When creating your SaaS marketing plan, the first thing you’d probably want to understand is that your preferred business model is a fully-integrated architecture – where all aspects of your business – revenue model, product, marketing, and support –are tightly-coupled. Any deviation from that model will affect growth. In fact, most deviation occurs if there is not synchrony between product and marketing. Ideally, the primary purpose of marketing is to get to know and understand the customer and the product or service that suits him/her well. It is so much better when you consider this product to be a part of the SaaS marketing plan you are creating.
In SaaS, your promotion, customer acquisition, or marketing methods must touch on the product so that the product can sell itself. Once you manage to do that, you can be able to scale your sales process more efficiently regardless of its nature. In creating your SaaS marketing plan, you have to spend as much time, energy, resources, or money on customer acquisition and retention and viral expansion processes, as you do on your product’s core functionality.
How to Create a Killer SaaS Marketing Plan
Target and Attract the Right Audience
It really doesn’t matter whether you have done conversion rate optimization or acquired the right sales force yet you have failed to attract the right audience. Your success lies in your ability to attract the right audience. You cannot say, “Everyone is a potential customer.” Formulate your advertising/ promotion campaigns to match the way your product is designed. Targeting the keywords with your SEO, the sales copy you write, or the website your write your guest-posts for is perhaps a waste of your time, effort, energy, and resources if you are not talking with the right audience with the potential to buy your product or service.
While this may sound simple, a good number of SaaS providers fail miserably at properly managing expectations. They work diligently to attract people to sign up for free, not letting them know they are only signing for a limited/ trial version. They should let them know that at some point they have to pay for the premium version. In case your software has a non-refundable setup fee, disclose that. In addition, if one would require a valid credit card to start their trial, say so upfront.
In several occasions, the mismanagement of expectations is reflective of the founder/ executive team of the SaaS Company aiming to avoid selling, but just hoping that once the customer/ user signs up, uses the product, and finds it interesting, it will just trick him/her into buying the product. Other times it is the executive team or an unscrupulous owner trying to trick the user into signing up for free, not knowing they will have to pay later. This, however, may not win the customer after all. The SaaS provider has to understand the psychology of the customer.
Market the Promise, not only the Product
When you have a SaaS product, customers will subscribe to the promise that the SaaS provider will not only deliver functionality, but also provide fast and reliable access to the product application and protect valuable and sensitive data, as well as deliver enhancements that add value over the entire life of the subscription. If you want to win their trust, show your customers the future plans you have for your product and company, as well as your track record of delivery on past promises to prove you are reliable and can provide security.
Invest in your Brand
SaaS customers need to trust their solutions provider or vendor. Create a brand and market the quality as part of your corporate identity. Understand that customers are not only investing in your company, but your brand as well. They also want to be in a positive relationship, just like you. As you spend on lead generation, try to allocate resources so that your corporate brand is positive.
Market to Existing Customers
Once their subscription expires, your customers will show up for renewal. This means they are also prospective clients, therefore treat them as such. Use this opportunity to highlight the value your product will bring and convince them to stay. Bring them on board effortlessly, keep them informed regarding product enhancements, assist them extract value from the solution, and actively engage them in a community.
Carefully Manage Customer Acquisition Costs
Apparently, the sales and marketing costs incurred in acquiring customers is the largest single expense item on the income statement of a SaaS provider. Ensure that you spend this money efficiently. In a SaaS business model, large upfront license fees cannot cover the company’s unproductive activities.
Promote/Market the Entire Experience, not just Product Features
The SaaS customer experience comprises the speed of deployment, simplicity of the product/solution’s purchase process, ease of configuration, and access to support. Ensure you market all these features, including benefits of the entire service, and not just the product functionality. Building a marketing process that can keep up with the pace of the development process is one of the key advantages of the SaaS version over on-premise applications. They are updated frequently, instituting a process that enables marketing to keep up with the development process, which is otherwise a more aggressive product release schedule. Furthermore, having a product introduction process that suits the on-premise model is not guaranteed to fit the SaaS model.
Avoid Selling on Price Alone
While SaaS solutions might cost far much less than similar on-premise application, this may only generate the initial interest from a prospective client. You should understand that customers value other benefits too. Sell on other benefits, such as rapid deployment, easy updates, reliability, and flexibility, as well. In fact, they may even view these as more important than the price. These combined with the cost advantage can be your value proposition.
As a SaaS company, you must understand your target market and create a SaaS marketing plan that will address some of the issues you are more likely to face in this field. While SaaS can be far much less costly than similar on-premise applications, you need to sell your product on more than just the price. In fact, you will be surprised to find that clients are more interested in benefits than the price. Creating your SaaS marketing plan also needs to consider other factors such as brand investment, marketing to existing customers, and managing expectations, as well as customer acquisition costs.