Studies show us that SaaS growth continues to be driven by small businesses, with 64% currently using cloud technology for sales growth and productivity, and 78% planning on using more SaaS software over the next 3 years.
Marc Andreessen’s 2011 thesis that “software is eating the world” has more than proven to be correct. Every day new SaaS companies launch to serve these market demands, but it’s also fair to say that many shut their doors each year too.
If you’ve focused on developing a valuable product, the next step is to find ways to promote sustainable customer growth. Here are some top marketing ideas, and examples of SaaS who have pulled them off:
You’ve probably already experienced this, especially if you often shop online. You go to a website and check out a product they have then leave the website without buying, only to find that ads for the company or product seem to be “following” you across the internet. Perhaps that pair of boots you looked at suddenly appears in an ad in your Facebook feed, maybe even with an offer for a discount.
This is retargeting in action – it tracks your website visitors then displays ads to them as they visit other websites. Some tools will now also allow you to retarget based on events or actions taken, such as the opening of an email.
There is a fine art to retargeting – if you’re not careful, you can spend a lot of advertising dollars and have little to show for it. After all, not every person who lands on your website is going to be an “ideal customer”, so a smart advertising strategy is needed.
Josh Pigford wrote about how Baremetrics spent $6 on retargeting to get $650 in return. A key takeaway was to avoid throwing money at retargeting ads which are just simple banners with a company logo and instead to focus on selling value.
To this end, SaaS can use retargeting to present a range of value offers. This might be a simple banner that contains your value proposition, if that proposition is going to be obvious to your target customers (Baremetrics used the simple, “SaaS analytics for Stripe” proposition), or it might involve giving away valuable content. Josh Pigford’s final suggestion was to run some “intentional testing” to see what will work for your company. No two SaaS tend to be the same or experience the same results.
#2. Content marketing
There is no denying that content marketing use has exploded, although many companies still seem to struggle with how to implement it effectively. According to Content Marketing Institute, 89% of B2B marketers use content marketing, while of those who have seen an increase in content marketing success, 85% attribute that to higher quality and more efficient content creation.
Content, when done well, works. It helps to drive leads and to grow sales by reaching customers at important stages of the buyer’s journey. The key to content success lies in doing a few things well:
- Knowing who your target customer is and what they’re looking for at any stage.
- Delivering quality content that answers key pain points the customer has.
- Being consistent with your content delivery.
- Being efficient about sharing and promoting your content.
Moz is a great example within the SaaS world of a company that has really developed thought-leadership and a strong following through producing quality content. Their content strategy is built out through several prongs; they produce long-form guides to teach people in-depth knowledge on SEO topics, they publish a new blog post on most days (sometimes they publish more than one), and founder, Rand Fishkin has grown a major following for his Whiteboard Fridays, where he breaks down some learning aspect of SEO in a quirky video.
An important role that this content plays is to not only deliver value to possible customers, but to establish and affirm Moz’s position as an authority in the SEO field. This helps to gain audience trust and generate possible leads for their paid products.
#3. Partner marketing
Partnering with other SaaS can be a great strategy to reach a wider audience and leverage each other’s strengths. The key to doing this well is to find a partner which has a similar audience to yours but isn’t a direct competitor, has similar values and goals to yours, is easy or enjoyable to work with and who has some kind of expertise that you don’t.
The way that partners can work together may take many different forms, but here are some ideas:
- Produce joint content or studies together (Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs work together on annual surveys).
- Create a new product together.
- Produce guest posts for each other’s blogs.
- Promote each other to email lists.
- Run joint webinars or events together.
- Create a forum on a joint topic of interest (For example, Rand Fishkin and Dharmesh Shah started the inbound marketing forum, Inbound.org).
However you choose to manage and style a partnership, you both need to be clear on what your goals are out of it. The best partnerships are well-balanced so that both feel they are getting something out of the deal and that it is worth their while.
Referral programs tend to be an excellent investment in customer growth – the bottom line is that they have been shown to work. Here are some statistics rounded up by Referral Saasquatch:
- People are four times more likely to buy when referred by a friend.
- The lifetime value of referred customers is 16% higher than those who weren’t referred.
- 92% of people trust referrals from people they know.
That trust part is a key element of why referrals work – we all look for social proof that others, especially people who we already know and trust, are using a product or service and liking it.
There are many possible shapes and forms that referral programs may take. Some take the route of full-blown affiliate programs where members earn something for every successful referral they make, others may be a simple offer of an upgrade to the next tier or for more features for any referrals.
Dropbox is a good example here. Users can earn extra space by completing different tasks, one of which is by referring new signups. This is a great way to style a program because they are giving the referrer something they can definitely use (everyone needs more space!) and the new sign ups then have the opportunity to earn extra space by going through their onboarding actions.
#5. GIF advertising
There’s a fairly recent development to add to our lineup which seems designed for SaaS to make the most of – the new GIF ads now available on Facebook. For SaaS who are wondering why this might be a good thing for them, Wordstream breaks it down:
“According to Facebook, “shorter videos get more complete views.” Anyone capable of logical thought already knew this. A fifteen second video ad is going to be viewed to completion far more often than some minute-plus affair.
This is where GIFs become insanely valuable.
GIFs are eye catching. They stand out from images (which can feel like white noise) and don’t require the same investment, effort-wise, as video, carousel, and lead ads.”
A great thing about GIFs is that they are relatively easy to create. You can use existing video that you have and splice it together using a GIF maker such as GIPHY. It’s a great opportunity to create something eye-catching and to show an audience via a short presentation how easy your software is to use.
To help your SaaS grow among stiff competition, you need to find marketing strategies which help you to stand out and draw in the right people.
The strategies presented here have been tried by other SaaS and found to work, so there’s a good chance they might prove valuable to your company as well.
As with any marketing strategy, test, analyze and optimize these strategies to find what will work best for your company. What will drive growth for you?
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