Your Complete Guide To SaaS Community Marketing
Did you know that 85% of marketers say that an online community is essential in improving their customer journey and brand trust?
What’s more, growing an online community has been an increasingly popular business growth strategy over the recent years. It can be a great way to increase your brand’s presence in whatever industry you’re in.
In fact, more than 58% of all brands today each have either an online or in-person active SaaS community that does wonders to their business growth.
But what is SaaS community marketing? How can a SaaS business leverage this emerging trend to its advantage?
In this guide, we will give you a comprehensive overview of what SaaS community marketing is all about.
By the end of it, you will learn about SaaS community marketing, its pros and cons, the types of online communities you can engage in, and how to create a solid community marketing strategy.
So let’s dive right in.
Definition Of Community Marketing
So what is community marketing?
To understand what community marketing is all about, let’s take those two words apart: community and marketing.
A community is a group of people who share a common interest, value, goal, or profession. These people may meet in-person (like a book club or a SaaS conference) or online (like SaaS forums, Facebook groups, and subreddits).
In the context of community marketing, though, you will mostly deal with online communities.
Marketing, on the other hand, is the process of creating awareness about a product or service and connecting with potential customers. It involves activities such as advertising campaigns, PR initiatives, content creation, etc.
So when you combine community and marketing together, you get community marketing — using communities as part of your SaaS marketing strategy to create meaningful relationships with prospects and customers.
It’s about engaging with people who have similar interests in SaaS technology or the specific niche that your SaaS product caters to.
When executed well, SaaS community marketing can help you increase brand awareness, drive more leads and sales, and build customer loyalty.
Types Of Online Communities
Within SaaS community marketing, there are several kinds of online communities you can take advantage of:
Organic communities are groups that were made by the members themselves. They are typically formed spontaneously and are often based on topics that SaaS users find interesting.
Examples of these may include a Facebook group made by salespeople, and was created for sharing sales strategies. Or it could be a subreddit on Reddit dedicated to a certain SaaS-related technology, like AI.
Community marketing with this type of group typically involves you simply joining the community, becoming an active member, and building your credibility within the group.
If you manage to build relationships and trust with the other members, you may even be able to promote your SaaS product in a more natural, organic way.
Joining this type of community is an excellent way to find new prospects and leads, as well as build your SaaS brand’s reputation.
However, you will have very little control over what other members would say about your brand. If other people in the group start posting negative comments about it, all you can do is respond in a professional manner and address their concerns.
The second type of SaaS online community is the sponsored community, which is created by SaaS businesses themselves.
This type of community will give you control over the content that’s shared within it, as well as the type of people who are joining the group. You can even set up guidelines and rules to ensure that conversations remain relevant to your SaaS product.
An example of this would be setting up an exclusive private Facebook group for people with the same interests and having an admin or moderators manage the conversation there. Or maybe creating a forum specifically dedicated to discussing topics related to your SaaS business.
For a more specific example, let’s say your SaaS business works in the video editing niche. You can create a Facebook group or Discord server that focuses on video editing topics and sharing tips and resources.
This type of SaaS community can be great for generating high-quality leads and nurturing them to become paying customers.
But it does require a lot more effort on your part since you’ll need to actively manage and moderate the group on a regular basis. That’s why it might not be feasible for some SaaS businesses who don’t have enough manpower or resources.
The third type of SaaS communities are brand or company-hosted communities. These are usually for SaaS businesses who already have an established presence and audience.
The main goal of this type of SaaS community is to foster relationships with current customers and prospects, as well as build customer loyalty.
Examples may include creating a private community where only invited members can join, or setting up a Slack channel solely dedicated to your SaaS product.
Having a community branding strategy will help you keep your customers engaged and update them on the latest developments regarding your SaaS product. It’s also great for providing support and addressing any questions or concerns that users might have about your SaaS business.
What’s more, a brand community can also be a good place to foster brand advocacy among your loyal customers.
Benefits Of SaaS Community Marketing
Community marketing provides a lot of benefits to any type of business implementing it. But it can be even more useful for SaaS businesses.
Here are some benefits you can get from SaaS community marketing:
It Humanizes Your Brand
If you’re running a SaaS business or any company in the tech industry, it can be a challenge to relate with your potential customers on a personal level. After all, you’re selling a very technical and complex product .
But SaaS community marketing can help bridge that gap. It gives you a place to interact with your customers and prospects on a more personal level, which will make your SaaS brand more relatable and likable. This can also result in higher customer loyalty and engagement for your SaaS product.
It Builds Your Topical Authority
By participating in SaaS communities, you can also establish yourself as an expert in the field. This will give people more confidence in your SaaS product and make them more likely to become paying customers.
It Can Improve Customer Experience
Another benefit of SaaS community marketing is that it can greatly improve your customer experience.
When you have an online community dedicated specifically for SaaS customers, they can get answers to their questions faster and learn more about the product from other members in the group.
This will make them feel more valued and appreciated as customers, which in turn leads to longer-lasting relationships with them.
It Increases Brand Awareness & Visibility
If SaaS community marketing is done right, it can help increase brand awareness and visibility for your SaaS business.
As people start talking about your SaaS product on social media or online forums, this will create a ripple effect that will eventually lead to more people becoming aware of your SaaS product.
Wait, that sounds like word-of-mouth marketing, right?
You’re absolutely correct. SaaS community marketing can effectively leverage word-of-mouth marketing – and it can be extremely powerful.
With a tight-knit brand community, you can turn your customers into brand advocates and get even more people talking about your SaaS product. This will ultimately lead to more visibility and sales for your SaaS business.
It Can Help Generate High-Quality Leads
Whether you have an organic, sponsored, or a brand community marketing campaign, your community can be a very powerful lead generation machine.
And not just ordinary leads. We’re talking about high-quality leads here.
By engaging with your SaaS community, you can get insights on what they are looking for and their needs in a SaaS product. You can then use this valuable data to create content that will speak directly to your target audience.
What’s more, as you build brand advocacy within your existing customer base, the community can be their platform for bringing in referrals.
Most importantly, these high-quality leads usually come at a lower cost compared to other forms of marketing.
It Can Increase Your SaaS Company Valuation
With the rising trend of community marketing and community-led growth, a well-established brand community is now considered an asset for a SaaS company.
Having a vibrant SaaS community can help increase the value of your SaaS business. Investors and potential buyers will look for companies that have a strong customer base and active brand community, as this almost always equates to high customer retention rates.
So if you’re thinking about selling or raising capital for your SaaS business, having a thriving SaaS community can be incredibly beneficial for getting the best deal or funding.
Potential Drawbacks Of SaaS Community Marketing
As potent as it is, community marketing still has its drawbacks. For SaaS businesses, some of the potential drawbacks include the following:
It Takes Time To Build A Successful SaaS Community
If you’re building a sponsored or brand community, it takes a lot of time and dedication to get it running. You need to come up with engaging content, find the right people to join your SaaS community, constantly engage with new and existing members, etc.
What’s more, it’s nice to talk about customer loyalty and brand advocacy and all. But all of those nice things take a lot of time and effort. So make sure you’re prepared to invest in SaaS community marketing before getting started.
It Can Easily Lead To Unwanted Conflict
When you have a SaaS product, it’s very likely that customers will have different views on features or new updates. This can sometimes lead to conflict, which isn’t always ideal for SaaS companies.
Also, since SaaS products are usually subscription-based and long-term commitments, people may be quick to raise questions or demands that may not be easily resolved or addressed by the SaaS company
Again, this could lead to unwanted tension in your SaaS community – so it is important to manage expectations and also set up some ground rules for your SaaS community.
It Needs Specific Skills To Manage
Having a SaaS community also requires certain skills. You need to be able to communicate with people from different backgrounds, manage conflicts without raising tension, come up with interesting content, and so on.
If you don’t have someone in-house who is equipped for SaaS community management, then it might mean having to invest in a third-party agency.
This could add extra costs to running your SaaS business. But at least you can sleep soundly knowing that your SaaS community is in good hands.
How To Create A SaaS Community Marketing Strategy
Now that you’re familiar with SaaS community marketing and its potential drawbacks, let’s take a look at how to create an effective SaaS community marketing strategy:
1) Set Your Goals For Your SaaS Community
Before you start building your SaaS community, it is important to decide on what goals you’re trying to achieve with it.
Your goal will determine pretty much everything else about your community marketing campaign — what type of community you’re going to engage in, how you’ll engage them, the content you’ll create and share, etc.
One of the awesome things about community based marketing is that it can fulfill many different goals and play a lot of functions at the same time.
Here are some of goals you can fulfill with a community marketing strategy:
Build brand awareness: SaaS communities are excellent platforms to build your SaaS brand, especially if you join a well-established organic community with the specific intent of building brand awareness.
Prospecting and lead generation: SaaS communities are great for connecting with potential customers, gathering leads and nurturing them into paying customers.
Customer support: SaaS companies can use SaaS communities to provide customer support as well as answer questions that new users may have about your SaaS product.
You may even want to facilitate peer-to-peer support within your SaaS community, so you can encourage collaboration between members.
Customer feedback: SaaS community allows SaaS companies to get direct feedback from its members on features, product roadmap, etc.
Fostering brand loyalty and advocacy: SaaS communities can be great for improving customer retention, as members of your SaaS community are more likely to stick around and become loyal customers.
2) Identify Your Target Audience
Once you’ve decided on the goals of your SaaS community, it is important to identify who your target audience is.
Who are the people who will benefit most from joining your SaaS community? Who are the influencers and thought leaders in your space? What type of content do they like to engage with?
These questions can help you get a better understanding of who should be part of your SaaS community and how to engage them effectively.
What would help is classifying them based on demographic and psychographic factors.
Psychographics: These include interests, lifestyle, values, and beliefs. They are important if there is a certain psychographic profile of people you need to reach out to with your SaaS product.
The shared interests themselves could be the common ground that would bring your community together.
For example, let’s say you want to build an online community centered on graphic design. Then your target would be people who are interested in art and graphic design.
Demographics: These include age, gender, location, occupation, and other factors. They are important if there is only a certain demographic you want to focus on.
Let’s take our previous example where you have a community for graphic designers. You could further refine your target audience by identifying the age range of the people you want to reach.
3) Choose A Platform For Your SaaS Community
If you’re building a sponsored community or brand community, you need to decide on the platform or platforms you will use to create and manage your group.
It’s important to choose a platform that will be suitable to your goals and your target audience.
There are many possibilities, but here are some of the most popular SaaS community platforms:
Social Media Channels: Social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter are the most common SaaS community platforms. After all, almost everyone is already on social media. Joining your group would only take one or two clicks.
What’s more, setting up a Facebook group or LinkedIn group can help you build a more exclusive community, as only members of the group would be able to view or take part in the discussion.
Online Forum Sites: Online forums like Reddit and Quora are great for SaaS communities as they provide an open platform to discuss any topic, including SaaS-related ones.
Some platforms like Reddit, however, usually have a more casual and informal atmosphere and may be more suitable for a B2C audience or ones composed of end-users.
Your Website: If you want to build a SaaS community with extra features and more control over it, then having your own SaaS-focused website is the way to go. You can also create separate sections for different types of SaaS users and discussions.
However, it can be a challenge getting people to join a SaaS community on your website, as they will need to sign up and log in with their credentials.
What’s more, checking your website won’t be as likely to be in their routine as, say, browsing their social media feed or forum sites.
Plus, you will have to manage and maintain the website yourself.
Discord and Slack: These two SaaS community platforms are focused on real-time communication, making them perfect for SaaS companies who want to host live events or provide customer support.
Discord is a voice over internet protocol (VoIP) and community platform primarily focused on gamers. Although more and more businesses and other organizations are starting to use it not just as a messaging tool within their businesses, but also as a community platform.
Slack, on the other hand, has a cleaner and more professional look, which makes it perfect if your community members are professionals and businessmen.
Both of these SaaS platforms offer great features, like customization and integration with other SaaS tools.
What’s more, you can create multiple conversation channels within one server. This is particularly useful for large communities as they can provide specific discussion channels for different topics.
For example, you can have one channel for sharing advice. Then another channel for discussions about your SaaS product. Then another for memes. And so on
Third-Party Community Platforms: You can also use third-party SaaS community platforms like Tribe and Mighty Networks. These SaaS platforms offer a wide range of features designed to make it easier for SaaS companies to build and manage their communities.
For example, Tribe enables you to customize your community branding, manage multiple community channels you may be using, and a whole bunch of other features.
Mighty Networks, on the other hand, offers more features that focus on engagement such as ice breaker questions and welcome checklists. It also allows you to reward your members for inviting other SaaS professionals to the community.
These SaaS platforms are usually subscription-based, but may be worth it if you have a large enough SaaS community or want more control and customization of your SaaS community.
4) Create A Content Plan
Once you’ve chosen the SaaS community platform that best suits your needs, it’s time to create a SaaS content calendar. This will help keep the conversation going in your SaaS community and ensure that members have plenty of interesting topics to talk about.
Your SaaS content plan should focus on the different types of SaaS-related content that you can share with your community. These can include blog posts, videos, webinars, case studies, interviews, events, and more.
You can also use this plan as an opportunity to test out different SaaS topics or approaches for engagement — for example, polls and surveys are great for getting quick feedback from members or starting conversations.
A solid content plan includes the following:
- Content topics
- Content types
- Date of posting
- Discussion questions
That last bullet point is very important when you’re sharing content in a community.
After all, SaaS communities are meant to be interactive. By including discussion questions at the end of each post or video, you can encourage members to share their opinions and engage with each other.
Creating a content plan is not a one-time thing. You should review and update it regularly to ensure that you are providing your SaaS community with fresh content.
By planning out your SaaS content plan on a regular basis, you can ensure that conversations in your SaaS community remain vibrant. This will also help give your SaaS community an identity, allowing it to stand out from other SaaS-focused groups online.
5) Build Your Community Management Team
Creating and growing a SaaS community takes A LOT of time, effort, and resources. You can’t possibly do it alone.
That’s why it’s important to build a community management team to help you in handling your SaaS community..
A SaaS community manager can help you manage the conversations happening in your SaaS community and provide support for members when needed. They can also help keep an eye on other SaaS communities, so that the SaaS content you share is up-to-date and relevant.
What’s more, they can even help you create and share content that resonates with the SaaS community and make sure that it reaches the right people.
6) Know Your Community Marketing Metrics
At the end of the day, SaaS community marketing is all about growth. That’s why it’s important to track your SaaS community marketing metrics so you can measure your success and make improvements if needed.
These SaaS community marketing metrics include:
Number of members: The most straightforward thing to measure is the number of members that your SaaS community has. You can celebrate certain milestones, such as reaching 100 or 1000 members, to keep the SaaS community engaged and motivated.
Member Growth Rate: More than just the number of members, you’ll want to track the rate at which your SaaS community is growing. This will help you determine if your SaaS content plan and community management team are effective or need a tweak.
Engagement: Numbers aren’t everything when it comes to building a SaaS community. Your members need to be engaged in the SaaS conversations, which is why you should measure how often SaaS discussions take place.
Engagement helps measure how active the SaaS community is and even allows you to identify members who could potentially be brand advocates. You can also use this data to identify which types of content resonate most with SaaS community members.
Retention Rate: This metric measures how many members stay in the SaaS community over time. The higher your retention rate, the better engagement, loyalty, and value you’re providing to your SaaS community members.
By measuring SaaS community marketing metrics, you can adjust your SaaS content plan and SaaS community management team accordingly. This will ensure that the SaaS group remains active and engaged over time.
Community Building Strategies & Best Practices
Now that you know the basics of SaaS community marketing, it’s time to look at SaaS community building strategies and best practices.
These tips will help ensure that your SaaS community grows, stays engaged, and provides value to all its members.
Create A Safe Space For Community Discussions
Healthy discussions between members is the lifeblood of community building. To encourage SaaS conversations, you need to create a safe and welcoming space.
But how do you exactly do that? Here are some tips:
Establish Clear Rules and Regulations: Make sure the SaaS community knows what’s acceptable and unacceptable behavior in the group. This will help ensure that conversations remain respectful, constructive, and helpful.
And make sure to enforce these policies. If someone in the group steps out of line, be sure to address the issue quickly.
Don’t be afraid to kick out unruly members if they continue their disrespectful behavior after multiple warnings. The benefits of doing that will outweigh the losses.
Encourage Discussion Between Members: SaaS communities are all about having conversations. To keep SaaS discussions alive and active, ask questions or start polls that invite members to share their opinion.
You can also encourage peer-to-peer support by asking active members to respond to their fellow members’ questions.
Show Appreciation For Contributors: When someone contributes to a SaaS conversation, make sure you thank them for it.
This helps show your appreciation for SaaS community members who go above and beyond. It will also encourage other SaaS community members to contribute more as well.
Provide Opportunities To Influence Brand Decisions
SaaS community members want to feel like their voices are being heard. That’s why you should provide SaaS community members with opportunities to influence brand decisions and offer feedback on your SaaS product
This will make SaaS community members feel valued and give them a sense of ownership — not just on the community, but on your SaaS product too.
This sense of ownership can be a powerful driver for customer loyalty and advocacy.
So how do you involve your community members in your decisions? Here are some ideas:
Polls and Surveys: Ask SaaS community members for their thoughts and opinions on various decisions you’re going to make.
You can ask them for something as simple as what content they’d like to see next. Or it can be as big as which feature to add on the next upgrade.
Focus Groups: If you’re looking for more meaningful input from SaaS community members, consider setting up focus groups.
In these groups, your team can have in-depth conversations with SaaS community members about their ideas about the decisions and changes you’re about to make in your SaaS business.
Beta Testing: You can invite SaaS community members to try out new SaaS products or features before it’s released and give their feedback.
By including SaaS community members in your SaaS product development process, you show them that their voices are heard and that you value their feedback.
Support A Cause (& Mean It)
Having a social responsibility program or a cause you support can be one of the most powerful SaaS community building strategies.
You can support a cause by donating money, spreading awareness about it, or even create your own program.
For example, you can advocate renewable energy by using it yourself in your daily operations. You can also share content and facts about shifting to renewable sources of energy.
Campaigning for social causes like this will show SaaS community members that your SaaS business cares about more than just profits. It also shows that you’re a SaaS brand that has principles and values — something many SaaS customers look for in the businesses they buy from.
By doing this, SaaS community members will become more emotionally invested in your SaaS business and be more willing to recommend it to their friends and family.
But it’s important to make sure your SaaS company is actually committed to the cause — beyond just talk. You need to back up your statements with meaningful actions and contributions.
This will help build SaaS customer trust and loyalty — two essential elements for any SaaS business today.
Events are a great way to bring SaaS community members together and build relationships with them. You can hold events like webinars, workshops, and even networking sessions.
These types of events will give your SaaS community members an opportunity to learn about new trends in the SaaS industry, get tips for using SaaS products, and share best practices with each other.
And it’s also an opportunity for you to show SaaS customers that your SaaS business cares about their success — thus strengthening customer loyalty.
You can also organize SaaS virtual events or challenges like scavenger hunts or hackathons. These types of activities not only help foster relationships with SaaS community members, but it also gives SaaS customers a sense of excitement and belonging.
Provide Exclusive Content
Exclusive content is a great way to reward SaaS community members and make them feel special. This can be things like eBooks, online courses, cheat sheets, and white papers.
By providing SaaS customers with exclusive content, you show SaaS community members that you value their participation in your SaaS business — thus increasing customer loyalty.
Plus, it also encourages SaaS community members to spread the word about your SaaS business to others.
You can also provide access to exclusive SaaS product features or discounts for SaaS products for SaaS community members who have been active and loyal for a certain period of time.
Doing this can encourage SaaS customers to stick around and be more active in your SaaS business as they look forward to these rewards.
Final Thoughts About SaaS Community Marketing
SaaS community marketing can be a powerful way to drive customer growth, retention, and even advocacy. However, growing a SaaS community is easier said than done.
In the first place, it already requires a lot of time, effort, and resources.
What’s more, there’s no guarantee that your community members will respond or behave the way that you want them to.
That’s why you need to plan it thoroughly. From thinking of your target audience up to having healthy discussions with them, it has to follow a solid strategy.
And of course, consistency is key. You need to roll out new content regularly and consistently engage your community members through discussions.
Yes, SaaS community marketing is hard. But if you do it right, it can lead to a significant boost in your customer loyalty and brand advocacy.
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