Note for SEtalks.com readers: Some might argue but according to me, SEO is a big slice of the pie and there are number of companies who are actually offering SEO services in general (let’s not getting in to the debate that how many of them are offering snake oil services).
IMO now is the time when companies should move to specialization, Only few has adopted it yet(that doesn’t yet include me ;)) but I am also planning it right after my MozCon trip and soon you will see a big change on my blog too. Instead of offering general services, I am planning to offer only consultation to businesses that are in to ecommerce and SaaS.
Now as I am focusing on SaaS and ecommerce, you will see most of my posts focusing on the same. In this post today I am going to discuss a general marketing plan for your SaaS Company and what you should know before you launch your beta version to the open market.
“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” – Peter Drucker
This quote is very important especially when you are in the SaaS business and it is because if your product does not communicate with the need of your target audience, it will not sell, no matter how good your marketing plan is!
Here are the few ideas you fret upon being a SaaS owner.
Attract right kind of audience
This applies to any business but when it comes to SaaS, you need to strive hard to spot/locate your audience. Saying that my audience is general or everyone is my customer is seriously not going to work.
You need to set your persona and target them accordingly. If your tool is for small businesses, you need to dive deep to see what kind of businesses are more likely to convert and stick with you as compared to others then target them accordingly.
Moz.com is a great tool but if you ask me, they are mostly targeting small businesses that are tight with budget whereas Conductor, another marketing tool mostly focuses on established businesses. I believe this is the reason why Moz have clear pricing on their page but on Conductor the pricing page is way down in the footer.
Once you have decided who your target audience is, you will easily streamline your whole marketing strategy, which includes what kind of content you should produce, where your content piece should go live, what kind of campaigns you should be running and more.
Set and Manage expectations
This is where most SaaS businesses fail and that is one of the main reasons customers leave you after signing up or stay with you for a few months only.
When a new visitor (potential customer) lands on your website, he/she sets up some expectations. Landing page and few other pages help him/her to set those expectations and convert them in to paying customers. If you are telling your potential customers that this is the ultimate tool to convert your business to million dollars, then you are probably playing wrong.
Be bold and tell them how your tool can solve their specific problem and how that will help them excel their business. How much is it going to cost and more! If you are going to hide this necessary information and yet expect them to convert in to paying customer, then you are wrong!
I love SEMRush.com in this case as they have a limited version of the tool that anyone can see without a signup. This way a potential customer can dive in and see what the interface and data will look like. If free data helps solve the problem, they probably will convert and if not they will look for another tool that helps them solve their problem.
This can be attained in two basic steps:
Step 1: You have to engage with the potential customer and help them set their expectations.
Step 2: Now that they have set expectations, your job is to manage those expectations so that they can stick with you for a longer period of time instead of just few months.
Remove Signup Barriers
If audience is fine with what information you are providing, they probably will convert. Removing sign-up barriers is very important because most SaaS tools who usually convince their potential audience to sign-up lost them on the signup page.
The problem is barriers, I mean yes I am convinced that I should signup but this never means that I am going to fill out this whole bunch of information.
Important: Make your signup form as short as possible, if it require email and name; never ask for the 3rd field. I mean why you would need a phone number, if they are not going to expect any call after the signup.
If you have a choice to pick one form to sign up for yourself which one will you choose? If the answer is option B, you know where you are going wrong so act accordingly and remove all barriers that stop them from signup.
When it comes to SaaS business, in order for your customers to stick with you and attract new customer base, you need high level of engagement or else you might not survive in the market for a longer period of time.
If the business or customer is with you on a paid plan, the better idea is to engage with them via emails. Make sure you are not sending 10 emails a day but if you are sending emails once every week about product information, how their campaign is performing; especially send them email when you have something new that really matters to them.
If the user is your potential customer, I would love how Moz.com engages with them via their QnA community and Blog. Provide them information about the tool, industry trends and how target audience can solve their problems.
Engagement will not only help businesses stick with you but also help you get new customer base on board.
Make it easy to buy
Most SaaS businesses make a common mistake by only giving special attention to their paid customers. Obviously they are paying you money and they are important but non-paid users are also important because if you treat them well chances are they will convert and not only that but they will also share the word about you within their circles.
I love Raven Tools here. Their blog is for everyone even if you are not a signup user and on blog they have an amazing button that looks something like this:
This allow potential customer to sign up for the freemium version and once they are comfortable with the interface, chances are they will convert in to paying customers.
Above are the few ideas that you should know even before you launch the beta version of your SaaS tool in public. If you do not have plan for above mentioned ideas, the suggestion is to hold your launch, make a sound plan that covers all the above ideas and plan the launch accordingly.
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