Welcome to the short crash course of which skills and tactics you should master to market your SAAS product on your own. After reading this article, you will be able to better evaluate your time resources necessary to dive into the promotion of your SAAS business. The topics highlighted here do not require any technical knowledge or MBAs. This is by far not the complete manual of SAAS marketing, just the points you probably won’t need to delegate. We will cover the topics of strategic decisions, product marketing and online promotion.

SaaS marketing

SAAS Marketing Strategy

Do the personas and pain-points mapping.

Seems obvious, though many businesses skip this step. Why? Because they fall in love with their business idea and have no doubts that the consumer is just out there, ready to say “take my money”. This may be true. However, you will at least feel more secure when you find real personas matching your assumptions. If you document your findings, you will be thankful to yourself during the product development stage. Becoming the pain-point relief of your customer will be your North Star throughout the long path of building your product.

  • Download our template for personas and pain-points analysis.
  • Imagine real people with different lifestyles and need states, who might be interested in your product. 
  • List the problems (pain points) that your product addresses. It’s OK if your persona is not aware that they have a problem. At least they need to be irritated by something that your product can resolve.
  • Draw some doodles about how your product is solving their problems. This is not childish. This brings you back to the ground and helps envision the atmosphere of your future product’s usage.
  • Try to come up with at least 15 personas and select three to five as your main target
  • Document your findings in a 1-page document listing chosen personas and their pain points
  • Make sure the whole project team working on the product has a copy of the document

What it takes

Depending on how scientific you get with this task, you may spend something ranging from one day to a couple of weeks.

Don’t keep secrets.

At some point, you might need to protect your idea regarding intellectual property. Usually, it’s not the case, especially during the ideation stage of the project. Of course, you should not discuss your ideas with direct competitors, but silence doesn’t help either. Tell your idea to Mom and Grandma for the sake of encouragement. Follow the steps below to draw reasonable insights.

What should you do?

  • Join online communities of your potential customers. Examine what bothers them. Learn their vocabulary. Be active and ask questions.
  • Start connecting with these people. It will be paramount during the prototyping phase of product development.
  • Make a PowerPoint draft of your idea. This will help the others understand you better. Talk about your ideas to random people that you know and ask for feedback. Don’t accept “well done” type of response. Ask them to elaborate what they like and dislike about it. Keep asking why they think so.

What it takes

This is a continuous process, and you should make it your habit. At first, you will be talking to your potential clients. Then, you will need to be putting the same amount of effort to speak to your actual customers. Aim for at least one hour per week.

Free version tests are not representative.

This is psychological. User tests that do not imply that the user pays for the product are useful to see if usability is good. And these tests are useless to predict the commercial success of the product. If you’re interested in the topic, you may find the book Misbehaving by Richard Thaler eye-opening.

What should you do?

  • Do free trials to test UX and UI.
  • Move to paid trial versions of your product but charge a fraction of the price you are planning to charge after launch. This will be a solid ground to make your future sales volume predictions. Moreover, it will also look good in your venture capital pitching presentation.
  • Alternatively, you can set-up experiments when you pay users to test the UX in a controlled environment (i.e. your office). Then they have the chance to become beta-users for the upcoming month and pay for the subscription slightly less than what they earned doing the test in your office.

What it takes

The closer you come to first release, the bigger sample you need to make conclusions. At the idea stage, it may be enough to gather opinions of up to five people. When you’re testing the minimum viable product, aim for at least 30 interviews. Depending on the nature of your product, each discussion can take from ten minutes to one hour. Do your best not to take longer than one hour, or you will start getting negative feedback just because the interviewee got tired.

Freemium vs free trials.

As described above, distributing your SAAS free of charge is not the tool to estimate conversion, because it will not be predictable. Still, it is one of the best ways to generate it. The two most popular approaches are free trials and freemium. The choice between the two is worth a separate article. Shortly, Freemium is good if:

  • You know what value those 97% that will never convert bring you
  • Your product is broad enough to work with limited functions
  • The price gap between free and paid packages is not huge

Free trials are the way to go if:

  • Your product is inseparable; you cannot limit its functionality to maintain value
  • You are going to market it as a Premium product. You cannot have a Mercedes without an A/C.

As always, there are in fact more options than just two. The excellent example of this is the trial usage of Ahrefs, SEO toolset. Their 7-days trial period comes at an 85% discount, which they can afford since they are one of the perceived market leaders. Having paid at least a tiny amount, the trial user will be more likely to pay the full price later on.

What should you do?

  • Finalize your business model. Customer acquisition is not something you can add at the end. It’s the crucial part of the overall model.
  • Draw insights from your customer personas analysis
  • Calculate customer LTV for each of the approaches

What it takes

A lot of analysis, research and brainstorming to make it right and thoughtful.

This analysis brought new business insights to 97% of participants

SAAS Product Marketing

Start with mobile.

As of Apr’18 mobile first is not a gimmick anymore. Google previously had the common index for desktop and mobile versions of the websites. It will remain common, but now it will be based on the mobile version. The only way to go now is to develop the functionality that is usable on mobile devices and think how to adapt it to a bigger screen.

What should you do?

  • If you’re starting – do all the wireframing and prototyping with mobile versions of your product.
  • If your product is already live – run the mobile-friendliness tests. Make sure that your key functions and content are available and usable on the mobile.

What it takes

It takes the change of the habit. Also, if you were not prepared, it may lead to the loss of ranking on Google, with subsequent programming and design workload to update your product.

Don’t overinvest in education of your consumers.

If your engagement metrics and user feedback show that your customers don’t utilize your product to the fullest, don’t invest in educating them. Don’t get me wrong, onboarding is essential, the help page is still needed. The point is that if you’re thinking to run a webinar or create an academy talking about the usage of your product – most probably there’s something wrong with your UX.

What should you do?

  • Install user behavior monitoring systems like Hotjar to see if users encounter any difficulties.
  • Talk with real users about their experience. What features do they use? Do they find them intuitively?
  • Look through competitive and similar services. Click every single button, screenshot everything. Anything to get inspired by?
  • Develop use cases. Are they matching your persona’s pain points?
  • Test the UI. Simple A/B tests may be enough. Maybe it’s all about the color of the button.

What it takes

Depending on the stage of the project and the significance of the problem it will take you anything from a couple of weeks to a couple of months to get to the root-cause of the problem.

SaaS marketing strategy

SAAS Online Promotion

Content vs ads.

Good news is that contrary to other holy wars, you don’t have to choose one side and can go with both. What you need to be aware of, is that competition is increasing for both approaches. Adwords auction prices are skyrocketing and 1000 backlinks for your article to appear in the top 10 is not something rare anymore. The battlefield moved away from grabing as many leads as you can. Now it’s all about conversion rate optimization since lead generation is becoming way too expensive.

What should you do?

  • Focus on long tail keywords for both content and advertisement. Short top-level keywords are the turf for budget competition.
  • Make the content of the page interesting enough to stay at least a couple of minutes. Write it for people to read, not for Google to index. High bounce rates will decrease your positions in organic rankings and ads auction.
  • Interlink your content. Make sure that the next page your visitors see will also be on your site.
  • Work on your domain rating. It’s probably the most long-lasting ingredient of your site performance. To do that you need high-quality backlinks to your website. Where to get them? The easy answer is HARO. The harsh answer is you need to master outreach, guest blogging and PR techniques.

What it takes

The content part takes a full-time job for several people. One high-quality article is a one-day job for a professional copywriter or up to a week for an amateur. With HARO you usually get publications for every 10th pitch – be ready to spend at least an hour on that every day.

Running ads campaign is more about learning how the system works and making conclusions from the reports. Mess up with settings – and you may see yourself wasting money instead of investing.

SAAS consulting: benefits of working with the agency

The benefits of having an experienced agency holding your back are straightforward.

The speed. The agency will know what to do next and how to approach the arising challenges of the project. You will not be losing momentum to “read the manual”.

The efficiency. Based on the experience from other projects, the agency will help you avoid some of the newbie mistakes. Thus, your time and resources will be utilized with great efficiency.

Performance. Having the experienced project team by your side will result in having better ideas and better ways to execute them.

We hope you found these pieces of advice useful. If you have more questions on the topics we didn’t cover – send us a request to extra@extrabrains.net

This analysis brought new business insights to 97% of participants