Sunday, February 11, 2024

Ten Obvious Tips for SaaS Marketing

Standing out among a rapidly swelling and roiling sea of SaaS offerings, fulfilling every software niche from AI podcast managers to ML behavioral baselining solutions (or whatever) is going to require an innovative strategy and (likely) a deeper understanding of your audience and the ongoing friendship of your resident Product Marketing Manager. 

However, there are similarities and basic principles we can explore as a foundation for some good working strategies. By way of bullet points (and rocket science, it ain't), the notes for this post were corralled together as part of my visiting lecturer series at Nottingham Trent University in 2013, basically the same but now fluffed a little for 2024. Software as a Service (SaaS) is a cloud-based service model that allows users to access and use software applications over the internet, typically on a subscription basis. In 2013, it was a moderately cutting-edge and a mildly revolutionary thing where I wanted to show that core marketing theories, with a twist, still apply. I’ll leave you to expand on these bullets yourself, but trust me, if it was difficult, I wouldn’t do it for a living.

1.  Audience Understanding

Success begins with knowing your audience inside out. Use analytics, surveys, and direct engagement to uncover their needs, preferences, and pain points. Create buyer personas. Tailoring your marketing efforts to address these specific prospects and their genuine needs and cares can seriously increase any product's appeal and customer satisfaction. What boxes does your SaaS product tick for prospects?

2.   Sell Solutions, Not Features

It’s a classic. No one wants to buy an electric drill; they probably just want a perfect hole. Customers are looking for solutions, not just software. Sell them the perfect hole. Highlight how your SaaS solves problems or improves their life or business. Transform features into benefits in your messaging, making it more relatable and compelling. 


3.   Content Rules

Create valuable content that prospects will give a damn about that educates, entertains, and engages your target audience. Blogs, eBooks, webinars, sales support with solution briefs, and videos that address cover the challenges or questions position a brand as a thought leader and build trust with potential patrons.


4.   SEO: Your Best Ally 

Visibility is gold, and organic SEO is still an important factor for any content marketing efforts. Bootstrap your site for mobile. Do some keyword research and lovingly roll content in relevant keywords. Use H tags, internal cross-linking, meta descriptions, and court high-quality inbound links with guest-posting and digital PR to increase rankings. For more in-depth advice on this, see my post on SEO in 2024.


5.   Harness Social Proof
Testimonials, reviews, and case studies are gold in establishing credibility. The SaaS audience also traditionally loves things like the Garner Magic Quadrant and (sponsored) brand placement in Forrester Reports etc. If you can afford to take part, it’s also good for decent inbound links from reputable and decent PageRank sites.

We can showcase customer success stories and ratings on our website and across social media to build trust and encourage conversions. If you’re one of those industries, like microsegmentation tools, where getting clients to take part in case studies is as rare as rocking horse do-do, get creative with something like this (which I made last year).


6.   Prioritize Customer Success 

Beyond acquisition, focus on retaining customers through exceptional support and success programs. Happy customers are more likely to become brand advocates and contribute to organic growth through word-of-mouth. The importance of keeping punters happy and keeping them renewing can’t be overstated for SaaS products.


7.   Free Trials and Demos

Offering free trials or product demos lowers the barrier to entry, allowing potential customers to experience the value of your SaaS firsthand. Show ‘em it’s good and get ‘em hooked—if it works from drug dealers in 80s cop shows, it can work for us. Make sure the trial/demo process is straightforward and supported by sales engineers to make the most of conversion opportunities.


8.   Pricing Strategy

How is this the job of marketing? A pricing strategy can make or break a SaaS product, trust me. It needs to reflect the value you provide while remaining competitive. It's too expensive; there are plenty of alternatives. If it is too cheap, our skeptical online audience won’t see the value. How about flexible pricing tiers to cater to different customer segments or needs? Be transparent with the cost, and clearly show the ROI. Marketing absolutely should have a say here. Do some competitor research and come to the pricing meeting armed with the facts and a solid solution. 


9.   Build a Community
Fostering a community around a product encourages engagement, feedback, and loyalty. Make the most of your own technical/community forums, social media groups, or user events/webinars to create a space for patrons to connect, share experiences, and provide valuable insights for product improvement. Do not underestimate content and community marketing for renewals, as well as new business; this is where we give away our swag and make our evangelists.


10. Be Data-Driven
Make the most of analytics to track the performance of marketing efforts—continuously. If you’re not data-driven, even casually, you were dead in 2013, and you’ll be doubly so today. Know what you want to achieve; qualified leads, demo requests, installation documentation downloads, whatever, and measure it religiously. Understanding what works and what doesn't lets us iterate and adapt strategies quickly, meaning our marketing remains effective, agile, and ROI-positive. 


By way of inspiration, dive into these tips, and you can not only attract but also retain customers, which is absolutely death-row serious for safeguarding any long-term success for any SaaS business. Who’s demoing the new features and getting the existing customers talking? Who’s answering the FAQs? How are you teasing the next release? How’s the community using the software already?


Now, SaaS marketing is an admittedly evolving field that requires a blend of creativity, analytics, and customer-centric strategies—and far more in-depth than the bullets above. This, however, is a starting point and will hopefully get the creative neurons firing. Stay agile, keep learning, and always put your customers at the heart of your marketing labors. 

If anyone wants to buy me a coffee, I’ll be in the refectory.