Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is currently experiencing marketing saturation. In August 2020, there were nearly 127,000 SaaS companies listed on the leading business directory, SaaSHub. That’s a lot.
So, what can you do as a SaaS startup to stand out from the crowd and demonstrate your value to prospective customers? We’re going to dive into 10 growth strategies to help you compete within the SaaS market.
1. Customer onboarding
Customer onboarding is managing the beginning of your customer’s journey with your SaaS company. Your focus at this point is about guaranteeing that you give your customer base the right impression, which sets the tone for your relationship with them.
Getting onboarding wrong can mean a loss in revenue, which is especially harmful to SaaS businesses using a recurring revenue model. Getting it right, however, means building customer loyalty and consistent input into revenue.
How do I implement the best onboarding practices?
Let’s take a look at some pro tips on how you can achieve business-growing onboarding:
- Put customer success at the forefront of your sales process — Help your sales team understand the importance of customer onboarding so they can more appropriately promote your product and get more sales.
- Get specific about your customer’s needs — If a customer doesn’t think their specific needs will be met by your services, it’s a given that they’ll walk away. Understanding these needs and accommodating them is the best way to improve your onboarding process. Some ways to do that are getting to grips with the pain points of their industry, implementing customer-specific research and getting feedback from your sales teams.
- Persevere with energy — Post-sales contact with your new customer in the 24 hours after they’ve invested is key to maintaining momentum in the onboarding process. Part of this is putting out continuous content (like FAQs or video tutorials) to make yourself available to customers and continuously providing value in your services.
- Get user onboarding right — Users also need a good onboarding process. This is all about getting the functionality and excitement of your product right. You can do that through personalisation, directing attention to the right place on your interface, and focusing on benefits over features in written content.
2. Content marketing
Content marketing is crucial to adding value to the reader and promoting your business goals through content. The most popular choice of content in SaaS marketing is blog posts, which is exactly what this article is. Other content you could make includes eBooks, whitepapers, reports and toolkits.
This is a key marketing strategy for reaching potential customers, getting contact information, driving home sales and improving customer loyalty.
How do I implement the best content marketing practices?
- Collect contact information — Having captivating content is a great way to obtain customer information like emails and demographics. You can encourage blog subscriptions with popup call to actions (CTAs). Gated content is another tactic — customers must provide information before they can access the eBooks or webinars they need.
- Drive sales with narratives — It’s really important to be authentic and open about your brand when you’re interacting with contacts you already have. You can also afford to use more technical language because you know you’re targeting a specific audience with existing knowledge.
- Increase customer retention — SaaS startups that improve customer loyalty by 5% can see a 25%-95% increase in profits — no small thing! To reach those numbers, create content that smooths the onboarding process, like FAQ pages, introducing new features in your blogs, and starting a newsletter.
3. Code marketing
Digital marketing is a must for SaaS businesses. The most common example of code marketing is giving customers a free trial of your digital product. Code marketing — or free trials — is a great way to provide value in your content that will encourage customers to believe in your product or service and ultimately invest.
But, how does that work if you’re a more human-driven service that doesn’t work with online sales or can’t offer a free trial as such? The focus becomes on code marketing principles.
How do I implement the best code marketing practices?
- Use actionable content marketing — As we stated, content marketing is a key growth strategy for SaaS startups, and businesses can use this to elevate the code marketing strategy. There are a few things you can do to enable customers to imagine the experience of your product. For example, include data on how your service will improve your customers’ issues within a specific industry. Video content that elicits an encounter with your product is also a great shout.
- Create detailed case studies — Getting permission from existing clients to publish their results after using your service gives potential customers social proof of your brand. You can even ask your customers to write testimonials for your product/service.
- Find alternatives to free trials — Offer potential clients free workshops or some free consulting services so they can really imagine the experience of being your client.
4. Email marketing
Getting involved with email marketing is a great way of growing a SaaS business. There are 3.9 billion daily email users, which makes it a key way to keep customers believing your product has value. With 81% of B2B marketers using email the most often in their content marketing campaign, it’s something you don’t want to forget about.
Important benefits of email marketing include driving user engagement, increasing conversions and improving customer retention.
How do I implement the best email marketing practices?
- Decide the goal — Pinpointing the intention of your emails will give them a higher value to your customers. Be clear and straightforward with the content you are offering.
- Focus on design and format — Using a distinctive style that draws attention to CTAs is a top tip for executing the best email marketing.
- Categorise emails — If you create email content in categories dependent on user buying patterns, you’ll have a better chance of sending specific customers what they need in order to convert.
- Nail email frequency — It’s critical to get the balance between emailing too much and too little right — you don’t want to annoy or neglect customers. 35% of marketers send 3-5 emails weekly, but your frequency should entirely depend on what your customers want or expect.
- Use automated tools — Executing your carefully crafted emails is extremely hard without AI-driven tools that support you in your deployment.
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5. Social proof
87% of buying decisions start with research conducted online — a sure reason why you need to succeed at having good online reviews of your brand. That could be on search engines, social media or review sites specialising in SaaS listings. Social proof in this way is a great marketing tool and one that is growing in popularity.
Adding your products to specific sites will help customers know you exist as well as help them compare you to your competition and build trust in you.
How do I implement the best social proof practices?
- Submit your products to SaaS software review sites. Submitting your products to these sites puts you on the map and helps potential customers learn more about you. Here’s a list of popular sites you could submit your product to:
Referral marketing, like social proof, relies on people spreading the word about your SaaS brand. It’s fast becoming one of the most effective growth strategies for startup SaaS companies because they have a low direct cost and a high conversion rate.
Referrals work differently for each business, which is why it’s key to make sure you test what works for your customers best and optimising for that.
How do I implement the best referrals practices?
- Prioritise the right referrals — Asking for contact details with submissions (like job title or industry) enables your teams to identify which customers are worth prioritising. You’ll save time and money, and more likely convert the right leads.
- Use software support — Tech platforms can support your referral programme and upgrade it to one at the top of its game.
68% of online experiences begin with a search engine, which makes SEO a critical marketing strategy to help grow your company’s engagement. But it’s not always easy in a world where businesses are fighting for their online content to be seen.
Startups especially have to understand that this is a process that needs to be continuously implemented and optimised over a long period of time. You won’t get instant results, but it pays off to be patient!
How do I implement the best SEO practices?
- Generate traffic with keywords — Make sure you’re hitting keywords that are searched for by your potential customers. Choosing the right keywords will help your content still feel organic.
- Use backlinks — Backlinks are when another website links to yours and you can get these by partnering with another business. This is attractive for search engines because it shows your site is trustworthy. There are many ways to build a relationship with another business, but one way to get a backlink is to offer to write a guest blog for them in exchange for a backlink. Make sure that your backlinks come from reputable sites.
- Ensure quality user experience — Search engines now prioritise sites that have a good user experience. You need to make sure that your site loads quickly, is compatible with mobile searches and is easy to navigate.
SEO is good to start building from the get-go but as mentioned, you need patience — ultimately it takes weeks to build domain authority. That’s why it’s good to supplement SEO with pay-per-click (PPC). PPC campaigns allow you to run your own product or service ads through Google Ads, for example.
PPC supports you in gaining a competitive customer base, which is great for small SaaS startups! It also tends to bring about profits faster than other digital marketing strategies. You’ll get quick results, contact with your target audiences and improved brand recognition.
How do I implement the best PPC practices?
- Set up your target audience — You need to ensure you’re targeting your ideal customer profile, otherwise you’re basically throwing money away. You need to target those who are actively searching for your products and services, so invest time in keyword research to optimise your ads.
- Figure out your budget — With PPC, it’s easy to go over your budget without realising. Ensure you set a strict budget and tweak your campaigns according to the results you’re achieving.
- Check your campaign results — Ensure that someone is checking how your campaigns are performing and tweak target audience, keywords and budgets accordingly.
- Google Ads isn’t your only option — Facebook and LinkedIn have made comebacks for converting through PPC, so if your target market visit these platforms, it’s worth making investing in ads for it.
We have a blog all about paid media and PPC! Check out A Guide to SaaS Paid Media Strategy for more guidance.
Retargeting (or remarketing) is the process of tracking your website visitors around other sites where they’ll get advert displays of your brand. This is a proven way to improve your conversion rates and ultimately grow as a business.
Retargeting is a valuable tool for marketers because it gives you a second chance to build credibility and familiarity with website visitors.
How do I implement the best retargeting practices?
- Retarget with offers — If a customer has left your website without converting, retargeting them with discounts improves your chance of having them convert.
- Use retargeting software — Build the best retargeting practices with support from leading software that automates your advertising and targets the right customers at the right times.
Small SaaS companies need to market more to get going. Partnering with other startups and making the most of each other’s following and expertise can really help. That’s what co-marketing is.
It’s a great choice for any company looking to broaden their audience and offer a new type of marketing content that generates leads. After seeing co-marketed campaigns, 68% of consumers make buying decisions without needing to speak to a sales representative.
When done right, co-marketing is cost-effective and shows good brand leadership to your audience.
How do I implement the best co-marketing practices?
- Find the right partner — Make sure that your partner has an audience that’s beneficial for your brand. Ask yourself if they have the right amount of leads, the appropriate expertise and a good reputation. As well as that, make sure you enjoy working with them. It might seem like a small thing, but it will make all the difference to the campaign.
- Ensure consistency — When it comes to creating the content, it’s important that the end product is cohesive. Put a feedback deadline in place before the final one so that both teams have a chance to ensure it all gels.
- Measure the results — Analysing the success of the campaign is critical to knowing how to improve. Some of the things to consider here are lead-to-customer conversion rates and quality ratings. That way, you know whether it’s worth working with a company again.
Continuously hone your strategies
Implementing these strategies is key to successfully growing your SaaS startup. But the most important part of this journey is continuously reviewing how effective each strategy is and changing them along the way.
Measuring your results is critical to continuing to provide value to customers. They need to be trialled, measured and optimised in order to achieve continuous growth. This is achieved even more effectively with the right help — consulting a digital marketing agency like Gripped is your best bet and we’ll offer you a free growth assessment to help elevate your startup growth in the best way possible.