When you’re selling software as a service (SaaS), your marketing plan needs to be a little more complex than the average business.
SaaS marketing strategies typically entail:
- Attracting prospects
- Qualifying leads
- Converting leads to customers
- Retaining each customer
- Growing revenue earned per user
If you want to succeed with a SaaS business, you’ll need a detailed marketing plan focused around your unique service offerings, so you can reel in prospects and start converting.
While every SaaS business’s marketing plan will be different based on your audience’s needs, there are a few key aspects that every marketer needs in their plan to grow the business successfully. Below, we’re outlining these key ingredients, so you’re never left wondering, “What am I missing?” or “What did I do wrong?”
From beginning to end, these are the 5 steps that you’ll need to include within your SaaS marketing plan if you want to see success time and time again.
While things would be a lot easier if there were a one-size-fits-all lead acquisition strategy, that’s simply not the case. Your lead acquisition strategy will be based on the following:
- Your niche customers
- Their level of awareness of your brand
- What your services are
One way to get eyes on your brand and get people interested is by drawing their attention with engaging content. Think about what’s most important to your target audience. Are they searching for how-to videos on the web? Do they need to learn through educational articles? Figure out what kind of content they consume and how you can offer value. This type of content marketing is a great source for social media sharing, too.
Another way to grow awareness is by putting yourself (and your brand) out there. That means trade shows, industry conferences, and sponsored ads/paid search marketing.
Once people know about you, what they think about you matters. Do they trust you? You can build trust with new prospects with strong reviews that speak positively about your product/service and customer service. According to Podium, customer reviews impact 93% of people’s purchasing decisions, so customer outreach is an important area to focus on.
With eyes on your brand and the attention of those who matter, it’s time to convert these prospects into customers. To do this, you’ll need to fully convince your audience that what you’re offering will make their lives less stressful, less painful, more fun, or just easier. By identifying their needs, you can illustrate your services as a solution.
The thing to focus on in this step of the process is solving your customers’ problems and being personal. One hands-off way to convert people at this stage is to offer a free trial. If you do this, you can reduce the strain on sales/marketing staff and let the product sell itself. Share some insights about your software with free trial users and leads. Give them a paid feature that could improve their workflow for free.
You also want to ensure you’re communicating the right message to your leads at the right time. If they’re not at the conversion stage, then you’ll waste your time and effort. Figure out where your customers are and meet them there. Some may take a longer timeline to become customers, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on them. You want them to think highly of you when the time comes to commit. Communicate to them via email campaigns that can nurture them until they’re ready.
Just be sure anything you send to them is relevant and timely to whatever stage of their conversion process.
Once you have your customer signed on to a subscription, you can’t drop the ball. SaaS purchasers have much higher standards than other software buyers. If the customer becomes unhappy at any point in the process, they could try to back out. The goal is to keep them signed on, keep them happy, and possibly even upsell them to a higher subscription tier.
To ensure your newly onboarded customers feel empowered to use the software as intended, offer them additional customer support. It can be hard for customers to adopt new software, but this is a critical customer retention stage. Give them the training and support resources they need to understand the features you offer. The more they know how to do, the more they’ll love your software.
You also want to keep your lines of communication open with existing customers. Alert them about new features or software improvements via email, allowing them to provide feedback or request an upgrade. However, you’ll want to make sure your emails are empowering, informative, and personal.
Choosing the right moment for the upsell ask is essential. When your users are engaging at the highest level with your product, on-site and email upsell messages will work the best. One great tactic to do this is to use customer wins or achievements as an opportunity to congratulate them and suggest an upgrade to celebrate their success.
Another way to engage your current users is with rewards! Remember, your best users will be your best reviewers. And we’ve already covered just how powerful positive reviews are.
Your website is your digital storefront, whether you sell items online or not. If your website is not working for you, it’s working against you.
You’ll need to pay close attention to every aspect of your website to ensure it’s matching what your customer wants to read, see, and hear.
- Make sure the headlines will speak to them
- Create Call-to-Action buttons that are specific but feel natural
- Make it easy for them to find the answers to their burning questions with FAQ pages
- Consider adding a chatbox so that they can get online help immediately.
Once you think your website is good to go, test it and then test it again. You’ll learn what’s working and what’s not, then you can make changes as needed.
Without the data to support you, you can’t really call any marketing plan a success. You need to see the hard numbers behind your tactics to see how well they truly performed.
To measure just how effective your efforts are, using a strong analytics program to keep track of all the numbers. Once the numbers are there, spend time studying them to extract insights from the data.
What worked? What didn’t? Explore both of these buckets and then try to take lessons from the successful ideas and apply them to those that weren’t so successful.
It’s rare for a company to develop a perfect marketing strategy on the first try. The best ones usually come from repeated testing, lots of failures, and plenty of learned lessons. Silicon Valley companies like Google are famous for embracing failure as a necessary step towards productive work and successful business plans.
By following this methodical cycle with the steps outlined above, you’ll slowly but surely formulate a winning SaaS marketing plan that you can use for years to come.