Growth hacking is a popular term in the SaaS world. In a cutthroat industry like yours, it's essential to be aware of the best growth tactics that will work for your company. We've compiled some of the most effective strategies so you can get started!
We'll go over each strategy and provide an example case study so you can see how it works. These are not all-inclusive but should give you plenty of ideas if you're looking to grow your SaaS business!
What is Growth Hacking?
The term growth hacking first showed up in 2010, coined by Sean Ellis. Growth hacking is a term for marketing strategies that focus on growth at all costs. Growth hacking is not like traditional marketing because it focuses on finding innovative ways to solve problems instead of doing what worked before.
A growth hacker looks at the data to find solutions that increase user acquisition, user engagement, and user retention. In addition, they look for strategies that create viral marketing loops where users refer users from one platform to another.
Every successful business has a unique way of acquiring new customers, whether organic or paid traffic, email marketing, or referrals. So even if you already have a self-sufficient business, you can still use growth hacking to stay ahead of the game.
Growth hacking is not a new form of marketing but a mindset for marketers (and business owners) who need to act nimbly and urgently to scale their businesses quickly. They are intrapreneurs who look at everyone else’s same data but then develop creative solutions that other marketers may not see.
Growth Hacking Strategies For SaaS Companies
"Software as a service" companies are a different breed. Because your product isn't physical, it's easier for you to focus on the growth aspects of your business rather than how to produce and distribute your product. Unfortunately, this leads to a lot of stiff competition that you need to outwit. Here are some things you can do.
1. Implement Freemium
The freemium model is very effective when done right because it gives people a taste of what you have to offer, then gets them excited enough that they want more—offering a free version of your product lets you gather data on your users, which you can use to re-market to them in the future.
The most important thing is to provide enough value for people using the free version so they'll be excited when you roll out new products and will gladly pay for them.
When you roll out your premium products, you must do so slowly. You don't want to make the free version too cumbersome because you'll lose users who are used to having a better experience with your paid products.
A great example of this is Dropbox. Dropbox has become extremely popular by offering a free version of their product (2 GB!) and converting existing users to the premium plan ($10/month).
Gamification is very effective at getting people to do something they might not normally be inclined to do. Using elements of gameplay, you can make your product more fun and engagement for users.
Today's adult population grew up playing games, and they expect a certain level of entertainment when using your product. Using elements like points and badges, you can drive up engagement and satisfaction with the product.
For example, a SaaS company could create a leaderboard where users who reach certain milestones get to climb the ranks, gaining more visibility as they move up. Users might be more inclined to use your software for business if there's a chance they'll appear as number one on the board!
Not only does gamification make your product more fun, but it also allows you to gather data. You can see what users are doing inside of your product, down to the individual level.
Digital products can significantly benefit from influencers because they are trusted sources of information. Influencers are people who have established themselves as authorities in their given field, whether that's digital marketing, AI, or app ownership.
One strategy is to partner with an influencer to create content for your product or service. People trust what influencers say because they're knowledgeable in the field and have a history of providing great content.
If your SaaS can help businesses with their accounting, perhaps a business guru or accountant can publish a blog post or video review of your product, offering their opinion on how it has helped them in the past.
4. App Bundles
No matter what your software accomplishes, it can't be an all-in-one solution for your clients. It can help them in one or more aspects of their process, but they will most likely need different software for other needs.
As counterintuitive as it seems, teaming up with your competitors could play out to your advantage. You can collaborate and publish a bundle of your products together, offering potential customers one package that meets all their needs.
For example, Grammarly, an online grammar checker, partnered with Microsoft Word to create a plugin that integrates both products. As a result, the user gets the ability to run their writing through Grammarly, get suggestions for improvement, and fix any mistakes right inside Word.
This kind of collaboration offers customers convenience because they only have to work with one interface to accomplish their tasks.
5. The Skyscraper Technique
One of the most effective growth hacking strategies is to make someone else promote you. The skyscraper technique involves link building by rewriting content.
Find a piece of content in your niche that stirred up attention, and rewrite it better. Make it more detailed, more thorough, and informative.
Then reach out to everyone who had shared that original post, and ask them what they think about what you've added to it. Always build on existing content to make it more awesome. This way, everyone who reads the content will learn something new and pass it on to their followers.
Because your content is better than all the rest, you'll get more shares. Hubspot has used this strategy to significant effect, staying ahead of the curve by publishing and polishing blog posts that everyone else thinks about writing.
6. Integrate With Popular Apps
Integrations with intermediaries like Zapier are great for workflow automation. In addition, you can connect your product with other tools people already use to accomplish their tasks, making it more useful and easier to adopt.
MailChimp, DropBox, and other popular apps were built with integrations in mind. Chances are, someone is already using something similar to your product so that you can work together!
If your SaaS helps business owners find new customers, why not integrate it with MailChimp? For example, users who want to run targeted email campaigns based on their search results can incorporate your product into their workflow.
7. In-App Referrals
One of the best ways to encourage word-of-mouth is to make it easy for people to help each other using your app. Social sharing is a prominent place to start, but you can take it a step further by adding more features that get users working together inside your product.
When they accomplish something great, let them brag about it inside the app. Let them give their friends shoutouts for helping them achieve a task or congratulate each other on milestones within your SaaS.
Referrals can be rewarded by offering incentives, like free months of service for each referral they make.
In-app referrals are a tremendous growth hacking strategy because the user gets to see the product in action while helping their friend at the same time.
8. Build A Sales Funnel With Social Proof
No one wants to be the first person to try out something new. For all they know, it could explode in their face and make a mess of their business. So they need some reassurance that they aren't going to screw up by trying your product.
Social proof is an effective way to quell fears and get potential customers on board with your product. You can build a sales funnel with social proof by revealing how other users have succeeded with your SaaS and showing them the path to take to achieve similar results.
You can create content marketing materials like blog posts and ebooks sharing stories of success or use videos showing how people use your app in action.
When your product is new, consider showing investors who are using it in their other businesses. This builds trust among your customers and shows them that you have the chops to pull off this project.
9. Optimize Your Product Page
Your product page is your company's business card; it's the first impression you make with potential customers. If someone visits your site and can't find any information about what you offer or how it works, they're likely to bounce off the page immediately.
SaaS companies' best growth hacking strategies are optimizing their product pages to educate and delight potential customers.
Your product page should be easily scannable, with a clear headline that lets someone know what you're offering and a bulleted list of features for those who want to read.
A video is the best way to demonstrate how your product works, whether it's an explanatory walkthrough or showing people using it in real-time.
Videos are also more likely to be shared, which is good for your brand awareness. So maybe you'll go viral!
10. Automate. Everything. You. Can.
Artificial intelligence is here to stay, and it doesn't care if you're using it for good or evil.
Growth hacking with your SaaS works best when you automate yourself out of work and into a position where you can do more important things, like adding new features to your product that people need.
Some tasks, like sales follow-ups and customer support, can be handed off to an email or chatbot.
You want your users to have the best possible experience with your product, and that's not something you should cut corners on. Your app should speak for itself, not through a customer support representative who isn't always responsive.
11. Get Physical!
Offering physical gifts to your customers as a reward for sharing or signing up to your highest tier is a great way to get your SaaS in the hands of more users.
People like to receive something tangible for their efforts, and they'll remember you for it long after the gift is forgotten.
If you're giving out free months of service as a reward, consider throwing in a physical gift with it. For example, T-Shirts, water bottles, or laptop bags with your company logo; it doesn't have to be expensive!
If people are already taking the time out of their day to use your app, they'll be more likely to spread the word about it among their friends and peers because you've given them a free shirt that tells everyone what they're using.
12. Retargeting Ads
Retargeting ads are a great way to get people back on your website after they've already visited.
You can set up a retargeting campaign using Google Tag Manager by adding a few lines of code to your site and then use Google Ads or Facebook Custom Audiences. Just pick the audience you want to target with retargeting ads and then track conversions and serve them ads.
Retargeting campaigns give you the best chance of turning a cold lead into a warm one because someone who has already seen your product can be served an ad about it again after they attempt to leave your site.
If they leave after adding to the cart, be sure to use an abandoned cart retargeting campaign to get them back.
You may not convince every site visitor to sign up for your service, but you can turn most of them into customers with the right strategies.
There are many growth hacking strategies for SaaS companies to become known and loved by more potential customers.
Artificial intelligence is here to stay. As you adopt it into your business’s marketing strategy, you'll find that these automated services and integration will save you time and be a great way of reaching your target audience.
The best growth hacking strategy focuses on adding value to your product when it comes down to it. The more you can help people use and integrate your SaaS into their daily lives, the more likely they'll be to spread the word about how wonderful it was.