Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) has become an extremely popular model for new businesses, and for good reason. Though they’ve technically been around for decades, SaaS companies saw a surge in popularity once SalesForce and a handful of other major players started proving just how profitable the model could be in the current landscape of business technology and Internet availability. Now, with so many companies migrating to the cloud and consumers demanding better apps to handle their tasks, the potential growth for SaaS companies is higher than ever.
The key advantages of the SaaS model are its scalability, and its ability to generate more revenue while keeping costs stable with every new customer acquired. Essentially, then, its profitability is tied to its ability to grow.
But what if you aren’t able to achieve that growth? Even an innovative, brilliant SaaS company can flounder if it doesn’t attract that initial customer base.
The solution, of course, is online marketing to attract more customers and retain the ones you’ve already acquired. But how can SaaS companies stay afloat in 2016, among heavy competition and swift technological changes?
The Biggest Challenges for SaaS Companies
First, let’s take a look at some of the biggest challenges SaaS companies face in 2016:
- Market differentiation. It’s no secret that SaaS is a highly profitable model. That’s why so many companies are pursuing it. That influx of different companies means you’re going to face some stiff competition, and that means you have to differentiate yourself. Rely on too many general “best practices,” and you’ll be more likely to fail.
- Encouraging retention. SaaS profitability is tied to customer retention. With too high a churn rate, the best customer acquisition strategy in the world won’t be able to save your business. Your marketing campaign should therefore play two roles—emphasizing both acquisition and retention.
- Demonstrating personalization. Most SaaS companies have a replicable, scalable model. This is a good thing, but it can also make your platform seem impersonal. Demonstrating a degree of personalization (and individuality) can compensate for that.
Strategies for Success in 2016
With those challenges in mind, along with the current state of technology and trends in the online marketing world, I can recommend these online marketing strategies for SaaS success in 2016:
- Create more interactive content. Demonstrate your brand personality and draw attention from more individuals by creating more interactive forms of content. By interactive, I mean content that encourages people to engage with it, or content that’s shaped somehow by user participation. For example, you could use a provocative video to encourage discussions among your target audience, or feature quizzes or calculators that produce individualized results. Get your customers involved in your content on a level more than just reading or viewing it.
- Capitalize on automated solutions. Automation can be problematic in a marketing campaign, so don’t become over-reliant on it. However, if used sparingly and in the right contexts, automation can save you tons of effort. Using syndication programs to help regulate your social media posts, or using a third-party ad manager can save you dozens of man-hours per week. As long as you aren’t sacrificing the “personal touch” of your brand personality, you’ll stand to gain much here.
- Segment your social media strategies. Instead of opting for one “catch-all” social media account or strategy, work to segment the different goals of your strategy into different profiles or campaigns. For example, you could create a social media account intended exclusively for customer service, or another one geared exclusively toward developers. This may seem like more work at first, but it will help you segment your audiences and better provide for each of those resulting segments. This will be especially useful as your customer base begins to scale upward.
- Target only the most appropriate demographics. When you first launch, you’ll probably be desperate to get as many signups as possible, so you’ll target a wide audience. However, with today’s hyper-focused user data and great diversity of social media platforms, it’s entirely within your power to hyper-focus your demographic targeting. Instead of investing your money in a handful of ads for a huge number of people, invest your money in many high-quality ads for only the “perfect” people for your application. This will save you money in the long term.
- Hedge your bets. Today’s marketing landscape has hundreds of options, from organic social media marketing to paid advertising, to inbound marketing tactics like content marketing and SEO. It’s a good idea to whittle these strategies down to only the ones that are most effective for your target demographics, but at the same time, you’ll want to hedge your bets by pursuing multiple marketing strategies at once.
Author: Jayson DeMers