The Ultimate Guide To SaaS Product Marketing
One of the biggest challenges for SaaS startups today is getting noticed by their potential customers. Sure, the market may be exponentially growing. But so is the competition.
Well-established SaaS companies that have been around for years are casting even wider nets. And they are getting a large chunk of the growing SaaS market.
What’s more, new SaaS startups are popping out left and right in response to the growing demand. This just makes the competition even fiercer.
And with increasing competition and plenty of choices, it can be tough to get your product in front of the right people.
So how do you stand out in the midst of a sea of competitors?
Your product is the foundation of your business. It’s what you’re selling and it’s what people are buying.
As a SaaS startup, you need to make sure that your product offers something new to the market. And of course, its quality should be up to par.
But having a great product isn’t always enough. You should be able to make it known to the people you want to sell it to.
That’s where marketing and sales come in.
But here’s the thing: SaaS marketing in itself is a complex beast. There are a lot of moving parts and if you’re not careful, you can quickly get overwhelmed.
In this article, we are specifically going to talk about product marketing and how it is important for a SaaS business, especially for startups.
What Is Product Marketing?
Product marketing is the process of creating awareness and demand for a product or service. But the focus is on the product itself.
This is in contrast to other types of SaaS marketing.
Content marketing focuses on building trust with potential customers by educating them about concepts in your niche. Social media marketing seeks to build your brand and engage your followers.
But product marketing highlights your product and what it can actually do for your customers.
It’s about figuring out who your target audience is and then coming up with a strategy to reach them.
It’s also about positioning your product in the minds of your target customers. You need to make sure that they see your product as the best option for their needs.
And finally, it’s about creating a strong brand for your product.
In other words, product marketing encompasses all the activities that go into making a SaaS startup successful. It’s an essential part of any SaaS business and should not be ignored.
In fact, it is the most important aspect of marketing, especially for early-stage SaaS businesses.
Components Of A Product Marketing Strategy
When it comes to product marketing, you need four things: features and benefits, product messaging, differentiation, and market positioning.
Features And Benefits
Features and benefits are the most important aspects of your product.
After all, features are the specific attributes of your SaaS solution. They are what makes your product unique.
Benefits are the results that those features produce. They answer the question, “What’s in it for me?”
So it’s really important to highlight the problems that your SaaS product can solve.
For example, a SaaS product may have the feature of being able to track employee productivity. The benefit of this feature could be that businesses can see which employees are productive and which ones need improvement.
You need to make the distinction between the two. Your customers won’t always understand your SaaS product’s features. But they will understand the benefits that they can get out of it.
This will be crucial to your messaging down the road.
Speaking of messaging…
Your product messaging should be clear and concise. It needs to capture the essence of your product and what it can do for your customers.
It should also be motivating. You want to make people feel like they need your product in their lives.
Your product messaging should be consistent across all your marketing channels. This means using the same choice of words and tone in your website copy, social media posts, and email campaigns.
Differentiation From Competitors
You also need to differentiate your SaaS product from your competitors. This can be done in a number of ways.
One way is to focus on the unique features of your product. You can highlight the benefits that only your product provides.
Some SaaS providers specialize in customizability. Some focus on aesthetics and visuals. While some leverage AI functionalities in their SaaS solutions.
So what’s your SaaS product’s specialization? You can use that to stand out among your competitors.
You can also position your product as being better than the competition. This can be done by highlighting your product’s competitive advantages against your competitors’ products.
And finally, you can focus on a specific niche in the market. This allows you to tap into a group of potential customers that your competitors may not be targeting.
Market positioning is all about how you want your SaaS product to be perceived in the minds of your target customers.
You need to think about what needs your SaaS product fulfills for them. And then you need to position your product as the best solution for those needs.
One way to do this is by taking off from your SaaS product’s specialization. What sets it apart from your competitors?
Why Product Marketing Is Important
Now that we’ve gone over the important components of product marketing, let’s talk about why it’s so important.
It Puts Your Product, Marketing, And Sales Teams On The Same Page
If you would create a diagram of your product, sales, and marketing teams, product marketing would fall right in the middle.
This is because product marketing bridges the gap between those teams.
You form a way to communicate the different key aspects of your product. Then you pass that messaging all across your sales and marketing teams.
This way, your team is better aligned and they can all work together to achieve a common goal.
It Is The Basis For All Your Succeeding Marketing Efforts
As we discussed earlier, SaaS marketing is a vast discipline. There are a lot of aspects to it. There’s content marketing, paid ads, demand generation, and a lot more.
But these aspects can’t be your starting point, especially if you’re a SaaS startup. If you run blogs or ads without getting your messaging together, you will likely end up wasting a lot of money.
That’s what makes product marketing important. It should be the foundation of your marketing efforts.
It has your market positioning, product messaging, and everything you need to make sure that all succeeding marketing efforts are cohesive and consistent with your brand.
It Helps You Establish Product-Market Fit
Product-market fit is a term startup founders like to throw around a lot. But what does it actually mean?
It’s when your product satisfies a specific need for a particular market. And it’s not just about having a SaaS solution that people want. It’s also about making sure that there’s a market for your product.
Let me put it bluntly. Even if you create the most technologically advanced and user-friendly SaaS product in the world, if no one needs it, no one would buy it.
That’s why you need to consider your target market first before designing your SaaS solution. You need to find out what their most pressing pain points are. Then tailor-fit your product according to those needs.
That’s also where product marketing comes in. Its market research aspect helps you understand the needs of your target market and determine if there’s a fit between them and your product.
It Focuses On High-Quality Leads
One of the goals of product marketing is to generate leads. But not just any kind of lead. Product marketing focuses on high-quality leads that are most likely to convert into paying customers.
You see, as an early-stage SaaS business, you don’t have to attract a million people right off the bat. You might have to start small and work your way up.
You just need to attract and close the right people. And product marketing can help you with that.
You can do this by targeting the right market and sending them the right message. If you can do these two things correctly, then you will be able to generate leads that have a higher chance of converting.
Having a small number of high-quality leads will enable you to double down and increase your chances of closing them. And closing a group of early adopters will build your momentum towards selling to those millions of customers in the future.
How To Build A Product Marketing Strategy
Now that we’ve gone over what product marketing is and its importance, it’s time to talk about how you can build a product marketing strategy for your SaaS product.
There are several steps you need to take:
- Define Your Target Market
- Set Specific Goals
- Create Your Positioning Statement
- Develop Your Product Messaging
- Mobilize The Message Through Your Sales And Marketing Teams
- Always Test And Refine Your Product Marketing Strategy
Let’s go over each one:
1) Define Your Target Market
The first step is to identify who your target market is. This involves conducting market research to understand their needs.
You need to ask yourself some questions such as: Who are they? What are their demographics? What are their interests? What are their needs?
Knowing your target market will pave the way for you to create the right product messaging and market positioning.
If you want to attract and engage your target market, your messaging and positioning have to be based on their specific preferences. The more specific it is, the better.
In fact, your target market is still too broad when it comes to marketing. It would still be filled with a large pool of individuals or businesses that have different preferences and interests.
That’s why you still need to narrow it down to smaller, bite-sized groups. These include your target audience, ideal customer profile (ICP), and target buyer persona.
Target Audience: Your target audience is the group of people that you want to reach with your SaaS product. This is more specific than your target market.
What’s the difference?
Your target market consists of all of the people or businesses that may have use for your SaaS solution. On the other hand, your target audience is more specific than that. Usually, they have distinct needs that your SaaS product can offer.
For example, let’s say you’re offering an AI-driven sales automation solution. While your target market is all businesses that have a sales team, your target audience would be those who are specifically looking for AI automation.
Knowing your target audience can help you craft more targeted marketing materials that would appeal to them more.
Ideal Customer Profile (ICP): An ideal customer profile (ICP) is a more specific version of your target audience. It shows more details about your ideal buyer. These details include firmographic, environmental, and behavioral factors that characterize them.
Creating an ICP will help you focus on the right leads when you’re doing your SaaS product marketing.
You see, when you know who your ICP is, you would know what kind of messaging and offer will resonate with them more. You can also use this to create targeted ad campaigns that would attract the right leads.
To create an ICP, start by determining the specific characteristics of your target audience. For B2B SaaS businesses, you need to lay out the firmographic data about your ICP.
Firmographic factors include the size of the company, industry, location, and more.
Once you have a well-crafted ICP, you can then create a buyer persona that embodies all of those characteristics.
Speaking of developing a buyer persona…
Target Buyer Persona: A target buyer persona is a fictional character that represents all of the characteristics of your ideal customer. Creating one will help you understand your target market better and allow you to further craft targeted content more effectively.
Think of it like a basketball team. Your target market is all basketball players and coaches. Your target audience is the NBA. Your ICP is one of the teams in the NBA. And your target buyer persona is a coach or a player in the team.
When creating a target buyer persona, make sure to give them a name and include as many details about them as possible. The more details you have, the better.
For example, you can create a buyer persona called “The Executive.”
This persona would represent male or female executives in large companies. They’re probably in their 40s or 50s and have years of experience in their field. They’re looking for SaaS solutions that can help them streamline their business processes and give them a considerable ROI.
Another persona could be “The End-User.” They are highly technical and are involved with the nitty-gritty of the business processes. They’re mainly looking for SaaS solutions that are easy to use and can help them be better at their job.
Keep in mind that these are just examples. You can create as many buyer personas as you want, depending on your target market and target audience.
The reason why you need to develop these personas is to further personalize not just your messaging, but your tone as well. After all, a company executive would have different perspectives and motivations than those of a supervisor or an entry-level employee.
2) Set Specific Goals
The next step is to set your goals. This will help you determine what you want to achieve with your product marketing strategy.
Some SaaS companies want to increase brand awareness. Others want to generate more leads or convert more customers. There are also those who want to improve customer retention rates.
No matter what your goal is, make sure that it’s specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).
For example, you have a goal of growing your customer base. A metric-based SMART goal would be increasing your win rate to 80% within a year.
Having these kinds of objectives would help you motivate or even incentivize your sales and marketing teams. It would also give you actionable insights into your teams’ performance.
If you are not successful in hitting your goals, you may need to rethink your strategy or give your teams a pep talk. If you are, you could celebrate and give your teams a bonus.
If you want to learn more about metrics that you can use for measuring your performance and setting SMART goals, you’ll read more about them further down this blog post.
3) Create Your Positioning Statement
After setting your goals, it’s time to create your positioning statement. This is a short sentence that defines how you want your target market to perceive your SaaS product.
It should answer the question: Why should they buy your product instead of your competitors’?
Your positioning statement will serve as the foundation of your SaaS product marketing strategy. Everything else that you’ll do will be based on this.
To create an effective positioning statement, start by determining your SaaS product’s unique selling proposition (USP). This is what sets your product apart from the competition.
Once you have your USP, craft a sentence that would concisely describe it. Make sure that it’s clear and easy to understand.
Let’s take a look at a few compelling USPs by known SaaS providers:
Pipedrive: “Pipedrive is the first CRM platform made for salespeople, by salespeople”
Slack: “All your communication in one place, integrating with the tools and services you use every day”
Xero: “Beautiful cloud accounting”
See how these short statements highlight what sets their products apart from the competition? You can craft a killer USP too.
For example, if you have a SaaS product that helps businesses with their accounting, your USP could be its real-time financial insights. Your positioning statement could be something like “Real-time insights into your business’ finances.”
4) Develop Your Product Messaging
Once you have your positioning statement, you can now develop your messaging. This includes creating your tagline, value proposition, and other key messages.
Your messaging should be aligned with your positioning statement. It should also be consistent with the overall tone and voice of your SaaS brand.
Let’s talk about two types of product messaging statements: value proposition and tagline.
Value Proposition: Your value proposition is a short statement that describes the benefits of using your SaaS product.
It should be able to answer the question: What’s in it for me?
Your value proposition should be clear, concise, and easy to understand. It should also be relevant to your target market.
And yes, it’s different from the USP. The USP conveys the benefits of your SaaS product and how different it is from your competitors. While your value proposition is more focused on the customer and what kind of value they would get from using your product.
Let’s take a look at the value proposition of a few SaaS providers. To make a clearer distinction from USP, let’s have the value propositions of the brands we used in the USP examples:
“The all-in-one sales platform for growing revenue” – Pipedrive
“Transform the way you work with one place for everyone and everything you need to get stuff done” – Slack
“Accounting software to do your to-do” – Xero
See how these statements are short, sweet, and to the point? They’re also relevant to their target markets. That’s what you should aim for when crafting your own SaaS product’s value proposition
What’s more, notice how the value propositions are more content-heavy than the USPs.
That’s because they focus more on communicating the value of the products. In contrast, USPs are more designed to be catchy and memorable statements that would reel in potential customers.
Tagline: Your tagline should be a short, catchy phrase that describes what your SaaS product does. It should be able to capture the interest of your target market and make them want to know more about your product.
The main difference between your tagline and value proposition is that your tagline is more focused on getting attention. While your value proposition is more focused on providing information.
Here are the taglines of the SaaS brands we’ve been using as examples:
“The only sales tool you need” – Pipedrive
“Slack is your digital HQ” – Slack
“Do beautiful business” – Xero
Notice how these taglines are short and attention-grabbing. That’s what you should aim for when crafting your SaaS product’s tagline.
They may share some words or phrases with your USP or value proposition. But these short statements are made to pique your target audience’s interest and be easily remembered. That would increase the chances of them going back to your website and buying your SaaS product.
5) Mobilize The Message Through Your Sales And Marketing Teams
Now that you have your product positioning, USP, value proposition, and tagline, it’s time to mobilize these messages through your marketing and sales teams.
Your marketing team should be able to use these statements in their campaigns and communications. They should also be able to align their strategies with your SaaS product’s overall message.
Meanwhile, your sales team should be able to use these statements when they’re talking to potential customers. These will help them close more deals and increase revenue for your SaaS business.
At the early stages, being on the same page with your sales team should be your priority.
Remember that you’re not trying to attract a large crowd right away. You just need to find leads that fit your ICP and focus on closing them.
But as your SaaS product grows, you’ll need to make sure that your marketing and sales teams are always aligned. The goal is to have a cohesive message that would reach all your potential customers.
6) Always Test And Refine Your SaaS Product Marketing Strategy
The SaaS market is constantly changing. Trends come and go rapidly. What works today may not work tomorrow.
That’s why it’s important to always test and refine your SaaS product marketing strategy.
This means constantly evaluating your marketing campaigns and strategies. See what’s working and what’s not. Then make the necessary changes to improve your SaaS product marketing.
But how can you accurately measure your product marketing performance?
You need the right product marketing metrics. Some of the most important SaaS product marketing metrics you should track are:
Conversion Rates: This measures how effective your SaaS product marketing is in converting leads into customers. You can also compute your conversion rates for each stage of the SaaS sales funnel.
Sales Velocity: This measures how fast you can convert a lead into a customer. It’s the average time it takes for a newly generated lead to be closed as a customer.
The sales velocity is a good metric to track if you want to see how well your sales and lead nurturing efforts are performing.
Signups: This measures the number of people who sign up for your SaaS product. If you’re using a free trial or a freemium model, you can also count the number of signups for them.
This is a good metric to track if you want to measure how effective your marketing and sales efforts are.
Activation rate: Activation is an action that would indicate that your SaaS product has already delivered value to a free user. It’s totally up to you what that specific action is.
It can vary depending on the niche of your SaaS product.
For example, if you’re selling a lead generation solution, your user acquiring a certain number of leads could count as an activation. Or if you have an email marketing SaaS solution, activation could mean being able to automate a specific number of emails.
Or it could just be the simple act of the customer buying a paid plan for your SaaS product.
Again, your activation could be any action as long as it indicates that your free user has already experienced the value of your SaaS solution.
Retention Rate: This SaaS product marketing metric measures the percentage of customers who stay with your SaaS product over a certain period of time.
But there are a lot of factors that affect customer retention. Among those are your product’s performance, customer support, and marketing.
That’s why it’s important to get feedback and reviews from your customers in order to pinpoint the real reasons why your customers are staying.
Churn Rate: This SaaS product marketing metric is the opposite of the retention rate. It measures the percentage of customers who cancel or don’t renew their subscription to your SaaS product.
A high churn rate indicates that there’s something wrong with your SaaS product. Maybe it’s not delivering the promised value. Or maybe your customer support team isn’t doing its job very well.
Whatever it is, you need to identify and address it immediately. Again, listening to your customers’ feedback is also crucial in knowing what causes them to leave.
These are just some of the most important SaaS product marketing metrics you should track. There are other equally important ones as well. But these should give you a good starting point.
Final Thoughts About SaaS Product Marketing
SaaS product marketing is essential if you want your SaaS product to be successful. It’s not enough to just build a great SaaS solution. You also need to market it effectively.
Product marketing is a necessity for all SaaS businesses, especially startups. It helps you know your target audience and achieve product-market fit. What’s more, enables you to establish your market positioning and product messaging.
Product marketing sets the tone for all your future sales and marketing campaigns.
But don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying that product marketing is important only for fledgling SaaS businesses. You still need it as you grow.
After all, it ensures that your product, sales, and marketing team are as cohesive as possible. And that is crucial to any growing SaaS company no matter how long you’ve been in business.
Looking for more strategies and guides on growing your SaaS business? Visit our marketing blog here.