Being a marketer at a subscription-based software company is challenging. The sales targets are high and as a marketer, you’re often expected to marketing source 30% of the revenue. You can’t afford to mess around. Here is the no-nonsense way to achieve insane SaaS marketing growth; explained by a fellow SaaS marketer.
What is SaaS Marketing?
SaaS stands for Software as a Service. Therefore, SaaS marketing entails all marketing efforts to increase brand awareness and drive revenue through marketing channels at subscription-based software companies.
They develop software to provide their customers with a service. A well-known SaaS company is Slack. They grew to over 10 million active users in 6 years.
SaaS companies vary greatly in complexity. There are software companies that sell simple self-service software and on the contrary, companies sell complex enterprise-grade software.
Needless to say, you require a different strategy depending on the type of SaaS company you work for.
You can summarize SaaS companies in three successful sales models.
The goal is to avoid the SaaS graveyard!
While there is no golden formula for achieving success in SaaS marketing, I can tell you that you need to have your growth hacking strategies crystalized. Here is some inspiration for B2B growth hacking strategies.
Fortunately, there are marketing tactics that are true for every SaaS company.
How to achieve insane SaaS marketing growth
Offer a Freemium version of your software.
No matter what business you are in, people like to test things. People also like free things!When you offer a freemium version of your software, you essentially lower the barrier to experience your software.Generally, when people or companies purchase software, they are committed to a contract. Especially for enterprise SaaS companies, this is a huge barrier because enterprise-grade software is not cheap. Furthermore, if the purchasing team made a bad decision, their job is on the line.It is essential that you make the onboarding process easy. It shouldn’t be rocket science to use at least some basic features of your software and be successful with it.People are motivated by success. Make sure that your software has a guided success path. You can use tools such as Userlane. This tool helps with user activation and retention.I’ve seen many software companies limit functionality in their freemium versions. I advise against doing this. You only have one chance to make a first impression. This is your chance to impress the freemium users. You need to show them what you got. Hence, I recommend time-based trials or trials without exporting functionality instead. Just make sure you give them enough time to experience your software. People have busy schedules and often don’t have time to experience your software in a period of 7 days.Consider onboarding freemium users through gamification. A great example of onboarding gamification is Dropbox. They allowed users to gain extra storage space when completing certain steps in the onboarding experience.
Let your customers do the talking.
The strongest marketing message that you can have is letting your customers talk.
Create case studies and show prospects what the business impact was when your customer purchased your software.
Often when we go to B2B events, we ask to have a speaking session. It is tempting to ask one of your sales guys to walk up to the stage and present a story; which often turns out to be a sales pitch. However, it is much more impactful to invite your customers to the event and let them tell a story.
The content of your presentation should include things like:
- What challenges were they having before purchasing your software?
- What were their purchasing decision criteria?
- Why did they pick your company over other competitors?
- What business value did your software give them? How much time did it save them or how much return on investment did it bring them?
It is important to not only talk about the positives of your company but also about the challenges they faced with your software. This is a great opportunity to show how your company solved those challenges.
Your buyers are smart. They understand that with software, there aren’t just positives. Be honest about the challenges. Decision-makers are more likely to purchase your software when you’ve created a relationship based on trust and honesty.
Of course, you shouldn’t limit yourself to letting your customers speak at events. You can invite them to webinars, podcast, develop case studies, and create videos. Be creative, you’re in marketing after all!
Some food for thought: What are the benefits of webinars compared to videos?
Stop reading and ask yourself that question. Just make sure to continue reading after you answered the question! 🙂
The main benefit is that a webinar allows for interaction. Your audience can ask questions.
Often times I see webinars that last 30 minutes, which in some cases is okay. But in most cases, it is way too long.
When was the last time you watched a 30 minute webinar? I mostly don’t have time for it unless it is extremely relevant.
Shorten your webinars, and extend the functions for interaction such as a Q&A. Just a quick growth hacking tip.
Back to letting customers talk.
A very powerful tool is to ask them to write reviews on review platforms. For enterprise-grade software, it is invaluable to ask them to write on platforms such as Gartner Peer Insights G2Crowd, Trustradius, or Capterra
In fact, 76% of B2B software buyers use reviews for discovery.
Build an engaged community.
You can achieve a certain amount of B2B marketing growth by your internal marketing team. However, just your marketing team is not going to allow you to achieve the insane marketing growth we talked about.At a certain point, you will need to scale faster. This is only achievable with the help of external people. You need people talking about your software, you need people to write reviews, and you need to create advocates.I will promise you that you will achieve insane B2B marketing growth when you are successful at building a community. You need to make people feel proud to be part of that community. Sort of like Crossfit. People are proud to be doing Crossfit and they talk about it.An engaged community will also help you with providing support to other users. The most successful SaaS companies have mentioned engaged communities. When you can get people to help each other, be proud of the community, that is when you will see your sales skyrocket.Your community can also help you with content marketing. Create incentives for them to write blog posts on for example Medium. Here’s how to drive significant traffic to your website using Medium.It comes down to scalability. Your internal team can only do so much. With an engaged community, your marketing team instantly becomes much bigger.
Create a unique (user) experience.
There are so many SaaS companies out there. There are always going to be a boatload of competitors. They will offer the same functionality as yours, or even better.As a Saas marketer, it is your job to make your company stand out from the crowd. That is easier said than done.A key differentiator is to create a unique experience. You have to remember that your users are human beings and affected by emotions.If you can trigger the right emotions, then you will create significant business growth. You can trigger emotions by creating certain messaging on your website. You can create user conferences with certain themes.For example, if your users are developers, then it might make sense to create geeky messaging. It comes down to making your users feel at home when they are working with your software. They need to be comfortable and the emotions you evoke need to be relatable.This can even come down to the colors you are using in your house style. For example, blue is associated with trust.Talk to your sales, support and customer success teams. The way they communicate to users is part of the experience. If you want to achieve insane marketing growth in SaaS, you have to stop thinking in silos. It is your job to get your teams aligned to provide a unique experience. Working as a team will get the job done.By creating a unique experience, people will relate with your company and at the end of the day, that will create loyalty.
Your ultimate goal is to create scale and allow your software to sell itself. It is important to realize that SaaS companies have different sales models and marketing strategies need to be adjusted for that.
However, there are overarching strategies that will drive insane SaaS marketing growth.
- Offer a freemium model with as much functionality as possible. This is your chance to make a lasting first impression. Dress to impress!
- Let your customers talk. Your marketing message is strong. The message of happy customers is 10 times more powerful. This strategy should be extensively used at B2B events.
- Build a community. Your marketing team can only do so much. You need to create scale, this is achievable by creating an engaged community.
- Create an experience. People need to relate with your brand and you need to evoke the right emotions based on your target audience. A unique experience is something to remember.
Here are some of my tips to achieve insane SaaS marketing growth.
Let’s learn from each other.
What is the single best marketing tip you have to achieve B2B growth?