The SaaS industry is constantly evolving and opportunities are growing exponentially.
However, with opportunities comes competition.
Having a great product alone just doesn’t cut it anymore.
Whichever niche you choose for your product, there are hundreds of products already doing something similar.
Traditional SaaS marketing and advertising methods work only up to a certain point.
Growing from zero to a million ARR is more difficult than it ever was, particularly when you are bootstrapped.
There is an absolute need to be creative and for a value-oriented marketing approach if you are a SaaS startup founder.
With the right strategies deployed, there is every chance to succeed.
Here are 10 important must do’s if you intend to market your SaaS product in the right way for long-lasting success and customer acquisition in autopilot.
1. Build a community, not just a customer base
The best-proven way to lower the cost of acquisition is word of mouth, where your customers become your promoters.
This is not easy to achieve but when done right, could lower your marketing costs significantly.
It’s not possible to get a community built up by just offering excellent customer service. Many SaaS companies do it.
You have got to offer a more personalized helping hand to your customers in building their own business and revenue, offer training and courses in different areas.
It’s not enough to have happy customers. You need passionate customers who love your product and the fact that it has helped their business grow.
ClickFunnels has done this incredibly well. There are surely better products than ClickFunnels to do what it does, but ClickFunnels offers a valuable experience using their product with so many additional resources and an extremely passionate community of users who help each other on using ClickFunnels to build different types of businesses.
Facebook group is the best place to build a community or if you have enough time and expertise, you can have your own forum.
2. Define your exact customer avatar and niche down the audience
If your product is for everybody, in reality, it is for nobody.
It is extremely vital to laser target your audience and the ideal customer.
Not just a broad classification of B2B or B2C, if it is B2B, what segment of B2B, what sort of businesses they run, how much is their average annual revenue, how tech savvy an average business owner in that segment is, what are the marketing channels they use, etc.
ConvertKit did it brilliantly in the highly competitive email marketing space by laser targeting their customer base as content marketers, bloggers, podcasters, etc.
The more questions you ask of who your ideal customer is, the more targeted and effective your marketing efforts will be.
3. Generate reviews from SaaS directories
Software purchases are not impulsive in nature. Almost nobody comes to your website the first time and proceeds to buy your software.
User reviews have become so influential in the decision-making process of a customer.
Doesn’t matter if someone buys a kettle or a luxury car, the first thing a prospective customer does is to check the reviews online.
A lot of SaaS products even after 1 or 2 years of existence have no presence in this.
When your company or product is new, it’s difficult to get influencers or blogs with high domain authority to review it.
Alternatively, you can list your product in SaaS directories like Capterra, G2 Crowd, Finances online and encourage your users to leave genuine reviews.
These directories generally have very high domain authority and a lot of traffic, so your product name can get to the first page of Google pretty fast.
Make sure to respond to any negative points mentioned in the reviews. This will increase customer trust and also the belief that you genuinely care about your users.
4. Research competitors and reverse engineer successful strategies
Stay on top of the features your competing products are working and adding on. Keep a watch on their roadmap, their marketing strategies, and pricing updates.
Give your own unique touch and spin to the proven strategies. Make it better than everyone else.
5. Focus on one or two advertising channels
It’s impossible for any early-stage startup to focus on all types of marketing channels. Try all the channels and once a winning strategy is known, go all out in that one or two channels.
Try little known channels for ads. Facebook and Google ads are becoming expensive everyday and competition is getting all the more saturated and fierce.
YouTube ads, Quora ads, Capterra & G2 Crowd PPC solutions could be some alternative advertising solutions to give a try.
6. Sow the seeds for organic traffic
Even if you have the budget for marketing with completely paid channels for customer acquisition, it would be a mistake to neglect sources of organic traffic.
Unlike paid channels, content marketing is a long term game. Start building content around your niche right from day one.
It could be videos, blog posts, podcasts, or e-books & guides. Something your target audience will get value from.
7. Keep your social media accounts active and engaging
No matter we like it or not, Social media has become an integral part of promoting any business online.
It’s absolutely vital to keep your social media accounts active and engaging.
It’s better not to have a Twitter or Facebook account rather have your last tweet or post 7 months back. It gives a very negative thought that you don’t care much about keeping your product updated.
Posting at least once a day is quite essential. It’s not necessary to have all the content about your product. Could be market news, a very interesting article, etc.
Cross promote across different platforms. Encourage your Twitter followers to like your Facebook page, to subscribe your YouTube channel, etc.
Keep the content different between each platform. Use a tool like Quuu if you don’t have a budget to outsource or hire a social media manager.
8. Brand your company and product with a story
As an early stage startup, it’s likely no one would have heard the name of your product. The branding efforts should start right from the launch and not after you acquire a certain number of customers or reach a specific MRR.
Document your story – why you started, how you started, how difficult the initial days were, how you blended as co-founders, who was your first customer, how your product helped them, etc.
The more you document, the more interesting your growth story becomes and it certainly helps in branding at a later stage.
9. Equal efforts on retention and growth
Amidst the relentless pursuit for growth in the Startup community, it is very easy to get lost and neglect a more important aspect, retention of your existing customers.
Churn of all types including revenue, logo, gross and net is equally if not more important metric than growth, irrespective of the stage your company is in.
It’s surprising how little attention to detail SaaS founders have on this and many founders not even knowing the different churn metrics at all.
10. Be bold and try things out of the norm
It is important to stand out from the crowd. Try and test different things that are not quite the standard.
Try reducing the free trial from 14 to 7 days, or take it off altogether, try increasing the prices,
Meet Edgar doesn’t offer a free trial outright on their website. Alternatively, they give a 30-day trial after you sign up to their email list via an email. A subtle change but it increases the perceived value from the customer’s view.
Mailshake doesn’t offer a free plan at all and these companies have scaled up to a pretty healthy monthly revenue.
Wrapping up, that’s my list of 10 must do’s to promote your SaaS product. Many are long term strategies that would need consistent and determined efforts.
Do you agree? Have got any more ideas or suggestions?
Please comment and let me know.