SaaS Marketing Strategy: How to Promote a SaaS Startup

SaaS is about offering a new product with helpful features for work or personal use. SaaS (software as a service) brands differ from other domains, and so are SaaS marketing strategies. Therefore, a SaaS startup needs to adapt a marketing strategy highlighting the solution's best sides.

With less interest in in-person events, digital marketing is a valuable path for a SaaS startup to get promoted. Especially the marketing strategy should include analyzing data about prospects and customers.

We comprehensively analyze SaaS marketing strategies aimed at lead generation and lead nurturing. So, you will learn about the methods that proved to deliver outstanding results to market your SaaS. Hopefully, they will be handy when you plan your effective SaaS marketing strategy.

Peculiarities of the SaaS market

The cloud solutions market is steadily growing. Statista forecasts that the SaaS market is expected to grow at an annual growth rate of 9.80%. So, the market volume is projected to reach from $207.20 billion in 2022 to $330.60 billion by 2027.

Software as a service revenue worldwide in 2016 - 2027 | Statista

The SaaS market is diverse and embraces a large number of tools. For example, the search for SaaS on Capterra reveals 3904 products.

Unlike other industries, SaaS marketing focuses on establishing long-term relationships with customers. So, your marketing approach should be based on the unique features that your product includes. Also, a successful SaaS marketing strategy should consider new markets and audiences which you aim to reach.

Besides, the boundaries between SaaS marketing, sales, and support are fuzzy. These aspects have a strong connection and together work to present your startup to users.

You may also like: 15 Top SaaS Startups for Your Inspiration in 2022

5 main steps to keep in mind when building a SaaS strategy

1. Use your knowledge of the target audience

A buyer persona is a research-based description of a typical customer that may purchase your SaaS. Such a profile shows a buyer’s background and personal traits. Also, the description presents challenges and decisions a buyer makes to buy your SaaS. Below is a sample buyer persona that can help you create yours within planning your SaaS marketing strategy.

Buyer persona template for SaaS marketing strategy

Source: powerslides.com

Creating a buyer persona is a step that typically comes at product discovery. At this stage, you discover your SaaS business model potential. One of the aspects of the discovery is presenting your target audience that covers the typical buyer personas.

With discovery outcomes in mind, you can create handy content for your target audience, like blog posts, videos, or social media posts. Also, you can optimize your website and personalize the emails and ads.

Read also: 25 SaaS Product Ideas and Examples You Should Try in 2022

2. Understand your competitors

Looking at what your competitors are doing can give you insights into improving your SaaS marketing strategy. Analyze their marketing efforts and learn what they do great and where there is a way to get better. Thus, you will know what aspects to highlight in your SaaS marketing campaign to reach the target audience.

The following are the best practices that will help you learn more about your competition:

Study their content on websites, blogs, and social media. This will give you a sense of what messages they give and how they present themselves. So, you can determine the aspects where you can highlight your strengths or improve your weaknesses.

Review the materials on your niche trends and news. Monitoring your domain’s developments will help you stay informed on changes in the SaaS market. Thus, you can implement new features and use recent research to improve customer experience with your SaaS.

Learn from case studies of other SaaS companies and how they succeeded. Case studies show what obstacles the SaaS companies faced and how they overcame them. A case study can be a tool to highlight your expertise.

Observe how your competitors appear in public. Their speaking in the media or at specialized conferences can become a valuable source of information for you. Also, you can pay attention to the actions of the top company persons, like the CEO or sales manager.

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3. Create a unique selling proposition

A unique selling proposition, or USP, is a distinctive feature or approach that differentiates you from similar solutions. USP is an aspect showing how you solve the pain points of your target audience. The key USP elements that need to be highlighted in your SaaS marketing strategy are the following:

Highlighting your product’s value. Your SaaS customers must be sure that the product is helpful for them. Also, showing customers that you will support them while they use your product is crucial.

Avant-garde solution. Implementing a new technology that other solutions don’t offer attracts your potential customers. Such a unique technical approach can be critical for your potential customers when they choose among offers on the market.

Delicate offer. The manner of presenting your USP should be delightful and soft. Suggesting a product should create an image of a SaaS company that respects users’ choices.

A unique selling proposition will help you find the focus of your SaaS marketing strategy and compete with similar products.

4. SaaS customer journey: from a prospect to a customer

The goal of effective SaaS marketing is to attract customers for the long term. This means converting prospects and qualified leads and building relationships for years. To reach that goal, SaaS companies need to communicate with potential customers and leads. Such a connection makes an efficient nurturing strategy.

Typically, industries have a stable flow of users that change, like e-commerce. Unlike them, a SaaS development company has to be focused on long-time customer retention.

SaaS customer journey is different compared with other industries. The cycles of building awareness and trust in your brand take a longer time and more effort. The main reason is the customer needs to evaluate the features, price, and support you offer. The factors can include anything that makes your product a successful competitor. For example, it can be a user-friendly interface.

Below you can see possible touchpoints that a user may pass using your SaaS.

Customer journey map

Source: talkwalker.com

To help users learn about your product, you can use several marketing channels to show your SaaS’s benefits. If you are ready to put in more effort, you can provide live demos and short videos to make customers aware of your product.

After the company has tried your product, you can offer them flexible plans and additional features that suit their needs. Also, think of payment plans depending on the different numbers of users, premium features, and services of your SaaS. This list is endless because companies are eager to pay for convenience. For instance, it can be an interface customized for a company’s specific needs.

Related reading: Top 10 SaaS Trends to Watch in 2022

5. Make use of the SaaS sales funnel to attract your prospective customers

The sales funnel is a multi-stage process of making your potential customers aware of your product. The sales funnel is based on the AIDA principle, which stands for the following:

  • Awareness;
  • Interest;
  • Decision;
  • Action.

These are the stages your prospects move through until they become your customers. What do these steps mean?

Awareness is the stage when a prospect first discovers your product. After that, a prospect will show interest in your product and compare your tool with others. Then a prospect will dig deeper and learn more about your pricing. This leads to an action of purchasing your product. Thus, you lead your prospect to become a customer and then an advocate of your SaaS.

Below is the video by Keap giving a concept of how the sales funnel works.

There is also a newer sales cycle approach that you can consider for your SaaS marketing strategy, a flywheel. Compared to the sales funnel, a flywheel reflects how your existing customers recommend your product to people they know.

So, you focus your marketing efforts on generating reviews on the relevant platforms and social media. Such reviews help you create long-term relationships with a client and cut customer acquisition costs. This approach is widely used for marketing SaaS products.

Below is a comparison of the sales funnel and flywheel by Hubspot.

Flywheel as a marketing strategy tool

SaaS marketing strategy tools for lead generation

A lead is a person that shows interest in your product. Typically, they react to your product offer by signing up or subscribing to your SaaS. Lead generation methods for SaaS businesses aim to convert prospects into customers who will buy a product. Let’s see which methods you can use to generate more leads.

Social media

Prioritize the social media platforms that your customers use most. Check what platforms your customers use most and focus your efforts on posting and commenting on such platforms.

Create engaging content. The information you share, at the same time, should highlight to prospects the value and features of your SaaS product.

Use social media ads. This SaaS marketing tool will help you bring personalized information to your prospects and customers.

Partner with influencers in your domain. People with subscribers from your target audience can help spread the word about your product.

Let’s see how popular SaaS companies use social media to promote their products.

For example, Semrush, a popular SEO tool, shares its content to advise its followers on marketing. The company enriches its materials by posting interesting memes or unusual keyword searches.

A post from Semrush on LinkedIn

Another instance of using social media to promote a product is Adobe. Among other posts, the company presents graphics created with Adobe tools. With less effort, the company showcases the work of its community. Thus, the user-generated content helps Adobe highlight its tools' advantages.

Illustrations created with Adobe on Twitter

Related reading: How Much Does It Cost to Build a SaaS Product in 2022

Content marketing for SaaS promotion

When creating a SaaS marketing strategy, consider the different types of content you can deliver to your customers. Each of them fits best to highlight the advantages of using your SaaS. So, below we describe what kinds of content you can create to spread the knowledge about your product.

Content types for SaaS marketing strategy

Content types for SaaS marketing strategy

  1. Comparison posts

There are thousands of competing B2C and B2B SaaS solutions out there. So, how will you stand out among so many SaaS companies? Here, comparison posts come to help you as part of your content marketing plan. You can highlight your product's unique features or pros compared to existing solutions in your comparison posts.

Surely, comparison posts should be created with ethics in mind. They should outline your expertise and be neutral about your competitors.

Read also: Top 10 SaaS Pricing Models: Pros and Cons of Each Example

  1. Demo videos

Creating demo videos helps highlight your software as a service product’s features. Initially, introduce generic information relevant to the viewers unfamiliar with your product. As time goes by, you can be more specific with your video. With this content marketing approach, you will cover viewers with different brand awareness levels.

For example, SurveyMonkey gives an overview of how their product works, showing the interface. The demo video shows the product features and reveals that the product is easy to use. Also, the video shows the possible product integrations with other platforms, such as Facebook or Slack.

Another SaaS startup launched recently and using this content marketing method is Eqtbl. Their demo video addresses the hardships of analyzing employees’ working data in companies. Further, the video tells how Eqtbl helps enhance organizations' diversity, equity, and inclusivity. The finishing seconds highlight Eqtbl’s success stories, including the use by Etsy.

You may also like: How to Build an MVP for a SaaS Startup: Practical Tips

  1. Case studies

To promote your product, you can create case studies highlighting the features you included in your SaaS product. Case studies show your expertise and the value you bring to customers.

According to Hubspot’s State of Inbound Marketing Trends 2022, 42% of content marketers use case studies in their campaigns. Why are case studies so influential? That’s because they reveal the crucial points of customer success with your SaaS product.

Let’s take Asana, a work management platform, as an example of this content marketing approach. At the beginning of their case study, they present how Autodesk won using Asana’s product. Autodesk offers software for engineering, construction, architecture, education, and other industries. So, Asana highlights in numbers how using its SaaS helps Autodesk to make the work processes efficient.

Asana's case study as part of its marketing strategy
  1. Webinars

Webinars are an excellent content marketing method to promote your SaaS and address your customer's pain points. As Demio states, you can use many techniques to keep your audience involved during the webinar.

Webinars are among the most effective tools to generate leads with your SaaS marketing strategies. 89% of hosts consider webinars the best way to present and grow their businesses.

An example of creating webinars is the experience of ConvertKit offering email marketing software. They combined their webinar strategy with an affiliate program to attract more users. Their strategy led to the monthly recurring revenue reaching $625 thousand.

Another instance is UberFlip which uses its platform to share webinars. The company offers software enabling marketers to create content for customer journey stages. UberFlip provides a platform to marketers and, at the same time, uses it to share their SaaS marketing webinars.

UberFlip webinars as part of its marketing strategy

Useful content tactics for SaaS marketing

Creating content for the promotion of your SaaS involves tactics that will help you differ from your competitors. The main approaches are creating a content moat and repurposing your content. Let’s see in more detail what these methods mean.

  1. Creating a content moat

This is a content marketing tactic when you create content on the terminology in a niche. If you answer the questions on certain terms, like SEO or DevOps terminology, your articles will stand out in the search.

As traffic to your website grows, thanks to useful explanations, you will also see a rise in backlinks. For example, if you type “What is DevOps?”, the top description will be from Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Top article on DevOps
  1. Content repurposing

As Ahrefs puts it, once you create a piece of content, you can adapt it to different SaaS marketing channels. For example, you can turn a podcast into an article or use a picture from an article to create a Twitter thread.

Search engine optimization (SEO)

Presenting your website to search engines is as vital as showing it to customers. A website or a landing page displaying your SaaS features and paid plans will keep your SaaS ranking higher.

The right SEO strategy brings you organic traffic. So, this is how website visitors will come to know your product without ads. That is why SaaS businesses focus on SEO.

Some companies specialize in SEO optimization for SaaS products. But if hiring such a team is not your case, you can rely on several tips on search engine optimization.

Depending on your buyer persona, you can create a keyword strategy to be applied to a blog post or other article you create. It should be targeted to all sections of the customer journey funnel, high, middle, and low. The key aspects to consider for SEO optimization of websites and landing pages are the following:

  • What questions do your customers ask;
  • Challenges and problems they have;
  • Related topics that the audience is interested in.

Keywords reveal the search intent behind them. Thus, you will better understand what led your customers to choose your SaaS.

The next step is to create quality links and referrals to your website or landing page. Useful links can be built by creating helpful content that people will share on social media or with their friends. Also, you can partner with prominent platforms or sites delivering content complementary to your SaaS niche.

It’s essential to understand that SEO requires a long time when you plan a content marketing strategy. You must consistently create high-quality backlinks and referrals to your site. So, you will see the results of your optimization efforts over time.

As SEO brings results after some time, it is advisable to accompany it with pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. They help you reach new prospects faster. Tailoring your ads around prospects’ keyword searches allows you to create personalized ads. So, your PPC campaigns will target the right audiences raising the chances of improving the conversion rate.

Related reading: Why SaaS Startups Fail: Most Common Reasons and How to Prevent Them

Improve calls to action (CTA)

A call to action highlights to your potential customers what they can do to purchase and work with your product. You can include calls to action for any stage of your SaaS marketing strategy and your prospects’ journey.

For example, Zendesk uses several CTA at the beginning of its website page. The page highlights the free-trial button twice. Also, the page enables a customer to view a demo video presenting how Zendesk works.

Calls to action on Zendesk's platform

Email marketing

Emailing comes from marketing old school, but it remains a vital part of SaaS marketing strategy. As the SaaS customer lifecycle takes a long time, emailing helps you point out your product over time.

Typical emails that SaaS businesses send their customers include the following information:

  • Description of a product and its features;
  • Updates on new features;
  • Announcements of webinars and blog posts;
  • Company news and events.

An example of a helpful email is a notification from Squarespace on the expiration of the trial period. It shows care about the customers’ data and provides the opportunity to extend the trial period. The company uses a call-to-action button that encourages users to upgrade to a full product version.

Squarespace notification at the end of a free trial

Many providers offer email templates to contact subscribers with SMS and push notifications. The prominent tools for creating email marketing campaigns include MailChimp, SendPulse, Omnisend, and Sendinblue.

Also, it is productive for a SaaS business to use AMP emails in its digital marketing strategy. AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages, a technology launched by Google in 2016. The aim was to help web pages and sites load fast on mobile. Now it can be used in emails.

While in regular emails, content is displayed at send-time, AMP emails allow open content in real-time. AMP emails contain interactive elements that do not require users to open a new tab. You can include rich experiences, like carousels, purchase buttons, confirmation, and other engaging elements.

For example, Razorpay used emails to conduct surveys. They had a low response rate. So, they included the AMP technology in their emails. Eventually, they got a 250% increase in responses.

AMP emails have different peculiarities in code compared to traditional HTML emails. So, there are providers who offer templates for creating AMP emails. For example, MailGun, Dyspatch, and Mailmodo.

Partnerships

Partnerships with complementary companies allow for expanding audiences. It is one of the best SaaS marketing strategies. Established companies have their websites, blogs, and social media accounts with relevant audiences. So, you can join your SaaS marketing efforts and cross-present your product to your partner’s audience.

Building partnership programs involves versatile efforts. It is helpful to reach out to content creators and enterprises that can help you present your product to wider audiences.

For example, a huge partnership program organized by Hubspot led to $100 million in annual revenue. This required overcoming challenges and determination. Still, connecting with more than 3,400 agencies brought fruitful results.

Another partnership success story comes from Canva, a free graphic design tool. When the company reached a number of fans, they decided to build more partnerships. So, they reached 9000 partners, including YouTubers and bloggers, podcasters, publishers, and brands. With the abundance of partners, the company’s revenue doubled month-over-month.

Read also: How to Choose a Reliable SaaS Application Development Company

SaaS marketing strategies for lead nurturing

After you have attracted customers to use your SaaS product, it is vital to engage them so that they keep using it. This process is called lead nurturing and is vital for SaaS companies.

Lead nurturing means improving customer relationships at every part of the sales funnel. To make your nurturing program successful, you must listen to prospects' needs and give them the necessary information.

You can use several channels in your SaaS marketing plan to deliver personalized content to your customers. Let’s see in detail what they are.

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Referrals

A referral program rewards customers for sharing information on your SaaS. This is useful for B2B SaaS. People who recommend your product to friends are called referrers. New customers are referees.

Referral is a productive way to attract new users without spending many resources on SaaS marketing strategies. According to Nielsen, 88% of users trust recommendations from their friends and family more than other ad channels.

A common practice for SaaS businesses is to reward referrers and referees. The reward depends on the product and the features you offer.

The most impressive result of the referral program is a 3,900% growth of DropBox’s user base in 15 months. DropBox, offering a file-sharing service, suggested a two-sided reward. The existing clients and referred customers got extra storage space. The tactic appealed to customers and aligned with the product's functionality.

Another example is Trello, a team tool that helps communicate and manage projects. The company offers a free month of Trello Gold for every friend that signs for free. So, you can refer 12 friends at most and enjoy TrelloGold for a year.

Trello referral program as a SaaS marketing strategy

Free trial periods

A business model with a free period raises the probability that your prospective customers will convert. For example, a study from Recurly research showed that the conversion rate after free SaaS trials reaches 62.4%.

When you describe expenses in your SaaS marketing plan, include a free trial in your financial planning. This will help you make your forecast of marketing spending more precise.

A successful story of offering a free trial period comes from Slack. Typically, SaaS companies base their trial period on time. Unlike them, Slack suggested a free period based on the number of messages. When the company exceeded the allocated part of messages, Slack would notify them that it was time for upgrading.

As a company has been using Slack for a long time, it would be easy to upgrade to full usage. That worked great for Slack.

There are several options for offering free trials for your SaaS customers. They are as follows:

Free trial with or without a credit card. Offering free trials with a credit card allows you to save resources on leads that are not likely to convert. On the other hand, free trials without a credit card are widely used for promoting SaaS products. For example, Adobe offers free trials without asking for credit card details.

Free trial within a freemium model. This means offering free trials with limited or basic functionality. After trying your product for free, users can upgrade to a full-featured plan. For example, Hubstaff offers free time-tracking and team management software within freemium plans.

Freemium model of Hubstaff

Free trial after a demo. Demo means explaining your product to users. It presents the value of your product in a shorter time and helps users better understand your product’s features. For example, Userpilot, a product growth monitoring platform, uses this approach to attract more customers.

Free trial with gamification. This approach means including rewards for actions. For instance, ProdPad, a product management platform, adds days to free trials after completing in-app actions.

Gamification as an incentive for a trial period by ProdPad

You may also like: How to Build a SaaS Product in 6 Steps

Reviews and customer support

Reviews are an essential source of information that influence the customers’ decision to buy the product. As the 2022 survey by BrightLocal shows, almost half of respondents trust customer reviews as personal recommendations from family and friends. Others perceive consumer reviews on the web as recommendations from personalities they follow on social media and from topic experts.

BrightLocal local consumer review survey 2022

Reviews on your SaaS help build strong customer relationships, encouraging them to use your product. The better the reviews, the longer they stay with your product, meaning increased lifetime value.

Review sites or specialized forums present users’ feedback on your product. Users can share product details, case studies, and testimonials from other users. Such information on review sites is trustworthy from your SaaS customers' view. For example, SaaS reviews are gathered on Capterra and G2.

Also, it is helpful to establish a strong bridge between your customer support and development teams. Such cooperation will help you change your SaaS in line with your customers’ needs.

An excellent example of this is Wistia which created a SaaS for placing marketing content. They reduced the gap between the development and customer support teams by assigning a dev on call. The assigned developer responds to arising issues spotted by customers while they use the Wistia SaaS.

Wistia review marketing strategy

The survey shows that customer acquisition costs 6-7 times more than customer retention. So, customer reviews need your attention and care if you want to save costs. Let’s look at approaches to customer reviews that will help keep the customers engaged with your SaaS. Such practices include the following:

  • Talk to your customers to understand their needs and thoughts on using the SaaS;
  • Gather usage metrics and analytics;
  • Check that the feedback gathering tools are time-proven and scalable;
  • Collect in-app usage feedback;
  • Request feedback from a customer if they churn;
  • Nurture the culture of listening to customer feedback in your SaaS company.

At Codica, we appreciate the customer feedback that our clients get. We can help our clients improve their solutions by following customer reviews. Thus, our customers get the best product that competes in the market.

You may also like: SaaS Security Guide: How to Protect Your Product and User Data

Easy sign-up process

After learning about the advantages of your product, a user will be eager to sign up for your product. Making this process easy is vital, and there are several steps to improve the sign-up flow.

Let the process of creating the sign-up be well-thought and easy. It is advisable for SaaS companies to ask only for critical information before signing up. People are more likely to finish the sign-up process if it is clear for them.

Also, you can show what benefits the sign-up leads to. You can offer a free trial or money-back guarantee. Include a clear call to action on the sign-up page. So, people would know what they will get after finishing the sign-up.

Another benefit is including different sign-up options. For instance, Gusto is a tool for handling payroll and benefits and HR management. The SaaS offers sign-up options by filling out a two-step form. The registration process involves a few questions, like company name, number of employees, and company phone.

Sign-up process on the Gusto platform

Related reading: Choosing the Best SaaS Hosting Provider for Your SaaS App

How Codica creates SaaS products

Our team creates custom software, including SaaS products. Typically, we start with product discovery when we discuss the project's business opportunities, requirements, and risks for the project. This stage creates the base for the design, development, and marketing strategy of the product.

At the development stage, we can add a tech stack that is necessary for working with SEO, email marketing, and analytics. Thus, our clients get stable, fast-loading, and scalable solutions that users enjoy.

For example, this is how we created a SaaS solution for real estate with complex architecture. While working on the project, we used the JAMstack approach and Gatsby as one of its technologies.

As the client needed a fast-loading SaaS handling many data, we used the technologies to implement such a feature. The zest of the solution is 3D tours that show the property to users. So they can preview the real estate before visiting it.

The SaaS helps connect homeowners, agents, and tenants through an intuitive interface. The menu is organized to foresee all the possibilities for selling, buying, and renting the property. Check our portfolio for more SaaS and custom software products we created.

Real estate SaaS by Codica

Conclusion

Creating a SaaS marketing strategy is a task that means interaction with your prospects through many channels. First, you need to start with lead generation and customer acquisition. This process includes creating content. Also, you can share info on your SaaS over social media and partner with content creators and brands.

When your prospects become your qualified leads, you should help them use your tool and carefully listen to their feedback. So, customer support and their reactions to your product’s functionality will help you grow your SaaS business.

If you want to create a SaaS, we can help you. Contact us, we are eager to discuss the details. Our expert team will guide you and build a valuable SaaS product for your customers.

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