Let’s start with a question: Is SaaS marketing any different than traditional marketing?
In a word – yes.
While traditional businesses can deploy traditional marketing strategies to help them grow their business, SaaS brands need to opt for different methods. This is due to the fact that software is not a physical product. In fact, SaaS (software as a service) is a lot different than traditional software as well, which makes things even more complicated.
When it comes to physical products, retailers generate revenue based on single purchases. On the other hand, SaaS marketing is all about convincing potential customers to subscribe to your tool. In addition, since the subscription is usually on a monthly basis, SaaS companies also need to work hard on convincing their subscribers to stick around.
Luckily, there are several marketing tactics to help you overcome the unique challenges of SaaS marketing.
5 Effective SaaS Marketing Strategies
1. Create Great Content
Businesses around the world know that content is one of the best ways to drive traffic to their site, generate leads, and build their brand.
Content has one important upside – unlike other forms of digital marketing (such as paid ads), which are effective as long as you’re willing to spend money, content is your own free-of-charge asset that continues to work in your favor.
So, step one is to add a blog to your website. Check.
Step two – write high-quality, valuable content that users will want to read and share. First and foremost, your content should have a purpose and add value to your audience. Use your blog to inform and educate potential customers and offer solutions to their problems.
This should be enough to drive traffic to your site, but in order to be able to convert visitors into leads, your content needs to be properly optimized.
Step three – after you’ve offered value, make it easy for your audience to follow the conversion path.
If you need some inspiration for great SaaS content, here’s how some of the big players are doing it:
By combining comprehensive knowledge of its subject matter with brilliant SEO, HubSpot has evolved into something much more than a platform for its software. The company has influenced the way marketers market their products and its blog has become a go-to source for both users and non-users.
Unbounce’s incredibly rich blog is focused on conversions. The company offers a variety of guides, webinars, ebooks, infographics and other types of free content which leads users naturally towards conversion.
The storage and file sharing service creates targeted content tailored to attract various types of potential customers through its Dropbox Tech, Dropbox Business, Dropbox Developer blogs. The fun approach used to demonstrate the products’ usefulness is a great example of unique & effective content.
2. Work on Your Site’s SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
It’s impossible to talk about content without mentioning SEO.
As said earlier, the first step of every marketing strategy (including SaaS marketing) is driving traffic. And in order to drive traffic, you need to make sure people can discover you. And in order for people to discover you, you need to appear in search results.
Wait, scratch that; you need to crash the competition and appear on top of the search results.
Suddenly, SEO doesn’t sound like a piece of cake anymore.
In fact, it’s a laborious process that takes time & patience and probably requires a separate blog post in order to be explained properly.
For now, we’ll go through the basic SEO tactics you need to pay attention to.
On-site SEO is, so to say, the easier part because you have full control over it. Your job is to create great content that people will want to read, share, and link to. Again, sounds fairly easy, but there are other factors to take into consideration such as:
- Keyword research
- Page optimization that includes proper use of URLs, meta descriptions, and title tags
- Content structure
- Internal Linking
- Page loading time
- Overall user experience
Link building is in the core of off-site SEO but it’s not just the number of links that matters. You should focus on getting quality links from authoritative & trusted websites. Social media is another aspect to consider, as links and shares from influential accounts are also a quality indicator.
The best way to get shares and links is by devising an effective distribution strategy. In a nutshell, this strategy should include:
- Guest blogging
- Social media marketing
- Influencer marketing
- Brand mentions (linked and unlinked)
3. Offer Free Trials
When it comes to offering free trials, SaaS companies have a huge advantage over traditional companies. For instance, a car dealership can’t simply offer you to take their newest model for a 30-day trial.
But SaaS companies have nothing to lose by doing so. On the contrary. No matter whether the user decides to subscribe or not, there’s absolutely no damage done.
Free product trials are a great lead generation tool. Moreover, the leads they generate are highly qualified leads. Simply put, people who are interested in trying your product are more likely to buy it.
There’s a catch though. It’s not enough to just offer a trial. You need to make sure that people who are trying your software have a positive experience, which would require you to provide some sort of support. This support could be in the form of live chat, one-on-one calls, automated email, or group webinars.
So, go ahead and let everybody know about your free trial offer. Mention it throughout your site (for instance, on your homepage and after every article on your blog) or include it iin the emails you send to subscribers.
4. Set Up a Referral Program
Did you know that an astonishing 84% of B2B transactions are conducted based on referrals?
Marketing experts know that referrals are a powerful marketing tool and the following stats will make it clear why:
- Almost 85% of consumers consider recommendations about products from people they know the most trustworthy information source
- More than 90% of consumers rely on referrals from family or friends
- Over 80% of online consumers make their buying decisions based on social media posts by their friends
- More than 75% of consumers will buy a new product after learning about it from people they know
These numbers confirm that positive reviews can have a great influence on how prospective buyers view your brand. It doesn’t take long to learn that referrals are your best leads. In addition, they close fairly quickly and are usually low cost.
But persuading happy customers to tell other people about your company isn’t easy.
If you want to make customer referrals part of your SaaS marketing strategy, you need to offer users something in return, be it cash, discount, or enhanced product features.
Here are several examples of SaaS customer referral programs to inspire you:
When Airbnb’s customers refer friends, they get a travel credit for future Airbnb accommodations, whereas the referred customer gets a discount on their first stay. The world’s biggest accommodation-sharing site also added social media buttons to make it easy for customers to share their referral code on social platforms. As a result of this simple referral program, Airbnb’s customer base grew by more than 350 times!
Paypal started their referral program by paying customers to refer contacts to sign up for an account. Each time a user referred a contact, they received $20 into their account. As the company’s user base was growing and it came to be recognized as a trustworthy means of transaction, they decreased the incentive amount to $5.
Evernote’s referral program incentivizes users with a combination of money savings and enhanced product features. Namely, for each referral a user makes, they get credits that will allow them access to the premium option of the software for free.
5. Offer Different Pricing Models
Let’s face it: few things have an influence on revenue as much as price.
For traditional companies, pricing doesn’t fall into the category of marketing strategies. But for SaaS companies, pricing and marketing go hand in hand.
Convincing users who are trying your product to convert into paying customers is a big part of SaaS marketing, and pricing models play an important role in the whole process.
Furthermore, pricing can play a part in setting up a steady revenue flow for your business.
When it comes to devising effective pricing models, the key is to find the right balance between revenue and value. If you overcharge, you’ll drive many potential customers away; if you undercharge, you’ll damage your business with uncompensated development and delivery expenses.
There is, of course, a catch. What might seem the most obvious approach to you, is not always the most effective solution for your customers.
We recommend running a few smaller experiments will help you fine-tune and optimize your pricing models.
No matter how different SaaS marketing might look, it’s still marketing at its core.
If you’re willing to invest time into the above-listed SaaS marketing strategies, growing your software company is absolutely possible.
However, make sure to analyze and optimize them to see which ones produce the best results for your business.