The Importance of Marketing to your SaaS Product’s Success
If you’re wondering whether you need to explore new marketing strategies to effectively sell your SaaS product, the answer is probably yes. You want to grow your startup and achieve measurable results without a ton of heavy lifting.
I have some ideas for you, but before we get started, let’s talk about why SaaS marketing is important for both reaching potential customers and for customer retention. The software-as-a-service business model is - by its nature - a problem-solving one. You have a product that can fill gaps for your customers.
Marketing is your key to showing SaaS customers how you can solve the problems they are facing. Gone are the days of traditional marketing, which limited the relationship between the business and the customer.
Now, digital marketing allows for an intimate connection that draws folks in and keeps your customer coming back for more month after month. A good marketing campaign will bring customers to the table. A great one will have them asking for seconds.
Here, we’ll look at 12 effective digital marketing strategies that can help with onboarding and retention. We’re also going to check out a few real-world success stories of players in the SaaS industry who have reduced customer churn and improved their metrics with strategies like these.
By the end of this guide, I hope you’ll feel confident in moving forward with a marketing strategy that will serve your SaaS business and your customer base.
Top 12 SaaS Marketing Strategies
Strategy 1 - Put Free Trials to Work
Your product defines who you are as a company, so put it to work for you. Offer a free trial that shows off what your SaaS company can do, but gate your best features to leave folks wanting more.
A free trial should never give away all your secrets. Show new subscribers what you can do, but make sure your included features aren’t so inclusive that people have no reason to invest in upgrades.
Don’t skimp on the length of time that a free trial lasts, because it may take time for a user to see value in their subscription. If you time it right, people will make the most of what is available to them, learn how good your product is, and subscribe when the trial ends.
One more tip: make sure to collect credit card details at the outset of the free trial. Don’t try to pull one over on the customer - remind them that their trial is ending and that they will be charged if they don’t cancel.
If you can identify the features they used most during their trial, you can highlight those in your reminder as encouragement to stay on board.
Strategy 2 - Learn SaaS Content Marketing and Use it Well
I’ll be honest with you - good content marketing strategies can make or break even the best SaaS companies. Blog posts, social media, video content…all of these offer value to prospective customers.
So you have a blog - but are you including the right backlinks that prove your credibility? You’re on social media, but are you connecting with influencers for endorsements?
Let’s look at Hootsuite - their long-form blog posts provide information that people want. Their content ranks high in Google searches, which means their search engine optimization strategy is on point. A blog like theirs can reach influencers, business owners, or your middle-aged neighbor who wants to start a YouTube channel.
Speaking of YouTube channels - have you considered starting one yourself? Video content is a great way to connect with prospective customers. What better way to tell someone you have a product that can help them than by saying it to their face?
Ahrefs was already doing well in the content marketing sphere with a highly popular SEO blog, but once they started their YouTube channel they were able to reach a whole new subset of people looking for SEO tips and best practices.
Strategy 3 - Compare Yourself to the Competition
Did you know the United States leads the world in the number of SaaS companies per country? There are 17,000 of them at last count. They’re not all doing what you do, but some of them are, and you need to figure out how you stack up.
Research your competition. Find out what they’re doing that is working for them, and figure out how to use that to your advantage. Look, I’m not advocating for a smear campaign. But you can highlight your strengths and show your competition’s customers why you’re the better choice.
It can be tricky to initiate a campaign that compares your business to another one, because what if they’re actually better than you?
Trick question. They’re not better - you just need to prove it.
Strategy 4 - Incentivize Reviews and Referrals
Most people only think to leave a review if they’ve had a terrible user experience. They’re much more likely to take a few minutes to give honest, detailed feedback if they’ve got reason to do so. Can you offer an incentive to encourage that?
A great referral program benefits everyone. Depending on what your product has to offer, you might rely on word-of-mouth in some arenas. That’s okay, especially if you have a referral program that rewards the loyal customers that suggest you to people they know.
That might come in the form of a discount for the new user and the existing customer. It could also be a short-term upgrade from freemium features to better paid content. That would act as a reward for referring, and also carry the benefits of a free trial of content they may want to subscribe to going forward.
Strategy 5 - Leverage Social Media
From fast food chains with snarky feeds on X to news outlets with gen-Z reporters doing viral dances on TikTok, social media strategies have thrust businesses from all kinds of industries into the mainstream.
Are you putting your weight behind your social media marketing? Are you up on trends and do you know which popular influencers are most likely to reach your target audience?
Publishing posts on LinkedIn can drive engagement to your website and connect you with others in the industry. Purchasing ad space on Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok (know the age range of your target market and plan accordingly) could connect you to a new generation of users.
You can ensure that the average casual social media user has heard of your company if you play your cards right. Once they’ve heard of you, provided you’ve marketed effectively, your business is going to come to mind when they realize they need your product.
Strategy 6 - Simplify Your Sign-Up Process
Ideally, your customers can sign up for your product quickly and easily. When they reach your landing page, are there cumbersome popups that they might dismiss reflexively, or is there a bright, easy-to-read signup link ready and visible to them?
You’ll want to keep it simple. Sign-up forms with too many required fields are a turnoff. If you’re asking for anything beyond the basics before they can get connected, you might unintentionally turn them away at the door.
Don’t create unnecessary barriers. Are there any opportunities for streamlining the process? Try to take up as little of your new customers’ time as possible.
Strategy 7 - Boost Your Credibility with Case Studies
Create case studies that are designed to draw in new customers. Case studies have significant power behind them, and they could make a huge difference in your conversion rate.
Not only can they convince potential customers that your product is what they’re looking for, but the content within them can be recycled into marketing materials that show what you’re all about.
BrightTALK says that 59% of B2B professionals want to see solution case studies in the content they consume. They pay off - look at Rankings.io. In just 30 days, their case studies led to nearly $180,000 in closed deals.
Strategy 8 - Host Webinars that Solve Problems
Maybe it goes without saying, but people want answers to their problems. Specifically, people want information delivered in the way they best retain information. According to that BrightTALK study, 91% of B2B professionals learn best from webinars.
If you can design and deliver a webinar that addresses pain points in a clear, concise, and specific way, you can draw in potential customers by building trust and proving your expertise.
Becoming an educator in your field is a great way to increase your credibility and drive results. Consider it in terms of functionality - if an overwhelming majority of your potential customers want webinars, why wouldn’t you leverage that to increase your bottom line?
Strategy 9 - Don’t Offer New Customer Discounts
I get it – it’s no secret that discounts draw people in. But what happens when the first month of full-price service rolls around? You may have attracted new users, but they may not be the long-term customers you’d hoped for.
Offer a free trial to show what you’re about, but let your product stand on its merits so that you’re drawing in your target audience rather than folks who are just seeking today’s lowest pricing. The latter will churn when your regular pricing kicks in, so you need to focus on the right customer.
You want to optimize the customer journey, of course - but discounts aren’t usually the best way to do that if you consider the lifetime value of each prospective customer.
Strategy 10 - Employ Specific Calls-to Action
I like CTAs because they’re straightforward. There’s no guesswork here. They say, “I’m going to tell you exactly what I want you to do and how I want you to do it.”
An effective CTA might look like an obvious element on your landing page (or maybe even every individual page on your website. It doesn’t need to be fancy: a “Learn More” button is tried and true and does the trick.
Experts suggest making your CTA as easy-to-spot as possible. Make it stand out - you don’t want it fading into the background of the page.
Strategy 11 - Use SEO to Funnel Leads
B2B SaaS marketing is nothing without good search engine optimization strategies. If potential customers can’t find you, they can’t use you. Peppering relevant keywords into blog posts is obviously important, but you need to make sure your website is ranking as well so that it can do some of the work for you.
If you’re not an SEO expert, that’s okay. Hire one! They can do the heavy lifting for you to make sure your blogs and other content are ranking in search engines.
Some components of successful SEO include:
- Thorough keyword research
- Content quality, credibility, and relevance
- Experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (also called EEAT)
Strategy 12 - Raise Your Prices
Yes, you read that correctly. People who are seriously interested in what your SaaS company has to offer are not necessarily looking for the cheapest option; they’re looking for the best. And they’re willing to pay for quality.
Believe it or not, higher prices can set you apart from your competition in a good way. Prove your SaaS product’s worth and people will pay for it.
If you’re just starting out, we’ve put together some SaaS pricing strategies that can help guide you.
How to Choose the Strategies That Will Work Best For You
There’s a lot of information here, and a dozen strategies in front of you. While I think any of them could make a big difference for most SaaS companies, taking all of them on at once is probably a recipe for disaster.
Ideally, at least a few of the strategies listed here have resonated with you and inspired you to get moving. Let’s look at a few ways you can help narrow down the best options for your business.
Identify Your Ideal Customer and their Needs
Do you know who your target audience is? Do you know what problems they need solved? Do you know how to convince them that your SaaS product is the right one to solve them?
What makes your ideal customer tick? What Google searches are they running? Is your content being optimized to meet them where they’re at?
Once you know what’s most important to your target audience you’ll know how to reach them. Figure out what kinds of content they’re interacting with and begin to produce it.
It’s a lot to consider, but your job is to know your customer and what they need. You have to anticipate their pain points so your product can shine.
What is your end goal here? Do you want to boost sales? Expand your audience? Generate new leads? What is your magic number?
Whatever they are, lay them out. It may be cliche, but the SMART method for goal setting is a classic for a reason. Set goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.
It’s also imperative that your entire team is aware of and on board with your goals. Everyone from the bottom to the top should have a role to play in your SaaS company’s success.
Closely monitor your KPIs for progress and make adjustments where needed, but don’t give up.
Decide on a Budget
You have to spend money to make money, right? Be intentional about it. Maybe upgrading your CRM isn’t in the cards right now, but hiring an SEO strategist is worth the investment.
If you’re considering producing video content, that’s going to cost money. If you don’t spend enough, the content won’t be high enough quality to drive any leads. But spending too much is risky because the ROI could take some time.
At the end of the day, you have to figure out what you can afford and work backward from there. I suggest looking at your marketing strategies like they’re the only thing keeping your doors open, because they might be. The right marketing plan is worth the investment.
I promised that we would take a look at a few real-world success stories so you can see examples of how these strategies have paid off for other SaaS companies. The following startups have employed some of the SaaS marketing strategies I laid out for you, and it’s paid off in a big way.
Slack - Free Trials Convert to Subscriptions
The landing page for Slack’s free trial invitation is clear, informative, and encourages conversion by having the customer sign up for the subscription with a free trial tacked on to the beginning.
Slack says that 30% of its freemium accounts convert to regular paid subscriptions. They offer enough access to freemium users that the product has become essential to its users, and not only do the paid subscribers shell out happily, they rave about it.
Moosend - SEO Strategies that Drive Results
Over the course of a year, Moosend increased their organic traffic tenfold. Their secret? SEO.
After completely re-evaluating their marketing strategies, Moosend knew that their problem wasn’t volume. They were producing plenty of content, but it wasn’t optimized to rank in searches.
So they audited all of their content, figured out what worked best and reached their target audience, and reworked it with SEO practices in mind. This resulted in massive increases to the organic traffic driven to their website. That traffic turned into conversions.
Postfity - Content Marketing for Rapid Improvement
Postfity utilized a content marketing approach and doubled their monthly recurring revenue. Their team realized that their marketing strategy was falling short and they weren’t sure how to fix it, so they hired an expert.
Postfity is a great example of how a great product that has every ability to meet its customers’ needs can still struggle without a stellar marketing strategy.
Through the use of well-timed blogs (using SEO best practices, of course), engaging social media posts, and eye-catching email marketing campaigns, Postfity saw incredible growth in under a year.
Now It’s Your Turn
You’ve heard the strategies, you’ve read what they can do for you, and you’ve seen proof that they work. Now, it’s time for you to take it from here and put them to work for you. As always, our team is here to guide you if you find yourself in need of backup.