3 Essentials to SaaS Customer Acquisition
Building a software as a service (SaaS) company from the ground up is no joke. With everything else there is to do, how can you create and implement a marketing strategy that consistently attracts new customers so your brand can grow?
Let's start by looking at:
- Where can you find your first paying customers?
- How can you build a reputable brand that grows by word-of-mouth?
- How do you create top quality content that brings in leads?
We’ll help you answer these questions, so you can walk away learning how to build your brand through low customer acquisition cost (cac) and high customer lifetime value.
1. Where can you find your first paying customers?
It’s hard to successfully market to a target audience when you’re a brand new SaaS startup.
Until you make that first sell, your ideal customer is just an idea. You can assume what they want, but it’ll never be the same as collecting data directly from a pool of people who have bought your product.
So where can you find your first real customers, and start the process of documenting their pain points and goals for future marketing endeavours?
Trade shows are a relatively inexpensive way to create high value conversations with dozens or hundreds of potential customers. These shows also have educational panels and seminars that can help you learn more about what you need to solve their pain points or if there’s anything missing in your toolbox.
Some additional things to observe and ask yourself while you’re at a trade show interacting with potential customers include:
- Is your business name, logo, and messaging drawing customers to you?
- Are you noticing any niche groups interacting with you?
- Is your pricing turning people away or does it seem reasonable?
- Which booths are drawing the most attention, and what can you learn from them?
- Are you effectively using a CRM (like Hubspot) to follow up with the potential customers who give you their contact information?
- Are people actually interested in your swag, freemiums, or other incentives? (We’ll talk more about this later.)
There’s no faster way to gain knowledge around the customers in your industry than by talking to them face-to-face and getting feedback on their interest toward your product or observing what draws them to other booths.
Your new SaaS company needs a starting point for learning opportunities, and trade shows can be the perfect way to get them at a relatively low cost that also generates sales.
2. How can you build a reputable brand that grows by word-of-mouth?
You want to create a reputable and friendly presence that gets consumers talking about you to their peers. 88% of people have the highest level of trust in a brand when a friend or family member recommends it. The key is that you stay top-of-mind, so customers have a reason to actively talk about you to those friends and family.
You can do that by grabbing their attention, sharing content that helps them, building relationships, and creating great customer experiences.
Grab consumers’ attention.
Memorable swag and booth decorations that customers can take pictures of and share on social media can go a long way. StoragePug has mastered this by baking cookies at their trade show booths and offering purple pug socks that get customers excited to talk about their experience with them.
Swag and decorations can be expensive, so you want to make sure your investment is worthwhile by creating something your customer base will want to show to other people (as opposed to a pen or brochure that just gets lost on their way home).
Follow through and build relationships.
Consumers will also naturally plug you when you offer a platform that they can return to repeatedly for quality content that helps them learn how to use your product.
Things like customer success guides, educational blogs, and strategy eBooks not only help with customer retention, but they also reduce churn rate when customers understand how to use your product and help with your website's search engine optimization (SEO).
All of these things can contribute to customers wanting to leave reviews sharing how easy you are to work with, or to interact with your brand on social media. That being said, don’t be afraid to encourage customers to do those things directly through a text message or email.
3. How do you create top quality content that brings in leads?
Quality content marketing can take you much further on an affordable budget when you’re first starting off, compared to paid advertising and sponsorships.
The key is that you focus on creating high quality content, as opposed to just high volumes of content. That means creating content that is educational, user friendly, and frames yourself as a guide (rather than a salesperson).
To do that successfully you need to:
1. Know your product inside and out, so you can successfully educate people on it.
2. Know your target audience’s pain points (creating buyer personas can help with this).
3. Have an understanding of how your industry works, and what it takes to be successful in it.
Joining an association within your industry can help with all three of these pieces.
Associations are a concentrated group within your industry, and they can be a great source for knowledge that you can include in your content. They also are a great place to make connections with other leaders in your industry who can both share and inform your content.
You can form partnerships with other association members where you promote each others’ content, guest post on each others’ sites, exchange back-links, and appear in webinars and interviews.
Just be sure to take time to layout your terms and dates for content collaboration in a document you both can refer to, so you both understand what’s expected from the partnership.
Document and adjust your marketing strategy over time.
It’s okay to do things wrong, as long as you document why something didn’t work.
Mapping out your sales funnel is key for this reason, even if that mapping is just a bullet point list of what your sales process looks like.
You’re going to have to hire people as your number of customers grows, and listing out that strategy for others to follow will make your life so much easier. These new hires will bring their individual personality and backgrounds, but your strategy is what will keep your business model consistent.
That said, don’t be afraid to break and rebuild that strategy as your SaaS business grows. You should always stay on the lookout for ways to improve, instead of sitting on something you know isn’t working and being complacent.