From March 2005, when John Koenig invented the term “SaaS” for the first time, SaaS business models have started getting global recognition. The software-as-a-service or SaaS industry has moved too fast and served customers with very creative solutions. With the SaaS market expanding at a fast speed and more revenue opportunities knocking at the door of SaaS businesses, it is the best time for a SaaS startup to grow leaps and bounds.
The SaaS business model adding value to all such activities is remarkably distinct, very young, and inseparably linked to the concept of cloud computing. A clear understanding of the way SaaS works is crucial when thinking of building a suitable SaaS business plan for your startup’s growth.
What is SaaS Business?
SaaS business works around a delivery model that offers customers access to licensed software on a subscription basis. It makes the software available through a centralized, cloud-based environment.
A SaaS startup often faces the challenge of maintaining databases, servers, and other apps to keep their products accessible and usable. Subscriptions offered to customers need to be flexible. SaaS startups need to meet the criteria of flexible subscription, accessibility, security, scalability, constant updates, and better collaboration for sustainable business growth.
How different is the SaaS Business Model?
The SaaS business model is different from the rest because it has to take care of the following factors:
- Yearly/monthly subscription plan (No one-time Payment)
- Greater emphasis on customer retention
- Push for frequent updates (better features)
SaaS Business Life – Different Stages
The journey of SaaS startups can be bumpy and challenging until they learn to become successful. Their success is the third and final stage of business life, which has to be sustained for the long term.
Frankly speaking, a SaaS startup has to go through three different stages in its business life:
- Initial stage (Primary level)
- Growth stage (More subscribers & MRR)
- Mature stage (Stable KPIs and MRR)
Best & Proven Strategies SaaS Startups Would Love Using for Growth
The experience of success and growth for SaaS startups won’t be quick, even if difficult; there is proof that the SaaS market is growing fast and is expecting increased investment in the future.
By the year 2020, 73% of organizations planned to use SaaS solutions. (Source: BetterCloud)
According to blissfully, spending on SaaS applications in companies of any size will double by 2020.
To help you realize how fast growth in a SaaS startup can be, we’ve come up with a list of SaaS business growth strategies that have proven their worth over and over again. So, have a look at these strategies that you can use yourself too.
Why Need SaaS Growth Strategies and All That?
Making a SaaS startup grow won’t be easy without full-proof strategies. The global SaaS market is already competitive. This year, it is estimated to have reached a whopping $157 figure, 2x of what it was just five years back in 2015 ($69 million).
While a competitive industry can turn out to be challenging for the survival of startups, SaaS growth strategies have their part to play as well. The business plan of a SaaS startup states that its growth strategy must follow a unique set of norms and industry best practices too.
For startups, there is always the challenge of selling new digital solutions that are not popular in the market yet. While it is okay, a SaaS starter has to convince users to try its product – which is difficult.
Secondly, the SaaS business runs on MRR and could not risk losing its ongoing subscribers. It has to worry about churn rate that may ruin its prospects of growth altogether. So, customer acquisition will always be a top priority for any SaaS growth strategy. Meanwhile, customer retention and monetization will be two additional crucial factors for SaaS starters.
Content Marketing – Maintain Usability & Authority
Content marketing is a smart strategy that has the power of giving return in a compound manner over time. It has proven its worth for both B2B and B2C SaaS companies, and for the same effect, you can use it too. When users search for a quick fix or answer to their problems online, you can target it amicably through quality content. If your content is simple enough, optimized properly, and marketed effectively to hit users’ pain points, you will be able to drive more relevant traffic for your SaaS startup.
Tactical & competitive content conquesting
The purpose of this tactic is to give better reasons and alternatives to users than your competitors by creating content specifically for high intent search and rank. From organic content marketing for your SaaS product and AdWords paid search campaign to landing page, you can use tactical content for competitive conquest. All the users looking to move away from your competitor’s product will feel your content clickable and land on your website ultimately.
Feature-based content marketing
Feature-based content marketing not only fits in users’ demands but also creates business opportunities by moving leads through different touchpoints of the SaaS conversion funnel.
- Customer Acquisition – Add new and innovative features to your SaaS product to make it better than your competitors and find new customers. It will lower your customer acquisition expenses.
- Activation & Upgradation – When you add more innovative features, free subscribers are more likely to upgrade to paid accounts.
- Customer Retention – You can continue feature-based content marketing from an offensive or defensive view. It will prevent your existing customers from going to your competitors, as they have nothing better than you.
Free Subscription Offers
A free subscription offers to click for SaaS startups for two principal reasons. First, you don’t lose much money to offer a free subscription to the digital product. Second, selling your SaaS software to customers that are new in the market will be very tough. Customers will like to know many things before looking to set it up in their organizations. Some SaaS products even require a change of internal procedures, basic how-to-use training, and a subscription plan/month. All these things will be easier to manage if your startup offers a free version before using the paid account.
For onboarding new customers, you can consider structuring free subscription offers using the following strategies:
Freemium or Limited Features Version
The freemium is a basic feature version of the software offered to customers for free. It provides your SaaS startup to keep these customers in the marketing funnel longer and upsell them with upgraded features later. Such a version may or may not bring you conversions. It can make you lose bandwidth on its free use and an opportunity to make up production cost.
Free Trials (Limited Period Offers)
It is an alternative to freemium, where users get access to all the features but for a limited period only. Once this limited period trial offer comes to an end, they will need to upgrade to a paid account to continue using the product. Your SaaS startup has two strategies to implement such kind of free trials – “opt-in trials” or “opt-out trials.”
- “Opt-in” Trial (No Payment Details in Order): It does not require users to provide payment details until they reach the end of the trial period. This strategy fetches you more free users as there is no risk of payment initially. However, you need an additional step in the opt-in offer to convert these users into paid customers.
- “Opt-out” Trial (Payment Details in Order): It requires user payment details to be activated and they end up automatically upgraded to paid subscriptions after the trial period ends. Though this strategy ensures more paid subscribers from free users, it is out of users’ forgetfulness to opt-out in advance. So, they may feel cheated, causing cancellation, or giving negative reviews on your products..
Happy Customers can be Your Referring Source – Referral Marketing
While a referral program is nothing new in the marketing world, it continues to be an effective strategy for startups. People take their family or friends’ references seriously (even more than any ad), and you need to tap into this referral feature, which is pretty simple and rewarding. Just ask your existing or ex-users to refer your product to their friends/contact in return for an attractive incentive and reward.
Social Community Proofs, High Intent Audience Feedback, Software Review/Rating Sites
While physical recommendations would be more effective, social feedback/testimonials from hundreds of happy customers might still work. The social platforms display reviews and ratings from genuine users, allowing aspiring users to compare different software and features before finalizing one. The best thing is that you can target high-intent audiences on social channels and reputed software review/rating sites (G2 Crowd, Garter, and Trustpilot). However, you can also earn a do-follow linking to your site with an improved SEO score.
Chase Your Customers Where They are in Plenty – Social Media Marketing
Social media has no answer in the area of marketing and promotion of B2C & B2B brands. Your SaaS startup should consider this marketing strategy as well for growth. Quickly, you can reach your targeted customers on social networks, initiating conversation, collecting their feedback/comments, or solving complaints, as well as doing research on their needs/preferences, etc.
- Retargeting customers on Facebook, Twitter, etc. – Repurposing content, posting it on social platforms, and retargeting prospects is a simple strategy for SaaS startups. This way, you can offer valuable content white paper/eBooks to social users, ask them for downloads, or invite them to future webinars.
- Influencer marketing – Another effective social media marketing strategy for B2C, B2B, and SaaS starters is roping in an influencer marketer. More users will consider his/her recommendations based on trustworthiness.
- Chatbots/social tools for customer support – It is always best to allow customers to get in touch with a human consultant. Additionally, you can consider providing basic technical support 24/7. You can answer queries on packages or use AI-based chatbots or social tools.
Developing your own SaaS startup growth strategy may take some time, but once you can finalize them, the business marketing plan will be more productive. It’s too casual to look for the tested and tried growth strategies that have the power to drive substantial growth for your SaaS startup. However, SaaS business success and growth’s first and ultimate step is to build a robust product.
If you want expert help with your SaaS startup, let’s connect and see what options we have!