A Guide To SaaS Marketing
Software as a Service, also known as SaaS, can make a business boom. This software provides the ability to access data from any computer with the internet and a web browser. Popular examples of SaaS business models include Dropbox, Google Apps, DocuSign, and the cloud-based Microsoft Office 365.
SaaS marketing is the process of selling the service to businesses, corporations, or individuals. This is accomplished by providing crucial and relevant information, engaging with social media, and focusing on the service aspect of SaaS.
In this article, we will cover the basics of good SaaS marketing. Topics we will discuss include having a strong social media presence, cold emailing, offering free trial periods, and focusing on customer service. Let’s dive in.
Provide Ample Information to Your Customer
These days, there are all sorts of software as service options for customers to choose from. This means that competition between services is pretty high, depending on what the features of the software being offered do.
For example, consider the success of Squarespace, the popular website building platform. Squarespace operates on a SaaS business model and must compete with other website building online software such as Wix and Weebly.
Taking a look at Squarespace’s website provides many apparent clues as to why the software enjoys so much success despite the high level of competition. The design is sleek, and the information about the products and services provided is easily found and navigated. Additionally, they allow potential customers to view templates and resources before making any purchase.
This large amount of upfront information undoubtedly contributes to Squarespace’s success as a SaaS business model. Before making any sort of payment, customers and clients are given loads of information about the written service to appeal to their needs. Plus, giving a lot of information on the service’s pros will convince the customer that this service will cover all of their bases.
Promotion of Information
It is important to have a highly informative website that draws in potential clients and a steady flow of relevant information sent out into the internet for customers to find. A good SaaS business model will want its primary information to be readily available to be frequently seen by many people.
The most commonly seen promotion of information is paid advertisements that are either static in the sidebars of blogs or webpages or advertisement videos that run on YouTube platforms. However, there are also other means of promoting info, such as sharing data-driven content.
If you have data or research that can attract new customers, use it! Recent studies or trend reports can draw in new customers as they see your success.
It can also be beneficial to run and author a blog that focuses on the niche of SaaS and SaaS marketing. Having a blog as part of a SaaS website can help bring in traffic of those searching for SaaS and related topics on the service. Having a well-authored blog that has been search engine optimized is a great way to bring more traffic through a service’s site and build recognition and reputation.
Consider Cold Emailing
Another good way to promote SaaS and related services is through the practice of cold emailing. Cold emailing, like cold-calling, is an email crafted for potential clients that do not know of the service being offered. A cold email is essentially a sales pitch for the SaaS being offered and should detail how it will be highly beneficial to the customer.
This marketing method is especially useful for start-ups and those offering software as a service but do not yet have a solid reputation and online presence set up to bring in new clientele automatically.
The key with cold emailing is to craft a highly specific pitch to the client’s needs that are being reached out to. While there can certainly be a general format to cold emails, the actual wording and content should differ every time. This is because each email should be specifically tailored to show the potential client exactly how the service being offered will promote success within the client’s business.
Nonetheless, cold emailing should not make up the entirety of a marketing strategy. Many people and potential clients most likely already have emails overloaded with marketing emails. This is why customizing each cold email is so important as to make it stand out from others that may be floating around in a person or company’s inbox.
Building an Online Presence is Key
These days, social media and building an online presence is a significant way to market a service, such as SaaS, that is available for purchase. Social media can help build reputation and rapport and provide name recognition of the service as the accounts grow. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram all have models that allow for the promotion and growth of an account.
In fact, many businesses and individual clients rely on one or more of these platforms to help them find the services they need. Being able to look through social media is a good way to analyze how tech-savvy and reputable a potential SaaS is. Clients want to work with SaaS models with proven success, and social media provides the opportunity to display that success.
Additionally, almost all social platforms offer paid advertisement slots that can be shown to a targeted audience that is in need of the services being offered. These ads can lead them to either the socials that have been set up for the SaaS, or directly to the SaaS webpage.
As an example, observe the SaaS company Salesforce. This company utilizes four of the five above mentioned social platforms – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Each of these has its own marketing strengths, and by using all four, Salesforce is able to reach a much wider audience better. This is because each social platform has a somewhat differing demographic.
Advertising Is Critical – Especially for Startups
Advertising a service online is crucial to the success of SaaS companies, especially start-ups. We have briefly covered the advertising value of cold emailing and social media. The key to understanding online advertising is recognizing that each avenue taken, such as a specific social platform, needs to be given a specialized advertisement that will appeal to the audience on that platform.
The way a company advertises on LinkedIn is not going to be the same as a Twitter or Facebook advertisement. This is because the platforms and formats are different. Different approaches are successful depending on when and where they are used. Advertising across many platforms is also useful in creating better brand awareness. According to Neil Patel, co-founder of NP Digital:
“Use brand awareness campaigns to build further relationships and familiarity over time with people getting to know your product. People are still generally loyal to the software they use, so you’ll need a long-term strategy to alter that relationship and win them over.”
As such, a strong media and online presence can be just as crucial and useful as actually paid advertisement spots. Keeping up to date on social media standards and demographics and looking into how other SaaS companies utilize social media is one method to increase a SaaS product or company’s visibility.
Sponsorships Bring in New Content and Extend Your Reach
One marketing strategy that has become more and more useful and commonly seen is the use of sponsorships of influencers or content creators. A sponsorship is essentially paying to have a creator shoutout the company, essentially providing a testimonial and advertisement in exchange for payment to create their content.
Several SaaS companies have moved towards sponsoring creators as a means of marketing. This is seen most frequently on the video platform YouTube. Video creators will announce that their videos have been funded and sponsored, and then provide a brief but thorough overview of the company and what it offers. An example of this is Nord VPN, who provide an ambassador programfor influencers to join and be rewarded for spreading the word.
Sponsorships are a great way to market a brand or company to a much broader and more diverse audience thanks to the influencer or creator’s addition to the advertisement structure. However, these types of programs and deals can get quite expensive, so this may not be a viable option for every SaaS company. Nonetheless, it’s a good way to level up in the SaaS industry once enough recognition and credibility have been established.
Free Trial Periods Can Be Helpful
A major component of many marketing strategies for SaaS companies is offering some kind of trial period for potential clients to use free of charge. This allows customers to experience what the software has to offer, making them more likely to sign on for the service. Comparatively, customers tend to be more wary of services they cannot try out first.
There are several considerations to keep in mind with a free trial period, however. First and foremost is whether the trial period provides ample time and opportunity for the customer to grasp the usefulness of the software fully. This comes into play when deciding how long a trial period will be before payment is required. Some companies keep the trials to a minimum, at about a week in length, while others offer 30-day free trials.
It is also crucially important to be as upfront as possible about the conditions of the free trial. For instance, it should be clearly stated whether the trial will require credit card information that will automatically be charged once the trial ends if membership is not canceled beforehand. This type of transparency builds trust with the customers, rather than making them feel as though they are being tricked into something.
Partially-free Programs and Limiting Features
Some businesses that follow SaaS models choose to offer partial parts of their software or limited features either for free or for a reduced rate. An example of this is Wix, the online website building tool. Wix allows for entire websites to be built entirely for free under two conditions. These are that a person must sign up for a free membership and that the website URL and webpage will include Wix’s company name within it.
By doing so, Wix is able to build a more extensive customer base that uses its platform and ultimately advertises the website thanks to the company’s name being listed on the website and in the URL. If a customer desires, they can switch from the free version of Wix to one of the premium subscriptions. By using a premium membership, the customer can then specify their URL more and remove the Wix name, as well as removing the Wix name from the webpage.
This is a clever marketing strategy for two reasons. First, Wix provides a fully-functioning and free website building service that, in turn, brings them a lot of attention and name-recognition thanks to its widespread use. Secondly, Wix is able to convert free memberships to paid memberships by offering premium services that many customers will desire after committing to building a site with the service.
As far as limiting features, this can be another successful marketing strategy by offering parts of the service for free to demonstrate its usefulness and capabilities, while locking other features behind a paywall.
This gives potential customers a taste of what the service has to offer that will entice them to pay a subscription or membership fee. A good example of this is the music and audio streaming platform Spotify, which offers free membership with limited features and ads, but also a premium membership with no ads and full features.
Customer Service Should be Outstanding
Customer service should always be kept in mind and built into a solid marketing strategy for SaaS companies. Inevitably, there are likely to be troubleshooting and technical issues that arise for customers using a company’s software service. Being able to address these issues quickly and thoroughly will significantly aid in building a strong reputation. In turn, this reputation will act as marketing on its own.
Providing a well-maintained, frequently updated, and easy to use customer support service is crucial in gaining new customers and keeping customers using the software service for long-term periods. Clients are likely to notice fairly quickly what the quality is of the customer service being provided. In fact, even if a software service meets all of a client’s needs, but they are unsatisfied with the customer support, they are likely to switch to another service.
Marketing Power of Reviews
One of the greatest benefits of having an active and successful customer support service set up is the likelihood of receiving more positive reviews and testimonials. Customers are more likely to leave reviews if they have received either really good or really bad service. Thus, any SaaS company should strive to be on the good end of service.
In truth, reviews and testimonials of a software service have the potential to drive in even more traffic and work as a marketing tool in and of themselves. When searching for a software service, a customer will generally look at comparisons and reviews of services to dictate their general opinions around which services they plan on trying out. Thus, having positive reviews is crucial for a SaaS company.
Make All Interfaces Easy to Use
A part of this is ensuring the customer service interface is easily accessible and obvious to use. It may be challenging for startup companies to allot large amounts of a budget towards a customer support service. Still, even the smallest companies should have a small team dedicated to fixing customer issues. This will ultimately go a long way in building lasting relationships with clients.
Even with the most complicated software services, the interface that is given to the customers should always be as simple as possible. This allows for a company to market their SaaS to people and clients of all software skill levels. Consider that this is precisely why customers choose to subscribe to software services – to make complicated software easy to use for personal or business use.
This ties hand in hand with having great customer service, as customers may reach out to support services to point out which parts of the software are difficult to understand or implement.
How Do You Do SaaS Marketing?
A good SaaS marketing strategy should employ social media and build an online presence to promote and provide information about the service being provided thoroughly. Marketing should take into account the different means of advertising, from paid ads and sponsorships to building brand awareness.
Moreover, a SaaS company should always include a customer support option or team within their budget and marketing strategy, as consistent and helpful customer support lends itself to good reviews and free advertising.