Software as a Service (SaaS) marketing is not like any other type of marketing. It’s challenging, but can be ultra-rewarding if you get it right.
Unlike marketing a new car or the latest mobile phone, you’re selling something intangible. And not only that, your service changes from update to update so it’s constantly evolving.
Also, your customers aren’t just making just one payment either. They’re agreeing to a subscription-based purchase that requires them to pay monthly or annually, which is a much more considered investment than a one-off payment.
That’s only a very basic introduction to SaaS marketing. However, this post will explain everything you need to know about how it works, how it differs from other types of marketing and the benefits and disadvantages of it too.
- What is SaaS marketing?
- SaaS marketing vs digital and traditional marketing
- The SaaS marketing sales cycle
- Is SaaS marketing a competitive industry?
- The advantages and disadvantages of SaaS marketing
SaaS marketing is the various methods that software businesses use to promote their services. This includes market research, paid advertising, free trial offers, exclusive deals and much more.
Although the product of a SaaS marketing campaign is the software, one of the main things that customers look for is the service they’ll be provided with. So, don’t just focus on the software, the service that accompanies the software is equally important and is what makes it that perfectly-rounded product.
SaaS marketers should always be thinking, “will my customers be happy paying for the fee for the software and the service per month?” If you can’t answer that question confidently with a yes, then you may need to relook at your whole campaign.
When using traditional marketing methods, the main goal is to boost revenue and attract new customers. However, the nature of SaaS marketing means that one of the main focuses of the campaigns should centre around customer retention.
SaaS marketers should focus on the true value of their software and service. Yes, it may come at a big price point per month, but it’s worth it and it will be of great value to your client’s success too.
As we’ve mentioned, the main difference between SaaS marketing and traditional marketing is that they’re promoting a service and not a tangible product. This makes it a little more challenging than traditional methods but if you can find an effective strategy then you can see serious success.
One reason why it’s more challenging than traditional efforts is that convincing a business that your software is of enough value that they can’t succeed without it is more challenging than buying a one-off product.
In short, yes it is. While product-based sales tend to generate revenue from one-off purchases, SaaS models are all about retaining customers and ongoing subscriptions.
In an attempt to convert leads who are in the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey, SaaS businesses usually offer them a free trial or freemium period before they commit to the purchase.
This is so that the customer can get a taste of the experience and see how the software can benefit them before making a big decision to implement it.
This differs from traditional marketing methods of product-based marketing - you can’t have a free trial of a new pair of trainers for 7 days, can you?
One main difference in SaaS marketing compared to traditional marketing is that potential customers usually walk a more unguided path than traditional marketing ones do. Traditionally, a salesperson is urging you to move to the next step.
Whereas in SaaS, marketers nurture customers to move through the cycle with killer content and the journey usually starts with a search engine search. Whether it’s blogs or downloadable premium pieces, top-quality content is great for nurturing your leads and leaving them in the best position to convert to a sale.
But it’s not just your blogs and downloads that do this. They work together with case studies, testimonials and video marketing to engage prospects and add value to their search. A holistic approach to SaaS content marketing is definitely the best way to approach your efforts.
When it comes to SaaS sales, the quicker, the better. In contrary to popular sales techniques, you won’t find SaaS companies buttering up their potential clients at golf days, networking events and fancy lunches. The process is a quick transaction that is then complete until they’re ready to upgrade.
Unless we’re talking about B2B enterprise sales, then the sales cycle becomes longer as the price point is higher and there’ll be more shareholders who’ll need to approve the decision to invest.
One of the main reasons why it’s so quick is because of the software itself. Software is an ever-evolving arena with constant changes, bug fixes and updates occurring.
So, if a sales process lasted too long, there’d be various versions of the software that have passed by. That’s not a sustainable or effective way to sell.
What you have to remember is that all customers are different, but the typical sales cycle will involve research, conversations with business partners, reading reviews, watching demos and various touchpoints. However, that doesn’t mean that it has to be drawn out.
Decisions can be made in minutes, hours or days. Everyone shops differently, so stay patient.
The short answer to this one is yes, incredibly.
You’ll find in the SaaS industry that there are a lot of companies that all appear to be doing the same thing. You need to find your unique niche. What sets you apart from the competition and why would potential customers choose your business rather than rival competitors?
A big mistake that a lot of SaaS marketers make is that they lean on the price point as their differentiator from their competition. Whilst this might be true, you want to convince your customers that your software and service is well worth paying that price for. You don’t want to be branded the cheap option of the industry - it’ll have negative connotations of your service.
To differentiate yourselves from the others, turn your attention to your service. Is there an element of it that’s massively different to your competitors?
For example, have you won any awards or do you have 24/7 customer support? You need to pinpoint what differentiates your SaaS from the rest and centre your campaign messaging around it.
Like anything, there are advantages and disadvantages of SaaS marketing. These are:
Advantages of SaaS marketing
If you strip it back, after the initial period of panic that it’s going to be too challenging, SaaS marketing comes down to three simple elements:
- Top software.
- Awesome support.
- Great customer experience.
If you can boast these three then you’re already halfway there. Your product and service will back up how much you sell it, so be honest and shout about how good it is. You’ll remain sceptical until you see that these two elements actually account for so much.
B2B SaaS marketing allows businesses to take a very nimble approach. Customers usually aren’t shy at giving direct feedback about the software and the service provided, so businesses can dive straight into this and mould their approach to suit various clients. This will achieve the level of service that’s needed to go above and beyond.
By keeping your customers more than happy it has a knock-on effect. If you have happy customers, it makes it far easier to upsell to them. As opposed to angry, unconvinced ones who want to see more results and value for their money.
Disadvantages of SaaS marketing
As we mentioned earlier, it’s a highly competitive market. Every business is vying for the engagement and attention of potential customers. Due to the masses of SaaS business that are out there (and that continue to pop up), it could be that your business is up against a sea of competition.
As what you’re selling is intangible, it can be difficult to prove your worth and value right away. People like to see instant “bang for their buck'' - especially in business. This can be countered by offering previous customer testimonials and case studies to showcase the potential results. It’s important that both parties stay patient with one another.
How inbound can take your SaaS marketing to the next level
Inbound marketing is the perfect practice for nurturing your leads, which SaaS marketing relies on heavily. The inbound methodology can be hugely beneficial to your marketing efforts. Whether it’s producing killer content or making sure software demo videos are absolutely spot on, it can help you drive towards success for sure.
If you’d like to find out more about how you can take your SaaS marketing to the next level with the inclusion of inbound into your marketing model, then don’t hesitate to get in touch. Call us today for your free inbound marketing review and one of our expert team will be on hand to help you.