3 Essentials to Creating a Marketing Strategy for a SaaS Product or Feature
You've built a new software as a service (SaaS) product or feature, and you're ready to share it with the world. That's great! But how do you get customers to actually buy and use it, and what needs to be in your marketing strategy so you can take that product to market successfully?
We're going to give you answers to three big picture questions, so you can market with confidence:
- How do you get customers to buy your new software?
- How do you build partnerships with customers instead of just transactions?
- What digital marketing strategies will help you reach a wider audience?
You’ll walk away understanding how to leverage your SaaS product to bring in new customers, while also encouraging your existing customers to implement new tools and integrations.
1. How do you get customers to buy your new software?
Getting people to take time out of their day to learn a new software product is a feat. Especially when you work in an older industry that is traditionally slow to adopt new technologies, like flooring, construction, or legal services.
So how can you get potential customers to give you a shot?
Start by taking a consultative approach. You want to investigate whether or not you’re a good fit for them, then show them how your software works for their goals and pricing. When customers see that you’re taking time to learn their pain points first, and not just pushing them to make a purchase, they’ll take you more seriously as an option.
You can achieve this through shadowing to learn their work process and how your software could fit into it. This could mean touring the customer’s facility through a virtual call, or physically coming on-site to tour.
Create an onboarding process that embeds customers.
The time you spend closing a deal should also be equivalent to the time you help the customer implement the software. It’s tempting to give the benefit of the doubt and assume your system is so simple they can figure it out on their own, but hand holding goes a long, positive way for you.
So ensure you always take time to teach customers the essentials, like:
- Navigating the menu
- How to add users and locations
- Where to go for additional tutorials and training
- Who to contact for help
- And, most importantly, the most main tools they signed up for
Creating guides and an onboarding process to teach customers these things is essential to guiding customers to success. And customers need to experience that success, or you risk losing them to churn.
After teaching them the basics, you can move on to other modules that increase the software’s functionality and effectiveness for the customer.
This is key for getting the customer to stick with you, because it shows them that you’re in it for the long haul (we’ll talk about this more in-depth next). One of the biggest things most SaaS companies report wishing they had done sooner is collaborating more with customers on the areas described above. So having a customer success manager or rep who is dedicated to collaborating and keeping customers on track is huge.
A good success manager will walk people through the process beyond just getting the software up and running, including how to use the features and get the most out of what they’re paying for.
2. How can you build partnerships with customers instead of just transactions?
Wouldn't it be great if other people marketed your product for you?
Here’s the thing—the problems you help customers solve are the same problems those customers talk about with their peers. And they’ll name you as a solution when asked for advice.
Word-of-mouth is your best friend, so you want to make the extra effort to be a trusted guide, or industry expert, that customers advocate for through referrals and shoutouts on industry forums. On the flipside, customers are way more likely to churn when you just give them their login and move on to the next sale.
So what steps can you take to build partnerships with customers and increase your retention rate?
The simplest way you can start is by sharing helpful information and asking for input from customers. This can be done through social media posts, surveys, blogging, webinars, or your customer newsletter.
You're just as interested in solving problems and achieving these goals as they are. So investing in learning and educating yourself on these topics is beneficial to both of you.
Content like this can keep customers engaged, provide useful knowledge, and show them you care about their feedback. They can also be a great way to introduce new tools and integrations, plus ask which ones customers would like to see next.
Selling software or an efficiency tool by itself will only get you so far, but adding integrations and new automation tools will advance adoption rate. It’s also how your software will become a one-in-all for customers and increase their lifetime value.
So be proactive about integrating your tool with their other tools, create the training materials they can share with their team, and walk them through how to set something up. You want to be as simple as possible for them to use.
A final thing you can do is actively reach out to the customers who do churn. Despite your best efforts, they may have never implemented the software or slipped through your training efforts.
That final reach out could be a way to reel them back in, or show them you do provide the tool they mistakenly thought you didn’t offer.
Showing your team is willing to make a final, personal effort to satisfy them can mean all the difference between the customer disappearing, or you becoming a trusted partner who they know is willing to work with them to satisfy their needs.
3. What are some digital marketing strategies that can help your new product or feature reach a wider audience?
Your marketing team should always have a go-to-market strategy for everything you release, even if it’s just a small feature. Otherwise your target audience will have no idea you have something new to offer.
The first step in your strategy should be to get some beta testers, and use them to find those potential gaps that could keep customers from fully utilizing your new tool.
Once you've worked with beta users and have made any iterations, you're ready to put your marketing strategy into motion.
Trade publications and industry conferences are a reliable place to share the word about your release, but you also need to be where your customers live—which is online and on their phone.
You have to be ready when people search for you by utilizing things like SEO (search engine optimization) and advertising that your business texts. Then, you want to keep customers engaged once they find you with email newsletters and social media.
Text messaging in particular is a great way to connect with consumers, since 78% of people want the option to text business like you, and they automatically opt-in to be messaged when they text you first.
Just be sure to keep track of where these leads originally came from, so you know who to target going forward. SaaS marketing is as much of an art as it is as a science, and keeping track of your metrics is a key part of that science. Tools like HubSpot can help you record things like lead-to-close rate, custom acquisition cost, and conversion rates.
What digital marketing strategies will help you reach a wider audience?
It’s amazing what can happen when you give someone a powerful tool and let them run with it.
Your goal is to watch how your customers get creative with your SaaS product, then build integrations, automations, and guides that streamline those use cases for them. You also need to nudge and actively push customers along the way, so they are fully exploring and using your product to its fullest.
How long it will take clients to become embedded in your product will depend on how used to tech they are, if they are already using other SaaS products, and (most importantly) the work you do to make sure they have success using your product.