SaaS is a model of distributing software whereby the software provider hosts it on their business servers and the client accesses it over the internet.
As such, the customer does not incur expenditure on the cost of the infrastructure needed to support an on-premise hosted application.
In this business model, the purchase of the service is on a subscription basis; monthly or yearly. The model also has become common and has been embraced by different business areas including Customer Relation
Management, Human Resource Management and accounting among others.
How is SaaS marketing different from other types of marketing?
SaaS marketing differs from other types of marketing in that the product you offer as a SaaS marketer is intangible. In addition, while many businesses rely on one time purchases, the SaaS model relies on renewing subscriptions.
Due to this kind of model, the focus for a SaaS business is not only customer acquisition but includes monetization and also customer retention. Without monetization in the SaaS business model, you will run out of business. Here are other differences:
Shorter sales cycle
Selling software is a rapid process. The reason being it is an ever-evolving arena with endless changes. Due to a comparatively lower price and less complexity, decision making is usually very fast which translates to a fast pace buying environment.
Information is your greatest asset
In SaaS marketing, consumers heavily rely on the information you provide to learn about your product and make decisions. In SaaS marketing, you, therefore, need to think of yourself as one who possesses and dispenses information and not just a mere marketer. Information availability and accessibility are key to support the sales process.
Long term customers
According to Forbes, it has been established that 80% of your future revenue will come from 20% of your current customers. Therefore customer retention is critical for a SaaS business. You, therefore, need to focus more on your customer retention strategy than an acquisition strategy.
You are selling more of a service than a product
You are not just selling software, but a service. Your marketing strategy, therefore, needs to incorporate each team to view every interaction with the customer from a service provider point of view.
Key to this is thinking about your customer experience strategy and how to constantly engage existing customers. If you give the customer a good service or experience, you will be promoting your product in a way.
How much does SaaS spend on marketing?
Due to the abstract nature of the SaaS industry, generally marketing costs are higher for SaaS businesses. In addition, it is also a competitive market, therefore you need strong marketing efforts to grow and thrive. To build a more visible and trusted brand you may have to invest heavily in marketing.
Across industries, the popular expenditure is 10% of your revenue. However, research by Gartner indicates that over the past 3 years, there has been a 1% increase in this marketing expenditure. For growing SaaS companies, it has been observed that they spend from 80% to 120% of their revenue in the first three years.
As the business grows this figure reduces to a constant 50%. According to experts, if you are a new company, it would be prudent to spend 40% of your growth delta into the marketing budget.
However, remember this is your business and decision making relies entirely on you! If you spend too little, you may not achieve the desired growth. Again if you spend too much, you may burn through capital and strain your operations.
The bottom line is, look at your plan for growth and how much money is available to spend and then make a decision.
Saas marketing strategies
As a SaaS company, both customer acquisition and customer retention are a key element for business growth. It may not be exciting for customers to be requested to buy something they cannot see or touch. To market your service better and help the customer understand your value proposition, here are a number of proven and tested marketing tactics and strategies you can use.
Content marketing has in the recent past become a popular marketing tool for attracting customers, building brand awareness and lead conversion. Many businesses are now spending a lot of financial resources in content creation.
However, the more the content there’s a likelihood of increased poor quality in the information available. It’s is therefore necessary as SaaS business to deploy a good content marketing strategy that ensures your content is relevant, up to date and useful to the customer.
Unlike other marketing strategies, content marketing may take time to build momentum.
But once it achieves momentum, its value will continue to increase.
To build a successful content marketing strategy, map your customer‘s journey and then identify each milestone they go through from the time they become aware of your product to the time they make their first purchase. In SaaS the phases will include:
Generation of leads
Conversion to Customer
Once identified, create useful content for each of these milestones for the entire sales funnel. Many businesses make the mistake of making the focus of content creation an awareness and traffic tool. Don’t be one of those statistics! Remember, even after the leads have been converted to customers, you still need to keep them engaged.
The good thing with content marketing is that once created, it still continues to drive leads unlike other marketing strategies like ads that can be turned on and off. As a SaaS marketer, this is an important distinction to consider. The key is to always create content that is customer focused. Take advantage of this asset today and take your business to the next level.
SEO optimization greatly relies on the quality of the content you create. The nature of your business is to provide services via digital channels. As a marketer, your goal is to improve your brand visibility. What a better way to achieve this than ensuring every time when customers search your brand or service, it is among the top search engine results?
To achieve this, you, therefore, need to make sure your content or website is developed around search engine best practices. You also need to invest in a number of activities aimed at improving the visibility of your content to search engines.
Let’s look at some SEO tactics.
a) On-Page SEO
This is completely within your control. Your content whether on blog or website will be the main focus for your SEO effort. You will, therefore, need to put into place a number of SEO tactics that will assist you to rank higher up.
These may include on-page optimization, keyword strategy, the responsiveness of your website, using outbound or external links, image optimization, sharing longer content, increasing site dwell time and use of titles and descriptions.
Ensure also that your site is mobile friendly. With the advent of technology, people are accessing websites using phones more than before. A less mobile-friendly site means, a loss of potential customers. Design your site with this in mind!
This refers to activities that you can do on other websites for the benefit of your SaaS website ranking. The objective of these activities is to get your site a backlink. This is a link that references your website that you get from another site. While they are still important, what’s more, important is the authority of those links. The more authoritative the other site is, the better the quality of the backlink.
Some of the most effective ways of improving your site’s search engine ranking include guest blogging, citations, software directories and software listing on blogs. Try out one of these options and see how it works for you.
Note that SEO is a continuous exercise if you want it to make a difference for your business. As a SaaS business, your service lives on the internet.
Therefore take advantage of the SEO tactics shared here to gain a competitive advantage over those competitors who overlook the benefits of SEO.
By using a powerful lead magnet you can capture more leads for your email marketing campaign. Email is 40 times more effective than social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
This is a marketing technique in which previous or current customers inform your potential customers that your service or product is deserving. It is one of the most cost-effective methods of marketing as you may not need to walk your prospect into the details of your product, someone else does that for you!
According to Nielsen, when someone has been referred to your product, they are 4 times more likely to buy the product. The same research also noted that marketing improves by 54% through word of mouth advertising.
Whether customers should be given incentives for referring leads to your service is still an ongoing debate. Test what works optimally for you and maximize on it.
Whichever direction you choose, the key thing is to launch your referral program. There is a lot of software in the market place which your referral programs can ride on.
It would, however, be a good idea to have the option of referral on your site; preferably on the landing page.
The following are some of the benefits of referral marketing:
Lower cost of customer acquisition
A faster prospect to the customer conversion process
Higher customer retention rates
Make it easy as a marketing team for your sales reps and customers to request for referrals by providing referral templates and empowering your sales team to do so.
This marketing strategy involves “test-driving” a product and making a sample available on your website. Most people love free things- a free or a free trial for SaaS! This method of marketing is useful especially for introductory sales and lead generation. The models vary from business to business: a 30 days trial, a limited version for free and so on.
The good thing is it will be easier to convince potential customers to buy your product once they start using it. Another benefit of these techniques is that lead generation will continue running as long as the trial version is accessible.
You will not need to keep investing over and over to generate leads.
Take a look at this example from salesforce.
However, you will need an effective strategy that will lead the users to purchase your product after the trial period is over. If you opt for this marketing technique, ensure also that the trial period runs long enough for the customer to understand the benefits of your product.
The bottom line ensures you have a great product, good customer support, and valuable content to reduce the number of inquiries to your customer support team.
Google Ad words
In this marketing technique, you pay to have your product advertised; a concept known as Pay per Click(PPC). If you are having issues with generating enough organic traffic, then this is an option you can explore. Test a variety of ad copy and analyze what works best for you.
You also need to ensure you’ve used the relevant keywords so the ads are displayed for the relevant search engine queries. Ensure your ads express your value proposition and attract the relevant audience.
The advantage of this technique is scalability: you can adjust your expenditure on them as required.
In this technique, you partner with another company, which of course is not a competitor but whose target audience is the same as yours. It is about joining forces so as to expand your potential customers to reach. Both of you will come up with a channel of exposing your brands to potential customers. This could include hosting a webinar, creating some content, etc.
Since both of you participate in lead generation, the leads are shared among you. Both companies have an opportunity to ride on each brand’s following and reach out to a different audience. If carried out well, it can be an effective technique for the generation of leads and brand exposure. The key thing is to ensure both partners are on the same page in terms of expectations and agreement.
Many times when a customer visits your site, they may show interest in your product but they don’t purchase it. Remarketing is a technique in which you re-engage them with the objective of converting them to a customer. The fact that a customer visited your site, should be motivation enough for you to keep pursuing until you get that sale!
Most remarketing software has capabilities to target people beyond website visits. This may include activities such as opening emails and attending webinars.
The benefit or remarketing is that it gives you another chance to expose your brand to a potential customer, which builds more trust, familiarity, and credibility in your service.
Since most SaaS products are not tangible, they may be unclear to explain without visual explanation. An explainer video, therefore, comes in handy.
Video marketing is a technique that recently has become popular and its uptake is forecasted to increase. The reason being people find videos more engaging than text.
As a SaaS marketer, you can use an explainer video to explain your product in seconds. If well done, videos show information in a very educative and compelling manner, leaving the audience interested in the other details of your product: a lead generation with a reduced effort.
In addition, people love to share videos and this definitely is good for your SEO effort. They also offer a perfect pitch as the can easily be embedded on any online platform: websites, social media, and email marketing campaigns.
Their ROI is also high since you do not have to keep reproducing the same video to reach a wider audience. Finally, explainer videos are a great marketing tool for your brand.
One of the most common social media strategies is to partner with influencers. These are people with a huge following on social media platforms and likely to lead to high ratio conversions.
Their purpose is to spread the word about your product and share its benefits with a social media audience.
Other than retargeting and use of visual content as discussed earlier, ensure you provide better social customer support. Data from sproutsocial shows that social media has become the consumer’s number one preferred channel for customer support. This means that social media customer engagement for you is not an option, you have to do it.
The top SaaS marketing secrets are the provision of amazing service and exceptional customer support. If these two are coupled with the marketing strategies highlighted above, your product will actually sell itself and your business will be set for a turnaround!
However, always test, analyze and optimize any marketing strategy to see what works best for your business. Once you identify what works for you, implement and set your business growth on an upward curve!
If you would like help marketing your Saas business then contact Top Explainers today to see how they can create you an amazing explainer video to boost sales.