Selling and promoting SaaS products is a tough game, with some cutthroat competition out there. Further complicating the problem, you've got to sell something that has zero physical presence. If your target market is just a bunch of B2B companies, that doesn't help either. Even after you make a sale, you have to worry about onboarding, retention, support and a lot more. It's a complex landscape.
If you're a marketer or business owner who is struggling to navigate the world of SaaS marketing, you're not alone. Let's discuss some tried-and-true marketing and sales strategies that have worked for other SaaS businesses.
1. Leverage content marketing.
For SaaS marketers, educating customers is key. Even though you may have a complex software solution, you need to simplify what it does for your audience. The idea is to make it easier for your audience to see the value you offer.
Through content marketing, you can reach out to your audience, explain your software's benefits and highlight its USPs. If you do it right, content creation can be a great way to attract more leads and scale your business.
Confused about what kind of content to create? You can experiment to your heart's content. To raise brand awareness, you can create e-books, webinars, case studies, blog posts, videos and more.
Take Microsoft as an example. When it launched its cloud solution, Azure, it created an explainer video that clearly illustrated the concept of the solution, using infographics and animated objects to make the video more engaging.
2. Provide a free trial.
Another way to acquaint your prospects with your SaaS product is to offer a free trial. After all, who doesn't like getting freebies? It's a simple sales strategy that can work for small as well as big companies.
Free trials are an excellent opportunity to give your audience a firsthand experience of what your product can do. If you can impress them with a free version, it gets easier to convince them to pay for your product.
You might want to offer access to the most advanced features in the free trial. This way, you can persuade them to opt for a higher paid plan after the trial ends.
Even if a trial user decides they don't want to sign up for a paid plan, you have a qualified lead at hand. You can leverage retargeting to reach out to them again.
The duration of your free trial should be long enough for users to explore all the features. It's common for SaaS companies to offer a free trial for 14-30 days.
Whatever you do, make sure you add a prominent call to action about the free trial. Take a look at the homepage of Hootsuite: It's impossible to miss that the company offers a 30-day free trial.
3. Invest in email marketing.
As we discussed earlier, not all strategies that work for most businesses are applicable to SaaS companies. However, there is certainly overlap. If you use it right, email marketing can be as effective for SaaS marketing as it is for other companies.
This sales and marketing strategy is for those who want to generate leads and build relationships with subscribers over time. It can also be a great way to promote your offers and boost your retention rate.
Not sure what kind of emails to send to your subscribers? If they sign up, you can send a series of introductory emails. It can showcase what your SaaS product does and what your values are. This type of series is called an email automation sequence, and Intercom is one tool I like to use to set it up.
Another good idea is to send appreciation emails to your existing subscribers. You can do this by setting up recurring emails. It's like the digital equivalent of patting your customers on the back.
Canva has nailed this marketing tactic. To boost retention, it shows appreciation and applauds its customers for using its program. What's more, its emails allow users to share their achievements on their social media channels. This is a great way to boost your visibility and create customer loyalty at the same time. [If you need help managing your email campaigns, read up on our picks for the best email marketing services.]
4. Encourage referrals.
Referral marketing is popular because it works. When customers purchase a software solution, they want to make sure they'll get their money's worth. If a trustworthy friend or colleague can vouch for a SaaS product, it could heavily influence their purchase decision.
But getting people to praise your solution isn't always easy. Sometimes, you may need to offer an incentive for them to promote your SaaS product. That's where referrals come into the picture.
Encourage your existing customers to invite their friends and family to use your product. In return, you can offer them a discount, add-on or any other perk you want. Dropbox used this strategy to grow its business and get more customers.
5. Showcase customer reviews.
To win your target audience's trust, you need to give them social proof that others like your product. When your customers have good things to say about your software solution, it boosts your credibility and brand value.
Testimonials and reviews can be very effective in making a good first impression on your prospects, so feature them prominently on your website. In fact, Facebook Messenger marketing platform MobileMonkey has an entire homepage section dedicated to featuring testimonials from thought leaders.
It's also a good idea to get your company listed on software review sites like TrustRadius, Capterra and G2. Many customers check these sites to get honest opinions on software programs before they make a purchase.
6. Invest in affiliate marketing.
Coming up with lead generation ideas that work consistently is a common challenge for SaaS marketers. With affiliate marketing, it's possible to get leads without constant effort. The best part is that you only have to pay a fee after you have made a sale.
You can reach out to established bloggers in your industry to strike an affiliate marketing deal with them. Alternatively, you can even join professional affiliate marketing networks to get more visibility.
7. Use PPC advertising.
If you have a sizable marketing budget and are looking to get conversions fast, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a popular method you should consider. This online advertising model requires you to pay a fixed fee only when a user clicks on your ad.
Using this strategy, you can get your brand featured on relevant websites, in apps and at the top of different search engines. You can be practically everywhere.
The key to success with this strategy is picking the right keywords. A good way to go about it is to create a keyword list based on different stages of the sales funnel. Focus on educational keywords that lead to answers for your buyer persona's questions.
It's important to test your ad campaigns constantly to see how they are performing. PPC can be very expensive, especially if you aren't experienced with it.
Finding success in SaaS marketing
Sales and marketing are challenging areas for most businesses. For SaaS companies, it's a double whammy: The industry is dynamic, and there isn't a physical product to sell. So, how do you navigate these murky waters?
- To attract quality leads, you should provide a free trial and encourage existing users to bring referrals for you.
- It's a good idea to feature testimonials and reviews on your sites and social media channels to boost your credibility.
- You should use a mix of content marketing, affiliate marketing and email marketing for lead generation.