SaaS has its own set of marketing regulations. Driving visitors to free trials and demonstrations is essential because most prospects conduct their research and make purchases online. Even once you’ve closed a deal, your work is only just beginning. SaaS marketers must also consider onboarding, churn rates, growth hacking, and a wide range of return on investment estimates.
Software as a service is increasingly the standard for both buying and selling software in recent years. Many consumers have adopted this new method of purchasing software after getting past their first concerns regarding security and control.
Today’s lower costs for software development and marketing, lowered entry hurdles, and the ability to update SaaS with immediate updates imply that there is frequently no difference between competing offerings.
As a result, SaaS marketers have adopted digital marketing strategies to a considerable extent, and with good reason: a solid website, search engine traffic, email campaigns, and social media. Some people have already dabbled in content marketing, while others have it on their to-do list.
Laying strong strategic foundations is essential for SaaS marketing success, and this article will give key insights for lead nurturing success based on our experience working with SaaS organizations since 2009.
Due to the wide range of marketing, it is hard to discuss every approach in a single paper (or at least one that can be read while drinking coffee!)in order to aid you in expanding your SaaS enterprises, we have concentrated on some key areas that you might not have given much thought to.
Smart Ideas to Market your SaaS Business
To effectively promote your SaaS service to your target audience, we’ll talk about some of the greatest SaaS marketing tactics.
1. Build a marketing strategy specifically for your SaaS solution
Having said that SaaS marketing is unique, and the principles for success remain the same bread and butter basics as any product. A prospect’s urge to buy is based on your solution to solving their business problems, and educating them around that point relies on your marketing activity creating empathy and building appropriate messages about your technology’s capabilities. Add to this a clear call to action and you’re likely to stimulate a response.
However, making the business benefit messages of your solution resonate means understanding the unique conditions of the SaaS market. The value proposition has changed, because it’s now less about the IT department acting in isolation; there are more decision-makers in the technology acquisition process, and therefore the role of your marketing strategy is to advise several personnel within the company on the best course forward for any required tool. The emphasis is on how your solution can best deliver value to the entire company.
Read Also: How to Build a Cloud-Based SaaS Application?
As the audience focus has shifted to the executive level as a whole, your marketing key messages have to move substantially beyond finance and technology concerns. This is not something that can be addressed with a simple tweak to your approach – you need to strategically re-think the way your business markets its solutions.
Either developing a strategy from scratch or redeveloping legacy plans, will help you assess your competition, define your target market, and establish your positioning and USPs. It will also enable you to define the technology buying lifecycle for your prospects and map marketing activity against key moments.
This may seem like an insurmountable task, but a good starting point is to plan all the marketing activities that you want to undertake in a month-by-month plan. This ensures your marketing is well thought through and avoids the pitfalls of being reactionary or ad-hoc. Importantly, it prevents activity from being perceived as tactical but without direction.
The quickest way to ensure your marketing strategy is effective is to map monthly activity to an overall strategy – and this rests on understanding the cost of securing a new customer.
2. Constantly optimize your website conversion rate
The website is the heart of any SaaS business marketing strategy and the shop window to your company. This means it cannot just look good – it has to convert leads as well.
We recommend that you experiment with techniques for encouraging engagement with website visitors. This could be increasing the conversion rate for free trial sign-ups, people booking a demo of the software or downloading content; you need to define what you want prospects to do as a result of visiting your site.
One common misnomer is that getting greater results from your website means spending more money. However, what if we told you that you could double your website conversion rate, potentially without increasing expenditure?
The key to achieving this is conversion rate optimization on your website – working out what drives lead generation activity so that you can carve up your marketing budget in a way that generates stronger leads through web traffic.
- Don’t just add a free trial function to your website; split tests the length of these complimentary trials to work out which one gets the greatest click-throughs.
- Equally, change up the calls to action on each website page until you find which one achieves the most traction.
You may even want to experiment with the content on each website page, as sometimes stripping back to the fundamental information can generate better results than overwhelming users with multiple options.
Drawing on experience, we increased the conversion rate on one of our client’s websites by 60% by simplifying the user journey. By removing two calls to action and re-designing the site to focus on just one.
This illustrates an important governing principle for ensuring that marketing focused websites are effective – easy usability. Don’t confuse people; guide them through your website, and remember they are on a journey that will continue face-to-face, so you don’t need to tell them everything online
3. Showcase your expertise and become a thought leader
Once your website layout is optimized, your next challenge is to perfect the powers of persuasion around your product’s capabilities. It’s highly likely that your software shares similarities to competitor solutions; yes, you’ll have the odd unique feature and hopefully a USP to enable you to stand out, but differentiation has many facets.
Positioning your organization as an expert thought leader to your target market is an excellent tactic for building ‘differentiation daylight’ between you and the competition. You need to create content that adds value around their key business challenges and plays to your USP.
- If you are marketing a business expenses solution, then create a free expenses policy template for FDs
- If you sell collaboration software, host a seminar on setting up a virtual organization;
- If you sell CRM software, create a guide for sales managers about how they can increase sales by 50%
In striving to become an authority, don’t foster an air of arrogance, aloofness, or indifference by being one-dimensional, with an emphasis on highbrow content. You are trying to engage real people, not business bots, so remember to soften the messages by using social channels such as blogs and Twitter. The informality helps to promote a conversation on the things that matter to the target market. It’s an invaluable source of market intelligence that helps you to develop more compelling content and focus on real points of concern.
One SaaS customer we work with offers virtual switchboards to the SMB market, so we blog with posts such as ‘Use the cloud to make your home office look like a big business’, ‘How to record a professional message for your Virtual Switchboard’ and ‘3 ways a virtual switchboard can improve your marketing ROI’. These are great ways to open a dialogue and stimulate a conversation by touching on some likely pain points within the target audience.
Also, remember that all activity should map back to your original strategy, so thought leadership should not be a one-off ‘shot in the dark’. The best way to establish your authority is to create a regular schedule of content to publish, and vary the formats to target prospects at multiple points in the buying cycle. Some may be ready to digest in-depth material; others may just find their attention captured for a few moments by a blog post. It all enhances brand awareness ahead of that crucial decision-making moment.
4. Don’t worry about the cloud, focus on the benefits
To you, your software is built on great technology; it’s in the ‘sparkly new’ cloud, it’s online, it’s cool. Generally speaking, nobody will care about any of that – unless you’re selling to IT people. You must bring your marketing messages back to earth and remember to focus on the customer benefits.
Generally speaking, your prospects will approach technology buying with the attitude of ‘What’s in it for me?’. What are the benefits of your system to their business? What plus points does it offer to users? Why does it save people money or make them money?
These are your marketing messages; avoid poorly defined buzz concepts and acronyms. Avoid leading with messages containing references to SaaS and cloud.
For SaaS features, try picking out important elements for your messaging from this list of generic SaaS benefits:
- Access anytime, anywhere for true workforce mobility
- No software or hardware to install or manage
- Reduces or eliminates administrative burden
- Little or no capital investment
- The monthly payment model shifts costs from CAPEX to OPEX
For your core messages, like marketing any product think about what the main benefits are. This may be statements like these that we’ve helped craft for clients:
- Focus on ease: Timesheets for recruitment agencies made easy
- Focus on problem/solution: Asset inspection is essential. Our software makes it simpler, more effective, and reduces the cost
- Focus on differences: Expense Management with a difference
- Focus on what it is: Secure, enterprise-ready, on-demand complaint management
5. Nurture your prospects
SaaS products can take time to sell. They are not impulse buys; some of your prospects may come to the website many times before they contact your company or sign up. It’s highly likely that they are also regular visitors to competitor sites, so you need to keep your site moving forward – evaluating and updating as necessary – in terms of content, look and feel. Familiarity, open dialogues and trust levels – cornerstones of relationships – all develop over time.
To capture contact details, your site needs to have a lot of engaging content, from case studies and white papers to videos and industry news that demonstrates your connection with your marketplace.
Really we’re continuing on from point 2 – nurture doesn’t happen overnight, and therefore you need to understand the average buying cycle in order to build the correct length and depth of marketing campaign strategy.
Don’t try to rush things either. It takes time to build a stack of compelling content, and time to build a significant database of engaged prospects. Once you’ve got that database, send them regular emails with free information and special offers – continually add value. Look after the database because it is possibly the most valuable marketing asset you possess.
At this stage, your role is to inform and impress prospective customers, and there are a number of content marketing techniques you can use to achieve this – including:
- Instructional videos
- User guides
- Industry whitepapers
Experiment with different content formats until you can find the right piece of collateral for each stage of the journey, to help you optimize conversions. Also, when a prospect is verging on purchasing your technology, don’t forget they will need knowledgeable one-to-one customer support.
6. Market to your existing customers
Your existing customers will come up for renewal once their subscription expires or can cancel at any time if they’re on a monthly contract. That means that they are also prospective customers, so treat them as such.
The good news is that retention is more cost effective than acquisition, so this technique can return an investment quicker than new business pursuits. Your job is to maintain their satisfaction and upsell where possible; the ultimate measure of great marketing to existing customers is when they don’t bother looking at what your competitors offer.
Get them on board painlessly, engage them in a community, keep them informed of product enhancements, and help them maximize the value of the solution.
At a minimum you should send them a monthly newsletter; that can just be a round-up of previous blogs, and potentially customer testimonials and case studies if available. Where we’ve had clients that sell into large multi-dimensional companies we’ve written them internal case studies they can use to upsell to other divisions and regions.
Where possible, however, you should look to personalize content around your clients’ key business challenges, and their point in the technology renewal cycle.