The software as a service (SaaS) market is growing exponentially. As organizations and businesses move away from traditional software models, relying more on cloud computing and less on locally installed software, SaaS has become very attractive for both companies selling these products and the customers who use them. According to Gartner's Market Guide for Digital Commerce Platforms, in 2023, SaaS will account for $300 billion in sales worldwide. The market is growing, but it's also getting more competitive by the day. Businesses have many options to choose from when finding a SaaS product, and they're looking for the best one possible. So competition is fierce among SaaS providers trying to get their products noticed—and adopted—by potential customers. This guide will help you figure out what works and what doesn't when marketing your SaaS product in today's competitive environment.
The challenges marketing SaaS products face have been changing rapidly over the last decade.
In the early days, it was all about getting new customers. You had to find a way to make your product stand out in an ocean of competitors, create demand for it, and ultimately convince people that they needed your service or product in their lives. Once you had done that, you could breathe easy, knowing that your revenue would continue growing.
The challenges faced by SaaS marketers have been changing rapidly over the last decade. From getting more customers to retaining them, there are many things you need to consider when marketing your products today.
In the past, marketers mainly focused on acquiring new customers for their products through ads, webinars, and other forms of outreach. Nowadays, however, it's all about retention and keeping users from churning out of your product. It's all about retaining existing users now who are already hooked on your product or service.
During the initial years of the SaaS revolution, the competition was not as intense as it is today.
When the SaaS revolution began, startups were more focused on creating a differentiated product and not worried about marketing. But as time has progressed, competition has increased rapidly, and the market is growing rapidly as well.
The number of SaaS companies has increased dramatically in the last decade. This is mainly attributed to the ease with which one can build, maintain and launch a software product without any capital or infrastructure required. These factors have contributed significantly to increasing competition levels at all stages of your business life cycle – from idea generation to customer acquisition and retention processes.
When SaaS first appeared on the scene, there were very few competitors offering similar solutions. Marketers could focus on getting their message out there without worrying too much about other brands stealing potential buyers away from them or copying their marketing tactics (which is often the case today).
The market wasn't crowded with similar offerings, so when prospects did hear about your offering, chances were high they hadn't already been exposed to other options either—and were willing to give yours a try just because it was new!
The SaaS market is changing, and you must get creative to keep up.
The competitive environment has changed radically today, and SaaS companies find themselves in a position where they have to be highly creative to overcome challenges. The market is crowded, the competition is getting more challenging, and market leaders are growing their user base faster than ever.
The world of marketing for SaaS products has also evolved drastically during this time. While the traditional marketing industry focused on expensive acquisition channels like paid advertising and direct mail campaigns (top-down), today's marketers have shifted towards creating engaging content that attracts customers organically (bottom-up).
If you want your product or service to stand out from all of these other options available today, then you need to make sure your marketing strategy does just that.
There are a million SaaS companies out there today —and they're all vying for your attention (and wallet). What does this mean for you? It means that you have to be on your toes if you're going to compete with these companies and make sure that your product stands out from all those other offerings out there.
1. One of the biggest challenges most SaaS startups face is attracting customers.
It's no secret that customer acquisition is one of the most expensive parts of the sales process, with many companies spending up to 80% of their marketing budget on acquiring new customers.
And yet, all too often, companies misjudge or worse, ignore this crucial cog. It can be a fatal mistake—after all, if you don't have customers who pay for your product and then recommend it to others, there will be no repeat business, and soon enough, your company will fail.
Unless you have a big budget for marketing and sales, it's not easy to get your product noticed. The competition in this space is intense, and you must go above and beyond to make your product stand out from the rest. Getting people to sign up for your product has to be one of your biggest challenges, as well as getting them to convert into paying customers or even repeat customers. You need a strategy that works across all channels - paid ads, organic search, email marketing, and social media.
The first step in attracting new customers is understanding their needs, pain points, buying process, buying decision, and motivation behind the purchase. If you understand these factors, then it will allow you to create marketing strategies that are tailored toward them.
Here are some quick tips on how to attract new customers:
- Create an incentive for people who invite their friends to use your product (e.g., give them two months extra when they refer their friends and they achieve their aha moment)
- Adopt PLG. Make free trials core of your product offering.
2. Increasing visibility is yet another challenge faced by SaaS companies that want to expand beyond their core consumer base.
Another challenge most SaaS companies face is communicating with their target audience in a way that is relevant to them, not just bombarding them with generic messages about how great your product is.
In addition to the traditional means of increasing awareness—search engine optimization, social media marketing, and paid ads—SaaS companies also have to consider how they can spread awareness about themselves on niche sites like Hacker News or Quora or wherever your target users gather.
Making your product visible isn't just about generating leads; it's also about establishing yourself as a thought leader within your industry. By showing up on these sites regularly and sharing relevant content with your target audience, you're demonstrating expertise while building relationships with potential clients and partners who share common interests in technology.
While most people are familiar with the concept of a product launch, there's much more to it than simply announcing your new offering to the world. Make sure you understand your target consumer precisely and what they want. If you can get into their heads and see things from their perspective, you will be able to communicate with them in a relevant and interesting way. When done right, this will allow for increased visibility which helps boost leads and sales.
3. Start-up SaaS companies also struggle to increase their customer base beyond a certain point, even if they could do so initially.
They fail to achieve the next level of growth because they do not have the proper marketing channels. When marketers focus on getting sales leads through one channel (such as paid ads), they neglect other important marketing channels such as SEO, email campaigns, retargeting and content marketing.
This is where Avinash Kaushik's quote comes into play: "One channel does not rule them all." Your customers are constantly interacting with you across multiple touchpoints. Therefore, they need an integrated approach from you to retain them and grow their business with your brand value proposition over time.
You'll need a strategy that includes building an audience of engaged followers who see themselves as part of something bigger than themselves and feel personally invested in the success of your business.
Focus on retention as much as (if not more than) on acquisition. If your company can increase customer retention rates even by 10 percent—and we know that many of our clients are doing exactly that—you're likely to see a significant boost in revenue over time without having to spend any additional marketing dollars on acquiring new ones!
We hope our guide has provided you with a better understanding of how to approach the challenges of marketing your SaaS product in the new era. The best thing that you can do is to be well-informed and flexible in your approach. Even if it may seem impossible to overcome some of the challenges initially, there's no reason it won't get better with time.