainer videos. Your audience have a limited concentration span, but if you use a video you are assured to capture their attention and engage them in a way that leaves them interested in learning more about your product.. You can maximize on this strategy by placing a Call to Action on your video and lead them to your website whey they can sign up or make further inquiries about your product.
Statistics show that 73% of prospects are likely to purchase a product after watching an explainer video. Why not leverage on this to increase your conversion rates? The key is to ensure your narrative is catchy and you provide useful and powerful insights to the audience.
In addition, you are assured of better ROI if you use explainer videos.
The reason behind this is the cost of production is relatively low and once produced the same content can be used over and over to reach a different audience. In addition, people care a lot about videos, so if your produce great content, they will never stop sharing with others.
Research shows that 89% of most shared video content is educational. Take advantage of this and educate your customers about your product and useful insights about your industry.
3. Use SEO to generate organic traffic
Organic traffic plays an important role in SaaS marketing and this is where your SEO strategy comes in. A good SEO strategy will assist in a faster generation of quality leads. Your SEO efforts can be on-page or off-page. On-page relates to the SEO efforts that you can easily control. For example, the content of your website and its design. Off-page means SEO efforts not within your control. For example, your content being referenced from an external site. Let’s look into some SEO tactics that can boost your lead generation.
Generally, content can start to rank a few weeks after posting and fully mature within 6 months to a year. If you want to start off your inbound lead generation, focus on content from the getgo. Working with an SEO expert can help you identify quick wins, instead of writing a bunch of content that does not reach your audience. Knowing how to reach your audience is one thing, convincing them is another, learn how to do both.
a) Invest in a strong keyword strategy:
What keywords are your potential buyers using to look for a solution? Use the search suggestions from different search engines to help you drill down on this. The objective is to ensure that you get as many relevant keywords as possible and include them in your content. The more relevant they are, the higher the traffic, hence the faster your lead generation will be. This translates to search engines ranking your higher in search results which is good for your brand visibility as well.
b) Think like Data Scientist
Many SaaS companies like to gather data, big data and make sense of it. So why is SEO different? Each content you produce needs to make sense, how does it relate to other content or for your business? How does it relate to the user and their intent? Most people who perform SEO think stuffing keyword is how you can rank on SERP, but times has changed.
If technology already advanced this far, why shouldn’t your content strategy be any different?
You will need to learn Semantic web, schema structured data, content mapping, competitor analysis and so on to help you map out a strategy and streamline the data for search engine bots to easily crawl and index you correctly.
c) A responsive and mobile-friendly website
Naturally, if your audience is human, their waiting time span is usually very short! You need to ensure you reduce your website bounce rate by ensuring your web pages load in the shortest time possible, preferably less than 2 seconds. With the increased uptake of mobile technology, more customers are using mobile phones to search for solutions online. It’s is therefore critical to ensure your website can easily be viewed from the comfort of their phones. Otherwise, you will be missing out on a huge percentage of your website traffic.
d) Use of powerful back-links
This tactic falls under off-page SEO. You will need to create high-quality links to your website. To achieve this make sure you create link-worthy blog content. Other than relevant keywords, ensure you have solid content; not some fluffy and useless content that nobody will care about! Create high quality, informative and thought-provoking content that will leave your audience wowed. If you do this, your site will get backlinks naturally.
The most important part of backlink is, spend more time creating quality content than getting backlinks. If you are on a budget, content is a priority versus backlinks.
Also do not ignore guest blogging. This gives you an opportunity to put your product in front of a different audience. Ensure you post on a site that’s relevant to your industry and do not make the post all about your Saas business. Let it add value to your readers. This will create trust between you and the audience as it grows, they will likely click on the backlink to your product and increase your traffic and possibly increase the number of referrals.
Other options include listing your software on software directories and software listing blogs. The objective is to generate traffic off your website.
4. Use paid advertising (PPC)
With paid adverting, lead generation begins as soon as your ad is up. This technique can be costly however if well done, it pays in the long term. Ensure that you do not target high competition keywords which will eat up your marketing budget and possibly pay very little in return. Leverage on social media sponsored ad campaigns also to sign up potential buyers on a minimized cost. Sponsored content is great in audience engagement and redirecting them back to your website for further information.
5. Offer your potential buyers a free trial of your product.
As earlier highlighted, free trials give your customers an opportunity to interact with your product. As a result, conversion rations will likely be higher since the customer understands how your products works and they will have seen how it solves their problem. The key is to ensure you put in efforts to make sure after the trial period is over, they will be converted to buying customers.
6. Maximize on email marketing campaigns.
This is a marketing strategy with a high ROI. You could maximize on it especially at higher levels in the sales cycle such as customer retention to keep your existing customers engaged. Use email marketing to keep your customers updated on any new features of the product being rolled out, alerting them on any upcoming offers and sending them personalized communication on important steps they’ve made while doing business with you.
7. Use comarketing to promote your product.
Comarketing is a business strategic partnership whereby two companies come together and combine their promotional efforts to put their products in front of a different audience. You need to team up with a company that doesn’t compete with your product but rather completes it. The two companies need also to share a similar approach to marketing their products. The two will agree on which kind of content to create, either a video, an e-book or even publish a research. Hosting a webinar would also be a good idea.
If well done, the combined effort can lead to more lead generation and increased brand awareness at a reduced effort. The results of these combined efforts, of course, will be shared between the two partners. It’s however important to ensure both parties understand their expectations from the onset to avoid conflicts.
8. Use referral marketing
In referral marketing, your leverage on your existing customers for lead generation and revenue growth. The techniques rely heavily on the trust your customers have in your brand and your product. Business to business companies with referrals have a 70% higher conversion rate, and they report a 69% faster close time on sales.
This therefore means that you can ride on referral marketing to increase the quality of your leads and lower your CAC. In addition, you will have higher conversion rates due to the trust between your customer and the referred one.
All the above benefits result into a reduced churn rate and a higher Customer Lifetime Value. Ensure you put in place the necessary referral tools for your customers and salespeople to make referring easier. There is plenty of such software online but also you can develop your own customized templates for this.
9. Grow your SaaS business using retargeting
In this technique, also known as remarketing, your target is a customer who has previously interacted with your adverts but didn’t purchase your product or they are still in the decision process. It is a powerful marketing tool. As research has indicated, Website visitors who are retargeted with display Ads are 70% more likely to convert on retailer’s website. Take advantage of this strategy, build more trust with your potential buyers and witness your consistent effort pay out huge returns!
10. Include social media in your marketing strategy
In today’s world, there’s such a buzz about social media. With over 3 billion users on different social media platforms, you can maximize this opportunity, put your brand in front of different audience and generate leads at a minimum expenditure. Identify the platforms that work best for you, put a great and engaging content there, partner with relevant influencers and promote your content.
Social media has revolutionized customer support with many customers adapting it as the go-to place to air their concerns to their brands and as well show appreciation. You will , therefore, need to integrate this in your social media marketing efforts.
SaaS marketing could be different but if you follow the above proven and tested marketing tips and strategies, you can easily gain a lot of customers over a short span of time. However, put in mind this marketing secret: customers will not stay with you because you are offering a great product but because you offer great customer support. Go above your promise and give the customer a memorable experience and you will never worry about high annual churn rates.