SaaS Marketing Strategies: How you should market your software
The SaaS (Software as a Service) business model has been growing in popularity since the rise of the internet. The market is expected to grow to $60 billion by 2023 and statistics from the latest 2020 SaaS trends report show that the overall spend per company on SaaS products has increased by 50% since 2018.
In an ever-growing industry (no statistics are available yet regarding growth during the COVID-19 pandemic), it’s important to investigate marketing trends and strategies that will help your company stand out from the competition.
SaaS Marketing Needs a Unique Approach
In short, SaaS marketing is the process of promoting the services and products that ISVs (Independent Software Vendors) provide. The primary focus of the SaaS market is selling subscription-based products that are based in the cloud with regular updates and added functionality.
All businesses, whether B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer) need to market in some fashion to achieve the end goal of achieving sales. SaaS marketing is different because their products do not have a physical form and they’re promoting something that customers can’t physically see, smell or touch.
SaaS marketers must have the ability to fully understand their potential customer base. If they have not come from a SaaS background, they may not realize that they have been hired to promote the opportunity for customers to sign up for a subscription and not to purchase the whole application exclusively.
SaaS marketing teams need to focus on reaffirming to current customers, as well as promoting to potential customers, the real value in the subscription package. They have to focus on the value proposition of the product rather than a ‘one sale fits all’ approach.
Unlike normal marketing practices, SaaS marketing strategies need to have a more customizable approach. Developing a SaaS marketing plan can take time and needs to be undertaken with the full understanding of the intricacies of a subscription-based model. It is rare for a business to pay up front for the whole year and instead opt for monthly payments. This means that it takes a bit longer to break even or generate a profit when acquiring a new customer. There needs to be an educated and unique approach to B2B marketing within the SaaS industry to ensure solid revenue and growth for your business.
Why is SaaS marketing different?
There are, of course, similarities between traditional marketing techniques and SaaS marketing strategies. As mentioned, SaaS is the acronym for Software as a Service and that is exactly what your business does. Your SaaS marketing department needs to regain focus on what SaaS means and truly strategize based on selling “the service” and not “the software”.
Many companies that sign up to a SaaS service do so because they believe that your software will improve their current business. The best way to keep your customers fully content is by ensuring that they achieve their business goals through both your software and your service.
ISV marketing teams must focus on both your software and the value of your service to enable your sales team to close deals.
What SaaS marketing strategies should you use?
For your ISV to stand out, SaaS marketers should look at various strategies that will help you attract your core audience, increase engagement and show potential customers that your product is exactly what they need.
There are four fundamental B2B strategies that you seriously need to consider integrating into your SaaS marketing plan:
1. Focus on content
When it comes to building a brand in the digital world, it is imperative that marketers embrace content. Content marketing allows you to create an identity and a voice within your industry. You have a software/service that provides a solution to the needs of potential customers, using articles to create an informative piece of valuable content allows you to subtly showcase your product across the internet. Consistency with content will elevate your brand and your authority. This helps you gain traction with new customers while further strengthening your bond with your existing clients.
2. Implement SEO
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) needs to be integrated into everything that you do. If you are writing a blog post, collating case studies, recording podcasts/videos or building your product, you must always be conscious of how it can rank on Google. Increasing your Google ranking with each element of your website will, in turn, generate more organic traffic and potential leads/future customers. A high ranking will also create more trust in your business as a brand - the more they see your company name, the more they feel that you are better than your competitors.
3. Product led growth
As with all SaaS businesses, your product was designed with the knowledge that you can add value to the lives of your potential customers. This is why the previously mentioned content strategy is important as it provides these customers with all the information they need to make a decision to use your product. The most common product-led growth strategies are the ‘free trial’ or ‘freemium’ options. If a customer can try before they buy, they will be able to understand the benefits of your service and it will give them more confidence in signing up for a longer term contract. You should feel confident in your service and many clients need to understand why, giving them free access should instill that same level of confidence that you possess.
4. User-led growth
Another strategy to seriously consider is the implementation of user-led growth. Getting your customers to expose your SaaS to others within their own networks is vital. If a customer is happily subscribed to your service, their contacts should feel the same if they were to sign up. Referral schemes are common but not necessarily the only tactic for user-led growth, sometimes you need to think outside of the box. If you present content with imagery, a company watermark on that image could increase traction and exposure. User-led growth tactics are cheap and if you can come up with a unique idea, the level of free exposure you generate could be priceless for your business.
These strategies can be deployed via a variety of different tactics within each section.
What SaaS marketing tactics should you deploy?
Here is a list of the 7 most common SaaS marketing tactics that cover the above four ISV marketing strategies:
1. Offer a free trial
We covered this briefly when discussing product-led growth. Free trials have long been the “go-to” SaaS marketing tactic. The belief that your product’s value can be noticed during usage should have been part of the process in setting up your service. Allowing the product to do the selling for you can be successful if your service genuinely solves the needs of your potential customer base. Free trials are more valuable in the long term too - if a user does not sign up, you have their data and you can approach them in the future through various campaigns (email marketing, newsletters, etc.) and they will buy when they are ready. Using various advertising techniques to promote your free trial allows you to build up a solid set of potential customers. When promoting a free trial, set up a call to action (CTA) that will efficiently maximize the number of free trials with the touch of a button. Inserting a referral or share button also combines your product led growth strategy with your user led growth strategy.
2. Share data-driven content
As with all SaaS businesses, you should have access to plenty of first-hand data that should interest an existing and future customer base. Use your content strategy to create valuable data driven posts that can build an appreciation for your brand. You could create studies and share the results via email campaigns or digital outreach. Generating links to this content within the media generates a large level of exposure and increase in traffic and potential customers. These reports could regularly be updated and optimized for SEO - an example of this being Fiserv’s Commerce and Fintech outlook report which gets updated annually.
3. Generate good reviews
Social proof marketing has been important since the rise of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram being a part of most people's daily lives. Reviews and testimonials are the most effective forms of social proof marketing within the SaaS world. If a client is saying great things about your service, other businesses would be open to working with you. Ask existing customers to review your service and share those testimonials across all of your social media platforms. FOMO (fear of missing out) and your appreciation of existing customer comments will attract new audiences towards your service.
4. Get verified on social media
Sticking with the importance of social media as part of your SaaS marketing strategy, verification or positive feedback from the social platform itself adds value, trust and confidence to your service. Twitter and Facebook will verify your business once you grow but this could be requested earlier if you feel you’re at a stage where it could increase your value proposition. Strong social media behavior will increase your chances of verification and you must deploy certain tactics before you enter the verification stage. One opportunity is by ensuring your customer success team/social media manager respond quickly to any messages on the particular platform. Facebook allows you to earn a badge for a fast response rate and earning this will instill confidence that potential issues will be addressed quickly. One guaranteed way to activate and start this process is by dedicating a person/team to respond quickly via chat services (a.k.a Facebook Messenger).
5. Share team content
Back to content. Many SaaS companies are fun, young, tech startups that offer flexible and supportive working environments. Building team cultures is hard and once you ace it, it’s important to show off. Sharing posts about your team, about team building activities and values/culture gives potential clients an insight into how you work and your openness and transparency. It brings a personal touch towards your business and humanizes your software. Deploying this tactic correctly and consistently opens up your world into theirs and provides clients with that feeling of inclusion.
6. Host Q&A’s and Webinars
Sticking to the personal touch, question and answer sessions (remotely or physically) are an excellent way to connect with existing and future clients. Customers can voice their concerns and this can be addressed easily through a question session. Receiving negative feedback can be hard to take but educating these customers will help you build your brand. It’s also another opportunity to use transparency to your advantage. There are a variety of ways to host these sessions (Facebook Live, InstaLive, Hangouts, Zoom, etc.) and it is very important to schedule with plenty of time to allow you to prepare and market the event properly. When conducting these sessions, you should always record and make this available on your website to rewatch.
7. Share your social consciousness activity
Another big part of the team culture and environment within the SaaS setup is social consciousness. According to a recent study, 63% of people are more likely to buy from companies that share their own beliefs. In the SaaS world, businesses will also want to work with companies that share their values. If you are doing charitable work or highlighting the importance of equality such as celebrating LGBT+ pride as an example, sharing this with your audience will ignite the strong moral and social consciousness that your business holds. This can attract future customers while also increasing your brand reputation.
To be able to improve and tweak your SaaS marketing strategy, you should also create an environment where there is solid understanding of where your business is at. One way to improve your comprehension of this is by tracking the correct metrics.
What key SaaS marketing metrics should you focus on?
The success of any ISV marketing strategy is dependent on the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that you track and optimize. There are plenty of metrics that you could track but these are the ones that are vital for SaaS marketing success:
1. Site Sessions
When you visit a website, there is a ping from your server to the server of the webhost (the site you have visited). This is known as a site session and can be tracked via Google Analytics. As we are talking about marketing, it’s more important to focus on the amount of site sessions for your whole website (blog posts, domains, etc.) rather than how many times someone has entered into web pages within your software.
Google Analytics can help you determine if the awareness of your SaaS brand is growing or stagnating as it tracks the metrics of all online and offline marketing activities such as:
- Content Marketing
- Affiliate Marketing
- Paid Traffic
- Social Media
You are basically able to track all of the traffic to your website and where within the funnel that traffic comes from.
2. Leads generated
Leads are people/businesses that have given you permission to contact them in the future regarding your service. Setting a metric for lead generation gives a target to your marketing team and helps you understand how many leads are needed to close a sale. Common SaaS lead generation tactics include:
- Free trials
- Product demonstrations
- Free/Paid eBooks
These are just some of the many tactics you can use to generate leads. It helps you to understand how many people are moving through your online funnel from site visitor to lead and thus how effective your B2B marketing plan is. Google Analytics will also help you understand the ‘sources’ of where the leads are coming from.
3. Customers acquired
As with tracking leads, you need to track how many customers have signed up with your product. This helps you to understand your conversion rate better and where you should prioritize your marketing efforts.
Churn is the term used to describe how many customers cancel their subscription during a specific period of time. You can measure this monthly or yearly and allows you to understand how many customers you're losing. Churn is usually measured in terms of revenue or the number of customers.
Net negative churn is the aim for many SaaS companies. This is when you upsell and can make more from existing customers than you lose from lost clients. Tracking churn rate allows marketers to understand which strategy generates the most profitable customers.
With all these metrics, we advise that you track as often as possible - daily, weekly etc. It should ideally be done manually and will help you move forward with a successful ISV marketing strategy.
We advise that you regularly review and change your marketing focus depending on the stage of your business. This guide should have given you a basis to be able to successfully market and take your software to the next level.
CardConnect is fully committed to helping businesses grow and develop, LaunchPointe provides you with business resources to help your ISV grow.