The Ingredients of a Great SaaS Marketing Plan

Marketing plans for SaaS companies can get fairly complex. These typically include attracting prospects, converting them to customers, retaining those customers and growing the revenue per user. To succeed, marketers need a detailed plan of action customized for their service as well as for the step in the conversion funnel. Like a favorite holiday meal, your plan will be tailored to your audience, but there are few key ingredients everyone needs for ultimate success:

Lead Acquisition

There’s no single lead acquisition strategy that works for all SaaS companies. It depends on how aware your target customers are of your brand and your product. Based on that, you need to cast a wide net to find the tactics and channels that work the best.

Draw attention with superior content.
Determine the type of content that will resonate with your target audience. Use a content calendar to create content on a regular basis. Useful and valuable articles, videos and infographics supported with search engine optimization (SEO) form a lead generation engine that grows in power over time.  

content calendar

Support content with social media sharing and high-quality off-page links from authoritative sites and social media influencers.

Create awareness for your SaaS 
If you are in a cutting-edge vertical with little demand because potential clients aren’t aware of your service, then invest time and money in driving that awareness. This will require attending conferences, trade shows, and even sponsored placements in industry publications. 

Build trust with strong reviews 
If you’re ready to redline the lead generation engine, recruit current fans to attract new ones with reviews and referrals. A Capterra study found that 64% of software buyers want to read at least 6 reviews before purchasing 

referral

Go one step further and create a referral program in which current users introduce your product to others. Dropbox, for example, ran a hugely successful program, in which they offered extra free storage to people who referred their service and new users they brought in. 

Capture serious buyers with paid ads 
If your target market is aware of your SaaS, then you may be able to tap into prospects that are ready to convert through search marketing. Paid search and programmatic advertising will further complement your content by attracting people ready to buy. Experiment with the best channels, times of day and demographics to optimize the response from your target audience. 

 

Lead Conversion 

Now that you’ve gotten some attention or even free trial users, you still need to convince people to actually use your product and understand how your product will make their lives easier, more fun, or less painful. You now have their permission to start talking to them. Use that privilege wisely. 

 Keep solving problems 
Emphasize the value of working with your company by providing resources that help prospects or trial  users achieve their goals. For example, if your product manages social media campaigns, share trade secrets and data about how well specific platforms perform with different demographics.  

Communicate the right message at the right time 
Develop a messaging campaign that triggers content based on what people are doing with your product. If they’ve registered for a trial, send a welcome email. If that gets opened, send another message with links to videos, how-to articles, or references. If possible, use texts and tweets to connect as well. 

Nurture Leads Based on Their Journey 
Not all leads are in the same position in their understanding of their need and the value of your SaaS product. Know who these users are, and determine where they might be in their journey based on direct and email interactions with them. Engage with them using this information.   

As far as possible, keep these interactions highly relevant. Whether you engage them through display ads or email, the information you share should be relevant and timely. 

Let the product sell itself 

buyer

You offer a free trial so people can fall in love with the product and ultimately pay for it. Thus, the software plays an important role in helping users realize its value. In addition to optimizing usability, include tool tips and hints inside the application to guide people to early success.  

  

Customer Retention & Upsell 

In the SaaS world, most purchases are subscriptions and the barriers to leaving are lower than those for other software sales. So once customers have signed up, you still have to engage them, increase your value and, if possible, upsell them to the next subscription tier. 

Keep usage up 
First, make sure people are using the product. Sometimes this is the hardest step to customer retention. Regular communication across various channels helps users dive in and experience the benefits of your software.  

Open the lines of communication 
Add chat links to the website and the application. Keep people updated about product improvements and added features so they’ll see its usefulness increasing over time. And solicit feedback regularly. 

Pick the best moment to upsell 
Keep track of user engagement with your product. When users are at a pivotal moment of engagement, upsell using on-site and email messages. Marketing guru Neil Patel recommends creating upsell offers that impart a sense of achievement to customers. For example, Buffer’s upsell offer to frequent users complements their hard work and suggests an upgrade with larger posting limits to commemorate the success. 

Reward loyalty 

loyalty

Don’t forget your best users. These customers will become your rave reviewers and referral machines. To keep them engaged, try offering an unexpected gift. Marketing Science Institute research found that surprise rewards dropped customer churn for committed users by 5.1%. 

 

Put Your Website to Work for You 

Much of a consumer’s initial interactions will take place on your website, so it should be optimized for attraction and conversion. Carefully craft your headlines and above-the-fold content based on your ideal customers’ priorities and goals.  

Make it easy to find answers 
Design your website with responsive search so people can find specific details when needed. Even better, offer chat for fast answers from any page.  

When configured thoughtfully, chatbots and live chat can be potent tools to convert as well as to engage users. Carefully examine   

Test to optimize 
Run A/B testing on all the key elements of the website. For example, simple changes in call-to-action (CTA) design, placement and wording can increase the subscription rate. Even the pricing grid layout can motivate or deter buyers. 

Test sign-up forms especially. While it’s generally accepted that fewer input fields increase conversions, that’s not the case in every situation 

 

Be Data Oriented 

At every step, measure performance against your goals and add or remove tactics until you find the program that works best. To measure the effectiveness of your efforts, ensure you have strong SaaS marketing analytics tracking in place. Once the tracking & measuring fundamentals are covered, you can then focus your attention on optimizing acquisition, conversion, retention and upsell. 

performance goals

SaaS marketers have to be everywhere at once. It’s easy to feel that your plan has to incorporate every gambit out there. But no dish should include an ingredient that doesn’t make it better. Be methodical, be precise in formulating your SaaS marketing plan using these ingredients and slowly build up your marketing success.