Like all businesses, SaaS companies and marketers must cater their marketing efforts to the needs of their target audience.
Unlike most audiences, though, SaaS customers pay for a product that, by nature, always changes. Many trial the product for free before purchasing.
The SaaS sales cycle is unique because it often hinges on a free trial and is, ideally, never-ending. SaaS customers are unique because they require continuous attention.
With customer success so closely linked to revenue, SaaS marketers must invest equally in acquiring, onboarding, and retaining customers.
Promoting and prioritizing the customer experience, not just the product, is vital to success.
1) Convince Your Audience They Need Your Software
The SaaS customer journey takes place online, making content marketing the ideal way to generate awareness and demand for your software.
SaaS customers are quick to enter the mid-funnel due to the low cost and simplicity of most SaaS solutions, as well as the availability of free trials.
“When [SaaS customers] need a solution, they do some online research, maybe ask a colleague, try the solution or watch a demo, and then buy. The whole process might take a few days, maybe a few hours,” said Peter Cohen, managing partner of SaaS Marketing Strategy Advisors.
To engage users during their research process, create and distribute a variety of content that addresses the pain points of your customers.
Engaging customers throughout their purchasing journey develops client relationships before an official partnership even begins.
According to Wix, developing client relationships from the beginning of engagement actually creates mutual benefits for agencies and their customers. Specifically, it increases the frequency of communication between partners and leads to more productive outcomes.
Firms should use content to emphasize the value and ease of using your products and services. For example, you can focus on key product features, the benefits they provide, then support your claims with data and social proof.
The most persuasive content is authoritative and relevant.
For example, HubSpot runs a high-volume B2B blog to help position its products to various industries.
Publishing regular content allows HubSpot to both secure the trust of customers and a high rank in search engines.
Affiliate marketing can be used to boost the visibility of your content and add valuable social proof.
To bridge the gap between awareness and activation, SaaS content must directly speak to the niche audience and their specific needs.
2) Sustain Desire with Onboarding Materials
Your onboarding materials should enhance the appeal of your software and pull trial users into a paid plan.
Be proactive in helping people to enjoy a streamlined, valuable UX during the onboarding process.
Provide a range of materials to educate users in a timely and intuitive manner, including:
- Personalized tutorials
Deliver these materials via your website, software chat function, and email.
Behaviourally-triggered, story-driven email onboarding helps users to envision themselves getting the most out of your product, says Josh Haynam, co-founder of Interact, a quiz software.
“We have a 13-email sequence for converting free users into paid that follows a story arc based on what it looks like for a customer to have success using our product,” said Haynam in a Databox article.
The customer success manager can contact trial users who fall out of the email sequence.
To drive sign-ups, research which functionalities are most sought-after by your customers. Then create marketing materials to highlight the appeal of these key features in a personalized way.
“With free trials, the key tactic is to figure out the functionality that will add the most value for the customer, then set limitations accordingly,” says Armin Laidre of ExitAdviser, in the same Databox piece.
When users get just a sample of the features, they want most, it motivates them to explore your product and sign up for a paid plan.
3) Emphasize Support to Secure Long-Term Customers
SaaS customers expect quality customer support because all software has issues, eventually.
Customers who can access and receive quality support are easy to retain. By contrast, those who are frustrated repeatedly are sure to churn.
Emphasize the quality and availability of your customer support throughout the marketing funnel.
Create web content, collect reviews on relevant platforms, and use social media to promote your dedication to customer success.
It’s important to highlight support channels during the activation stage when people are likely to need help, including:
- Live calls
- Social media
By highlighting your proactive approach to support, you differentiate yourself from competitors whose support might be lacking.
Be sure to maintain a high touch frequency with existing customers.
Consider every support interaction as an opportunity to solicit feedback and improve your customer experience.
Since retention is built on customer service, invest time and resources into developing and promoting your top-notch service.
SaaS Marketing is Unique
The direct relationship between customer success and revenue is unique to SaaS companies.
SaaS customers want to buy a product that works and will continue to work, so be present with them throughout the prolonged lifecycle to retain them as customers.
Use full-funnel content to acquire and activate users. Leverage the appeal of key features to drive activation and sign-ups.