How to Sell SaaS (Because It Doesn’t Sell Itself!)

Digital Marketing
By Janet Lee | October 7, 2021 | 10 min read

The notion that SaaS can sell itself has a lot of anecdotal support online. For example, digital marketing expert Neil Patel contends that an awesome SaaS product with a stellar customer support team markets itself. 

But is this common “knowledge” actually true? 

Unfortunately, no.

For most SaaS products, sales don’t just happen. 

Think of it this way: Brand-new, fresh-to-market SaaS offerings don’t have the name recognition to sell themselves on reputation alone. And while tried-and-true SaaS products may sometimes sell themselves through prestige and word of mouth, they still have robust marketing campaigns behind them, if only to retain customers and maintain market share.

Overall, there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to SaaS. Let’s dive further into why SaaS doesn’t actually sell itself at first and what you have to do to help your SaaS business reach that level.

Why SaaS Products Don’t Sell Themselves—The Lowdown

There are four main reasons why SaaS products don’t sell themselves: 

1. The Customer Experience Is Crucial

Let’s not forget what the acronym, SaaS, stands for—Software as a Service

What makes a product good or bad depends on two things: 

  • The actual software/product itself (e.g. How well does it function? Is it easy to use?)
  • The customer experience (e.g. Does each stage of the buying journey offer the exact resources/information your potential customers need? Are they getting the right answers from your team?)

You can have the most flawless software, but if you don’t provide a positive customer experience, your leads will likely not want to stick around. Excellent customer service boosts customer loyalty, sales, and your reputation—-critical areas that can elevate your competitive advantage. 

Just take a look at these stats: 

  • High-quality customer service is what makes or breaks nearly 90% of consumers’ decisions to do business with a company. 
  • By investing in customer experience, SaaS companies can expect to improve their revenue by $1 billion

Having a good product is just one piece of the entire SaaS puzzle. You need to invest in good service to get the most out of your business. 

2. The SaaS Field Is Constantly Evolving 

The software you create this year will likely need to be updated next year, or heck, even sooner. In today’s digital age, the SaaS field is constantly evolving—it’s expected to grow by $99.9 billion between 2021 to 2025.

As technology evolves, so do customer pain points. And when their pain points shift, your products and services need to shift with them. 

This involves: 

  • Diving into consumer research to assess how buying habits are shifting and how this affects your customer persona
  • Adjusting your brand messaging and value proposition, so they align with your new priorities
  • Communicating product updates with current customers
  • Identifying ways to attract new customers with those updates, while managing their expectations

These necessitate marketing tactics—which according to Hubspot involves demonstrating product value, strengthening brand loyalty, and increasing sales—to keep your SaaS business afloat. It’s no wonder B2B tech companies allocate about 15% of their overall budget to marketing every year. 

3. Freemium-to-Premium Models Only Go So Far

Prevalence of the freemium-to-premium model in SaaS suggests the “test it for yourself with little commitment” is enough to make a sale. 

While the try-before-you-buy is definitely popular and an enticing way to drive leads, the hype is only temporary. SaaS organizations must continue to build upon the relationships they’ve made through their free plan so their customers will want to adopt their services at a premium level.

Consumers need to know the value of something in order to actually want to purchase it, and this is the job of marketing and sales. 

4. Transitioning to New Software Is a Big Decision

Let’s say you’re a project management SaaS company. Chances are, your target audience is already using competitor software like Trello, Asana, etc. 

Convincing your target customers to switch is not just a “good products sell themselves” prospect. It takes time to transition to new software. In fact, closing a deal in B2B SaaS takes around 6 to 18 months. And there are generally about 8 people involved in the decision-making process. 

As businesses are shopping around and considering your software, communication is key. Each business holds unique goals, needs, and pain points, so it’s important to have a marketing team that can strategically explain what your software can do for them—and how you can serve them significantly better than whatever software they’re currently using. 

Here’s What You Need to Do

The goal of your marketing strategy should help customers navigate their own internal buying journey. Even if SaaS products don’t sell themselves at first, with the right marketing strategies, they can start to. Better products AND better marketing lead to better business. 

Keep in mind, not all marketing is created equal; there are always good and bad marketing strategies. Good marketing involves tapping into a holistic set of digital marketing tools and techniques that are streamlined with the goals of your target audience. 

Rest assured, we’ve got five suggestions on how to market your Software as a Service the right way: 

1. Attract the Right People

When there’s so many other SaaS businesses out there, how do you stand out in such a competitive and crowded market? The first thing on your agenda should be conducting a competitive analysis. 

A competitive analysis dives into your competitors’ sales and marketing strategies. The goal is to use this analysis to establish base expectations for your own marketing strategies and more importantly, identify ways to do things bigger and better than your competitors.

Big Leap’s DIY Competitive Analysis Checklist

If doing a competitive analysis sounds a bit daunting, don’t worry, we got you. Big Leap’s DIY competitive analysis checklist walks you through five key steps that cover pivotal areas of digital marketing for SaaS companies: 

  1. Identify your competitors.
  2. Determine what products they offer.
  3. Compare keyword rankings.
  4. Analyze their engagement levels.
  5. Conduct a SWOT analysis.

Going through these steps can help your team identify areas where you can improve your business and develop effective competitive strategies when it comes to nurturing your target market. 

2. Use CRO to Bolster Your User Experience

Would you stay on a website that’s confusing to navigate through? We didn’t think so. 

B2B SaaS buyers spend 27% of their time conducting independent online research during the buying process. This means the implementation, design, and experience of your site play an essential role when it comes to your bottom line. You can bolster these areas with CRO best practices. 

CRO (conversion rate optimization) is a digital marketing strategy that improves your onsite experience to increase conversions. Good CRO methods have brought organizations a 223% increase in ROI

Here are a few CRO tips to help you get going: 

Implement a Live Chat Box

Learning about and using a new-cloud based software can get confusing. Having a live chat service can help your team quickly answer customer queries. There is a 48% increase in revenue per chat hour for customers that use live chat. 

Remove Friction Areas in Your Checkout Process

Unnecessary form fields and payment details can prompt users to ditch your site, thereby delaying conversions. Are there any areas of friction on your site? For instance, businesses that don’t ask for credit card info when they sign up for a free trial bring in two times more paying customers than those that do. 

Create Longer Landing Pages

Long pages can garner up to 220% more leads than shorter pages. Don’t be afraid to go long-form and take the time to address all of your customer pain points and questions. This can create an easier buying experience. 

For more on-site conversion suggestions, dive into 16 quick tips on how to boost your CRO

3. Employ the Right Content Marketing Strategies

It takes strategic messaging and service to help make the SaaS onboarding as painless as possible for your customers. This is an area where content marketing can lend a hand; 78% of B2B tech marketers say content marketing skills are very important. 

With different tier/plan levels and software functionalities that may come with your SaaS product, it’s essential to navigate customers through them with smart and thoughtful content. The content should make it easy for your users to see the value in your product and services. 

You might consider: 

Offering In-Depth Guides

Providing your leads and customers with useful guides is a great way to illuminate your expertise in the industry and attract people to your brand. When Big Leap created evergreen pillar pages for one of our SaaS clients, we were able to help them win a 507% traffic boost.

Implementing Videos

According to 94% of marketers, videos have improved user understanding of a product or service. Weaving videos into your blog posts and landing pages is a helpful way to explain your product to your audience. As the SaaS space is inundated with technical functionalities and topics, videos can serve as a great and accessible way to educate potential customers about your software. 

Be sure to read the secrets of the best SaaS content marketing for more ideas. 

4. Build Brand Awareness via Retargeting

Since 97% of online users who visit your site for the first time leave without making a purchase, retargeting is a good strategy to court them back. 

A pay-per-click (PPC) strategy, retargeting reminds leads of your business across sites they visit (whether those sites are yours or not). The purpose is to improve your visibility, drive brand awareness, and entice people to come back to you.

The cool thing about retargeting is that you can leverage them through various channels: 

Display Retargeting

Platforms like AdRoll can help you create displays ads for each stage of your customer journey. Say a lead checked out a product page. You can run retargeting ads that highlight customer reviews on that particular product. This may move them closer to a conversion. 

Email Retargeting

Anyone who opens your email that has a retargeting HTML code will see your retargeting ad across the web.

Social Media Retargeting

With tools like Facebook Custom Audiences, you can upload a list of your contacts. Those on this list will then see your ad as they’re browsing on Facebook and Instagram. 

5. Execute a Responsive Customer Service Marketing Plan 

To deliver on the service element of Software as a Service, execute a responsive customer marketing plan. Show people you care. 

This may involve: 

Social Listening

When customers tweet at you or message you on Facebook, you want to respond in a timely manner. Social listening tools such as Hootsuite, Adview, and ReviewTrackers allow you to keep a close eye on your social media channels for mentions of your business, competitors, products, or specific keywords. It can be a great way to manage crises, engage with customers, and keep an eye on the competition. 

Responding to Reviews

If you have any review platforms, be sure to regularly respond to your customer reviews, whether they’re good or bad. Responding to good reviews can help further solidify your positive customer experience, and responding to bad reviews might be your knight in shining armor that patches up your customer relationship. 

Making Automation Your BFF

By implementing chatbots, you can respond to leads and customers even when your team is out of the office. You can also install a machine learning service on your phone that redirects a person to a relevant source. And let’s not forget marketing automation! With marketing automation, you can efficiently set up workflow automation, lead scoring, email marketing, and more to ensure you’re communicating with the right contacts at the right time. 

For more digital marketing tactics to incorporate into your strategy, read our guide on 6 SaaS marketing strategies

Try Out These Marketing Strategies with Big Leap

You don’t have to tackle SaaS marketing alone. Sometimes, partnering with a trustworthy digital marketing team is the way to winning results that matter to you

At Big Leap, we make this a reality. Forming lasting partnerships is our passion and at the core of what we do. If you need a helping hand mapping out your SaaS marketing strategy, reach out to us today.

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