Creating a Software as a Service Marketing Plan That Rocks

While all technology companies seem to understand their target market (or at least to some level), projecting a compelling and unique value proposition in your Software as a service marketing plan can help acquire and retain customers. Much of what worked for you in marketing traditional on-premise applications will not work for your SaaS solutions. Your SaaS Company may need to market to a broad range of key decision makers, including the IT, finance, procurement, marketing professionals, as well as end-users, each possessing unique and distinct requirements.

SaaS Marketing Plan and Business Model

When creating your Software as a Service marketing plan, it is paramount to understand that the business model you have chosen is a fully integrated architecture, and all aspects of your business – product, service, marketing, and revenue model – are tightly coupled. Failure to understand this, or deviation from the model will greatly affect business growth. Most deviation takes place as a rift between product and marketing. It is much more powerful when you take your product as a part of the SaaS marketing plan you are creating. Marketing is not just mere advertising; it is indeed the totality of your SaaS business: Product, Price, Place (Distribution), and Promotion.

As a SaaS company, you need to create a SaaS marketing plan that rocks; that means articulating compelling and unique benefits or advantages that matter to each of your target audiences. Your value proposition should include cost advantages, lower risk, easier deployment, and greater flexibility. You will also require a customer acquisition process that matches your SaaS business model. Normally, customers will pay for sales and marketing upfront, but will collect revenues over the life of their subscription. Ensure that you are not overspending or under-spending on customer acquisition.

Building a Specially Tailored Marketing Strategy

While many of the tactics used in software as a service marketing are quite identical to those applied in an on-premise solution, there are several remarkable differences in the strategic elements – value proposition, audiences, and the schedule – used. You have to do more than just tweaking your on-premise marketing strategy if you want to meet these unique challenges facing you as you try to market your SaaS solution.

Marketing the Promise and Investing in your Brand

When marketing a SaaS solution, market the promise – not just the product. Customers will be subscribing to the promise that you and your company will deliver functionality in the product today and valuable enhancements throughout the life of the subscription, including protection of sensitive data, as well as offering fast and reliable access to the SaaS app. Win the trust of your customers by showing them your future plans in addition to your track record of delivering on past promises. When you provide proof of reliability and offer them evidence that you are capable of providing security, they will drop their guard and become more comfortable doing business with you. You can also win their trust by investing in your brand.

As a SaaS solutions vendor, marketing this quality as a component of your corporate identity (brand) is your responsibility. Customers are not only investing in your company, but in a particular brand as well. This relationship has to be positive for them to want to be in it. In addition to spending resources on lead generation, try to allocate resources so that your corporate brand is positive, clear, and compelling.

Scale your Sales Process by Getting your Product to Sell Itself

If you manage to get your product to “sell itself,” it will enable you to scale your sales process more efficiently, regardless of the nature of that sales process. But, to do this, you have to allocate as much time, energy and resources on customer acquisition and retention and viral expansion processes as you do on your product’s core functionality.

Attracting the Right Audience

In creating a SaaS marketing plan, clearly illustrate how you will attract the right audience in the first place. Otherwise, nothing else you do matters (be it free trial optimization, conversion rate optimization, better sales people, and so on). Don’t be under the impression that everyone is a potential customer. Knowing the right customer will help you formulate you promotion and advertising campaigns, and how your product is designed, as well as your overall look and feel. It doesn’t really matter whether you target your keywords with your SEO, if you are not talking to the right audience who may likely become your customer, then you might as well be wasting your time, energy, efforts, and even money and other valuable resources.

Remove Barriers to Signup

“Qualification barriers” or artificial friction to free trial signup, sometimes even requiring Credit Cards to complete a free trial sign-up does nothing more than keep potential customers out. It has been proven that reducing the numerous fields on your sign-up form can dramatically affect the way people come to you – through your door (sign-up form). The next time you design your sign-up form, remember that it is not just for the “web people,” but can help you build a business empire!

Companies that have noticed this and made the necessary changes – lowering the barrier – have noticed a significant increase in signups. On the other hand, a dozen others continue asking for more information that they (vendors) will not even use. And they wonder why their signup is not growing as expected. One rule of thumb to use is…remove a field marked “not required” from your signup form. For instance, you may ask for the phone number upfront, then what do you do with it? You don’t have to call them to get started. Why not ask for it later in the engagement process.

Conclusion

Creating a SaaS marketing plan that rocks requires understanding your target market and projecting a compelling and unique value proposition in your plan. Whatever may have worked for you in your on-premise applications may not work with your SaaS. You must consider your business model and design a marketing strategy specially tailored to your SaaS app. You should also market the promise and invest in your brand. Failing to attract the right audience can also be as disastrous as having barriers to signup (asking for too much information). Lastly, get your product to “sell itself “and you will enjoy the benefits of your software as a service marketing plan.

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Sydney Rootman
Sydney Rootman is the Editor and Lead Writer for SaaSAddict. SaaSAddict shares news and information on SaaS, cloud migration and product marketing, in hopes of fostering discussion and interaction with the professional community.