While marketing any product can be difficult, there are special challenges involved with marketing something you can’t physically touch. That’s what SaaS marketing professionals have to do when finding ways to reach new customers for their software as a service (SaaS) product. Understanding how marketing SaaS products is different and learning how to hack this type of marketing is the key to developing a successful SaaS marketing strategy.
How SaaS Marketing is Different
Marketing SaaS products is a little different than marketing physical products that a customer can hold in their hands. Understanding the differences between SaaS marketing and more typical marketing strategies is important if your SaaS business wants to create effective digital marketing campaigns. Below, we’ll go over some of the most important ways that SaaS marketing is different from marketing other types of product offerings.
Giving away free stuff makes more sense.
While an ecommerce brand may not be so quick to give away free products, SaaS businesses often use the free trial as a cornerstone of their SaaS marketing strategy. In fact, this tactic is pretty standard across the software as a service space. Given the fact that it’s very common to use a free trial, most SaaS businesses will offer some type of free model as part of their marketing.
Whether it’s a free trial, freemium subscription, limited version, trial-to-paid, the free model allows leads to try the software for themselves to better determine if it’s the right fit for their needs. Giving away your SaaS product for free can be an important part of your approach to marketing. Just make sure that you have strategy in place for converting SaaS free trial sign-ups into paid customers.
The sales cycle is short.
Another key difference between SaaS products and other types of products or services is that the sales cycle for SaaS is quite short. Businesses in the SaaS space are all about making quick sales. Most SaaS customers will only take a few days to recognize they need a solution, do some research on potential SaaS products, try the product out, and make a purchase.
The shorter SaaS sales cycle is due mostly to the fact that software is always changing and advancing to meet the growing needs of its consumer-base. There is also typically less complexity and a lower price for SaaS products than more complicated B2B products and services, which means that consumers can make a quick decision in a matter of days or weeks instead of months.
What does this short sales cycle mean for SaaS marketing? SaaS companies need to be as flexible in their marketing as the products they are selling. As demand and concerns change over time, SaaS marketers need to be ready to respond to these shifts in focus. Testing different digital marketing strategies and consistently creating new content that focuses on customer concerns can help SaaS brands stay ahead of the game with their marketing.
The ideal customer is long-term.
Some products you only need to buy once in a blue moon. For instance, let’s say that you need a new washing machine. This is something that you will buy once and hopefully not have to think about purchasing again for years. However, one time purchases are not the model for SaaS products. The goal for SaaS businesses is to attract and retain long-term customers that continue to pay for their SaaS product subscriptions for years.
This long-term customer model makes it essential for SaaS businesses to focus on the delight stage of the inbound marketing process. It’s not enough to create marketing campaigns that are just aimed at bringing in new customers. If SaaS businesses want to be successful in the long-term, they will also need to think about how they can make customer retention a greater part of their SaaS marketing strategy.
The onboarding process becomes a valuable part of SaaS marketing for customer retention. If your users don’t know how to use the software or they are having trouble getting any value out of its features, there’s a good chance that they won’t stick around long. Creating emails, videos, and other types of content to help with the onboarding process is an effective digital marketing tactic to help improve onboarding and thus boost retention rates.
Additionally, it’s important to keep customers informed over time about new updates or features. Since SaaS companies are always updating their software to meet the needs of their user base, your business will need to use SaaS marketing content to help users stay up-to-date with these changes. This is a great way to promote customer retention through ongoing education and communication with your customers.
5 Top Hacks for Marketing SaaS
Now that you know all the ways that marketing SaaS is different than marketing for other types of products, let’s get to the good stuff. We’ve put together a list of the top SaaS marketing hacks that you can start using today to boost conversions:
SaaS Marketing Hack #1 – Create valuable content.
Though this hack for marketing SaaS could certainly apply to marketing any other type of product or service, it’s so important that it’s worth touching on here. Content marketing is one of the best ways to bring more organic traffic to your site and build trust and relationships with your leads. Not only does great content provide users with the information they need to make an educated buying decision, but it can also help reinforce your unique value proposition.
The content you create can be influential during each step of the SaaS buyer’s journey:
- Awareness Stage – Content marketing aimed at users in the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey should focus on your target market’s challenges, goals, and needs. Rather than talking specifically about the SaaS product you offer and its features, this content will focus on helping individuals better understand their challenges. Blogs, videos, and other short-form content can help you reach leads in this stage.
- Consideration Stage – At this point, your leads already know what their challenges and goals are. The content that you create for leads in this stage of the buyer’s journey should focus on educating them about different solutions to their problem. Long-form content like longer blogs, whitepapers, and e-books are great formats for these types of resources that will give a more in-depth look at solutions to your leads’ challenges.
- Decision Stage – Once your leads have reached the decision stage of the SaaS buyer’s journey, they have decided on the type of solution they want and are now ready to make a purchase. Content marketing aimed at these bottom-of-the-funnel leads will showcase why your solution is the best. Case studies and testimonials are the best type of decision stage content, and they can often compliment your free trial offers.
In addition to driving organic traffic through content marketing, you can also use content assets in your paid search ads as well. Once you have found pieces of content that resonate particularly well with your target audience, you can develop PPC ads around with these content assets, enticing search engine users to click on relevant content offers. To learn more about how SaaS AdWords campaigns are different than typical PPC campaigns, check out our post on how SaaS marketers can scale their AdWords account.
SaaS Marketing Hack #2 – Work with influencers.
Influencer marketing can be particularly effective for businesses in the SaaS space. This digital marketing tactic involves partnering with influencers in different industries to market your product to their large and loyal following. Though influencer marketing does require some up-front investment, it typically provides an attractive return on investment (ROI) for SaaS companies, especially given that most SaaS businesses have large profit margins to begin with.
If you decide to pursue influencer marketing as part of your SaaS marketing strategy, make sure that you are choosing the right influencers to help market your products. Some software companies will make the mistake of working with software influencers. However, the people who are using your product are not necessarily in the software space.
To get the most out of influencer marketing, work with influencers who are important to people in the industry you are trying to attract. For instance, if you sell SaaS products for human resources, then you’ll want to work with influencers in the HR space. Partnering with people who have an engaged following to market your SaaS products will help drive more engagement and generate new leads.
SaaS Marketing Hack #3 – Try the “Freemium” model.
The freemium model is another take on the free trial. Typically, SaaS marketing involves offering a free trial to leads to help them better understand if the SaaS product is right for them. While a free trial allows the user to access all of the software’s tools and features for a limited time, the freemium model provides limited access to only some of the product’s features for an unlimited amount of time.
The strategy behind this marketing model is that once the user has taken the time to try out the freemium version of the software, they will see the value in the product and upgrade to a paid subscription in order to get the most business value out of the tools.
If you decide to use this model to market your own SaaS products, you will need to be strategic about which features are available for free. Make sure that there is some incentive to upgrade by making sure that a core piece of functionality or important tool is not included in the free plan.
SaaS Marketing Hack #4 – Utilize content for lead nurturing opportunities.
When it comes to marketing SaaS, it’s important for businesses to create opportunities to learn more about their leads. Getting lead information will not only help you better determine which leads are qualified and most likely to buy, but it can also provide some valuable information about your target market. This will come in handy later as you revisit and revise your SaaS marketing strategy.
One of the best ways to collect information about your leads is through gated content like white papers and case studies. The more quality content that you have to add value for your leads, the more opportunities you are creating for touchpoints.
In addition to collecting lead information on the content download landing page, you can also include calls-to-action throughout the content asking leads to stay in touch by subscribing to your email list.
SaaS Marketing Hack #5 – Use email drips to onboard.
For SaaS products, onboarding is key. However, for most SaaS businesses, onboarding is the time when many users will stop using the software or forget about it entirely. There are a few different reasons for this. They may not understand how to use the SaaS product or need a little more engagement to stick with it through the trial process. The onboarding process is key to encouraging leads to convert after the free trial and getting your customers to stick with you for the long haul.
An email drip campaign is a great SaaS marketing tactic to utilize during the onboarding process. Your business needs to make sure that free trial users know how to use the product and are getting the most value from it. Increasing user engagement for your SaaS customers helps improve your conversion rates once the trial ends. Set a drip email campaign with educational content and information that reinforces your value proposition for the length of the free trial.
Final Takeaways for SaaS Marketing
Though SaaS marketing comes with its own set of unique challenges, that doesn’t mean that you can’t get real results by rolling up your sleeves and putting in some hard work. The key to marketing SaaS products successfully is understanding how this type of marketing differs from marketing tactics for more typical products and then adjusting your SaaS marketing strategy accordingly. With the simple hacks we’ve discussed above, you’ll be on your way to creating winning marketing campaigns for your SaaS products in no time.
Not sure where to start with your marketing strategy for SaaS? The team at SevenAtoms has successfully worked with many different SaaS companies to optimize their digital marketing strategy for measurable results. Learn more about how we helped one cyber security SaaS company see 1,012% growth from their paid ad campaigns in our SaaS marketing case study.