Starting a new business entity is a complicated and challenging process. Though an impressive 6.5 million businesses launch every year, 90% of them fail.
According to the National Business Capital, 21.5% of new companies do not make it through the first year. Besides, the statistics are even more terrifying regarding the Software as a Service (SaaS) type of company. In 2021, the main reasons for the startups’ failure worldwide were lack of cash or competency. Even though we cannot affect your solvency, Promodo can assist you with professionalism and expertise in digital marketing for SaaS.
With the rapid development of technologies, artificial intelligence, and innovations, the SaaS segment is rapidly growing. In 2023, the global software as a service (SaaS) market is estimated to reach $208 billion, which is a tremendous growth compared to $31.4 billion in 2015. Hence, because of the rapid boost in the number and value of the SaaS segment, it is critical to have a specific coherent approach to SaaS digital marketing strategy development.
Specializing in the development and implementation of data-driven marketing solutions for SaaS companies, we created a profound guideline on the digital marketing tools to be launched at each stage of the SaaS lifecycle.
SaaS Lifecycle and Digital Marketing Tools
A SaaS company is a specific type of business with completely different features, peculiarities, and processes, nothing like eCommerce, IaaS, PaaS, or any firms. And we DO realize this!
SaaS passes through five major lifecycle stages: pre-startup, startup, process improvement, growth, and maturity. Entrepreneurs need to choose digital marketing tools depending on the software company’s lifecycle stage and customer journey phase. We offer the following scheme:
1. Pre-Startup Stage
The first phase is the pre-startup stage when the future SaaS company identifies the target audience’s needs and corporate opportunities to solve them. At this point, the entrepreneurs may talk to potential customers for market investigation, study secondary research results, and inspect the offerings of existing industry players.
The proof of concept stage, another name for the pre-startup stage, also deals with the development of a small product prototype to be tested. Nevertheless, the main task to be accomplished in the first SaaS lifecycle stage is creating a minimum viable product (MVP).
A minimum viable product (MVP) is a product that possesses enough features to attract early adopters for the product test in the early product development stage. In the SaaS segment, the MVP can help the team receive customer feedback quickly to improve the features and characteristics of the software.
Even though the pre-startup stage has primary technical tasks, digital marketing also benefits the SaaS founding. Let’s view the recommended tools in more detail.
The first tactic to be implemented at the pre-startup stage is profound market research. It is critical to investigate the “pains” of customers, study the market, and analyze competitors, their products, as well as the internal environment of the startup. All these aspects create the basis for effective software creation and marketing strategy planning.
Realizing the huge importance of research for all businesses and SaaS startups, in particular, Promodo has a corporate R&D department that can maintain primary and secondary investigations for all industries. For instance, Promodo’s R&D department held profound market research for Claspo, a helpful popup SaaS for marketing and business, at the pre-startup stage.
Along with the technical part of the software creation, the branding strategy is to be launched during the pre-startup stage. The branding strategy includes creating the brand’s value, market position, purpose, mission, and vision development. It solves numerous tasks for startups, including authenticity creation, corporate culture development, demonstration of commitment to customers, driving emotional reactions from customers, growing value, benefiting customer loyalty, as well as promoting the growth of marketing and sales. All these aspects are vital for the success of the startup. For instance, 88% of consumers state that authenticity is a key factor in brand loyalty and purchase decision.
When Promodo started working with the Ukrainian fintech startup called DODAM (Ukr. “We will add”), first of all, the team had detailed information processing and team brainstorming to identify the main pain of customers that the company can solve. As a result, we determined the position of the brand and chose the Censydiam vector, which had the fewest TOP competitors. Consequently, our team came up with the main message of communication, namely “We will add to the balance”, which is followed in the whole branding strategy.
Further, we launched the full scope of branding activities for Dodam, including the brand’s value, logo, tone of voice, etc.
Logo developed for the DODAM start-up
Once you have the beneficial branding strategy, it’s time to take care of the corporate website and its functions. It is critical to enable your website to convert leads to customers. You need to turn to the SEO department for recommendations and UI/UX for implementation at this stage.
Just take a look at the design and structure of the educational online platform Argoprep created by the Promodo specialists.
When your SaaS startup has a website, you need to fill it with effective SEO-friendly content to generate the first leads for the MVP. You should view content as a part of its marketing strategy offering useful and valuable resources to target audiences.
Promodo accompanied Claspo with the content creation at the pre-startup stage. As a result, we generated 1000+ organic sessions for low-frequency search queries in the US market for 8 months. For this matter, we have analyzed competitors’ blogs, their topics, and their traffic. Developed an effective content plan for Claspo based on low- and medium-frequency search queries. Copywriters prepared 80+ articles, and 60+ of them were published in 8 months of promotion. As a result, we not only filled the website with valuable content for potential customers but also attracted organic traffic and leads that benefited the MVP process.
Examples of article topics and their traffic of Claspo’s competitor’s blog.
2. Startup Stage
The main task of the SaaS company in the second phase is to create the product/market fit. It is essential to focus on identifying, finding, and targeting first customers and serving them with a well-developed valuable product offering. At this stage, it’s essential to elaborate on the initial digital marketing strategy and afford to test the hypotheses for an audience, messages, and placements you have. Since this allows you to identify the most efficient options and have measurable results, your further marketing investments will have a higher chance to return fast.
But first, we strongly recommend adhering to digital hygiene: ensure your website meets the technical requirements of modern search engines and your analytics is properly set up, so you can track all the performance indicators.
Do not rush to implement digital marketing tools. You are likely to fail because of one simple mistake, lack of enough analytics! Hence, developing the base of analytics is the very first step in the startup stage.
According to Claspo CEO Nikita Korchevskyi, “Analytics is the core aspect of the SaaS development at all stages”. It is impossible to overwhelm the role of analytics for SaaS businesses. Keep growing, improving, and enhancing analytics at all stages of the lifecycle. Promodo has developed a working guideline for building SaaS product analytics to track metrics, understand customer behaviour, and find growth opportunities for your startup:
1. Create the customer journey map
Mapping your customer journey metrics defines each stage of the client pass during choosing the software. It will allow determining the touch points with customers, their requirements for software, and the value they expect to get. Do not neglect this tool!
2. Form the data-tracking plan
We recommend viewing the “big picture” of your SaaS, with the further division into small parts according to the customer journey map. It will enable identifying the key aspects to be tracked at each stage.
3. Identify SaaS KPIs
SaaS companies cannot rely on the same metrics and benchmarks as traditional product companies. Forming the list of SaaS KPIs, you need to cover four major areas: revenue and growth, sales, marketing, and customer success. Here’s the list of main KPIs in each category, although you may add it with other metrics.
4. Use different web tools for profound data generation
With a wide range of digital data tracking, storage and analysis tools, do not limit yourself to the most widely-used Google Analytics. You may also try SaaS product analytics tools, such as Userpilot, Iteratively, FullStory, Heap, Mixpanel, etc.
“Google Analytics provides less than 10% of the tracked data. Only after half a year after MVP, we managed to gather approximately 70% of the data and KPIs that we need”. Nikita Korchevskyi, Claspo CEO
5. Create meaningful insights
No matter how brilliant your KPIs are, they have no use without proper insights and effective decisions based on them. You need to analyze SaaS performance constantly, compare them to the benchmarks, and implement strategies for SaaS improvement.
SaaS SEO is the procedure of growing the organic traffic for a SaaS business’s website by generating the top rankings on the SERPs, due to the usage of the relevant keywords. Targeting high SEO results, apply the comprehensive approach to the SEO strategy of your SaaS, which includes technical SEO, on-page SEO, and off-page SEO. Let’s view their differences below:
On-site SEO (also known as on-page SEO) is the practice of optimizing elements on a website in order to be ranked higher in search engines and get relevant traffic from them. The tool deals with the website’s optimization in both aspects of content and the HTML source code of a page.
You may use the following methods for your SaaS on-site SEO improvement: optimizing the title tags, adapting meta descriptions, cleaning up your site’s code, streamlining the website’s navigation, creating valuable, unique, user-friendly content, optimizing content to the featured snippet, etc.
Going back to the Claspo case, we reached the so-called ‘Position 0’ of Google search results, due to the featured snippet optimized blog.
Contrary to on-site SEO, off-page SEO deals with the links elsewhere on the Internet to the website of your SaaS. The more external links that lead back to your page, the higher SERP you get. That is why Promodo’s SEO specialists recommend creating quality backlinks, social media marketing, guest content, local listings, forum posting, etc.
Technical SEO is what usually is left behind-the-scene, although has a remarkable impact on the website’s ranking. Take care of the technical part of your website. For instance, the majority of customers are not ready to wait for the page loading, it needs to be immediate. At the same time, the faster the website is the higher the SERP you can expect. In addition, in terms of technical SEO tactics, take care of your mobile friendliness. The sites with poor customer experience on a mobile device have lower rankings on mobile-specific search engines.
Hence, all three types of SEO, namely on-page, off-page, and technical, work together, creating synergy for high SERP for your SaaS business.
PPC campaign is a unique web marketing tool that can solve numerous objectives for the whole SaaS lifecycle. However, we recommend starting to launch it from the startup phase, which is relevant to the top marketing funnel. At this point, properly implemented search ads, display ads, or social ads can grow the brand awareness of SaaS among potential customers.
“Being on the progress improvement stage, we still receive the largest registration share from paid channels”. Nikita Korchevskyi, Claspo CEO.
Promodo has developed the details scheme of the PPC campaigns during the whole customer journey. The type and tactics of PPC strategies need to change depending on the customer journey stages as well as the SaaS lifecycle phases. Test different hypotheses, change the target audience focus, and try varied types of PPC tools, until you reach desired results.
You may find a detailed analysis of all PPC tools to be applied at various customer journey stages in our recent blog article.
Conversion Rate Optimization
Once you have attracted your visitors to your SaaS website, converting them into buyers is critical. The core task is maximizing the number of leads that became action-takers. It’s the point where Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is to be launched.
The tool helps to understand what potential customers want when they visit your website, investigate their behavior there, and their attitude to the software products. In addition, it benefits SaaS companies with the systematic conversion of an increasing number of website visitors to paying customers.
Even though social media marketing is not the major digital marketing tool for SaaS, we still recommend having your software represented on several social media platforms, although we focus only on one. Did you know that 84% of B2B executives use social media as a source for making purchase decisions? At the same time, 72% of B2B buyers use social media to research solutions. That is why you don’t want to miss opportunities provided by social media for SaaS.
Implementing the SMM on the startup stage of the SaaS lifecycle, keep developing your accounts further. As your software business grows, its brand awareness enhances, and loyal customers occur, which is likely to happen in the fourth phase, use the tool of UGC (user-generated content) to get the information published by unpaid contributors.
3. Process Improvement Stage
At the stage when the technical part of the software is being improved, the main task of digital marketing is enlarging the customers’ scope and settling loyal relations with them. For this matter, SaaS companies should consider the following tools:
SaaS email marketing is the process of software business promotion with the help of a retention strategy. Even though a wide range of marketers argues about the effectiveness of email marketing, Promodo keeps proving its high effect on business development.
For instance, we have managed to generate 20% of revenue for the clothing, footwear, and household goods store Red Park, due to the effective email strategy.
You should start gathering an email base during the startup stage, although the first results can be received only in the next phase. However, we recommend not limiting yourself to the people that subscribe to your software. Leaving subscription forms on the SaaS website blog page or in the footer is a well-working tool to increase the email base.
Once you gather enough email addresses, consider their segmentation to personalize the email content and, as a result, get a higher conversion rate. You may also consider applying different widgets such as pop-ups based on viewed pages, discounts before birthdays, or sales offers for a premium subscription. Try different approaches to gain the maximum benefit of your retention strategy.
Being part of the PPC strategy, social advertising is an effective type of digital marketing for software products to be used in the process improvement stage. Even though the majority of SaaS brands target the B2B segment, utilizing social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram still benefits brand awareness and revenue growth.
In order to reach a high level of effectiveness of the SaaS social ads, test the different hypotheses with varied creatives, text on the creatives, advertising text, etc. You need to determine the most productive solutions, and invest more budget in their implementation for a more broad scope of audience.
Check out the developed Facebook and LinkedIn Ads targeted by relevant professions, positions and interests, and look-alike audience for The Place Group, which is a chain of premium and luxury office spaces, co-working spaces and meeting rooms in Dubai and the UAE.
Search advertising is another beneficial marketing technique for SaaS companies, which refers to placing digital advertisements inside search engine results, driving qualified visitors to your website. Companies are to pay the fee only when a person clicks on one of their ads, which ensures a high level of the tool’s efficiency.
Google Ads and Bing Ads are auction-based platforms that can be rather easily set up and allow a quick adaptation of ads, bids, and budgets. However, if these tools are new to you, it’s better to turn to professionals.
Performance Max is a new goal-based campaign that enables advertisers to access all Google Ads inventory from a single campaign. It can increase your leads to the SaaS website and conversions by automatically optimizing your budget and bids across all of Google’s ad platforms. In addition, Performance Max may also engage with new audience segments, due to the search engine’s real-time understanding of consumers’ intent, preferences, and online consumer behavioural patterns. Hence, implementing the Performance Max campaign will allow increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of your ads using AI and machine learning.
Last but not the least digital marketing tool to be launched in the SaaS process improvement stage is referral marketing which will allow SaaS companies to expand their customer base by rewarding their existing clients every time they share the service with others.
For instance, when referred by a friend, customers are 4 times more likely to purchase the software. What is more, SaaS companies may expect 16% more profit and an 18% lower churn rate than customers acquired by other means.
4. Growth and Scaling Stage
The fourth phase deals with the continued growth, scaling, and profitability increase of the software company. At this point, SaaS firms already possess a product and market fit. Besides, they already have traffic, leads, and conversions that need to be maximized.
Launching the digital marketing strategy at the growth and scaling stage, it is essential to focus on attracting as many customers as possible and transforming them into loyal clients that will use the SaaS from a long-term perspective. For this purpose, you probably will apply all range of previously launched tools, although consider adding the new ones as well.
At this point, affiliate marketing would be the best recommendation for all SaaS startups. Once the sales of startups grow, marketing SaaS products may become too complicated. That is why you should trust the process of driving your marketing results to professionals.
“Affiliate marketing is a great tool to be used in the growth stage when you are scaling your product”. Nikita Korchevskyi, Claspo CEO
If you have a healthy marketing budget, we recommend applying the video marketing tool for the SaaS promotion. On one hand, 90% of customers state that video helps them make buying decisions. On the other hand, in 2022, YouTube has 2.4 billion monthly users, which makes it the second most-visited website in the world.
For SaaS companies, you may consider launching several types of video content. First of all, it is a short YouTube advertisement of your software that demonstrates the features and benefits of the product.
At the same time, you also may support your video marketing strategy with “how-to videos” with a simple and detailed description of the implementation and use of the software. Considering the fact that customers are eager for constant learning and improvement, consider creating informative webinars on actual themes. Hence, in such a way, you will be able to generate comprehensive and valuable video content which would attract new leads and convert them to paying customers.
Promodo has remarkable experience in YouTube advertising strategy. Just check how we increased the brand awareness of Ergo by 4.1% which is almost twice more than the industry benchmark.
Influence marketing is a rapidly growing global trend, the size of which is to reach $16.4 billion by the end of 2022. Almost 90% of content marketers state that influence marketing ROI is higher than other digital marketing mediums.
A great example of successful influence marketing for SaaS is Canva which attracted Guy Kawasaki, Apple marketing guru, to create graphics with the help of Canva’s freemium tool that, which really got Canva noticed. Your business also may benefit from influence marketing.
5. Maturity Stage
At the maturity stage, the SaaS company is already successful, and the team’s main task is to continue this success for as long as possible. That is why you may consider introducing new services or features of the software, searching for acquisition opportunities, investing in high-tech, or even holding an initial public offering (IPO).
From the marketing point of view, there can be no universal strategy for all SaaS companies at this phase. Making it through to the maturity stage, the SaaS CEOs and top management understand where to move further. You are likely to leave all preliminary implemented tactics, including PPC, SEO, content marketing, retention, SMM, and other discussed above tools.
However, you should adapt them based on the analytics and results of their performance. For instance, you may develop a separate PPC campaign for each of the company’s software products, according to their stage of the lifecycle. In email marketing, use automatization, gamification, and loyalty programs at the maturity stage. In terms of the SMM strategy, you may consider creating tutorials. Hence, keep developing each digital marketing strategy, improving them, and tracking the analytics and feedback of customers.
Implementing the digital marketing strategy for SaaS startups is a complicated process requiring considering a huge scope of details, applying remarkable professionalism, and having years of expertise. Promodo is an experienced, skilled, and reliable marketing agency which you can rely on for your SaaS startup promotion.
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