With the ongoing digital transformation all around the world in recent years, more and more businesses are adopting SaaS (Software as a Service) products in their day-to-day operations to lower costs, optimize their workflows, and improve productivity.
This phenomenon has also driven many people to start new businesses developing and selling SaaS products, and thus today, there is a massive number of SaaS products available in the market covering various different niches. Unfortunately, this has also caused saturation in the SaaS market, so it can be challenging for SaaS businesses to stand out in this crowded market and be ahead of the competition.
This is where the importance of having a SaaS product marketing strategy comes in.
In this ultimate guide for SaaS product marketing, we will cover a comprehensive overview of the key aspects of SaaS marketing, including but not limited to:
- The importance of SaaS product marketing
- Techniques for identifying and understanding the ideal target audience
- Developing a SaaS product marketing strategy
- Best practices in various marketing channels
- How to differentiate your SaaS product from your competitors
- Tackling common challenges in SaaS product marketing
Let’s dive into this ultimate guide to SaaS product marketing right away.
What are SaaS products?
The term “SaaS,” or “Software as a Service,” refers to cloud-based computer programs (applications) that are centrally hosted (i.e., on a cloud server) and then delivered over the internet to users/customers as a subscription service.
That is, users that want to use the SaaS product must pay a subscription fee before they can access the software through a web browser (no download/installation) needed or via a standalone application.
Due to this subscription-based model, users can use the software at a fraction of the upfront investment they’d otherwise need to pay for a traditional software product. This is why SaaS products are more flexible and highly scalable than their traditional counterparts.
Today, SaaS products are widely used in various industries: tech, software development, finance and accounting, education, healthcare, manufacturing, and more. Many businesses across these industries are now leveraging SaaS products of many different types to help lower their costs, streamline their day-to-day operations, and increase efficiency.
Examples of SaaS products
As mentioned, today,, we have a wide variety of SaaS products designed for various use cases. Below are just a few examples available in the market:
- Human Resources (HR) SaaS products: Gusto, BambooHR, ADP Workforce Now
- CRM SaaS products: HubSpot, Zoho CRM, Salesforce
- Project management SaaS products: Asana, Monday.com, Trello
- Communication and collaboration tools: Zoom, Slack, Microsoft Teams
- Accounting and finance SaaS products: FreshBooks, QuickBooks Online, Xero
- Marketing tools: MailChimp, HubSpot Marketing Hub, Marketo
- eCommerce platforms: Shopify, WooCommerce, BigComerce
- Business intelligence SaaS products: Tableau, Power Bi, Google Analytics
This is obviously a non-exhaustive list, and there are many more types and examples of SaaS products available. As we can see, each type of SaaS product is designed to meet specific needs. For each type, there are various different options available with different price tags and feature offerings that may cater to specific users or businesses of different sizes.
SaaS products vs traditional software: pros and cons
SaaS products offer several key advantages over traditional software applications, including:
- Cost-effectiveness: the subscription-based model of SaaS products means they require a much smaller upfront investment than a traditional application. While these subscription fees may add up to be more expensive than the one-time fee of traditional software, in most cases SaaS products will be more cost-effective.
- Scalability: SaaS products are highly flexible and scalable. You can easily add or remove users as needed, virtually with just one click.
- Accessibility: Many SaaS products are completely web-based so you can access them from your browser anywhere as long as there’s an internet connection.
- Constantly evolving: SaaS providers can regularly release updates, new features, and security fixes to improve the SaaS product, so it will be constantly improved to meet the evolving market demands.
- Easier maintenance: SaaS products are maintained by the SaaS vendor. Users don’t need to maintain their own IT infrastructure or server, and they don’t even need to manually update the software.
However, that’s not saying SaaS products are totally perfect, and there are some potential drawbacks to consider, including:
- Over-reliance on internet connectivity: many SaaS products can only operate with a stable internet connection. This can be an issue when there are network issues in your area causing slowdowns or downtime and may hinder your work.
- More limited control: since the SaaS provider is the one maintaining the software and the infrastructure behind it, users have rather limited control over how they can use and customize the SaaS product.
- Data security concerns: since SaaS products are cloud-based and completely delivered over the internet, there may be concerns about data privacy and security
However, as we can see, the benefits offered simply offset these potential drawbacks. As long as you choose the right, reputable SaaS provider and use the software as instructed by the guidelines, there shouldn’t be a major issue.
Why is SaaS product marketing unique?
Now that we’ve understood what SaaS products are, a few examples, and their pros and cons, here we can move on to discussing SaaS product marketing.
SaaS product marketing is unique when compared to marketing traditional products or services due to the pros and cons discussed above:
- Intangibility: SaaS products are sold as a service rather than a physical, tangible product. Meaning, when marketing SaaS products, we can only promote intangible benefits such as ease of use or cost-effectiveness rather than tangible qualities like physical appearance. In practice, this can be easier said than done.
- The subscription-based pricing model: If, for example, a user only subscribes for a month and then cancels, it will only cover a small fraction of your cost as a business and you won’t generate any profit. To stay profitable, SaaS businesses must focus on ensuring customers continue their subscriptions by ensuring engagement and customer retention. On the other hand, the product must constantly be updated and improved to meet the rapidly evolving demands.
- Reliance on digital channels: most SaaS users learn about SaaS products exclusively on online channels, so SaaS marketing must also focus more on digital channels such as social media marketing, SEO, email marketing, and others to reach out to potential customers. It’s critical for SaaS businesses to have a strong digital marketing strategy and an established online presence before they can effectively market the SaaS product.
- Importance of free trials: when marketing other products or services, offering them for free may be counterproductive, but in SaaS products offering free trials is not only considered the norm, but also a very important aspect of SaaS product marketing strategy. A free trial allows users to experience the SaaS product firsthand and may encourage them to subscribe. However, this strategy requires the SaaS vendor to create a product that can be easily understood and can offer clear value in a short amount of time.
- Constant evolution and updates: as discussed, SaaS products must constantly evolve to meet the changing customer demands, or else they won’t be able to stay competitive in the market. Planning new features and updates for the SaaS product and communicating these changes should be an important aspect of the SaaS product marketing strategy.
As we can see, SaaS product marketing requires a unique approach when compared to marketing traditional products. Understanding this uniqueness can help you develop a more effective marketing strategy, attract more customers, and drive better retention.
SaaS product marketing: a step-by-step guide
Due to the unique nature of the SaaS product and the unique approaches needed for SaaS product marketing, we can see that SaaS product marketing requires a well-defined strategy that covers the multi-faceted processes required.
In this section, we will cover a step-by-step guide to help you effectively promote your SaaS product, drive customer engagement, and maximize retention. Whether you’re just starting out and looking to promote your SaaS product or an experienced marketer looking for new strategies, this one is for you.
Let’s begin with the first and arguably the most important step:
Step 1: Identifying your target audience
Before you begin marketing your SaaS products, it’s critical to first identify and understand who your potential customer is– your target audience. Your marketing strategy should be based on a keen understanding of your target audience, or else your marketing efforts won’t effectively reach them.
There are three basic approaches to identifying your target audience: researching your existing customer base, performing competitive analysis, and paying a specialized firm or consultant to conduct market research.
Researching your existing customers
This is a viable approach if your SaaS business already has an existing customer base–even if it’s still very small. However, if you are a brand-new business and don’t have any customers yet, then there’s no choice but to use the other approaches.
For this approach, start by gathering data on your existing customers, and you can use several methods:
- From your CRM: if you already have a CRM system in place, then you can simply extract data from the CRM system.
- Surveys and interviews: you can invite customers for in-person interviews (and offer incentives), or you can use tools like SurveyMonkey or GoogleForm to create and distribute online surveys.
- Website analytics tools: you can use tools like Google Analytics, Mixpanel, or Crazy Egg, among others to extract website interaction data like bounce rates, page views, conversion rates, and others. This can help you understand how your website visitors are using your website and how to improve upon it.
- Social media analytics tools: tools like Hootsuite or Sprout Social can help you monitor social media interactions and conversations related to your SaaS product or brand. This social media interaction data can provide valuable insights into customer behaviors and preferences.
- Customer feedback tools: tools such are Hotjar or UserTesting can provide valuable data regarding customer feedback and interactions with your website or SaaS product, including A/B testing results, heat maps, and other valuable metrics.
Gather as much data as you can, and you can follow these steps to analyze your data to identify key characteristics of your target audience:
- Segment your customer base: segment your existing customer base based on shared characteristics, such as job title/role, geographic location, company size, age, gender, product usage patterns, and so on. The goal is to help you identify trends and patterns that will help you in developing your marketing strategy.
- Behavioral analysis: analyze the available data to identify customer behaviors, such as purchase habits, common journey paths through your website (or SaaS product), and features most frequently used in your product. Also, identify pain points like high bounce rates on certain pages, low conversion rates, or negative feedback.
- Create buyer personas: based on your analysis results, start developing your buyer persona (or personas.) A buyer persona is a semi-fictional model that represents your SaaS product’s ideal customer. Check out this guide on how to develop your buyer persona. Also, if you are a B2B SaaS business, keep in mind that you may need to create multiple buyer personas for different roles of decision-makers in your target companies.
By understanding who your target audience is, you will have a solid foundation on how to create a marketing strategy that effectively engages with them. Also, understanding your target market will help you in this next step: creating unique value propositions (UVPs) for your SaaS product.
Step 2: Develop strong Unique Value Propositions (UVPs)
UVP (Unique Value Proposition) is a short and concise statement that communicates the unique benefits of a product or service–in this case, your SaaS product. The UVP should also state how it solves a specific problem your target audience is facing or fulfills a particular need for the target audience.
As the name UVP suggests, it should clearly elaborate on how the SaaS product is unique from its competitors and highlights the unique reason for potential buyers to purchase it.
Specific to SaaS products, the UVP should communicate the software’s main benefits, be it cost-effectiveness, ease of use, rich set of features, scalability, and so on., while also addressing the pain points of its target market: inefficient workflows, repetitive and time-consuming manual processes, clutter, and so on.
The UVP should help potential customers understand how the SaaS product will help solve their problems, make their work easier, or improve their lives. Your UVP should be a critical part of your SaaS product marketing strategy and should be prominently featured in your business’s social media, website, and ideally all marketing materials.
Here is an example UVP for a project management SaaS:
“Streamline your project management workflow and improve team collaboration with [product name], our easy-to-use project management software. Say goodbye to endless and cluttered email threads and annoying spreadsheets. With [product name], you can easily monitor, manage, delegate tasks, and access powerful analytics in real time. Try [project name] today and bring success to your next project like never before.”
Step 3: Plan your SaaS product marketing campaigns
Now that you’ve established strong foundations for your SaaS product marketing strategy, you can continue planning the campaigns to leverage the different marketing channels available.
For promoting SaaS products, here are some effective campaigns to consider:
Regardless of the marketing channels, you’ll always need great content, so having a functional content strategy is critical for your overall marketing success.
In SaaS product marketing, content marketing plays an important role in establishing your brand and SaaS product as a thought leader in your niche. This is important since the SaaS product is not a tangible physical product, and proving its value to prospective customers, as well as your credibility as a brand, can be challenging in practice.
Consistent publication of high-quality, relevant content across multiple channels can be an effective solution for this issue.
Here are some tips for effective SaaS content marketing:
- Again, base your content strategy on your thorough understanding of your targe audience. The idea is to create content that resonates with their interests, needs, and pain points.
- Start with keyword research, not only in preparation for SEO but to make sure your content meets your target audience’s search intent.
- Find keywords that are frequently searched by your target audience, signified with a high enough monthly search volume.
- The keyword should be relevant to your SaaS business. Not all keywords that are popular among your target market are relevant with your SaaS product.
- Depending on your timeline and available budget, decide whether the competition for the target keyword is manageable.
- While you should optimize content for SEO (more on this later,) focus on creating content that provides value for your human audience. Use the result of your analysis in your previous steps to create content that can cater to your audience’s preferences, pain points, and interests and make it more relevant to them.
- Aim for consistent and frequent enough publication of high-quality content that showcases your brand’s insights and expertise on what’s happening in your industry. This is how you establish credibility and thought leadership. Leverage more “serious” forms of content such as long-form blog posts, whitepapers, eBooks, webinars, and educational videos for this purpose.
- Consider regular publication of case studies of your client’s success stories and customer testimonials. Leveraging social proof is highly effective in marketing SaaS products and can help build trust with potential customers to help increase conversions.
- Promote your content through various available marketing channels: social media, paid advertising, email marketing, and so on. Not only to attract more people to consume your content but to generate backlinks for SEO purposes.
- Regularly monitor your content marketing performance. Use the available analytics tools to track the performance of your content marketing efforts. Amplify and repeat what’s working, and improve upon what doesn’t work.
Social media marketing
It’s quite clear that you should market any business—including your SaaS product—on social media nowadays with the sheer size and popularity of the platforms.
Yet, with the saturation and tight competition on these social media networks, how should we do social media marketing to stand out amongst all the noise? Here are some tips:
- Effective social media marketing is essentially about finding the right balance between three options:
- Organic: building your own follower base and then engaging your followers with your content. This effort is mostly free and generally the most cost-effective, but it’s difficult and time-consuming to do.
- Paid: using paid advertising options like LinkedIn Ads, Facebook Ads, etc. Paid advertising can help you generate results quickly but it can be very expensive if you’re not careful.
- Influencer: reach out and partner with relevant influencers in your niche so they can help promote your SaaS product on their social media. This can be an effective way to amplify your brand’s reach and build trust with potential customers.
- Choose the right platform or platforms that are relevant to your SaaS product and your target audience. For example, if you are a B2B SaaS business targeting other companies, then LinkedIn may be a better focus than Instagram.
- Keep in mind that social media is a two-way communication channel. Regularly engage with your target audience by responding to inquiries and questions, engaging with their comments, and sharing user-generated content whenever possible.
- Track your social media metrics and regularly measure the performance of your social media campaign. Leverage various tools to track engagement and conversion metrics.
In marketing your SaaS product, email is among the most effective marketing channels available, and you shouldn’t underestimate its potential. In fact, it may surprise you that 50% of people make a purchase from promotional emails at least once a month.
Here are some tips for creating an effective email marketing campaign for your SaaS product:
- The success of your email marketing campaign depends on your email list or email database. While you certainly can purchase email databases from third-party sources, they won’t be as effective as building your own list consisting of those who are interested in your SaaS product (qualified leads.)
- Not all email subscribers are the same, and in email marketing, personalization is key. Segment your email list based on interests, job titles, industries, past purchase behavior, or other factors. The idea is to personalize your email messages to each segment to enhance the effectiveness of your campaign.
- For email marketing, content is literally the king. Make sure your messages are engaging, and recipients can immediately recognize their value. Offer something valuable—exclusive offers, compelling information, educational resources, etc. — and make sure they are easily recognizable.
- Optimize your subject line. It is the first thing they’ll see when they receive your email, and how attractive it is will significantly affect the open rate. Use personalization (i.e., use the recipient’s first name) when you can, but focus on making the subject line as attractive and compelling as possible. Use concise language and elaborate on the email’s value right away to encourage them to open it.
- Nowadays, most recipients open their emails on mobile devices. Make sure your email’s content is optimized for mobile, and use responsive email design whenever possible. Make sure your emails are easy to navigate and read on smaller screens and test on as many devices as possible.
- Monitor and track your results by keeping track of metrics like open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, and other relevant ones. Adjust your campaign accordingly.
In a referral marketing campaign, you incentivize your existing customers to promote your SaaS product to their peers, family, or friends.
In SaaS product marketing, referral campaigns can be an effective tool to expand your reach by leveraging the power of word-of-mouth marketing. When existing customers refer others to your SaaS product, people are more likely to believe them. Thus, a referral campaign can be effective in helping establish credibility and trust with prospective customers.
Another key advantage of referral marketing campaigns is that they are relatively cost-effective compared to other tactics, especially in a commission-based model where you’ll only need to spend money after a successful sale.
Here are a few tips on how to create an optimal referral campaign:
- The incentive you offer is the key to success. Make sure it’s compelling enough to motivate existing customers (or referral marketers) to participate but not too expensive it may hurt your profitability. Finding the sweet spot is critical.
- You can offer incentives besides monetary rewards, for example, free upgrades to your SaaS product, discounts on their next purchase, or other incentives.
- Make sure it’s easy for customers to refer others. Provide them with referral links or codes they can easily share, or even offer pre-written social media posts and email messages they can copy-paste right away.
- Leverage analytics to track the performance of your referral campaign and make adjustments when needed.
Free trial campaign
Offering a free-trial period for customers to try your SaaS product or a freemium version of your product is a common—and highly effective—strategy used by many SaaS companies.
Typically the free-trial period lasts between 7 and 30 days, or if it’s a freemium offer, you can offer a free version of your software with limited (locked) features.
The idea is to capture the prospective customer’s contact information, mainly email address, before they can access the free trial, so you can follow up later.
Here are some tips for creating an effective free trial campaign for your SaaS product:
- Keep it clear and simple: you don’t need to offer too many options or include too many details in your descriptions. In fact, doing so may overwhelm potential customers. Keep it simple and just focus on the key features of your SaaS product. Also, make it as easy as possible for potential customers to use them.
- Set clear expectations: let prospective customers know exactly what they can expect during this free trial period (or when using the freemium version of your software.) If there’s any limitation in the free trial version, communicate it clearly, as well as the duration of the trial period.
- Provide great support: just because it’s a free trial, don’t underestimate these potential customers. Iinstead, use this opportunity to provide excellent support and showcase your service excellence as a brand. Answer questions and inquiries promptly and help them make the most of the free trial period to maximize conversion.
- Offer incentives: consider offering incentives (i.e., discounts, free upgrades) for prospective customers who convert into actual subscribers during or right after the free trial period.
Step 4: SEO implementation
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) should be a critical aspect of your SaaS product marketing strategy, as it will be highly important in improving the search engine ranking and visibility of your SaaS product, website, and landing page(S) on the searh engine results pages (SERPs).
Above, we have discussed how to effectively conduct content marketing based on keyword research. So, what’s left is to optimize your website, landing pages, and your content to boost their social media ranking.
Here are what you should do:
On-page optimization involves optimizing the structure of your website and its content with two main objectives:
- Improving readability and user experience (UX) for human audiences.
- Improving visibility and indexability to search engine crawlers (bots).
There are various on-page optimization techniques and methods available, but we can generally divide them into two: content optimizations and technical optimizations.
Some important on-page content optimizations are:
- Body: include target keywords and related phrases naturally within the content’s body. However, avoid stuffing the content with keywords and focus on providing value to human readers.
- Title Tag: the title tag will appear at the SERPs, so it will affect the click-through rate. Use target keywords in the title tag, but make sure it’s compelling and attractive while clearly explaining what readers will get from the content.
- Meta description: appear just below the title tag in the SERPs. Should include a compelling summary of the page’s content that will attract users to click through. Again, use focus keywords when possible but keep it natural.
- Header tags: use keywords naturally in the header tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.), but use them to structure the page and help the search engine understand your content’s structure and context.
- Non-textual content optimization: optimize images, videos, and other types of non-textual content with alt tags and descriptive file names while including your focus keywords. This can help search engine algorithms recognize this content better, and will also help users that require more accessibility.
- Internal linking structure: each page on your website should link to other relevant pages on your site whenever possible. This will help establish a clear structure and hierarchy of information to help user navigation and also for the search engine algorithms to properly understand your site.
Here are some important on-page technical optimizations to consider in your SEO efforts:
- Page speed: it’s critical to ensure your website and landing pages have optimal load times. Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights to assess your site’s current speed performance and optimize it accordingly. Consider minifying code, using CEDN, and compressing images and videos, among other techniques.
- Mobile optimization: more and more people are exclusively browsing the web on their mobile devices, and Google now prioritizes mobile-friendly sites to rank higher. Make sure your site has a responsive design that adapts to different screen sizes, and optimize your content, so it’s easily readable and navigable on smaller screens.
- URL structure: use keywords on your URLs when possible, but focus on making them descriptive and accurately reflect the content on the page. Avoid using generic or dynamic URLs with parameters.
- Schema markup: add schema.org structured data markups on your website to help search engines better understand the content on your page. It can also make your site eligible for rich snippets on the SERPs.
- Canonical tags: use canonical tags on your pages to indicate that your page is the preferred version. This is important to avoid duplicate content issues in cases when your content is plagiarized by others.
Off-page SEO optimizations, on the other hand, refer to all efforts taken outside your own website to help boost your search engine rankings.
The most important aspect of off-page SEO optimization is link building: getting more backlinks from relevant, reputable websites to boost your site’s authority.
In search engine ranking, a backlink (or inbound link) is treated as a vote of confidence in the internet. When website A links to website B, for example, website A is essentially saying that website B, and its content is trustworthy and credible. Google and the other search engines will recognize this signal.
While there are various link-building techniques and strategies you can leverage, here are some of the most effective ones:
- High-quality content: above anything else, your content’s quality and relevance are the most important factors in generating backlinks. Good content will get linked by other reputable sites sooner or later, and vice versa, no amount of tactics can help low-quality content get more links.
- Broken link building: you can use various broken link checker tools (check online) to find broken links on potential link sources that currently lead to 404 errors. Contact the site owners/admins and offer to replace these links with your relevant content.
- Guest blogging: look for guest blogging opportunities and write high-quality content for reputable blogs and websites in your niche. You can then link back to your SaaS brand’s website within the content or in your “author bio” section.
- Resource link building: create valuable and linkable resource content like whitepapers, research results, guides, data roundups, or infographics that others in your niche may find useful.
This is a non-exhaustive list, and there are certainly other tactics you can try. However, it’s important to make sure your link-building efforts are organic and ethical. Manipulative link-building tactics won’t only harm your site’s reputation but may result in (permanent) penalties from Google and other search engines.
Step 5: Measuring marketing success
Measuring how your SaaS product marketing campaign fares against the desired objectives is critical for two things:
First, it helps you to make informed decisions on how you should optimize and adjust the marketing strategy: you identify what works and what doesn’t so you can optimize your campaigns to achieve your goals.
The second is that you can use valuable insights from this campaign when planning future marketing strategies to ensure your SaaS business keeps growing.
To measure the success of your SaaS product marketing, you should establish KPIs (key performance indicators) that align with the marketing goals you’ve defined in the previous steps. Make sure the KPIs are specific, relevant to these marketing goals, and measurable.
While there is a wide variety of metrics you can measure depending on the channels and tactics you are using, here are some of the most important metrics to keep track for measuring SaaS product marketing success:
- Website traffic: measuring both organic (traffic coming directly from search engines) and referral (traffic coming by clicking a link on another website or social media) traffic is critical to help you measure the effectiveness of different marketing campaigns and whether you’ve generated enough awareness.
- Conversion rate: the percentage of website visitors who take a desired action (signing up for a free trial, subscribing to your email newsletter, making a purchase, etc.)
- Customer acquisition cost (CAC): the total expenses spent to acquire a single new customer
- Customer lifetime value (CLV): the total revenue generated by a customer during their relationship with your brand
- Churn rate: the percentage of customers who stop using your product or cancel their subscriptions over a measured time period. Critical for SaaS businesses with a subscription-based model
- Engagement metrics: social media likes/hearts, shares, comments, email open rate, click-through rate, bounce rate, dwell time, etc. These metrics can help you understand whether your content is perceived as valuable by your target audience.
- ROI: return on investment helps you determine whether your marketing campaigns are profitable.
To measure these metrics, you can leverage various tools available, such as Google Analytics, SEMRush, Ahrefs, Kissmetrics, and more. Continuously measuring marketing performance is essential so you can determine the effectiveness of your marketing tactics and make data-driven decisions when optimizing current campaigns or planning future initiatives.
Effective marketing is critical for the success of any business, including when you are marketing a SaaS product.
By following the steps and actionable tips we’ve shared above, you have a solid foundation you can use to create a holistic marketing strategy to reach and engage your target audience, stand out from the competition, and sell more of your SaaS product.
Yet, remember to continuously measure your marketing success and optimize your campaigns accordingly to ensure your success.