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A Simple Marketing Plan For Your SaaS Product

A Simple Marketing Plan For Your SaaS Product

So, you've created a SaaS product. Congratulations, considering all the time and effort into planning and developing a product, that is some good going. However, the development of the product is only one piece of the puzzle, and to be successful, you’ll need the right marketing plan for your product.

This is even more so when you consider the amount of competition in the market. Simply put, it's staggering. There are currently over 21,000 SaaS companies in the market, and it's expected that the market will ultimately reach $157 billion by the end of 2021.

While this means that there are, in fact, a lot of opportunities, it also means that there's a lot of competition. As a result, you’ll need to stand out from the crowd for your product to sell, for you to generate revenue, and make your product a success.

Now the question is: Where do you start? Fortunately, we’re here to help, and in this guide, we'll look at the steps you’ll need to follow to create a solid and effective marketing plan for a SaaS product.

What is SaaS Marketing?

However, before looking at the steps, it's essential that we first recap what SaaS marketing is. In simple terms, SaaS marketing is a specific form of marketing that focuses on marketing a subscription-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) product.

So, unlike traditional marketing that focuses on selling physical goods or services that require a one-time purchase, a SaaS marketing strategy will need to constantly focus on the value proposition of the product and the benefits it offers to users. This way, customers will be convinced that paying a monthly service fee is worth it.

What’s Unique About a SaaS Marketing Plan?

We've already mentioned that SaaS marketing strategies differ from traditional marketing strategies that focus on selling a physical product. One of the reasons for this is that it’s often more challenging to sell a subscription service than a physical product.

For example, selling a new mobile phone to a customer is a lot easier because you'll demonstrate the benefits and features of the device to the customer. In contrast, you ultimately want the customer to adopt your product in their daily workflow with a SaaS product. What further complicates matters is that it's often not apparent the immediate benefits of using your product.

As a result, a SaaS marketing plan needs to accommodate these challenges to overcome some customers' hesitance in subscribing to your service. Because of this, you’ll typically use a three-step process to acquire customers and grow your business. These three steps include:

  • Acquiring customers. The first step in your SaaS sales cycle would be to receive new leads. You can either offer your product or service as a free service, trial, or freemium model, where they’ll pay for advanced features. This will convince them to subscribe.
  • Monetizing your customer base. The next step is to turn the leads you acquired in the first step into paying customers. This usually happens after they’ve used the free trial and saw how your product fits into their workflow and how it improves it.
  • Retaining customers. The final step in retaining customers is to persuade them to keep paying a monthly subscription to use your service. You’ll also incorporate new and innovative features into your product and deliver stellar customer service.

 

A distinguishing feature of SaaS marketing plans is that they tend to focus more on what happens after lead acquisition. In other words, they focus on turning leads into customers and retaining those customers.

Your Simple SaaS Marketing Plan

Now that we’ve seen SaaS marketing strategies and how they differ from traditional marketing plans, it's time to look at the steps you’ll need to take to create a simple marketing plan for your service project.

Defining Your Marketing Goals

The first step in the process is to determine your marketing goals. Simply put, you won't achieve any goals if you don't set them first. So, you can almost think of goals as the roadmap you’ll need to follow to get to where you want to be.

This means your goals will also need to be specific and include different elements. For example, your goals might be to create awareness around your product, increase your conversions, or a combination of objectives. Again, this makes it essential to develop your plans to know exactly what you should do every step of the way.

What’s especially important here is using SMART goals. In other words, your goals should be specific, measurable, agreed-upon, realistic, and time-based. A perfect illustration of a smart plan would be, for instance, when you set the goal of having 1000 subscribers in three months.

It doesn't stop there, though. Although, if we use the example above, 1000 subscribers in three months is admirable, it might be worth your while to break down your goals into smaller parts. For example, if you want to have 1000 subscribers in three months, you’ll plan to have 200 subscribers by the end of the first month, add 300 by the end of the second, and add 500 by the end of the third.

This, ultimately, makes your goals easier to digest and achieve. Setting goals also serves another purpose. When you have clearly defined goals, you’ll have a valuable metric that you can use to track your progress. So, if you're falling behind, you’ll know to implement the necessary strategies and measures to improve your marketing processes.

Determining Your Marketing Budget

Once you've decided what you want to accomplish during the first step, you’ll need to determine how much you’re willing to spend to achieve it. In other words, you’ll need to choose your marketing budget.

When determining your budget, you’ll need to determine how much your different marketing strategies and tactics will cost and which ones you’ll use first based on their expected returns. Now, this will ultimately vary based on where you are in your journey. For example, if you're focusing on acquiring customers and generating revenue, you’ll typically choose a tactic that will give you the most significant return on investment.

Ultimately, you should also determine a realistic budget that you’ll be able to manage. Here, typical marketing budgets range between 10 and 40% of the annual recurring revenue of a product. In some cases, however, SaaS companies spend as much as 80 to 120% of their recurring revenue on marketing but, keep in mind, they’re able to achieve a return of over 100% on their marketing spend.

This means you’ll have to decide, based on your projected return on investment and the tactics you want to use.

Create Your Buyer Persona

We've now seen that you should determine what you want to achieve and how much you're willing to spend to achieve your goals. The next step is to decide whom you’ll market your product to. 

This means you’ll have to define and create your ideal buyer persona. In other words, because SaaS products are popular with different pools of customers and there’s no effective one-size-fits-all approach, you’ll need to determine who your target market is.

But what is a buyer persona? Simply put, a buyer persona represents the ideal customer you want to market your product to. So, consider your target market's characteristics, activities, and what they do for a living, amongst other things.

With that in mind, to create your buyer persona, you’ll need to take into account things like:

  • Their demographics, income levels, and the like.
  • What are the buyer’s challenges and pain points? In other words, you’ll need to consider the problem they’re trying to solve or challenges they want to eliminate. 
  • How they expect to solve their problems or challenges.
  • Where they spend their time online. 

 

Considering all these aspects will give you deeper insights into your customers and their specific needs and expectations. And once you understand this, you'll be able to market your product more effectively by, for example, showing them how your product or service can solve their problems, how it fits into their workflow, or how it can eliminate the challenges they face.

Identify the Right Marketing Tactics and Channels

Once you know who your ideal customers are, you’ll, to a large extent, be able to identify the specific marketing tactics and channels you’ll use to create awareness around your product or service and acquire new leads. Fortunately, when it comes to identifying the right marketing tactics and channels, you have several options including:

  1. Social media marketing.
  2. Email marketing.
  3. SEO.
  4. Public relations outreaches.
  5. Video marketing.

No matter what strategy you choose, it's vital to remember that your goal is to acquire and retain customers for your company while still making a profit. As such, you’ll need to consider each channel and strategy carefully to decide which is the right approach for your specific needs and requirements. You’ll often also have to prioritize marketing channels based on:

  • Their profit margins. You’ll need to prioritize channels based on the amount of profit they’ll be able to generate per user. In other words, those with the highest returns on investment, where you’ll be able to generate the most revenue, should be prioritized first.
  • The market size on the specific channel. You'll also focus on those channels with the most significant market share. For example, if your buyer persona shows you that most of your audience uses Facebook, you should concentrate on Facebook first before you look at other platforms.
  • How much control do you have. The amount of control you have plays a crucial role. For example, for some channels like SEO, you can't control Google’s algorithm and, by implication, where you’ll feature in the search results. In contrast, with platforms like email marketing and social media marketing, you have much more control to place your product in front of the right people at the right time.
  • How long it will be before they produce results. You also need to consider how long the specific channel or tactic will take before seeing results. This is simply because not all marketing channels or tactics are created equal, and some take far longer to produce results than others. For example, while paid advertisements are perfect for seeing results quicker, SEO typically takes longer.
  • How easy the channel is to scale. Finally, you’ll also need to consider how scalable the specific channel or tactic is. This is because some channels are infinitely more scalable than others.

 

Once you've prioritized your marketing channels based on the above, you should remember that it will likely not stay this way. For instance, if you focus on Facebook from the outset, it doesn't mean you’ll keep focusing on Facebook. Ultimately, marketing and growth is a dynamic process, and you’ll need to adapt to changing customer expectations and market conditions.

Create the Content Your Buyers Want and Expect

Because you can create content that answers your users’ specific questions and solves their problems, inbound marketing is an extremely valuable tool for SaaS companies. 

When using it, you'll be able to create compelling content for every stage of a customer’s journey, and, as a bonus, inbound marketing channels and tactics are some of the most cost-effective marketing methods available with, in some instances, the best returns on investment. 

Typically, to distribute content using inbound marketing tactics, you’ll use:

  • SEO. Simply put, without SEO, your customers won't find your product online. As such, SEO forms the foundation of much of your content distribution strategy and gives you the solution for organic growth. Typically, SEO will involve optimizing your product’s website, creating landing pages to acquire leads, and defining keywords that you’ll target to reach your audience. 
  • Blogs. Once you’ve defined keywords, you’ll be able to create engaging content that attracts new readers and caters to the searcher’s intent. In simple terms, you’ll create content that answers your audience’s questions and solves their problems. Another benefit of blog content is that it’s evergreen. In other words, you’ll write it once, and it keeps on attracting users to your website. 
  • eBooks. eBooks are particularly effective as lead magnets on landing pages. They serve as the encouragement users need to provide you with their email addresses. 
  • Email marketing. Once users have provided you with their email addresses, you’ll be able to implement effective email marketing strategies that attract new leads and nurture those leads and turn them into paying customers. 
  • Social media marketing. Social media is very effective at creating awareness around your brand, and with it, you’ll be able to generate more inbound traffic to your website. Ultimately, with more inbound traffic and awareness, you’ll be able to increase your conversion rate substantially. 

 

No matter which strategy you use, you’ll need to create relevant and valuable content that your audience can use to solve their problems. If you do, you'll not only be able to build trust with your audience and increase your following, but you also be able to stand out from the crowd and the piles of similar messages your audience receives every day.

Offer Free Trials

When you want to market and sell SaaS products, free trials and freemium options of your products are a vital part of your sales funnel. They allow your customers to use your product and show them how it will fit into the workflow. Ultimately, if they find value in your product, they hope that they will subscribe.

However, it isn't as easy as just making a free trial or freemium option available to your customers. There are several things you should consider when doing so. For instance, you should:

  • Decide if you should offer a free trial or freemium option. One of the first things you’ll need to consider is whether you should offer your customers a free trial. Now, you’ll immediately say that offering a free trial or freemium option of your app is a no-brainer as it can attract leads that could ultimately become paying customers. However, it isn't quite as simple as this. For one, you should consider your product pricing. Generally, the more expensive your product is, the less value you'll find by offering a free trial. For example, if your product is expensive, you'll find more value by having a sales team promoting and selling your product. So, ultimately, it must make sense for you to offer a free trial. If it doesn't, you'll be better off by just showing your paid product.
  • Decide how long you should offer a free trial or what features you’ll offer. If it makes sense and you decide to provide a free trial, you should choose how long you'll provide the free trial to your customers. Generally, when your product is simpler to use, and people don't need much time to figure out all its features and advantages, you could get away by offering a shorter trial. Likewise, if your product is more complex with advanced features, you'll need to consider offering your trial for longer. This will give your customers sufficient time to see what your product is about and how it can solve their problems. In turn, leads will then more likely convert into paying customers. Similarly, if you're offering a freemium version of your product, you’ll need to decide what features will be free and what features will be paid for.
  • Offer the free trial without requesting any payment information. When using free trials as part of your SaaS marketing strategy, it's important to remember that you shouldn't ask for payment information as a requirement to use the trial product. If you do, your conversion rates will plummet, and you'll possibly lose those customers forever. So, if you don't ask for payment information before the time, you’ll increase customer engagement because more customers will be willing to use the free trial to explore and find out more about your product.
  • Use discounts to turn leads into subscribers. Remember, when you use free trials as part of your marketing strategy, you’ll only have a limited time to make an impression and turn a lead into a paying subscriber. Sure, you can let your product do this on its own, but there's no harm in you nudging your leads along to make the decision. One of the best ways to do this is by offering your leads a discount when they subscribe to your product before the trial expires. You’ll create a sense of urgency and give your leads a reason to subscribe immediately if you do this. Conversely, if you wait until the end of the trial, it's more likely that these leads will just move on and find a new product.
  • Remind your leads when their trial will expire. Another excellent way to create a sense of urgency is to remind your leads when their free trial is about to expire. In this way, you’ll nurture your leads to make them subscribe to your product.
  • Make buying easy. Remember, most of your leads are creatures of comfort. In simple terms, when they buy your product, they expect a frictionless process without complications and challenges. As a result, you should make the buying process as easy as possible for them, and they should know exactly what to do without anyone needing to explain it to them. If you don't, it's more likely that your leads will stop using your product, and you’ll have to spend extra money in winning them back.

 

Turn Leads Into Subscribers

Everything you've done up to now was to attract new leads. Once you've attracted them, you need to turn them into paying customers. If you don't, you simply won't generate any revenue. This means you should nurture your leads which typically involves introducing your brand to prospective customers and how the product can solve their problems or eliminate their pain points.

Fortunately, there are several ways for you to do this. Keep in mind, though, that the ways you use will depend on the strategy you've implemented to market and sell your product. Let's look at free trials and freemium products as an example again.

As mentioned earlier, with these, you’ll only have a limited time to demonstrate the value of your product to your leads. So, let's assume that the free trial lasts for 14 days. You’ll then have 14 days to convince your leads to subscribe and turn them into paying customers.

How do you do this? Well, you could, for instance, launch an email marketing campaign where you introduce your brand, its values, and how it's an authority in its field. With both free trials and freemium options, you could also use this time to demonstrate the premium features of your product and what functionality your leads are missing out on by not subscribing.

Ultimately, this keeps both you and your product fresh in their minds, and when they encounter a problem they want to solve, they'll immediately think of using your product, which leads to subscriptions.

Retain Customers

Now that your leads are paying customers, what's next? Remember, earlier, that a SaaS marketing plan focuses more on acquiring and retaining customers, which depends on customers staying subscribers.

This means that you’ll need to implement the necessary strategies and processes to keep your customers satisfied and keep the subscriptions rolling in. These strategies include:

  • Keep providing content. After you’ve turned your leads into subscribers, your obligation to create relevant and valuable content doesn’t stop. You'll still need to do this. However, the difference is, just as you would create different content for different segments of your audience, you’ll create content specifically aimed at existing subscribers. This content will typically serve to educate your customers further. As such, you’ll need to provide them with helpful insights into your product, training, and instructions. Ultimately, this will allow them to get the most value out of the product, which, in turn, increases the likelihood of them staying subscribers.
  • Using various channels to communicate. Just as you did when you implemented strategies to acquire new leads, you’ll have to use different channels to communicate with your existing customers. As a result, and depending on the platforms and channels your current customers use, you’ll need to communicate with them on the proper channels. This is the only way you'll reach them with the right messaging at the right time.
  • Keep communicating the value in your product. When your product is a novelty, your customers will often sing its praises. However, as they get used to its features and functionality, they’ll often forget about the value they have in it. Thus, you must constantly remind them of your value proposition and how your product solves their problems and eliminates their challenges.
  • Upsell. Upselling is an effective technique to increase your profit using your existing customer base. And here, the possibilities are endless as you can offer them more features, additional support, training, and other value-added products to increase the profit you're able to make.
  • Customer support. Finally, but definitely not least significant, is customer support and service. No matter how good you document the features of your app or how intuitive it is to use, your customers will have issues and face challenges from time to time. When they do, your team needs to be there to answer their questions and solve their problems. Ultimately, this ups customer satisfaction, which, in turn, increases customer retention.

 

Track Your Performance

As the saying goes, if you don't measure something, you won't improve it. This means you constantly have to track the performance of your SaaS marketing strategy. This shows you how you’re progressing towards the goals you set for yourself during the first step and gives you a way to see where you can improve your strategy to improve your conversions and get more leads.

To do this, you’ll typically need to decide on the right key performance metrics (KPIs) that will allow you to make sense of the data you gather during the execution of your marketing strategy. Fortunately, there are many metrics you can use, but the key is that you choose the metrics that fit in with your specific goals.

Another benefit of tracking your performance is that you'll be able to test new ideas and concepts and see their effect on your marketing efforts. In this way, you can keep those strategies that work and those that don't

The Bottom Line

Marketing a SaaS product differs significantly from marketing traditional products that require a once-off sale. So, when marketing your SaaS product, your product marketing will focus more on what happens after you’ve acquired a lead instead of focusing on how to reach them. Hopefully, this post helped illustrate the steps you’ll need to follow to develop a SaaS marketing plan for your product. 

To make the process even easier, why not give HookLead a try. We can help you acquire and retain customers and accelerate your growth. To learn more about us and how we can help you, visit our website to book an introductory call today. 

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