The Rise of SaaS and what it means for marketers

    The Rise of SaaS and what it means for Marketers



    Software as a service (SaaS) is a software distribution model where applications are hosted in a cloud service provider and made accessible to users via the internet - as a service. SaaS applications can also be described as Web-based Software or hosted software because they run on a SaaS provider server which manages its access.  Instead of installing and managing applications, users enjoy remote access and management, relieving them of the software and hardware management burden.
     
    The distribution model can be adopted in two ways depending on its size and its financial status. First, an independent software vendor can hire a third-party cloud service provider to host the application. In another case, the software vendor can host the application and act as a service provider.

    Saas Software V Traditional Software image

    Source: https://www.imaginovation.net/blog/how-to-know-if-saas-application-concept-will-be-profitable/
     

    Advantages of SaaS

    The core advantage of a SaaS model is that it allows customers to mitigate the process of buying, installing, and maintaining hardware and software programs. In addition, with a reliable internet connection, access to software applications is stress-free.
     
    SaaS software delivery models make sophisticated enterprise applications affordable to companies. Installing enterprise software applications is quite expensive, but with SaaS, organisations can easily afford the service. Additionally, users pay for what they use, saving them lots of money while accessing data from any computer connected to the internet. Furthermore, there is no need to worry about data loss because once stored in the cloud, the data cannot be lost even if computers fail. Other key benefits of SaaS include:

    Easy upgrades as the SaaS provider deals with them centrally, removing the workload and risk from your organisation
    Better scalability as SaaS can grow with your business, unlike traditional licensed platforms.
    Lower up front costs where SaaS is subscription based rather than requiring license fees. There will also be less IT infrastructure costs where no physical software or hardware is required.
    Ability to connect to other cloud data sources as part of a central hub.
     
    It is true that in moving to a SaaS model, companies do lose some of the control that they are used to with their own software. Data security of third-party providers is also difficult to manage and it is essential to complete some due diligence before selecting a vendor. For example, all SaaS providers should be GDPR ready. However, any disadvantages are easily managed and become outweighed by the benefits.
    Saas Benefits diagram
    Source: https://www.apogaeis.com/blog/4-ways-saas-software-as-a-service-can-help-in-your-business-growth/
     

    Marketing a SaaS offering

    Marketing is not an easy task, and it becomes more complex when it is being done for a product with no physical presence. SaaS marketing is challenging as it is not the same as typical marketing activity.  Statistics predict that the SaaS industry is on an upward trend, and by 2023, it will be worth over $60 billion. The forecast means that it is a booming industry with stiff competition. SaaS marketers need to adopt marketing strategies that help them stand out from their competitors. There is a need to develop a SaaS marketing strategy helpful in marketing service to newer prospects keeping in mind that there is no physical product to show and promote. It calls for marketers to adopt an exceptional marketing strategy.
     
    The marketers must ensure they fully understand the needs of the customer. If the marketers fail to understand SaaS and SaaS marketing means, they may fail to realise that their work is to make customers subscribe but not buy the whole application. The marketers must focus on telling customers the need to subscribe to the package and its value. Unlike in other marketing practices, SaaS marketing strategies need a customisable approach which might take time. The marketing plan requires a detailed understanding of the complexities of subscription models.  Very few, if any, businesses will agree to pay a subscription fee for a whole year but will instead go for monthly premiums. The intricate nature of a subscription-based model means that it might take longer before acquiring a customer or generating profits.
     
    In a bid to make solid revenue and business growth, marketers must come up with a smart and unique approach to B2B marketing in the SaaS industry.   The marketing team must digest the meaning of SaaS to be able to strategise on a marketing plan. The marketing plan should aim at selling a service but not necessarily the software application.  Companies subscribe to a SaaS service believing that it will grow their business and boost sales. Therefore, the best way of keeping customers satisfied is ensuring that they achieve their business goals through the software and the service they pay.
     

    Effective SaaS Marketing Strategies

    The sales team can only seal deals if the marketers focus their energies on the service the software program provides to prospective customers. Strategies adopted should attract the target audience, boost engagement and show prospective customers how the product is the best for them. Some of the B2B strategies that should be integrated into the SaaS marketing plan are:
     
     
    1. Focus on content to build brand
    Building a solid brand in the digital world needs excellent content.  Content allows marketers to create an identity in the SaaS industry. Marketers should create informative content showcasing the value of the product and service on offer. The content should be updated regularly and consistently to help trust from new customers and strengthen the bond with existing customers. Research by  Google suggests the 7-4-11 rule for effective content marketing (7 hours of interaction across 4 locations and 11 touchpoints).

    2. Invest in website optimisation
    Content used in marketing SaaS should be search engine optimised at all times. If coming up with a blog post or recording a video, the marketers should consider how it ranks on Google. Marketers should work to increase Google ranking with all the website elements, generate more organic traffic, and paid lead customers. Ranking high on Google plays a significant role in the creation of trust in the business. The more the company name appears on Google search results, the more domain authority you build over your competitors. Keep in mind that the website is the heart of SaaS business marketing and the shopping window. The website must look professional to convert leads into sales.  Adopting the technique of actively engaging with site visitors is excellent in increasing the conversion rate from free trial sign-ups and people looking for a software demo.

    3. Nurture potential customers through a product-led growth
    The SaaS model was established to add value to the business of customers. For that reason, the content strategy helps provide customers with the information needed in deciding on whether to use your product or not. Adopting a product-led growth strategy such as a free trial helps potential customers understand the benefits of your service, giving them the confidence to subscribe. Adspresso offers a free trial via a Facebook campaign which works really well as it is delivered right in front of the target audience.


      
     

    Source: 
    https://adespresso.com/blog/saas-marketing-strategies/ 
     
    4. Invest in referrals for user-led business growth
    User-led growth is helpful in SaaS marketing, where the existing customers get to refer your services to others in their network. A happy customer is likely to inform their contact about your benefit, and it comes with trust similar to that of the current customer. Using referrals as a user-led growth tactic is a convenient strategy, but there are other possible means, such as using content with a company watermark. Coming up with an incentivised referral program would go a long way into making SaaS customers bring in others. An example of such a program would be something like a free month for a referral.

    5. Customer choice
    Limiting customer’s choices may seem like a lousy marketing strategy but offering fewer options simplifies selection.  It is advisable to provide customers with an array of features, each with a clear value proposition. In such a case, potential customers can see the features for each and choose between them. Always reveal the price of your service, although it might lower customer acquisition rate and at the same time, lack of transparency in pricing is frustrating.
     

    Summary

    Marketing an invisible product is a tough proposition to sell because potential customers prefer paying for what they can see and touch. Software as a service (SaaS) is an intangible service but provides immense value to organisations and business owners. Therefore, it is essential to come up with ways and means of letting prospective customers understand the value of the service. Utilising the discussed strategies for marketing SaaS products will go a long way to delivering results.

    This article has been written by Katie Jackson, Director of Kindred Recruitment, a leading London based sales and marketing recruitment agency serving clients across the UK. If you are a SaaS business looking to hire marketers at any level, please get in touch