SaaS Marketing for Growth
SaaS businesses tend to believe in and use aggressive growth marketing approaches – at least once they are past the phase of building product and figuring out product-market fit. But growth marketing and marketing for growth aren’t quite the same thing, and every SaaS business is unique. Some have a relatively tiny universe of potential customers, others have an almost infinite group. So no one approach is going to be successful for all. With that in mind, we have rounded up some of the best articles on SaaS marketing for growth we could find.
Sixteen Ventures’ customer-success blog by Lincoln Murphy provides a list of 21 different growth marketing hacks specifically for SaaS businesses. They are a mixed bag as with any big list, but are straightforward and all good ideas. As always, with any growth marketing tactic, you should set yourself up to test carefully and implement and iterate rapidly. One example given is, “Why not auto-fill as much as possible for your customers – surprise them with how easy things are for them to get going?”
Inside Intercom, the blog for the Intercom sales and marketing messaging platform, has a piece called SaaS Marketing 101: marketing for growth and survival which focuses primarily on demand gen approaches to digital marketing. Here’s a sample: “As cheap, fast and easy as it is to dream up ideas, it’s the same for making simple models to help prioritize and determine if they’re worth pursuing. Doing so involves some thinking about the different paths and steps people might take to buy your product, followed by basic math. These are our ‘funnels’ and they are informed by every aspect of how the customer might convert, from where they’ll find you to the scale of the channel you’re using.”
The prolific and often insightful Hubspot blog also has an overview piece for SaaS Marketing growth. They break their advice down into four stages: goal setting, tactics, resources and evaluation. Leading off with goal setting they have this to say: “For growth to be lasting, it must be backed by clear goals and an operational framework that allows you to measure exactly what's working and what isn't.”
Ryan Law, writing on the Cobloom blog also addresses marketing strategy for faster growth in SaaS companies with a ten step plan. At the end of the ten step plan, when a business is poised to grow, he suggests investment in the developed plan: “That means once you've seen the first signs of Product/Market Fit, and you've started to gain traction, your single biggest focus needs to be marketing. You need to hit the accelerator, and channel your resources into growth.”
Every set of advice pointing in one direction (in this case growth marketing) needs a contrarian opinion – a naysayer whose words reveal something about what everyone else is doing and how to understand it better. Pierre Lechelle interviews David Darmanin, CEO of Hotjar, to get that contrarian viewpoint. Basically, he says you shouldn’t have a growth team because everybody should be the growth team. “Calling it ‘The Growth Team’ is a strategic mistake: For everyone else in the organization, they’ll stop caring about Growth (someone else is handling it, right?).”
Returning to the main thesis of marketing for growth, and trying to do Ryan Law one step better, the Ladder blog has a piece on 11 essential marketing tactics for growth and retention. It’s solid, even-handed advice that includes use cases and simple UX examples.
Ben Jacobson at Marketing Land interviewed ten SaaS marketing experts to get advice on pairing SaaS marketing growth with product development. The advice from all ten experts, with solid real-world experience, is valuable and he provides a quick summary of the points they all agree on: “Here are some of the pieces of advice that seem to unite our experts, as opposed to dividing them: Iterate quickly, use your own app, segment your users when gathering feedback, validate ideas before and after developing them, emphasize efficiency in the user experience, identify why people leave, use your business goals as your guide.”
Neil Patel of Kissmetrics writes in their blog about how SaaS marketing is different from every other kind of marketing. He leads off by pointing out that SaaS businesses are typically hard to explain, involve abstract concepts, are typically at least partially business focussed rather than consumer focussed, etc. He also points out that counterintuitive practices like giving away product or service for free are actually considered strong SaaS marketing practices. His conclusion? “Great products and great service are at the core of a SaaS marketing strategy. As it turns out, SaaS marketing does have a few things in common with other types of marketing, but nowhere else will you find the integration as tight and symbiotic as in SaaS marketing.”
Once again, it’s time to present a contrarian viewpoint. Sensei Marketing has a great blog post about how SaaS is the BEST business for digital marketing. Why? “SaaS users are often businesses and/or professionals with budgets. Research on SaaS products is primarily done online. Users can usually test SaaS products with free-trials and downloads before they purchase. Many if not most SaaS products can be easily purchased online (even while you sleep). SaaS product pricing is often subscription or licensed based (recurring revenue).” The post then highlights what the author sees as the best SaaS marketing plan.