How To Create A Killer SaaS Startup Marketing Strategy
These days, launching a SaaS startup can be one of the most challenging things to do. But it can also be the most rewarding.
After all, the whole world is growing more dependent on SaaS solutions for their daily lives. We started doing school and our jobs remotely.
In fact, remote work is the preference now. According to a survey by FlexJobs, 65% of their respondents want to work remotely full-time even after the pandemic. Thirty-three percent (33%) prefer a hybrid of remote and on-site work setups.
Fifty-eight percent (58%) of those respondents even say that they would rather look for a new job if they weren’t allowed to continue working remotely.
Another study by UserGuiding reveals that 64% of companies all around the world are planning to retain remote work arrangements even after the pandemic.
These statistics just show that the demand for SaaS solutions won’t be dwindling anytime soon. So if you have a SaaS startup, now is the time to ride that wave.
But a growing SaaS market also means an influx of competitors. You’re not the only one who recognizes this huge opportunity.
And even if you have one of the most brilliant ideas for a SaaS product, you may find yourself going toe to toe with several competitors.
One way you can get ahead of them is by having a killer marketing strategy.
Now, it may be difficult for a fledgling SaaS company to get noticed by people. But if you have the right marketing strategies in place, you just might make it big.
In this article, we will talk about how to create a killer SaaS startup marketing strategy that can help you get ahead of your competition.
1. Do Your Market Research
First and foremost, before you do anything else, you need to do your market research.
You need to identify your target market and understand their needs and wants.
Who is your ideal customer? What are their demographics? What are their interests? What are their pain points?
The better you understand your target market, the better you can design your marketing strategies to appeal to them.
In fact, if you haven’t finished developing your SaaS product yet, you can tailor-fit it according to your target market’s actual needs.
If you successfully do that, you can establish a solid product-market fit, which would ensure that there is an actual demand for your SaaS product.
But how do you even begin learning about your target market?
Here are some ways that you can do market research:
- Focus Groups
- Competitor Research
- Online Surveys
One way to get a better understanding of your target audience is to hold focus groups.
In a focus group, you will gather a small group of people who represent your target market and have them discuss their thoughts and feelings about your SaaS solution.
This is a great way to get feedback from potential customers and see how they react to your product.
You can also learn about their needs and wants, and find out what pain points they are experiencing.
If you still haven’t decided on a pricing model and strategy for your product yet, this sit-down can also help you with that.
Here, you can describe a little bit about your product and ask them how much they are willing to pay for it. This is a great way to come up with value-based pricing for your SaaS product.
Another way to learn more about your target audience is by interviewing them one-on-one.
You can ask them about their job, their hobbies, what type of SaaS products they use, and how they feel about those products.
This is a great way to get personal insights into their thoughts and feelings about your product. Plus, you can ask them specific questions that you wouldn’t be able to ask in a focus group.
The downside to this method is that it can be hard to find willing participants who would do it without anything in return. So you might need to incentivize participants with freebies or even cash rewards.
And of course now with the prevalence of virtual meeting tools, it can be easier.
Another way to research your target market is to look at your direct competitors’ customers. This is a great way to reach out to a segment of the market that could already be interested in your product.
Take note that I’m referring to direct competitors. These include companies who offer products that offer the same features as yours.
By understanding who your direct competitors’ customers are, you can create a target market that is very similar to them.
What you can do here is to look at what your competitors’ customers are saying about their products. If they have profiles on user review sites like G2 and Capterra, those sites would be great places to start.
Which features do their customers find most useful? Which fall short of their expectations? What additional features do they wish they had access to?
Their customer reviews would give you very useful insights into the prevalent pain points in your target market.
Finally, you can also do online surveys to learn more about your target audience.
This is a great way to gather data from a large number of people. And you can ask them any question that you want.
Another great thing about surveys is that respondents can be anonymous. This anonymity may encourage them to answer your questions honestly.
Speaking of questions, you also need to ask ones that would really extract the information that you need. You could also put in a mix of both quantitative and qualitative questions.
Here are some examples of questions you could ask in an online survey about your target market:
- What is your job title?
- Do you use SaaS products? If so, which ones?
- Do you find SaaS products useful? Why or why not?
- How much would you be willing to pay for a SaaS product that (describe your SaaS product’s features and benefits)?
- What are the biggest pain points you experience with using SaaS products?
Make sure to also ask demographic questions like age, gender, and income range. This will help you understand your target market on a deeper level.
2. Narrow Down To Your Target Audience and Ideal Customer Profiles
Now that you have a good understanding of your target market, it’s time to start narrowing it down.
You see, your target market would still be filled with diverse people and businesses.
You can use three levels specifically targeting your SaaS marketing efforts: your target market, ideal customer profile (ICP), and target buyer persona.
Your target audience is a particular segment of your target market where your promotions are directed at.
For example, let’s say you are selling a SaaS solution that creates chatbots. Your target market would be all businesses that can benefit from using live chat in their sales and marketing processes.
But your target audience could be more specific than that. It is a segment of that group. They could have a particular need to use AI to streamline their marketing and sales processes. And that’s how you could package your message to them.
Remember that marketing efforts that are more specific in their targeting would be more engaging to their target audiences.
Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)
Your ideal customer profile (ICP) is a description of your ideal customer. This would be a representation of the perfect customer that you would want to have.
If you’re gunning for a B2B market your ICP would have all the firmographic details of the customer that you want. That includes their company size, industry, revenue, and more.
Target Buyer Persona
Your target buyer persona is a fictional character that represents the very person you are targeting with your SaaS marketing efforts.
It’s more specific than the ICP. Your ICP describes the ideal business that can benefit from your SaaS product. While a buyer persona is a person within that business.
For B2C audiences, possible target buyer personas could be people like stay-at-home moms, young professionals, or seniors.
You can even go further by creating a story around this persona. This would help you better understand their needs, wants, and how they think.
For B2B audiences, your buyer personas could be any person inside the company.
Traditionally, B2B SaaS providers mainly targeted executives and decision-makers. After all, they are the people inside the company who have the power to buy your SaaS solution.
But in recent years, the end-users have increasingly been becoming a viable target buyer persona. This is because end-users have been more proactive in buying SaaS solutions that can help them streamline their jobs.
This rising trend has given rise to growth models like product-led growth and community-led growth, which benefit a lot from strong relationships with the end-users.
These growth strategies are centered around a tight product-market fit and a strong relationship with customers. These, in turn, drive customer loyalty and advocacy.
If you have a fledgling B2B SaaS business, targeting the end-users first would be a good starting point. After all, executives wouldn’t easily entrust their whole company to a startup, especially if these companies have already grown into large enterprises.
But when you’ve already earned the loyalty of the end-users, you can work your way up and develop your subscription options and design them for a larger scale.
3. Use Suitable Marketing Channels For Your Target Audience
Once you’ve identified your target audience, it’s time to start looking for marketing channels that they frequent.
There are many different types of marketing channels out there. But not all of them would be suitable for your young SaaS company.
You need to find the channels that are most relevant and engaging to your target audience.
Here are some examples of common SaaS marketing channels:
- Social Media Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Paid Advertising
Let’s talk about them one by one.
Social Media Marketing
Using social media platforms is a great way to reach out to your target audience.
They are active on these platforms and use them to stay up-to-date with the latest trends. That’s why social media should be one of your top digital marketing channels.
There are many different social media platforms out there. But not all of them would be suitable for your target audience.
You need to find the platforms that are most relevant and engaging to them.
Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are some of the most popular social media platforms. They usually are effective for targeting B2C audiences and maybe some B2B end-users.
Believe it or not, TikTok is also making headway as a platform for SaaS social media marketing.
If your SaaS product is more on the B2B side, you might want to be active on LinkedIn. After all, the networks on this social media platform are more professional in nature. This is where you will find businessmen and professionals.
Now, the thing about social media marketing is that it’s not a “plug and play” sort of digital marketing campaign. It takes a lot of effort and consistency to make it work.
First, you need to create interesting and engaging content that will capture your target audience’s attention. And you need to do it regularly so that you would often appear on people’s timelines.
But posting and sharing content isn’t enough. You also need to be actively engaged with your target audience.
You need to reply to their comments, answer their questions, and build a relationship with them.
Only then will social media marketing be effective for you.
Email marketing is one of the most proven ways to reach a SaaS audience.
This is because email is one of the most versatile channels out there. People use it both for personal use and for work. Although, nowadays, it’s more on the professional side.
What’s more, when you send an email, it’s like you’re speaking to your potential customer one-on-one.
That’s why email should also be one of your top marketing channels.
There are many different ways to use email marketing. But the most effective way to use it for SaaS startups is to send personalized emails.
Personalized emails are ones that are specifically tailored for a certain individual or at least a group of people.
And the first step to personalizing your emails is by applying your market research. The more you know about them, the more specific you can target your emails.
So how do you use your market data in order to tailor-fit your emails?
Three words: email list segmentation.
Email list segmentation is the process of dividing your email list into different groups. This can be done based on demographics, firmographics, or even purchase behavior.
Once you’ve divided your email list into different segments, you can then start sending emails that are more relevant to those segments.
What’s more, you can take it up a notch and downright mention their names, positions, or companies. That level of personalization is more likely to catch their attention.
Most email marketing tools like Mailchimp and ActiveCampaign can help you automate that kind of personalization in your email marketing efforts.
Paid advertising is one of the quickest ways to reach your target SaaS audience.
And it can be very effective if you do it right.
The thing about paid advertising is that you need to have a well-defined goal in mind before you start. What do you want to achieve with your paid advertising campaign?
Do you want to generate more leads? Increase brand awareness? Boost sales?
Once you know your goal, then you can start planning your paid advertising campaign.
There are many different types of paid advertising out there. But the most popular ones for SaaS startups are Google Ads and Facebook Ads.
Google Ads: This is a pay-per-click (PPC) advertising platform that allows you to place ads on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) and millions of other websites across the web.
This makes it a very powerful platform for SaaS startups because you can reach your target audience very quickly.
In fact, as of 2022, Google processes an average of 3.5 billion searches every day. So you have a good chance of reaching your target customer if you advertise on Google.
But that’s not the only thing you can do with Google Ads. You can also use the platform to run retargeting ads.
These are ads that are specifically tailored for people who have already visited your website. And they’re very effective because they remind your target customers of your brand and encourage them to come back and buy from you.
For example, you have a website visitor who took a long look at one of your products and even clicked the sign-up button. But at the last minute, they left your website.
You can use retargeting ads to show that person your product again. This time, with a little more urgency, like a limited-time discount or additional bonus. This would encourage them to go back to your site, sign up, and buy your SaaS product.
Facebook Ads: Facebook Ads is another very popular paid advertising platform. It allows you to place ads on people’s news feeds on Facebook and on Instagram.
This makes it a great platform for SaaS startups because Facebook has almost 3 billion active users. That’s a whole lot of potential customers.
What’s more, according to Sprout Social, there are over 65 million active small businesses pages on Facebook. So if you’re targeting a B2B audience, there’s a good chance that your target customers are among them.
Plus, Facebook Ads gives you a lot of flexibility when it comes to targeting your audience. You can set your ads to be visible to a particular age group, location, and other factors.
This makes it easy to target your SaaS company’s ideal customer.
Like Google Ads, Facebook Ads also allows you to run retargeting ads. So you can reach out to those website visitors who showed interest in your product but didn’t buy it.
The beauty of running Facebook retargeting ads is that it can track customer interactions done whether inside or outside of Facebook.
4. Use The Right Marketing Tactics
Once you’ve identified your target audience and picked the right paid advertising platform, it’s time to start planning your marketing tactics.
Every SaaS business is different. What works for one company may not necessarily work for another. So you need to find the marketing tactics that work best for you.
Here are some of the most popular marketing tactics for SaaS startups:
- Product Marketing
- Content Marketing
- Referral Marketing
- Lifetime Deals
Product marketing is probably one of the most essential marketing efforts that a newbie SaaS business should do. It encompasses all your product, marketing, and sales teams.
This marketing method focuses on your SaaS product’s inherent attributes. These include the features, benefits, and value that you can deliver to your customers. It also involves figuring out your market positioning and product messaging.
The beauty of product marketing is that it focuses on three things: who you are selling to, what you are selling, and how you are selling it.
Who You Are Selling To: Now, a huge aspect of product marketing is knowing your ICP and doing your market research.
As a SaaS startup, you won’t be reaching millions of customers right away. Nor should you try to.
Being a beginner in the SaaS business, it would be best to start small. Focus first on getting early adopters. These would be the people or companies that fit into your ICP.
Once you have a foothold in your market, you can then start expanding and targeting the top of the sales funnel.
What You Are Selling: Different SaaS marketing tactics have different focuses. For some, it’s to engage potential customers. While for some others, it’s to build trust with them.
Product marketing focuses on your SaaS product’s features and benefits. It also showcases how your SaaS product can solve your customer’s problem.
But having a great product with awesome features isn’t enough. You have to be able to communicate what it does and how it can make your customers’ lives easier.
Product marketing also covers how you would communicate the value of your product.
How You Are Selling: A huge part of product marketing is coming up with your market positioning and product messaging. So you’ll need to come up with a value proposition and unique selling proposition (USP).
Your value proposition is a statement of what your product could do for your potential customer. While the USP is what makes your product different from the others in the market.
Both of these need to be clear and concise so that your target audience can easily understand them.
Content marketing is an inbound marketing strategy that has been widely used among SaaS businesses.
It is all about creating valuable content that can help you reach your target customers. It’s a great way to build trust with them and get them interested in your SaaS product.
The best part about content marketing is that it’s a long-term strategy. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on it and you can see results over time.
Of course, it goes without saying that you need to create reliable, relevant, and engaging content.
Your content pieces can be in any form, from blog posts to infographics, videos, and even e-books.
Content marketing is usually paired up with search engine optimization (SEO).
SEO is the process of optimizing your website and content so that they can rank higher on SERPs. This, in turn, can help you get more traffic to your site.
One more thing about content marketing: it can work hand in hand with your social media marketing campaign. You can share your blog posts, infographics, and videos on social media to start conversations.
Referral marketing is a great way to get more customers. After all, people are more likely to trust their friends and family than ads.
As a SaaS startup, you should focus on building an engaged community of customers. Then incentivize them to refer their friends and family to your SaaS product.
You can do this by running referral programs or offering rewards for referrals.
Lifetime Deals (LTDs)
Lifetime deals (LTDs) are a great way to attract new customers. It’s an offer where the customer gets lifetime access to your product for a discounted one-time payment.
One strategic way to offer LTDs is to run them through sites like AppSumo and ProductHunt. These sites already have an audience of avid SaaS users who are looking for the best deals.
A downside to offering LTDs is that they may limit your customer lifetime value (CLV). In fact, that one-time payment is the CLV.
However, running LTDs is a good way to get early adopters and get a huge surge in revenue.
And as a SaaS startup, that influx of revenue can help you bootstrap your business instead of relying on venture capitalist (VC) funding.
5. Measure The Right Metrics
One of the most important aspects of any marketing strategy is to measure its success. This way, you can track your progress and make necessary adjustments.
As a SaaS startup, you should measure:
- Unique and Recurring Visitors
- Open Rate
- Social Media Impressions
- Click-Through Rate
- MRR Growth
- CLV:CAC Ratio
Unique and Recurring Visitors
The best way to measure the performance of your content marketing efforts is to see how many people are visiting your content pages.
You can track these metrics using Google Analytics. The platform identifies unique visitors by assigning each of them a user ID based on their IP address and the timestamp of their first visit.
It also detects when a user ID visits your web pages more than once. In those cases, they are counted as recurring visits.
The open rate is a metric that measures how many people opened your email. You can track it using any email marketing solution like MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, or AWeber.
The open rate is important because it tells you how engaging your subject line is. It could also be an effect of how well you are targeting your personalized emails.
If a lot of people are opening your emails, it means you’re on the right track in one or both of those areas.
Social Media Impressions
Impressions are a metric that measures how often your social media posts are seen. You can track it using Facebook’s Audience Insights, Twitter Analytics, or any other social media analytics platform.
If you’re seeing a high number of impressions, it means your audience is engaged and sees your content as valuable.
Click-Through Rate (CTR)
The click-through rate (CTR) is the percentage of people who clicked on one of your links in an email or a social media post. You can also track it using Google Analytics or your email marketing SaaS solutions.
If your CTR is low, it means you need to rethink your content strategy. You may need to change your email bodies, make your posts more visual, or target a different audience.
Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) Growth
The monthly recurring revenue (MRR) growth is a metric that measures how much your MRR has increased (or decreased) from the previous month.
If your MRR is growing month-over-month, it means you’re doing something right with your marketing and sales efforts.
Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
The customer lifetime value (CLV) is a metric that estimates how much a customer will spend during their whole time subscribing to your SaaS solution.
To find your CLV, you first need to find your average customer lifespan and average revenue per account (ARPA).
The average customer lifespan is the average number of years a customer remains active with your product.
The ARPA is the average revenue you’re getting from each customer. To compute the CLV, we will use the annual ARPA.
Once you have those two numbers, you can multiply them to calculate your CLV.
The CLV:CAC ratio is a metric that measures how much revenue you generate for every dollar you spend on customer acquisition.
You already know how to find your CLV. But how do you find the customer acquisition cost (CAC)?
Simply get your total marketing and sales costs and divide it with the number of new customers you gained from those marketing and sales efforts.
You can calculate the CLV:CAC ratio by dividing your CLV by your CAC.
The standard CLV:CAC ratio for SaaS businesses is 3:1. This means that for every $1 you spend on acquiring a customer, you make $3 in profit.
Final Thoughts About SaaS Startup Marketing
Promoting a SaaS startup is one of the most challenging things to do. There is a lot to consider. Sure, the market is growing, but the competition is also getting fiercer.
But if you follow the right steps, you can create a killer marketing strategy that will help your business grow.
Looking for more tips and guides on growing your SaaS company? Visit our blog here.