Creating a SaaS Product Development Strategy

Any marketing executive knows that there are 4 P’s of marketing – product being one of them and SaaS product development managers are no exception. The bad news is that software firms have a tendency to think about product in isolation from other components of the marketing mix. In SaaS, this can be a costly mistake. Unlike traditional businesses, SaaS business creates a real-time/always-on connection between customer and the SaaS Company via the SaaS product that has brought them together.

When it comes to SaaS, you need a product development strategy that seeks to establish a connection as soon as possible and leverage it throughout the SaaS customer lifecycle. Some of these strategies are discussed below.

Boundless SaaS Product

First, understand the boundaries of your SaaS product, including any limitation in login, purchase, or mobile platform. From SaaS customers’ perspective, there is virtually no distinction between your product, site, mobile app, service, support and community. To them, it is a nothing but a seamless online experience – and you should design it that way! For great product development professionals, it is never enough to simply specify product features and functions; it helps to go an extra mile and create online experiences guaranteed to satisfy businesses, including professional and personal needs. By satisfying those needs, they push the 3 basic SaaS growth levers – customer acquisition, customer network effects and customer lifetime value – to drive revenue growth.

Creating a SaaS Product Development Strategy

In creating a SaaS product development strategy for your SaaS, you should focus on a product that sells itself. Using the SaaS-company connection, create competitive advantage and enable customer self-service that will not only accelerate revenue, but also reduce cost. Using SaaS growth drivers, challenge your SaaS product manager’s creativity and innovativeness and encourage them to push and do things better by moving SaaS product boundaries so that you can deliver faster and cheaper service than your competition.

Public Pages Optimization

To expand online awareness, great SaaS marketers understand how important it is to optimize content for search and social media. They also know that a SaaS product needs to be an integral part of a search and social strategy. Moreover, the SaaS product should be able to produce publicly available pages that can easily be found by popular search engines. Since customers often create unique public content when using a SaaS product, (incl. profiles, widgets, websites, analyses, and so forth), great SaaS product managers enable the creation of such pages in volume as natural part of the product experience, automatically optimizing them for search and social.

Make Free Trail Formal

While a free trial can be quite beneficial for a SaaS product, many can’t seem to pull it off quite well. Free trials not only facilitate product evaluation, but also shorten sales cycles. Easy conversion of trials to product use also helps streamline purchase and adoption. Fortunately, most customers have no problem with paying for these benefits as an inbound lead. Looking at it from the vendor’s point of view, a free trial provides an opportunity for huge increases in sales and productivity, especially through self-service – even for outbound leads.

Encourage E Commerce

In creating your SaaS product development strategy, understand that ecommerce is not just about taking or accepting credit cards over the internet, but about streamlining online customer experience so that they can have uninterrupted shopping sessions cushioned from offline activities. The ecommerce platform should not only offer great self-service purchase, but also exceptional sales assisted purchase. E Commerce provides a potential for automation, including product pricing and configuration, contract signing, trial account conversion, invoicing, billing, payment, and collections.

Design for Self-Discovery

If you plan on your customers onboarding themselves, then you must enable them to explore, comprehend, utilize and adapt the SaaS product without the need for help from outside. This is to mean that your SaaS product must encourage self-learning. Any new feature added must be placed where it is easy to access. This is the work of a SaaS product manager to allow non-expert users to easily access such features. A superior product provides a platform where novice users are greatly encouraged to explore fundamental tasks, while expert users have the option of tailoring tasks to suit their individual tastes for extra speed and efficiency.

Capture Customer Content

If you want to reduce churn, there’s only one SaaS marketing strategy to do so: increase use (which include new use, casual use, expert use, individual use, habitual use, organizational use, etc). However, what all these forms of use share in common is that they build customer-specific content. This strategy is the most effective for reducing churn. Moreover, capturing customer content encourages mass communication, which allows mass personalization while at the same time maintaining fundamental SaaS economies of scale. The great advantage with this is that even if your competitors copy every single feature in your SaaS product, they cannot copy personalized historical records of customer use, including critical business data, processes, preferences, policies, and organizational knowledge.

Streamline Sharing

When you reach the peak of SaaS growth pyramid, you will realize that customers go beyond buying themselves and start referring their friends to buy. When you get a new prospect, the SaaS customer lifecycle begins again. Use your SaaS product to help close the loop and stimulate viral growth by enabling streamlined sharing between customers and prospects. However, streamlining sharing will require you to provide something useful for your customers to share. For instance, sharing vital business documents or analyses can be very effective for driving viral growth in SaaS, as it embeds a referral within collaboration via product use.

Conclusion

Product is one of the 4 P’s of marketing and SaaS product management professionals know this. Unlike traditional businesses, SaaS business have a real-time constant connection between customers and SaaS company through the SaaS product.

Therefore, product development should be centered on establishing and strengthening this connection throughout the SaaS customer lifecycle. Understanding the boundaries of your SaaS product is perhaps the best place to start. Customers feel that there is no distinction between a SaaS product, website, mobile app, service, support and its community. So, you should design it in such a way that it provides seamless online experience. SaaS product development professionals must specify product features and functions and create an online experience that will satisfy professional, business, as well as personal needs.

saas

Omri Erel
Omri is the Head of Demand Generation, as well as the Lead Author & Editor of the SaaSAddict Blog. Omri established the SaaSAddict blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to SaaS and cloud migration.
Omri Erel on sabtwitterOmri Erel on sablinkedinOmri Erel on sabgoogleOmri Erel on sabfacebook